Bianca by Bertrice Small

Book: Bianca by Bertrice Small Read Free Book Online
Authors: Bertrice Small
family retainer, and greeted the younger Agata, who was her niece.
    The bell for Vespers chimed, and Bianca hurried off to join the nuns in their chapel for the evening service. She knew she might have been excused this first night, but she was so relieved at having been rescued so swiftly that she felt a strong need to go and give thanks. She had also not been allowed the comfort of any religious service since her marriage, as her husband did not want her speaking with any priest, even though Sebastian Rovere knew the seal of the confessional could not be broken. There were ways of getting around any law. Even Church law, and no one knew that better than the best lawyer in all of Florence.
    Left behind, the two servingwomen spent their time making the room comfortable for Bianca. Fabia had even brought a small glass vase and a few roses from the Pietro d’Angelos’ gardens. When the bed and the trundle had been made, the plain linen curtains hung on the window, the little wooden trunk set at the foot of the bed, and the few garments hung in the small wooden wardrobe, the two women talked.
    “Did the lady tell you?” Agata asked.
    Fabia nodded. “Although how much of it, I do not know,” she answered.
    Agata quickly recited what she knew, her brown eyes filling with tears as she spoke to her aunt. “She never confided in me,
. She told her mother she was too ashamed, as if she were to blame for what happened to her, as if it were her fault.”
    Fabia made the sign of the evil eye. “A curse on Sebastiano Rovere, although I am certain it is not the first plague sworn against his house. My mistress told the master after the meal, and the uproar has been considerable. He shouted that she would bring about the destruction of their house. She shouted that if Master Marco had used the intelligence God blessed him with, her daughter would not have been sacrificed to the devil.”
    “Rovere did not come?” Agata said, surprised.
    “There was a messenger just before I left,” Fabia replied. “My mistress will not tell the master where the lady Bianca is hidden. He will shout and fume, but eventually she will get him to see her way in the matter.”
    But it was late into the evening before Giovanni Pietro d’Angelo was able to fully absorb what his wife had told him and agree with what she had done. Sebastiano Rovere had sent an angry message to the silk merchant, threatening him with dire consequences if his young wife was not immediately returned to his palazzo. He sent Rovere’s messenger back with a brief message telling him he had no idea where Bianca was, but invited his son-in-law to come in the morning and discuss the matter. Then he went to bed.
    In the very early morning, before the silk merchant was even awake, his wife slipped out of the house. It was still dark, and the summer air was heavy and still. Careful to be sure that her son-in-law had not yet put a watch on her home, she crossed the piazza and sought Father Bonamico at Santa Anna Dolce. The priest was already at his morning prayers. She knelt and waited for him to recognize her.
    Finally, the white-haired priest rose. Turning, he smiled. “Good morning, my daughter,” he greeted her. “You are up early, so I must assume there is a purpose to your visit. Come, and we will talk privily.”
    She followed him from the church and into a small study, where she knew he met those who sought his advice. Sitting in the straight-backed chair he offered her, Orianna Pietro d’Angelo told him everything that Bianca had told her the day before. She held back nothing. The priest had to understand the seriousness of the situation if he was to help them. Several times, she halted as her voice caught in her throat. She wept without even realizing it, slow tears slipping down her beautiful face.
    Father Bonamico listened. His face, which had been serious before, grew shocked, horrified, and then angry by turns. He was more than aware of the evil man could do,

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