Lady Leena Fandango
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The Flight to Fanciful ~ Part 2 Pulling into Port

Lady Fandango stands at the rail and watches as the ship gets ever closer to the dock at Rocca Sorrentina. First, the island was a small dot on the horizon and then the landgrows bigger as she approaches. It was a swift and pleasant journey and she's happy to be arriving. She's visited here a few times in the past, but now that she's to become a resident, this trip is even more wonderful.

Lady Leena's agent, Silas Becker, wrote back to her in England and assured her that his meeting with Professore Stern went well. She's about to live in alovely two roomapartment in the Villa Vesuviana. Becker also let her know that many fine artisans and craftsman are on the island so anything she needs can be acquired there. She remembers the fine shops on her travels here and cannot wait to see what's new and different on the island.


Lady Aphrodite MacBain resides here and she can't wait to gossip and catch up with her old friend. She envisions many conversations with coffee and sweets, fresh baked by La Barista Aphrodite herself. Walks along the beach with the warm breezes and healing waters is just what Lady Leena needs to escape the coming winter in England. There was music on the island now, a new area where all could come together and listen in the open air, such a wonderfully mild climate here. Some tunnels underneath the island with relics, she was trying to recall from her past visits, with ancient ruins and history of their own. It would be good to explore and get her bearings once again.

Becker wrote that a meeting with Don Alphonso would be in order, he handles the financial affairs on the island,and that he was a very curious fellow. Perhaps just sending Becker down to deal with him would be more prudent. Speaking of Becker, Lady Leenascans the shore and looksfor her agent,hopinghe would be there to meet her as she disembarked.He happens to be near the dock and spies her on the ship andwaves to her.

Silas Becker bows and greets her warmly, "Good day my Lady, was it a pleasant journey? Everything isready, we can get you settled in without delay." Lady Leena smiles back at him, "Oh yes, the seas were fairly calm and I'm looking forward to my new adventures here. How are you fairing Becker? Your letter was happily received and you'vedone well getting things sorted out here for me."

"Thank you Lady Leena," Becker says.Smiling broadly he lifts his hand and points to the Villa on the hill, to my new home. Lady Fandango sighs happily and smiles back at him, eyes bright and happy, eager to begin her newchapter at Rocca Sorrentina.


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The Flight to Fanciful ~ Part 1 The Meeting

Silas Becker arrives aboard ship at the island of Rocca Sorrentina. He shields his eyes from the sun and surveys the island with a keen eye and can't help but notice the lovely scenery and the warm breezes. After disembarking, he strolls a slight distance away from the dock and notices a cat on a bench and reaches over to give the black feline some attention. Becker laughs quietly as the cat begins to purr and bat at his hands with ebony paws. Standing once again and leaving the cat to bask in the sun, he gazes around and tries to decide what to do next.

Reaching into his pocket, Becker checks for the letter, and hopes to come across one Professore Stern, in hopes of meeting with him as soon as possible. He has some business to attend to here as he is acting as agent to his employer, Lady Leena Fandango, who hopes to move to the island if accomodations are available for her. Looking back towards the dock, Silas Becker spies a man off in the distance and decides to walk towards him and ask about the whereabouts of the Professore. By chance, the gentleman near the wharf cordially introduces himself as the very Professore Stern that Becker seeks.


After exchanging pleasantries and the reason for Becker's arrival, Professore suggested meeting in the library of the Villa, a large and beautiful building up on the hilltop. The library was quite grand and after the men were sitting comfortably, the Professore graciously offers some wine, which Becker happily accepts.

The discussion begins with Becker offering Professore Stern the letter from Lady Fandango so he was assured of his credentials. Silas Becker explains that Lady Leena wished to move to the island to escape the coming winter in England and that she has visited here in the past. Her friend, Lady Aphrodite MacBain, resides on Rocca Sorrentina and spoke highly of the climate and how much she enjoys living on the island. Professore Stern commented fondly about Lady MacBain, she is held in high regard by himself and the others that live here and asks some questions of the character of Lady Leena. Becker assures him that Lady Fandango is quite respectable, although her parents have passed away, she comes from a good family.


