Three days ago, the St. Edward’s crown was traitorously placed on the head of Jane Dudley, and I remain here at the home of a pagan begot of my mother’s butcher, desperate for news of my sister, Queen Mary. As the crown was laid, my sister sent the privy council word of her rightful proclamation as Queen of England. Although Dudley and most of the privy council have tied their fate with my cousin, the people are rallying around my sister. As news trickles to me through messages from Dr. Dee and my Spirit, Cecil, I begin to become hopeful that against all odds my sister will prevail. T’is God’s will. T’is my father’s will. Only God knows why, so I do not question. His will be done. As I read Greek mythology in the study while Blanche, Kat and their husbands take some respite outdoors, I hear voices from the dining room. My heart lifts. My dearest of friends John Dee is here, along with a women by the sounds of it. Should I get up and enter? I decide to hold back until I am sure who this women is. I close my book, and crack to door open and listen.
Iris Sedena-Cromwell: My poor Bess. I am pleased that she has come out for a visit on such a lovely summer day, but she looks drawn, pale and disheartened, the repeated assault of losses wearing her down, draining all her energy. My poor Gregory would be upset so to see her this way. The journey from Laude is long, but I know why she so ventures. “Oh Bess… do come in. Awwwwww, well look at baby Thomas. He has grown so.” I look beyond and John Dee approaches behind her. “Well, look here. My tormentor has arrived. I supposed I should let you in, as well.” I say teasingly, “Bess, what this man has done to me… I shall never forgive.”
Elizabeth Seymour Cromwell: As sad as this last year has been, I can’t help but smile at Iris’ comments. Gregory always said, she is too free with her words. T’is true. As I hold baby Thomas with one arm, and hug Iris with the other and kiss her forehead. “It’s been too long since I’ve seen you Iris. You need to come Laude and visit before heading to Europe. Everyone misses you. Anthea, Lilith and I could use the help. There are children running every where.”
Iris Sedena-Cromwell: Guilt ridden, I look at the woman who accepted us as family on a crown when the truth finally came to be known. How much more can Bess endure? In the last year, she has lost her brother, then her husband, then her last remaining blood family tie, the King. Raising five children of her own and three of her brother, Somerset’s, no time for mourning weighs heavy. I say knowing I will not go back there, “I will try and come out after my company leaves, Bess.” I look over at John, “Come, come, do sit down then. There’s much afoot. I’ll get us some soup and bread.”
John Dee: I sit gladly at the table after such a long journey. Bess insisted in coming, hoping her proximity to court will increase her chances of attending funeral services for the late boy king. The only Seymour blood relative close still living, she feels duty bound to her sister and to His Majesty. “So Iris, where is your company now?”
Iris Sedena-Cromwell: I begin serving the soup and bread, and bring out some goblets and a pitcher and ale. I say with a hint of hurt, and a hint of sarcasm,”The company to whom you most desire is my father’s study, sitting at my father’s desk, writing with my father’s quill on my father’s parchments, and reading my father’s books. The rest are out for a walk through the gardens.” I say to John pointedly, “If my omens did not foretell she will be a glorious queen, John, I would do this not. They call me the butcher’s daughter. I have kept my mouth shut, but just barely.”
Elizabeth Seymour-Cromwell: I look over at John, and his resolve does not falter. This must be done. As much as I loved my nephew, I fear he was unduly influenced by Northumberland and the Protestant Privy Council. The crown is Queen Mary’s, and if not heirs from her, then Princess Elizabeth. I learned over time from Gregory, Nicoleen and the girls that a Sedena begotten omen never lies. The daughter of Anne Boleyn will reign. I offer, “Iris, our prayers will be answered, and you will have your life back soon, dear. I think it most urgent that before this day is done, we lay the plans for your exile. We will need to get you, Lilith and Anthea out of England. I fear the queen will burn you.”
