A T.J. Jackson Mystery #6
Terror in the Tower
Off with their heads!
T.J. Jackson, LouAnne and Bortnicker have become international TV personalities for their ghost hunting exploits. But when they are summoned to Buckingham Palace to undertake a Royal investigation in the Tower of London, the stakes are raised and the pressure is on. Who exactly is haunting the Bloody Tower? The suspects are many, and it’s up to the Junior Gonzo Ghostchasers to sort things out and crack the case. But how can three teenage Yanks from across the pond put a stop to centuries of murder, mayhem and madness in the world’s most famous castle? They’re about to find out that Olde England wasn’t so merry!
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|Middle Grade / Teens|
Edward V, Prince of Wales, pulled the coarse woolen blanket up to his chin to ward off the dank chill of the nearly barren room. Despite it being summer, the inner sanctums of the Tower of London were extremely uncomfortable, without any of the amenities a person of his stature merited. He wondered if his younger brother, who slept curled up next to him on the lumpy straw mattress, felt the same depth of despair as the one that enveloped him now, and he tried to understand how it had all come to this.
The thirteen-year-old boy had known nothing but a life of privilege since his birth in Westminster Abbey in November of 1470. His mother, Elizabeth Woodville, had sought sanctuary there from those who had deposed his father, King Edward IV, during the War of the Roses, which pitted their Yorkist family against the Lancastrians. When his father had been restored to the throne in 1471, Edward, the newly named Prince of Wales, was declared next in line for the throne, and his destiny seemed set as the successor.
As a young lad Prince Edward had been placed under the supervision of his mother’s brother, Anthony Earl Rivers, a noted scholar. It was Rivers who was more or less entrusted with the raising of the boy. His was a fortunate yet structured daily existence, beginning with morning religious observances, followed by breakfast and educational tutoring. After being served dinner at 10 a.m., he would be treated to what Rivers called “noble stories… of virtue, honor, cunning, wisdom, and deeds of worship.” The afternoon would bring participation in sporting activities, including horseback riding, swordplay, and archery. Supper would be served at 4 p.m., with his bedtime at 8 p.m. At all times the prince was watched over by attendants who were at his beck and call.
As he left childhood and began his teen years, Edward showed a great aptitude for learning, whether it be in understanding literature, the elements of proper discourse, or prowess in the martial arts. Those around him considered the boy a thoughtful, inquisitive, opinionated adolescent who projected well as the future ruler of England. He was thus made a Knight of the Order of the Garter, henceforth wearing beneath his left knee a ceremonial band comprised of a buckled velvet strap, a symbol of his status as the future king.
Edward IV had great plans for his son and imagined a prestigious European marriage for him that would cement an English alliance with the Duke of Brittany, Francis II. To that end, in 1480, when the boy had turned ten, he was betrothed to Duke Francis’s four-year-old heir, Anne, a girl he had never seen. Young Edward maturely recognized this arrangement as part of his royal responsibility and logical progression to the throne.
However, Edward IV’s carefully laid plans were to be dashed with his sudden death in early April of 1483.
Edward V was at Ludlow Castle in Shropshire, the traditional residence of the Prince of Wales, when he was informed of his father’s untimely passing. And though the boy was indeed first in the line of succession, he was deemed not yet old enough to assume the duties of battlefield leadership that a King of England required. Edward was to find out that his father, always looking ahead, had declared that his trusted brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, would become the official protector of the boy until he came of age to assume the throne. This was acceptable to the prince because on the surface it seemed a prudent decision. Edward was confident that his uncle, who understood the workings of the monarchy with all its political machinations, courtly loyalties, and opportunistic betrayals, could guide him through a reasonably smooth ascension when the time came.
Both sad over his father’s death and excited for his future, Edward and his protective entourage, led by Earl Rivers, set out from Ludlow in the 150-plus mile journey to London for his eventual coronation. However, the party was intercepted in Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire on the twenty-ninth of April by his uncle Richard and his men. To the boy’s astonishment, Earl Rivers was quickly arrested and relieved of duty as Edward’s mentor. The young king-to-be was both furious and confused, but he was assured by his uncle—whose own men now escorted him the rest of the way to London—that these measures were being taken purely for his own protection. On the nineteenth of May, the future monarch took up residence in the royal quarters of the Tower of London where, in June, he was joined by his nine-year-old brother Richard, Duke of York. Edward was happy to have his younger sibling with him for company but wondered why the coronation was being postponed. His uncle was evasive when questioned, assuring the boy that he only had Edward’s best interests in mind.
The brothers spent their first days playing within the confines of the Tower, sometimes dueling with wooden swords or practicing at archery, always under the supervision of Richard’s men. But then they were inexplicably transferred from the comfortable trappings of the royal apartments to the bleak, cell-like room they now occupied, and their mobility was severely curtailed. When Edward protested, his words fell upon deaf ears. He began to suffer from chills and other physical maladies and secretly wondered if he was slowly being poisoned. But he kept these fears from his younger brother so as not to frighten the boy. Nonetheless, Edward sank into a deep depression and began to fear the worst.
Thus, when the iron latch was lifted on the door this July night, the future King of England was filled with a sense of foreboding. Fighting to keep from crying out, he sensed the presence of two men creeping stealthily into the pitch-black cell. His brother next to him began to stir, and Edward was reaching out to calm him when the intruders suddenly fell upon them. For a second Edward could smell the reek of garlic emanating from the assailant who forcefully yanked the crude pillow from beneath his head and clamped it down on his mouth and nose. The prince thrashed, but the powerful man then sat on his legs, pinning him to the bed; the pressure on his face intensified and he began to blackout. The last thing his brain would register in this world was the tolling of the midnight bell in the Tower of London.