The Fifth Queen Crowned
by Ford Madox Ford
PART ONE. THE MAJOR CHORD.
PART TWO. THE THREATENED RIFT
PART THREE. THE DWINDLING MELODY
PART FOUR. THE END OF THE SONG
PART ONE. THE MAJOR CHORD. I
'The Bishop of Rome'
Thomas Cranmer began a hesitating speech. In the pause after the
words the King himself hesitated, as if he poised between a heavy rage
and a sardonic humour. He deemed, however, that the humour could the
more terrify the Archbishopand, indeed, he was so much upon the
joyous side in those summer days that he had forgotten how to browbeat.
'Our holy father,' he corrected the Archbishop. 'Or I will say my
holy father, since thou art a heretic'
Cranmer's eyes had always the expression of a man's who looked at
approaching calamity, but at the King's words his whole face, his
closed lips, his brows, the lines from his round nose, all drooped
'Your Grace will have me write a letter to theto histo him'
The downward lines fixed themselves, and from amongst them the
panic-stricken eyes made a dumb appeal to the griffins and crowns of
his dark green hangings, for they were afraid to turn to the King.
Henry retained his heavy look of jocularity: he jumped at a weighty
'My Grace will have thy Grace write a letter to his Holiness.'
He dropped into a heavy impassivity, rolled his eyes, fluttered his
swollen fingers on the red and gilded table, and then said clearly,
'My. Thy. His.'
When he was in that mood he spoke with a singular distinctness that
came up from his husky and ordinary joviality like something dire and
terriblelike that something that upon a clear smooth day will suggest
to you suddenly the cruelty that lies always hidden in the limpid sea.
'To Cæsaregomet, I mineselfthat which is Cæsar's: to himthat
is to say to his Holiness, our lord of Romethe things which are of
God! But to thee, Archbishop, I know not what belongs.'
He paused and then struck his hand upon the table: 'Cold porridge is
thy portion! Cold porridge!' he laughed; 'for they say: Cold porridge
to the devil! And, since thou art neither God's nor the King's, what
may I call thee but the devil's self's man?'
A heavy and minatory silence seemed to descend upon him; the
Archbishop's thin hands opened suddenly as if he were letting something
fall to the ground. The King scowled heavily, but rather as if he were
remembering past heavinesses than for any present griefs.
'Why,' he said, 'I am growing an old man. It is time I redded up my
It was as if he thought he could take his time, for his heavily
pursed eyes looked down at the square tips of his fingers where they
drummed on the table. He was such a weighty man that the old chair in
which he sat creaked at the movement of his limbs. It was his
affectation of courtesy that he would not sit in the Archbishop's own
new gilded and great chair that had been brought from Lambeth on a
mule's back along with the hangings. But the other furnishings of that
Castle of Pontefract were as old as the days of Edward IVeven the
scarlet wood of the table had upon it the arms of Edward IV's Queen
Elizabeth, side by side with that King's. Henry noted it and said
'It is time these arms were changed. See that you have here fairly
painted the arms of my Queen and meHoward and Tudorin token that we
have passed this way and sojourned in this Castle of Pontefract.'
He was dallying with time as if it were a luxury to dally: he looked
curiously round the room.
'Why, they have not housed you very well,' he said, and, as the
Archbishop shivered suddenly, he added, 'there should be glass in the
windows. This is a foul old kennel.'
'I have made a complaint to the Earl Marshal,' Cranmer said
dismally, 'but 'a said there was overmuch room needed above ground.'
This room was indeed below ground and very old, strong, and damp.
The Archbishop's own hangings covered the walls, but the windows shot
upwards through the stones to the light; there was upon the ground of
stone not a carpet but only rushes; being early in the year, no
provision was made for firing, and the soot of the chimney back was
damp, and sparkled with the track of a snail that had lived there
undisturbed for many years, and neither increasing, because it had no
mate, nor dying, because it was well fed by the ferns that, behind the
present hangings, grew in the joints of the stones. In that low-ceiled
and dark place the Archbishop was aware that above his head were fair
and sunlit rooms, newly painted and hung, with the bosses on the
ceilings fresh silvered or gilt, all these fair places having been
given over to kinsmen of the yellow Earl Marshal from the Norfolk Queen
downwards. And the temporal and material neglect angered him and filled
him with a querulous bitterness that gnawed up even through his dread
of a futurestill shadowyfall and ruin.
The King looked sardonically at the line of the ceiling. He had
known that Norfolk, who was the Earl Marshal, had the mean mind to make
him set these indignities upon the Archbishop, and loftily he
considered this result as if the Archbishop were a cat mauled by his
own dog whose nature it was to maul cats.
The Archbishop had been standing with one hand on the arm of his
heavy chair, about to haul it back from the table to sit himself down.
He had been standing thus when the King had entered with the brusque
'Make you ready to write a letter to Rome.'
And he still stood there, the cold feet among the damp rushes, the
cold hand still upon the arm of the chair, the cap pulled forward over
his eyes, the long black gown hanging motionless to the boot tops that
were furred around the ankles.
'I have made a plaint to the Earl Marshal,' he said; 'it is not
fitting that a lord of the Church should be so housed.'
Henry eyed him sardonically.
'Sir,' he said, 'I am being brought round to think that ye are only
a false lord of the Church. And I am minded to think that ye are being
brought round to trow even the like to mine own self.'
His eyes rested, little and twinkling like a pig's, upon the opening
of the Archbishop's cloak above his breastbone, and the Archbishop's
right hand nervously sought that spot.
'I was always of the thought,' he said, 'that the prohibition of the
wearing of crucifixes was against your Highness' will and the teachings
of the Church.'
A great crucifix of silver, the Man of Sorrows depending dolorously
from its arms and backed up by a plaque of silver so that it resembled
a porter's badge, depended over the black buttons of his undercoat. He
had put it on upon the day when secretly he had married Henry to the
papist Lady Katharine Howard. On the same day he had put on a hair
shirt, and he had never since removed either the one or the other. He
had known very well that this news would reach the Queen's ears, as
also that he had fasted thrice weekly and had taken a Benedictine
sub-prior out of chains in the tower to be his second chaplain.
'Holy Church! Holy Church!' the King muttered amusedly into the
stiff hair of his chin and lips. The Archbishop was driven into one of
his fits of panic-stricken boldness.
'Your Grace,' he said, 'if ye write a letter to Rome you willfor I
see not how ye may avoid itreverse all your acts of this last twenty
'Your Grace,' the King mocked him, 'by your setting on of chains,
crucifixes, phylacteries, and by your aping of monkish ways, ye have
reversedwell ye know itall my and thy acts of a long time gone.'
He cast himself back from the table into the leathern
shoulder-straps of the chair.
'And if,' he continued with sardonic good-humour, 'my fellow and
servant may reverse my actsvidelicet, the King'swherefore shall not
Ividelicet, the Kingreverse what acts I will? It is to set me below
'I am minded to redd up my house!' he repeated after a moment.
'Please it, your Grace' the Archbishop muttered. His eyes were
upon the door.
The King said, 'Anan?' He could not turn his bulky head, he would
not move his bulky body.
'My gentleman!' the Archbishop whispered.
The King looked at the opposite wall and cried out
'Come in, Lascelles. I am about cleaning out some stables of mine.'
The door moved noiselessly and heavily back, taking the hangings
with it; as if with the furtive eyes and feathery grace of a blonde fox
Cranmer's spy came round the great boards.
'Ay! I am doing some cleansing,' the King said again. 'Come hither
and mend thy pen to write.'
Against the King's huge bulkHenry was wearing purple and black
upon that dayand against the Archbishop's black and pillar-like form,
Lascelles, in his scarlet, with his blonde and tender beard had an air
of being quill-like. The bones of his knees through his tight and thin
silken stockings showed almost as those of a skeleton; where the King
had great chains of gilt and green jewels round his neck, and where the
Archbishop had a heavy chain of silver, he had a thin chain of fine
gold and a tiny badge of silver-gilt. He dragged one of his legs a
little when he walked. That was the fashion of that day, because the
King himself dragged his right leg, though the ulcer in it had been
Sitting askew in his chair at the table, the King did not look at
this gentleman, but moved the fingers of his outstretched hand in token
that his crook of the leg was kneeling enough for him.
'Take your tablets and write,' Henry said; 'nay, take a great sheet
of parchment and write'
'Your Grace,' he added to the Archbishop, 'ye are the greatest
penner of solemn sentences that I have in my realm. What I shall say
roughly to Lascelles you shall ponder upon and set down nobly, at first
in the vulgar tongue and then in fine Latin.' He paused and added
'Nay; ye shall write it in the vulgar tongue, and the Magister Udal
shall set it into Latin. He is the best Latinist we havebetter than
myself, for I have no time'
Lascelles was going between a great cabinet with iron hinges and the
table. He fetched an inkhorn set into a tripod, a sandarach, and a roll
of clean parchment that was tied around with a green ribbon.
Upon the gold and red of the table he stretched out the parchment as
if it had been a map. He mended his pen with a little knife and kneeled
down upon the rushes beside the table, his chin level with the edge.
His whole mind appeared to be upon keeping the yellowish sheet straight
and true upon the red and gold, and he raised his eyes neither to the
Archbishop's white face nor yet to the King's red one.
Henry stroked the short hairs of his neck below the square grey
beard. He was reflecting that very soon all the people in that castle,
and very soon after, most of the people in that land would know what he
was about to say.
'Write now,' he said. 'Henryby the grace of GodDefender of the
FaithKing, Lord Paramount.' He stirred in his chair.
'Set down all my styles and titles: Duke
PalatineEarlBaronKnightleave out nothing, for I will show how
mighty I am.' He hummed, considered, set his head on one side and then
began to speak swiftly
'Set it down thus: We, Henry, and the rest, being a very mighty
King, such as few have been, are become a very humble man. A man broken
by years, having suffered much. A man humbled to the dust, crawling to
kiss the wounds of his Redeemer. A Lord of many miles both of sea and
land. Why, say
'Guide and Leader of many legions, yet comes he to thee for
guidance. Say, too, He who was proud cometh to thee to regain his
pride. He who was proud in things temporal cometh to thee that he may
once more have the pride of a champion in Christendom'
He had been speaking as if with a malicious glee, for his words
seemed to strike, each one, into the face of the pallid figure, darkly
standing before him. And he was aware that each word increased the
stiff and watchful constraint of the figure that knelt beside the table
to write. But suddenly his glee left him; he scowled at the Archbishop
as if Cranmer had caused him to sin. He pulled at the collar around his
'No,' he cried out, 'write down in simple words that I am a very
sinful man. Set it down that I grow old! That I am filled with fears
for my poor soul! That I have sinned much! That I recall all that I
have done! An old man, I come to my Saviour's Regent upon earth. A man
aware of error, I will make restitution tenfold! Say I am broken and
aged and afraid! I kneel down on the ground'
He cast his inert mass suddenly a little forward as if indeed he
were about to come on to his knees in the rushes.
'Say' he muttered'say'
But his face and his eyes became suffused with blood.
'It is a very difficult thing,' he uttered huskily, 'to meddle in
these sacred matters.'
He fell heavily back into his chair-straps once more.
'I do not know what I will have you to say,' he said.
He looked broodingly at the floor.
'I do not know,' he muttered.
He rolled his eyes, first to the face of the Archbishop, then to
'Body of Godwhat carved turnips!' he said, for in the one face
there was only panic, and in the other nothing at all. He rolled on to
his feet, catching at the table to steady himself.
'Write what you will,' he called, 'to these intents and purposes. Or
stay to writeI will send you a letter much more good from the upper
Cranmer suddenly stretched out, with a timid pitifulness, his white
hands. But, rolling his huge shoulders, like a hastening bear, the King
went over the rushes. He pulled the heavy door to with such a vast
force that the latch came again out of the hasp, and the door, falling
slowly back and quivering as if with passion, showed them his huge legs
mounting the little staircase.
* * * * *
A long silence fell in that dim room. The Archbishop's lips moved
silently, the spy's glance went, level, along his parchment. Suddenly
he grinned mirthlessly and as if at a shameless thought.
'The Queen will write the letter his Grace shall send us,' he said.
Then their eyes met. The one glance, panic-stricken, seeing no
issue, hopeless and without resource, met the othercrafty, alert,
fox-like, with a dance in it. The glances transfused and mingled.
Lascelles remained upon his knees as if, stretching out his right knee
behind him, he were taking a long rest.
It was almost within earshot of these two men in their dim cell that
the Queen walked from the sunlight into shadow and out again. This
great terrace looked to the north and west, and, from the little
hillock, dominating miles of gently rising ground, she had a great view
over rolling and very green country. The original builders of the
Castle of Pontefract had meant this terrace to be flagged with stone:
but the work had never been carried so far forward. There was only a
path of stone along the bowshot and a half of stone balustrade; the
rest had once been gravel, but the grass had grown over it; that had
been scythed, and nearly the whole space was covered with many carpets
of blue and red and other very bright colours. In the left corner when
you faced inwards there was a great pavilion of black cloth,
embroidered very closely with gold and held up by ropes of red and
white. Though forty people could sit in it round the table, it appeared
very small, the walls of the castle towered up so high. They towered up
so high, so square, and so straight that from the terrace below you
could hardly hear the flutter of the huge banner of St George, all red
and white against the blue sky, though sometimes in a gust it cracked
like a huge whip, and its shadow, where it fell upon the terrace, was
sufficient to cover four men.
To take away from the grimness of the flat walls many little banners
had been suspended from loopholes and beneath windows. Swallow-tailed,
long, or square, they hung motionless in the shelter, or, since the
dying away of the great gale three days before, had looped themselves
over their staffs. These were all painted green, because that was the
Queen's favourite colour, being the emblem of Hope.
A little pavilion, all of green silk, at the very edge of the
platform, had all its green curtains looped up, so that only the green
roof showed; and, within, two chairs, a great leathern one for the
King, a little one of red and white wood for the Queen, stood side by
side as if they conversed with each other. At the top of it was a
golden image of a lion, and above the peak of the entrance another,
golden too, of the Goddess Flora, carrying a cornucopia of flowers, to
symbolise that this tent was a summer abode for pleasantness.
Here the King and Queen, for the four days that they had been in the
castle, had delighted much to sit, resting after their long ride up
from the south country. For it pleased Henry to let his eyes rest upon
a great view of this realm that was his, and to think nothing; and it
pleased Katharine Howard to think that now she swayed this land, and
that soon she would alter its face.
They looked out, over the tops of the elm trees that grew right up
against the terrace wall; but the land itself was too green, the fields
too empty of dwellings. There was no one but sheep between all the
hedgerows: there was, in all the wide view, but one church tower, and
where, in place and place, there stood clusters of trees as if to
shelter homesteadsnearly always the homesteads had fallen to ruin
beneath the boughs. Upon one ridge one could see the long walls of an
unroofed abbey. But, to the keenest eye no men were visible, save now
and then a shepherd leaning on his crook. There was no ploughland at
all. Now and then companies of men in helmets and armour rode up to or
away from the castle. Once she had seen the courtyard within the keep
filled with cattle that lowed uneasily. But these, she had learned, had
been taken from cattle thieves by the men of the Council of the
Northern Borders. They were destined for the provisioning of that
castle during her stay there, they being forfeit, whether Scotch or
'Ah,' she said, 'whilst his Grace rides north to meet the King's
Scots I will ride east and west and south each day.'
* * * * *
At that moment, whilst the King had left Cranmer and his spy and, to
regain his composure, was walking up and down in her chamber, she was
standing beside the Duke of Norfolk about midway between the end of the
terrace and the little green pavilion.
She was all in a dark purple dress, to please the King whose mood
that colour suited; and the Duke's yellow face looked out above a suit
all of black. He wore that to please the King too, for the King was of
opinion that no gathering looked gay in its colours that had not many
men in black amongst the number.
'You do not ride north with his Grace?'
He leaned upon his two staves, one long and of silver, the other
shorter and gilt; his gown fell down to his ankles, his dark and
half-closed eyes looked out at a tree that, struck lately by lightning,
stretched up half its boughs all naked from a little hillock beside a
pond a mile away.
'So it is settled between his Grace and me,' she said. She did not
much like her uncle, for she had little cause. But, the King being
away, she walked with him rather than with another man.
'I ask, perforce,' he said, 'for I have much work in the ordering of
'We meant that you should have that news this day,' she said.
He shot one glance at her face, then turned his eyes again upon the
stricken tree. Her face was absolutely calm and without expression, as
it had been always when she had directed him what she would have done.
He could trace no dejection in it: on the other hand, he gave her
credit for a great command over her features. That he had himself. And,
in the niece's eyes, as they moved from the backs of a flock of sheep
to the dismantled abbey on the ridge, there was something of the
enigmatic self-containment that was in the uncle's steady glance. He
could observe no dejection, and at that he humbled himself a little
'Ay,' he said, 'the ordering of your progresses is a heavy burden. I
would have you commend what I have done here.'
She looked at him, at that, as if with a swift jealousy. His eyes
were roving upon the gay carpets, the pavilions, and the flags against
the grim walls, depending in motionless streaks of colour.
'The King's Grace's self,' she said, 'did tell me that all these
things he ordered and thought out for my pleasuring.'
Norfolk dropped his eyes to the ground.
'Aye,' he said, 'his Grace ordered them and their placing. There is
no man to equal his Grace for such things; but I had the work of
setting them where they are. I would have your favour for that.'
She appeared appeased and gave him her hand to kiss. There was a
little dark mole upon the third finger.
'The last niece that I had for Queen,' he said, 'would not suffer me
to kiss her hand.'
She looked at him a little absently, for, because since she had been
Queenand beforeshe had been a lonely woman, she was given to
thinking her own thoughts whilst others talked.
She was troubled by the condition of her chief maid Margot Poins.
Margot Poins was usually tranquil, modest, submissive in a cheerful
manner and ready to converse. But of late she had been moody, and sunk
in a dull silence. And that morning she had suddenly burst out into a
smouldering, heavy passion, and had torn Katharine's hair whilst she
'Ay,' Margot had said, 'you are Queen: you can do what you will. It
is well to be Queen. But we who are dirt underfoot, we cannot do one
And, because she was lonely, with only Lady Rochford, who was
foolish, and this girl to talk to, it had grieved the Queen to find
this girl growing so lumpish and dull. At that time, whilst her hair
was being dressed, she had answered only
'Yea; it is good to be a Queen. But you will find it in Seneca'
and she had translated for Margot the passage which says that eagles
are as much tied by weighty ropes as are finches caught in tiny
'Oh, your Latin,' Margot had said. 'I would I had never heard the
sound of it, but had stuck to clean English.'
Katharine imagined then that it was some new flame of the Magister
Udal's that was troubling the girl, and this troubled her too, for she
did not like that her maids should be played with by men, and she loved
Margot for her past loyalties, readiness, and companionship.
* * * * *
She came out of her thoughts to say to her uncle, remembering his
speech about her hands
'Aye; I have heard that Anne Boleyn had six fingers upon her right
'She had six upon each, but she concealed it,' he answered. 'It was
her greatest grief.'
Katharine realised that his sardonic tone, his bitter yellow face,
the croak in his voice, and his stiff gaitall these things were signs
of his hostility to her. And his mention of Anne Boleyn, who had been
Queen, much as she was, and of her bitter fate, this mention, if it
could not be a threat, was, at least, a reminder meant to give her
fears and misgiving. When she had been a childand afterwards, until
the very day when she had been shown for Queenher uncle had always
treated her with a black disdain, as he treated all the rest of the
world. When he hadand it was rarely enoughcome to visit her
grandmother, the old Duchess of Norfolk, he had always been like that.
Through the old woman's huge, lonely, and ugly halls he had always
stridden, halting a little over the rushes, and all creatures must keep
out of his way. Once he had kicked her little dog, once he had pushed
her aside; but probably, then, when she had been no more than a child,
he had not known who she was, for she had lived with the servants and
played with the servants' children, much like one of them, and her
grandmother had known little of the household or its ways.
She answered him sharply
'I have heard that you were no good friend to your niece, Anne
Boleyn, when she was in her troubles.'
He swallowed in his throat and gazed impassively at the distant oak
tree, nevertheless his knee trembled with fury. And Katharine knew very
well that if, more than another, he took pleasure in giving pain with
his words, he bore the pain of other's words less well than most men.
'The Queen Anne,' he said, 'was a heretic. No better was she than a
Protestant. She battened upon the goods of our Church. Why should I
'Uncle,' she said, 'where got you the jewel in your bonnet?'
He started a little back at that, and the small veins in his yellow
eye-whites grew inflamed with blood.
'Queen' he brought out between rage and astonishment that she
should dare the taunt.
'I think it came from the great chalice of the Abbey of Rising,' she
said. 'We are valiant defenders of the Church, who wear its spoils upon
our very brows.'
It was as if she had thrown down a glove to him and to a great many
that were behind him.
She knew very well where she stood, and she knew very well what her
uncle and his friends awaited for her, for Margot, her maid, brought
her alike the gossip of the Court and the loudly voiced threats and
aspirations of the city. For the Protestantsshe knew them and cared
little for them. She did not believe there were very many in the King's
and her realm, and mostly they were foreign merchants and poor men who
cared little as long as their stomachs were filled. If these had their
farms again they would surely return to the old faith, and she was
minded to do away with the sheep. For it was the sheep that had brought
discontent to England. To make way for these fleeces the ploughmen had
It was natural that Protestants should hate her; but with Norfolk
and his like it was different. She knew very well that Norfolk came
there that day and waited every day, watching anxiously for the first
sign that the King's love for her should cool. She knew very well that
they said in the Court that with the King it was only possession and
then satiety. And she knew very well that when Norfolk's eyes searched
her face it was for signs of dismay and of discouragement. And when
Norfolk had said that he himself had placed the banners, the tents, the
pavilions and carpets that made gay all that grim terrace of the air,
he was essaying to make her think that the King was abandoning the task
of doing her honour. This had made her angry, for it was such folly.
Her uncle should have known that the King had discussed all these
things with her, asking her what she liked, and that all these bright
colours and these plaisaunces were what her man had gallantly thought
out for her. She carried her challenge still further.
'It ill becomes us Howards and all like us,' she said, 'to talk of
how we will defend the Church of God'
'I am a swordsman only,' he said. 'Give me that'
She was not minded to listen to him.
'It becomes us ill,' she said; 'and I take shame in it. For, a very
few years agone we Howards were very poor. Now we are very richthough
it is true that my father is still a very poor man, and your
stepmother, my grandmother, has known hard shifts. But we Howards,
through you who are our head, became amongst the richest in the land.
'I have done services' the Duke began.
'Why, there has been no new wealth made in this realm,' she said;
'it came from the Church. Consider what you have had of this Abbey of
Risings that I speak of, because I knew it well as a child, and saw
many times then, sparkling in that which held the blood of my Saviour,
the jewel that is now in your cap.'
The Abbey of Risings, after the visitors had been to it and the
monks had been driven out, had fallen to the Duke of Norfolk. And his
men had stripped the lead from the roofs, the glass from the windows,
the very tiles from the floor. And this little abbey was only one of
many, large and small, that had fallen to the Duke, so that it was true
enough that, through him, the Howards had become a very rich family.
Norfolk burst into a sudden speech
'I hold these things only as a trust,' he said. 'I am ready to
'Why, that is very well,' Katharine said; 'and I have hopes that
soon you will be called to make that restoration to your God.'
Norfolk looked at the square toes of his shoes for a long time.
'Will you have all things to be given back?' he said at last
after he had thought much.
'The King will have all things be as they were before the Queen
Katharine, my namesake of Aragon, was undone,' Katharine answered. 'And
me he will have to take her place so that all things shall be as before
The Duke, leaning on his silver and gold staves, shrugged his
shoulders very slowly.
'This will make a very great confusion,' he said.
'Ay,' Katharine answered, 'there will a very many be confounded, and
a great number of hundreds be much annoyed.'
She broke in again upon his slow meditations
'Sir,' she said, 'this is a very pitiful thing! Privy Seal that is
dead and done with worked with a very great cunning. Well he knew that
for most men the heart resideth in the pocket. Therefore, though ye
said all that he rode this land with a bridle of iron, he was very
careful to stop all your mouths alike with pieces of gold. It was not
only to his friends that he gave what had been taken from God, but he
was very careful that much also should fall into the greedy mouths of
those that cried out. If he had not done this, do you think that he
would have remained so long above the earth that he made weary? No. But
since he made all rich alike with this plunder, so there was no man,
either Catholic or Lutheran, very anxious to have him away. And, now
that he is dead he worketh still. For who among you lords that do call
yourselves sons of the Church, but holdeth of the Church's goods? Oh,
bethink you! bethink you! The moment is at hand when ye may work
restoration. See that ye do it willingly and with good hearts,
smoothing and making plain the way by which the bruised feet of our
Saviour shall come across this, His land.'
Norfolk kept his eyes upon the ground.
'Why, for me,' he said, 'I am very willing. This day I will send to
set clerks at work discovering that which is mine and that which came
from the Church; but I think you will find some that will not do it so
She believed him very little; and she said
'Why, if you will do this thing I think there will not many be
He did what he could to conceal his wincing, and her voice changed
'Sir,' she said, and she was eager and pleading, 'you have many men
that take counsel with you, for I trow that you and my Lord of
Winchester do lead such lords as be Catholic in this realm. I know very
well that you and my Lord Bishop of Winchester and such Catholic lords
would have me to be your puppet and so work as you would have me,
giving back to the Church such things as have fallen to Protestants or
to men that ye mislike. But that may not be, for, since I owe mine
advancement not to you, nor to mine own efforts, but to God alone, so
to God alone do I owe fealty.'
She stretched out towards him the hand that he had kissed. The tail
of her coif fell almost to her feet; her body in the fresh sunlight was
all cased in purple velvet, only the lawn of her undershirt showed,
white and tremulous at her wrists and her neck; and, fair and
contrasted with the gold of her hair, her face came out of its
abstraction, to take on a pitiful and mournful earnestness.
'Sir,' she said, 'if you shall speak for God in the councils that
you will hold, believe that your rewards shall be very great. I think
that you have been a man of a very troubled mind, for you have thought
only or mostly of the affairs of this world. But do now this one good
stroke for God His piteous sake, and such a peace shall descend upon
you as you have never yet known. You shall have no more griefs; you
shall have no more fears. And that is better than the jewels of
chalices, and than much lead from the roofs of abbeys. Speak you thus
in these councils that you shall hold, give you such advice to them
that come to you seeking it, and this I promise youfor it is too
little a thing to promise you the love of a Queen and a King's favour,
though that too ye shall not lackbut this I promise you, that there
shall descend upon your heart that most blessed miracle and precious
wealth, the peace of God.'
When Henry was calmed by his pacing in her chamber he came out to
her in the sunlight, rolling and bear-like, and so huge that the
terrace seemed to grow smaller.
'Chuck,' he said to her, 'I ha' done a thing to pleasure thee.' He
moved two fingers upwards to save the Duke of Norfolk from falling to
his knees, caught Katharine by the elbow, and, turning upon himself as
on a huge pivot, swung her round him so that they faced the pavilion.
'Sha't not talk with a citron-faced uncle,' he said; 'sha't save sweet
words for me. I will tell thee what I ha' done to pleasure thee.'
'Save it a while and do another ere ye tell me,' she said.
'Now, what is your reasoning about that, wise one?' he asked.
She laughed at him, for she took pleasure in his society and, except
when she was earnest to beg things of him, she was mostly gay at his
'It takes a woman to teach kings,' she said.
He answered that it took a Queen to teach him.
'Why,' she said, 'listen! I know that each day ye do things to
pleasure me, things prodigal or such little things as giving me pouncet
boxes. But you will findand a woman, quean or queen, knows it
wellthat to take the full pleasure of her lover's surprises well, she
must have an easy mind. And to have an easy mind she must have granted
her the little, little boons she asketh.'
He reflected ponderously upon this point and at last, with a sort of
peasant's gravity, nodded his head.
'For,' she said, 'if a woman is to take pleasure she must guess at
what you men have done for her. And if she be to guess pleasurably, she
must have a clear mind. And if I am to have a clear mind I must have a
maiden consoled with a husband.'
Henry seated himself carefully in the great chair of the small
pavilion. He spread out his knees, blinked at the view and when, having
cast a look round to see that Norfolk was gonefor it did not suit her
that he should see on what terms she was with the Kingshe seated
herself on a little foot-pillow at his feet, he set a great hand upon
her head. She leaned her arms across over his knees, and looked up at
'I do take it,' he said, 'that I must make some man rich to wed some
'Oh, Solomon!' she said.
'And I do take it,' he continued with gravity, 'that this maid is
thy maid Margot.'
'How know you that?' she said.
'I have observed her,' he maintained gravely.
'Why, you could not well miss her,' she answered. 'She is as big as
'I have observed,' he saidand he blinked his little eyes as if,
pleasurably, she were, with her words, whispering around his head. 'I
have observed that ye affected her.'
'Why, she likes me well. She is a good wenchand to-day she tore my
'Then that is along of a man?' he asked. 'Didst not stick thy needle
in her arm? Or wilto be quit of her?'
She rubbed her chin.
'Why, if she wed, I mun be quit of her,' she said, as if she had
never thought of that thing.
'Assuredly; for ye may not part man and lawful wife were you seven
'Why,' she said, 'I have little pleasure in Margot as she is.'
'Then let her go,' he answered.
'But I am a very lonely Queen,' she said, 'for you are much absent.'
He reflected pleasurably.
'Thee wouldst have about thee a little company of well-wishers?'
'So that they be those thou lovest well,' she said.
'Why, thy maid contents me,' he answered. He reflected slowly. 'We
must give her man a post about thee,' he uttered triumphantly.
'Why, trust thee to pleasure me,' she said. 'You will find out a way
He scrubbed her nose gently with his heavy finger.
'Who is the man?' he said. 'What ruffler?'
'I think it is the Magister Udal,' she answered.
'Oh ho! oh ho!' And after a moment he slapped his thigh and laughed
like a child. She laughed with him, silverly upon a little sound
between 'ah' and 'e.' He stopped his laugh to listen to hers, and then
he said gravely
'I think your laugh is the prettiest sound I ever heard. I would
give thy maid Margot a score of husbands to make thee laugh.'
'One is enough to make her weep,' she said; 'and I may laugh at
'Let us finish this business within the hour. Sit you upon your
chair that I may call one to send this ruffler here.'
She rose, with one sinuous motion that pleased him well, half to her
feet and, feeling behind her with one hand for the chair, aided herself
with the other upon his shoulder because she knew that it gave him joy
to be her prop.
'Call the maid, too,' she said, 'for I would come to the secret
That pleased him too, and, having shouted for a knave he once more
shook with laughter.
'Oh ho,' he said, 'you will net this old fox, will you?'
And, having sent his messenger off to summon the Magister from the
Lady Mary's room, and the maid from the Queen's, he continued for a
while to soliloquise as to Udal's predicament. For he had heard the
Magister rail against matrimony in Latin hexameters and doggerel Greek.
He knew that the Magister was an incorrigible fumbler after petticoats.
And now, he said, this old fox was to be bagged and tied up.
'Well, well, well; well, well!'
For, if a Queen commanded a marriage, a marriage there must be;
there was no more hope for the Magister than for any slave of Cato's.
He was cabined, ginned, trapped, shut in from the herd of bachelors. It
pleased the King very well.
The King grasped the gilded arms of his great chair, Katharine sat
beside him, her hands laid one within another upon her lap. She did not
say one single word during the King's interview with Magister Udal.
The Magister fell upon his knees before them and, seeing the
laughing wrinkles round the King's little eyes, made sure that he was
sent foras had often been the caseto turn into Latin some jest the
King had made. His gown fell about his kneeling shins, his cap was at
his side, his lean, brown, and sly face, with the long nose and crafty
eyes, was like a woodpecker's.
'Goodman Magister,' Henry said. 'Stand up. We have sent for thee to
advance thee.' Without moving his head he rolled his eyes to one side.
He loved his dramatic effects and wished to await the coming of the
Queen's maid, Margot, before he gave the weight of his message.
Udal picked up his cap and came up to his feet before them; he had
beneath his gown a little book, and one long finger between its leaves
to keep his place where he had been reading. For he had forgotten a
saying of Thales, and was reading through Cæsar's Commentaries to find
'As Seneca said,' he uttered in his throat, 'advancement is doubly
sweet to them that deserve it not.'
'Why,' the King said, 'we advance thee on the deserts of one that
finds thee sweet, and is sweet to one doubly sweet to us, Henry of
Windsor that speak sweet words to thee.'
The lines on Udal's face drooped all a little downwards.
'Y'are reader in Latin to the Lady Mary,' the King said.
'I have little deserved in that office,' Udal answered; 'the lady
reads Latin better than even I.'
'Why, you lie in that,' Henry said, ''a readeth well for she's my
daughter; but not so well as thee.'
Udal ducked his head; he was not minded to carry modesty further
than in reason.
'The Lady Marythe Lady Mary of England' the King said
weightilyand these last two words of his had a weight all their own,
so that he added, 'of England' again, and then, 'will have little
longer need of thee. She shall wed with a puissant Prince.'
'I hail, I felicitate, I bless the day I hear those words,' the
'Therefore,' the King saidand his ears had caught the rustle of
Margot's grey gown'we will let thee no more be reader to that my
Margot came round the green silk curtains that were looped on the
corner posts of the pavilion. When she saw the Magister her great, fair
face became slowly of a fiery red; slowly and silently she fell, with
motions as if bovine, to her knees at the Queen's side. Her gown was
all grey, but it had roses of red and white silk round the upper edges
of the square neck-place, and white lawn showed beneath her grey cap.
