Gilded Wealth

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young woman enters a strange reality in which she learns a valuable lesson.

Submitted: November 11, 2013

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Submitted: November 11, 2013

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In Florence, Italy, in 1640 A.D. lived a rather large but poor family known as the Bernini’s. The head of the family worked in a gold mine owned by a wealthy noble family. Their youngest son who was about thirteen was aspiring to become a painter like Leonardo or Michelangelo. They also had a couple of other sons who were grown and working jobs of their own.

 

In addition to their sons, they also had one nineteen year old daughter named Vittoria who was very beautiful but also very slothful. She would often visit the richer parts of Florence such as the Medici manor and envy their opulence and excess. Then, she would come home and have a meager dinner of bread with her parents and brother.

 

One day, she was so fed up with her always meager supper that she complained, “Don’t we have something better to dine on than this? This is unacceptable! We should be having more delicious foods than this! We should also have a better house than this and better clothes! That’s it; I’m getting out of here!”

 

After that angry outburst, her mother argued, “How dare you complain so much when you have a family that loves you so much.”

 

But Vittoria talked back, “This is still an unacceptable living standard!”

 

Then, her mother asked, “Where will you go?”

 

Vittoria answered, “Anywhere but here.”

 

After that argument, Vittoria packed her meager belongings and left the house slamming the door on the way. Vittoria wandered the darkening streets in search of a new place to live; Vittoria wanted to move in with one of the rich families, but they rejected her because she was poor. By nightfall, Vittoria sat down in an alleyway and began to weep thinking that she would never achieve her dreams of wealth and luxury; Vittoria was dreading the possibility of being in want for the rest of her life.

 

Then, a man appeared out of a doorway to see what the noise was; when he looked upon Vittoria, he was struck with compassion and immediately saw to her needs.

 

When he sat her down at the table and gave her a cup of coffee, he asked her, “Now what were you doing out there at this hour?”

 

Vittoria meekly answered, “I was leaving my parents’ house because I wanted someplace better to live in.”

 

The man asked also, “But why would you want to leave your parents’ house? Do you even have a husband?”

 

Vittoria replied, “No, but I really wish I had one; a rich one to be exact.”

 

“Is that what you really want is to be rich?” asked the man.

 

“Yes,” replied Vittoria, “I’m tired of living like a worthless vagrant.”

 

“Don’t say such things,” chastened the man, “nobody is worthless. Also, money is not everything; you’ll realize that when you get older. If you like, I could prepare a bath for you.”

 

“Yes, I would very much appreciate that,” replied Vittoria.

 

After Vittoria finished her coffee, she climbed up the stairs, undressed herself, and dipped herself into the bathtub; even though it was not fancy and marble like those of the wealthy, it was still nice and warm. Vittoria loved to take baths because they were times to relax and even dream about a better future while the warm water gently hugged her body. Vittoria was feeling so relaxed that she fell asleep; however, a pleasant surprise was awaiting Vittoria.

 

When Vittoria awoke from her sleep, she found that she was not in the man’s room anymore; she was now in a vast, marble latrine with a massive bathtub, and the walls were painted with elegant nude figures. Vittoria pondered to herself how she could have graduated from a life of want to this elegance; though Vittoria couldn’t explain her situation, she was pleased to finally have it.

 

Then, a maid knocked on the door and told Vittoria that her dinner was ready; Vittoria climbed out of the bathtub and found an elegant dress like that of a noblewoman so she slipped it on. When she exited the latrine, she was presented with an elegant, paneled hallway with the finest paintings hanging on the walls and frescoes on the ceilings; Vittoria was awestruck at the sight. She paced down the hall until she found a balcony from which two staircases descended leading to the foyer; the room before her contained marble statues, and marble pillars connecting the marble floor with the shiny ceiling which contained an ornate, golden dome.

 

A maid appeared from a doorway with tall, wooden doors and told her that her dinner was ready. Immediately, Vittoria was greeted with a pleasant, savory aroma of what smelled like turkey, potatoes, and other foods. Vittoria climbed down the stairs and entered the room from which the maid came. When Vittoria entered the dining room, her eye was greeted with a large turkey, fish, soups, and various fruits and vegetables all on golden dishware on an engraved, white wooden table; Vittoria had never seen so much food of various kinds in her whole life.

 

Once Vittoria was full to the point of bursting, the maid began to clear the table for her; for the first time in Vittoria’s life, she felt like she was actually being served. Over her shoulder, the maid told her that her bed was ready for her. Vittoria climbed up the stairs and searched the hallway for her room until she found a nice massive room in the corner of the vast house. The room had four tall windows with two on two adjacent sides draped with silky, gilded curtains; the walls were painted with elegant nude figures and the ceiling was painted with a sun shining over some clouds with infant-like angels sitting upon them. Facing one of the walls with the windows was a large bed with silky curtains and many exotic pillows.

 

Vittoria stripped herself and slipped into her cozy bed which was the softest and warmest that she ever slept in. Vittoria could just barely contain all the joy and wonder she felt about her new surroundings; she spent her whole life living in want and filth and was now living in luxury and comfort. Vittoria would dread each day that she would live the rest of her life in poverty, but now she had what she had yearned for so long. Vittoria had enough money to buy anything she wanted and would never be gripped with the horrors of poverty again.

 

When morning came the next day, the sun beamed its awakening light into Vittoria’s room gently awakening her. The maid came into the room, bided Vittoria good morning, and gave Vittoria her breakfast in bed; Vittoria never had the luxury of eating breakfast in bed before.  

 

When Vittoria finished her breakfast, she found that she was free to do as she pleased; before she was always burdened with monotonous house chores, but now, she had a maid to do all that for her. In the vast house, she found a voluminous library which contained all sorts of exotic books from different times and different cultures; Vittoria used to never have time to read. Vittoria also had a beautiful garden which contained colorful, fragrant flowers and magnificent trees and other exotic plants; before, Vittoria would never have been able to afford anything like this.

 

Not only did Vittoria have wealth and luxury, but she also had more social standing. Vittoria would get invited to the most extravagant parties of other wealthy noble families and even threw some parties of her own; men of high standing introduced themselves to her and held polite, verbose conversations with her as opposed to the crudeness she was used to.

 

One day, Vittoria decided to take a bath in her shiny, marble bathtub which was finer and smoother than her old, splintery bathtub; Vittoria was so overwhelmed with joy that she prayed that her life of luxury would never end. She had escaped a life of poverty and misery for a life of splendor. However, in the midst of her pleasant fantasies, she began to wonder where her family was; she had gone for whole weeks without seeing them. Even though she had all the wealth in all of Italy, she began to miss her family and to almost feel empty without them.

 

When the maid came in to tell her that dinner was ready, Vittoria inquired, “Where is my family?”

 

The maid kindly replied, “You don’t really have a family except for your father.”

 

Shocked at this response, Vittoria argued back in disbelief, “I do too have a family; I have a father and a mother and three brothers and some other relatives. Where are they?”

 

The maid kindly repeated, “I’m sorry; you only have a father, and he will be returning soon.”

 

And with that, the maid left the room. Vittoria was puzzled at what she just heard; her whole life she had had a decent sized family and now she was being told that she only had a father. Vittoria began to wonder what could have happened to the rest of her family; she hoped they were okay because she was starting to miss them.

 

At one of her parties, Vittoria met a young nobleman dressed in the finest clothing named Leonardo Bellini who approached her and introduced himself; it was the first time in her life that a young nobleman introduced himself to her.

 

“I’m Vittoria,” introduced Vittoria with a smile.

 

“I know, and you’re as beautiful as they say,” complimented Leonardo.

 

“Thank you,” thanked Vittoria.

 

Vittoria and Leonardo conversed for a while about their pasts; Leonardo had trouble believing parts of Vittoria’s story and kept telling her that things happened differently as if he already knew her story.

 

After several of these dates, when they were alone, Vittoria asked, “You seem to like me so much that why don’t you marry me? I’d love to have you as a husband.”

 

At this, Leonardo’s expression turned glum and replied, “I’m sorry, Vittoria; I love you and I want to be your husband, but your father won’t let me.”

 

Shocked at what she was hearing, she asked, “Why won’t my father let us marry?”

 

Leonardo answered, “Because he’s cruel and greedy; he’s ashamed of you because you’re not a boy. Unfortunately, he will be returning home in about a week from one of his merchant trips.”

 

Vittoria’s spirit sank as she digested these words.

 

“I will be praying for you,” reassured Leonardo as he gave Vittoria a warm hug.

