Chess-play





It was many days since the king had been as well as he was to-day. For a

long time he had not enjoyed such refreshing sleep as on the day when he

signed the warrant for the queen's imprisonment. But he thought nothing

at all about it. Sleep seemed to have obliterated all recollection of it

from his memory. Like an anecdote which you listen to, and smile at for

the moment, but soon forget, so had the whole occurrence vanished

again from him. It was an anecdote of the moment--a transient

interlude--nothing further.



The king had slept well, and he had no care for anything else. He

stretched himself, and lay lounging on his couch, thinking with rapture

how fine it would be if he could enjoy such sweet and refreshing repose

every day, and if no bad dreams and no fear would frighten away sleep

from his eyes. He felt very serene and very good-humored; and had any

one now come to beg a favor of the king, he would have granted it in the

first joy after such invigorating sleep. But he was alone; no one was

with him; he must repress his gracious desires. But no. Was it not as

though something were stirring and breathing behind the curtains?

The king threw back the curtains, and a soft smile flitted over his

features; for before his bed sat the queen. There she sat with rosy

cheeks and sparkling eyes, and greeted him with a roguish smile.



"Ah, Kate, it is you!" cried the king. "Well, now, I understand how it

happened that I have had such a sound and refreshing sleep! You stood

by as my good angel, and scared the pains and bad dreams away from my

couch."



And as he said this, he reached out his hand and tenderly stroked her

velvet cheek. He did not at all recollect that he had already, as it

were, devoted that charming head to the scaffold, and that in a few

hours more those bright eyes were to behold naught but the night of

the dungeon. Sleep, as we have said, had lulled to rest also the

recollection of this; and the evil thoughts had not yet awoke again in

him. To sign an order of arrest or a death-warrant was with the king

such a usual and every-day matter, that it constituted no epoch in his

life, and neither burdened him with troubles of conscience nor made his

heart shudder and tremble.



But Catharine thought of it, and as the king's hand stroked her cheek,

it was as though death were just then touching her, never again to

release her. However, she overcame this momentary horror, and had the

courage to preserve her serene and innocent air.



"You call me your good angel, my husband," said she, with a smile; "but

yet I am nothing more than your little Puck, who bustles about you, and

now and then makes you laugh with his drolleries."



"And a dear little Puck you are, Katie," cried the king, who always

gazed upon his wife's rosy and fresh countenance with real satisfaction.



"Then I will prove myself this very day your Puck, and allow you no more

repose on your couch," said she, as she made a mock effort to raise him

up. "Do you know, my husband, why I came here? A butterfly has tapped

at my window. Only think now, a butterfly in winter! That betokens that

this time winter is spring; and the clerk of the weather above there has

confounded January with March. The butterfly has invited us, king; and

only see! the sun is winking into the window to us, and says we have but

to come out, as he has already dried the walks in the garden below, and

called forth a little grass on the plat. And your rolling chair stands

all ready, my lord and husband, and your Puck, as you see, has already

put on her furs, and clad herself in armor against the winter, which,

however, is not there!"



"Well, then, help me, my dearest Puck, so that I can arise, and obey

the command of the butterfly and the sun and my lovely wife," cried

the king, as he put his arm around Catharine's neck, and slowly raised

himself from the couch.



She busied herself about him with officious haste; she put her arm

tenderly on his shoulder and supported him, and properly arranged for

him the gold chain, which had slipped out of place on his doublet, and

playfully plaited the lace ruff which was about his neck.



"Is it your order, my husband, that your servants come?--the master of

ceremonies, who, without doubt, awaits your back in the anteroom--the

lord bishop--who a while ago made such a black-looking face at me? But

how! my husband, your face, too, is now in an eclipse? How? Has your

Puck perchance said something to put you out of tune?"



"No, indeed!" said the king, gloomily; but he avoided meeting her

smiling glance and looking in her rosy face.



The evil thoughts had again awoke in him; and he now remembered the

warrant of arrest that he had given Gardiner. He remembered it, and

he regretted it. For she was so fair and lovely--his young queen; she

understood so well by her jests to smooth away care from his brow, and

affright vexation from his soul--she was such an agreeable and sprightly

pastime, such a refreshing means of driving away ennui.



Not for her sake did he regret what he had done, but only on his own

account. From selfishness alone, he repented having issued that order

for the queen's imprisonment. Catharine observed him. Her glance,

sharpened by inward fear, read his thoughts on his brow, and understood

the sigh which involuntarily arose from his breast.



She again seized courage; she might succeed in turning away by a smile

the sword that hung over her head.



"Come, my lord and husband," said she, cheerfully, "the sun beckons to

us, and the trees shake their heads indignantly because we are not yet

there."



"Yes, come, Kate," said the king, rousing himself with an effort from

his brown study; "come, we will go down into God's free air. Perhaps

He is nearer to us there, and may illuminate us with good thoughts and

wholesome resolutions. Come, Kate."



The queen gave him her arm, and, supported on it, the king advanced a

few steps. But suddenly Catharine stood still; and as the king fastened

on her his inquiring look, she blushed and cast down her eyes.



"Well!" asked the king, "why do you linger?"



"Sire, I was considering your words; and what you say about the sun and

wholesome resolutions has touched my heart and startled my conscience.

My husband, you are right; God is there without, and I dare not venture

to behold the sun, which is God's eye, before I have made my confession

and received absolution. Sire, I am a great sinner, and my conscience

gives me no rest. Will you be my confessor, and listen to me?"



The king sighed. "Ah," thought he, "she is hurrying to destruction, and

by her own confession of guilt she will make it impossible for me to

hold her guiltless!"



"Speak!" said he aloud.



"First," said she, with downcast eyes--"first, I must confess to you

that I have to-day deceived you, my lord and king. Vanity and sinful

pride enticed me to this; and childish anger made me consummate what

vanity whispered to me. But I repent, my king; I repent from the bottom

of my soul, and I swear to you, my husband--yes, I swear to you by all

that is sacred to me, that it is the first and only time that I have

deceived you. And never will I venture to do it again, for it is a

dismal and awful feeling to stand before you with a guilty conscience."



"And in what have you deceived us, Kate?" asked the king; and his voice

trembled.



Catharine drew from her dress a small roll of paper, and, humbly bowing,

handed it to the king. "Take and see for yourself, my husband," said

she.



With hurried hand the king opened the paper, and then looked in utter

astonishment, now at its contents, and now at the blushing face of the

queen.



"What!" said he, "you give me a pawn from the chess-board! What does

that mean?"



"That means," said she, in a tone of utter contrition--"that means, that

I stole it from you, and thereby cheated you out of your victory. Oh,

pardon me, my husband! but I could no longer endure to lose always, and

I was afraid you would no more allow me the pleasure of playing with

you, when you perceived what a weak and contemptible antagonist I am.

And behold, this little pawn was my enemy! It stood near my queen and

threatened her with check, while it discovered check to my king from

your bishop. You were just going to make this move, which was to ruin

me, when Bishop Gardiner entered. You turned away your eyes and saluted

him. You were not looking on the game. Oh, my lord and husband, the

temptation was too alluring and seductive; and I yielded to it. Softly

I took the pawn from the board, and slipped it into my pocket. When

you looked again at the game, you seemed surprised at first; but your

magnanimous and lofty spirit had no suspicion of my base act; so you

innocently played on; and so I won the game of chess. Oh, my king, will

you pardon me, and not be angry with me?" The king broke out into a loud

laugh, and looked with an expression of tenderness at Catharine, who

stood before him with downcast eyes, abashed and blushing. This sight

only redoubled his merriment, and made him again and again roar out with

laughter.



"And is that all your crime, Kate?" asked he, at length, drying his

eyes. "You have stolen a pawn from me--this is your first and only

deception?"



"Is it not indeed great enough, sire? Did I not purloin it because I was

so high-minded as to want to win a game of chess from you? Is not the

whole court even now acquainted with my splendid luck? And does it not

know that I have been the victor to-day, whilst yet I was not entitled

to be so--whilst I deceived you so shamefully?"



