She left the meeting and returned to her residence knowing that he was quite serious about his veiled threats. She was left with a choice between saving her five daughters in exchange for her sons or the very real possibility of losing them all. She discussed the matter with her eldest daughter Elizabeth and bade her to make a choice right then… gaurantee her own life and that of her sisters or take a chance on meeting the same fate as her brothers. She then held her daughter to secracy on the plan to gain escape for the young Richard. It came down to choosing to sacrifice Edward for the lives of the rest of them. The young Elizabeth had spent much time in sanctuary, and was resentful of her Mother’s choices and judgements which she felt had put them all there in this position in the first place. Had her Mother not turned the people so against her over the years, they would never have come to this point. She blamed her Mother for all of it and was ready to be done with this life of confinement.
Then, the elder Elizabeth had broached another subject, which in a way sealed the younger Elizabeth’s feelings forever against her Mother. She realized just how much of a pawn she truly was in the woman’s eyes when the Queen shared her other intent and option… In not being able to put her son on the throne, Elizabeth Woodville had come to the decision to side with her enemy, Margaret’ Beaufort and back Henry Tudor in his battle for the throne. In exchange for her backing, she had basically sold her daughter to the Tudors as Henry’s wife thereby ensuring that if he won his battle, she would still have an offspring on the throne. Young Elizabeth York realized that either way, she was a pawn in this game. Inside, she was seething with rage at her Mother, and vowed that some day she would have her revenge at this woman. Until then, she pasted on an acceptance of her role and her fate, and went along with her Mother’s plans. She really had no other choices for the time being.
Elizabeth Woodville had been vaguely assured by Richard that her boys might be kept alive but out of anyone’s reach. She did not trust him on any of the matters and kept to her original back plans of keeping at least one boy safe. She also wanted some gaurantee that her girls would not disappear as well. She insisted that the girls be publically presented to the court so that all could see them alive and accounted for, thereby ensuring in some way that any future disapperance of them would result in much more suspicions and accusations against Richard and his council. She herself would remain in sanctuary until such a time as she deemed it safe to exit. Richard went along with her proposal and told her he expected her to turn over the boy within the next few days otherwise face the worse consequences.
She had little time to implement her plan of escape for her younger boy and relied upon those outside connections to assist her in it. Her older son, Thomas assured her that a changeling had been found and that they could go forward the next night.
Hastings had advised Elizabeth Shore to step back now and not incriminate herself in any way. He took charge of securing her son, also named Richard and the plan to place him in position to make the switch. He shared the plan with one other person, Brackenbury and assumed that Brackenbury would not have revealed it to anyone else. Brackenbury, however had shared it with Lord Stanley because he still needed further assistance in working out details of how the boys disappearance should be explained or who should take the fall for a murder that essentially did not happen. His original thought was to remove the boys, replace them both with some other serf boys then do away with those boys in order to have proof of bodies. Stanley was disgusted with Brackenbury’s idea and his lack of forethought in planning. He reminded Brackenbury that any dead bodies found in the tower would lead to his downfall and inability to do his job in keeping the boys safe. How could the man not have thought of this consequence.
Stanley was busy making his own personal plans that included hedging his bets on both sides of the war. He wanted to remain in Richard’s good graces for now, but he also wanted to be prepared in case it looked like Henry Tudor might stand a chance of succeeding. His wife was Henry’s Mother and he stood much to profit if Henry managed to pull this off. His personal thought was that, all that was really required was a suspicion of guilt lingering about Richard. It was not truly necessary to provide bodies as proof… Much of the time, all it took was a hint of suspicion to sway the people against something. As to the third boy involved, Stanley had long had his own suspicions about it. As it did not involve him or his private plans in any way he left it alone. His only other concern was that of the princes still being out there in the future to possibly come up against Henry Tudor. He needed some gaurantee that the boys would not return and be used against the Tudor faction should they succeed. His personal thought was that in this situation, Richard would be feeling much the same in wanting his own gaurantees on the boys not returning… He decided that if Richard were going along with this ruse, he must be well assured that it was going to play out the way he wanted. Stanley chose to go along with Richard on this, if only for the reason that it would iliminate the boys chances of return in an uncertain future.
