Henry VIII And His Court
Part 5 out of 9
But no sleep came to his eyes that night, and his soul was restless
and full of fierce torment. He was angry with himself, and accused
himself of treachery and perfidy; and then again, full of proud
haughtiness, he still tried to excuse himself and to silence his
conscience, which was sitting in judgment on him.
"I love her--her only!" said he to himself. "Catharine possesses my
heart, my soul; I am ready to devote my whole life to her. Yes, I
love her! I have this day so sworn to her; and she is mine for all
"And Elizabeth?" asked his conscience. "Have you not sworn truth and
love to her also?"
"No!" said he. "I have only received her oath; I have not given her
mine in return. And when I vowed never to marry the Duchess of
Richmond; when I swore this 'by my love,' then I thought only of
Catharine--of that proud, beautiful, charming woman, at once
maidenly and voluptuous; but not of this young, inexperienced, wild
child--of this unattractive little princess!"
"But the princess may one day become a queen," whispered his
"That, however, is very doubtful," replied he to himself. "But it is
certain that Catharine will one day be the regent, and if I am at
that time her husband, then I am Regent of England."
This was the secret of his duplicity and his double treachery.
Thomas Seymour loved nothing but himself, nothing but his ambition.
He was capable of risking his life for a woman; but for renown and
greatness he would have gladly sacrificed this woman.
For him there was only one aim, one struggle: to be come great and
powerful above all the nobles of the kingdom--to be the first man in
England. And to reach this aim, he would be afraid of no means; he
would shrink from no treachery and no sin.
Like the disciples of Loyola, he said, in justification of himself,
"the end sanctifies the means."
And thus for him every means was right which conducted him to the
end; that is to say, to greatness and glory.
He was firmly convinced that he loved the queen ardently; and in his
nobler hours he did really love her. Depending on the moment, a son
of the hour, in him feeling and will varied with the rapidity of
lightning, and he ever was wholly and completely that with which the
moment inflamed him.
When, therefore, he stood before the queen, he did not lie when he
swore that he loved her passionately. He really loved her, with
double warmth, since she had to his mind in some sort identified
herself with his ambition. He adored her, because she was the means
that might conduct him to his end; because she might some day hold
in her hands the sceptre of England. And on the day when this came
to pass, he wished to be her lover and her lord. She had accepted
him as her lord, and he was entirely certain of his future sway.
Consequently he loved the queen, but his proud and ambitious heart
could never be so completely animated by one love as that there
should not be room in it for a second, provided this second love
presented him a favorable chance for the attainment of the aim of
Princess Elizabeth had this chance. And if the queen would certainly
become one day Regent of England, yet Elizabeth might some day
perchance become queen thereof. Of course, it was as yet only a
perhaps, but one might manage out of this perhaps to make a reality.
Besides, this young, passionate child loved him, and Thomas Seymour
was himself too young and too easily excitable to be able to despise
a love that presented him with such enticing promises and bright
dreams of the future.
"It does not become a man to live for love alone," said he to
himself as he now thought over the events of the night. "He must
struggle for the highest and wish to reach the greatest, and no
means of attaining this end ought he to leave unemployed. Besides,
my heart is large enough to satisfy a twofold love. I love them
both--both of these fair women who fetch me a crown. Let fate decide
to which of the two I shall one day belong!"
HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY.
The great court festival, so long expected, was at last to take
place today. Knights and lords were preparing for the tournament;
poets and scholars for the feast of the poets. For the witty and
brave king wished to unite the two in this festival today, in order
to give the world a rare and great example of a king who could claim
all virtue and wisdom as his own; who could be equally great as a
hero and as a divine; equally great as a poet and as a philosopher
and a scholar.
The knights were to fight for the honor of their ladies; the poets
were to sing their songs, and John Heywood to bring out his merry
farces. Ay, even the great scholars were to have a part in this
festival; for the king had specially, for this, summoned to London
from Cambridge, where he was then professor in the university, his
former teacher in the Greek language, the great scholar Croke, to
whom belonged the merit of having first made the learned world of
Germany, as well as of England, again acquainted with the poets of
Greece. [Footnote: Tytler, p. 307.] He wished to recite with Croke
some scenes from Sophocles to his wondering court; and though, to be
sure, there was no one there who understood the Greek tongue, yet
all, without doubt, must be enraptured with the wonderful music of
the Greek and the amazing erudition of the king.
Preparations were going on everywhere; arrangements were being made;
every one was making his toilet, whether it were the toilet of the
mind or of the body.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, made his also; that is to say, he had
retired to his cabinet, and was busy filing away at the sonnets
which he expected to recite to-day, and in which he lauded the
beauty and the grace of the fair Geraldine.
He had the paper in his hand, and was lying on the velvet ottoman
which stood before his writing-table.
Had Lady Jane Douglas seen him now, she would have been filled with
painful rapture to observe how, with head leaned back on the
cushion, his large blue eyes raised dreamily to heaven, he smiled
and whispered gentle words.
He was wholly absorbed in sweet reminiscences; he was thinking of
those rapturous, blessed hours which he a few days before had spent
with his Geraldine; and as he thought of them he adored her, and
repeated to her anew in his mind his oath of eternal love and
His enthusiastic spirit was completely filled with a sweet
melancholy; and he felt perfectly intoxicated by the magical
happiness afforded him by his Geraldine.
She was his--his at last! After struggles so long and painful, after
such bitter renunciation, and such mournful resignation, happiness
had at last arisen for him; the never expected had at last become
indeed a reality. Catharine loved him. With a sacred oath she had
sworn to him that she would one day become his wife; that she would
become his wife before God and man.
But when is the day to come on which he may show her to the world as
his consort? When will she be at length relieved from the burden of
her royal crown? When at length will fall from her those golden
chains that bind her to a tyrannical and bloodthirsty husband--to
the cruel and arrogant king? When will Catharine at length cease to
be queen, in order to become Lady Surrey?
Strange! As he asked himself this, there ran over him a shudder, and
an unaccountable dread fell upon his soul.
It seemed to him as if a voice whispered to him: "Thou wilt never
live to see that day! The king, old as he is, will nevertheless live
longer than thou! Prepare thyself to die, for death is already at
And it was not the first time that he had heard that voice. Often
before it had spoken to him, and always with the same words, the
same warning. Often it seemed to him in his dreams as if he felt a
cutting pain about the neck; and he had seen a scaffold, from which
his own head was rolling down.
Henry Howard was superstitious; for he was a poet, and to poets it
is given to perceive the mysterious connection between the visible
and the invisible world; to believe that supernatural powers and
invisible forms surround man, and either protect him or else curse
There were hours in which he believed in the reality of his dreams--
in which he did not doubt of that melancholy and horrible fate which
Formerly he had given himself up to it with smiling resignation; but
now--since he loved Catharine, since she belonged to him--now he
would not die. Now, when life held out to him its most enchanting
enjoyments, its intoxicating delights--now he would not leave them--
now he dreaded to die. He was therefore cautious and prudent; and,
knowing the king's malicious, savage, and jealous character, he had
always been extremely careful to avoid everything that might excite
him, that might arouse the royal hyena from his slumbers.
But it seemed to him as though the king bore him and his family a
special spite; as though he could never forgive them that the
consort whom he most loved, and who had the most bitterly wronged
him, had sprung from their stock. In the king's every word and every
look, Henry Howard felt and was sensible of this secret resentment
of the king; he suspected that Henry was only watching for the
favorable moment when he could seize and strangle him.
He was therefore on his guard. For now, when Geraldine loved him,
his life belonged no longer to himself alone; she loved him; she had
a claim on him; his days were, therefore, hallowed in his own eyes.
So he had kept silence under the petty annoyances and vexations of
the king. He had taken it even without murmuring, and without
demanding satisfaction, when the king had suddenly recalled him from
the army that was fighting against France, and of which he was
commander-in-chief, and in his stead had sent Lord Hertford, Earl of
Sudley, to the army which was encamped before Boulogne and
Montreuil. He had quietly and without resentment returned to his
palace; and since he could no longer be a general and warrior, he
became again a scholar and poet. His palace was now again the resort
of the scholars and writers of England; and he was always ready,
with true princely munificence, to assist oppressed and despised
talent; to afford the persecuted scholar an asylum in his palace. He
it was who saved the learned Fox from starvation, and took him into
his house, where Horatius Junius and the poet Churchyard, afterward
so celebrated, had both found a home--the former as his physician
and the latter as his page. [Footnote: Nott's Life of the Earl of
Love, the arts, and the sciences, caused the wounds that the king
had given his ambition, to heal over; and he now felt no more
rancor; now he almost thanked the king. For to his recall only did
he owe his good fortune; and Henry, who had wished to injure him,
had given him his sweetest pleasure.
He now smiled as he thought how Henry, who had taken from him the
baton, had, without knowing it, given him in return his own queen,
and had exalted him when he wished to humble him.
He smiled, and again took in hand the poem in which he wished to
celebrate in song, at the court festival that day, the honor and
praise of his lady-love, whom no one knew, or even suspected--the
"The verses are stiff," muttered he; "this language is so poor! It
has not the power of expressing all that fulness of adoration and
ecstasy which I feel. Petrarch was more fortunate in this respect.
His beautiful, flexible language sounds like music, and it is, even
just by itself, the harmonious accompaniment of his love. Ah,
Petrarch, I envy thee, and yet would not be like thee. For thine was
a mournful and bitter-sweet lot. Laura never loved thee; and she was
the mother of twelve children, not a single one of whom belonged to
He laughed with a sense of his own proud success in love, and seized
Petrarch's sonnets, which lay near him on the table, to compare his
own new sonnet with a similar one of Petrarch's.
He was so absorbed in these meditations, that he had not at all
observed that the hanging which concealed the door behind him was
pushed aside, and a marvellous young woman, resplendent with
diamonds and sparkling with jewelry, entered his cabinet.
For an instant she stood still upon the threshold, and with a smile
observed the earl, who was more and more absorbed in his reading.