'We advance thee,' Henry said, 'to be Chancellier de la Royne, with
an hundred pounds by the year from my purse. Do homage for thine
Udal fell upon one knee before Katharine, and dropping both cap and
book, took her hand to raise to his lips. But Margot caught her hand
when he had done with it and set upon it a huge pressure.
'But, Sir Chancellor,' the King said, 'it is evident that so grave
an office must have a grave fulfiller. And, to ballast thee the better,
the Queen of her graciousness hath found thee a weighty helpmeet. So
that, before you shall touch the duties and emoluments of this charge
you shall, and that even to-night, wed this Madam Margot that here
Udal's face had been of a coppery green pallor ever since he had
heard the title of Chancellor.
'Eheu!' he said, 'this is the torture of Tantalus that might never
In its turn the face of Margot Poins grew pale, pushed forward
towards him; but her eyes appeared to blaze, for all they were a mild
blue, and the Queen felt the pressure upon her hand grow so hard that
it pained her.
The King uttered the one word, 'Magister!'
Udal's fingers picked at the fur of his moth-eaten gown.
'God be favourable to me,' he said. 'If it were anything but
The King grew more rigid.
'Body of God,' he said, 'will you wed with this maid?'
'Ahí!' the Magister wailed; and his perturbation had in it something
comic and scarecrowlike, as if a wind shook him from within. 'If you
will make me anything but a Chancellor, I will. But a Chancellor, I
The King cast himself back in his chair. The suggested gibe rose
furiously to his lips; the Magister quailed and bent before him,
throwing out his hands.
'Sire,' he said, 'ifwhich God forbidthis were a Protestant realm
I might do it. But oh, pardon and give ear. Pardon and give ear'
He waved one hand furiously at the silken canopy above them.
'It is agreed with one of mine in Paris that she shall come
hitherGod forgive me, I must make avowal, though God knows I would
notshe shall come hither to me if she do hear that I have risen to be
The King said, 'Body of God!' as if it were an earthquake.
'If it were anything else but Chancellor she might not come, and I
would wed Margot Poins more willingly than any other. ButGod knows I
do not willingly make this avowal, but am in a corner, sicut vulpis
in lucubris, like a fox in the coilsthis Paris woman is my wife.'
Henry gave a great shout of laughter, but slowly Margot Poins fell
across the Queen's knees. She uttered no sound, but lay there
motionless. The sight affected Udal to an epileptic fury.
'Jove be propitious to me!' he stuttered out. 'I know not what I can
do.' He began to tear the fur of his cloak and toss it over the
battlements. 'The woman is my wifewed by a friar. If this were a
Protestant realm nowor if I pleaded pre-contractand God knows I ha'
promised marriage to twenty women before I, in an evil day, married
oneeheu!to this one'
He began to sob and to wring his thin hands.
'Quod faciam? Me miser! Utinam. Utinam'
He recovered a little coherence.
'If this were a Protestant land ye might say this wedding was no
wedding, for that a friar did it; but I know ye will not suffer
that' His eyes appealed piteously to the Queen.
'Why, then,' he said, 'it is not upon my head that I do not wed this
wench. You be my witness that I would wed; it gores my heart to see her
look so pale. It tears my vitals to see any woman look pale. As
Lucretius says, Better the sunshine of smiles'
A little outputting of impatient breath from Katharine made him
'It is you, your Grace,' he said, 'that make me thus tied. If you
would let us be Protestant, or, again, if I could plead pre-contract to
void this Paris marriage it would let me wed with this
wencheheueheu. Her brother will break my bones'
He began to cry out so lamentably, invoking Pluto to bear him to the
underworld, that the King roared out upon him
'Why, get you gone, fool.'
The Magister threw himself suddenly upon his knees, his hands
clasped, his gown drooping over them down to his wrists. He turned his
face to the Queen.
'Before God,' he said, 'before high and omnipotent Jove, I swear
that when I made this marriage I thought it was no marriage!' He
reflected for a breath and added, at the recollection of the cook's
spits that had been turned against him when he had by woman's guile
been forced into marriage with the widow in Paris, 'I was driven into
it by force, with sharp points at my throat. Is that not enow to void a
marriage? Is that not enow? Is that not enow?'
Katharine looked out over the great levels of the view. Her face was
rigid, and she swallowed in her throat, her eye being glazed and hard.
The King took his cue from a glance at her face.
'Get you gone, Goodman Rogue Magister,' he said, and he adopted a
canonical tone that went heavily with his rustic pose. 'A marriage made
and consummated and properly blessed by holy friar there is no undoing.
You are learned enough to know that. Rogue that you be, I am very glad
that you are trapped by this marriage. Well I know that you have
dangled too much with petticoats, to the great scandal of this my
Court. Now you have lost your preferment, and I am glad of it. Another
and a better than thou shall be the Queen's Chancellor, for another and
a better than thou shall wed this wench. We will get her such a goodly
A low, melancholy wail from Margot Poins' agonised facea sound
such as might have been made by an ox in painbrought him to a stop.
It wrung the Magister, who could not bear to see a woman pained, up to
a pitch of ecstatic courage.
'Quid fecit Cæsar,' he stuttered; 'what Cæsar hath done,
Cæsar can do again. It was not till very lately since this canon of
wedding and consummating and blessing by a holy friar hath been derided
and contemned in this realm. And so it might be again'
Katharine Howard cried out, 'Ah!' Her features grew rigid and as
ashen as cold steel. And, at her cry, the Kingwho could less bear
than Udal to hear a woman in painthe King sprang up from his chair.
It was as amazing to all them as to hunters it is to see a great wild
bull charge with a monstrous velocity. Udal was rigid with fear, and
the King had him by the throat. He shook him backwards and forwards so
that his book fell upon the Queen's feet, bursting out of his ragged
gown, and his cap, flying from his opened hand, fell down over the
battlement into an elm top. The King guttered out unintelligible sounds
of fury from his vast chest and, planted on his huge feet, he swung the
Magister round him till, backwards and staggering, the eyes growing
fixed in his brown and rigid face, he was pushed, jerking at each step
of the King, out of sight behind the green silk curtains.
The Queen sat motionless in her purple velvet. She twisted one hand
into the chain of the medallion about her throat, and one hand lay open
and pale by her side. Margot Poins knelt at her side, her face hidden
in the Queen's lap, her two arms stretched out beyond her grey coifed
head. For a minute she was silent. Then great sobs shook her so that
Katharine swayed upon her seat. From her hidden face there came muffled
and indistinguishable words, and at last Katharine said dully
'What, child? What, child?'
Margot moved her face sideways so that her mouth was towards
'You can unmake it! You can unmake the marriage,' she brought out in
'You unmade a King's marriage,' Margot wailed.
'No! No!' She started and uttered the words loudly; she added
pitifully, 'You do not understand! You do not understand!'
It was the more pitiful in that Margot understood very well. She hid
her face again and only sobbed heavily and at long intervals, and then
with many sobs at once. The Queen laid her white hand upon the girl's
head. Her other still played with the chain.
'Christ be piteous to me,' she said. 'I think it had been better if
I had never married the King.'
Margot uttered an indistinguishable sound.
'I think it had been better,' the Queen said; 'though I had
jeoparded my immortal part.'
Margot moved her head up to cry out in her turn
'No! No! You may not say it!'
Then she dropped her face again. When she heard the King coming back
and breathing heavily, she stood up, and with huge tears on her red and
crumpled face she looked out upon the fields as if she had never seen
them before. An immense sob shook her. The King stamped his foot with
rage, and then, because he was soft-hearted to them that he saw in
sorrow, he put his hand upon her shoulder.
'Sha't have a better mate,' he uttered. 'Sha't be a knight's dame!
There! there!' and he fondled her great back with his hand. Her eyes
screwed tightly up, she opened her mouth wide, but no words came out,
and suddenly she shook her head as if she had been an enraged child.
Her loud cries, shaken out of her with her tears, died away as she went
across the terrace, a loud one and then a little echo, a loud one and
then two more.
'Before God!' the King said, 'that knave shall eat ten years of
His wife looked still over the wooded enclosures, the little stone
walls, and the copses. A small cloud had come before the sun, and its
shadow was moving leisurely across the ridge where stood the roofless
'The maid shall have the best man I can give her,' the King said.
'Why, no good man would wed her!' Katharine answered dully.
'Anan?' Then he fingered the dagger on the chain before his chest.
'Why,' he added slowly, 'then the Magister shall die by the rope. It
is an offence that can be quitted with death. It is time such a thing
Katharine's dull silence spurred him; he shrugged his shoulders and
heaved a deep breath out.
'Why,' he said, 'a man can be found to wed the wench.'
She moved one hand and uttered
'I would not wed her to such a man!' as if it were a matter that was
not much in her thoughts.
'Then she may go into a nunnery,' the King said; 'for before three
months are out we will have many nunneries in this realm.'
She looked upon him a little absently, but she smiled at him to give
him pleasure. She was thinking that she wished she had not wedded him;
but she smiled because, things being as they were, she thought that she
had all the authorities of the noble Greeks and Romans to bid her do
what a good wife should.
He laughed at her griefs, thinking that they were all about Margot
Poins. He uttered jolly grossnesses; he said that she little knew the
way of courts if she thought that a man, and a very good man, might not
be found to wed the wench.
She was troubled that he could not better read what was upon her
mind, for she was thinking that her having consented to his making null
his marriage with the Princess of Cleves that he might wed her would
render her work always the more difficult. It would render her more the
target for evil tongues, it would set a sterner and a more stubborn
opposition against her task of restoring the Kingdom of God within that
'Ye hannot guessed what my secret was? What have I done for thee
She still looked away over the lands. She made her face smile
'Nay, I know not. Ha' ye brought me the musk I love well?'
He shook his head.
'It is more than that!' he said.
She still smiled
'Ha' yeha' yemade make for me a new crown?'
She feared a little that that was what he had done. For he had been
urgent with her, many months, to be crowned. It was his way to love
these things. And her heart was a little gladder when he shook his head
once again and uttered
'It is more than that!'
She dreaded his having made ready in secret a great pageant in her
honour, for she was afraid of all aggrandisements, and thought still it
had been better that she had remained his sweet friend ever and not the
Queen. For in that way she would have had as much empire over him, and
there would have been much less clamour against hermuch less clamour
against the Church of her Saviour.
She forced her mind to run upon all the things that she could wish
for. When she said it must be that he had ordered for her enough French
taffetas to make twelve gowns, he laughed and said that he had said
that it was more than a crown. When she guessed that he had made ready
such a huge cavalcade that she might with great comfort and safety ride
with him into Scotland, he laughed, contented that she should think of
going with him upon that long journey. He stood looking at her, his
little eyes blinking, his face full of pride and joy, and suddenly he
'The Church of God is come back again.' He touched his cap at the
sacred name. 'I ha' made submission to the Pope.'
He looked her full in the face to get all the delight he might from
her looks and her movements.
Her blue eyes grew large; she leaned forward in her chair; her mouth
opened a little; her sleeves fell down to the ground. 'Now am I indeed
crowned!' she said, and closed her eyes. 'Benedicta sit mater dei!
' she uttered, and her hand went over her heart place; 'deo clamavi
nocte atque dië.'
She was silent again, and she leaned more forward.
'Sit benedicta dies haec; sit benedicta hora haec benedictaque,
saeculum saeculûm, castra haec.'
She looked out upon the great view: she aspired the air.
'Ad colles,' she breathed, 'levavi oculos meos; unde venit
'Body of God,' Henry said, 'all things grow plain. All things grow
plain. This is the best day that ever I knew.'
The Lady Mary of England sat alone in a fair room with little arched
windows that gave high up on to the terrace. It was the best room that
ever she had had since her mother, the Queen Katharine of Aragon, had
Dressed in black she sat writing at a large table before one window.
Her paper was fitted on to a wooden pulpit that rose before her; one
book stood open upon it, three others lay open too upon the red and
blue and green pattern of the Saracen rug that covered her table. At
her right hand was a three-tiered inkstand of pewter, set about with
the white feathers of pens; and the snakelike pattern of the table-rug
serpentined in and out beneath seals of parcel gilt, a platter of
bread, a sandarach of pewter, books bound in wooden covers and locked
with chains, books in red velvet covers, sewn with silver wire and tied
with ribbons. It ran beneath a huge globe of the world, blue and pink,
that had a golden pin in it to mark the city of Rome. There were little
wooden racks stuck full with written papers and parchments along the
wainscoting between the arched windows, but all the hangings of the
other walls were of tinted and dyed silks, not any with dark colours,
because Katharine Howard had deemed that that room with its deep
windows in the thick walls would be otherwise dark. The room was ten
paces deep by twenty long, and the wood of the floor was polished.
Against the wall, behind the Lady Mary's back, there stood a high chair
upon a platform. Upon the platform a carpet began that ran up the wall
and, overhead, depended from the gilded rafters of the ceiling so that
it formed a dais and a canopy.
The Lady Mary sat grimly amongst all these things as if none of them
belonged to her. She looked in her book, she made a note upon her
paper, she stretched out her hand and took a piece of bread, putting it
in her mouth, swallowing it quickly, writing again, and then once more
eating, for the great and ceaseless hunger that afflicted her gnawed
always at her vitals.
A little boy with a fair poll was reaching on tiptoe to smell at a
pink that depended from a vase of very thin glass standing in the deep
window. The shield of the coloured pane cast a little patch of red and
purple on to his callow head. He was dressed all in purple, very
square, and with little chains and medallions, and a little dagger with
a golden sheath was about his neck. In one hand he had a piece of
paper, in the other a pencil. The Lady Mary wrote; the child moved on
tiptoe, with a sedulous expression of silence about his lips, near to
her elbow. He watched her writing for a long time with attentive eyes.
Once he said, 'Sister, I' but she paid him no heed.
After a time she looked coldly at his face and then he moved along
the table, fingered the globe very gently, touched the books and
returned to her side. He stood with his little legs wide apart. Then he
sighed, then he said
'Sister, the Queen did bid me ask you a question.'
She looked round upon him.
'This was the Queen's question,' he said bravely: 'Cur
whynunquamneverridesdost thou smilecum
whenego, frater tuusI, thy little brotherludo
playin camerâ tuâin thy chamber?'
'Little Prince,' she said, 'art not afeared of me?'
'Aye, am I,' he answered.
'Say then to the Queen,' she said, 'Domina Mariathe Lady
Maryridet nunquamsmileth neverquodbecause
timoris ratiothe reason of my fearbona et satisis good
He held his little head upon one side.
'The Queen did bid me say,' he uttered with his brave little voice,
'Holy Writ hath it: Ecce quam bonum et dignum est
fratresfratres' He faltered without embarrassment and added,
'I ha' forgot the words.'
'Aye!' she said, 'they ha' been long forgotten in these places; I
deem it is overlate to call them to mind.'
She looked upon him coldly for a long time. Then she stretched out
her hand for his paper.
'Your Highness, I will set you a copy.'
She took his paper and wrote
'Malo malo malâ.'
He held it in his chubby fist, his head on one side.
'I cannot conster it,' he said.
'Why, think upon it,' she answered. 'When I was thy age I knew it
already two years. But I was better beaten than thou.'
He rubbed his little arm.
'I am beaten enow,' he said.
'Knowest not what a swingeing is,' she answered.
'Then thou hadst a bitter childhood,' he brought out.
'I had a good mother,' she cut him short.
She turned her face to her writing again; it was bitter and set. The
little prince climbed slowly into the chair on the dais. He moved
sturdily and curled himself up on the cushion, studying the words on
the paper all the while with a little frown upon his brows. Then,
shrugging his shoulders, he set the paper upon his knee and began to
At that date the Lady Mary was still called a bastard, though most
men thought that that hardship would soon be reversed. It was said that
great honours had been shown her, and that was apparent in the
furnishing of her rooms, the fineness of her gear, the increase in the
number of the women that waited on her, and the store of sweet things
that was provided for her to eat. A great many men noted the chair with
a dais that was set up always where she might be, in her principal
room, and though her ladies said that she never sat in it, most men
believed that she had made a pact with the King to do him honour and so
to be reinstated in the estate in which she held her own. It was
considered, too, that she no longer plotted with the King's enemies
inside or out of the realm; it was at least certain that she no longer
had men set to spy upon her, though it was noted that the Archbishop's
gentleman, Lascelles, nosed about her quarters and her maids. But he
was always spying somewhere and, as the Archbishop's days were thought
to be numbered, he was accounted of little weight. Indeed, since the
fall of Thomas Cromwell there seemed to be few spies about the Court,
or almost none at all. It was known that gentlemen wrote accounts of
what passed to Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester. But Gardiner was
gone back into his see and appeared to have little favour, though it
was claimed for him that he had done much to advance the new Queen. So
that, upon the whole, men breathed much more freelyand women
toothan in the days before the fall of Privy Seal. The Queen had made
little change, and seemed to have it in mind to make little more. Her
relatives had, nearly none of them, been advanced. There were few
Protestants oppressed, though many Catholics had been loosed from the
gaols, most notably him whom the Archbishop Cranmer had taken to be his
chaplain and confessor, and others that other lords had taken out of
prison to be about them.
All in all the months that had passed since Cromwell's fall had gone
quietly. The King and Queen had gone very often to mass since Katharine
had been shown for Queen in the gardens at Hampton Court, and saints'
days and the feasts of the life of our Lady had been very carefully
observed, along with fasts such as had used to be observed. The King,
however, was mightily fond with his new Queen, and those that knew her
well, or knew her servants well, expected great changes. Some were much
encouraged, some feared very much, but nearly all were heartily glad of
that summer of breathing space; and the weather was mostly good, so
that the corn ripened well and there was little plague or ague abroad.
Thus most men had been heartily glad to see the new Queen upon her
journey there to the north parts. She had ridden upon a white horse
with the King at her side; she had asked the names of several that had
come to see her; she had been fair to look at; and the King had
pardoned many felons, so that men's wives and mothers had been made
glad; and most old men said that the good times were come again, with
the price of malt fallen and twenty-six to the score of herrings. It
was reported, too, that a cider press in Herefordshire had let down a
dozen firkins of cider without any apples being set in it, and this was
accounted an omen of great plenty, whilst many sheep had died, so that
men who had set their fields down in grass talked of giving them to the
plough again, and upon St Swithin's Day no rain had fallen. All these
things gave a great contentment, and many that in the hard days had
thought to become Lutheran in search of betterment, now looked in byres
and hidden valleys to find priests of the old faith. For if a man could
plough he might eat, and if he might eat he could praise God after his
father's manner as well as in a new way.
Thus, around the Lady Mary, whilst she wrote, the people of the land
breathed more peace. And even she could not but be conscious of a new
softness, if it was only in the warmth that came from having her
window-leads properly mended. She had hardly ever before known what it
was to have warm hands when she wrote, and in most days of the year she
had worn fur next her skin, indoors as well as out. But now the sun
beat on her new windows, and in that warmth she could wear fine lawn,
so that, in spite of herself, she took pleasure and was softened,
though, since she spoke to no man save the Magister Udal, and to him
only about the works of Plautus or the game of cards that they played
together, few knew of any change in her.
Nevertheless, on that day she had one of her more ill moods and,
presently, having written a little more, she rang a small silver bell
that was shaped like a Dutch woman with wide skirts.
'The Prince annoys me,' she said to her woman; 'send for his lady
The woman, dressed all in black, like her mistress, and with a
little frill of white cambric over her temples as if she were a nun,
stood in the open doorway that was just level with the Lady Mary's
chair, so that the stone wall of the passage caught the light from the
window. She folded her hands before her.
'Alack, Madam,' she said, 'your Madamship knows that at this hour
his Highness' lady governess taketh ever the air.'
The little boy in the chair looked over his paper at his sister.
'Send for his physician then,' Mary said.
'Alack, sister,' the little Prince said before the woman could move,
'my physician is ill. JacetHe liethin cubiculoin
The Lady Mary would not look round on him.
'Get thee, then,' she uttered coldly, 'to thine own apartments,
'Alack, sister,' he answered,'thou knowest that I may not walk along
the corridors alone for fear some slay me. Nor yet may I be anywhere
save with the Queen, or thee, or with my uncles, or my lady governess,
or my physicians, for fear some poison me.'
He spoke with a clear and shrill voice, and the woman cast down her
eyes, trembling a little, partly to hear such a small, weary child
speak such a long speech as if by wizardryfor it was reported among
the serving maids that he had been overlookedand partly for fear of
the black humour that she perceived to be upon her mistress.
'Send me then my Magister to lay out cards with me,' the Lady Mary
said. 'I cannot make my studies with this Prince in my rooms.'
'Alack, Madam,' the girl said. She was high coloured and with dark
eyes, but when she faltered then the colour died from her cheeks. The
Lady Mary surveyed her coldly, for she was in the mood to give pain.
She uttered no words.
'Alack, alack' the maid whimpered. She was full of fear lest the
Lady Mary should order her to receive short rations or many stripes;
she was filled with consternation and grief since her sweetheart, a
server, had told her that he must leave her. For it was rumoured that
the Magister had been cast into gaol for sweethearting, and that the
King had said that all sweethearts should be gaoled from thenceforth.
'The Magister is gaoled,' she said.
'Wherefore?' the Lady uttered the one expressionless word.
'I do not know,' the maid wailed; 'I do not know.'
The form of the Archbishop's gentleman glided noiselessly behind her
back. His eyes shot one sharp, sideways glance in at the door, and,
like a russet fox, he was gone. He was so like a fox that the Lady
Mary, when she spoke, used the words
'Catch me that gentleman.'
He was brought to the doorsill by the panting maid, for he had
walked away very fast. He stood there, blinking his eyes and stroking
his fox-coloured beard. When the Lady Mary beckoned him into the room
he pulled off his cap and fell to his thin knees. He expected her to
bid him rise, but she left him there.
'Wherefore is my secretary gaoled?' she asked cruelly.
He ran his finger round the rim of his cap where it lay on the floor
'That he is gaoled, I know,' he said; 'but the wherefore of it,
He looked down at the floor and she down at his drooped eyelids.
'God help you,' she uttered scornfully. 'You are a spy and yet know
no more than a Queen's daughter.'
'God help me,' he repeated gravely and touched his eyelid with one
finger. 'What passed, passed between the King and him. I know no more
than common report.'
'Common report?' she said. 'I warrant thee thou wast slinking around
the terrace. I warrant thee thou heardst words of the King's mouth. I
warrant thee thou followedst here to hear at my doorhole how I might
take this adventure.'
One of his eyelids moved delicately, but he said no word. The Lady
Mary turned her back on him and he expected her order to be gone. But
she turned again
'Common report?' she uttered once more. 'I do bid you give me the
common report upon this, that the Queen sends to me every day this
little Prince to be alone with me two hours.'
He winced with his eyebrows again.
'Out with the common report,' she said.
'Madam,' he uttered, 'it is usually commended that the Queen should
seek to bring sister and Prince-brother together.'
She shrugged her stiff shoulders up to her ears.
'What a poor liar for a spy,' she said. 'It is more usually
reported'and she turned upon the little Prince'that the Queen sends
thee here that I may work thee a mischief so that thou die and her
child reign after the King thy father.'
The little Prince looked at her with pensive eyes. At that moment
Katharine Howard came to the room door and looked in.
'Body of God,' the Lady Mary said; 'here you spy out a spy
committing treason. For it is still treason to kneel to me. I am of
illegal birth and not of the blood royal.'
Katharine essayed her smile upon the black-avised girl.
'Give me leave,' she said.
'Your Grace's poor room,' Mary said, 'is open ever to your Grace's
entry. Ubi venis ibi tibi.'
The Queen bade her waiting women go. She entered the room and looked
'I think I know thy face,' she said.
'I am the Archbishop's poor gentleman,' he answered. 'I think you
have seen me.'
'No. It is not that,' she said. 'It was long ago.'
She crossed the room to smell at the pinks in the window.
'How late the flowers grow,' she said. 'It is August, yet here are
still vernal perfumes.'
She was unwilling to bid the gentleman rise and go, because this was
the Lady Mary's room.
'Where your Grace is, there the spring abideth,' Mary said
sardonically. 'Ecce miraculum sicut erat, Joshuâ rege.'
The little Prince came timidly down to beg a flower from the Queen
and they all had their backs upon the spy. He ran his hands down his
beard and considered the Queen's words. Then swiftly he was on his feet
and through the door. He was more ready to brave the Lady Mary's
after-wrath than let the Queen see him upon his knees. For actually it
was a treason to kneel to the Lady Mary. It had been proclaimed so in
the old days when the King's daughter was always subject to new
debasements. And who knew whether now the penalty of treason might not
still be enacted? It was certain that the Queen had no liking for the
Archbishop. Then, what use might she not make of the fact that the
Archbishop's man knelt, seeming to curry favour, though in these days
all men knelt to her, even when the King was by? He cursed himself as
he hastened away.
The Queen looked over her shoulder and caught the glint of his red
heel as it went past the doorpost.
'In our north parts,' she said, and she was glad that Lascelles had
fled, 'the seasons come ever tardily.'
'Well, your Grace has not delayed to blossom,' Mary said.
It was part of her humour when she was in a taunting mood to call
the Queen always 'your Grace' or 'your Majesty' at every turn of the
Katharine looked at the pink intently. Her face had no expression,
she was determined at once to have a cheerful patience and not to show
it in her face.
The little Prince stole his hand into hers.
'Wherefore did my fatherrex pater meuspummel the man in
the long cloak?' he asked.
'You knew it then?' Katharine asked of her stepdaughter.
'I knew it not,' the Lady Mary answered.
'I saw it from this window, but my sister would not look,' the
The Queen was going to shut, with her own hand, the door, the little
boy trotting behind her, but, purple-clothed and huge, the King was
'Well, I will not be shut out in mine own castle,' he said
In those, the quiet days of his realm when most things were going
well, his face beneath his beard had taken a rounder and a smoother
outline. He moved with motions less hasty than those he had had two
years before, and when he had cast a task off it was done with and went
out of his mind, so that he appeared a very busy man with, between
whiles, the leisure to saunter.
'In a half hour,' he said, 'I go north to meet the King o' Scots. I
would I had not the long journey to make but could stay with ye. It is
pleasant here; the air is livening.' He caught his little son by the
armpits and hoisted him on to his purple shoulders. 'Hey, princekin,'
he said, 'what news ha' you o' the day?'
The little Edward pulled his father's bonnet off that he might the
better see the huge brows and the little eyes.
'I told my sister that you did pummel a man in a long gown. What is
even long gown in the learned tongue?' He played daintily and
languidly with the hair of the King's temples, and when the King had
said that he might call it 'doctorum toga,' he added, 'But my
sister would not come to look.'
'Well, thy sister is a monstrous learned wench,' the King said with
a heavy benignity. 'She could not leave her book.'
The Lady Mary stood rigid, with a mock humility. She had her hands
clasped before her, the folds of her black skirt fell stiffly just to
the ground. She pursed her lips and strove with herself to speak, for
she was minded to exhibit disdain, but her black mood was too strong
'I did not read in my book, because I could not,' she said numbly.
'Your son disturbed my reading. But I did not come to look, because I
With one arm round the boy's little waist as he sat on high, and one
hand on the little feet, the King looked at his daughter in a sudden
hot rage; for to speak contemptuously of his son was a thing that
filled him with anger and surprise. He opened his mouth to shout.
Katharine Howard was gently turning a brass sphere with the
constellations upon it that stood upon the table. She moved her fair
face round towards the King and set her finger upon her lips. He
shrugged his shoulders, prince and all moving up together, and his face
took on the expression, half abashed and half resigned, of a man who is
reminded by his womankind that he is near to a passionate folly.
Katharine by that time had schooled him how to act when Mary was in
that humour, and he let out no word.
'I do not like that this Prince should play in my room,' the Lady
Mary pursued him relentlessly, and he was so well lessoned that he
'Ye must fight that cock with Kat. It is Kat that sends him, not I.'
Nevertheless he was too masterful a man to keep his silence
altogether; he was, besides, so content upon the whole that he was sure
he could hold his temper in check, and the better to take breath for a
long speech, he took the little boy from his shoulder and planted his
feet abroad on the carpet.
'See now, Moll,' he said, 'make friends!' and he stretched out a
large hand. She shrugged her shoulders half invisibly.
'I will kneel down to the King of this country and to the Supreme
Head of the Church as it is here set up by law. What more would you
have of me?'
'See now, Moll!' he said.
He fingered the medal upon his chest and cast about for words.
'Let us have peace in this realm,' he said. 'We are very near it.'
She raised her eyelids with a tiny contempt.
'It hangs much around you,' he went on. 'Listen! I will tell ye the
Slowly and sagaciously he disentangled all his coil of policies. His
letter to the Holy Father was all drafted and ready to be put into fine
words. But, before he sent it, he must be sure of peace abroad. It was
'Ye know,' he said, 'though great wrangles have been in the past
betwixt him and thee and mine own self, how my heart has ever been well
inclined to my nephew, thy cousin the Emperor. There are in Christendom
now only he and France that are anyways strong to stand against me or
to invade me. But France I ha' never loved, and him much.'
'Ye are grown gentle then,' Mary said, 'and forgiving in your old
age, for ye know I ha' plotted against you with my cousin and my cousin
'It is a very ancient tale,' the King said. 'Forget it, as do I and
'Why, you live in the sun where the dial face moves. I in the shadow
where Time stays still. To me it is every day a new tale,' the Lady
His face took on an expression of patience and resignation that
angered her, for she knew that when her father looked so it was always
very difficult to move him.
'Why, all the world forgets,' he said.
'Save only I,' she answered. 'I had only one parenta mother. She
is dead: she was done to death.'
'I have pardoned your cousin that he plotted against me,' he stuck
to his tale, 'and he me what I did against your mother.'
'Well, he was ever a popinjay,' the Lady Mary said.
'Lately,' Henry continued, 'as ye wiz he had grown very thick with
Francis of France. He went across the French country into the
Netherlands, so strict was their alliance. It is more than I would do
to trust myself to France's word. All Holland marvelled.'
'What is this to me?' the Lady Mary said. 'Will you send me across
France to the Netherlands?'
He left her gibe alone.
'But in these latter months,' he said, 'Kat and I ha' weakened with
true messages and loyal conceits this unholy alliance.'
'Why, I ha' heard,' Mary said, 'ye did send the Duke of Norfolk to
tell the King o' France that my cousin had said in private that he was
the greater King of the twain. These be princely princes!'
'An unholy alliance it was,' Henry went on his way, 'for the Emperor
is a very good Christian and a loyal son of the Church. But Francis
worships the devilI have heard it said and I believe itor, at
least, he believes not in God and our Saviour; and he pays allegiance
to the Church only when it serves his turn, now holding on, now letting
go. I am glad this alliance is dissolving.'
'Why, I am glad to hear you speak like this,' Mary said bitterly.
'You are a goodly son to Mother Church.'
The King took her scorn with a shrug of the shoulders.
'I am glad this alliance is dissolved or dissolving,' he said, 'for
when it is fully dissolved I will make my peace with Rome. And I long
for that day, for I am weary of errors.'
'Well, this is a very goodly tale,' Mary said. 'I am glad you are
minded to escape hell-flame. What is it all to me?'
'The burden of it rests with thee,' he answered, 'for thou alone
canst make thy cousin believe in my true mind.'
'God help me,' Mary said.
'See you, Moll,' the King broke in on her eagerly, 'if you will
marry the Infant of Spain'
'God's sakes,' she said lightly, 'my cousin's son will wed no
bastard as I be.'
He brushed her jest aside with one hand.
'See you,' he said, 'now I ride to the north to meet the King o'
Scots. That nephew of mine has always been too thick with Francis. But
I will be so friendly with him. And see you, with the Scots cut away
and the Emperor unloyal, the teeth of Francis are drawn. I might not
send my letter to the Pope with all Christendom arrayed together
against me. But when they are set by the ears I am strong enow.'
'Oh, good!' the Lady Mary said. 'Strong enow to be humble!'
Her eyes sparkled so much and her bosom so heaved, that Katharine
moved solicitously and swiftly to come between them.
'See you, Moll,' the King said, 'forgive the ill I wrought thee, and
so shall golden days come again. Once more there shall be a deep peace
with contented husbandmen and the spreading of the vines abroad upon
the stakes. And once more venite creator spiritus shall be sung
in this land. And once more you shall be much honoured; nay, you shall
be as one that saved this realm'
She screamed out
'Stay your tongue!' with such a shrill voice that the King's words
were drowned. Katharine Howard ran in between them, but she pushed her
aside, speaking over her shoulder.
'Before God,' she said, 'you gar me forget that you are the King
that begot me illegally.'
Katharine turned upon the King and sought to move him from the room.
But he was still of opinion that he could convince his daughter and
stood his ground, looking over her shoulder as Mary had done.
'Body of God!' Mary said. 'Body of God! That a man could deem me so
base!' She looked, convulsed, into Henry's eyes. 'Can you bring my
mother alive by the truckling and cajoling and setting lying prince
against lying prince? You slew my mother by lies, or your man slew her
by poison. It is all one. And will you come to me that you have decreed
misbegotten, to help you save your soul!'
There was such a violent hatred in her tone that the King could
bring no word out, and she swept on
'Could even a man be such a dull villain? To creep into heaven by
bribing his daughter! To creep into heaven by strengthening himself
with lies about one prince to another till he be strong enow to be
humble! This is a king! This is even a man! I would be ashamed of such
She took a deep breath.
'What can you bribe me with? A marriage with my cousin's son? Why,
he has deserted my mother's cause. I had rather wed a falconer than
that prince. You will have me no longer called bastard? Why, I had
rather be called bastard than the acknowledged child of such a royal
King. You will cover me with brocades and set me on high? By God, the
sun in the heaven has looked upon such basenesses that I seek only a
patch of shade. God help me; you will recall the decree that said my
mother was not a Queen! God help us! God help us all! You will ennoble
my mother's memory. With a decree! Can all the decrees you can make
render my mother more sacred? When you decreed her not a Queen, did a
soul believe it? If now you decree that a Queen she was, who will
believe you? I think I had rather you left it alone, it is such a foul
thing to have been thy wife!'
The saying of these things had pleased her so much that she gained
control of her tongue.
'You cannot bribe me,' she said calmly. 'You have naught to give
that I have need of.'
But the King was so used to his daughter's speeches that, though he
had seldom seen her so mutinous, he could still ignore them.
'Well,' he said, 'I think you are angered with me for having set the
Magister in gaol'
'And in addition,' the Lady Mary pursued her own speech, for she
deemed that she had thought of a thing to pain both him and the Queen,
'how might I with a good conscience tell my cousin that you have a true
inclination to him? I do believe you have; it is this lady that has
given it you. But how much longer will this lady sway you? No doubt the
King o' Scots hath a new lady for youand she will be on the French
side, for the King o' Scots is the French King's man.'
The King opened his mouth convulsively, but Katharine Howard laid
her hand right across it.
'You must be riding soon,' she said. 'I have had a collation set in
my chamber.' She was so used by now to the violent humours of these
Tudors. 'You have still to direct me,' she added, 'what is to be done
with these rived cattle.'
As they went through the door, the little Prince holding his
father's hand and she moving him gently by the shoulder, the child
'I thought ye wad ha' little profit speaking to my sister in her
The King, in the gallery, looked with a gentle apprehension at his
'I trow ye think I ha' done wrong,' he said.
'Oh nay; she must come to know one day what your Grace had to tell
her. Now it is over. But I would not have had you heated. For it is ill
to start riding in a sweat. You shall not go for an hour yet.'
That pleased him, for it made him think she was unwilling he should
In her own room the Lady Mary sat back in her chair and smiled
grimly at the ceiling.
'Body of God,' she said, 'I wish he had married this wench or ever
he saw my mother.' Nevertheless, upon reflection, she got pleasure from
the thought that her mother, with her Aragonia pride, had given the
King some ill hours before he had put her away to her death. Katharine
of Aragon had been no Katharine Howard to study her lord's ways and
twist him about her finger; and Mary took her rosary from a nail beside
her and told her beads for a quarter hour to calm herself.
There fell upon the castle a deep peace when the King and most of
the men were gone. The Queen had the ordering of all things in the
castle and of most in the realm. Beneath her she had the Archbishop and
some few of the lords of the council who met most days round a long
table in the largest hall, and afterwards brought her many papers to
sign or to approve. But they were mostly papers of accounts for the
castles that were then building, and some few letters from the King's
envoys in foreign courts. Upon the whole, there was little stirring,
though the Emperor Charles V was then about harrying the Protestant
Princes of Almain and Germany. That was good enough news, and though
the great castle had well-nigh seven hundred souls, for the most part
women, in it, yet it appeared to be empty. High up upon the upper
battlements the guards kept a lazy watch. Sometimes the Queen rode
a-hawking with her ladies and several lords; when it rained she held
readings from the learned writers amongst her ladies, to teach them
Latin better. For she had set a fashion of good learning among women
that did not for many years die out of the land. In that pursuit she
missed the Magister Udal, for the ladies listened to him more willingly
than to another. They were reading the True History of Lucian,
which had been translated into Latin from the Greek about that time.
What occupied her most was the writing of the King's letter to the
Pope. Down in their cellar the Archbishop and Lascelles wrought many
days at this very long piece of writing. But they made it too humble to
suit her, for she would not have her lord to crawl, as if in the dust
upon his belly, so she told the Archbishop. Henry was to show
contrition and repentance, desire for pardon and the promise of
amendment. But he was a very great King and had wrought greatly. And,
having got the draft of it in the vulgar tongue, she set about herself
to turn it into Latin, for she esteemed herself the best Latinist that
they had there.
But in that again she missed the Magister at last, and in the end
she sent for him up from his prison to her ante-chamber where it
pleased her to sit. It was a tall, narrow room, with much such a chair
and dais as were in the room of the Lady Mary. It gave on to her
bedchamber that was larger, and it had little, bright, deep windows in
the thick walls. From them there could be seen nothing but the blue
sky, it was so high up. Here she sat, most often with the Lady
Rochford, upon a little stool writing, with the parchments upon her
knee or setting a maid to sew. The King had lately made her a gift of
twenty-four satin quilts. Most of her maids sat in her painted gallery,
carding and spinning wool, but usually she did not sit with them, since
she was of opinion that they spoke more freely and took more pleasure
when she was not there. She had brought many maids with her into
Yorkshire for this spinning, for she believed that this northern wool
was the best that could be had. Margot Poins sat always with these
maids to keep them to their tasks, and her brother had been advanced to
keep the Queen's door when she was in her private rooms, being always
without the chamber in which she sat.
When the Magister came to her, she had with her in the little room
the Lady Rochford and the Lady Cicely Rochford that had married the old
knight when she was Cicely Elliott. Udal had light chains on his wrists
and on his ankles, and the Queen sent her guards to await him at her
outer door. The Lady Cicely set back her head and laughed at the
'Why, here are the bonds of holy matrimony!' she said to his chains.
'I ha' never seen them so plain before.'
The Magister had straws on his cloak, and he limped a little, being
stiff with the damp of his cell.
'Ave, Regina!' he said. 'Moriturus te saluto!' He
sought to kneel, but he could not bend his joints; he smiled with a
humorous and rueful countenance at his own plight.
The Queen said she had brought him there to read the Latin of her
letter. He ducked his brown, lean head.
'Ha,' he said, 'sine cane pastorwithout his dog, as
Lucretius hath it, the shepherd watches in vain. Wolvesvidelicet,
errorsshall creep into your marshalled words.'
Katharine kept to him a cold face and, a little abashed, he muttered
under his breath
'I ha' played with many maids, but this is the worst pickle that
ever I was in.'
He took her parchment and read, but, because she was the Queen, he
would not say aloud that he found solecisms in her words.
'Give me,' he said, 'your best pen, and let me sit upon a stool!'
He sat down upon the stool, set the writing on his knee, and groaned
with his stiffness. He took up his task, but when those ladies began to
talkthe Lady Cicely principally about a hawk that her old knight had
training for the Queen, a white sea hawk from Norwayhe winced and
hissed a little because they disturbed him.
'Misery!' he said; 'I remember the days when no mouse dared creak if
I sat to my task in the learned tongues.'
The Queen then remembered very well how she had been a little girl
with the Magister for tutor in her father's great and bare house. It
was after Udal had been turned out of his mastership at Eton. He had
been in vile humour in most of those days, and had beaten her very
often and fiercely with his bundle of twigs. It was only afterwards
that he had called her his best pupil.
Remembering these things, she dropped her voice and sat still,
thinking. Cicely Elliott, who could not keep still, blew a feather into
the air and caught it again and again. The old Lady Rochford, her
joints swollen with rheumatism, played with her beads in her lap. From
time to time she sighed heavily and, whilst the Magister wrote, he
sighed after her. Katharine would not send her ladies away, because she
would not be alone with him to have him plague her with entreaties. She
would not go herself, because it would have been to show him too much
honour then, though a few days before she would have gone willingly
because his vocation and his knowledge of the learned tongues made him
a man that it was right to respect.
But when she read what he had written for her, his lean, brown face
turning eagerly and with a ferreting motion from place to place on the
parchment, she was filled with pity and with admiration for the man's
talent. It was as if Seneca were writing to his master, or Pliny to the
Emperor Trajan. And, being a very tender woman at bottom
'Magister,' she said, 'though you have wrought me the greatest grief
I think ye could, by so injuring one I like well, yet this is to me so
great a service that I will entreat the King to remit some of your
He stumbled up from his stool and this time managed to kneel.
'Oh, Queen,' he said, 'Doctissima fuisti; you were the best
pupil that ever I had' She tried to silence him with a motion of
her hand. But he twined his lean hands together with the little chains
hanging from them. 'I call this to your pitiful mind,' he brought out,
'not because I would have you grateful, but to make you mindful of what
I suffernon quia grata sed ut clemens sis. For, for
advancement I have no stomach, since by advancing me you will advance
my wife from Paris, and for liberty I have no use since you may never
make me free of her. Leave me to rot in my cell, but, if it be but the
tractate of Diodorus Siculus, a very dull piece, let me be given some
book in a learned tongue. I faint, I starve, I die for lack of good
letters. I that no day in my life have passednulla die sine
no day without reading five hours in goodly books since I was six and
breeched. Bethink you, you that love learning'
'Now tell me,' Cicely Elliott cried out, 'which would you rather in
your cellthe Letters of Cicero or a kitchen wench?'
The Queen bade her hold her peace, and to the Magister she uttered
'Books I will have sent you, for I think it well that you should be
so well employed. And, for your future, I will have you set down in a
monastery where there shall be for you much learning and none of my
sex. You have done harm enow! Now, get you gone!'
He sighed that she had grown so stern, and she was glad to be rid of
him. But he had not been gone a minute into the other room when there
arose such a clamour of harsh voices and shrieks and laughter that she
threw her door open, coming to it herself before the other ladies could
close their mouths, which had opened in amazement.
The young Poins was beating the Magister, so that the fur gown made
a greyish whirl about his scarlet suit in the midst of a tangle of spun
wool; spinning wheels were overset, Margot Poins crashed around upon
them, wailing; the girls with their distaffs were crouching against the
window-places and in corners, crying out each one of them.
The Queen had a single little gesture of the hand with which she
dismissed all her waiting-women. She stood alone in the inner doorway
with the Lady Cicely and the Lady Rochford behind her. The Lady
Rochford wrung her gouty hands; the Lady Cicely set back her head and
The Queen spoke no word, but in the new silence it was as if the
Magister fell out of the boy's hands. He staggered amidst the trails of
wool, nearly fell, and then made stiff zigzags towards the open outer
door, where his prison guards awaited him, since they had no warrant to
enter the antechamber. He dragged after him a little trail of fragments
of spinning wheels and spindles.
'Well, there's a fine roister-doister!' the Lady Cicely laughed
behind the Queen's back. The Queen stood very still and frowned. To her
the disturbance was monstrous and distasteful, for she was minded to
have things very orderly and quiet. The boy, in his scarlet, pulled off
his bonnet and panted, but he was not still more than a second, and
suddenly he called out to the Queen
'Make that pynot to marry my sister!'
Margot Poins hung round him and cried out
'Oh no! Oh no!'
He shook her roughly loose.
'An' you do not wed with him how shall I get advancement?' he said.
''A promised me that when 'a should come to be Chancellor 'a would
He pushed her from him again with his elbow when she came near.
'Y've grown over familiar,' the Queen said, 'with being too much
near me. Y'are grown over familiar. For seven days you shall no longer
keep my door.'
Margot Poins raised her arms over her head, then she leant against a
window-pane and sobbed into the crook of her elbow. The boy's slender
face was convulsed with rage; his blue eyes started from his head; his
callow hair was crushed up.
'Shall a man' he began to protest.
'I say nothing against that you did beat this Magister,' the Queen
said. 'Such passions cannot be controlled, and I pass it by.'
'But will ye not make this man to wed with my sister?' the boy said
'I cannot. He hath a wedded wife!'
He dropped his hands to his side.
'Alack; then my father's house is down,' he cried out.
'Gentleman Guard,' Katharine said, 'get you for seven days away from
my door. I will have another sentry whilst you bethink you of a
worthier way to advancement.'
He gazed at her stupidly.
'You will not make this wedding?' he asked.
'Gentleman Guard,' Katharine said, 'you have your answer. Get you
A sudden rage came into his eyes; he swallowed in his throat and
made a gesture of despair with his hand. The Queen turned back into her
room and busied herself with her task, which was the writing into a
little vellum book of seven prayers to the Virgin that the Lady
Elizabeth, Queen Anne Boleyn's daughter, a child then in London, was to
turn each one into seven languages, written fair in the volume as a
gift, against Christmas, for the King.
'I would not have that boy to guard my door,' the Lady Cicely said
to the Queen.
'Why, 'tis a good boy,' Katharine answered; 'and his sister loves me
'Get your Highness another,' the Lady Cicely persisted. 'I do not
like his looks.'
The Queen gazed up from her writing to where the dark girl, her
figure raked very much back in her stiff bodice, played daintily with
the tassels of the curtain next the window.
'My Lady,' Katharine said, 'my Highness must get me a new maid in
place of Margot Poins, that shall away into a nunnery. Is not that
grief enough for poor Margot? Shall she think in truth that she has
undone her father's house?'
'Then advance the springald to some post away from you,' the Lady
'Nay,' the Queen answered; 'he hath done nothing to merit
She continued, with her head bent down over the writing on her knee,
her lips moving a little as, sedulously, she drew large and plain
letters with her pen.
'By Heaven,' the Lady Cicely said, 'you have too tickle a conscience
to be a Queen of this world and day. In the time of Cæsar you might
have lived more easily.'
The Queen looked up at her from her writing; her clear eyes were
'Aye,' she said. 'Lucio Domitio, Appio Claudio consulibus
Cicely Rochford set back her head and laughed at the ceiling.
'Aye, your Highness is a Roman,' she tittered like a magpie.
'In the day of Cæsar it was simple to do well,' the Queen said.
'Why, I do not believe it,' Cicely answered her.
'Cousin! Cousin!' The old Lady Rochford warned her that this was the
Queen, not her old playmate.
'But now,' the Queen said, 'with such a coming together and a
concourse of peoples about us; with such holes and corners in a great
Court' She paused and sighed.
'Well, if I may not speak my mind,' Cicely Rochford said to the old
lady, 'what good am I?'
'I did even what I might to keep this lamb Margot from the teeth of
that wolf Magister,' the Queen said. 'I take shame to myself that I did
no more. I will do a penance for it. But still I think that these be
'Oh, Queen of dreams and fancies,' Cicely Rochford said. 'I am very
certain that in the days of your noble Romans it was as it is now. Tell
me, if you can, that in all your readings of hic and hoc you lit not
upon such basenesses? You will not lay your hand upon your heart and
say that never a man of Rome bartered his sister for the hope of
advancement, or that never a learned doctor was a corrupter of youth? I
have seen the like in the plays of Plautus that here have been played
'Why,' the Queen said, 'the days of Plautus were days degenerated
and fallen already from the ancient nobleness.'
'You should have Queened it before Goodman Adam fell,' Cicely
Rochford mocked her. 'If you go back before Plautus, go back all the
She shrugged her shoulders up to her ears and uttered a little sound
like 'Pfui!' Then she said quickly
'Give me leave to be gone, your Highness, that I may not grow over
familiar like the boy with the pikestaff, for if it do not gall you it
shall wring the withers of this my old husband's cousin!'
The old Lady Rochford, who was always thinking of what had been said
two speeches ago, because she was so slow-witted, raised her gouty
hands in the air and opened her mouth. But the Queen smiled faintly at
'When I ask you to mince matters in my little room you shall do it.
It was Lucius the Praetor that went always accompanied by a carping
Stoic to keep him from being puffed up, and it was a good custom.'
'Before Heaven,' Cicely Rochford said in the midst of her curtsey at
the door, 'shall I have the office of such a one as Diogenes who
derided Alexander the Emperor? Then must my old husband live with me in
'Pray you,' the Queen said after her through the door, 'look you
around and spy me out a maid to be my tiring-woman and ward my
spinsters. For nowadays I see few maids to choose from.'
When she was gone the old Lady Rochford timorously berated the
Queen. She would have her be more distant with knights' wives and the
like. For it was fitting for a Queen to be feared and deemed awful.
'I had rather be loved and deemed pitiful,' Katharine answered. 'For
I was once such a oneno morethan she or thou, or very little more.
Before the people I bear myself proudly for my lord his high honour.
But I do lead a very cloistered life, and have leisure to reflect upon
for what a little space authority endureth, and how that friendship and
true love between friends are things that bear the weather better.' She
did not say her Latin text, for the old lady had no Latin.
In the underground cell, above the red and gold table that
afternoon, Lascelles wrought at a fair copy of the King's letter to the
Pope, amended as it had been by Udal's hand. The Archbishop had come
into the room reading a book as he came from his prayers, and sate him
down in his chair at the tablehead without glancing at his gentleman.
'Prithee, your Grace,' Lascelles said, 'suffer me to carry this
letter mine own self to the Queen.'
The Archbishop looked up at him; his mournful eyes started wide; he
'Art thou Lascelles?' he asked.
'Aye, Lascelles I am,' the gentleman answered; 'but I have cut off
The Archbishop was very weak and startled; he fell into an anger.
'Is this a time for vanities?' he said. 'Will you be after the
wenches? You look a foolish boy! I do not like this prank.'
Lascelles put up his hand to stroke his vanished beard. His risible
lips writhed in a foxy smile; his chin was fuller than you would have
expected, round and sensuous with a dimple in the peak of it.
'Please it, your Grace,' he said, 'this is no vanity, but a scheme
that I will try.'
'What scheme? What scheme?' the Archbishop said. 'Here have been too
many schemes.' He was very shaken and afraid, because this world was
beyond his control.
'Please it, your Grace,' Lascelles answered, 'ask me not what this
The Archbishop shook his head and pursed his lips feebly.
'Please it, your Grace,' Lascelles urged, 'if this scheme miscarry,
your Grace shall hear no more of it. If this scheme succeed I trow it
shall help some things forward that your Grace would much have
forwarded. Please it, your Grace, to ask me no more, and to send me
with this letter to the Queen's Highness.'
The Archbishop opened his nerveless hands before him; they were pale
and wrinkled as if they had been much soddened in water. Since the King
had bidden him compose that letter to the Pope of Rome, his hands had
grown so. Lascelles wrote on at the new draft of the letter, his lips
following the motions of his pen. Still writing, and with his eyes
down, he said
'The Queen's Highness will put from her her tirewoman in a week from
The Archbishop moved his fingers as who should say
'What is that to me!' His eyes gazed into the space above his book
that lay before him on the table.
'This Margot Poins is a niece of the master-printer Badge, a
Lutheran, of the Austin Friars.' Lascelles pursued his writing for a
line further. Then he added
'This putting away and the occasion of it shall make a great noise
in the town of London. It will be said amongst the Lutherans that the
Queen is answerable therefor. It will be said that the Queen hath a
very lewd Court and companionship.'
The Archbishop muttered wearily
'It hath been said already.'
'But not,' Lascelles said, 'since she came to be Queen.'
The Archbishop directed upon him his hang-dog eyes, and his voice
was the voice of a man that would not be disturbed from woeful musings.
'What use?' he said bitterly; and then again, 'What use?'
Lascelles wrote on sedulously. He used his sandarach to the end of
the page, blew off the sand, eyed the sheet sideways, laid it down, and
set another on his writing-board.
'Why,' he brought out quietly, 'it may be brought to the King's
'What way?' the Archbishop said heavily, as if the thing were
impossible. His gentleman answered
'This way and that!' The King's Highness had a trick of wandering
about among his faithful lieges unbeknown; foreign ambassadors wrote
abroad such rumours which might be re-reported from the foreign by the
'Such a report,' Lascelles said, 'hath gone up already to London
town by a swift carrier.'
The Archbishop brought out wearily and distastefully
'How know you? Was it you that wrote it?'
'Please it, your Grace,' his gentleman answered him, 'it was in this
wise. As I was passing by the Queen's chamber wall I heard a great
He laid down his pen beside his writing-board the more leisurely to
He had seen Udal, beaten and shaking, stagger out from the Queen's
door to where his guards waited to set him back in prison. From Udal he
had learned of this new draft of the letter; of Udal's trouble he knew
before. Udal gone, he had waited a little, hearing the Queen's voice
and what she said very plainly, for the castle was very great and
quiet. Then out had come the young Poins, breathing like a volcano
through his nostrils, and like to be stricken with palsy, boy though he
was. Him Lascelles had followed at a convenient distance, where he
staggered and snorted. And, coming upon the boy in an empty guard-room
near the great gate, he had found him aflame with passion against the
'I,' the boy had cried out, 'I that by my carrying of letters set
this Howard where she sits! I!and this is my advancement. My sister
cast down, and I cast out, and another maid to take my sister's place.'
And Lascelles, in the guard-chamber, had shown him sympathy and
reminded him that there was gospel for saying that princes had short
'But I did not calm him!' Lascelles said.
On the contrary, upon Lascelles' suggestion that the boy had but to
hold his tongue and pocket his wrongs, the young Poins had burst out
that he would shout it all abroad at every street corner. And suddenly
it had come into his head to write such a letter to his Uncle Badge the
printer as, printed in a broadside, would make the Queen's name to
stink, until the last generation was of men, in men's nostrils.
Lascelles rubbed his hands gently and sinuously together. He cast
one sly glance at the Archbishop.
'Well, the letter was written,' he said. 'Be sure the broadside
shall be printed.'
Cranmer's head was sunk over his book.
'This lad,' Lascelles said softly, 'who in seven days' time again
shall keep the Queen's door (for it is not true that the Queen's
Highness is an ingrate, well sure am I), this lad shall be a very
useful confidant; a very serviceable guide to help us to a knowledge of
who goes in to the Queen and who cometh out.'
The Archbishop did not appear to be listening to his gentleman's
soft voice and, resuming his pen, Lascelles finished his tale with
'For I have made this lad my friend. It shall cost me some money,
but I do not doubt that your Grace shall repay.'
The Archbishop raised his head.
'No, before God in heaven on His throne!' he said. His voice was
shrill and high; he agitated his hands in their fine, tied sleeves. 'I
will have no part in these Cromwell tricks. All is lost; let it be
lost. I must say my prayers.'
'Has it been by saying of your Grace's prayers that your Grace has
lived through these months?' Lascelles asked softly.
'Aye,' the Archbishop wrung his hands; 'you girded me and moved me
when Cromwell lay at death, to write a letter to the King's Highness.
To write such a letter as should appear brave and faithful and true to
Privy Seal's cause.'
'Such a letter your Grace wrote,' Lascelles said; 'and it was the
best writing that ever your Grace made.'
The Archbishop gazed at the table.
'How do I know that?' he said in a whisper. 'You say so, who bade me
'For that your Grace lives yet,' Lascelles said softly; 'though in
those days a warrant was written for your capture. For, sure it is, and
your Grace has heard it from the King's lips, that your letter sounded
so faithful and piteous and true to him your late leader, that the King
could not but believe that you, so loyal in such a time to a man
disgraced and cast down beyond hope, could not but be faithful and
loyal in the future to him, the King, with so many bounties to bestow.'
'Aye,' the Archbishop said, 'but how do I know what of a truth was
in the King's mind who casteth down to-day one, to-morrow another, till
none are left?'
And again Cranmer dropped his anguished eyes to the table.
* * * * *
In those days stilland he slept still worse since the King had
bidden him write this letter to Romethe Archbishop could not sleep on
any night without startings and sweats and cryings out in his sleep.
And he gave orders that, when he so cried out, the page at his bedside
should wake him.
For then he was seeing the dreadful face of his great master, Privy
Seal, when the day of his ruin had come. Cromwell had been standing in
a window of the council chamber at Westminster looking out upon a
courtyard. In behind him had come the other lords of the council,
Norfolk with his yellow face, the High Admiral, and many others; and
each, seating himself at the table, had kept his bonnet on his head. So
Cromwell, turning, had seen them and had asked with his hard insolence
and embittered eyes of hatred, how they dared be covered before he who
was their president sat down. Then, up against him in the window-place
there had sprung Norfolk at the chain of the George round his neck, and
Suffolk at the Garter on his knee; and Norfolk had cried out that
Thomas Cromwell was no longer Privy Seal of that kingdom, nor president
of that council, but a traitor that must die. Then such rage and
despair had come into Thomas Cromwell's terrible face that Cranmer's
senses had reeled. He had seen Norfolk and the Admiral fall back before
this passion; he had seen Thomas Cromwell tear off his cap and cast it
on the floor; he had heard him bark and snarl out certain words into
the face of the yellow dog of Norfolk.
'Upon your life you dare not call me traitor!' and Norfolk
had fallen back abashed.
Then the chamber had seemed to fill with an awful gloom and
darkness; men showed only like shadows against the window lights; the
constable of the Tower had come in with the warrants, and in that gloom
the earth had appeared to tremble and quake beneath the Archbishop's
* * * * *
He crossed himself at the recollection, and, coming out of his
stupor, saw that Lascelles was finishing his writings. And he was glad
that he was here now and not there then.
'Prithee, your Grace,' the gentleman's soft voice said, 'let me
bear, myself, this letter to the Queen.'
The Archbishop shivered frostily in his robes.
'I will have no more Cromwell tricks,' he said. 'I have said it';
and he affected an obdurate tone.
'Then, indeed, all is lost,' Lascelles answered; 'for this Queen is
The Archbishop cast his eyes up to the cold stone ceiling above him.
He crossed himself.
'You are a very devil,' he said, and panic came into his eyes, so
that he turned them all round him as if he sought an issue at which to
'The Papist lords in this castle met on Saturday night,' Lascelles
said; 'their meeting was very secret, and Norfolk was their head. But I
have heard it said that not one of them was for the Queen.'
The Archbishop shrank within himself.
'I am not minded to hear this,' he said.
'Not one of them was for the Queen altogether; for she will render
all lands and goods back to the Church, and there is no one of them but
is rich with the lands and goods of the Church. That they that followed
Cromwell are not for the Queen well your Grace knoweth,' his gentleman
'I will not hear this; this is treason,' the Archbishop muttered.
'So that who standeth for the Queen?' Lascelles whispered. 'Only a
few of the baser sort that have no lands to lose.'
'The King,' the Archbishop cried out in a terrible voice; 'the King
standeth for her!'
He sprang up in his chair and then sank down again, covering his
mouth with his hands, as if he would have intercepted the uttered
words. For who knew who listened at what doors in these days. He
'What a folly is this. Who shall move the King? Will reports of his
ambassadors that Cleves, or Charles, or Francis miscall the Queen? You
know they will not, for the King is aware of how these princes batten
on carrion. Will broad sheets of the Lutheran? You know they will not,
for the King is aware of how those coggers come by their tales. Will
the King go abroad among the people any more to hear what they say? You
know he will not. For he is grown too old, and his fireside is made too
He wavered, and he could not work himself up with a longer show of
'Prithee,' Lascelles said, 'let me bear this letter myself to the
Queen.' His voice was patient and calm.
The Archbishop lay back, impotent, in his chair. His arms were along
the arms of it: he had dropped his book upon the table. His long gown
was draped all over him down to his feet; his head remained motionless;
his eyes did not wink, and gazed at despair; his hands drooped, open
Suddenly he moved one of them a very little.
It was the Queen's habit to go every night, when the business of the
day was done, to pray, along with the Lady Mary, in the small chapel
that was in the roof of the castle. To vespers she went with all the
Court to the big chapel in the courtyard that the King had builded
especially for her. But to this little chapel, that was of Edward IV's
time, small and round-arched, all stone and dark and bare, she went
with the Lady Mary alone. Her ladies and her doorguards they left at
the stair foot, on a level with the sleeping rooms of the poorer sort,
but up the little stairway they climbed by themselves, in darkness, to
pray privately for the conversion of England. For this little place was
so small and so forgotten that it had never been desecrated by Privy
Seal's men. It had had no vessels worth the taking, and only very old
vestments and a few ill-painted pictures on the stone walls that were
half hidden in the dust.
Katharine had found this little place when, on her first day at
Pontefract, she had gone a-wandering over the castle with the King. For
she was curious to know how men had lived in the old times; to see
their rooms and to mark what old things were there still in use. And
she had climbed thus high because she was minded to gaze upon the huge
expanse of country and of moors that from the upper leads of the castle
was to be seen. But this little chapel had seemed to her to be all the
more sacred because it had been undesecrated and forgotten. She thought
that you could not find such another in the King's realm at that time;
she was very assured that not one was to be found in any house of the
King's and hers.
And, making inquiries, she had found that there was also an old
priest there served the chapel, doing it rather secretly for the
well-disposed of the castle's own guards. This old man had fled, at the
approach of the King's many, into the hidden valleys of that
countryside, where still the faith lingered and lingers now. For, so
barbarous and remote those north parts were, that a great many people
had never heard that the King was married again, and fewer still, or
none, knew that he and his wife were well inclined again towards Rome.
This old priest she had had brought to her. And he was so well loved
that along with him came a cluster of weather-battered moorsmen, right
with him into her presence. They kneeled down, being clothed with
skins, and several of them having bows of a great size, to beg her not
to harm this old man, for he was reputed a saint. The Queen could not
understand their jargon but, when their suit was interpreted to her by
the Lord Dacre of the North, and when she had had a little converse
with the old priest, she answered that, so touched was her heart by his
simplicity and gentleness, that she would pray the good King, her lord
and master, to let this priest be made her confessor whilst there they
stayed. And afterwards, if it were convenient, in reward for his
faithfulness, he should be made a prior or a bishop in those parts. So
the moorsmen, blessing her uncouthly for her fairness and kind words,
went back with their furs and bows into their fastnesses. One of them
was a great lord of that countryside, and each day he sent into the
castle bucks and moor fowl, and once or twice a wolf. His name was Sir
John Peel, and Sir John Peel, too, the priest was called.
So the priest served that little altar, and of a night, when the
Queen was minded next day to partake of the host, he heard her
confession. On other nights he left them there alone to say their
prayers. It was always very dark with the little red light burning
before the altar and two tapers that they lit beneath a statue of the
Virgin, old and black and ill-carved by antique hands centuries before.
And, in that blackness, they knelt, invisible almost, and still in the
black gowns that they put on for prayers, beside a low pillar that
gloomed out at their sides and vanished up into the darkness of the
Having done their prayers, sometimes they stayed to converse and to
meditate, for there they could be very private. On the night when the
letter to Rome was redrafted, the Queen prayed much longer than the
Lady Mary, who sat back upon a stool, silently, to await her
finishingfor it seemed that the Queen was more zealous for the
converting of those realms again to the old faith than was ever the
Lady Mary. The tapers burned with a steady, invisible glow in the
little side chapel behind the pillar; the altar gleamed duskily before
them, and it was so still that through the unglassed windows they could
hear, from far below in the black countryside, a tenuous bleating of
late-dropped lambs. Katharine Howard's beads clicked and her dress
rustled as she came up from her knees.
'It rests more with thee than with any other in this land,' her
voice reverberated amongst the distant shadows. A bat that had been
drawn in by the light flittered invisibly near them.
'Even what?' the Lady Mary asked.
'Well you know,' the Queen answered; 'and may the God to whom you
have prayed, that softened the heart of Paul, soften thine in this
The Lady Mary maintained a long silence. The bat flittered, with a
leathern rustle, invisible, between their very faces. At last Mary
uttered, and her voice was taunting and malicious
'If you will soften my heart much you must beseech me.'
'Why, I will kneel to you,' the Queen said.
'Aye, you shall,' Mary answered. 'Tell me what you would have of
'Well you know!' Katharine said again.
In the darkness the lady's voice maintained its bitter mirth, as it
were the broken laughter of a soul in anguish.
'I will have you tell me, for it is a shameful tale that will shame
you in the telling.'
The Queen paused to consider of her words.
'First, you shall be reconciled with, and speak pleasantly with, the
King your father and my lord.'
'And is it not a shameful thing you bid me do, to bid me speak
pleasant words to him that slew my mother and called me bastard?'
The Queen answered that she asked it in the name of Christ, His
pitiful sake, and for the good of this suffering land.
'None the less, Queen, thou askest it in the darkness that thy face
may not be seen. And what more askest thou?'
'That when the Duke of Orleans his ambassadors come asking your hand
in marriage, you do show them a pleasant and acquiescent countenance.'
The sacredness of that dark place kept Mary from laughing aloud.
'That, too, you dare not ask in the light of day, Queen,' she said.
'That when the Emperor's ambassadors shall ask for your hand you
shall profess yourself glad indeed.'
'Well, here is more shame, that I should be prayed to feign this
gladness. I think the angels do laugh that hear you. Ask even more.'
Katharine said patiently
'That, having in reward of these favours, been set again on high,
having honours shown you and a Court appointed round you, you shall
gladly play the part of a princess royal to these realms, never gibing,
nor sneering upon this King your father, nor calling upon the memory of
the wronged Queen your mother.'
'Queen,' the Lady Mary said, 'I had thought that even in the
darkness you had not dared to ask me this.'
'I will ask it you again,' the Queen said, 'in your room where the
light of the candles shines upon my face.'
'Why, you shall,' the Lady Mary said. 'Let us presently go there.'
* * * * *
They went down the dark and winding stair. At the foot the
procession of the coucher de la royne awaited them, first being
two trumpeters in black and gold, then four pikemen with lanthorns,
then the marshal of the Queen's household and five or seven lords, then
the Queen's ladies, the Lady Rochford that slept with her, the Lady
Cicely Rochford; the Queen's tiring-women, leaving a space between them
for the Queen and the Lady Mary to walk in, then four young pages in
scarlet and with the Queen's favours in their caps, and then the guard
of the Queen's door, and four pikemen with torches whose light, falling
from behind, illumined the path for the Queen's steps. The trumpeters
blew four shrill blasts and then four with their fists in the trumpet
mouths to muffle them. The brazen cries wound down the dark corridors,
fathoms and fathoms down, to let men know that the Queen had done her
prayers and was going to her bed. This great state was especially
devised by the King to do honour to the new Queen that he loved better
than any he had had. The purpose of it was to let all men know what she
did that she might be the more imitated.
