Part 7 out of 9
"Triumph! triumph! we shall conquer!" said he, as he now entered his
daughter's chamber and extended his hand to Lady Jane. "Jane, we
have at last reached the goal, and you will soon be King Henry's
A rosy shimmer flitted for a moment over Lady Jane's pale, colorless
cheeks, and a smile played about her lips--a smile, however, which
was more sad than loud sobs could have been.
"Ah," said she in a low tone, "I fear only that my poor head will be
too weak to wear a royal crown."
"Courage, courage, Jane, lift up your head, and be again my strong,
"But, I suffer so much, my father," sighed she. "It is hell that
burns within me!"
"But soon, Jane, soon you shall feel again the bliss of heaven! I
had forbidden you to grant Henry Howard a meeting, because it might
bring us danger. Well, then, now your tender heart shall be
satisfied. To-night you shall embrace your lover again!"
"Oh," murmured she, "he will again call me his Geraldine, and it
will not be I, but the queen, that he kisses in my arms!"
"Yes, to-day, it will still be so, Jane; but I swear to you that to-
day is the last time that you are obliged to receive him thus."
"The last time that I see him?" asked Jane, with an expression of
"No, Jane, only the last time that Henry Howard loves in you the
queen, and not you yourself."
"Oh, he will never love me!" murmured she, sadly.
"He will love you, for you it will be that will save his life.
Hasten, then. Jane, haste! Write him quickly one of those tender
notes that you indite with so masterly a hand. Invite him to a
meeting to-night at the usual time and place."
"Oh, I shall at last have him again!" whispered Lady Jane; and she
stepped to the writing-table and with trembling hand began to write.
But suddenly she stopped, and looked at her father sharply and
"You swear to me, my father, that no danger threatens him if he
"I swear to you, Jane, that you shall be the one to save his life! I
swear to you, Jane, that you shall take vengeance on the queen--
vengeance for all the agony, the humiliation and despair that you
have suffered by her. To-day she is yet Queen of England! To-morrow
she will be nothing more than a criminal, who sighs in the
confinement of the Tower for the hour of her execution. And you will
be Henry's seventh queen. Write, then, my daughter, write! And may
love dictate to you the proper words!"
THE FEAST OF DEATH.
For a long time the king had not appeared in such good spirits as on
this festive evening. For a long time he had not been so completely
the tender husband, the good-natured companion, the cheerful bon-
The pains of his leg seemed to have disappeared, and even the weight
of his body seemed to be less burdensome than usual, for more than
once he rose from his chair, and walked a few steps through the
brilliantly lighted saloon, in which the ladies and lords of his
court, in festive attire, were moving gently to and fro; in which
music and laughter resounded. How tender he showed himself toward
the queen to-day; with what extraordinary kindness he met the Duke
of Norfolk; with what smiling attention, he listened to the Earl of
Surrey, as he, at the king's desire, recited some new sonnets to
This marked preference for the noble Howards enraptured the Roman
Catholic party at court, and filled it with new hopes and new
But one there was who did not allow himself to be deceived by this
mask which King Henry had to-day put on over his wrathful face.
John Heywood had faith neither in the king's cheerfulness nor in his
tenderness. He knew the king; he was aware that those to whom he was
most friendly often had the most to fear from him. Therefore, he
watched him; and he saw, beneath this mask of friendliness, the
king's real angry countenance sometimes flash out in a quick, hasty
The resounding music and the mad rejoicing no more deceived John
Heywood. He beheld Death standing behind this dazzling life; he
smelt the reek of corruption concealed beneath the perfume of these
John Heywood no longer laughed and no longer chatted. He watched.
For the first time in a long while the king did not need to-day the
exciting jest and the stinging wit of his fool in order to be
cheerful and in good humor.
So the fool had time and leisure to be a reasonable and observant
man; and he improved the time.
He saw the looks of mutual understanding and secure triumph that
Earl Douglas exchanged with Gardiner, and it made him mistrustful to
notice that the favorites of the king, at other times so jealous,
did not seem to be at all disturbed by the extraordinary marks of
favor which the Howards were enjoying this evening.
Once he heard how Gardiner asked Wriothesley, as he passed by, "And
the soldiers of the Tower?" and how he replied just as laconically,
"They stand near the coach, and wait."
It was, therefore, perfectly clear that somebody would be committed
to prison this very day. There was, therefore, among the laughing,
richly-attired, and jesting guests of this court, one who this very
night, when he left these halls radiant with splendor and pleasure,
was to behold the dark and gloomy chambers of the Tower.
The only question was, who that one was for whom the brilliant
comedy of this evening was to be changed to so sad a drama.
John Heywood felt his heart oppressed with an unaccountable
apprehension, and the king's extraordinary tenderness toward the
queen terrified him.
As now he smiled on Catharine, as he now stroked her cheeks, so had
the king smiled on Anne Boleyn in the same hour that he ordered her
arrest; so had he stroked Buckingham's cheek on the same day that he
signed his death-warrant.
The fool was alarmed at this brilliant feast, resounding music, and
the mad merriment of the king. He was horrified at the laughing
faces and frivolous jests, which came streaming from all those
O Heaven! they laughed, and death was in the midst of them; they
laughed, and the gates of the Tower were already opened to admit one
of those merry guests of the king into that house which no one in
those days of Henry the Eighth left again, save to go to the stake
or to ascend the scaffold!
Who was the condemned? For whom were the soldiers below at the
carriage waiting? John Heywood in vain racked his brain with this
Nowhere could he spy a trace that might lead him on the right track;
nowhere a clew that might conduct him through this labyrinth of
"When you are afraid of the devil, you do well to put yourself under
his immediate protection," muttered John Heywood; and sad and
despondent at heart, he crept behind the king's throne and crouched
down by it on the ground.
John Heywood had such a little, diminutive form, and the king's
throne was so large and broad, that it altogether concealed the
little crouching fool.
No one had noticed that John Heywood was concealed there behind the
king. Nobody saw his large, keen eyes peeping out from behind the
throne and surveying and watching the whole hall.
John Heywood could see everything and hear everything going on in
the vicinity of the king. He could observe every one who approached
He saw Lady Jane likewise, who was standing by the queen's seat. He
saw how Earl Douglas drew near his daughter, and how she turned
deadly pale as he stepped up to her.
John Heywood held his breath and listened.
Earl Douglas stood near his daughter, and nodded to her with a
peculiar smile. "Go, now, Jane, go and change your dress. It is
time. Only see how impatiently and longingly Henry Howard is already
looking this way, and with what languishing and enamored glances he
seems to give a hint to the queen. Go then, Jane, and think of your
"And will you, my father, also think of your promise?" inquired Lady
Jane, with trembling lips. "Will no danger threaten him?"
"I will, Jane. But now make haste, my daughter, and be prudent and
Lady Jane bowed, and murmured a few unintelligible words. Then she
approached the queen, and begged permission to retire from the
feast, because a severe indisposition had suddenly overtaken her.
Lady Jane's countenance was so pale and deathlike, that the queen
might well believe in the indisposition of her first maid of honor,
and she allowed her to retire. Lady Jane left the hall. The queen
continued the conversation with Lord Hertford, who was standing by
her. It was a very lively and warm conversation, and the queen
therefore did not heed what was passing around her; and she heard
nothing of the conversation between the king and Earl Douglas.
John Heywood, still crouching behind the king's throne, observed
everything and heard every word of this softly whispered
"Sire," said Earl Douglas, "it is late and the hour of midnight is
drawing nigh. Will your majesty be pleased to conclude the feast?
For you well know that at mid-night we must be over there in the
green summer-house, and it is a long way there."
"Yes, yes, at midnight!" muttered the king. "At midnight the
carnival is at an end; and we shall tear off our mask, and show our
wrathful countenance to the criminals! At midnight we must be over
in the green summer-house. Yes, Douglas, we must make haste; for it
would be cruel to let the tender Surrey wait still longer. So we
will give his Geraldine liberty to leave the feast; and we ourselves
must begin our journey. Ah, Douglas, it is a hard path that we have
to tread, and the furies and gods of vengeance bear our torches. To
work, then--to work!"
The king arose from his seat, and stepped to the queen, to whom he
presented his hand with a tender smile.
"My lady, it is late," said he; "and we, who are king of so many
subjects--we are, nevertheless, in turn, the subject of a king. This
is the physician, and we must obey him. He has ordered me to seek my
couch before midnight, and, as a loyal subject must do, I obey. We
wish you, therefore, a good-night, Kate; and may your beautiful eyes
on the morrow also shine as starlike as they do to-night."
"They will shine to-morrow as to-night, if my lord and husband is
still as gracious to me to-morrow as to-day," said Catharine, with
perfect artlessness and without embarrassment, as she gave her hand
to the king. Henry cast on her a suspicious, searching look, and a
peculiar, malicious expression was manifested in his face.
"Do you believe then, Kate, that we can ever be ungracious to you?"
"As to that, I think," said she, with a smile, "that even the sun
does not always shine; and that a gloomy night always succeeds his
The king did not reply. He looked her steadily in the face, and his
features suddenly assumed a gentler expression.
Perhaps he had compassion on his young wife. Perhaps he felt pity
for her youth and her enchanting smile, which had so often revived
and refreshed his heart.
Earl Douglas at least feared so.
"Sire," said he, "it is late. The hour of midnight is drawing nigh."
"Then let us go," exclaimed the king, with a sigh. "Yes once again,
good-night, Kate! Nay, do not accompany me! I will leave the hall
quite unobserved; and I shall be pleased, if my guests will still
prolong the fairfeast till morning. All of you remain here! No one
but Douglas accompanies me."
