Sisters’ Love

Sisters’ Love

Nina? What are you doing? Day dreaming again, thinking of the duke’s son and that he could one day look at you. As if you were anything to look at!

Nina didn’t bother replying. Her sister had always been jealous of her. Six years older than Nina, Mona was still not married and, at the age of twenty four – in seventeenth’ century Tuscany – it meant that you were either doomed to remain a spinster and care for your elderly parents or that you would eventually marry a man at least twenty or thirty years older than you and would end up nursing him in his old age. Not a merry tale!

Nina did think that the duke’s son was rather ravishingly good looking but she had no hopes of securing any attention from him. After all she was only the astronomer’s daughter! And so was Mona. But Mona had hopes despite all appearances. Perhaps not for the duke’s son but she thought that the tutor might be a wiser aim, one she could possibly achieve.

Nina finished her bowl of milk and looked out of the window. The duke’s son was out riding in the company of a rather pretty girl, his cousin, promised to him since he was ten. No luck, thought Nina, this one is not for me either. Mona came into the kitchen at that very moment.

  • I knew it! You are swooning over lord Lucrece, Mona singed.

Nina looked at her and gave her one of her heart melting smiles.

  • I rather fancy that French tutor who has come from Paris. He did pay me a compliment on my accent.
  • You do not speak any French and you know it!
  • But you see, darling sister he has a “certain je ne sais quoi” that is quite irresistible.
  • You cannot like him, you are in love with Lucrece.
  • Oh, but my dear sister, I do not mean a thing to him. And I think that Auguste Blanc is rather on my level.
  • Why?
  • Because, because…
  • Because…

Mona looked at Nina and saw that her sister was smiling rather wickedly.

  • Oh, come on Mona. I was just teasing you… I have seen the way you look at Monsieur Blanc.
  • But why say that you liked him then?
  • Because you are always accusing me of great expectations when in fact I have a likeness for a simpler man than the duke’s son.
  • You have?
  • I do, sister. I will tell you in time, if you stop quarrelling with me.

She left the room before Mona had the chance to reply but for the first time since Nina was born, she did not feel hatred towards her little sister but a subtle sense of togetherness she has never encountered before. Sharing a secret involves complicity and the older sister felt that Nina was not an enemy anymore and perhaps one day, they could be friends.

When she went back to her room, Mona found a letter waiting for her on her writing desk;

Meet me at the back of the church by the graveyard at 18.00 hours. 

Could it be possible that the French tutor had noticed her?  Who else could have written the note? It is not as if Porto Novello was a melting pot of desperate bachelors fighting for the perfect wife. She decided she would go to the meeting point at the suggested hour. She had nothing to lose, even if it was the stable boy, better to be noticed than ignored. But then, would a stable boy be able to read and write?

Winter in Tuscany can be harsh and a cold wind was blowing over the little port when she reached the church but the attached cemetery was sheltered by high walls that made the weather a little less aggressive. At first, she did not see anyone in the shadows of the December stillness but as she approached the bench, a silhouette detached itself over the inky blue of the sky. It was a man, there was no mistaking the shape and the shadow did not waver or shake as that of an old man but still, it could be dangerous and she approached with caution. The moon briefly lighted this corner of the cemetery and she could see the man’s features quite clearly. It was not Auguste as she had thought might be the case but the features were familiar. It certainly was not the duke nor his son but the handsome features of the estate manager. Mona thought for an instant that the letter had been meant for Nina but as she stood expectantly not knowing what to do or say, his voice came out clear but slightly shaken.

  • I hope I have not presumed too much by suggesting this encounter. Your sister suggested I approached you…
  • Why I do not know Mister Humbler, this is somewhat strange.
  • Forgive my straightforwardness, miss Conti but since arriving here, I have not been able to think of anything but you.
  • Mister Humbler, I do not know what to say.
  • Say Yes.
  • To what?
  • To becoming my wife.
  • I am sorry, perhaps I am too straightforward. Pardon me.
  • Mister Humbler, I had no idea…
  • No, I can see that.
  • I did not think you had even noticed me.
  • How could I not? You are the liveliest person I have ever met.
  • Am I?
  • Yes, and I like a bit of fire in a woman.
  • You do?

Whilst Mona was considering her very surprising offer of marriage with an increasing sense of happiness, Nina was meeting her secret admirer. It was not the duke’s son as her sister had presumed but the duke himself. He was only forty one with a ravishing smile and blue green eyes that made her own twinkle. Yes, she would be his mistress if she could not be his wife but the legend has it that they did not have any children but lived happily ever after.
Connect with Penmancy:



Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!

Fabienne Reynolds
Latest posts by Fabienne Reynolds (see all)

Let us know what you think about this story.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© Penmancy 2018 All rights reserved.
%d bloggers like this: