Rosanera held the small pouch. She put three of the remaining gold florins into it and took the last hundred or so from the coffers for herself and Hans. Catharina, Cecilia, Luis, and Angelo sat on Rosanera’s bed. There were no smiles or joking. Rosanera had a map spread out on her desk.
“Dear cousins, Catharina, Cecilia things are changing quickly. You all must return to Verona. You must take leave tonight. Adler Kralle may be taken in a few days or at the very least be under siege.”
“Not totally unexpected, but still, so soon?” said Angelo.
“Yes, I am afraid so.”
Catharina spoke up, “But what of you? Are you not coming too?”
Luis added, “Dear cousin, we will not leave you here with these…for a better word…barbarians.”
“Please, not to worry, any of you. I will be under the protection of General Herrmann. I may follow in a day or two. There is some unfinished business.”
Rosanera’s news made everyone pensive and quiet. Luis took the map off the desk and returned to his place on the bed. Angelo and the ladies looked on.
Cecilia clapped her hands and gave a good laugh. “I for one am happy to leave this place. We should all be happy to be returning to our glorious republic. Ah yes, back to the warm Italian sun and our beautiful city.”
“Yes, yes, that is the spirit I hope you all share. We will be going home. Think of it, home. I do have some very fond memories from my childhood, many more fond memories than from my life here.”
“We will make all new memories,” said Cecilia enthusiastically.
Rosanera tossed the pouch on the bed. It landed next to Catharina.
“Dear Catharina, there is enough gold in this pouch for you all to have a comfortable journey. “
Catharina reached out at the same time Luis did. She got a better hold of the pouch.
“Why give the money to Catharina? When it comes to gold coin, her grip is like iron.”
Catharina pulled the pouch away and held it close to her heart.
“Gold coins turn to butterflies in your hands, and they just fly away,” Cecilia could not help herself. Everyone chuckled except Catharina, who became more serious with her new responsibility. She tucked the pouch into her bosom.
It was Angelo’s turn, “Ah, now Luis will never touch the gold as long as it bears a woman’s scent.”
Again they all laughed.
“Please hurry, my loves. You must be gone from here tonight. Say your goodbyes now. I will see you soon.”
They all stood and gave Rosanera kisses and hugs. The four noisily headed to their chambers to pack their belongings. “Make haste! Time is our enemy!” Rosanera called after them.
When her retinue was gone, Rosanera sat in silence and realized the finality of her actions. Her musing was interrupted when Clotilda entered the room and stood before her.
“Lady Rosanera, the general waits for a meeting.”
“Send him in and help with the packing.”
“Yes, Lady Rosanera.” Clotilda left the room and in less than a minute Hans Herrmann entered. He wore a metal breastplate and carried his helmet under his arm.
“The rain has stopped and Gunter is very close to the gate.”
“Then we shall welcome him,” said Rosanera. “All is ready, is it not? You talked to Sergeant Lutz?”
“Yes, at length. He knows what to do.”