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Posted: March 23, 2011 in The Daisy and the Bear

Ever found yourself peering at the screen, trying hard to focus on the words of that classic of Historical Romance, The Daisy and the Bear, and thinking “If only someone would come up with a way to make the reading experience better!

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Anne Neville threw the cloth back into the tub of greasy cold water with a bitter cry of rage. How dare he!

Richard or Dickon, so frail and angelic® that her heart had nearly broken to see him, had thrown himself at her feet. Not literally, for which she was glad, because there was a huge puddle of dirty water down there and if they thought she was going to clean it up, they had another think coming! And she’d spurned him. Again.

He’d been to see her brother-in-law, the Duke of Clarence, his brother, who’d got her this job, and that was something she was going to have to have words with him about! Hygeine and Hydration Officer, indeed! Bloody dishwasher, that’s what she was. And not a very happy one.

Her father was dead, she’d told Richard or Dickon. Her mother bogged off into sanctuary. Her sister wasn’t being very nice to her and the king kept looking at her belly whenever he saw her. What, she thought sourly, did he think was going on in there? It made her want to scream.

“But I want to marry you!” Richard or Dickon said plaintively and ardently, love, want and need adding flames to his voice and filling the air with electricity, smoke and – he hoped – irresistible chemistry. “I adore you, I always have and I always will! You are the sunrise every morning, the moon that peeps in through my windowshade. The very thought of you makes my heart beat faster. Anne, without you, I am nothing!”

“I wouldn’t marry you,” she quenched coldly, cutting off her nose to spite her face, because she really did love him, whatever angry words came spurting out of her mouth, “if you were the last man in London! My bruhusband is dead because of you and for that I can never forgive you!”

And he turned away, his face a blank mask of hurt and shock, and left the cookshop. Which was why she’d just thrown the cloth back into the tub of cold greasy water with a bitter cry of rage. Splashing her dress in the process.

“Letter for you, Mistress Anne,” old Fat Agatha said. She took a crumpled piece of parchment out of her bodice and handed it to Anne who wiped her hands on her skirts, took the parchment gingerly between her thumb and forefinger because she’d seen some of the other things that were kept in Fat Agatha’s bodice and crossed to the window to open it and read it.

Dear Anne, it read, I’m not dead. Neither is your brother. Thought I’d get that out of the way first. I couldn’t tell you before, but we had it all worked out. And it all worked out! I’m on the Trinity now even as I write these words to you, almost ready to set sail with the woman I love more than my life itself to be a pirate in a brand new sea they’ve just invented called the Caribbean. Apparently it’s just crawling with French and Spaniards! I love you, my darling daughter, and wish you all the best. I go to a brand new life and give you this one last piece of parting advice: Follow your heart. Don’t let anything stand in its way. Grasp your happiness with both hands…”

Anne let the parchment drop, untied her apron and let that drop as well. She ran out of the shop.

She could just see him in the distance, threading his way through the crowd.

“Richard or Dickon!” she called out.

“And where do you think you’re going?” Fat Agatha said. “These dishes aren’t going to wash themselves, you know.”

Anne turned around just long enough to give the startled woman a kiss.

“I’m going to follow my heart, Fat Agatha!” she said. “I’m going to follow my heart!”

If she ran quickly enough, if love put wings on her feet, and if he didn’t walk too fast, and if people didn’t get in her way, and if she didn’t slip on something disgusting and fall over, she might just catch him up.


“Avast there, me hearties!” the pirate captain cried. “Weigh anchor and belay the mizzenmast! We set sail on the marning toid!”

“Oh, Reechar,” Mad Meg, who had once been Margaret of Anjou and was now a pirate queen said, her flaxen hair whipping around her head courtesy of the stiff seabreeze. “Let them get on wiz eet and come back to bed. My timbers could do wiz a bit more sheevering!”

The pirate captain, who had once been the Earl of Warwick, swept her up and kissed her heartily. He hadn’t quite decided on what his name should be because he balked completely at the idea of calling himself ‘Dick’ despite the fact that there were a lot of D words that went nicely with it, like dastardly and demonic.

“Then come with me now, Mad Meg,” he said. “And I shall shiver your timbers for you with my very own hands, amongst other things. I shall shiver them good!”

The Bastard of Fauconberg had tried hard to be good, he really had. He liked Dakota, and if she’d been just a little less insufferable, he might have waited for her to cave in to his masculine irresistibilities a little longer. Now he found himself in a quiet corner of the deck, his hands full of the flesh of a wench, the kind that one finds quite unaccountably on a pirate ship, her magnificent quivering bosom heaving and her skirts just itching to be lifted.

“I tried to be good,” he whispered hoarsely in her ear. “I really did. But I find that, after all, I much prefer being a pirate and a Bastard and an unequivocally heterosexual studmuffin. So, my dear, prepare to be boarded!”

