Florence, 1470

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Florence, 1470

Running down the hall, a girl cried out, “Father!” Amongst a group of men standing at the end of the hallway stood a tall, dark-haired man with olive colored skin and bright green eyes. He turned just as the girl leapt into his arms. Surprised, he laughed and, looking at the men around him, said, “My wonderful daughter, you see? She has prepared a proper homecoming gift for me...a greeting from the heart!” “Humph,” replied one of the group. HIs greasy blonde hair fell in blankets about his shoulders, and the long robes covering his clothes gave an austere impression. The father glanced at him and smiled vaguely. “Phillipe, she is only a child. You have no children?” He asked. “Six, thank you,” the other answered stiffly. “And I let none of them run around the house like hooligans, as she does.” He waved at the girl, who could not notice the look on his face.

“Then you have no more business in our house than the devil,” the father said. “Go on, go home and see your family. How much I would give to see your children behave the same way as Lisa has done. You could not possibly shie away from them!” “Why should they act like that?” the other asked. “I have been away time and again before, and each of them greets me with a small hug and kiss.” “Too prim and proper,” a boistrous man from the back of the group said, his voice booming. He stepped forward. “I have three; yes, three, and all of them love their father well. Why, the night I came back from Rome on a three-day pilgrimage, they were practically climbing on top of one another to give me an enormous welcome!” The austere man sniffed and bowed his head slightly to the girl’s father. “Good day, Signor Claudio,” he said. With that, he walked away from the men to leave through the front door.

“Ah, he has no idea what the word ‘love’ really means,” the boistrous man told the father, whose face was smiling at his daughter while his eyes told a different story. “I tell you, I feel sorry for the child of that man who takes after his father.” “Now, now,” the father said as the rest of the group began to mutter, “Phillipe means well, I assure you. I suppose his childhood was not a pleasant one; remember, he grew up poorer than most of us. His providing well for the family, however, does not need to carry onto making his children feel exactly the way he does about wealth and being unfeeling.” The boistrous man grudgingly nodded his head.

“We must be going,” said someone in the front. “Claudio, thank you for your hospitality these past few weeks. The service at your house in Naples was much appreciated! We would love to stay, but our families are awaiting our arrival. Arrivederci!” The rest of the men fell in behind him, giving Claudio their thanks and goodbyes. Ten minutes later, the end of the hallway was silent except for the noise coming from the open windows, and the only ones left were the girl, her father, and the boistrous man. “Would you mind if I stayed for dinner?” the latter asked apologetically. “Lucia and the children are still in Padua with her parents, and we have no cook other than her.” “Of course, Fenoglio,” Claudio replied, putting down his daughter. “We have a full table, with far more food than either Lisa or I can eat in one sitting. And whatever we have left over goes to the cook for more to feed her family during supper, or to the poor who roam the streets.”

Fenoglio leaned down to see the girl. What caught his eye at first glance was the almond shape of her eyes, as well as the reflection of the sunshine in their brown depths. Her brunette hair hung around her face and framed it with gentle curls. Fenoglio’s eyes widened with surprise. “Her name is Lisa?” he asked in wonder, glancing up at Claudio. “Could you not find another name? Something more alluring or descriptive as a tribute to her eyes might have sufficed in the least!” “You really think so?” Claudio replied, gazing down at his daughter. “I had no choice in the name, however; my wife wanted her to be so. And though she is now dead, how can one ever rename a child after a name has been given? I found it could not be done, and so Lisa she remains.”

Dropping his right hand, he said, “Come, Lisa; it is time for our evening meal. And while you are here, Fenoglio, you must know the title of my young daughter.” “Oh?” Fenoglio said in mock surprise, staring down at Lisa. “What is your title?” Her eyes rising quickly, Lisa met the man’s with a comfortable air. It is almost as if she has had practice, Fenoglio thought. “Mona,” she answered. “You see?” Claudio said to Fenoglio, who remained looking down at the child. “She is my Mona Lisa. Now let us go. Our dinner as been kept waiting for too long.”





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