Westminster, October 1458
The Earl walked with Hastings and several of his retainers behind him outside the palace of Westminster. While a bold move considering the feelings towards him by the Queen, Warwick was nothing but audacious. His intended visit was to see his cousin, Edward of York after a recent letter, yet there were other matters at hand as well. Namely to see his man Sir Fulk who stood near the doors to the kitchens.
“My Lord,” Fulk gave bow and handed Warwick a note, “I fear not much news to report, but our man is inside at the least.”
Warwick was quick to peruse the note and then looked up, “What of Herbert? Still no movement?”
“He remains tight lipped, my Lord,” Fulk shook his head, “Though not completely silent. There is little change with the King, but the young Lord of Somerset is seen more in the Queen’s presence of late.”
“Of course he is,” Warwick frowned.
Hastings followed, “It would appear that Edward’s words to you were true, my Lord. Tis a shame that.”
“Oh...I don’t know,” the Earl mused, “I was starting to think the two were entirely too close.”
Fulk gave nod, “Quite. Yet I may report that there seems to have been a row between the Lords of late. Young love and all that?”
Warwick frowned, “Do not be so prurient. I’ll sort the matter when I see him. His father would wish no thing less.”
“Of course, my Lord,” Fulk bowed.
“Go and do, sir,” Warwick gestured towards the city, “We would hold here for only the fortnight and then we return to Calais.”
Fulk bowed again but looked to his master with a serious eye, “Take a care, my Lord. You need not be told that factors are aligned against you to this place and any one would be pleased to strike if given chance.”
“Why do you think I hold my guard with me?” Warwick gestured to his men, “I will slip in through the kitchens. Should hardly be seen.”
As his man left off to do his bidding, Warwick and his entered the kitchens to the sounds of chopping and cooking. Few of the servants looked up used to as they were to much activity but when one of the scullions turned too quickly with a spit, it very nearly impaled the Earl.
“How dare you?!” Warwick shouted and his men were quick to draw their blades.
The poor scullion quickly dropped to a knee, “M’lord! I did not...”
“Shut your mouth!” Hastings answered him quickly, “Do not say you do not recognize this Lord!”
“I was not...” the man tried to say again but Warwick’s men surrounded him and began to push and shove.
Warwick himself stood back and shouted again, “I believe the man had wish to see me dead! Surely instructed by the Queen to murder me upon sight!”
“That’s not true!!” another royal servant called out and quickly the kitchen staff began to fight with Warwick’s men to protect their own.
“Alarm! Alarm!!” another royal servant called out and soon the royal guard entered the kitchens with their own arms raised.
The scuffle lasted less then a few minutes and no one was truly harmed, but Warwick’s retinue gained the upper hand and seized the unfortunate scullion. By now, the Earl of Wiltshire had heard of the commotion and entered the kitchens himself, “What happens to here?!”
Hastings pointed, “An attempt on my Lord’s life, sir! Surely told to him by the Queen, this scoundrel came very near to skewering the Earl of Warwick!!”
“Preposterous!” Wiltshire answered.
Warwick showed him a fierce eye and then said to them all, “We shall know the truth of this! If it truly is a plot by the Queen then she can answer for it!”
With the strength not in his favor, Wiltshire was forced to follow as Warwick and his dragged the man before the Queen as she received to the hall and Margaret was not happy to be interrupted especially when she spied Neville, “You have much nerve to show yourself here and to my presence!”
There were gasps by many to the hall but Warwick stood tall as his men held the poor scullion, “And I say to you, Your Grace...this man is a criminal!”
“Who is he?” Margaret looked on with confusion.
There were further gasps as Hastings recounted the tale and Margaret narrowed her eyes, “You accuse the man of attempted murder?”
“I do!” Warwick answered proudly, “By parties I would not name, but surely part of some plot!”
The young Lord of Somerset was in attendance and he stepped forward, “Why would you not name them, my Lord? If you are to accuse, then do so!”
“I have plenty of witnesses,” Warwick looked from him back to the Queen, “All did see what happened. It was as clear as day and now all here have heard the sad tale. There may be some parties here that would not wish a further telling, but if one should wish a trial, I would be more than happy to recount the why and the how of it.”
By now even King Henry had been alerted and he had removed himself from prayer to see about the commotion. As he entered the hall, everyone gave bow and as he waved a hand he asked, “What is all this?”
