11 - The Lammas Feast

Free 11 - The Lammas Feast by Kate Sedley

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Authors: Kate Sedley
Tags: rt, tpl
    ‘My guess – and it
only a guess – is that this man could be an agent of Henry Tudor. Just suppose, for instance, that the King’s spymaster general had received word from one of his own spies that such a man was due to arrive in this country sometime soon and that he was to be put ashore at Bristol; he – the Spymaster, that is – would have alerted the sheriff, who, in turn, would have warned his officers. So, when Richard learned from Master Overbecks and myself of this stranger who had arrived on a Breton ship, he put two and two together and decided that this must be the man he had been expecting, but who had somehow managed to evade his vigilance and must therefore be apprehended as quickly as possible. The fact that he was known to have visited Jasper not long before Jasper was killed provided Richard with the excuse he needed to have the stranger arrested on suspicion of murder, without alerting the world at large to the fact that he was one of Henry Tudor’s agents, or to the fact that he had given Richard the slip.’
    ‘But you don’t
any of this for fact,’ Adela interrupted in a very wifely spirit. ‘My love, aren’t you jumping to too hasty a conclusion?’
    ‘I told you it’s guesswork,’ I defended myself. ‘But very inspired guesswork.’ I let her see that I was deeply wounded by her scepticism.
    I should have known better. She was unimpressed.
    ‘Well, my advice is to talk it over with Richard before you take any more leaps in the dark.’
    That reminded me. ‘He’s coming to supper tonight,’ I said, and launched into a swift explanation as to how it had come about that the sheriff’s officer was our guest for the second evening running.
    Adela took it very well. Too well for my liking, and I knew a sudden, unreasonable pang of jealousy. She was still suffering from the after-effects of Adam’s birth, so I was unable to assert my claim to her affection in the usual way, a fact that made me even more bad-tempered than I was already, and caused me to sulk for the rest of the meal like an ill-mannered schoolboy. But when the children at last went out to play, she came round the table and knelt down by my stool, putting her arms about me.
    ‘Don’t be grumpy,’ she pleaded. She saw my yearning glance at the mattress, rolled up against the far wall, and laughed. ‘You’re like a little boy deprived of his favourite sweetmeats. It won’t be long now, I promise. Meantime, you’ll have to be patient. But one thing you can be sure of –’ She kissed me – ‘I miss our love-making every bit as much as you do. No other man has ever meant as much to me as you, my darling.’
    I knew it; so I gave a shamefaced grin and allowed myself to be coaxed and petted back to good humour, returning her kisses and telling her I loved her. Mind you, that didn’t stop her demanding, rather sharply I thought, where I was going when, later, I took my leave of her.
    ‘I thought I might have a word with Walter Godsmark,’ I said casually. ‘Richard must have finished questioning him by now and sent him home.’
    ‘Roger!’ Adela’s tone was firm. ‘You should be out with your pack. We need the money. This is not an enquiry for the duke. No one has asked you to poke your nose in. I’m sure Richard is quite capable of solving this murder without your help.’
    ‘Not if he’s set on arresting the wrong man.’
    ‘How do you know it’s the wrong man? It seems an eminently reasonable assumption to me. We both saw Jasper and the stranger arguing. Incidentally, just supposing your theory is correct, why on earth would Jasper be involved with the Lancastrian cause? He never struck me as a man who cared a groat who’s King and who isn’t.’
    ‘There must have been money in it for him,’ I decided. ‘It’s the only possible reason. But then, as you say, I don’t know yet that my idea is any more than a bag of moonshine. But there’s certainly no proof – quite the contrary

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