Exerpt 2 – A Thing Done


 From Chapter 10, Insult

One of the coiffed ones was a rare beauty, wearing an artfully fitted gown of a tawny gold, the color people call pelo di lione. Not even Selvaggia’s dress and hair could have diverted attention from that shape and that face.

When we first arrived and were setting up, Neri had eyed her appreciatively.

“Buondelmonte probably wishes he was marrying that one,” he said.

“She’s wearing a wimple, you dolt,” I said. “She’s married. She’s not available.”

“That doesn’t mean a man can’t look, and wish, does it?”

“It ought to mean that,” Ghisola said tartly.

Neri had grinned archly and launched into his first song, while Ghisola wrinkled her nose at him. They were joking. I think.

Meanwhile, it was hard to miss a certain growing agitation among the men. Buondelmonte should have presented himself long before this point, and I sensed that these men feared a public humiliation. And with reason. I could only hope the big lout would have the sense not to ride past these men with Isabella in tow, for I had no wish to witness a bloodbath.

“Who’s the one who looks like an old lion?” Rufino asked, not missing a ball.

“Lambertuccio. And the one who looks like a hawk is Mosca,” I said, returning yellow for red as blue spun overhead. Mosca had keen eyes and a hooked nose in a lean, angular face.

“Oddo’s more of a bull,” Anselmo chimed in, tapping on his tambourine.

Neri, still playing his organetto, said out of the side of his mouth, “Don’t talk. You’ll drop something.”

“No, we won’t,” I told him. “And don’t talk out of the side of your mouth. It looks ridiculous.” The balls kept dancing through the air, the tambourine kept jingling, and Neri kept pressing his little mushroom-shaped keys while we spoke. Ghisi just shook her head. She knew when we were showing off for each other.

Links to other excerpts. Excerpt 1. Excerpt 3. Excerpt 4.