A treat

Baron: Tell me more, Cyrano! What was this … „fandango” everyone talks about?
Cyrano: Well, sit down Baron, have a drink. Let me tell you the story. It all happened last night. The Doge’s ball had started and it was getting dark and chilly outside. The butler called us inside, for a glass of Porto and for something he called – a Genovese treat. We gathered around a black velvet rug, in the shape of a circle, with silver lining on the edge. Seven dark skinned men kneeled around it, with musical instruments like guitars, except smaller. A young man and a woman, wearing Genovese clothes went in the middle of the circle and stood facing each other, with their muscles stretched, as two brawlers ready to engage. His mask was simple, white, covering all his face. Her mask was red, with feathers and gold embroidered linen. They were both wearing silk belts with golden hilted stilettos attached. I thought I saw a strange grin on her face. Then the musicians started playing, abruptly, a fast paced tune. The man grabbed his partner’s waist and she embraced him, sliding her body against his, lavishly. Then he pushed her to the ground, still beating the rhythm with the heel of his right boot. All the women frowned and shook their fans in shock. The Genovese woman raised her hand to the man and he pulled her up violently, turning her whole body in the air, to face away from him. Then he drew near and held her tight in his arms, as a man in love does, sinking his masked face in her rich hair. She let him stay a second, then, as the musicians sped up the pace, she pulled herself from his arms, and moved away, barely touching his fingers with hers, both arms stretched behind. This time he fell to the ground, as if pleading for forgiveness, but she made a definite gesture to rebuke him. He looked up, as if he was praying or cursing heavens. She suddenly drew near and covered his masked face with her hair – and when she moved away, we could see that the mask expression had changed: it was no longer neutral, it had turned to extreme sadness. She danced to the ever faster music around him, while he kept lamenting quietly and then, at its peak, the music stopped. They both froze in the middle of the black circle, just as they were a split second before. Only one musician broke the silence after almost a minute. His tune was softer and slower – and the woman moved to kneel next to the man, and she reached for him, as if tending to his wounds. Then the other musicians joined in with a strong, violent tone and rhythm – and as the man stood up, we could see that his mask was now spiteful and filled with anger and hatred. He grabbed her and held her forcibly, while she was struggling. Then, when the man tried to kiss her, when the masks touched, she wrung herself from his grasp, fell to the ground – and as the musicians reached the highest note on their string, the stiletto shined in her hand and she stabbed the man’s shoulder. Everyone took a step back in horror, as the man fell, with the mask changed again – now it was half sad, half happy, as a jester’s mask. The music stopped, the two actors froze for a few seconds, then they stood up and bowed. We all applauded, a storm of applause, but I couldn’t help but notice that the stiletto was firmly inset in the man’s shoulder and he wasn’t moving his right arm. He did not remove his mask.
Baron:What about her?
Cyrano:She did remove her mask. Two women fainted when they saw her. I must say, dear Baron – I was surprised myself. The woman was indeed the many talented Countess I had told you about before the ball.
Baron:Did you speak to her?
Cyrano:She vanished, right after this performance – with the man. Nobody saw her. But I am certain it won’t be long before she will make us aware of her delightful presence once more.


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