Michelozzo only designed it; the sculpture was done by Pagno di Lapo Portigiani, whose Madonna is over the tomb of Pope John by Donatello and Michelozzo in the Baptistery. Among the altar-pieces are two by Perugino; but of Florentine altar-pieces one can say little or nothing in a book of reasonable dimensions. There are so many and they are for the most part so difficult to see.
Michelangelo replied in a tone of real and ironical humility, which is exceedingly characteristic: "Most revered father, I have received a letter from you to-day, from which I learn that you have been informed by Lapo and Lodovico. I am glad that you should rebuke me, because I deserve to be rebuked as a ne'er-do-well and sinner as much as any one, or perhaps more.
Tell him by no means to lend them his ears; and if you want to be informed about them, go to Messer Angelo, the herald of the Signory; for I have written the whole story to him, and he will, out of his kindly feeling, tell you just what happened." In spite of these precautions, Lapo seems to have gained the ear of Michelangelo's father, who wrote a scolding letter in his usual puzzle-headed way.
This Michelozzo did, and the charge of constructing it was given to Pagno di Lapo Partigiani, a sculptor of Fiesole, who, as one who wished to include many things in a small space, showed many ideas in this work.
Before the door falls I must climb these steps, and that would be easier if I could first bind in my entrails." They led him upstairs, Lapo on one side, Madonna Gemma on the other, and Foresto lighting the way. They came to the topmost chamber in the high tower the last room of all.
"MOST REVERED FATHER,—I have received a letter from you to-day, from which I learn that you have been talked to by Lapo and Lodovico. I am glad that you should rebuke me, because I deserve to be rebuked as a miserable sinner, as much as any one, perhaps more. But you must know that I have not been guilty in this affair for which you blame me now."
Round the Big Hornets' Nest the crows were thicker than ever. One cold, foggy evening Lapo Cercamorte at last pushed open his wife's chamber door. Madonna Gemma was alone, wrapped in a fur-lined mantle, warming her hands over an earthen pot full of embers. Standing awkwardly before her, Lapo perceived that her beauty was fading away in this unhappy solitude.
Perhaps, too, I have seen a face peeping out of the woods, about the time that Foresto goes down to pick berries." "You chatter like an old woman at a fountain," said Lapo, still caressing his vest with his palms. "I shall be quite happy soon yes, even before the Lombard league takes the field."
When he halted before those two they seemed to feel the heat that seethed in his steel-bound breast. His disfigured face still insolvable, Lapo Cercamorte plunged his stare into Madonna Gemma's eyes, then looked into the eyes of Raffaele. His hoarse voice broke the hush; he said to the young man: "So you are the sister of my friend Count Nicolloto?"
Lapo Cercamorte's blood-smeared visage turned business-like. Before grasping his sword, he bent to rub his palms on the grit of the pavement. While he was stooping, young Foresto unsheathed his dagger, made a catlike step, and stabbed at his master's neck. But quicker than Foresto was Madonna Gemma, who, with a deer's leap, imprisoned his arms from behind.