 

For the next several days, Vittoria tried to enjoy her life of luxury while she still could but was so full of apprehension of what was to come that it was difficult to enjoy anything. Even though Vittoria was previously used to a life of poverty and hardship, she had never suffered abuse by anyone in her whole life. She thought she had finally received what she had always desired but was now about to face something far worse than anything she had ever experienced. She ascended into paradise and was now about to be dragged into inferno.

 

After the several days had passed, the maid announced to her that Vittoria’s father would be arriving today in the next couple hours. Vittoria was full of dread after what she heard about her father from Leonardo; what would he do to me when he comes? thought Vittoria to herself.

 

When Vittoria’s father finally appeared at the front door, Vittoria saw that he was fierce-looking and big-boned with a big, black beard and dressed in a red and gold trench coat. Vittoria was almost beginning to shake and tremble with apprehension thinking about what might happen.

 

When Vittoria’s father laid eyes on her, instead of pleasantly greeting her like a loving father would, he barked, “Come to see your Papa, have you, filthy bitch. Get back to your dungeon, you little cunt!”

 

Bursting with tears, Vittoria ran out of his presence and into that dark, drafty, filthy room by the basement that her father called “the dungeon”. No one had ever spoken to Vittoria like that in her whole life; no one had ever called her such offensive names before. Vittoria didn’t want to know what was in store for her next; she was also dreading having to deal with this for the rest of her life.

 

The next few months were miserable for Vittoria; her father mercilessly abused her every day incessantly. Vittoria tried avoiding him as much as possible, but he always knew where to find her. In addition, she couldn’t run away because all the doors and windows were locked, and her father had the keys to them all.

 

At about three o’clock in the morning, Vittoria’s father would enter her dungeon and loudly awaken her sometimes making other loud sounds to reinforce his rude awakening. This was a source of sleep deprivation for poor Vittoria.

 

While her father was given a scrumptious breakfast composed of all kinds of foods, Vittoria was left with the crumbs which were very meager. At lunchtime, her father would have a bounteous meal while Vittoria received nothing leaving her feeling hungry. Finally, at dinner, while her father had yet another delicious, filling meal, Vittoria was given nothing but rotten meat with maggots in it and spoiled fruits and vegetables which she refused to eat. These meager, unwholesome meals were a source of starvation and malnutrition for unfortunate Vittoria.

 

Because her father fired the maid, Vittoria had to clean and maintain the whole house and grounds, a task which intimidated her because the house had a hundred large rooms and the grounds were several acres large and above all Vittoria did not like to work. She had to scrub muddy floors and grimy bathtubs and sinks, dust furniture, wash greasy, stained dishware, and wash sweaty, stinky clothes. To make matters worse, her father was making messes on purpose to give Vittoria more work; sometimes he would make a mess after Vittoria had just cleaned up one. This made Vittoria so miserable that she could not hold the tears any longer.

 

In addition to making her clean and tidy the house, her father would beat her and whip her at regular intervals when she did nothing to deserve it. He would also swear at Vittoria and call her all sorts of unkind names.

 

One time, while Vittoria was scrubbing the parlor floor, her father entered and criticized, “You call this cleaning? An infant could do a better job than this! What are you worth anyway, a speck of dust? You are the worst maid in Italy; hell, you’re the worst woman in the world, you little bitch!”

 

At theses words, Vittoria got so angry that she assaulted her father, but her father fought back and broke several of her bones and still expected her to scrub the floor she was scrubbing. Not only that, Vittoria received no medical attention for her broken bones.

 

Because Vittoria was not allowed contact with other people, her father decided to give her a pet rat which freaked Vittoria out. Vittoria would run as far away from the rat as possible, and she had trouble sleeping for fear that rat would crawl all over her. Then, one day, Vittoria killed the rat with a piece of junk lying around in the dungeon which also made Vittoria feel bad for killing something that wasn’t really hurting her.

 

When Vittoria had gotten so used to wearing the finest clothes, she was now reduced to rags with large holes in them. Her father tore up most of her fashionable clothes devaluing their worth and even burned some of them. Now, Vittoria looked like a homeless beggar who didn’t even have shoes. Also, because she was so malnourished, Vittoria was starting to lose her beauty and her strength. Her silky hair was falling out and becoming dry, her abdomen was caving inward, her skin was drying out, her eyes were sunken, and she was tired all the time.