"And your brother, the fool!" said John Heywood, who long before had
come out of his hiding-place and was now standing by the king. "Yes,
come, brother Henry; let us quit this feast. It is not becoming for
wise men of our sort to grant our presence still longer to the feast
of fools. Come to your couch, king, and I will lull your ear to
sleep with the sayings of my wisdom, and enliven your soul with the
manna of my learning."
While John Heywood thus spoke, it did not escape him that the
features of the earl suddenly clouded and a dark frown settled on
"Spare your wisdom for to-day, John," said the king; "for you would
indeed be preaching only to deaf ears. I am tired, and I require not
your erudition, but sleep. Good-night, John."
The king left the hall, leaning on Earl Douglas's arm.
"Earl Douglas does not wish me to accompany the king," whispered
John Heywood. "He is afraid the king might blab out to me a little
of that diabolical work which they will commence at midnight. Well,
I call the devil, as well as the king, my brother, and with his help
I too will be in the green-room at midnight. Ah, the queen is
retiring; and there is the Duke of Norfolk leaving the hall. I have
a slight longing to see whether the duke goes hence luckily and
without danger, or if the soldiers who stand near the coach, as
Wriothesley says, will perchance be the duke's bodyguard for this
Slipping out of the hall with the quickness of a cat, John Heywood
passed the duke in the anteroom and hurried on to the outer gateway,
before which the carriages were drawn up.
John Heywood leaned against a pillar and watched. A few minutes, and
the duke's tall and proud form appeared in the entrance-hall; and
the footman, hurrying forward, called his carriage.
The carriage rolled up; the door was opened.
Two men wrapped in black mantles sat by the coachman; two others
stood behind as footmen, while a fifth was by the open door of the
The duke first noticed him as his foot had already touched the step
of the carriage.
"This is not my equipage! These are not my people!" said he; and he
tried to step back. But the pretended servant forced him violently
into the carriage and shut the door. "Forward!" ordered he. The
carriage rolled on. A moment still, John Heywood saw the duke's pale
face appear at the open carriage window, and it seemed to him as
though he were stretching out his arms, calling for help--then the
carriage disappeared in the night. "Poor duke!" murmured John
Heywood. "The gates of the Tower are heavy, and your arm will not be
strong enough to open them again, when they have once closed behind
you. But it avails nothing to think more about him now. The queen is
also in danger. Away, then, to the queen!"
With fleet foot John Heywood hastened back into the castle. Through
passages and corridors he slipped hurriedly along.
Now he stood in the corridor which led to the apartments of the
"I will constitute her guard to-night," muttered John Heywood, as he
hid himself in one of the niches in the corridor. "The fool by his
prayers will keep far from the door of his saint the tricks of the
devil, and protect her from the snares which the pious Bishop
Gardiner and the crafty courtier Douglas want to lay for her feet.
My queen shall not fall and be ruined. The fool yet lives to protect
From the niche in which John Heywood had hid himself he could survey
the entire corridor and all the doors opening into it--could see
everything and hear everything without being himself seen, for the
projecting pilaster completely shaded him.
So John Heywood stood and listened. All was quiet in the corridor.
In the distance was now and then heard the deadened sound of the
music; and the confused hum of many voices from the festive halls
forced its way to the listener's ear.
This was the only thing that John Heywood perceived. All else was
still. But this stillness did not last long. The corridor was
lighted up, and the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps was
It was the gold-laced lackeys, who bore the large silver candelabra
to light the queen, who, with her train of ladies, was passing
through the corridor.
She looked wondrously beautiful. The glare of the candles borne
before her illumined her countenance, which beamed with
cheerfulness. As she passed the pillar behind which John Heywood was
standing, she was talking in unrestrained gayety with her second
maid of honor; and a clear and lively laugh rang from her lips,
which disclosed both rows of her dazzling white teeth. Her eyes
sparkled; her checks were flushed with a rich red; bright as stars
glittered the diamonds in the diadem that encircled her lofty brow;
like liquid gold shone her dress of gold brocade, the long trail of
which, trimmed with black ermine, was borne by two lovely pages.
Arrived at the door of her bed-chamber, the queen dismissed her
pages and lackeys, and permitted only the maid of honor to cross the
threshold of her chamber with her.
In harmless gossip the pages glided down the corridor and the
staircase. Then came the lackeys who bore the candelabra. They also
left the corridor.
Now all was quiet again. Still John Heywood stood and listened,
firmly resolved to speak to the queen yet that night, even should he
be obliged to wake her from sleep. Only he wanted to wait till the
maid of honor also had left the queen's room.
Now the door opened, and the maid of honor came out. She crossed the
corridor to that side where her own apartments were situated. John
Heywood heard her open the door and then slide the bolt on the
"Now but a brief time longer, and I will go to the queen," muttered
He was just going to leave his lurking-place, when he perceived a
noise as if a door were slowly and cautiously opened.
John Heywood cowered again close behind the pillar, and held his
breath to listen.
A bright light fell over the corridor. A dress came rustling nearer
John Heywood gazed astounded and amazed at the figure, which just
brushed past without seeing him.
That figure was Lady Jane Douglas--Lady Jane, who, on account of
indisposition, had retired from the feast in order to betake herself
to rest. Now, when all rested, she watched--when all laid aside
their festive garments, she had adorned herself with the same. Like
the queen, she wore a dress of gold brocade, trimmed with ermine,
and, like her, a diadem of diamonds adorned Lady Jane's brow.
Now she stood before the queen's door and listened. Then a fierce
sneer flitted across her deathly pale face, and her dark eyes
flashed still more.
"She sleeps," muttered she. "Only sleep, queen--sleep till we shall
come to wake you! Sleep, so that I can wake for you."
She raised her arm threateningly toward the door, and wildly shook
her head. Her long black ringlets encircled and danced around her
sullen brow like the snakes of the furies; and pale and colorless,
and with demon-like beauty, she resembled altogether the goddess of
vengeance, in scornful triumph preparing to tread her victim beneath
With a low laugh she now glided adown the corridor, but not to that
staircase yonder, but farther down to the end, where on the wall
hung a life-size picture of Henry the Sixth. She pressed on a
spring; the picture flew open, and through the door concealed behind
it Lady Jane left the corridor.
"She is going to the green-room to a meeting with Henry Howard!"
whispered John Heywood, who now stepped forth from behind the
pillar. "Oh, now I comprehend it all; now the whole of this devilish
plot is clear to me; Lady Jane is Earl Surrey's lady-love, and they
want to make the king believe that it is the queen. Doubtless this
Surrey is with them in the conspiracy, and perhaps he will call Jane
Douglas by the name of the queen. They will let the king see her but
a moment. She wears a gold brocade dress and a diamond diadem like
the queen; and thereby they hope to deceive Henry. She has the
queen's form precisely; and everybody knows the astonishing
similarity and likeness of Lady Jane's voice to that of the queen.
Oh, oh, it is a tolerably cunning plot! But nevertheless you shall
not succeed, and you shall not yet gain the victory. Patience, only
patience! We likewise will be in the green-room, and face to face
with this royal counterfeit we will place the genuine queen!"
With hurried step John Heywood also left the corridor, which was now
lonely and still, for the queen had gone to rest.
Yes, the queen slept, and yet over yonder in the green-room
everything was prepared for her reception.
It was to be a very brilliant and extraordinary reception; for the
king, in his own person, had betaken himself to that wing of the
castle, and the chief master of ceremonies, Earl Douglas, had
To the king, this excursion, which he had to make on foot, had been
very troublesome; and this inconvenience had made him only still
more furious and excited, and the last trace of compassion for his
queen had disappeared from the king's breast, for on Catharine's
account he had been obliged to make this long journey to the green-
room; and with a grim joy Henry thought only how terrible was to be
his punishment for Henry Howard and also for Catharine.
Now that Earl Douglas had brought him hither, the king no longer had
any doubts at all of the queen's guilt. It was no longer an
accusation--it was proof. For never in the world would Earl Douglas
have dared to bring him, the king, hither, if he were not certain
that he would give him here infallible proofs.
The king, therefore, no longer doubted; at last Henry Howard was in
his power, and he could no more escape him. So he was certain of
being able to bring these two hated enemies to the block, and of
feeling his sleep no longed disturbed by thoughts of his two
The Duke of Norfolk had already passed the gates of the Tower, and
his son must soon follow him thither.
At this thought the king felt an ecstasy so savage and bloodthirsty,
that be wholly forgot that the same sword that was to strike Henry
Howard's head was drawn on his queen also.
They were now standing in the green-room, and the king leaned
panting and moaning on Earl Douglas's arm.
The large wide room, with its antique furniture and its faded glory,
was only gloomily and scantily lighted in the middle by the two wax
candles of the candelabrum that Earl Douglas had brought with him;
while further away it was enveloped in deep gloom, and seemed to the
eye through this gloom to stretch out to an interminable length.
"Through the door over there comes the queen," said Douglas; and he
himself shrank at the loud sound of his voice, which in the large,
desolate room became of awful fulness. "And that, there, is Henry
Howard's entrance. Oh, he knows that path very thoroughly; for he
has often enough already travelled it in the dark night, and his
foot no longer stumbles on any stone of offence!"
"But he will perchance stumble on the headsman's block!" muttered
the king, with a cruel laugh.
"I now take the liberty of asking one question more," said Douglas;
and the king did not suspect how stormily the earl's heart beat at
this question. "Is your majesty satisfied to see the earl and the
queen make their appearance at this meeting? Or, do you desire to
listen to a little of the earl's tender protestations?"
"I will hear not a little, but all!" said the king. "Ah, let us
allow the earl yet to sing his swan-like song before he plunges into
the sea of blood!"
"Then," said Earl Douglas, "then we must put out this light, and
your majesty must be content merely to hear the guilty ones, and not
to see them also. We will then betake ourselves to the boudoir here,
which I have opened for this purpose, and in which is an easy-chair
for your majesty. We will place this chair near the open door, and
then your majesty will be able to hear every word of their tender
"But how shall we, if we extinguish this our only light, at last
attain to a sight of this dear loving pair, and be able to afford
them the dramatic surprise of our presence?"
