Alchemist and Alchemy 02-16-13

Alchemist Gift

A special note to our readers of Alchemist Gift

The writer of Alchemist Gift, Mark Giglio, would like to invite you the reader to participate in the writing of his novel. As you know the novel you are reading is a first draft and will not be exactly like the printed novel. He thought it would be great fun to have the readers check the novel. Let him know if you find misspelled words, grammatical errors, or some incorrect history. He researches every aspect of the culture of the Renaissance he is revealing in the story, but ….you never know what a reader may be able to contribute. You can say how much you like some parts of the book as well.

Please put your discoveries or corroborations into the comments and let’s all have fun in the writing of Alchemist Gift.

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The next excerpt of Alchemist Gift

plague doctor alchemist gift

plague doctor alchemist gift

Here is a contract with a doctor from 1479 with the city of Pavia, Italy.

Alchemist Gift: He opened the short, dark wooden door and entered. The cold wind that raced in behind him was met by the swirling heat of two large bronze braziers on low tripods that were aglow with orange coals.  The room’s low ceiling and its hand hewn, heavy beams were blackened by years of candle and fire smoke. The plastered walls were a dingy white and quite plain.  Except for a few small windows high on the wall, candles gave off the only light.   There were four rows of low cots with six cots each. The bishop was surprised when he saw townsfolk clustered around some of the cots. On each cot lay a victim of the storm.

Lorenzo Patriarca, a tall, brusque man of later middle age was one of the most influential men in the republic. He stood with his distraught wife Penelope and two very concerned and tearful servants, all looking down at his fifteen year old daughter Gina, who was unconscious. When he heard the door open and felt the cold breeze on the back of his neck he turned hoping to see his personal doctor, Jacopo Gallo.  When he recognized the bishop he greeted him with a hateful glare.

“You and your cleansing. Look, look what you did.” He pointed at his young daughter. DiMars approached the cot and looked down at the girl. Her arms and hands were covered with red welts and her scalp and forehead with sizable knots where the hail pelted her. There was a crescent of dried blood in the lower corner of each nostril.  Her half-opened eyes were terribly bloodshot and blank. A crimson trickle of blood ran from her left ear, down her neck and into an expanding blot on the coarse pillow under her head.
“I told Renaldi I didn’t want the burning today; didn’t he tell you of my wishes?” Patriarca roared. His wife began to make a calming gesture with her hands but withdrew on second thought when her husband puffed out his chest and leaned toward the bishop.

“He may have mentioned it” said Bishop DiMars softly. He looked at the girl, she did not stir and her breathing was shallow and weak. He extended his hand to take hers. Lorenzo Patriarca snatched the bishop’s hand away.

“You have done enough to this family today. Do not touch my child.”

On the other side of the room Anna Piccarello, the miller’s wife let out a tearful cry.

“Giani, oh Giani. No, no, no…” her voice tailed off in a most sorrowful way. She fell to her knees and took her husband’s hand in hers and held it against her heart, closed her eyes and wept. Her son, daughter-in-law and their three small children all knelt next to her and bowed their heads and prayed.

The bishop looked at Giani Piccarello lying on the cot. The heavy set man had a blue-gray cast to his skin. In the excitement and rush for shelter his heart failed him. He was just able to make it to the soldier’s quarters and then collapsed. His wife and son-in-law helped him into the barracks and put him on the cot where he now laid.

The bishop was mute, for once in his adult life he could think of nothing to say.  Doctor Gallo flung the door open and entered with his boy and the Patriarca’s servant who was sent to fetch him. Gallo barely looked at Lorenzo and Penelope. He did acknowledge them with a slight nod. With one sweeping motion the doctor undid his rain-speckled cape and let it drop to the floor. His boy, Marco, picked up the cape, dusted it off and draped it over a small table. The doctor was of a short stature and to appear taller he stood up very straight and held out his chest.  He combed his thinning auburn hair over in an attempt to cover his baldness. His hair had a natural wave that made it lie in a severe peek down the center of his head, giving the appearance of a coxcomb. Gallo’s face was pale and narrow, his brow was permanently furrowed, his eyes small and dark with a slight bulge to them, his nose, large and sharp and beak-like, his lips were thin and framed in a well waxed goatee.

Lorenzo Patriarca approached and was about to say something but Gallo held up his hand and shook his index finger and cocked his head a little to the side. He abruptly turned on his heel and looked down at the unfortunate girl.

The boy handed the doctor his bag. The doctor opened it and took out a copper hearing horn and placed the bell at different spots on Gina’s chest. He listened with a very concerned expression. He handed the hearing horn back to Marco.  He took the girl’s wrist and felt her pulse, all the while nodding as if in thoughtful agreement with himself. The doctor gently put the girl’s hand back down at her side. Gallo wiggled his index finger at the boy. Marco came forth with the doctor’s bag and opened it.  The doctor reached in and took out a small brown bottle of smelling salts. He uncorked the bottle and with his boy supporting Gina’s lolling head, held the bottle under her nose. She did not flinch; her eyes rolled back showing only the whites. The boy placed her head back onto the pillow and stepped away. The doctor crossed his arms over his chest and silently looked at Gina. She did not stir. Gallo took the girls hands in his, they were icy cold. He slipped off her shoes and felt her feet; her feet were as cold as her hands.
The doctor squinted his eyes, pursed his lips, pinched at his chin with his thumb and index finger as he searched his mind. The Patriarcas looked hopefully as Gallo reached an epiphany that opened his eyes wide and arched his eye brows. The parent’s leaned in  closer and waited for the doctor to say something but their hopes were dashed as Gallo dismissed his notion with a quick shake of his head and a wave of his hand and a guttural grunt that could not be mistaken for anything other than” no.”

