Betrayal – The Coffee Pot Book Club.

“Drake – Tudor Corsair”

By Tony Riches

 

May 1577:  Devon adventurer Francis Drake has made his fortune stealing silver and gold from the Spanish in the West Indies and is summoned to meet Queen Elizabeth in secret. He becomes an admiral and sets out on a high-risk venture to follow Ferdinand Magellans route to the Southern Sea. One of his captains, Thomas Doughty, challenges Drakes authority to command the mission, yet what should be the price of Doughtys disloyalty?

 A true story based on eyewitness accounts, this is an extract from Drake – Tudor Corsair, from Tony Richesnew Elizabethan Series.

 

 Plymouth, May 1577

 

The royal messenger delivered the summons late in the evening, wearing a dark cape over the queen’s livery of red and gold. He left as soon as he could, as if he wished no one to notice his visit to my house. Breaking the wax seal in a mix of excitement and apprehension, I studied the formal wording.

My appointment was a week away, on the eighteenth of May, and the choice of location offered a clue. Instead of one of the royal palaces, my meeting with the queen would take place at Gorhambury Manor, home of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Sir Nicholas Bacon. Whatever the queen said would remain secret from the chattering gossips of court.

I handed the folded parchment to Mary, and watched her eyes grow wide as she read. Although I’d told her I might one day meet the queen, I could tell she thought me a dreamer, and neither of us believed it would be so soon.

The queen wants to see you?’ She stared at me in amazement, then back at the summons as if she couldn’t comprehend what she’d read.

I smiled at her reaction. ‘This could be the making of us. If what Thomas Doughty told me is true, it might mean the queen has had a change of heart.’

‘Why don’t you trust Thomas Doughty?’

The note of challenge in her question surprised me. ‘Doughty is well placed to know the mood in court – but my instinct is to be on my guard.’

‘I’d much prefer that you sail with Her Majesty’s blessing than without it.’ Her eyes shone at the thought. ‘This will be the talk of Plymouth.’

‘You must tell no one, Mary. If Her Majesty has an interest in my new venture, it must be kept our great secret, or there will be consequences.

‘Consequences?’

‘There should be no secrets between us, but I gave my word to Walsingham that I would keep my destination confidential.’

Mary frowned. ‘You, of all people, know how sailors talk. Do you believe anyone has fallen for your story of a trading visit to Alexandria?’

‘Why should they not? I’m building a merchant shipping business, so it’s to be expected that I will sail to foreign ports.’

‘And my brother gave his life to help your story.’

The bitterness of her outburst was a reminder that it would take a long time to undo the pain I’d caused. I let the queen’s summons fall to the tiled floor, took her in my arms and held her close. No words were needed for her to know how much I regretted Harry’s death.

 

* * *

My meeting with the queen had the worst possible start. Gorhambury proved to be further from Plymouth than London, and I lost my way in failing light on country lanes. By the time I arrived, tired and exhausted, the queen had retired for the night.

The room provided for me looked like servants’ quarters, low-ceilinged and simply furnished, with a rush-matting floor and a pallet bed. I’d expected better, but my host, Sir Nicholas Bacon, was entertaining the queen, as well as her travelling entourage of ladies and courtiers.

A maid brought a platter of bread and cured ham, which I ate alone, and washed down with a tankard of beer. The tiring ride from Plymouth meant I slept soundly, despite the uncomfortable straw mattress on a wooden pallet which creaked each time I moved.

Waking at dawn, I lay thinking about how my life had changed. I’d risen in the world, but wished I’d brought William Hawkins for company. He’d never had an audience with the queen, but knew the mysterious protocols of the royal court.

I used a jug of cold water to wash, and dressed in a new linen shirt, my black doublet with silver buttons and padded sleeves, black breeches and woollen stockings, finished off with a starched white ruff. I’d chosen to wear a sash of Spanish indigo silk I’d acquired on my travels. I wasn’t certain if the colour was permitted, but it made me look like a man of some status.

I had no idea when I would see the queen, but I would be ready if summoned. I polished the road dust from my leather boots and paced the room, recalling William Hawkins’ advice: ‘Kneel and remove your cap. Don’t stand until you’re told to – and don’t speak until you are spoken to.’

When the call came, I followed the queen’s servant down the wood-panelled corridor with a growing sense of foreboding. The dull ache in my leg from my wound at Nombre de Dios returned, making me walk with a limp.

Although I’d travelled more widely than most men in England, nothing had prepared me for what I was about to do. My heart pounded, and my palms felt moist with sweat. I took a deep breath and said a silent prayer for guidance.

