TITLE: The Falcon Spy
GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy
In Russia, a bird in the house meant death, and one just landed on my windowsill.
I ran for the window. My poor seamstress trailed behind me, sticking pins in the hem of my dress. The pins scraped my bare legs, but I took no notice. I couldn't let the bird in the house. Not with with my brother Alexei riding off to face Bonaparte tomorrow.
"Natasha! What are you doing?" Mademoiselle Touneau hissed through the pins in her teeth.
At the window, I saw no ordinary bird, but a gray falcon, no bigger than my forearm. Black marks lined its chest like someone had dabbed it with ink, its head dark like a helmet. It peered at me with eyes almost human in their intensity.
All the more reason to keep it out.
Mademoiselle waved at me to get back on the stool in the parlor, but I ignored her. My gown could rip to shreds for all I cared.
"Go away," I whispered to the bird.
The falcon dug its yellow talons into the windowsill and scraped up bits of blue paint. Stubborn thing.
My sister Olga would say it was just like me.
Behind me, Father and the governor of Mosow mumbled about Napoleon's invasion and the state of the Russian army near our unlit fireplace. The governor blew a puff of smoke from his pipe, and Father coughed. Had they not seen the bird?
"Alexei?" I called.
A crackle of gun fire erupted in the garden.