Excerpt from Death In Bagheria, publishing soon
Thursday, March 24, 1870
Serafina noticed clouds massing in the distance. “What do you do when it rains?” she asked della Trabia, after her breathing returned to normal, raising her voice over the clatter. She slid to one side on the hard seat and clung to the rail.
“Me? I have my own horse. As for the rain, we’ve been lucky the past four, five years. Seldom rains in the spring, I know, but we’ve been having a wet one this year, good soaking rains, then it goes dry for weeks at a time. Don’t know about the grain, but the citrus trees like it. Lately when the rain comes, it’s sudden and fierce, so I’ve learned it’s best to keep a slicker in the pack.”
They were silent for a time as the trap pitched and rolled.
Breaking the mood, he spoke, shouting over the braying mule and the creaking wood. “Don’t use this trap much, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment—we’re using all the carts in the field—can’t use the carriage on these paths. Our busy time now, picking, bagging the citrus, pruning some of the trees, cleaning up after ourselves.” He turned around and saw them clinging to the side handles. “You don’t like the ride?”
“It’s fine,” Rosa said, gritting her teeth. “Almost as good as a peasant cart.” She whispered to Serafina, “He’s driving us in this contraption on purpose, the rotter.”
At one point, Serafina knocked into Rosa, both almost tumbling onto the floor, but soon she adjusted to the motion and found her mind wandering. If Serafina were honest with herself, della Trabia would have charmed her a few years ago with his gorgeous eyes and his confident stride. True, they owed their lives to his fearless dispatch of the bandits this morning, but today he amused her, nothing more. She was amazed at how much her life had changed in such a short time and couldn’t help comparing him with Loffredo, who was taller than their guide and certainly more polished than della Trabia, possessing a cleansing, almost magnetic, certainly a noble demeanor and a sense of culture, too. Discarding her ruminations of a few minutes ago, she longed for him, right now, right this minute, but she had a job to do and steeled her resolve, turning her mind to the reason she and Rosa were here—finding the baroness’s killer.
Photo: Cefalu. Credit: by rongorongo (Flickr), Creative Commons.