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After pretending to sleep, Karlia opened her eyes when her nurse woke her. The old woman woke her every morning the same way by softly calling her name to wake up. Karlia looked up at her nurse and saw that she didn’t look at all awake, probably the effect of the extra brandy she had given the woman the night before.
“Good morning, Santina,”said Karlia.
“Oh, good morning my little one. Master Samuelle is coming today. Hurry and get ready.” After setting a plate with a breakfast of bread and cheese down on the dresser, Santina filled the bowl on Karlia’s dresser from the pitcher of water she was carrying. “Do you need anything else, dear?” she asked.
“No, I’ll be fine.”
“A good morning to you then and hurry master Samuelle will be here shortly.”
Reluctantly Karlia got out of bed and walked to her dresser. Looking into the mirror she ran a brush through her long black hair and washed her face with the water in the bowl. She then changed out of her bed clothes and put on a dress, nibbling on the bread and cheese as she dressed. As soon as she finished dressing, she left her room and walked down stairs to the library. Master Samuelle, her tutor, was already there and waiting when Karlia arrived.
“Ah, Miss Karlia, so happy you could join me,” the old man said petulantly. She quickly took her seat across from him, at the oaken table in the middle of the sunlit room.
With her hands as if in prayer, she bowed her head and said, “Forgive me, master Samuelle, my nurse delayed me.”
“Yes, I am sure,” he said dismissively. “Last time I was here I believe we were reading Vergil. Yes?”
“Yes, master Samuelle.”
“Good,” he said and without another word he opened the large, leather bound book sitting on the table in front of him and began reading out loud from it. Her father paid the old man to come to teach Karlia some of the classics three times a week and each time he came to the house he would read to her a section from whatever book that they were reading. It was her father’s belief that knowledge of the classics was essential to making her a worthy bride to whoever he might choose to marry her. At eighteen, most of the girls her age had already been married and although she had been betrothed twice, he father had yet to finalize a deal.
The books that the old man read to her were never in any order that she could discern, and he never discussed the books, simply read them. Over the years she heard parts from most of the books in her father’s library read to her, but she had to put the parts together in her mind.
As always she tried to listen, but as the old man read, Karlia found herself having trouble keeping her mind on his words. This was the third time that the old man had chosen to read to her from the Aeneid, and since she already knew the story soon she was in her own world, thinking about Enrico. She thought about the lovely dinner they ate. How she would like that they ate together like that every night, enjoying conversation and fine food. She remembered the wine. Although she was almost nineteen years old, her father never let her have more than one glass of wine with dinner. She could not remember how many glasses she drank last night as the servant kept filling up her glass.
“Ahem”, said the old man, startling her out of her daydream. Seeing the anger in his face, she quickly stared back at him, with what she hoped was an innocent look. Normally she enjoyed the sessions, of the old man reading to her, but today she was distracted and could think of nothing else but Enrico. Why had he compared her to a whore? Was that the kind of woman that he wants, she wondered, a woman to be his slave. Could she be his whore? Did she want to be his whore? Could she exist only for his pleasure? She realized how much the idea of being his plaything thrilled her.
Master Samuele, finally fed up with the inattention of his pupil, stopped reading and closed his book with a bang. “Will you listen to what I am reading or tarry in your daydream?” he asked, sternly.
“I’m sorry, sir.” She replied. “I’ll listen,” she said, and did her best to give him the innocent smile that always seemed to mollify the old man. She certainly did not want him telling her father that she was distracted from her lessons, so she did her best to pay attention. She tried to clear her mind of Enrico and listened as the old man as he read. He was reading her the story of Dido, the queen of Carthage, and her love for the Trojan hero Aeneas. Preparing to leave for Italy, Aeneas sleeps with his men ready to sail and the god Mercury comes to him in a dream telling him that he has waited long enough, he must embark immediately. Dido sleepless from her grief watches Aeneas sail off and throws herself on the fire her sister built to burn the things that Aeneas has left and the bed that Aeneas and she slept in, impaling herself with the sword he has left and cursing her departing lover. Karlia enraptured at the love of the Carthaginian queen wondered if she would kill herself if Enrico left her. Would she throw herself on a fire as Dido had? Could canlı bahis she live without Enrico? No she thought she could not. To be without him would be too much for her. She would die as Dido had.