"Now, verily," said the king, solemnly, "happy are the men who are not

worse deceived by their wives than you have deceived me to-day; and

happy are the women whose confessions are so pure and innocent as yours

have been to-day! Do but lift up your eyes again, my Katie; that sin is

forgiven you; and by God and by your king it shall be accounted to you

as a virtue."



He laid his hand on her head, as if in blessing, and gazed at her long

and silently. Then, said he, laughingly:



"According to this, then, my Kate, I should have been the victor of

to-day, and not have lost that game of chess."



"No," said she, dolefully, "I must have lost it, if I had not stolen the

pawn."



Again the king laughed. Catharine said, earnestly:



"Do but believe me, my husband, Bishop Gardiner alone was the cause of

my fall. Because he was by, I did not want to lose. My pride revolted

to think that this haughty and arrogant priest was to be witness of

my defeat. In mind, I already saw the cold and contemptuous smile with

which he would look down on me, the vanquished; and my heart rose in

rebellion at the thought of being humbled before him. And now I have

arrived at the second part of my fault which I want to confess to you

to-day. Sire, I must acknowledge another great fault to you. I have

grievously offended against you to-day, in that I contradicted you, and

withstood your wise and pious words. Ah, my husband, it was not done

to spite you, but only to vex and annoy the haughty priest. For I must

confess to you, my king, I hate this Bishop of Winchester--ay, yet

more--I have a dread of him; for my foreboding heart tells me that he

is my enemy, that he is watching each of my looks, each of my words,

so that he can make from them a noose to strangle me. He is the evil

destiny that creeps up behind me and would one day certainly destroy me,

if your beneficent hand and your almighty arm did not protect me.



"Oh, when I behold him, my husband, I would always gladly fly to your

heart, and say to you: 'Protect me, my king, and have compassion on me!

Have faith in me and love me; for if you do not, I am lost! The evil

fiend is there to destroy me.'"



And, as she thus spoke, she clung affectionately to the king's side,

and, leaning her head on his breast, looked up to him with a glance of

tender entreaty and touching devotion.



The king bent down and kissed her brow. "Oh, sancta simplicitas," softly

murmured he--"she knows not how nigh she is to the truth, and how much

reason she has for her evil forebodings!" Then he asked aloud: "So,

Kate, you believe that Gardiner hates you?"



"I do not believe it, I know it!" said she. "He wounds me whenever he

can; and though his wounds are made only with pins, that comes only from

this, that he is afraid that you might discover it if he drew a dagger

on me, whilst you might not notice the pin with which he secretly wounds

me. And what was his coming here to-day other than a new assault on me?

He knows very well--and I have never made a secret of it--that I am an

enemy to this Roman Catholic religion the pope of which has dared to

hurl his ban against my lord and husband; and that I seek with lively

interest to be instructed as to the doctrine and religion of the

so-called reformers."



"They say that you are a heretic," said the king, gravely.



"Gardiner says that! But if I am so, you are so too, my king; for your

belief is mine. If I am so, so too is Cranmer, the noble Archbishop

of Canterbury; for he is my spiritual adviser and helper. But Gardiner

wishes that I were a heretic, and he wants me likewise to appear so to

you. See, my husband, why it was that he laid those eight death-warrants

before you awhile ago. There were eight, all heretics, whom you were to

condemn--not a single papist among them; and yet I know that the prisons

are full of papists, who, in the fanaticism of their persecuted faith,

have spoken words just as worthy of punishment as those unfortunate ones

whom you were to-day to send from life to death by a stroke of your pen.

Sire, I should have prayed you just as fervently, just as suppliantly,

had they been papists whom you were to sentence to death! But Gardiner

wanted a proof of my heresy; and therefore he selected eight heretics,

for whom I was to oppose your hard decree."



"It is true," said the king, thoughtfully; "there was not a single

papist among them! But tell me, Kate--are you really a heretic, and an

adversary of your king?"



With a sweet smile she looked deep into his eyes, and humbly crossed her

arms over her beautiful breast.



"Your adversary!" whispered she. "Are you not my husband and my lord?