She was of imposing beauty; her large eyes blazed and glowed like a
volcano; her lofty brow seemed in all respects designed to wear a
crown. And, indeed, it was a ducal coronet that sparkled on her
black hair, which in long ringlets curled down to her full,
voluptuous shoulders. Her tall and majestic form was clad in a white
satin dress, richly trimmed with ermine and pearls; two clasps of
costly brilliants held fast to her shoulders the small mantilla of
crimson velvet, faced with ermine, which covered her back and fell
down to her waist.
Thus appeared the Duchess of Richmond, the widow of King Henry's
natural son, Henry Richmond; the sister of Lord Henry Howard, Earl
of Surrey; and the daughter of the noble Duke of Norfolk.
Since her husband had died and left her a widow at twenty, she
resided in her brother's palace, and had placed herself under his
protection, and in the world they were known as "the affectionate
brother and sister."
Ah, how little knew the world, which is ever wont to judge from
appearances, of the hatred and the love of these two; how little
suspicion had it of the real sentiments of this brother and sister!
Henry Howard had offered his sister his palace as her residence,
because he hoped by his presence to lay on her impulsive and
voluptuous disposition a restraint which should compel her not to
overstep the bounds of custom and decency. Lady Richmond had
accepted this offer of his palace because she was obliged to;
inasmuch as the avaracious and parsimonious king gave his son's
widow only a meagre income, and her own means she had squandered and
lavishly thrown away upon her lovers.
Henry Howard had thus acted for the honor of his name; but he loved
not his sister; nay, he despised her. But the Duchess of Richmond
hated her brother, because her proud heart felt humbled by him, and
under obligations of gratitude.
But their hatred and their contempt were a secret that they both
preserved in the depths of the heart, and which they scarcely dared
confess to themselves. Both had veiled this their inmost feeling
with a show of affection, and only once in a while was one betrayed
to the other by some lightly dropped word or unregarded look.
BROTHER AND SISTER.
Lightly on the tips of her toes the duchess stole toward her
brother, who did not yet observe her. The thick Turkish carpet made
her steps inaudible. She already stood behind the earl, and he had
not yet noticed her.
Now she bent over his shoulder, and fastened her sparkling eyes on
the paper in her brother's hand.
Then she read in a loud, sonorous voice the title of it: "Complaint,
because Geraldine never shows herself to her lover unless covered by
her veil." [Footnote: Sonnet by Surrey.--See Nott's Life and Works
of Surrey.] "Ah," said the duchess, laughing, "now, then, I have
spied out your secret, and you must surrender to me at discretion.
So you are in love; and Geraldine is the name of the chosen one to
whom you address your poems! I swear to you, my brother, you will
repay me dear for this secret."
"It is no secret at all, sister," said the earl, with a quiet smile,
as he rose from the divan and saluted the duchess. "It is so little
a secret, that I shall recite this sonnet at the court festival this
very evening. I shall not, therefore, need your secrecy, Rosabella."
"So the fair Geraldine never shows herself to you unless in a dark
veil, black as the night," said the duchess, musingly. "But tell me,
brother, who then is the fair Geraldine? Of the ladies at court, I
know not a single one who bears that name."
"So you see from that, the whole is only a fiction--a creation of my
"No, indeed," said she, smiling; "one does not write with such
warmth and enthusiasm unless he is really in love. You sing your
lady-love, and you give her another name. That is very plain. Do not
deny it, Henry, for I know indeed that you have a lady-love. It may
be read in your eyes. And look you! it is on account of this dear
one that I have come to you. It pains me, Henry, that you have no
confidence in me, and allow me no share in your joys and sorrows. Do
you not know, then, how tenderly I love you, my dear, noble
She put her arm tenderly round his neck, and wanted to kiss him. He
bent his head back, and laying his hand on her rosy, round chin, he
looked inquiringly and smilingly into her eyes.
"You want something of me, Rosabella!" said he. "I have never yet
enjoyed your tenderness and sisterly affection, except when you
needed my services."
"How suspicious you are!" cried she, with a charming pout, as she
shook his hand away from her face. "I have come from wholly
disinterested sympathy; partly to warn you, partly to find out
whether your love is perchance fixed upon a lady that would render
my warning useless."
"Well, so you see, Rosabella, that I was right, and that your
tenderness was not aimless. Now, then, you want to warn me? I have
yet to learn that I need any warning."
"Nay, brother! For it would certainly be very dangerous and
mischievous for you, if your love should chance not to be in
accordance with the command of the king."
A momentary flush spread over Henry Howard's face, and his brow
"With the king's command?" asked he, in astonishment. "I did not
know that Henry the Eighth could control my heart. And, at any rate,
I would never concede him that right. Say quickly, then, sister,
what is it? What means this about the king's command, and what
matrimonial scheme have you women been again contriving? For I well
know that you and my mother have no rest with the thought of seeing
me still unmarried. You want to bestow on me, whether or no, the
happiness of marriage; yet, nevertheless, it appears to me that you
both have sufficiently learned from experience that this happiness
is only imaginary, and that marriage in reality is, at the very
least, the vestibule of hell."
"It is true," laughed the duchess; "the only happy moment of my
married life was when my husband died. For in that I am more
fortunate than my mother, who has her tyrant still living about her.
Ah, how I pity my mother!"
"Dare not to revile our noble father!" cried the earl, almost
threateningly. "God alone knows how much he has suffered from our
mother, and how much he still suffers. He is not to blame for this
unhappy marriage. But you have not come to talk over these sad and
disgraceful family matters, sister! You wish to warn me, did you
"Yes, warn you!" said the duchess, tenderly, as she took her
brother's hand and led him to the ottoman. "Come, let us sit down
here, Henry, and let us for once chat confidentially and cordially,
as becomes brother and sister. Tell me, who is Geraldine?"
"A phantom, an ideal! I have told you that already."
"You really love, then, no lady at this court?"
"No, none! There is among all these ladies, with whom the queen has
surrounded herself, not one whom I am able to love."
"Ah, your heart then is free, Henry; and you will be so much more
easily inclined to comply with the king's wish."
"What does the king wish?"
She laid her head on her brother's shoulder, and said in a low
whisper: "That the Howard and Seymour families be at last
reconciled; that at last they may reconcile the hatred, which has
for centuries separated them, by means of a firm and sincere bond of
"Ah, the king wants that!" cried the earl, scornfully.
"Forsooth, now, he has made a good beginning toward bringing about
this reconciliation. He has insulted me before all Europe, by
removing me from my command, and investing a Seymour with my rank
and dignity; and he requires that I in return shall love this
arrogant earl, who has robbed me of what is my due; who has long
intrigued and besieged the king's ears with lies and calumnies, till
he has gained his end and supplanted me."
"It is true the king recalled you from the army; but this was done
in order to give you the first place at his court--to appoint you
lord chamberlain to the queen."
Henry Howard trembled and was silent. "It is true," he then
muttered; "I am obliged to the king for this place."
"And then," continued the duchess, with an innocent air, "then I do
not believe either that Lord Hertford is to blame for your recall.
To prove this to you, he has made a proposal to the king, and to me
also, which is to testify to you and to all the world how great an
honor Lord Hertford esteems it to be allied to the Howards, and
above all things to you, by the most sacred bonds."
"Ah, that noble, magnanimous lord!" cried Henry Howard, with a
bitter laugh. "As matters do not advance well with laurels, he tries
the myrtles; since he can win no battles, he wants to make
marriages. Now, sister, let me hear what he has to propose."
"A double marriage, Henry. He asks my hand for his brother Thomas
Seymour, provided you choose his sister, Lady Margaret, for your
"Never!" cried the earl. "Never will Henry Howard present his hand
to a daughter of that house; never condescend so far as to elevate a
Seymour to be his wife. That is well enough for a king--not for a
Brother, you insult the king!"
"Well, I insult him, then! He has insulted me, too, in arranging
this base scheme."
"Brother, reflect; the Seymours are powerful, and stand high in the
"Yes, in the king's favor they stand high! But the people know their
proud, cruel, and arrogant disposition; and the people and nobility
despise them. The Seymours have the voice of the king in their
favor; the Howards the voice of the whole country, and that is of
more consequence. The king can exalt the Seymours, for they stand
far beneath him. He cannot exalt the Howards, for they are his
equals. Nor can he degrade them. Catharine died on the scaffold--the
king became thereby only a hangman--our escutcheon was not sullied
by that act!"
"These are very proud words, Henry!"
"They become a son of the Norfolks, Rosabella! Ah, see that petty
Lord Hertford, Earl Seymour. He covets a ducal coronet for his
sister. He wants to give her to me to wife; for as soon as our poor
father dies, I wear his coronet! The arrogant upstarts! For the
sister's escutcheon, my coronet; for the brother's, your coronet.
Never, say I, shall that be!"
The duchess had become pale, and a tremor ran through her proud
form. Her eyes flashed, and an angry word was already suspended on
her lips; but she still held it back. She violently forced herself
to calmness and self-possession.
"Consider once more, Henry," said she, "do not decide at once. You
speak of our greatness; but you do not bear in mind the power of the
Seymours. I tell you they are powerful enough to tread us in the
dust, despite all our greatness. And they are not only powerful at
the present; they will be so in the future also; for it is well
known in what disposition and what way of thinking the Prince of
Wales is trained up. The king is old, weak, and failing; death lurks
behind his throne, and will soon enough press him in his arms. Then
Edward is king. With him, the heresy of Protestantism triumphs; and
however great and numerous our party may be, yet we shall be
powerless and subdued. Yes, we shall be the oppressed and
"We shall then know how to fight, and if it must be so, to die
also!" cried her brother. "It is more honorable to die on the
battle-field than to purchase life and humiliation."
"Yes, it is honorable to die on the field of battle; but, Henry, it
is a disgrace to come to an end upon the scaffold. And that, my
brother, may be your fate, if you do not this time bend your pride;
if you do not grasp the hand that Lord Hertford extends to you in
reconciliation, but mortally offend him. He will take bloody
vengeance, when once he comes into power."