The sun warmed the library as the noon hour approached, and the old man stopped reading and began putting his books into his bag. Karlia remained lost in thought, thinking of Enrico, while he packed his books and left. She was startled out of her reverie by her nurse.
“Come on girl, come to lunch,” said the old woman. Karlia looked around the library and saw that Master Samuele was gone. Finally gathering herself, she left the library and went downstairs to where the servants were already serving lunch to her parents. As soon as she sat at her place in the table she realized that in her rush to get to the library and Master Samuelle she had not checked the hole in the palazzo wall where she told Enrico to leave his missives. Already sitting at the table she would have to wait until lunch was over and her parents had gone for their afternoon naps. Mealtime conversation, as usual, consisted of her father complaining about the import duties on his spices. She ignored him and silently picked at her food. What if he has not left a letter, she wondered. What if he has forgotten her already? She can hardly wait for lunch to be over so she can go check the hole in the wall.
When the lunch finally ended she quickly excused herself from the table and headed in the direction of her room, where her nurse would be waiting for their afternoon sewing. Seeing she was alone in the corridor she walked out of the palazzo’s back door and out in to the garden. The garden was warm, full of floral smells, and bathed in the afternoon sun. She crossed the garden, noticing that there were two of her father’s men working in the flower beds, and walked toward the back wall. She walked to the flower bed near the back wall and made a show of bending down to smell the lavender, watching from the corner of her eye trying to see if the men working in the garden were watching her. When she saw that they were not looking at her she backed up to the wall. With her back to the wall she looked down to the place where the hole was and she saw the edge of a piece of paper sticking out. Still watching the gardeners, who go about their work ignoring her, she quickly pulled the paper out of the hole and slid it in under her bodice, hoping that the two men have not seen what she has done. She adjusted her bodice making sure it is straight and the letter is not showing and then walks back toward the house.
By the time she is almost to the house, her nurse is in the back door way. “There you are Miss,” says the old woman, “I thought I would find you here. I got the most darling lace for your new dress. We can put it on it so you can wear it to the Nunzio’s ball tomorrow night.”
“The Nunzio’s ball?” she asks. The words strike terror into her. She had forgotten that the Nunzio family was throwing ball this Saturday. Karlia is sure that her father and Patrizo Nunzio have worked out the details of her dowry and her marriage to Vinchenzo will be announced. The thought of marriage to Vinchenzo fills her with loathing. She cannot stand the sight of the hunchback. If only she could run off with Enrico, to be free of her father’s business schemes.
As she walked to her room, with her nurse, she remembered Enrico’s note, hidden under her bodice. She would not be able to read it until her nurse left her, to get ready for dinner. She would have to spend the afternoon with her nurse sewing a ball gown she hoped she would never wear.
When they got to her room, her nurse brought out the dress, almost complete. It was a beautiful dress, she thought. It was a single piece dress in a bright green color, with a pretty green silk bodice. It was a pretty dress and she wanted to wear it, but not to the Nunzio’s ball.
“Why don’t you put it one, and I can make the final adjustments and sew on this lace,” said the old woman.
Karlia changed into the dress, carefully hiding Enrico’s note in the pile of her discarded clothes. With the dress on, her nurse began sewing, fixing the dress so that it would fit Karlia correctly. As usual, while she worked, her nurse was an endless fountain of gossip, telling her scandalous stories about the other important families in Venice. Her nurse told one story after another about the sons of wealthy merchants squandering their inheritances on drink and cheap whores and the secret lovers of the merchants and their wives. Usually the stories thrill her, but Karlia is not really listening today still lost in her daydream about Enrico. He called her “whore” when they made love, she remembered. It surprised her that he would do such a thing, but it thrilled her. What it would be like to live as his plaything, she wondered, to live only to please him. She remembered the stories that her nurse told her about the whores on Rialto island and what they would do to please their customers. Would he keep me bound, she wondered, tied to his bed and only freed when he wanted pleasure bahis siteleri from her.
With these thoughts going through her head she was not really listening when her nurse said, “and I’ve heard that there is a notorious pirate now living in Venice. He calls himself Enrico the bold.”
