Eleanor’s Journal 67: Family Reunion or Family Nightmare

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Jaquetta was well right in her warning that Margaret’s longed for reunion with her children would be anything but easy, or even pleasing. Twas not quite so difficult with the older one, Henry, for he did at least know her and remember her somewhat. At the age of 18, he was old enough to understand much of what had transpired and why. He did hold resentments against her for what he deemed weakness on her part, but he could look past that for the most part. The one he held more bitterness and hatred for was his step father, whom he trusted not at all. Henry did not know for sure what this new game or ruse was, or who was truly behind it. His only concern was that of keeping himself and his young wife safe and above the speculations or reproaches of anyone who might use his relationship with his Mother against him. Henry knew of his Mother’s deep loyalties to the Lancasters and her past refusals to remain quiet about them. That insistance had put her in her current position and gave her husband that power over her which he continued to exploit. Knowing all of this, Henry was rightly hesitant about this family visit. He remained cool and aloof, unwilling to give any heartfelt emotion to this woman, even though he could see the hurt and the longing in her face. His wife, Catherine was much softer and kinder in her meeting with her Mother in law. Catherine was ever the peace-maker, she had always been so since her childhood. She was pleasant and sociable, trying to ease the tensions of all during the family visits. This was no easy task as everyone involved was on edge. Even the little Eleanor sensed that there was much wrong with this gathering and somehow knew that she was a cause of at least part of it.

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Richard Dayrell had arrived to the gathering in icy and stormy temper. He brought with him a confused young daughter, Margaret, who knew none of them, not even her half brother Henry. It was quite clear that the girl of nine had no clue that her Mother was even still alive. She was a pale and fragile looking little girl who did resemble her Mother and might have been called pretty had she ever deigned to smile. She had lived a much isolated existance at a rural estate of her Father under his strict guidance and the constant threat of a well cloistered nunnery should she fail to obey him in every command of his. Now she had been much literally dragged to court and tossed at this group of people as her Father spoke harshly, “Here, here is the family you have cried and whined for, wept at the loss of. A crazy woman for a Mother and a brother who deems himself to much better than to waste his time on the likes of one such as you.”

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When she began to cry in her fright, he pinched her arm and continued as the rest of the group gasped in apalled unison of his treatment of her. He gave Margaret a scathing look. “This is what you’ve given me, a crying, sniveling girl who jumps in fear at her own shadow! Why I should have expected any more from you, I should not have been surprised. Your son was much the same as a child… until he was salvaged somewhat by that Queen.” Casting an equally disgusted look at Henry, he added, “I say somewhat salvaged because I have no doubt that raised in her household by such a throng of women, he is probably still a weak and cowardly boy, ever hiding behind the skirts of women but having little idea what to do with what’s beneath those skirts.”

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Such was the beginning of their supposedly happy family reunion. Henry had to be held back from assaulting the older man. The child Margaret sobbed and would let none near to comfort her any way, though Margaret did try to ease her daughter’s distress… she only seemed to make it worse. Catherine was so disgusted by the man’s behavior that she was without words. The little Eleanor tried to escape by clinging to wall away from them all. Brenny, who was in attendance was so shocked by this turn of events that she had no idea what to do as she made attempt to hold Henry back from attacking his step-father. Richard just stood back and laughed, “Ahhh, Now, this is such an appropriate reunion for all of us is it not? We must be sure to do it often.”

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While Brenny and Catherine were trying to keep Henry calm, Richard happened to spy little Eleanor against the wall. He strode over to her and snatched her up in his arms none too gently, gripping her overly tight and pinching her as he had his own daughter. The fact that Eleanor did not show fear or cry seemed to irritate him greatly. She merely tensed in his arms, held herself stiff and allowed no reaction what so ever. He tossed her in the air roughly and spoke snidely, “Well, and isn’t this a treasure for us all, another child for us to enjoy. Another girl for us to put a high price on and make a profit from… and one that we did not even have the pleasure of producing on our own. Who knows, perhaps that is the better of it, maybe this one will show some will and strength that you failed to produce in the other two, Margaret.”
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As he was torturing little Eleanor, the others all quickly recalled their senses and stepped in to surround him, demanding him to let the child alone. He simply laughed again, “Why, I am just playing with my child. You did insist that this is a family gathering and we should get to know each other.”
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At those words out of his mouth, Jacquetta entered the room, stepped into the group and grabbed the child from his arms. “If this is how you enjoy small children, Sir Richard, then rest much assured that you shall not be enjoying much family togetherness in the future with any of your family… less they should like to visit you in the Tower.”

