The Crown
the truth hit me. “You knew that Geoffrey Scovill had nothing to do with any crime before bringing him into this room. You just wanted to see how we would react to rude questions.”
    Kingston looked away, uncomfortable. The duke, anything but apologetic, said, “I’d already had him investigated, yes. There was but minor fault in his actions.”
    My face flushed hot. As calmly as possible, I said, “I have done nothing wrong. I am guilty of notreason, Your Grace, no conspiracy. It may have shown poor judgment to go to Smithfield and to reach out to my father, but nothing more. You are not entitled to harass or harm me or anyone else connected with me. I know something of the laws of this land. You must bring me to trial, or you must free me.”
    The duke’s face turned sour, but he did not raise his whip or storm about the room again. It was possible, just possible, that I had won and would follow Geoffrey Scovill out of the Tower.
    A sharp rap sounded at the door.
    Kingston let in the lieutenant, who rushed to Norfolk with what looked to be a bundle of letters. The three of them huddled in the corner, passing papers back and forth.
    When the Duke of Norfolk turned toward me again, his eyes blazed with new life.
    “After I heard you were arrested at Smithfield, Mistress Stafford, I remembered my wife talking about you. Ten years ago, as a matter of fact. She told me that you were to be a maid of honor to Katherine of Aragon, that since your mother came over from Spain in her entourage, it was only right and fitting that you, the only daughter, carry on this tradition. And you were approved to occupy court lodgings. Am I correct?”
    My mouth dry as dust, I could only nod.
    “So what happened, mistress?”
    I said nothing. There was no amount of abuse, no device of torture, that would ever make me disclose what had happened on the single day that I spent in royal service ten years ago.
    “You were deemed not good enough, weren’t you? You didn’t please the court for some reason. So you returned to Stafford Castle, correct?”
    I nodded, awash in relief that he was moving on.
    “And what happened to you then?”
    “I took care of my mother. She was often ill.” Two sentences that did not begin to capture my life during those years: the darkened rooms, the herb-soaked poultices, the tinctures and teas, and the bloodlettings that never, ever helped.
    The duke continued, speaking more to Sir William and the lieutenant than to me. “When Katherine of Aragon was divorced and exiled, her favorite ladieswere not permitted to attend her. But at the end, when she was dying, the King’s Majesty was magnanimous. Her two Spanish ladies were recalled to wait on her. Maria de Salinas, who married an Englishman and became the Countess of Willoughby, and Isabella Montagna, who did the same and became Lady Stafford.”
    The duke glanced down at another one of the letters.
    “Here is the report from the Spanish ambassador. This was one of Chapuys’s letters intercepted and copied before it left England.” A sneering grin from the duke. “The letter to Emperor Charles said, ‘The queen your blessed aunt died in the arms of her ladies, the Countess of Willoughby and Mistress Stafford.’ I thought it was an error of writing then, that he meant Lady Stafford. Nothing more.”
    The duke took a deep breath.
    “I’m a man of detail, Mistress Stafford. Whether it be preparing for battle or for questioning a prisoner of the state. I requested the recent papers having to do with the family in residence at Stafford Castle, and this is what I received just a moment ago.” He held up a letter; I could not read its signature. “It says, ‘Isabella, Lady Stafford, died on November 5, 1535.’ Which I find very interesting, because Katherine of Aragon died on January 7, 1536. Two months later.”
    He wasn’t shouting anymore. His voice was calm, almost gentle. “It was you, Joanna Stafford, who went to Katherine of Aragon in

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