A Dangerous Inheritance

A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir Page B

Book: A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alison Weir
Tags: Biographical, Fiction, Historical, Sagas
brilliant sapphire stone. On its obverse the goldsmith had masterfully engraved a tableau of the Trinity with the crucified Christ at the center, and surrounded it with a border of burnished gold. On the reverse, when she turned it over, Kate found a finely delineated nativity scene.
    She counted out her gold coins and handed them over.
    “See, it is hinged here,” Master Hayes pointed out. “You can open it and use it as a reliquary. There is space inside for a small relic.”
    “My father the duke owns several relics. I will ask him for one. Thank you.”
    Master Hayes stiffened. “I will have it wrapped for you, my lady,” he said abruptly.
    Kate’s delight in acquiring the pendant was muted by the goldmith’s barely veiled animosity. As she and Mattie walked back along Cheapside, Mattie chattering away and steering her toward a stall selling gingerbread and lavender cakes, she was asking herself why her father should have so many enemies.
    He was at the Tower even now, for that important council meeting, and she still had the feeling that something evil was afoot. Suddenly,she knew what she must do: she must set aside her silly fears of the place, go to the Tower, and wait for her father to emerge from the council chamber. Then she would be the first to hear any important news he had to impart.
    She swung left into Gracechurch Street. “Let’s walk down to the Tower,” she said.
    “Yes, my lady.” Mattie, who had demolished the gingerbread, bought two apples from a fruit seller to stay them until dinner, and they walked along Eastcheap crunching them. It was a beautiful, mild spring day, and presently they saw before them the mighty walls and white masonry of the Tower, massive and stately against the blue sky.
    As they walked down Tower Hill, they passed a raised wooden platform surrounded by a fence.
    “What’s that?” Kate asked.
    “It’s the public scaffold, my lady. It’s where traitors are beheaded or gutted. The executions here always draw a goodly crowd.”
    Kate shuddered. Men had died here, horribly, bloodily. And the unwelcome thought came unbidden that her own beloved father was in danger of meeting such an end. It would take only one twist of fate …
    She recovered herself. “Have you ever been to an execution?” she asked.
    “No, there haven’t been any here for years,” Mattie replied.
    “Then I pray God there will not be for many more.” Kate made herself walk forward to the Tower.

    June 1553; Baynard’s Castle, London
    My lord of Pembroke cannot do enough for me. It is as if he feels he must make up for depriving me of the private joys of marriage. My days are spent in glorious idleness, in rooms and halls of the brightest splendor, or in gardens sweeping down to the river, gay with flowers and heavy with fruit.
    My every whim—but one—is gratified. Do I but express a wish for a bunch of cherries or a cup of cordial, it is there, in my hand, within minutes. My wardrobe is stuffed with gorgeous gowns of every hue, rich furs, embroidered kirtles, and costly velvet hoods—for now that I am a wife, even though I am still a virgin, I must bind up and cover my hair. That crowning glory is now for my husband alone, or it would be were he allowed to be with me when I take my hood off. The Herberts did not have to provide me with such attire, for I brought a fitting trousseau with me when I married, but they dismiss such largesse as the least they can do for a daughter-in-law in whom they are well satisfied.
    Daily I feast on the choicest foods served on gold and silver-gilt plate; I drink from glasses of the best Venetian crystal. I attend divine service in a lofty chapel plainly appointed, as befits the house of a good Protestant, but hung with arras and paintings of scenes from the life of Our Lord. Musicians while away my evenings on lutes and virginals, as I beat my lord at chess and tables, or read my book.
    It seems strange not to have my days governed by the

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