Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. The blood drips drop by dour drop from the axe wielded by the powerful and sinister headsman who has just with a hack! and a thwack! severed the dead head from the dead shoulders of the dead Duke of York.
Betrayed! Foully and deceitfully betrayed by one he should have been able to trust! On that cold winter’s day, by year’s end, Christmas over – lonely, howling, desolate Christmas. No family near except his son. And his brother-in-law. And his nephew. Lonely Duke of York, more lonely now that he is dead.
Dead! The word thuds, echoes and spirals like a dead leaf. The wolves howl and all the world grieves. No more will his eyes fall upon the face of the most beautiful woman in England, for she is widowed, weed-clad and worn, grieving gravely, mutely mourning. His children weep and his duchess holds her youngest son, Richard or Dickon, frail and angelic® and he breaks her heart when he smiles at her with his father’s eyes.
A bag drips with the blood, hangs from the saddle of a horse who’s animal innocence shields it from the horrors of its burden. Blackhearted Clifford chortles as he rides, his prize, his gift, his paeon, his song to his mistress oozing, dripping calamitous blood.
Squelch! Upon the table it is dropped and Queen Margaret throws back her head and cackles! “The others? Where are the heads of the others?”
“On their way to York. I though you’d like to deliver this one yourself.”
Feasting her eyes on the dead face of her implacable enemy. She plays with it, strokes the lank brown hair, tweaks its nose, dabbles her fingers in its blood. Dead now! The word is a hymn, a psalm, a bright sun shooting across the firmament of her hopes. She laughs and she dances. Capering, clapping her hands like a child at Christmas. Strings of strawberry blonde hair stick to her hollow cheeks like strands of molten straw. She pushes them back with a gory finger, her enemy’s blood burns her skin and she shivers. What now, my darling? she sings to herself, trills and rills echo inside the steel trap of her mind. You took from me and now I take from you. She picks up the head by its axe-chopped hair and stares into the cold dead eyes. What now, my lord of York? What can you do to hurt me now? She drops her fell burden once more onto the board and laughs as it rolls towards the edge. The dark blood oozes, drips, falls, spatters onto her shoes and still she dances.
“What of Salisbury?”
“The son and the brother-in-law and the nephew – all are gone. And some others…”
She waves a hand dismissing his words as if she had shrugged. “Only them. Only them. And leave a space for my Lord of Warwick and the libidinous whelp of York.”
With a bow Clifford leaves. Leaves behind his gift. Margaret dances.
Trip. Trip. Trip. Trip. Trip. Trip. Trip. Go her satin clad feet and Slip. Slip. Slip. In the royal blood of the Duke of York.