Article Index

     Lucrezia opened a door revealing an oversized bed chamber that needed more furniture than the tall, four-poster bed, upholstered chair, end tables, lamps, and armoire which filled less than half the room. The lack of other furniture gave the room a cavernous feeling, despite the area rugs covering the highly polished, hardwood floor and the dark drapes framing the windows to his left. Sunlight streaming through the windows brightened the mood considerably, however, and highlighted the yellows and blues in the mini-patterned wallpaper that covered the walls.
     She closed the drapes, dousing the light and throwing the room into shadow. “There is a bathroom across the hall. Rosa will put fresh towels in it for you and bring a bag of ice for your nose. I will have her fetch you a clean shirt, as well. Rest now, and we can decide what you should do later.” She gave him a brief smile and left.
     The doctor’s medication was working. By the time Rosa brought the ice bag, Robert’s head was so fuzzy, it was all he could do to climb the wooden stepping stool beside the bed. He quickly lay back on the pillows with the bag of ice against his nose. Well, he mused, who could have imagined a few hours ago that he would be resting in one of the four-hundred-year-old palaces he had admired with Rachel during their ride along the Canal? If she could only see him now. 
     A dark cloud of loneliness swept over him when he thought about Rachel, so he forced his thoughts back to the Vicentinos. It was hard to imagine the lineage of one family living in this place for four centuries. They were a curious lot. Antonio didn’t seem too bright, although Robert had to admit the young man had been quite attentive, once the confusion about his identity had been cleared up. Leonardo and the Signora were a very strange pairing. The Signora appeared so much more elegant and authoritative than her husband. Her presence filled the room. Even Lucrezia’s demeanor had wavered in her company. Leonardo, on the other hand, looked like he belonged in a library doing research or cataloging books. Hardly the proper image for someone who was the head of one of Venice’s oldest families, he thought.
     Lucrezia was remarkably poised for such a young woman. Robert couldn’t help evaluating her from the perspective of a father who had a daughter of his own. Lucrezia demonstrated a level of maturity that was quite advanced for her age, yet she called her parents mama and papa. An interesting contrast. And who were the “ruffians” that had bothered her enough for Antonio to strike out like that?
     Finally, Robert thought about the hints he had seen regarding the Vicentinos’ circumstances. Their natural grace and aristocratic behavior reflected a family of wealth and stature, yet there were small clues that made him wonder if things were as they should be. The furnishings in the living room were exquisite, but the guest room was under-furnished. And where were the servants? As far as he could tell, Rosa was the only one, and she was a mere girl. Were they as wealthy as they seemed, or did the grand surroundings mask a different reality?
     While these questions intrigued him, there was a more immediate issue to be resolved. He still had Lisa’s lira, and he desperately wanted to unravel his nightmare. But the doctor had advised against traveling for a day or two. Should he stay with the Vicentinos, assuming they would have him? If not, where could he go? As these questions whirled through his head, it seemed as though his options were shrinking by the minute. The medication finally dulled his mind to the point that he could no longer deal with his dilemma, so he placed the bag of ice on the night stand and laid his head back on the pillows. Soon, he slipped into a soundless void.