The quiet sounds before dawn prevailed over an estate in Greenland. This estate was owned by Lady Jane Grey, the daughter of the late Sir John and Lady Frances Grey. Beloved by all her tenants and servants, she ruled over her estate with kindness and fairness. True to her word, beautiful and gentle, this lady was strikingly picturesque. Her wide green pastures were grazed by sheep and horses and her large property was encircled by a tall stone fence.
In the middle of her lands rose a small green hill, on which was situated her castle. A banner, bearing a green dragon, floated from the tallest pinnacle. Strongly built, able to withstand the largest siege engine, the castle had many watch towers, from which a guard could see for miles around. Inside were the stables, where the most graceful and swift horses in Greenland resided. Past the stables was a courtyard, where friendly bouts with swords or bows and arrows were frequently witnessed. At the far end of the courtyard a heavy wooden door with a core of iron lead up a flight of stone steps which lead to the interior of the castle. Lavish rooms, beautiful tapestries and elegant furniture adorned the inner rooms, and here resided Lady Jane Grey, her attendants, close friends and family.
In the back of the castle were the food stores. Large granaries, well cultivated gardens and large wells ensured no famine. Here also there were many chickens, rabbits, and goats. Beyond that was the armory, where weapons and armor were kept, and where the smiths made and mended the armor and weapons. This was not used often, except for the training of young knights-to-be.
There were many tenants in the household of Lady Jane. There was an honored knight named Sir Terence, a close friend of Lady Jane, who, although getting on in age, had the most powerful arm in the castle. There was Nan, the head cook and housekeeper. Then there was Jenny, the daughter of Lady Jane’s cousin Sir George Walham, who lived in Europe and thought it best that his little daughter should grow up far away from the smoke and fog of London. Lastly, there were two lads, Robert and James; pages in the close confidence of the fair Lady Jane.
Robert was a tall, handsome boy of seventeen, with brown hair and clear blue eyes. He was fond of the horses and often spent his time with them when he was not kept with another task. He also enjoyed books, so it was lucky that the castle contained a large library. Robert often escorted the mistress’ niece Jenny on rides through the pastures.
James was a strapping lad of sixteen with none of the quiet bookishness of Robert. James preferred the hunt or a climb over the ice that fringed the valley. If he had let his blond hair grow, he would have looked like a Viking. Repairing fences, chopping wood, and trimming the wild ivy that grew all along the castle walls were tasks that he and Robert shared, and both boys held a deep respect and friendship for each other.
Little Jenny was the prettiest maiden of fifteen yet seen. Her beautiful brown hair fell over her shoulders and down to her waist like a wave of silk. Her sky-blue eyes and fair complexion made a picture of breathtaking beauty rarely witnessed. A sweet smile always accompanied any task she set out to do, and her willing hands were skilled in sewing, weaving, spinning, cooking and housework.
She could also ride a horse as well as any stable boy, outrun everyone except James, and was quite strong for a girl. Her tripping little feet, decorated by tiny slippers were always there when help was needed or work to be done. If there was a job that everyone else shrank from doing, Jenny would be there doing it with a will.
Lady Jane herself was young and beautiful. Her golden hair rippled down her back, and her soft, clear blue eyes had a way of looking at you that made you feel like she was reading the very depths of your soul. A small tiara crowned her head, and she wore a necklace of gold entwined with precious stones around her neck. A garment of light pink with a full skirt covered her, and her delicate feet were clothed in silk slippers that had a small rose on the toes.
She shaped Robert, James and Jenny carefully, knowing that if she could train them properly, they would become as learned, yet as active and patient as one could wish. She devoted a few hours each day in teaching them about the great philosophers, poets and musicians of old. Other tutors taught them the knowledge of numbers, medicine, science, history and writing.