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The Traitor Quene

by Chestersmummy 

Posted: 01 April 2017
Word Count: 989

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The Traitor Quene

It is with a dreadful certainty that I sit and watch murky light creep into my cell, that I refuse to call my chamber.   The dawn has come at last - the last I will ever see.   I could have wished that it were fair June and that the sky was blue, slashed with pink but alas, ‘tis February the dreariest month of the year and if I were to look out of my casement I know what I would find – a yellow-grey fog shrouding clouds the colour of ashes.   I have not slept this night, my limbs ache and my back screams, I could be sixty and not sixteen.  Old age has crept suddenly upon me but it matters not for soon I will be at peace.
                Across from me, on thin pallets stretched out before the smoky remains of a peat fire, are my two companions, loyal friends who haven’t faltered in their love for me.  Strange that it is only now that I experience true kindness and that it comes from those that are not of my blood.   Certainly, my parents had no regard for me.  At best I was ignored and at worst I was pinched, bullied and forced into a marriage that I sought not and which has led me to this sorry state.  For my part, admittedly, I did nothing to earn their affection for I scorned their way of life, their gambling, their hunting their fornicating for it went against the word of the Lord and the teachings of the Bible for which they had scant regard.
 Now, it is said I was no queen but a traitor and who am I to argue against them?    Useless to say I was powerless against my father’s wrath even though the marks of his beatings are still blue upon my flesh.   
                A fit of shivering takes hold.  It is so cold in this dank little room.  Strange that such thick stone walls cannot hold the weather at bay.  I long to liven the fire but dare not move lest I wake the sleeping women.  They need their rest – their strength will be tested today.  I say nothing aloud but it is as if they hear me in their sleep for both Mrs Ellen and Mrs Tylney, my dearest friends, stir as if they are one.  They stretch, one turns to the fire and the other to me, concern setting her features.  
                ‘My Lady, have you not slept?   You are as pale as a ghost and as cold too I shouldn’t wonder.   One moment and I will boil a mug of hot water.  It will warm you if nothing else.  Come over to the table – look there are some of your marzipan favourites left,’
                I do as she says and sit nibbling at a sweetmeat; it tastes like charcoal in my mouth and I fight an urge to void.   I am not hungry nor thirsty but lack the strength to argue.
                Mrs Ellen opens her mouth as if to speak and then freezes.  A second later, I hear it.   The same sound we endured the whole of the previous day.   They have finished my husband’s scaffold and are starting on mine own.   I shut my ears against it and turn to the Bible, whispering its age-old Latin phrases to myself; their sweet cadences soothe and transport me to a place beyond this hellish one.
                Soon, I become aware that my friends have fallen silent and are gathered at the casement, their faces straining to see.  There is a rough roaring that filled my ears as if it were the sea and I rise from my seat as the two women bow their heads and begin to pray.   They part as I reach the window.  I know full well who their prayers are for.  My husband Lord Guilford Dudley has met his fate and I grieve although our marriage was not of my choice and we were ill-suited.  Still he did not deserve to be parted from his head so young and I feel a tear slide down my face.   In his honour I stand and watch as a cart rumbles its way past my tower block.  At first a thin veil of rain shields my view but suddenly I see it.  A body, shrouded in a sack, strangely formed.  I can bear it no longer.  All the Latin verses in the world cannot help me now.   A flood of tears stream down my face and I fall to the floor.
                ‘Poor child.   Let her weep.  Her tears may help to wash her pain away.’
Mrs Ellen was right.  At last I compose myself.  I must be strong for what lies before me.  I allow my ladies to wash my face and dress me in a good dark dress and robe.   I pick up my bible again and am surprised to see my grip is steady.   I have prepared my speech but even so I go over it again.   Best to get it right lest my voice trembles for if it does, I am lost.
                At long last there is a knock on the door and I hear the indrawn breath of my companions.   The door opens without ceremony, and three people stand in the doorway.   I recognise only one.   Sir John Brydges, Lieutenant of the Tower.   He has always been kind to me, even after my fall from grace when, from others, I received nothing but abuse.   Today, his face is drawn and when he speaks his voice is grave.
                ‘It is time, Milady.  Are you prepared?’
Somehow, I find the strength to answer and when I do my voice is composed.   He holds out an arm and laying mine own upon it we walk out of the door and along the long corridors leading to the White Tower, our footsteps ringing clearly on the cold stone.
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Comments by other Members

scriever at 20:31 on 02 April 2017  Report this post
Focussing on the individual is a great way of making historical events come to life, and this does it really convincingly. Were you thinking of these parts of the world where such barabaric practices still go on today? 

michwo at 07:09 on 19 May 2017  Report this post
This brought to mind for me the fate of Mary, Queen of Scots, only her first husband was called Darnley rather than Dudley.  I've been watching "Elizabeth" on Channel 5 recently and Episode 2 was all about how Elizabeth I for political and religious reasons eventually ended up signing her death warrant.

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