Manuel and The Two Hearts

3. The first heart

After the princess regained her strength, the king summoned Manuel at the court to crown the youth and have him rule by his side. But Manuel declined the offer and told everyone that the only reason he had ventured to save Isabella was because he couldn’t bear knowing that she was in the grasp of those evil men and that the only thing he asked for was her everlasting friendship. The grateful Isabella jumped from her throne and embraced the handsome Greek, her tears rolling from her eyes like waterfalls. Then, a strange thing happened. The boy’s perfume and his slender, warm body mystified the princess. She stopped weeping and, amazed, boldly looked him in the eyes. Just now she had realised that her saviour’s beauty was like nothing she had ever seen before. Isabella blushed. Her gratitude turned into desire and once she recovered, she asked Bohemond to invite Manuel to join them at the court. The insightful king agreed and so did Manuel, who was secretly in love with the girl. He had been watching her for many months from a distance, following her wherever she was going, dreaming of her wonderful long, golden hair, her sweet lips, and her deep blue eyes. But on that dreadful day when she was captured, he was in Damascus to take care of his family business. He never forgave himself that mischance. Day and night, he fretted, he cried, and he struggled to find her. No one understood his commotions and he never shared his sorrow. Yet, it was this love he carried in his heart, that gave him all the courage he needed to finally venture out and rescue her.

And so, Manuel moved into the palace and never left Isabella from his sight. He was the happiest man alive until one day when a young, bashful knight approached the princess and overwhelmed her with gallantries. While the two of them were talking everyone noticed how Manuel started to shiver, his face turned purple, and his eyes were burning with rage. The coming night the tormented Manuel entered Isabella’s chamber, woke her up, and confessed his unwavering love for her.

Isabella let him pour all his feelings out and when the boy finished with his ingenuous drivel, the princess smiled and kissed him on the neck, then on the cheeks, then on the mouth… What happened next my words will not reveal, but one month after Manuel and Isabella married, bringing hope and joy to the entire city.

Cântecul Bizanțului

Corifeul:

Cetate încinsă cu ziduri curate

Și turnuri înalte pe stâncă durate

De ce te-ai pierdut de timp înghițită,

Stăpână a mării, cetate slăvită?

Corul:

Furată de-Apus și de Răsărit

În negura vremii te-ai prăbușit.

Corifeul:

Veneau pelerinii, veneau călătorii,

Să-ți intre pe poartă, tu, mândră minune,

Veneau mercenarii, veneau negustorii,

Cu gând de mărire, avere s-adune.

Corul:

În imnuri de slavă mereu răsunai

Și cerul pe lume tu îl revărsai.

Corifeul:

Cu marmore-albastre frumos învelite

Palatele tale pe toți îi uimeau

Și scumpe biserici morminte țineau

De mari împărați și trupuri sfințite.

Corul:

Aveai multe piețe, fântâni și bazare,

Statui și grădini ca rupte de soare.

Corifeul:

Pe stâlpi din porfir, pe-arcade-nflorite

Zidirile toate erau sprijinite,

Din marea cea verde precum un smarald

Ieșeai sub un cer albastru și cald.

Corul:

Pe-alei eremiți cu bărbile dese

Umblau printre-oșteni și doamne alese.

Corifeul:

Iar purpura Romei pe steaguri vopsită

În briza de vară plăcut flutura,

La curtea cu perle și aur stropită

Un cârd de supuși cântând se-nchina –

Corul:

Sublimului cezar abia-ncununat,

De-un dârz patriarh pe tron înălțat.

Corifeul:

Văd Sfânta Sofia cu bolta ei lată,

Biserica mare, în grabă clădită,

Pe Sfânta Irene în umbra-i pitită,

Mai văd Hipodromul, gigantul de piatră.

Corul:

Ș-aud învățații, apoi funcționarii,

Studenții, poeții, meșteșugarii.

Corifeul:

Apoi mai aud din intrigi ieșite

Suspine și strigăt și scuturi lovite

De săbii, ghiulele ce cad, te zdrobesc!

Nu pot să-ndur, aici mă opresc.

Corul:

Bizanțul e mort, dar noi mai trăim

Și poate vom ști din nou să-l clădim.