Professore mentions an apartment in the Villa, just upstairs from where they were sitting, hoping it is what she is looking for. After sipping the last of the wine, Becker stands and accompanies him to tour what he has to offer. The apartment is perfect and will fit Lady Fandango's needs quite nicely. The rooms are formal yet cozy and well appointed with furnishings. Professore Stern assures Becker that Lady Leena may use what is contained in the apartment as it pleases her. Becker enthusiatically agrees to the arrangement so that the apartment will be hers once she arrives to the island.

Professore Stern politely requests that Becker follow him to see a gentleman, Don Alphonso, his assistant, who handles the business dealing of the island. Both men exit the apartment and Becker follows the Professore down some winding steps to finish his business, happy that Lady Leena has found a new place to call home. Don Alphonso was a bit of an eccentric fellow and didn't talk much so Becker follows the lead of Professore Stern, who encourages a rather grim Don Alphonso into showing Becker the contracts and necessary documents. Professore Stern takes his leave for Becker to conclude his business, and the two men shake hands. Professore asks that Becker meet him in the cafe for some coffee, run by none other than Lady Aphrodite MacBain, Lady Leena's friend, so that they can talk further about the history of the Rocca Sorrentina.


Following his nose and the scent of delicious coffee, Becker escapes Don Alphonso's grumbling and finds Professore seated in the cafe with the coffee in front of him and the setting sun behind. Becker takes a seat and is quite impressed as Professore Stern recounts the history of the island with a wide mix from the Greeks and Roman, the Spanish and the current situation as a part of the Kingdom of Naples. At one point, he shares that a Prince of the island has sadly disappeared but left instructions for the island's continuity. Professore Stern acts as magistrate of Rocca Sorrentina after doing the long lost Prince a favor. He opened up a bit of his own history as being from Piedmont with his own credentials as not only magistrate of Rocca Sorrentina but also as a diplomat. Becker couldn't help but wonder about what the favor could be, and toasted Professore Stern with genuine respect.


Becker shares a bit about himself, a simple country boy being from Cornwall, England and mentions that it's the same area that Lady Leena's family is from. He's happily in Lady Leena's employ and is quite content with his station in life. Professore Stern seems to be quite a force to be reckoned with, Becker thinks to himself. After a bit of further pleasant conversation, Professore Stern excuses himself to attend to some duties of Rocca Sorrentina and the men rise up from their seats bowing, and say pleasant goodbyes to each other.

Becker sits back down, sipping his coffee and knows he needs to write to Lady Leena straight away so she may make the arrangements for her move. She had confidence in Becker, rest assured, so she's probably already packing in her eagerness to get here, Becker couldn't help but smile to himself. He breathes a quiet sigh of relief that he got the job done and his duties to her have been fulfilled. After finishing his coffee and walking back to his cabin on the ship, Silas Becker puts quill to paper, happily writing to Lady Leena to let her know her new home awaits her.

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As told by Hugo Dieter ....

Return to Sorrentina ~ Part 13 ~ New Trepidation as the North Approaches

The travels to Marseilles from Rocca Sorrentina had been a safe one, the Conte Foscari availing himself of being in this new city and undertaking some business. He had busied himself with his bankers in this corner of the world. Originally the coach to take them further North was to leave at dawn, but the Conte had sent a message that he was delayed so Beatrice and Hugo were to make their own entertainments in the meantime.

Their lodgings secured at the inn, Beatrice and Hugo had spent some time exploring, wandering the streets of the Marseilles. The colorful character Madame Fanny in the nearby tavern had been most welcoming, a woman with a pipe, Hugo chuckled as one doesn't see that very often. Her no nonsense disposition and openness had set Beatrice's mind at ease, or so he thought. And the bouillabaisse, that fish stew, Madame Fanny's tavern was famous for it. One could never tire of eating it.

