“This is the exact shade of blue?”
“Yes, m’lady. Cut from the same bolt as Isabella’s dress.” Serrana held out the swatch of velvet.
Eleanora studied the plush square. “Her horse clad the same?”
Raffael nodded. “Her horse clad the same.”
“Will she be wearing jewels?”
“A diamond-crested helmet.” Raffael had slipped into the armour maker’s workplace in the dead of night. “And a solid gold serpent in Diambra’s helmet.” Eleanora smiled and handed him a bag stuffed with florin.
Another bag went to Serrana when she verified Diambra’s dress. “Dark green – the color of the curtains in your bedchamber.”
“You may go now, Raffael. But Serrana, stay.”
They had much to do, and only four days. All of Naples was preparing for the event of a lifetime, thrilled by the public announcement:
Diambra de Pettinella hereby challenges Isabella de Carazzi to a duel at dawn on the 25th day of May, year of our Lord 1552. Weapons will be lance, mace and sword. The winner will claim the love of Fabio de Zeresola.
Eleanora wouldn’t miss this for the world. Both ladies were friends of hers, the three of them often attending court functions and society weddings together. It was at such a wedding that Fabio had stared at Isabella with such obvious amorous inclinations that Diambra had realized he was courting them both. She was willing to die for his love – was Isabella equally committed?
Never mind who wins, thought Eleanora. What a chance to be seen! Beautifully styled hair, studded with pearls. A new burgundy brocade dress with panels of pink, perhaps. No blues or greens, no gold or diamonds. She must stand out in the crowd.
Tomorrow she’ll visit the court hair dresser to plan a bold new look. Curls on the forehead? An off-center part? Interwoven plaits? This duel would be talked about for years. Poets and painters would be in attendance . A few well-placed gifts should assure her a place in history. She opened her dowry chest, pulled out fistfuls of florins, and sighed happily. Life is good, thought the lovely Eleanora.