But the Queen bade them guide her to the Lady Mary's door, and in
the doorway she dismissed them all, save only her women and her door
guard and pikemen who awaited her without, some on stools and some
against the wall, ladies and men alike.
The Lady Mary looked into the Queen's face very close and laughed at
her when they were in the fair room and the light of the candles.
'Now you shall say your litany over again,' she sneered; 'I will sit
me down and listen.' And in her chair at the table, with her face
averted, she dug with little stabs into the covering rug the stiletto
with which she was wont to mend her pens.
Standing by her, her face fully lit by the many candles that were
upon the mantel, the Queen, dressed all in black and with the tail of
her hood falling down behind to her feet, went patiently through the
list of her prayersthat the Lady Mary should be reconciled with her
father, that she should show at first favour to the ambassadors that
sued for her hand for the Duke of Orleans, and afterwards give a glad
consent to her marriage with the Prince Philip, the Emperor's son; and
then, having been reinstated as a princess of the royal house of
England, she should bear herself as such, and no more cry out upon the
memory of Katharine of Aragon that had been put away from the King's
The Queen spoke these words with a serious patience and a level
voice; but when she came to the end of them she stretched out her hand
and her voice grew full.
'And oh,' she said, her face being set and earnest in entreaty
towards the girl's back, 'if you have any love for the green and
fertile land that gave birth both to you and to me'
'But to me a bastard,' the Lady Mary said.
'If you would have the dishoused saints to return home to their
loved pastures; if you would have the Mother of God and of us all to
rejoice again in her dowry; if you would see a great multitude of
souls, gentle and simple reconducted again towards Heaven'
'Well, well!' the Lady Mary said; 'grovel! grovel! I had thought you
would have been shamed thus to crawl upon your belly before me.'
'I would crawl in the dust,' Katharine said. 'I would kiss the mire
from the shoon of the vilest man there is if in that way I might win
for the Church of God'
'Well, well!' the Lady Mary said.
'You will not let me finish my speech about our Saviour and His
mother,' the Queen said. 'You are afraid I should move you.'
The Lady Mary turned suddenly round upon her in her chair. Her face
was pallid, the skin upon her hollowed temples trembled
'Queen,' she called out, 'ye blaspheme when ye say that a few paltry
speeches of yours about God and souls will make me fail my mother's
memory and the remembrances of the shames I have had.'
She closed her eyes; she swallowed in her throat and then, starting
up, she overset her chair.
'To save souls!' she said. 'To save a few craven English souls! What
are they to me? Let them burn in the eternal fires! Who among them
raised a hand or struck a blow for my mother or me? Let them go
shivering to hell.'
'Lady,' the Queen said, 'ye know well how many have gone to the
stake over conspiracies for you in this realm.'
'Then they are dead and wear the martyr's crown,' the Lady Mary
said. 'Let the rest that never aided me, nor struck blow for my mother,
go rot in their heresies.'
'But the Church of God!' the Queen said. 'The King's Highness has
promised me that upon the hour when you shall swear to do these things
he will send the letter that ye wot of to our Father in Rome.'
The Lady Mary laughed aloud
'Here is a fine woman,' she said. 'This is ever the woman's part to
gloss over crimes of their men folk. What say you to the death of Lady
Salisbury that died by the block a little since?'
She bent her body and poked her head forward into the Queen's very
face. Katharine stood still before her.
'God knows,' she said. 'I might not stay it. There was much false
witnessor some of it trueagainst her. I pray that the King my Lord
may atone for it in the peace that shall come.'
'The peace that shall come!' the Lady Mary laughed. 'Oh, God, what
things we women are when a man rules us. The peace that shall come? By
what means shall it have been brought on?'
'I will tell you,' she pursued after a moment. 'All this is cogging
and lying and feigning and chicaning. And you who are so upright will
crawl before me to bring it about. Listen!'
And she closed her eyes the better to calm herself and to collect
her thoughts, for she hated to appear moved.
'I am to feign a friendship to my father. That is a lie that you ask
me to do, for I hate him as he were the devil. And why must I do this?
To feign a smooth face to the world that his pride may not be humbled.
I am to feign to receive the ambassadors of the Duke of Orleans. That
is cogging that you ask of me. For it is not intended that ever I shall
wed with a prince of the French house. But I must lead them on and on
till the Emperor be affrighted lest your King make alliance with the
French. What a foul tale! And you lend it your countenance!'
'I would well' Katharine began.
'Oh, I know, I know,' Mary snickered. 'Ye would well be chaste but
that it must needs be other with you. It was the thief's wife said
'Listen again,' she pursued, 'anon there shall come the Emperor's
men, and there shall be more cogging and chicaning, and honours shall
be given me that I may be bought dear, and petitioning that I should be
set in the succession to make them eager. And then, perhaps, it shall
all be cried off and a Schmalkaldner prince shall send ambassadors'
'No, before God,' Katharine said.
'Oh, I know my father,' Mary laughed at her. 'You will keep him tied
to Rome if you can. But you could not save the venerable Lady of
Salisbury, nor you shall not save him from trafficking with
Schmalkaldners and Lutherans if it shall serve his monstrous passions
and his vanities. And if he do not this yet he will do other
villainies. And you will cosset him in themto save his hoggish
dignity and buttress up his heavy pride. All this you stand there and
'In the name of God I ask it,' Katharine said. 'There is no other
'Well then,' the Lady Mary said, 'you shall ask it many times. I
will have you shamed.'
'Day and night I will ask it,' Katharine said.
The Lady Mary sniffed.
'It is very well,' she said. 'You are a proud and virtuous piece. I
will humble you. It were nothing to my father to crawl on his belly and
humble himself and slaver. He would do it with joy, weeping with a
feigned penitence, making huge promises, foaming at the mouth with
oaths that he repented, calling me his ever loved child'
She stayed and then added
'That would cost him nothing. But that you that are his pride, that
you should do it who are in yourself proudthat is somewhat to pay
oneself with for shamed nights and days despised. If you will have this
thing you shall do some praying for it.'
'Even as Jacob served so will I,' Katharine said.
'Seven years!' the Lady Mary mocked at her. 'God forbid that I
should suffer you for so long. I will get me gone with an Orleans, a
Kaiserlik, or a Schmalkaldner leaguer before that. So much comfort I
will give you.' She stopped, lifted her head and said, 'One knocks!'
They said from the door that a gentleman was come from the
Archbishop with a letter to the Queen's Grace.
There came in the shaven Lascelles and fell upon his knees, holding
up the sheets of the letter he had copied.
The Queen took them from him and laid them upon the great table,
being minded later to read them to the Lady Mary, in proof that the
King very truly would make his submission to Rome, supposing only that
his daughter would make submission to her.
When she turned, Lascelles was still kneeling before the doorway,
his eyes upon the ground.
'Why, I thank you,' she said. 'Gentleman, you may get you gone back
to the Archbishop.'
She was thinking of returning to her duel of patience with the Lady
Mary. But looking upon his blond and agreeable features she stayed for
'I know your face,' she said. 'Where have I seen you?'
He looked up at her; his eyes were blue and noticeable, because at
times of emotion he was so wide-lidded that the whites showed round the
pupils of them.
'Certainly I have seen you,' the Queen said.
'It is a royal gift,' he said, 'the memory of faces. I am the
Archbishop's poor gentleman, Lascelles.'
The Queen said
'Lascelles? Lascelles?' and searched her memory.
'I have a sister, the spit and twin of me,' he answered; 'and her
name is Mary.'
The Queen said
'Ah! ah!' and then, 'Your sister was my bed-fellow in the maid's
room at my grandmother's.'
He answered gravely
'Stand up and tell me how your sister fares. I had some kindnesses
of her when I was a child. I remember when I had cold feet she would
heat a brick in the fire to lay to them, and such tricks. How fares
she? Will you not stand up?'
'Because she fares very ill I will not stand upon my feet,' he
'Well, you will beg a boon of me,' she said. 'If it is for your
sister I will do what I may with a good conscience.'
He answered, remaining kneeling, that he would fain see his sister.
But she was very poor, having married an esquire called Hall of these
parts, and he was dead, leaving her but one little farm where, too, his
old father and mother dwelt.
'I will pay for her visit here,' she said; 'and she shall have
'Safe-conduct she must have too,' he answered; 'for none cometh
within seven miles of this court without your permit and approval.'
'Well, I will send horses of my own, and men to safeguard her,' the
Queen said. 'For, sure, I am beholden to her in many little things. I
think she sewed the first round gown that ever I had.'
He remained kneeling, his eyes still upon the floor.
'We are your very good servants, my sister and I,' he said. 'For she
did marry onethat Esquire Hallthat was done to death upon the
gallows for the old faith's sake. And it was I that wrote the English
of most of this letter to his Holiness, the Archbishop being ill and
keeping his bed.'
'Well, you have served me very well, it is true,' the Queen
answered. 'What would you have of me?'
'Your Highness,' he answered, 'I do well love my sister and she me.
I would have her given a place here at the Court. I do not ask a great
one; not one so high as about your person. For I am sure that you are
well attended, and places few there are to spare about you.'
And then, even as he willed it, she bethought her that Margot Poins
was to go to a nunnery. That afternoon she had decided that Mary
Trelyon, who was her second maid, should become her first, and others
be moved up in a rote.
'Why,' she said, 'it may be that I shall find her an occupation. I
will not have it saidnor yet do itthat I have ever recompensed them
that did me favours in the old times, for there are a many that have
served well in the Court that then I was outside of, and those it is
fitting first to reward. Yet, since, as you say you have writ the
English of this letter, that is a very great service to the Republic,
and if by rewarding her I may recompense thee, I will think how I may
come to do it.'
He stood up upon his feet.
'It may be,' he said, 'that my sister is rustic and unsuited. I have
not seen her in many years. Therefore, I will not pray too high a place
for her, but only that she and I may be near, the one to the other,
upon occasions, and that she be housed and fed and clothed.'
'Why, that is very well said,' the Queen answered him. 'I will bid
my men to make inquiries into her demeanour and behaviour in the place
where she bides, and if she is well fitted and modest, she shall have a
place about me. If she be too rustic she shall have another place. Get
you gone, gentleman, and a good-night to ye.'
He bent himself half double, in the then newest courtly way, and
still bent, pivoted through the door. The Queen stayed a little while
'Why,' she said, 'when I was a little child I fared very ill, if now
I think of it; but then it seemed a little thing.'
'Y'had best forget it,' the Lady Mary answered.
'Nay,' the Queen said. 'I have known too well what it was to go
supperless to my bed to forget it. A great shadowy placeall shadows,
where the night airs crept in under the rafters.'
She was thinking of the maids' dormitory at her grandmother's, the
'I am climbed very high,' she said; 'but to think'
She was such a poor man's child and held of only the littlest
account, herding with the maids and the servingmen's children. At eight
by the clock her grandmother locked her and all the maidsat times
there were but ten, at times as many as a scoreinto that great
dormitory that was, in fact, nothing but one long attic or grange
beneath the bare roof. And sometimes the maids told tales or slept
soon, and sometimes their gallants, grooms and others, came climbing
through the windows with rope ladders. They would bring pasties and
wines and lights, and coarsely they would revel.
'Why,' she said, 'I had a gallant myself. He was a musician, but I
have forgot his name. Aye, and then there was another, Dearham, I
think; but I have heard he is since dead. He may have been my cousin;
we were so many in family, I have a little forgot.'
She stood still, searching her memory, with her eyes distant. The
Lady Mary surveyed her face with a curious irony.
'Why, what a simple Queen you are!' she said. 'This is something
The Queen joined her hands together before her, as if she caught at
'I do remember me,' she said. 'It was a make of a comedy. This
Dearham, calling himself my cousin, beat this music musician for
calling himself my gallant. Then goes the musicker to my grandam,
bidding the old Duchess rise up again one hour after she had sought her
bed. So comes my grandam and turns the key in the padlock and looketh
in over all the gallimaufrey of lights and pasties and revels.
'Why,' she continued. 'I think I was beaten upon that occasion, but
I could not well tell why. And I was put to sleep in another room. And
later came my father home from some war. And he was angry that I had
consorted so with false minions, and had me away to his own poor house.
And there I had Udal for my Magister and evil fare and many beatings.
But this Mary Lascelles was my bed-fellow.'
'Why, forget it,' the Lady Mary said again.
'Other teachers would bid me remember it that I might remain
humble,' Katharine answered.
'Y'are humble enow and to spare,' the Lady Mary said. 'And these are
not good memories for such a place as this. Y'had best keep this Mary
Lascelles at a great distance.'
'No; for I have passed my word.'
'Then reward her very fully,' the Lady Mary commended, and the Queen
'No, for that is against my conscience. What have I to fear now that
I be Queen?'
Mary shrugged her squared shoulders.
'Where is your Latin,' she said, 'with its nulla dies felix
call no day fortunate till it be ended.'
'I will set another text against that,' she said, 'and that from
holy sayingsthat justus ab aestimatione non timebit.'
'Well,' Mary answered, 'you will make your bed how you will. But I
think you would better have learned of these maids how to steer a
course than of your Magister and the Signor Plutarchus.'
The Queen did not answer her, save by begging her to read the King's
letter to his Holiness.
'And surely,' she said, 'if I had never read in the noble Romans I
had never had the trick of tongue to gar the King do so much of what I
'Why, God help you,' her step-daughter said. 'Pray you may never
come to repent it.'
PART TWO. THE THREATENED RIFT
In these summer days there was much faring abroad in the broad lands
to north and to south of the Pontefract Castle. The sunlight lay across
moors and uplands. The King was come with all his many to Newcastle;
but no Scots King was there to meet him. So he went farther to
northwards. His butchers drove before him herds of cattle that they
slew some of each night: their hooves made a broad and beaten way
before the King's horses. Behind came an army of tent men: cooks,
servers, and sutlers. For, since they went where new castles were few,
at times they must sleep on moorsides, and they had tents all of gold
cloth and black, with gilded tent-poles and cords of silk and silver
wire. The lords and principal men of those parts came out to meet him
with green boughs, and music, and slain deer, and fair wooden kegs
filled with milk. But when he was come near to Berwick there was still
no Scots King to meet him, and it became manifest that the King's
nephew would fail that tryst. Henry, riding among his people, swore a
mighty oath that he would take way even into Edinburgh town and there
act as he listed, for he had with him nigh on seven thousand men of all
arms and some cannon which he had been minded to display for the
instruction of his nephew. But he had, in real truth, little stomach
for this feat. For, if he would go into Scotland armed, he must wait
till he got together all the men that the Council of the North had
under arms. These were scattered over the whole of the Border country,
and it must be many days before he had them all there together. And
already the summer was well advanced, and if he delayed much longer his
return, the after progress from Pontefract to London must draw them to
late in the winter. And he was little minded that either Katharine or
his son should bear the winter travel. Indeed, he sent a messenger back
to Pontefract with orders that the Prince should be sent forthwith with
a great guard to Hampton Court, so that he should reach that place
before the nights grew cold.
And, having stayed in camp four days near the Scots borderfor he
loved well to live in a tent, since it re-awoke in him the ardour of
his youth and made him think himself not so old a manhe delivered
over to the Earl Marshal forty Scots borderers and cattle thieves that
had been taken that summer. These men he had meant to have handed,
pardoned, to the Scots King when he met him. But the Earl Marshal set
up, along the road into Scotland, from where the stone marks the
border, a row of forty gallows, all high, but some higher than others;
for some of the prisoners were men of condition. And, within sight of a
waiting crowd of Scots that had come down to the boundaries of their
land to view the King of England, Norfolk hanged on these trees the
And, laughing over their shoulders at this fine harvest of fruit,
gibbering and dangling against the heavens on high, the King and his
host rode back into the Border country. It was pleasant to ride in the
summer weather, and they hunted and rendered justice by the way, and
heard tales of battle that there had been before in the north country.
But there was one man, Thomas Culpepper, in the town of Edinburgh to
whom this return was grievous. He had been in these outlandish parts
now for more than nineteen months. The Scots were odious to him, the
town was odious; he had no stomach for his food, and such clothes as he
had were ragged, for he would wear nothing that had there been woven.
He was even a sort of prisoner. For he had been appointed to wait on
the King's Ambassador to the King of Scots, and the last thing that
Throckmorton, the notable spy, had done before he had left the Court
had been to write to Edinburgh that T. Culpepper, the Queen's cousin,
who was a dangerous man, was to be kept very close and given no leave
And one thing very much had aided this: for, upon receiving news, or
the rumour of news, that his cousin Katharine Howardhe was her
mother's brother's sonhad wedded the King, or had been shown for
Queen at Hampton Court, he had suddenly become seized with such a rage
that, incontinently, he had run his sword through an old fishwife in
the fishmarket where he was who had given him the news, newly come by
sea, thinking that because he was an Englishman this marriage of his
King might gladden him. The fishwife died among her fish, and Culpepper
with his sword fell upon all that were near him in the market, till,
his heel slipping upon a haddock, he fell, and was fallen upon by a
great many men.
He must stay in jail for this till he had compounded with the old
woman's heirs and had paid for a great many cuts and bruises. And Sir
Nicholas Hoby, happening to be in Edinburgh at that time, understood
well what ailed Thomas Culpepper, and that he was mad for love of the
Queen his cousinfor was it not this Culpepper that had brought her to
the court, and, as it was said, had aforetime sold farms to buy her
food and gowns when, her father being a poor man, she was well-nigh
starving? Therefore Sir Nicholas begged alike the Ambassador and the
King of Scots that they would keep this madman clapped up till they
were very certain that the fit was off him. And, what with the charges
of blood ransom and jailing for nine months, Culpepper had no money at
all when at last he was enlarged, but must eat his meals at the
Ambassador's table, so that he could not in any way come away into
England till he had written for more money and had earned a further
salary. And that again was a matter of many months, and later he spent
more in drinking and with Scots women till he persuaded himself that he
had forgotten his cousin that was now a Queen. Moreover, it was made
clear to him by those about him that it was death to leave his post
But, with the coming of the Court up into the north parts, his
impatience grew again, so that he could no longer eat but only drink
and fight. It was rumoured that the Queen was riding with the King, and
he swore a mighty oath that he would beg of her or of the King leave at
last to be gone from that hateful city; and the nearer came the King
the more his ardour grew. So that, when the news came that the King was
turned back, Culpepper could no longer compound it with himself. He had
then a plenty of money, having kept his room for seven days, and the
night before that he had won half a barony at dice from a Scots archer.
But he had no passport into England; therefore, because he was afraid
to ask for one, being certain of a refusal, he blacked his face and
hands with coal and then took refuge on a coble, leaving the port of
Leith for Durham. He had well bribed the master of this ship to take
him as one of his crew. In Durham he stayed neither to wash nor to eat,
but, having bought himself a horse, he rode after the King's progress
that was then two days' journey to the south, and came up with them. He
had no wits left more than to ask of the sutlers at the tail of the
host where the Queen was. They laughed at this apparition upon a
haggard horse, and one of them that was a notable cutpurse took all the
gold that he had, only giving him in exchange the news that the Queen
was at Pontefract, from which place she had never stirred. With a
little silver that he had in another bag he bought himself a provision
of food, a store of drink, and a poor Kern to guide him, running at his
He saw neither hills nor valleys, neither heather nor ling: he had
no thoughts but only that of finding the Queen his cousin. At times the
tears ran down his begrimed face, at times he waved his sword in the
air and, spurring his horse, he swore great oaths. How he fared, where
he rested, by what roads he went over the hills, that he never knew.
Without a doubt the Kern guided him faithfully.
For the Queen, having news that the King was nearly come within a
day's journey, rode out towards the north to meet him. And as she went
along the road, she saw, upon a hillside not very far away, a man that
sat upon a dead horse, beating it and tugging at its bridle. Beside him
stood a countryman, in a garment of furs and pelts, with rawhide boots.
She had a great many men and ladies riding behind her, and she had come
as far as she was minded to go. So she reined in her horse and sent two
prickers to ask who these men were.
And when she heard that this was a traveller, robbed of all his
money and insensate, and his poor guide who knew nothing of who he
might be, she turned her cavalcade back and commanded that the
traveller should be borne to the castle on a litter of boughs and there
attended to and comforted until again he could take the road. And she
made occasion upon this to comment how ill it was for travellers that
the old monasteries were done away with. For in the old time there were
seven monasteries between there and Durham, wherein poor travellers
might lodge. Then, if a merchant were robbed upon the highways, he
could be housed at convenient stages on his road home, and might
afterwards send recompense to the good fathers or not as he pleased or
was able. Now, there was no harbourage left on all that long road, and,
but for the grace of God, that pitiful traveller might have lain there
till the ravens picked out his eyes.
And some commended the Queen's words and actions, and some few,
behind their hands, laughed at her for her soft heart. And the more
Lutheran sort said that it was God's mercy that the old monasteries
were gone; for they had, they said, been the nests for lowsels, idle
wayfarers, palmers, pilgrims, and the like. And, praise God, since that
clearance fourteen thousand of these had been hanged by the waysides
for sturdy rogues, to the great purging of the land.
In the part of Lincolnshire that is a little to the northeastward of
Stamford was a tract of country that had been granted to the monks of
St Radigund's at Dover by William the Conqueror. These monks had
drained this land many centuries before, leaving the superintendence of
the work at first to priors by them appointed, and afterwards, when the
dykes, ditches, and flood walls were all made, to knights and poor
gentlemen, their tenants, who farmed the land and kept up the defences
against inundations, paying scot and lot to a bailiff and water-wardens
and jurats, just as was done on the Romney marshes by the bailiff and
jurats of that level.
And one of these tenants, holding two hundred acres in a simple fee
from St Radigund's for a hundred and fifty years back, had been always
a man of the name of Hall. It was an Edward Hall that Mary Lascelles
had married when she was a maid at the Duchess of Norfolk's. This
Edward Hall was then a squire, a little above the condition of a groom,
in the Duchess's service. His parents dwelled still on the farm which
was called Neot's End, because it was in the angle of the great dyke
called St Neot's and the little sewer where St Radigund's land had its
But in the troublesome days of the late Privy Seal, Edward Hall had
informed Throckmorton the spy of a conspiracy and rising that was
hatching amongst the Radigund's men a little before the Pilgrimage of
Grace, when all the north parts rose. For the Radigund's men cried out
and murmured amongst themselves that if the Priory was done away with
there would be an end of their easy and comfortable tenancy. Their
rents had been estimated and appointed a great number of years before,
when all goods and the produce of the earth were very low priced. And
the tenants said that if now the King took their lands to himself or
gave them to some great lord, very heavy burdens would be laid upon
them and exacted; whereas in some years under easy priors the monks
forgot their distant territory, and in bad seasons they took no rents
at all. And even under hard and exacting priors the monks could take no
more than their rentals, which were so small. They said, too, that the
King and Thomas Cromwell would make them into heathen Greeks and turn
their children to be Saracens. So these Radigund's men meditated a
rising and conspiracy.
But, because Edward Hall informed Throckmorton of what was agate, a
posse was sent into that country, and most of the men were hanged and
their lands all taken from them. Those that survived from the jailing
betook themselves to the road, and became sturdy beggars, so that many
of them too came to the gallows tree.
Most of the land was granted to the Sieur Throckmorton with the
abbey's buildings and tithe barns. But the Halls' farm and another of
near three hundred acres were granted to Edward Hall. Then it was that
Edward Hall could marry and take his wife, Mary Lascelles, down into
Lincolnshire to Neot's End. But when the Pilgrimage of Grace came, and
the great risings all over Lincolnshire, very early the rioters came to
Neot's End, and they burned the farm and the byres, they killed all the
beasts or drove them off, they trampled down the corn and laid waste
the flax fields. And, between two willow trees along the great dyke,
they set a pole, and from it they hanged Edward Hall over the waters,
so that he dried and was cured like a ham in the smoke from his own
Then Mary Lascelles' case was a very miserable one; for she had to
fend for the aged father and bedridden mother of Edward Hall, and there
were no beasts left but only a few geese and ducks that the rebels
could not lay their hands on. And the only home that they had was the
farmhouse that was upon Edward Hall's other farm, and that they had let
fall nearly into ruin. And for a long time no men would work for her.
But at last, after the rebellion was pitifully ended, a few hinds
came to her, and she made a shift. And it was better still after Privy
Seal fell, for then came Throckmorton the spy into his lands, and he
brought with him carpenters and masons and joiners to make his house
fair, and some of these men he lent to Mary Hall. But it had been
prophesied by a wise woman in those parts that no land that had been
taken from the monks would prosper. And, because all the jurats,
bailiffs, and water-wardens had been hanged either on the one part or
the other and no more had been appointed, at about that time the sewers
began to clog up, the lands to swamp, murrain and fluke to strike the
beasts and the sheep, and night mists to blight the grain and the fruit
blossoms. So that even Throckmorton had little good of his wealth and
Thus one morning to Mary Hall, who stood before her door feeding her
geese and ducks, there came a little boy running to say that
men-at-arms stood on the other side of the dyke that was very swollen
and grey and broad. And they shouted that they came from the Queen's
Highness, and would have a boat sent to ferry them over.
The colour came into Mary Hall's pale face, for even there she had
heard that her former bedfellow was come to be Queen. And at times even
she had thought to write to the Queen to help her in her misery. But
always she had been afraid, because she thought that the Queen might
remember her only as one that had wronged her childish innocence. For
she remembered that the maids' dormitory at the old Duchess's had been
no cloister of pure nuns. So that, at best, she was afraid, and she
sent her yard-worker and a shepherd a great way round to fetch the
larger boat of two to ferry over the Queen's men. Then she went indoors
to redd up the houseplace and to attire herself.
To the old farmstead, that was made of wood hung over here and there
with tilework with a base of bricks, she had added a houseplace for the
old folk to sit all day. It was built of wattles that had had clay cast
over them, and was whitened on the outside and thatched nearly down to
the ground like any squatter's hut; it had cupboards of wood nearly all
round it, and beneath the cupboards were lockers worn smooth with men
sitting upon them, after the Dutch fashionfor there in Lincolnshire
they had much traffic with the Dutch. There was a great table made of
one slab of a huge oak from near Boston. Here they all ate. And above
the ingle was another slab of oak from the same tree. Her little old
step-mother sat in a stuff chair covered with a sheep-skin; she sat
there night and day, shivering with the shaking palsy. At times she let
out of her an eldritch shriek, very like the call of a hedgehog; but
she never spoke, and she was fed with a spoon by a little misbegotten
son of Edward Hall's. The old step-father sat always opposite her; he
had no use of his legs, and his head was always stiffly screwed round
towards the door as if he were peering, but that was the rheumatism. To
atone for his wife's dumbness, he chattered incessantly whenever anyone
was on that floor; but because he spoke always in Lincolnshire, Mary
Hall could scarce understand him, and indeed she had long ceased to
listen. He spoke of forgotten floods and ploughings, ancient fairs, the
boundaries of fields long since flooded over, of a visit to Boston that
King Edward IV had made, and of how he, for his fair speech and old
lineage, had been chosen of all the Radigund's men to present into the
King's hands three silver horseshoes. Behind his back was a great
dresser with railed shelves, having upon them a little pewter ware and
many wooden bowls for the hinds' feeding. A door on the right side,
painted black, went down into the cellar beneath the old house. Another
door, of bars of iron with huge locks from the old monastery, went into
the old house where slept the maids and the hinds. This was always open
by day but locked in the dark hours. For the hinds were accounted
brutish lumps that went savage at night, like wild beasts, so that, if
they spared the master's throat, which was unlikely, it was certain
that they would little spare the salted meat, the dried fish, the mead,
metheglin, and cyder that their poor cellar afforded. The floor was of
stamped clay, wet and sweating but covered with rushes, so that the
place had a mouldering smell. Behind the heavy door there were huge
bolts and crossbars against robbers: the raftered ceiling was so low
that it touched her hair when she walked across the floor. The windows
had no glass but were filled with a thin reddish sheep-skin like
parchment. Before the stairway was a wicket gate to keep the dogsof
whom there were many, large and fierce, to protect them alike from
robbers and the hindsto keep the dogs from going into the upper room.
Each time that Mary Hall came into this home of hers her heart sank
lower; for each day the corner posts gave sideways a little more, the
cupboard bulged, the doors were loth to close or open. And more and
more the fields outside were inundated, the lands grew sour, the sheep
would not eat or died of the fluke.
'And surely,' she would cry out at times, 'God created me for other
guesswork than this!'
At nights she was afraid, and shivered at the thought of the fens
and the black and trackless worlds all round her; and the ravens
croaked, night-hawks screamed, the dog-foxes cried out, and the flames
danced over the swampy grounds. Her mirror was broken on the night that
they hanged her husband: she had never had another but the water in her
buckets, so that she could not tell whether she had much aged or
whether she were still brown-haired and pink-cheeked, and she had
forgotten how to laugh, and was sure that there were crow's-feet about
Her best gown was all damp and mouldy in the attic that was her
bower. She made it meet as best she could, and indeed she had had so
little fat living, sitting at the head of her table with a whip for
unruly hinds and louts before herso little fat living that she could
well get into her wedding-gown of yellow cramosyn. She smoothed her
hair back into her cord hood that for so long had not come out of its
press. She washed her face in a bucket of water: that and the press and
her bed with grey woollen curtains were all the furnishing her room
had. The straw of the roof caught in her hood when she moved, and she
heard her old father-in-law cackling to the serving-maids through the
cracks of the floor.
When she came down there were approaching, across the field before
the door, six men in scarlet and one in black, having all the six
halberds and swords, and one a little banner, but the man in black had
a sword only. Their horses were tethered in a clump on the farther side
of the dyke. Within the room the serving-maids were throwing knives and
pewter dishes with a great din on to the table slab. They dropped
drinking-horns and the salt-cellar itself all of a heap into the
rushes. The grandfather was cackling from his chair; a hen and its
chickens ran screaming between the maids' feet. Then Lascelles came in
at the doorway.
The Sieur Lascelles looked round him in that dim cave.
'Ho!' he said, 'this place stinks,' and he pulled from his pocket a
dried and shrivelled orange-peel purse stuffed with cloves and ginger.
'Ho!' he said to the cornet that was come behind him with the Queen's
horsemen. 'Come not in here. This will breed a plague amongst your
men!' and he added
'Did I not tell you my sister was ill-housed?'
'Well, I was not prepared against this,' the cornet said. He was a
man with a grizzling beard that had little patience away from the
Court, where he had a bottle that he loved and a crony or two that he
played all day at chequers with, except when the Queen rode out; then
he was of her train. He did not come over the sill, but spoke sharply
to his men.
'Ungird not here,' he said. 'We will go farther.' For some of them
were for setting their pikes against the mud wall and casting their
swords and heavy bottle-belts on to the table before the door. The old
man in the armchair began suddenly to prattle to them allof a
horse-thief that had been dismembered and then hanged in pieces thirty
years before. The cornet looked at him for a moment and said
'Sir, you are this woman's father-in-law, I do think. Have you aught
to report against her?' He bent in at the door, holding his nose. The
old man babbled of one Pease-Cod Noll that had no history to speak of
but a swivel eye.
'Well,' the grizzled cornet said, 'I shall get little sense here.'
He turned upon Mary Hall.
'Mistress,' he said, 'I have a letter here from the Queen's High
Grace,' and, whilst he fumbled in his belt to find a little wallet that
held the letter, he spoke on: 'But I misdoubt you cannot read.
Therefore I shall tell you the Queen's High Grace commandeth you to
come into her serviceor not, as the report of your character shall
be. But at any rate you shall come to the castle.'
Mary Hall could find no words for men of condition, so long she had
been out of the places where such are found. She swallowed in her
throat and held her breast over her heart.
'Where is the village here?' the cornet said, 'or what justice is
there that can write you a character under his seal?'
She made out to say that there was no village, all the neighbourhood
having been hanged. A half-mile from there there was the house of Sir
Nicholas Throckmorton, a justice. From the house-end he might see it,
or he might have a hind to guide him. But he would have no guide; he
would have no man nor maid nor child to go from there to the justice's
house. He set one soldier to guard the back door and one the front,
that none came out nor went beyond the dyke-end.
'Neither shall you go, Sir Lascelles,' he said.
'Well, give me leave with my sister to walk this knoll,' Lascelles
said good-humouredly. 'We shall not corrupt the grass blades to bear
false witness of my sister's chastity.'
'Ay, you may walk upon this mound,' the cornet answered. Having got
out the packet of the Queen's letter, he girded up his belt again.
'You will get you ready to ride with me,' he said to Mary Hall. 'For
I will not be in these marshes after nightfall, but will sleep at
He looked around him and added
'I will have three of your geese to take with us,' he said. 'Kill me
Lascelles looked after him as he strode away round the house with
the long paces of a stiff horseman.
'Before God,' he laughed, 'that is one way to have information about
a quean. Now are we prisoners whilst he inquires after your character.'
'Oh, alack!' Mary Hall said, and she cast up her hands.
'Well, we are prisoners till he come again,' her brother said
good-humouredly. 'But this is a foul hole. Come out into the sunlight.'
'If you are with them, they cannot come to take me prisoner.'
He looked her full in the eyes with his own that twinkled
inscrutably. He said very slowly
'Were your mar-locks and prinking-prankings so very evil at the old
She grew white: she shrank away as if he had threatened her with his
'The Queen's Highness was such a child,' she said. 'She cannot
remember. I have lived very godly since.'