78_blogs.png?width=750 Madame Fanny of the Tavern in Marseilles

Hugo was managing to put his past demons to rest from Venezia, but Beatrice, she seemed to be more and more anxious as we got closer to Prussia. The Conte's suggestion that we accompany him on this journey to the Prussian Court had seemed a good one, as Beatrice was now his secretary. Now for Beatrice, it seemed it was her turn for her own demons to come back to haunt her.

Hugo was still wary of the Conte, since that damnable Mercury Gandt had managed to disappear yet again! Hugo suspected that the Conte was indeed a puppeteer, and the strings he pulled were long and stretched out like a spider web. Hugo thought back to their voyage on the ship, as he caught himself on more than one occasion studying the Conte Foscari, trying not to be caught gaping as he stared in a vain attempt to sort through what the Conte may or may not be up to.

79_blogs.png?width=750 The Conte Foscari on the Voyage

Beatrice may need a protector, a job that Hugo never tired of, and hopefully she needed no protection from the Conte himself. To his credit, the Conte Foscari always treated Beatrice with the utmost respect, something that on occasion Hugo quite frankly, hadn't. Hugo cringed and ran his hands through his hair as he thought of his demons and his drunkenness, and the times where Beatrice had sweetly rebuffed his advances.

"I must do better, as Beatrice entirely deserves it," thought Hugo and stood up a bit straighter, setting his mind on a better path. Frowning for just a moment, Hugo wondered where Beatrice was and wrapped his cloak about his shoulders to go and seek her out, leaving his room at the inn and closing the door securely behind him. Knocking at her door in the inn and his calls unanswered, Hugo decided to make his way down to the port, perhaps she was taking a stroll and enjoying the scenery.

Hugo walked for only a short time and found Beatrice quickly, and, she was frowning. She seemed lost in thought and didn't notice Hugo's approach. Hugo paused and watched her face, beautiful in its expression with her furrowed brows. He wondered what she was thinking, and could only guess what troubled her. He hoped to soothe her and hear her plight, it was the best way he knew how to help, knowing her story would allow him to do what was best.

80_blogs.png?width=750 Finding Beatrice on the Docks

Trying to make a bit of noise to not frighten her, Hugo cleared his throat as he got closer to Beatrice and then offered a bow and a smile. "Good afternoon Beatrice," Hugo greeted her warmly, standing from his bow and gazing into her warm large eyes. Pausing for only a moment, her frown melting away, Beatrice replied, "Hello Dieter! Wonderful to see you again!" Beatrice smiled at Hugo, delighted to see a familiar face and her demeanor took on a more relaxed tone. She couldn't help but add, as her face curled into an even more beaming smile, "It seems like ages since we have seen each other. And it was only last night that we shared a bouillabaisse!"

Hugo chuckled and smiled back at Beatrice in return, "My dear Beatrice, how are you? It's wonderful to see you too." And then remembering the promise he made to himself, Hugo heartily apologized to Beatrice for his less than gentlemanly behavior in the past. "Beatrice, please allow me to apologize for my rather crude actions of late, I confess I can, at times, be a bit of a cad," Hugo looks at Beatrice with regret, and taking her hand, kisses it quickly before releasing it again.

As Beatrice's blush curls up around her cheeks, she watches as Hugo's lips brush her hand, "I was not offended, I admit to being a little flattered. As for how ... I ... am?" Beatrice pauses as the frown touches her brow once more. Taking a deep breath she answers, "I have had many dreams and I admit, they are quite tempestuous."

Hugo, looking concerned, reaches up and pulls a stray curl away from Beatrice's forehead, "Your dreams? How so my little treasure? What ails you?" He sincerely hopes that her dreams aren't haunting her, as his own memories from Venezia had plagued him. Beatrice looks down at the dock and says in a quiet voice, "Oh .... it's just that your attentions raised feelings, feelings that were spoiled by my nervousness about our trip."