“What?” asked Karlia, stunned out of her lovesick reverie.
“Oh, yes, quite the scandal. No decent people will associate with him, but here he is living in a fashionable palazzo right here in Venice, like some rich merchant. When everybody knows he is a notorious pirate. Rumor has it he was the one who intercepted the Nunzio’s clipper last October and killed Rodrigo Nunzio.”
Rodrigo Nunzio had been the eldest son of the Nunzio family and had been line to inherit his father’s business, and was promised Karlia in marriage, but with his death, his younger brother Vinchenzo became the heir apparent. Since her earliest memory of him, she had had a crush on Rodrigo. He so handsome, she always thought, much more attractive than his younger brother. It had almost been a year since his death and she remembered how she had cried at his memorial. There had been no body to bury, it had been thrown into the sea by the pirates, or so said the only survivor of the attack, left alive by the pirates to tell the tale had said. Karlia was stunned to be hearing that Enrico was being accused of these crimes. Surely there was another Enrico who was this pirate, not her lover. Karlia tried keeping her voice calm and asked, “This pirate, living here in Venice, the magistrates will just leave him alone?”
“Perhaps he thinks so,” laughed the nurse. She continued to sew attaching the lace on to the hem of the dress’ skirt as she spoke, “I hear they are going to surprise him and take him tonight. You’ve heard me talk of my friend Antonio? I hear from him that the city guard will surprise him at his palazzo tonight and take him into custody. He will be tried for piracy and be hung by the end of next week.
This must be a mistake thought Karlia, there is no way that this pirate was her lover. There must be another Enrico, she thought. Still somehow she knew that it was her Enrico who was this pirate. Was it his cruelty in making love to her that gave him away, she wondered. Or maybe the opulence with which he surrounded himself. Whatever it was, knowing that he was a pirate made her want him more. She imagined him on the sea commanding his ship just as he would command her in the bedroom. She needed him to command her. She needed him to rule her firmly as if she was his ship, taking him to whatever pleasures he desired. She must get to him to warn him of his impending arrest, but how could she get away from her nurse, who continued to work at her feet attaching the lace, without her telling her parents? Now was not the time, she thought. She had to bide her time until she could get away. She knew that there is nothing she could do at least until her nurse has left her to get ready for dinner. Silently she waited while Santina continued telling her stories, all the while fearing for the fate of her lover.
She thought about going to warn Enrico and realized she was not exactly sure where the palazzo she had visited the night before was. She remembered the gondola ride, but she had been so enraptured that she had not paid attention to where the gondola had taken her. She had no way of warning him she realized.
Her nurse was just putting finishing touches on the dress when the cathedral bell rang four. “That should do it, little one,” said the nurse getting to her feet and beginning to put her sewing things away. Karlia, walked to her dresser to admire the dress in the mirror. It was a fine dress, she thought, very pretty. While looking in to the mirror she saw across the room behind her, her nurse bending down to pick up the pile dirty clothes.
“Stop,” she cried.
The old woman froze. “What’s that little one?” the nurse asked.
“Leave the clothes on the floor,” Karlia commanded.
“Yes, Miss,” said the nurse looking at her suspiciously, “hurry and change, dinner will be soon.” Santina turned left her, carrying away her sewing things and closing the door behind. The moment the old woman closed the door, Karlia ran across to the pile of dirty clothes and searched for Enrico’s note. She pulled it out of the pile of dirty clothes with shaking hands and she unfolded the paper. With the sun now almost completely down and only faint light from the west, the room was dark. She held the paper under the candle above her dresser, her nurse lit before she left, and read the note:
I must see you again tonight. Please be on the quay again at midnight.
After hiding Enrico’s note in the secret drawer in her nightstand, where she kept all the letters from him, she started changing out of the green dress. As she put the green dress away in her closet, she silently vows to wear it to the quay at midnight. She has many fine dresses to wear but somehow this new one has captured her imagination. Earlier in the afternoon she hated the dress, and the bahis şirketleri ball that she would wear it to. But after reading Enrico’s note it is as if this new dress symbolizes a new start for her and Enrico and now she cannot wait to put it on and go to meet him. Her head is full of visions of what will happen tonight. She imagines as his gondola approaches him seeing her waiting for him on the quay in her new dress. She will be like Venus, born from the waves, on her way to a life full of love and happiness.
