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MORNINGSERIAL.

NICK slapped his gloves negligently against his leg and one of the clerks looked up and came over.

'Attend to me, please. I have letters of marque and packets for Signor Fratelli,' said Nick boldly. 'Messire Rokesby, from Lord Burghley of London.' The man bowed.

'If the Messire would come this way.' The Great Lie by Myrrha Stanford-Smith It seemed to be working. The notorious close-fistedness of Elizabeth's government was not evident here, and Nick transacted his business, arranged for money to be available to him and accepted a glass of wine served in a handsome goblet of Murano glass. All was conducted with dignified courtesy. He left the bank considerably encouraged and set about finding his billet. This turned out to be rooms in a palazzo painted a faded pink with blue shutters, and facing the Rialto. Their dunnage had been delivered surprisingly intact and a servant appeared with a platter of cheeses and bread, fruit and wine. Nick wandered about chewing, a goblet of wine in his hand. The apartment was spacious, the high ceilings coffered with gold, the walls hung with damask: tall, narrow windows looked out on the busy canal. Nick noted with interest the small door hidden by a tapestry that opened onto a noisome little tributary to the main waterway. 'Handy,' he thought.

Pleased with his progress, he chose one of the two bedchambers and started making himself at home, stretching out on the bed dropping grapes into his mouth and watching the rippled reflections on the ceiling.

Presently he heard the little door open and close and Marlowe appeared in the doorway, cat-footed in his felt slippers. He pulled off his yarmulke and gaberdine and kicked them into a corner.

''sblood, I'm glad to be rid of those! Did you see that fat merchant spit on me? What it must be like - do you know, I begin to have a sympathy for the wretched race.' He stood there in shirt and hose, scratching. 'They are flesh and blood after all. They must have feelings, like us. How do they endure it?' 'They take their petty revenges, no doubt,' said Nick.

'Never again. At least I can take a piss now without looking to see who's watching. Uncircumcised dog that I am. I shall keep in touch with my new friend Malachi. Where are my clothes?' * The Great Lie by Myrrha Stanford-Smith is published by Honno at pounds 8.99 www.honno.co.uk > CONTINUES TOMORROW
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 29, 2012
Words:412
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