In Times of Love and War
By Wakefield Mahon

“What are you doing? Get down from that horse young lady!” Aunt Gertrude stood with her back ramrod straight and her arms crossed, a scowl etched into her elderly face.
“You mustn’t make me. I have to ride to prepare myself.” Hilda implored her guardian with voice and eyes, but with little effect.
“You should be studying for exams and preparing yourself for a suitable husband. Instead, you spend all day mooning over that Erik boy and getting your clothes dirty. Is that your mother’s silk blouse?”
“I’m sorry Auntie; I forgot I was wearing it.” Hilda dismounted, careful not to tear her clothes. She stood before Aunt Gertrude, her eyes downcast.
“Oh if only your mother were still here, maybe she’d know how to deal with you. Just what is it you believe you are preparing for? Perhaps you plan to be a common woman. Proper ladies don’t ride horses.”
Hilda glared up defiantly. “Erik has joined the military as a young officer of the Crown. When he returns, he will build us a proper home on a decent estate.”
“He takes a gamble these violent days. I’ll give him that much, but what has that to do with riding?”
“I want to be a Valkyrie. If Erik should fall in battle, I can be there to carry him home. And in Heaven I will wait on him until the day of the Great Battle. I will bring him his wine even as his lips are wine to me.”

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