"Sire, as soon as the Earl of Surrey enters, twenty men of the
king's bodyguard will occupy the anteroom through which the earl
must pass; and it needs but a call from you to have them enter the
hall with their torches. I have taken care also that before the
private backgate of the palace two coaches stand ready, the drivers
of which know very well the street that leads to the Tower!"
"Two coaches?" said the king, laughing. "Ah, ah, Douglas, how cruel
we are to separate the tender, loving pair on this journey which is
yet to be their last! Well, perhaps we can compensate them for it,
and allow these turtledoves to make the last trip--the trip to the
stake--together. No, no, we will not separate them in death.
Together they may lay their heads on the block."
The king laughed, quite delighted with his jest, while, leaning on
the earl's arm, he crossed to the little boudoir on the other side,
and took his place in the armchair set near the door.
"Now we must extinguish the light; and may it please your majesty to
await in silence the things that are to come."
The earl extinguished the light, and deep darkness and a grave-like
stillness now followed.
But this did not last long. Now was heard quite distinctly the sound
of footsteps. They came nearer and nearer--now a door was heard to
open and shut again, and it was as though some one were creeping
softly along on his toes in the hall.
"Henry Howard!" whispered Douglas.
The king could scarcely restrain the cry of savage, malicious
delight that forced its way to his lips.
The hated enemy was then in his power; he was convicted of the
crime; he was inevitably lost.
"Geraldine!" whispered a voice, "Geraldine!"
And as if his low call had already been sufficient to draw hither
the loved one, the secret door here quite close to the boudoir
opened. The rustling of a dress was very distinctly heard, and the
sound of footsteps.
"Geraldine!" repeated Earl Surrey.
"Here I am, my Henry!"
With an exclamation of delight, the woman rushed forward toward the
sound of the loved voice.
"The queen!" muttered Henry; and in spite of himself he felt his
heart seized with bitter grief.
He saw with his inward eye how they held each other in their
embrace. He heard their kisses and the low whisper of their tender
vows, and all the agonies of jealousy and wrath filled his soul. But
yet the king prevailed upon himself to be silent and swallow down
his rage. He wanted to hear everything, to know everything.
He clenched his hands convulsively, and pressed his lips firmly
together to hold in his panting breath. He wanted to hear.
How happy they both were! Henry had wholly forgotten that he had
come to reproach her for her long silence; she did not think about
this being the last time she might see her lover.
They were with each other, and this hour was theirs. What did the
whole world matter to them? What cared they whether or not mischief
and ruin threatened them hereafter?
They sat by each other on the divan, quite near the boudoir. They
jested and laughed; and Henry Howard kissed away the tears that the
happiness of the present caused his Geraldine to shed.
He swore to her eternal and unchanging love. In blissful silence she
drank in the music of his words; and then she reiterated, with
jubilant joy, his vows of love.
The king could scarcely restrain his fury.
The heart of Earl Douglas leaped with satisfaction and
gratification. "A lucky thing that Jane has no suspicion of our
presence," thought he--"otherwise she would have been less
unrestrained and ardent, and the king's ear would have imbibed less
Lady Jane thought not at all of her father; she scarcely remembered
that this very night would destroy her hated rival the queen.
Henry Howard had called her his Geraldine only. Jane had entirely
forgot that it was not she to whom her lover had given this name.
But he himself finally reminded her of it.
"Do you know, Geraldine," said Earl Surrey--and his voice, which had
been hitherto so cheerful and sprightly, was now sad--"do you know,
Geraldine, that I have had doubts of you? Oh, those were frightful,
horrible hours; and in the agony of my heart I came at last to the
resolution of going to the king and accusing myself of this love
that was consuming my heart. Oh, fear naught! I would not have
accused you. I would have even denied that love which you have so
often and with such transporting reality sworn to me. I would have
done it in order to see whether my Geraldine could at last gain
courage and strength to lover. He saw how he pressed her hands to
his lips; how he put his hand to her head to raise it from the
The king was speechless with rage. He could only lift his arm to
beckon the soldiers to approach; to point to Henry Howard, who had
not yet succeeded in raising the queen's head from the floor.
"Arrest him!" said Earl Douglas, lending words to the king's mute
sign. "In the king's name arrest him, and conduct him to the Tower!"
"Yes, arrest him!" said the king; and, as with youthful speed he
walked up to Henry Howard and put his hand heavily on his shoulder,
he with terrible calmness continued: "Henry Howard, your wish shall
be fulfilled; you shall mount the scaffold for which you have so
The earl's noble countenance remained calm and unmoved; his bright
beaming eye fearlessly encountered the eye of the king flashing with
"Sire," said he, "my life is in your hand, and I very well know that
you will not spare it. I do not even ask you to do so. But spare
this noble and beautiful woman, whose only crime is that she has
followed the voice of her heart. Sire, I alone am the guilty one.
Punish me, then--torture me, if you like--but be merciful to her."
The king broke out into a loud laugh. "Ah, he begs for her!" said
he. "This little Earl Surrey presumes to think that his sentimental
love-plaint can exercise an influence on the heart of his judge! No,
no, Henry Howard; you know me better. You say, indeed, that I am a
cruel man, and that blood cleaves to my crown. Well, now, it is our
pleasure to set in our crown a new blood-red ruby; and if we want to
take it from Geraldine's heart's blood, your sonnets will not hinder
us from doing so, my good little earl. That is all the reply I have
to make to you; and I think it will be the last time that we shall
meet on earth!"
"There above we shall see each other again, King Henry of England!"
said Earl Surrey, solemnly. "There But still this hour was hers, and
she would enjoy it. She clung fast to his breast; she drew him with
irresistible force to her heart, which now trembled no longer for
love, but from a nameless anxiety.
"Let us fly! Let us fly!" repeated she, breathlessly. See! This hour
is yet ours. Let us avail ourselves of it; for who knows whether the
next will still belong to us?"
"No! it is no longer yours," yelled the king, as he sprang like a
roused lion from his seat. "Your hours are numbered, and the next
already belongs to the hangman!"
A piercing shriek burst from Geraldine's lips. Then was heard a dull
"She has fainted," muttered Earl Douglas.
"Geraldine, Geraldine, my loved one!" cried Henry Howard. "My God,
my God! she is dying! You have killed her! Woe to you!"
"Woe to yourself!" said the king, solemnly. "Here with the light!
Here, you folks!"
The door of the anteroom opened, and in it appeared four soldiers
with torches in their hands.
"Light the candles, and guard the door!" said the king, whose
dazzled eyes were not yet able to bear this bright glare of light
which now suddenly streamed through the room.
The soldiers obeyed his orders. A pause ensued. The king had put his
hand before his eyes, and was struggling for breath and self-
When at length he let his hand glide down, his features had assumed
a perfectly calm, almost a serene expression.
With a hasty glance he surveyed the room. He saw the queen in her
dress glistening with gold; he saw how she lay on the floor,
stretched at full length, her face turned to the ground, motionless
He saw Henry Howard, who knelt by his beloved and was busy about her
with all the anxiety and agony of a acknowledge her love openly and
frankly; whether her heart had the power to burst that iron band
which the deceitful rules of the world had placed around it; whether
she would acknowledge her lover when he was willing to die for her.
Yes, Geraldine, I wanted to do it, that I might finally know which
feeling is stronger in you--love or pride--and whether you could
then still preserve the mask of indifference, when death was
hovering over your lover's head. Oh, Geraldine, I should deem it a
fairer fate to die united with you, than to be obliged to still
longer endure this life of constraint and hateful etiquette."
"No, no," said she, trembling, "we will not die. My God, life is
indeed so beautiful when you are by my side! And who knows whether a
felicitous and blissful future may not still await us?"
"Oh, should we die, then should we be certain of this blissful
future, my Geraldine. There, above, there is no more separation--no
more renunciation for us. There above, you are mine, and the bloody
image of your husband no longer stands between us."
"It shall no longer do so, even here on earth," whispered Geraldine.
"Come, my beloved; let us fly far, far hence, where no one knows us-
-where we can cast from us all this hated splendor, to live for each
other and for love."
She threw her arms about her lover, and in the ecstasy of her love
she had wholly forgotten that she could never indeed think to flee
with him, that he belonged to her only so long as he saw her not.
An inexplicable anxiety overpowered her heart; and in this anxiety
she forgot everything--even the queen and the vengeance she had
She now remembered her father's words, and she trembled for her
If now her father had not told her the truth--if now he had
notwithstanding sacrificed Henry Howard in order to ruin the queen--
if she was not able to save him, and through her fault he were to
perish on the scaffold--above Henry the Eighth will no more be the
judge, but the condemned criminal; and your bloody and accursed
deeds will witness against you!"
The king laughed. "You avail yourself of your advantage," said he.
"Because you have nothing more to lose and the scaffold is sure of
you, you do not stick at heaping up the measure of your sins a
little more, and you revile your legitimate, God-appointed king! But
you should bear in mind, earl, that before the scaffold there is yet
the rack, and that it is very possible indeed that a painful
question might there be put to the noble Earl Surrey, to which his
agonies might prevent him from returning an answer. Now, away with
you! We have nothing more to say to each other on earth!"
He motioned to the soldiers, who approached the Earl of Surrey. As
they reached their hands toward him, he turned on them a look so
proud and commanding that they involuntarily recoiled a step.
"Follow me!" said Henry Howard, calmly; and, without even deigning
the king a single look more, with head proudly erect, he walked to
Geraldine still lay on the ground--her face turned to the floor. She
stirred not. She seemed to have fallen into a deep swoon.
Only as the door with a sullen sound closed behind Earl Surrey, a
low wail and moan was perceived--such as is wont to struggle forth
at the last hour from the breast of the dying.
