Read Love, Remember Me Online

Authors: Bertrice Small

Tags: #Romance, #Historical, #Historical Romance

Love, Remember Me

BOOK: Love, Remember Me
8.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Love, Remember
Me

Bertrice Small

Copyright © 2015 Bertrice Small
Published by Butterfly Kisses Press

To Barbara Bretton, with love

PROLOGUE

HAMPTON COURT

Autumn 1537

T
HE
queen was dead
. She had been safely delivered of a strong, healthy son on Friday, the twelfth day of October, at two o'clock in the morning. The king, at Esher when the queen birthed the prince, rode with all haste to Hampton Court to see his son. The child was sturdy of limb and fair-haired. Henry Tudor was overwhelmed with his joy. At last he had a male heir! He could even feel benevolent toward his two daughters, sallow Mary, overpious and always looking at him sidewise, and wee Elizabeth, Nan's girl. The less said about her the better. The wench was far too pert and knowing for a baby-maid of three. Yet Jane, God bless her, loved both his girls. She wanted them with her here at court; Mary for a companion, and Bess to raise with their son.

"You have done well, sweetheart," the king told the queen. He placed a kiss upon her brow, and patted the little hand reaching out to him. "He's a fine lad, and we'll have a few more to keep him company, eh Jane?" He beamed lovingly at her. "Three or four lads for England!" Ohh, he felt triumphant and justified now. God was but approving his behavior of the past few years by finally giving him a son.

Jane Seymour smiled wanly at her husband. She had had a long and a very hard labor, almost three days of it, but the matter of her son's name must be settled. "What would you call him, my lord?" she asked her husband. She did not want to think of three or four additional births just yet, as the memory of her pain was still strongly with her. If God had made men capable of childbirth, she thought secretly, would they be quite so enthusiastic about large families?

"Edward," the king said. "My son shall be named Edward."

The royal heralds were sent out to every part of the country to give the people the glad news that King Henry VIII and his young queen, Jane, were the parents of a goodly lad. The church bells in the city of London began a happy pealing that lasted the whole day long and into the following night.
Te Deums
were sung in every church in England to celebrate Prince Edward's arrival. There were bonfires everywhere. The Tower of London was practically ringed in blue smoke as its guns thundered two thousand times in honor of the newborn prince. Housewives hung garlands above their doorways and prepared food for the celebratory feasts that would follow the happy birth. Gifts and good wishes began to pour into Hampton Court at a great rate. Who knew where or whom the king's benevolence might touch in light of his pleasure. All of England rejoiced with Henry and his queen at the news of Prince Edward's birth.

On Monday, the fifteenth of October, Prince Edward was christened in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court. The celebration began in the queen's private apartments. The king had decided, and the queen had meekly agreed, that Archbishop Cranmer, the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk, and his eldest daughter Mary would act as their son's godparents. Nan's brat was also allowed to take part in the festivities. Softhearted Jane had absolutely insisted.

So the Lady Elizabeth, carried in the arms of the queen's brother, Lord Beauchamp, held the chrism tightly in her little hands, extremely conscious of the importance of the event and her own part in it. She was not certain what pleased her most—being included in this great spectacle, or the marvelous rich-looking gown she had been given. After Edward was baptized, Elizabeth returned to the queen's chambers holding the hand of her elder sister, Mary.

The queen blessed her son, as did the king. Then, having been admired all around, the baby was taken off to his own apartments by the Duchess of Suffolk, who was entrusted with his care for now.

The king, remembering past difficulties with the sons borne him by the Princess of Aragon, ordered that Prince Edward's apartments be kept scrupulously clean. Every room and connecting hallway had to be scrubbed down with soap and water daily. Every chamber had to be swept daily. Anything that Edward touched, or wore, or needed, must be clean. Such fanaticism was unheard of with regard to cleanliness, but Henry Tudor was obeyed. The two royal wet nurses were healthy country girls, free of disease and wholesome. One had borne a dead child. The other gave her daughter to her sister-in-law to nurse. The royal infant would not share his food supply with any other child, for another, not as well cared for, could become ill and infect the prince. This child would live to succeed his father. Every precaution was taken to ensure it. Edward Tudor was a most important child.

The day after the prince's baptism, the queen fell ill. She seemed recovered by evening, but then grew quite sick during the night. The physicians attending her agreed that she had contracted puerperal fever. During the night the queen sank deeper toward death. Her confessor, the Bishop of Carlisle, was about to administer extreme unction to Jane Seymour the next morning when she suddenly appeared to rally. By Thursday she seemed to be recovering quite nicely, to everyone's relief. Then late Friday the queen's fever rose dramatically once more. She fell into a coma. There was no doubt now that her death was near, but no one dared to voice it aloud.

The king had intended to return to Esher for the hunting season, which was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, the twenty-third of October. He could not, however, bear to leave his sweet Jane. It was obvious even to him that the queen was dying. He wept bitter tears, to the surprise of all about him. Few could ever remember having seen him cry. Henry Tudor remained by his wife's bedside throughout the night. Just after midnight the Bishop of Carlisle entered the bedchamber to administer the last rites to the queen. This time there would be no miraculous recovery. Having done his duty, the bishop did what he could to comfort his master, but the king was inconsolable. At two o'clock in the morning, the very same hour in which she had birthed her son twelve days prior, Queen Jane died quietly. The king immediately departed for Windsor, and a period of seclusion. It was considered ill luck for a king to remain long in the same vicinity as death.

