Thursday, March 24, 1870
At the top of the stairs, the maid led them through a small enclosure with a few narrow steps to the roof. Serafina’s heel caught on a the lip of a tile, but she was able to right herself before she fell. Those sharp movements again, a voice inside her reminded, so breathing in and out, she admonished herself to move with decorum and thoughtfulness as she edged to the rail, marveling at the view of a rough sea and in the distance, the towering mountains surrounding Etna, smoke pluming from its mouth.
“We’re able to walk all the way round, a lovely view from up here,” the maid said holding onto her skirts. A wisp of her hair blew in the wind and she tucked it back. “But grasp the rail if you go near the edge. Years ago a young man plunged to his death. Some say he was a servant who’d had too much wine; others say he was a friend of the family, but no matter …”
She had their full attention.
“He came up here and wandered too close to the gutter. One story has it that he slipped and fell, another that he was pushed.”
Serafina looked at Rosa and shuddered.
The maid continued. “The baron refers to it as “the accident that happened long ago, a foolishness best forgotten.” He doesn’t want anyone talking about it, so a cautionary word. If you wish to know more, ask the butler or the cook who says she can still hear his screams in her sleep, a piercing cry that echoes in her dreams.”
Photo: Mt Etna at sunset. Credit: gnuckx (Flickr)