The king did not heed it. He still gazed, with eyes stern and
flashing with anger, toward the door through which Earl Surrey had
"He is unyielding," muttered he. "Not even the rack affrights him;
and in his blasphemous haughtiness he moves along in the midst of
the soldiers, not as a prisoner, but as a commander. Oh, these
Howards are destined to torment me; and even their death will
scarcely be a full satisfaction to me."
"Sire," said Earl Douglas, who had observed the king with a keen,
penetrating eye, and knew that he had now reached the height of his
wrath, at which he shrank from no deed of violence and no cruelty--
"sire, you have sent Earl Surrey to the Tower. But what shall be
done with the queen, who lies there on the floor in a swoon?"
The king roused himself from his reverie; and his bloodshot eyes
were fixed on Geraldine's motionless form with so dark an expression
of hate and rage, that Earl Douglas exultingly said to himself: "The
queen is lost! He will be inexorable!"
"Ah, the queen!" cried Henry, with a savage laugh. "Yea, verily, I
forgot the queen. I did not think of this charming Geraldine! But
you are right, Douglas; we must think of her and occupy ourselves a
little with her! Did you not say that a second coach was ready?
Well, then, we will not hinder Geraldine from accompanying her
beloved. She shall be where he is--in the Tower, and on the
scaffold! We will therefore wake this sentimental lady and show her
the last duty of a cavalier by conducting her to her carriage!"
He was about to approach the figure of the queen lying on the floor.
Earl Douglas held him back.
"Sire," said he, "it is my duty--as your faithful subject, who loves
you and trembles for your welfare--it is my duty to implore you to
spare yourself and preserve your precious and adored person from the
venomous sting of anger and grief. I conjure you, therefore, do not
deign to look again on this woman, who has so deeply injured you.
Give me your orders--what am I to do with her--and allow me first of
all to accompany you to your apartments."
"You are right," said the king, "she is not worthy of having my eyes
rest on her again; and she is even too contemptible for my anger! We
will call the soldiers that they may conduct this traitoress and
adulteress to the tower, as they have done her paramour."
"Yet for that there is needed still a formality. The queen will not
be admitted into the Tower without the king's written and sealed
"Then I will draw up that order."
"Sire, in that cabinet yonder may be found the necessary writing-
materials, if it please your majesty."
The king leaned in silence on the earl's arm, and allowed himself to
be led again into the cabinet.
With officious haste Earl Douglas made the necessary arrangements.
He rolled the writing-table up to the king; he placed the large
sheet of white paper in order, and slipped the pen into the king's
"What shall I write?" asked the king, who, by the exertion of his
night's excursion, and of his anger and vexation, began at length to
"An order for the queen's imprisonment, sire."
The king wrote. Earl Douglas stood behind him, with eager attention,
in breathless expectation, his look steadily fixed on the paper over
which the king's hand, white, fleshy, and sparkling with diamonds,
glided along in hasty characters.
He had at length reached his goal. When at last he should hold in
his hand the paper which the king was then writing--when he had
induced Henry to return to his apartments before the imprisonment of
the queen had taken place--then was he victorious. Not that woman
there would he then imprison; but, with the warrant in his hand, he
would go to the real queen, and take her to the Tower.
Once in the Tower, the queen could no longer defend herself; for the
king would see her no more; and if before the Parliament she
protested her innocence in ever so sacred oaths, still the king's
testimony must convict her; for he had himself surprised her with
No, there was no escape for the queen. She had once succeeded in
clearing herself of an accusation, and proving her innocence, by a
rebutting alibi. But this time she was irretrievably lost, and no
alibi could deliver her.
The king completed his work and arose, whilst Douglas, at his
command, was employed in setting the king's seal to the fatal paper.
From the hall was heard a slight noise, as though some person were
cautiously moving about there.
Earl Douglas did not notice it; he was just in the act of pressing
the signet hard on the melted sealing-wax.
The king heard it, and supposed that it was Geraldine, and that she
was just waking from her swoon and rising.
He stepped to the door of the hall, and looked toward the place
where she was lying. But no--she had not yet risen; she still lay
stretched at full length on the floor.
"She has come to; but she still pretends to be in a swoon," thought
the king; and he turned to Douglas.
"We are done," said he; "the warrant for imprisonment is prepared,
and the sentence of the adulterous queen is spoken. We have done
with her forever; and never shall she again behold our face, or
again hear our voice. She is sentenced and damned, and the royal
mercy has nothing more to do with this sinner. A curse on the
adulteress! A curse on the shameless woman who deceived her husband,
and gave herself up to a traitorous paramour! Woe to her, and may
shame and disgrace forever mark her name, which--"
Suddenly the king stopped and listened. The noise that he had heard
just, before was now repeated louder and quicker; it came nearer and
And now the door opened and a figure entered--a figure which made
the king stare with astonishment and admiration. It came nearer and
nearer, light, graceful, and with the freshness of youth; a gold-
brocade dress enveloped it; a diadem of diamonds sparkled on the
brow; and brighter yet than the diamonds beamed the eyes.
"No, the king was not mistaken. It was the queen, She was standing
before him--and yet she still lay motionless and stiff upon the
The king uttered a cry, and, turning pale, reeled a step backward.
"The queen!" exclaimed Douglas, in terror; and he trembled so
violently that the paper in his hand rattled and fluttered.
"Yes, the queen!" said Catharine, with a haughty smile. "The queen,
who comes to scold her husband, that, contrary to his physician's
orders, he still refrains from his slumbers at so late an hour of
"And the fool!" said John Heywood, as with humorous pathos he
stepped forward from behind the queen--"the fool, who comes to ask
Earl Douglas how he dared deprive John Heywood of his office, and
usurp the place of king's fool to Henry, and deceive his most
gracious majesty with all manner of silly pranks and carnival
"And who"--asked the king, in a voice quivering with rage, fastening
his flashing looks on Douglas with an annihilating expression--"
who, then, is that woman there? Who has dared with such cursed
mummery to deceive the king, and calumniate the queen?"
"Sire," said Earl Douglas, who very well knew that his future and
that of his daughter depended on the present moment, and whom this
consciousness had speedily restored to his self-possession and
calmness--"sire, I beseech your majesty for a moment of private
explanation; and I shall be entirely successful in vindicating
"Do not grant it him, brother Henry," said John Heywood; "he is a
dangerous juggler; and who knows whether he may not yet, in his
private conversation, convince you that he is king, and you nothing
more than his lickspittle, fawning, hypocritical servant Earl
"My lord and husband, I beg you to hear the earl's justification,"
said Catharine, as she extended her hand to the king with a
bewitching smile. "It would be cruel to condemn him unheard,
I will hear him, but it shall be done in your presence, Kate, and
you yourself shall decide whether or not his justification is
"No indeed, my husband; let me remain an entire stranger to this
night's conspiracy, so that spite and anger may not fill my heart
and rob me of the supreme confidence which I need, to be able to
walk on at your side happy and smiling in the midst of my enemies."
"You are right, Kate," said the king, thoughtfully. "You have many
enemies at our court; and we have to accuse ourselves that we have
not always succeeded in stopping our ear to their malicious
whisperings, and in keeping ourselves pure from the poisonous breath
of their calumny. Our heart is still too artless, and we cannot even
yet comprehend that men are a disgusting, corrupt race, which one
should tread beneath his feet, but never take to his heart. Come,
Earl Douglas, I will hear you; but woe to you, if you are unable to
He retired to the embrasure of the large window of the boudoir. Earl
Douglas followed him thither, and let the heavy velvet curtain drop
"Sire," said he, hardily and resolutely, "the question now is this:
Whose head would you rather give over to the executioner, mine or
the Earl of Surrey's? You have the choice between the two. You are
aware that I have ventured for a moment to deceive you. Well, send
me to the Tower then, and set free the noble Henry Howard, that he
may henceforth disturb your sleep and poison your days; that he may
further court the love of the people, and perhaps some day rob your
son of the throne that belongs to him. Here is my head, sire; it is
forfeited to the headsman's axe, and Earl Surrey is free!"
"No, he is not free, and never shall be!" said the king, grinding
"Then, my king, I am justified; and instead of being angry with me,
you will thank me? It is true I have played a hazardous game, but I
did so in the service of my king. I did it because I loved him, and
because I read on your lofty clouded brow the thoughts that begirt
with darkness my master's soul, and disturbed the sleep of his
nights. You wanted to have Henry Howard in your power; and this
crafty and hypocritical earl knew how to conceal his guilt so
securely under the mask of virtue and loftiness of soul! But I knew
him, and behind this mask I had seen his face distorted with passion
and crime. I wanted to unmask him; but for this, it was necessary
that I should deceive first him, and then for the hour even
yourself. I knew that he burned with an adulterous love for the
queen, and I wanted to avail myself of the madness of this passion,
in order to bring him surely and unavoidably to a richly-deserved
punishment. But I would not draw the pure and exalted person of the
queen into this net with which we wanted to surround Earl Surrey. I
was obliged, then, to seek a substitute for her; and I did so. There
was at your court a woman whose whole heart belongs, after God, to
the king alone; and who so much adores him, that she would be ready
at any hour gladly to sacrifice for the king her heart's blood, her
whole being--ay, if need be, even her honor itself--a woman, sire,
who lives by your smile, and worships you as her redeemer and
savior--a woman whom you might, as you pleased, make a saint or a
strumpet; and who, to please you, would be a shameless Phyrne or a
chaste veiled nun."
"Tell me her name, Douglas," said the king, "tell me it! It is a
rare and precious stroke of fortune to be so loved; and it would be
a sin not to want to enjoy this good fortune."
