Mathilde 01 - The Cup of Ghosts

BOOK: Mathilde 01 - The Cup of Ghosts
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THE CUP OF GHOSTS
 
 
PAUL DOHERTY
 
 
headline
Copyright © 2005 Paul Doherty
The right of Paul Doherty to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First published as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
This Ebook produced by Jouve Digitalisation des Informations
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
eISBN: 978 0 7553 5019 3
HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP
An Hachette UK Company
338 Euston Road
London
NW1 3BH
Table of Contents
 
 
 
History has always fascinated me. I see my stories as a time machine. I want to intrigue you with a murderous mystery and a tangled plot, but I also want you to experience what it was like to slip along the shadow-thronged alleyways of medieval London; to enter a soaringly majestic cathedral but then walk out and glimpse the gruesome execution scaffolds rising high on the other side of the square. In my novels you will sit in the oaken stalls of a gothic abbey and hear the glorious psalms of plain chant even as you glimpse white, sinister gargoyle faces peering out at you from deep cowls and hoods. Or there again, you may ride out in a chariot as it thunders across the Redlands of Ancient Egypt or leave the sunlight and golden warmth of the Nile as you enter the marble coldness of a pyramid’s deadly maze. Smells and sounds, sights and spectacles will be conjured up to catch your imagination and so create times and places now long gone. You will march to Jerusalem with the first Crusaders or enter the Colosseum of Rome, where the sand sparkles like gold and the crowds bay for the blood of some gladiator. Of course, if you wish, you can always return to the lush dark greenness of medieval England and take your seat in some tavern along the ancient moon-washed road to Canterbury and listen to some ghostly tale which chills the heart . . . my books will take you there then safely bring you back!
The periods that have piqued my interest and about which I have written are many and varied. I hope you enjoy the read and would love to hear your thoughts – I always appreciate any feedback from readers. Visit my publisher’s website here:
www.headline.co.uk
and find out more. You may also visit my website:
www.paulcdoherty.com
or email me on:
[email protected]
.
Paul Doherty
Paul Doherty is one of the most prolific, and lauded, authors of historical mysteries in the world today. His expertise in all areas of history is illustrated in the many series that he writes about, from the Mathilde of Westminster series, set at the court of Edward II, to the Amerotke series, set in Ancient Egypt. Amongst his most memorable creations are Hugh Corbett, Brother Athelstan and Roger Shallot.
Paul Doherty was born in Middlesbrough. He studied history at Liverpool and Oxford Universities and obtained a doctorate at Oxford for his thesis on Edward II and Queen Isabella. He is now headmaster of a school in north-east London and lives with his wife and family near Epping Forest.

Also by Paul Doherty

Mathilde of Westminster
THE CUP OF GHOSTS
THE POISON MAIDEN
THE DARKENING GLASS
Sir Roger Shallot
THE WHITE ROSE MURDERS
THE POISONED CHALICE
THE GRAIL MURDERS
A BROOD OF VIPERS
THE GALLOWS MURDERS
THE RELIC MURDERS
Templar
THE TEMPLAR
THE TEMPLAR MAGICIAN
Mahu (The Akhenaten trilogy)
AN EVIL SPIRIT OUT OF THE WEST
THE SEASON OF THE HYAENA
THE YEAR OF THE COBRA
Canterbury Tales by Night
AN ANCIENT EVIL
A TAPESTRY OF MURDERS
A TOURNAMENT OF MURDERS
GHOSTLY MURDERS
THE HANGMAN’S HYMN
A HAUNT OF MURDER
Egyptian Mysteries
THE MASK OF RA
THE HORUS KILLINGS
THE ANUBIS SLAYINGS
THE SLAYERS OF SETH
THE ASSASSINS OF ISIS
THE POISONER OF PTAH
THE SPIES OF SOBECK
Constantine the Great
DOMINA
MURDER IMPERIAL
THE SONG OF THE GLADIATOR
THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT
MURDER’S IMMORTAL MASK
Hugh Corbett
SATAN IN ST MARY’S
THE CROWN IN DARKNESS
SPY IN CHANCERY
THE ANGEL OF DEATH
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS
MURDER WEARS A COWL
THE ASSASSIN IN THE GREENWOOD
THE SONG OF A DARK ANGEL
SATAN’S FIRE
THE DEVIL’S HUNT
THE DEMON ARCHER
THE TREASON OF THE GHOSTS
CORPSE CANDLE
THE MAGICIAN’S DEATH
THE WAXMAN MURDERS
NIGHTSHADE
THE MYSTERIUM
Standalone Titles
THE ROSE DEMON
THE HAUNTING
THE SOUL SLAYER
THE PLAGUE LORD
THE DEATH OF A KING
PRINCE DRAKULYA
THE LORD COUNT DRAKULYA
THE FATE OF PRINCES
DOVE AMONGST THE HAWKS
THE MASKED MAN
As Vanessa Alexander
THE LOVE KNOT
OF LOVE AND WAR
THE LOVING CUP
Kathryn Swinbrooke (as C L Grace)
SHRINE OF MURDERS
EYE OF GOD
MERCHANT OF DEATH
BOOK OF SHADOWS
SAINTLY MURDERS
MAZE OF MURDERS
FEAST OF POISONS
Nicholas Segalla (as Ann Dukthas)
A TIME FOR THE DEATH OF A KING
THE PRINCE LOST TO TIME
THE TIME OF MURDER AT MAYERLING
IN THE TIME OF THE POISONED QUEEN
Mysteries of Alexander the Great (as Anna Apostolou)
A MURDER IN MACEDON
A MURDER IN THEBES
Alexander the Great
THE HOUSE OF DEATH
THE GODLESS MAN
THE GATES OF HELL
Matthew Jankyn (as P C Doherty)
THE WHYTE HARTE
THE SERPENT AMONGST THE LILIES
Non-fiction
THE MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF TUTANKHAMUN
ISABELLA AND THE STRANGE DEATH OF EDWARD II
ALEXANDER THE GREAT: THE DEATH OF A GOD
THE GREAT CROWN JEWELS ROBBERY OF 1303
THE SECRET LIFE OF ELIZABETH I
THE DEATH OF THE RED KING

