Novembris 14, 373: “Merely a pretty bauble.”

May 26th, 2017

Novembris 14, 373

Last night, I lost a friend.

The pain of our parting is almost too much to bear. How many friends have I already gained and lost? How many more must I lose?

But this… this one was my fault. And I think it is this which hurts the most. The fact that I deserve every moment of his scorn.

His words still burn in my ears. “I was a fool for thinking you anything more than a pretty bauble.” Perhaps he is right.

Perhaps I am merely a pretty bauble and nothing more.

Septembris 25, 373: “For the love of the Lord, save me.”

May 10th, 2017

Septembris 25, 373

The Cathedral of Saint Francis, Vavard City
Addressed to Father Agnolo dul Decapua

Dearest Brother,

For the love of the Lord… please save me. I hardly know where to turn in this sprawling city that is the capital. People whisper such hateful things about those from our home duchy, but I must say that the men here are far more forward than any men I ever did meet in Vavard.

Though I dare not put names to paper, I must confess that since my arrival within Lithmore City four months ago, I have had no less than five gentlemen make some sort of advance toward me – some mention of marriage or courtship or a suit. That is not even counting the others who have simply made attempts at mere flirtation.

One even tried to kiss me. Letta was so distraught.

As was I.

There are days where I feel as though I cannot even draw a proper breath for fear I will attract another pair of eyes. You always had so many girls flitting about you, dearest brother. I hardly know how you could stand it, to be a lone flame crowded by so many moths.

I find myself, more and more, longing for the safety a husband would bring, but I would so hate to admit defeat to Papa. The year for our agreement is not yet finished and I have not yet established myself within the city as a merchant of repute.

But with each passing day, I am reminded more and more of the dangers of being an unmarried woman in a strange land, far from the protection of my brothers and father.

I would have your words of advice, Agnolo. You were always far better versed in such matters than I.

Your Ever Devoted Sister,
Caterina dul Decapua

 

Octobris 15, 373

The Vavardi Trade Offices, Lithmore City
Addressed to Miss Caterina dul Decapua

Poor, Sweet Cat,

I hope you will forgive a brother for laughing at his little sister’s distress, but I did laugh.

Quite thoroughly.

You have never been a fool, little Cat. Surely, you realized there would be some interest. You are young, pretty, and have a dowry fit for a princess. I’m rather surprised you’ve only been approached by five men in such a large place as Lithmore City.

And, the truth? The only reason why you never had to deal with the advances of forward Vavardi men while you were with us in Capua is because Father kept you under such a strong lock and key. Had you been raised as I was raised, you would have no doubt had some little, plucky lordling pushing you up against a wall at one of the dul Terani balls, trying to coax you into having his bastard.

And then I would have had to run him through and then where would we be?

Blood stains are such a pain. They never do properly come out.

I mean… I have six bastards myself. And that’s only the ones I know about. (Though I still do not think Benito is mine. He doesn’t look a thing like me). So, let those uptight Lithmorrans speak ill of us. They have their own dark secrets, their own bastards hiding in their closets. The only difference is that I claim my children… well, most of them, anyway… even though their mothers are greedy, little wenches…

But I digress. These are not matters for my sweet sister.

You want my advice? Write to Father and tell him that you tire of being a maiden and then pick yourself a prize stallion and be done with it. There is no shame in it. Mother may goad you, but Mother is a whore. You know it’s best to ignore anything that woman says. And surely you can continue to establish yourself and ply your trade as a married woman.

You have my love and my support. But I would entreat you to pick a husband who will be kind to you, sweet sister. I would not hesitate to slit him from navel to nose if he so much as spoke an ill word against you.

Lord bless you.

Do burn this letter.

Your Bemused Yet Doting Brother,
-A

Augustus 5, 373: “… it was slander of the acutest kind.”

April 30th, 2017

Augustus 5, 373

The Estate dul Decapua, Capua
Addressed to Giovanni dul Decapua

Dear Father,

I hope you will forgive a daughter’s oversight in allowing your last missive to sit so long without reply. Please know that it was not from a lack of affection, but rather from a mere lack of time. I fear the capital can be terribly diverting in ways both pleasing and not.

I wish to thank you for sending Letta along with the rest of my effects. Her presence was sorely missed my first week within the city. Thank you, also, for your latest gift of my new palfrey. She is truly a lovely creature. I have named her Chastity. I hope such pleases you.