Was not the woman made to be subject to the man? The man was created

after the likeness of God, and the woman after the likeness of man. So

the woman is only the man's second self; and he must have compassion

on her in love; and he must give her of his spirit, and influence her

understanding from his understanding. Therefore your duty is to instruct

me, my husband; and mine is, to learn of you. And of all the women in

the world, to no one is this duty made so easy as to me; for God has

been gracious to me and given me as my husband a king whose prudence,

wisdom, and learning are the wonder of all the world." [Footnote: The

queen's own words, as they have been given by all historical writers.

See on this point Burnet, vol. I, p. 84; Tytler, p. 413; Larrey's

"Histoire d'Angleterre," vol. II, p. 201; Leti, vol. I, p. 154,

(death-sign) Historical. The king's own words.] "What a sweet little

flatterer you are, Kate!" said the king, with a smile; "and with what a

charming voice you want to conceal the truth from us! The truth is, that

you yourself are a very learned little body, who has no need at all

to learn anything from others, but who would be well able to instruct

others."



"Oh, if it is so, as you say," cried Catharine, "well, then would I

teach the whole world to love my king as I do, and to be subject to him

in humility, faithfulness, and obedience, as I am."



And as she thus spoke, she threw both her arms about the king's neck,

and leaned her head with a languishing expression upon his breast.



The king kissed her, and pressed her fast to his heart. He thought no

longer of the danger that was hovering over Catharine's head; he thought

only that he loved her, and that life would be very desolate, very

tedious and sad without her.



"And now, my husband," said Catharine, gently disengaging herself from

him--"now, since I have confessed to you and received absolution from

you--now let us go down into the garden, so that God's bright sun may

shine into our hearts fresh and glad. Come, my husband, your chair is

ready; and the bees and the butterflies, the gnats and the flies, have

already practised a hymn, with which they are going to greet you, my

husband."



Laughing and jesting, she drew him along to the adjoining room, where

the courtiers and the rolling-chair were standing ready; and the king

mounted his triumphal car, and allowed himself to be rolled through

the carpeted corridors, and down the staircases, transformed into broad

inclined planes of marble, into the garden.



The air had the freshness of winter and the warmth of spring. The grass

like a diligent weaver was already beginning to weave a carpet over the

black level of the square; and already here and there a tiny blossom,

curious and bashful, was peeping out and appeared to be smiling in

astonishment at its own premature existence. The sun seemed so warm and

bright; the heavens were so blue!



At the king's side went Catharine, with such rosy cheeks and sparkling

eyes. Those eyes were always directed to her husband; and her charming

prattle was to the king like the melodious song of birds, and made his

heart leap for pleasure and delight. But how? What noise all at once

drowned Catharine's sweet prattle? And what was it that flashed up there

at the end of that large alley which the royal pair with their suite had

just entered?



It was the noise of soldiers advancing; and shining helmets and

coats-of-mail flashed in the sunlight.



One band of soldiers held the outlet from the alley; another advanced up

it in close order. At their head were seen striding along Gardiner and

Earl Douglas, and at their side the lieutenant of the Tower.



The king's countenance assumed a lowering and angry expression and his

cheeks were suffused with crimson. With the quickness of youth he rose

from his chair, and, raised to his full height, he looked with flaming

eyes at the procession.



The queen seized his hand and pressed it to her breast.



"Ah," said she, with a low whisper, "protect me, my husband, for fear

already overpowers me again! It is my enemy--it is Gardiner--that comes,

and I tremble."



"You shall no longer tremble before him, Kate!" said the king. "Woe to

them, that dare make King Henry's consort tremble! I will speak with

Gardiner."



And almost roughly pushing aside the queen, the king, utterly heedless

in his violent excitement of the pain of his foot, went in a quick pace

to meet the advancing troop.



He ordered them by his gesture to halt, and called Gardiner and Douglas

to him. "What want you here? And what means this strange array?" asked

he, in a rough tone.



The two courtiers stared at him with looks of amazement, and durst not

answer him.



"Well!" asked the king, with ever-rising wrath, "will you at length

tell me by what right you intrude into my garden with an armed

host--specially at the same hour that I am here with my consort?

Verily, there is no sufficient excuse for such a gross violation of

the reverence which you owe your king and master; and I marvel, my lord

master of ceremonies, that you did not seek to prevent this indecorum!"