'I will do what I can to save you,' he said. 'Let me hear about it,
as, being prisoners, we may never come off.'
'You!' she cried out. 'You who stole my wedding portion!'
He laughed deviously.
'Why, I have laid it up so well for you that you may wed a knight
now if you do my bidding. I was ever against your wedding Hall.'
'You lie!' she said. 'You gar'd me do it.'
The maids were peeping out of the cellar, whither they had fled.
'Come upon the grass,' he said. 'I will not be heard to say more
than this: that you and I stand and fall together like good sister and
Their faces differed only in that hers was afraid and his smiling as
he thought of new lies to tell her. Her face in her hood, pale beneath
its weathering, approached the colour of his that shewed the pink and
white of indoors. She came very slowly near him, for she was dazed. But
when she was almost at the sill he caught her hand and drew it beneath
'Tell me truly,' she said, 'shall I see the Court or a prison?...
But you cannot speak truth, nor ever could when we were tiny twins. God
help me: last Sunday I had the mind to wed my yard-man. I would become
such a liar as thou to come away from here.'
'Sister,' he said, 'this I tell you most truly: that this shall fall
out according as you obey me and inform me'; and, because he was a
little the taller, he leaned over her as they walked away together.
* * * * *
On the fourth day from then they were come to the great wood that is
to south and east of the castle of Pontefract. Here Lascelles, who had
ridden much with his sister, forsook her and went ahead of the slow and
heavy horses of that troop of men. The road was broadened out to forty
yards of green turf between the trees, for this was a precaution
against ambushes of robbers. Across the road, after he had ridden alone
for an hour and a half, there was a guard of four men placed. And here,
whilst he searched for his pass to come within the limits of the Court,
he asked what news, and where the King was.
It was told him that the King lay still at the Fivefold Vents, two
days' progress from the castle, and as it chanced that a verderer's
pricker came out of the wood where he had been to mark where the deer
lay for to-morrow's killing, Lascelles bade this man come along with
him for a guide.
'Sir, ye cannot miss the way,' the pricker said surlily. 'I have my
deer to watch.'
'I will have you to guide me,' Lascelles said, 'for I little know
'Well,' the pricker answered him, 'it is true that I have not often
seen you ride a-hawking.'
Whilst they went along the straight road, Lascelles, who unloosened
the woodman's tongue with a great drink of sherry-sack, learned that it
was said that only very unwillingly did the King lie so long at the
Fivefold Vents. For on the morrow there was to be driven by, up there,
a great herd of moor stags and maybe a wolf or two. The King would be
home with his wife, it was reported, but the younger lords had been so
importunate with him to stay and abide this gallant chase and great
slaughter that, they having ridden loyally with him, he had yielded to
their prayers and stayed theretwenty-four hours, it was said.
'Why, you know a great deal,' Lascelles answered.
'We who stand and wait had needs have knowledge,' the woodman said,
'for we have little else.'
'Aye, 'tis a hard service,' Lascelles said. 'Did you see the Queen's
Highness o' Thursday week borrow a handkerchief of Sir Roger Pelham to
lure her falcon back?'
'That did not I,' the woodman answered, 'for o' Thursday week it was
a frost and the Queen rode not out.'
'Well, it was o' Saturday,' Lascelles said.
'Nor was it yet o' Saturday,' the woodman cried; 'I will swear it.
For o' Saturday the Queen's Highness shot with the bow, and Sir Roger
Pelham, as all men know, fell with his horse on Friday, and lies up
'Then it was Sir Nicholas Rochford,' Lascelles persisted.
'Sir,' the woodman said, 'you have a very wrong tale, and patent it
is that little you ride a-hunting.'
'Well, I mind my book,' Lascelles said. 'But wherefore?'
'Sir,' the woodman answered, 'it is thus: The Queen when she rides
a-hawking has always behind her her page Toussaint, a little boy. And
this little boy holdeth ever the separate lures for each hawk that the
Queen setteth up. And the falcon or hawk or genette or tiercel having
stooped, the Queen will call upon that eyass for the lure appropriated
to each bird as it chances. And very carefully the Queen's Highness
observeth the laws of the chase, of venery and hawking. For the which I
Lascelles said, 'Well, well!'
'As for the borrowing of a handkerchief,' the woodman pursued, 'that
is a very idle tale. For, let me tell you, a lady might borrow a
jewelled feather or a scarlet pouch or what not that is bright and
shall take a bird's eyea little mirror upon a cord were a good thing.
But a handkerchief! Why, Sir Bookman, that a lady can only do if she
will signify to all the world: This knight is my servant and I his
mistress. Those very words it signifiethand that the better for it
showeth that that lady is minded to let her hawk go, luring the
gentleman to her with that favour of his.'
'Well, well,' Lascelles said, 'I am not so ignorant that I did not
know that. Therefore I asked you, for it seemed a very strange thing.'
'It is a very foolish tale and very evil,' the man answered. 'For
this I will swear: that the Queen's Highnessand I and her honour for
itobserveth very jealously the laws of wood and moorland and chase.'
'So I have heard,' Lascelles said. 'But I see the castle. I will not
take you farther, but will let you go back to the goodly deer.'
'Pray God they be not wandered fore,' the woodman said. 'You could
have found this way without me.'
* * * * *
There was but one road into the castle, and that from the south, up
a steep green bank. Up the roadway Lascelles must ride his horse past
four men that bore a litter made of two pikes wattled with green boughs
and covered with a horse-cloth. As Lascelles passed by the very head of
it, the man that lay there sprang off it to his feet, and cried out
'I be the Queen's cousin and servant. I brought her to the Court.'
Lascelles' horse sprang sideways, a great bound up the bank. He
galloped ten paces ahead before the rider could stay him and turn
round. The man, all rags and with a black face, had fallen into the
dust of the road, and still cried out outrageously. The bearers set
down the litter, wiped their brows, and then, falling all four upon
Culpepper, made to carry him by his legs and arms, for they were weary
of laying him upon the litter from which incessantly he sprang.
But before them upon his horse was Lascelles and impeded their way.
Culpepper drew in and pushed out his legs and arms, so that they all
four staggered, and
'For God's sake, master,' one of them grunted out, 'stand aside that
we may pass. We have toil enow in bearing him.'
'Why, set the poor gentleman down upon the litter,' Lascelles said,
'and let us talk a little.'
The men set Culpepper on the horse-cloth, and one of them knelt down
to hold him there.
'If you will lend us your horse to lay him across, we may come more
easily up,' one said. In these days the position and trade of a spy was
so little esteemedit had been far other with the great informers of
Privy Seal's daythat these men, being of the Queen's guard, would
talk roughly to Lascelles, who was a mere poor gentleman of the
Archbishop's if his other vocation could be neglected. Lascelles sat,
his hand upon his chin.
'You use him very roughly if this be the Queen's cousin,' he said.
The bearer set back his beard and laughed at the sky.
'This is a coifa poor rag of a merchant,' he cried out. 'If this
were the Queen's cousin should we bear him thus on a clout?'
'I am the Queen's cousin, T. Culpepper,' Culpepper shouted at the
sky. 'Who be you that stay me from her?'
'Why, you may hear plainly,' the bearer said. 'He is mazed, doited,
starved, thirsted, and a seer of visions.'
Lascelles pondered, his elbow upon his saddle-peak, his chin caught
in his hand.
'How came ye by him?' he asked.
One with another they told him the tale, how, the Queen being ridden
towards the north parts, at the extreme end of her ride had seen the
man, at a distance, among the heather, flogging a dead horse with a
moorland kern beside him. He was a robbed, parched, fevered, and amazed
traveller. The Queen's Highness, compassionating, had bidden bear him
to the castle and comfort and cure him, not having looked upon his face
or heard his tongue. For, for sure then, she had let him die where he
was; since, no sooner were these four, his new bearers, nearly come up
among the knee-deep heather, than this man had started up, his eyes
upon the Queen's cavalcade and many at a distance. And, with his sword
drawn and screaming, he had cried out that, if that was the Queen, he
was the Queen's cousin. They had tripped up his heels in a bed of ling
and quieted him with a clout on the poll from an axe end.
'But now we have him here,' the eldest said; 'where we shall bestow
him we know not.'
Lascelles had his eyes upon the sick man's face as if it fascinated
him, and, slowly, he got down from his horse. Culpepper then lay very
still with his eyes closed, but his breast heaved as though against
tight and strong ropes that bound him.
'I think I do know this gentleman for one John Robb,' he said. 'Are
you very certain the Queen's Highness did not know his face?'
'Why, she came not ever within a quarter mile of him,' the bearer
'Then it is a great charity of the Queen to show mercy to a man she
hath never seen,' Lascelles answered absently. He was closely casting
his eyes over Culpepper. Culpepper lay very still, his begrimed face to
the sky, his hands abroad above his head. But when Lascelles bent over
him it was as if he shuddered, and then he wept.
Lascelles bent down, his hands upon his knees. He was afraidhe was
very afraid. Thomas Culpepper, the Queen's cousin, he had never seen in
his life. But he had heard it reported that he had red hair and beard,
and went always dressed in green with stockings of red. And this man's
hair was red, and his beard, beneath coal grime, was a curly red, and
his coat, beneath a crust of black filth, was Lincoln green and of a
good cloth. And, beneath the black, his stockings were of red silk. He
reflected slowly, whilst the bearers laughed amongst themselves at this
Queen's kinsman in rags and filth.
Lascelles gave them his bottle of sack to drink empty among them,
that he might have the longer time to think.
If this were indeed the Queen's cousin, come unknown to the Queen
and mazed and muddled in himself to Pontefract, what might not
Lascelles make of him? For all the world knew that he loved her with a
mad lovehe had sold farms to buy her gowns. It was he that had
brought her to Court, upon an ass, at Greenwich, when her muleas all
men knewhad stumbled upon the threshold. Once before, it was said,
Culpepper had burst in with his sword drawn upon the King and Kate
Howard when they sat together. And Lascelles trembled with eagerness at
the thought of what use he might not make of this mad and insolent
lover of the Queen's!
But did he dare?
Culpepper had been sent into Scotland to secure him up, away at the
farthest limits of the realm. Then, if he was come back? This grime was
the grime of a sea-coal ship! He knew that men without passports,
outlaws and the like, escaped from Scotland on the Durham ships that
went to Leith with coal. And this man came on the Durham road. Then....
If it were Culpepper he had come unpermitted. He was an outlaw. Dare
Lascelles have trade withdare he harbouran outlaw? It would be
unbeknown to the Queen's Highness! He kicked his heels with impatience
to come to a resolution.
He reflected swiftly:
What hitherto he had were: some tales spread abroad about the
Queen's lewd Courttales in London Town. He had, too, the keeper of
the Queen's door bribed and talked into his service and interest. And
he had his sister....
His sister would, with threatening, tell tales of the Queen before
marriage. And she would find him other maids and grooms, some no doubt
more willing still than Mary Hall. But the keeper of the Queen's door!
And, in addition, the Queen's cousin mad of love for her! What might he
not do with these two?
The prickly sweat came to his forehead. Four horsemen were issuing
from the gate of the castle above. He must come to a decision. His
fingers trembled as if they were a pickpocket's near a purse of gold.
He straightened his back and stood erect.
'Yes,' he said very calmly, 'this is my friend John Robb.'
He added that this man had been in Edinburgh where the Queen's
cousin was. He had had letters from him that told how they were sib and
rib. Thus this fancy had doubtless come into his brain at sight of the
Queen in his madness.
He breathed calmly, having got out these words, for now the doubt
was ended. He would have both the Queen's door-keeper and the Queen's
He bade the bearers set Culpepper upon his horse and, supporting
him, lead him to a room that he would hire of the Archbishop's
chamberlain, near his own in the dark entrails of the castle. And there
John Robb should live at his expenses.
And when the men protested that, though this was very Christian of
Lascelles, yet they would have recompense of the Queen for their toils,
he said that he himself would give them a crown apiece, and they might
get in addition what recompense from the Queen's steward that they
could. He asked them each their names and wrote them down, pretending
that it was that he might send each man his crown piece.
So, when the four horsemen were ridden past, the men hoisted
Culpepper into Lascelles' horse and went all together up into the
But, that night, when Culpepper lay in a stupor, Lascelles went to
the Archbishop's chamberlain and begged that four men, whose names he
had written down, might be chosen to go in the Archbishop's paritor's
guard that went next dawn to Ireland over the sea to bring back tithes
from Dublin. And, next day, he had Culpepper moved to another room;
and, in three days' time, he set it about in the castle that the
Queen's cousin was come from Scotland. By that time most of the liquor
had come down out of Culpepper's brain, but he was still muddled and
raved at times.
On that third night the Queen was with the Lady Mary, once more in
her chamber, having come down as before, from the chapel in the roof,
to pray her submit to her father's will. Mary had withstood her with a
more good-humoured irony; and, whilst she was in the midst of her
pleadings, a letter marked most pressing was brought to her. The Queen
opened it, and raised her eyebrows; she looked down at the subscription
and frowned. Then she cast it upon the table.
'Shall there never be an end of old things?' she said.
'Even what old things?' the Lady Mary asked.
The Queen shrugged her shoulders.
'It was not they I came to talk of,' she said. 'I would sleep early,
for the King comes to-morrow and I have much to plead with you.'
'I am weary of your pleadings,' the Lady Mary said. 'You have
pleaded enow. If you would be fresh for the King, be first fresh for
me. Start a new hare.'
The Queen would have gainsaid her.
'I have said you have pleaded enow,' the Lady Mary said. 'And you
have pleaded enow. This no more amuses me. I will wager I guess from
whom your letter was.'
Reluctantly the Queen held her peace; that day she had read in many
ancient books, as well profane as of the Fathers of the Church, and she
had many things to say, and they were near her lips and warm in her
heart. She was much minded to have good news to give the King against
his coming on the morrow; the great good news that should set up in
that realm once more abbeys and chapters and the love of God. But she
could not press these sayings upon the girl, though she pleaded still
with her blue eyes.
'Your letter is from Sir Nicholas Throckmorton,' the Lady Mary said.
'Even let me read it.'
'You did know that that knight was come to Court again?' the Queen
'Aye; and that you would not see him, but like a fool did bid him
'You will ever be calling me a fool,' Katharine retorted, 'for
giving ear to my conscience and hating spies and the suborners of false
'Why,' the Lady Mary answered, 'I do call it a folly to refuse to
give ear to the tale of a man who has ridden far and fast, and at the
risk of a penalty to tell it you.'
'Why,' Katharine said, 'if I did forbid his coming to the Court
under a penalty, it was because I would not have him here.'
'Yet he much loved you, and did you some service.'
'He did me a service of lies,' the Queen said, and she was angry. 'I
would not have had him serve me. By his false witness Cromwell was cast
down to make way for me. But I had rather have cast down Cromwell by
the truth which is from God. Or I had rather he had never been cast
down. And that I swear.'
'Well, you are a fool,' the Lady Mary said. 'Let me look upon this
'I have not read it,' Katharine said.
'Then will I,' the Lady Mary answered. She made across the room to
where the paper lay upon the table beside the great globe of the earth.
She came back; she turned her round to the Queen; she made her a deep
reverence, so that her black gown spread out stiffly around her, and,
keeping her eyes ironically on Katharine's face, she mounted backward
up to the chair that was beneath the dais.
Katharine put her hand over her heart.
'What mean you?' she said. 'You have never sat there before.'
'That is not true,' the Lady Mary said harshly. 'For this last three
days I have practised how, thus backward, I might climb to this chair
and, thus seemly, sit in it.'
'Even then?' Katharine asked.
'Even then I will be asked no more questions,' her step-daughter
answered. 'This signifieth that I ha' heard enow o' thy voice, Queen.'
Katharine did not dare to speak, for she knew well this girl's
tyrannous and capricious nature. But she was nearly faint with emotion
and reached sideways for the chair at the table; there she sat and
gazed at the girl beneath the dais, her lips parted, her body leaning
Mary spread out the great sheet of Throckmorton's parchment letter
upon her black knees. She bent forward so that the light from the
mantel at the room-end might fall upon the writing.
'It seemeth,' she said ironically,'that one descrieth better at the
humble end of the room than here on high'and she read whilst the
At last she raised her eyes and bent them darkly upon the Queen's
'Will you do what this knight asks?' she uttered. 'For what he asks
'A' God's name,' Katharine said, 'let me not now hear of this man.'
'Why,' the Lady Mary answered coolly, 'if I am to be of the Queen's
alliance I must be of the Queen's council and my voice have a weight.'
'But will you? Will you?' Katharine brought out.
'Will you listen to my voice?' Mary said. 'I will not listen to
yours. Hear now what this goodly knight saith. For, if I am to be your
well-wisher, I must call him goodly that so well wishes to you.'
Katharine wrung her hands.
'Ye torture me,' she said.
'Well, I have been tortured,' Mary answered, 'and I have come
through it and live.'
She swallowed in her throat, and thus, with her eyes upon the
writing, brought out the words
'This knight bids you beware of one Mary Lascelles or Hall, and her
brother, Edward Lascelles, that is of the Archbishop's service.'
'I will not hear what Throckmorton says,' Katharine answered.
'Ay, but you shall,' Mary said, 'or I come down from this chair. I
am not minded to be allied to a Queen that shall be undone. That is not
'God help me!' the Queen said.
'God helps most willingly them that take counsel with themselves and
prudence,' her step-daughter answered; 'and these are the words of the
knight.' She held up the parchment and read out:
'Therefore Iand you know how much your well-wisher I beupon my
bended knees do pray you do one of two things: either to put out both
these twain from your courts and presence, or if that you cannot or
will not do, so richly to reward them as that you shall win them to
your service. For a little rotten fruit will spread a great stink; a
small ferment shall pollute a whole well. And these twain, I am
advised, assured, convinced, and have convicted them, will spread such
a rotten fog and mist about your reputation and so turn even your good
and gracious actions to evil seeming thatI swear and vow, O most high
Sovereign, for whom I have risked, as you wot, life, limb and the fell
The Lady Mary looked up at the Queen's face.
'Will you not listen to the pleadings of this man?' she said.
'I will so reward Lascelles and his sister as they have merited.'
the Queen said. 'So much and no more. And not all the pleadings of this
knight shall move me to listen to any witness that he brings against
any man nor maid. So help me, God; for I do know how he served his
'For love of thee!' the Lady Mary said.
The Queen wrung her hands as if she would wash a stain from them.
'God help me!' she said. 'I prayed the King for the life of Privy
Seal that was!'
'He would not hear thee,' the Lady Mary said. She looked long upon
the Queen's face with unmoved and searching eyes.
'It is a new thing to me,' she said,'to hear that you prayed for
Privy Seal's life.'
'Well, I prayed,' Katharine said, 'for I did not think he worked
treason against the King.'
The Lady Mary straightened her back where she sat.
'I think I will not show myself less queenly than you,' she said.
'For I be of a royal race. But hear this knight.'
And again she read:
'I have it from the lips of the cornet that came with this
Lascelles to fetch this Mary Lascelles or Hall: I, Throckmorton, a
knight, swear that I heard with mine own ears, how for ever as they
rode, this Lascelles plied this cornet with questions about your high
self. As thus: 'Did you favour any gentleman when you rode out, the
cornet being of your guard?' or, 'Had he heard a tale of one Pelham, a
knight, of whom you should have taken a kerchief?'and this, that and
the other, for ever, till the cornet spewed at the hearing of him. Now,
gracious and most high Sovereign Consort, what is it that this man
Again the Lady Mary paused to look at the Queen.
'Why,' Katharine said, 'so mine enemies will talk of me. I had been
the fool you styled me if I had not awaited it. But' and she drew
up her body highly. 'My life is such and such shall be that none such
arrow shall pierce my corslet.'
'God help you,' the Lady Mary said. 'What has your life to do with
it, if you will not cut out the tongues of slanderers?'
She laughed mirthlessly, and added
'Now this knight concludesand it is as if he writhed his hands and
knelt and whined and kissed your feethe concludeth with a prayer that
you will let him come again to the Court. For, says he, I will clean
your vessels, serve you at table, scrape the sweat off your horse, or
do all that is vilest. But suffer me to come that I may know and report
to you what there is whispered in these jail places.'
Katharine Howard said
'I had rather borrow Pelham's kerchief.'
The Lady Mary dropped the parchment on to the floor at her side.
'I rede you do as this knight wills,' she said; 'for, amidst the
little sticklers of spies that are here, this knight, this emperor of
spies, moves as a pillow of shadow. He stalks amongst them as, in the
night, the dread and awful lion of Numidia. He shall be to you more a
corslet of proof than all the virtue that your life may borrow from the
precepts of Diana. We, that are royal and sit in high places, have our
feet in such mire.'
'Now before God on His throne,' Katharine Howard said, 'if you be of
royal blood, I will teach you a lesson. For hear me'
'No, I will hear thee no more,' the Lady Mary answered; 'I will
teach thee. For thou art not the only one in this land to be proud. I
will show thee such a pride as shall make thee blush.'
She stood up and came slowly down the steps of the dais. She squared
back her shoulders and folded her hands before her; she erected her
head, and her eyes were dark. When she was come to where the Queen sat,
she kneeled down.
'I acknowledge thee to be my mother,' she said, 'that have married
the King, my father. I pray you that you do take me by the hand and set
me in that seat that you did raise for me. I pray you that you do style
me a princess, royal again in this land. And I pray you to lesson me
and teach me that which you would have me do as well as that which it
befits me to do. Take me by the hand.'
'Nay, it is my lord that should do this,' the Queen whispered.
Before that she had started to her feet; her face had a flush of joy;
her eyes shone with her transparent faith. She brushed back a strand of
hair from her brow; she folded her hands on her breasts and raised her
glance upwards to seek the dwelling-place of Almighty God and the
saints in their glorious array.
'It is my lord should do this!' she said again.
'Speak no more words,' the Lady Mary said. 'I have heard enow of thy
pleadings. You have heard me say that.'
She continued upon her knees.
'It is thou or none!' she said. 'It is thou or none shall witness
this my humiliation and my pride. Take me by the hand. My patience will
not last for ever.'
The Queen set her hand between the girl's. She raised her to her
When the Lady Mary stood high and shadowy, in black, with her white
face beneath that dais, she looked down upon the Queen.
'Now, hear me!' she said. 'In this I have been humble to you; but I
have been most proud. For I have in my veins a greater blood than thine
or the King's, my father's. For, inasmuch as Tudor blood is above
Howard's, so my mother's, that was royal of Spain, is above Tudor's.
And this it is to be royal
'I have had you, a Queen, kneel before me. It is royal to receive
petitionsmore royal still it is to grant them. And in this, further,
I am more proud. For, hearing you say that you had prayed the King for
Cromwell's life, I thought, this is a virtue-mad Queen. She shall most
likely fall!Prudence biddeth me not to be of her party. But shall I,
who am royal, be prudent? Shall I, who am of the house of Aragon, be
more afraid than thou, a Howard?
'I tell youNo! If you will be undone for the sake of virtue,
blindly, and like a fool, unknowing the consequences, I, Mary of Aragon
and England, will make alliance with thee, knowing that the alliance is
dangerous. And, since it is more valiant to go to a doom knowingly than
blindfold, so I do show myself more valiant than thou. For well I
knowsince I saw my mother diethat virtue is a thing profitless, and
impracticable in this world. But youyou think it shall set up
temporal monarchies and rule peoples. Therefore, what you do you do for
profit. I do it for none.'
'Now, by the Mother of God,' Katharine Howard said, 'this is the
gladdest day of my life.'
'Pray you,' Mary said, 'get you gone from my sight and hearing, for
I endure ill the appearance and sound of joy. And, Queen, again I bid
you beware of calling any day fortunate till its close. For, before
midnight you may be ruined utterly. I have known more Queens than thou.
Thou art the fifth I have known.'
'For the rest, what you will I will do: submission to the King and
such cozening as he will ask of me. God keep you, for you stand in need
* * * * *
At supper that night there sat all such knights and lordlings as ate
at the King's expense in the great hall that was in the midmost of the
castle, looking on to the courtyard. There were not such a many of
them, maybe forty; from the keeper of the Queen's records, the Lord
d'Espahn, who sat at the table head, down to the lowest of all, the
young Poins, who sat far below the salt-cellar. The greater lords of
the Queen's household, like the Lord Dacre of the North, did not eat at
this common table, or only when the Queen herself there ate, which she
did at midday when there was a feast.
Nevertheless, this eating was conducted with gravity, the Lord
d'Espahn keeping a vigilant eye down the table, which was laid with a
fair white cloth. It cost a man a fine to be drunk before the white
meats were eatenunless, indeed, a man came drunk to the boardand
the salt-cellar of state stood a-midmost of the cloth. It was of silver
from Holland, and represented a globe of the earth, opened at the top,
and supported by knights' bannerets.
The hall was all of stone, with creamy walls, only marked above the
iron torch-holds with brandons of soot. A scutcheon of the King's arms
was above one end-door, with the Queen's above the other. Over each
window were notable deers' antlers, and over each side-door, that let
in the servers from the courtyard, was a scutcheon with the arms of a
king deceased that had visited the castle. The roof was all gilded and
coloured, and showed knaves' faces leering and winking, so that when a
man was in drink, and looked upwards with his head on his chair back,
these appeared to have life. The hall was called the Dacre Hall,
because the Lords Dacre of the North had built it to be an offering to
various kings that died whilst it was a-building.
Such knights as had pages had them behind their chairs, holding
napkins and ready to fill the horns with wine or beer. From kitchens or
from buttery-hatches the servers ran continually across the courtyard
and across the tiled floor, for the table was set back against the
farther wall, all the knights being on the wall side, since there were
not so many, and thus it was easier to come to them. There was a great
clatter with the knives going and the feet on the tiles, but little
conversing, for in that keen air eating was the principal thing, and in
five minutes a boar or a sheep's head would be stripped till the skull
alone was shown.
It was in this manner that Thomas Culpepper came into the hall when
they were all well set to, without having many eyes upon him. But the
Lord d'Espahn was aware, suddenly, of one that stood beside him.
'Gentleman, will you have a seat?' he said. 'Tell me your name and
estate, that I may appoint you one.' He was a grave lord, with a
pointed nose, dented at the end, a grey, square beard, and fresh
colours on his face. He wore his bonnet because he was the highest
there, and because there were currents of air at the openings of the
Thomas Culpepper's face was of a chalky white. Somewhere Lascelles
had found for him a suit of green and red stockings. His red beard
framed his face, but his lips were pursed.
'Your seat I will have,' he said, 'for I am the Queen's cousin, T.
The Lord d'Espahn looked down upon his platter.
'You may not have my seat,' he said. 'But you shall have this seat
at my right hand that is empty. It is a very honourable seat, but mine
you may not have for it is the Queen's own that I hold, being her vicar
'Your seat I will have,' Culpepper said.
The Lord d'Espahn was set upon keeping order and quiet in that place
more than on any other thing. He looked again down upon his platter,
and then he was aware of a voice that whispered in his ear
'A' God's name, humour him, for he is very mad,' and, turning his
eyes a little, he saw that it was Lascelles above his chair head.
'Your seat I will have,' Culpepper said again. 'And this fellow,
that tells me he is the most potent lord there is here, shall serve
behind my chair.'
The Lord d'Espahn took up his knife and fork in one hand and his
manchet of bread in the other. He made as if to bow to Culpepper, who
pushed him by the shoulder away. Some lordlings saw this and wondered,
but in the noise none heard their words. At the foot of the table the
squires said that the Lord d'Espahn must have been found out in a
treason. Only the young Poins said that that was the Queen's cousin,
come from Scotland, withouten leave, for love of the Queen through whom
he was sick in the wits. This news ran through the castle by means of
servers, cooks, undercooks, scullions, maids, tiring-maids, and maids
of honour, more swiftly than it progressed up the table where men had
the meats to keep their minds upon.
Culpepper sat, flung back in his chair, his eyes, lacklustre and
open, upon the cloth where his hands sprawled out. He said few
wordsonly when the Lord d'Espahn's server carved boar's head for him,
he took one piece in his mouth and then threw the plate full into the
server's face. This caused great offence amongst the serving-men, for
this server was a portly fellow that had served the Lord d'Espahn many
years, and had a face like a ram's, so grave it was. Having drunk a
little of his wine, Culpepper turned out the rest upon the cloth; his
salt he brushed off his plate with his sleeve. That was remembered for
long afterwards by many men and women. And it was as if he could not
swallow, for he put down neither meat nor drink, but sat, deadly and
pale, so that some said that he was rabid. Once he turned his head to
ask the Lord d'Espahn
'If a quean prove forsworn, and turn to a Queen, what should her
true love do?'
The Lord d'Espahn never made any answer, but wagged his beard from
side to side, and Culpepper repeated his question three separate times.
Finally, the platters were raised, and the Lord d'Espahn went away to
the sound of trumpets. Many of the lords there came peering round
Culpepper to see what sport he might yield. Lascelles went away,
following the scarlet figure of the young Poins, working his hand into
the boy's arm and whispering to him. The servers and disservers went to
their work of clearing the board.
But Culpepper sat there without word or motion, so that none of
those lords had any sport out of him. Some of them went away to roast
pippins at the Widow Amnot's, some to speak with the alchemist that, on
the roof, watched the stars. So one and the other left the room; the
torches burned out, most of them, and, save for two lords of the
Archbishop's following, who said boldly that they would watch and care
for this man, because he was the Queen's cousin, and there might be
advancement in it, Culpepper was left alone.
His sword he had not with him, but he had his dagger, and, just as
he drew it, appearing about to stab himself in the heart, there ran
across the hall the black figure of Lascelles, so that he appeared to
have been watching through a window, and the two lords threw themselves
upon Culpepper's arm. And all three began to tell him that there was
better work for him to do than that of stabbing himself; and Lascelles
brought with him a flagon of aqua vitæ from Holland, and poured
out a little for Culpepper to drink. And one of the lords said that his
room was up in the gallery near the Queen's, and, if Culpepper would go
with him there, they might make good cheer. Only he must be silent in
the going thither; afterwards it would not so much matter, for they
would be past the guards. So, linking their arms in his, they wound up
and across the courtyard, where the torchmen that waited on their
company of diners to light them, blessed God that the sitting was over,
and beat their torches out against the ground.
In the shadow of the high walls, and some in the moonlight, the
serving-men held their parliament. They discoursed of these things, and
some said that it was a great pity that T. Culpepper was come to Court.
For he was an idle braggart, and where he was disorder grew, and that
was a pity, since the Queen had made the Court orderly, and servants
were little beaten. But some said that like sire was like child, and
that great disorders there were in the Court, but quiet ones, and the
Queen the centre. But these were mostly the cleaners of dishes and the
women that swept rooms and spread new rushes. Upon the whole, the cooks
blessed the Queen, along with all them that had to do with feeding and
the kitchens. They thanked God for her because she had brought back the
old fasts. For, as they argued, your fast brings honours to cooks,
since, after a meagre day, your lord cometh to his trencher with a
better appetite, and then is your cook commended. The Archbishop's
cooks were the hottest in this contention, for they had the most reason
to know. The stablemen, palfreniers, and falconers' mates were, most
part of them, politicians more than the others, and these wondered to
have seen, through their peep-holes and door-cracks, the Queen's cousin
go away with these lords that were of the contrary party. Some said
that T. Culpepper was her emissary to win them over to her interests,
and some, that always cousins, uncles, and kin were the bitterest foes
a Queen had, as witness the case of Queen Anne Boleyn and the Yellow
Dog of Norfolk who had worked to ruin her. And some said it was
marvellous that there they could sit or stand and talk of such
thingsfor a year or so ago all the Court was spies, so that the
haymen mistrusted them that forked down the straw, and meat-servers
them with the wine. But now each man could talk as he would, and it
made greatly for fellowship when a man could sit against a wall,
unbutton in the warm nights, and say what he listed.
The light of the great fires grew dull in the line of kitchen
windows; sweethearting couples came in through the great gateway from
the grass-slopes beneath the castle walls. There was a little bustle
when four horsemen rode in to say that the King's Highness was but nine
miles from the castle, and torchmen must be there to light him in
towards midnight. But the Queen should not be told for her greater
pleasure and surprise. Then all these servingmen stood up and shook
themselves, and said'To bed.' For, on the morrow, with the King back,
there would surely be great doings and hard work. And to mews and
kennels and huts, in the straw and beds of rushes, these men betook
themselves. The young lords came back laughing from Widow Amnot's at
the castle foot; there was not any light to be seen save one in all
that courtyard full of windows. The King's torchmen slumbered in the
guard-room where they awaited his approach. Darkness, silence, and deep
shadow lay everywhere, though overhead the sky was pale with moonlight,
and, from high in the air, the thin and silvery tones of the watchman's
horn on the roof filtered down at the quarter hours. A drowsy bell
marked the hours, and the cries and drillings of the night birds
vibrated from very high.
Coming very late to her bedroom the Queen found awaiting her her
tiring-maid, Mary Trelyon, whom she had advanced into the post that
Margot Poins had held, and the old Lady Rochford.
'Why,' she said to her maid, 'when you have unlaced me you may go,
or you will not love my service that keeps you so late.'
Mary Trelyon cast her eyes on the ground, and said that it was such
pleasure to attend her mistress, that not willingly would she give up
that discoiffing, undoing of hair, and all the rest, for long she had
desired to have the handling of these precious things and costly
'No, you shall get you gone,' the Queen said, 'for I will not have
you, sweetheart, be red-lidded in the morning with this long watching,
for to-morrow the King comes, and I will have him see my women comely
and fair, though in your love you will not care for yourselves.'
