Excerpt from Chapter 1

Welcome to my blog or welcome back if you have visited The Harpist before. I thought as a taste of things to come you might like to try a sample of chapter 1. Here are the novel’s opening paragraphs:

No one dared to do it before, not in front of the King. But you never knew with Marfisa. The performance rolled along sweetly. That is, until Arethusa bathed in a river. In this scene, Marfisa, appeared on stage in a loose petticoat, carrying her bow and with her quiver slung across her shoulder. She placed her bow and arrows to one side and sat on the floor of the stage, as if to descend into the water. She moved her arms pretending to wash herself. Then Alpheus appeared. She rose from the floor and faced the audience, complaining angrily that he had seen her bathing. Just as Alpheus came closer to speak to her, she eased her petticoat off her shoulders and let it drop delicately to the floor.

To the amazement of everyone, Marfisa stood totally naked. A shocked gasp filled the theatre: nakedness on stage is a criminal offence. Then the audience became a cacophony of loud and urgent talking. The people who had seen Arethusa naked, and the few who had not, made rapid exchanges. ‘Did you see that?’ ‘Did I see what?’ The local people at the back burst into cheering and shouting. Joyous celebration erupted. Many of the men had never seen a completely naked woman before, not even their wives. The members of the royal household controlled their reactions. After all, the King, King Charles II, was present and none of them knew how he would respond if they were to celebrate, too. Marfisa had stunned the royal party into silence. Our sadly disabled King, sitting only ten feet away from her, looked dazed, as if he had been struck about the head by an invisible weapon. He stared at Marfisa’s delicious form, transfixed by her pretty triangle of scant hair. The Archduke’s wife blushed with embarrassment. She glanced at the Archduke, as if to say, ‘If you think you can see me naked you’d better think again’. The Archduke grinned with unconcealed delight. Then a nymph of Diana appeared and covered Marfisa with a white bed sheet. The incident was over.

This shattering diversion took place least ten minutes before the curtain could be drawn. Antonio de Escamilla, the manager of the company, walked to the front of the stage, still dressed as Momo, the wise buffoon, and shouted to the audience, ‘Quiet, please. We want to carry on!’ He quickly regained silence and the play concluded.

The audience loved our performance – for more than one reason – and, at the end, people cheered and applauded enthusiastically as the cast lined up on the stage. Antonio bent over towards the actors, an arm outstretched, to signal them to bow.  The hand clapping ceased as the King and his entourage stood and left the theatre. Then the rest who attended dispersed, chatting and laughing among themselves.

Has that whetted your appetite? By all means drop me a comment below!


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