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Her sudden appearance had taken Richard by surprise. He was even more surprised to look out and see that Jacquetta’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth was standing in the doorway. She had seen and heard much of what went on and was as disgusted by this event as everyone else. When her Mother had made to step in earlier, she had held her back. She had whispered to Jacquetta, “Nay, let him hang himself fully, we know that he will… we will step in when it appears there is true danger.”

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Elizabeth had called for her guards and motioned for Jacquetta to take all of the others to her personal quarters where they could collect themselves. Only Richard remained in the room with Elizabeth and her guards as her witness to his actions and to her decision of what to do with this man. Richard tried vainly to remain calm and maintain his arrogant dignity even in facing this Queen, who could be at times more powerful and controlling than her husband the King.

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Elizabeth sought to maintain her own composure with this confrontation. She knew exactly what type of man Richard Dayrell was and as much as she despised him, she knew to tread carefully with him. He was not one that anyone would want as an enemy if they had the choice… but it seemed that few found themselves with a choice when it came to dealing with him. Richard Dayrell was one who was vile and evil but generally kept his cards well hid and showed a moral and upstanding persona to the public. She knew before he spoke what his response would be, and he would be well justified in it in the way many thought. Elizabeth would give him time to go on with his defense, all the while thinking of how to go around it without calling offense to him publically. He was right in his declarations of being a loyal subject and friend to Edward, and this being a family matter.

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Elizabeth was as cold and calm as he when she gave him leave to speak. She could play this game as well as he could, she thought to herself as she smiled cooly and suggested to him that he should explain himself now. Inside, she was silently cursing her own Mother for dragging her into this situation, for that matter, even creating it to begin with.

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Richard assumed that he had the upper hand in this matter now. “Your Grace, this is but a private family matter that needs no attendance from you. You have far more important matters to concern yourself with. Truly, this is of no concern or consequence to anyone but that of my family which I am attempting to make ammends to and put to rights. That is my reason for being here in the first place with them.” Richard went on smoothly, never stumbling over his lies. “I am only trying to reunite my family, it is not of my fault if they seem to have difficulty with it. Our family has seen much trouble over the past few years and I would only ask that we be allowed to work out our problems in private.” He ended his petition in the way she knew he would. “Your Grace, my family’s troubles should not reflect upon my loyalty, my honor or my long standing friendship to the King.” He smiled slightly, and a bit too smugly for Elizabeth’s liking at those last words.

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She smiled back in a much similar manner and lulled him into a few moments of deceptive grace as she offered him a glass of wine. He thought that she would absolve him when she responded in a much too kindly way. “Ahhh Yes, Sir Richard, I have heard something of your family’s difficulties over the past few years. And, I must say, I was greatly surprised and happy to hear the most recent news of that precious addition to your family. Let me congratulate you on the joyous blessing that God has bestowed upon you. What could have been such a tragedy has turned to a miracle… God has seen fit to let your wife and child survive, to recover and be such a blessing to you. You must be over come with such joy and emotion!” She smiled sweetly and reached out to pat his hand, which he was trying not ball into a curled fist.

Elizabeth noticed it, just as she noticed the slight wince that took over his face for just a moment before he contained it and smiled back at her. “Yes, indeed God has blessed us with a true miracle and we are all a bit overwhelmed with it. It will take us some time to adjust ourselves to the changes it will bring to our lives.” He responded with a tight smile that did not reach his eyes.

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Elizabeth knew that she had him where she wanted him now… she took note of her men at arms ever close behind her, overhearing all of this conversation, and well aware of what had taken place previously. They would be her witness if need be in the future, should there be any doubt cast about what took place here. She continued to smile at Richard as she spoke again. “Yes, yes a new child always does bring it’s share of adjustments for a family. I can understand your concerns, especially with your wife suffering such ill health for so long. I would seek to remedy some of those concerns of yours.” This was put as a statement of command rather than a suggestion. “Allow me to assist you in these matters, as a Mother of young children myself, I understand full well the many concerns of raising them properly.” She paused for a minute and saw a flicker of doubt come over his face. He was not quite sure of what she was going to so helpfully demand of him. Good, so much the better, she thought to herself as she let him suffer that wariness and unsurity for a few more moments. “You, Sir Richard are such a busy man, and so valuable to my husband in so many ways. I am sure that this situation is putting much strain on you.”