Which she did with quite a practiced hand. The Bastard of Fauconberg was much relieved to find that he still preferred the company of women who made boarding them easy. Within seconds of his polite request, the gangplank had been lowered and his hand was closing in on the that part of the map that is customarily marked with an X, his unequivocally heterosexual manliness not far behind.

In the meantime, Dakota FitzPercy was searching for him high and low, her encounter with Anthony Woodville in Bruges still branded on her memory* and her need to be disarmed, disrobed and disshevelled stronger than ever.

When she found him at last her heart practically broke to see him brought so low by such a indiscriminate slattern! She kicked him in the arse, for which she was rewarded by a yelp and a big smile from the harlot pinned beneath him, and stalked to the other side of the ship.

“You don’t look very happy,” a rather fetching young man of about her age said.

“I’m not. My latest rehabilitation project has backslided rather alarmingly.” She sighed bitterly. “I was looking forward to letting him plunder my treasure box, if you know what I mean.”

Edward, late Prince of Wales and toying with the idea of calling himself something like Eddie the Elegant, fell silent for a moment. He was thinking.

Dakota thought he was even more better looking than she’d first thought and edged subtly closer to him until their hands were almost touching on the rail of the ship.

“Tell you what,” he said nervously. “I’ve never actually plundered a treasure box before, though it has been on my list of things to do for quite some time. So if you, you know…”

“Well,” she said shyly. “My entire horde is intact, so, well…”

He turned to her and she turned to him and they kissed each other. It was different than the Bastard of Fauconberg or Anthony Woodville and Dakota rather liked it. So she took his hand when he held it out to her and followed him to his cabin where he, rather surprisingly for one so inexperienced, plundered her treasure box with both enthusiasm and exuberance. And her breasts had spilled into his waiting hands more than satisfactorily.

Afterwards, they lay in each other’s arms, both of them stunned by what had just occurred and how very much they’d enjoyed it.

“I’d rather like to do that again some time,” Edward said finally.

“I could give you the key if you like,” Dakota said. “Then you could come and plunder me any time you wanted.”

Edward kissed her again and they did some more plundering on and off that day and pretty much the whole of the next. In fact, by the time they’d got to the other side of the ocean, there wasn’t an inch of her treasure box he hadn’t…

Oh, for pity’s sake, they rooted like rabbits the whole way across the Atlantic! And they weren’t the only ones.


*What encounter with Anthony Woodville in Bruges?” I hear you ask. Well, you’ll have to buy the book to find the answer to that one… Just be assured that it involved breasts straining at doublets, the prospect of them spilling into a pair of waiting hands, a tightness in a certain man’s breeches, mesmerising eyes and the backroom of a tavern…

William, Lord Hastings, was a little bit miffed. Even the trollop he’d found waiting in his tent, Ned’s note of recommendation clutched firmly in her hand, hadn’t managed to quite take his mind off the insult that had been dished out. Almost a reprimand, he thought. Was it his fault his wing had almost been utterly destroyed at Barnet? They’d won, hadn’t they? Why then had Ned relegated him to the back of the pack, as if he was some kind of liability?

He looked around him. The sun was shining. He was still alive. The trollop had left his tent in the early hours, weak at the knees and with a smile on her face. Things weren’t that bad. Not really. And being stuck here at the back increased his chances of survival.

“Better than a smack in the face with a wet fish,” he said, just a second before he was smacked in the face with a wet fish.

Ned was wading through a knee deep squirming shoal of halibut, sighing heavily. He knew she thought she was helping, bless her addled little brain, but he could do without this, he really could!

Anne Neville thought there was something odd about her hybrid mother-in-law and stepmother, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Probably stress, she thought. What with Dad dead and her son about to face his first battle. My brother, she thought, suddenly overcome by the horror of what was behind them and what lay ahead. Her father was dead! What was a little odd behaviour from Margaret of Anjou compared with that?

“Dis king vot tinks he can steal my son’s crown,” Margaret said. “Vill die dis day! Dere need be nuddings you can fear about dat.”

Anne nodded dumbly.

“Den, vunce ve haff der old konig ersticken, ve can rule Inglond!” And she laughed both coldly and maniacally, which made Anne shiver. Something was wrong, horribly horribly wrong.

“What did you say your name was?” Isobel Inglodsthrope said frowning prettily.

“William Norreys, at your service.” He flourished a bow and smiled.

To her horror, Isobel found herself smiling back.

“Why,” the stricken, confused and clinging onto a semblance of sanity by his fingernails Archbishop of York said, frowning, having the decided feeling that not only had he lost the plot but there had never actually been a plot in the first place, “does he insist on wearing that blue dress everywhere?”

“Well,” the gaoler of the utterly confused is he or isn’t he king Henry VI said, struggling himself to make sense of things. “It ain’t so much a dress per sigh, guvnah. More a… gahn sorta fing.”

“But it makes him look very silly!”

