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Authors: M. J. Trow

Tags: #Fiction - Historical, #Mystery, #Tudors, #16th Century, #England/Great Britain

Traitor's Storm

BOOK: Traitor's Storm
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Table of Contents

Cover

Title Page

Copyright

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

A Selection of Recent Titles by M.J. Trow
The Inspector Lestrade Series

LESTRADE AND THE SAWDUST RING
LESTRADE AND THE MIRROR OF MURDER
LESTRADE AND THE KISS OF HORUS
LESTRADE AND THE DEVIL’S OWN

The Peter Maxwell Series

MAXWELL’S REVENGE

MAXWELL’S RETIREMENT

MAXWELL’S ISLAND

MAXWELL’S CROSSING

The Kit Marlowe Series

DARK ENTRY *

SILENT COURT *

WITCH HAMMER *

SCORPIONS’ NEST *

CRIMSON ROSE *

TRAITOR’S STORM *

*
available from Severn House

TRAITOR’S STORM
M. J. Trow
 
 
 

 
      
COPYRIGHT

Copyright © 2014 by M.J. Trow and Maryanne Coleman

The right of M.J. Trow to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved.

First published in Great Britain and the USA 2014 by

SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of

19 Cedar Road, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM2 5DA.

eBook edition first published in 2014 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Trow, M. J. author.

Traitor’s storm. – (A Tudor mystery)

1. Marlowe, Christopher, 1564-1593–Fiction.

2. Walsingham, Francis, Sir, 1530?-1590–Fiction. 3. Isle

of Wight (England)–Fiction. 4. Armada, 1588–Fiction.

5. Great Britain–History–Elizabeth, 1558-1603–

Fiction. 6. Detective and mystery stories.

I. Title II. Series

823.9’2-dc23

ISBN-13: 978-1-78029-062-1 (cased)

ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-540-6 (ePub)

This ebook produced by 
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,

Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.

Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.

ONE

L
ittle Gonzalillo hated the Escorial. He was the King’s jester, for God’s sake, born to a life of laughter, with music and merriment – and a little mayhem from time to time. When the Court moved to Madrid or Valladolid he came into his own, tumbling and eating fire and teasing the children. After all, he was their height, and while they were kicking the shins of their elders and betters, he could do the same to them. In fact, little Gonzalillo hated children almost as much as he hated the Escorial.

The place was a palace in name only. It was also a mausoleum and a reliquary. Its evil little windows reminded the dwarf of the gun emplacements along the hulls of His Imperial Majesty’s ships of the line. They were dark and mean and held nothing but death. Gonzalillo pattered along the labyrinth of corridors, through the library with its shelves of polished oak and richly embossed leather. There were 40,000 books here – he’d get round to reading one of them one of these days. Then he was bounding up the stone steps to the reliquary, wondering if anyone had yet spotted the fake prepuce of St Basil he had slipped in there a few months ago. The goat it came from wasn’t likely to tell anyone of the ruse and, even if no one ever detected it, it brought a smile to little Gonzalillo’s lips every day.

He paused at the black velvet arras, pulled himself up to his full four feet two inches and straightened his doublet. Mother of God, it was cold up here. It was supposed to be May but the wind from the Sierra de Guadarrama whistled and whirred along the passageways and rattled the shutters. Hail had bounced off the roofs for much of the night and the Courtyard of the Evangelists was white when Gonzalillo had padded across it. It was not dawn yet and the whole place felt like a tomb.

The dwarf twisted the ornate key and the little door in the high wall creaked open. The hinges were never oiled; not because the room’s occupant was afraid of the shadow of the assassin that waited at every king’s elbow, but because he so valued his privacy and wanted to know immediately that it had been violated.

King Philip sat in his closet, his long, pale face lit by a solitary candle. It looked as if he hadn’t slept for a long, long time. Gonzalillo took the briefest of looks, then bowed low and held that position, as only an acrobat could, staring at his shoes. Behind him, the velvet hissed back into position with the sibilance of sin and he waited.

‘The English ships, Gonzalillo,’ the King said at last, without looking up from the papers on his desk. ‘They are faster than ours.’

‘Indeed, Felipe.’ The dwarf knew the signs, had rehearsed the moment so often. When the King spoke, that was the time to drop the bow and start the day’s work. Gonzalillo smiled. No one in the Escorial; no one in the whole wide world called His Majesty ‘Felipe’. His children called him Papa and his wife My Darling. His Pope and his God called him My Son. Only his half-brother, Don Juan of Austria, called him Felipe – and Don Juan of Austria was dead these ten years. Gonzalillo crossed to a barrel of water and cracked the thin film of ice on its surface. He filled a jug from it, wiping the bottom on his doublet with a grimace, and carried it to his master. Then he placed it on the table, well away from the clutter of charts and maps he saw there, and dabbed the King’s temples with a damp cloth. Philip of Spain leaned back and sighed. The first fingers of light were lending an eerie creeping glow to the closet. He closed his eyes.

‘How much this time?’ Gonzalillo asked him, fussing around the King.

‘Hmm?’ Philip’s mind was elsewhere, his mind racing through the surf of the Channel, bringing his ships’ guns to bear on the man his sailors called El Draque, the dragon: the English pirate Francis Drake.

‘How much sleep have you had?’

‘I don’t know,’ the King said in that hoarse whisper of his. ‘Enough, I expect. And their gunnery is good.’

