Resurrection by Ashe Barker Read Free Book Online

Book: Resurrection by Ashe Barker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ashe Barker
the gloom which seemed to pervade her very soul.
    The rhythmic thud of approaching hooves took her by surprise. Visitors were not infrequent here at Haveringham, but they did not generally arrive in the dead of night. As the sound turned to the clatter of hooves on cobbles Jane slipped from her bed to peer out of the window into the courtyard below.
    Men's voices reached her, and she watched as two of her husband's grooms rushed across the yard, rubbing sleep from their eyes as they ran to seize the dangling reins of the single horse now prancing around their bailey. The rider slid from the saddle, swaying as his feet connected with the flags. He struggled to right himself, then limped toward the main portal. As he glanced up at the castle looming above him Jane caught sight properly of his features.
    Garrick. Her husband's captain of the guard, the messenger from the King's forces.
    Without hesitating for even a moment Jane grabbed a robe and wrapped it around herself as she dashed for the door. She expected to meet her husband, also heading down to greet the man, but the corridors and stairways remained deserted. When she arrived in the hall it was to find Garrick, his outdoor cloak still around his shoulders, leaning on the long central table. The soldier was clutching his side and gasping for breath. A somewhat bewildered and bleary-eyed kitchen lad hovered beside him.
    Jane bustled in, her usual responsibilities guiding her first response. She ordered the boy to find food and drink for the newcomer, then she grabbed the one lighted candle from the table and used that to illuminate several wall torches. By the time she returned to the table Garrick had staggered into a seat and was accepting a tankard of fine mead from the lad. Jane seated herself opposite and surveyed the man before her.
    In the lamplight she could see his face was ashen, and his hands bloodstained. He wore no gloves, neither did he appear to possess a sword. He swayed dangerously in his seat, and as his cloak gaped open she saw a huge bloodstain covering most of his right side.
    "Garrick, you are injured. We should—"
    As Jane stood again, ready to summon more aid, the soldier waved her effort aside. "I must speak to Sir Gerard. At once."
    "He will be here shortly, I do not doubt."
    "He... the King...." The man slumped forward to rest his head on the table. He groaned, then promptly shifted to puke the contents of his stomach all over the clean rushes on the floor.
    Jane ignored the mess, leaning forward to grasp the man's shoulder. He had news of the battle, and she would have it before he lost consciousness or worse.
    "How goes it with Richard? Is the King victorious? Tell me, at once."
    Garrick shook his head, as though refusing to impart his report to any but her husband. He looked up at Jane, his eyes starting to roll in his head. The man was dying before her.
    "Tell me. Now. How fares the King's cause?”
    "The King is dead." The man uttered the words, then allowed his head to slump back onto the table.
    "No!" Jane could not accept his words. Garrick must be mistaken, or delirious, or lying. He had clearly seen battle, had been grievously injured, and that could addle any man's brains. She reached for the tankard and lifted the soldier's head to press the rim to his lips. "Drink, you will feel better. We shall dress your wounds, and—"
    "The King is dead. I saw him fall." Garrick shoved the tankard aside and raised his gaze to hers. His expression seemed lucid now, and Jane could detect no signs of confusion.
    "You cannot have seen that. His guards would protect him. You are mistaken."
    "Nay, my lady. I saw him fall, slain by a single blow from an axe. I saw his crown topple from his brow to roll into the hedgerow. One of the Tudor's men grabbed it and held it aloft on the point of his sword as the King lay in the dirt. I saw it, I saw it all with my own eyes."
    Jane's knees started to buckle. Though she knew in her heart that Garrick spoke the

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