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By What Means Sir Thomas Wyat Obtained An Interview With Anne Boleyn








The incident above related gave new life to the adherents of Catherine
of Arragon, while it filled those devoted to Anne Boleyn with alarm.
Immediately on Anne's return to the castle Lord Rochford had a private
interview with her, and bitterly reproached her for endangering her
splendid prospects. Anne treated the matter very lightly--said it was
only a temporary gust of jealousy--and added that the king would be at
her feet again before the day was past.

"You are over-confident, mistress!" cried Rochford angrily. "Henry is
not an ordinary gallant."

"It is you who are mistaken, father," replied Anne. "The king differs
in no respect from any of his love-smitten subjects. I have him in my
toils, and will not let him escape."

"You have a tiger in your toils, daughter, and take heed he breaks not
forcibly through them," rejoined Rochford. "Henry is more wayward than
you suppose him. Once let him take up a notion, and nothing can shake
him from it. He has resolved upon the divorce as much from self-will as
from any other consideration. If you regain your position with him, of
which you seem so confident, do not consider yourself secure--not even
when you are crowned queen--but be warned by Catherine of Arragon."

"Catherine has not the art to retain him," said Anne. "Henry will never
divorce me."

"Take care he does not rid himself of you in a more summary manner,
daughter," rejoined Rochford. "If you would stand well with him, you
must study his lightest word, look, and action--humour him in every
whim--and yield to every caprice. Above all, you must exhibit no
jealousy."

"You are wrong in all but the last, father," returned Anne. "Henry is
not to be pleased by such nice attention to his humours. It is because
I have shown myself careless of them that I have captivated him. But
I will take care not to exhibit jealousy, and, sooth to say, I do not
think I shall have cause."

"Be not too sure of that," replied Rochford. "And at all events, let not
the king have cause to be jealous of you. I trust Wyat will be banished
from court. But if he is not, do not let him approach you more."

"Poor Sir Thomas!" sighed Anne. "He loved me very dearly."

"But what is his love compared to the king's?" cried Rochford. "Tut,
tut, girl! think no more of him."

"I will not, my lord," she rejoined; "I see the prudence of your
counsel, and will obey it. Leave me, I pray you. I will soon win back
the affections of the king."

No sooner had Rochford quitted the chamber than the arras at the farther
end was raised, and Wyat stepped from behind it. His first proceeding
was to bar the door.

"What means this, Sir Thomas?" cried Anne in alarm. "How have you
obtained admittance here?"

"Through the secret staircase," replied Wyat, bending the knee before
her.

"Rise, sir!" cried Anne, in great alarm. "Return, I beseech you, as you
came. You have greatly endangered me by coming here. If you are seen to
leave this chamber, it will be in vain to assert my innocence to Henry.
Oh, Sir Thomas! you cannot love me, or you would not have done this."

"Not love you, Anne!" he repeated bitterly; "not love you I Words cannot
speak my devotion. I would lay down my head on the scaffold to prove it.
But for my love for you, I would throw open that door, and walk forth so
that all might see me--so that Henry might experience some part of the
anguish I now feel."

"But you will not do so, good Sir Thomas--dear Sir Thomas," cried Anne
Boleyn, in alarm.

"Have no fear," rejoined Wyat, with some contempt; "I will sacrifice
even vengeance to love."

"Sir Thomas, I had tolerated this too long," said Anne. "Begone--you
terrify me."

"It is my last interview with you, Anne," said Wyat imploringly; "do
not abridge it. Oh, bethink you of the happy hours we have passed
together--of the vows we have interchanged--of the protestations you
have listened to, and returned--ay, returned, Anne. Are all these
forgotten?"

"Not forgotten, Sir Thomas," replied Anne mournfully; "but they must not
be recalled. I cannot listen to you longer. You must go. Heaven grant
you may get hence in safety!"

"Anne," replied Wyat in a sombre tone, "the thought of Henry's happiness
drives me mad. I feel that I am grown a traitor--that I could slay him."

"Sir Thomas!" she exclaimed, in mingled fear and anger.

