Sheriff Hutton Castle, Yorkshire,
I wish I could stop dreaming. I wish to God I could stop dreaming.
I am so tired; all I want to do is sleep. I want to sleep all the
day, from dawn until twilight that every evening comes a little
earlier and a little more drearily. In the daytime, all I think about
is sleeping. But in the night all I do is try to stay awake.
I go to his quiet shuttered rooms to look at the candle as it
gutters in the golden candlestick, burning slowly through the
marked hours, though he will never see light again. The servants
take a taper to a fresh candle every day at noon; each hour burns
slowly away, although time means nothing to him now. Time is
quite lost to him in his eternal darkness, in his eternal timelessness,
though it leans so heavily on me. All day long I wait for the
slow rolling in of the gray evening and the mournful tolling of
the Compline bell, when I can go to the chapel and pray for his
soul, though he will never again hear my whispers, nor the quiet
chanting of the priests.
Then I can go to bed. But when I get to bed I dare not sleep
because I cannot bear the dreams that come. I dream of him.
Over and over again I dream of him.
All day I keep my face smiling like a mask, smiling, smiling,
my teeth bared, my eyes bright, my skin like strained parch-
ment, paper-thin. I keep my voice clear and mellow, I speak
words that have no meaning, and sometimes, when required,
I even sing. At night I fall into my bed as if I were drowning
in deep water, as if I were sinking below the depths, as if the
water were possessing me, taking me like a mermaid, and for a
moment I feel a deep relief as if, submerged in water, my grief
can drain away, as if it were the river Lethe and the currents
can bring forgetfulness and wash me into the cave of sleep; but
then the dreams come.
I don’t dream of his death—it would be the worst of nightmares
to see him go down fighting. But I never dream of the
battle, I don’t see his final charge into the very heart of Henry
Tudor’s guard. I don’t see him hacking his way through. I don’t
see Thomas Stanley’s army sweep down and bury him under
their hooves, as he is thrown from his horse, his sword arm failing,
going down under a merciless cavalry charge, shouting:
“Treason! Treason! Treason!” I don’t see William Stanley raise
his crown and put it on another man’s head.
I don’t dream any of this, and I thank God for that mercy at
least. These are my constant daytime thoughts that I cannot escape.
These are bloody daytime reveries that fill my mind while I
walk and talk lightly of the unseasonal heat, of the dryness of the
ground, of the poor harvest this year. But my dreams at night are
more painful, far more painful than this, for then I dream that
I am in his arms and he is waking me with a kiss. I dream that
we are walking in a garden, planning our future. I dream that I
am pregnant with his child, my rounded belly under his warm
hand, and he is smiling, delighted, and I am promising him that
we will have a son, the son that he needs, a son for York, a son
for England, a son for the two of us. “We’ll call him Arthur,” he
says. “We’ll call him Arthur, like Arthur of Camelot, we’ll call
him Arthur for England.”
The pain, when I wake to find that I have been dreaming
again, seems to get worse every day. I wish to God I could stop
My dearest daughter Elizabeth,
My heart and prayers are with you,
“Wielding magic again in her latest War of the Roses novel … Gregory demonstrates the passion and skill that has made her the queen of English historical fiction.…Gregory portrays spirited women at odds with powerful men, endowing distant historical events with drama, and figures long dead or invented with real-life flaws and grand emotions. She makes history … come alive for readers.”