The gaoler shrugged. “Keeps ‘im ‘appy. And our lives is a lot easier when he’s ‘appy.”

It was a very elegant gown, the Archbishop had to admit, though it was shabby and worn and had seen better days. And, he thought, better bodies to show it off than the king’s.

“I can’t take him out looking like this!”

The gaoler shrugged again. “We was promised an ah roff. ‘e’s your responsibility nah, guvna.” And he turned on his heel and went back into the Tower where he was sure the kettle would be boiling by now.

The Archbishop looked at the king, who was smiling and humming softly.

“Well, come on,” he said with a sigh. “Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.”

Edward, Prince of Wales, in the thick of the fighting, was rather enjoying himself. Easy money this, he thought, pretending to be a prince. People had bowed and everything. He had a smile on his face as he whirled his weapons round his head, smacking them hard into the heads of others. But, as his mutter always told him, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. When a mace, whirled around by someone else, smacked into his head and he fell down hard onto the ground, his last thought was, No-one thought to mention this.

“My son is dead, tot, zerstort,” the increasingly unlikely and unconvincing Margaret of Anjou wailed. “And I am verklempt!”

Anne Neville, not quite so quick on the uptake as one might have hoped, shed a silent tear. She was going to miss her brother.

“So,” Ned said smiling heartily. “Looks like we’ve done it again!”

Richard or Dickon nodded. He needed to get to the Abbey so he could keep his promise to himself and take the Lady Anne into his arms. Once Hastings gets here, he thought. I can slip away and Ned won’t even notice and for once, this didn’t make him clench his frail and angelic® fists and grind his teeth with petty, but understandable, jealousy.

“So,” William Norreys said kindly, his gentle eyes twinkling. “I hear you’ve recently been widowed.”

Isobel dashed away a tear.“Yes,” she said sorrowfully.

Well, I’m here to take your mind off all that.” He leaned over and kissed her.

For a second, Isobel was shocked, then surprised and, finally, confused. That kiss! It seemed so… familiar. She looked into the man’s eyes. They suddenly seemed familiar, too. As did the rest of him. Could it be? Mentally, she wrote WILLIAM NORREYS down on a piece of paper in her mind. And suddenly it all came clear. It was an exact anagram of JOHN NEVILLE, if she used different letters. Her husband wasn’t dead! Ecstatically she threw herself into his arms.

“How did you…” she started to say but he cut her off with another kiss. “Doesn’t matter. We’ll have to get married soon, though not too soon. Wouldn’t want to raise any eyebrows.”

Thank you, God! Isobel prayed silently. I really hoped I wasn’t the only one who didn’t deserve a happy ending.

“But seeing as we’re betrothed, at least in the eyes of God,” she said. “Well, I think there’s something wrong with my bed. It keeps rocking. As I don’t have a man around at the moment…”

William stood up. “Leave it to me, my dear. I’ll give it a good workout and see if I can’t find the problem.”

“I’d best show you the way, in case you get lost, seeing as you’ve never been in this house before. Ever. You can give me… it a good seeing to.” Isobel led the way up the stairs to her bedchamber. Her maidservant followed. Isobel turned to her with a smile. “William’s just going to see to something for me,” she said. “If the bed starts rocking… Well, you know the rest.”

And she followed William into the room and closed the door behind them.

“Anne,” Richard or Dickon said.

She turned to him, her eyes flashing. Suddenly he felt about as frail and angelic® as a man can get.

“Leave us!” she hissed.

“But Anne, my love…”

“I said go! I don’t want to see your face again. Ever!”

In the corner of the room, Margaret of Anjou was rocking back and forth muttering under her breath.

“See what you’ve done! She’s so unhinged with grief that’s she’s started speaking Yiddish. You… you… monster!”

Richard or Dickon was left standing, opening and closing his mouth like one of his sister-in-law’s fishes. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

Back in London. after sorting out the terribly sad, unexpected but really probably very much for the best death of the old king, Ned and Elizabeth had a nice supper together, then she showed him the son she’d had while he was away and had, till that very moment, forgotten about, and he was very pleased with her.

“All over now,” he said, stroking her silver gilt hair. She smiled at him. She really rather liked being queen again. “Nothing can possibly go wrong now.”

“I could help, you know,” Elizabeth Woodville Grey Plantagenet, queen and witch, said to her husband the king.

She stabbed the needle into her embroidery as if she were stabbing a pin into a voodoo doll, which gave her a whole new idea, but one she’d have to set aside, as she now set aside her sewing, to give her entire attention to her tall, handsome and, above all, blonde husband.

“And what could you,” the king smiled fondly, “a mere weak woman, whose gentle mind would recoil to even think upon the horrors of war, whose soft hand is better suited to the tending of fevered children and the calming of the furious flesh of manic manhood, whose tender thoughts are more at home contemplating kittens and household accounts than the brutalities of battle, whose very nature would sicken and wither to meddle in the affairs of men, do?”

