How The Earl Of Surrey And The Fair Geraldine Plighted Their Troth In The Cloisters Of Saint George's Chapel





Barriers were erected on the following day in the upper ward of the

castle, and the Lady Anne and her dames assembled in the balcony in

front of the royal lodgings, which was decorated with arras, costly

carpets, and rich stuffs, to view the spectacle.



Perfect in all manly accomplishments, Henry splintered several lances

with his brother-in-law, the Duke of Suffolk, who formed an admirable

match for him in point of weight and strength; and at last, though he

did not succeed in unhorsing the duke, he struck off his helmet, the

clasp of which, it was whispered, was left designedly unfastened; and

being thereupon declared the victor, he received the prize--a scarf

embroidered by her own hands--from the fair Anne herself.



He then retired from the lists, leaving them free for the younger

knights to run a course at the ring. The first to enter the arena was

Sir Thomas Wyat; and as he was known to be a skilful jouster, it was

expected he would come off triumphantly. But a glance from the royal

balcony rendered his arm unsteady, and he missed the mark.



Next came the Duke of Richmond, superbly accoutred. Laughing at Wyat's

ill success, he bowed to the Fair Geraldine, and taking a lance from his

esquire, placed it in the rest, and rode gallantly forward. But he was

equally unsuccessful, and retired, looking deeply chagrined.



The third knight who presented himself was Surrey. Mounted on his

favourite black Arabian--a steed which, though of fiery temper, obeyed

his slightest movement--his light symmetrical figure was seen to the

greatest advantage in his close-fitting habiliments of silk and velvet.

Without venturing a look at the royal balcony, the earl couched his

lance, and bounding forward, bore away the ring on its point.



Amid the plaudits of the spectators, he then careered around the arena,

and approaching the royal balcony, raised his lance, and proffered the

ring to the Fair Geraldine, who blushingly received it. Henry, though by

no means pleased with Surrey's success, earned as it was at the expense

of his son, complimented him upon his skill, and Anne Boleyn joined

warmly in his praises.



The lists were then closed, and the royal party retired to partake of

refreshments; after which they proceeded to the butts erected in the

broad mead at the north of the castle, where the Duke of Shoreditch and

his companions shot a well-contested match with the long-bow.



During these sports, Surrey placed himself as near as he could to the

Fair Geraldine, and though but few opportunities occurred of exchanging

a syllable with her, his looks spoke a sufficiently intelligible

language. At last, just as they were about to return to the palace, he

breathed in an imploring tone in her ear--



"You will attend vespers at Saint George's Chapel this evening. Return

through the cloisters. Grant me a moment's interview alone there."



"I cannot promise," replied the Fair Geraldine. And she followed in the

train of the Lady Anne.



The earl's request had not been unheard. As the royal train proceeded

towards the castle, Will Sommers contrived to approach the Duke of

Richmond, and said to him, in a jeering tone "You ran but indifferently

at the ring to-day, gossip. The galliard Surrey rode better, and carried

off the prize."



"Pest on thee, scurril knave--be silent!" cried Richmond angrily;

"failure is bad enough without thy taunts."



"If you had only missed the ring, gossip, I should have thought nothing

of it," pursued Will Sommers; "but you lost a golden opportunity of

ingratiating yourself with your lady-love. All your hopes are now at an

end. A word in your ear--the Fair Geraldine will meet Surrey alone this

evening."



"Thou liest, knave!" cried the duke fiercely.



"Your grace will find the contrary, if you will be at Wolsey's

tomb-house at vesper-time," replied the jester.



"I will be there," replied the duke; "but if I am brought on a bootless

errand, not even my royal father shall save thee from chastisement."



"I will bear any chastisement your grace may choose to inflict upon

me, if I prove not the truth of my assertion," replied Sommers. And he

dropped into the rear of the train.



The two friends, as if by mutual consent, avoided each other during

the rest of the day--Surrey feeling he could not unburden his heart to

Richmond, and Richmond brooding jealously over the intelligence he had

received from the jester.



At the appointed hour the duke proceeded to the lower ward, and

stationed himself near Wolsey's tomb-house. Just as he arrived there,

the vesper hymn arose from the adjoining fane, and its solemn strains

somewhat soothed his troubled spirit. But they died away; and as the

jester came not, Richmond grew impatient, and began to fear he had been

duped by his informant. At length the service concluded, and, losing all

patience, he was about to depart, when the jester peered round the lower

angle of the tomb-house, and beckoned to him. Obeying the summons,

the duke followed his conductor down the arched passage leading to the

cloisters.



"Tread softly, gossip, or you will alarm them," said Sommers, in a low

tone.



They turned the corner of the cloisters; and there, near the entrance of

the chapel, stood the youthful pair--the Fair Geraldine half reclining

upon the earl's breast, while his arm encircled her slender waist.



"There!" whispered the jester, chuckling maliciously, "there! did I speak

falsely--eh, gossip?"



Richmond laid his hand upon his sword.



"Hist!" said the jester; "hear what the Fair Geraldine has to say."



"We must meet no more thus, Surrey," she murmured:



"I feel I was wrong in granting the interview, but I could not help it.

If, when a few more years have flown over your head, your heart remains

unchanged."



"It will never change!" interrupted Surrey. "I here solemnly pledge my

troth to you."



"And I return the pledge," replied the Fair Geraldine earnestly. "I vow

to be yours, and yours only."



"Would that Richmond could hear your vow!" said Surrey; "it would

extinguish his hopes."



"He has heard it!" cried the duke, advancing. "But his hopes are not yet

extinguished."



The Fair Geraldine uttered a slight scream, and disengaged herself from

the earl.



"Richmond, you have acted unworthily in thus playing the spy," said

Surrey angrily.



"None but a spy can surprise interviews like these," rejoined Richmond

bitterly. "The Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald had better have kept her

chamber, than come here to plight her troth with a boy, who will change

his mind before his beard is grown."



"Your grace shall find the boy man enough to avenge an insult," rejoined

Surrey sternly.



"I am glad to hear it," returned the duke. "Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, I

must pray you to return to your lodgings. The king's jester will attend

you. This way, my lord."



Too much exasperated to hesitate, Surrey followed the duke down the

passage, and the next moment the clashing of swords was heard. The Fair

Geraldine screamed loudly, and Will Sommers began to think the jest had

been carried too far.



"What is to be done?" he cried. "If the king hears of this quarrel, he

will assuredly place the Earl of Surrey in arrest. I now repent having

brought the duke here."



"You acted most maliciously," cried the Fair Geraldine; "but fly, and

prevent further mischief."



Thus urged, the jester ran towards the lower ward, and finding an

officer of the guard and a couple of halberdiers near the entrance

of St. George's Chapel, told them what was taking place, and they

immediately hastened with him to the scene of the conflict.



"My lords!" cried the officer to the combatants, "I command you to lay

down your weapons."



But finding no respect paid to his injunctions, he rushed between them,

and with the aid of the halberdiers, forcibly separated them.



"My lord of Surrey," said the officer, "you are my prisoner. I demand

your sword."



"On what plea, sir?" rejoined the other.



"You have drawn it against the king's son--and the act is treason,"

replied the officer. "I shall take you to the guard house until the

king's pleasure is known."



"But I provoked the earl to the conflict," said Richmond: "I was the

aggressor."



"Your grace will represent the matter as you see fit to your royal

father," rejoined the officer. "I shall fulfil my duty. My lord, to the

guard-house!"



"I will procure your instant liberation, Surrey," said Richmond.



The earl was then led away, and conveyed to a chamber in the lower part

of Henry the Eighth's gate, now used as a place of military punishment,

and denominated the "black hole."





How Sir Thomas Wyat Was Visited By Herne In The Cell How The Earl Of Surrey And The Fair Geraldine Plighted Their Troth In The Cloisters Of Saint George's Chapel facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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