Beatrice looks up again, staring at Hugo's face and offers a small smile, "It's such a beautiful evening here in Marseilles. I wonder, could we go for a walk along the pier?" Hugo raises his arm offering it to her and answers, "Of course we can, it would be an honor." Beatrice takes his arm and they begin to stroll along as the night begins to come about, with the hint of grey in the clouds.

81_blogs.png?width=750 A Stroll for Beatrice and Hugo

Moving his hand to hers as they walk, Hugo gives Beatrice's hand a gentle squeeze, trying to coax her worries out of her. "What is it? You are troubled my sweet."

Beatrice lowers her eyes and is somewhat reticent, "Oh, I am just being silly," she says, "I am just a bit anxious about our trip and whom we might meet."

Hugo holds Beatrice's hand a bit tighter, ""Now why would you be afraid of who we might meet?"

She looks up at Hugo again and offers a bit of a anxious smile, "It's hard for me to tell you. You do know a little bit of my background, don't you? How I grew up playing in the gardens of Sanssouci?"

Hugo recalls only hearing some generalities of Beatrice's distant past, "Very little, you've been a bit vague on the details of many things."

Beatrice takes a deep breath and nods her head slowly, "Ah, I suppose that once I start, it will be hard to explain things without telling the full story. Will you promise to keep what I tell you a secret?"

Hugo assures her, "Of course Beatrice, I won't tell a soul, you can count on me to keep your secrets."

"Thank you, I trust that you will keep your promise," Beatrice replies as she moves away, finding a more out of the way location so no one can hear other than Hugo, he follows her, ever more curious.

82_blogs.png?width=750 A Quiet Corner

Beatrice begins to tell the tale of her past, in almost a whisper, "The time of my departure from Prussia was a painful one despite its pleasant beginnings. I grew up playing in the gardens of Sanssouci, Frederick the Great's summer palace in Prussia. When I was 18, I married Duke Vaclav Wolf von Mecklenburg, from a small Duchy north of Prussia. He had joined the army of Frederick the Great of Prussia. Did you know of him?"

Shaking his head from side to side Hugo responds, "I was a mere child when my family left Mecklenburg for England, I have no knowledge of your husband or the Prussian court I'm afraid."

Beatrice continues looking wistful, "Just as well I suppose. He had joined the army of Frederick the Great, with whom he had a terrible falling out. The monarch of Prussia had begun to conquer half of Europe and became quite ruthless in his way of treating people, including his soldiers. Did you know this?"

"I knew of this somewhat from history Beatrice, but most rulers are cruel in their own way, please continue with you tale," Hugo answers her, watching her carefully now.

Taking a deep breath, Beatrice explains, "My husband, always outspoken, became more and more critical of him, occasionally quite publicly. He made many enemies as a result of his outspokenness -- enemies who, I fear, may exist today." Pausing for a moment to look around and see if there is anyone else listening, "He was eventually stripped of his rank as Captain and ordered to leave the army."

Remaining as impassive as possible, Hugo couldn't imagine anyone challenging a sovereign, yet impressed, "Your husband must have been a brave man to talk in such a way."

Nodding her head in agreement, Beatrice answers, "Brave yet headstrong but not always careful. I helped him a great deal in his personal fights for justice. We held meetings of other dissidents in our kitchen. I fed them and gave them wine - which further inflamed them I suppose." Beatrice shakes her head remembering.

Hugo looks around their immediate surroundings as well, checking that no one is listening to their conversation as Beatrice continues, he reaches over and squeezes her hand. Beatrice tells Hugo more, "Disheartened and broken, his dreams of being part of united Europe destroyed, my dear Vaclav, filled with shame, abandoned me and the rest of his family and quietly left the country under the cover of darkness. I never saw him again." Beatrice removes a handkerchief from her sleeve, balls it up tightly and sobs into it, unable to hold back her sorrow.

83_blogs.png?width=750 A Sobbing Beatrice Remembering the Past

Hugo gently places his arm around Beatrice to comfort her, "There there, you poor dear, such a horrible time it must have been." Somehow finding release in telling her story, Beatrice continues to sob.