The door opened and I breathed in the delicate, intoxicating scent of perfume. Queen Elizabeth sat in a gilded chair, flanked by older ladies. A high collar of lace, wired with shimmering gold thread, framed her golden ringlets. Her sharp eyes fixed on me with a strange intensity and, for the first time, I understood the absolute, magical power of royalty.

I removed my hat as I approached and kneeled, avoiding her eyes, but acutely conscious of their appraising gaze. A long moment passed in silence before the queen spoke. It took me a moment to understand that she’d dismissed her ladies and invited me to be seated. The door closed with a clunk behind me, and my pulse raced. I was alone with the Queen of England.

‘Drake.’ Her voice sounded sharp, as if annoyed. ‘We would gladly be avenged on the King of Spain, for the injuries he has caused our people.’

‘I am at your service, Your Majesty, and have my own score to settle with the Spanish.’ My West Country accent echoed in the empty room, and her failure to respond made me wonder if I’d said too much.

Queen Elizabeth was said to be a great beauty, yet the powder dusting her pale skin failed to hide shadows under her dark-brown eyes. Her long fingers were bare of any rings and fidgeted with her necklace as she spoke. The Queen of England might be the most powerful woman in Christendom, yet her pallor reminded me she was as mortal as any of us.

‘Tell me how you might injure the Spanish.’

‘The Spanish believe they have the measure of us in the Indies, Your Majesty.’ I looked away from her bodice, surprised at how much her low-cut dress revealed. ‘They do not expect to encounter English ships in the Southern Sea.’

‘Why do you believe you can succeed where other men have failed?’ She spoke more softly this time, yet with a note of challenge in her voice.

‘By God’s good grace, Your Majesty, my experience of the Spanish in the West Indies has prepared me well for the task.’

‘Walsingham believes that Spanish spies watch over my court. How do you propose to keep our secret?’

If she had been anyone else I might have mistaken her tone for flirtation. ‘I’m an honest merchant, Your Majesty, seeking new routes for trade, and Master Walsingham can let that be known to the Spanish.’ I decided to take a risk. ‘If we happen across a Spanish treasure ship, we shall treat them well and, of course, relieve them of their burden.’

Her red lips parted in the briefest smile, showing yellowed and uneven teeth. ‘The King of Spain has put a high price on your head, Drake. It would not go well for you if you were captured.’

I smiled at her understatement. ‘The Spanish had opportunities enough to capture me, Your Majesty, but each time I had the better of them. My plan is to outgun them with superior firepower, outrun them with swifter ships, and return to fill your treasury with Spanish gold.’ I regretted my boast even as I said the words, but I was encouraged by the glint of amusement in her eyes.

‘It would please us to use Spanish gold to build our navy.’

I judged the moment was right and reached into the pocket of my doublet to take out a small velvet purse, which I handed to her. The briefest frown showed on her face, but I’d aroused her curiosity – she pulled open the purse and dropped the large pearl into the palm of her hand.

‘It’s the size of a bird’s egg!’ The delight sounded in her voice.

‘The largest pearl I’ve found on all my travels, Your Majesty.’

She held the pearl up to the light from the window and admired its translucent glow. ‘I shall have the royal jeweller set this into a pendant, so I might wear it.’

‘I am honoured, Your Majesty, and trust this pearl will remind you of those of us who venture into the world for the glory of England.’

‘What is it like to sail to faraway lands, not knowing what dangers you might find there?’

‘In truth, Your Majesty, I find it harder to remain in Plymouth.’ I smiled. ‘The dangers are great, yet so are the rewards. More than once I’ve seen more silver and gold than we could carry away, and I’ve seen how cruel and treacherous the Spanish can be. If it is God’s will for me to avenge those they’ve wronged, I am ready for the task.’

 

 

Media:

 

Sir Francis Drake by Unidentified painter – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=370187

 

Book Title: Betrayal

Authors: Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Derek Birks,

Helen Hollick, Amy Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Tony Riches, Mercedes Rochelle, Elizabeth St. John, Annie Whitehead

 

 

Twitter Handles: @HistFictioneers @maryanneyarde

Hashtags: #histfictioneers #Betrayal #HistoricalFiction #CoffeePotBookClub

 

Book Title: Betrayal

 

Authors: Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Derek Birks,

Helen Hollick, Amy Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Tony Riches, Mercedes Rochelle, Elizabeth St. John, Annie Whitehead

 

(Blurb)

 

Betrayal, treachery, treason, deceit, perfidy—all names for the calculated violation of trust. And it’s been rife since humans trod the earth.

