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Lady of Shallot by Jessica Lee

11 May 2017

  • Lady of Shallot

Based on the ballad The Lady of Shallot by Lord Alfred Tennyson 

Sombre portraits of previous owners hung from behind layers of dust. Cold, hesitant light streamed in through the cracked windows, casting eerie shadows on the walls. The fair Lady of Shallot was roaming the castle alone. Feeling her way through the realms of the corridors, she dragged her fingers across along the smooth marble columns that shaped the four grey towers.  

The Lady of Shallot was often found alone and yet she had the heart and soul that brought the village to life. Her hair was a rich shade of mahogany; it flowed in waves to adorn her glowing, porcelain-like skin. Her eyes,framed by long lashes, were a bright, emerald-green and seemed to brighten the world. A straight nose, full lips - she seemed the picture of perfection. Had she smiled, the village would smile with contentment. Had she laughed, the locals would laugh with her. And yet now she wept. Everyone would have wished to comfort her but she remained out of their reach and hidden away.

Her wanderings were now her only way to escape but she had never come across a room that was unfamiliar to her. One doorway immediately caught her attention. As curiosity got the better of her, she bent down and peered through the keyhole into a room of strange wonders. Twisting the rusty handle, she eased open the heavy iron-bound door. Her gaze was instantly drawn to an object in the centre of the room. Draped in blue velvet, the silhouette of the object loomed large but the immense power beneath these folds of fabric was as yet unknown, but soon to be unveiled. As she stepped closer, The Lady heard footsteps from outside and knew instantly to hide. 

At that very moment, the Queen burst into the room, the winter snow billowing around her skirt. With a flourish she undid her cape and flung it across the room. Dazzled by the beauty, which hid her wickedness like a cloak, most people were unaware of the cold, dark heart that beat furiously within her. Gliding towards the mirror, as though nothing had ever stopped her before, she wore an expression of  malicious intent that was impossible to disguise...

“Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ 

“You are the fairest in the land, but there is a girl who is destined to surpass your beauty.”

Rage and utter disgust flashed across her face revealing her true, shocking form. “What? That is utterly absurd! Who is she?”

The Lady of Shallot took a step backwards but it was too late. 

“You!” shrieked the Queen. 

In a fit of fury, she threw her arms upwards and with a strange and earth shattering chant she summoned her powers from the mirror and unleashed a spell that would haunt the poor fair maiden forever.  

Jessica Lee, British International School Hanoi student