The Lady in the Wood
by Alli Kirkham
A lady tall and strong walked into a shaded wood. Birds sang, though it was dim beneath the trees, and a wet wind blew her hair over her face. She had not walked long when she came to an old woman standing beside a cart that had overturned in a ditch. The old woman was weeping with her head in her hands, lamenting her situation.
"I shall help you, mother," the tall lady said, and cut a branch to use as a lever and quickly had the cart righted and horse reined again. The old woman clapped and hugged the younger about her waist.
"Child you have done me great service, let me repay you by reading your fortune, telling you all the things you will do and can do as well as those things that you won't and can't." The young woman kissed the elder's brow and shook her head. "Dear mother, I have gone to seek my fortune and it is mine alone to read, so I thank you for your offer and take your thanks as all the payment that I need." And with that the tall lady was on her way.
As the evening drew on she made camp and slept beneath the stars. When she woke she bathed in the river when a deep voice called to her.
"Beautiful girl, I am overwhelmed by the fair vision of your glass-gray eyes and long golden hair," the lady turned boldly and made no move to cover herself. She was faced by a man on a horse leading a long train of courtiers and horses. The man was broad and had a fine handsome face and all his clothing spoke of wealth and ease. "Long have I searched for a woman worthy to be my wife, but all have fallen short of my demands. Come with me and take my hand and you shall have riches never dreamed of and joy and comfort for all of your days."
The lady nodded and walked from the water, clothing herself as she went, until she came to her pack and her bow. "Your offer is kind, sir, but I am on my way to seek my fortune, not to share in yours. Take comfort in your riches and joy, I shall find my own." The man made a sour face and his courtiers grumbled but he saw the sure and easy way the lady handled her bow and spread a greasy grin on his face before offering a sarcastic bow and bidding her good day.
The lady wandered on, traveling a high road, and soon came to a cave filled with women who looked much like her. They were tall and strong, they carried blades and bows. "Sister," called one of the women in the cave, "come to join us! We have a place for girls like you; we talk like you and think like you and fight like you do! Come into our home and join us." The lady shook hands with all of the other ladies, and listened to their stories around a fire but soon she stood. "Sisters, I am glad that you are happy, I am glad that you have found your home. I wish that I could stay with you but I have left my life to seek my fortune; this place is happy and you are strong, it is your place and your strength, and I am looking for a place and strength of my own."
So the lady wandered on once more. She wandered for many years and did eventually make her fortune, all cobbled together from the bits and pieces of life that she brushed against in her search and held firmly in her breast as a soft and glowing light. She had many friends and many adventures, and when she died she was happy for the life she had made was her own.