“Well,” she said cogitatively, “I am a witch. I could maybe do a spell. There’s a rather good one in mother’s spell book.” Her eyes twinkled wickedly at the thought. “I could raise a mist to confuse your enemies!”

“Ok, good,” Ned nodded. “But let’s just think that one through. Confusing my enemies is an excellent idea, really it is.” Ned never liked to just squash new ideas, even if they did come from weak, gentle, soft and tender minds. “Now, a mist would confuse my enemies how?”

“Well, they wouldn’t be able to see, would they?”

“Excellent, excellent! That would be useful, of course. I wouldn’t be able to see either, but, you know, maybe you don’t realise quite how important that might be. In a battle.”

Elizabeth the queen and witch looked at her tall, handsome and above all, blonde husband and sighed impatiently. His trouble was he had no imagination. “Ok,” she said. “Boils. The Earl of Warwick will hardly be able to sit on his horse if he has a backside covered with boils.”

“Fights on foot,” Ned said dismissively waving his hand dismissively.

“That three suns thing,” she said. “I’d have to look it up, but…”

“Been done,” he gainsaid her. “Anyway, I’d never get away with it a second time.”

“I could make it rain fish.” Now she was clutching at straws.

As he rode to Barnet, the king reflected on what had befallen him since last we saw him in the boat heading across the channel with his best friend, his brother and his brother-in-law, William, Richard or Dickon and Anthony. He’d got the boat to drop him off at Ravenspur and told everyone he was just there being Duke of York which, everyone agreed, he was entitled to be.

“No, I agree with you, really,” he said, smiling his genial smile and getting everyone to believe him, despite the fact that they weren’t entirely stupid. “I’m not king anymore. I’m cool with that.”

And he rode all the way to London saying the same thing and everyone nodded and said. “He’s just the Duke of York.” and “I must say, he’s taking all this rather well, considering.”

But now he was on his way to Barnet where he was going to stop just being Duke of York and start trying to be king again.

The other thing he reflected on was his younger brothers – the one, George, Duke of Clarence, and recently, despite his serial treachery and being not ten days ago firmly in cahoots with his father-in-law, that well known cousin and traitor, the Earl of Warwick, now on his side and the other, Richard or Dickon, Duke of Gloucester, frail and angelic® but quite unshakably loyal. He didn’t quite trust Clarence and had left him in a tavern within easy reach of a large jug of wine. Even if he did take it into his fuddled head to betray his brothers even now at the very last minute, he’d be so drunk, Edward hoped, that he wouldn’t get very far before he forgot what he was doing and lay down and had a little sleep. He smiled grimly, which he seemed to be doing a lot of these days, even his best friend commented on it. and kept on heading towards Barnet.

When he woke up in the morning, he couldn’t believe his eyes. And that was mainly because he couldn’t see his hand in front of them, so thick was the mist. Bloody hell! he thought. Does the woman not listen to a word I say?

Richard or Dickon, looking a little less frail and angelic® in armour than usual, came to him, lumbering through the mist in his armour.

“You ready, little brother?” Ned said grimly clasping his little brother’s frail and angelic® hand.

“I am indeed, my liege lord, brother and king.”

Ned clapped him on the shoulder, which was a little lower than the other one, not at all deformed or hunchbacked, despite what the Tudors were one day going to say, and smiled. Grimly. “You are a good brother and I’m glad I have you by my side.” His voice trembled with emotion and he noticed that Richard or Dickon blinked back sudden tears, which wasn’t at all weak and womanly but endearingly frail and angelic®.

Despite the mist – and he really was going to have to have a word with Elizabeth about that – Edward won the battle and looked down at the dead body of the slain Earl of Warwick and his brother, John.

“Ah, Richard or Dickon,” he said to his little brother who was standing nearby shedding yet another manly tear. “I wish it had been other.”

So did Richard or Dickon, who really had been fond of the Earl of Warwick.

Ned sighed wearily. “Well, no point hanging round here. I suppose we’d best get up to Tewkesbury.”

Richard or Dickon’s eyes glittered. The bitch’s whelp would be there, he trowed, and there would be a reckoning. Before the day was out – not actually that day, but the day he was thinking about – he’d have the lady Anne in his arms, both their heels grinding the face of her late husband into the dirt. I’ll show him who’s frail and angelic®, he thought.

At Sandwich, when she heard the news that her husband was dead, the pale and insipid Countess of Warwick thought. “I’d better go into sanctuary now. Just in case.” So she went into sanctuary and didn’t come out for a long time.

In Bristol, when Margaret of Anjou heard the news that her secret lover and real father of her son, Edward, Prince of Wales, was dead, she fell to the floor in a dead faint.

In Seaton Delaval when Isobel Inglodsthrope heard the news that her husband, who she truly loved, was dead, she rummaged in the back of her wardrobe and took out the sexy dancer outfit she’d surprised him by wearing and doing a sexy dance one night in the castle her husband was beseiging, ran her hand over the feathers and sighed. Now she’d have to find another husband and she bet he wouldn’t even be half as good.

