And Cecil, now secretary of state, who owed his allegiance no longer to the once-again imprisoned Somerset but directly to the king and his adviser Warwick, was like a visiting cousin from time to time. Worries I would let her down kept me awake some nights, and I fancied she sometimes spoke to me in my sleep, desperately, passionately, even as she had that last moment when she hugged me farewell in her prison room here at the Tower and I vowed to be her girl’s good teacher and friend always. I feared my heart would pound out of my chest. But it seemed dreary too—silent as a tomb, unlike what I recalled of Anne Boleyn’s lying-in, at least before everyone knew the child was a girl. She came back in to bid us good night and, the next morn, as I brushed her long hair, she said, “Kat, you have come much farther in life than I.” “But, lovey, you have much farther to go.” “But I heard your father say he was proud of you.” Her voice broke. John gone, mayhap forever. Once, when Master Stephen went into the shippon to see to their horses tethered amidst our cattle, Thomas Cromwell seized my wrist and called me wife. “Besides, you told me you want to write a book about the art of riding, and I am writing a book about my life, so late into the evenings, we can write side by side, that is all.” He chuckled, then sobered when we heard voices echo down the hall. “She must have caught her skirts in the hearth fire.” Sitting on her heels, several feet away, she wrung her hands. I had never met the seventeen-year-old princess before but was touched by how she carried herself, proudly but not haughtily. Born yesterday at Hampton Court Palace, named Edward. “I see one high on your forehead,” I said, leaning close to her and squinting, “no, two—not very large scabs. “Or not till winter, if the pox does not abate there soon, poor souls,” I said, and snuggled back against him. It also held minor political prisoners, which I feared I was in these terrible times with worse to come.
Thus began that awful autumn and the worst winter of our lives. Three years later, when she was there again, they did not break her, no matter what befell. loved and missed me . She touched the tiny spring, and we both peered down at the painted pictures of the queen as a toddler and the bold, brave Anne Boleyn. The four of us stood near the doorway as the queen began to read the petition aloud. She gave me no details but will when we next invite her to court, no doubt.” “Yes, Your Grace. I ignored him as well as the pretty villages and fields we passed and concentrated on my charming fellow traveler. From the presence chamber where most courtiers were permitted, the withdrawing chamber winnowed out all but those closest to the queen before the even more limited access to the Privy Chamber and then the very private bedchamber. She ate little; I knew Mary, like her mother, was fearful of being poisoned. Sensationalised, serialised, biographised and cinematised, they form a sort of royal version of the Cloud, endlessly present, endlessly augmented – less than a year after Prince Andrew appeared on Newsnight, we have the Sussexes’ biography, Finding Freedom.
Besides her American settings, Karen loves the British Isles, where her Scottish and English roots run deep, and where she has set many of her historical Tudor-era mysteries and her historical novels about real and dynamic British women. I was heartened to see her face brighten and a smile tilt the tips of her eyes and lips. That time she had ordered Cromwell to bring me to the Tower she had demanded the promise of him that I be sent where Elizabeth went, at least until her majority. Cromwell crowded close to look at it, but Anne snapped it shut. Though not a raving beauty, she seemed to glow from within, radiating warmth that had already drawn the king’s three motherless children to her. He looked so fine, his face suncolored, his cloak flapping behind him like the wings of a great bird. I always enjoy historical fiction with a fresh perspective. It would not be fair to you or to your parents. I would be dismissed. Really!!! He married her on July 28, 1540, and rode off on a long honeymoon progress beginning at his rural palace of Oatlands. Now read me that passage again,” I had said, pointing to the page, “because you must learn how to pronounce several of the words—Plan-tag-e-net, see here?” “But if she was so lovely and learned, why did my father put her away and then she died?” “You know your sire, lovey. He hugged me hard and swept me off my feet for a spin. I opened the first of two letters and recognized Elizabeth’s handwriting, asking her “recorder of the rents, the trustworthy William Cecil,” to see that two unnamed prisoners were well cared for.
It was a dangerous courtship but a wholesome one, lest we be discovered and chastised or dismissed, or lest I find myself with child.
