Sat in the shadow of a tree, Petulia sings a melody. Her voice isn’t fair but her intentions are pure. Her face is not the prettiest but her heart is good. Her hands are not the finest, but her eyes speak the language of love and compassion. Her cousin is sat next to her, bored and pensive. Leopold wonders how he could spend the rest of summer writing. His father wants him to learn fencing when the boy only wants to parry with words.
In her cream and black dress, Petulia enjoys the sound of her mandolin and reminisces about times when she used to pretend she was a performer on stage with her cousin Leopold. The two have grown together but are now are looking in different directions. In his black and red checkered ensemble, Leopold wonders why he feels so different from his brothers who are fascinated with swords and war. He takes pleasure in reading and journalling all day.
‘Why can’t I be like my cousin Petulia?’ he thinks. ‘She is not talented at anything but she looks so poised and confident that she attracts friends and the advances of pretenders.’
On this early autumn afternoon, leaves are dancing along Petulia’s music, the wind blows in between the branches of the tree, playing with the pink ribbons knotted on her mandolin. The sun brightens the meadow as the smile on Petulia’s face widens. Despite her ugliness, she breathes tenderness. Petulia.