When they had arrived here at Arbo’s house, Giuanna had only been a year old, and it was 10 years ago this spring. She had never left the mountain, meeting only her parents, her seven brothers and her uncle Lenardu, who had visited a few times, her cousin Libòriu and his mother, Adelac, who visited twice, and each time they left her father looked worried. Apart from these few relatives, there were only two servants, Altea and Zemu, and that was every person Giuanna remembered.
But now Giuanna’s blue eyes began to bother her.
It was hard for her to even imagine any other women, except her mother, Altea and Adelac. Mum was Mum, and Altea was old, but Adelacia, she was beautiful in Giuanna’s eyes.
The next day Giuanna asked her father ”Did you see the princess when you went downstairs?”
The father smiled, ”Onorau told you then? No, I didn’t, I did see the carrying chair,” but the daughter now interrupted
”What is a baby carrier?”
”It’s one of those, kind of like a cupboard, where they carry dignitaries?”
”Oh like my bed, but a chair?”
”Well over there?”
”Well, did you see the princess?”
”Well, I didn’t see her, except from a glimpse and from a distance, I was on the wrong side of the carry chair!”
”Have you ever seen a woman with blue eyes?”
”Once, a long time ago”. Dad seemed to be looking somewhere very, very far away!”
”My grandmother, my grandmother had blue eyes!”
Giuanna looked at her father in amazement. She never even thought about the fact that he had a father and a mother, let alone a grandmother.
”Did your grandmother have blue eyes!?” she asked, breathless with astonishment, and paused for a moment before putting her thoughts into words, ”Was your grandmother a princess?”
Dad laughed, ”No, grandma wasn’t a princess, she was something much more gorgeous!”
”What’s more gorgeous than a princess?” the daughter looked at her father, stunned.
The father grew serious, and took her in his arms, as if lulling her, trying to reassure her, or himself.
”Oh my girl, oh my girl, Giu. We have big secrets, bigger than your little shoulders, but sometimes, sometimes I have to tell you, but I wish I didn’t have to, but sometimes is the day, but not today.”
”But daddy, one little secret, just a little one…” the girl now whispered, reaching for her father’s ear, and with a hopeful foreboding said to him, ”tell me about the well!”
And the father whispered, ”Then don’t tell anyone. Think of the pond that comes to the Fiumebraga in the spring after the flood, have you tried to find a frog there?” and when she smiled in reply, the father continued, ”Think that everything under the water is another world, and everything above the water is this world,” and the father looked at his daughter to see if she understood, before continuing, ”And think that the point where you put your hand through the surface of the water is a well, a point where you can reach another world. When Adelacia comes, she will tell you more.”
That night, Giuanna watched and thought of the blue-eyed paternal grandmother and the blue-eyed princess, the frogs in the other world, and heard her father and mother talking in the night, and mentioning Aunt Adelacia and Uncle Lenardu, and heard the words ”guards,” ”masters,” and ”escorts,” words that were mentioned in whispers in the family.
And before the dreams came, Giuanna tried to imagine Adelac with blue eyes, but it was difficult, and only by trying hard could she see her aunt with blue eyes in her mind’s eye. Until now she had been annoyed by autumn, and had dreaded her aunt’s visits, which would make her father serious, but now she looked forward to both. She did not know when he would come, or whether he would come in the summer, but winter would come, and on its arrival Giuanna placed all her expectation.
And winter came.