Daughter of Venice

Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli

Book: Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli Read Free Book Online
Authors: Donna Jo Napoli
Tags: Fiction
“Yes. Bad things happened. But good things, too. I’m happy I went out.”
    “Then I’m happy for you.” Her voice catches.
    “You don’t seem happy. Did something happen?”
    Laura shakes her head. And now she’s crying.
    I pull her to me and cradle her head in my hands.
    “Where’s my treat?” Bortolo yanks on my skirt.
    “I told you to knock first,” I say crossly. I give him a small pinch.
    Bortolo goes to the door and knocks. “Where’s my treat? And why’s Laura crying?”
    “Don’t talk about me as though I’m an idiot who can’t answer for herself.” Laura stamps her foot. “Besides, how did you know it was me crying and not Donata?”
    “You have different faces.”
    This is true. But no one else has ever noticed the small differences. Or no one has let us know if they have.
    “Why are you crying?”
    “I have a toothache,” lies Laura.
    Bortolo looks at her with respect. Toothaches are common at our age, but he’s too young to have ever had one. “Too bad,” he says in his most grown-up voice. He kisses Laura on the back of her hand tenderly. But a second later he turns to me with his usual eager face. “Where’s my treat, Donata?”
    I put my hand on his head heavily and am about to explain that I forgot, when I realize that his head is about the same size as Laura’s. So it must be about the same size as my own. “I have a treat for you, Bortolo. But it’s special. And, in a way, it’s dangerous.”
    “Dangerous?” Bortolo’s eyes narrow. “I have a knife. Francesco won it gambling and gave it to me. The blade is sharp, but I’ve never cut myself.”
    “Does Mother know?”
    “No. And don’t tell her.”
    “I won’t,” I say. “But this treat for you also has to be kept a secret. And not just from Mother. From everyone.”
    Bortolo licks his lips. “I understand.”
    “But, as I said, this is very special. You don’t get it for free.”
    Bortolo frowns. “I get it because I’m not telling on you for going down the stairs this morning in your nightdress.”
    “That’s not a big enough secret for such a special treat,” I say.
    “What else do you want?”
    “Your
bareta
.”
    Laura looks at me quickly.
    Bortolo sticks out his bottom lip.
    “Not your velvet one,” I say. “Your plain cotton one. For when you play in the
campi
.”
    Bortolo shrugs. “All right. If it’s a really good treat, you can have my old
bareta
. I’ll tell Mother I need another.”
    “But you mustn’t tell her you gave it to me,” I say.
    “I’m not stupid, Donata.”
    I smile. “Stay here with Laura while I fetch it.”
    “I’ll go get my
bareta
.”
    “No!” I don’t want him in the stairwell, where he’ll see me running past him. I don’t want him to know I have business on the ground floor. “Stay here and wait. Promise?”
    “Yes.”
    I go out, shutting the door behind me, and cross to the stairwell quickly. I race to the bottom and into the storeroom. The shoes and cap are exactly where I left them. I take the yarmulke and fold it small enough to fit in my fist. Then I race back up the stairs.
    I go into Laura’s and my bedchamber.
    “There you are,” says Piero. “We’ve been waiting.” Francesco sits on our bed.
    Laura looks at me and her shoulders lift the smallest amount, enough to let me know she was helpless to stop them coming in.
    “I’m going downstairs.” Bortolo runs and stands directly in front of me. “Aunt Angela’s looking for me,” he says more loudly than normal. His eyes search mine.
    I put my hands behind my back. “See you later, Bortolo.”
    He smiles. As he goes past me, he takes the yarmulke from my hand and slips out the door.
    “What are you doing here?” I ask, trying to keep the anxiety out of my voice.
    “We came to talk about the Jews,” says Piero.
    I wring my hands behind my back. What could they know of my morning? Who saw anything? I stare at them.
    “Father wants you to understand. He says you’re the daughter

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