"Let him do it, if he can; my life is in God's hand! My head belongs
to the king, but my heart to myself; and that I will never degrade
to merchandise, which I may barter for a little security and royal
"Brother, I conjure you, consider it!" cried the duchess, no longer
able to restrain her passionate disposition, and all ablaze in her
savage wrath. "Dare not in proud arrogance to destroy my future
also! You may die on the scaffold, if you choose; but I--I will be
happy; I will at last, after so many years of sorrow and disgrace,
have my share of life's joys also. It is my due, and I will not
relinquish it; and you shall not be allowed to tear it from me.
Know, then, my brother, I love Thomas Seymour; all my desire, all my
hope is fixed on him; and I will not tear this love out of my heart;
I will not give him up."
"Well, if you love him, marry him, then!"exclaimed her brother.
"Become the wife of this Thomas Seymour! Ask the duke, our father,
for his consent to this marriage, and I am certain he will not
refuse you, for he is prudent and cautious, and will, better than I,
calculate the advantages which a connection with the Seymours may
yield our family. Do that, sister, and marry your dearly beloved. I
do not hinder you."
"Yes, you do hinder me--you alone!" cried his sister, flaming with
wrath. "You will refuse Margaret's hand; you will give the Seymours
mortal offence. You thereby make my union with Thomas Seymour
impossible! In the proud selfishness of your haughtiness, you see
not that you are dashing to atoms my happiness, while you are
thinking only of your desire to offend the Seymours. But I tell you,
I love Thomas Seymour--nay, I adore him. He is my happiness, my
future, my eternal bliss. Therefore have pity on me, Henry! Grant me
this happiness, which I implore you for as Heaven's blessing. Prove
to me that you love me, and are willing to make this sacrifice for
me. Henry, on my knees, I conjure you! Give me the man I love; bend
your proud head; become Margaret Seymour's husband, that Thomas
Seymour may become mine."
She had actually sunk upon her knees; and her face deluged with
tears, bewitchingly beautiful in her passionate emotion, she looked
up imploringly to her brother.
But the earl did not lift her up; on the contrary, with a smile, he
fell back a step. "How long is it now, duchess," asked he,
mockingly, "since you swore that your secretary, Mr. Wilford, was
the man whom you loved? Positively, I believed you--I believed it
till I one day found you in the arms of your page. On that day, I
swore to myself never to believe you again, though you vowed to me,
with an oath ever so sacred, that you loved a man. Well, now, you
love a man; but what one, is a matter of indifference. To-day his
name is Thomas, tomorrow Archibald, or Edward as you please!"
For the first time the earl drew the veil away from his heart, and
let his sister see all the contempt and anger that he felt toward
The duchess also felt wounded by his words, as by a red-hot iron.
She sprang from her knees; and with flurried breath, with looks
flashing with rage, every muscle of her countenance convulsed and
trembling, there she stood before her brother. She was a woman no
more; she was a lioness, that, without compassion or pity, will
devour him who has dared irritate her.
"Earl of Surrey, you are a shameless wretch!" said she, with
compressed, quivering lips. "Were I a man, I would slap you in the
face, and call you a scoundrel. But, by the eternal God, you shall
not say that you have done this with impunity! Once more, and for
the last time, I now ask you, will you comply with Lord Hertford's
wish? Will you marry Lady Margaret, and accompany me with Thomas
Seymour to the altar?"
"No, I will not, and I will never do it!" exclaimed her brother,
solemnly. "The Howards bow not before the Seymours; and never will
Henry Howard marry a wife that he does not love!"
"Ah, you love her not!" said she, breathless, gnashing her teeth.
"You do not love Lady Margaret; and for this reason must your sister
renounce her love, and give up this man whom she adores. Ah, you
love not this sister of Thomas Seymour? She is not the Geraldine
whom you adore--to whom you dedicate your verses! Well, now, I will
find her out--your Geraldine. I will discover her; and then, woe to
you and to her! You refuse me your hand to lead me to the altar with
Thomas Seymour; well, now, I will one day extend you my hand to
conduct you and your Geraldine to the scaffold!"
And as she saw how the earl startled and turned pale, she continued
with a scornful laugh: "Ah, you shrink, and horror creeps over you!
Does your conscience admonish you that the hero, rigid in virtue,
may yet sometimes make a false step? You thought to hide your
secret, if you enveloped it in the veil of night, like your
Geraldine, who, as you wailingly complain in that poem there, never
shows herself to you without a veil as black as night. Just wait,
wait! I will strike a light for you, before which all your night-
like veils shall he torn in shreds; I will light up the night of
your secret with a torch which will be large enough to set on fire
the fagot piles ahout the stake to which you and your Geraldine are
"Ah, now you let me see for the first time your real countenance,"
said Henry Howard, shrugging his shoulders. "The angel's mask falls
from your face; and I behold the fury that was hidden beneath it.
Now you are your mother's own daughter; and at this moment I
comprehend for the first time what my father has suffered, and why
he shunned not even the disgrace of a divorce, just to be delivered
from such a Megaera."
"Oh, I thank you, thank you!" cried she, with a savage laugh. "You
are filling up the measure of your iniquity. It is not enough that
you drive your sister to despair; you revile your mother also! You
say that we are furies; well, indeed, for we shall one day be such
to you, and we will show you our Medusa-face, before which you will
be stiffened to stone. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, from this hour
out, I am your implacable enemy; look out for the head on your
shoulders, for my hand is raised against it, and in my hand is a
sword! Guard well the secret that sleeps in your breast; for you
have transformed me to a vampire that will suck your heart's blood.
You have reviled my mother, and I will go hence and tell her of it.
She will believe me; for she well knows that you hate her, and that
you are a genuine son of your father; that is to say, a canting
hypocrite, a miserable fellow, who carries virtue on the lips and
crime in the heart."
"Cease, I say, cease," cried the earl, "if you do not want me to
forget that you are a woman and my sister!"
"Forget it by all means," said she, scornfully. "I have forgotten
long since that you are my brother, as you have long since forgotten
that you are the son of your mother. Farewell, Earl of Surrey; I
leave you and your palace, and will from this hour out abide with my
mother. the divorced wife of the Duke of Norfolk. But mark you this:
we two are separated from you in our love--but not in our hate! Our
hatred to you remains eternal and unchangeable; and one day it will
crush you! Farewell, Earl of Surrey; we meet again in the king's
She rushed to the door. Henry Howard did not hold her back. He
looked after her with a smile as she left the cabinet, and murmured,
almost compassionately: "Poor woman! I have, perhaps, cheated her
out of a lover, and she will never forgive me that. Well, let it be
so! Let her, as much as she pleases, be my enemy, and torment me
with petty pin-prickings, if she be but unable to harm her. I hope,
though, that I have guarded well my secret, and she could not
suspect the real cause of my refusal. Ah, I was obliged to wrap
myself in that foolish family pride, and make haughtiness a cloak
for my love. Oh, Geraldine, thee would I choose, wert thou the
daughter of a peasant; and I would not hold my escutcheon tarnished,
if for thy sake I must draw a pale athwart it.--But hark! It is
striking four! My service begins! Farewell, Geraldine, I must to the
And while he betook himself to his dressing-room, to put on his
state robes for the great court feast, the Duchess of Richmond
returned to her own apartments, trembling and quivering with rage.
She traversed these with precipitate haste, and entered her boudoir,
where Earl Douglas was waiting for her.
"Well," said he, stepping toward her with his soft, lurking smile,
"has he consented?"
"No," said she, gnashing her teeth. "He swore he would never enter
into an alliance with the Seymours."
"I well knew that," muttered the earl. "And what do you decide upon
now, my lady?"
"I will have revenge! He wants to hinder me from being happy; I will
for that make him unhappy!"
"You will do well in that, my lady; for he is an apostate and
perjurer; an unfaithful son of the Church. He inclines to the
heretical sect, and has forgotten the faith of his fathers."
"I know it!" said she, breathlessly.
Earl Douglas looked at her in astonishment, and continued: "But he
is not merely an atheist, he is a traitor also; and more than once
he has reviled his king, to whom he, in his pride of heart, believes
himself far superior."
"I know it!" repeated she.
"So proud is he," continued the earl, "so full of blasphemous
haughtiness, that he might lay his hands upon the crown of England."
"I know it!" said the duchess again. But as she saw the earl's
astonished and doubting looks, she added, with an inhuman smile: "I
know everything that you want that I should know! Only impute crimes
to him; only accuse him; I will substantiate everything, testify to
everything that will bring him to ruin. My mother is our ally; she
hates the father as hotly as I the son. Bring your accusation, then,
Earl Douglas; we are your witnesses!"
"Nay, indeed, my lady," said he, with a gentle, insinuating smile.
"I know nothing at all; I have heard nothing; how, then, can I bring
an accusation? You know all; to you he has spoken. You must be his
"Well, then, conduct me to the king!" said she.
"Will you allow me to give you some more advice first?"
"Do so, Earl Douglas."
"Be very cautious in the choice of your means. Do not waste them all
at once, so that if your first thrust does not hit, you may not be
afterward without weapons. It is better, and far less dangerous, to
surely kill the enemy that you hate with a slow, creeping poison,
gradually and day by day, than to murder him at once with a dagger,
which may, however, break on a rib and become ineffective. Tell,
then, what you know, not at once, but little by little. Administer
your drug which is to make the king furious, gradually; and if you
do not hit your enemy to-day, think that you will do it so much the
more surely to-morrow. Nor do you forget that we have to punish, not
merely the heretic Henry Howard, but above all things the heretical
queen, whose unbelief will call down the wrath of the Most High upon
"Come to the king," said she, hastily. "On the way you can tell me
what I ought to make known and what conceal. I will do implicitly
what you say. Now, Henry Howard," said she softly to herself, "hold
yourself ready; the contest begins! In your pride and selfishness
you have destroyed the happiness of my life--my eternal felicity. I
loved Thomas Seymour; I hoped by his side to find the happiness that
I have so long and so vainly sought in the crooked paths of life. By
this love my soul would have been saved and restored to virtue. My
brother has willed otherwise. He has, therefore, condemned me to be
a demon, instead of an angel. I will fulfil my destiny. I will be an
evil spirit to him." [Footnote: The Earl of Surrey, by his refusal
to marry Margaret Seymour, gave occasion to the rupture of the
proposed alliance between Thomas Seymour and the Duchess of
Richmond, his sister. After that the duchess mortally hated him and
combined with his enemies against him. The Duchess of Richmond is
designated by all the historians of her time as "the most beautiful
woman of her century, but also a shameless Messalina."--See Tytler,
p. 890. Also Burnet, vol. i, p. 134; Leti, vol. i, p. 83; and Nott's
Life of Henry Howard.]
