Letters of Maria Celeste:
18 November 1633
Most Beloved Lord Father
I received your most welcome letter together with the four apricots, which I turned over to La Piera so that she could distribute them to the neighbors. I am greatly cheered to hear that you go outside the city to take the air, because I know how it sustains and delights you. May it please God that you can come home soon to enjoy your own little house, the rent for which I sent this morning to the landlords in the amount of 17 scudi and 1/2, because they were insisting on having it, and I enclose the list of expenses as well, telling you furthermore how the blacksmith has returned the 3 barrels of wine that he owed us: it is of the Navicello variety and good enough for the servants; thus now we have recovered all that was given, or rather loaned, to others.
The white verdea grapes have not yet reached their peak of perfection, but when they do I will try to acquire some excellent ones, and this man will do us the service of carrying them to you. I wanted to send you some of the oranges from the garden, but from the sample La Piera brought me I see they are not quite ready. If good luck had enabled you to find even one gray partridge or something similar, I would have been thrilled to have it for love of that poor sick young girl, who craves nothing but wild game: at the last full moon she was so ill that she was anointed with holy oil, but now she has made such a comeback that we believe she will live to see the new moon. She speaks with great vivacity, and gulps her food readily, provided we give her the things she can tolerate. Last night I stayed with her all through the night, and while I fed her, she said: "I cannot believe that when one stands on the verge of death it is possible to eat the way I do, yet for all that I have no desire to turn back; only to see God's will be done." I pray Him to grant you His holy grace, Sire, and I greet you on behalf of all our friends.
From San Matteo in Arcetri, the 18th day of November 1633.
Your most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden