The Queen's Toilet





The festivities of the day are concluded, and the gallant knights and

champions, who have to-day broken a lance for the honor of their ladies,

may rest from their victories upon their laurels. The tournament of arms

was over, and the tournament of mind was about to begin. The knights,

therefore, retired to exchange the coat-of-mail for gold-embroidered

velvet apparel; the ladies to put on their lighter evening dresses;

and the queen, likewise with this design, had withdrawn to her

dressing-room, while the ladies and lords of her court were in

attendance in the large anteroom to escort her to the throne.



Without, it was beginning to grow dusky, and the twilight cast its

long shadows across this hall, in which the cavaliers of the court were

walking up and down with the ladies, and discussing the particularly

important events of the day's tourney.



The Earl of Sudley, Thomas Seymour, had borne off the prize of the day,

and conquered his opponent, Henry Howard. The king had been in raptures

on this account. For Thomas Seymour had been for some time his favorite;

perhaps because he was the declared enemy of the Howards. He had,

therefore, added to the golden laurel crown which the queen had

presented to the earl as the award, a diamond pin, and commanded the

queen to fasten it in the earl's ruff with her own hand. Catharine

had done so with sullen countenance and averted looks; and even Thomas

Seymour had shown himself only a very little delighted with the proud

honor with which the queen, at her husband's command, was to grace him.



The rigid popish party at court formed new hopes from this, and dreamed

of the queen's conversion and return to the true, pure faith; while

the Protestant, "the heretical" party, looked to the future with gloomy

despondency, and were afraid of being robbed of their most powerful

support and their most influential patronage.



Nobody had seen that, as the queen arose to crown the victor, Thomas

Seymour, her handkerchief, embroidered with gold, fell from her hands,

and that the earl, after he had taken it up and presented it to the

queen, had thrust his hand for a moment, with a motion wholly accidental

and undesigned, into his ruff, which was just as white as the small

neatly-folded paper which he concealed in it, and which he had found in

the queen's handkerchief.



One person had seen it. This little ruse of the queen had not escaped

John Heywood, who had immediately, by some cutting witticism, set the

king to laughing, and tried to draw the attention of the courtiers from

the queen and her lover.



He was now standing crowded into the embrasure of a window, and entirely

concealed behind the silk curtain; and so, without being seen, he let

his falcon eyes roam over the whole room.



He saw everything; he heard everything; and, noticed by none, he

observed all.



He saw how Earl Douglas now made a sign to Bishop Gardiner, and how he

quickly answered it.



As if by accident, both now left the groups with whom they had just been

chatting, and drew near each other, looking about for some place where,

unobserved and separated from the rest, they might converse together. In

all the windows were standing groups, chatting and laughing; only that

window behind the curtain of which John Heywood was concealed, was

unoccupied.



So Earl Douglas and the bishop turned thither.



"Shall we attain our end to-day?" asked Gardiner, in a low voice.



"With God's gracious assistance, we shall annihilate all our enemies

to-day. The sword already hangs over their heads, and soon it will fall

and deliver us from them," said Earl Douglas, solemnly.



"Are you, then, certain of it?" asked Gardiner, and an expression of

cruel delight flitted across his malicious, ashy face. "But tell me, how

comes it that Archbishop Cranmer is not here?"



"He is sick, and so had to remain at Lambeth."



"May this sickness be the forerunner of his death!" muttered the bishop,

devoutly folding his hands.



"It will be so, your highness; God will destroy His enemies and bless

us. Cranmer is accused, and the king will judge him without mercy."



"And the queen?"



Earl Douglas was a moment silent, and then said, in a low whisper:

"Wait but a few hours more, and she will be queen no longer. Instead of

returning from the throne-room to her apartments, we shall accompany her

to the Tower."



John Heywood, completely enveloped in the folds of the curtain, held his

breath and listened.



"And you are, then, perfectly sure of our victory?" asked Gardiner. "Can

no accident, no unforeseen circumstance, snatch it from us?"



"If the queen gives him the rosette--no! For then the king will find

Geraldine's love-letter in the silver knot, and she is condemned. So

all depends on the queen's wearing the rosette, and not discovering

its contents. But see, your highness, there is the Duchess of Richmond

approaching us. She makes a sign to me. Now pray for us, your highness,

for I am going with her to the king, and she will accuse this hated

Catharine Parr! I tell you, bishop, it is an accusation involving

life and death; and if Catharine escape one danger, she will run into

another. Wait here for me, your highness; I will return soon and tell

you the result of our scheme. Lady Jane, also, will soon bring us news

here."



He left the window and followed the duchess, who crossed the hall, and

with her disappeared through the door that led to the king's apartments.



The ladies and lords of the court laughed and chatted away.



John Heywood stood, with throbbing heart and in breathless anxiety,

behind the curtain, close by Gardiner, who had folded his hands and was

praying.



While Gardiner prayed, and Douglas accused and calumniated, the queen,

suspecting nothing of these plots they were framing against her, was in

her toilet-room and being adorned by her women.



She was to-day very beautiful, very magnificent to look upon; at once

a woman and queen; at the same time resplendent and modest, with a

bewitching smile on her rosy lips; and yet commanding respect in her

proud and glorious beauty. None of Henry's queens had so well understood

the art of appearing in public, and none remained so much the woman

while doing so.



As she now stood before the large mirror, which the Republic of Venice

had sent the king as a wedding-gift, and which reflected the figure of

the queen sparkling with diamonds, she smiled, for she was obliged to

confess to herself that she was very beautiful to-day; and she thought

that to-day Thomas Seymour would look upon his love with pride.



As she thought of him, a deep crimson overspread her face, and a thrill

flew through her frame. How handsome he had been at the tournament that

day; how splendidly he leaped over the barriers; how his eye flashed;

how contemptuous had been his smile! And then, that look which he

directed over to her at the moment when he had conquered his antagonist,

Henry Howard, and hurled the lance from his hand! Oh, her heart was then

ready to burst with delight and rapture!



Wholly given up to her reverie, she sank in her gilded arm-chair and

cast her eyes to the ground, dreaming and smiling.



Behind her stood her women in respectful silence, waiting for a sign

from their mistress. But the queen no longer thought at all of them; she

imagined herself alone; she saw nobody but that handsome, manly face for

which she had reserved a place in her heart.



Now the door opened, and Lady Jane Douglas entered. She, too, was

magnificently dressed, and sparkling with diamonds; she, too, was

beautiful, but it was the pallid, dreadful beauty of a demon; and he who

looked upon her just then, as she entered the room, would have trembled,

and his heart would have been seized with an undefined fear.



She threw a quick glance on her mistress lost in revery; and as she saw

that her toilet was finished, she made a sign to the women, who silently

obeyed and left the room.



Still Catharine noticed nothing. Lady Jane stood behind her and observed

her in the mirror. As she saw the queen smile, her brow darkened and

fierce fire flashed in her eyes.



"She shall smile no more," said she to herself. "I suffer thus terribly

by her; well, now, she shall suffer too."



Softly and noiselessly she slipped into the next room, the door of which

stood ajar, and opened with hurried hand a carton filled with ribbons

and bows. Then she drew from the velvet pocket, wrought with pearls,

which hung at her side, suspended by a gold chain, a dark-red rosette,

and threw it into the box. That was all.



Lady Jane now returned to the adjoining room; and her countenance, which

had been previously gloomy and threatening, was now proud and joyful.



With a bright smile she walked up to the queen, and kneeling down at her

side, she pressed a fervent kiss on the hand that was hanging down.



"What is my queen musing over?" asked she, as she laid her head on

Catharine's knee and tenderly looked up at her.



The queen gave a slight start, and raised her head. She saw Lady Jane's

tender smile, and her yet searching looks.



Because she felt conscious of guilt, at least of guilty thoughts, she

was on her guard, and remembered John Heywood's warning.



"She is observing me," she said to herself; "she seems affectionate; so

she is brooding over some wicked plot."



"Ah, it is well you have come, Jane," said she aloud. "You can help me;

for, to tell you the truth, I am in great perplexity. I am in want of a

rhyme, and I am thinking in vain how I shall find it."



"Ah, are you composing poetry, queen?"



"Why, Jane, does that surprise you? Shall I, the queen, be able, then,

to bear off no prize? I would give my precious jewels, if I could

succeed in composing a poem to which the king was obliged to award the

prize. But I am wanting in a musical ear; I cannot find the rhyme, and

so shall be obliged at last to give up the idea of winning laurels also.

How the king would enjoy it, though! For, to confess the truth to you, I

believe he is a little afraid that Henry Howard will bear off the prize,

and he would be very thankful to me if I could contest it with him. You

well know the king has no love for the Howards."



