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MORNINGSERIAL.

YOU often ask if I have found a bride. I think I have always found one and not known until now. Wear this ring as a sign of our betrothal if you can still love me and I will come as soon as I am able. You are my first and only true love, Kate. Write to me at Crosstrees to tell me my fate.

Your adoring, penitent Nicholas, faithful in his fashion. I see in this poor letter I take no account of what may be in your heart. If I must come a-wooing, beloved, I will do so joyfully, and not look between the lines for your answer, but in your eyes, so you do not refuse me out of hand.

Yours ever, Nick.

The Great Lie by Myrrha Stanford-Smith He made a packet of the letter and his signet ring, wrapped it strongly and sealed it and then sat pondering on how to send it. There was no one here he would trust. He decided to wait until he could contact Tobias. The next escort was not due to leave just yet, there might be time. Chafing at the delay, he made it his business over the next few days to cultivate one of the older ladies-in-waiting. Flattered by the attention, and in touch with her Majesty's day by day activities, she agreed to let him know when there was opportunity to slide off on his own affairs. The first too-brief escape gave time only to take Nero up onto the heath and gallop. The atmosphere at court was stifling. The Queen's courtiers were not precisely her prisoners but certainly they danced to her capricious tune.

At last he was able to ride to Crosstrees and find Toby. He found his friend dressed in all his own new finery to visit Lady Caroline. That friendship had prospered, but Toby dolefully confessed he was only one of many suitors.

'M'way of life don't suit,' said Tobias. 'Like you and your Kate. They don't want a husband who's footloose and fancy-free while they sit at home rocking the cradle.' 'THAT is going to change,' said Nick. 'That's why I am here, to crave a favour. I am reluctant to break into your leisure, Toby, but I need something taken to Rokesby - I am asking Kate for a betrothal. I have position now, lands, money. I have plans.'| The Great Lie by Myrrha Stanford-Smith is published by Honno at PS8.99 www.honno.co.uk > CONTINUES MONDAY

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The Great Lie by Myrrha Stanford-Smith
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 19, 2013
Words:425
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