"Sire, I will tell you her name when you have first forgiven me,"
said Douglas, whose heart leaped for joy, and who well understood
that the king's anger was already mollified and the danger now
almost overcome. "I said to this woman: 'You are to do the king a
great service; you are to deliver him from a powerful and dangerous
foe! You are to save him from Henry Howard!' 'Tell me what I must
do!' cried she, her looks beaming with joy. 'Henry Howard loves the
queen. You must be the queen to him. You must receive his letters,
and answer them in the queen's name. You must grant him interviews
by night, and, favored by the darkness of the night, make him
believe that it is the queen whom he holds in his arms. He must be
convinced that the queen is his lady-love; and in his thoughts, as
in his deeds, he must be placed before the king as a traitor and
criminal whose head is forfeited to the headsman's axe. One day we
will let the king be a witness of a meeting that Henry Howard
believes he has with the queen; it will then be in his power to
punish his enemy for his criminal passion, which is worthy of
death!' And as I thus spoke to the woman, sire, she said with a sad
smile: 'It is a disgraceful and dishonorable part that you assign
me; but I undertake it, for you say I may thereby render a service
to the king. I shall disgrace myself for him; but he will perhaps
bestow upon me in return a gracious smile; and then I shall be
"But this woman is an angel!" cried the king, ardently--"an angel
whom we should kneel to and adore. Tell me her name, Douglas!"
"Sire, as soon as you have forgiven me! You know now all my guilt
and all my crime. For, as I bade that noble woman, so it came to
pass, and Henry Howard has gone to the Tower in the firm belief that
it was the queen whom he just now held in his arms."
"But why did you leave me in this belief, Douglas? Why did you fill
my heart with wrath against the noble and virtuous queen also?"
"Sire, I dared not reveal the deception to you before you had
sentenced Surrey, for your noble and just moral sense would have
been reluctant to punish him on account of a crime that he had not
committed; and in your first wrath you would also have blamed this
noble woman who has sacrificed herself for her king."
"It is true," said the king, "I should have misjudged this noble
woman, and, instead of thanking her, I should have destroyed her."
"Therefore, my king, I quietly allowed you to make out an order for
the queen's incarceration. But you remember well, sire, I begged you
to return to your apartments before the queen was arrested. Well,
now, there I should have disclosed to you the whole secret, which I
could not tell you in the presence of that woman. For she would die
of shame if she suspected that you knew of her love for the king, so
pure and self-sacrificing, and cherished in such heroic silence."
"She shall never know it, Douglas! But now at length satisfy my
desire. Tell me her name."
"Sire, you have forgiven me, then? You are no longer angry with me
that I dared to deceive you?"
"I am no longer angry with you, Douglas; for you have acted rightly.
The plan, which you have contrived and carried out with such happy
results, was as crafty as it was daring."
"I thank you, sire; and I will now tell you the name. That woman,
sire, who at my wish gave herself up a sacrifice to this adulterous
earl, who endured his kisses, his embraces, his vows of love, in
order to render a service to her king--that woman was my daughter,
Lady Jane Douglas!"
"Lady Jane!" cried the king. "No, no, this is a new deception. That
haughty, chaste, and unapproachable Lady Jane--that wonderfully
beautiful marble statue really has then a heart in her breast, and
that heart belongs to me? Lady Jane, the pure and chaste virgin, has
made for me this prodigious sacrifice, of receiving this hated
Surrey as her lover, in order, like a second Delilah, to deliver him
into my hand? No, Douglas, you are lying to me. Lady Jane has not
"May it please your majesty to go yourself and take a look at that
fainting woman, who was to Henry Howard the queen."
The king did not reply to him; but he drew back the curtain and
reentered the cabinet, in which the queen was waiting with John
Henry did not notice them. With youthful precipitation he crossed
the cabinet and the hall. Now he stood by the figure of Geraldine
still lying on the floor.
She was no longer in a swoon. She had long since regained her
consciousness; and terrible were the agonies and tortures that rent
her heart. Henry Howard had incurred the penalty of the headsman's
axe, and it was she that had betrayed him.
But her father had sworn to her that she should save her lover.
She durst not die then. She must live to deliver Henry Howard.
There were burning, as it were, the fires of hell in her poor heart;
but she was not at liberty to heed these pains. She could not think
of herself--only of him--of Henry Howard, whom she must deliver,
whom she must save from an ignominious death.
For him she sent up her fervent prayers to God; for him her heart
trembled with anxiety and agony, as the king now advanced to her,
and, bending down, gazed into her eyes with a strange expression, at
once scrutinizing and smiling.
"Lady Jane," said he then, as he presented her his hand, "arise from
the ground and allow your king to express to you his thanks for your
sublime and wonderful sacrifice! Verily, it is a fair lot to be a
king; for then one has at least the power of punishing traitors, and
of rewarding those that serve us. I have to-day done the one, and I
will not neglect to do the other also. Stand up, then, Lady Jane; it
does not become you to lie on your knees before me."
"Oh, let me kneel, my king," said she, passionately; "let me beseech
you for mercy, for pity! Have compassion, King Henry--compassion on
the anxiety and agony which I endure. It is not possible that this
is all a reality! that this juggling is to be changed into such
terrible earnest! Tell me, King Henry--I conjure you by the agonies
which I suffer for your sake--tell me, what will you do with Henry
Howard? Why have you sent him to the Tower?"
"To punish the traitor as he deserves," said the king, as he cast a
dark and angry look across at Douglas, who had also approached his
daughter, and was now standing close by her.
Lady Jane uttered a heartrending cry, and sank down again, senseless
and completely exhausted.
The king frowned. "It is possible," said he--"and I almost believe
it--that I have been deceived in many ways this evening, and that
now again my guilelessness has been played upon in order to impose
upon me a charming story. However, I have given my word to pardon;
and it shall not be said that Henry the Eighth, who calls himself
God's vicegerent, has ever broken his word; nor even that he has
punished those whom he has assured of exemption from punishment. My
Lord Douglas, I will fulfil my promise. I forgive you."
He extended his hand to Douglas, who kissed it fervently. The king
bent down closer to him. "Douglas," whispered he, "you are as
cunning as a serpent; and I now see through your artfully-woven web!
You wanted to destroy Surrey, but the queen was to sink into the
abyss with him. Because I am indebted to you for Surrey, I forgive
you what you have done to the queen. But take heed to yourself, take
heed that I do not meet you again on the same track; do not ever try
again, by a look, a word, ay, even by a smile, to cast suspicion on
the queen. The slightest attempt would cost you your life! That I
swear to you by the holy mother of God; and you know that I have
never yet broken that oath. As regards Lady Jane, we do not want to
consider that she has misused the name of our illustrious and
virtuous consort in order to draw this lustful and adulterous earl
into the net which you had set for him; she obeyed your orders,
Douglas; and we will not now decide what other motives besides have
urged her to this deed. She may settle that with God and her own
conscience, and it does not behoove us to decide about it."
"But it behooves me, perhaps, my husband, to ask by what right Lady
Jane has dared to appear here in this attire, and to present to a
certain degree a counterfeit of her queen?" asked Catharine in a
sharp tone. "I may well be allowed to ask what has made my maid of
honor, who left the festive hall sick, now all at once so well that
she goes roaming about the castle in the night time, and in a dress
which seems likely to be mistaken for mine? Sire, was this dress
perchance a craftily-devised stratagem, in order to really confound
us with one another? You are silent, my lord and king. It is true,
then, they have wanted to carry out a terrible plot against me; and,
without the assistance of my faithful and honest friend, John
Heywood, who brought me here, I should without doubt be now
condemned and lost, as the Earl of Surrey is."
"Ah, John, it was you then that brought a little light into this
darkness?" cried the king, with a cheerful laugh, as he laid his
hand on Heywood's shoulder. "Now, verily, what the wise and prudent
did not see, that the fool has seen through!"
"King Henry of England," said John Heywood, solemnly, "many call
themselves wise, and yet they are fools; and many assume the mask of
folly, because fools are allowed to be wise."
"Kate," said the king, "you are right; this was a bad night for you,
but God and the fool have saved you and me. We will both be thankful
for it. But it is well if you do as you before wished, and ask and
inquire nothing more concerning the mysteries of this night. It was
brave in you to come here, and I will be mindful of it. Come, my
little queen, give me your arm and conduct me to my apartments. I
tell you, child, it gives me joy to be able to lean on your arm, and
see your dear sprightly face blanched by no fear or terrors of
conscience. Come, Kate, you alone shall lead me, and to you alone
will I trust myself."
"Sire, you are too heavy for the queen," said the fool, as he put
his neck under the other arm. "Let me share with her the burden of
"But before we go," said Catharine, "I have, my husband, one
request. Will you grant it?"
"I will grant you everything that you may ask, provided you will not
require me to send you to the Tower."
"Sire, I wish to dismiss my maid of honor, Lady Jane Douglas, from
my service--that is all," said the queen, as her eyes glanced with
an expression of contempt, and yet at the same time of pain, at the
form of her friend of other days, prostrate on the floor.
"She is dismissed!" said the king. "You will choose another maid of
honor to-morrow. Come, Kate!"
And the king, supported by his consort and John Heywood, left the
room with slow and heavy steps.
Earl Douglas watched them with a sullen, hateful expression. As the
door closed after them he raised his arm threateningly toward
heaven, and his trembling lips uttered a fierce curse and
"Vanquished! vanquished again!" muttered he, gnashing his teeth.
"Humbled by this woman whom I hate, and whom I will yet destroy!
Yes, she has conquered this time; but we will commence the struggle
anew, and our envenomed weapon shall nevertheless strike her at
Suddenly he felt a hand laid heavily on his shoulder, and a pair of
glaring, flaming eyes gazed at him.
"Father," said Lady Jane, as she threw her right hand threateningly
toward heaven--"father, as true as there is a God above us, I will
accuse you yourself to the king as a traitor--I will betray to him
all your accursed plots--if you do not help me to deliver Henry
Her father looked with an expression almost melancholy in her face,
painfully convulsed and pale as marble. "I will help you!" said he.
