Conspiracy

Conspiracy by Lady Grace Cavendish Read Free Book Online

Book: Conspiracy by Lady Grace Cavendish Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lady Grace Cavendish
might make the first cut, but she waved him on to Prince Sven, who took the knife, bowed, and went over to the stag.
    John helped me down from the horrible Borage. As I stepped out of his arms, he gave me a slightly odd look, but before I could ask if all was well, he led me on to the next clearing, where a repast was spread out on white cloth and musicians were playing hunting music from the trees. I was hungry and it looked delicious. There were about eight different kinds of raised pie, all beautifully decorated, andcold meats and manchet bread, and butter and cheese, with ale and mead to drink.
    The Queen was already sitting on the chair that had been brought for her, and she beckoned me over to arrange her kirtle. “Well, my Lady Grace,” she said, as she took one of the little pork pies the Earl of Leicester had brought for her, “what did you think of that? Did you enjoy the chase this time?”
    “Well,” I said, bringing her a big napkin to put on her lap, “I was very afraid when Your Majesty's saddle came loose. I never heard of that happening before. I was so scared you would fall—”
    “Fie, Grace, my dear, what if I had?” she replied. “You cannot ride without falling occasionally.”
    I remembered how white the Earl of Leicester's face had been, but said nothing.
    “Grace, I had rather you said nothing ofthat saddle to anyone,” she told me.
    “Of course, Your Majesty,” I answered, feeling somewhat surprised.
    The Queen must have seen my confusion, because she said, “My lord the Earl of Leicester is most distressed such a thing could have happened at his castle. I had to order him to stop apologizing to me.”
    “And even more distressed it was Prince Sven who rescued you,” I added boldly.
    The Queen gave me a warning look, but then smiled. “Quite. So we shall say nothing of it and give no fuel to gossip-mongers, since it was merely an accident, and I came to no harm.”
    Just then Lady Jane and Lady Sarah came into sight, so the Queen winked at me and waved me away. It looked as though Lady Sarah had gone through a hedge, for her hair was full of leaves, and Lady Jane was in a flaming temper because, it turned out, she had got lost and missed the kill.
    The musicians came up and started playing again, and there was dancing, which I begged to be excused from on account of my ankle…. Hell's teeth! I've just realized I forgot to limp when John helped me off my horse. That must be why he looked at me oddly.
    During the dancing, the court tumblers came running through the trees dressed as faery folk. They were led by Masou, as Puck, with the little boy Gypsy Pete, running at his heels for a henchman. They danced a rustic dance which turned into a play-fight with staves, and then into a mock battle. Masou climbed into a tree and was hanging by his knees, pelting the dancers with more sweetmeats,while little Gypsy Pete sat on the branch above him and sang in a beautiful high voice.
    Then the musicians played country dances, and the Ladies-in-Waiting and the older Maids of Honour stood up to dance with the Swedish gentlemen. And there was a great deal of giggling and flapping of eyelashes.
    Things got rather complicated later, when the huntsmen came by with the dogs, and the dogs spotted the sweetmeats on the ground. But the massive dogfight, which immediately exploded over the delicacies, was eventually sorted out, and the Queen laughed so much that nobody minded.
    We mounted again to ride back to the castle. Prince Sven rode ahead with his gentlemen, but the Earl of Leicester rode with the Queen. He was still apologizing until she tapped his head with her whip and told him to think of something nice and safe for her to do in the afternoon, since he was being such an old wonlan about the accident.
    And so that's what we're going to do forthwith. First we are having a rest and I am writing in my daybooke. Then we will enjoy a quiet excursion to save the Earl from worrying.

    Ha! That was what

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