Excerpt from Death In Bagheria, publishing next month
Thursday, March 24, 1870
“As I was saying, it can be delightful here, especially a little later in the spring and summer, after working the dining room all night long, carrying trays and platters and whatnots up and down the stairs. And at night when the stars cover the heavens, oh my!” She pointed to the gargantuan mass in the east. “And you can see the fires of Etna and hear the ghost of Empedocles wail.”
“Who?” Rosa asked.
“Empedocles, ma’am. He jumped into the volcano.”
The maid shrugged.
“Look at it, the mountain with its peak in the clouds. Can’t you see the fire coming from its maw?” Serafina asked.
Rosa shook her head.
Lina held her arm straight and still, gesturing toward the volcano’s mouth.
“How can you not see it? It’s that huge mountain right in front of us, grey black at the base, a few houses running up its side, white around its peak, smoke and fiery ash spitting out of its mouth!” Once again, as she described it to Rosa, Serafina felt herself drawn to Etna’s power and unpredictable rage. Slowly she led her friend closer to the edge, her arm rigid, her finger pointing to the view, the madam shaking her head, Serafina straining to show her what only a blind person could fail to see, unaware of how close they’d come to the railing. “Can’t you see the spurts of fire?” Serafina asked.
Photo: Mount Etna from the air. Credit: gnuckx (Flickr), Creative Commons.