He hesitated and nodded his head in agreement. Well, she was right in that respect, this was the last thing he needed, or wanted to deal with now. She took his hands in hers and thoughtfully continued, “Let me relieve some of that strain upon you then so that you can focus your attentions on your duties better here at my husband’s court. I know that your wife has been ill for such a length of time and unable to devote her Motherly attentions to your daughter, Margaret. It grieves me much that you have had to bear her raising on your own and through no fault of yours, you may have been remiss in some of the proper raising of a girl child.”

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He started to speak up in his own defense and disagreement, not being quite sure what her intentions were on the matter of his daughter. “I can assure you, your Grace, that I have cared well for my daughter and sought out the finest of guidance for her training.”

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Elizabeth waved a hand for his silence. “Be that as it may, Sir Richard, she is more than of an age and status where she should be already in a suitable household training as a Lady in Waiting. Such a position would give her the proper training in all of those areas which will benefit her as a good match one day. I know that had Margaret been in better health, this is something she would have attended to before now. I am not faulting you, as you are a man and these things have a tendancy to slip past your thinking.” She smiled at him and waited for his response. He was not immediately forthcoming with one so she just went on in her overly kind and caring attitude. “I thought that I would have seen her name and your request for her placement in my household by now… Have you given thought to this important step in her training and perhaps sought to place her elsewhere in a worthy household?” She gave him a serious questioning look.

He was at a loss for a response at that moment since, for one… he was not expecting this line of questioning which seemed to him far off from the subject of which they were concerned. For another, he had adamently refused placing the girl out of his sight even when her maids had broached it with him. Now, he was expected to give some answer on this topic? What in God’s name was this woman up to. He had a feeling that he had been just royally duped and no answer was going to be acceptable in her reasoning. He had no choice but to feign some feeling of remorse and admit some remiss in his parenting duties, though he felt none of any sort.

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At his rather lame excuse of wanting to keep the child close to him and admission of oversight in his responsibility, Elizabeth shook her head and looked at him in some solomn consideration. “Well, we must take steps immediately to remedy this unknowing negligance on your part.” She sighed softly, took his hand again and held it in a way as to show her supposed concern and caring. “Do not worry about this Sir Richard, I shall immediately take steps to find her a suitable placement. In fact, I will go so far as to assist in finding her an excellent marriage match… which, I assume that you have not put much thought into as yet either? My Heavens, Richard, surely you must know how valuable a girl child is and how important it is to set these arrangements in place as far as possible.” She shook her head, “This is the trouble with leaving such things to a man.” Then she brightened and laughed, “Goodness, Sir Richard, Now you have two fine daughters to be concerned with the marriages of.” Before he could speak again, she waved her hands gaily and added, “Never fear Sir Richard, my Mother and I have become quite adept at this match making business…I am sure there a few suitable matches left over to choose from after all of my sisters and my own daughters.” She pertly turned her head to her guards and laughed, at which they all joined in.

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Richard was dumbstruck now. This had not gone in any such way as he had imagined. He now appeared somewhat like a fool whom the Queen had taken it upon herself to save. He realized that he had just lost possession of his most valuable commodities though one was not really his. His anger was broiling just beneath the surface but he dared not show it as the Queen had just officially bestowed such gracious kindness upon him for all public purposes. He knew damnably well that it was not out of friendly kindness she had done any of it. As she turned back to stare at him, he knew too that she was not yet finished with him.

