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  • A Crime of Honour: Crippled John and Handsome Paolo
    Paolo and Francesca's Love Story...
    Page 2 of 3
    Continued from page 1

    by Marzia Volpones

    Too magic were the nights, too heavy a burden for him to bear. The crippling sounds of his steps were heard climbing up the cobbled narrow streets of Gradara, around the castle, up to his chamber late at night. Laying on his bed the deep darkness of his soul meandered through the turmoil of his mind. "Could a girl ever feel the lustful desire... the sensuous passion for me? Could ever a girl truly kiss me? Could I be caressed, embraced, could I...?" He would give his own life away for a lustful, sexual passionate kiss.

    Gianciotto Malatesta had been at war for too long with the House of Da Polenta, Lords of the nearby city of Ravenna. Too big a price had been paid for by his people, his soldiers, and his finance. Peace was a "must" and peace had been negotiated with Guido da Polenta. He wanted to solidify it by an arranged marriage. His young and beautiful daughter Francesca would marry Gianciotto lo Sciancato.

    As soon as John saw the light brightening on Francesca's red hair, playing around down in the courtyard his heart sank. She was the one. She was almost fourteen, untouched. Her slightly blushing cheeks were the only visible signs of her secret thoughts. The dreaming passion of an unknown love was flowing through her veins like the dreaming of a handsome prince was floating in her mind.

    "She will repel me-Gianciotto thought---- I'm so disfigured, but..." Mala-testa (nicknamed for "evil -head") conceived an evil trick for a deceiving, betrayed kiss.

    "The marriage would be proxy through Paolo, - thought he- my handsome, elegant brother. He will court her on my behalf."

    Francesca fell in love with Paolo at first sight. The nuptial contract was happily signed. That very night she lustfully slipped in the marriage bed. A loud scream of horror the following morning when her passionate kisses of the night had turned her handsome prince into a "crippled frog": Crippled John was lying beside her. His honour bewildered, his crime satisfied.

    Blatantly tricked, angered at finding herself married to Gianciotto Francesca couldn't hide her flashy love for her brother-in-law.

    One day Paolo and herself were reading of Lancelot kissing Guinevere ...thus seduced by that book

    at once my lips all trembling kiss'd.
    The book and writer both were love's purveyors.
    In its leaves that day we read no more.

    La bocca mi baciò tutto tremante.
    Galeotto -fu il libro e chi lo scrisse:
    Quel giorno non più vi leggemmo avante.

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