"And you, queen?" asked Jane; and she turned so pale, that the queen

herself noticed it.



"You are unwell, Jane," said she, sympathizingly. "Really, Jane, you

seem to be suffering. You need recreation; you should rest a little."



But Jane had already regained her calm and earnest air, and she

succeeded in smiling.



"No, indeed!" said she. "I am well, and satisfied to be permitted to be

near you. But will you allow me, queen, to make a request of you?"



"Ask, Jane, ask, and it is granted beforehand; for I know that Jane will

request nothing that her friend cannot grant."



Lady Jane was silent, and looked thoughtfully upon the ground. With firm

resolution she struggled with herself. Her proud heart reared fiercely

up at the thought of bowing before this woman, whom she hated, and

of being obliged to approach her with a fawning prayer. She felt such

raging hate against the queen, that in that hour she would willingly

have given her own life, if she could have first seen her enemy at her

feet, wailing and crushed.



Henry Howard loved the queen; so Catharine had robbed her of the heart

of him whom she adored. Catharine had condemned her to the eternal

torment of renouncing him--to the rack of enjoying a happiness and a

rapture that was not hers--to warm herself at a fire which she like a

thief had stolen from the altar of another's god.



Catharine was condemned and doomed. Jane had no more compassion. She

must crush her.



"Well," asked the queen, "you are silent? You do not tell me what I am

to grant you?"



Lady Jane raised her eyes, and her look was serene and peaceful.

"Queen," said she, "I encountered in the ante-room one who is unhappy,

deeply bowed down. In your hand alone is the power to raise him up

again. Will you do it?"



"Will I do it!" exclaimed Catharine, quickly. "Oh, Jane, you well know

how much my heart longs to help and be serviceable to the unfortunate!

Ah, so many wounds are inflicted at this court, and the queen is so poor

in balm to heal them! Allow me this pleasure then, Jane, and I shall be

thankful to you, not you to me! Speak then, Jane, speak quickly; who is

it that needs my help?"



"Not your help, queen, but your compassion and your grace. Earl Sudley

has conquered poor Earl Surrey in the tournament to-day, and you

comprehend that your lord chamberlain feels himself deeply bowed and

humbled."



"Can I alter that, Jane? Why did the visionary earl, the enthusiastic

poet, allow himself a contest with a hero who already knows what he

wants, and ever accomplishes what he wills? Oh, it was wonderful to look

upon, with what lightning speed Thomas Seymour lifted him out of

the saddle! And the proud Earl Surrey, the wise and learned man, the

powerful party leader, was forced to bow before the hero, who like an

angel Michael had thrown him in the dust."



The queen laughed.



That laugh went through Jane's heart like a cutting sword.



"She shall pay me for that!" said she softly to herself. "Queen," said

she aloud, "you are perfectly right; he has deserved this humiliation;

but now, after he is punished, you should lift him up. Nay, do not

shake your beautiful head. Do it for your own sake, queen; do it from

prudence. Earl Surrey, with his father, is the head of a powerful party,

whom this humiliation of the Howards fills with a still more burning

hate against the Seymours, and who will, in time to come, take a bloody

revenge for it."



"Ah, you frighten me!" said the queen, who had now become serious.



Lady Jane continued: "I saw how the Duke of Norfolk bit his lips, as his

son had to yield to Seymour; I heard how one, here and there, muttered

low curses and vows of vengeance against the Seymours."



"Who did that? Who dared to do it?" exclaimed Catharine, springing up

impetuously from her arm-chair. "Who at this court is so audacious as to

wish to injure those whom the queen loves? Name him to me, Jane; I will

know his name! I will know it, that I may accuse him to the king. For

the king does not want that these noble Seymours should give way to

the Howards; he does not want that the nobler, the better, and more

glorious, should bow before these quarrelsome, domineering papists. The

king loves the noble Seymours, and his powerful arm will protect them

against all their enemies."



"And, without doubt, your majesty will assist him in it?" said Jane,

smiling.



This smile brought the queen back to her senses again.



She perceived that she had gone too far; that she had betrayed too much

of her secret. She must, therefore, repair the damage, and allow her

excitement to be forgotten. Therefore she said, calmly: "Certainly,

Jane; I will assist the king to be just. But never will I be unjust, not

even against these papists. If I cannot love them, nevertheless no one

shall say that I hate them. And besides, it becomes a queen to rise

above parties. Say, then, Jane, what can I do for poor Surrey? With what

shall we bind up these wounds that the brave Seymour has inflicted on

him?"



"You have publicly given the victor in the tournament a token of your

great favor--you have crowned him."



"It was the king's order," exclaimed Catharine, warmly.



"Well! He will not, however, command you to reward the Earl of Surrey

also, if he likewise should gain the victory this evening. Do it,

therefore, of your own accord, queen. Give him openly, before your whole

court, a token of your favor! It is so easy for princes to make men

happy, to comfort the unfortunate! A smile, a friendly word, a pressure

of the hand is sufficient for it. A ribbon that you wear on your dress

makes him to whom you present it, proud and happy, and raises him high

above all others. Ponder it well, queen; I speak not for Earl Surrey's

sake; I am thinking more of yourself. If you have the courage, publicly

and in spite of the disgrace with which King Henry threatens the

Howards, to be nevertheless just to them, and to recognize their

merits as well as that of others--believe me, if you do that, the whole

of this powerful party, which is now hostile to you, will fall at your

feet overcome and conquered. You will at last become the all-powerful

and universally loved Queen of England; and, like the heretics, the

papists also will call you their mistress and protectress. Consider no

longer! Let your noble and generous heart prevail! Spiteful fortune has

prostrated Henry Howard in the dust. Extend him your hand, queen,

that he may rise again, and again stand there at your court, proud and

radiant as he always was. Henry Howard well deserves that you should be

gracious to him. Great and beaming like a star, he shines on high above

all men; and there is no one who can say that he himself is more prudent

or braver, wiser or more learned, noble or greater, than the noble, the

exalted Surrey. All England resounds with his fame. The women repeat

with enthusiasm his beautiful sonnets and love-songs; the learned are

proud to call him their equal, and the warriors speak with admiration of

his feats of arms. Be just, then, queen! You have so highly honored the

merit of valor; now, honor the merit of mind also! You have, in Seymour,

honored the warrior; now, in Howard, honor the poet and the man!"



"I will do it," said Catharine, as with a charming smile she looked into

Jane's glowing and enthusiastic countenance. "I will do it, Jane, but

upon one condition!"



"And this condition is--"



Catharine put her arm around Jane's neck, and drew her close to her

heart, "That you confess to me, that you love Henry Howard, whom you

know how to defend so enthusiastically and warmly."



Lady Jane gave a start, and for a moment leaned her head on the queen's

shoulder, exhausted.



"Well," asked she, "do you confess it? Will you acknowledge that your

proud, cold heart is obliged to declare itself overcome and conquered?"



"Yes, I confess it," cried Lady Jane, as with passionate vehemence she

threw herself at Catharine's feet. "Yes, I love him--I adore him. I know

it is a disdained and unhappy love; but what would you have? My heart is

mightier than everything else. I love him; he is my god and my lord; I

adore him as my savior and lord. Queen, you know all my secret; betray

me if you will! Tell it to my father, if you wish him to curse me. Tell

it to Henry Howard, if it pleases you to hear how he scoffs at me. For

he, queen--he loves me not!"



"Poor unfortunate Jane!" exclaimed the queen, compassionately.



Jane uttered a low cry, and rose from her knees. That was too much.

Her enemy commiserated her. She, who was to blame for her sorrow--she

bemoaned her fate.



Ah, she could have strangled the queen; she could have plunged a dagger

into her heart, because she dared to commiserate her.



"I have complied with your condition, queen," said she, breathing

hurriedly. "Will you now comply with my request?"



"And will you really be an advocate for this unthankful, cruel man,

who does not love you? Proudly and coldly he passes your beauty by, and

you--you intercede for him!"



"Queen, true love thinks not of itself! It sacrifices itself. It makes

no question of the reward it receives, but only of the happiness which

it bestows. I saw in his pale, sorrowful face, how much he suffered;

ought I not to think of comforting him? I approached him, I addressed

him; I heard his despairing lamentation over that misfortune, which,

however, was not the fault of his activity and courage, but, as all the

world saw, the fault of his horse, which was shy and stumbled. And as

he, in all the bitterness of his pain, was lamenting that you, queen,

would despise and scorn him, I, with full trust in your noble and

magnanimous heart, promised him that you would, at my request, yet give

him to-day, before your whole court, a token of your favor. Catharine,

did I do wrong?"



"No, Jane, no! You did right; and your words shall be made good. But how

shall I begin? What shall I do?"