In the English Channel, when the Bastard of Fauconberg heard the bad news from Barnet, he smiled secretly and called for Dakota FitzPercy. “Plan B.” he said to her, leering slightly because old habits have a habit of dying hard.

She nodded. Plan B, she thought, was perhaps her… Best. Plan. Ever.

‎”I to your son will give my Anne”
Fierce Warwick glowered “Though not a man
Can hold a candle to lord Gloucester
Who beats his breast now he has lost ‘er
But ere I to lost England go
This one important fact I’ll know –
Though I e’er after be called mean
I shall my daughter see a queen.”
And what to this said Anjou’s bitch?
Whose life was never without hitch
“They’ll not lie as one under my roof
And so there never shall be proof
That they be wed. I’ll scorn you yet!
For we’ll fall out ere long, I’ll bet.”
But Warwick smiled for he foreknew
What sexy little Anne would do
He had no fears she’d not be queen
For he had once been seventeen
And knew the prince could not resist
That tender flower once he’d been kissed.

“Eeeeeeeew!” Anne shrieked years later when she read this.  “Is this guy sick or what?”

“Never mind that, sweetheart,” Richard or Dickon said, who had a surprising amount of stamina for one so frail and angelic®. “Come back to bed, or I shall start pining and beating my breast.”

Anne couldn’t get there quick enough! For not only did their childhood passion still burn after all these years, there was only one way she knew of scrubbing that particular image out of her head.

The balladeer had been right about the queen bit, though.

To my most well beloved son George Duke of Clarence

I greet you well and recommend me to you and to your wife my daughter Isobel Duchess of Clarence.

Now that that’s out of the way – Can I just ask what on earth you think you’re doing? I understand that you sometimes get upset by the things your brother does or doesn’t do, but that’s really no excuse for what must be, even for you, a record breaking sulk! I think it’s time you came home, apologised to each other and shook hands! This nonsense has simply got to stop.

I’m not even going to mention the horrible lies you’ve been spreading about me!

written in haste the day after Whitsun

your loving mother

Cecily Duchess of York



What’s going on? We’ve always been able to talk and I’m feeling very shut out at the moment. You can always tell me things, you know that! Look, I know Ned can be difficult at times, but you have to remember – he’s the king! Things can’t be that bad, surely! And you need to think very carefully about trusting Warwick. He doesn’t always mean what he says or say what he means. I’m sure Isobel’s an absolute sweetie-pie, clearly she adores you! but you might want to ask yourself: was it all worth it? Ned’s just sick about the whole thing. Richard or Dickon is getting more frail and angelic® by the day, and you know stress isn’t good for him! All I want is for my brothers to get along! Please please please think about what you’re doing. If you want me to talk to Ned for you, I’m happy to do that. You know I’m always delighted when they come for a visit, but I’m finding it all just a bit hard to deal with right now. I’m fielding complaints from just about everyone at the moment.  You know I love Ned dearly, but the working girls are exhausted! They’re just not used to such exuberance. Have a think about it.  Ask yourself – do you really want to be king? The job does have its downsides – just ask Ned, he’ll tell you! Drop me a line – please! – let me know how you’re getting on. I worry about you so much. Mother’s very hurt by the things you said about her. You might want to look in a mirror some time soon and tell me how much YOU look like Father!

Please write back and let me know you’re ok. I’m not sleeping properly with all this worry!

Your adoring big sis



Dear George

Have you seen my rat bastard ex-husband swanning around London? Well, next time you do, just look into his ugly face and ask yourself: do I really want to spend the rest of my life knowing that while this pig’s hanging around court, my big sister’s going to be stuck in the country! Oh, and if you get the chance, can you drop around my place and make sure he’s not doing anything too irreversible to the decor? Cost me a fortune to have it done up! His fortune – ha ha!

My love to Isobel and cousin Richard. Oh, and Thomas says tell my ex he’d better not show his face around here or he’ll sort him out!

All my love

Anne Duchess of Exeter (you’d better believe it, baby!)


Darling George

Whatever it is you’re doing that’s upsetting mother, please stop.

Can’t write more, far too busy, what with my darling boys and the roses to prune.

Your loving sister


Richard or Dickon, frail and angelic® Duke of Gloucester, youngest brother of the rapidly becoming ex-King of England stood at the railing of the ship staring alternately at England (behind him) and France (somewhere ahead). He was lonely, miserable, hurting, pining for his one true love, heartbroken and in deep deep pain. But mostly, he was frail and angelic®.

Hope was lost. England was lost. Love was lost. That glorious summer he’d been banging on about in Act One was also lost. He heaved a heavy sigh, of pain and misery. “Why me?” he thought, painfully and miserably. “Why must I love so deeply and so true? One who is lost to me forever! Married to another who is neither frail nor angelic® but harsh and fierce and bloodthirsty.”

