Viscount William Hart paces a
grand bed chamber from one end to another. In one hand is a piece
of parchment, in the other is an unsealed envelope stamped with
the kings own coat of arms. He is dressed in the finest, silver
jerkin which is slightly askew due to his frantic pacing.
Viscountess Elizabeth Hart sits in a dark corner as though to
seem invisible. She is young and beautiful but the stress of her
life has cast a wizened look in her eyes. She watches William,
she seems calm yet there is an air of nervous energy surrounding
her. William stops pacing and reads the letter again. He notices
Elizabeth and thrusts the letter at her. Elizabeth scans the
letter and gently places it on the table. William eyes her
closely then turns to the mirror to examine his face. He is
handsome and around twenty five years old. The thin lines around
his eyes and mouth suggest he usually has a ready smile and that
the negative way he is acting is not usual to his character. He
sets about wiping away the sweat from his face and correcting his
is at this Elizabeth reaches for the letter. She strokes the name
signed at the bottom with her finger, casts a glance at William
then kisses the kings seal on the envelope. William sees her
through the mirror. He charges over and slaps her round the face.
Elizabeth gasps in shock and puts her hand up to her cheek. She
looks at him proudly and defiantly with no trace of shame or
guilt. "It's not a love token you brazen hussy" he shrieks,
pulling the letter from her. Elizabeth flares up in agitation,
"The king loves me William." William shakes his head in disgust.
"You are married to me. You can be his slut if that's what you
want. I can't stop the king from taking you to his bed but you
are mine in name. That I have at least."
sits herself back down, opposite William. "Have you read the
letter? The King wants to marry me. He has asked you to meet him
because our marriage is to be annulled." William says nothing but
his hands are shaking violently ready to strike out in anger. "I
am carrying the king's child. He says he will not father another
bastard." William jumps up, "I do not want to hear this. On what
grounds can our marriage be declared void? It was in a church.
The kings own minister conducted it." Elizabeth sighs. She can't
meet Williams's eyes as she deals her final blow, "our marriage
was not consummated." Williams face drains of colour, he is in
shock. "Liar" he bawls discarding the letter into the fire. He
then takes off his wedding ring and discards this into the fire.
"Please don't William" cries Elizabeth. Ignoring her cries, he
roughly pulls the ring off her finger and throws this into the
He then looks to the clock, pulls on his silver doublet, and
heads to the door. Just as he reaches it he hesitates, then turns
to Elizabeth. He walks to her slowly not taking his eyes from her
face. When he reaches her, he takes her hands and looks into her
face pleadingly. Elizabeth looks back and for a moment there is
no certainty to her reaction. She then shakes her head and pulls
her hands away. William leaves with a slam of the door.
William enters his bed chamber. He
looks towards Elizabeth sat in the same place as though she has
not moved but beside her are two bundles obviously containing her
belongings. He opens a door leading to another of their private
rooms and beckons for a servant to enter. He nods to the two
bundles and the servant picks them up. "Take them to my lady's
new chambers, and then return immediately." Elizabeth stands and
looks as though she wants to talk to William but he shakes his
head and walks to a table holding a jug of wine. He pours a glass
and drinks. He then turns back and sees Elizabeth still waiting.
He waves at her as though to suggest that she should not still be
there, then turns to pour another glass. Elizabeth remains for a
moment longer watching him then leaves the room followed by the
servant. William then turns with tears streaming down his face.
He sinks into a chair and releases a howl of heart break and
William enters the office. The
king is sat at a large mahogany desk. He is reading a letter
which he moves to the side when he notices Williams presence.
"Come William." He stands and puts out his arm. William bows
deeply and kisses the kings ring. "Sit" says the king pointing to
a chair opposite the desk. William complies and looks towards the
king with a questioning expression. "We are at war William. The
scots are out of control and they need putting down." William
says nothing waiting for the king to say more. "How is you wife?
Your son is a fine young man. He must be what sixteen now?"
William nods, " yes sir. He is. My wife is very well. She did not
fancy court this summer and is residing in our country house."
The king smiles, "oh to be able evade court. A privilege I
sometimes beg god to grant me." William nods but does not reply.
The king sighs. "You are a good fighter William. I asked you here
because I need your help. My son Henry is now eighteen years old.
He is a fine warrior and he is going to head the army against the
scots. Will you fight for us." William is silent. He looks to the
king not giving his thoughts away. The king clears his throat but
waits for William to answer. "My father and my grandfather before
him have gladly fought for the king and country" says William.
