On her way home, Serafina crossed the piazza, glancing back at the fountain and stony St. Benedict. She watched as two men stuffed the statue’s hands with citrus blossoms. Sun winked off the glass of storefronts. Shadows moved in the distance and the talk of women drying tomatoes echoed from a back street portico.
Suddenly the cobbles moved under her boots and Genoveffa’s journal flew from her grasp. She thrust out a hand to retrieve it, but a gang of nasties grabbed it from her fist and sprinted toward the nearest alley. Scrambling to her feet, she was about to run after them when she was seized from behind.
Serafina spun around. “Let me go!” As her vision focused, she recognized Badali, the policeman who had worked with her on a case last month. “Why did you stop me? Those street urchins took my book and I must have it back. It belongs to a baroness.”
The captain blew his whistle. “Shouldn’t go chasing after them. Dangerous ruffians about these days—deserters and the like who’d just as soon sell their grandmother’s bones as your book. But now that they have it, they’ll rip out the pages and sell the binding for a few centesimi.”
In a moment, more carabinieri appeared. Badali barked orders, pointed to the alley, and his men flew off.
Photo: Prickly pears. Credit: Antonio Llardo (Flickr).