“Your Grace...” Hastings bowed again, “...this servant has attempted to murder the Earl of Warwick.”
“Is this true?” Henry looked to his wife.
Margaret shot daggers with her eyes to Warwick before turning to the King, “It would appear so. Surely an unfortunate incident, but the Earl did fear for his life it would seem.”
“That is unfortunate,” Henry looked with sadness to them all and waved another hand as he departed, “Take the appropriate steps, to be sure. We approve and will pray for his soul.”
“There you have it...Your Grace,” Warwick looked to the Queen, “What would you have done? Shall he receive his just punishment or should we drag this out into trial?”
Margaret remained silent for a time before holding up her hand with great anger, “Take him to a cell. We shall order an execution on the morrow.”
She quickly left the hall followed be her Ladies and Wiltshire. Young Somerset followed after and eventually Edward of York stepped forward to his cousin, “I thought you to be discreet, my Lord.”
Warwick held up his hands as he watched the poor scullion hauled away and showed a pained face, “What was I to do, Ned? The bastard tried to skewer me!”
“I highly doubt that,” Edward too looked after the man and then turned back to his cousin, “Wrong place and wrong time, seems like to me. Why did you not simply present as you are?”
“Ned...” the older Earl looked to him with a slight smile, “...it works. She might have defended the man but knew that if she did, she would have been accused of murder herself.”
Edward skewed an eye, “Do you think she meant it? Was truly behind it?”
“Who may know?” Warwick grinned, “Does it matter? All heard the tale here today and too many would believe it. That is her reputation and especially to here. All know that she hates me after the last time I was to court and it is all too believable.”
“Except papa is not here at the now but rather to Ludlow,” Edward answered him, “Would not sit the council meet she is sure to order after this. He has not enough time to be there for it will likely be this day and so you will likely see a warrant ordered up for yourself if you are right.”
“You spend too much time at court, young Ned,” Warwick replied.
Edward did not smile in return, “And I should think you may wish me to court. I see what happens to here. I may still be young, cousin, but I have been given an education as papa would desire. From my knowing, there are few that may be kind to you. Especially without my father’s calming hand and persuasive words. Especially not Beaufort who now sits on council.”
“I had though you to be persuasive with the young Lord,” the older Earl answered.
“And thus my letter to you,” Edward replied, “Be aware at all costs. He likes you not and it has caused a rift between us. You see how he follows her...as he used to follow me. He wishes you dead, cousin. I should not to think it, but if anyone has put a plot to you...it is likely he.”
Warwick pressed, “Then you must double your efforts. Your father would wish no thing more.”
“It would do no good,” Edward answered, “I would salvage what I may of the friendship, but his mind is made up. You killed his father, cousin. That he may never forgive. And if he has any sway with Her Grace the Queen...”
“Who would also wish me dead,” Warwick admitted.
Edward gave nod, “Indeed so as you predict...I fear our meet here to be a short one. I warn you out of care, cousin. I should not like to see you harmed. It is a very uneasy peace that we share at this time. I know not how much longer I myself may stay to court. It is not like it was and appears more harsh each day.”
“You may come to Warwick Castle with me, Ned,” the Earl suggested, “Your father would wish your safety.”
“Nay, cousin,” Edward replied, “Yet you should go there now and then back to Calais. I can protect myself and hold my own small retinue to Baynard’s. If the worst comes, I shall call for papa and he will be right here.”
“Ned...” Warwick looked to him with an earnest eye, “...the last time I saw your father we did have a great row.”
Edward gave nod, “I heard.”
“He thinks that I am too bold,” Warwick added.
“I do not disagree,” Edward suggested, “Yet...at times...boldness is required I have found in my learning.”
The Earl of Warwick looked to his younger cousin for a moment before giving answer, “I will not stop, Ned. There is but one way to take down this Queen and it is to prove her perfidy to all. Every time she is pressed...she makes mistake. She is unlearned.”
“The Saxons called that unræd,” Edward smiled, “More than five hundred years and it is still a thing. I believe that we should all take note. I was sent here to do that very action.”
“Yet you must know...learn...the worry that she presents!” Warwick was certain.
Edward was just as sure, “I know the worry that you present and that is how much longer you stand before me. Find your safety, cousin, for you will not find it here. The bells toll upon the hour and if another strikes and you remain, you will find yourself to the Tower. She will make certain!”