Changed into her dinner clothes, she hurries to the dining room where her parents are waiting at the table. When she appears for dinner, her mother audibly sighs and her father stares at her with a grim expression on his face as she silently takes her seat.
Once she is at the table her father begins the prayer. Silently she bows her head and holds her hands up together in front of her. When he is finished the servants begin serving dinner. As the dinner progressed, course after course, her father seemed, to her, to be much quieter than usual. Normally he dominated the meal conversation, but tonight he is strangely reticent, silently eating his meal. Finally when dessert arrives, a yellow cake covered in chocolate sauce, he breaks his silence.
“Karlia,” he said, looking across the table at her. Karlia looked up from her dessert at him. “I have completed negotiations with Patricio Nunzio. You will wed Vinchenzo in the spring.”
“No, Father, I won’t.” she says defiantly.
“This is not something open to discussion. You will marry Vinchenzo in the spring and that is the end of it. As you know the Nunzio family is throwing a ball this weekend and there your betrothal to Vinchenzo will be announced.”
“But father,” she begins
“I will hear no more from you about this. You will marry Vinchenzo and that is the end of it.”
She looks at her mother for support, but she just stares into space, not seeming to notice her imploring stare. “Father,” she tries again to speak to him.
“Quiet child,” he commands. “I am tired of your nonsense. Shut yourself in your room, until you can learn your place.”
Silently she gets up from the table. She attempts to shame her father by giving him a wounded look, but his face remains resolute as she leaves the table.
In her room there was nothing to do but wait until midnight. She had planned to get some extra brandy for her nurse from the cook again, but she is sure by now all of the servants have heard of her father’s scolding and she is afraid to leave her room until after the house has gone to sleep.
She changed in to her bed clothes and climbed in to bed. She decided that she would try to get a few hours of sleep before sneaking out at midnight to go to Enrico. Still she was restless, with thoughts of seeing Enrico and sleep eluded her.
She was just starting to doze off when the bells from San Marco rang nine and Santina entered her room, as she did nightly, with a glass of milk before bed. Setting the milk down on the night she looked over the recumbent girl. “Don’t worry, my dear, all will look better in the morning. Vinchenzo is not such a bad man. I am sure that you will be happy. Please do not do anything foolish.”
Karlia was suddenly wide awake. Did the old woman know her plan? Karlia looked the old woman in the eye and saw concern. “Don’t worry, Santina, I’ll be fine,” she said, hoping to placate the old woman’s suspicions.
“You have good night dear. Sleep well; I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Good night Santina,” said Karlia.
After blowing out the candles, Santina turned and left the room, closing the door behind her. Karlia breathed a mental sigh of relief that Santina did not suspect her plan.
The hours leading to midnight passed slowly as Karlia waited under her covers in bed. She listened for the bells of San Marco, which were rung each hour. The time waiting for the ten o’clock bell seemed eternal, only to be dwarfed by the time waiting for the following hour’s bell. After the eleven o’clock bell she waited for what she thought was a half hour and then climbed out of bed.
She navigated across the dark room, knowing her way from years of experience. First she went to her dresser and got out a clean chemise and a fresh pair of bloomers. With the undergarments in her hands she walked back around her bed and in to her closet. In the dark closet she changed out of her sleeping clothes, putting on the chemise, bloomers and the green dress. She came out of the closet and walked back around the bed to her dresser and quickly ran a brush through her hair. After returning the brush to its place on her dresser she walked to the door to her room.
Knowing her nurse was sleeping on the other side she slowly opened the door. The door gave a slight creak as it opened and she stopped in her tracks. In the darkness the only sound that could be heard it the old woman’s snoring. Karlia, holding up the skirt of her dress, lest it catch on something and make noise, walked across the room as silently as she can. She was halfway across the room when she remembered that she has not left her bed with pillows under the covers in imitation of her sleeping form. It is too late to do anything about it now; she must get to Enrico to warn him of the danger he is in.
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