“Doctor Gallo, tell us.” Lorenzo asked impatiently.

The doctor answered by holding up his hand for silence. He then knelt, gently cradled the girl’s head in his left hand and gave her a sharp slap on the cheek with his right hand. The girl did not stir.  Gallo laid Gina’s head back on the pillow and grimaced as he spoke. “I have done all that I can. It is now in God’s hands. Take her home and keep her warm. I will stop by tomorrow in the morning to bleed her.”

The Patriarcas were silent. Gallo’s boy picked up his master’s cape off the side table and handed it to the doctor. The doctor whirled the cape over his shoulders, ruffled it into place, and took a step towards Lorenzo and his wife. He cleared his throat and bowed his head and held out his hand with his palm up.
Distracted and visibly distraught, and now irritated, Lorenzo took his purse off his belt, opened it and fished out a gold coin. He handed the coin to the doctor who looked at it for a second; Gallo, still with bowed head kept his hand open. Lorenzo sighed and placed another gold coin next to the first. Gallo nodded and slipped the coins into his vest pocket. ”Tomorrow then, do send word if anything changes. Right now prayers are the best remedy.”

Before Doctor Gallo could leave, Anna Piccarello came to his side. “Please doctor; is there any hope for my husband?”

“What? Your husband? Who are you? You want me to look at your husband?” Gallo seemed perplexed, almost confused and he spoke quickly and with impatience.

“Please?” asked the tearful woman.

“I really have no time,” then he added in a quiet but condescending tone,” but only out of charity.” Jacopo Gallo followed Anna Piccarello to the other side of the room. He avoided looking at the anxious people who were trying to get his attention. He stopped by the cot and looked down over the heads of the kneeling family members who were deep in prayer.  He extended both arms a little ways from his chest, elbow bent and his palms up, crooked his head forward and frowned. “It doesn’t take a doctor to see the obvious. He’s dead.”

On turning his back on the grieving widow the doctor was stopped by the other three families whose loved ones were injured. He reluctantly looked in on each one. A five year old little girl named Angela Garabaldi, daughter of Fabio Garabaldi the chandler, fell and was trampled in the rush to get out of the hail. She was covered with bruises, awake but in shock. Gallo told the parents to keep her warm, give her bed rest for a week and feed her clear soup, spinach and toasted bread with honey on it.

The next was an elderly, heavy set woman, with a permanent squint.  She was Teresa Orlandini the seamstress. He took her pulse, it was racing. She was anxious. Though bundled with blankets she kept shivering and had difficulty breathing. She complained of a pain in her chest. The doctor told her not to worry so much and to trust more in God, he prescribed as much brandy as she could hold, tea made from the chamomile flower, bed rest and warm compresses on her forehead.

The last was a young man of nineteen. He was the gold smith’s apprentice and close to becoming a journeyman.  His name was Giancarlo Terranova and he was a victim of neither the storm nor the hail. The youth lay on the cot and nervously looked past the doctor towards the door.  Giancarlo’s concerned mother watched as Jacopo lifted her son’s bloody shirt and found three stab wounds, two in the young man’s chest and one in his belly. The wounds hardly penetrated the muscle and were certainly not threatening.  The doctor had his boy apply a dark brown, pungent salve to the wounds. Gallo told the young man he should recover in a week or two and to pick the scabs off when they formed. Gallo also told him to be true to his master, to be sure to go to confession and to stay away from dangerous people.
Giancarlo’s mother took her son’s hand. “You do what the doctor says, he is a wise man. Now what did he tell you?”

Giancarlo reluctantly did as his mama asked. “I must be true to my master, I must confess and I must stay away from dangerous people.”

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To read the Alchemist Gift book from the beginning click here.
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Get an Alchemist Gift Bookmark signed by the author, Mark Giglio
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Mark Giglio, author and alchemist furniture maker

Mark Giglio, author of Alchemist Gift and alchemist furniture maker


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.

I am writing the novel Alchemist Gift online in real-time. I will share a few paragraphs of the book with each blog. I am still writing the book. I’d like to know how you like what you are reading. Please use the comments section to share. If you make suggestions in your comments, I may incorporate your ideas into the book. We hope you will enjoy the process as much as I do, follow the saga and share it with your friends and colleagues.

2013 Mark D. Giglio, www.theartofgiglio.com
All rights reserved. This article may not be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, in part or in whole, without written permission of Mark D. Giglio. Use of this article without permission is a violation of federal copyright law.

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