"I will do it, if you will help me also, and further my plans."
"Oh, only save Henry Howard, and I will sign myself away to the
devil with my heart's blood!" said Jane Douglas, with a horrible
smile. "Save his life, or, if you have not the power to do that,
then at least procure me the happiness of being able to die with
Parliament, which had not for a long time now ventured to offer any
further opposition to the king's will--Parliament had acquiesced in
his decree. It had accused Earl Surrey of high treason; and, on the
sole testimony of his mother and his sister, he had been declared
guilty of lese majeste and high treason. A few words of discontent
at his removal from office, some complaining remarks about the
numerous executions that drenched England's soil with blood--that
was all that the Duchess of Richmond had been able to bring against
him. That he, like his father, bore the arms of the Kings of
England--that was the only evidence of high treason of which his
mother the Duchess of Norfolk could charge him. [Footnote: Tytler,
p. 402. Burnet, vol. i, p. 95.]
These accusations were of so trivial a character, that the
Parliament well knew they were not the ground of his arrest, but
only a pretext for it--only a pretext, by which the king said to his
pliant and trembling Parliament: "This man is innocent; but I will
that you condemn him, and therefore you will account the accusation
Parliament had not the courage to oppose the king's will. These
members of Parliament were nothing more than a flock of sheep, who,
in trembling dread of the sharp teeth of the dog, go straight along
the path which the dog shows them.
The king wanted them to condemn the Earl of Surrey, and they
They summoned him before their judgment-seat, and it was in vain
that he proved his innocence in a speech spirited and glowing with
eloquence. These noble members of Parliament would not see that he
It is true, indeed, there were a few who were ashamed to bow their
heads so unreservedly beneath the king's sceptre, which dripped with
blood like a headsman's axe. There were still a few to whom the
accusation appeared insufficient; but they were outvoted; and in
order to give Parliament a warning example, the king, on the very
same day, had these obstinate ones arrested and accused of some
pretended crime. For this people, enslaved by the king's cruelty and
savage barbarity, were already so degenerate and debased in self-
consciousness, that men were always and without trouble found, who,
in order to please the king and his bloodthirstiness and
sanctimonious hypocrisy, degraded themselves to informers, and
accused of crime those whom the king's dark frown had indicated to
them as offenders.
So Parliament had doomed the Earl of Surrey to die, and the king had
signed his death-warrant.
Early next morning he was to be executed; and in the Tower-yard the
workmen were already busy in erecting the scaffold on which the
noble earl was to be beheaded.
Henry Howard was alone in his cell. He had done with life and
earthly things. He had set his house in order and made his will; he
had written to his mother and sister, and forgiven them for their
treachery and accusation; he had addressed a letter to his father,
in which he exhorted him, in words as noble as they were touching,
to steadfastness and calmness, and bade him not to weep for him, for
death was his desire, and the grave the only refuge for which he
He had then, as we have said, done with life; and earthly things no
longer disturbed him. He felt no regret and no fear. Life had left
him nothing more to wish; and he almost thanked the king that he
would so soon deliver him from the burden of existence.
The future had nothing more to offer him; why then should he desire
it? Why long for a life which could be for him now only an isolated,
desolate, and gloomy one? For Geraldine was lost to him! He knew not
her fate; and no tidings of her had penetrated to him through the
solitary prison walls. Did the queen still live? Or had the king in
his wrath murdered her on that very night when Henry was carried to
the Tower, and his last look beheld his beloved lying at her
husband's feet, swooning and rigid.
What had become of the queen--of Henry Howard's beloved Geraldine?
He knew nothing of her. He had hoped in vain for some note, some
message from her; but he had not dared to ask any one as to her
fate. Perhaps the king desisted from punishing her likewise. Perhaps
his murderous inclination had been satisfied by putting Henry Howard
to death; and Catharine escaped the scaffold. It might, therefore,
have been ruinous to her, had he, the condemned, inquired after her.
Or, if she had gone before him, then he was certain of finding her
again, and of being united with her forevermore beyond the grave.
He believed in a hereafter, for he loved; and death did not affright
him, for after death came the reunion with her, with Geraldine, who
either was already waiting for him there above, or would soon follow
Life had nothing more to offer him. Death united him to his beloved.
He hailed death as his friend and savior, as the priest who was to
unite him to his Geraldine. He heard the great Tower clock of the
prison which with threatening stroke made known the hour; and each
passing hour he hailed with a joyous throb of the heart. The evening
came and deep night descended upon him--the last night that was
allotted to him-the last night that separated him from his
The turnkey opened the door to bring the earl a light, and to ask
whether he had any orders to give. Heretofore it had been the king's
special command not to allow him a light in his cell; and he had
spent these six long evenings and nights of his imprisonment in
darkness. But to-day they were willing to give him a light; to-day
they were willing to allow him everything that he might still
desire. The life which he must leave in a few hours was to be once
more adorned for him with all charms and enjoyments which he might
ask for. Henry Howard had but to wish, and the jailer was ready to
furnish him everything.
But Henry Howard wished for nothing; he demanded nothing, save that
they would leave him alone-save that they would remove from his
prison this light which dazzled him, and which opposed to his
enrapturing dreams the disenchanting reality.
The king, who had wanted to impose a special punishment in
condemning him to darkness-the king had, contrary to his intention,
become thereby his benefactor. For with darkness came dreams and
fantasies. With the darkness came Geraldine.
When night and silence were ail around him, then there was light
within; and an enchanting whisper and a sweet, enticing voice
resounded within him. The gates of his prison sprang open, and on
the wings of thought Henry Howard soared away from that dismal and
desolate place. On the wings of thought he came to her-to his
Again she was by him, in the large, silent hall. Again night lay
upon them, like a veil concealing, blessing, and enveloping them;-
and threw its protection over their embraces and their kisses.
Solitude allowed him to hear again the dear music of her voice,
which sang for him so enchanting a melody of love and ecstasy.
Henry Howard must be alone, so that he can hear his Geraldine. Deep
darkness must surround him, so that his Geraldine can come to him.
He demanded, therefore, for his last night, nothing further than to
be left alone, and without a light. The jailer extinguished the
light and left the cell. But he did not shove the great iron bolt
across the door. He did not put the large padlock on it, but he only
left the door slightly ajar, and did not lock it at all.
Henry Howard took no notice of this. What cared he, whether this
gate was locked or no-he who no longer had a desire for life and
He leaned back on his seat, and dreamed with eyes open. There below
in the yard they were working on the scaffold which Henry Howard was
to ascend as soon as day dawned. The dull monotony of the strokes of
the hammers fell on his ear. Now and then the torches, which lighted
the workmen at their melancholy task, allowed to shine up into his
cell a pale glimmer of light, which danced on the walls in ghost-
"There are the ghosts of all those that Henry has put to death,"
thought Henry Howard; "they gather around me; like will-o'-the-
wisps, they dance with me the dance of death, and in a few hours I
shall be forever theirs."
The dull noise of hammers and saws continued steadily on, and Henry
Howard sank deeper and deeper in reverie.
He thought, he felt, and desired nothing but Geraldine. His whole
soul was concentrated in that single thought of her. It seemed to
him he could bid his spirit see her, as though he could command his
senses to perceive her. Yes, she was there; he felt-he was conscious
of her presence. Again he lay at her feet, and leaned his head on
her knee, and listened again to those charming revelations of her
Completely borne away from the present, and from existence, he saw,
he felt, only her. The mystery of love was perfected, and, under the
veil of night, Geraldine had again winged her way to him, and he to
A happy smile played about his lips, which faltered forth rapturous
words of greeting. Overcome by a wonderful hallucination, he saw his
beloved approaching him; he stretched out his arms to clasp her; and
it did not arouse him when he felt instead of her only the empty
"Why do you float away from me again, Geraldine?" asked he, in a low
tone. "Wherefore do you withdraw from my arms, to whirl with the
will-o'-the-wisps in the death-dance? Come, Geraldine, come; my soul
burns for you. My heart calls you with its last faltering throb.
Come, Geraldine, oh, come!"
What was that? It was as though the door were gently opened, and the
latch again gently fastened. It was as though a foot were moving
softly over the floor-as though the shape of a human form shaded for
a moment the flickering light which danced around the walls.
Henry Howard saw it not.
He saw naught but his Geraldine, whom he with so much fervency and
longing wished by his side. He spread his arms; he called her with
all the ardor, all the enthusiasm of a lover.
Now he uttered a cry of ecstasy. His prayer of love was answered.
The dream had become a reality. His arms no longer clasped the empty
air; they pressed to his breast the woman whom he loved, and for
whom he was to die.
He pressed his lips to her mouth and she returned his kisses. He
threw his arms around her form, and she pressed him fast, fast to
Was this a reality? Or was it madness that was creeping upon him and
seizing upon his brain, and deceiving him with fantasies so
Henry Howard shuddered as he thought this, and, falling upon his
knees, he cried in a voice trembling with agony and love:
"Geraldine, have pity on me! Tell me that this is no dream, that I
am not mad--that you are really--you are Geraldine--you--the king's
consort, whose knees I now clasp! Speak, oh speak, my Geraldine!"
"I am she!" softly whispered she. "I am Geraldine--am the woman whom
you love, and to whom you have sworn eternal truth and eternal love!
Henry Howard, my beloved, I now remind you of your oath! Your life
belongs to me. This you have vowed, and I now come to demand of you
that which is my own!"
"Ay, my life belongs to you, Geraldine! But it is a miserable,
melancholy possession, which you will call yours only a few hours
She threw her arms closely around his neck; she raised him to her
heart; she kissed his mouth, his eyes. He felt her tears, which
trickled like hot fountains over his face; he heard her sighs, which
struggled from her breast like death-groans.