Earl Douglas muttered a few words of apology, which the king did not

understand, or did not want to understand.



"The duty of a master of ceremonies is to protect his king from every

annoyance, and you, Earl Douglas, offer it to me yourself. Perchance you

want thereby to show that you are weary of your office. Well, then, my

lord, I dismiss you from it, and that your presence may not remind me

of this morning's transaction, you will leave the court and London!

Farewell, my lord!"



Earl Douglas, turning pale and trembling, staggered a few steps

backward, and gazed at the king with astonishment. He wanted to speak,

but Henry, with a commanding wave of the hand, bade him be silent.



"And now for you, my lord bishop!" said the king, and his eyes were

turned on Gardiner with an expression so wrathful and contemptuous, that

he turned pale and looked down to the ground. "What means this strange

train with which the priest of God approaches his royal master to-day?

And under what impulse of Christian love are you going to hold to-day a

heretic hunt in the garden of your king?"



"Sire," said Gardiner, completely beside himself, "your majesty well

knows why I come; it was at your majesty's command that I with Earl

Douglas and the lieutenant of the Tower came, in order to--"



"Dare not to speak further!" yelled the king, who became still more

angry because Gardiner would not understand him and comprehend the

altered state of his mind. "How dare you make a pretence of my commands,

whilst I, full of just amazement, question you as to the cause of your

appearance? That is to say, you want to charge your king with falsehood.

You want to excuse yourself by accusing me. Ah, my worthy lord bishop,

this time you are thwarted in your plan, and I disavow you and your

foolish attempt. No! there is nobody here whom you shall arrest; and,

by the holy mother of God, were your eyes not blind, you would have seen

that here, where the king is taking an airing with his consort, there

could be no one whom these catchpolls had to look for! The presence of

the royal majesty is like the presence of God; it dispenses happiness

and peace about it; and whoever is touched by his glory, is graced and

sanctified thereby."



"But, your majesty," screamed Gardiner, whom anger and disappointed hope

had made forgetful of all considerations, "you wanted me to arrest the

queen; you yourself gave me the order for it; and now when I come to

execute your will--now you repudiate me."



The king uttered a yell of rage, and with lifted arm moved some steps

toward Gardiner.



But suddenly he felt his arm held back. It was Catharine, who had

hurried up to the king. "Oh, my husband," said she, in a low whisper,

"whatever he may have done, spare him! Still he is a priest of the

Lord; and so let his sacred robe protect him, though perchance his deeds

condemn him!"



"Ah, do you plead for him?" cried the king. "Really, my poor wife, you

suspect not how little ground you have to pity him, and to beg my mercy

for him. [Footnote: The king's own words,--See Leti, vol. I, p. 133,]

But you are right. We will respect his cassock, and think no more of

what a haughty and intriguing man is wrapped in it.--But beware, priest,

that you do not again remind me of that. My wrath would then inevitably

strike you; and I should have as little mercy for you as you say I ought

to show to other evil-doers. And in as much as you are a priest, be

penetrated with a sense of the gravity of your office and the sacredness

of your calling. Your episcopal see is at Winchester, and I think your

duties call you thither. We no longer need you, for the noble Archbishop

of Canterbury is coming back to us, and will have to fulfil the duties

of his office near us and the queen. Farewell!"



He turned his back on Gardiner, and, supported on Catharine's arm,

returned to his rolling-chair.



"Kate," said he, "just now a lowering cloud stood in your sky, but,

thanks to your smile and your innocent face, it has passed harmlessly

over. We thinks we still owe you special thanks for this; and we would

like to show you that by some office of love. Is there nothing that

would give you special delight, Kate?"



"Oh, yes," said she, with fervor. "Two great desires burn in my heart."



"Then name them, Kate; and, by the mother of God, if it is in the power

of a king to fulfil them, I will do it."



Catharine seized his hand and pressed it to her heart.



"Sire," said she, "they wanted to have you sign eight death-warrants

to-day. Oh, my husband, make of these eight criminals eight happy,

thankful subjects; teach them to love that king whom they have

reviled--teach their children, their wives and mothers to pray for you,

whilst you restore life and freedom to these fathers, these sons and

husbands, and while you, great and merciful, like Deity, pardon them."