"The earl this evening, after the king has read the Greek scene with

Croke, will recite some new sonnets which he has composed. When he

has done so, give him some kind of a present--be it what it may, no

matter--as a token of your favor."



"But how, Jane, if his sonnets deserve no praise and no acknowledgment?"



"You may be sure that they do deserve it. For Henry Howard is a noble

and true poet, and his verses are full of heavenly melody and exalted

thoughts."



The queen smiled. "Yes," said she, "you love him ardently; for you have

no doubt as to him. We will, therefore, recognize him as a great poet.

But with what shall I reward him?"



"Give him a rose that you wear in your bosom--a rosette that is fastened

to your dress and shows your colors."



"But alas, Jane, to-day I wear neither a rose nor a rosette."



"Yet you can wear one, queen. A rosette is, indeed, wanting here on your

shoulder. Your purple mantle is too negligently fastened. We must put

some trimming here."



She went hastily into the next room and returned with the box in which

were kept the queen's ribbons embroidered with gold, and bows adorned

with jewels.



Lady Jane searched and selected, here and there, a long time. Then she

took the crimson velvet rosette, which she herself had previously thrown

into the box, and showed it to the queen.



"See, it is at the same time tasteful and rich, for a diamond clasp

confines it in the middle. Will you allow me to fasten this rosette on

your shoulder, and will you give it to the Earl of Surrey?"



"Yes, Jane, I will give it to him, because you wish it. But, poor Jane,

what do, you gain by my doing it?"



"At any rate, a friendly smile, queen."



"And is that enough for you? Do you love him so much, then?"



"Yes, I love him!" said Jane Douglas, with a sigh of pain, as she

fastened the rosette on the queen's shoulder.



"And now, Jane, go and announce to the master of ceremonies that I am

ready, as soon as the king wishes it, to resort to the gallery." Lady

Jane turned to leave the chamber. But, already upon the threshold, she

returned once more.



"Forgive me, queen, for venturing to make one more request of you. You

have, however, just shown yourself too much the noble and true friend of

earlier days for me not to venture one more request."



"Now, what is it, poor Jane?"



"I have intrusted my secret not to the queen, but to Catharine Parr, the

friend of my youth. Will she keep it, and betray to none my disgrace and

humiliation?"



"My word for that, Jane. Nobody but God and ourselves shall ever know

what we have spoken."



Lady Jane humbly kissed her hand and murmured a few words of thanks;

then she left the queen's room to go in quest of the master of

ceremonies.



In the queen's anteroom she stopped a moment, and leaned against the

wall, exhausted, and as it were crushed. Nobody was here who could

observe and listen to her. She had no need to smile, no need to conceal,

beneath a calm and equable appearance, all those tempestuous and

despairing feelings which were working within. She could allow her

hatred and her resentment, her rage and her despair, to pour forth in

words and gestures, in tears and imprecations, in sobs and sighs. She

could fall on her knees and beseech God for grace and mercy, and call on

the devil for revenge and destruction.



When she had so done, she arose, and her demeanor resumed its wonted

cold and calm expression. Only her cheeks were still paler; only a still

gloomier fire darted from her eyes, and a scornful smile played about

her thin, compressed lips.



She traversed the rooms and corridors, and now she entered the king's

anteroom. As she observed Gardiner, who was standing alone and separated

from the rest in the embrasure of the window, she went up to him; and

John Heywood, who was still hidden behind the curtain, shuddered at the

frightful and scornful expression of her features.



She offered the bishop her hand, and tried to smile. "It is done" said

she, almost inaudibly.



"What! The queen wears the rosette?" asked Gardiner vivaciously.



"She wears the rosette, and will give it to him."



"And the note is in it?"



"It is concealed under the diamond clasp."



"Oh, then she is lost!" muttered Gardiner. "If the king finds this

paper, Catharine's death-warrant is signed."



"Hush!" said Lady Jane. "See! Lord Hertford is coming toward us. Let us

go to meet him."



They both left the window and walked out into the hall.



John Heywood immediately slipped from behind the curtain, and, softly

gliding along by the wall, left the hall perceived by no one.



Outside, he stopped and reflected.



