Lady Annette

Posted: August 3, 2010 in Short Stories

“Not so tight,” she yelped.

“Yes, my lady.” said the handmaid, as she adjusted the corset.

“Prince Richard will be here any moment now, can you believe it? A prince in our home, father must have made quite the impression on King George.” Lady Annette turned and twisted in the mirror, inspecting her handmaid’s handiwork. “Lucille, you have outdone yourself.”

“Thank you my lady.” She bowed.

The sound of clapping hooves and turning wheels rose up from the distance, Annette’s attention wavered from her long wavy chestnut blonde hair and the diamond dusted chopsticks that kept the sides tied in a bun. “He is here, Lucille, how do I look?”

“My lady looks absolutely beautiful.”

Lady Annette lifted her frilly long pearl white gown as she hurried past her handmaid. She made it down the stairs just as the butler was introducing Prince Richard.

“I am afraid I bring you unsavory news, Count Hynek.” said the prince as he removed his doeskin gloves.

“Really, what a surprise,” Lady Annette’s father ambled from his desk, quite inebriated. “Have you partaken of the Spanish blood wine, that deep rich purple red sweet death they call Sangria? Goes down quite smooth and leaves a heart slow to beat, tempers a broken soul most divinely.”

“Get a hold of yourself,” demanded the prince, as he backhanded the count across the left cheek. “There is absolutely no time for self pity. You must take your family from here with haste. I am but a herald to your fate. Find fortune in the warning, for no other will be given such a measure.”

“Fortune,” Count Hynek began to laugh, “You come to my home, confirming that the king, your father has aligned with the enemy and that as a show of good faith all the counts in his province are to be beheaded and their entire families down to the unborn babe must be burned alive! Oh, dearest prince, I do so beg your forgiveness if I find such irony blasphemous to my soul!”

Lady Annette gasped. She tried to cover her mouth to muffle the sound, but it was too late.

Prince Richard turned his gaze to the spiral staircase where she stood. “I am sorry, Lady Annette, to be the forbearer of such tragedy…”

“You have no idea what you have done,” whispered Annette.

“I have done nothing,” said the Prince in his own defense.

“That is exactly what you have done!” Lady Annette went from shock to a cold and calculated demeanor.

“I do not understand. But then, you are young and foolish and should not concern yourself in the affairs of men, your betters.”

Fire seemed to well up in Annette’s soul. “Men are NOT my betters. If anything, women are far wiser and have a greater understanding of temperament than men. Few are the men who are as good at negotiations as a woman. For women naturally provide for their family. A man is best at brutality, but a woman is far more calculating and cunning. A woman is precise and far more vicious when protecting her family. Not so when it comes to men. So do not presume I am a child or that I know nothing of the affairs of men, dear prince. You come to my home to tell me I am to be burned alive and noting of it can be done? You offer no help other than your words and you expect my family to be grateful? I suggest you leave the way you came, or you will not leave at all.”

“Woman, you dare threaten a prince to the royal house of the Lion?”

“Your house is without honor and you, dear prince, are a joke,” she had inconspicuously loosened her dress and unfastened her corset while she spoke and approached the prince.

“You filthy female dog!” screamed the prince, as he whipped out his sword, but Lady Annette was one step ahead of him, she was already within his guard. She shoved her right shoulder into the pit of his sword arm, shoved her butt into his belly and leaned forward; his momentum and her precise movement caused him to flip over her. As he fell she leaned backward and snap kicked him in the side before he even hit the ground.

The Prince soared through the air and crashed into her father’s cherry armoire.

“…so fast, how?” mumbled the Prince.

Lady Annette was already kneeling before him; she had his hair in her hands and pulled his face close to hers. “You have threatened the wrong family, I would let you tell your father that I’m coming for him, but by the time you get home, your kingdom will be lost. Just remember this when you hobble back to what will be left of your kingdom. Hell hath no fury like a woman!” She slammed his head onto the marble floor.

The Prince’s guards were coming at her now, but they fell to the ground unconscious as quickly as they approached.

“Father,” she held him by his shirt, but he was too drunk to hear her. “Lucille,” she yelled. Her servant was at the top of the stairs. She scribbled some numbers on a piece of paper. “Go to the safe in the basement and take all the money there and my father and leave this country. Tell the rest of our servants to take whatever they can carry and leave these lands, for the island of Britannia shall be a haven to them no more and the kingdom of England shall fall.”

Lady Annette ripped off her dress and corset and opened up a secret compartment behind her father’s desk. Inside she removed a deep green old costume of pants; boots, gloves, mask, cloak and hood along with a composite bow of perfect proportion. They all bore the markings of RH inscribed upon them. She never thought these garments would be brought out in her lifetime, as they belonged to her twice-great grandfather. “Tonight,” she whispered out loud, “the legend is reborn!”

fin

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