My Lord Has No Nose
6 December 2001
Many had thought that the horrendous accident and facial disfigurement would bring an end to the more raucous sides of my Master's behaviour. For the Prince, my Master, had two loves: duelling by sword, and chasing the younger and more nubile ladies of court. Indeed, before the bad luck befell him, he was an expert at both, and, being a man of leisure, had opportunity for ample practice.
Most people believe that such an injury would cause the Prince to put an end to his risque ways, and finally find the wife the King and the populace were waiting for. The Prince locked himself away in his palace, ordering only that the finest silversmith in the land be summoned, and enough food and water be provided each day for the two men.
The man to enter the palace with the Prince was none other than Beneto Clemantini, the last remaining member of the famous Clemantini family, who have been silversmiths and artisans to the Palace since the ascension of the Granazi House, in our grandfather's grandfathers time. He was an old man now, and had never produced a son.
Forty days and nights later, old man and young re-emerged, the Prince wearing a black velvet hood. He ordered me to prepare a large feast for the entire Court, and as that very night was old Clemantini's birthday, to prepare fireworks and all manner of grand celebration. This was done, and the whole city was a-quiver with the news that the Prince was to hold Court for the first time since that last and disastrous duel.
The courtesans gathered, musicians played, and a feast like none had before witnessed was prepared to welcome back the Prince and to celebrate old man Clemantini. If there was a third thing the Prince was expert at, it was making an entrance. Once all the guests had been mingling for a while and were one their second glass of fine wine from the Prince's cellar, the musicians were silenced. Then with a fanfare of horns, the crowd parted and the Prince strode slowly up to the centre of the table, with Clemantini at as right side. Has he passed through the crowd, he made sure to look about him from left to right, and sent his winning cheerful grin at some of the prettier ladies, either former conquests, or new challenges. And all stared back, some literally open-mouthed at the Prince's face.
The fame of Clemantini was certainly well deserved. He had fashioned for my Prince a new nose like no other. From solid silver, and made to such a wondrous shine and shape that none could doubt that he had turned what could have been a hideous calamity into a work of beauty. The fit was seamless, and to some who may not have heard the story, it would have seemed as though our Prince had been born with a nose of silver. Once the Prince and his nose-maker has reached their seats at the head of the table, my master turned to the crowd and raised his hands.
"Loyal friends and servants, I present to you the great Beneto Clemantini."
The crowd erupted into loud applause and cheers, and the Prince led them to settle to their meal, joyous that their Prince had returned to them. All agreed that the Nose was a work of pure genius.
While the city gossips were enjoying their new news-fodder, the Prince merrily went back to his gratuitous old ways. And many women befell the lure of his shiny nose. He once joked to me that such was the vanity of the young women of the court, that none could resist the charm of being bedded by the Prince, while being able to behold their own perfect form in his own imperfect one.
He also, after some work with his fencing trainer, returned to duelling. He went on a country visit to the grand old Dragotti family house, and spent some weeks of the summer there. While there, he took quite a liking to the youngest Dragotti daughter, Nina. She was a fiery seventeen-year old with a passion for sport and fencing in particular. And one afternoon, while the rest of the family were on a hunting trip, he did finally challenge her to a practice duel, and after defeating her, duly conquered her. That day, his passions sated, he returned to the city and his palace.
It did not take long for this news to reach the ears of Nina's brother, the Count. Naturally, he rode straight to the palace and challenged the Prince, his old friend, to a duel, this time to the death. The morning came, both young men swords raised, with myself as a witness to proceedings.
"It is a shame - even the great Clementini can not fashion you a silver heart. For the honour of my dear sister, BEGIN!"
And the two, who had been bosom friends since childhood, now fought. The Prince was no match for the Count's venge-tinted rage. True to his threat, his sword soon pierced the Prince through the chest, and the Count watched as the Prince fell and died.
News of this was kept from the public, and the Prince's body was kept in an ante-chamber of the Palace chapel. It was the height of summer, though, and the body was soon festering in the hot little room. It was my unfortunate duty to 'tend' to my master, while the King pondered how to break these tragic news to a now restless public.
The Prince's nose was still a constant source of gossip, as it's precise method of construction had been kept secret. Being a known equerry to the Prince, I was often peppered with questions of this nature while out about the piazza.
"How is affixed? Surely with either clamp or glue?"
"Does the good Prince sleep with it attached, or is it removed at night?
"The Prince retains such a great wine cellar. But How Does He Smell?"
At this I spun around and could no longer hold back the tears. "Terrible," I wept.