Prince of Shadows


Her mouth gaped open, and the dumb surprise on my grandmother’s face was so remarkable that I thought I might spoil it with laughter. Had she ever in her life been so directly contradicted? And by him?

My mother curtsied to the prince and said, “My lord, I will take her home, with your kind permission. She is not enough in her wits to be seen here.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my mind!” my grandmother spat, and shook her cane hard at the prince. “You vile English whore, you weak-bellied coward of a son, I tell you my grandnephew is—”

“See she is well cared for,” the prince interrupted. “And that she is neither seen nor heard from this day forward.”

“My lord,” my mother said. She snapped her fingers at Grandmother’s attendants, and they closed around her feebly struggling body, like black-clad ants, and bore her away, still protesting.

My mother followed, and I thought that I could almost see the mantle of leadership settle from the old woman’s shoulders to hers as my mother took charge of House Montague.

A new day, indeed.

“My guards swear to me that the Prince of Shadows is dead,” Prince Escalus said. His gaze had fallen back upon me, weighty with significance. “I think we’ll see no more of him now. And with the lady Rosaline’s testimony, I find no weight to a Capulet claim that Benvolio came uninvited to her, nor that her honor was much compromised by it. Now we have funerals, and a glooming peace this morning has brought. The sun, for sorrow, will not show its head today, and so we will go to have more talk of these sad things.” For the first time, then there was a hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth. “But tomorrow, perhaps, there will be sun, and a lifting of gloom, and a different tale, of two warring houses brought together at last not in grief, but in some measure of joy. Now clasp hands, Benvolio, with your Rosaline. She is not meant for a convent; nor are you meant for a prison house. Go and soothe your family’s ills, and tomorrow we will speak of happier things.”

I turned to her, and before I could reach out to her she was reaching to me, both our hands joining and twining, and Prince Escalus was wrong, after all, for just then the sun came spilling in through the window, and in its glow I felt the warmth of a blessing—from Romeo, and Juliet, and Mercutio, and Tomasso, and all the lovers lost.

And in her smile, her glorious and lovely smile, we were lovers found at last.