THE QUEEN'S TOILET.
The festivities of the day are concluded, and the gallant knights
and champions, who have to-day broken a lance for the honor of their
ladies, may rest from their victories upon their laurels. The
tournament of arms was over, and the tournament of mind was about to
begin. The knights, therefore, retired to exchange the coat-of-mail
for gold-embroidered velvet apparel; the ladies to put on their
lighter evening dresses; and the queen, likewise with this design,
had withdrawn to her dressing-room, while the ladies and lords of
her court were in attendance in the large anteroom to escort her to
Without, it was beginning to grow dusky, and the twilight cast its
long shadows across this hall, in which the cavaliers of the court
were walking up and down with the ladies, and discussing the
particularly important events of the day's tourney.
The Earl of Sudley, Thomas Seymour, had borne off the prize of the
day, and conquered his opponent, Henry Howard. The king had been in
raptures on this account. For Thomas Seymour had been for some time
his favorite; perhaps because he was the declared enemy of the
Howards. He had, therefore, added to the golden laurel crown which
the queen had presented to the earl as the award, a diamond pin, and
commanded the queen to fasten it in the earl's ruff with her own
hand. Catharine had done so with sullen countenance and averted
looks; and even Thomas Seymour had shown himself only a very little
delighted with the proud honor with which the queen, at her
husband's command, was to grace him.
The rigid popish party at court formed new hopes from this, and
dreamed of the queen's conversion and return to the true, pure
faith; while the Protestant, "the heretical" party, looked to the
future with gloomy despondency, and were afraid of being robbed of
their most powerful support and their most influential patronage.
Nobody had seen that, as the queen arose to crown the victor, Thomas
Seymour, her handkerchief, embroidered with gold, fell from her
hands, and that the earl, after he had taken it up and presented it
to the queen, had thrust his hand for a moment, with a motion wholly
accidental and undesigned, into his ruff, which was just as white as
the small neatly-folded paper which he concealed in it, and which he
had found in the queen's handkerchief.
One person had seen it. This little ruse of the queen had not
escaped John Heywood, who had immediately, by some cutting
witticism, set the king to laughing, and tried to draw the attention
of the courtiers from the queen and her lover.
He was now standing crowded into the embrasure of a window, and
entirely concealed behind the silk curtain; and so, without being
seen, he let his falcon eyes roam over the whole room.
He saw everything; he heard everything; and, noticed by none, he
He saw how Earl Douglas now made a sign to Bishop Gardiner, and how
he quickly answered it.
As if by accident, both now left the groups with whom they had just
been chatting, and drew near each other, looking about for some
place where, unobserved and separated from the rest, they might
converse together. In all the windows were standing groups, chatting
and laughing; only that window behind the curtain of which John
Heywood was concealed, was unoccupied.
So Earl Douglas and the bishop turned thither.
"Shall we attain our end to-day?" asked Gardiner, in a low voice.
"With God's gracious assistance, we shall annihilate all our enemies
to-day. The sword already hangs over their heads, and soon it will
fall and deliver us from them," said Earl Douglas, solemnly.
"Are you, then, certain of it?" asked Gardiner, and an expression of
cruel delight flitted across his malicious, ashy face. "But tell me,
how comes it that Archbishop Cranmer is not here?"
"He is sick, and so had to remain at Lambeth.
May this sickness be the forerunner of his death!" muttered the
bishop, devoutly folding his hands.
"It will be so, your highness; God will destroy His enemies and
bless us. Cranmer is accused, and the king will judge him without
And the queen?"
Earl Douglas was a moment silent, and then said, in a low whisper:
"Wait but a few hours more, and she will be queen no longer. Instead
of returning from the throne-room to her apartments, we shall
accompany her to the Tower."
John Heywood, completely enveloped in the folds of the curtain, held
his breath and listened.
"And you are, then, perfectly sure of our victory?" asked Gardiner.
"Can no accident, no unforeseen circumstance, snatch it from us?"
"If the queen gives him the rosette--no! For then the king will find
Geraldine's love-letter in the silver knot, and she is condemned. So
all depends on the queen's wearing the rosette, and not discovering
its contents. But see, your highness, there is the Duchess of
Richmond approaching us. She makes a sign to me. Now pray for us,
your highness, for I am going with her to the king, and she will
accuse this hated Catharine Parr! I tell you, bishop, it is an
accusation involving life and death; and if Catharine escape one
danger, she will run into another. Wait here for me, your highness;
I will return soon and tell you the result of our scheme. Lady Jane,
also, will soon bring us news here."
He left the window and followed the duchess, who crossed the hall,
and with her disappeared through the door that led to the king's
The ladies and lords of the court laughed and chatted away.
John Heywood stood, with throbbing heart and in breathless anxiety,
behind the curtain, close by Gardiner, who had folded his hands and
While Gardiner prayed, and Douglas accused and calumniated, the
queen, suspecting nothing of these plots they were framing against
her, was in her toilet-room and being adorned by her women.
She was to-day very beautiful, very magnificent to look upon; at
once a woman and queen; at the same time resplendent and modest,
with a bewitching smile on her rosy lips; and yet commanding respect
in her proud and glorious beauty. None of Henry's queens had so well
understood the art of appearing in public, and none remained so much
the woman while doing so.
As she now stood before the large mirror, which the Republic of
Venice had sent the king as a wedding-gift, and which reflected the
figure of the queen sparkling with diamonds, she smiled, for she was
obliged to confess to herself that she was very beautiful to-day;
and she thought that to-day Thomas Seymour would look upon his love
As she thought of him, a deep crimson overspread her face, and a
thrill flew through her frame. How handsome he had been at the
tournament that day; how splendidly he leaped over the barriers; how
his eye flashed; how contemptuous had been his smile! And then, that
look which he directed over to her at the moment when he had
conquered his antagonist, Henry Howard, and hurled the lance from
his hand! Oh, her heart was then ready to burst with delight and
Wholly given up to her reverie, she sank in her gilded arm-chair and
cast her eyes to the ground, dreaming and smiling.
Behind her stood her women in respectful silence, waiting for a sign
from their mistress. But the queen no longer thought at all of them;
she imagined herself alone; she saw nobody but that handsome, manly
face for which she had reserved a place in her heart.
Now the door opened, and Lady Jane Douglas entered. She, too, was
magnificently dressed, and sparkling with diamonds; she, too, was
beautiful, but it was the pallid, dreadful beauty of a demon; and he
who looked upon her just then, as she entered the room, would have
trembled, and his heart would have been seized with an undefined
She threw a quick glance on her mistress lost in revery; and as she
saw that her toilet was finished, she made a sign to the women, who
silently obeyed and left the room.
Still Catharine noticed nothing. Lady Jane stood behind her and
observed her in the mirror. As she saw the queen smile, her brow
darkened and fierce fire flashed in her eyes.
"She shall smile no more," said she to herself. "I suffer thus
terribly by her; well, now, she shall suffer too."
Softly and noiselessly she slipped into the next room, the door of
which stood ajar, and opened with hurried hand a carton filled with
ribbons and bows. Then she drew from the velvet pocket, wrought with
pearls, which hung at her side, suspended by a gold chain, a dark-
red rosette, and threw it into the box. That was all.
Lady Jane now returned to the adjoining room; and her countenance,
which had been previously gloomy and threatening, was now proud and
With a bright smile she walked up to the queen, and kneeling down at
her side, she pressed a fervent kiss on the hand that was hanging
"What is my queen musing over?" asked she, as she laid her head on
Catharine's knee and tenderly looked up at her.
The queen gave a slight start, and raised her head. She saw Lady
Jane's tender smile, and her yet searching looks.
Because she felt conscious of guilt, at least of guilty thoughts,
she was on her guard, and remembered John Heywood's warning.
"She is observing me," she said to herself; "she seems affectionate;
so she is brooding over some wicked plot.
Ah, it is well you have come, Jane," said she aloud. "You can help
me; for, to tell you the truth, I am in great perplexity. I am in
want of a rhyme, and I am thinking in vain how I shall find it."
"Ah, are you composing poetry, queen?"
"Why, Jane, does that surprise you? Shall I, the queen, be able,
then, to bear off no prize? I would give my precious jewels, if I
could succeed in composing a poem to which the king was obliged to
award the prize. But I am wanting in a musical ear; I cannot find
the rhyme, and so shall he obliged at last to give up the idea of
winning laurels also. How the king would enjoy it, though! For, to
confess the truth to you, I believe he is a little afraid that Henry
Howard will bear off the prize, and he would be very thankful to me
if I could contest it with him. You well know the king has no love
for the Howards."
"And you, queen?" asked Jane; and she turned so pale, that the queen
herself noticed it.
"You are unwell, Jane," said she, sympathizingly. "Really, Jane, you
seem to be suffering. You need recreation; you should rest a
But Jane had already regained her calm and earnest air, and she
succeeded in smiling.
"No, indeed!" said she. "I am well, and satisfied to be permitted to
be near you. But will you allow me, queen, to make a request of
"Ask, Jane, ask, and it is granted beforehand; for I know that Jane
will request nothing that her friend cannot grant."
Lady Jane was silent, and looked thoughtfully upon the ground. With
firm resolution she struggled with herself. Her proud heart reared
fiercely up at the thought of bowing before this woman, whom she
hated, and of being obliged to approach her with a fawning prayer.