"I must see this conspiracy to the bottom," said he to himself. "I must

find out through whom and by what they wish to destroy her; and I must

have sure and undeniable proof in my hands, in order to be able to

convict them, and successfully accuse them to the king. Therefore it is

necessary to be cautious and prudent. So let us consider what to do. The

simplest thing would be to beg the queen not to wear the rosette. But

that is only to demolish the web for this time, without, however, being

able to kill the spider that wove it. So she must wear the rosette; for

besides, without that I should never be able either to find out to whom

she is to give it. But the paper that is concealed in the rosette--that

I must have--that must not be in it. 'If the king finds this paper.

Catharine's death-warrant is signed.' Now, my reverend priest of the

devil, the king will not find that paper, for John Heywood will not have

it so. But how shall I begin? Shall I tell the queen what I heard?

No! She would lose her cheerful spirit and become embarrassed, and the

embarrassment would be in the king's eyes the most convincing proof of

her guilt. No, I must take this paper out of the rosette without the

queen's being aware of it. Boldly to work, then! I must have this paper,

and tweak these hypocrites by the nose. How it can be done, it is not

clear to me yet; but I will do it--that is enough. Halloo, forward to

the queen!"



With precipitant haste he ran through the halls and corridors, while

with a smile he muttered away to himself: "Thank God, I enjoy the honor

of being the fool; for only the king and the fool have the privilege of

being able to enter unannounced every room, even the queen's."



Catharine was alone in her boudoir, when the small door, through which

the king was accustomed to resort to her, was softly opened.



"Oh, the king is coming!" said she, walking to the door to greet her

husband.



"Yes, the king is coming, for the fool is already here," said John

Heywood, who entered through the private door. "Are we alone, queen?

Does nobody overhear us?"



"No, John Heywood, we are all alone. What do you bring me?"



"A letter, queen."



"From whom?" asked she, and a glowing crimson flitted over her cheek.



"From whom?" repeated John Heywood, with a waggish smile. "I do not

know, queen; but at any rate it is a begging letter; and without doubt

you would do well not to read it at all; for I bet you, the shameless

writer of this letter demands of you some impossibility--it may be a

smile, or a pressure of the hand, a lock of your hair, or perchance even

a kiss. So, queen, do not read the begging letter at all."



"John," said she, smiling, and yet trembling with impatience, "John,

give me the letter."



"I will sell it to you, queen. I have learned that from the king, who

likewise gives nothing away generously, without taking in return more

than he gives. So let us trade. I give you the letter; you give me the

rosette which you wear on your shoulder there."



"Nay, indeed, John; choose something else--I cannot give you the

rosette."



"And by the gods be it sworn!" exclaimed John, with comic pathos, "I

give you not the letter, if you do not give me the rosette."



"Silly loon," said the queen, "I tell you I cannot! Choose something

else, John; and I conjure you, dear John, give me the letter."



"Then only, when you give me the rosette. I have sworn it by the gods,

and what I vow to them, that I stick to! No, no, queen--not those sullen

airs, not that angry frown. For if I cannot in earnest receive the

rosette as a present, then let us do like the Jesuits and papists, who

even trade with the dear God, and snap their fingers at Him. I must

keep my oath! I give you the letter, and you give me the rosette; but

listen--you only lend it to me; and when I have it in my hand a moment,

I am generous and bountiful, like the king, and I make you a present of

your own property."



With a quick motion the queen tore the rosette from her shoulder, and

handed it to John Heywood.



"Now give me the letter, John."



"Here it is," said John Heywood as he received the rosette. "Take it;

and you will see that Thomas Seymour is my brother."



"Your brother?" asked Catharine with a smile, as with trembling hand she

broke the seal.



"Yes, my brother, for he is a fool! Ah, I have a great many brothers.

The family of fools is so very large!"



The queen no longer heard. She was reading the letter of her lover. She

had eyes only for those lines, that told her that Thomas Seymour loved

her, adored her, and was pining away with longing after her. She did

not see how John Heywood, with nimble hand, unfastened the diamond clasp

from the rosette, and took out of it the little paper that was concealed

in the folds of the ribbon.



"She is saved!" murmured he, while he thrust the fatal paper into his

doublet, and fastened the clasp again with the pin. "She is saved, and

the king will not sign her death-warrant this time."



Catharine had read the letter to the end, and hid it in her bosom.



"Queen, you have sworn to burn up every letter that I bring you from

him; for, forbidden love-letters are dangerous things. One day they may

find a tongue and testify against you! Queen, I will not bring you again

another letter, if you do not first burn that one."



"John, I will burn it up when once I have really read it. Just now I

read it only with my heart, not with my eyes. Allow me, then, to wear it

on my heart a few hours more."