Standing before her mirror, where there burned in silver dishes four
tall candles with perfumed wicks, Katharine offered her back to the
loosening fingers of this girl.
'I would not have you to think,' she said, 'that I am always thus
late and a gadabout. But this day'the Queen's eyes sparkled, and her
cheeks were red with exaltation'this day and this night are one that
shall be marked with red stones in the calendar of England, and late
have I travailed so to make them be.'
The girl was very black-avised, and her face beneath her grey
hoodfor the Queen's maids were all in grey, with crowned roses, the
device that the King had given her at their wedding, worked in red silk
on each shoulderher face beneath her grey hood was the clear shape of
the thin end of an egg. She worked at the unlacing of the Queen's gown,
so that she at last must kneel down to it.
Having finished, she remained upon her knees, but she twisted her
fingers in her skirt as if she were bashful, yet her face was perturbed
with red flushes on the dark cheeks.
The Queen, feeling that she knelt there upon her loosened gown and
did not get her gone, said
'Please you let me stay,' the girl said; but Katharine answered
'I would commune with my own thoughts.'
'Please you hear me,' the girl said, and she was very earnest; but
the Queen answered
'Why, no! If you have any boon to ask of me, you know very well that
to-morrow at eleven is the hour for asking. Now, I will sit still with
the silence. Bring me my chair to the table. The Lady Rochford shall
put out my lights when I be abed.'
The girl stood up and rolled, with a trick of appeal, her eyes to
the old Lady Rochford. This lady, all in grey too, but with a great
white hood because she was a widow, sat back upon the foot of the great
bed. Her face was perturbed, but it had been always perturbed since her
cousin, the Queen Anne Boleyn, had fallen by the axe. She put a gouty
and swollen finger to her lips, and the girl shrugged her shoulders
with a passion of despair, for she was very hot-tempered, and it was as
if mutinously that she fetched the Queen her chair and set it behind
her where she stood before the mirror taking off her breast jewel from
its chain. And again the girl shrugged her shoulders. Then she went to
the little wall-door that corkscrewed down into the courtyard through
the thick of the wall. Immediately after she was gone they heard the
lockguard that awaited her without set on the great padlock without the
door. Then his feet clanked down the stairway, he being heavily loaded
with weighty keys. It was the doors along the corridor that the young
Poins guarded, and these were never opened once the Queen was in her
room, save by the King. The Lady Rochford slept in the anteroom upon a
truckle-bed, and the great withdrawing-room was empty.
It was very still in the Queen's room and most shadowy, except
before the mirror where the candle flames streamed upwards. The pillars
of the great bed were twisted out of dark wood; the hangings of bed and
walls were all of a dark blue arras, and the bedspread was of a dark
red velvet worked in gold with pomegranates and pomegranate leaves.
Only the pillows and the turnover of the sheets were of white
linen-lawn, and the bed curtains nearly hid them with shadows. Where
the Queen sat there was light like that of an altar in a dim chapel,
for the room was so huge.
She sat before her glass, silently taking off her golden things. She
took the jewel off the chain round her neck and laid it in a casket of
gold and ivory. She took the rings off her fingers and hung them on the
lance of a little knight in silver. She took off her waist where it
hung to a brooch of feridets, her pomander of enamel and gold; she
opened it and marked the time by the watch studded with sable diamonds
that it held.
'Past eleven,' she said, 'if my watch goes right.'
'Indeed it is past eleven,' the Lady Rochford sighed behind her.
The Queen sat forward in her chair, looking deep into the shadows of
her mirror. A great relaxation was in all her limbs, for she was very
tired, so that though she was minded to let down her hair she did not
begin to undo her coif, and though she desired to think, she had no
thoughts. From far away there came a muffled sound as if a door had
been roughly closed, and the Lady Rochford shot out a little sound
between a scream and a sigh.
'Why, you are very affrighted,' the Queen said. 'One would think you
feared robbers; but my guards are too good.'
She began to unloosen from her hood her jewel, which was a rose
fashioned out of pink shell work set with huge dewdrops of diamonds and
crowned with a little crown of gold.
'God knows,' she said, 'I ha' trinkets enow for robbers. It takes me
too long to undo them. I would the King did not so load me.'
'Your Highness is too humble for a Queen,' the old Lady Rochford
grumbled. 'Let me aid you, since the maid is gone. I would not have you
speak your maids so humbly. My Cousin Anne that was the Queen'
She came stiffly and heavily forward from the bed with her hands out
to discoif her lady; but the Queen turned her head, caught at her fat
hand, put it against her cheek and fondled it.
'I would have your Highness feared by all,' the old lady said.
'I would have myself by all beloved,' Katharine answered. 'What, am
I to play the Queen and Highness to such serving-maids as I was once
the fellow and companion to?'
'Your Highness should not have sent the wench away,' the old woman
'Well, you have taken on a very sour voice,' the Queen said. 'I will
study to pleasure you more. Get you now back and rest you, for I know
you stand uneasily, and you shall not uncoif me.'
She began to unpin her coif, laying the golden pins in the silver
candle-dishes. When her hair was thus set free of a covering, though it
was smoothly braided and parted over her forehead, yet it was lightly
rebellious, so that little mists of it caught the light, golden and
rejoiceful. Her face was serious, her nose a little peaked, her lips
rested lightly together, and her blue eyes steadily challenged their
counterparts in the mirror with an assured and gentle glance.
'Why,' she said, 'I believe you have the right of itbut for a
queen I must be the same make of queen that I am as a woman. A queen
gracious rather than a queen regnant; a queen to grant petitions rather
than one to brush aside the petitioners.'
She stopped and mused.
'Yet,' she said, 'you will do me the justice to say that in the open
and in the light of day, when men are by or the King's presence demands
it, I do ape as well as I may the painted queens of galleries and the
stately ladies that are to be seen in pictured books.'
'I would not have had you send away the maid,' the old Lady Rochford
'God help me,' the Queen answered. 'I stayed her petition till the
morrow. Is that not queening it enough?'
The Lady Rochford suddenly wrung her hands.
'I had rather,' she said, 'you had heard her and let her stay. Here
there are not people enough to guard you. You should have many scores
of people. This is a dreary place.'
'Heaven help me,' the Queen said. 'If I were such a queen as to be
affrighted, you would affright me. Tell me of your cousin that was a
The Lady Rochford raised her hands lamentably and bleated out
'Ah God, not to-night!'
'You have been ready enough on other nights,' the Queen said. And,
indeed, it was so much the practice of this lady to talk always of her
cousin, whose death had affrighted her, that often the Queen had begged
her to cease. But to-night she was willing to hear, for she felt afraid
of no omens, and, being joyful, was full of pity for the dead
unfortunate. She began with slow, long motions to withdraw the great
pins from her hair. The deep silence settled down again, and she hummed
the melancholy and stately tune that goes with the words
'When all the little hills are hid in snow,
And all the small brown birds by frost are slain,
And sad and slow
The silly sheep do go,
All seeking shelter to and fro
Come once again
To these familiar, silent, misty lands'
'Aye,' she said; 'to these ancient and familiar lands of the dear
saints, please God, when the winter snows are upon them, once again
shall come the feet of God's messenger, for this is the joyfullest day
this land hath known since my namesake was cast down and died.'
Suddenly there were muffled cries from beyond the thick door in the
corridor, and on the door itself resounding blows. The Lady Rochford
gave out great shrieks, more than her feeble body could have been
deemed to hold.
'Body of God!' the Queen said, 'what is this?'
'Your cousin!' the Lady Rochford cried out. She came running to the
Queen, who, in standing up, had overset her heavy chair, and, falling
to her knees, she babbled out'Your cousin! Oh, let it not all come
again. Call your guard. Let it not all come again'; and she clawed into
the Queen's skirt, uttering incomprehensible clamours.
'What? What? What?' Katharine said.
'He was with the Archbishop. Your cousin with the Archbishop. I
heard it. I sent to stay him if it were so'; and the old woman's teeth
crackled within her jaws. 'O God, it is come again!' she cried.
The door flung open heavily, but slowly, because it was so heavy.
And, in the archway, whilst a great scream from the old woman wailed
out down the corridors, Katharine was aware of a man in scarlet, locked
in a struggle with a raging swirl of green manhood. The man in scarlet
fell back, and then, crying out, ran away. The man in green, his bonnet
off, his red hair sticking all up, his face pallid, and his eyes
staring like those of a sleep-walker, entered the room. In his right
hand he had a dagger. He walked very slowly.
The Queen thought fast: the old Lady Rochford had her mouth open;
her eyes were upon the dagger in Culpepper's hand.
'I seek the Queen,' he said, but his eyes were lacklustre; they fell
upon Katharine's face as if they had no recognition, or could not see.
She turned her body round to the old Lady Rochford, bending from the
hips so as not to move her feet. She set her fingers upon her lips.
'I seekI seek' he said, and always he came closer to her. His
eyes were upon her face, and the lids moved.
'I seek the Queen,' he said, and beneath his husky voice there were
bass notes of quivering anger, as if, just as he had been by chance
calmed by throwing down the guard, so by chance his anger might arise
The Queen never moved, but stood up full and fair; one strand of her
hair, loosened, fell low over her left ear. When he was so close to her
that his protruded hips touched her skirt, she stole her hand slowly
round him till it closed upon his wrist above the dagger. His mouth
opened, his eyes distended.
'I seek' he said, and then'Kat!' as if the touch of her cool
and firm fingers rather than the sight of her had told to his bruised
senses who she was.
'Get you gone!' she said. 'Give me your dagger.' She uttered each
word roundly and fully as if she were pondering the next move over a
'Well, I will kill the Queen,' he said. 'How may I do it without my
'Get you gone!' she said again. 'I will direct you to the Queen.'
He passed the back of his left hand wearily over his brow.
'Well, I have found thee, Kat!' he said.
She answered: 'Aye!' and her fingers twined round his on the hilt of
the dagger, so that his were loosening.
Then the old Lady Rochford screamed out
'Ha! God's mercy! Guards, swords, come!' The furious blood came into
Culpepper's face at the sound. His hand he tore from Katharine's, and
with the dagger raised on high he ran back from her and then forward
towards the Lady Rochford. With an old trick of fence, that she had
learned when she was a child, Katharine Howard set out her foot before
him, and, with the speed of his momentum, he pitched over forward. He
fell upon his face so that his forehead was upon the Lady Rochford's
right foot. His dagger he still grasped, but he lay prone with the
drink and the fever.
'Now, by God in His mercy,' Katharine said to her, 'as I am the
Queen I charge you'
'Take his knife and stab him to the heart!' the Lady Rochford cried
out. 'This will slay us two.'
'I charge you that you listen to me,' the Queen said, 'or, by God, I
will have you in chains!'
'I will call your many,' the Lady Rochford cried out, for terror had
stopped up the way from her ears to her brain, and she made towards the
door. But Katharine set her hand to the old woman's shoulder.
'Call no man,' she commanded. 'This is a device of mine enemies to
have men see this of me.'
'I will not stay here to be slain,' the old woman said.
'Then mine own self will slay you,' the Queen answered. Culpepper
moved in his stupor. 'Before Heaven,' the Queen said, 'stay you there,
and he shall not again stand up.'
'I will go call' the old woman besought her, and again Culpepper
moved. The Queen stood right up against her; her breast heaved, her
face was rigid. Suddenly she turned and ran to the door. That key she
wrenched round and out, and then to the other door beside it, and that
key too she wrenched round and out.
'I will not stay alone with my cousin,' she said, 'for that is what
mine enemies would have. And this I vow, that if again you squeak I
will have you tried as being an abettor of this treason.' She went and
knelt down at her cousin's head; she moved his face round till it was
upon her lap.
'Poor Tom,' she said; he opened his eyes and muttered stupid words.
She looked again at Lady Rochford.
'All this is nothing,' she said, 'if you will hide in the shadow of
the bed and keep still. I have seen my cousin a hundred times thus
muddied with drink, and do not fear him. He shall not stand up till he
is ready to go through the door; but I will not be alone with him and
The Lady Rochford waddled and quaked like a jelly to the shadow of
the bed curtains. She pulled back the curtain over the window, and, as
if the contact with the world without would help her, threw back the
casement. Below, in the black night, a row of torches shook and
trembled, like little planets, in the distance.
Katharine Howard held her cousin's head upon her knees. She had seen
him thus a hundred times and had no fear of him. For thus in his cups,
and fevered as he was with ague that he had had since a child, he was
always amenable to her voice though all else in the world enraged him.
So that, if she could keep the Lady Rochford still, she might well win
him out through the door at which he came in.
And, first, when he moved to come to his knees, she whispered
'Lie down, lie down,' and he set one elbow on to the carpet and lay
over on his side, then on his back. She took his head again on to her
lap, and with soft motions reached to take the dagger from his hand. He
yielded it up and gazed upwards into her face.
'Kat!' he said, and she answered
There came from very far the sound of a horn.
'When you can stand,' she said, 'you must get you gone.'
'I have sold farms to get you gowns,' he answered.
'And then we came to Court,' she said, 'to grow great.'
He passed his left hand once more over his eyes with a gesture of
ineffable weariness, but his other arm that was extended, she knelt
'Now we are great,' she said.
He muttered, 'I wooed thee in an apple orchard. Let us go back to
'Why, we will talk of it in the morning,' she said. 'It is very
Her brain throbbed with the pulsing blood. She was set to get him
gone before the young Poins could call men to her door. It was
maddeningly strange to think that none hitherto had come. Maybe
Culpepper had struck him dead with his knife, or he lay without
fainting. This black enigma, calling for haste that she dare not show,
filled all the shadows of that shadowy room.
'It is very late,' she said, 'you must get you gone. It was
compacted between us that ever you would get you gone early.'
'Aye, I would not have thee shamed,' he said. He spoke upwards,
slowly and luxuriously, his head so softly pillowed, his eyes gazing at
the ceiling. He had never been so easy in two years past. 'I remember
that was the occasion of our pact. I did wooe thee in an apple orchard
to the grunting of hogs.'
'Get you gone,' she said; 'buy me a favour against the morning.'
'Why,' he said, 'I am a very rich lord. I have lands in Kent now. I
will buy thee such a gown ... such a gown.... The hogs grunted....
There is a song about it.... Let me go to buy thy gown. Aye, now,
presently. I remember a great many things. As thus ... there is a song
of a lady loved a swine. Honey, said she, and hunc, said he.'
Whilst she listened a great many thoughts came into her mindof
their youth at home, where indeed, to the grunting of hogs, he had
wooed her when she came out from conning her Plautus with the Magister.
And at the same time it troubled her to consider where the young Poins
had bestowed himself. Maybe he was dead; maybe he lay in a faint.
'It was in our pact,' she said to Culpepper, 'that you should get
you gone ever when I would have it.'
'Aye, sure, it was in our pact,' he said.
He closed his eyes as if he would fall asleep, being very weary and
come to his desired haven. Above his closed eyes Katharine threw the
key of her antechamber on to the bed. She pointed with her hand to that
door that the Lady Rochford should undo. If she could get her cousin
through that doorand now he was in the moodif she could but get him
through there and out at the door beyond the Big Room into the
corridor, before her guard came back....
But the Lady Rochford was leaning far out beyond the window-sill and
did not see her gesture.
'Ah; well; aye; even so' And from the window came a scream that
tore the air
'The King! the King!'
And immediately it was as if the life of a demon had possessed
Culpepper in all his limbs.
'Merciful God!' the Queen cried out. 'I am patient.'
Culpepper had writhed from her till he sat up, but she hollowed her
hand around his throat. His head she forced back till she held it upon
the floor, and whilst he writhed with his legs she knelt upon his chest
with one knee. He screamed out words like: 'Bawd,' and 'Ilcock,' and
'Hecate,' and the Lady Rochford screamed
'The King comes! the King comes!'
Then Katharine said within herself
'Is it this to be a Queen?'
She set both her hands upon his neck and pressed down the whole
weight of her frame, till the voice died in his throat. His body
stirred beneath her knee, convulsively, so that it was as if she rode a
horse. His eyes, as slowly he strangled, glared hideously at the
ceiling, from which the carven face of a Queen looked down into them.
At last he lay still, and Katharine Howard rose up.
She ran at the old woman
'God forgive me if I have killed my cousin,' she said. 'I am certain
that now He will forgive me if I slay thee.' And she had Culpepper's
dagger in her hand.
'For,' she said, 'I stand for Christ His cause: I will not be undone
by meddlers. Hold thy peace!'
The Lady Rochford opened her mouth to speak.
'Hold thy peace!' the Queen said again, and she lifted up the
dagger. 'Speak not. Do as I bid thee. Answer me when I ask. For this I
swear as I am the Queen that, since I have the power to slay whom I
will and none question it, I will slay thee if thou do not my bidding.'
The old woman trembled lamentably.
'Where is the King come to?' the Queen said.
'Even to the great gate; he is out of sight,' was her answer.
'Come now,' the Queen commanded. 'Let us drag my cousin behind my
'Shall he be hidden there?' the Lady Rochford cried out. 'Let us
cast him from the window.'
'Hold your peace,' the Queen cried out. 'Speak you never one word
more. But come!'
She took her cousin by the arm, the Lady Rochford took him by the
other and they dragged him, inert and senseless, into the shadow of the
Queen's mirror table.
'Pray God the King comes soon,' the Queen said. She stood above her
cousin and looked down upon him. A great pitifulness came into her
'Loosen his shirt,' she said. 'Feel if his heart beats!'
The Lady Rochford had a face full of fear and repulsion.
'Loosen his shirt. Feel if his heart beats,' the Queen said. 'And
oh!' she added, 'woe shall fall upon thee if he be dead.'
She reflected a moment to think upon how long it should be ere the
King came to her door. Then she raised her chair, and sat down at her
mirror. For one minute she set her face into her hands; then she began
to straighten herself, and with her hands behind her to tighten the
laces of her dress.
'For,' she continued to Lady Rochford, 'I do hold thee more guilty
of his death than himself. He is but a drunkard in his cups, thou a
palterer in sobriety.'
She set her cap upon her head and smoothed the hair beneath it. In
all her movements there was a great swiftness and decision. She set the
jewel in her cap, the pomander at her side, the chain around her neck,
the jewel at her breast.
'His heart beats,' the Lady Rochford said, from her knees at
'Then thank the saints,' Katharine answered, 'and do up again his
She hurried in her attiring, and uttered engrossed commands.
'Kneel thou there by his side. If he stir or mutter before the King
be in and the door closed, put thy hand across his mouth.'
'But the King' the Lady Rochford said. 'And'
'Merciful God!' Katharine cried out again. 'I am the Queen. Kneel
The Lady Rochford trembled down upon her knees; she was in fear for
her life by the axe if the King came in.
'I thank God that the King is come,' the Queen said. 'If he had not,
this man must have gone from hence in the sight of other men. So I will
pardon thee for having cried out if now thou hold him silent till the
King be in.'
There came from very near a blare of trumpets. Katharine rose up,
and went again to gaze upon her cousin. The dagger she laid upon her
'He may hold still yet,' she said. 'But I charge you that you muzzle
him if he move or squeak.'
There came great blows upon the door, and through the heavy wood,
the Ha-ha of many voices. Slowly the Queen moved to the bed, and from
it took the key where she had thrown it. There came again the heavy
knocking, and she unlocked the door, slowly still.
In the corridor there were many torches, and beneath them the figure
of the King in scarlet. Behind him was Norfolk all in black and with
his yellow face, and Cranmer in black and with his anxious eyes, and
behind them many other lords. The King came in, and, slow and stately,
the Queen went down on her knees to greet him. The torch-light shone
upon her jewels and her garments; her fair face was immobile, and her
eyes upon the ground. The King raised her up, bent his knee to her, and
kissed her on the hands, and so, turning to the men without, he
uttered, roundly and fully, and his cheeks were ruddy with joy, and his
'My lords, I am beholden to the King o' Scots. For had he met me I
had not yet been here. Get you to your beds; I could wish ye had such
'The King! the King!' a voice muttered.
'Ha, who spoke?'
There was a faint squeak, a dull rustle.
'My cousin Kat' the voice said.
The King said
'Ha!' again, and incredulous and haughty he raised his brows.
Above the mirror, in the great light of the candles, there showed
the pale face, the fishy, wide-open and bewildered eyes of Culpepper.
His hair was dishevelled in points; his mouth was open in amazement. He
'The King!' as if that were the most astonishing thing, and,
standing behind the table, staggered and clutched the arras to sustain
But Katharine whispered at his ear
'No; this my cousin is distraught. Speak on to the lords.'
In the King's long pause several lords said aloud
'The King cried Treason! Draw your swords!'
Then the King cast his cap upon the ground.
'By God!' he said. 'What marlocking is this? Is it general joy that
emboldens ye to this license? God help me!' he said, and he stamped his
foot upon the ground'Body of God!' And many other oaths he uttered.
Then, with a sudden clutching at his throat, he called out
'Well! well! I pardon ye. For no doubt to some that be youngand to
some that be old tooit is an occasion for mummeries and japes when a
good man cometh home to his dame.'
He looked round upon Culpepper. The Queen's cousin stood, his jaw
still hanging wide, and his body crumpled back against the arras. He
was hidden from them all by wall and door, but Henry could not judge
how long he would there remain. Riding through the night he had conned
a speech that he would have said at the Queen's door, and at the times
of joy and graciousness he loved to deliver great speeches. But there
he said only
'Why, God keep you. I thank such of you as were with me upon the
campaign and journey. Now this campaign and journey is endedI
dissolve you each to his housing and bed. Farewell. Be as content as I
And, with his great hand he swung to the heavy door.
PART THREE. THE DWINDLING MELODY
The Lady Rochford lay back upon the floor in a great faint.
'Heaven help me!' the Queen said. 'I had rather she had played the
villain than been such a palterer.' She glided to the table and picked
up the dagger that shone there beneath Culpepper's nose. 'Take even
this,' she said to the King. 'It is an ill thing to bestow. Sword he
Having had such an estimation of his good wife's wit that, since he
would not have her think him a dullard, he passed over the first
question that he would have asked, such as, 'I think this be thy cousin
and how came he here?'
'Would he have slain me?' he asked instead, as if it were a little
'I do not think so,' Katharine said. 'Maybe it was me he would have
'Body of God!' the King said sardonically. 'He cometh for no cheap
He had so often questioned his wife of this cousin of hers that he
had his measure indifferent well.
'Why,' the Queen said, 'I do not know that he would have slain me.
Maybe it was to save me from dragons that he came with his knife. He
was, I think, with the Archbishop's men and came here very drunk. I
would pray your Highness' Grace to punish him not over much for he is
my mother's nephew and the only friend I had when I was very poor and a
The King hung his head on his chest, and his rustic eyes surveyed
'I would have you to think,' she said, 'that he has been among evil
men that advised and prompted him thus to assault my door. They would
ruin and undo him and me.'
'Well I know it,' Henry said. He rubbed his hand up his left side,
opened it and dropped it againa trick he had when he thought deeply.
'The Archbishop,' he said, 'babbled somewhatI know not whatof a
cousin of thine that was come from the Scots, he thought, without leave
'But how to get him hence, that my foes triumph not?' the Queen
said, 'for I would not have them triumph.'
'I do think upon it,' the King said.
'You are better at it than I,' she answered.
Culpepper stood there at gaze, as if he were a corpse about which
they talked. But the speaking of the Queen to another man excited him
to gurgle and snarl in his throat like an ape. Then another mood coming
into the channels of his brain
'It was the King my cousin Kate did marry. This then is the Queen; I
had pacted with myself to forget this Queen.' He spoke straight out
before him with the echo of thoughts that he had had during his exile.
'Ho!' the King said and smote his thigh. 'It is plain what to do,'
and in spite of his scarlet and his bulk he had the air of a heavy but
very cunning peasant. He reflected for a little more.
'It fits very well,' he brought out. 'This man must be richly
'Why,' Katharine said; 'I had nigh strangled him. It makes me
tremble to think how nigh I had strangled him. I would well he were
The King considered his wife's cousin.
'Sirrah,' he said, 'we believe that thou canst not kneel, or
kneeling, couldst not well again arise.'
Culpepper regarded him with wide, blue, and uncomprehending eyes.
'So, thou standing as thou makest shift to do, we do make thee the
keeper of this our Queen's ante-room.'
He spoke with a pleasant and ironical glee, since it joyed him thus
to gibe at one that had loved his wife. Hewith his own prowesshad
carried her off.
'Master Culpepper,' he said'or Sir Thomasfor I remember to have
knighted youif you can walk, now walk.'
'The King! Why the King did wed my cousin Kat!'
'I must be circumspect. Oh aye, I must be circumspect or all is
lost.' For that was one of the things which in Scotland he had again
and again impressed upon himself. 'But in Lincoln, in bygone times, of
a summer's night'
'Poor Tom!' the Queen said; 'once this fellow did wooe me.'
Great tears gathered in Culpepper's eyes. They overflowed and rolled
down his cheeks.
'In the apple-orchard,' he said, 'to the grunting of hogs ... for
the hogs were below the orchard wall....'
The King was pleased to think that it had been in his power to raise
this lady an infinite distance above the wooing of this poor lout. It
gave him an interlude of comedy. But though he set his hands on his
hips and chuckled, he was a man too ready for action to leave much time
'Why weep?' he said to Culpepper. 'We have advanced thee to the
Queen's ante-chamber. Come up thither.'
He approached to Culpepper behind the mirror table and caught him by
the arm. The poor drunkard, his face pallid, shrank away from this
great bulk of shining scarlet. His eyes moved lamentably round the
chamber and rested first upon Katharine, then upon the King.
'Which of us was it you would ha' killed?' the King said, to show
the Queen how brave he was in thus handling a madman. And, being very
strong, he dragged the swaying drunkard, who held back and whose head
wagged on his shoulders, towards the door.
'Guard ho!' he called out, and before the door there stood three of
his own men in scarlet and with pikes.
'Ho, where is the Queen's door-ward?' he called with a great voice.
Before him, from the door side, there came the young Poins; his face
was like chalk; he had a bruise above his eyes; his knees trembled
'Ho thou!' the King said, 'who art thou that would hinder my
messenger from coming to the Queen?'
He stood back upon his feet; he clutched the drunkard in his great
fist; his eyes started dreadfully.
The young Poins' lips moved, but no sound came out.
'This was my messenger,' the King said, 'and you hindered him. Body
of God! Body of God!' and he made his voice to tremble as if with rage,
whilst he told this lie to save his wife's fair fame. 'Where have you
been? Where have you tarried? What treason is this? For either you knew
this was my messengeras well I would have you know that he isand it
was treason and death to stay him. Or, if because he was drunk and
speechlessas well he might be having travelled far and with
expeditionye did not know he was my messenger; then wherefore did ye
not run to raise all the castle for succour?'
The young Poins pointed to the wound above his eye and then to the
ground of the corridor. He would signify that Culpepper had struck him,
and that there, on the ground, he had lain senseless.
'Ho!' the King said, for he was willing to know how many men in that
castle had wind of this mischance. 'You lay not there all this while.
When I came here along, you stood here by the door in your place.'
The young Poins fell upon his knees. He shook more violently than a
naked man on a frosty day. For here indeed was the centre of his
treason, since Lascelles had bidden him stay there, once Culpepper was
in the Queen's room, and to say later that there the Queen had bidden
him stay whilst she had her lover. And now, before the King's
tremendous presence, he had the fear at his heart that the King knew
'Wherefore! wherefore!' the King thundered, 'wherefore didst not cry
outcry outTreason, Raise the watch!? Hail out aloud?'
He waited, silent for a long time. The three pikemen leaned upon
their pikes; and now Culpepper had fallen against the door-post, where
the King held him up. And behind his back the Queen marvelled at the
King's ready wit. This was the best stroke that ever she had known him
do. And the Lady Rochford lay where she had feigned to faint, straining
With all these ears listening for his words the young Poins knelt,
his teeth chattering like burning wood that crackles.
'Wherefore? wherefore?' the King cried again.
Half inaudibly, his eyes upon the ground, the boy mumbled, 'It was
to save the Queen from scandal!'
The King let his jaw fall, in a fine aping of amazement. Then, with
the huge swiftness of a bull, he threw Culpepper towards one of the
guards, and, leaning over, had the kneeling boy by the throat.
'Scandal!' he said. 'Body of God! Scandal!' And the boy screamed
out, and raised his hands to hide the King's intolerable great face
that blazed down over his eyes.
The huge man cast him from him, so that he fell over backwards, and
lay upon his side.
'Scandal!' the King cried out to his guards. 'Here is a pretty
scandal! That a King may not send a messenger to his wife withouten
scandal! God help me....'
He stood suddenly again over the boy as if he would trample him to a
shapeless pulp. But, trembling there, he stepped back.
'Up, bastard!' he called out. 'Run as ye never ran. Fetch hither the
Lord d'Espahn and His Grace of Canterbury, that should have ordered
The boy stumbled to his knees, and then, a flash of scarlet, ran,
his head down, as if eagles were tearing at his hair.
The King turned upon his guard.
'Ho!' he said, 'you, Jenkins, stay here with this my knight cousin.
You, Cale and Richards, run to fetch a launderer that shall set a
mattress in the ante-chamber for this my cousin to lie on. For this my
cousin is the Queen's chamber-ward, and shall there lie when I am here,
if so be I have occasion for a messenger at night.'
The two guards ran off, striking upon the ground before them as they
ran the heavy staves of their pikes. This noise was intended to warn
all to make way for his Highness' errand-bearers.
'Why,' the King said pleasantly to Jenkins, a guard with a blond and
shaven face whom he liked well, 'let us set this gentleman against the
wall in the ante-room till his bed be come. He hath earned gentle
usage, since he hasted much, bringing my message from Scotland to the
Queen, and is very ill.'
So, helping his guard gently to conduct the drunkard into his wife's
dark ante-room, the King came out again to his wife.
'Is it well done?' he asked.
'Marvellous well done,' she answered.
'I am the man for these difficult times!' he answered, and was glad.
The Queen sighed a little. For if she admired and wondered at her
lord's power skilfully to have his way, it made her sad to thinkas
she must thinkthat so devious was man's work.
'I would,' she said, 'that it was not to such an occasion that I
Her eyes, being cast downwards, fell upon the Lady Rochford, by the
'Ho, get up,' she cried. 'You have feigned fainting long enough. But
for you all this had been more easy. I would have you relieve mine eyes
of the sight of your face.' She moved to aid the old woman to rise, but
before she was upon her knees there stood without the door both the
Lord d'Espahn and the Archbishop. They had waited just beyond the
corridor-end with a great many of the other lords, all afraid of
mysteries they knew not what, and thus it was that they came so soon
upon the young Poins' summoning.
The King thought fit to change his mood, so that it was with
uplifted brows and a quizzing smile at the corners of his mouth that
for a minute he greeted these frightened lords in the doorway. They
stood there silent, the Archbishop very dejected, the Lord d'Espahn,
with his grey beard, very erect and ruddy featured.
'Why, God help me,' the King said, 'what make of Court is this of
mine where a King may not send a messenger to his wife?'
The Archbishop swallowed in his throat; the Lord d'Espahn did not
speak but gazed before him.
'You shall tell me what befell, for I am ignorant,' the King said;
'but first I will tell you what I do know.
'Why, come out with me into the corridor, wife,' he cried over his
shoulder. 'For it is not fitting that these lords come into thy
apartment. I will walk with them and talk.'
He took the Archbishop by the elbow and the Lord d'Espahn by the
upper arm, and, leaning upon them, propelled them gently before him.
'Thus it was,' he said; 'this cousin of my wife's was in the King o'
Scots' good town of Edinboro'. And, being there, he was much upon my
consciencefor I would not have a cousin of my wife's be there in
exile, he being one that formerly much fended for her....'
He spoke out his words and repeated these things for his own
purposes, the Queen following behind. When they were come to the
corridor-end, there he found, as he had thought, a knot of lords and
gentlemen, babbling with their ears pricked up.
'Nay, stay,' he said, 'this is a matter that all may hear.'
There were there the Duke of Norfolk and his son, young Surrey with
the vacant mouth, Sir Henry Wriothesley with the great yellow beard,
the Lord Dacre of the North, the old knight Sir N. Rochford, Sir Henry
Peel of these parts, with a many of their servants, amongst them
Lascelles. Most of them were in scarlet or purple, but many were in
black. The Earl of Surrey had the Queen's favour of a crowned rose in
his bonnet, for he was of her party. The gallery opened out there till
it was as big as a large room, broad and low-ceiled, and lit with
torches in irons at the angles of it. On rainy days the Queen's maids
were here accustomed to play at stool-ball.
'This is a matter that all may hear,' the King said, 'and some shall
render account.' He let the Lord d'Espahn and the Archbishop go, so
that they faced him. The Queen looked over his shoulder.
'As thus ...' he said.
And he repeated how it had lain upon his conscience and near his
heart that the Queen's good cousin languished in the town of Edinburgh.
'And how near we came to Edinboro' those of ye that were with me can
And, lying there, he had taken occasion to send a messenger with
others that went to the King o' Scotsto send a messenger with letters
unto this T. Culpepper. One letter was to bid him hasten home unto the
Queen, and one was a letter that he should bear.
'For,' said the King, 'we thought thusas ye wistthat the King o'
Scots would come obedient to our summoning and that there we should lie
some days awaiting and entertaining him. Thus did I wish to send my
Queen swift message of our faring, and I was willing that this, her
cousin and mine, should be my postman and messenger. For he shouldI
bade himset sail in a swift ship for these coasts and so come quicker
than ever a man might by land.'