"I will not go," he continued, flinging himself into a seat. "Let them
put what construction they will upon my presence. I shall at least wring
Henry's heart. I shall see him suffer as I have suffered; and I shall be
content."

"This is not like you, Wyat," cried Anne, in great alarm. "You were wont
to be noble, generous, kind. You will not act thus disloyally?

"Who has acted disloyally, Anne?" cried Wyat, springing to his feet, and
fixing his dark eyes, blazing with jealous fury, upon her--"you or I?
Have you not sacrificed your old affections at the shrine of ambition?
Are you not about to give yourself to one to whom--unless you are
foresworn--you cannot give your heart? Better had you been the mistress
of Allington Castle--better the wife of a humble knight like myself,
than the queen of the ruthless Henry."

"No more of this, Wyat," said Anne.

"Better far you should perish by his tyranny for a supposed fault now
than hereafter," pursued Wyat fiercely. "Think not Henry will respect
you more than her who had been eight-and-twenty years his wife. No;
when he is tired of your charms--when some other dame, fair as yourself,
shall enslave his fancy, he will cast you off, or, as your father truly
intimated, will seek a readier means of ridding himself of you. Then you
will think of the different fate that might have been yours if you had
adhered to your early love."

"Wyat! Wyat! I cannot bear this--in mercy spare me!" cried Anne.

"I am glad to see you weep," said Wyat; "your tears make you look more
like your former self."

"Oh, Wyat, do not view my conduct too harshly!" she said. "Few of my sex
would have acted other than I have done."

"I do not think so," replied Wyat sternly; "nor will I forego my
vengeance. Anne, you shall die. You know Henry too well to doubt your
fate if he finds me here."

"You cannot mean this," she rejoined, with difficulty repressing a
scream; "but if I perish, you will perish with me."

"I wish to do so," he rejoined, with a bitter laugh.

"Wyat," cried Anne, throwing herself on her knees before him, "by your
former love for me, I implore you to spare me! Do not disgrace me thus."

But Wyat continued inexorable.

"O God!" exclaimed Anne, wringing her hands in agony. A terrible silence
ensued, during which Anne regarded Wyat, but she could discern no change
in his countenance.

At this juncture the tapestry was again raised, and the Earl of Surrey
issued from it.

"You here, my lord?" said Anne, rushing towards him.

"I am come to save you, madame," said the earl. "I have been just
liberated from arrest, and was about to implore your intercession with
the king, when I learned he had been informed by one of his pages that
a man was in your chamber. Luckily, he knows not who it is, and while he
was summoning his attendants to accompany him, I hurried hither by the
secret staircase. I have arrived in time. Fly--fly! Sir Thomas Wyat!"

But Wyat moved not.

At this moment footsteps were heard approaching the door--the handle
was tried--and the stern voice of the king was heard commanding that it
might be opened.

"Will you destroy me, Wyat?" cried Anne.

"You have destroyed yourself," he rejoined.

"Why stay you here, Sir Thomas?" said Surrey, seizing his arm. "You may
yet escape. By heaven! if you move not, I will stab you to the heart!"

"You would do me a favour, young man," said Wyat coldly; "but I will go.
I yield to love, and not to you, tyrant!" he added, shaking his hand
at the door. "May the worst pangs of jealously rend your heart!" And he
disappeared behind the arras.

"I hear voices," cried Henry from without. "God's death! madam, open the
door--or I will burst it open!"

"Oh, heaven! what is to be done?" cried Anne Boleyn, in despair.

"Open the door, and leave all to me, madam," said Surrey; "I will save
you, though it cost me my life!"

Anne pressed his hand, with a look of ineffable gratitude, and Surrey
concealed himself behind the arras.

The door was opened, and Henry rushed in, followed by Richmond, Norfolk,
Suffolk, and a host of attendants.

"Ah! God's death! where is the traitor?" roared the king, gazing round.

"Why is my privacy thus broken upon?" said Anne, assuming a look of
indignation.

