What is the King to do? #HistNov #samplesunday

‘What is the King to do? Tell us, if you will, Nicholas. What is the King to do? The girl is pretty. There is no denying that. Winsome. A lithe body; slim, taut as a bow and firm, very firm. Long legs, goodly buttocks. Small breasts, like little apples. We imagined their firmness this morning, their softness, their malleability.’

Nicholas Frost said nothing but he appeared to be hanging upon the King’s words, waiting with bated breath for him to continue.

‘Her face is interesting. No, that does not do it justice. Her face is beguiling. It seemed to us to be an open book, a book which desired to be read. Yet at the same time much remained hidden in that face. Something seemed to call to us, to call, Nicholas.

‘Her hair is as fair as wheat in summer. She has a pale complexion yet, I dupe you not, her eyes are as black as jet, dark as sloes. The contrast is quite remarkable. Soft eyes, sleepy eyes, eyes that watch. Eyes that watch even her King. She was not afraid to regard us in the garden last week or even just now in our Study. Oh she was demure enough, we grant you. She played the innocent wench to perfection. But she watched us every bit as much as Master Cromwell does.’

‘Perhaps the girl is innocent, Majesty,’ Nicholas Frost said.

The King turned from the window and stared at Frost. It was a searching stare and Frost swallowed hard.

Then the King gave an airy wave. ‘You may be right, Nicholas.’

The King flung himself into a chair and his eyes sparkled. ‘But I hope you’re wrong.’ He gave a huge laugh, a bellow, and slapped his leg.

Frost laughed with him, watching all the while to see the impression his own laughter made upon the King. Judging the right display of amusement was a skill necessary for every servant of the King.

‘We would know this girl better, Nicholas. She intrigues us.’

Henry regarded Frost through narrowed eyes. ‘No one else need know this, of course.’

Frost bowed.

Although much of my novel will be seen through Alice Petherton’s eyes I decided to write some scenes in the third person, allowing me to broaden the perspective and show things which Alice could not see or know.

I did this because later in the novel she becomes the prize of competing factions at the Court and much of what was happening needed to be kept from her searching intelligence.

In this conversation between King Henry and his groom, Nicholas Frost, I wanted to show both the public and the private persona of the King. Tudor kings led very public lives and there must have been little time for intimate and private moments. For this reason I invented Nicholas Frost, a trusted servant who Henry could safely speak his mind to. Yet Frost could not take this trust for granted, indeed nobody could with the increasingly paranoid and dangerous King. This is what will make Alice’s next few years so exciting and so perilous.

‘Beguiled’ is my new work in progress. I hope to publish this later in the year.

In the meanwhile the third book in my The Lost King series will be published this summer. It is called Mercenary and tells how Edgar Atheling moves his war of resistance to William the Conqueror’s homeland, Normandy.

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About Martin Lake

Martin Lake lives in the French Riviera with his wife. After studying at the University of East Anglia he worked as a teacher, trainer and company director. A serious accident shattered his arm and meant that he had to rein back his work. He decided to concentrate on writing and is now writing full-time. He writes a wide range of fiction. His main interests are historical fiction, short stories and fiction for young adults. Martin has a series of novels 'The Lost King' which are set in the years following the Norman Invasion of England. They concern Edgar Atheling, last representative of the ancient English royal dynasty and his fight to regain the throne from William the Conqueror. Martin has also published 'Artful' the further adventures of the Dodger and 'Outcasts' a novel about fall of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. His latest novel, 'A Love Most Dangerous' is about a maid of honour who becomes the lover of Henry VIII. Martin’s work has been broadcast on radio. He won first prize in the Kenneth Grahame Society competition to write a story based on 'The Wind in the Willows.' You can get the collection, 'The Wind in the Willows Short Stories' from Amazon.
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