Teems with colour, energy and spills’
Time Out
‘Paul Doherty has a lively sense of history . . . evocative and lyrical descriptions’
New Statesman
‘Extensive and penetrating research coupled with a strong plot and bold characterisation. Loads of adventure and a dazzling evocation of the past’
Herald Sun
, Melbourne
‘An opulent banquet to satisfy the most murderous appetite’
Northern Echo
‘As well as penning an exciting plot with vivid characters, Doherty excels at bringing the medieval period to life, with his detailed descriptions giving the reader a strong sense of place and time’
South Wales Argus
This book is dedicated to
an awe-inspiring mother
Vivien Rose Self
Lost too early in life
From her loving family
Prologue
Tolle Lege, Tolle Lege.
(Pick up and read, pick up and read.)
 
St Augustine of Hippo,
Confessions
VIII
‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is many years since . . .’ I sat back on my heels and gazed at the white, waxen face of the corpse stretched out on the low bier before me. Father Guardian, at least eighty-five summers old, stitched in his shroud, ready for the good brothers to carry him to the church to lie ringed by purple candles before the sanctuary, a hallowed place where angels hover so that the hordes of demons who prowl, hunting the souls of the dead, cannot trespass. Later, those same brothers, the Poor Men of Grey Friars, which nestles under the shadow of St Paul’s, would chant their requiem mass, and afterwards bury Father Guardian in God’s Acre, to shelter beneath some battered cross until the elements melt and Christ comes again.
I describe Father Guardian as past his eighty-fifth summer; I’m not much younger. For months I had prepared myself to be shrived by him. To the rest of the community I am a simple anchorite from her lonely cell, more concerned about cleaning the garden paths or scrubbing the kitchen flagstones. Father Guardian, however, suspected my secret. Often, when the other brothers were busy, he’d search me out in the apple orchard or the sunken garden where I’d be weeding the fringes of the carp pond. He’d touch me gently on the shoulder or pluck at the sleeve of my gown, and invite me to some shady arbour or lonely garden nook where we could sit and talk about the old days. I never told him much, though he knew who I was. How I’d served the Queen Mother, Isabella of France. How I had been with her from the time she descended into hell until she rose in glory, only to fall again. How I’d sheltered long in the shadow of the She-Wolf, been a disciple of ‘that New Jezebel’ (a clever play on her name). Oh yes, like a visored knight, I’d been in the heart of that bloody, tangled mêlée when the great ones toppled from gibbet ladders or knelt, as Edmund of Kent did, like a chained dog by a gate until a drunken felon severed their heads. I trusted Father Guardian. I dropped hints and told tales, sometimes referring to the great lords, all gone before God’s judgement seat. I described my dreams, about corpses rotting on scaffolds or men, cowled and daggered, stealing through courtyards at the dead of night. Of shadowy meetings in ill-lit chambers, the tramp of armies, the neigh of war-horses; of great feasts and banquets where the wines of Bordeaux and Spain flowed like water from a broken cask, of sweetmeats, gorgeous tapestries and exquisitely decorated chambers; of silent, soft-footed murder in all its hideous forms, of my pursuits of the sons and daughters of that old assassin Cain.
I have seen the days and Father Guardian recognised that. Sometimes, rarely, I would talk of Isabella, she of the lustrous skin and fiery blue eyes, her hair like spun gold and a body even a friar would lust after. Isabella ‘La Belle’, the Beautiful, of France, who tore her husband from his throne. She locked him in Berkeley Castle, sealing him up like some rabid animal until, so the chronicles report, killers slipped in and, turning him over on his face, thrust a red-hot poker up to burn his bowels and so leave no mark upon the corpse. Of Mortimer, proud as an antlered stag, a king in his own right, a Welsh prince with his secret dreams of power. Of Hugh Despenser, his hair and beard the colour of a weasel, with darting green eyes, fingers itching and heart bubbling with lust to possess Isabella. Edward himself, the golden-haired, blue-eyed king, great of body and small of brain, followed by all the others in their silks and satins and high-heeled pointed boots; lords of the soil who had their day before being murderously dispatched into eternal night.
BOOK: Mathilde 01 - The Cup of Ghosts
10.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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