"Your privacy!" echoed Henry, in a tone of deep derision--"Your privacy!
--ha!--ha! You bear yourself bravely, it must be confessed. My lords,
you heard the voices as well as myself. Where is Sir Thomas Wyat?"

"He is not here," replied Anne firmly.

"Aha! we shall see that, mistress," rejoined Henry fiercely. "But if Sir
Thomas Wyat is not here, who is? for I am well assured that some one is
hidden in your chamber."

"What if there be?" rejoined Anne coldly.

"Ah! by Saint Mary, you confess it!" cried the king. "Let the traitor
come forth."

"Your majesty shall not need to bid twice," said Surrey, issuing from
his concealment.

"The Earl of Surrey!" exclaimed Henry, in surprise. "How come you here,
my lord? Methought you were under arrest at the guard-house."

"He was set free by my orders," said the Duke of Richmond.

"First of all I must entreat your majesty to turn your resentment
against me," said the earl. "I am solely to blame, and I would not have
the Lady Anne suffer for my fault. I forced myself into her presence.
She knew not of my coming."

"And wherefore did you so, my lord?" demanded Henry sternly.

"Liberated from the guard-house at the Duke of Richmond's instance, my
liege, I came to entreat the Lady Anne to mediate between me and
your majesty, and to use her influence with your highness to have me
betrothed to the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald."

"Is this so, madam?" asked the king.

Anne bowed her head.

"But why was the door barred?" demanded Henry, again frowning
suspiciously.

"I barred it myself," said Surrey, "and vowed that the Lady Anne should
not go forth till she had granted my request."

"By our lady you have placed yourself in peril, my lord," said Henry
sternly.

"Your majesty will bear in mind his youth," said the Duke of Norfolk
anxiously.

"For my sake overlook the indiscretion," cried the Duke of Richmond.

"It will not, perhaps, avail him to hope that it may be overlooked for
mine," added Anne Boleyn.

"The offence must not pass unpunished," said Henry musingly. "My lord of
Surrey, you must be content to remain for two months a prisoner in the
Round Tower of this castle."

"Your majesty!" cried Richmond, bending the knee in supplication.

"The sentence is passed," replied Henry coldly; "and the earl may thank
you it is not heavier. Richmond, you will think no more of the fair
Geraldine; and it is my pleasure, Lady Anne, that the young dame
withdraw from the court for a short while."

"Your majesty shall be obeyed," said Anne; "but--"

"But me no buts, sweetheart," said the king peremptorily. "Surrey's
explanation is satisfactory so far as it goes, but I was told Sir Thomas
Wyat was here."

"Sir Thomas Wyat is here," said Will Sommers, pointing out the knight,
who had just joined the throng of courtiers at the door.

"I have hurried hither from my chamber, my liege," said Wyat, stepping
forward, "hearing there was some inquiry concerning me."

"Is your majesty now satisfied?" asked Anne Boleyn.

"Why, ay, sweetheart, well enough," rejoined Henry. "Sir Thomas Wyat,
we have a special mission for you to the court of our brother of France.
You will set out to-morrow."

Wyat bowed.

"You have saved your head, gossip," whispered Will Sommers in the
knight's ear. "A visit to Francis the First is better than a visit to
the Tower."

"Retire, my lords," said Henry to the assemblage; "we owe some apology
to the Lady Anne for our intrusion, and desire an opportunity to make
it."

Upon this the chamber was instantly cleared of its occupants, and the
Earl of Surrey was conducted, under a guard, to the Round Tower.

Henry, however, did not find it an easy matter to make peace with the
Lady Anne. Conscious of the advantage she had gained, she determined not
to relinquish it, and, after half an hour's vain suing, her royal lover
proposed a turn in the long gallery, upon which her apartments opened.
Here they continued conversing--Henry pleading in the most passionate
manner, and Anne maintaining a show of offended pride.

At last she exhibited some signs of relenting, and Henry led her into
a recess in the gallery, lighted by a window filled with magnificent
stained glass. In this recess was a seat and a small table, on which
stood a vase filled with flowers, arranged by Anne's own hand; and here
the monarch hoped to adjust his differences with her.