The king nods his head. They stare at each other for a moment and
the king shifts uncomfortably under Williams gaze. He is the
first to look away. William stares for a moment longer then
stands up to leave. "Your answer William?" says the king getting
up from his desk. William carries on towards the door, then turns
and bows to the king. "I will sir"
Queen Elizabeth sits at a dressing
table. A maid brushes her long auburn hair. Elizabeth sighs. "I
think the king has taken a new mistress Margaret." The maid
Margaret meets the queens eyes in the mirror. "I know your
majesty." Elizabeth jumps up in anger. "You know? Does everyone
know? Am I the laughing stock of court again." Margaret does not
reply. She places the brush down on the table. "I've been a
laughing stock for the past eighteen years so I don't know why
I'm getting angry now" says Elizabeth in anguish. "No your
majesty, we do not laugh at you." Elizabeth smiles, "you're a
sweet girl Margaret but I know everyone thinks me an ignorant
fool. But I am not. I see what's happening, I know he takes
others to his chamber but I do not say anything." Elizabeth has
started to cry. She throws herself back down on a chair. "I am so
miserable in this life. i wish…" she does not finish her sentence
but Margaret gives her a knowing look and commences brushing her
hair. "But at least I have my son to make me happy" says
Elizabeth calming herself. "The king has at least given me my
beautiful son. And for that I can never hate him."
William awakes and for a moment he
cannot remember why he is in such pain. He then lifts himself up
and winces. There is a small blade wedged in his leg. He utters,
"one, two, three" under his breath and with a loud moan he pulls
the blade out. He takes a shirt from a body lying nearby on the
ground and tears it to form a makeshift bandage which he wraps
around his wound. Now he is less groggy his eyes fall on the
devastation around him. Men lie dead everywhere. The moans and
cries that had echoed through the air as he had passed out were
now gone. The silence is eery. He notices a large fire burning in
the distance and gets unsteadily to his feet. As he limps and
stumbles his way towards the fire he wonders how many live. He
almost dreads reaching the fire because then he will know and
this knowledge would be sickening.
As he nears he can see around eighty men all dressed in the
kings coated armour. Most lie injured on the floor but they are
alive and this thrills William. He starts to pick up pace. When
he reaches the fire a man hurries towards him. "Oh William thank
god. I was almost giving up hope that anyone else would come."
William embraces him. "Where have the live scots gone?" He asks
taking a large sip of water from the flask offered. "Most are
dead. We've captured nine live ones and took them to the nearest
manor house. I'd say another twenty perhaps got away and are
hiding in the forest." William nods "I need sleep Cecil I can't
think straight with this head on my shoulders." Cecil looks
panicked, "you can't William. We cannot find henry, the king's
son. Anyone who is able has to search for him." William moans but
sets down the flask. "Okay I'll start now then." Cecil offers him
a coat but he shakes his head. "You need to find him William. If
he is lost or… He is the king's only heir." William smiles,
"don't worry we'll find him." And he sets off.
all over the field examining bodies that resemble the prince and
calling out his name. From time to time he comes across other
searches and is gratified to god when they are people that he
cares for. But there is no sign of Henry. He is very wary and
knows he cannot carry on searching until he has had some rest so
he resignedly makes his way back to the makeshift came. Just as
it is coming into sight a hand grasps his leg. William abruptly
stops and looks down.
Lying on the floor, his eyes only half open and his face
gashed and bloody is the prince. Henry kneels down and feels his
face. "My chest hurts, I can hardly breathe." Henry's voice is
soft and rasping. William pulls the red soaked clothes off his
torso. His hand goes to his mouth and he coughs and wretches at
the sight of henry bloody chest. "Is it bad?" asks henry as
William starts to wrap more makeshift bandages around the wounds.
"Don't speak sir. I'm sure it's not fatal. Now I must leave you
alone for a minute while I get help and more bandages." The ones
he has already used are quickly becoming red. "Please don't go
William; I don't want to be alone. I'm dying." He doesn't say
this with any hint of sadness only certainty and resignation.
William is shocked, "don't say so sir. You are a strong man. You
are too much needed to die. I a bitter old man should take your
place." Henry laughs softly, "please can you tend my left
shoulder. I think a blade resides there." William does what he
asks, removing a small blade and mopping up the blood. Suddenly
he stops his face mesmerised.
to scrubs as hard as he can at small patch on the prince's
shoulder. "That's not blood William that's my birth stamp."
William stops rubbing at the mark and studies Henry's face. He
then pulls off his blooded clothes and points to an identical
mark on his own shoulder. Henry is confused. And then suddenly
his face start to show understanding. "You were once married to
my mama were you not?" William nods, "aye for nearly two years."
Henry again smiles "why my mother's an old con." He chuckles
shaking his head in disbelief. "Well at least she's got my father
back for all his whores." But then his briefly amused expression
quickly changes to one of immense pain. William shakes his head,
"No Henry you cannot die." He is starting to cry and henry
reaches out a hand to wipe away his tears. "You were to be called
William after me and my father before" Says William still crying.
"My first born son" he whispers as Henry takes his hand. "I
wasn't here for you. I haven't been a father." "You didn't know
William. I've been happy as a prince you couldn't have given me
more. And you're here with me now. I don't have to die alone on a
battle field." William nods and takes his weak and dying son in
his arms. They lie like this for hours until William falls
asleep. When he awakes Henry is dead in his arms.