The Boleyn Deceit
family. Ashen-faced, he became voluble. “They areyoung, Your Highness, as you said, and in love. I told Guildford to wait, that I would discuss the matter with the king, but youth is impatient. And the girl—”
    “Already with child?”
    He nodded.
    “That will displease the king even more,” she said sharply. “And I do not see why I should be the one to bear his first anger rather than you. Or better yet, Guildford himself. If he is man enough to marry and be a father, then he should be able to stand up and admit what he has done. Where are they?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Don’t know—or won’t say?”
    For a second, she saw the canny flicker in his eyes and was reminded that, anguished or not, Northumberland always played the game to his advantage. But what advantage could he gain from a willful son getting a royal girl with child and then having the gall to wed her in open defiance of the law?
    Elizabeth turned her attention to Robert. “Why are you here?” she demanded. “To speak up for your brother?”
    He hesitated, then squared his shoulders. “My father thought I might gentle your temper. I told him he was mistaken; that you would not welcome any words having to do with a young and hasty marriage coming from me.”
    Her laugh was immediate, and bitter. She said to Northumberland, “At least one of your sons is wiser than you. I will speak to the king of this matter and persuade him to kindness—to the girl, at least. As for your son, he has made his marital bed. Now he must lie in it.”
    As they bowed themselves out, Robert eyed her gravely and she wished—oh, how she wished!—that she had not been speaking as much about him as about Guildford.
    9 March 1555

Whitehall Palace
    There has been quite the scandal at court. Guildford Dudley and Margaret Clifford are married, and the girl is said to be already with child. She is not even fifteen! William was furious—not the shouting, throwing things kind of anger that I know how to deal with from living with his mother. No, this fury was deep and dark and terrifying even for the onlookers. The Dudleys sent Margaret to court on her own to face William, and I will not soon forget the girl kneeling before the king in supplication while I held my breath along with the rest. For once even I could not predict what he might do.
    As Margaret Clifford’s mother is dead—and clearly she was not being well supervised—she has been sent to her aunt, Lady Suffolk, along with a contingent of royal guards to ensure that if Guildford attempts to contact his bride he will be found. He has still not had the nerve to show himself. Both Elizabeth and I have warned Robert that each day’s delay will only harden William’s anger. But in this matter, Robert appears to have little influence with his family.
    The tempest has delayed Elizabeth’s and my planned departure for Syon House. With the Dudley family teetering on disfavour, William wanted to scrap our visit to Mary altogether, seeing as she is in custody at one of their homes and in the keeping of Northumberland’s oldest son. At last he agreed to let us visit, but not to stay at Syon House itself. We will travel directly to Richmond and make the short trip to see Mary as often as we wish.
    I do not think it will be very often.
    Three days after the women’s departure for Richmond, William endured a privy council meeting that was more than usually tense. In addition to the Duke of Northumberland, who satbrooding and watchful as if waiting for someone to badger him about Guildford’s folly, the Earl of Surrey was in attendance for the first time. The king had met less resistance than he’d expected from his uncle at naming Surrey to the privy council; Rochford had gone so far as to admit William’s wisdom in balancing England’s divided religious interests. Still, William kept his eye on the young man, wary for any sign of his grandfather’s arrogance or belligerence. Surrey looked unassuming enough;

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