She felt such raging hate against the queen, that in that hour she
would willingly have given her own life, if she could have first
seen her enemy at her feet, wailing and crushed.
Henry Howard loved the queen; so Catharine had robbed her of the
heart of him whom she adored. Catharine had condemned her to the
eternal torment of renouncing him--to the rack of enjoying a
happiness and a rapture that was not hers--to warm herself at a fire
which she like a thief had stolen from the altar of another's god.
Catharine was condemned and doomed. Jane had no more compassion. She
must crush her.
"Well," asked the queen, "you are silent? You do not tell me what I
am to grant you?"
Lady Jane raised her eyes, and her look was serene and peaceful.
"Queen," said she, "I encountered in the ante-room one who is
unhappy, deeply bowed down. In your hand alone is the power to raise
him up again. Will you do it?"
"Will I do it!" exclaimed Catharine, quickly. "Oh, Jane, you well
know how much my heart longs to help and be serviceable to the
unfortunate! Ah, so many wounds are inflicted at this court, and the
queen is so poor in balm to heal them! Allow me this pleasure then,
Jane, and I shall be thankful to you, not you to me! Speak then,
Jane, speak quickly; who is it that needs my help?"
"Not your help, queen, but your compassion and your grace. Earl
Sudley has conquered poor Earl Surrey in the tournament to-day, and
you comprehend that your lord chamberlain feels himself deeply bowed
"Can I alter that, Jane? Why did the visionary earl, the
enthusiastic poet, allow himself a contest with a hero who already
knows what he wants, and ever accomplishes what he wills? Oh, it was
wonderful to look upon, with what lightning speed Thomas Seymour
lifted him out of the saddle! And the proud Earl Surrey, the wise
and learned man, the powerful party leader, was forced to bow before
the hero, who like an angel Michael had thrown him in the dust."
The queen laughed.
That laugh went through Jane's heart like a cutting sword.
"She shall pay me for that!" said she softly to herself. "Queen,"
said she aloud, "you are perfectly right; he has deserved this
humiliation; but now, after he is punished, you should lift him up.
Nay, do not shake your beautiful head. Do it for your own sake,
queen; do it from prudence. Earl Surrey, with his father, is the
head of a powerful party, whom this humiliation of the Howards fills
with a still more burning hate against the Seymours, and who will,
in time to come, take a bloody revenge for it."
"Ah, you frighten me!" said the queen, who had now become serious.
Lady Jane continued: "I saw how the Duke of Norfolk bit his lips, as
his son had to yield to Seymour; I heard how one, here and there,
muttered low curses and vows of vengeance against the Seymours."
"Who did that? Who dared to do it?" exclaimed Catharine, springing
up impetuously from her arm-chair. "Who at this court is so
audacious as to wish to injure those whom the queen loves? Name him
to me, Jane; I will know his name! I will know it, that I may accuse
him to the king. For the king does not want that these noble
Seymours should give way to the Howards; he does not want that the
nobler, the better, and more glorious, should bow before these
quarrelsome, domineering papists. The king loves the noble Seymours,
and his powerful arm will protect them against all their enemies."
"And, without doubt, your majesty will assist him in it?" said Jane,
This smile brought the queen back to her senses again.
She perceived that she had gone too far; that she had betrayed too
much of her secret. She must, therefore, repair the damage, and
allow her excitement to be forgotten. Therefore she said, calmly:
"Certainly, Jane; I will assist the king to be just. But never will
I be unjust, not even against these papists. If I cannot love them,
nevertheless no one shall say that I hate them. And besides, it
becomes a queen to rise above parties. Say, then, Jane, what can I
do for poor Surrey? With what shall we bind up these wounds that the
brave Seymour has inflicted on him?"
"You have publicly given the victor in the tournament a token of
your great favor--you have crowned him."
"It was the king's order," exclaimed Catharine, warmly.
"Well! He will not, however, command you to reward the Earl of
Surrey also, if he likewise should gain the victory this evening. Do
it, therefore, of your own accord, queen. Give him openly, before
your whole court, a token of your favor! It is so easy for princes
to make men happy, to comfort the unfortunate! A smile, a friendly
word, a pressure of the hand is sufficient for it. A ribbon that you
wear on your dress makes him to whom you present it, proud and
happy, and raises him high above all others. Ponder it well, queen;
I speak not for Earl Surrey's sake; I am thinking more of yourself.
If you have the courage, publicly and in spite of the disgrace with
which King Henry threatens the Howards, to be nevertheless just to
them, and to recognize _their_ merits as well as that of others--
believe me, if you do that, the whole of this powerful party, which
is now hostile to you, will fall at your feet overcome and
conquered. You will at last become the all-powerful and universally
loved Queen of England; and, like the heretics, the papists also
will call you their mistress and protectress. Consider no longer!
Let your noble and generous heart prevail! Spiteful fortune has
prostrated Henry Howard in the dust. Extend him your hand, queen,
that he may rise again, and again stand there at your court, proud
and radiant as he always was. Henry Howard well deserves that you
should be gracious to him. Great and beaming like a star, he shines
on high above all men; and there is no one who can say that he
himself is more prudent or braver, wiser or more learned, noble or
greater, than the noble, the exalted Surrey. All England resounds
with his fame. The women repeat with enthusiasm his beautiful
sonnets and love-songs; the learned are proud to call him their
equal, and the warriors speak with admiration of his feats of arms.
Be just, then, queen! You have so highly honored the merit of valor;
now, honor the merit of mind also! You have, in Seymour, honored the
warrior; now, in Howard, honor the poet and the man!"
"I will do it," said Catharine, as with a charming smile she looked
into Jane's glowing and enthusiastic countenance. "I will do it,
Jane, but upon one condition!"
"And this condition is--"
Catharine put her arm around Jane's neck, and drew her close to her
heart, "That you confess to me, that you love Henry Howard, whom you
know how to defend so enthusiastically and warmly."
Lady Jane gave a start, and for a moment leaned her head on the
queen's shoulder, exhausted.
"Well," asked she, "do you confess it? Will you acknowledge that
your proud, cold heart is obliged to declare itself overcome and
"Yes, I confess it," cried Lady Jane, as with passionate vehemence
she threw herself at Catharine's feet. "Yes, I love him--I adore
him. I know it is a disdained and unhappy love; but what would you
have? My heart is mightier than everything else. I love him; he is
my god and my lord; I adore him as my savior and lord. Queen, you
know all my secret; betray me if you will! Tell it to my father, if
you wish him to curse me. Tell it to Henry Howard, if it pleases you
to hear how he scoffs at me. For he, queen--he loves me not!"
"Poor unfortunate Jane!" exclaimed the queen, compassionately.
Jane uttered a low cry, and rose from her knees. That was too much.
Her enemy commiserated her. She, who was to blame for her sorrow--
she bemoaned her fate.
Ah, she could have strangled the queen; she could have plunged a
dagger into her heart, because she dared to commiserate her.
"I have complied with your condition, queen," said she, breathing
hurriedly. "Will you now comply with my request?"
"And will you really be an advocate for this unthankful, cruel man,
who does not love you? Proudly and coldly he passes your beauty by,
and you--you intercede for him!"
"Queen, true love thinks not of itself! It sacrifices itself. It
makes no question of the reward it receives, but only of the
happiness which it bestows. I saw in his pale, sorrowful face, how
much he suffered; ought I not to think of comforting him? I
approached him, I addressed him; I heard his despairing lamentation
over that misfortune, which, however, was not the fault of his
activity and courage, but, as all the world saw, the fault of his
horse, which was shy and stumbled. And as he, in all the bitterness
of his pain, was lamenting that you, queen, would despise and scorn
him, I, with full trust in your noble and magnanimous heart,
promised him that you would, at my request, yet give him to-day,
before your whole court, a token of your favor. Catharine, did I do
"No, Jane, no! You did right; and your words shall be made good. But
how shall I begin? What shall I do?"
"The earl this evening, after the king has read the Greek scene with
Croke, will recite some new sonnets which he has composed. When he
has done so, give him some kind of a present--be it what it may, no
matter--as a token of your favor."
"But how, Jane, if his sonnets deserve no praise and no
You may be sure that they do deserve it. For Henry Howard is a noble
and true poet, and his verses are full of heavenly melody and
The queen smiled. "Yes," said she, "you love him ardently; for you
have no doubt as to him. We will, therefore, recognize him as a
great poet. But with what shall I reward him?"
"Give him a rose that you wear in your bosom--a rosette that is
fastened to your dress and shows your colors."
" But alas, Jane, to-day I wear neither a rose nor a rosette."
"Yet you can wear one, queen. A rosette is, indeed, wanting here on
your shoulder. Your purple mantle is too negligently fastened. We
must put some trimming here."
She went hastily into the next room and returned with the box in
which were kept the queen's ribbons embroidered with gold, and bows
adorned with jewels.
Lady Jane searched and selected, here and there, a long time. Then
she took the crimson velvet rosette, which she herself had
previously thrown into the box, and showed it to the queen.
"See, it is at the same time tasteful and rich, for a diamond clasp
confines it in the middle. Will you allow me to fasten this rosette
on your shoulder, and will you give it to the Earl of Surrey?"
"Yes, Jane, I will give it to him, because you wish it. But, poor
Jane, what do, you gain by my doing it?"
"At any rate, a friendly smile, queen."
"And is that enough for you? Do you love him so much, then?"
"Yes, I love him!" said Jane Douglas, with a sigh of pain, as she
fastened the rosette on the queen's shoulder.
"And now, Jane, go and announce to the master of ceremonies that I
am ready, as soon as the king wishes it, to resort to the gallery."
Lady Jane turned to leave the chamber. But, already upon the
threshold, she returned once more.
"Forgive me, queen, for venturing to make one more request of you.
You have, however, just shown yourself too much the noble and true
friend of earlier days for me not to venture one more request."
"Now, what is it, poor Jane?"