"You must not die!" murmured she, amid her tears. "No, Henry, you
must live, so that I too can live; so that I shall not become mad
from agony and sorrow for you! My God, my God, do you not then feel
how I love you? Know you not, then, that your life is my life, and
your death my death?"
He leaned his head on her shoulder, and, wholly intoxicated with
happiness, he scarcely heard what she was speaking.
She was again there! What cared he for all the rest?
"Geraldine," softly whispered he, "do you recollect still how we
first met each other? how our hearts were united in one throb, how
our lips clung to each other in one kiss? Geraldine, my life, my
loved one, we then swore that naught could separate us, that our
love should survive the grave! Geraldine, do you remember that
"I remember it, my Henry! But you shall not die yet; and not in
death, but in life, shall your love for me be proved! Ay, we will
live, live! And your life shall be my life, and where you are, there
will I be also! Henry, do you remember that you vowed this to me
with a solemn oath!"
"I remember it, but I cannot keep my word, my Geraldine! Hear you
how they are sawing and hammering there below? Know you what that
"I know it, Henry! It is the scaffold that they are building there
below. The scaffold for you and me. For I too will die if you will
not live; and the axe that seeks your neck shall find mine also, if
you wish not that we both live!"
"Do I wish it! But how can we, beloved?"
"We can, Henry, we can! All is ready for the flight! It is all
arranged, everything prepared! The king's signet-ring has opened to
me the gates of the prison; the omnipotence of gold has won over
your jailer. He will not see it, when two persons instead of one
leave this dungeon. Unmolested and without hinderance, we will both
leave the Tower by ways known only to him, over secret corridors and
staircases, and will go aboard a boat which is ready to take us to a
ship, which lies in the harbor prepared to sail, and which as soon
as we are aboard weighs anchor and puts to sea with us. Come, Henry,
come! Lay your arm in mine, and let us leave this prison!"
She threw both her arms around his neck, and drew him forward. He
pressed her fast to his heart and whispered: "Yes, come, come, my
beloved! Let us fly! To you belongs my life, you alone!"
He raised her up in his arms, and hastened with her to the door. He
pushed it hastily open with his foot and hurried forward down the
corridor; but having arrived just at the first turn he reeled back
Before the door wore standing soldiers with shouldered arms. There
stood also the lieutenant of the Tower, and two servants behind him
with lighted candles. Geraldine gave a scream, and with anxious
haste rearranged the thick veil that had slipped from her head.
Henry Howard also had uttered a cry, but not on account of the
soldiers and the frustrated flight.
His eyes, stretched wide open, stared at this figure at his side,
now so closely veiled.
It seemed to him as though like a spectre a strange face had risen
up close by him--as though it were not the beloved head of the queen
that rested there on his shoulder. He had seen this face only as a
vision, as the fantasy of a dream; but he knew with perfect
certainty that it was not her countenance, not the countenance of
The lieutenant of the Tower motioned to his servants, and they
carried the lighted candles into the earl's cell.
Then he gave Henry Howard his hand and silently led him back into
Henry Howard exhibited no reluctance to follow him; but his hand had
seized Geraldine's arm, and he drew her along with him; his eye
rested on her with a penetrating expression, and seemed to threaten
They were now again in the room which they had before left with such
The lieutenant of the Tower motioned to the servants to retire, then
turned with solemn earnestness to Earl Surrey.
"My lord," said he, "it is at the king's command that I bring you
these lights. His majesty knows all that has happened here this
night. He knew that a plot was formed to rescue you; and while they
believed they were deceiving him, the plotters themselves were
deceived. They had succeeded under various artful false pretences in
influencing the king to give his signet-ring to one of his lords.
But his majesty was already warned, and he already knew that it was
not a man, as they wanted to make him believe, but a woman, who
came, not to take leave of you, but to deliver you from prison.--My
lady, the jailer whom you imagined that you had bribed was a
faithful servant of the king. He betrayed your plot to me; and it
was I who ordered him to make a show of favoring your deed. You will
not be able to release Earl Surrey; but if such is your command, I
will myself see you to the ship that lies in the harbor for you
ready to sail. No one will hinder you, my lady, from embarking on
it; Earl Surrey is not permitted to accompany you!--My lord, soon
the night is at an end, and you know that it will be your last
night. The king has ordered that I am not to prevent this lady, if
she wishes to spend this night with you in your room. But she is
allowed to do so only on the condition that the lights in your room
remain burning. That is the king's express will, and these are his
own words: 'Tell Earl Surrey that I allow him to love his Geraldine,
but that he is to open his eyes to see her! That he may see, you
will give him a light; and I command him not to extinguish it so
long as Geraldine is with him. Otherwise he may confound her with
another woman; for in the dark one cannot distinguish even a
harlequin from a queen!'--You have now to decide, my lord, whether
this lady remains with you, or whether she goes, and the light shall
be put out!"
"She shall remain with me, and I very much need the light!" said
Earl Surrey; and his penetrating look rested steadily on the veiled
figure, which shook at his words, as if in an ague.
"Have you any other wish besides this, my lord?"
"None, save that I may be left alone with her."
The lieutenant bowed and left the room.
They wore now alone again, and stood confronting each other in
silence. Naught was heard but the beating of their hearts, and the
sighs of anguish that burst from Geraldine's trembling lips.
It was an awful, a terrible pause. Geraldine would gladly have given
her life could she thereby have extinguished the light and veiled
herself in impenetrable darkness.
But the earl would see. With an angry, haughty look, he stepped up
to her, and, as with commanding gesture lie raised his arm,
Geraldine shuddered and submissively bowed her head.
"Unveil your face!" said he, in a tone of command. She did not stir.
She murmured a prayer, then raised her clasped hands to Henry and in
a low moan, said: "Mercy! mercy!"
He extended his hand and seized the veil.
"Mercy!" repeated she, in a voice of still deeper supplication--of
still greater distress.
But he was inexorable. He tore the veil from her face and stared at
her. Then with a wild shriek he reeled back and covered his face
with his hands.
Jane Douglas durst not breathe or stir. She was pale as marble; her
large, burning eyes were fastened with an unutterable expression of
entreaty upon her lover, who stood before her with covered head, and
crushed with anguish. She loved him more than her life, more than
her eternal salvation; and yet she it was that had brought him to
this hour of agony.
At length Earl Surrey let his hands fall from his face, and with a
fierce movement dashed the tears from his eyes.
As he looked at her, Jane Douglas wholly involuntarily sank upon her
knees, and raised her hands imploringly to him. "Henry Howard," said
she, in a low whisper, "I am Geraldine! Me have you loved; my
letters have you read with ecstasy, and to me have you often sworn
that you loved my mind yet more than my appearance. And often has my
heart been filled with rapture, when you told me you would love me
however my face might change, however old age or sickness might
alter my features. You remember, Henry, how I once asked you whether
you would cease to love me, if now God suddenly put a mask before my
face, so that you could not recognize my features. You replied to
me: 'Nevertheless, I should love and adore you; for what in you
ravishes me, is not your face, but you yourself--yourself with your
glorious being and nature. It is your soul and your heart which can
never change, which lie before me like a holy book, clear and
bright!' That was your reply to me then, as you swore to love me
eternally. Henry Howard, I now remind you of your oath! I am your
Geraldine. It is the same soul, the same heart; only God has put a
mask upon my face!"
Earl Surrey had listened to her with eager attention, with
"It is she! It is really!" cried he, as she ceased. "It is
And wholly overcome, wholly speechless with anguish, he sank into a
Geraldine flew to him; she crouched at his feet; she seized his
drooping hand and covered it with kisses. And amid streaming tears,
often interrupted by her sighs and her sobs, she recounted to him
the sad and unhappy history of her love; she unveiled before him the
whole web of cunning and deceit, that her father had drawn around
them both. She laid her whole heart open and unveiled before him.
She told him of her love, of her agonies, of her ambition, and her
remorse. She accused herself; but she pleaded her love as an excuse,
and with streaming tears, clinging to his knees, she implored him
for pity, for forgiveness.
He thrust her violently from him, and stood up in order to escape
her touch. His noble countenance glowed with anger: his eyes darted
lightning; his long flowing hair shaded his lofty brow and his face
like a sombre veil. He was beautiful in his wrath, beautiful as the
archangel Michael trampling the dragon beneath his feet. And thus he
bent down his head toward her; thus he gazed at her with flashing
and contemptuous looks.
"I forgive you?" said he. "Never will that be! Ha, shall I forgive
you?--you, who have made my entire life a ridiculous lie, and
transformed the tragedy of my love into a disgusting farce? Oh,
Geraldine, how I have loved you; and now you have become to me a
loathsome spectre, before which my soul shudders, and which I must
execrate! You have crushed my life, and even robbed my death of its
sanctity; for now it is no longer the martyrdom of my love, but only
the savage mockery of my credulous heart. Oh, Geraldine, how
beautiful it would have been to die for you!--to go to death with
your name upon my lips!--to bless you!--to thank you for my happy
lot, as the axe was already uplifted to smite off my head! How
beautiful to think that death does not separate us, but is only the
way to an eternal union; that we should lose each other but a brief
moment here, to find each other again forevermore!"
Geraldine writhed at his feet like a worm trodden upon; and her
groans of distress and her smothered moans were the heartrending
accompaniment of his melancholy words.
"But that is now all over!" cried Henry Howard; and his face, which
was before convulsed with grief and agony, now glowed again with
wrath. "You have poisoned my life and my death; and I shall curse
you for it, and my last word will be a malediction on the harlequin
"Have pity!" groaned Jane. "Kill me, Henry; stamp my head beneath
your feet; only let this torture end!"