[Only twice in the eleven years since I had left my father’s house had I received news of him, once through the Barlows before they left Dartington Hall and once through Sir Philip. John stepped forward and handed her a small blue satin box, which she opened eagerly. I swear, since the boy king is her nephew—by marriage only—she sees herself as queen!” “Cecil says she and her husband have the queen’s suite of rooms at Whitehall, so I’m glad to be summoned here instead. But that gift of the ring, even hidden beneath Elizabeth’s bodice, backfired with a huge bang. By candlelight, for hours, after Father went to look in on Maud, I wiped Master Cromwell’s face with cool water and tipped a mug of ale to his parched lips. That was an interesting reading. She had thought she would see her brother more, but the Lord Protector was keeping him very isolated. “I have a proposal to make to you, a bargain, if you will agree,” he went on, his expression intent. Racked by puerperal fever, in her delirium, we heard that she had accused Tom of wanting her death, even of poisoning her, so he could wed Elizabeth. It took Tom’s skilled touch to make me tingle, but this man could send me into shivers without a touch. I drew back; they pushed me on. “The dream probably changed because yesterday I was thinking how blessed we are to have doors opened for us, not like the old days at Hatfield or worse, when I was in the Fleet Prison or the Tower.” “Brr!” he said, giving an intentional, dramatic shiver. Or I could just take it and destroy it. The first was in this way: Elizabeth and I, with several of her ladies—trailed, of course, by the ubiquitous Popes—took a brisk, late November walk on the grounds before Hatfield House. How proud the previous monarchs of England had been to yet possess that European stronghold, a legacy of the powerful Plantagenet past.
I could not bear to be parted from him and sobbed silently halfway back. But with you living there with her and in her favor—” “In her favor? I could almost sway right into him in the middle of this busy, noisy crowd. I avoided him, though John said he’d had words with him twice, and once Elizabeth in a snit sent John briefly away again for disparaging words against Dudley. My heartbeat kicked up; my eyes met Tiler’s and held. Burke’s Landed Gentry of Great Britain includes John, Arthur, Elizabeth, Joan, Katherine and Francis, then a second Joan (and, finally—erroneously, I believe—our Kat). George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, looking flushed and harried, strode from Anne’s chamber, looking neither right nor left. Did she mean I was to be present if she was executed? “I know the place well,” I told her. “This Boleyn matter is outrageous! Later, I know not what hour of those endless hours, Cecil appeared, with John at his elbow and a fuming Robert Dudley stalking in behind them. [Years later, time and again, I tried to tell myself that stoic mourning was just the way with men, but even cruel King Henry piteously grieved the death of his third wife, Queen Jane, and William Cecil sobbed when his second son—not even his heir—died.] Though I wanted to run straight for her suite upstairs, we stopped the first person we knew—I cannot recall to this day who it was—and asked the queen’s condition. She was a lovely and well-read woman, just as you shall be if you concentrate on your studies. I prayed desperately that day that Anne would not lose control as she had feared when I saw her last. We are off for Hampton Court in a quarter of an hour. Though I envied her a child, I was grateful I had not caught one from Tom’s brutal rape.
Her most recent books include THE SOUTH SHORES TRILOGY (CHASING SHADOWS, DROWNING TIDES and FALLING DARKNESS.)
Mildred had become a fast friend and support to me, especially after John left for London. Well, for all I knew, he was guilty. “For your love and loyalty to me, the both of you,” she told us as she presented us with the warrant for the titles and duties. At the age of thirty-four, I was blushing! In the closed - up Cecil home in Wimbledon, Mildred and I picked up exactly where we had left off, as friends and supports to each other. I should have known you would both be stubborn. “I, too, miss Enfield.
Not only because I was moved by how logically and regally the child had relayed that information. For 70 years, it successfully ‘disappeared’. “I returned in secret a few days ago and have been living at Cecil’s house in Wimbledon,” he told her, “but I could wait no longer to see you, Your Grace— or the stubborn woman who has long served you.” She extended her hand to John, and he kissed it. I had thought she had much to learn but, evidently, so did I. Besides, a knock sounded on the door, and it swung open.
I hadn’t used such a tone since I’d told Maud I suspected her of my mother’s murder. She’d had to share it with the befuddled, elderly Anne of Cleves, who evidently thought the cheers for Mary’s heir were all for her and waved broadly, her hand often flailing before Elizabeth’s face. More than once over the next years, I wrote Cromwell such groveling letters; more than once he sent coin or bolts of cloth with a reminder that my present position was his doing and that he knew I would be willing to serve him in the future. I was the one she asked for that day, but two others of the household were in the room too, farther back than I. I stood at the foot of the bed, holding on to the bedpost and wishing I could help. My father stayed that night. Amazingly, they stood away. Had she been home, most likely she would have tat-taled on him to the girls’ governess, Gertrude. Orders had been given long ago that Mary was never to be left alone with any outside visitors, lest she try to contact her mother or their Spanish allies. I’m heading home—to York.
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