Meanwhile, word having reached Wolsey and Campeggio of the new cause of
jealousy which the king had received, it was instantly resolved that the
former should present to him, while in his present favourable mood, a
despatch received that morning from Catherine of Arragon.

Armed with the letter, Wolsey repaired to the king's closet. Not finding
him there, and being given to understand by an usher that he was in
the great gallery, he proceeded thither. As he walked softly along
the polished oak floor, he heard voices in one of the recesses, and
distinguished the tones of Henry and Anne Boleyn.

Henry was clasping the snowy fingers of his favourite, and gazing
passionately at her, as the cardinal approached.

"Your majesty shall not detain my hand," said Anne, "unless you swear to
me, by your crown, that you will not again be jealous without cause."

"I swear it," replied Henry.

"Were your majesty as devoted to me as you would have me believe, you
would soon bring this matter of the divorce to an issue," said Anne.

"I would fain do so, sweetheart," rejoined Henry; "but these cardinals
perplex me sorely."

"I am told by one who overheard him, that Wolsey has declared the
divorce shall not be settled these two years," said Anne; "in which case
it had better not be settled at all; for I care not to avow I cannot
brook so much delay. The warmth of my affection will grow icy cold by
that time."

"It were enough to try the patience of the most forbearing," rejoined
the king, smiling--"but it shall not be so--by this lily hand it shall
not! And now, sweetheart, are we entirely reconciled?

"Not yet," replied Anne. "I shall claim a boon from your majesty before
I accord my entire forgiveness."

"Name it," said the king, still clasping her hand tenderly, and
intoxicated by the witchery of her glance.

"I ask an important favour," said Anne, "but as it is one which will
benefit your majesty as much as myself, I have the less scruple in
requesting it. I ask the dismissal of one who has abused your favour,
who, by his extortion and rapacity, has in some degree alienated the
affections of your subjects from you, and who solely opposes your
divorce from Catherine of Arragon because he fears my influence may be
prejudicial to him."

"You cannot mean Wolsey?" said Henry uneasily.

"Your majesty has guessed aright," replied Anne.

"Wolsey has incurred my displeasure oft of late," said Henry; "and yet
his fidelity--"

"Be not deceived, my liege," said Anne; "he is faithful to you only so
far as serves his turn. He thinks he rules you."

Before Henry could reply, the cardinal stepped forward.

"I bring your majesty a despatch, just received from the queen," he
said.

"And you have been listening to our discourse?" rejoined Henry sternly.
"You have overheard--"

"Enough to convince me, if I had previously doubted it, that the Lady
Anne Boleyn is my mortal foe," replied Wolsey.

"Foe though I am, I will make terms with your eminence," said Anne.
"Expedite the divorce--you can do so if you will--and I am your fast
friend."

"I know too well the value of your friendship, noble lady, not to do all
in my power to gain it," replied Wolsey. "I will further the matter, if
possible. But it rests chiefly in the hands of his holiness Pope Clement
the Seventh."

"If his majesty will listen to my counsel, he will throw off the pope's
yoke altogether," rejoined Anne. "Nay, your eminence may frown at me
if you will. Such, I repeat, shall be my counsel. If the divorce is
speedily obtained, I am your friend: if not--look to yourself."

"Do not appeal to me, Wolsey," said Henry, smiling approval at Anne; "I
shall uphold her."

"Will it please your majesty to peruse this despatch?" said Wolsey,
again offering Catherine's letter.

"Take it to my closet," replied the king; "I will join you there. And
now at last we are good friends, sweetheart."

"Excellent friends, my dear liege," replied Anne; "but I shall never be
your queen while Wolsey holds his place."

"Then, indeed, he shall lose it," replied Henry.

"She is a bitter enemy, certes," muttered Wolsey as he walked away. "I
must overthrow her quickly, or she will overthrow me. A rival must be
found--ay, a rival--but where? I was told that Henry cast eyes on a
comely forester's daughter at the chase this morning. She may do for the
nonce."





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Previous: Of Tristram Lyndwood The Old Forester And His Granddaughter Mabel



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