Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Heart to heart

At last they were face to face and Richard could ask Elizabeth why she was helping him. Before replying, Elizabeth had a few questions of her own.

Elizabeth: Where are my sons?

Richard: I have sent them away. They are very safe.

Elizabeth: Why then do you allow rumours of their death to circulate?

Richard: If Tudor finds the boys he will kill them. It is safer if he does not know what has happened to them. The more people think they are dead, the fewer will go looking for them. Once Tudor is dealt with the boys can come out of hiding.

Elizabeth was inclined to believe Richard, but she had a further test. What did he know about the death of Henry VI? Richard paused. He knew of Elizabeth's deep respect for Henry. What would she think of him if she knew the truth? He could say farewell to any further assistance from her. But he needed to know why Elizabeth had trusted him, and he could not demand an honest answer from her if he was not honest himself. He told her everything.

As Elizabeth listened, she was overjoyed to hear Richard's account match what she had previously learnt from Waynflete. Her trust had not been misplaced. Relief coursed through her veins that Richard was the man she fervently hoped he was. Her face, her whole body, visibly relaxed.

By the time Richard finished speaking, he had no need to ask why Elizabeth was helping him. He could not fathom why she loved him, but to a man as sensitive as Richard it was plain that she did.

Even though she was still the most beautiful woman in England, Elizabeth felt all the vulnerability of someone nearly fifty who had betrayed her love for a married man not much past thirty. The tension returned to her body.

Richard: Anne does not have long to live. Our son has inherited her sickliness and may die even sooner. If you marry me, when your son Edward comes of age I will see to it that he succeeds to the throne.

They smiled contentedly at each other for a few moments, then left before their absence elsewhere was noticed.

Next Chapter

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