His brother saw him with tears in his eyes but there was nothing he could do to ease his pain. He too knew of loves lost, secret marriages kept secret and secret marriages revealed. He hoped that none of them would cause his brother more pain that he felt this day, for he was truly suffering.

William, Lord Hastings, all round reprobate and whoremonger, was sitting in his cabin, drinking wine and bemoaning the lack of whores aboard this tiny ship that carried them all into gloomy, lonely, hopeless exile. Burgundy! He thought gloomily.

On a ship crossing the channel in the opposite direction, young Anne Nevill, now bogus Princess of Wales due to the fact that she was pretending to be married to her own half brother, was leaning on the railing also pining for lost love. Ah, Richard or Dickon, she pined. Why can we not be together? Now I must live my life in this counterfeit marriage and one day become ersatz Queen of England. Rather to be the wife of a swineherd if only I could muck out the sties with you, my lost and lonely love.

Richard or Dickon felt a hand clap on his frail and angelic® shoulder and jumped.

“How goes it, brother?” the almost ex-King of England his brother said.

“Badly,” Richard or Dickon sighed. “What are we going to do in Burgundy?”

Edward’s eyes twinkled, for he had a pretty good idea what he and his friend Lord Hastings would be doing. But he shook the thought from his great blonde head, for Richard or Dickon was pious and good. And in love with a decent girl, which Edward had never experienced before. Might be nice, he mused, for a change.

“We are going to lay…. um plans,” Edward said hastily. “We will return, my brother! And reclaim our kingdom!”

But will I find my lost love? Richard or Dickon languished. He did not like to gainsay his brother, but he could feel one coming on. “It will be difficult,” he said. “There are but three of us.”

“You’ve forgotten my dear brother-in-law Anthony Woodville,” Edward gainsaid his brother.

But Richard or Dickon scowled into the ocean. He hadn’t! He just didn’t like him very much and tried hard to pretend he wasn’t there. One day, he thought. One day I shall forget I am frail and angelic® and hadn’t he better watch out then!

Anthony Woodville lay on his back in the sun soaking up the sun. He had a smile on his lips for he had had word secretly from a secret contact in Burgundy that his old nemesis, the girl who would not give in to his blandishments, who gainsaid his love and adoration, was somewhere in Burgundy. Ah, Dakota, he thought. You shall spurn me no more, for I shall have you! You shall be on your knees begging, amongst other things. And he closed his eyes the better to imagine the taste of her sweet lips, which were made for love for she was not only beautiful and courageous but had said “No!” to him one time too many and that made him really want her quite badly. That every other man who crossed her path felt the same he cared not a jot for. She was his, Anthony Woodville brother of the queen of England currently in sanctuary’s. And he would find her.

“Everything will be all right, Antsiepants,” Edward the Prince of Wales said brotherly to his sister. “You’ll see. You’ll make a very good pretend queen! And we can find an orphaned baby somewhere and sneak it into your bedroom and then you can be the pretend mother to the pretend heir to the throne as well! Our father’s got it all worked out. He’s very clever, you know.”

Edward left his brother by the railing and went in search of either of his two friends who were with him. He really didn’t mind which, they were both his friends and he enjoyed doing different things to them. Secretly, he missed his wife and all his mistresses, but he’d never let that thought escape his lips. They must never know, he thought. He considered spending some time cursing his old friend and cousin the Earl of Warwick, who was now his enemy but stils his cousin, but he’d done that a lot lately and he was running out of nasty things to think about him.  He hoped his wife, the ex-Queen of England and a witch, was working hard on that spell she’d mentioned that she knew how to do. That would be good, he sighed, to turn him into something nasty. Only trouble was, he kept changing his mind whenever he thought of something even nastier. So he left his brother at the railing of the ship and went down the companion way where he found Lord Hastings in his cabin, asleep and dreaming of love. So he thought he’d join him because Anthony was lying in the sun and the now quite firmly ex-King of England didn’t want to risk it, what with his fair complexion and tendency to freckle.

Anne knew. She knew her father was clever. She’d spent her whole life being a pawn on the chessboard of his life and had always admired his moves. But that didn’t help to lift her misery. She must forget him! Put him out of her mind and not think about him anymore. Remembering him, fondly, pathetically, sadly, was something she must not do! But his frail and angelic® face wafted in front of her very eyes and she felt a cold black steel eternal binding chain of grief that caught around her heart and threatened to drag her down. She tried to smile at her brother, but it didn’t work.

Then, whispered on the wind, a voice. “We shall be together,” it said and Anne perked up a bit. She could almost feel his hot body pressing against her.

“We shall be together,” Richard or Dickon whispered into the wind at the railing of the ship he was on. “We shall!”





