‘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.’
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.
- ‘Beguiled.’ The opening scene of my new work in progress (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)
- ‘Beguiled’ Part 2 of my new work in progress. #SampleSunday #histnov (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)
- Beguiled Part 3. #SampleSunday #Histnov #amwriting (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)
- Foes and A Friend. #SampleSunday #HistNov (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)
- The Story behind the Story #HistNov #SampleSunday (martinlakewriting.wordpress.com)