The Queen had abandoned him in death, but with all his senses he longed for her again: the regal countenance, the long, tapered fingers, the fragrant scent of roses in her hair, the passionate taste of her lips, the lilting laughter that was so often overshadowed by the dark tones of her discontent. He had known her since childhood and had fallen prey to her seduction, only to be scorned as her husband and the father of their son. He recounted the secrets they shared that lay buried with her, and felt that his own pockets would be so heavily laden with them that upon his death, his coffin would be a difficult burden for his pallbearers.
Like a character in one of his plays, he realized that the time and setting of his life had changed. New actors had taken the stage now that the Queen was dead and King James of Scotland was her successor. Commoners had overtaken the nobility, forging new riches and titles for themselves while the older and more illustrious families endured the fading of their fortunes. Lord Oxford was no longer summoned to Court on matters of national importance, even though King James held him in the highest regard.
Lord Oxford’s secret service to the state had also ended. The incessant and harrowing demands for his history plays and the gallant speeches that had inspired audiences in the days of war had passed. While the provocative histories were less often produced in the public playhouses to avoid inflaming audiences against the new King (whom many considered to be a foreign usurper) Shaxper made sure that the more popular comedies were regularly shown. Over the years, Lord Oxford had watched the keen entrepreneur grow into the role of Shake-speare. He still supplied him with plays, now that writing was no longer a matter of life and death.
And just the other day, King James had requested Lord Oxford’s notable talent as a translator in assisting with a new English version of the Bible.
Lord Oxford sighed deeply, and considered the one thing about his life that he would ask God to change, if such an editing miracle were possible. He would show more mercy and less arrogance towards his first wife Anne, the silent victim of unimaginable cruelty.
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