MAGGIE, a 40 year old ex-queen, is standing in the middle of the room. It is furnished well, but almost shabbily. This is reflected in MAGGIE’s gown, which is of fine fabric but has seen better days. There is a window in one wall through which we can see a glimpse of the garden.

RICKY comes in and Maggie goes to him, fluttering slightly. He sweeps her up into an embrace and they kiss.


Every minute you are away from me, my lurve, is like an eternity.


Then we should stop wasting time! I’ve got an hour or so to kill…


(breaking free)

But we cannot zink about lurve all ze time, Ricky!


Oh, I don’t know…


Zere are ze children to zink about! We ‘ave told zem zat zey are to be married, but we ‘ave not told zem ze truz. (she turns to him) We must, Ricky! We cannot keep it ‘idden any longer!


You’re right. They’re going to have to learn sooner or later that they’re brother and sister, and that the wedding we have planned for them is just a sham. But we’ll have to do it carefully.

We see that there’s someone at the window.  It’s ANNIE. She has overheard and is horrified. Annie is fourteen and very pretty. She’s wearing something vaguely mediaeval (really doesn’t matter, so long as it’s long and maybe has some lacing on the bodice. A conical hat would be good as well, so she can hang onto it as she runs.)


My Annie is a little highly strung.

Through the window, we see Annie running away.


‘Ave you met Edouard? You don’t know what ‘ighly strung is!


(turning to the window)

Did you hear something?


(takes hold of his arm and pulls him towards her)

Nozing, my lurve! Probably just a cat. Now, you were saying you ‘ad an ‘our to kill?

They kiss.


ED is sitting by a pond throwing stones into the water. He looks up when he hears ANNIE running towards him shouting.


Ed! Ed!

He stands up. She runs over and stops, breathless.


Your mother… My father… They… they…


I know! They do it all the time. It’s disgusting!


(shaking her head)

No, I’m not talking about that.  I heard something. Maybe I shouldn’t have been listening at the window. Listen, Ed, it’s important! And it’s about you, too.

They sit down.


You know that we’re going to be married? (Ed nods) Well, apparently it’s all for show! You’re not my fiance, Ed. You’re my brother!

Close up on Ed’s face. He’s kind of confused.



Does that mean you’re my sister? (off her look) Oh.


I knew something was wrong. I’ve been wondering why I found you so… annoying! I say it’s time to teach them a lesson!


Maggie, Ricky, Ed and Annie are having supper. The dining room is massive, and the little table is right in the middle. Lots of comic business for servants bringing food, they should make the most of the long trek through the hall. There is a whole pigs head on the table, with an apple in its mouth. They have a goblet each for quaffing and large metal plates in front of them. Annie is quite a fastidious eater, but the others just shovel food into their mouths. They eat while they talk.


Dearest Edward darling, could you pass me the salt please?


Nothing would delight me more, my precious angel! (he hands her the salt, there is a long lingering look) Oh, your eyes are beauteous tonight, my lady. To think I will have a lifetime to gaze into them while passing you the salt!

Maggie and Ricky exchange glances. They’re a bit worried about this.


I was planning to go hunting tomorrow, Ed. You want to come?


Will you be there, sweetest Annie?


No, alas! I cannot! I have much to prepare for our wedding. (she looks down and giggles) I cannot wait to be your wife, Ed! I have had a nightgown made for our wedding night. You should see it, it’s got lace and you can see right through…


I ‘ope you bring home a deer, dear. Zat would make a nice change to zis slop I’ve been forced to eat in my years of poverty and neglect.


Which you shall never suffer again, my darling! I shall take care of you from now on. And you shall have venison every night, if you wish.

Annie and Ed exchange glances. Annie makes a gagging gesture.

Maggie finishes eating and puts down her knife.


Time for bed, mes enfants. And don’t forget to say your prayers!

Annie and Ed get up and leave the room quietly. We follow them to the door and out into


Ed and Annie fall against the wall laughing.


Well, Antsiepants! That should give them something to think about!


Ricky is sitting at a table reading a letter from the Duke of Clarence. He’s rather worried. Maggie comes in, goes over to him. He takes hold of her hand but keeps reading. She kisses the top of his head. He puts the letter down with a sigh.


What eez eet, my lurve?


It’s George. He keeps talking about going home.


‘Ome? To Angleterre?

Ricky pulls her down onto his knee and kisses her.


Yes. Says there’s nothing for him to do here.


Give ‘im the keys to the wine cellar. Zat should keep ‘im occupied.

Ricky laughs.


You are wicked, my darling heart. But that is why I love you so much.

She stands up.


What are we going to do about the children?



I shall have a talk with Annie.


And I shall ‘ave a chat with Ed.



A cat?


No! Not un chat, you silly zing! A chat. A little talk. A conversation. I shall ‘ave a talk wiz my boy.


Ed is lying on the bed, his hands behind his head. Maggie is sitting on the bed. They are arguing.


But mother! You don’t understand! I love her!