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Now, she became quite serious and her posture reflected her sterner mood. “Now that we have taken care of that matter, I am sorry to say that me must address some other ones not quite so cheerful or pleasant. Your family quarell has no doubt caused some upset within my family and I must deal with it appropriately. I would not have to do so, but you chose to cause such a public display that many others overheard and I would be remiss if I ignored the slights to those in my family.” She glared at him coldly. “You know, I have spent much time raising your step son and look at him as family, besides the fact that he is indeed family by his marriage to my sister Catherine. Your words and your actions today and in the past have caused him no amount of distress and I believe that you owe him, and his wife a public apology, which you will accomplish here at court in front of your peers of the nobility. While for all you insist that it is a private family matter, you made the unwise choice to voice your opinions in a space where they were heard by the public, so now you will atone for it in public and you will also take that opportunity to make good your wife’s character and her prescence of mind… If she will agree to even be seen with you again after this. I would highly suggest that you find some way to remedy this which you caused.”

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Richard was speechless… he was too consumed with trying to maintain some thinly veiled control of his fury at this woman. Finally he managed to find some words against her demand. “Your Grace, surely you would not seek to make this all even more public and humiliating for all of us. Please allow us to deal with this in the privacy of our home and within our family.” He knew it was a useless effort but felt he had to make some attempt.

She gave him a disgusted look and answered him. “Really, Richard… Family, what family? Yours is a pathetic sham of a pretense of family and all know it but refuse to say it out of courtesy and honor. You are true in that you have been ever loyal to our cause and our crown and so in light and respect of that, I will not seek further disgrace or dishonor upon you as long as you now walk the line I have set for you. When your public appearance here at court with your loving family is completed, your wife will retire with young Eleanor to a place of my choosing not yours. Your daughter Margaret will remain here at court with me for the time being whilst I find her a suitable household to train in, and a suitable match… which you will agree on and aprove of.”

He was fuming now and in danger of losing all semblance of control. All that he could do was slightly nod his head and bow to her in his agreement of her decisions. All the while though, he thought to himself that this was not over by any means. He would see this woman, this witch rot in hell before he was finished with her.

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She brushed her hand out to dismiss him and he silently turned to leave, assuming she was finished with him. Elizabeth had one final comment for him however as he slowly walked away. “Oh, one last thought Sir Richard, should you think not to follow my directions in all of this, I must remind you on more important matter. In return for your obediance, I shall endeavor not to let my husband know that you are partaking of his very special toys behind his back whilst he is away. I do believe he would not take kindly to that much sharing between friends. And, I have only enough patience to raise and support my husband’s bastards least of all those who might not even be his. If I should find that I am indeed supporting your offspring, I shall do as I see need be in that matter.”

These last words only added to his fuel of anger at her and her witch of a Mother. He would indeed see both of them paid dearly for their actions in this game of which he seemed to be on the losing side of this day.

After he left, Elizabeth turned back to her guards. “Find her, find the one he has been dallying with behind my husband’s back and bring her to me. I have had enough of all of this nonsense and am in no mood to play nice any longer nor share my husband with quite so many toys. God only knows what diseases he should bring back to my bed. I want to know which of those women assumes that she can so easily spread her legs for anyone while sharing the King’s favors.” She hoped to herself that it would be that one woman whom she could not seem be rid of. That one other woman who the King favored almost as much as he did her. She dearly hoped that they would return with Elizabeth Shore and she could be done with that woman for good.

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During her interview with Richard, the rest of the so called family took respite in Elizabeth’s private quarters and tried to salvage what remained of their broken relationships. It was difficult to say who might be more broken by all of the events, past and present but, if the scene within that apartment was any indication most would have to agree on it being the young Margaret Dayrell. She truly did look like a shattered and destroyed china doll as she lay on a couch, exhausted and still weeping, her body shaking in uncontrollable spasms of terror and grief. The women huddled around her attempting to comfort her while Henry tried to entertain the somber little Eleanor.
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The women were having little success at soothing Margaret. She shuttered at their touch and brushed them away as if swatting at flies. Her distress was increasing so much that her Mother, Margaret feared the child would make herself quite ill. Margaret finally stood up and motioned the others away from the child. “This is doing no good to anyone, most of all her. She is greatly frightened of us all and our hovering over her is making it worse.” She sighed sadly wiping tears from her own eyes. “She is a fragile child and who knows what her Father has told her or threatened her with… this is much my fault. It is I who must find a way to fix this with her. Leave us be here and I will join you later.”

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Jacquetta led Brenny and Catherine away and Margaret knelt back down with her daughter. She kept a slight distance from the child and whispered some soothing words to her. Though the child refused to look at her Mother or reach out to her, her body did calm and she seemed to fall off into a fitful sleep. Margaret remained close, singing softly and occasionally stroking the child’s back lightly.

