Fury drove her from that very large house and down the stately marble steps and across the
huge expanse of lawn into the park and through the carefully tended trees which stood before the
forest where, once deep inside, she found herself still furious, but completely out of breath, and
hopelessly lost. So, she wept. She hung her head. Her lovely white hands came up to her face
and she wept.
Standing there in the dense darkness of the forest she shook off self-pity and thought back upon
another time when she had felt almost as badly used. Standing at the prow of the Plinthe with the
Captain standing there beside her as dozens of long boats full of chanting native savages
stroked their way out toward the ship.
“They mean us nothing good, Captain,” she said with grave concern. “They intend to come
aboard this ship and kill us all, men and women alike.” But, the captain said nothing in response,
and did not turn his face to look at her. There were fires being set on the distant beach even as
she spoke these words, and she felt she knew what they were for.
“They’ll set fire to this good ship and burn her to the waterline, if we fall within bowshot of that
“Yes, Mademoiselle, I know that,” he said and turned and walked away.
“Well then, why don’t you do something about it?” she said quietly to herself. She knew it was a
useless question, not only because the Captain had returned midship, but because there was
little anyone of any rank could do. They were most truly in the Hands of God.
In the forest, with tiny fists raised heavenward and with her perfect white teeth clenched tightly,
she squealed like a daemon in untamed frustration while stamping the ground and kicking up dust
from the forest floor. But in time, Joyeuse shook off her anger, sighed heavily and, gazed
distractedly up through the shifting patterns of blinding light and blackening leaves to determine
instinctually what to do next. She could not think her way out of this; she was beyond thought. Her
thinking went but this far: She did not want to return in shame to that room full of posturing,
jeering gentlemen, and she did not want to stay out here in the woods like a child until cold drove
her defeated back there again, against her will. Nicolette Joyeuse was stubborn, but she was not
stupid, and that usually left her with very few options indeed.
And so she struck out forward—or at least in a direction she thought was away from where she
had come—going still deeper into the darkened woods. Her satin slippers were made for dancing
not for this and her feet were abused by every twig, every stone, every pebble under foot. Adding
to her displeasure, occasionally, for no reason that she could determine, a branch would come
out of nowhere and slash her arm or scratch her leg, or drop down unexpectedly from above and
whip into her eye. After a very short while of this she had had enough and sat down in a small
clearing with her back against a tree. She had already cried once in these woods and so, she
thought, That’s enough of that. This time she pouted.
“What an idiot you are, Joyeuse,” she said aloud. “How do you get yourself into these things?”
“The question should be, How do you get yourself out?” said a deep voice.
Nicolette Joyeuse stopped as if frozen. Was this something she had actually heard, or was it the
product of her wildly spinning mind? She sat riveted in place, unmoving for a very long time, and
slowly looked around at the spalted trees that surrounded her.
“Is someone there?” she asked almost in a whisper.
by: Emma Moonsinger