The servants hadn’t been paid in months, so they stole whatever they could before the Templars arrived to take possession of the house. The wine in the cellars was repossessed by the wine-merchant who hadn’t been paid either. The larger items of furniture that the servants didn’t drag out were impounded by officials of the court to be auctioned off to pay off Giovanni’s debts. Within three days, Cecilia had not even a bed to sleep upon and they were threatening to dump her father in a pauper’s grave.
Cecilia sold her wedding gown to pay for a coffin, funeral, and tombstone. Yet it was a very modest funeral and a very simple gravestone even so. A used dress, even one of cloth-of-gold, did not bring a high price when the merchants knew the seller was desperate, young and utterly ignorant of its real value.
Cecilia dyed every other shift, gown, surcoat and scarf black. Her gloves and shoes were black, too, when she followed her father’s simple pine coffin to the grave in the pouring rain. Beside the priest, the gravedigger, and her father’s dog she was alone. Neither the servants nor her father’s creditors and former business partners dared to show up after robbing her blind.
As they tossed the dirt on top of her father’s coffin, Cecilia didn’t know what was worse: the earth smothering her father or the water that had suffocated her Maurizio. Was it better to be eaten by worms or fish? At least a priest could say prayers for her father’s soul, but she could pay for no further masses. Not for him or for Maurizio. Dear Maurizio. My Maurizio.
“You mustn’t stand out here in the rain any longer, child.” The voice came from behind her, and when Cecilia turned she was so stiff it hurt to move.
Signor di Sanuto stood wrapped in a hooded cloak. He took her by the elbow and led her away from the grave. “I know you have nowhere to go, child. I am taking you home with me. You can help our nanny look after the grandchildren.”
“I—I don’t know—much—about children,” Cecilia stammered out. She had never had younger siblings, and, for all Maurizio’s virility, her womb had not quickened after their two blissful days of lovemaking.
“It comes naturally to all women,” Sanuto told her patting her arm. “Now come along. We’re both cold and wet enough already.
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