Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer @colin_falconer

Chapter 6

My dread and very dear Majesty,

I commend myself to you as humbly as I can. You have heard from my dear brother of affairs here in England. I am hard pressed at present to meet my expenses, my husband tells me that his Treasury cannot even afford to pay his own.

I do not know how I shall run my household unless the King endows me with those estates he has promised me.

Now that my good uncles have returned to France I am in lack of good counsel. Edward has provided me with my own retinue of ladies and one of them, Lady Mortimer, the wife of one of Edward’s barons, is unfailingly kind to me.

I shall do my best to be faithful to you and to France in all things though I find this present circumstance difficult to bear.

May the Holy Spirit keep you always

Given this day at London


She wakes to a sound as chilling as any she has ever heard. She puts on a fur-lined mantle and goes outside. Lady Mortimer is already in the hall, hurrying to attend her.

“What manner of beast is that?” Isabella asks her.

“It is one of the king’s lions, your grace. He has a private menagerie in the Barbican. His father brought these creatures back from the Holy Land, or so they tell me.”

Isabella dresses in furs and sturdy leather boots and goes outside to walk in the garden, pursued by Eleanor and other of her ladies. It is just after dawn, there is mist on the river and frost on the grey roofs of the king’s apartments. A crocus pushes its way through the brown earth.

The portcullis is raised. The stench of the river is stunning and she reels back. Torches flare in the fog. A barge pulls up at the steps, and soldiers run to meet it, their voices echoing around the Watergate.

She returns to her chambers in St Thomas Tower and sees Mortimer going out as she is going in. He seemed embarrassed to find her awake and on the stairs so early. “My Lord Mortimer.”

He bows. “Your grace.”

“I did not expect to find you here. You have been visiting the Lady Mortimer?”

He nods his head. He seems uncomfortable in her presence.

“Did you hear my lord’s lions? They woke me.”

“Was that what it was? I thought it was Lancaster.”

She had not imagined him to have a sense of humour and she giggles. But this is unseemly and she quickly composes herself. “The smell is overpowering close to the wall.”

“Definitely Lancaster then.”

He had seemed so fierce in the church and at the banquet but now he seems almost charming, if not diffident. He is certainly embarrassed at being caught sneaking from his wife’s bedchamber. She likes having him at her advantage. “What are they doing at the Watergate?”

He looks over her shoulder and sees the barge and the torches. “They’re unloading weapons.”


“Bows, halberds, shields. The king is preparing for war.”

“Against who?”

He shrugs as if it is common knowledge. “Against his earls.”

She tries not to appear shocked. Having nothing more to say she bids him good morning. “Your grace,” he murmurs and hurries away.

Civil war? Does my father know about this?

And if it’s true, what will happen to me?

* * * * *


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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG-13

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