It was less than a week before the wedding. The priest and one of the side chapels in Basilica di Sant’Erasmo da Specola were booked. The reception and its catering were organised and various people who worked for Count Bartolo were running around like chickens with their heads cut off to make it all happen but not Otello Borodino. He and Tito Masaccio were looking after the Signorella, Don Rodolfo’s bride, and keeping her out of trouble. What could be a problem? Here they were so she could keep an eye on what the plumbers, electricians, gas fitters, painters and security door hangers were doing to her new house. Perfectly sensible. Perfectly reasonable. Except now she wanted to call her brother-in-law, the foreign one, and have him come to the house. Otello was calling Don Rodolfo.
The phone rang and Don Rodolfo answered. “Rodolfo here.” He was always efficient if not brusque on the phone. “What is it?”
“Borodino, Don Rodolfo. It’s about the Signorella.”
“What about her? Is she all right?” Borodino had never heard his superior express emotion over the phone before.
“She’s fine, Don Rodolfo,” he assured the other man, “And she’s right here. She wants to have her brother-in-law, Skein, come to the house.” You could tell the brother-in-law was a foreigner, his name was so strange.
“Put her on the phone, please.” Don Rodolfo was sounding himself again.
“Yes, Don Rodolfo,” Borodino held out the phone to the Signorella, “He wants to talk to you, Signorella.”
“Oh, good,” she gave him a happy smile as she took the phone, “Hello, Rodolfo.” She listened while Rodolfo spoke then said, “When the electrician was replacing one of the power points in the dining room’s outside wall the plaster cracked and some fell off. There’s an older layer underneath that seems to have a picture on it.” She paused to listen again. “You will? That’s fantastic! Okay, I’ll put you back on to him.” She held out the phone to Borodino. “He wants to talk to you again.”
Borodino took the phone back. “Yes, Don Rodolfo?”
“I’m going to arrange for Professor Alessandro Verita from the University to come and look at the wall. Let him in when he arrives. He might bring a few people with him.”
“Yes Don Rodolfo.” The connection cut from the other end and Borodino hung up.
When Rodolfo arrived that afternoon to supervise the locksmiths he found his little Starflower waiting for him in the foyer almost dancing with excitement. “It’s a proper fresco.” She flung her arms around him and kissed him, which was always nice. “I wanted to be the one to tell you. The only thing is,” she looked pensive, “We probably won’t be able to use the dining room for months. They want to look in here and all the public rooms too.”
“They? I’d better talk to Professor Verita, hadn’t I?” The two of them walked hand in hand through the house to the dining room.
Which had about a dozen people in it measuring, taking samples of plaster and setting up scaffolding in one corner of the room.
Rodolfo strode over to the professor, a dark haired man fifteen years his senior and tapped him on the shoulder. Without waiting for other man to finish talking to the three earnest young people in front of him or turn Rodolfo said, “I asked you to look at a piece of painting, professor. Why does my house now have an infestation of,” he looked around, “University students?”