The Carnevale celebration has varying origins. Carnevale was not an exclusive social rite to any of the city states of Italia. Some purport that Carnevale was celebrated among the ancients as a form of pagan tradition. However, the iteration of Carnevale that originated in Venezia is believed to be rooted in religious practice, somehow related to Lent. A religious practice in which adherents refrain from meat and voluntarily choose to refrain from an ordinary indulgence. Carnevale had become the contrary celebration, where dance, decadence, merriment and the abundance of food was the basis of its celebration. Participants adorned themselves in elaborate dress, some even costumes and veiled their faces with masques. The anonymity of the masques was to allow those to be 'free' too engage in whatever activities to whatever the extent they desire without feeling inhibited or wary of the possible repercussions of their actions, including being the center of gossip. Yet the masques they wore did not obscure much of their faces. Often the veil only covered the eyes and nose. Often they wore masques fashioned in the shape of an animal's face, perhaps used as a distraction from what an observer could readily discern as the identity of the wearer. Thus, those who enjoyed the celebration of Carnevale wore a masque two-fold. There was the physical accessory, and then there was the presentation of a different or new sort of person who engaged in activities or the extreme thereof that they would not normally perform. They mystery of the masque was an allure, for a maiden may not be aware with whom she has danced. The gentleman may not know whom he has engaged with the sort of speech that would lead to a potential courtship. Though their bodies were bound by heavy and copious amounts of material, and their faces hidden in plain sight in the midst of the celebration, they believed that this was a season in which they could be 'free'.
For others, the masquerade ball during the season of Carnevale was purely social. Some participants arrived with their spouse or suitor. Others would attend only to announce their standing amongst their fellow courtiers. Still the celebrations throughout Carnevale provided many with the opportunity to further their purpose. Maintaining and elevating one's social status within the king's court remained at the fore of the gentry's purpose well into the 18th century. There was one celebration during this century celebrating Carnevale in which two wealthy, but sincere aristocrats attended. Some may consider it a culmination of their courtship. It was here that the maiden received and accepted the wedding proposal from her suitor. Amongst the chaos that dance, inebriation and social competition usually brings, this ball revealed much more than the genuine affection between kindred hearts.
It all started when a young maiden, Duchessa Anastasia, leaves from her mansion one late night. She would defend her actions silently as a balm to cure her boredom. The maiden leaves for a town square. She believes that she is alone. A voice in the darkness from behind her indicates otherwise. When they stand before each other, Anastasia sees a handsome gentleman, well-dressed and obviously a member of the gentry. They both stand in the night with only their words to break through the silence. Duchessa Anastasia is startled, but pleasantly surprised at the sight which stands before her.
The gentleman is distinguished, handsome, with an ennobled rank much higher than he initially discloses. Both are hesitant to reveal much of their identities. They only state their second names. Each considers the possible reasons that the other is unescorted, in a seemingly empty and unfamiliar public place.
The gentleman is moreso concerned for her. He sees her as a maiden in distress who must be returned to the home from which she departed. She seeks anonymity. Yet they are not present in a celebration. They have already revealed their faces to one another. The awkward encounters allows for no fanciful speech to distract the other's attention from assessing who stands before them. No, this acquaintance was unexpected, without pretense—and it was the inception of a path that they would find their mutual joy. Leandro returns Anastasia to her house. The duchessa is fortunate that it is primarily the senior servant, Sienna, who secures her within the manor. Yet Sienna is not the only person who sees her return from her indiscretion. The duchessa's devoted cavalier servente, Giorgio, is curious but disappointed as to his charge's antics. He is aware that she has encountered another aristocrat.
Giorgio has feelings for the duchessa that Anastasia never reciprocates. Members of the House of d'Alessi decide to take holiday. Anastasia stays behind in the manor but she will not be alone. Sienna and Giorgio are the primary servants who will keep close watch of her. The duchessa will not be able to veil herself from their observations. There is no masque for her to adorn herself with. Despite her annoyance with their overprotective behaviour towards her, the duchessa understands that this is their performance of loyal duty.