So each group went about their own individual plans regarding the boys. Once Richard had made his decision, it was carried out quickly with no turning back on anyone’s part. After speaking to the young Edward, Richard was assured that in his heart, the boy really wanted no part of ruling and the whole situation was causing him to become despondant and withdrawn from life. Richard did genuinely care for the boy and wanted for him a life where he could be happy. He offered the boy a way out of this responsibility and assured him that he could truly have a life well removed from all of this particular war. The boy felt much releif and did not seem in much great distress over having to make a choice that involved him leaving his family, other than his brother behind forever.
When Richard questioned him on this, he replied that he had been raised apart from them from a very early age with only limited visits and sadly had not had much of a chance to form close bonds with them other than what was a sense of duty and obligation. The boy was more overwraught by his Father’s death and that of his guardian, his uncle Richard Grey. These were the two people he had trusted most and had a bond with and now they were gone, leaving him to the doubtful mercies of either Richard, or his Mother.
This was a serious discussion between the two in which Richard treated the boy on a mature adult level. He did not make attempts to excuse his actions in having Richard Grey executed but reasoned with the boy that it was an unfortunate result of wars and battles. There would always be some that you cared about that would make the wrong decisions, put themselves on the wrong side and suffer the consequences of those decisions. It was a harsh reality of life that no matter where the boy ended up, he must understand and be aware of in his future. The boy appreciated Richard’s blunt honesty in this matter.
When the discussion had turned to his Mother, he had voiced his honest inner fears of the woman. He did not place his trust in her and expressed doubt as to whether she had his, or his siblings best interests at heart. Richard found this odd being that it was Elizabeth’s own beloved older son, Richard who was entrusted with his raising and care. He assumed that Richard would have built up the boy’s loyalties to this side of the family.
As the boy spoke, Richard began to feel second thoughts on his decision to execute the man. The man had obviously done his duty well to this child and instilled in him a true honor above that of duty to family just for the sake of family. He exressed his remorse to the boy and told him that it seemed his uncle had done a fine job of training him. Finally, he asked the boy what he thought his uncle would have advised him to do?
The boy gave long thought before responding that his uncle had often told him of wishing for a different life for him, one where he could be whom he chose not what fate had dealt him. Young Edward had looked up at his uncle then, on the verge of unmanly, childish tears and whispered, “Please Sir, I do not want to be King. My Mother and others would force it upon me whether I am suited for it or not… I do not want to die though either. If you could see a way to remove me from all of this, I would forever be in your debt and would willingly do what ever your bidding should be on my honor and my name.” Richard’s concerns and doubts were answered and he solemnly assured the boy that he would see a way out this situation for all of them, his siblings included.
The boy’s heartfelt wishes were part of Richard’s reasons for going ahead with his plan. He had enough honor and compassion in him to see these innocent children safe from what ever should happen in the future. If he had to strip them of their titles, inheritences and identities to do it, then that was what must be done. He would see to the welfare of the girls by reinstating them in court and marrying them well, and the boys would disappear with Marie to parts unknown. She was a strange one, she was and where ever she came and went from was most certainly not known or traceable to anyone… he knew that well, having tried to find her in previous times. He only wondered whether he could truly trust her not harm the boys, or to abuse them in any way?
This concerned him greatly and he needed some other form of proof or gaurantees from her that this should not happen. This was the only thing standing in his way at the moment, and as soon as he could have this proof, he would dispatch his plan. His proof came from another unexpected person… A mysterious man had shown up inquiring of Marie’s whereabouts. He had been as secrative and strange in some ways as Marie herself. This man had met with one of Richard’s circle, a man who kept much private council and called little undue attention to himself… a man whose loyalty was unquestionable, Sir John Howard. Howard was one of Richards’ closest allies and confidantes and was trusted implicitely. So, when Howard came forward with information concerning Marie, Richard accepted his council… A meeting with the young man was arranged and there, richard had met Marie’s brother Gerard DeJewel. Gerard was as noncommital about their origins as Marie but there had something about the seriousness of the young man that Richard believed and trusted, more than he trusted Marie.
