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G is for Gambit in the Name of God (May 1676)


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The room was dark, setting the mood for dark plans conspired therein. Simple benches were all that was available to the dozen men that filled the small room.


A dark cloaked figure entered the room silently once everyone was seated. The cloak was peeled back in the dim candlelight revealing a red cassock. A red skull cap adorned the silver hair that was revealed as the hood fell away.


"Your Eminence," breathed the first man in line as each stooped to kiss the Cardinal's ring. The Cardinal bestowed a blessing upon each man in Latin.


"My sons," came English words from the foreign accent of the Cardinal. "God has given me another vision. There was a palace garden in which dwelled a beautiful butterfly. A shadow came and stuck the butterfly, replacing it with an ugly worm. The worm caused flowers to wither in its path as it moved towards the throne room, where it no doubt planned to change into a butterfly of a different kind -- a much darker one. None of the passing gardeners seemed to take heed of it, but for one red bird."


The dream ended there ny sons. The butterfly was, I am convinced, the symbol ofthe Queen of England. The worm is the pretender that would taker her place. The red bird was us gentlemen. Do we ignore the worm, or snatch away the evil?"


There was a prolonged silence and then a foreign voice uttered "no, we strike."


"It is holy vengence," intoned the Cardinal.


"Wait," came a clear English voice as a man stood. "Are you talking about killing Karoline of the Palatinate? That would be absurd. It would play into the hands of every crazed Protestant in the land," he warned. "Is not the Bible full of references to avoiding vengence and revenge?"


"I believe His Eminence knows the Bible better than you Englishman," came a retort of another foreign tongue in the crowd.


"I am no man, friend. I am an English lord, an Earl of the realm and I will not be dismissed in my own land in such a way," came an arrogant reply.


"My lord, please," came the calming voice of the Cardinal. "Our brother spoke hastily and without due respect." The other man was quick to apologize. "If it was done carefully, it could be blamed on another ... or not at all. Does anyone doubt that the beloved Archbishop of Canterbury did anything but die of natural causes?" he reminded the assembly.


"There is a woman and a man ... " began a hooded man known to be a Jesuit monk.


"Who have done nothing," the Cardinal finished the thought.


"This is crazy," the English lord added. "We should target only the Protestant radicals that harm the Catholics in England. Karoline may be a Protestant; but she has done nothing against those of the Mother church."


"She is responsible for the French and Austrian candidates withdrawing in shame," the Cardinal noted.


"How does this protect English Catholics, with all due respect Your Eminence? That wrong was done to foreigners. We are here to save English Catholics."


"And so we will, my son. God's army is here now. We will have revenge. They killed the Holy Father's emissary. Have you forgotten that? Can we stand and do nothing?"


"What about turning the other cheek?" the lord reminded.


"Vengence is mine saith the Lord," replied the man of the cloth.


"Yes, let's leave it to God then, except for a specific crime against an English family. Let us punish criminals as God's vigilantes if the law does not; but, don't escalate this further, I pray."


"This is a vendetta my lord," replied a different foreign voice. "In Spain and Italy we understand vendettas. They are not pretty, but they are based upon honor."


"Honor? We Englishmen have our fair share of philosphers you know. Francis Bacon once wrote that In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior. And, John Milton wrote not long ago that revenge, at first though sweet, bitter, ere long, back on itself recoils."


There was a long silence.


"If you all plan on going forward with this, I want no part of this. It is treason for me. I'm happy to have Protestant bullies get a taste of their own medicine but I will not plot against the betrothed of my King. I am sorry." He stood. "With your leave Eminence, the less I know about this business, the better."


A glare from the Jesuit monk was silenced with a hand gesture from the Cardinal. "We understand, milord. It was but a dream and an idea. We will reconsider. Please sit again and we can discuss other business. There is that Nathaniel Smythe of Norwich that has led thugs against Catholics in Essex. Let us plan justice for him instead, shall we?" came the soothing voice of a prince of the Church in Rome.


Already a plan was falling into place as he smiled at the middle-aged lord in front of him. Behind that smile lay a dream of an English Catholic martyr -- one that was high placed and could not be ignored. The pieces were falling into place.

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