She was a gypsy, an untamed spirit, beautiful and bold with dark hair and wide hazel eyes.
He was noble born, the heir to the estate, tall and handsome but restrained by his position and upbringing.
From the moment they laid eyes on each other, they knew their love was doomed; doomed but unstoppable.
For a while, he was able to escape the watchful gaze of his servants to meet her in secret, but his father grew suspicious. One night, the young lord crept from his room and saddled his horse, unaware that he was being watched. He rode out to the cottage where he had arranged to meet the gypsy girl, unaware that he was being followed. He embraced his love and kissed her passionately, unaware that they were being observed.
The illusion was broken suddenly. The door was thrown open and the shadow of his father filled the room.
“How dare you,” his father said, his voice quiet but seething with rage.
The young lord turned. “How dare I what,” he asked. “How dare I fall in love? How dare I strive for the happiness you never had?”
His father’s fist flew. The young lord was knocked to the ground, and the girl covered her face with her hands and cowered in fear.
A spark of light caught the old lord’s eye. He grabbed the girl’s hand roughly, almost wrenching her arm from its socket, and stared at the gem on her finger.
“What is this?!”
She looked up at him defiantly. “It is my wedding ring,” she said.
He looked down at his son, still reeling from the blow. “You gave your mother’s ring to this… this wench?”
The young lord stood. “She’s no wench. She is the woman I love, and I married her last night. She is my wife.”
The old lord roared with rage and tried to pull the ring from the girl’s finger. It was stuck fast.
“No gypsy witch shall taint my family,” he shouted. His son tackled him, pushing him away.
Furious and lost to rage, the old lord staggered back a few steps and drew his sword. His son was unarmed; the fight was brief but bloody.
The old lord stood over the gypsy girl as her life bled away. He took out a knife and began to cut the ring free.
The pain roused her. “You will never be happy,” she whispered, “so long as this ring is in your family. None of your line will know happiness or love again, only the hate and the pain you brought as your wedding gift.
He laughed in her face as she died.
He never laughed again. Within a few generations the manor stood empty and the lord’s family was broken, impoverished and all but forgotten.
It was said, though, that in a small cottage the ghost of a handsome lord and a beautiful gypsy girl could still be heard to confess their undying love for each other.
© Kari Fay
(Author’s Note: This is also my entry for the #fridayflash Halloween “Name That Horror Movie” Contest – somewhere in the story is the title of one of my favourite horror movies. But what is it? – Edited to add the voting link for said contest)