Friday, April 13, 2012

List

my A to Z - every day of the challenge I will find a word by flinging my finger into my American Heritage Dictionary and then riff on it. The posts may be essays or poems or stories or memories. Who knows what will happen when we give Serendipity her wanton way?

List - There are so many definitions of list but I'll try and stick to as close to where my finger fell as possible!

list2 n. 4. An arena for tournaments of other contests, esp. jousting

Lettice leaned across the barrier that separated the berfrois from the lists and pressed a square of embroidered silk into the jouster's gloved hand.
"Thank you for your favour, m'lady. I shall display it prominently and earn the honour of its presence shortly." The voice was low and muffled and Lettice wondered why the damn fool didn't raise the guard on his helmet. She also gave thought to her impulsiveness. Lettice had hoped that Sir Robert would ask for her favour. And so he had, but at the last moment she'd looked into his impassively steely eyes and refused him - just to see a hint of vulnerability. Then this upstart came along and she had all but thrown her self at him. Who was he? She didn't recognize the armour - he wore no colours signifying his allegiance to any of the fine houses represented in the melee. He seemed slight and although it was hard to discern on his horse, not very tall. She could see the slightest glimpse of red hair where his helmet met his collar. Hmmm...he might be one of the Tudors - a distant cousin to the Queen perhaps? One of Harry Hotspur's whelps? Whoever it was, the tittle-tattle began when he entered the procession in front of the striped tents where she and the other onlookers were gathered. It was just now settling down.
This was a Joust a plaisance Tournament . There would be a series of elimination jousts over several days and an overall winner would be determined. Each Knight would run the lists three times with each opponent.
Really Lettice didn't know why she even watched. It could be most appalling - the men striving to reach each other, their unwieldy lances aimed to destroy their fellow knights. And for what? A bit of recognition, a hope that perhaps the Queen would notice, and change your life's fortune in a moment. All the more bizarre that this young fellow, the one she'd tossed her favour to, didn't make it clear who he was. Most perplexing.
Lettice fanned her face with her hand. It was hot and the huge horses were kicking up dust eddies. She didn't understand how the men could stand to wear the heavy armour required, sit a horse, and actually think in this heat. Ah well, each sex to its torments she supposed. She might be wishing she were fighting in the lists rather than go through what her closest friend Kate had stood - three days of labouring to deliver a squalling infant only to find her husband in the arms of another woman. Fie on the whole race of men! Lettice supposed she had lost her chance to marry Robert with her bone-headed move. She really didn't give a falderall about it! Perhaps she'd disappoint her mother and father by announcing that she was not marrying at all. That would put the cat among the pigeons.
She was startled out of her reverie with the sudden silence of the crowd. It was her knight at the list and he was pitted against Kate's husband, Percy. Percy took the blow of the tilt at the same time as her knight did. Percy fell and was quickly taken off the field in a stretcher. The crowd whispered the rumour that his wound was not fatal, but he was clearly ashamed at being unhorsed.
The other knight, Lettice's knight, sat his horse, the victor. He began to unlatch his helmet. Now she'd see who it was. All the crowd strained at the barrier trying to catch a glimpse. Red hair, released from its bondage, rippled out like a live thing. The crowd hissed out its breath as one. The knight was revealed.
Once Lettice realized who it was she began to laugh, her voice pealing out and others joining her. Kate stood triumphant and waved the silk square in the air!

2 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Oh, what a wonderful story! I just love that twist at the end. And trust you to focus on the lesser-known definition of the word list, too. This is great!

Elspeth Antonelli said...

You have woven a colourful tapestry, my lady. I raise my glass eastward in your direction.