Through her tears Beatrice continues, "I was informed, a few months later, that he died alone, of tuberculosis in a Viennese hospital run by nuns. We were never able to say goodbye to each other, a source of immense grief to me. I can't even say goodbye to him now. He must be buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in the Austrian Alps. I am not sure, however, whether this story is true. He was very healthy when I saw him last, despite his deep sadness."

Hugo gently rubs the small of her back as she grieves, "A great loss, I am so sorry my dearest, I had no idea the depths of your pain." Beatrice begins to dab her face with the handkerchief, drying her tears to tell more of the story, "I have often wondered whether his cause of death is more sinister or that in some way I am also being tracked by those who might have killed him."

Frowning and letting his hand rest in the small of her back, Hugo asks, "Do you think we shall come across those who may have harmed him?" Beatrice walks away, spying a small cafe' nearby and sinks down into a comfortable chair, exhausted from the wild emotions that fill her, sadness, loss and fear. Hugo following quickly behind her.

84_blogs.png?width=750 A Comfortable Chair at a Cafe'

Beatrice settles into the chair and explains, "When he left I was heartbroken. Of course I wanted to leave his cursed country, so I moved to Austria with my sister Elisabetta. We lived a hand to mouth existence in Vienna, surviving off the sales of my belongings. Using the rest of our savings my sister was able to study at a convent where she learned the genteel arts of sewing, embroidery and petit point. We eventually made our way across the high mountain passes to finally arrive in Venezia."

Looking up at Hugo, Beatrice, with a huge smiles on her face, exclaims, "Where we met!" Hugo reaches down and pats her shoulder smiling in return, "Yes my dear, I remember our meeting in Venezia fondly."

Letting a cloud cross her face again, Beatrice turns away and grimaces, "And now, I am returning to the land which gave me so much pain! I am wondering whether I might find the Viennese hospital and the grave where he is buried - that would give me some relief." Hugo squeezes her shoulder and reaches down to hold her hand tightly, "I hope so, perhaps we can find him together, I am at your service and want to help my sweet."

Beatrice turns and looks back up at Hugo once again, smiling. Hugo adds, "To pay your respects would bring you some comfort. Putting the past to rest will help heal your soul." Hugo can't help but recall his troubled past in Venezia and endeavors to help this dear lady.

Nodding in agreement, Beatrice adds, "Yes, I hope it might. It would mean doing a detour on the way to or on the way back from Prussia. I hope the Conte Foscari will agree." Hugo ponders Beatrice's statement and offers, "We may have to persuade him somehow, if it does not interfere with his business."

Beatrice orders a glass of wine and adds, "I am also worried because I have sensed people watching us in the shadows. Have you noticed?" Hugo peers into the shadows narrowing his eyes and whispers, "I wonder ... " With Beatrice's wine arriving, she sip some wine from the goblet and sighs, a bit more at ease now, "Ahhhh - that relaxes me a bit."

Still feeling as if they are being observed but trying to lighten the mood, Beatrice stands and asks, "Shall we walk a bit more?" Hugo takes her arm once again and they set off, seeing a small alcove and they duck into it. Feeling a surge of happiness and joy, Beatrice grins and makes some teasing remarks to Hugo, "This is nice and private, will you be acting like a cad again?" Tipping his head back and laughing Hugo then kneels down and takes Beatrice's hand, kissing it gently and looking up at her, "As the knights of old, I offer my service and protection my sweet. We shall weather this storm together, as we did in Venezia."

Rising back to his feet, Hugo gathers Beatrice into his arms, Beatrice burying her face in the rough wool of Hugo's cloak and for once in a long time feels safe again. Beatrice whispers, "Oh Hugo, thank you. You have come to my rescue to often!" Hugo holding her tightly leans down and kisses her forehead gently, "All will be well sweet Beatrice, we shall try our best to put your ghosts to rest, once and for all."

