Severed Head of Sir Thomas More
It was a dark night. The streets of old London were silent. A few figures could be seen standing at the end of a street.
She stood in black robes along with several others. For a moment, she stared silently at the thick clouds, ready to burst anytime soon. She took a deep breath. Turning her face towards the three robed men standing in her front, she spoke in a grieving voice with a touch of caution.
“This is it! I ask too much of you. This is a highly selfish pursuit…we are about to do something which may put all of you in danger if this is revealed. If anyone wishes to turn back, this is the time!”
Exhausting herself with this statement, she stood helpless, almost expecting them to leave. One of them came closer. In his hand, he held a lantern that was ready to be lit. He brought it near his bearded face.
“Lady Margaret, daughter of Sir Thomas More, it is an honor to stand by your side at this time. We are the disciples of Sir Thomas More first and the king’s men later. We will serve you before anything.”
The rest of the two men kept standing behind. They seemed to be in agreement with what the third one said.
“Please don’t tell William. He will not understand…I wish to do this alone…”
“My lady, Sir William only means well…Are you sure he has to be kept in dark?”
“Yes…We will be back before the sun rises.”
They moved as the thunderstorm continued. The rain was making their path more difficult. They were headed towards the London Bridge over River Thames. She was walking carefully. It was very difficult to walk the rocky path. They had no other choice. They could not risk being seen by one of the town’s people especially after the execution of pE4CThomas More. She accidentally stepped on a sharp stone, losing her balance. Unable to stand on her feet, she fell badly. His knee had started bleeding.
For a moment, she kept sitting. The knee injury was the least of her concerns. She sat with her heavy heart. It was more emotional than the physical injury that had overwhelmed her.
“My father… My poor father… patron of the poor! Killed only because he had firm faith. Just because he didn’t allow the Bible to be exploited for personal gain by this king, he was charged with treason! Is there no one who would look into this matter? Is there no one who would look into this matter? What hope is left in this world when those who hold the sacred duty are doomed to die at the hands of infidels to God?!”
One of the disciples came closer to her. He ripped cloth from his robe. Sitting on his knees, he bandaged her knee.
“This is not the time to turn back my lady! The king will pay for his unholy transgression. He will receive judgment from Lord Himself! Don’t grieve yet as the destination is nigh. We cannot give up if we are to give a proper burial to your father.”
She didn’t respond. For a moment, she kept sitting on the ground with rain wetting her robes. After some minutes of empty stare, she got up,
“No! I cannot give up! I will not give up! You will support me, right? Please be with me…please come to River Thames…it is only a few steps away…”
“Lady Margaret we are right here with you…I know the way. Follow us…”
The sound of rushing water running its course could be heard. She sat beneath a tree along with two of the disciples. It was drizzling. A few moments later, the third disciple came towards her.
“The executioner is here! He has what you wanted Lady Margaret…”
“I don’t think I need to introduce myself… so here is the crazy woman who wants the head…”
His coarse voice could be heard as he approached them. It was the executioner. Having a wicked smile on his scarred face, he beckoned them for payment. The third disciple took out a sack from his robes. It was filled with coins.
“I need to sit! Get her up…my legs are tired!”
“Sir, her knee is injured…please let her sit…”
He stared at them. The third disciple handed him the coin pouch.
“The payment as promised…Please sir, can have the…remains of Sir Thomas?”
“Wait a minute! Where is Margaret? I will take extra! I risked my life coming here! Many times the thought of throwing this head into the river touched my mind. I was supposed to do my duty instead of listening to a madwoman! So what say you? I deserve at least 3 times of regular payment!”
“Sir this is all we brought. Please be cooperative…you could have told us your agreed price. We made an agreement…”
“Screw your agreement! I have been walking all this way in this heavy rain! I risked a lot by coming here. Give me extra or I will not return the head…”
“Why are you doing this? We are people in need and you are trying to exploit our weakness. My father was an innocent man and he deserves a proper burial. Please let me see his head at least! I don’t ask for the rest of the body!”
She spoke to him in a crying voice. His expressions changed. Changing his face from a wicked smile to ire, his brows raised in anger.
“Innocent you say? How innocent? Was he kind to poor? Was he kind to those he burned at stake? Do you even know how many innocent Protestants he burned alive? A man of faith you say? I would say he got what he deserved! What is your name? Margaret? You waste your journeywoman! There is no salvation for that bastard! You have done nothing but harm to yourself and these people!”
She held her head as she wept. The words had hit her hard. The disciples kept silent. There was nothing they could say at the moment.
“You should go before I call guards. Who knows… the next head might be yours on that block!”
A familiar voice was heard from the back. She knew who it was.
“Your horse is tied back. I picked this up from the horseback you didn’t sit on while you walked here. Get lost and don’t turn back. I bring a carriage with me along with several guards. The first thing I can report is that you didn’t do your job, instead of saving this head for extorting money from us.”
The executioner cursed him. The man whom she called William walked calmly as he held a large sack.
“Your father’s head is in it, Margaret. I should say you must have involved me.”
“You would never have agreed!”
“A few statements of anger don’t necessarily mean I would not help you… (Turning towards the executioner) Are you still here? Get lost now!”
Watching him running to his horse, he came closer to Margaret, picking her up. The sound of horses could be heard.
“That will be the carriage, Margaret. It is just us and the carriage driver. There are no guards. We are all safe. Margaret…?”
She didn’t seem to listen, staring emptily at her father’s head in the sack.
“I am sorry I wasn’t there for you…I will keep you company…always father…”