 

A promise broken

A mission betrayed

A lover’s desertion

A parent’s deception

An unwitting act of treason

Betrayal by comrades

Betrayal by friends

 

Could you resist the forces of misplaced loyalty, power hunger, emotional blackmail, or plain greed? Is there ever redemption, or will the destruction visit future generations and even alter history? These questions are still with us today.

 

Read twelve tales by twelve accomplished writers who explore these historical yet timeless challenges from post Roman Britain to the present day.

 

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Author Bios:

 

Judith Arnopp

 

A lifelong history enthusiast, Judith Arnopp holds an honours degree in English/Creative writing, and a Masters in Medieval Studies. Judith has written twelve novels to date, nine of which are based in the Tudor period covering women like Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn and Mary Tudor, but her main focus is on the perspective of historical women from all roles of life. The Beaufort Chronicle: The Life of Lady Margaret Beaufort (three book series) covers the transitional period between Bosworth and the death of Henry Tudor. She is currently taking a break from Tudor women and writing from the perspective of Henry VIII in “A Matter of Conscience.”

 

Cryssa Bazos

 

Cryssa Bazos is an award-winning historical fiction author and a seventeenth century enthusiast. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award for Historical Fiction and a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards for Historical Romance. Her second novel, Severed Knot, is a B.R.A.G Medallion Honoree and a finalist for the 2019 Chaucer Award.

 

 

Anna Belfrage

 

Anna Belfrage wanted to become a time-traveller but ended up as a financial professional with a passion for writing and history. She has authored the acclaimed time travel series The Graham Saga, set in the 17th century, and the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy, set in 14th century England. Anna has also published The Wanderer, a contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal ingredients. Her latest release, His Castilian Hawk, is a story of loyalty and love set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales.

 

Derek Birks

 

Derek Birks lives in Dorset, England, though he spent his teenage years in Auckland, New Zealand, where he still has strong family ties. For many years he taught history in a large secondary school before turning his hand to writing historical fiction. His stories, set both in the medieval period and late antiquity, are fast-paced and action-packed—almost no character is safe. He has also produced a series of non-fiction podcasts on the War of the Roses. When he is not writing, he enjoys travel, walking and watching films.

 

Helen Hollick

 

First published in 1994, Helen Hollick became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen(titled A Hollow Crown in the UK), with the sequel, Harold the King (U.S: I Am the Chosen King), being novels that explore events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales, and Life of a Smuggler. She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon, runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, and occasionally gets time to write . . .

 

Amy Maroney

 

Amy Maroney lives in Oregon, U.S.A, with her family. She spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, drawing, dancing, traveling, and reading. Amy is the author of the Miramonde Series, a trilogy about a Renaissance-era female artist and the modern-day scholar on her trail.

 

Alison Morton

 

Alison Morton writes the award-winning Roma Nova series featuring modern Praetorian heroines—tough but compassionate women. She puts this down to her deep love of Roman history, six years’ military service, a Masters in History and an over-vivid imagination. It was hot that afternoon when, staring at a particularly beautiful mosaic, she started wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by strong women. Now, Alison blogs, reads, cultivates a Roman herb garden and drinks wine in France with her husband.

 

Charlene Newcomb

 

Charlene Newcomb lives, works, and writes in Kansas. She is an academic librarian (retired) by trade, a U.S Navy veteran, and has three grown children. When not at the library, she is still surrounded by books trying to fill her head with all things medieval and galaxies far, far away. She loves to travel and enjoys quiet places in the mountains or on rocky coasts. But even in Kansas she can let her imagination soar.

 

 

Tony Riches

 

Tony Riches is a full-time author based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK, and is best known for his Tudor trilogy. After a career in the Royal Air Force he held senior roles in the National Health Service and Local Government. When researching his books Tony likes visiting the actual locations and discovering elusive primary sources. In his spare time he enjoys sailing and sea kayaking.

 

Mercedes Rochelle

 

Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she received her B.A in Literature at the University of Missouri before moving to New York to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended. Today she lives in Sergeantsville, N.J with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

 

 

Elizabeth St. John

 

Elizabeth St. John spends her time between California, England, and the past. An acclaimed author, historian and genealogist, she has tracked down family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going thee days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them—in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story . . .

 

Annie Whitehead

 

Annie Whitehead has written three award-winning novels set in Anglo-Saxon England:To Be A Queen, about the life of Æthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians; Alvar the Kingmaker set in the turbulent tenth century when kings died young and not always of natural causes, and Cometh the Hour, the story of King Penda the pagan king. Her nonfiction books are published by Amberley Books and Pen & Sword Books and she was the inaugural winner of the Historical Writers’ Association/Dorothy Dunnett Society Short Story Award.

 

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https://books2read.com/BetrayalAnthology

 

 

 

 

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