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An Important Debrief of the King (April 25, 1676)


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The excitement of Saint Georges Day and Parliament were now past. Joseph Williamson had a lower profile than normal, meaning to say that he had been mostly invisible the last week. Now, he found himself summoned to the King's private study.


First came the reports on the foreign situation. "Sire, Don John would like to avoid Whitehall for your meeting. I suggested Windsor, but he is cautious. He wishes to meet with you closer to London, but away from prying eyes. I had thought Hampton Court ... ."


"The Lady Alyth is there," the King reminded him, "or will be soon."


"I am aware of that sire, but it is a large palace. You could meet in the gardens."


"Very well. Have you ascertained what support he has Northern Secretary?"


"It seems that the Spanish Ambassador is unaware of his visit. Either Don Pedro is playing ignorant, or John thinks him aligned with the court party in Madrid. I am awaiting word from our agent in Madrid, but I would speculate that Don John is more popular than the Queen Mother and the King. I would not underestimate his chances Your Majesty, even though he is a bastard." It reminded the King of the sort of thing that his son might do to try and usurp the throne away from his brother. That would never do.


"I'll listen to his offer, though I favor God's intentions. It is not so bad to have a weak Spain, no?" Charles noted aloud.


"A weak Spain suits our purposes unless our relationship with the French sour."


"Williamson, the French are offering some islands and colonies as part of Mademoiselle's dowry. My cousin is tightening the screws."


"Did you expect less sire? You've chosen to allow Baptist May to do your negotiating."


"What news of the Danes?"


"They too would like to meet with you again, and Master May, but want everything kept secret."


"Make it so. Now then, tell me of the prisoner called Charles Stuart. I asked you to divert some of your men to this purpose, along with the Chancellor."


"Sire, the news is preliminary, but there is a small chance that Prince Henry did not die as thought." Williamson cleared his throat. "It is not so much as there are records confirming the prisoners story, but missing records that would prove him a liar. Couple that with certain Scottish claims of a faceless prisoner. It was death to gaze upon his face, decreed by your grandfather. The Lord Chancellor found a record of such a royal decree. The prisoner was dubbed Luke. In another document he was referred to as Prisoner 15. If you look at Luke 15, sire, you will find the parable of the prodigal son." Joseph paused.


"You mean to try and conjure some old wives tale from Scottish legend? There are bones in Westminster that belong to my uncle. There was a procession of a thousand. He had an army of friends who could not have been fooled!"


"The lead coffin was sealed and none were allowed to gaze upon Prince Henry. The cause was mentioned as disease."


The King was shaking his head in disbelief. "Don't make me open the crypt Williamson. Find the man's father and mother. Do it now!"


"He will only speak with you sire. We have tried gentle tortures, but he has held fast. Shall we have a free hand then?"


"We shall visit him, but only to gaze upon him in his cell. Use the devices to loosen his tongue."


"Might we try having you speak with him, just to see what he might say? A testimony volunteered can be more useful than one compelled. We can always compel him later."


"Let us think upon it," came the glum royal reply.

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