Venice had surprised Cleo. What were birds in other cities, theaters, were sighs and songs, whispering unpossessed wisdom floating, flickering, drifting, slowly coiling, like water above the canals.
        Below the canals pilings leaned and sank further into sediments enfolding the lyre pins and parchment of merchants descendant of crusaders worn, dissatisfied, seeking the new wealth of glasses, spices, and secrets at the crossroads. It was all like a new card game, to them.
        Rose took nothing lightly, including cards which seemed little things, crushable, gaudy, but were not. 
        They leapt at her and flaunted their madness. They grew and were impertinent and oblique, a wretched and superb technique. 
         A shadow on the wall. 
        What was it, a shadow? 
        Fleeting, concealing, marking yet not remembering its mark; that was a shadow. 
        Jerrod was before her, bowing gracefully and immaculately clad; his spats glistened. His perfect teeth glistened in his handsome face. His black hair curled to advantage articulating a finely shaped skull. 
        His brother Rhys, his twin brother Rhys, bowed as well, but his grin was like a wink and he laughed at Jerrod for being in love and laughed, too, at himself, and at all of life, though less gently. 
        So finely groomed and garbed were Jerrod's straight shoulders, and he moved with grace and possessed that ease the product of not 1lifetime but many. He bowed that day in liquid homage above her and lifted her hand to brush it gently with his lips. 
        She felt the merest touch of his moustache. Shivers took her in the sunlight bathing stones and sampling potted herbs upon the wall. "Esme(e)?" she breathed. 
        Shadow, Shadow should have been the name of Ringa's cat. 
        Victoria was her name instead. 
        Her pointed face was regal centered in her silver spreading ruff. Her fluff, her fleetness, let her through cool plastered halls like a shade. Sometimes all that Cleo could discern was green fire deep within Victoria's eyes. 
        Cleo searched for her 1 day as the afternoon grew wan in gathering mist of gentle eve, hushed lagoon eve, and found her within shadow laid upon the side entry ecru by the warped grid of ancient glass. 
        Victoria ignored her. 
        Victoria did not wish to acknowledge the summons. 
        Ecru light from the swallowing canal, from  pitted old walls near, rippling ecru light caught on the sharp hook the beam in Victoria's eye was thus focused, augmented, made severe. 
        Cleo lifted her and Victoria did not deign to make a sound of protest or instruction. She looked, in fact, into the unclear distance extracting herself from the scene and any complicity in it. 
        Victoria's paws were dusted in light. 
        Cleo carried her to Ringa for Ringa was whipping marzipan wildly in the stone kitchen. 
        Light had left the lowly room save for the trapezoid of blue teal high on a corner shelf where the ecru light, the oyster light, reflected back from water lifted blue into rare lazuli glaze. There is no blue like the blue in Venice, nor any mauve nor any olive. 
        Upon the square wood table were scatterings of Ringa's brave creation her nested Chinese green mixing bowls, the wooden spoons of several sizes and several handles all worn smooth but not by Ringa's hands; she swore she loathed activities of kitchens yet was she there this day in her wildness whipping up towers of marzipan, little brightly colored birds and ships on clouds of marzipan. 
        She worked now upon a monkey or a bear of ultimate marzipan conspicuous whose substance was stubborn and darkening. Ringa's copper hair burst its bonds, fled the ripped netting and the lopsided band. Dusted sugar whited her nose and 1 cheek; the sleeves of her moss rose shirt were rolled to reveal smooth whiteness of her flesh. Her exertions brought no pinkness to her cheeks. She did not stop her labors or look up until she heard the minute brush of Victoria's coat upon the threshold.