Robert noted that while Lucrezia spoke with deference to her father, she didn’t ask permission or apologize for bringing him there. The woman had strength as well as poise.
“You are right, of course,” her father replied. “Rosa,” he called. “Rosa, come here a moment.”
A fetching girl with rounded features, pug nose, and luminous eyes hurried into the room from a second doorway. She wiped her hands on an apron tied around her waist, glanced at Robert, then shyly looked away. Robert noticed that she avoided direct eye contact with everyone in the room.
“Rosa, go fetch Filippo, and hurry.” She nodded, removed her apron, and rushed out the front door.
“Come, sit here.” Lucrezia’s father directed Robert to one of the comfortable sofas, where he sat down with relief. The pain throbbed unmercifully behind his eyes when he moved, and he was grateful for the opportunity to rest. A large mirror on the far wall tempted him to see how much damage had been done, but the idea of getting up discouraged him. He was also hesitant to face himself in a mirror again so soon. Memories of the image he’d seen in that bathroom near the train station still made him flinch.
“Father, this is Robert Grey. He is from America. California to be exact.” Lucrezia smiled at Robert’s earlier humor. “He was walking in the Piazza when Antonio hit him.”
Lucrezia’s father stepped forward and extended his free hand. “My name is Leonardo Vicentino, and I must apologize for my son’s behavior. He does not always use the best judgment, but he means well.”
Leonardo sat down in one of the facing chairs and motioned for Lucrezia to join him. Despite his physical discomfort, Robert observed the man with interest. His features were so delicate and his build so slight, it was hard to associate him with the hulking son who had attacked Robert in the square. His serious demeanor showed concern, yet he remained cool and aloof, a behavior accentuated by his stiff posture. Robert felt more like a subject being granted an audience than someone who had just been so rudely introduced by Antonio to the man’s family. He guessed Leonardo to be in his early fifties, which made him Robert’s contemporary in age and experience, but he knew Leonardo’s view of him would be quite different. No doubt he saw in Robert an immature, young American exploring Venice, which was an apt description of him in his youth. The dichotomy between his real age and his appearance created a difficult situation. Robert considered himself the man’s equal, but he had to pretend to be somebody not much older than a boy. Doing otherwise would be disrespectful, and Robert sensed that respect was terribly important to this man.
Venice Lost - Excerpt
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