Parthenope’s Bindery . . .

(Parthenope seated at her workbench, Bacigalupo in an easy chair by the fireplace.)

Bacigalupo: ‘May I speak?’

Parthenope: ‘One moment. Counting.’ (pause)

Bacigalupo: ‘Is this one of the very tiny ones?’

Parthenope: (With a deep breath, sitting back) ‘Yes, for that woman with the Baby House in Trevallyn. See, look: a small box with copies of the maps of Gervaise, that opens on a hinge when one pulls this tab, which spreads the maps out on….oh. Well. How vexatious. Help me gather these up, will you?’

Bacigalupo: (Under the table) ‘Have you thought further about my request?’ (Rising and delicately dropping the tiny maps like confetti onto the table in front of Parthenope)

Parthenope: ‘I have not only decided, I have taken action. After meeting with Sarina and Lucia yesterday, I have invited two of their friends here, ostensibly to examine my work.’

Bacigalupo: ‘Might they be the mysterious friends come to Veniche for the ball?’

Parthenope: ‘Some, but not all.’

(Her maid knocks and enters.)  Maid: ‘Ser Niccolo de Fleury and Signore di Genova, madam.’

Parthenope: ‘Show them up.’

(Maid leaves)

Bacigalupo: ‘I am aquainted with both men, Parthenope. Very well, in fact.’

(Niccolo and Hugh enter)

Parthenope: ‘The very gentlemen I had hoped to see. Ser Niccolo, Signore, you know Mr. West, do you not?’

Hugh: ‘We do, madam, and he sings the praises of your work so beautifully that . . . ‘

Niccolo: ‘Save your flattery, Hugh. (turns to Bacigalupo) How do you come to be here? Madam, are you aware of the identity of this person?’

Bacigalupo: ‘I am Rodolfo West, of the Museo di Veniche. Here, at least. Yes, she knows.’

Parthenope: ‘Ser Niccolo, I have known the Bacigalupo since my childhood . . . ‘

Niccolo: ‘I have known him since your great-grandmother’s childhood! He means nothing good to any of your kind, and to women, the worst. Aine, you have your niece in this house!’

Bacigalupo: ‘Sir, my private amusments are my own affair. Something more dire than the fate of Vittoria’s peace of mind is at hazard here. The Signora has unluckily become aware of our purposes, and has information that she must convey to us.’

Hugh: ‘Signora, we had thought to keep you free of any knowledge of our troubles, but it seems they have come to you in our despite.’

Parthenope: ‘Your words are kindly meant, sir, but it seems I am swept up in the storm whether I will or no.’

Niccolo: ‘Hugh, this is on the far side of too much. Had I known that the Rodolfo West in whom we placed our trust was this vicious trickster who . . .’

Parthenope: ‘You’re pardon, Ser Niccolo, but I think it time to tell my part of the tale. A month ago, I was offered a curious commission – to make an exact copy of a certain miniature book . . . ‘

The amulet . . . –>