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The Oriental Isle: chapter eight

The Queen's gambit

'So,' she said, her hands between my thighs, feeling my want of a penis.

'Highness, I had long wanted to meet you, and Lady Emma offered me this chance. By dressing as a man, it provided a cover for all of us, since three women travelling alone might have attracted attention.'

'You are a pretty little thing, what is your real name?'

'Rachael, ‘I lied fluently.

'Remember, I lived much of my early life in France, and I am not averse to a pretty young thing, especially not on with a tongue like yours. Does the insatiable Lady de Winter know?'

'No, Ma'am, only Lady Emma.'

'We shall keep it that way. But tonight, I think I shall have a companion. Now take those clothes off and let me see what you look like.'

I slipped out of my male clothes and unpinned my hair.

'I see how you passed so easily as a man, your figure is undeveloped yet - and you look delicious. Come here.'

Our lips met. I folded myself into her arms. The linen shift she wore pressed against my skin. She pushed me back on the bed, her hands feeling my tiny breasts. I felt my nipple harden. Then her hand was between my thighs. She knew what she was doing. However long it had been since she had made love to a woman, she had forgotten nothing.

My hands went up her shift, finding her sex. As my finger curled inside, she moaned. My palm brushed against her bud. She moaned some more. And as she cupped my sex and rubbed my bud, I penetrated her and made her gasp. Turning on our side, we both played with each other, allowing the pleasure to engulf us and suspend time. We kissed.

Ah, in that kiss there was a desire. Here, I thought later, was a woman who simply wanted to be loved.

Responding to what I felt, I pushed her onto her back, and stripping her of her shift, rubbed my tiny nipples against her bigger ones, pressing myself onto the softness of her breasts, as my fingers took her, harder and deeper.

'Oh yes, yes, Rachael, take me, take me, I am yours. Ohhh...'

She let forth a deep, shuddering sigh, as she surrendered. Her climax was sudden and intense, and then, again, and again. I thought she would not stop. She shook, she wept copiously. I held her.

I held her for so long.

Out, on night's vast old ocean we drifted together, like ship-wrecked sailors waiting for the dawn, but craving the silence and the dark a while longer. We were all in all to each other, answering some deep visceral, unspoken, perhaps unspeakable, need. The Scots Queen seizing one last chance for happiness, however transient, and the young Jewish woman assuaging her guilt in giving her that chance. Words were superfluous. We kissed, we loved, we comforted each other across that short night's passage to morning. There were tears, there was laughter, smiles and frowns, and we cuddled until the sun's rays began to struggle through the clouds.

With the breaking of the dawn, there came our parting, with words of love and affectionate kisses.

It was, in so many ways, the strangest night I ever spent. My actions had already encompassed her downfall, and the dawning day would lead inexorably to her death, but, I reflected, that much had already been certain. So I comforted myself with the pleasure I had given to her. But a sadness lingered; indeed, as I write, it engulfs me again. She was a tragic figure in so many ways. She would have been happier if born a mere Lady and not a Queen. She wanted only a husband to rule her, and children to love. It was not much to ask of life, but she was denied it for a destiny she could in no wise fulfil. I shed tears; I do now.

As we broke our fast, Emm asked how I had 'got on,' with the Queen. I lied.

'I took a leaf from your play-book Emm, and she left satisfied, my secret undiscovered.'

Lady de Winter joined us, and we turned the conversation to other topics.

'We shall have to leave on Friday,' she declared. I need to be in London for Monday, and our work here is largely done.'

With that, we went our ways, me to talk with Sir Amias, and they went to see the Queen.

'Good news, Master Roland. We have our answer.'

It seemed that Sir Francis had anticipated my success and a message had come saying that we should take the Queen on a hunt that same afternoon.

It had come sooner than I had thought. I had anticipated one more night with my Winter Queen, stuck in her tower of sorrows, but that one night would be all we would ever get; I would be her last lover.

'Your work is done, Sir Amias, and history will remember your part in this.'

'Thank you, Roland, but as you know, it is the Lord's work we do.'

His sanctimony made me sick, but I smiled.

The Queen was delighted to be allowed to go riding, a pursuit she had been denied for many years.

So it was that after lunch, we rode out. It was on 11 August.

The Queen was happy. The sun on her face, riding, which she loved, and with her new, secret lover, and two female friends. Sir Amias and his pious nonsense forgotten for a while, as were her cares and woes. We rode, we chatted, we rode some more. Then they came.

At first no more than the thin cloud on the horizon, and then, as they came closer, we could see it was a posse of half a dozen men. Their gleaming breastplates proclaimed them soldiery, with some civilians among them.

The Queen looked at us.

'What can this be? Do they mean us some harm? We can hardly outrun them.'

'Let us see Ma'am,' I advised, knowing, of course, who they were.

As they came in close, their leader rode to us. Looking at the Queen, he asked:

'Mary Stuart, I have orders from the Queen to take you under close arrest to Tixall Manor. You are to come with me. Sir Amias will send on the baggage you need. You ladies will not be coming; you are to return to Sir Amias.'

And with that, the deed was done.

'Give is a moment,' I said.

He nodded.

We dismounted.

The Queen hugged me, and I her. Emm and Milady also hugged her. There were tears. And then off she went. I never saw her again.

We rode back to Chartley in silence. Milady was clearly furious but did not seem to be able to articulate her reasons. Emm, for once sensitive to mood, decided that silence was to be preferred. Knowing what I knew, I deemed silence the best policy.

Milady's mood broke when we encountered Sir Amias.

'What the hell is going on? Why have you allowed some ruffians to abduct the Queen?'

'Madam, I am accountable only to the Queen of England, and if you would know more, apply to her. I have your things pack; you will be leaving in an hour. And that is all I have to say.'

With that, he cut us off.

It was in a sombre mood we boarded the coach to take us back to Warwick, and then south to London. So subdued were we that at Warwick not even Emm could summon up the mood for sex.

Milady remained furious.

'They will kill her, I know it. We must bring forward the invasion. I have written to my Master. This cannot stand.'

But, of course, stand it did. Walsingham and Burleigh had enough on the Queen of Scots to have her tried for trying to encompass the death of the Queen, which was a capital offence, and if Milady did not know her dispatches were being intercepted and deciphered, I was not going to tell her.

We arrived back in Whitehall two days later, tired and out of sorts.

The Queen wanted to see me at once, but first I had to change. It would not do for Rahab not to appear to have been there all along, as that would give away my ruse.

It was a relief to be back in my own clothes, and Molly was sweet enough to say how pretty I looked.

'So,' said the Great Queen, 'tell me all!'

I did, according to my own liberal definition of 'all.' Of course, I omitted my night of passion.

'So, did you find her beautiful my little Pixie?'

'As the moon to your sun, Bess.'

She smiled.

'And did she attempt your virtue?'

I spun her the yarn I had with Emm. Lies, if they have to be told, are best kept simple and straight.

'I see,' Bess smiled, 'so you resisted, to a point?'

'It seemed that a little kissing might be in order.'

'But to be serious, what did you make of her?'

I told Bess that I thought she was matter out of place. As a Lady of the Manor, she would have been in her element. As Queen, she was out of her depth. The fact that even in exile and under supervision, she had not the wit to stop plotting, told its own sad story. As long as she lived, she would be the focus of any plot against the Queen. Reason of State meant she had to die.

I shivered. Three nights ago we had been lovers. Now I denied her. In the distance, a cock crowed.



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