In 1544 Henry Tudor wanted the infant Scots Queen in England, married to his six-year-old son, Edward. Since the Scots won't part with her willingly, he sends out word that there will be a reward for any man who brings her south. Young Englishmen Matho Spirston and his good friend Harry Wharton accept the challenge but Matho falls foul of the king's niece, bold beauty Meg Douglas. She has her own problems and Matho needs his wits and courage to survive in this brutal world of political intrigue. Watching them all and constantly balancing one man against another is Marie de Guise, the widowed Dowager Queen who fears for the safety of her only surviving child, Mary, Queen of Scots.
A fast-paced dramatic story set in Stirling, Scotland in the year 1543.
Meg Douglas braced her palms on the cold stone windowsill high in the north-west tower and stared out to sea. A mile away, Bass Rock heaved its white, guano-smeared sides out of the indigo water and the usual coronet of seabirds circled its cliffs. Her gaze moved to hills of Fife on the far side of the Forth estuary, where waves hitting the shore threw up a faint haze and hid the beaches from sight.
With a hiss of exasperation, Meg banged the shutter closed and turned back into the small chamber. Father’s summons to this ancient Douglas stronghold had been unwelcome and badly timed. He must know Henry of England had married for the sixth time in July, and a budding court jostled round his new queen. By the time Meg rode south again, the plum positions would have gone and she would face the simpering smiles of the favoured ladies-in-waiting. She would have only King Henry’s erratic generosity to rely upon for the coming year.
Father would not care. Thanks to King Henry’s gold, Father was happily ensconced twenty-five miles from Edinburgh, and as busy as a bee in clover encouraging the populace of Scotland to accept the marriage of their infant Queen to England’s young Prince Edward. He could do it and welcome. She would be polite, even charming, do his bidding and get back to London as soon as possible. Scotland held nothing for her.
‘Margaret? Are ye ready? Daughter?’ Father’s bellow echoed up the spiral stairs from three floors below.
On the long, uncomfortable ride north she had received the unwelcome news that her father had re-married. At fifty-three, for God’s sake, he had wed a girl of eighteen. No doubt the new Countess of Angus would be waiting beyond the curve of the stair.
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