One day in the marketplace, Giorgio hears false rumours regarding a maiden's alleged indiscretion with a higher-ranking courtier. He traces the voices of the speakers of idle talk and pummels at least one of them. Giorgio believes that he has defended the name of the House of d'Alessi by his conduct. The strangers mock him when they realize that Giorgio, who is but another servant, possesses a futile longing for the duchessa.
On another occasion, Duchessa Anastasia witnesses the royal guard seize her cavalier servente on the allegation of treason by order of the Crown in the d'Alessi mansion. She looks to a fresco, hoping that this lifeless image could somehow hear her plea to save the humiliated Giorgio. He now stands before her in the grips of royal guards, too weak to defend himself. Duchessa Anastasia, however, does not allow for this incident to interfere with what has already been deemed for her. As time passes, the duchessa and the "duca" continue their courtship. Just as Giorgio, Leandro's father has heard talk of his son's encounter with the unescorted maiden. However, Leandro is able to convince his father, a high-ranking patrician, of his affection for his dear Anastasia and of their genuine fondness for one another. Leandro's father is sincere and believes he is assisting his son by admonishing him for this courtship. Leandro is adamant. His father relents. Giorgio is eventually cleared. The season of Carnevale is at its peak. The duchessa had yet to know of what Leandro's station was within the king's court. This is how he knew no barrier would exist between him and Anastasia. The night of the grand ball arrives. The ennobled use their masques to hide their indulgence and the smirks which hint at their wicked connivances against the innocents. The duchessa arrives at the grand ball and meets with her intended. While inside, the duchessa thought the masque was a splendid accessory to shield others from her bashful nature. Anastasia and Leandro did not adorn themselves with facial coverings to engage in the unseemly. Their adoration for one another was pure. Their affection they have towards each other, impenetrable. Leandro convinces her to eventually remove her masque just as he did. They need not conceal who they are to one another or to the patriciate. They now knew each other's full names. They bore no shame in what Providence had guided them to fulfill for one another. Leandro and Anastasia venture to one of the gardens where she accepts his proposal. Another, younger servant who accompanied the duchessa seeks to inform her of what she has learned of Giorgio's predicament. Capriana runs towards the couple. She falls and injures herself. She is taken to private quarters by the host of the soiree. The apothecarist administers a sedative. While she rests in the dark, away from the chatter and decadence, someone enters her room to murder her. Giorgio followed the culprit and intervenes. Cheer, dance, the imbibing of spirits and much more is happening all around her. Capriana is weakened. She lays in silence while Carnevale continues. Carnevale is known for scandal, yet another is about to take place. She opens her eyes to see Edmondo about to fatally wound her. Giorgio rushes in and intervenes. The music to celebrate Carnevale still plays. It veils the chatter and the scheme from the oblivious attendees. The esteemed Leandro orders the perpetrator seized. He and the duchessa seek to protect Capriana until the following day. Leandro reveals his status within the king's court to Anastasia. He was a much greater esteemed courtier than he initially revealed. Leandro was not a duca, but the prince. The king and queen stand proud of who their son has chosen for his bride. It is not until the day of their nuptials that Prince Leandro and Duchessa Anastasia learn who colluded with the murderer and framed Giorgio. Not even Anastasia suspected who it could be. Those involved will claim they only tried to assist Anastasia, but their aim was to harm, even one familiar to them and her intended. It was all for their self-aggrandizement and sport. In the end, those who connived such grave offenses are meted out their due punishment. Despite all of their evil machinations, envy and doubt, Leandro weds Duchessa Anastasia. They are now Prince Leandro and Princess Anastasia. They now begin the next chapter of their lives, together and for eternity.
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About the Author: Patricia M. Muhammad is a multi-genre fiction author who often incorporates interracial relationships and multi-racial characters as a part of her storylines. She has written 20 novels. Patricia is currently based in the United States.
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