Alchemist Gift 01-13-13
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A smug competition grew among this dishonest brotherhood. They agreed not to sell any apple for under a half silver piece. The high mark to beat was six gold pieces for a single apple bought by a merchant from Padua hoping to regain his youth and virility. If a customer complained, he or she was told that one apple may not be enough to affect a cure or a change, and a cure depended on the faith the pilgrim had in the fruit and in God.
One fine morning La Signora Mezzi along with her youngest daughter of seven years, Nina, was cutting roses for the house. The rose garden was a compact diamond-shaped area in the center of the courtyard a few paces in from the front gates. Nina was a happy little girl. She had on a light blue apron over her dress and her brand new green slippers just like her mama’s. A hummingbird flitted between mother and daughter and hovered so close each could feel the subtle stir of air made by the bejeweled bird’s wings. It delighted them both. Nina took great care and pride in her task. She smiled at her mother as she held the basket up for the next rose. There were already six or seven beautiful and fragrant roses nestled in the basket.
From where La Signora and daughter stood they watched the goings on under the apple tree. Their delicate sensibilities were disturbed by a loud and crass argument between an angry pilgrim who wanted his money back and one of the schemers selling the false fruit. After some cursing and shoving La Signora and Nina caught the glint of an ivory-handled dagger as it wheeled through the air and plunged into the pilgrim’s chest. The man grabbed at his bleeding wound; blood trickled from between his fingers and down the front of his shirt. He fell to his knees, then back onto his heels and to an ungainly position onto his back. He lay there, at first he clumsily tried to sit up. With great effort he rolled to his side; his legs pulled to his chest until his knees were under his chin. He closed his eyes, whimpered, let out a death rattle and died.
La Signora was horrified. Nina dropped the basket, put her arms around her mother’s waist and buried her face into her mother’s stomach. The murderer ran only to be stopped by other pilgrims who severely beat him. He was tied by the wrist behind to an ox cart and lead back down the pathway to the town. He was hanged a month later.
Il Signore Mezzi needed to protect his family. He was angry with himself for not doing something sooner. He hated confrontation so he over looked the base behavior of some of the pilgrims to maintain the status quo. He very much enjoyed being the host of such a wonder; he liked the way people looked to him for permission to pick the fruit, which was something he never denied. Enough was enough, now a murder; and in front of his wife and darling daughter. Nina though not overtly affected by what she witnessed could never, from that day on, look at a rose and not think of death.
He understood the value and importance of the Tree, but more so his family. On his orders a high mud and wattle wall was built around the tree. The eight foot high circular wall covered a large area. It had a small heavy door that a grown man would have to stoop to pass through. Il Signore had the only key. Il Signore had the branches trimmed to confine the fruit to his most singular orchard. He sent away the vendors and charlatans. He had the monsignor announce at mass that pilgrims would only be able to visit after the summer solstice until the end of harvest time.
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The Alchemist Gift is a book about the lives of people in the Renaissance and the alchemy that brought them together with its repercussions on our modern-day hero, Roland..
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