"Nay, no pity!" yelled he, wildly; "no pity for this impostor, who
has stolen my heart and crept like a thief into my love! Arise, and
leave this room; for you fill me with horror; and when I behold you,
I feel only that I must curse you! Ay, a curse on you and shame,
Geraldine! Curse on the kisses that I have impressed on your lips--
on the tears of rapture that I have wept on your bosom. When I
ascend the scaffold, I will curse you, and my last words shall be:
'Woe to Geraldine!--for she is my murderess!'"
He stood there before her with arm raised on high, proud and great
in his wrath. She felt the destroying lightning of his eyes, though
she durst not look up at him, but lay at his feet moaning and
convulsed, and concealing her face in her veil, as she shuddered at
her own picture.
"And this be my last word to you Geraldine," said Henry Howard,
panting for breath: "Go hence under the burden of my curse, and
live--if you can!"
She unveiled her head, and raised her countenance toward him. A
contemptuous smile writhed about her deathly pale lips. "Live!" said
she. "Have we not sworn to die with each other? Your curse does not
release me from my oath, and when you descend into the grave, Jane
Douglas will stand upon its brink, to wail and weep until you make a
little place for her there below; until she has softened your heart
and you take her again, as your Geraldine, into your grave. Oh,
Henry! in the grave, I no longer wear the face of Jane Douglas--that
hated face, which I would tear with my nails. In the grave, I am
Geraldine again. There I may again lie close to your heart, and
again you will say to me: 'I love not your face and your external
form! I love you yourself; I love your heart and mind; and that can
never change; and can never be otherwise!'"
"Silence!" said he, roughly; "silence, if you do not want me to run
mad! Cast not my own words in my face. They defile me, for falsehood
has desecrated and trodden them in the mire. No! I will not make
room for you in my grave. I will not again call you Geraldine. You
are Jane Douglas, and I hate you, and I hurl my curse upon your
criminal head! I tell you--"
He suddenly paused, and a slight convulsion ran through his whole
Jane Douglas uttered a piercing scream, and sprang from her knees.
Day had broken; and from the prison-tower sounded the dismal,
plaintive stroke of the death-bell.
"Do you hear, Jane Douglas?" said Surrey. "That bell summons me to
death. You it is that has poisoned my last hour. I was happy when I
loved you. I die in despair, for I despise and hate you."
"No, no, you dare not die!" cried she, clinging to him with
passionate anguish. "You dare not go to the grave with that fierce
curse upon your lips. I cannot be your murderess. Oh, it is not
possible that they will put you to death--you, the beautiful, the
noble and the virtuous Earl Surrey. My God, what have you done to
excite their wrath? You are innocent; and they know it. They cannot
execute you; for it would be murder! You have committed no offence;
you have been guilty of nothing; no crime attaches to your noble
person. It is indeed no crime to love Jane Douglas, and me have you
"No, not you," said he proudly; "I have nothing to do with Lady Jane
Douglas. I loved the queen, and I believed she returned my love.
That is my crime."
The door opened: and in solemn silence the lieutenant of the Tower
entered with the priests and his assistants. In the door was seen
the bright-red dress of the headsman, who was standing upon the
threshold with face calm and unmoved.
"It is time!" solemnly said the lieutenant.
The priest muttered his prayers, and the assistants swung their
censers. Without, the death-bell kept up its wail; and from the
court was heard the hum of the mob, which, curious and bloodthirsty
as it ever is, had streamed hither to behold with laughing mouth the
blood of the man who but yesterday was its favorite.
Earl Surrey stood there a moment in silence. His features worked and
were convulsed, and a deathlike pallor covered his cheeks.
He trembled, not at death, but at dying. It seemed to him that he
already felt on his neck the cold broad-axe which that frightful man
there held in his hand. Oh, to die on the battle-field--what a boon
it would have been! To come to an end on the scaffold--what a
disgrace was this!
"Henry Howard, my son, are you prepared to die?" asked the priest.
"Have you made your peace with God? Do you repent of your sins, and
do you acknowledge death as a righteous expiation and punishment? Do
you forgive your enemies, and depart hence at peace with yourself
and with mankind?"
"I am prepared to die," said Surrey, with a proud smile; "the other
questions, my father, I will answer to my God."
"Do you confess that you were a wicked traitor? And do you beg the
forgiveness of your noble and righteous, your exalted and good king,
for the blasphemous injury to his sacred majesty?"
Earl Surrey looked him steadily in the eye. "Do you know what crime
I am accused of?"
The priest cast down his eyes, and muttered a few unintelligible
With a haughty movement of the head, Henry Howard turned from the
priest to the lieutenant of the Tower.
"Do you know my crime, my lord?" said he.
But the lord lieutenant also dropped his eyes, and remained silent.
Henry Howard smiled. "Well, now, I will tell you. I have, as it
becomes me, my father's son, borne the arms of our house on my
shield and over the entrance of my palace, and it has been
discovered that the king bears the same arms that we do. That is my
high treason! I have said that the king is deceived in many of his
servants, and often promotes his favorites to high honors which they
do not deserve. That is my offence against his majesty; and it is
that for which I shall lay my head upon the block. [Footnote: These
two insignificant accusations were the only points that could be
made out against the Earl of Surrey. Upon these charges, brought by
his mother and sister, he was executed.--Tytler, p. 492; Burnet,
vol. I, p. 75; Leti, vol. I, p. 108.] But make yourself easy; I
shall myself add to my crimes one more, so that they may be grievous
enough to make the conscience of the righteous and generous king
quiet. I have given up my heart to a wretched and criminal love, and
the Geraldine whom I have sung in many a poem, and have celebrated
even before the king, was nothing but a miserable coquettish
Jane Douglas gave a scream, and sank upon the ground as if struck by
"Do you repent of this sin, my son?" asked the priest. "Do you turn
your heart away from this sinful love, in order to turn it to God?"
"I not only repent of this love, but I execrate it! and now, my
father, let us go; for you see, indeed, my lord is becoming
impatient. He bears in mind that the king will find no rest until
the Howards also have gone to rest. Ah, King Henry! King Henry! Thou
callest thyself the mighty king of the world, and yet thou tremblest
before the arms of thy subject! My lord, if you go to the king to-
day, give him Henry Howard's greeting; and tell him, I wish his bed
may be as easy to him as the grave will be to me. Now, come, my
lords! It is time."
With head proudly erect and calm step, he turned to the door. But
now Jane Douglas sprang from the ground; now she rushed to Henry
Howard and clung to him with all the might of her passion and agony.
"I leave you not!" cried she, breathless and pale as death. "You
dare not repulse me, for you have sworn that we shall live and die
He hurled her from him in fierce wrath, and drew himself up before
her, lofty and threatening.
"I forbid you to follow me!" cried he, in a tone of command. She
reeled back against the wall and looked at him, trembling and
He was still lord over her soul; she was still subject to him in
love and obedience. She could not therefore summon up courage to
defy his command.
She beheld him as he left the room and passed down the corridor with
his dreadful train; she heard their footsteps gradually die away;
and then suddenly in the yard sounded the hollow roll of the drum.
Jane Douglas fell on her knees to pray, but her lips trembled so
much that she could find no words for her prayer.
The roll of the drum ceased in the court below, and only the death-
bell still continued to wail and wail. She heard a voice speaking
loud and powerful words.
It was his voice; it was Henry Howard that was speaking. And now
again the hollow roll of the drums drowned his voice.
"He dies! He dies, and I am not with him!" cried she, with a shriek;
and she gathered herself up, and as if borne by a whirlwind she
dashed out of the room, through the corridor, and down the stairs.
There she stood in the court. That dreadful black pile above there,
in the midst of this square crowded with men--that was the scaffold.
Yonder she beheld him prostrate on his knees. She beheld the axe in
the headsman's hand; she saw him raise it for the fatal stroke.
She was a woman no longer, but a lioness! Not a drop of blood was in
her cheeks. Her nostrils were expanded and her eyes darted
She drew out a dagger that she had concealed in her bosom, and made
a path through the amazed, frightened, yielding crowd.
With one spring she had rushed up the steps of the scaffold. She now
stood by him on the top of it--close by that kneeling figure.
There was a flash through the air. She heard a peculiar whiz--then a
hollow blow. A red vapor-like streak of blood spurted up, and
covered Jane Douglas with its crimson flood.
"I come, Henry, I come!" cried she, with a wild shout. "I shall be
with thee in death!" And again there was a flash through the air. It
was the dagger that Jane Douglas plunged into her heart.
She had struck well. No sound--no groan burst from her lips. With a
proud smile she sank by her lover's headless corpse, and with a last
dying effort she said to the horrified headsman: "Let me share his
grave! Henry Howard, in life and in death I am with thee!"
Henry Howard was dead; and now one would have thought the king might
be satisfied and quiet, and that sleep would no longer flee from his
eyelids, since Henry Howard, his great rival, had closed his eyes
forever; since Henry Howard was no longer there, to steal away his
crown, to fill the world with the glory of his deeds, to dim the
genius of the king by his own fame as a poet.
But the king was still dissatisfied. Sleep still fled from his
The cause of this was that his work was only just half done. Henry
Howard's father, the Duke of Norfolk, still lived. The cause of this
was, that the king was always obliged to think of this powerful
rival; and these thoughts chased sleep from his eyelids. His soul
was sick of the Howards; therefore his body suffered such terrible
pains. If the Duke of Norfolk would close his eyes in death, then
would the king also be able to close his again in refreshing sleep!
But this court of peers--and only by such a court could the duke be
judged--this court of peers was so slow and deliberate! It worked
far less rapidly, and was not near so serviceable, as the Parliament
which had so quickly condemned Henry Howard. Why must the old Howard
bear a ducal title? Why was he not like his son, only an earl, so
that the obedient Parliament might condemn him?
That was the king's inextinguishable grief, his gnawing pain, which
made him raving with fury and heated his blood, and thereby
increased the pains of his body.