Letters of Maria Celeste:
31 October 1633
Most Beloved Lord Father
I delayed writing this week because I really wanted to send you the ortolans, but in the end none have been found, and I hear that they fly away when the thrushes arrive. If only I had known this desire of yours, Sire, several weeks ago, when I was wracking my brain trying to think of what I could possibly send you that might please you; but never mind! You have been unlucky in the ortolans, just as I was foiled by the gray partridges, because I lost them to the goshawk.
Geppo returned yesterday from San Casciano, and brought the two boxes that you sent me, both in good condition; and since you have made me absolute proprietress over them, I take full advantage of this title, not sending more than half the items to my sister-in-law, although I did give another two cakes and two apricots to Signor Geri, telling him that you intended these, too, to be shared with La Sestilia: of the remainder I simply had to offer a portion to Signor Rondinelli, who shows himself so caring and cordial toward the two of us, as well as to many of our friends: these are all truly generous gifts, but also very costly ones, so that I would not be quite so willing another time to make a similar demand, which your munificence, Sire, has met more than four times over, and for which I multiply my thanks a hundredfold.
I made Goro's wife aware of your wish, Sire, to settle with her and provide charity upon your return; if later she comes to ask again, I will carry out your orders, and I will do the same with Tordo.
Young Ninci has recovered his health reasonably well and expressed his great satisfaction with the assistance he received from our Geppo. Suor Luisa is beginning to rise fairly often from her bed; Suor Caterina Angela died; the young consumptive nun holds on, but in a bad state. The wine from San Miniato has not come, probably detained by the heavy rains, the same reason the broad beans have not been set in the garden, but they will be put in on the first day the weather turns fair; the lettuce and cabbage seeds have been sown, and there are also some onions; the artichokes are beautiful; of lemons we have an ample supply, though only a few oranges.
The little mule had some small discharge from one eye, but she is well now, as is La Piera her governess, who tends to the spinning and her praying to God that you come home soon, Sire: true as that is I cannot believe she puts her heart into her praying as much as I do. Although, while I hear that you feel so well, Sire, I know not what to tell myself, if not that the Lord reciprocates according to the great faith you place in my poor prayers, or, to speak more precisely, in one single prayer that I utter continuously with my heart, because I do not have time to speak it aloud with my voice.
I send you no pills because desire makes me hope that you must soon arrive here to claim them in person: I am all eagerness to hear the resolution that will reach you this week. The comedy, coming from you, can be nothing if not wonderful; but as yet we have not been able to read past the first act.
I do not lack for matters to discuss with you, but I do lack the time; and for this reason I close here, praying Our Lord and the Most Holy Madonna to be always in your company, and I greet you lovingly in the name of our usual friends.
From San Matteo, the last of October of 1633.
Your most affectionate daughter,
©1995 Al Van Helden