You are young. You do not know what lurve eez!


Ricky and Annie are by the pond, sitting on a bench talking.


You’ll just have to be patient, my dear.


How, father! How can I be patient? Oh, he’s so dreamy!


Ed rolls up onto his side, supporting himself on his elbow.


Is she not the most beautiful girl in the world!


Well, of course, she eez very pretty. Tres jolie, as they say in France.



Thank you, Daddy! (she throws her arms around his neck) Thank you so much for giving me such a hottie for a husband.

Close up on Ricky’s face. He’s getting very worried.



Zere is more to life zan… Kissing.


But you and Ricky do that all the time! It’s gross, mother!


Zat eez different, my son. (beat) Look, I forbid you to touch ‘er! Even after you are married. Do you understand? I forbid eet!


Annie kisses Ricky on the cheek, jumps up and runs off. Ricky sits back, shaking his head. This is getting very worrying.


GEORGE enters. He is slightly drunk. Maggie is at the other end of the gallery, sees him and starts to move away, but he spots her.


Mags! Hey, Maggie! Don’t walk away. Come and talk to me.

She moves towards him, very reluctant to talk to him.


(puts his arm around her shoulder)

Listen, I’ve been thinking. You know, you know, you know I’m going to be king, right? Well, I’ve been thinking… (he stops, he’s forgotten what he was thinking) Anyway, does ‘t matter. You know I’m going to be king, right?



No, George! You are not going to be king. Your fazer-in-law ‘as already told me. ‘E will make my son ze king of Angleterre. Not you.

George stops. He’s confused and blinking repeatedly.


I’m not going to be king?


No. You are not going to be king!

She walks away. He’s left feeling more than a little let down.


Annie and Ed are sitting on a love seat, laughing about something. There is a door that Annie can see from where she sits. It’s open.


So, Isobel’s all “When I’m queen you’ll listen to me!” and I’m all “Oooh, your majesty…”

She breaks off as she sees Maggie walking past and grabs Ed’s hand. Maggie stops in the doorway and listens.


Oh, Ed! I can’t wait till you take me in your arms!


(picking up on the shift)

Oh, Annie, my treasure! To kiss those perfect lips.

Maggie gasps and hurries away. Ed and Annie fall about laughing.


Maggie is pacing the room, wringing her hands when Ricky comes in.


What are we going to do? What are we going to do?


We shall just have to tell them.




Tonight. At supper. (he takes her hand) Which is still some hours away. (they embrace) And I’ve got nothing else to do. (they kiss)


Oh, Ricky!


Annie is on the bed, reading. ISOBEL comes in. She’s Annie’s older sister and quite imperious. She looks around in distaste and sits in a chair. Annie tries to ignore her.



Anne! (beat) Anne!

Annie puts down her book with an exaggerated sigh and sits up.




Isobel pulls a piece of paper out of her sleeve and holds it out to Anne.


Please give this to father.

Annie hesitates, but gets up, goes to her sisters, snatches the note, goes back to the bed and picks up her book. Isobel stands up.


We’re going back to England. We’re sick of France. I just came to say goodbye.


(without looking up)

Good bye.

Isobel hesitates, as if she might say something, but goes to the door.


(turning slightly)

Oh, and good luck with that queen thing!

Isobel leaves.


Ricky is pacing. He’s very worried. He looks up as Annie comes in.


(holding out Isobel’s letter)

Isobel asked me to give you this.

He takes it and unfolds it. She leaves, he looks up, but too late.


Annie! (she’s gone, he reads the letter) Dearest Daddy, George and I are going him to England. I think it’s very unfair that you’ve decided not to make him king anymore and told your girlfriend before you told me… (he crumples the letter) Maggie! (he goes to the door) Maggie, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do!


Ed and Annie are sitting next to each other, making googly eyes at each other. Ricky and Maggie exchange glances.


Edouard! (he ignores her) Edouard!


Hmnmm? (he turns around with a sigh) Yes, mother?


You too, Anne.  This is important.

Annie and Ed wait patiently for him to continue.


Well, as you know, Maggie and I have known each other for quite a long time. Though we lost touch for many years…



Many long sad lonely years. Oh, ‘ow I cried for you, my lurve!


What you may not know, is that we knew each other… extremely well.


I don’t understand.


Well, it’s like this, see. When a man and a woman love each other very much, they have a special kind of cuddle…


Oh for goodness sake! When we said you were to get married, we meant you would be pretending do be married. You see, mes enfants, you can never be ‘usband and wife, because you are brozer and sister!

Annie and Ed pretend to be shocked, then burst out laughing and give each other high fives.


But I don’t understand! Je ne comprend pas!


You knew?


We heard you talking and decided to teach you both a lesson!


Well, I’ve certainly learned one!

Annie gets up, goes around to hug him.


Yes, we will never keep secrets from you again.

Ed gets up and they all have a big hug.