The sight of the Bishop, even after these many years, still caused me to intinctively cross myself and shake in some leftover fear. It was not that he had done anything in specific purpose to to me personally to cause such fear. It was more of the knowing even as a small child, the power that he weilded with his rank in the church. During that time of my childhood, and indeed for so much longer, the church held as much power or possibly even more in some ways that the King did. They were as involved in the politics of ruling as any other factions and often had more power and funds to back their agendas than any other parties. Even as young as I had been, I knew that the church’s edicts and decisions were not to be argued with. I also knew that they could be as untrustworthy as most of those others in power.
I edged myself back against the wall, and pulled Judith with me as I whispered, “That is the same Bishop who signed the betrothal documents between Edward and I.” My heart beat was racing and Judith hushed me as she put her ear closer to the door in attempt to listen to his words.
Judith ignored my pleas with her usual rational answer, “Shhhh, Eleanor, if that’s what he’s doing then maybe we’re suppose to hear it. Maybe this is a distant memory locked within you and you heard it before as a child but didn’t understand it then.” She pulled me closer to the door then pushed me a bit forward as she whispered on, “I think this is all in your memories. I think you’ve been here more than you remember. But, now you must remember.”
I heard that other soft voice from within me, “Go on, sweetling, do as she bids you…there is nothing to fear and nothing that can hurt you. You must do this, you hold the keys and only you can unlock the secrets.”
Judith held me from the outside whilst my Mother held me from within as I stepped forward and opened my mind to some well hidden past memory. The Bishop’s words became clearer and I heard him asking God for understanding and forgiveness for his many transgressions of late. I felt as guilty now as I had back then, standing behind the door hearing his private conversation with his God. He was apologetic in his words and kept insisting that his intents had never been for such wrongful purposes. He vowed remorse for any actions which God should deem as sinful such as allowing the man to meet his death in a vat of wine. He knew that was wrongful but tried to reason to God that he was walking a fine line of balance as were all of the others in this court. He justified the action by going on that it had been King Edward’s decision and his brother Richard’s to let their brother, George meet his death in such a way as he saw fit. He was after all a convicted Traitor to the king even if he was the king’s brother.
I stood there now, understanding what I had not as a child… This Bishop had had a direct hand in the odd execution of King Edward’s brother, George. Now, I watched him as he knelt silently for a time. I knew he was not finished yet.
A horrified shock went through me as I saw not only my own vision and memory of the Bishop at the altar, but his memory of the event of which he had participated in. I had to struggle back a sickening gag before it faded and I went back to revisit the memory of my eavesdropping on him in his confession. It had been another trip here with Lady Margaret. We had come again in some secracy and she had bade me to wait out here in the hall for her with strict instructions to behave myself and not cause anyone to notice me. Her manner had been more agitated than usual that day and she had simply said she had a matter to attend to and should not be long.
That statement had been untrue. I had stood out in the hall for much of the afternoon,waited upon her to return and dared not to call attention to myself as per her warning. When the Bishop had entered the Chapel, he had left the door ajar and I could not help myself but to peer in out of some curiousity of what he might be doing. Twas then that I saw him kneel at the altar and sink himself into prayer and confession. I knew I should not listen but could not help myself in that either, being an inquisitive and curious child. I thought his confessions would not be of anything of interest… as a child, I assumed him to be above the transgressions of the rest of us.
I listened, partly because I had naught else to do at the time. As I overheard his long ramblings, I did not understand all of it or it’s possible importance. His confession concerning George had been of some interest and entertainment… of course I had known of the man’s treason and his death but as a child, I had not been privy to how he had died. I thought it quite strange that a man should choose to drown in a vat of wine as his way of atoning for his sins.
I had waited near the door and thought perhaps the Bishop had fallen asleep whilst praying. He was so long silent, and I had seen others nod off to sleep whilst they should be worshipping or in silent prayer. I was bout to wander off when I heard him moan. It sounded as though he was weeping… though, that could not be so, could it… I had never seen a grown man do such as that. So, naturally, I thought it was a sight of some interest and I returned to my hidden spot behind the door.
I heard him go on about how if he should be called to meet his death because of these actions being carried out by those he could not control, he wanted God to know that he was not to blame. He did not trust anyone these days and least of all those witches. He wanted God to know that he had tried to follow his principles in all things and the fate of these boys should not be on his shoulders but on those who he was sure God knew of as the guilty ones. He swore to God that he had surely done his part to ensure that one of that Witch’s blood should not sit upon the throne but he brooked no part in the killing of innocent children.
My breath left me now quite suddenly. For now I understood of what he had been speaking back then. He knew something of what had happened or what would happen to the boys. As he fell silent once more, I crept away from the door in fear of only the words he had spoken of Witches. I did not understand the rest of it, but I did understand the reference to the Witch on the throne… Many had referred to Queen Elizabeth in that way, whether in a literal sense or as in describing her oft unfriendly nature. I knew that there was much unrest and disarray in our world at the time due to King Edward’s untimely death. I was not aware of much else going on as adults were keeping much silent in their otherwise easily overheard conversations about important matters.
As I backed away from the door and clung to the wall, Lady Margaret had returned to retrieve me. I had thought for a time that mayhaps she had forgotten about me, she had been gone so long. She was still much agitated and was nervously crossing herself as she appeared. Lord Thomas had met us in the hall then… I thought that somewhat odd since he spent little time with us. He spoke softly to her as we left, “So, it is done, you are finished with this now and will stay out of all of this.”
She had nodded her agreements to him but I could tell she was keeping something from him. I could tell by her nervousness that there was something which she was hiding. I walked a few paces behind them and saw him pinch her arm none too gently and tell her more forcefully, “I said, You will remain out of this and call no further attentions to yourself or to any of us who might be jeapordised by your actions.”
She jerked her arm away from him and whispered back in a rather bitter tone, “It is done and I will follow what ever consequences come from it.” Suddenly she seemed to remember me and dragged me forward to walk between them as a buffer or shield… such was my role in life at that time.