Authors: M.G. Scarsbrook
Tags: #Mystery, #Classics, #plays, #Shakespeare
M. G. SCARSBROOK
Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs Of Lucrezia Borgia
Red Herring, London
For my parents, Graham and Sandra
May, 1593: Elizabethan England
lague, famine, and religious persecution blast the land and rouse the people to rebel. Enemies at home and abroad loosen the Queen's grip on her country. Now is a time of poison, plots, and spies.
Northern France. The Port of Calais.
he moon looked flat and pale and ready for a kill. Below, in the blue haziness of dusk, Calais had never been more dangerous for an English spy. Fort Risban trained its cannons across the mouth of the city harbor. Sentries with spears prowled up and down the ramparts. City guards fanned out through the streets, watched at street corners, and made random checks on anyone passing through the shadows.
Along one street, a pair of guards strolled past an old inn known as ‘Auberge du Passeur’. Above, at a second floor room, the shadow of a man moved past the window...
Inside that room, motes of dust flickered through the light of a single candle. At the far wall, before a small mirror hung askew, Christopher 'Kit' Marlowe stood and dressed himself quickly.
Kit was tall, with lithe arms and compact shoulders. Oval of face, he wore his long brown hair pulled back from his brow, and he grew a faint moustache over his lip and a thin beard on his chin. Dark, sun-strained eyes stared back at him from the looking glass. Between his slanted eyebrows lay a small crease worn into the skin through frowning. In his late twenties, he was a man fully in his prime. He was also a man of hidden tension: focused yet undisciplined; alert but frustrated; confident yet racked by anxiety.
Hastily, Kit grabbed a long black gown from the stool and slipped it over his simple doublet. Next he donned a red, triple-peaked hat that signified the profession of medical doctor. Lastly, and most carefully of all, he leaned over to the desk and lifted a thick fake beard and applied it to his face. The hair of the beard smelt musty. The glue felt warm and pinched a little as it dried hard on the skin. Now fully dressed, he stepped back in front of the mirror to inspect his disguise. Moonlight from the window cast a bone-white shade in the looking glass. He stared at his reflection – stared almost through it. The back of his neck tightened. He took a shallow breath. His eyes narrowed slightly. He shook his head and grimaced.