Gerard gave him warning that his sister should not be completely trusted in her dealings with him or the boys. He had confirmed that yes, she could most easily get them removed to parts ever unknown… but she would most likely continue to blackmail him with the boys. This was unfortunately, much her nature. Gerard advised him to tread very carefully where she was concerned. Richard was not sure why he chose to trust this man, but he did… it was one of those gut feelings in listening to the man that he felt he should trust this instinct. Gerard suggeseted he let Marie carry through with her plan, that he would intercept her afterwards and lead the boys to the safety Richard sought for them. Richard asked him why he should trust him instead of Marie… Gerard responded, “Because my sense of honor goes beyond my sense of family obligation and I give you my oath upon that honor, and my name.”
These were much the same words he had heard from the young Edward earlier and they struck a profound chord within him. Then he had asked what should happen to Marie, she should still know the truth of it and could use it against him if she chose. Gerard had commented, “Yes, she is a greedy and needy woman… you may have to pay her an extreme amount to be rid of her. I can assure though, that she does not really want to be saddled with these boys and is only concerned with the monies or rank that might come her way as benefit. Her attentions are short though, so should she be introduced to someone who could distract her with more of both, she will disappear from your affairs… I can easily see to that.” He then added something else of concern to him.
He was not just here in search of Marie, but a child who could be caught in the middle of this current situation… The child currently in the care and fostering of Lady Margaret Beaufort was a relative of his and her parents were duly concerned for her welfare. He went on to assure Richard that these Stafford relatives were loyal Yorkists and supported his Highness in every way. They had heard of the troubles which Margaret might possibly be now involved in and did not want their daughter in harm’s way. When they knew of his trip here, they beseached him to fetch their daughter and return her home to them where she might be safe from these turbulent events. Richard gave it some thought then had no argument with Gerard’s taking of Eleanor. He had heard nothing of this family that might cause him to doubt them, other than that they were relatives of Margaret… at this particular moment they were the least of his concerns. He agreed that upon his assistance in the matter of Marie and the boys, Gerard could then take his leave with the child, Eleanor. Gerard was given papers for safe conduct throughout the land and left the Castle.
Richard had one last concern and detail to attend to in this plan… He realized that he could not just cause the boys to disappear and give no reasonable explanation of it at a later point. He did not want continued suspicions hanging over him and his reign. There must be some sort of closure to it and someone to take a fall other than him for this event should it not play out in the way he envisioned. In a private meeting with those he trusted the most- those were quite few… it came down to two people. John Howard and his Bishop. In this meeting they decided on a plan to remove the boys to safety and temporarily replace them with two unknown boys of similar resemblance. The Bishop said it really mattered not so much as the boys would remain in the tower, only to be seen from a distance by people who would then verify and affirm that yes, they had seen the boys alive and well at various times? After some later time when Richard’s rule was secured, these pretender boys could be moved elsewhere and some plausible explanation could be devised for the boys leaving. The Bishop did not condone any slaughter of children and could not justify that option even for lowly serf boys. He felt they could be easily removed to some church sanctuary and allowed to live in God’s service. Howard was insistant though that the only closure to this was for all to believe the boys were truly dead and would not be searched for. Richard was uneasy about the killing of innocent children as well. It just did not sit well with him even though he understood that it might have to be done. His suggestion was that they find two boys who were already ill and would most likely die anyway. This option eased his conscience and the Bishop’s. In this way, they would provide two lowly, dying serf children with some comfort and ease in their last suffering days. It was then left to the Bishop to quickly find such boys. This would not be an easy feat as they must be initially well enough to be seen out on the tower’s walk for some time to come.
Once this was settled they had to share it with Brackenbury, who would be in charge of the boys until their demise. Since it was Brackenbury who had initially led them to this plan with his finding of Marie, they did trust him enough to continue his involvement in it. There was agreement that no one else should be trusted enough to know more. With their plan set and suitable boys found, they were finally able to carry through their deception.