Alchemist Gift – The sergeant grabbed Angelina and tried to stand her up. Angelina’s head lolled back and forth and each time the guard lifted the sparrow of a woman to her feet her legs would buckle. After three attempts the sergeant laid the woman on her back, knelt down and felt her neck for a pulse. He looked up at the clergymen, the mayor and the contessa. And mouthed the word: “dead.” The bishop gave a nod and hand gesture for the body to be removed but just as quickly rescinded it. He thought for a second and shared his epiphany: “May our heavenly father forgive this poor creature, as that coward Satan has killed her right here before us and snatched away her soul before I could grant her absolution. At her trial she admitted her guilt and I know she was repentant and eager to be forgiven. As Satan snared her soul and made her his slave, if any of you fall to your weaknesses Satan will be there waiting. It is all of our duties to be vigilant, to be on the lookout for the signs of the devil.”
The crowd awoke to the words. Suspicious glances were cast. Family members stood a little closer to each other. Children were picked up by anxious mothers. Many people just looked down at the ground. Rosaries appeared and people lost themselves in the murmur of prayers.
Contessa Rosalba shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She watched the mayor give the bishop a nod of appreciation for the quick way he used the dead woman to his advantage. Rosalba wished her husband was with her; she wished she wasn’t there at all. In her heart she felt these women who stood accused were no more than helpless victims of someone else’s ambition, or greed or guilt. She kept her feelings to herself and found it helpful to pray for their souls, both the accused and the accusers.
The captain of the guard, Enrico Gagliardi looked to the bishop. DiMars nodded and the broken vessel of Angelina Rotelli was easily picked up, placed in a waiting cart and covered with a canvas tarp.
The bishop called out the last name. “Maria Lillo, you are guilty of worshiping Satan, invisibility, casting love spells and corrupting young girls. Are you sorry for your sins? Do you renounce Satan and do you accept our lord and savior Jesus Christ?”
Maria Lillo looked up and gave each clergyman, the mayor and the contessa a strange nod and a cold smile. She cleared her throat and looked at the bishop. She spoke in a rasping whisper that was most difficult to hear. “Holy bishop, may I please have a swallow of water? I can barely speak above this whisper, I want to be heard and forgiven.”
“If you must.” the bishop shrugged and nodded at Father Eduardo. The priest rose to fetch the flagon from the servant girl who sat next to her little brother behind the contessa’s chair. The boy napped and his sister Annamarie held a small straw doll she in her hand. Father Eduardo watched her intently stroke the doll’s stomach with her finger. Even though he knelt in front of her she did not look up. He had to tap her shoulder to break her reverie. The girl started at his touch. She met him with a blank stare that quickly turned into a look of puzzlement when she looked at the little doll she held. She closed her hand around it and covered her fist with her other hand as if to hide it. Father Eduardo smiled and patted the girl on the head. Without a word the girl picked up the flagon, crossed the dais and handed the jar to the guard. All the while she kept her eyes fixed on Maria Lillo. Maria Lillo smiled at the girl who of all things, curtsied to the condemned woman, then in a fright at the unexpected show of respect quickly returned to her brother and hid her face in her hands. Father Eduardo took his seat. He felt ill at ease but didn’t know why.
The guard uncorked the flagon and held it to her lips; she took three swallows but kept the fourth generous swig in her mouth. She nodded that she was finished. While the guard was busy corking the bottle and setting it aside on the dais Maria Lillo took a few steps closer to the bishop and the contessa. She looked up and with all of her might she sprayed the bishop, the contessa and the monsignor with the water in her mouth. The guard pulled her back and held her from behind. The bishop, whose face was dripping with water, looked aghast and the contessa who was disgusted by the condemned’s actions, wiped her cheek and hands in a way that bordered on being obsessive.
Maria Lillo addressed those who sat before her with a firm and mocking voice. “Since, as you say, I am a consort of Satan I baptize you all in his name. And I curse you all. You holy bishop, like a bird you will never change your color, black it is now and black it shall be forever. You will never fly with those birds of a red feather. Monsignor, you have cursed yourself already with indolence. A life half lived is your earthly penance. Pretty contessa a flower so pure and so white what grows in your belly is as dark as night. Your good words could have spared this doubtful coven. Your comfort and apathy sends us to the devil’s oven.”
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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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copyright 2013 Mark D. Giglio, www.theartofgiglio.com
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