"I have intrusted my secret not to the queen, but to Catharine Parr,
the friend of my youth. Will she keep it, and betray to none my
disgrace and humiliation?"
"My word for that, Jane. Nobody but God and ourselves shall ever
know what we have spoken."
Lady Jane humbly kissed her hand and murmured a few words of thanks;
then she left the queen's room to go in quest of the master of
In the queen's anteroom she stopped a moment, and leaned against the
wall, exhausted, and as it were crushed. Nobody was here who could
observe and listen to her. She had no need to smile, no need to
conceal, beneath a calm and equable appearance, all those
tempestuous and despairing feelings which were working within. She
could allow her hatred and her resentment, her rage and her despair,
to pour forth in words and gestures, in tears and imprecations, in
sobs and sighs. She could fall on her knees and beseech God for
grace and mercy, and call on the devil for revenge and destruction.
When she had so done, she arose, and her demeanor resumed its wonted
cold and calm expression. Only her cheeks were still paler; only a
still gloomier fire darted from her eyes, and a scornful smile
played about her thin, compressed lips.
She traversed the rooms and corridors, and now she entered the
king's anteroom. As she observed Gardiner, who was standing alone
and separated from the rest in the embrasure of the window, she went
up to him; and John Heywood, who was still hidden behind the
curtain, shuddered at the frightful and scornful expression of her
She offered the bishop her hand, and tried to smile. "It is done"
said she, almost inaudibly.
"What! The queen wears the rosette?" asked Gardiner vivaciously.
"She wears the rosette, and will give it to him."
"And the note is in it?"
"It is concealed under the diamond clasp."
"Oh, then she is lost!" muttered Gardiner. "If the king finds this
paper, Catharine's death-warrant is signed."
"Hush!" said Lady Jane. "See! Lord Hertford is coming toward us. Let
us go to meet him."
They both left the window and walked out into the hall.
John Heywood immediately slipped from behind the curtain, and,
softly gliding along by the wall, left the hall perceived by no one.
Outside, he stopped and reflected.
"I must see this conspiracy to the bottom," said he to himself. "I
must find out through whom and by what they wish to destroy her; and
I must have sure and undeniable proof in my hands, in order to be
able to convict them, and successfully accuse them to the king.
Therefore it is necessary to be cautious and prudent. So let us
consider what to do. The simplest thing would be to beg the queen
not to wear the rosette. But that is only to demolish the web for
this time, without, however, being able to kill the spider that wove
it. So she must wear the rosette; for besides, without that I should
never be able either to find out to whom she is to give it. But the
paper that is concealed in the rosette--that I must have--that must
not be in it. 'If the king finds this paper. Catharine's death-
warrant is signed.' Now, my reverend priest of the devil, the king
will not find that paper, for John Heywood will not have it so. But
how shall I begin? Shall I tell the queen what I heard? No! She
would lose her cheerful spirit and become embarrassed, and the
embarrassment would be in the king's eyes the most convincing proof
of her guilt. No, I must take this paper out of the rosette without
the queen's being aware of it. Boldly to work, then! I must have
this paper, and tweak these hypocrites by the nose. How it can be
done, it is not clear to me yet; but I will do it--that is enough.
Halloo, forward to the queen!"
With precipitant haste he ran through the halls and corridors, while
with a smile he muttered away to himself: "Thank God, I enjoy the
honor of being the fool; for only the king and the fool have the
privilege of being able to enter unannounced every room, even the
Catharine was alone in her boudoir, when the small door, through
which the king was accustomed to resort to her, was softly opened.
"Oh, the king is coming!" said she, walking to the door to greet her
"Yes, the king is coming, for the fool is already here," said John
Heywood, who entered through the private door. "Are we alone, queen?
Does nobody overhear us?"
"No, John Heywood, we are all alone. What do you bring me?"
"A letter, queen."
"From whom?" asked she, and a glowing crimson flitted over her
"From whom?" repeated John Heywood, with a waggish smile. "I do not
know, queen; but at any rate it is a begging letter; and without
doubt you would do well not to read it at all; for I bet you, the
shameless writer of this letter demands of you some impossibility--
it may be a smile, or a pressure of the hand, a lock of your hair,
or perchance even a kiss. So, queen, do not read the begging letter
"John," said she, smiling, and yet trembling with impatience, "John,
give me the letter."
"I will sell it to you, queen. I have learned that from the king,
who likewise gives nothing away generously, without taking in return
more than he gives. So let us trade. I give you the letter; you give
me the rosette which you wear on your shoulder there."
"Nay, indeed, John; choose something else--I cannot give you the
"And by the gods be it sworn!" exclaimed John, with comic pathos, "I
give you not the letter, if you do not give me the rosette."
"Silly loon," said the queen, "I tell you I cannot! Choose something
else, John; and I conjure you, dear John, give me the letter."
"Then only, when you give me the rosette. I have sworn it by the
gods, and what I vow to them, that I stick to! No, no, queen--not
those sullen airs, not that angry frown. For if I cannot in earnest
receive the rosette as a present, then let us do like the Jesuits
and papists, who even trade with the dear God, and snap their
fingers at Him. I must keep my oath! I give you the letter, and you
give me the rosette; but listen--you only lend it to me; and when I
have it in my hand a moment, I am generous and bountiful, like the
king, and I make you a present of your own property."
With a quick motion the queen tore the rosette from her shoulder,
and handed it to John Heywood.
"Now give me the letter, John."
"Here it is," said John Heywood as he received the rosette. "Take
it; and you will see that Thomas Seymour is my brother."
"Your brother?" asked Catharine with a smile, as with trembling hand
she broke the seal.
"Yes, my brother, for he is a fool! Ah, I have a great many
brothers. The family of fools is so very large!"
The queen no longer heard. She was reading the letter of her lover.
She had eyes only for those lines, that told her that Thomas Seymour
loved her, adored her, and was pining away with longing after her.
She did not see how John Heywood, with nimble hand, unfastened the
diamond clasp from the rosette, and took out of it the little paper
that was concealed in the folds of the ribbon.
"She is saved!" murmured he, while he thrust the fatal paper into
his doublet, and fastened the clasp again with the pin." She is
saved, and the king will not sign her death-warrant this time."
Catharine had read the letter to the end, and hid it in her bosom.
"Queen, you have sworn to burn up every letter that I bring you from
him; for, forbidden love-letters are dangerous things. One day they
may find a tongue and testify against you! Queen, I will not bring
you again another letter, if you do not first burn that one."
"John, I will burn it up when once I have really read it. Just now I
read it only with my heart, not with my eyes. Allow me, then, to
wear it on my heart a few hours more."
"Do you swear to me that you will burn it up this very day?"
"I swear it."
"Then I will be satisfied this time. Here is your rosette; and like
the famous fox in the fable, that pronounced the grapes sour because
he could not get them, I say, take your rosette back; I will have
none of it."
He handed the queen the rosette, and she smilingly fastened it on
her shoulder again.
"John," said she, with a bewitching smile, extending her hand to
him, "John, when will you at length permit me to thank you otherwise
than with words? When will you at length allow your queen to reward
you for all this service of love, otherwise than with words?"
John Heywood kissed her hand, and said mournfully: "I will demand a
reward of you on the day when my tears and my prayers succeed in
persuading you to renounce this wretched and dangerous love. On that
day I shall have really deserved a reward, and I will accept it from
you with a proud heart."
"Poor John! So, then, you will never receive your reward; for that
day will never come!"
"So, then, I shall probably receive my reward, but from the king;
and it will be a reward whereby one loses hearing and sight, and
head to boot. Well, we shall see! Till then, farewell, queen! I must
to the king; for somebody might surprise me here, and come to the
shrewd conclusion that John Heywood is not always a fool, but
sometimes also the messenger of love! I kiss the hem of your
garment; farewell, queen!"
He glided again through the private door.
"Now we will at once examine this paper," said he, as he reached the
corridor and was sure of being seen by no one.
He drew the paper out of his doublet and opened it. "I do not know
the hand-writing," muttered her, "but it was a woman that wrote it."
"The letter read: "Do you believe me now, my beloved? I swore to
deliver to you to-day, in the presence of the king and all of my
court, this rosette; and I have done so. For you I gladly risk my
life, for you are my life; and still more beautiful were it to die
with you, than to live without you. I live only when I rest in your
arms; and those dark nights, when you can be with me, are the light
and sunshine of my days. Let us pray Heaven a dark night may soon
come; for such a night restores to me the loved one, and to you,
your happy wife, Geraldine."
"Geraldine! who is Geraldine?" muttered John Heywood, slipping the
paper into his doublet again. "I must disentangle this web of lying
and deceit. I must know what all this means. For this is more than a
conspiracy--a false accusation. It concerns, as it seems, a reality.
This letter the queen is to give to a man; and in it, sweet
recollections, happy nights, are spoken of. So he who receives this
letter is in league with them against Catharine, and I dare say her
worst enemy, for he makes use of love against her. Some treachery or
knavery is concealed behind this. Either the man to whom this letter
is addressed is deceived--and he is unintentionally a tool in the
hands of the papists--or he is in league with them, and has given
himself up to the villainy of playing the part of a lover to the
queen. But who can he be? Perchance, Thomas Seymour. It were
possible; for he has a cold and deceitful heart, and he would be
capable of such treachery. But woe be to him if it is he! Then it
will be I who accuses him to the king; and, by God! his head shall
fall! Now away to the king!"
Just as he entered the king's anteroom, the door of the cabinet
opened, and the Duchess of Richmond, accompanied by Earl Douglas,
Lady Jane and Gardiner were standing, as if by accident, near the
"Well, have we attained our end there also?" asked Gardiner.
"We have attained it," said Earl Douglas. "The duchess has accused
her brother of a liaison with the queen. She has deposed that he
sometimes leaves the palace by night, and does not return to it
before morning. She has declared that for four nights she herself
dogged her brother and saw him as he entered the wing of the castle
occupied by the queen; and one of the queen's maids has communicated
to the duchess that the queen was not in her room on that night."
"And the king listened to the accusation, and did not throttle you
in his wrath!"
"He is just in that dull state of rage in which the lava that the
crater will afterward pour forth, is just prepared. As yet all is
quiet, but be sure there will be an eruption, and the stream of red-
hot lava will busy those who have dared excite the god Vulcan."
"And does he know about the rosette?" asked Lady Jane.
"He knows everything. And until that moment he will allow no one to
suspect his wrath and fury. He says he will make the queen perfectly
secure, in order to get into his hands thereby sure proof of her
guilt. Well, we will furnish him this evidence; and hence it follows
that the queen is inevitably lost."
"But hark! The doors are opened, and the master of ceremonies comes
to summon us to the golden gallery."
"Just walk in," muttered John Heywood, gliding along behind them. "I
am still here; and I will be the mouse that gnaws the net in which
you want to catch my noble-minded lioness."
THE QUEEN'S ROSETTE.
The golden gallery, in which the tourney of the poets was to take
place, presented to-day a truly enchanting and fairy-like aspect.
Mirrors of gigantic size, set in broad gilt frames, ornamented with
the moat perfect carved work, covered the walls, and threw back, a
thousand times reflected, the enormous chandeliers which, with their
hundreds and hundreds of candles, shed the light of day in the vast
hall. Here and there were seen, arranged in front of the mirrors,
clusters of the rarest and choicest flowers, which poured through
the hall their fragrance, stupefying and yet so enchanting, and
outshone in brilliancy of colors even the Turkish carpet, which
stretched through the whole room and changed the floor into one
immense flower-bed. Between the clumps of flowers were seen tables
with golden vases, in which were refreshing beverages; while at the
other end of the enormous gallery stood a gigantic sideboard, which
contained the choicest and rarest dishes. At present the doors of
the sideboard, which, when open, formed a room of itself, were
They had not yet come to the material enjoyments; they were still
occupied in absorbing the spiritual. The brilliant and select
company that filled the hall was still for some time condemned to be
silent, and to shut up within them their laughter and gossip, their
backbiting and slander, their flattery and hypocrisy.
Just now a pause ensued. The king, with Croke, had recited to his
court a scene from "Antigone"; and they were just taking breath from
the wonderful and exalted enjoyment of having just heard a language
of which they understood not a word, but which they found to be very
beautiful, since the king admired it.
Henry the Eighth had again leaned back on his golden throne, and,
panting, rested from his prodigious exertion; and while he rested
and dreamed, an invisible band played a piece of music composed by
the king himself, and which, with its serious and solemn movement,
strangely contrasted with this room so brilliant and cheerful--with
this splendid, laughing and jesting assembly.
For the king had bidden them amuse themselves and be gay; to give
themselves up to unrestrained chit-chat. It was, therefore, natural
for them to laugh, and to appear not to notice the king's exhaustion
Besides, they had not for a long time seen Henry so cheerful, so
full of youthful life, so sparkling with wit and humor, as on this
evening. His mouth was overflowing with jests that made the
gentlemen laugh, and the beautiful, brilliant women blush, and,
above all, the young queen, who sat by him on the rich and splendid
throne, and now and then threw stolen and longing glances at her
lover, for whom she would willingly and gladly have given her royal
crown and her throne.
When the king saw how Catharine blushed, he turned to her, and in
his tenderest tone begged her pardon for his jest, which, however,
in its sauciness, served only to make his queen still more
beautiful, still more bewitching. His words were then so tender and
heartfelt, his looks so full of love and admiration, that nobody
could doubt but that the queen was in highest favor with her
husband, and that he loved her most tenderly.
Only the few who knew the secret of this tenderness of the king, so
open and so unreservedly displayed, comprehended fully the danger
which threatened the queen; for the king was never more to be
dreaded than when he flattered; and on no one did his wrath fall
more crushingly than on him whom he had just kissed and assured of
This was what Earl Douglas said to himself, when he saw with what a
cordial look Henry the Eighth chatted with his consort.
Behind the throne of the royal pair was seen John Heywood, in his
fantastic and dressy costume, with his face at once noble and
cunning; and the king just then broke out into loud, resounding
laughter at his sarcastic and satirical observations.
"King, your laugh does not please me to-day," said John Heywood,
earnestly. "It smacks of gall. Do you not find it so, queen?"
The queen was startled from her sweet reveries, and that was what
John Heywood had wished. He, therefore, repeated his question.
"No, indeed," said she: "I find the king to-day quite like the sun.
He is radiant and bright, like it."
"Queen, you do not mean the sun, but the full moon," said John
Heywood. "But only see, Henry, how cheerfully Earl Archibald Douglas
over there is chatting with the Duchess of Richmond! I love that
good earl. He always appears like a blind-worm, which is just in the
notion of stinging some one on the heel, and hence it comes that,
when near the earl, I always transform myself into a crane. I stand
on one leg; because I am then sure to have the other at least safe
from the earl's sting. King, were I like you, I would not have those
killed that the blind-worm has stung; but I would root out the
blind-worms, that the feet of honorable men might be secure from
The king cast at him a quick, searching look, which John Heywood
answered with a smile.
"Kill the blind-worms, King Henry," said he; "and when you are once
at work destroying vermin, it will do no harm if you once more give
these priests also a good kick. It is now a long time since we burnt
any of them, and they are again becoming arrogant and malicious, as
they always were and always will be. I see even the pious and meek
bishop of Winchester, the noble Gardiner, who is entertaining
himself with Lady Jane over there, smiling very cheerfully, and that
is a bad sign; for Gardiner smiles only when he has again caught a
poor soul, and prepared it as a breakfast for his lord. I do not
mean you, king, but his lord--the devil. For the devil is always
hungry for noble human souls; and to him who catches one for him he
gives indulgence for his sins for an hour. Therefore Gardiner
catches so many souls; for since he sins every hour, every hour he
"You are very spiteful to-day, John Heywood," said the queen,
smiling, while the king fixed his eyes on the ground, thoughtful and
John Heywood's words had touched the sore place of his heart, and,
in spite of himself, filled his suspicious soul with new doubts.
He mistrusted not merely the accused, but the accusers also; and if
he punished the one as criminals, he would have willingly punished
the others as informants.
He asked himself: "What aim had Earl Douglas and Gardiner in
accusing the queen; and why had they startled him out of his quiet
and confidence?" At that moment, when he looked on his beautiful
wife, who sat by him in such serene tranquillity, unembarrassed and
smiling, he felt a deep anger fill his heart, not against Catharine,
but against Jane, who accused her. She was so lovely and beautiful!
Why did they envy him her? Why did they not leave him in his sweet
delusion? But perhaps she was not guilty. No, she was not. The eye
of a culprit is not thus bright and clear. The air of infidelity is
not thus unembarrassed--of such maidenly delicacy.
Moreover, the king was exhausted and disgusted. One can become
satiated even with cruelty; and, at this hour, Henry felt completely
surfeited with bloodshed.
His heart--for, in such moments of mental relaxation and bodily
enfeeblement, the king even had a heart--his heart was already in
the mood of pronouncing the word pardon, when his eye fell on Henry
Howard, who, with his father, the Duke of Norfolk, and surrounded by
a circle of brilliant and noble lords, was standing not far from the
The king felt a deadly stab in his breast, and his eyes darted
lightning over toward that group.
How proud and imposing the figure of the noble earl looked; how high
he overtopped all others; how noble and handsome his countenance;
how kingly was his bearing and whole appearance!
Henry must admit all this; and because he must do so, he hated him.
Nay! no mercy for Catharine! If what her accusers had told him were
true--if they could give him the proofs of the queen's guilt, then
she was doomed. And how could he doubt it? Had they not told him
that in the rosette, which the queen would give Earl Surrey, was
contained a love-letter from Catharine, which he would find? Had not
Earl Surrey, in a confidential hour, yesterday imparted this to his
sister, the Duchess of Richmond, when he wished to bribe her to be
the messenger of love between the queen and himself? Had she not
accused the queen of having meetings by night with the earl in the
Nay, no compassion for his fair queen, if Henry Howard was her
He must again look over at his hated enemy. There he still stood by
his father, the Duke of Norfolk. How sprightly and gracefully the
old duke moved; how slim his form; and how lofty and imposing his
bearing! The king was younger than the duke; and yet he was fettered
to his truckle-chair; yet he sat on his throne like an immovable
colossus, while he moved freely and lightly, and obeyed his own
will, not necessity. Henry could have crushed him--this proud,
arrogant earl, who was a free man, whilst his king was nothing but a
prisoner to his own flesh, a slave of his unwieldy body.
"I will exterminate it--this proud, arrogant race of Howards!"
muttered the king, as he turned with a friendly smile to the Earl of
"You have promised us some of your poems, cousin!" said he. "So let
us now enjoy them; for you see, indeed, how impatiently all the
beautiful women look on England's noblest and greatest poet, and how
very angry with me they would be if I still longer withhold this
enjoyment from them! Even my fair queen is full of longing after
your songs, so rich in fancy; for you well know, Howard, she loves
poetry, and, above all things, yours."
Catharine had scarcely heard what the king said. Her looks had
encountered Seymour's, and their eyes were fixed on each other's.
But she had then cast down to the floor her eyes, still completely
filled with the sight of her lover, in order to think of him, since
she no longer dared gaze at him.
When the king called her name, she started up and looked at him
inquiringly. She had not heard what he had said to her.
"Not even for a moment does she look toward me!" said Henry Howard
to himself. "Oh, she loves me not! or at least her understanding is
mightier than her love. Oh, Catharine, Catharine, fearest thou death
so much that thou canst on that account deny thy love?"
With desperate haste he drew out his portfolio. "I will compel her
to look at me, to think of me, to remember her oath," thought he.
"Woe to her, if she does not fulfil it--if she gives me not the
rosette, which she promised me with so solemn a vow! If she does it
not, then I will break this dreadful silence, and before her king,
and before her court, accuse her of treachery to her love. Then, at
least, she will not be able to cast me off; for we shall mount the
"Does my exalted queen allow me to begin?" asked he aloud, wholly
forgetting that the king had already given him the order to do so,
and that it was he only who could grant such a permission.
Catharine looked at him in astonishment. Then her glance fell on
Lady Jane Douglas, who was gazing over at her with an imploring
expression. The queen smiled; for she now remembered that it was
Jane's beloved who had spoken to her, and that she had promised the
poor young girl to raise again the dejected Earl of Surrey and to be
gracious to him.
"Jane is right," thought she; "he appears to be deeply depressed and
suffering. Ah, it must be very painful to see those whom one loves
suffering. I will, therefore, comply with Jane's request, for she
says this might revive the earl."
With a smile she bowed to Howard. "I beg you," said she, "to lend
our festival its fairest ornament--to adorn it with the fragrant
flowers of your poesy. You see we are all burning with desire to
hear your verses."
The king shook with rage, and a crushing word was already poised
upon his lip. But he restrained himself. He wanted to have proofs
first; he wanted to see them not merely accused, but doomed also;
and for that he needed proofs of their guilt.
Henry Howard now approached the throne of the royal pair, and with
beaming looks, with animated countenance, with a voice trembling
with emotion, he read his love-song to the fair Geraldine. A murmur
of applause arose when he had read his first sonnet. The king only
looked gloomily, with fixed eyes; the queen alone remained
uninterested and cold.
"She is a complete actress," thought Henry Howard, in the madness of
his pain. "Not a muscle of her face stirs; and yet this sonnet must
remind her of the fairest and most sacred moment of our love."
The queen remained unmoved and cold. But had Henry Howard looked at
Lady Jane Douglas, he would have seen how she turned pale and
blushed; how she smiled with rapture, and how, nevertheless, her
eyes filled with tears.
Earl Surrey, however, saw nothing but the queen; and the sight of
her made him tremble with rage and pain. His eyes darted lightning:
his countenance glowed with passion; his whole being was in
desperate, enthusiastic excitement. At that moment he would have
gladly breathed out his life at Geraldine's feet, if she would only
recognize him--if she would only have the courage to call him her
But her smiling calmness, her friendly coolness, brought him to
He crumpled the paper in his hand; the letters danced before his
eyes; he could read no more.
But he would not remain, mute, either. Like the dying swan, he would
breathe out his pain in a last song, and give sound and words to his
despair and his agony. He could no longer read; but he improvised.
Like a glowing stream of lava, the words flowed from his lips; in
fiery dithyrambic, in impassioned hymns, he poured forth his love
and pain. The genius of poesy hovered over him and lighted up his
noble and thoughtful brow.
He was radiantly beautiful in his enthusiasm; and even the queen
felt herself carried away by his words. His plaints of love, his
longing pains, his rapture and his sad fancies, found an echo in her
heart. She understood him; for she felt the same joy, the same
sorrow and the same rapture; only she did not feel all this for him.
But, as we have said, he enchanted her; the current of his passion
carried her away. She wept at his laments; she smiled at his hymns
When Henry Howard at length ceased, profound silence reigned in the
vast and brilliant hall.
All faces betrayed deep emotion; and this universal silence was the
poet's fairest triumph; for it showed that envy and jealousy were
dumb, and that scorn itself could find no words.
A momentary pause ensued; it resembled that sultry, ominous
stillness which is wont to precede the bursting of a tempest; when
Nature stops a moment in breathless stillness, to gather strength
for the uproar of the storm.
It was a significant, an awful pause; but only a few understood its
Lady Jane leaned against the wall, completely shattered and
breathless. She felt that the sword was hanging over their heads,
and that it would destroy her if it struck her beloved.
Earl Douglas and the Bishop of Winchester had involuntarily drawn
near each other, and stood there hand in hand, united for this
unholy struggle; while John Heywood had crept behind the king's
throne, and in his sarcastic manner whispered in his ear some
epigrams, that made the king smile in spite of himself.
But now the queen arose from her seat, and beckoned Henry Howard
nearer to her.
"My lord," said she, almost with solemnity," as a queen and as a
woman I thank you for the noble and sublime lyrics which you have
composed in honor of a woman! And for that the grace of my king has
exalted me to be the first woman in England, it becomes me, in the
name of all women, to return to you my thanks. To the poet is due a
reward other than that of the warrior. To the victor on the
battlefield is awarded a laurel crown. But you have gained a victory
not less glorious, for you have conquered hearts! We acknowledge
ourselves vanquished, and in the name of all these noble women, I
proclaim you their knight! In token of which, accept this rosette,
my lord. It entitles you to wear the queen's colors; it lays you
under obligation to be the knight of all women!"
She loosened the rosette from her shoulder, and handed it to the
He had sunk on one knee before her, and already extended his hand to
receive this precious and coveted pledge.
But at this moment the king arose, and, with an imperious gesture,
held back the queen's hand.
"Allow me, my lady," said he, in a voice quivering with rage--"allow
me first to examine this rosette, and convince myself that it is
worth enough to be presented to the noble earl as his sole reward.
Let me see this rosette."
Catharine looked with astonishment into that face convulsed with
passion and fury, but without hesitation she handed him the rosette.
"We are lost!" murmured Earl Surrey, while Earl Douglas and Gardiner
exchanged with each other looks of triumph; and Jane Douglas
murmured in her trembling heart prayers of anxiety and dread,
scarcely hearing the malicious and exultant words which the Duchess
of Richmond was whispering in her ear.
The king held the rosette in his hand and examined it. But his hands
trembled so much that he was unable to unfasten the clasp which held
He, therefore, handed it to John Heywood. "These diamonds are poor,"
said he, in a curt, dry tone. "Unfasten the clasp, fool; we will
replace it with this pin here. Then will the present gain for the
earl a double value; for it will come at the same time from me and
from the queen.
How gracious you are to-day!" said John Heywood, smiling--"as
gracious as the cat, that plays a little longer with the mouse
before she devours it."
"Unfasten the clasp!" exclaimed the king, in a thundering voice, no
longer able to conceal his rage. Slowly John Heywood unfastened the
clasp from the ribbon. He did it with intentional slowness and
deliberation; he let the king see all his movements, every turn of
his fingers; and it delighted him to hold those who had woven this
plot in dreadful suspense and expectation.
Whilst he appeared perfectly innocent and unembarrassed, his keen,
piercing glance ran over the whole assembly, and he noticed well the
trembling impatience of Gardiner and Earl Douglas; and it did not
escape him how pale Lady Jane was, and how full of expectation were
the intent features of the Duchess of Richmond.
"They are the ones with whom this conspiracy originated," said John
Heywood to himself. "But I will keep silence till I can one day
"There, here is the clasp!" said he then aloud to the king. "It
stuck as tightly in the ribbon as malice in the hearts of priests
The king snatched the ribbon out of his hand, and examined it by
drawing it through his fingers.
"Nothing! nothing at all!" said he, gnashing his teeth; and now,
deceived in his expectations and suppositions, he could no longer
muster strength to withstand that roaring torrent of wrath which
overflowed his heart. The tiger was again aroused in him; he had
calmly waited for the moment when the promised prey would be brought
to him; now, when it seemed to be escaping him, his savage and cruel
disposition started up within him. The tiger panted and thirsted for
blood; and that he was not to get it, made him raging with fury.
With a wild movement he threw the rosette on the ground, and raised
his arm menacingly toward Henry Howard. "Dare not to touch that
rosette," cried he, in a voice of thunder, "before you have
exculpated yourself from the guilt of which you are accused."
Earl Surrey looked him steadily and boldly in the eye. "Have I been
accused, then?" asked he. "Then I demand, first of all, that I be
confronted with my accusers, and that my fault be named!"
"Ha, traitor! Do you dare to brave me?" yelled the king, stamping
furiously with his foot. "Well, now, I will be your accuser and I
will be your judge!"
"And surely, my king and husband, you will be a righteous judge,"
said Catharine, as she inclined imploringly toward the king and
grasped his hand. "You will not condemn the noble Earl Surrey
without having heard him; and if you find him guiltless, you will
punish his accusers?"
But this intercession of the queen made the king raging. He threw
her hand from him, and gazed at her with looks of such flaming
wrath, that she involuntarily trembled.
"Traitoress yourself!" yelled he, wildly. "Speak not of innocence--
you who are yourself guilty; and before you dare defend the earl,
Catharine rose from her seat and looked with flashing eyes into the
king's face blazing with wrath. "King Henry of England," said she,
solemnly, "you have openly, before your whole court, accused your
queen of a crime. I now demand that you name it!"
She was of wondrous beauty in her proud, hold bearing--in her
imposing, majestic tranquillity.
The decisive moment had come, and she was conscious that her life
and her future were struggling with death for the victory.
She looked over to Thomas Seymour, and their eyes met. She saw how
he laid his hand on his sword, and nodded to her a smiling greeting.
"He will defend me; and before he will suffer me to be dragged to
the Tower, he himself will plunge his sword into my breast," thought
she, and a joyous, triumphant assurance filled her whole heart.
She saw nothing but him, who had sworn to die with her when the
decisive moment came. She looked with a smile on the blade which he
had already half drawn from its scabbard; and she hailed it as a
dear, long-yearned-for friend.
She saw not that Henry Howard also had lain his hand on his sword;
that he, too, was ready for her defence, firmly resolved to slay the
king himself, before his mouth uttered the sentence of death over
But Lady Jane Douglas saw it. She understood how to read the earl's
countenance; she felt that he was ready to go to death for his
beloved; and it filled her heart at once with woe and rapture.
She, too, was now firmly resolved to follow her heart and her love;
and, forgetting all else besides these, she hastened forward, and
was now standing by Henry Howard.
"Be prudent, Earl Surrey," said she, in a low whisper. "Take your
hand from your sword. The queen, by my mouth, commands you to do
Henry Howard looked at her astonished and surprised; but he let his
hand slip from the hilt of his sword, and again looked toward the
She had repeated her demand; she had once more demanded of the king-
-who, speechless and completely overcome with anger, had fallen back
into his seat--to name the crime of which she was accused.
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