Reading Sundays: LADY OF SPADES (Part 1) a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

The mists from the river curl silently, coiling cold tentacles of air up into the sky. Through the silence, I can feel them, almost breathe in the expectations of these young men from around the kingdom that have been summoned, so that I might choose a husband. My father, the King, is recently deceased, so my choice of bridegroom will be the new king.

I, however, have other plans.

I choose to call myself Lady of Spades, for my real name is unimportant. In any case I will not be using it for much longer. From the highest point of the Castel des Cosses, I look down on a forest of banners gathered thickly below, proclaiming the noble houses of this kingdom. Clinks, clangs, and clashes cut into a rumble of male voices. My armor, shield, and sword are things I keep invisible to others, but they are real to me. I lengthen my neck. What lies ahead can mean either freedom, or en-cagement, and early death.

I descend the stairs, and am helped onto my horse. The portcullis grates open, inching up, and the first party of horsemen ride out bearing my emblem of the Spade. Once they are arrayed in front of the castle, one of their number sounds a winding note on a horn:

dooh – DOOOOOH!

It is time. [To be continued.]