He paused to observe the effect of his words, but no lord spoke
though some whispered amongst themselves.
'Now,' he said, 'what stood within my letter to the Queen was this,
after salutations, that she should reward this her cousin that in the
aforetime had much fended for her when she was a child. For I was aware
how, out of a great delicacy and fear of nepotism, such as was shown by
certain of the Popes now dead, she raised up none of her relations and
blood, nor none that before had aided her when she was a child and
poor. But I was willing that this should be otherwise, and they be much
helped that before had helped her since now she helpeth me and
assuageth my many and fell labours.'
He paused and went a step back that he might stand beside the Queen,
and there, before them all, Katharine was most glad that she had again
set on all her jewels and was queen-like. She had composed her
features, and gazed before her over their heads, her hands being folded
in the lap of her gown.
'Now,' the King said, 'this letter of mine was a little thingbut
great maybe, since it bore my will. Yet'and he made his voice
minatory'in these evil and tickle times well it might have been that
that letter held delicate news. Then all my plots had gone to ruin. How
came it that some of yeI know not whom!thus letted and hindered my
He had raised his voice very high. He stayed it suddenly, and some
He uttered balefully, 'Anan!'
'As Christ is my Saviour,' the Lord d'Espahn said, 'I, since I am
the Queen's Marshal, am answerable in this, as well I know. Yet never
saw I this man till to-night at supper. He would have my seat then, and
I gave it him. Ne let ne hindrance had he of me, but went his way where
and when he would.'
'You did very well,' the King said. 'Who else speaks?'
The Archbishop looked over his shoulder, and with a dry mouth
Lascelles, deft and blond and gay, shouldered his way through that
unwilling crowd, and fell upon his knees.
'Of this I know something,' he said; 'and if any have offended,
doubtless it is I, though with good will.'
'Well, speak!' the King said.
Lascelles recounted how the Queen, riding out, had seen afar this
gentleman lying amid the heather.
'And if she should not know him who was her cousin, how should we
who are servants?' he said. But, having heard that the Queen would have
this poor, robbed wayfarer tended and comforted, he, Lascelles, out of
the love and loyalty he owed her Grace, had so tended and so comforted
him that he had given up to him his own bed and board. But it was not
till that day that, Culpepper being washed and apparellednot till
that day a little before supper, had he known him for Culpepper, the
Queen's cousin. So he had gone with him that night to the banquet-hall,
and there had served him, and, after, had attended him with some lords
and gentles. But, at the last, Culpepper had shaken them off and bidden
them leave him.
'And who were we, what warrants had we, to restrain the Queen's
noble cousin?' he finished. 'And, as for letters, I never saw one,
though all his apparel, in rags, was in my hands. I think he must have
lost this letter amongst the robbers he fell in with. But what I could
do, I did for love of the Queen's Grace, who much hath favoured me.'
The King studied his words. He looked at the Queen's face and then
at those of the lords before him.
'Why, this tale hath a better shewing,' he said. 'Herein appeareth
that none, save the Queen's door-ward, came ever against this good
knight and cousin of mine. And, since this knight was in liquor, and
not overwise sensibleas well he might be after supping in moors and
desertsmaybe that door-ward had his reasonable reasonings.'
He paused again, and looking upon the Queen's face for a sign:
'If it be thus, it is well,' he said, 'I will pardon and assoil you
all, if later it shall appear that this is the true truth.'
Lascelles whispered in the Archbishop's ear, and Cranmer uttered
'The witnesses be here to prove it, if your Highness will.'
'Why,' the King said, 'it is late enough,' and he leered at Cranmer,
for whom he had an affection. He looked again upon the Queen to see how
fair she was and how bravely she bore herself, upright and without
emotion. 'This wife of mine,' he said, 'is ever of the pardoning side.
If ye had so injured me I had been among ye with fines and amercements.
But she, I perceive, will not have it so, and I am too glad to be
smiled upon now to cross her will. So, get you gone and sleep well.
But, before you go, I will have you listen to some words....'
He cleared his throat, and in his left hand took the Queen's.
'Know ye,' he said, 'that I am as proud of this my Queen as was ever
mother of her first-born child. For lo, even as the Latin poet saith,
that, upon bearing a child, many evil women are led to repentance and
right paths, so have I, your King, been led towards righteousness by
wedding of this lady. For I tell you that, but for certain small
hindrancesand mostly this treacherous disloyalty of the King o' Scots
that thus with his craven marrow hath featorously dallied to look upon
my facebut for that and other small things there had gone forth this
night through the dark to the Bishop of Rome certain tidings that,
please God, had made you and me and all this land the gladdest that be
in Christendom. And this I tell you, too, that though by this
misadventure and fear of the King o' Scots, these tidings have been
delayed, yet is it only for a little space and, full surely, that day
cometh. And for this you shall give thanks first to God and then to
this royal lady here. For she, before all things, having the love of
God in her heart, hath brought about this desired consummation. And
this I say, to her greater praise, here in the midmost of you all, that
it be noised unto the utmost corners of the world how good a Queen the
King hath taken to wife.'
The Queen had stood very motionless in the bright illuminations and
dancings of the torches. But at the news of delay, through the King of
Scots, a spasm of pain and concern came into her face. So that, if her
features did not again move they had in them a savour of anguish, her
eyebrows drooping, and the corners of her mouth.
'And now, good-night!' the King pursued with raised tones. 'If ever
ye slept well since these troublous times began, now ye may sleep well
in the drowsy night. For now, in this my reign, are come the shortening
years like autumn days. Now I will have such peace in land as cometh to
the husbandman. He hath ingarnered his grain; he hath barned his fodder
and straw; his sheep are in the byres and in the stalls his oxen. So,
sitteth he by his fireside with wife and child, and hath no fear of
winter. Such a man am I, your King, who in the years to come shall rest
The lords and gentlemen made their reverences, bows and knees; they
swept round in their coloured assembly, and the Queen stood very tall
and straight, watching their departure with saddened eyes.
The King was very gay and caught her by the waist.
'God help me, it is very late,' he said. 'Hearken!'
From above the corridor there came the drowsy sound of the clock.
'Thy daughter hath made her submission,' the Queen said. 'I had
thought this was the gladdest day in my life.'
'Why, so it is,' he said, 'as now day passeth to day.' The clock
ceased. 'Every day shall be glad,' he said, 'and gladder than the
At her chamber door he made a bustle. He would have the Queen's
women come to untire her, a leech to see to Culpepper's recovery. He
was willing to drink mulled wine before he slept. He was afraid to talk
with his wife of delaying his letter to Rome. That was why he had told
the news before her to his lords.
He fell upon the Lady Rochford that stood, not daring to go, within
the Queen's room. He bade her sit all night by the bedside of T.
Culpepper; he reviled her for a craven coward that had discountenanced
the Queen. She should pay for it by watching all night, and woe betide
her if any had speech with T. Culpepper before the King rose.
Down in the lower castle, the Archbishop was accustomed, when he
undressed, to have with him neither priest nor page, but only, when he
desired to converse of public mattersas now he didhis gentleman,
Lascelles. He knelt above his kneeling-stool of black wood; he was
telling his beads before a great crucifix with an ivory Son of God upon
it. His chamber had bare white walls, his bed no curtains, and all the
other furnishing of the room was a great black lectern whereto there
was chained a huge Book of the Holy Writ that had his Preface. The
tears were in his eyes as he muttered his prayers; he glanced upwards
at the face of his Saviour, who looked down with a pallid, uncoloured
face of ivory, the features shewing a great agony so that the mouth was
opened. It was said that this image, that came from Italy, had had a
face serene, before the Queen Katharine of Aragon had been put away.
Then it had cried out once, and so remained ever lachrymose and in
'God help me, I cannot well pray,' the Archbishop said. 'The peril
that we have been in stays with me still.'
'Why, thank God that we are come out of it very well,' Lascelles
said. 'You may pray and then sleep more calm than ever you have done
He leant back against the reading-pulpit, and had his arm across the
Bible as if it had been the shoulder of a friend.
'Why,' the Archbishop said, 'this is the worst day ever I have been
through since Cromwell fell.'
'Please it your Grace,' his confidant said, 'it shall yet turn out
The Archbishop faced round upon his knees; he had taken off the
jewel from before his breast, and, with his chain of Chaplain of the
George, it dangled across the corner of the fald-stool. His coat was
unbuttoned at the neck, his robe open, and it was manifest that his
sleeves of lawn were but sleeves, for in the opening was visible, harsh
and grey, the shirt of hair that night and day he wore.
'I am weary of this talk of the world,' he said. 'Pray you begone
and leave me to my prayers.'
'Please it your Grace to let me stay and hearten you,' Lascelles
said, and he was aware that the Archbishop was afraid to be alone with
the white Christ. 'All your other gentry are in bed. I shall watch your
sleep, to wake you if you cry out.'
And in his fear of Cromwell's ghost that came to him in his dreams,
the Archbishop sighed
'Why stay, but speak not. Y'are over bold.'
He turned again to the wall; his beads clicked; he sighed and
remained still for a long time, a black shadow, huddled together in a
black gown, sighing before the white and lamenting image that hung
'God help me,' he said at last. 'Tell me why you say this is dies
Lascelles, who smiled for ever and without mirth, said
'For two things: firstly, because this letter and its sending are
put off. And secondly, because the Queen ispatently and to all
The Archbishop swung his head round upon his shoulders.
'You dare not say it!' he said.
'Why, the late Queen Katharine from Aragon was accounted a model of
piety, yet all men know she was over fond with her confessor,'
'It is an approved lie and slander,' the Archbishop said.
'It served mightily well in pulling down that Katharine,' his
'One day'the Archbishop shivered within his robes'the account
and retribution for these lies shall be to be paid. For well we know,
you, I, and all of us, that these be falsities and cozenings.'
'Marry,' Lascelles said, 'of this Queen it is now sufficiently
The Archbishop made as if he washed his hands.
'Why,' Lascelles said, 'what man shall believe it was by chance and
accident that she met her cousin on these moors? She is not a compass
that pointeth, of miraculous power, true North.'
'No good man shall believe what you do say,' the Archbishop cried
'But a multitude of indifferent will,' Lascelles answered.
'God help me,' the Archbishop said, 'what a devil you are that thus
hold out and hold out for ever hopes.'
'Why,' Lascelles said, 'I think you were well helped that day that I
came into your service. It was the Great Privy Seal that bade me serve
you and commended me.'
The Archbishop shivered at that name.
'What an end had Thomas Cromwell!' he said.
'Why, such an end shall not be yours whilst this King lives, so well
he loves you,' Lascelles answered.
The Archbishop stood upon his feet; he raised his hands above his
'Begone! Begone!' he cried. 'I will not be of your evil schemes.'
'Your Grace shall not,' Lascelles said very softly, 'if they
miscarry. But when it is proven to the hilt that this Queen is a very
lewd womanand proven it shall beyour Grace may carry an accusation
to the King'
'Never! never! Shall I come between the lion and his food?'
'It were better if your Grace would carry the accusation,' Lascelles
uttered nonchalantly, 'for the King will better hearken to you than to
any other. But another man will do it too.'
'I will not be of this plotting,' the Archbishop cried out. 'It is a
very wicked thing!' He looked round at the white Christ that, upon the
dark cross, bent anguished brows upon him. 'Give me strength,' he said.
'Why, your Grace shall not be of it,' Lascelles answered, 'until it
is proven in the eyes of your Graceay, and in the eyes of some of the
Papist Lordsas, for instance, her very unclethat this Queen was
evil in her life before the King took her, and that she hath acted very
suspicious in the aftertime.'
'You shall not prove it to the Papist Lords,' Cranmer said. 'It is a
He added vehemently
'It is a wicked plot. It is a folly too. I will not be of it.'
'This is a very fortunate day,' Lascelles said. 'I think it is
proven to all discerning men that that letter to him of Rome shall
never be sent.'
'Why, it is as plain as the truths of the Six Articles,' Cranmer
remonstrated, 'that it shall be sent to-morrow or the next day. Get you
gone! This King hath but the will of the Queen to guide him, and all
her will turns upon that letter. Get you gone!'
'Please it your Grace,' the spy said, 'it is very manifest that with
the Queen so it is. But with the King it is otherwise. He will pleasure
the Queen if he may. Butmark me wellfor this is a subtle
'I will not mark you,' the Archbishop said. 'Get you gone and find
another master. I will not hear you. This is the very end.'
Lascelles moved his arm from the Bible. He bent his form to a
bowhe moved till his hand was on the latch of the door.
'Why, continue,' the Archbishop said. 'If you have awakened my
fears, you shall slake them if you canfor this night I shall not
And so, very lengthily, Lascelles unfolded his view of the King's
nature. For, said he, if this alliance with the Pope should come, it
must be an alliance with the Pope and the Emperor Charles. For the King
of France was an atheist, as all men knew. And an alliance with the
Pope and the Emperor must be an alliance against France. But the King
o' Scots was the closest ally that Francis had, and never should the
King dare to wage war upon Francis till the King o' Scots was placated
or wooed by treachery to be a prisoner, as the King would have made him
if James had come into England to the meeting. Well would the King, to
save his soul, placate and cosset his wife. But that he never dare do
whilst James was potent at his back.
And again, Lascelles said, well knew the Archbishop that the Duke of
Norfolk and his following were the ancient friends of France. If the
Queen should force the King to this Imperial League, it must turn
Norfolk and the Bishop of Winchester for ever to her bitter foes in
that land. And along with them all the Protestant nobles and all the
Papists too that had lands of the Church.
The Archbishop had been marking his words very eagerly. But suddenly
he cried out
'But the King! The King! What shall it boot if all these be against
her so the King be but for her?'
'Why,' Lascelles said, 'this King is not a very stable man. Still,
man he is, a man very jealous and afraid of fleers and flouts. If we
can show himI do accede to it that after what he hath done to-night
it shall not be easy, but we may accomplish itif before this letter
is sent we may show him that all his land cries out at him and mocks
him with a great laughter because of his wife's evil wayswhy then,
though in his heart he may believe her as innocent as you or I do now,
it shall not be long before he shall put her away from him. Maybe he
shall send her to the block.'
'God help me,' Cranmer said. 'What a hellish scheme is this.'
He pondered for a while, standing upright and frailly thrusting his
hand into his bosom.
'You shall never get the King so to believe,' he said; 'this is an
idle invention. I will none of it.'
'Why, it may be done, I do believe,' Lascelles said, 'and greatly it
shall help us.'
'No, I will none of it,' the Archbishop said. 'It is a foul scheme.
Besides, you must have many witnesses.'
'I have some already,' Lascelles said, 'and when we come to London
Town I shall have many more. It was not for nothing that the Great
Privy Seal commended me.'
'But to make the King,' Cranmer uttered, as if he were aghast and
amazed, 'to make the Kingthis King who knoweth that his wife hath
done no wrongwho knoweth it so well as to-night he hath provento
make him, him, to put her away ... why, the tiger is not so
fell, nor the Egyptian worm preyeth not on its kind. This is an
imagination so horrible'
'Please it your Grace,' Lascelles said softly, 'what beast or brute
hath your Grace ever seen to betray its kind as man will betray
brother, son, father, or consort?'
The Archbishop raised his hands above his head.
'What lesser bull of the herd, or lesser ram, ever so played traitor
to his leader as Brutus played to Cæsar Julius? And these be times less
PART FOUR. THE END OF THE SONG
The Queen was at Hampton, and it was the late autumn. She had been
sad since they came from Pontefract, for it had seemed more than ever
apparent that the King's letter to Rome must be ever delayed in the
sending. Daily, at night, the King swore with great oaths that the
letter must be sent and his soul saved. He trembled to think that if
then he died in his bed he must be eternally damned, and she added her
persuasions, such as that each soul that died in his realms before that
letter was sent went before the Throne of Mercy unshriven and
unhouselled, so that their burden of souls grew very great. And in the
midnights, the King would start up and cry that all was lost and
And it appeared that he and his house were accursed in these days,
for when they were come back to Hampton, they found the small Prince
Edward was very ill. He was swollen all over his little body, so that
the doctors said it was a dropsy. But how, the King cried, could it be
a dropsy in so young a child and one so grave and so nurtured and
tended? Assuredly it must be some marvel wrought by the saints to
punish him, or by the Fiend to tempt him. And so he would rave, and
cast tremulous hands above his head. And he would say that God, to
punish him, would have of him his dearest and best.
And when the Queen urged him, therefore, to make his peace with God,
he would cry out that it was too late. God would make no peace with
him. For if God were minded to have him at peace, wherefore would He
not smoothe the way to this reconciliation with His vicegerent that sat
at Rome in Peter's chair? There was no smoothing of that wayfor every
day there arose new difficulties and torments.
The King o' Scots would come into no alliance with him; the King of
France would make no bid for the hand of his daughter Mary; it went ill
with the Emperor in his fighting with the Princes of Almain and the
Schmalkaldners, so that the Emperor would be of the less use as an ally
against France and the Scots.
'Why!' he would cry to the Queen, 'if God in His Heaven would have
me make a peace with Rome, wherefore will He not give victory over a
parcel of Lutheran knaves and swine? Wherefore will He not deliver into
my hands these beggarly Scots and these atheists of France?'
At night the Queen would bring him round to vowing that first he
would make peace with God and trust in His great mercy for a prosperous
issue. But each morning he would be afraid for his sovereignty; a new
letter would come from Norfolk, who had gone on an embassy to his
French friends, believing fully that the King was minded to marry to
one of them his daughter. But the French King was not ready to believe
this. And the King's eyes grew red and enraged; he looked no man in the
face, not even the Queen, but glanced aside into corners, uttered
blasphemies, and said that hehe!was the head of the Church and
would have no overlord.
The Bishop Gardiner came up from his See in Winchester. But though
he was the head of the Papist party in the realm, the Queen had little
comfort in him. For he was a dark and masterful prelate, and never
ceased to urge her to cast out Cranmer from his archbishopric and to
give it to him. And with him the Lady Mary sided, for she would have
Cranmer's head before all things, since Cranmer it was that most had
injured her mother. Moreover, he was so incessant in his urging the
King to make an alliance with the Catholic Emperor that at last, about
the time that Norfolk came back from France, the King was mightily
enraged, so that he struck the Bishop of Winchester in the face, and
swore that his friend the Kaiser was a rotten plank, since he could not
rid himself of a few small knaves of Lutheran princes.
Thus for long the Queen was sad; the little Prince very sick; and
the King ate no food, but sat gazing at the victuals, though the Queen
cooked some messes for him with her own hand.
* * * * *
One Sunday after evensong, at which Cranmer himself had read
prayers, the King came nearly merrily to his supper.
'Ho, chuck,' he said, 'you have your enemies. Here hath been Cranmer
weeping to me with a parcel of tales writ on paper.'
He offered it to her to read, but she would not; for, she said, she
knew well that she had many enemies, only, very safely she could trust
her fame in her Lord's hands.
'Why, you may,' he said, and sat him down at the table to eat, with
the paper stuck in his belt. 'Body o' God!' he said. 'If it had been
any but Cranmer he had eaten bread in Hell this night. 'A wept and
trembled! Body o' God! Body o' God!'
And that night he was more merry before the fire than he had been
for many weeks. He had in the music to play a song of his own writing,
and afterwards he swore that next day he would ride to London, and then
at his council send that which she would have sent to Rome.
'For, for sure,' he said, 'there is no peace in this world for me
save when I hear you pray. And how shall you pray well for me save in
the old form and fashion?'
He lolled back in his chair and gazed at her.
'Why,' he said, 'it is a proof of the great mercy of the Saviour
that He sent you on earth in so fair a guise. For if you had not been
so fair, assuredly I had not noticed you. Then would my soul have gone
straightway to Hell.'
And he called that the letter to Rome might be brought to him, and
read it over in the firelight. He set it in his belt alongside the
other paper, that next day when he came to London he might lay it in
the hands of Sir Thomas Carter, that should carry it to Rome.
The Queen said: 'Praise God!'
For though she was not set to believe that next day that letter
would be sent, or for many days more, yet it seemed to her that by
little and little she was winning him to her will.
Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, had builded him a new tennis court
in where his stables had been before poverty had caused him to sell the
major part of his horseflesh. He called to him the Duke of Norfolk, who
was of the Papist cause, and Sir Henry Wriothesley who was always
betwixt and between, according as the cat jumped, to see this new
building of his that was made of a roofed-in quadrangle where the
stable doors were bricked up or barred to make the grille.
But though Norfolk and Wriothesley came very early in the afternoon,
while it was yet light, to his house, they wasted most of the daylight
hours in talking of things indifferent before they went to their
inspection of this court. They stood talking in a long gallery beneath
very high windows, and there were several chaplains and young priests
and young gentlemen with them, and most of the talk was of a
bear-baiting that there should be in Smithfield come Saturday. Sir
Henry Wriothesley matched seven of his dogs against the seven best of
the Duke's, that they should the longer hold to the bear once they were
on him, and most of the young gentlemen wagered for Sir Henry's dogs
that he had bred from a mastiff out of Portugal.
But when this talk had mostly died down, and when already twilight
had long fallen, the Bishop said
'Come, let us visit this new tennis place of mine. I think I shall
show you somewhat that you have not before seen.'
He bade, however, his gentlemen and priests to stay where they were,
for they had all many times seen the court or building. When he led the
way, prelatical and black, for the Duke and Wriothesley, into the lower
corridors of his house, the priests and young gentlemen bowed behind
his back, one at the other.
In the courtyard there were four hounds of a heavy and stocky breed
that came bounding and baying all round them, so that it was only by
vigilance that Gardiner could save Wriothesley's shins, for he was a
man that all dogs and children hated.
'Sirs,' the Bishop said, 'these dogs that ye see and hear will let
no man but menot even my grooms or stablemenpass this yard. I have
bred them to that so I may be secret when I will.'
He set the key in the door that was in the bottom wall of the court.
'There is no other door here save that which goes into the stable
where the grille is. There I have a door to enter and fetch out the
balls that pass there.'
In the court itself it was absolute blackness.
'I trow we may talk very well without lights,' he said. 'Come into
this far corner.'
Yet, though there was no fear of being overheard, each of these
three stole almost on tiptoe and held his breath, and in the dark and
shadowy place they made a more dark and more shadowy patch with their
heads all close together.
Suddenly it was as if the Bishop dropped the veil that covered his
'I may well build tennis courts,' he said, and his voice had a ring
of wild and malignant passion. 'I may well build courts for tennis
play. Nothing else is left for me to do.'
In the blackness no word came from his listeners.
'You too may do the like,' the Bishop said. 'But I would you do it
quickly, for soon neither the one nor the other of you but will be
stripped so bare that you shall not have enough to buy balls with.'
The Duke made an impatient sound like a drawing in of his breath,
but still he spoke no word.
'I tell you, both of you,' the Bishop's voice came, 'that all of us
have been fooled. Who was it that helped to set on high this one that
now presses us down? I did! I!...
'It was I that called the masque at my house where first the King
did see her. It was I that advised her how to bear herself. And what
gratitude has been shown me? I have been sent to sequester myself in my
see; I have been set to gnaw my fingers as they had been old bones
thrown to a dog. Truly, no juicy meats have been my share. Yet it was I
set this woman where she sits....'
'I too have my griefs,' the Duke of Norfolk's voice came.
'And I, God wot,' came Wriothesley's.
'Why, you have been fooled,' Gardiner's voice; 'and well you know
it. For who was it that sent you both, one after the other, into France
thinking that you might make a match between the Lady Royal and the
Duke of Orleans?Who but the Queen?For well she knew that ye loved
the French and their King as they had been your brothers. And well we
know now that never in the mind of her, nor in that of the King whom
she bewitches and enslaves, was there any thought save that the Lady
Royal should be wedded to Spain. So ye are fooled.'
He let his voice sink low; then he raised it again
'Fooled! Fooled! Fooled! You two and I. For who of your friends the
French shall ever believe again word that you utter. And all your goods
and lands this Queen will have for the Church, so that she may have
utter power with a parcel of new shavelings, that will not withstand
her. So all the land will come in to her leash.... We are fooled and
ruined, ye and I alike.'
'Well, we know this,' the Duke's voice said distastefully. 'You have
no need to rehearse griefs that too well we feel. There is no lord,
either of our part or of the other, that would not have her down.'
'But what will ye do?' Gardiner said.
'Nothing may we do!' the voice of Wriothesley with its dismal terror
came to their ears. 'The King is too firmly her Highness's man.'
'Her Highness,' the Bishop mocked him with a bitter scorn. 'I
believe you would yet curry favour with this Queen of straw.'
'It is a man's province to be favourable in the eyes of his Prince,'
the buried voice came again. 'If I could win her favour I would. But
well ye know there is no way.'
'Ye ha' mingled too much with Lutheran swine,' the Bishop said. 'Now
it is too late for you.'
'So it is,' Wriothesley said. 'I think you, Bishop, would have done
it too had you been able to make your account of it.'
The Bishop snarled invisibly.
But the voice of Norfolk came malignantly upon them.
'This is all of a piece with your silly schemings. Did I come here
to hear ye wrangle? It is peril enow to come here. What will ye do?'
'I will make a pact with him of the other side?' the Bishop said.
'Misery!' the Duke said; 'did I come here to hear this madness? You
and Cranmer have sought each other's heads this ten years. Will you
seek his aid now? What may he do? He is as rotten a reed as thou or
The Bishop cried suddenly with a loud voice
'Ho, there! Come you out!'
Norfolk set his hand to his sword and so did Wriothesley. It was in
both their minds, as it were one thought, that if this was a treason of
the Bishop's he should there die.
From the blackness of the wall sides where the grille was there came
the sound of a terroring lock and a creaking door.
'God!' Norfolk said; 'who is this?'
There came the sound of breathing of one man who walked with
'Have you heard enow to make you believe that these lords' hearts
are true to the endeavour of casting the Queen down?'
'I have heard enow,' a smooth voice said. 'I never thought it had
'Who is this?' Wriothesley said. 'I will know who this is that has
'You fool,' Gardiner said; 'this man is of the other side.'
'They have come to you!' Norfolk said.
'To whom else should we come,' the voice answered.
A subtler silence of agitation and thought was between these two
men. At last Gardiner said
'Tell these lords what you would have of us?'
'We would have these promises,' the voice said; 'first, of you, my
Lord Duke, that if by our endeavours your brother's child be brought to
a trial for unchastity you will in no wise aid her at that trial with
your voice or your encouragement.'
'A trial!' and 'Unchastity!' the Duke said. 'This is a winter
madness. Ye know that my nieceSt Kevin curse her for itis as chaste
as the snow.'
'So was your other niece, Anne Boleyn, for all you knew, yet you
dogged her to death,' Gardiner said. 'Then you plotted with Papists;
now it is the turn of the Lutherans. It is all one, so we are rid of
'Well, I will promise it,' the Duke said. 'Ye knew I would. It was
not worth while to ask me.'
'Secondly,' the voice said, 'of you, my Lord Duke, we would have
this service: that you should swear your niece is a much older woman
than she looks. Say, for instance, that she was in truth not the
eleventh but the second child of your brother Edmund. Say that, out of
vanity, to make herself seem more forward with the learned tongues when
she was a child, she would call herself her younger sister that died in
'But wherefore?' the Duke said.
'Why,' Gardiner answered, 'this is a very subtle scheme of this
gentleman's devising. He will prove against her certain lewdnesses when
she was a child in your mother's house. If then she was a child of ten
or so, knowing not evil from good, this might not undo her. But if you
can make her seem then eighteen or twenty it will be enough to hang
'Well, I will say I heard that of her age,' he said; 'but ye had
best get nurses and women to swear to these things.'
'We have them now,' the voice said. 'And it will suffice if your
Grace will say that you heard these things of old of your brother. For
your Grace will judge this woman.'
'Very willingly I will,' Norfolk said; 'for if I do not soon, she
will utterly undo both me and all my friends.'
He reflected again.
'Those things will I do and more yet, if you will.'
'Why, that will suffice,' the voice said. It took a new tone in the
'Now for you, Sir Henry Wriothesley,' it said. 'These simple things
you shall promise. Firstly, since you have the ear of the Mayor of
London you shall advise him in no way to hinder certain meetings of
Lutherans that I shall tell you of later. And, though it is your
province so to do, you shall in no wise hinder a certain master printer
from printing what broadsides and libels he will against the Queen. For
it is essential, if this project is to grow and flourish, that it shall
be spread abroad that the Queen did bewitch the King to her will on
that night at Pontefract that you remember, when she had her cousin in
her bedroom. So broadsides shall be made alleging that by sorcery she
induced the King to countenance his own shame. And we have witnesses to
swear that it was by appointment, not by chance, that she met with
Culpepper upon the moorside. But all that we will have of you is that
you will promise these two thingsthat the Lutherans may hold certain
meetings and the broadsides be printed.'
'Those I will promise,' came in Wriothesley's buried voice.
'Then I will no more of you,' the other's words came. They heard his
hands feeling along the wall till he came to the door by which he had
entered. The Bishop followed him, to let him out by a little door he
had had opened for that one night, into the street.
When he came back to the other two and unfolded to them what was the
scheme of the Archbishop's man, they agreed that it was a very good
plan. Then they fell to considering whether it should not serve their
turn to betray this plan at once to the Queen. But they agreed that, if
they preserved the Queen, they would be utterly ruined, as they were
like to be now, whereas, if it succeeded, they would be much the better
off. And, even if it failed, they lost nothing, for it would not
readily be believed that they had aided Lutherans, and there were no
letters or writings.
So they agreed to abide honourably by their promisesand very
certain they were that if clamour enough could be raised against the
Queen, the King would be bound into putting her away, though it were
against his will.
In the Master Printer Badge's houseand he was the uncle of Margot
and of the young Poinsthere was a great and solemn dissertation
towards. For word had been brought that certain strangers come on an
embassy from the Duke of Cleves were minded to hear how the citizens of
Londonor at any rate those of them that held German doctrinesbore
themselves towards Schmalkaldnerism and the doctrines of Luther.
It was understood that these strangers were of very high degreeof
a degree so high that they might scarce be spoken to by the meaner
sort. And for many days messengers had been going between the house of
the Archbishop at Lambeth and that of the Master Printer, to school him
how this meeting must be conducted.
His old father was by that time deadhaving died shortly after his
granddaughter Margot had been put away from the Queen's Courtso that
the house-place was clear. And of all the old furnishings none
remained. There were presses all round the wall, and lockers for men to
sit upon. The table had been cleared away into the printer's chapel; a
lectern stood a-midmost of the room, and before the hearth-place, in
the very ingle, there was set the great chair in which aforetimes the
old man had sat so long.
Early that evening, though already it was dusk, the body of citizens
were assembled. Most of them had haggard faces, for the times were evil
for men of their persuasion, and nearly all of them were draped in
black after the German fashion among Lutherans of that day. They ranged
themselves on the lockers along the wall, and with set faces, in a
funereal row, they awaited the coming of this great stranger. There
were no Germans amongst them, for so, it was given out, he would have
iteither because he would not be known by name or for some other
The Master Printer, in the pride of his craft, wore his apron. He
stood in the centre of the room facing the hearth-place; his huge arms
were barefor bare-armed he always workedhis black beard was knotted
into little curls, his face was so broad that you hardly remarked that
his nose was hooked like an owl's beak. And about the man there was an
air of sombreness and mystery. He had certain papers on his lectern,
and several sheets of the great Bible that he was then printing by the
Archbishop's license and command. They sang all together and with loud
voices the canticle called 'A Refuge fast is God the Lord.'
Then, with huge gestures of his hands, he uttered the words
'This is the very word of God,' and began to read from the pages of
his Bible. He read first the story of David and Saul, his great voice
trembling with ecstasy.
'This David is our King,' he said. 'This Saul that he slew is the
Beast of Rome. The Solomon that cometh after shall be the gracious
princeling that ye wot of, for already he is wise beyond his years and
beyond most grown men.'
The citizens around the walls cried 'Amen.' And because the
strangers tarried to come, he called to his journeymen that stood in
the inner doorway to bring him the sheets of the Bible whereon he had
printed the story of Ehud and Eglon.
'This king that ye shall hear of as being slain,' he cried out, 'is
that foul bird the Kaiser Carl, that harries the faithful in Almain.
This good man that shall slay him is some German lord. Who he shall be
we know not yet; maybe it shall be this very stranger that to-night
shall sit to hear us.'
His brethren muttered a low, deep, and uniform prayer that soon,
soon the Lord should send them this boon.
But he had not got beyond the eleventh verse of this history before
there came from without a sound of trumpets, and through the windows
the light of torches and the scarlet of the guard that, it was said,
the King had sent to do honour to this stranger.
'Come in, be ye who ye may!' the printer cried to the knockers at
There entered the hugest masked man that they ever had seen. All in
black he was, and horrifying and portentous he strode in. His sleeves
and shoulders were ballooned after the German fashion, his sword
clanked on the tiles. He was a vision of black, for his mask that
appeared as big as another man's garment covered all his face, though
they could see he had a grey beard when sitting down. He gazed at the
He saidhis voice was heavy and husky
'Gruesset Gott,' and those of the citizens that had painfully
attained to so much of that tongue answered him with
'Lobet den Herr im Himmels Reich!'
He had with him one older man that wore a half-mask, and was
trembling and clean-shaven, and one younger, that was English, to act
as interpreter when it was needed. He was clean-shaven, too, and in the
English habit he appeared thin and tenuous. They said he was a
gentleman of the Archbishop's, and that his name was Lascelles.
He opened the meeting with saying that these great strangers were
come from beyond the seas, and would hear answers to certain questions.
