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' I'M WORTH robbing this time, Nero,' he said. 'We had better beware.' He returned by different ways and rode into Verona a few days later to find lodgings for Kit.

He was anxious that the volatile spirit he had sworn to keep safe should have room to spread his wings, away from the mood of self-destruction. He liked the feel of the mediaeval town of Verona, as yet untouched by the hand of Palladio, though by the gap-toothed look of some of the squares, it would not be long coming. It took some time to find what he wanted.

The Great Lie He settled at last on a small balconied house in a tiny square courtyard, tucked away behind one of the main streets of the town. Marlowe would not have far to go to find company, and the place was well-found and clean. Nick took the house, engaged a cheerful young woman to keep it and set off back to Venice. It was an exhausted young man who arrived on the Rialto to find Marlowe spitting but writing.

by Myrrha Stanford-Smith In his absence, Marlowe had been busy. His young companion travelled light, and had left his baggage behind.

Marlowe had been through it and found Nick's journal.

His orders Nick had prudently taken with him. He had a small aptitude for accurate drawing, and the book was full of tiny sketches; the interior of the Rose, a voluptuous beauty in Oporto, the rocky heights of Gibraltar and Marlowe himself as a Jew.

There were more practical diagrams, maps and notes, not so much a journal as a campaign notebook. Marlowe read on avidly, piqued to find little reference to himself other than his health and the state of his bowels. He found the little drawings charming however, especially those of Malta. He was admiring one of heavy-laden donkeys climbing the parched hillside to the fort, when he noticed something else. He peered closer, and made out some fine detail as to the disposition of guns.

Marlowe was beginning to have a healthy respect for Nicholas Rokesby.

Venice was well documented already. Hosts of miniature piazzas, bridges and grand porticos filled the margins. Some little maps were adorned with tiny crosses, each with its minute cypher.

[bar] The Great Lie by Myrrha Stanford-Smith is published by Honno at pounds 8.99 > CONTINUES TOMORROW
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 12, 2012
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