What news is there from home? Has Agnolo broken more hearts? Have Niccolo and Vittoria had their first child yet? I feel so terribly detached from it all here in the capital, though I have been doing my best to keep myself entertained.

I fear there is not as much to entertain here, though, as there would be in Capua. Please do not misunderstand me. I have… been met with much kindness here. Truly, I can think of perhaps only one person whose acquaintance I would have rather not made in the time I have already spent here in the city. There merely seems to be a distinct lack of polite female society with which I might mingle. I would truly love such a friend, but perhaps such things will come in time.

I have had the pleasure of securing the friendship of several gentlemen, though – all of whom I would consider to be very honorable and pious men. But I fear this has caused a bit of scandal amongst the rumormongers. Though such meetings always take place in public spaces and within the presence of my chaperone, I fear… well, I will not bother you with the painful details, Papa, but it was slander of the acutest kind.

But I am doing my best to ignore the whispers.

What else is there to tell you? Oh, yes. I have secured myself as the Patron of two very promising talents here within the capital. One is primarily a lutist while the other seems to be primarily a flutist. Oh, if you could only hear them, Papa… I know you would approve of them. Perhaps I might bring them along for a visit one day. Perhaps for the winter holidays? I do miss you terribly. And I think it would be heart-wrenching, indeed, to spend my birthday away from the loving arms of my family.

Rest assured that I have been keeping up with my own studies. I am sending along a little design I did for a ring. Does it please you?

I hope you are well and that I might see you before the year is out. Please, give everyone my love.

Your Ever Devoted Daughter,
Caterina dul Decapua

Augustus 20, 373

The Vavardi Trade Offices, Lithmore City
Addressed to Miss Caterina dul Decapua

My Dear Kitty,

You know you are always welcome to come home at any time, my girl. Any time. I would have rather you not have left in the first place. Your mother is redecorating her drawing room again and there is no one here to keep me sane in the midst of it all. In, out, in, out, workers coming and going and slamming doors at all hours of the day, every day.

And this talk of scandal. Scandal? Surrounding MY girl? The very idea. The very nerve. They should have their tongues slit for slander. I should send someone to do this. No, I should come and do it myself. The very idea… the NERVE of some people. Perhaps I will come over there and simply CUT THEIR VERY TONGUES OUT AND FEED THEM TO MY HUNTING HOUNDS…

[Several ink blots occur here on the page before the letter is suddenly taken up in a different style of writing – a much neater, elegant hand. A decidedly feminine hand.]

Caterina Alessandra Rose dul Decapua. Do you seek to punish me by unleashing your father’s fury upon this household? He is in such a state now, going through the house and yelling about slitting tongues. I trust you will have more of a care for his temper and – for the sake of my peace – not trouble him with such trivial affairs in the future.

Do you think yourself unique in having garnered unwanted attention? For being the subject of cruel whispers? Well, rest assured that you are not unique in this and take heart, for it means you have a rival. When I was your age, I had many.

But, then again, when I was your age, I was also married. To think that you are almost seventeen and still without a husband. And now living off in the capital away from us all. What will the neighbors think? What will they say? And after your father presented you with such spectacular fanfare at your last birthday ball.

Your father will not broach the subject with you for the sake of this silly agreement you two have struck and so it is encumbered upon me to do so. The dul Bellini boy has renewed his suit and I would entreat you to consider it, as a dutiful daughter should. Between our families, we would control some of the richest vineyards in Capua. And I hear that he is amiable enough.

Come home. Marry Cesare dul Bellini. Give him a few children and then you will be free to go… gallivanting off again on whatever fool’s errand this is of yours. One wonders why you feel the desire to seek a reputation and fortune to call your own in the first place when your father is more than willing to provide for you…

Praise the Lord. Your father has calmed himself. He wishes to know if you desire an increase in your allowance, though I think he should cut you off entirely if you insist on pursuing your own wealth. He is also sending along a selection of color swatches and fabrics for the upcoming season and wishes to know if he might order you a gown. He wishes me to write that he is “particularly fond of the apricot” and thinks it would suit you.

Your brother, Niccolo, is celebrating the birth of his first child as of three nights ago. Vittoria has given birth to a boy. We are all quite pleased that fruit has finally come of their union.

Your father is also pleased by your design for the ring, though I find it rather understated myself. He looks forward to hearing more of your accomplishments. Whereas I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the dul Bellini suit when next you write.

Your Ever Loving Mother,
Lucrezia dul Decapua


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