He took a paper from his pouch and said that, in order that he might
stick to the points that these strangers would know of, he had written
down those questions on that paper.
'How say ye, masters?' he finished. 'Will ye give answers to these
questions truly, and of your knowledge?'
'Aye will we,' the printer said, 'for to that end we are gathered
here. Is it not so, my masters?'
And the assembly answered
'Aye, so it is.'
Lascelles read from his paper:
'How is it with this realm of England?'
The printer glanced at the paper that was upon his lectern. He made
'Well! But not over well!'
And at these words Lascelles feigned surprise, lifting his
well-shapen and white hand in the air.
'How is this that ye say?' he uttered. 'Are ye all of this tale?'
A deep 'Aye!' came from all these chests. There was one old man that
could never keep still. He had huge limbs, a great ruffled poll of
grizzling hair, and his legs that were in jerkins of red leather kicked
continuously in little convulsions. He peered every minute at some new
thing, very closely, holding first his tablets so near that he could
see only with one eye, then the whistle that hung round his neck, then
a little piece of paper that he took from his poke. He cried out in a
deep voice'Aye! aye! Not over well. Witchcraft and foul weather and
rocks, my mates and masters all!' so that he appeared to be a
seamanand indeed he traded to the port of Antwerp, in the Low
Countries, where he had learned of some of the Faith.
'Why,' Lascelles said, 'be ye not contented with our goodly King?'
'Never was a better since Solomon ruled in Jewry,' the shipman cried
'Is it, then, the Lords of the King's Council that ye are
'Nay, they are goodly men, for they are of the King's choosing,' one
answereda little man with a black pill-hat.
'Why, speak through your leader,' the stranger said heavily from the
hearth-place. 'Here is too much skimble-skamble.' The old man beside
him leaned over his chair-back and whispered in his ear. But the
stranger shook his head heavily. He sat and gazed at the brands. His
great hands were upon his knees, pressed down, but now and again they
moved as if he were in some agony.
'It is well that ye do as the Lord commandeth,' Lascelles said; 'for
in Almain, whence he cometh, there is wont to be a great order and
observance.' He held his paper up again to the light. 'Master Printer,
answer now to this question: Find ye aught amiss with the judges and
justices of this realm?'
'Nay; they do judge indifferent well betwixt cause and cause,' the
printer answered from his paper.
'Or with the serjeants, the apparitors, the collectors of taxes, or
the Parliament men?'
'These, too, perform indifferent well their appointed tasks,' the
printer said gloomily.
'Or is it with the Church of this realm that ye find fault?'
'Body of God!' the stranger said heavily.
'Nay!' the printer answered, 'for the supreme head of that Church is
the King, a man learned before all others in the law of God; such a
King as speaketh as though he were that mouthpiece of the Most High
that the Antichrist at Rome claimeth to be.'
'Is it, then, with the worshipful the little Prince of Wales that ye
are discontented?' Lascelles read, and the printer answered that there
was not such another Prince of his years for promise and for
performance, too, in all Christendom.
The stranger said from the hearth-place
'Well! we are commended,' and his voice was bitter and ironical.
'How is it, then,' Lascelles read on, 'that ye say all is not over
well in the land?'
The printer's gloomy and black features glared with a sudden rage.
'How should all be well with a land,' he cried, 'where in high
places reigns harlotry?' He raised his clenched fist on high and glared
round upon his audience. 'Corruption that reacheth round and about and
down till it hath found a seedbed even in this poor house of my
father's? Or if it is well with this land now, how shall it continue
well when witchcraft rules near the King himself, and the Devil of Rome
hath there his emissaries.'
A chitter of sound came from his audience, so that it appeared that
they were all of a strain. They moved in their seats; the shipman cried
'Ay! witchcraft! witchcraft!'
The huge bulk of the stranger, black and like a bull's, half rose
from its chair.
'Body of God!' he cried out. 'This I will not bear.'
Again the older man leaned solicitously above him and whispered,
pleading with his hands, and Lascelles said hastily
'Speak of your own knowledge. How should you know of what passes in
'Why!' the printer cried out, 'is it not the common report? Do not
all men know it? Do not the butchers sing of it in the shambles, and
the bot-flies buzz of it one to the other? I tell you it is spread from
here into Almain, where the very horse-sellers are a-buzz with it.'
In his chair the stranger cried out
'Ah! ah!' as if he were in great pain. He struggled with his feet
and then sat still.
'I have heard witnesses that will testify to these things,' the
printer said. 'I will bring them here into this room before ye.' He
turned upon the stranger. 'Master,' he said, 'if ye know not of this,
you are the only man in England that is ignorant!'
The stranger said with a bitter despair
'Well, I am come to hear what ye do say!'
So he heard tales from all the sewers of London, and it was plain to
him that all the commonalty cried shame upon their King. He screamed
and twisted there in his chair at the last, and when he was come out
into the darkness he fell upon his companion, and beat him so that he
He might have diedfor, though the King's guard with their torches
and halberds were within a bowshot of them, they stirred no limb. And
it was a party of fellows bat-fowling along the hedges of that field
that came through the dark, attracted by the glare of the torches, the
blaze of the scarlet clothes, and the outcry.
And when they came, asking why that great man belaboured this thin
and fragile one, black shadows both against the light, the big man
'This man hath made me bounden to slay my wife.'
They said that that was a thing some of them would have been glad
But the great figure cast itself on the ground at the foot of a tree
that stretched up like nerves and tentacles into the black sky. He tore
the wet earth with his fingers, and the men stood round him till the
Duke of Norfolk, coming with his sword drawn, hunted them afar off, and
they fell again to beating the hedges to drive small birds into their
For, they said, these were evidently of the quality whose griefs
were none of theirs.
The Queen was walking in the long gallery of Hampton Court. The
afternoon was still new, but rain was falling very fast, so that
through the windows all trees were blurred with mist, and all alleys
ran with water, and it was very grey in the gallery. The Lady Mary was
with her, and sat in a window-seat reading in a book. The Queen, as she
walked, was netting a silken purse of a purple colour; her gown was
very richly embroidered of gold thread worked into black velvet, and
the heavy day pressed heavily on her senses, so that she sought that
silence more willingly. For three days she had had no news of her lord,
but that morning he was come back to Hampton, though she had not yet
seen him, for it was ever his custom to put off all work of the day
before he came to the Queen. Thus, if she were sad, she was tranquil;
and, considering only that her work of bringing him to God must begin
again that night, she let her thoughts rest upon the netting of her
purse. The King, she had heard, was with his council. Her uncle was
come to Court, and Gardiner of Winchester, and Cranmer of Canterbury,
along with Sir A. Wriothesley, and many other lords, so that she
augured it would be a very full council, and that night there would be
a great banquet if she was not mistaken.
She remembered that it was now many months since she had been shown
for Queen from that very gallery in the window that opened upon the
Cardinal's garden. The King had led her by the hand. There had been a
great crying out of many people of the lower sort that crowded the
terrace before the garden. Now the rain fell, and all was desolation. A
yeoman in brown fustian ran bending his head before the tempestuous
rain. A rook, blown impotently backwards, essayed slowly to cross
towards the western trees. Her eyes followed him until a great gust
blew him in a wider curve, backwards and up, and when again he steadied
himself he was no more than a blot on the wet greyness of the heavens.
There was an outcry at the door, and a woman ran in. She was crying
out still: she was all in grey, with the white coif of the Queen's
service. She fell down upon her knees, her hands held out.
'Pardon!' she cried. 'Pardon! Let not my brother come in. He prowls
at the door.'
It was Mary Hall, she that had been Mary Lascelles. The Queen came
over to raise her up, and to ask what it was she sought. But the woman
wept so loud, and so continually cried out that her brother was the
fiend incarnate, that the Queen could ask no questions. The Lady Mary
looked up over her book without stirring her body. Her eyes were
awakened and sardonic.
The waiting-maid looked affrightedly over her shoulders at the door.
'Well, your brother shall not come in here,' the Queen said. 'What
would he have done to you?'
'Pardon!' the woman cried out. 'Pardon!'
'Why, tell me of your fault,' the Queen said.
'I have given false witness!' Mary Hall blubbered out. 'I would not
do it. But you do not know how they confuse a body. And they threaten
with cords and thumbscrews.' She shuddered with her whole body.
'Pardon!' she cried out. 'Pardon!'
And then suddenly she poured forth a babble of lamentations,
wringing her hands, and rubbing her lips together. She was a woman
passed of thirty, but thin still and fair like her brother in the face,
for she was his twin.
'Ah,' she cried, 'he threated that if I would not give evidence I
must go back to Lincolnshire. You do not know what it is to go back to
Lincolnshire. Ah, God! the old father, the old house, the wet. My
clothes were all mouldered. I was willing to give true evidence to save
myself, but they twisted it to false. It was the Duke of Norfolk ...'
The Lady Mary came slowly over the floor.
'Against whom did you give your evidence?' she said, and her voice
was cold, hard, and commanding.
Mary Hall covered her face with her hands, and wailed desolately in
a high note, like a wolf's howl, that reverberated in that dim gallery.
The Lady Mary struck her a hard blow with the cover of her book upon
the hands and the side of her head.
'Against whom did you give your evidence?' she said again.
The woman fell over upon one hand, the other she raised to shield
herself. Her eyes were flooded with great teardrops; her mouth was open
in an agony. The Lady Mary raised her book to strike again: its covers
were of wood, and its angles bound with silver work. The woman screamed
out, and then uttered
'Against Dearham and one Mopock first. And then against Sir T.
The Queen stood up to her height; her hand went over her heart; the
netted purse dropped to the floor soundlessly.
'God help me!' Mary Hall cried out. 'Dearham and Culpepper are both
The Queen sprang back three paces.
'How dead!' she cried. 'They were not even ill.'
'Upon the block,' the maid said. 'Last night, in the dark, in their
The Queen let her hands fall slowly to her sides.
'Who did this?' she said, and Mary Hall answered
'It was the King!'
The Lady Mary set her book under her arm.
'Ye might have known it was the King,' she said harshly. The Queen
was as still as a pillar of ebony and ivory, so black her dress was,
and so white her face and pendant hands.
'I repent me! I repent me!' the maid cried out. 'When I heard that
they were dead I repented me and came here. The old Duchess of Norfolk
is in gaol: she burned the letters of Dearham! The Lady Rochford is in
gaol, and old Sir Nicholas, and the Lady Cicely that was ever with the
Queen; the Lord Edmund Howard shall to gaol and his lady.'
'Why,' the Lady Mary said to the Queen, 'if you had not had such a
fear of nepotism, your father and mother and grandmother and cousin had
been here about you, and not so easily taken.'
The Queen stood still whilst all her hopes fell down.
'They have taken Lady Cicely that was ever with me,' she said.
'It was the Duke of Norfolk that pressed me most,' Mary Lascelles
'Aye, he would,' the Lady Mary answered.
The Queen tottered upon her feet.
'Ask her more,' she said. 'I will not speak with her.'
'The King in his council ...' the girl began.
'Is the King in his council upon these matters?' the Lady Mary
'Aye, he sitteth there,' Mary Hall said. 'And he hath heard evidence
of Mary Trelyon the Queen's maid, how that the Queen's Highness did bid
her begone on the night that Sir T. Culpepper came to her room, before
he came. And how that the Queen was very insistent that she should go,
upon the score of fatigue and the lateness of the hour. And she hath
deponed that on other nights, too, this has happened, that the Queen's
Highness, when she hath come late to bed, hath equally done the same
thing. And other her maids have deponed how the Queen hath sent them
from her presence and relieved them of tasks'
'Well, well,' the Lady Mary said, 'often I have urged the Queen that
she should be less gracious. Better it had been if she had beat ye all
as I have done; then had ye feared to betray her.'
'Aye,' Mary Hall said, 'it is a true thing that your Grace saith
'Call me not your Grace,' the Lady Mary said. 'I will be no Grace in
this court of wolves and hogs.'
That was the sole thing that she said to show she was of the Queen's
party. But ever she questioned the kneeling woman to know what evidence
had been given, and of the attitude of the lords.
The young Poins had sworn roundly that the Queen had bidden him to
summon no guards when her cousin had broken in upon her. Only Udal had
said that he knew nothing of how Katharine had agreed with her cousin
whilst they were in Lincolnshire. It had been after his time there that
Culpepper came. It had been after his time, too, and whilst he lay in
chains at Pontefract that Culpepper had come to her door. He stuck to
that tale, though the Duke of Norfolk had beat and threatened him never
'Why, what wolves Howards be,' the Lady Mary said, 'for it is only
wolves, of all beasts, that will prey upon the sick of their kind.'
The Queen stood there, swaying back as if she were very sick, her
eyes fast closed, and the lids over them very blue.
It was only when the Lady Mary drew from the woman an account of the
King's demeanour that she showed a sign of hearing.
'His Highness,' the woman said, 'sate always mute.'
'His Highness would,' the Lady Mary said. 'He is in that at least
royalthat he letteth jackals do his hunting.'
It was only when the Archbishop of Canterbury, reading from the
indictment of Culpepper, had uttered the words: 'did by the obtaining
of the Lady Rochford meet with the Queen's Highness by night in a
secret and vile place,' that the King had called out
'Body of God! mine own bedchamber!' as if he were hatefully mocking
The Queen leant suddenly forward
'Said he no more than that?' she cried eagerly.
'No more, oh your dear Grace,' the maid said. And the Queen
shuddered and whispered
'No more!And I have spoken to this woman to obtain no more than
Again she closed her eyes, and she did not again speak, but hung her
head forward as if she were thinking.
'Heaven help me!' the maid said.
'Why, think no more of Heaven,' the Lady Mary said, 'there is but
the fire of hell for such beasts as you.'
'Had you such a brother as mine' Mary Hall began. But the Lady
Mary cried out
'Cease, dog! I have a worse father, but you have not found him force
me to work vileness.'
'All the other Papists have done worse than I,' Mary Hall said, 'for
they it was that forced us by threats to speak.'
'Not one was of the Queen's side?' the Lady Mary said.
'Not one,' Mary Hall answered. 'Gardiner was more fierce against her
than he of Canterbury, the Duke of Norfolk than either.'
The Lady Mary said
'Myself I did hear the Duke of Norfolk say, when I was drawn to give
evidence, that he begged the King to let him tear my secrets from my
heart. For so did he abhor the abominable deeds done by his two nieces,
Anne Boleyn and Katharine Howard, that he could no longer desire to
live. And he said neither could he live longer without some comfortable
assurance of His Highness's royal favour. And so he fell upon me'
The woman fell to silence. Without, the rain had ceased, and, like
heavy curtains trailing near the ground, the clouds began to part and
sweep away. A horn sounded, and there went a party of men with pikes
across the terrace.
'Well, and what said you?' the Lady Mary said.
'Ask me not,' Mary Lascelles said woefully. She averted her eyes to
the floor at her side.
'By God, but I will know,' the Lady Mary snarled. 'You shall tell
me.' She had that of royal bearing from her sire that the woman was
amazed at her words, and, awakening like one in a dream, she rehearsed
the evidence that had been threated from her.
She had told of the lascivious revels and partings, in the maid's
garret at the old Duchess's, when Katharine had been a child there. She
had told how Marnock the musicker had called her his mistress, and how
Dearham, Katharine's cousin, had beaten him. And how Dearham had given
Katharine a half of a silver coin.
'Well, that is all true,' the Lady Mary said. 'How did you perjure
'In the matter of the Queen's age,' the woman faltered.
'How that?' the Lady Mary asked.
'The Duke would have me say that she was more than a young child.'
The Lady Mary said, 'Ah! ah! there is the yellow dog!' She thought
for a moment.
'And you said?' she asked at last.
'The Duke threated me and threated me. And say I, Your Grace must
know how young she was. And says he, I would swear that at that date
she was no child, but that I do not know how many of these nauseous
Howard brats there be. Nor yet the order in which they came. But this I
will swear that I think there has been some change of the Queen with a
whelp that died in the litter, that she might seem more young. And of a
surety she was always learned beyond her assumed years, so that it was
not to be believed.'
Mary Lascelles closed her eyes and appeared about to faint.
'Speak on, dog,' Mary said.
The woman roused herself to say with a solemn piteousness
'This I swear that before this trial, when my brother pressed me and
threated me thus to perjure myself, I abhorred it and spat in his face.
There was none more firmnor one half so firm as Iagainst him. But
oh, the Duke and the terrorand to be in a ring of so many villainous
'So that you swore that the Queen's Highness, to your knowledge, was
older than a child,' the Lady Mary pressed her.
'Ay; they would have me say that it was she that commanded to have
She leaned forward with both her hands on the floor, in the attitude
of a beast that goes four-footed. She cried out
'Ask me no more! ask me no more!'
'Tell! tell! Beast!' the Lady Mary said.
'They threated me with torture,' the woman panted. 'I could do no
less. I heard Margot Poins scream.'
'They have tortured her?' the Lady Mary said.
'Ay, and she was in her pains elsewise,' the woman said.
'Did she say aught?' the Lady Mary said.
'No! no!' the woman panted. Her hair had fallen loose in her coif,
it depended on to her shoulder.
'Tell on! tell on!' the Lady Mary said.
'They tortured her, and she did not say one word more, but ever in
her agony cried out, Virtuous! virtuous! till her senses went.'
Mary Hall again raised herself to her knees.
'Let me go, let me go,' she moaned. 'I will not speak before the
Queen. I had been as loyal as Margot Poins.... But I will not speak
before the Queen. I love her as well as Margot Poins. But ... I will
She cried out as the Lady Mary struck her, and her face was
lamentable with its opened mouth. She scrambled to one knee; she got on
both, and ran to the door. But there she cried out
'My brother!' and fell against the wall. Her eyes were fixed upon
the Lady Mary with a baleful despair, she gasped and panted for breath.
'It is upon you if I speak,' she said. 'Merciful God, do not bid me
speak before the Queen!'
She held out her hands as if she had been praying.
'Have I not proved that I loved this Queen?' she said. 'Have I not
fled here to warn her? Is it not my life that I risk? Merciful God!
Merciful God! Bid me not to speak.'
'Speak!' the Lady Mary said.
The woman appealed to the Queen with her eyes streaming, but
Katharine stood silent and like a statue with sightless eyes. Her lips
smiled, for she thought of her Redeemer; for this woman she had neither
ears nor eyes.
'Speak!' the Lady Mary said.
'God help you, be it on your head,' the woman cried out, 'that I
speak before the Queen. It was the King that bade me say she was so
old. I would not say it before the Queen, but you have made me!'
The Lady Mary's hands fell powerless to her sides, the book from her
opened fingers jarred on the hard floor.
'Merciful God!' she said. 'Have I such a father?'
'It was the King!' the woman said. 'His Highness came to life when
he heard these words of the Duke's, that the Queen was older than she
reported. He would have me say that the Queen's Highness was of a
marriageable age and contracted to her cousin Dearham.'
'Merciful God!' the Lady Mary said again. 'Dear God, show me some
way to tear from myself the sin of my begetting. I had rather my
mother's confessor had been my father than the King! Merciful God!'
'Never was woman pressed as I was to say this thing. And well ye
wotbetter than I did beforewhat this King is. I tell youand I
She stopped and trembled, her eyes, from which the colour had gone,
wide open and lustreless, her face pallid and ashen, her mouth hanging
open. The Queen was moving towards her.
She came very slowly, her hands waving as if she sought support from
the air, but her head was erect.
'What will you do?' the Lady Mary said. 'Let us take counsel!'
Katharine Howard said no word. It was as if she walked in her sleep.
The King sat on the raised throne of his council chamber. All the
Lords of his Council were there and all in black. There was Norfolk
with his yellow face who feigned to laugh and scoff, now that he had
proved himself no lover of the Queen's. There was Gardiner of
Winchester, sitting forward with his cruel and eager eyes upon the
table. Next him was the Lord Mayor, Michael Dormer, and the Lord
Chancellor. And so round the horse-shoe table against the wall sat all
the other lords and commissioners that had been appointed to make
inquiry. Sir Anthony Browne was there, and Wriothesley with his great
beard, and the Duke of Suffolk with his hanging jaw. A silence had
fallen upon them all, and the witnesses were all done with.
On high on his throne the King sat, monstrous and leaning over to
one side, his face dabbled with tears. He gazed upon Cranmer who stood
on high beside him, the King gazing upwards into his face as if for
comfort and counsel.
'Why, you shall save her for me?' he said.
Cranmer's face was haggard, and upon it too there were tears.
'It were the gladdest thing that ever I did,' he said, 'for I do
believe this Queen is not so guilty.'
'God of His mercy bless thee, Cranmer,' he said, and wearily he
touched his black bonnet at the sacred name. 'I have done all that I
might when I spoke with Mary Hall. It shall save me her life.'
Cranmer looked round upon the lords below them; they were all silent
but only the Duke of Norfolk who laughed to the Lord Mayor. The Lord
Mayor, a burly man, was more pallid and haggard than any. All the
others had fear for themselves written upon their faces. But the
citizen was not used to these trials, of which the others had seen so
The Archbishop fell on his knees on the step before the King's
'Gracious and dread Lord,' he said, and his low voice trembled like
that of a schoolboy, 'Saviour, Lord, and Fount of Justice of this
realm! Hitherto these trials have been of traitor-felons and villains
outside the circle of your house. Now that they be judged and dead, we,
your lords, pray you that you put off from you this most heavy task of
judge. For inasmuch as we live by your life and have health by your
health, in this realm afflicted with many sores that you alone can heal
and dangers that you alone can ward off, so we have it assured and
certain that many too great labours and matters laid upon you imperil
us all. In that, as well for our selfish fears as for the great love,
self-forgetting, that we have of your person, we pray you thatcoming
now to the trial of this your wifeyou do rest, though well assured we
are that greatly and courageously you would adventure it, upon the love
of us your lords. Appoint, therefore, such a Commission as you shall
well approve to make this most heavy essay and trial.'
So low was his voice that, to hear him, many lords rose from their
seats and came over against the throne. Thus all that company were in
the upper part of the hall, and through the great window at the further
end the sun shone down upon them, having parted the watery clouds. To
their mass of black it gave blots and gouts of purple and blue and
scarlet, coming through the dight panes.
'Lay off this burden of trial and examination upon us that so
willingly, though with sighs and groans, would bear it.'
Suddenly the King stood up and pointed, his jaw fallen open.
Katharine Howard was coming up the floor of the hall. Her hands were
folded before her; her face was rigid and calm; she looked neither to
right nor to left, but only upon the King's face. At the edge of the
sunlight she halted, so that she stood, a black figure in the bluish
and stony gloom of the hall with the high roof a great way above her
head. All the lords began to pull off their bonnets, only Norfolk said
that he would not uncover before a harlot.
The Queen, looking upon Henry's face, said with icy and cold tones
'I would have you to cease this torturing of witnesses. I will make
No man then had a word to say. Norfolk had no word either.
'If you will have me confess to heresy, I will confess to heresy; if
to treason, to treason. If you will have me confess to adultery, God
help me and all of you, I will confess to adultery and all such sins.'
The King cried out
'No! no!' like a beast that is stabbed to the heart; but with cold
eyes the Queen looked back at him.
'If you will have it adultery before marriage, it shall be so. If it
be to be falseness to my Lord's bed, it shall be so; if it be both, in
the name of God, be it both, and where you will and how. If you will
have it spoken, here I speak it. If you will have it written, I will
write out such words as you shall bid me write. I pray you leave my
poor women be, especially them that be sick, for there are none that do
not love me, and I do think that my death is all that you need.'
She paused; there was no sound in the hall but the strenuous panting
of the King.
'But whether,' she said, 'you shall believe this confession of mine,
I leave to you that very well do know my conversation and my manner of
Again she paused and said
'I have spoken. To it I will add that heartily I do thank my
sovereign lord that raised me up. And, in public, I do say it, that he
hath dealt justly by me. I pray you pardon me for having delayed thus
long your labours. I will get me gone.'
Then she dropped her eyes to the ground.
Again the King cried out
'No! no!' and, stumbling to his feet he rushed down upon his
courtiers and round the table. He came upon her before she was at the
'You shall not go!' he said. 'Unsay! unsay!'
She said, 'Ah!' and recoiled before him with an obdurate and calm
'Get ye gone, all you minions and hounds,' he cried. And running in
upon them he assailed them with huge blows and curses, sobbing
lamentably, so that they fled up the steps and out on to the rooms
behind the throne. He came sobbing, swift and maddened, panting and
crying out, back to where she awaited him.
'Unsay! unsay!' he cried out.
She stood calmly.
'Never will I unsay,' she said. 'For it is right that such a King as
thou should be punished, and I do believe this: that there can no agony
come upon you such as shall come if you do believe me false to you.'
The coloured sunlight fell upon his face just down to the chin; his
eyes glared horribly. She confronted him, being in the shadow. High up
above them, painted and moulded angels soared on the roof with golden
wings. He clutched at his throat.
'I do not believe it,' he cried out.
'Then,' she said, 'I believe that it shall be only a second greater
agony to you: for you shall have done me to death believing me
A great motion of despair went over his whole body.
'Kat!' he said; 'Body of God, Kat! I would not have you done to
death. I have saved your life from your enemies.'
She made him no answer, and he protested desperately
'All this afternoon I have wrestled with a woman to make her say
that you are older than your age, and precontracted to a cousin of
yours. I have made her say it at last, so your life is saved.'
She turned half to go from him, but he ran round in front of her.
'Your life is saved!' he said desperately, 'for if you were
precontracted to Dearham your marriage with me is void. And if your
marriage with me is void, though it be proved against you that you were
false to me, yet it is not treason, for you are not my wife.'
Again she moved to circumvent him, and again he came before her.
'Speak!' he said, 'speak!' But she folded her lips close. He cast
his arms abroad in a passion of despair. 'You shall be put away into a
castle where you shall have such state as never empress had yet. All
your will I will do. Always I will live near you in secret fashion.'
'I will not be your leman,' she said.
'But once you offered it!' he answered.
'Then you appeared in the guise of a king!' she said.
He withered beneath her tone.
'All you would have you shall have,' he said. 'I will call in a
messenger and here and now send the letter that you wot of to Rome.'
'Your Highness,' she said, 'I would not have the Church brought back
to this land by one deemed an adult'ress. Assuredly, it should not
Again he sought to stay her going, holding out his arms to enfold
her. She stepped back.
'Your Highness,' she said, 'I will speak some last words. And, as
you know me well, you know that these irrevocably shall be my last to
He cried'Delay till you hear'
'There shall be no delay,' she said; 'I will not hear.' She smoothed
a strand of hair that had fallen over her forehead in a gesture that
she always had when she was deep in thoughts.
'This is what I would say,' she uttered. And she began to speak
'Very truly you say when you say that once I made offer to be your
leman. But it was when I was a young girl, mazed with reading of books
in the learned tongue, and seeing all men as if they were men of those
days. So you appeared to me such a man as was Pompey the Great, or as
was Marius, or as was Sylla. For each of these great men erred; yet
they erred greatly as rulers that would rule. Or rather I did see you
such a one as was Cæsar Julius, who, as you well wot, crossed a Rubicon
and set out upon a high endeavour. But younever will you cross any
Rubicon; always you blow hot in the evening and cold at dawn. Neither
do you, as I had dreamed you did, rule in this your realm. For, even as
a crow that just now I watched, you are blown hither and thither by
every gust that blows. Now the wind of gossips blows so that you must
have my life. And, before God, I am glad of it.'
'Before God!' he cried out, 'I would save you!'
'Aye,' she answered sadly, 'to-day you would save me; to-morrow a
foul speech of one mine enemy shall gird you again to slay me. On the
morrow you will repent, and on the morrow of that again you will repent
of that. So you will balance and trim. If to-day you send a messenger
to Rome, to-morrow you will send another, hastening by a shorter route,
to stay him. And this I tell you, that I am not one to let my name be
bandied for many days in the mouths of men. I had rather be called a
sinner, adjudged and dead and forgotten. So I am glad that I am cast to
'You shall not die!' the King cried. 'Body of God, you shall not
die! I cannot live lacking thee. KatKat'
'Aye,' she said, 'I must die, for you are not such a one as can stay
in the wind. Thus I tell you it will fall about that for many days you
will waver, but one day you will cry outLet her die this day! On the
morrow of that day you will repent you, but, being dead, I shall be no
more to be recalled to life. Why, man, with this confession of mine,
heard by grooms and mayors of cities and the like, how shall you dare
to save me? You know you shall not.
'And so, now I am cast for death, and I am very glad of it. For, if
I had not so ensured and made it fated, I might later have wavered. For
I am a weak woman, and strong men have taken dishonourable means to
escape death when it came near. Now I am assured of death, and know
that no means of yours can save me, nor no prayers nor yielding of
mine. I came to you for that you might give this realm again to God.
Now I see you will notfor not ever will you do it if it must abate
you a jot of your sovereignty, and you never will do it without that
abatement. So it is in vain that I have sinned.
'For I trow that I sinned in taking the crown from the woman that
was late your wife. I would not have it, but you would, and I yielded.
Yet it was a sin. Then I did a sin that good might ensue, and again I
do it, and I hope that this sin that brings me down shall
counterbalance that other that set me up. For well I know that to make
this confession is a sin; but whether the one shall balance the other
only the angels that are at the gates of Paradise shall assure me.
'In some sort I have done it for your Highness' sakeor, at least,
that your Highness may profit in your fame thereby. For, though all
that do know me will scarcely believe in it, the most part of men shall
needs judge me by the reports that are set about. In the commonalty,
and the princes of foreign courts, one may believe you justified of my
blood, and, for this event, even to posterity your name shall be
spared. I shall become such a little dust as will not fill a cup. Yet,
at least, I shall not sully, in the eyes of men to come, your record.
'And that I am glad of; for this world is no place for me who am
mazed by too much reading in old books. At first I would not believe
it, though many have told me it was so. I was of the opinion that in
the end right must win through. I think now that it never shallor not
for many agestill our Saviour again come upon this earth with a great
glory. But all this is a mystery of the great goodness of God and the
temptations that do beset us poor mortality.
'So now I go! I think that you will not any more seek to hinder me,
for you have heard how set I am on this course. I think, if I have done
little good, I have done little harm, for I have sought to injure no
manthough through me you have wracked some of my poor servants and
slain my poor simple cousin. But that is between you and God. If I must
weep for them yet, though I was the occasion of their deaths and
tortures, I cannot much lay it to my account.
'If, by being reputed your leman, as you would have it, I could
again set up the Church of God, willingly I would do it. But I see that
there is not one mansave maybe some poor simple soulsthat would
have this done. Each man is set to save his skin and his goodsand you
are such a weathercock that I should never blow you to a firm quarter.
For what am I set against all this nation?
'If you should say that our wedding was no wedding because of the
pre-contract to my cousin Dearham that you have feigned was madewhy,
I might live as your reputed leman in a secret place. But it is not
very certain that even at that I should live very long. For, if I
lived, I must work upon you to do the right. And, if that I did, not
very long should I live before mine enemies again did come about me and
to you. And so I must die. And now I see that you are not such a man as
I would live with willingly to preserve my life.
'I speak not to reprove you what I have spoken, but to make you see
that as I am so I am. You are as God made you, setting you for His own
purposes a weak man in very evil and turbulent times. As a man is born
so a man lives; as is his strength so the strain breaks him or he
resists the strain. If I have wounded you with these my words, I do ask
your pardon. Much of this long speech I have thought upon when I was
despondent this long time past. But much of it has come to my lips
whilst I spake, and, maybe, it is harsh and rash in the wording. That I
would not have, but I may not help myself. I would have you wounded by
the things as they are, and by what of conscience you have, in your
passions and your prides. And this, I will add, that I die a Queen, but
I would rather have died the wife of my cousin Culpepper or of any
other simple lout that loved me as he did, without regard, without
thought, and without falter. He sold farms to buy me bread. You would
not imperil a little alliance with a little King o' Scots to save my
life. And this I tell you, that I will spend the last hours of the days
that I have to live in considering of this simple man and of his love,
and in praying for his soul, for I hear you have slain him! And for the
rest, I commend you to your friends!'
The King had staggered back against the long table; his jaw fell
open; his head leaned down upon his chest. In all that long speechthe
longest she had ever made save when she was shown for Queenshe had
not once raised or lowered her voice, nor once dropped her eyes. But
she had remembered the lessons of speaking that had been given her by
her master Udal, in the aforetime, away in Lincolnshire, where there
was an orchard with green boughs, and below it a pig-pound where the
She went slowly down over the great stone flags of the great hall.
It was very gloomy now, and her figure in black velvet was like a small
shadow, dark and liquid, amongst shadows that fell softly and like
draperies from the roof. Up there it was all dark already, for the
light came downwards from the windows. She went slowly, walking as she
had been schooled to walk.
'God!' Henry cried out; 'you have not played false with Culpepper?'
His voice echoed all round the hall.
The Queen's white face and her folded hands showed as she turned
'Aye, there the shoe pinches!' she said. 'Think upon it. Most times
you shall not believe it, for you know me. But I have made confession
of it before your Council. So it may be true. For I hope some truth
cometh to the fore even in Councils.'
Near the doorway it was all shadow, and soundlessly she faded away
among them. The hinge of the door creaked; through it there came the
sound of the pikestaves of her guard upon the stone of the steps. The
sound whispered round amidst the statues of old knights and kings that
stood upon corbels between the windows. It whispered amongst the
invisible carvings of the roof. Then it died away.
The King made no sound. Suddenly he cast his hat upon the paving.
* * * * *
KATHARINE HOWARD was executed on Tower Hill, the 13th of February,
in the 33rd year of the reign of KING HENRY VIII.