Bacigalupo . . .
When I began the journey to hold a Masked Ball on Mesmered’s blog, I never dreamed that a story would emerge from it, two stories in fact. One is a short-story called The Masked Ball which is entirely different than the blog-story and which Pat from Bo Press Miniature Books is using in one of her brilliant limited edition creations. But here on Mesmered, another story is developing and it’s exciting for me to see what my co-conspirators come up with each day. Till now, we haven’t communicated a story-line with each other, we have just run off with the last line of the previous submission to write our own submission and move the story forward. It’s become an exercise in fleet wordage and spare detail for me and I find I am learning quite a lot about the craft of writing and getting the message across in the shortest possible time. Please sit back now and enjoy Pat Sweet’s continuation of her part in The Masked Ball as Parthenope Neroli:
Bacigalupo . . .
I first saw him when I was a child.
My two sisters and I were heading towards a pine grove at our father’s country estate, a small clearing where we were wont to pass warm afternoons. We saw a thin, ragged man, kneeling in the pine needles, trying unsuccessfully to open a golden amulet with a rock. He looked up.
‘You won’t tell anyone you saw me.” It wasn’t a question.
My sisters fled, but the implied threat had stung my childish honour. ‘I wouldn’t have, in any case’, I said.
Then he did an extraordinary thing. His face changed, not in appearance, but in some way that I still cannot understand. It was though he had dropped an invisible mask. I could see his true nature, his past and future, his limits and his possibilities. He shone through the flesh and bone as sunlight through a window.
‘Ah. Thank you, then.’
We looked at each other for a few moments, and as there seemed no more to be said, I turned and ran back to the house. My sisters and I never spoke of it.
I saw him again, in different guises, over the years. As an old ostler at a coaching inn, he grinned up at me for an instant; as a foppish and impatient dancing master, he taught me and my sisters for two years. By then I had worked out who he was.
‘Are you the Bacigalupo?’
‘I’ve been called that, yes.’
‘Why do I not fear you?’
‘If I was frightening, I couldn’t entice young ladies into the gardens at balls, now could I?’
‘Do you really do that?’
‘Well, I do entice young ladies into the gardens, but I don’t devour them. That’s just a story their Mamas made up.’
I knew enough of Others by then to look for no remorse in this statement. Such contact implied a loss of more than virginity.
He now joins my salon occasionally in the guise of a natural philosopher attached to the Museo de Veniche, for whom he is devising a machine which he claims will conquer time and space, or some such.
He will escort me and my niece Vittoria to the masquerade ball, and plans to wear the mask of a wolf.