85_blogs.png?width=750 In the Alcove

Lifting her head from the wool cloak, Beatrice looks up at Hugo and suggests, "Shall we go back to the tavern? Conte Foscari may be waiting for us, and there will be bouillabaisse courtesy of Madame Fanny." Nodding and discreetly looking around once more to see if they are being observed, Hugo releases her and answers, "Yes, let's be on our way," curling her arm around his once again protectively, as they start to make their way back to the tavern.

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The Christmas Tree Story at Rocca Sorrentina

By Lady Leena Fandango, 2015-12-03

The Christmas Tree Story

by Aldo Stern

Hugo Dieter sipped his tea in Donna Leena's sitting room. It was just a little too cool to be taking tea out in the breezeway as they liked to do when the temperature was a bit more pleasant. But it was still nice to have tea and socialize in the sitting room.


And after all it was nearly Christmas. As much as the people of this region liked to live their lives in the open air, at a certain point, one found it slightly more comfortable to retreat indoors.

Hugo thought back to his home where he grew up in Germany. It has been years since he had returned there -- for a variety reasons -- but this was the only time of the year when he felt some longing for that past life.

Christmas: his friends among the southern Italians and the expatriates from diverse lands who had made this region their home all loved and enjoyed the season in their own ways. The local decorations such as those put by Donna Sere, with garlands and oranges and the beautiful, elaborate nativity scenes were quite lovely and charming. But he had to admit he missed the good old German-style Christmas tree, lit with candles, giving off a fresh and clean scent of the forest inside every cottage and manor house in his home town, each of them all buttoned up for the winter, with cold-frosted windowpanes and cheerful glow of the fireplaces.

As a rule he didn't talk much about his past, but for this one exception: he had mentioned missing Christmas trees to Donna Leena some time back. It was during a small get-together they had been having to say farewell to Capitano Zeffirelli, who was embarking on a relatively short trip around the peninsula and up to Venezia. It was not going to be one of his epic voyages -- the Capitano would be back soon most likely -- but his friends on Rocca Sorrentina tended to use any event, modest or major, as an excuse for a social occasion.

Even as he reflected on this, there was a knock at Donna Leena's door, which the serving maid opened to reveal a harbor rat, one of the boys who lived every minute of their lives around the docks, doing odd jobs for the ship's masters and helping the fishermen when needed.

"Per favore, Signorina, would you let the Donna Leena know that Capitano Zeffirelli's ship has returned and he respectfully requests the honor of her presence, and that of Signor Dieter as well, down in the old harbor?

Curious, Hugo and Donna Leena gave the boy some coppers as a gratuity, and set off. As they got to the wharf, they could see Don Lucerio's ship, sails furled, floating at anchor out in the deeper waters of the old harbor. Its whaleboat was already on the rocky beach, where the Capitano was overseeing his crewmen unloading various items. The tall mariner approached them, booming a greeting and then, while winking at Donna Leena, he thumped Hugo on the back in a comradely fashion.

11_blogs.png?width=750 "I've got something for you, my friend." and he motioned to one of his crewmen, the surly-looking fellow known as "Scrofulous Jack," who brought up something wrapped in burlap.

With a flourish, Capitano Zeffirelli drew off the covering revealing a remarkably happy-looking little northern spruce tree, potted in a earthenware vessel.

12_blogs.png?width=750 "For you, my friend...and for everyone to enjoy as well, if you wish. When I was in Venezia, I arranged to have one brought down from the Austrian mountains. Surprisingly not all that complicated. I wish I could tell you I had to move heaven and earth and deal with a score of unsavory characters to get it, but I actually just had to go through a botanist friend who works with some landscape gardeners up there."

He shrugged. "Sometimes things are a bit of a challenge, and sometimes we are pleasantly surprised by how easy they can be. Anyway, I wish you a blessed and happy Christmas, my friend."

13_blogs.png?width=750 Credits: Story written by Aldo Stern, Poses and Props by Lucerius Zeffirelli, Photos and Props by Lady Leena Fandango

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