In the hallway above, there stood Isabeau, wreathed in that divine scent of lavender.
“Oh, poor Dona Anna! I couldn’t help overhearing mon oncle. He can be rather lound at times.”
Isabeau reached out to pet Gatito’s head. His ears flattened. He hissed.
“Gatito!” Anna cried. “Gato malo! I’m so sorry, Mademoiselle…”
Isabeau waved away Anna’s apology. “It is nothing, Dona Anna. I am a stranger to him, that is all.” She looked Anna over, her expression pained. “A word of advice, Dona. If I were you, I would take care not to appear before ma tante Lysette in such dishabille.”
Straggling to control Gatito had left Anna’s girdle crooked and her wimple askew. At least her sleeve was free of any stain or tear. Even so, she couldn’t possibly join Dona Esperanza and Madame Lysette in this condition.
“But—“ Anna winced at the rising note of panic in her voice. She straggle to hold on to her composure. Dona Esperanza told me to bring the castilio set to her.”
“I will deliver it.” Before Anna could object, Isabeau plucked the ivory box from beneath her arm. “Hurry along now. It would not do to keep Madame Lysette wating.”
Cunning as a Serpent, Innocent as a Dove by Lillian Csernica is part of the anthology And All Our Yesterdays, Sixteen Stories of Mystery and Crime Through the Ages. This particular story is set in Medieval Spain, inside a castle on the road to Santiago de Compostela, which is a setting I really liked, because is kind of unusual.
It’s very short story, with a linear plot, and yet filled with many characters. What I liked about it is the diversity of the cast. The main character, like all her family, is Spanish, while their guests are French, and the author really succeeded in bringing up the differences as well as the similarities between the two cultures.
There is also a great care in the depiction of the Medieval world, especially with regard to the relationships between peoples, which aren’t necessarily what we would expect today. In fact, interaction among nobility seemed to be very complex, and deeded to considerate many different elements and factors. But then, I’d say the entire story gives a picture of the Middle Ages we may not be so accustomed to envision, a multicultural place where people travelled and met. And cope with each other.
In post is part of the Thursday Quotables mem. If you want to discover more about this meme and maybe take part in it, head over to Bookshelf Fantasies