But since it might not make it into the final edit, here's 450-or-so words of Edward Strelley to Elizabeth. Fans of surprises might wish to ignore this post, especially if you plan to read book IV without already knowing most of what happens - unlikely if you read this news page - because it might ruin the suspense... (Suspense... As if!)
Strelley to Elizabeth, Sep 1549
I will not see you again. Not in truth. But in my dreams, Elizabeth, there is still hope. A fool’s hope. A hope that is the same as the one that hopes that when I die, I will stand before God and He will say to me that despite my lack of faith, I was a good man. And I will not spend an eternity in Hell, but rather be welcomed into heaven as a sinner who repents. “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” I wonder if God will allow it: repentance for not having faith in Him when it is no longer a matter of faith, as I stand before Him, blinded by His light.
I pray that He light my way, Elizabeth. Because since I have left you I cannot see an arm’s length in front of me. When my mind is quiet of finding food for the day, or a place to sleep, when I have no longer to look after my body, it is your voice, still and small and calm, that speaks to me, not His. Sometimes I can hear what it says. I can hear you speaking to me, but the words that I hear are commonplace, hiding something that you wish to say. And then I can see your face in my dreams, and I can read that face, but then I cannot hear your words. And when I call out to you, you vanish, replaced by the dead eyes of dead men, staring back at me and judging all the wrong I have done. Your hand reaches, but it does not touch mine. And I wake, weeping, because an inch away in my dreams is worse than half the world in truth.
I will not return to you. I am doubly cursed, banished and watched for by forces that will end my life within a moment should I try. It would have been better for us both, I think, if I had died when I was supposed to have died. Then at least you would be free from that fool’s hope that we might, for an hour, or a day, or a lifetime, be happy. Better perhaps if the plague had taken me instead of Grindal. Better perhaps if those wise counsellors around us had not sought to bring us together. I would offer you advice, to trust in Ascham or Denny or Kat Astley, as they love you indeed. But as I will not send this letter to you, as you will not read these words, I need not.
I loved you desperately, Elizabeth. I love you still.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought