Part 4 out of 9
he had in each talon a dove! Two doves for one hawk. Is not that too
much--wholly contrary to law and nature?"
The earl cast on him a penetrating and distrustful look. But John
Heywood, remaining perfectly calm and unembarrassed, continued
looking at the clouds.
"How stupid such a brute is, and how much to his disadvantage will
his very greediness be! For since he holds a dove in each claw, he
will not be able to enjoy either of them; because he has no claw at
liberty with which to tear them. Soon as he wishes to enjoy the one,
the other will escape; when he grabs after that, the other flies
away; and so at last he will have nothing at all, because he was too
rapacious and wanted more than he could use."
"And you are looking after this hawk in the skies? But you are
perhaps mistaken, and he whom you seek is not above there at all,
but here below, and perchance quite close to you?" asked Thomas
But John Heywood would not understand him.
"Nay," said he," he still flies, but it will not last long. For
verily I saw the owner of the dovecot from which the hawk has stolen
the two doves. He had a weapon; and he, be ye sure of it--he will
kill this hawk, because he has robbed him of his pet doves."
"Enough, enough!" cried the earl, impatiently. "You would give me a
lesson, but you must know I take no counsel from a fool, even were
he the wisest."
"In that you are right, my lord, for only fools are so foolish as to
hearken to the voice of wisdom. Besides, each man forges his own
fortune. And now, wise sir, I will give you a key, which you
yourself have forged, and behind which lies your fortune. There,
take this key; and if you at midnight slip through the garden to the
tower over yonder, this key will open to you the door of the same,
and you can then without hesitation mount the spiral staircase and
open the door which is opposite the staircase. Behind that you will
find the fortune which you have forged for yourself, sir blacksmith,
and which will bid you welcome with warm lips and soft arms. And so
commending you to God, I must hasten home to think over the comedy
which the king has commanded me to write."
"But you do not so much as tell me from whom this message comes?"
said Earl Sudley, retaining him. "You invite me to a meeting and
give me a key, and I know not who will await me there in that
"Oh, you do not know? There is then more than one who might await
you there? Well, then, it is the youngest and smallest of the two
doves who sends you the key."
"You have named her, not I!" said John Heywood, as he disengaged
himself from the earl's grasp and hurried across the courtyard to
betake himself to his lodgings.
Thomas Seymour watched him with a scowl, and then slowly directed
his eyes to the key that Heywood had given him.
"The princess then awaits me," whispered he, softly. "Ah, who can
read it in the stars? who can know whither the crown will roll when
it tumbles from King Henry's head? I love Catharine, but I love
ambition still more; and if it is demanded, to ambition must I
sacrifice my heart."
GAMMER GUETON'S NEEDLE.
Slowly and lost in gloomy thought, John Heywood walked toward his
lodgings. These lodgings were situated in the second or inner court
of the vast palace of Whitehall, in that wing of the castle which
contained the apartments of all the higher officers of the royal
household, and so those of the court-jesters also; for the king's
fool was at that period a very important and respectable personage,
who occupied a rank equal to that of a gentleman of the royal bed-
John Heywood had just crossed this second courtyard, when all at
once loud, wrangling voices, and the clear, peculiar ring of a box
on the ear, startled him out of his meditations. He stopped and
listened. His face, before so serious, had now reassumed its usual
merry and shrewd expression; his large eyes again glittered with
humor and mischief. "There again verily is my sweet, charming
housekeeper, Gammer Gurton," said John Heywood, laughing; "and she
no doubt is quarrelling again with my excellent servant, that poor,
long-legged, blear-eyed Hodge. Ah! ha! Yesterday I surprised her as
she applied a kiss to him, at which he made as doleful a face as if
a bee had stung him. To-day I hear how she is boxing his ears. He is
perhaps now laughing at it, and thinks it is a rose-leaf which cools
his cheek. That Hodge is such a queer bird! But we will at once see
what there is to-day, and what farce is being performed now."
He crept softly up-stairs, and, opening the door of his room, closed
it again behind him quickly and gently. Gammer Gurton, who was in
the room adjoining, had heard nothing, seen nothing; and had the
heavens come tumbling down at that moment, she would have scarcely
noticed it; for she had eyes and sense only for this long, lank
lackey who stood before her shaking with fear, and staring at her
out of his great bluish-white eyes. Her whole soul lay in her
tongue; and her tongue ran as fast as a will-wheel, and with the
force of thunder. How, then, could Gammer Gurton well have time and
ears to hear her master, who had softly entered his chamber and
slyly crept to the door, only half closed, which separated his room
from that of the housekeeper?" How!" screamed Gammer Gurtoh, "you
silly raga muffin, you wish to make me believe that it was the cat
that ran away with my sewing-needle, as if my sewing-needle were a
mouse and smelt of bacon, you stupid, blear-eyed fool!"
"Ah, you call me a fool," cried Hodge, with a laugh, which caused
his mouth to describe a graceful line across his face from ear to
ear; "you call me a fool, and that is a great honor for me, for then
I am a servant worthy of my master. And as to being blear-eyed, that
must be caused by the simple fact that I have nothing all day long
before my eyes but you, Gammer Gurton--you, with your face like a
full moon--you, sailing through the room like a frigate, and with
your grappling-irons, your hands, smashing to pieces everything
except your own looking-glass."
"You shall pay me for that, you double-faced, thread-bare lout!"
screamed Gammer Gurton, as she rushed on Hodge with clenched fist.
But John Heywood's cunning servant had anticipated this; he had
already slipped under the large table which stood in the middle of
the room. As the housekeeper now made a plunge to drag him out of
his extemporary fortress, he gave her such a hearty pinch on the
leg, that she sprang back with a scream, and sank, wholly overcome
by the pain, into the huge, leather-covered elbow-chair which was
near her workstand at the window.
"You are a monster, Hodge," groaned she, exhausted--" a heartless,
horrible monster. You have stolen my sewing-needle--you only. For
you knew very well that it was my last one, and that, if I have not
that, I must go at once to the shopkeeper to buy some needles. And
that is just what you want, you weathercock, you. You only want me
to go out, that you may have an opportunity to play with Tib."
"Tib? Who is Tib?" asked Hodge as he stretched out his long neck
from under the table, and stared at Gammer Gurton with well-assumed
"Now this otter wants me yet to tell him who Tib is!" screamed the
exasperated dame. "Well, then, I will tell you. Tib is the cook for
the major-domo over there--a black-eyed, false, coquettish little
devil, who is bad and mean enough to troll away the lover of an
honest and virtuous woman, as I am; a lover who is such a pitiful
little thing that one would think no one but myself could find him
out and see him; nor could I have done it had I not for forty years
trained my eyes to the search, and for forty years looked around for
the man who was at length to marry me, and make me a respectable
mistress. Since my eyes then were at last steadily fixed on this
phantom of man, and I found nothing there, I finally discovered you,
you cobweb of a man!"
"What! you call me a cobweb?" screamed Hodge, as he crept from under
the table, and, drawing himself up to his full height, placed
himself threateningly in front of Gammer Gurton's elbow-chair. "You
call me a cobweb? Now, I swear to you that you shall henceforth
never more be the spider that dwells in that web! For you are a
garden-spider, an abominable, dumpy, old garden-spider, for whom a
web, such as Hodge is, is much too fine and much too elegant. Be
quiet, therefore, old spider, and spin your net elsewhere! You shall
not live in my net, but Tib--for, yes, I do know Tib. She is a
lovely, charming child of fourteen, as quick and nimble as a kid,
with lips red as the coral which you wear on your fat pudding of a
neck, with eyes which shine yet brighter than your nose, and with a
figure so slender and graceful that she might have been carved out
of one of your fingers. Yes, yes, I know Tib. She is an
affectionate, good child, who would never be so hard-hearted as to
abuse the man she loves, and could not be so mean and pitiful, even
in thought, as to wish to marry the man she did not love. Just
because he is a man. Yes, I know Tib, and now I will go straight to
her and ask her if she will marry a good, honest lad, who, to be
sure, is somewhat lean, but who doubtless will become fatter if he
has any other fare than the meagre, abominable stuff on which Gammer
Gurton feeds him; a lad who, to be sure, is blear-eyed, but will
soon get over that disease when he no more sees Gammer Gurton, who
acts on his eyes like a stinking onion, and makes them always red
and running water. Good-by, old onion! I am going to Tib."
But Gammer Gurton whirled up out of her elbow-chair like a top, and
was upon Hodge, whom she held by the coat-tail, and brought him to a
"You dare go to Tib again! You dare pass that door and you shall see
that the gentle, peaceable, and patient Gammer Gurton is changed
into a lioness, when any one tries to tear from her that most sacred
and dearest of treasures, her husband. For you are my husband,
inasmuch as I have your word that you will marry me."
"But I have not told you when and where I will do it, Gammer Gurton;
and so you can wait to all eternity, for only in heaven will I be
"That is an abominable, malicious lie!" screamed Gammer Gurton. "A
good-for-nothing lie, say I! For did you not long ago snivel and beg
till I was forced to promise you to make a will, and in it declare
Hodge, my beloved husband, sole heir of all my goods and chattels,
and bequeath to him everything I have scraped together in my
virtuous and industrious life?"
"But you did not make it--the will. You broke your word; and,
therefore, I will do the same."
"Yes, I have made it, you greyhound. I have made it; and this very
day I was going with you to a justice of the peace and have it
signed, and then to-morrow we would have got married."
"You have made the will, you round world of love?" said Hodge
tenderly, as with his long, withered, spindling arms he tried to
clasp the gigantic waist of his beloved. "You have made the will and
declared me your heir? Come, then, Gammer Gurton, come, let us go to
the justice of the peace!"
"But do you not see, then," said Gammer Gurton, with a tender, cat-
like purr, "do you not see, then, that you rumple my frill when you
hug me so? Let me go, then, and help me find my needle quickly, for
without the needle we cannot go to the justice of the peace."
"What, without the needle not go to the justice of the peace?"
"No; for only see this hole which Gib, the cat, tore in my prettiest
cap awhile ago, as I took the cap out of the box and laid it on the
table. Indeed I cannot go to the justice of the peace with such a
hole in my cap! Search then, Hodge, search, so that I can mend my
cap, and go with you to the justice of the peace!"
"Lord God, where in the world can it be, the unlucky needle? I must
have it, I must find it, so that Gammer Gurton may take her will to
the justice of the peace!"
And in frantic desperation, Hodge searched all about on the floor
for the lost needle, and Gammer Gurton stuck her large spectacles on
her flaming red nose and peered about on the table. So eager was she
in the search, that she even let her tongue rest a little, and deep
silence reigned in the room.
Suddenly this silence was broken by a voice; which seemed to come
from the courtyard. It was a soft, sweet voice that cried: "Hodge,
dear Hodge, are you there? Come to me in the court, only for a few
minutes! I want to have a bit of a laugh with you!"
It was as though an electric shock had passed through the room with
that voice, and struck at the same time both Gammer Gurton and
Both startled, and discontinuing the search, stood there wholly
immovable, as if petrified. Hodge especially, poor Hodge, was as if
struck by lightning. His great bluish-white eyes appeared to be
coming out of their sockets; his long arms hung down, flapping and
dangling about like a flail; his knees, half bent, seemed already to
be giving way in expectation of the approaching storm.
This storm did not in fact make him wait long. "That is Tib!"
screamed Gammer Gurton, springing like a lioness upon Hodge and
seizing him by the shoulders with both her hands. "That is Tib, you
thread-like, pitiful greyhound! Well, was I not right, now, when I
called you a faithless, good-for-nothing scamp, that spares not
innocence, and breaks the hearts of the women as he would a cracker,
which he swallows at his pleasure? Was I not right, in saying that
you were only watching for me to go out in order to go and sport
"Hodge, my dear, darling Hodge," cried the voice beneath there, and
this time louder and more tender than before, "Hodge, oh come, do
now, come with me in the court, as you promised me; come and get the
kiss for which you begged me this morning!"
"I will be a damned otter, if I begged her for it, and if I
understand a single word of what she says!" said Hodge, wholly
dumfounded and quaking all over.
"Ah, you understand not a word of what she says?" screamed Gammer
Gurton. "Well, but I understand it. I understand that everything
between us is past and done with, and that I have nothing more to do
with you, you Moloch, you! I understand that I shall not go and make
my will, to become your wife and fret myself to death over this
skeleton of a husband, that I may leave you to chuckle as my heir.
No, no, it is past. I am not going to the justice of the peace, and
I will tear up my will!"
"Oh, she is going to tear up her will!" howled Hodge; "and then I
have tormented myself in vain; in vain have endured the horrible
luck of being loved by this old owl! Oh, oh, she will not make her
will, and Hodge will remain the same miserable dog he always was!"
Gammer Gurton laughed scornfully. "Ah, you are aware at last what a
pitiable wretch you are, and how much a noble and handsome person,
as I am, lowered herself when she made up her mind to pick up such a
weed and make him her husband."
"Yes, yes, I know it!" whined Hodge; "and I pray you pick me up and
take me, and above all things make your will!"
"No, I will not take you, and I shall not make my will! It is all
over with, I tell you; and now you can go as soon as vou please to
Tib, who has called you so lovingly. But first give me back my
sewing-needle, you magpie, you! Give me here my sewing-needle, which
you have stolen. It is of no use to you now, for it is not necessary
for me to go out in order that you may go and see Tib. We have
nothing more to do with each other, and you can go where you wish.
My sewing-needle, say I--my needle, or I will hang you as a
scarecrow in my pea-patch, to frighten the sparrows out of it. My
She shook her clenched fist threateningly at Hodge, fully convinced
that now, as always before, Hodge would retreat before this menacing
weapon of his jealous and irritable lady-love, and seek safety under
the bed or the table.
This time, however, she was mistaken. Hodge, who saw that all was
lost, felt that his patience was at length exhausted; and his
timidity was now changed to the madness of despair. The lamb was
transformed into a tiger, and with a tiger's rage he pounced upon
Gammer Gurton, and, throwing aside her fist, he dealt her a good
sound blow on the cheek.
The signal was given, and the battle began. It was waged by both
sides with equal animosity and equal vigor; only Hodge's bony hand
made by far the most telling blows on Gammer Gurton's mass of flesh,
and was always certain, wherever he struck, to hit some spot of this
huge mass; while Gammer Gurton's soft hand seldom touched that thin,
threadlike figure, which dexterously parried every blow.
"Stop, you fools!" suddenly shouted a stentorian voice. "See you
not, you goblins, that your lord and master is here? Peace, peace
then, you devils, and do not be hammering away at one another, but
love each other.
It is the master!" exclaimed Gammer Gurton, lowering her fist in the
"Do not turn me away, sir!" moaned Hodge; "do not dismiss me from
your service because at last I have for once given the old hag a
good bruising. She has deserved it a long time, and an angel himself
must at last lose patience with her."
"I turn you out of my service!" exclaimed John Heywood, as he wiped
his eyes, wet with laughing. "No, Hodge, you are a real jewel, a
mine of fun and merriment; and you two have, without knowing it,
furnished me with the choicest materials for a piece which, by the
king's order, I have to write within six days. I owe you, then, many
thanks, and will show my gratitude forthwith. Listen well to me, my
amorous and tender pair of turtle-doves, and mark what I have to say
to you. One cannot always tell the wolf by his hide, for he
sometimes put on a sheep's skin; and so, too, a man cannot always be
recognized by his voice, for he sometimes borrows that of his
neighbor. Thus, for example, I know a certain John Heywood, who can
mimic exactly the voice of a certain little miss named Tib, and who
knows how to warble as she herself: 'Hodge, my dear Hodge!'" And he
repeated to them exactly, and with the same tone and expression, the
words that the voice had previously cried.
"Ah, it was you, sir?" cried Hodge, with a broad grin--"that Tib in
the court there, that Tib about whom we have been pummelling each
"I was Tib, Hodge--I who was present during the whole of your
quarrel, and found it hugely comical to send Tib's voice thundering
into the midst of our lovers' quarrel, like a cannon-stroke! Ah, ha!
Hodge, that was a fine bomb-shell, was it not? And as I said 'Hodge,
my dear Hodge,' you tumbled about like a kernel of corn which a
dung-beetle blows with his breath. No, no, my worthy and virtuous
Gammer Gurton, it was not Tib who called the handsome Hodge, and
more than that, I saw Tib, as your contest began, go out at the
"It was not Tib!" exclaimed Gammer Gurton, much moved, and happy as
love could make her. "It was not Tib, and she was not in the court
at all, and Hodge could not then go down to her, while I went to the
shopkeeper's to buy needles. Oh, Hodge, Hodge, will you forgive me
for this; will you forget the hard words which I spoke in the fury
of my anguish, and can you love me again?"
"I will try," said Hodge, gravely; "and without doubt I shall
succeed, provided you go to-day forthwith to the justice, and make
"I will make my will, and to-morrow we will go to the priest; shall
it not be so, my angel?"
"Yes, we go to the priest to-morrow!" growled Hodge, as with a
frightful grimace he scratched himself behind the ears.
"And now come, my angel, and give me a kiss of reconciliation!" She
spread her arms out, and when Houge did not come to her, but
remained immovable, and steadfast in his position, she went to Hodge
and pressed him tenderly to her heart.
Suddenly she uttered a shriek, and let go of Hodge, She had felt a
terrible pain in her breast. It seemed as though a small dagger had
pierced her bosom.
And there it was, the lost needle, and Hodge then was innocent and
pure as the early dawn.
He had not mischievously purloined the needle, so that Gammer Gurton
would be compelled to leave her house in order to fetch some new
needles from the shopkeeper's; he had not intended to go to Tib, for
Tib was not in the court, but had gone out.
"Oh Hodge, Hodge, good Hodge, you innocent dove, will you forgive
"Come to the justice of the peace, Gammer Gurton, and I forgive
They sank tenderly into each other's arms, wholly forgetful of their
master, who still stood near them, and looked on, laughing and
nodding his head.
"Now, then, I have found the finest and most splendid materials for
my piece," said John Heywood, as he left the loving pair and betook
himself to his own room. "Gammer Gurton has saved me, and King Henry
will not have the satisfaction of seeing me whipped by those most
virtuous and most lovely ladies of his court. To work, then,
straightway to work!"
He seated himself at his writing-desk, and seized pen and paper.
"But how!" asked he, suddenly pausing. "That is certainly a rich
subject for a composition; but I can never in the world get an
interlude out of it! What shall I do with it? Abandon this subject
altogether, and again jeer at the monks and ridicule the nuns? That
is antiquated and worn out! I will write something new, something
wholly new, and something which will make the king so merry, that he
will not sign a death-warrant for a whole day. Yes, yes, a merry
play shall it be, and then I will call it boldly and fearlessly a
He seized his pen and wrote: "Gammer Gurton's Needle, a right pithy,
pleasant, and merry comedy."
And thus originated the first English comedy, by John Heywood, fool
to King Henry the Eighth. [Footnote: This comedy was first printed
in the year 1661, but it was represented at Christ College fully a
hundred years previously. Who was the author of it is not known with
certainty; but it is possible that the writer of it was John
Heywood, the epigrammatist and court-jester.--See Dramaturgic oder
Theorie und Geschichte der dramatischen Kunst, von Theodore Mundt,
vol i, p. 809. Flogel's Geschicbte der Hofnarren, p. 399.]
All was quiet in the palace of Whitehall. Even the servants on guard
in the vestibule of the king's bedchamber had been a long time
slumbering, for the king had been snoring for several hours; and
this majestical sound was, to the dwellers in the palace, the joyful
announcement that for one fine night they were exempt from service,
and might be free men.
The queen also had long since retired to her apartments, and
dismissed her ladies at an unusually early hour. She felt, she said,
wearied by the chase, and much needed rest. No one, therefore, was
to disturb her, unless the king should order it.
But the king, as we have said, slept, and the queen had no reason to
fear that her night's rest would be disturbed.
Deep silence reigned in the palace. The corridors were empty and
deserted, the apartments all silent.
Suddenly a figure tripped along softly and cautiously through the
long feebly lighted corridor. She was wrapped in a black mantle; a
veil concealed her face.
Scarcely touching the floor with her feet, she floated away, and
glided down a little staircase. Now she stops and listens. There is
nothing to hear; all is noiseless and still.
Then, on again. Now she wings her steps. For here she is sure of not
being heard. It is the unoccupied wing of the castle of Whitehall.
Nobody watches her here.
On, then, on, adown that corridor, descending those stairs. There
she stops before a door leading into the summer-house. She puts her
ear to the door, and listens. Then she claps her hands three times.
The sound is reechoed from the other side.
"Oh, he is there, he is there!" Forgotten now are her cares,
forgotten her pains and tears. He is there. She has him again.
She throws open the door. It is dark indeed in the chamber, but she
sees him. for the eye of love pierces the night; and if the sees him
not, yet she feels his presence.
She rests on his heart; he presses her closely to his breast.
Leaning on each other, they grope cautiously along through the dark,
desolate chamber to the divan at the upper end, and there, both
locked in a happy embrace, they sink upon the cushion.
"At last I have you again! and my arms again clasp this divine form,
and again my lips press this crimson mouth! Oh, my beloved, what an
eternity has this separation been! Six days! Six long nights of
agony! Have you not felt how my soul cried out for you, and was
filled with trepidation; how I stretched my arms out into the night,
and let them fall again disconsolate and trembling with anguish,
because they clasped nothing--naught but the cold, vacant night
breeze! Did you not hear, my beloved, how I cried to you with sighs
and tears, how in glowing dithyrambics I poured forth to you my
longing, my love, my rapture? But you, cruel you, remained ever
cold, ever smiling. Your eyes were ever flashing in all the pride
and grandeur of a Juno. The roses on your cheeks were not one whit
the paler. No, no, you have not longed for me; your heart has not
felt this painful, blissful anguish. You are first and above all
things the proud, cold queen, and next, next the loving woman."
"How unjust and hard you are, my Henry!" whispered she softly. "I
have indeed suffered; and perhaps my pains have been more cruel and
bitter than yours, for I--I had to let them consume me within. You
could pour them forth, you could stretch out your arms after me, you
could utter lamentations and sighs. You were not, like me, condemned
to laugh, and to jest, and to listen with apparently attentive ear
to all those often heard and constantly repeated phrases of praise
and adoration from those about me. You were at least free to suffer.
I was not. It is true I smiled, but amidst the pains of death. It is
true my cheeks did not blanch, but rouge was the veil with which I
covered their paleness; and then, Henry, in the midst of my pains
and longings, I had, too, a sweet consolation--your letters, your
poems, which fell like the dew of heaven upon my sick soul, and
restored it to health, for new torments and new hopes. Oh, how I
love them--those poems, in whose noble and enchanting language your
love and our sufferings are reechoed! How my whole soul flew forth
to meet them when I received them, and how pressed I my lips
thousands and thousands of times on the paper which seemed to me
redolent with your breath and your sighs! How I love that good,
faithful Jane, the silent messenger of our love! When I behold her
entering my chamber, with the unsullied paper in hand, she is to me
the dove with the olive-leaf, that brings me peace and happiness,
and I rush to her, and press her to my bosom; and give her all the
kisses I would give you, and feel how poor and powerless I am,
because I cannot repay her all the happiness that she brings me. Ah,
Henry, how many thanks do we owe to poor Jane!"
"Why do you call her poor, when she can be near you, always behold
yon, always hear you?"
"I call her poor, because she is unhappy. For she loves, Henry--she
loves to desperation, to madness, and she is not loved. She is
pining away with grief and pain, and wrings her hands in boundless
woe. Have you not noticed how pale she is, and how her eyes become
daily more dim?"
"No, I have not seen it, for I see naught but you, and Lady Jane is
to me a lifeless image, as are all other women. But what! You
tremble; and your whole frame writhes in my arms, as if in a
convulsion! And what is that? Are you weeping?"
"Oh, I weep, because I am so happy. I weep, because I was thinking
how fearful the suffering must be, to give the whole heart away, and
receive nothing in return, naught but death! Poor Jane!"
"What is she to us? We, we love each other. Come, dear one, let me
kiss the tears from your eyes; let me drink this nectar, that it may
inspire me, and transfigure me to a god! Weep no more--no, weep not;
or, if you will do so, be it only in the excess of rapture, and
because word and heart are too poor to hold all this bliss!"
"Yes, yes, let us shout for joy; let us be lost in blessedness!"
exclaimed she passionately, as with frantic violence she threw
herself on his bosom.
Both were now silent, mutely resting on each other's heart.
Oh, how sweet this silence; how entrancing this noiseless, sacred
night! How the trees without there murmur and rustle, as if they
were singing a heavenly lullaby to the lovers! how inquisitively the
pale crescent moon peeps through the window, as though she were
seeking the twain whose blessed confidante she is!
But happiness is so swift-winged, and time flies so fast, when love
is their companion!
Even now they must part again--now they must again say farewell.
"Not yet, beloved, stay yet! See, the night is still dark; and hark,
the castle clock is just striking two. No, go not yet."
"I must, Henry, I must; the hours are past in which I can be happy."
"Oh, you cold, proud soul! Does the head already long again for the
crown; and can you wait no longer for the purple to again cover your
shoulders? Come, let me kiss your shoulder; and think now, dear,
that my crimson lips are also a purple robe.
And a purple robe for which I would gladly give my crown and my
life!" cried she, with the utmost enthusiasm, as she folded him in
"Do you love me, then? Do you really love me?"
"Yes, I love you!"
"Can you swear to me that you love no one except me?"
"I can swear it, as true as there is a God above us, who hears my
"Bless you for it, you dear, you only one--oh, how shall I call
you?--you whose name I may not utter! Oh, do you know that it is
cruel never to name the name of the loved one? Withdraw that
prohibition; grudge me not the painfully sweet pleasure of being
able at least to call you by your name!"
"No," said she, with a shudder; "for know you not that the sleep-
walkers awake out of their dreams when they are called by name? I am
a somnambulist, who, with smiling courage, moves along a dizzy
height; call me by name, and I shall awake, and, shuddering, plunge
into the abyss beneath. Ah, Henry, I hate my name, for it is
pronounced by other lips than yours. For you I will not be named as
other men call me. Baptize me, my Henry; give me another name--a
name which is our secret, and which no one knows besides us."
"I name you Geraldine; and as Geraldine I will praise and laud you
before all the world. I will, in spite of all these spies and
listeners, repeat again and again that I love you, and no one, not
the king himself, shall be able to forbid me."
"Hush!" said she, with a shudder, "speak not of him! Oh, I conjure
you, my Henry, be cautious; think that you have sworn to me ever to
think of the danger that threatens us, and will, without doubt, dash
us in pieces if you, by only a sound, a look, or a smile, betray the
sweet secret that unites us two. Are you still aware what you have
sworn to me?"
"I am aware of it! But it is an unnatural Draconian law. What! even
when I am alone with you, shall I never be allowed to address you
otherwise than with that reverence and restrain which is due the
queen? Even when no one can hear us, may I, by no syllable, by none,
not the slightest intimation, remind you of our love?"
"No, no, do it not; for this castle has everywhere eyes and ears,
and everywhere are spies and listeners behind the tapestry; behind
the curtains; everywhere are they concealed and lurking, watching
every feature, every smile, every word, whether it may not afford
ground for suspicion. No, no, Henry; swear to me by our love that
you will never, unless here in this room, address me otherwise than
your queen. Swear to me that, beyond these walls, you will be to me
only the respectful servant of your queen, and at the same time the
proud earl and lord, of whom it is said that never has a woman been
able to touch his heart. Swear to me that you will not, by a look,
by a smile, by even the gentlest pressure of the hand, betray what
beyond this room is a crime for both of us. Let this room be the
temple of our love; but when we once pass its threshold, we will not
profane the sweet mysteries of our happiness, by allowing unholy
eyes to behold even a single ray of it. Shall it be so, my Henry?
"Yes, it shall be so!" said he, with a troubled voice; "although I
must confess that this dreadful illusion often tortures me almost to
death. Oh, Geraldine, when I meet you elsewhere, when I observe the
eye so icy and immovable, with which you meet my look, I feel as it
were my heart convulsed; and I say to myself: 'This is not she, whom
I love--not the tender, passionate woman, whom in the darkness of
the night I sometimes lock in my arms. This is Catharine, the queen,
but not my loved one. A woman cannot so disguise herself; art goes
not so far as to falsify the entire nature, the innermost being and
life of a person.' Oh, there have been hours, awful, horrible hours,
when it seemed to me as though all this were a delusion, a
mystification--as though in some way an evil demon assumed the
queen's form by night to mock me, poor frenzied visionary, with a
happiness that has no existence, but lives only in my imagination.
When such thoughts come to me, I feel a frenzied fury, a crushing
despair, and I could, regardless of my oath and even the danger that
threatens you, rush to you, and, before all the courtly rabble and
the king himself, ask: 'Are you really what you seem? Are you,
Catharine Parr, King Henry's wife--nothing more, nothing else than
that? Or are you, my beloved, the woman who is mine in her every
thought, her every breath; who has vowed to me eternal love and
unchanging truth; and whom I, in spite of the whole world, and the
king, press to my heart as my own?'"
"Unhappy man, if you ever venture that, you doom us both to death!"
"Be it so, then! In death you will at least be mine, and no one
would longer dare separate us, and your eyes would no longer look so
cold and strangely upon me, as they often now do. Oh, I conjure you,
gaze not upon me at all, if you cannot do it otherwise than with
those cold, proud looks, that benumb my heart. Turn away your eyes,
and speak to me with averted face."
"Then, men will say that I hate you, Henry."
"It is more agreeable to me for them to say you abhor me than for
them to see that I am wholly indifferent to you; that I am to you
nothing more than the Earl of Surrey, your lord chamberlain."
"No, no, Henry. They shall see that you are more to me than merely
that. Before the whole assembled court I will give you a token of my
love. Will you then believe, you dear, foolish enthusiast, that I
love you, and that it is no demon that rests here in your arms and
swears that she loves nothing but you? Say, will you then believe
"I will believe you! But no, there is no need of any sign, or any
assurance. Nay, I know it; I feel indeed the sweet reality that
cuddles to my side, warm, and filling me with happiness; and it is
only the excess of happiness that makes me incredulous."
"I will convince you thoroughly; and you shall doubt no more, not
even in the intoxication of happiness. Listen, then. The king, as
you know, is about to hold a great tournament and festival of the
poets, and it will take place in a few days. Now, then, at this fete
I will publicly, in the presence of the king and his court, give you
a rosette that I wear on my shoulder, and in the silver fringe of
which you will find a note from me. Will that satisfy you, my
"And do you still question it, my dear? Do you question it, when you
will make me proud and happy above all others of your court?"
He pressed her closely to his heart and kissed her. But suddenly she
writhed in his arms, and started up in wild alarm.
"Day is breaking, day is breaking! See there! a red streak is
spreading over the clouds. The sun is coming; day is coming, and
already begins to dawn."
He endeavored to detain her still; but she tore herself passionately
away, and again enveloped her head in her veil.
"Yes," said he, "day is breaking and it is growing light! Let me
then, for a moment at least, see your face. My soul thirsts for it
as the parched earth for the dew. Come, it is light here at the
window. Let me see your eyes."
She tore herself vehemently away. "No, no, you must be gone! Hark,
it is already three o'clock. Soon everything will be astir in the
castle. Did it not seem as if some person passed by the door here?
Haste, haste, if you do not wish me to die of dread!" She threw his
cloak over him; she drew his hat over his brow; then once more she
threw her arms around his neck and pressed on his lips a burning
kiss. "Farewell, my beloved! farewell, Henry Howard! When we see
each other again to-day, you are the Earl of Surrey, and I, the
queen--not your loved one--not the woman who loves you! Happiness is
past, and suffering awakes anew. Farewell."
She herself opened the glass door, and pushed her lover out.
"Farewell, Geraldine; good-night, my dear! Day comes, and I again
greet you as my queen, and I shall have to endure again the torture
of your cold looks and your haughty smiles."
She rushed to the window and gazed after him till he had
disappeared, then she uttered a deep cry of anguish, and, wholly
overcome by her agony, she sank down on her knees weeping and
wailing, wringing her hands, and raising them to God.
But just before so happy and joyful, she was now full of woe and
anguish; and bitter sighs of complaint came trembling from her lips.
"Oh, oh," moaned she, with sobs; "what terrible agonies are these,
and how full of despair the anguish that lacerates my breast! I have
lain in his arms; I have received his vows of love and accepted his
kisses; and these vows are not mine, and these kisses he gave not to
me. He kissed me, and he loves in me only her whom I hate. He lays
his hands in mine and utters vows of love which he dedicates to her.
He thinks and feels for her only--her alone. What a terrible torture
this is! To be loved under her name; under her name to receive the
vows of love that yet belong to me only--to me alone! For he loves
me, me exclusively. They are my lips that he kisses, my form that he
embraces; to me are addressed his words and his letters; and it is I
that reply to them. He loves me, me only, and yet he puts no faith
in me. I am nothing to him, naught but a lifeless image, like other
women. This he has told me; and I did not become frenzied; and I had
the cruel energy to pass off the tears wrung from me by despair, for
tears of rapture. Oh, detestable, horrible mockery of fate--to be
what I am not, and not to be what I am!"
And with a shrill cry of agony she tore her hair, and with her fist
smote upon her breast, and wept and moaned aloud.
She heard naught; she saw naught; she felt naught but her
inexpressible and despairing anguish.
She did not once tremble for herself; she thought not at all of
this--that she would be lost if she were found in this place.
And yet at the other side of the room a door had opened, softly and
noiselessly, and a man had entered.
He shut the door behind him and walked up to Lady Jane, who still
lay on the floor. He stood behind her while she uttered her
despairing lamentation. He heard every word of her quivering lips;
her whole heart painfully convulsed and torn with grief lay unveiled
before him; and she knew it not.
Now he bent over her; and with his hand he lightly touched her
shoulder. At this touch she gave a convulsive start, as if hit by
the stroke of a sword, and her sobbing was immediately silenced.
An awful pause ensued. The woman lay on the floor motionless,
breathless, and near her, tall and cold as a figure of bronze, stood
"Lady Jane Douglas," said he then, sternly and solemnly, "stand up.
It becomes not your father's daughter to be upon her knees, when it
is not God to whom she kneels. But you are not kneeling to God, but
to an idol, which you yourself have made, and to which you hate
erected a temple in your heart. This idol is called 'Your own
personal misfortune.' But it is written, 'Thou shalt have no other
Gods but me.' Therefore I say to you once more, Lady Jane Douglas,
rise from your knees, for it is not your God to whom you kneel."
And as though these words exercised a magnetic power over her, she
raised herself up slowly from the floor, and now stood there before
her father, stern and cold as a statue of marble.
"Cast from you the sorrows of this world, which burden you, and
hinder you in the sacred work which God has imposed on you!"
continued Earl Douglas in his metallic, solemn voice. "It is
written, 'Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest,' saith our God. But you, Jane, you are to throw
down your trouble at the foot of the throne; and your burden will
become a crown that will glorify your head."
He laid his hand on her head, but she wildly shook it off.
"No," cried she, with heavy, faltering tongue, as if confused in a
dream. "Away with this crown! I wish no crown upon which devils have
laid a spell. I wish no royal robe that has been dyed crimson with
the blood of my beloved."
"She is still in the delirium of her anguish," muttered the earl, as
he contemplated the pale, trembling woman who had now sunk again to
her knees, and was staring straight before her with eyes bewildered
and stretched wide open. But the looks of the earl remained cold and
unmoved, and not the least compassion was aroused in him for his
poor daughter, now penetrated with anguish.
"Arise," said he, in a hard, steelly voice. "The Church, by my
mouth, commands you to serve her as you have vowed to do; that is to
say, with glad heart and a sense of your reliance on God; that is to
say, with smiling lips and a serene, beaming eye, as becomes a
disciple inspired by faith, and as you have sworn to do in the hands
of our lord and master, Ignatius Loyola."
"I cannot! I cannot!" moaned she, in a low tone. I cannot be glad at
heart when despair, like a wild boar, is rending my heart; I cannot
command my eye to shine when my eyes are dimmed with tears of
anguish. Oh, have pity, have compassion! Remember that you are my
father; that I am your daughter--the daughter of a wife whom you
loved, and who would find in the grave no rest if she knew how you
are racking and torturing me. My mother, my mother, if thy spirit is
near me, come and protect me. Let thy mild looks overshadow my head,
and breathe a breath of thy love into the heart of this cruel
father, who is ready to sacrifice his child on the altar of his
"God has called me," said the earl, "and, like Abraham, I too will
learn to obey. But I will not adorn my victim with flowers, but with
a royal crown. I will not plunge a knife into her breast, but will
put a golden sceptre into her hand and say: Thou art a queen before
men, but before God be thou a faithful and obedient servant. Thou
hast all to command. But the holy Church, to whose service thou hast
consecrated thyself, and who will bless thee if thou art faithful,
who will dash thee in pieces with her curse if thou darest deal
treacherously, she commands thee. No, you are not my daughter, but
the priestess of the Church, consecrated to her holy service. No,
Ihave no sympathy with your tear's and this anguish, for I see the
end of these sorrows, and I know that these tears will be as a
diadem of pearls about your temples. Lady Jane Douglas, it is the
saintly Loyola who sends you his commands by my mouth. Obey them,
not because I am your father, but because I am the general to whom
you have sworn obedience and fidelity unto your life's end."
"Then kill me, my father!" said she, feebly. "Let this life end,
which is but a torture, a protracted martyrdom. Punish me for my
disobedience by plunging your dagger deep into my breast. Punish me,
and grudge me not the repose of the grave."
"Poor enthusiast!" said the father; "suppose you, we would be
foolish enough to subject you to so light a punishment! No, no, if
you dare, in insolent disobedience, rebel against my commands, your
penance shall be a terrible one, and your punishment without end. I
will not kill you, but him whom you love; it will be his head that
falls; and you will be his murderess. He shall die on the scaffold
and you--you shall live in disgrace."
"Oh, horrible!" groaned Jane, as she buried her face in her hands.
Her father continued: "Silly, short-sighted child, who thought she
could play with the sword, and did not see that she herself might
feel the stroke of this double-edged blade! You wanted to be the
servant of the Church, that you might thereby become mistress of the
world. You would acquire glory, but this glory must not singe your
head with its fiery rays. Silly child! he who plays with fire will
be consumed. But we penetrated your thoughts and the wish of which
you yourself were unconscious. We looked into the depths of your
being, and when we found love there, we made use of love for our own
purposes and your salvation. What do you bewail, then, and why do
you weep? Have we not allowed you to love? Have we not authorized
you to give yourself entirely up to this love? Do you not call
yourself Earl Surrey's wife, though you cannot name to me the priest
that married you? Lady Jane, obey, and we envy you not the happiness
of your love; dare to rebel against us, and disgrace and shame
overtake you, and you shall stand before all the world disowned and
scoffed at; you the strumpet, that--"
"Stop, my father!" cried Jane, as she sprang vehemently from the
floor. "Desist from your terrible words if you do not wish me to die
of shame. Nay, I submit, I obey! You are right, I cannot draw back."
"And why would you either? Is it not a life pleasant and full of
enjoyment? Is it not rare good fortune to see our sins transfigured
to virtue; to be able to account earthly enjoyment the service of
Heaven? And what do you bewail then? That he does not love you? Nay,
he does love you; his vows of love still echo in your ears; your
heart still trembles with the fruition of happiness. What matters it
if the Earl of Surrey with his inward eyes sees the woman he folds
in his arms to be another than you? Yet in reality he loves but you
alone. Whether you are for him named Catharine Parr or Jane Douglas,
it is all the same if you only are his love."
"But a day will come when he will discover his mistake, and when he
will curse me."
"That day will never come. The holy Church will find a way to avert
that, if you bow to her will and are obedient to her."
"I do bow to it!" sighed Jane. "I will obey; only promise me, my
father, that no harm shall happen to him; that I shall not be his
"No, you shall become his savior and deliverer. Only you must fulfil
punctually the work I commit to you. First of all, then, tell me the
result of your meeting to-day. He does not doubt that you are the
"No, he believes it so firmly that he would take the sacrament on
it. That is to say, he believes it now because I have promised him
to give him publicly a sign by which he may recognize that it is the
queen that loves him."
"And this sign?" inquired her father, with a look beaming with joy.
"I have promised him that at the great tournament, the queen will
give him a rosette, and that in that rosette be will find a note
from the queen."
"Ah, the idea is an admirable one!" exclaimed Lord Douglas, "and
only a woman who wishes to avenge herself could conceive it. So,
then, the queen will become her own accuser, and herself give into
our hands a proof of her guilt. The only difficulty in the way is to
bring the queen, without arousing her suspicion, to wear this
rosette, and to give it to Surrey."
"She will do it if I beg her to do so, for she loves me; and I shall
so represent it to her that she will do it as an act of kindness to
me. Catharine is good-natured and agreeable, and cannot refuse a
"And I will apprise the king of it. That is to say, I shall take
good care not to do this myself, for it is always dangerous to
approach a hungry tiger in his cage and carry him his food, because
he might in his voracity very readily devour our own hand together
with the proffered meat."
"But how?" asked she with an expression of alarm. "Will he content
himself with punishing Catharine alone; will he not also crush him--
him whom he must look upon as her lover?"
"He will do so. But you yourself shall save him and set him free.
You shall open his prison and give him freedom, and he will love
you--you, the savior of his life."
"Father, father, it is a hazardous game that you are playing; and it
may happen that you will become thereby your daughter's murderer.
For, listen well to what I tell you; if his head falls, I die by my
own hands; if you make me his murderess, you become thereby mine;
and I will curse you and execrate you in hell! What to me is a royal
crown if it is stained with Henry Howard's blood? What care I for
renown and honor, if he is not there to see my greatness, and if his
beaming eyes do not reflect back to me the light of my crown?
Protect him, therefore; guard his life as the apple of your eye, if
you wish me to accept the royal crown that you offer me, so that the
King of England may become again a vassal of the Church!"
"And that the whole of devout Christendom may praise Jane Douglas,
the pious queen who has succeeded in the holy work of bringing the
rebellious and recreant son of the Church, Henry the Eighth, back to
the Holy Father in Rome, to the only consecrated lord of the Church,
truly penitent. On, on, my daughter; do not despond. A high aim
beckons you, and a brilliant fortune awaits you! Our holy mother,
the Church, will bless and praise you, and Henry the Eighth will
declare you his queen."
Still all was calm and quiet in the palace of Whitehall. Nothing was
stirring, and nobody had heard how Lady Jane Douglas left her
chamber and glided down the corridor.
No one has heard it, and no eye is awake, and none sees what is now
taking place in the queen's room. She is alone--all alone. The
servants are all asleep in their chambers. The queen herself has
bolted the doors of the anteroom on the inside, and no other door
leads into her boudoir and bedroom, except through this anteroom.
She is therefore perfectly secluded, perfectly secure.
Speedily and in haste she envelops herself in a long black mantle,
the hood of which she draws well over her head and brow, and which
completely covers and conceals her form.
And now she presses on a spring inserted in the frame of a picture.
The picture flies back and shows an opening, through which a person
can quite conveniently pass out.
Catharine does so. Then she carefully pushes the picture back to its
place from the outside, and for a long time walks on in the passage
hollowed out of the solid wall, till groping along she at last lays
hold again of a knob in the wall. She presses on it; and now at her
feet opens a trap-door, through which a feeble light forces its way
and renders visible a small narrow staircase there situated.
Catharine enters and descends the steps with winged feet. Now at the
foot of the staircase she again presses on a secret spring; and
again a door opens, through which the queen passes into a large
"Oh," whispered she, fetching a long breath, "the green summer house
She quickly traversed it and opened the next door.
"I am here, queen!"
"Hush, hush! gently as possible, that the watch, who walks up and
down just behind the door, may not hear us. Come, we still have a
long walk--let us make haste."
Again she pressed on a spring inserted in the wall; and again a door
opens. But before Catharine bolts this door, she takes the lamp
burning on the table there, which is to lighten the dark and
difficult path through which they are now to wend their way.
Now she bolts the door behind them; and they enter a long, dark
corridor, at the end of which is found still another staircase, and
down which they both go. Numberless steps conduct them below;
gradually the air becomes dense, the steps moist. The stillness of
the grave is around them. No sound of life, not the least noise, is
They are in a subterranean passage, which stretches out in length
before them farther than the eye can reach. Catharine turns to John
Heywood; the lamp lights up her face, which is pale, but exhibits an
expression firm and resolute.
"John Heywood, reflect once more! I ask not whether you have
courage, for I know that. I only wish to know whether you will
employ this courage for your queen?"
"No, not for the queen, but for the noble woman who has saved my
"You must then be my protector to-day if we meet with dangers. But
if it be God's will, we shall encounter no dangers. Let us go."
They go vigorously forward, silent all the way. At length they come
to a place where the passage grows broader, and spreads out into a
little open chamber, on the side walls of which a few teats are
"We have now accomplished half of the journey," said Catharine; "and
here we will rest a little."
She placed the lamp on the small marble table in the middle of the
passage, and sat down, pointing to John Heywood to take a seat near
"I am not the queen, here," said she; "and you are not the king's
fool; but I am a poor weak woman, and you are my protector. You may,
therefore, well have the right to sit by me."
But John shook his head with a smile, and sat down at her feet. "St.
Catharine, savior of my son, I lie at thy feet, and devoutly return
thanks to thee."
"John, are you acquainted with this subterranean passage?" asked the
John gave a sad smile. "I am acquainted with it, queen."
"Ah, you know it? I supposed it was a secret of the king and queen."
"Then you will readily conceive that the fool knows it. For the King
of England and the fool are twin brothers. Yes, queen, I know this
passage; and I once wended it in anguish and tears."
"What! You yourself, John Heywood?"
"Yes, queen. And now I ask you, do you know the history of this
underground passage? You are silent. Now, well for you that you do
not know it. It is a long and bloody history, and if I should
narrate to you the whole of it, the night would be too short for it.
When this passage was built, Henry was still young, and possessed
yet a heart. At that time, he loved not merely his wives, but his
friends and servants also--specially Cromwell, the all-powerful
minister. He then resided at Whitehall, and Henry in the royal
apartments of the Tower. But Henry was always longing for his
favorite; and so Cromwell one day surprised him with this
subterranean passage, the construction of which had occupied a
hundred men a whole year. Ah, ah, the king was then very much moved,
and thanked his powerful minister for this surprise with tears and
hugs. There passed scarcely a day that Henry did not go to Cromwell
through this passage. So he saw each day how the palace of Whitehall
became more and more splendid and glorious; and when he returned to
the Tower, he discovered that this residence was altogether unworthy
of a king; but that his minister lived by far more magnificently
than the King of England. That, queen, was the cause of Cromwell's
fall! The king wanted Whitehall. The sly Cromwell noticed it, and
made him a present of his gem, the palace on whose construction and
decoration he had labored ten years. Henry accepted the present; but
now Cromwell's fall was irrevocable. The king could not, of course,
forgive Cromwell for having dared to offer him a present so
valuable, that Henry could not or would not repay it. He remained,
therefore, Cromwell's debtor; and since this tormented and vexed
him, he swore Cromwell's ruin. When Henry moved into Whitehall, it
was concluded that Cromwell must ascend the scaffold. Ah, the king
is such an economical builder! A palace costs him nothing but the
head of a subject. With Cromwell's bead be paid for Whitehall; and
Wolsey died for Hampton Court."
"Not on the scaffold, though, John."
"Oh, no; Henry preferred merely to break his heart, and not his
head. First, he had that wonderful pleasure-villa, Hampton Court,
with all its treasures, presented him by Wolsey; then he removed him
from all his offices, and deprived him of all his honors. Finally,
he was to go to the Tower as a prisoner; but he died on his way
thither. No, you are right! Wolsey did not die on the scaffold, he
was put to death much more slowly and more cruelly. He was not
killed with the sword, but pricked to death with pins!"
"Did you not say, John, that you had travelled this way once
"Yes, queen, and I did it to bid farewell to the noblest of men, and
the truest of friends, Thomas More! I begged and besought Cromwell
so long that he had compassion on my anguish, and allowed me to go
through this passage to Thomas More, that I might at least receive
the blessing and last kiss of affection of this saint. Ah, queen,
speak no more of it to me! From that day I became a fool; for I saw
it was not worth the trouble to be an honest man, when such men as
More are executed as criminals. Come, queen, let us go on!"
"Yes, on, John!" said she, rising. "But do you know then whither we
"Ah, queen, do I not then know you? and did I not tell you that Anne
Askew is to be stretched upon the rack to-morrow, unless she
"I see that you have understood me," said she, giving him a friendly
nod. "Yes, I am going to Anne Askew."
"But how will you, without being seen and discovered, find out her
"John, even the unhappy have friends. Yes, the queen herself has a
few; and so chance, or it may be even God's will, has so arranged
matters, that Anne Askew is occupying, just at this time, that small
room in which the secret passage terminates."
"Is she alone in that room?"
"Yes, all alone. The guard stands without before the door."
"And should they hear you, and open the door?"
"Then without doubt I am lost, unless God supports me."
They walked on in silence, both too much occupied with their own
thoughts to interrupt them by conversation.
But this long, extended walk at length wearied Catharine. She leaned
exhausted against the wall.
"Will you do me a favor, queen?" asked John Heywood. "Permit me to
carry you. Your little feet can bear you no farther; make me your
feet, your majesty!"
She refused with a friendly smile. "No, John, these are the passion-
stations of a saint; and you know one must make the round of them in
the sweat of his face, and on his knees."
"Oh, queen, how noble and how courageous you are!" exclaimed John
Heywood. "You do good without display, and you shun no danger, if it
avails toward the accomplishment of noble work."
"Yet, John," said she, with a bewitching smile, "I dread danger; and
just on that account I begged you to accompany me. I shudder at the
long, desolate way, at the darkness and grave-like stillness of this
passage. Ah, John, I thought to myself, if I came here alone, the
shades of Anne Boleyn and Catharine would be roused from their sleep
by me who wear their crown; they would hover about me, and seize me
by the hand and lead me to their graves, to show me that there is
yet room there for me likewise. You see, then, that I am not at all
courageous, but a cowardly and trembling woman."
"And nevertheless, you came, queen."
"I reckoned on you, John Heywood. It was my duty to risk this
passage, to save, perchance, the life of the poor enthusiastic girl.
For it shall not be said that Catharine deserts her friends in
misfortune, and that she shrinks back at danger. I am but a poor,
weak woman, John, who cannot defend her friends with weapons, and,
therefore, I must resort to other means. But see, John, here the
path forks! Ah, my God! I know it only from the description that was
given me, but no one said anything of this to me. John, which way
must we now turn?"
"This way, queen; and here we are at the end of our journey. That
path there leads to the torture-chamber, that is to say, to a small
grated window, through which one can overlook that room. When King
Henry was in special good-humor, he would resort with his friend to
this grating to divert himself a little with the tortures of the
damned and blasphemers. For you well know, queen, only such as have
blasphemed God, or have not recognized King Henry as the pope of
their Church, have the honor of the rack as their clue. But hush!
here we are at the door, and here is the spring that opens it."
Catharine set her lamp on the ground and pressed the spring.
The door turned slowly and noiselessly on its hinges, and softly,
like shades, the two entered.
They now found themselves in a small, circular apartment, which
seemed to have been originally a niche formed in the wall of the
Tower, rather than a room. Through a narrow grated opening in the
wall only a little air and light penetrated into this dungeon, the
bald, bare walls of which showed the stones of the masonry. There
was no chair, no table in the whole space; only yonder in that
corner on the earth they had heaped up some straw. On this straw lay
a pale, tender creature; the sunken, thin cheeks, transparently
white as alabaster; the brow so pure and clear; the entire
countenance so peaceful; the bare, meagre arms thrown back over the
head; the hands folded over the forehead, the head bent to one side
in quiet, peaceful slumber; the delicate, tender form wrapped in a
long black dress, gently stretched out, and on her lips a smile,
such as only the happy know.
That was Anne Askew, the criminal, the condemned--Anne Askew, who
was an atheist only for this, because she did not believe in the
king's vast elevation and godlikeness, and would not subject her own
free soul to that of the king.
"She sleeps," whispered Catharine, deeply mored, Wholly
involuntarily she folded her hands as she stepped to the couch of
the sufferer, and a low prayer trembled on her lips.
"So sleep the gust!" said Hey wood. "Angels comfort them in their
slumbers; and the breath of God refreshes them. Poor girl; how soon,
and they will wrench these noble, fair limbs, and torture thee for
the honor of God, and open to tones of distress that mouth which now
smiles so peacefully!"
"No, no," said the queen, hastily. "I have come to save her, and God
will assist me to do it. I cannot spare her slumbers any longer. I
must wake her."
She bent down and pressed a kiss on the young girl's forehead.
"Anne, awake; I am here! I will save you and set you free. Anne,
She slowly raised her large, brilliant eyes, and nodded a salutation
"Catharine Parr!" said she, with a smile. "I expected only a letter
from you; and have you come yourself?"
"The guards have been dismissed, and the turnkeys changed, Anne; for
our correspondence had been discovered."
"Ah, you will write to me no more in future! And yet your letters
were my only comfort," sighed Anne Askew. "But that also is well;
and perhaps it will only make the path that I have to tread still
easier. The heart may move its pinions freely and easily, and return
"Hear me, Anne, hear," said Catharine in a low and hurried voice. "A
terrible danger threatens you! The king has given orders to move
you, by means of the rack, to recant."
"Well, and what more?" asked Anne, with smiling face.
"Unfortunate, you know not what you are saying! You know not what
fearful agonies await you! You know not the power of pains, which
are perhaps still mightier than the spirit, and may overcome it."
"And if I did know them now, what would it avail me?" asked Anne
Askew. "You say they will put me to the rack. Well, then, I shall
have to bear it, for I have no power to change their will."
"Yet, Anne, yet you have the power! Retract what you have said,
Anne! Declare that you repent, and that you perceive that you have
been deluded! Say that you will recognize the king as lord of the
Church; that you will swear to the six articles, and never believe
in the Pope of Rome. Ah, Anne, God sees your heart and knows your
thoughts. You have no need to make them known by your lips. He has
given you life, and you have no right to throw it away; you must
seek to keep it so long as you can. Recant, then! It is perfectly
allowable to deceive those who would murder us. Recant, then, Anne,
recant! When they in their haughty arrogance demand of you to say
what they say, consider them as lunatics, to whom you make apparent
concessions only to keep them from raving. Of what consequence is it
whether you do or do not say that the king is the head of the
Church? From His heavens above, God looks down and smiles at this
petty earthly strife which concerns not Him, but men only. Let
scholars and theologians wrangle; we women have nothing to do with
it. If we only believe in God, and bear Him to our hearts, the form
in which we do it is a matter of indifference. But in this case the
question is not about God, but merely about external dogmas. Why
should you trouble yourself with these? What have you to do with the
controversies of the priests? Recant, then, poor enthusiastic child,
While Catharine, in a low tone and with fluttering breath, thus
spoke, Anne Askew had slowly arisen from her couch, and now stood,
like a lily, so slender and delicate, confronting the queen.
Her noble countenance expressed deep indignation. Her eyes shot
lightning, and a contemptuous smile was on her lips.
"What! Can you thus advise me?" said she. "Can you wish me to deny
my faith, and abjure my God, only to escape earthly pain? And your
tongue does not refuse to utter this, and your heart does not shrink
with shame while you do it? Look at these arms; what are they worth
that I should not sacrifice them to God? See these feeble limbs! Are
they so precious that I, like a disgusting niggard, should spare
them? No, no, God is my highest good--not this feeble, decaying
body! For God I sacrifice it. I should recant? Never! Faith is not
enveloped in this or that garb; it must be naked and open. So may
mine be. And if I then am chosen to be an example of pure faith,
that denies not, and makes profession--well, then, envy me not this
preeminence. 'Many are called, but few are chosen.' If I am one of
the chosen, I thank God for it, and bless the erring mortals who
wish to make me such by means of the torture of the rack. Ah,
believe me, Catharine, I rejoice to die, for it is such a sad,
desolate, and desperate thing to live. Let me die, Catharine--die,
to enter into blessedness!"
"But, poor, pitiable child! this is more than death; it is the
torture of earth that threatens you. Oh, bethink you, Anne, that you
are only a feeble woman. Who knows whether the rack may not yet
conquer your spirit, and whether you, with your mangled limbs, may
not by the fury of the pain yet be brought to that point that you
will recant and abjure your faith?"
"If I could do that," cried Anne Askew, with flashing eyes, "believe
me, queen, as soon as I came to my senses I would lay violent hands
on myself, in order to give myself over to eternal damnation, as the
punishment of my recantation! God has ordered that I shall be a sign
of the true faith. Be His command fulfilled!"
"Well, then, so be it," said Catharine resolutely. "Do not recant,
but save yourself from your executioners! I, Anne, I, will save you!
I cannot bear--I cannot think of it--that this dear noble form
should be sacrificed to a vile delusion of man; that they will
torture to the honor of God a noble likeness of the same God! Oh,
come, come, I will save you! I, the queen! Give me your hand. Follow
me out of this dungeon. I know a path that leads out of this place;
and I will conceal you so long in my own apartments that you can
continue your flight without danger."
"No, no, queen, you shall not conceal her with you!" said John
Heywood. "You have been graciously pleased to allow me to be your
confidant; envy me not, then, a share in your noble work also. Not
with you shall Anne Askew find refuge, but with me. Oh, come, Anne,
follow your friends. It is life that calls you, that opens the doors
to you, and desires to call you by a thousand names to itself! Do
you not hear them, all those sweet and alluring voices; do you not
see them, all those noble and smiling faces, how they greet you and
beckon to you? Anne Askew, it is the noble husband that calls you!
You know him not as yet, but he is waiting for you there in the
world without. Anne Askew, there are your children, who are
stretching their tender arms out to you. You have not yet borne
them; but love holds them in her arms, and will bring them to meet
you. It is the wife and the mother that the world yet demands of
you, Anne. You ought not to shun the holy calling which God has
given you. Come, then, and follow us--follow your queen, who has the
right to order her subject. Follow the friend, who has sworn that he
will watch over you and protect you as a father!"
"Father in heaven, protect me!" exclaimed Anne Askew, falling on her
knees and stretching her hands upward. "Father in heaven! they would
tear away Thy child, and alienate my heart from Thee! They are
leading me into temptation and alluring me with their words. Protect
me, my Father; make my ear deaf, that I may not hear them! Give me a
sign that I am Thine; that no one has any longer power over me, save
Thou alone! A sign, that Thou, Father, callest me!"
And as if God had really heard her prayer, a loud knocking was now
perceived at the outer door, and a voice cried: "Anne Askew, awake!
and hold yourself ready! The high chancellor and the Bishop of
Winchester come to fetch you away!"
"Ah, the rack!" groaned Catharine, as with a shudder she buried her
face in her hands.
"Yes, the rack!" said Anne, with a blissful smile. "God calls me!"
John Heywood had approached the queen and impetuously seized her
hand. "You see it is in vain," said he, urgently. "Make haste then
to save yourself! Hasten to leave this prison before the door there
"No," said Catharine, firmly and resolutely. "No, I stay. She shall
not surpass me in courage and greatness of soul! She will not deny
her God; well, then, I also will be a witness of my God. I will not
in shame cast my eyes to the ground before this young girl; like
her, I will frankly and openly profess my faith; like her I will
say: 'God alone is Lord of his Church,' God--"
There was a movement without; a key was heard to turn in the lock.
"Queen, I conjure you," besought John Heywood, "by all that is holy
to you, by your love, come, come!"
"No, no!" cried she, vehemently.
But now Anne seized her hand, and stretching the other arm toward
heaven, she said in a loud, commanding voice: "In the name of God, I
order you to leave me!"
While Catharine drew back wholly involuntarily, John Heywood pushed
her to the secret door, and urging her out almost with violence, he
drew the door to behind them both.
Just as the secret door had closed, the other on the opposite side
opened. "With whom were you speaking?" asked Gardiner, peering
around the room with a sharp look.
"With the tempter, that wished to alienate me from God," said she--
"with the tempter, who at the approach of your footsteps wanted to
fool my heart with fear, and persuade me to recant!"
"You are, then, firmly resolved? you do not retract?" asked
Gardiner; and a savage joy shone in his pale, hard countenance.
"No, I do not recant!" said she, with a face beaming with smiles.
"Then, in the name of God and of the king, I take you into the
torture-chamber!" cried Chancellor Wriothesley, as he advanced and
laid his heavy hand on Anne's shoulder. "You would not hear the
voice of love warning you and calling you, so we will now try to
arouse you from your madness by the voice of wrath and damnation."
He beckoned to the attendants on the rack, who stood behind him in
the open door, and ordered them to seize her and carry her to the
Anne, smiling, turned them back. "Nay, not so!" said she. "The
Saviour went on foot, and bore His cross to the place of execution.
I will tread His path. Show me the way, I follow you. But let no one
dare touch me. I will show you that not by constraint, but gladly
and freely, I tread the path of suffering, which I shall endure for
the sake of my God. Rejoice, oh my soul!--sing, my lips! for the
bridegroom is near, and the feast is about to begin."
And in exultant tones Anne Askew began to sing a hymn, that had not
died away when she entered the torture-chamber.
The king sleeps. Let him sleep! He is old and infirm, and God has
severely punished the restless tyrant with a vacillating, ever-
disquieted, never-satisfied spirit, while He bound his body and made
the spirit prisoner of the body; while He made the ambitious king,
struggling for the infinite, a slave to his own flesh. How high
soever his thoughts soar, still the king remains a clumsy, confined,
powerless child of humanity; how much soever his conscience harasses
him with disquiet and dread, yet he must be calm and endure it. He
cannot run away from his conscience; God has fettered him by the
flesh. The king is sleeping! But the queen is not; and Jane Douglas
is not; neither is the Princess Elizabeth. She has watched with
heart beating high. She is restless, and, pacing her room up and
down in strange confusion, waited for the hour that she had
appointed for the meeting. Now the hour had arrived. A glowing
crimson overspread the face of the young princess; and her hand
trembled as she took the light and opened the secret door to the
corridor. She stood still for a moment, hesitating; then, ashamed of
her irresolution, she crossed the corridor and ascended the small
staircase which led to the tower-chamber. With a hasty movement she
pushed open the door and entered the small slip that was at the end
of her journey, and Thomas Seymour was already there.
As she saw him, an involuntary trepidation came over her, and for
the first time she now became conscious of her hazardous step.
As Seymour, the ardent young man, approached her with a passionate
salutation, she stepped shyly back and pushed away his hand.
"How! you will not allow me to kiss your hand?" asked he, and she
thought she observed on his face a slight, scornful smile. "You make
me the happiest of mortals by inviting me to this interview, and now
you stand before me rigid and cold, and I am not once permitted to
clasp you in my arms, Elizabeth!"
Elizabeth! He had called her by her first name without her having
given him permission to do so. That offended her. In the midst of
her confusion, that aroused the pride of the princess, and made her
aware how much she must have forgotten her own dignity, when another
could be so forgetful of it.
She wished to regain it. At this moment she would have given a year
of her life if she had not taken this step--if she had not invited
the earl to this meeting.
She wanted to try and regain in his eyes her lost position, and
again to become to him the princess.
Pride in her was still mightier than love. She meant her lover
should at the same time bow before her as her favored servant.
Therefore she gravely said: "Earl Thomas Seymour, you have often
begged us for a private conversation; we now grant it to you. Speak,
then! what matter of importance have you to bring before us?"
And with an air of gravity she stepped to an easy-chair, on which
she seated herself slowly and solemnly like a queen, who gives
audience to her vassals.
Poor, innocent child, that in her unconscious trepidation wished to
intrench herself behind her grandeur, as behind a shield, which
might conceal her maidenly fear and girlish anxiety!
Thomas Seymour, however, divined her thoughts; and his proud and
cold heart revolted against this child's attempt to defy him.
He wanted to humble her; he wished to compel her to bow before him,
and implore his love as a gracious gift.
He therefore bowed low to the princess, and respectfully said: "Your
highness, it is true I have often besought you for an audience; but
you have so long refused me, that at last I could no longer summon
up courage to solicit it; and I let my wish be silent and my heart
dumb. Therefore seek not now, when these pains have been subdued, to
excite them again. My heart should remain dead, my lips mute. You
have so willed; and I have submitted to your will. Farewell, then,
princess, and may your days be happier and more serene than those of
poor Thomas Seymour!"
He bowed low before her, and then went slowly to the door. He had
already opened it and was about to step out, when a hand was
suddenly laid on his shoulder and drew him with vehement impetuosity
back into the room.
"Do you want to go?" asked Elizabeth, with fluttering breath and
trembling voice. "You want to leave me, and, flouting me, you want
now, it may be, to go to the Duchess of Richmond, your mistress, and
relate to her with a sneer that the Princess Elizabeth granted you
an interview, and that you have flouted her?"
"The Duchess of Richmond is not my mistress," said the earl,
"No, not your mistress; but she will very soon be your wife!"
"She will never be my wife!"
"And why not?"
"Because I do not love her, princess."
A beam of delight passed over Elizabeth's pale, agitated face. "Why
do you call me princess?" asked she.
"Because you have come as a princess to favor your poor servant with
an audience. But, ah, it would be greatly abusing your princely
grace did I want to protract this audience still further. I
therefore retire, princess."
And again he approached the door. But Elizabeth rushed after him,
and, laying hold of his arms with both her hands, she wildly pushed
Her eyes shot lightning; her lips trembled; a passionate warmth was
manifested in her whole being. Now she was the true daughter of her
father, inconsiderate and passionate in her wrath, destroying in her
"You shall not go," muttered she, with her teeth firmly set. "I will
not let you go! I will not let you confront me any longer with that
cold, smiling face. Scold me; cast on me the bitterest reproaches,
because I have dared to brave you so long; curse me, if you can!
Anything but this smiling calmness. It kills me; it pierces my heart
like a dagger. For you see well enough that I have no longer the
power to withstand you; you see well enough that I love you. Yes, I
love you to ecstasy and to desperation; with desire and dread. I
love you as my demon and my angel. I am angry, because you have so
entirely crushed the pride of my heart. I curse you, because you
have made me so entirely your slave; and the next moment I fall on
my knees and beseech God to forgive me this crime against you. I
love you, I say--not as those soft, gentle-hearted women love, with
a smile on the lip; but with madness and desperation, with jealousy
and wrath. I love you as my father loved Anne Boleyn, whom, in the
hatred of his love and the cruel wrath of his jealousy, he made to
mount the scaffold, because he had been told that she was untrue to
him. Ah, had I the power, I would do as my father did; I would
murder you, if you should dare ever to cease to love me. And now,
Thomas Seymour, now say whether you have the courage to desire to
She looked bewitching in the naming might of her passion; she was so
young, so ardent; and Thomas Seymour was so ambitious! In his eyes
Elizabeth was not merely the beautiful, charming maiden, who loved
him: she was more than that: she was the daughter of Henry the
Eighth, the Princess of England, perchance some day the heiress of
the throne. It is true, her father had disinherited her, and by act
of Parliament declared her unworthy of succeeding to the
throne.[Footnote: Burnet, vol. i, p. 138] But Henry's vacillating
mind might change, and the disowned princess might one day become
The earl thought of this as he gazed on Elizabeth--as he saw her
before him, so charming, so young, and so glowing with passion. He
thought of it as he now clasped her in his arms, and pressed on her
lips a burning kiss.
"No, I will not go," whispered he. "I will never more depart from
your side, if you do not wish me to go. I am yours!--your slave,
your vassal; and I will never be anything else but this alone. They
may betray me; your father may punish me for high treason; yet will
I exult in my good fortune, for Elizabeth loves me, and it will be
for Elizabeth that I die!"
"You shall not die!" cried she, clinging fast to him. "You shall
live, live at my side, proud, great, and happy! You shall be my lord
and my master; and if I am ever queen, and I feel here in my heart
that I must become so, then will Thomas Seymour be King of England."
"That is to say, in the quiet and secrecy of your chamber I should
perhaps be so!" said he with a sigh. "But there without, before the
world, I shall still be ever only a servant; and at the best, I
shall be called the favorite."
"Never, never, that I swear to you! Said I not that I loved you?"
"But the love of a woman is so changeable! Who knows how long it
will be before yon will tread under your feet poor Thomas Seymour,
when once the crown has adorned your brow."
She looked at him well-nigh horrified. "Can this be, then? Is it
possible that one can forget and forsake what he once loved?"
"Do you ask, Elizabeth? Has not your father already his sixth wife?"
"It is true," said she, as mournfully she dropped her head upon her
breast. "But I," said she, after a pause, "I shall not be like my
father in that. I shall love you eternally! And that you may have a
guaranty of my faithfulness, I offer myself to you as your wife."
Astonished, he looked inquiringly into her excited, glowing face! He
did not understand her.
But she continued, passionately: "Yes, you shall be my lord and my
husband! Come, my beloved, come! I have not called you to take upon
yourself the disgraceful role of the secret lover of a princess--I
have called you to be my husband. I wish a bond to unite us two,
that is so indissoluble that not even the wrath and will of my
father, but only death itself, can sever it. I will give you proof
of my love and my devotion; and you shall be forced to acknowledge
that I truly love you. Come, my beloved, that I may soon hail you as
He looked at her as though petrified. "Whither will you lead me?"
"To the private chapel," said she, innocently. "I have written
Cranmer to await me there at daybreak. Let us hasten, then!"
"Cranmer! You have written to the archbishop?" cried Seymour,
amazed. "How! what say you? Cranmer awaits us in the private
"Without doubt he is waiting for us, as I have written him to do
"And what is he to do? What do you want of him?"
She looked at him in astonishment. "What do I want of him? Why, that
he may marry us!"
The earl staggered back as if stunned. "And have you written him
"Nay, indeed," said she, with a charming, childlike smile. "I know
very well that it is dangerous to trust such secrets to paper. I
have only written him to come in his official robes, because I have
an important secret to confess to him."
"Oh, God he praised! We are not lost," sighed Seymour.
"But how, I do not understand you?" asked she. "You do not extend me
your hand! You do not hasten to conduct me to the chapel!"
"Tell me, I conjure you, tell me only this one thing: have you ever
spoken to the archbishop of your--no--of our love? Have you ever
betrayed to him so much, as a syllable of that which stirs our
She blushed deeply beneath the steady gaze which he fixed on her.
"Upbraid me, Seymour," whispered she. "But my heart was weak and
timorous; and as often as I tried to fulfil the holy duty, and
confess everything honestly and frankly to the archbishop, I could
not do it! The word died on my lips; and it was as though an
invisible power paralyzed my tongue."
"So, then, Cranmer knows nothing?"
"No, Seymour, he knows nothing as yet. But now he shall learn all;
now we will go before him and tell him that we love each other, and
constrain him, by our prayers, to bless our union, and join our
"Impossible!" cried Seymour. "That can never be!"
"How! What do you say?" asked she in astonishment.
"I say that Cranmer will never be so insane, nay, so criminal, as to
fulfil your wish. I say that you can never be my wife."
She looked him full and square in the face. "Have you not then told
me that you loved me?" asked she. "Have I not sworn to you that I
loved you in return? Must we then not be married, in order to
sanctify the union of our hearts?"
Seymour sank his eyes to the ground before her pure innocent look,
and blushed for shame. She did not understand this blush; because he
was silent, she deemed him convinced.
"Come," said she, "come; Cranmer is waiting for us!"
He again raised his eyes and looked at her in amazement, "Do you not
see, then, this is all only a dream that can never become reality?
Do you not feel that this precious fantasy of your great and noble
heart will never be realized? How! are you then so little acquainted
with your father as not to know that he would destroy us both if we
should dare to set at naught his paternal and his royal authority?
Your birth would not secure you from his destroying fury, for you
well know he is unyielding and reckless in his wrath; and the voice
of consanguinity sounds not so loud in him that it would not be
drowned by the thunder of his wrath. Poor child, you have learned
that already! Remember with what cruelty he has already revenged
himself on you for the pretended fault of your mother; how he
transferred to you his wrath against her. Remember that he refused
your hand to the Dauphin of France, not for the sake of your
happiness, but because he said you were not worthy of so exalted a
position. Anne Boleyn's bastard could never become Queen of France.
And after such a proof of his cruel wrath against you, will you dare
cast in his face this terrible insult?--compel him to recognize a
subject, a servant, as his son?"
"Oh, this servant is, however, the brother of a Queen of England!"
said she, shyly. "My father loved Jane Seymour too warmly not to
forgive her brother."
"Ah, ah, you do not know your father! He has no heart for the past;
or, if he has, it is only to take vengeance for an injury or a
fault, but not to reward love. King Henry would be capable of
sentencing Anne Boleyn's daughter to death, and of sending to the
block and rack Catharine Howard's brothers, because these two queens
once grieved him and wounded his heart; but he would not forgive me
the least offence on account of my being the brother of a queen who
loved him faithfully and tenderly till her death. But I speak not of
myself. I am a warrior, and have too often looked death in the face
to fear him now. I speak only of you, Elizabeth. You have no right
to perish thus. This noble head must not be laid upon the block. It
is destined to wear a royal crown. A fortune still higher than love
awaits you--fame and power! I must not draw you away from this proud
future. The Princess Elizabeth, though abused and disowned, may yet
one day mount the throne of England. The Countess Seymour never! she
disinherits herself! Follow, then, your high destiny. Earl Seymour
retires before a throne."
"That is to say, you disdained me?" asked she, angrily stamping the
floor with her foot. "That is to say, the proud Earl Seymour holds
the bastard too base for his coronet! That is to say, you love me
"No, it means that I love you more than myself--better and more
purely than any other man can love you; for this love is so great
that it makes my selfishness and my ambition silent, and allows me
to think only of you and your future."
"Ah," sighed she, mournfully., "if you really loved me, you would
not consider--you would not see the danger, nor fear death. You
would think of nothing, and know nothing, save love."
"Because I think of love, I think of you," said Seymour. "I think
that you are to move along over the world, great, powerful, and
glorious, and that I will lend you my arm for this. I think of this,
that my queen of the future needs a general who will win victories
for her, and that I will be that general. But when this goal is
reached--when you are queen--then you have the power from one of
your subjects to make a husband; then it rests with your own will to
elevate me to be the proudest, the happiest, and the most enviable
of all men. Extend me your hand, then, and I will thank and praise
God that he is so gracious to me; and my whole existence will be
spent in the effort to give you the happiness that you are so well
entitled to demand."
"And until then?" asked she, mournfully.
"Until then, we will be constant, and love each other!" cried he, as
he gently pressed her in his arms. She gently repelled him. "Will
you also be true to me till then?"
"True till death!"
"They have told me that you would marry the Duchess of Richmond, in
order thereby to at length put an end to the ancient hatred between
the Howards and Seymours."
Thomas Seymour frowned, and his countenance grew dark. "Believe me,
this hatred is invincible," said he; "and no matrimonial alliance
could wash it away. It is an inheritance from many years in our
families; and I am firmly resolved not to renounce my inheritance. I
shall just as little marry the Duchess of Richmond, as Henry Howard
will my sister, the Countess of Shrewsbury."
"Swear that to me! Swear to me, that you say the truth, and that
this haughty and coquettish duchess shall never be your wife. Swear
it to me, by all that is sacred to you!"
"I swear it by my love!" exclaimed Thomas Seymour, solemnly.
"I shall then at least have one sorrow the less," sighed Elizabeth.
"I shall have no occasion to be jealous. And is it not true," she
then said, "is it not true we shall often see each other? We will
both keep this secret of this tower faithfully and sacredly; and
after days full of privation and disappointment, we will here keep
festival the nights full of blissful pleasure and sweet transport.
But why do you smile, Seymour?"
"I smile, because you are pure and innocent as an angel," said he,
as he reverently kissed her hand. "I smile, because you are an
exalted, godlike child, whom one ought to adore upon his knees, and
to whom one ought to pray, as to the chaste goddess Vesta! Yes, my
dear, beloved child, here we will, as you say, pass nights full of
blissful pleasure; and may I be reprobate and damned, if I should
ever be capable of betraying this sweet, guileless confidence with
which you favor me, and sully your angel purity!"
"Ah, we will be very happy, Seymour!" said she, smiling. "I lack
only one thing--a friend, to whom I can tell my happiness, to whom I
can speak of you. Oh, it often seems to me as if this love, which
must always be concealed, always shut up, must at last burst my
breast; as if this secret must with violence break a passage, and
roar like a tempest over the whole world. Seymour, I want a
confidante of my happiness and my love."
"Guard yourself well against desiring to seek such a one!" exclaimed
Seymour, anxiously. "A secret that three know, is a secret no more;
and one day your confidante will betray us."
"Not so; I know a woman who would be incapable of that--a woman who
loves me well enough to keep my secret as faithfully as I myself; a
woman who could be more than merely a confidante, who could be the
protectress of our love. Oh, believe me, if we could gain her to our
side, then our future would be a happy and a blessed one, and we
might easily succeed in obtaining the king's consent to our
"And who is this woman?"
"It is the queen."
"The queen!" cried Thomas Seymour, with such an expression of horror
that Elizabeth trembled; "the queen your confidante? But that is
impossible! That would be plunging us both inevitably into ruin.
Unhappy child, be very careful not to mention even a single word, a
syllable of your relation to me. Be very careful not to betray to
her, even by the slightest intimation, that Thomas Seymour is not
indifferent to you! Ah, her wrath would dash to pieces you and me!"
"And why do you believe that?" asked Elizabeth, gloomily. "Why do
you suppose that Catharine would fly into a passion because Earl
Seymour loves me? Or how?--it is she, perhaps, that you love, and
you dare not therefore let her know that you have sworn your love to
me also? Ah, I now see through it all; I understand it all! You love
the queen--her only. For that reason you will not go to the chapel
with me; for that reason you swore that you would not marry the
Duchess of Richmond; and therefore--oh, my presentiment did not
deceive me--therefore that furious ride in Epping Forest to-day. Ah,
the queen's horse must of course become raving, and run away, that
his lordship, the master of horse, might follow his lady, and with
her got lost in the thicket of the woods!--And now," said she, her
eyes flashing with anger, and raising her hand to heaven as if
taking an oath, "now I say to you: Take heed to yourself! Take heed
to yourself, Seymour, that you do not, even by a single word or a
single syllable, betray your secret, for that word would crush you!
Yes, I feel it, that I am no bastard, that I am my father's own
daughter; I feel it in this wrath and this jealousy that rages
within me! Take heed to yourself, Seymour, for I will go hence and
accuse you to the king, and the traitor's head will fall upon the
She was beside herself. With clenched fists and a threatening air
she paced the room up and down. Tears gushed from her eyes; but she
shook them out of her eyelashes, so that they fell scattering about
her like pearls. Her father's impetuous and untractable nature
stirred within her, and his blood seethed in her veins.
But Thomas Seymour had already regained his self-command and
composure. He approached the princess and despite her struggles
clasped her in his arms.
"Little fool!" said he, between his kisses. "Sweet, dear fool, how
beautiful you are in your anger, and how I love you for it! Jealousy
is becoming to love; and I do not complain, though you are unjust
and cruel toward me. The queen has much too cold and proud a heart
ever to be loved by any man. Ah, only to think this is already
treason to her virtue and modesty; and surely she has not deserved
this from us two, that we should disdain and insult her. She is the
first that has always been just to you; and to me she has ever been
only a gracious mistress!"
"It is true," murmured Elizabeth, completely ashamed; "she is a true
friend and mother; and I have her to thank for my present position
at this court."
Then, after a pause, she said, smiling, and extending her hand to
the earl: "You are right. It would be a crime to suspect her; and I
am a fool. Forgive me, Seymour, forgive my absurd and childish
anger; and I promise you in return to betray our secret to no one,
not even to the queen."
"Do you swear that to me?"
"I swear it to you! and I swear to you more than that: I will never
again be jealous of her."
"Then you do but simple justice to yourself and to the queen also,"
said the earl, with a smile, as he drew her again to his arms.
But she pushed him gently back. "I must now away. The morning dawns,
and the archbishop awaits me in the royal chapel."
"And what will you say to him, beloved?"
"I will make my confession to him."
"How! so you will then betray our love to him?"
"Oh," said she, with a bewitching smile," that is a secret between
us and God; and only to Him alone can we confess it; because He
alone can absolve us from it. Farewell, then, Seymour, farewell, and
think of me till we see each other again! But when--say, when shall
we meet again?"
"When there is a night like this one, beloved, when the moon is not
in the heavens.
Oh, then I could wish there were a change of the moon every week,"
said she, with the charming innocence of a child. "Farewell,
Seymour, farewell; we must part."
She clung to his tall, sturdy form as the ivy twines around the
trunk of an oak. Then they parted. The princess slipped again softly
and unseen into her apartments, and thence into the royal chapel;
the earl descended again the spiral staircase which led to the
secret door of the garden.
Unobserved and unseen he returned to his palace; even his valet, who
slept in the anteroom, did not see him, as the earl crept past him
lightly on his toes, and betook himself to his sleeping-room.