Preview snippet from the upcoming “Six of One”, by JoAnn Spears
From Chapter Eighteen, Memory Lane and a Sleepy Swain Revisited
The second-generation queens, Mary, Elizabeth, and Jane Grey, had a nervous energy about them, like ships tugging at their moorings in harbor. They were like new ships: polished and well-appointed, wind in the sails, fire in the bellies, full of the promise of magnificent performance, and yar! as a pirate might say. The two women that were with me now were not “yar.” They looked more like a couple of armada galleons limping back into Cadiz harbor after a losing battle. Sails tattered, shiny surfaces tarnished by salty air, listing a bit from some damage to the hull, and stripped of whatever they carried in the way of treasure, they were magnificent in defeat, but defeated nevertheless. I would have bet my panties that they were Mary’s aunties—if I had been wearing any.
“You are young Mary’s aunts, aren’t you?” I asked.
“We are,” they replied in unison.
Well, the young Mary I had spoken to would have had several aunts on her mother’s side, including the fabulously mad Juana la Loca. Juana was so besotted with her handsome husband, Philip the Fair, that she kept his decomposing body around long after his death for the questionable solace of embracing it in the wee hours. God, I thought, I hope that Juana is not here. If she is, please don’t let her be on the roster of women I will be meeting tonight. Then I remembered that this place was “ladies only”; even if Juana was hanging around here somewhere, presumably the putrid and decaying Philip was not.
Neither of the aunties present looked mad—or, for that matter, Spanish. They were clearly Tudors, one being tall and fair like the young Elizabeth and her cousin Jane Grey, and the other shorter and plump, resembling Arabella.
“I am happy to meet the sisters of Henry VIII, Margaret and Mary, the first princesses of the Tudor line,” I said, hazarding a guess.
The portrait below, long believed to be of Juana of Castille, may actually be a portrait of Catherine of Aragon, painted when she was about eleven years old. That would make Catherine of Aragon the only one of Henry VIII’s wives for whom we have a ‘baby picture’. Click on the portrait for details. Thanks to madameguillotine for the image