Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Queen's Bribe - by Michelle Wyllie

I don’t usually do this but she made it worth my while.  It’s my job to ferry people to and from the island to stay at the castle.  Usually it’s mostly the local nobility but last year we had an extra special visitor: Her Majesty, Mary Queen of Scots.  Rumour was she was with child and had come for some rest.  I could almost believe that had it not been for the armed guards beside her.
Sarah, the maid, said it was down to the Queen’s status she had guards.  Perfectly possible for that to be true, I suppose but these men didn’t look like protection guards.  No, these men flanked the Queen like she was a prisoner.  Loch Leven Castle doesn’t have anywhere to hold prisoners as far as I know.
‘You don’t hold prisoners of her rank in a dungeon, John,’ Sarah told me at the time.  So, a royal person wouldn’t be clamped in chains and thrown into a dungeon.  Her Majesty’s accommodation would have to as luxurious as possible.  Fine for her but I wouldn’t be so lucky if I was caught.  That standard of the Queen’s new home was not my problem.
When she boarded the boat, there wasn’t a man around who could keep their eyes off her.  I’d heard so many stories of her beauty but seeing her in person was something else again.  When she stood, she was as tall as any man.  Certainly taller than me but I’m still a growing lad.  That’s what the captain says anyway.  One day I’ll be as tall as her, he said.
Life in the Castle isn’t that bad.  You’ve got a decent roof over your head which is more than can be said about some of the poor folks in town.  Not only that but the island has some great views over the loch.  If you look ahead from the entrance to the castle, you can see out to Kinross or at least the surrounding countryside.  If you go east you can see out towards Burleigh Castle.  Perhaps Her Majesty would be happiest there with Lord Burleigh for company.   Nothing wrong with Milnathort either.  When she gets a chance, Sarah goes there to see her family.  At the backof the castle, you’ve got a braw view towards Scotlandwell.  Strange name for a village, isn’t it?
According to the women, the Queen lost the twins she was rumoured to be carrying.  Could be true but you can never believe women’s gossip.
Over the course of her stay, Her Majesty was also forced to surrender her throne to her little son.  The only people I could see benefitting from that arrangement were the ambitious nobles who hate serving a woman.

So, the Queen came to me through one of her guards and passed me £20.  Would I take the Queen off the island?   Of course, I wasn’t going to be stupid enough to turn down a queen’s ransom, was I?  Fingers crossed we don’t get caught.

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