‘Hmm?’ It was Gonzalillo’s turn to be elsewhere.

‘The English fleet,’ Philip explained. ‘Their gunners are good.’

‘Let’s take this thing off.’ The dwarf gently lifted the golden chain of the Fleece from his master’s shoulders and let it clatter on the sideboard. ‘Gives you a headache, that, doesn’t it? Ready for breakfast?’

Philip looked up sharply, his pale blue eyes wide and urgent, his brooding jaw thrust forward. ‘The enterprise,’ he said softly. ‘The enterprise of England.’

Gonzalillo stopped fussing. He put his hands on his hips and looked up at the most powerful man in the world. ‘Yes,’ he said, with all the gravitas of a Santa-Cruz, ‘the English ships are faster than ours. And yes,’ he suddenly became the Duke of Parma, ‘their gunners are good. But we, Felipe el Prudente, have God on our side. The English can never claim that. Now,’ he quietly took the quill out of the King’s hand, ‘will you
please
have some breakfast?’

‘It all depends,’ said Philip as the dwarf took his hand and led him away, ‘on our friends in England.’

‘Disappeared?’ Nicholas Faunt was not sure he had heard all of what Francis Walsingham had just said. They were moving upstream from Placentia, following the curve of the river and the wind was roaring in his ears as they took the centre of the waterway to round the Isle of Dogs.

‘Has not been heard from.’ Walsingham thought that perhaps his chief projectioner had lost the plot somewhere.

‘Since when?’

‘Last month,’ Walsingham told him, pulling his cloak tighter round him against the weather. He grimaced up at the leaden sky where thunder clouds loomed to the east. ‘It is May, isn’t it? I’ve lost all track of time, with this weather. It feels like November.’

‘Where did you say he was again?’

‘The Wight.’ Walsingham leaned forward, lowering his voice lest the boatmen, bending their backs against the wind, should have ears.

‘We are talking about Hasler, aren’t we?’

Walsingham leaned back. He had known Nicholas Faunt since he was a boy. Few men in England had so sharp a brain or so loyal a heart. But Walsingham was not a well man. Back in January he had taken to his bed, all but blind in one eye, and that had frightened him. For more years than he cared to remember, he had been the Queen’s Spymaster, the dagger ever-vigilant at her back. One day, and it might be soon, he would have to pass the chains of office to a younger man. Was Nicholas Faunt
really
that man?

‘You know we are,’ the Spymaster said.

It was Faunt’s turn to lean forward, into the biting wind. ‘What I mean, Sir Francis,’ he said, ‘is that you know Harry Hasler as well as I do. He’ll have found a doxy somewhere or a tavern or probably both. It’s his way.’

‘Yes, it is his way,’ Walsingham agreed, ‘but we both know that underneath that loutish exterior is a projectioner of rare talent. His last report talked of danger and he couldn’t, he said, be more specific. That was on the sixteenth ult.’

‘From where?’

‘Newport. He was working for George Carey at Carisbrooke Castle.’

‘What do you propose?’ Faunt asked.

‘We send somebody else. Track Hasler down. Find out what’s going on.’

Faunt nodded. ‘Me?’ he said.

‘No.’ Walsingham shook his head, his face greyer and deader looking than ever in the early morning light. ‘I need you here.’ He patted his doublet. ‘You haven’t seen the latest report from Lisbon. I have. And believe me, it makes for grim reading. When I’ve seen the Queen and the Privy Council, we’ll have a better understanding of what’s going on.’

‘The enterprise of England.’ Faunt nodded, as though he dreaded the sound of the phrase, even from his own lips. ‘So who will we send, then? To the Wight, I mean?’

Walsingham narrowed his eyes, taking in the roofs of the houses that loomed out of the mist to right and left, the wharfs of the Queen’s quays. ‘Marlowe,’ he said. ‘We’ll send Kit Marlowe.’

‘Kit.’ Tom Sledd was feeling his way along the gallery of the Rose, with a lot of care. The cleaner hadn’t been in yet and Tom was theatre born and bred so knew what might be underfoot. There had been a lot of vegetables thrown last night and who knew but a rotten orange might still lurk in the shadows. Or worse. Tom Sledd had known a lot worse.

‘Tom?’ The voice came out of the darkest corner. ‘Over here.’

Sledd sidled along the edge of the gallery, kicking aside anything firm enough to move. Something ran ahead of his kick, but rats were the least of his troubles.

‘What is it, Tom?’ Marlowe’s voice was indistinct, his face being buried in his arms, which were folded on the rail. He raised his head and his eyes gleamed in the dim, rain-washed light that came from the roof. ‘Let me guess,’ he said, before the stage manager could get a word out. ‘Are we going to be able to go on with this drivel very much longer before the crowd burns the theatre down? Would we all be better off setting up as grocers, because after all, we have the vegetables for it?’ A hand came up and tossed an apple in the air, catching it and then throwing it at the stage.

An actor looked up, affronted, as the wormy fruit whistled past his ear. ‘Oy!’ he roared, looking into the darkness. ‘You could have had my eye out! I get enough of that every afternoon; I don’t need it in the morning as well.’

‘Sorry!’ Marlowe sang out, then sagged back into his folded arms again.

Tom squatted on the bench and looked at Marlowe. He tried a few platitudes in his head, but none of them sounded right, so he let them go. He knew Marlowe would fill the gap very soon and he wasn’t disappointed.

BOOK: Traitor's Storm
10.54Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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