The queen's funeral was, of course, a most magnificent one. Her slender body was dressed in gold tissue, her lovely blond hair combed loose, a bejeweled crown set upon her head. She lay in state in the presence chamber of Hampton Court while masses were sung around the clock for the good of her sweet soul. Queen Jane was then moved to the Chapel Royal, where her ladies kept vigil for a full week.

Mary Tudor was the chief mourner. She had loved and respected this gentle, pious stepmother who had lovingly eased her back into her volatile father's good graces. Few people had been kind to Mary Tudor since her mother's fall from grace, and the reign of Anne Boleyn had been hell on earth for her. Jane Seymour, however, had always been kind.

On the eighth day of November, the queen's coffin was removed to Windsor, where she was to be buried on Monday, November twelfth. The king was yet in a depression, but he had already decided to take a fourth wife. One son was simply not enough to guarantee the continued survival of the House of Tudor. His sweet Jane was dead, but he was young enough yet to sire several more sons on a fecund female consort.
The queen was dead, but the king was very much alive
.

PART I

THE WILD ROSE

ENGLAND

1539–1540

CHAPTER 1

W
ELL,
he did say that he might visit
RiversEdge
one day," Lady Blaze Wyndham, the Countess of Langford, said to her husband. "You know he did. You heard him yourself."

"I thought he was being polite," the earl responded, aggravated. "People always say that they'll visit you someday, but one never really expects that they will come, and usually they do not. Did you honestly expect to ever see the king here?
In our home
? I know that I did not." Anthony Wyndham ran an impatient hand through his dark hair. "We are not a great house, Blaze. How long is he to stay? How many will be with him? Is it really possible for us to entertain the king well?" He glared at his wife, who was certainly, because of her long acquaintance with the king, responsible for this disruption of his life.

Blaze laughed. "Oh, Tony," she said soothingly, "it is not an official visit that Hal makes us. He is merely hunting nearby. When he realized that
RiversEdge
was in the vicinity, he decided to come and see us. He will arrive with no more than half a dozen companions to break his fast in the noonday hour." She patted her husband's hand. "It will be all right."

"There's not enough time to prepare properly," the earl grumbled. "How typical of the king to give us so little notice."

"Indeed, my lord, and when did my household become your province?" Blaze demanded sharply. "The king comes tomorrow. There is more than enough time for
me
to prepare to receive him. You need do nothing more, Tony, than be your charming self." She kissed his cheek in an attempt to mollify her handsome spouse. "By the way, my love, I have sent to my parents in Ashby to come to meet the king, and to my sisters as well."

"
All of them
?" her husband asked nervously. Blaze was the eldest of eleven children, eight of whom were female.

"Only Bliss and Blythe," she reassured him. "Mother may bring my brothers Henry and Tom, though. Gavin's wife is too near her time. He will not leave her, I know. After all, it is their first child."

The Earl of Langford felt relieved at the knowledge that he was not to be inundated with all of his wife's relations. Of his sisters-in-law, he knew best Bliss, the Countess of Marwood, and Blythe, Lady Kingsley. They were nearest in age to his wife. The fourth sister, Delight, had been swept off to Ireland by her husband, Cormac O'Brian, the Lord of Killaloe, years ago. They rarely heard from her. The next of his wife's siblings, Larke and Linnette, had been married to twin brothers, the sons of Lord Alcott. They were content to be country wives as long as they remained together. Proud Vanora, the next-to-youngest sister, had married the Marquis of Beresford, and the last of the Morgan sisters, Glenna, not to be outdone, had wed the Marquis of Adney. The daughters of Lord Robert Morgan were all famed for their beauty and their extraordinary ability to bear healthy offspring.

"This is really the most wonderful opportunity," Blaze said to her husband, who was drawn back to reality by hearing
that
tone in her voice.

"Opportunity for whom?" he demanded. "And for what, madame?"

"Our children, Tony! Nyssa, Philip, and Giles. Now that the king has ceased mourning Queen Jane and is betrothed to the Princess of Cleves, his mood should be very good—particularly if the hunting is excellent tomorrow morning and the repast I serve him is particularly to his taste."

"What is it you are planning, Blaze?" the earl asked her.

"I want places at court for Nyssa, Philip, and Giles, Tony. They need the polish, and we have settled no matches on any of them yet. I think Nyssa can attract a good husband at court. Perhaps the boys will appeal to certain fathers; not the high and mighty, of course, but good families looking for good matches. Philip will be the next Earl of Langford, and I have given Giles my manor of Greenhill with its comfortable income. Our two eldest sons are most eligible catches," she finished with a smile.

"I do not know if I like the idea of Nyssa going to court," the Earl of Langford said. "The boys, yes, I agree with you there, but not Nyssa."

"Why not Nyssa
?" she pressed him. "There is no one hereabouts to whom we would marry her, nor is there any who takes her fancy. The Princess of Cleves is, I am told, a most gentle and refined lady. If Nyssa could find a place among her maids, she would be protected, but she would also have the opportunity to meet the eligible young men she otherwise would not meet. If the king still harbors tender feelings for me—and I know he does, for Hal is a sentimental man who remembers what pleases him through a rose-colored mist—then he will be willing to do us this kindness, and place the children at court. Ohh, Tony! We will never again have such an opportunity to advance the future of our children. And the people they meet at court may be of help to our other sons when they are old enough to go to court. The others, not being propertied, will need all the help they can obtain."

BOOK: Love, Remember Me
8.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Freddy Goes to the North Pole by Walter R. Brooks
Hush (Black Lotus #3) by E K. Blair
A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh
The Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
A Common Scandal by Amanda Weaver
Stowaway by Becky Barker
Never End by Ake Edwardson
Cole in My Stocking by Jessi Gage
Just About Sex by Ann Christopher