Sunday, 16 November 2014


Henry VIII has wants the infant Scots Queen married to his son, Edward and he's prepared to have her taken her by force. The reward will be high, but failure means death.

‘The king has let it be known he will reward any man who brings the little Queen to him,’ Wharton continued. ‘I fear Harry considers it his opportunity for advancement.’

‘So I suggested,’ Harry said, a wide grin lighting his face, ‘that you and I will bring her south.’

Jesu! Matho’s innards spasmed. He gaped at them both in turn and then turned to Harry. ‘Do you want to get us both killed? That’s what it will mean if we meddle in this.’

‘But if we succeed,’ Harry said in the patient tones of a schoolmaster with a dullard, ‘the king will be delighted and therefore generous with his reward. There will be enough for you and me, and Father will be the man of the hour once more.’

Matho scowled. It wouldn’t be Harry’s father risking his neck in Scotland. ‘But she’s nowt but a bairn,’ he blurted. ‘She won’t be off the teat yet.’

Harry snorted with laughter. Heat rose under Matho’s collar. Wharton’s bent head suggested he hid a smile. Damn them both, Matho thought. He wasn’t going to get himself killed in order to please either of them. He ought to walk out of here now, while he still had a head on his shoulders.

He opened his mouth to protest, and then paused. He’d borrowed a horse from Harry to ride west expecting nothing more lucrative than messenger work, which was hard on the backside but not particularly dangerous. Wharton’s summons had freed him from duties as Carnaby’s guard for the whole of one month; now he saw that the way had been prepared for this venture. Matho shifted from foot to foot. He’d been hoping for a chance to prove himself since going into service with the Carnaby family. What if this was it? He’d be a fool to back away from it. Lord knows he was tired of living on bread and ale.

‘What is she?’ he asked, anxious to retrieve lost ground. ‘Almost a year old? I suppose she can survive on pottage for a day or two, like the rest of us.’

Harry’s eyes lit up. ‘Then you’ll give it a go?’

Matho regarded him with a sour glance. That was Harry for you. Offer him a handful of grain and he would assume he could take the entire sack. ‘There must be safer ways of earning gold.’

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