In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Interlude
  • Summer Greer (bio)

Liechtenstein, 1892

The seconds are in place. This big garden’s petite parterre   holds only a small crowd, all ladies, on its walks. Princess Pauline von Metternich loosens a button on her petticoat   and remembers that on her death, her money goes to music. The flowerbeds of the parterre are tended in the three   temperate seasons, but none of the ladies are here to see flowers. Across the lawn, Countess Anastasia Kielmannsegg has replied   to the Princess’s words of reconciliation, which are required in the French rules of honor, with the prescribed demand for blood.

Each woman’s second takes her combatant’s velvet coat.   Baroness Lubinska, the physician who will tend to any wounds, calls for each combatant to prepare. At this, both the Princess   and the Countess take a long moment to unbutton their     chemisettes, while their seconds pull the laces from their corsets. It is August,   but both combatants shiver when the last layer falls away from their backs. Fighting sans the danger of silk filling a wound,   says the Baroness, will prevent infection. The seconds lift rapiers from hard pillows and hold them up for all to see.

The Princess feels unlike herself. The rapier isn’t new to her—   she’d learned to use it as a girl. It isn’t the duel itself, either. She’d brawled enough with her brothers and cousins,   also as a girl. She guesses it is both the August air and the reason for the duel. She and the Countess had disagreed,   with a shocking difference of opinion, over a flower arrangement for the Vienna Musical and Theatrical Exhibition. It’s almost   the new century, thinks the Princess, and the world might finally see her spill or draw men’s blood—the blood of honor. [End Page 105]

The combat commences. The Princess misses one wild parry   and retreats just too slowly to feel the bite of vanishing steel across her nose. When the Countess, realizing that she has   truly slashed her friend with a sword, pauses in amazement, the Princess stabs her through the bicep. The Baroness rushes in,   and the combatants part. Honor drips into a flowerbed as the Countess stares down, curious. The winner is unclear:   the Countess drew first blood, but the Princess, who smiles in     a way she never has in front of a mirror, made the better wound. [End Page 106]

Summer Greer

SUMMER GREER is a teacher, writer, and photographer living in Baltimore. He received his M.F.A. from Johns Hopkins University.



Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 105-106
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.