"So shall it be!" cried the king, cheerfully. "Our hand shall have

to-day no other work than to rest in yours; and we will spare it

from making these eight strokes of the pen. The eight evil-doers are

pardoned; and they shall be free this very day."



With an exclamation of rapturous delight Catharine pressed Henry's hand

to her lips, and her face shone with pure happiness.



"And your second wish?" asked the king.



"My second wish," said she, with a smile, "pleads for the freedom of a

poor prisoner--for the freedom of a human heart, sire."



The king laughed. "A human heart? Does that then run about on the

street, so that it can be caught and made a prisoner of?"



"Sire, you have found it, and incarcerated it in your daughter's bosom.

You want to put Elizabeth's heart in fetters, and by an unnatural law

compel her to renounce her freedom of choice. Only think--to want to

bid a woman's heart, before she can love, to inquire first about the

genealogical tree, and to look at the coat-of-arms before she notices

the man!"



"Oh, women, women, what foolish children you are, though!" cried the

king, laughingly. "The question is about thrones, and you think about

your hearts! But come, Kate, you shall still further explain that to me;

and we will not take back our word, for we have given it you from a free

and glad heart."



He took the queen's arm, and, supported on it, walked slowly up the

alley with her. The lords and ladies of the court followed them in

silence and at a respectful distance; and no one suspected that this

woman, who was stepping along so proud and magnificent, had but just now

escaped an imminent peril of her life; that this man, who was leaning

on her arm with such devoted tenderness, had but a few hours before

resolved on her destruction. [Footnote: All this plot instigated by

Gardiner against the queen is, in minutest details, historically true,

and is found substantially the same in all historical works.] And whilst

chatting confidentially together they both wandered through the avenues,

two others with drooping head and pale face left the royal castle, which

was to be to them henceforth a lost paradise. Sullen spite and raging

hate were in their hearts, but yet they were obliged to endure in

silence; they were obliged to smile and to seem harmless, in order not

to prepare a welcome feast for the malice of the court. They felt the

spiteful looks of all these courtiers, although they passed by them with

down-cast eyes. They imagined they heard their malicious whispers,

their derisive laughter; and it pierced their hearts like the stab of a

dagger.



At length they had surmounted it--at length the palace lay behind them,

and they were at least free to pour out in words the agony that consumed

them--free to be able to break out into bitter execrations, into curses

and lamentations.



"Lost! all is lost!" said Earl Douglas to himself in a hollow voice. "I

am thwarted in all my plans. I have sacrificed to the Church my life,

my means, ay, even my daughter, and it has all been in vain. And, like a

beggar, I now stand on the street forsaken and without comfort; and our

holy mother the Church will no longer heed the son who loved her

and sacrificed himself for her, since he was so unfortunate, and his

sacrifice unavailing."



"Despair not!" said Gardiner, solemnly. "Clouds gather above us; but

they are dispersed again. And after the day of storm, comes again the

day of light. Our day also will come, my friend. Now, we go hence, our

heads strewn with ashes, and bowed at heart; but, believe me, we shall

one day come again with shining face and exultant heart; and the flaming

sword of godly wrath will glitter in our hands, and a purple robe will

enfold us, dyed in the blood of heretics whom we offer up to the Lord

our God as a well-pleasing sacrifice. God spares us for a better time;

and our banishment, believe me, friend, is but a refuge that God has

prepared for us this evil time which we are approaching."



"You speak of an evil time, and nevertheless you hope, your highness?"

asked Douglas, gloomily.



"And nevertheless I hope!" said Gardiner, with a strange and horrible

smile, and, bending down closer to Douglas, he whispered: "the king has

only a few days more to live. He does not suspect how near he is to his

death, and nobody has the courage to tell him. But his physician has

confided it to me. His vital forces are consumed, and death stands

already before his door to throttle him."



"And when he is dead," said Earl Douglas, shrugging his shoulders, "his

son Edward will be king, and those heretical Seymours will control the

helm of state! Call you that hope, your highness?"



"I call it so."



"Do you not know that Edward, young as he is, is nevertheless a

fanatical adherent of the heretical doctrine, and at the same time a

furious opponent of the Church in which alone is salvation?"



