The Death of Princes (Part I)

by

Some years ago I wrote a novel with the above title. It never found a publisher so I thought I’d post it in instalments here where it can be ignored some more. Or not. Well here’s the first bit.

Four-star General Arbusto strode into the throne room and bowed perfunctorily before the king.

Henry IX acknowledged his existence. “About what do you wish to speak, General?”

Johnson turned his attention – which had drifted towards Princess Mary’s blonde loveliness – back to the king. “About two Texan civilians, Henry Carter and Jessica Carter, who disappeared from the front line several days ago. I have received word from my agents that they have been captured by the Yorkists. They must be rescued at all costs!”

The King and Field Marshal Griffin glared angrily at the Texan, Mary’s face adopted a frozen blankness. Premier Dobson whispered urgently into the King’s ear. Henry’s look of anger faded, Griffin’s did not.

The king said: “We understand and share your concern for your fellow country people. However – “ He shrugged in an almost Gallic fashion “ – they were warned about the risks of approaching the fighting. Travellers should sate their curiosity in more peaceful areas.”

Are you mocking me? Do you know who they really are? “That may be so. However, I do not wish them to remain prisoners of the northern barbarians.”

“There is not a great deal we can do. Our army and theirs are fairly evenly matched. We advance slowly, it could be many months before York is brought back into the United Kingdom. Of course, if you were to let us have more of your wonderful fighting machines …”

“You have many.”

“Most of which are being used to hold the rebellious provinces of Kent and Cornwall. The remainder are to be used to bring Cambridge back into the Kingdom.”

Arbusto had prospered in the poisonous atmosphere of Texan politics by being quick to spot and exploit opportunities. He saw one now. “My soldiers, suh, can hold your rebellious provinces for yuh. They will need fewer tanks, they have much experience gained in California which has recently been returned to the Union.”

The king conferred in whispers with his Premier once more. Finally he nodded. “We shall accept your counsel.”

As the Texan strode out, Mary struggled to hide her anger and turned to face Henry. “Father, perhaps I could inspect Field Marshal Griffin’s troops this afternoon?”

“Now why would you want to do that?”

“It would be fitting, I think, for their future Queen to show her regard for men who are going to war for the Kingdom.”

Henry nodded. “Why not? You might find it useful to see war-ready troops.”

Griffin obviously doesn’t think it will be useful, she thought. He doesn’t look happy at all.

To be continued

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