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.”Roger indicated to his page to pour more wine.“You’ll be there as Mistress York, will you?”“I have no choice until I discuss my return to the Order with Abbot de Courcy.”“Hubert will want you back in the fold.He’ll stop at nothing to get you back.”“It won’t be his personal decision.”Roger dismissed this.“Stay with us,” he coaxed.“I’ll find a handsome knight for you.” He regarded her with some sympathy.He knew what had happened last year down in Westminster when King Richard had called Parliament to plead for a war fund to defend the country against the French invasion.But the place had been full of spies.A vicious bloodletting had followed.Enmities at court and in the City of London had come to a head in a brutal clash of rival factions.The dukes had made their first open move against the young king, Richard II, and Hildegard had been caught up in it.The king’s position was even more precarious.The struggle for power was not over.“King Dickon was in York while you were overseas,” Roger told her.“His uncle Thomas Woodstock has been running the royal council to his own advantage while young Dickon kept away from London, trying to drum up support from the rest of the country.”“Was he successful?”“Not very.People are sick of war.And he hasn’t fully come round to the idea that he needs an army of his own.He’ll soon learn words and promises come cheap.He seems to think verbal support is enough, without the backing of strong steel.The dukes rarely travel without their armed escorts and enough bowmen to frighten anybody.Dickon needs to do the same if he’s to stand up for himself and protect the Crown.” He gave a snort.“I’ll definitely be turning out if he gives the summons.”“Is it likely?”He looked grim.“You’ve been out of the country.You have no idea what’s been going on.Those three traitors have raised armies, and the latest news is that the duke of Warwick is standing by at Waltham Cross, just outside London.Is that a threat or what? Thomas Woodstock and that snake Arundel are heading that way with their own musters.Meanwhile, we sit and wait for Dickon to call us to arms.”“I heard something like that was intended by Arundel when I arrived at Southampton.He was engaging men down there.He’s done it now, has he? He’s always been an ally of Thomas Woodstock.And they say the king is at Windsor?”“Yes.”“What’s their excuse for threatening him?”“They say it’s because they don’t trust him.He’s supposed to have been plotting to murder them in their beds—”“Woodstock’s been trying to ruin the king’s name ever since he was made to look a fool at Smithfield.”“It’s not Woodstock any longer.It’s the duke of Gloucester.” Roger snickered.“He’s still a prick master, whatever his name.But let me tell you this: They’re spreading a story that the king went on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, his real purpose being to barter Calais and Guînes for French help against his own countrymen!”“That can’t be true!”“It’s true that they say it, but I agree, it can’t be true.He would never do any such thing.He knows the value of both places and would never give them away, let alone do a deal with the French.But folk are so dumb-skulled, they’ll believe anything they’re told.Where’s their evidence for such lies, I ask!”“So what are they going to do with their armies? They won’t march against the king himself?” Hildegard looked shocked.Roger scowled.“They will if they get an excuse they can pass off as a good one.”“Let’s hope they don’t manage it.But tell me, where does Bolingbroke stand in all this? Is he in with them?”“He hasn’t shown his hand yet.He’ll wait until he sees which way the wind’s blowing.He’s got three men between himself and the Crown.” Roger ticked them off on his hand.“He’s got his father, the duke.His uncle Gloucester so-called.The fourth earl of March, the king’s chosen heir.Bolingbroke can wait for his father to succumb to natural forces.But how can he get rid of Gloucester? He’s in his prime.And the earl of March is a child, with years ahead of him, God willing.Bolingbroke’s going to have a long wait before the Crown falls to him in any natural way.Make of it what you will.To me, it’s as plain as a pike up the backside.He’ll wait, and when his chance comes, he’ll grab it with both hands.”“His father’s still in Castile, crowned in St.James at Compostela, and doing deals left and right, so I heard.”“While everybody here is bowing and scraping to favourite son Bolingbroke.He’s all but duke of Lancaster by now.Gaunt should get himself home, or he’ll find he hasn’t got a duchy to come home to [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]