"I know it, but I know also that Edward is a feeble boy; and there is

current in our Church a holy prophecy which predicts that his reign is

only of short duration. God only knows what his death will be, but the

Church has often before seen her enemies die a sudden death. Death has

been often before this the most effective ally of our holy mother the

Church. Believe me, then, my son and hope, for I tell you Edward's rule

will be of short duration. And after him she will ascend the throne, the

noble and devout Mary, the rigid Catholic, who hates heretics as much

as Edward loves them. Oh, friend, when Mary ascends the throne, we shall

rise from our humiliation, and the dominion will be ours. Then will all

England become, as it were, a single great temple, and the fagot-piles

about the stake are the altars on which we will consume the heretics,

and their shrieks of agony are the holy psalms which we will make them

strike up to the honor of God and His holy Church. Hope for this time,

for I tell you it will soon come."



"If you say so, your highness, then it will come to pass," said Douglas,

significantly. "I will then hope and wait. I will save myself from evil

days in Scotland, and wait for the good."



"And I go, as this king by the wrath of God has commanded, to my

episcopal seat. The wrath of God will soon call Henry hence. May his

dying hour be full of torment, and may the Holy Father's curse be

realized and fulfilled in him! Farewell! We go with palms of peace

forced on us; but we will return with the naming sword, and our hands

will be dripping with heretic blood."



They once more shook hands and silently departed, and before evening

came on they had both left London. [Footnote: Gardiner's prophecy was

soon fulfilled. A few days after Gardiner had fallen into disgrace

Henry, the Eighth died, and his son Edward, yet a minor, ascended the

throne. But his rule was of brief duration. After a reign of scarcely

six years, he died a youth of the age of sixteen years, and his sister

Mary, called the Catholic, ascended the throne. Her first act was

to release Gardiner, who under Edward's reign had been confined as a

prisoner in the Tower, and to appoint him her minister, and later, to

the place of lord chancellor. He was one of the most furious persecutors

of the Reformers. Once he said at a council in the presence of the

bigoted queen; "These heretics have a soul so black that it can be

washed clean only in their own blood." He it was, too, who urged the

queen to such severe and odious measures against the Princess Elizabeth,

and caused her to be a second time declared a bastard and unworthy

of succeeding to the throne. When Mary died, Gardiner performed, in

Westminster Abbey, where she was entombed, the service for the dead in

the presence of her successor, Queen Elizabeth. Gardiner's discourse was

an enthusiastic eulogium of the deceased queen, and he set forth, as her

special merit, that she hated the heretics so ardently and had so many

of them executed. He closed with an invective against the Protestants,

in which he so little spared the young queen, and spoke of her in such

injurious terms, that he was that very day committed to prison.--Leti.

vol. I, p. 314.] A short time after this eventful walk in the garden of

Whitehall, the queen entered the apartments of the Princess Elizabeth,

who hastened to meet her with a burst of joy, and clasped her wildly in

her arms.



"Saved!" whispered she. "The danger is overcome, and again you are the

mighty queen, the adored wife!"



"And I have you to thank that I am so, princess! Without that warrant

of arrest which you brought me, I was lost. Oh, Elizabeth, but what a

martyrdom it was! To smile and jest, whilst my heart trembled with dread

and horror; to appear innocent and unembarrassed, whilst it seemed to

me as if I heard already the whiz of the axe that was about to strike my

neck! Oh, my God, I passed through the agonies and the dread of a whole

lifetime in that one hour! My soul has been harassed till it is wearied

to death, and my strength is exhausted. I could weep, weep continually

over this wretched, deceitful world, in which to wish right and to do

good avail nothing; but in which you must dissemble and lie, deceive and

disguise yourself, if you do not want to fall a victim to wickedness and

mischief. But ah, Elizabeth, even my tears I dare shed only in secret,

for a queen has no right to be melancholy. She must seem ever cheerful,

ever happy and contented; and only God and the still, silent night know

her sighs and her tears."



"And you may let me also see them, queen," said Elizabeth, heartily;

"for you well know you may trust and rely on me."