 

For months, Vittoria had to endure her hellish misery without even an hour of a break. How could a man be so cruel to his only daughter? thought Vittoria to herself. There were nights when Vittoria had trouble sleeping because she was afraid that her father would come hurt her in her sleep; but what difference would it make? Vittoria was so miserable that she almost did not want to live anymore. Now, she desperately wanted to return to her old family’s home; even though it was not a posh manor house and even though there were nowhere near as many luxuries there, she had a family there that treated her like an actual human being.

 

While Vittoria was wallowing in her own sorrow, she had an idea. She remembered how she entered this strange world by taking a bath in that stranger’s tub and awakening here; this made Vittoria wonder if taking a bath and falling asleep in there would return her to her original settings. Vittoria decided that it was her only option since there was no way of escaping the manor.

 

Vittoria took a sewing needle which happened to be lying around and picked the lock to the door of her dungeon until the door opened. Vittoria crept around the basement careful not to disturb anything which took great effort since her broken bones were slowly healing because she was so malnourished.

 

Climbing the steps which led to the first floor was an adventure. Vittoria had to raise her legs and then apply pressure on her fractured shins in order to ascend another step which caused her stabbing pain. It took Vittoria great to not groan or cry as she felt the splintered bone poke into her gel-like muscles; sometimes, she had to take breaks so that the pain wouldn’t overwhelm her, but at the same time, she didn’t want to spend too much time at the stairs.

 

When she finally made it to the first floor, she crept and limped along the hallway until she made it to the foyer which contained the two staircases leading to the second floor where the bathtub was; the staircase was even more daunting because there were more steps. Vittoria painstakingly climbed the steps taking short breaks occasionally; Vittoria felt like it was going to take forever to climb the steps, but at the same time, Vittoria couldn’t risk hurrying and inflicting herself with a serious injury. Vittoria was growing discouraged that she would be discovered before reaching the second floor. However, Vittoria made it safely to the top.

 

When she made it to the second floor, she limped and crept to the bathtub as quietly as possible and filled the tub which strained her weakened muscles; Vittoria could hear her pseudo-father’s loud snores down the hall which made her nervous. As a precaution to buy herself more time, Vittoria pinned a cushioned chair against the door knob to prevent her pseudo-father from entering. Once the tub was filled, Vittoria carefully submerged herself in the tub and tried to remember how she entered this pseudo-world.

 

Unfortunately, Vittoria’s forearm shattered as she climbed into the tub causing her to scream in pain and shock; the scream was so loud that it awoke her pseudo-father. Vittoria could hear the grumbling and the stomping of her pseudo-father down the hall which greatly distracted her. When her pseudo-father arrived at the door, he found that he could not open it so he began to slam himself against the door with all his weight in an effort to break the door down; this worried Vittoria

 

Vittoria tried to remember how she entered this nightmare; but her pseudo-father’s slamming and cursing was distracting her, and she was feeling strangely sleepy. After about a minute, Vittoria heard the door snap into pieces, but she was too deep into a dreamlike trance to react to it.

 

After an unknown period of time passed which Vittoria could not remember, she stirred in her tub and found that she was back at the stranger’s house; her body was so intact that it was as though the past several months had never happened. Then, the stranger knocked on the door and asked her if she was okay, and Vittoria reassured him.

 

After the bath, Vittoria returned to her home even though it was a little past midnight. Vittoria knocked on the door of her home and waited a little while before knocking again. After the second knock, when her mother opened the door, Vittoria immediately hugged her with tears of relief that she was finally reunited with her mother.

 

However, her mother said, “Okay, settle down; you’ve only been gone for about seven hours.”

 

But Vittoria replied through her tears, “It’s felt like so much longer.”

 

Still surprised at this emotional outburst, her mother said, “I thought you didn’t like it here.”

 

Vittoria replied, “Oh, mother, I should never have said those things to you when you love me so much.”

 

Vittoria and her mother continued the hug for a few moments, but her mother pondered what could have caused such a sudden change.

 

Vittoria hugged the other members of the family and from that time on never complained about her life again. Later on, a wealthy young nobleman asked for Vittoria’s hand in marriage which Vittoria gladly accepted; unlike her pseudo-father, this nobleman loved Vittoria and treated her like a precious treasure. However, Vittoria remembered her bizarre experience and gave large sums of her wealth to the poor. Even though Vittoria eventually gained the wealth she always wanted, she remembered she had a far greater treasure than currency.


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