Elizabeth, Gloriana: I listen intently from the door. Lady Iris is a bitter one. She expects me to be gracious? I will settle for civil, and leave things lie there. Lady Elizabeth, I have not seen her in ages. A Lady-in-Waiting for my mother and Queens Jane, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Parr, I know her well enough. I forgot she was married to the butcher’s son, as you rarely saw him at court. A Baron, yes… but from afar. Smart man, as the sweat took him, not the ax. I decide to listen a little longer before entering. Yes, these women better swiftly head to exile. Mary will ruin them; I am certain of it.
John Dee: Iris finally sits down with us, and I look over at her and state, “Iris, you have precious cargo. All signs lead that Mary is building her forces from Farmlingham, and forces under Robert Dudley are dwindling the closer he comes to her. I have carefully looked at the stars and charts, and all goes her way. I give it days and Northumlerland’s cards will fall all around him, and Mary will reign. I have come to consult with the Princess to ready her to show support to her sister, perhaps ride in to London as one. The princess must be careful, as who is queen matters not. The days ahead will be fraught with danger for this Lion’s cub.”
Iris Sedena-Cromwell: I listen to John speak and see the truth in it, nodding. I look over at Bess. “Can I hold baby Thomas?” Bess nods, and passes him over to me. The babe lies sleeping, and I look down upon him. So bittersweet a child is he. Born after my Gregory’s death, the man both brother and father to me, will never be a father to him. Saddened as I think of this, I fight back tears. Oh how I miss Gregory. “Bess, he is a bonny looking lad. He looks of you, not Gregory, I’d say. You were brave to name him after my father. Thank you. The omens say he will serve Her Majesty well, but from afar.”
Elizabeth Seymour Cromwell: I look over at my Thomas and Iris. Will the Lord bless this beautiful woman with a babe someday, I wonder? “Yes, he is a happy boy, and very…” As I speak, I look over and see Princess Elizabeth enter. We all stand up dutifully. Iris and I curtsey, while John bows. I offer… “Princess, it has been too long since I have seen you.”
Elizabeth, Gloriana: As I listen to John Dee speak, my heart lifts. Queen Mary, yes I did not give her the credit due. She is rallying the people, who see her as rightful queen. Thank you, God. Although I question the omens of the butcher’s daughter, I believe John’s gifts to be real. I must speak to him alone. I must. As they continue talking, I head back to the bed chamber I’ve been sleeping in and get a shawl. I then scurry into the dining room. I look over, and lift my hand that they all rise, and respond… “Yes, it has been, Lady Elizabeth.” I say sincerely to this kindly woman, always like her sister the Queen a support to me, “Please accept my condolences at this difficult time. It pains me that the King lays still with no service or burial. I trust that Queen Mary will attend to it, and that we both will be there.” I then look over at John Dee. “We must speak alone John.” He nods, and without another word, he graciously holds me by the arm and we leave the house. John guides me through a path within the woods that he obviously has traveled before, and we walk along briskly until we arrive upon a secluded hidden treasure, a lush and beautiful lily pond in full bloom. “John, this place is absolutely delightful. How did you find it?” He looks at me, and smiles, “Never you mind, let’s talk about the days ahead. You must be prepared to meet Queen Mary just outside of London as she makes her triumphant entry into London. The stars foretell we are only short days ahead. You must show every support of her and live humbly and quietly as you wait her out.” My astrologist never lies, and he never falters. As he continues to speak, I hush him for just a minute, stand in the soft grass looking out to the lily pond and raise my arms, “God I thank you most abundantly. Give me strength to endure the dangerous days ahead.” I then turn around, and sit upon a nearby rock. I take off my slippers, and dip my feet in the water. Such a peaceful and spiritual place this spot is. I feel relaxed and energized, all in one. I turn to John and say, “I will be careful, John, but I must also be true to myself. Have courage. We all must.” I then ask, the curiosity lingering in my mind now for days. “I know you are with one of the butcher’s daughters. Is she the one?” He slowly waves his head, no. The mystery continues. I think for a moment and add, “For you and for the risks that young woman took, if the stars and her omens are correct and someday I reign, they may return safe to England on the condition you keep them far away from me and mine.” On beloved mother, please forgive me.