Catharine kissed her fervently. "You have done me a great service

to-day, and I have come," said she, "to thank you, not with sounding

words only, but by deeds. Elizabeth, your wish will be fulfilled. The

king will repeal the law which was to compel you to give your hand only

to a husband of equal birth."



"Oh," cried Elizabeth, with flashing eyes, "then I shall, perhaps, some

day be able to make him whom I love a king." Catharine smiled. "You

have a proud and ambitious heart," said she. "God has endowed you with

extraordinary ability. Cultivate it and seek to increase it; for my

prophetic heart tells me that you are destined to become, one day, Queen

of England. [Footnote: Catharine's own words.--See Leti, vol. I, p.

172.] But who knows whether then you will still wish to elevate him whom

you now love, to be your husband? A queen, as you will be, sees with

other eyes than those of a young, inexperienced maiden. Perchance I may

not have done right in moving the king to alter this law; for I am

not acquainted with the man that you love; and who knows whether he is

worthy that you should bestow on him your heart, so innocent and pure?"



Elizabeth threw both her arms about Catharine's neck, and clung tenderly

to her. "Oh," said she, "he would be worthy to be loved even by you,

Catharine; for he is the noblest and handsomest cavalier in the whole

world; and though he is no king, yet he is a king's brother-in-law, and

will some day be a king's uncle."



Catharine felt her heart, as it were, convulsed, and a slight tremor ran

through her frame. "And am I not to learn his name?" asked she.



"Yes, I will tell you it now; for now there is no longer danger in

knowing it. The name of him whom I love, queen, is Thomas Seymour."



Catharine uttered a scream, and pushed Elizabeth passionately away from

her heart. "Thomas Seymour?" cried she, in a menacing tone. "What! do

you dare love Thomas Seymour?"



"And why should I not dare?" asked the young girl in astonishment. "Why

should I not give him my heart, since, thanks to your intercession, I

am no longer bound to choose a husband of equal birth? Is not Thomas

Seymour one of the first of this land? Does not all England look on

him with pride and tenderness? Does not every woman to whom he deigns

a look, feel herself honored? Does not the king himself smile and

feel more pleased at heart, when Thomas Seymour, that young, bold, and

spirited hero, stands by his side?"



"You are right!" said Catharine, whose heart every one of these

enthusiastic words, lacerated like the stab of a dagger--"yes, you are

right. He is worthy of being loved by you--and you could hit upon no

better choice. It was only the first surprise that made me see things

otherwise than they are. Thomas Seymour is the brother of a queen: why

then should he not also be the husband of a royal princess?"



With a bashful blush, Elizabeth hid her smiling face in Catharine's

bosom. She did not see with what an expression of alarm and agony the

queen observed her; how her lips were convulsively compressed, and her

cheeks covered with a death-like pallor.



"And he?" asked she, in a low tone. "Does Thomas Seymour love you?"



Elizabeth raised her head and looked at the questioner in amazement

"How!" said she. "Is it possible, then, to love, if you are not loved?"



"You are right," sighed Catharine. "One must be very humble and silly to

be able to do that."



"My God! how pale you are, queen!" cried Elizabeth, who just now noticed

Catharine's pale face. "Your features are distorted; your lips tremble.

My God! what does this mean?"



"It is nothing!" said Catharine, with a smile full of agony. "The

excitement and alarm of to-day have exhausted my strength. That is all.

Besides, a new grief threatens us, of which you as yet know nothing.

The king is ill. A sudden dizziness seized him, and made him fall almost

lifeless at my side. I came to bring you the king's message; now duty

calls me to my husband's sickbed. Farewell, Elizabeth."



She waved a good-by to her with her hand, and with hurried step left the

room. She summoned up courage to conceal the agonies of her soul, and to

pass proud and stately through the halls. To the courtiers bowing before

her, she would still be the queen, and no one should suspect what agony

was torturing her within like flames of fire. But at last arrived at her

boudoir--at last sure of being overheard and observed by no one--she was

no longer the queen, but only the agonized, passionate woman.



She sank on her knees, and cried, with a heart-rending wail of anguish:

"My God, my God, grant that I may become mad, so that I may no longer

know that he has forsaken me!"





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