"Do you swear to me that you will burn it up this very day?"



"I swear it."



"Then I will be satisfied this time. Here is your rosette; and like

the famous fox in the fable, that pronounced the grapes sour because he

could not get them, I say, take your rosette back; I will have none of

it."



He handed the queen the rosette, and she smilingly fastened it on her

shoulder again.



"John," said she, with a bewitching smile, extending her hand to him,

"John, when will you at length permit me to thank you otherwise than

with words? When will you at length allow your queen to reward you for

all this service of love, otherwise than with words?"



John Heywood kissed her hand, and said mournfully: "I will demand

a reward of you on the day when my tears and my prayers succeed in

persuading you to renounce this wretched and dangerous love. On that

day I shall have really deserved a reward, and I will accept it from you

with a proud heart."



"Poor John! So, then, you will never receive your reward; for that day

will never come!"



"So, then, I shall probably receive my reward, but from the king; and it

will be a reward whereby one loses hearing and sight, and head to boot.

Well, we shall see! Till then, farewell, queen! I must to the king; for

somebody might surprise me here, and come to the shrewd conclusion that

John Heywood is not always a fool, but sometimes also the messenger of

love! I kiss the hem of your garment; farewell, queen!"



He glided again through the private door.



"Now we will at once examine this paper," said he, as he reached the

corridor and was sure of being seen by no one.



He drew the paper out of his doublet and opened it. "I do not know the

hand-writing," muttered her, "but it was a woman that wrote it."



The letter read: "Do you believe me now, my beloved? I swore to deliver

to you to-day, in the presence of the king and all of my court, this

rosette; and I have done so. For you I gladly risk my life, for you are

my life; and still more beautiful were it to die with you, than to

live without you. I live only when I rest in your arms; and those dark

nights, when you can be with me, are the light and sunshine of my days.

Let us pray Heaven a dark night may soon come; for such a night restores

to me the loved one, and to you, your happy wife, Geraldine."



"Geraldine! who is Geraldine?" muttered John Heywood, slipping the

paper into his doublet again. "I must disentangle this web of lying

and deceit. I must know what all this means. For this is more than a

conspiracy--a false accusation. It concerns, as it seems, a

reality. This letter the queen is to give to a man; and in it, sweet

recollections, happy nights, are spoken of. So he who receives this

letter is in league with them against Catharine, and I dare say her

worst enemy, for he makes use of love against her. Some treachery or

knavery is concealed behind this. Either the man to whom this letter is

addressed is deceived--and he is unintentionally a tool in the hands of

the papists--or he is in league with them, and has given himself up to

the villainy of playing the part of a lover to the queen. But who can he

be? Perchance, Thomas Seymour. It were possible; for he has a cold and

deceitful heart, and he would be capable of such treachery. But woe be

to him if it is he! Then it will be I who accuses him to the king; and,

by God! his head shall fall! Now away to the king!"



Just as he entered the king's anteroom, the door of the cabinet opened,

and the Duchess of Richmond, accompanied by Earl Douglas, walked out.



Lady Jane and Gardiner were standing, as if by accident, near the door.



"Well, have we attained our end there also?" asked Gardiner.



"We have attained it," said Earl Douglas. "The duchess has accused her

brother of a liaison with the queen. She has deposed that he sometimes

leaves the palace by night, and does not return to it before morning.

She has declared that for four nights she herself dogged her brother and

saw him as he entered the wing of the castle occupied by the queen; and

one of the queen's maids has communicated to the duchess that the queen

was not in her room on that night."



"And the king listened to the accusation, and did not throttle you in

his wrath!"



"He is just in that dull state of rage in which the lava that the crater

will afterward pour forth, is just prepared. As yet all is quiet, but be

sure there will be an eruption, and the stream of red-hot lava will busy

those who have dared excite the god Vulcan."



"And does he know about the rosette?" asked Lady Jane.



"He knows everything. And until that moment he will allow no one to

suspect his wrath and fury. He says he will make the queen perfectly

secure, in order to get into his hands thereby sure proof of her guilt.

Well, we will furnish him this evidence; and hence it follows that the

queen is inevitably lost."



"But hark! The doors are opened, and the master of ceremonies comes to

summon us to the golden gallery."



"Just walk in," muttered John Heywood, gliding along behind them. "I am

still here; and I will be the mouse that gnaws the net in which you want

to catch my noble-minded lioness."





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