She stood in the straw of the scaffold, her magnificent sable hair dressed high to lay bare the slender neck. The crowd, surprisingly hushed, was almost reverent. It was eerily reminiscent of the previous day when her blameless brother, condemned along with his innocent gallants, had faced their ignoble deaths with noble dignity.
At the eleventh hour, she had almost recanted...but the thought of her infant daughter had buoyed her spirits, lending iron to her will and steel to her backbone. There could be no doubt that she would now prevail, strong and stalwart, to the end.
Her dark eyes, bold beneath the silken lashes, looked with seductive approval upon the handsome, muscular young man before her, who bowed his head and begged her pardon. "Regard well while you can," she reminded herself. "Soon, you will be sightless and dismally immune to all such earthly pleasures."
The gaze he returned was no less provocative and admiring. Even now, only minutes from meeting her maker, she found it difficult to resist the temptation of a last minute dalliance. Such had always been her nature, but the adulterous accusations of which she stood charged, and for which she would pay the ultimate price, had been without substance. She had dared, she had wagered and she had lost. Such was the turn of fate.
The trial itself had been little more than a farce. She knew in her heart, and was convinced in her bones, that posterity and the unquenchable annals of history would remember this event for the mockery that it was...notable as a gross travesty of justice.
There was comfort in the knowledge that she remained young and attractive enough to turn the head of any man, young or old...maintaining still the power to inspire a rising passion which caused the blood to surge, with a vital throb, within his veins. If it were necessary to die, then it was good to die thus. She was not afraid.
Possessed of an unfathomable air of mystery, she was a darkly exotic orchid among the fair roses in the sunken gardens of royal England, and the simple black gown with its low, square-cut bodice, bestowed a rich, ivory bloom to the skin that many, in spiteful envy and hateful resentment, had often declared to be sallow as a wax taper. Few before her could claim to have been an enigma such as this. An even smaller number would follow.
With the blindfold in place, she knelt and gripped the sides of the rough wooden block with both hands, positioning her small, pointed chin into the crescent groove, worn smooth by centuries of both treason and martyrdom. There was a faint rustling in straw as she threw her arms wide.
The French King had favored her with many gifts during the course of their acquaintance. This would be his final one. A majestic death befitting her stately position as queen, rather than an uncivilized execution meted out by the barbaric English axe.
The keen blade of the expert Parisian swordsman skillfully met its mark with a flawless stroke, accurate and blessedly swift. Anne's lips were still moving as her guiltless blood spewed from the stump of her once elegant neck and her severed head rolled into the waiting basket. "Merci, Francois."
The muffled boom of the cannons rolled across the murky surface waters of the Thames to a hill on Hampstead Heath where, his bejeweled and giant form astride a grey stallion, waited the monarch of the land. He brandished his plumed cap of white velvet with a flourish, declaring himself a free man and overjoyed to be rid, at long last, of the damnable witch.
Then, with a tug of the fine, red Spanish leather reins, he eagerly spurred his mount to the north...onward to the home of Mistress Seymour and a Tudor son for England.
Essentially a city girl bitten by wanderlust, but currently "grounded" as a legal secretary in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Nova Reinna is the resident columnist for an on-line magazine, "Seeker." At the moment she is working on a project in the fantasy genre being considered for a series, and she hopes her future work will include writing the definitive book about the nomads misnamed "Gypsies."
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