The others moved a bit further away and sat together pretending that all was normal and making useless small talk while Eleanor played silently on the floor between them all. Henry Stafford stared down at the little girl on the floor and shook his head. He then looked up at Jacquetta and voice his own frustrated concerns. “I will not lie or pretend that any of this makes sense to me. I will also say now that none of this sits well with me. It puts us all in danger, especially my Mother, who I fear is not strong to begin with and this will be an even greater stress upon her.” He reached for his young wife’s hand and held it as they all discussed the situation quietly. Henry was worried for his family. He did not trust Richard Dayrell at all and would not put anything past the man.

When Jacquetta tried to ease his concerns and assure him that Elizabeth would deal with him, Henry was not reassured. “No, I know him well enough to know that he will not let this matter go. He will find some way to retaliate against us in the future. In your decision to keep this little one safe, you have put us all at greater risk, I fear.” Henry was young, but he had seen his share of court treachery, deciets and politics. He knew that it was a constant battle of wits to stay alive in this bloody game of power. He knew too even at such a young age that he truly did not want to be such a part of the game, but had little choice due to the circumstances of his birth and his status. His deeper thoughts were always of whether he was capable of the deceptions, the back stabbings and the endless webs of mind games required to play the game and keep one’s family intact throughout it.

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Elizabeth returned some time later and joined in the discussion. She shared her treatment of Richard and what he would be required to do. She also warned them all that they should not provoke him in any way. They would make a front of accepting his supposed apologies. Once it was completed, they would all remove themselves from court and put distance between them and him.

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She looked thoughtfully at Henry and her younger sister, whom she was ever so fond of and would not wish any hurts upon. These two young people had grown up together in her court, had been married to each other as children and had a deep friendship that few other couples could ever hope for. Elizabeth truly wanted happiness for both of them and did not want to see them torn apart or destroyed by what this court was capable of. Many accused her of being heartless and cold… and yes, she could be, but that did not necessarily mean that she did not care for her family. She knew well that neither of these two really wanted a life at court, but had ever kept them there more for her own selfishness and their safety than any other reasons. She did not want to part with her little sister, did not really want to admit that she was grown. And, she knew that her Mother did not want to either. Catherine was always the sparkle and the joy in their life with her friendly and every happy manner. It would be difficut to see her gone from them but with this new threat caused by Richard Dayrell, Elizabeth had quickly decided that it was time for Henry and Catherine to live on their own as husband and wife in the country far removed from court, and Richard Dayrell.

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Elizabeth took their hands and made her sudden announcement that she was giving them leave to make their own household far away from court. She was sending them to one of Henry’s estates which had been held in trust for his coming of age. They would make their home at Brecon Castle. She smiled softly and somewhat sadly at their surprise and their shared excitement of this new phase of their life together. “You shall be safe there, out of this mess that neither of you have reason to be thrown into.” She warned Henry, “I will expect you to remain ever loyal and to put in your presence and appearance here when called upon. But, do not worry of much for now, You will have plenty of time to enjoy the benefits of your wedded life together.”

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As Jacquetta looked on with tears in her eyes at thought of parting with this last child of hers to leave her, Elizabeth tried to make light of the situation. “Who knows, perhaps you shall soon send us news of a growing family!” Her sister Catherine blushed at this comment but smiled happily. She knew that Richard’s earlier crude remarks at her husband had been in regard to the doubts and rumors over the status of their marriage not being consumated. Living within the heavily protected walls of the Royal household as they had, nothing was much secret or above gossip. There was also the fact that she had been ever surrounded and guarded as well by her Mother and her older sister, who kept insisting that she was too young for that aspect of the marriage. She had of late argued persistantly with them that at the age of 15, she was more than ready to be a wife fully and completely. Now, despite the dangers and threats surrounding them, and the sadness of Henry’s family situation, she could not hide her elation and happiness. Neither could her husband, who had been waiting as impatiently as she.

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One thought on “Eleanor’s Journal 67: Family Reunion or Family Nightmare

  1. Pingback: Eleanor’s Journal 67: Family Reunion or Family Nightmare | Lady Eleanor DeGuille's private journal

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