The Queen and the Jack, a short story
“How dare you!” She looked down from her lofty perch. “I’ll send you to the dungeon for slander.”
“Ah, you might, My Lady Fair. But the dungeon-master is my uncle, and he will get word to the king.”
The queen leaned over, her mouth next to his ear. “What will you have for your silence?” she demanded to know. “Diamonds? Gold?”
“Nay, that would not be what I desire.” The jack leered.
“Hearts, then? The fairest in the land! Your choice of my handmaidens?” She arched her brow.
“Nay, I fancy none of them, My Lady.” The jack drew closer and toyed with the sleeve of her royal robes. She jerked her arm away.
Tossing her head, she stated, “The king will not heed you. You are lowly.”
“Oh, he will believe me. I glimpsed a certain little mark on Her Majesty’s thigh. Twas lovely. Shaped like a small cloverleaf, and red as a cherry. I wouldn’t be knowing about that, had I not seen it.”
The queen gathered her robes tightly around her slender waist, her visage strained with horror. “You could go to the gallows for merely laying eyes upon my secret flesh.”
“I could,” the jack agreed with a chuckle. “But you would hang beside me for your indiscretion. As would your lover, the joker! Wouldn’t we be a jolly trio, dangling on the gibbet? Thrice the work for a weary spade!”
“Then, what do you want?” she hissed through clenched teeth.
“I want you, my fair queen. I want you .” His gaze wandered o’er her form like an unwelcome hand.
“I suppose I have no choice,” the queen said bitterly, “though as vile a proposition I have never heard. You’ll not take riches? Maidens? A knighthood perhaps?”
“Nay, My Lady. Only you.”
She placed the back of her hand to her brow as if she might faint. “Alas, then, I have no say in the matter. You will despoil me, lay waste to my virtue!”
“I will, My Queen,” he said in a low voice. “In your chambers. Tonight.”
“What hour, pray tell? Oh, when will your depraved shadow darken my door?”
“The same time as last night?” the jack suggested, a merry twinkle in his eye.
Her Majesty hid a slow and mischievous smile behind her jeweled fan. “Tarry not, my wicked knave,” she murmured, “for waiting makes me anxious.”