Of The Brief Advantage Gained By The Queen And The Cardinal





As the king, wholly unattended--for he had left the archers at the

Curfew Tower--was passing at the back of Saint George's Chapel, near the

north transept, he paused for a moment to look at the embattled entrance

to the New Commons--a structure erected in the eleventh year of his own

reign by James Denton, a canon, and afterwards Dean of Lichfield, for

the accommodation of such chantry priests and choristers as had no place

in the college. Over the doorway, surmounted by a niche, ran (and still

runs) the inscription--



"AEDES PRO SACELLANORUM CHORISTARUM COVIVIIS EXTRUCTA, A.D. 1519."



The building has since been converted into one of the canons' houses.



While he was contemplating this beautiful gateway, which was glimmering

in the bright moonlight, a tall figure suddenly darted from behind one

of the buttresses of the chapel, and seized his left arm with an

iron grasp. The suddenness of the attack took him by surprise; but he

instantly recovered himself, plucked away his arm, and, drawing his

sword, made a pass at his assailant, who, however, avoided the thrust,

and darted with inconceivable swiftness through the archway leading to

the cloisters. Though Henry followed as quickly as he could, he lost

sight of the fugitive, but just as he was about to enter the passage

running between the tomb-house and the chapel, he perceived a person in

the south ambulatory evidently anxious to conceal himself, and, rushing

up to him and dragging him to the light he found it was no other than

the cardinal's jester, Patch.



"What does thou here, knave?" cried Henry angrily.



"I am waiting for my master, the cardinal," replied the jester,

terrified out of his wits.



"Waiting for him here!" cried the king. "Where is he?"



"In that house," replied Patch, pointing to a beautiful bay-window,

full of stained glass, overhanging the exquisite arches of the north

ambulatory.



"Why, that is Doctor Sampson's dwelling," cried Henry; "he who was

chaplain to the queen, and is a strong opponent of the divorce. What doth

he there?"



"I am sure I know not," replied Patch, whose terror increased each

moment. "Perhaps I have mistaken the house. Indeed, I am sure it must be

Doctor Voysey's, the next door."



"Thou liest, knave!" cried Henry fiercely; "thy manner convinces me

there is some treasonable practice going forward. But I will soon find

it out. Attempt to give the alarm, and I will cut thy throat."



With this he proceeded to the back of the north ambulatory, and finding

the door he sought unfastened, raised the latch and walked softly in.

But before he got half-way down the passage, Doctor Sampson himself

issued from an inner room with a lamp in his hand. He started on seeing

the king, and exhibited great alarm.



"The Cardinal of York is here--I know it," said Henry in a deep whisper.

"Lead me to him."



"Oh, go not forward, my gracious liege!" cried Sampson, placing himself

in his path.



"Wherefore not?" rejoined the king. "Ha! what voice is that I heard in

the upper chamber? Is she here, and with Wolsey? Out of my way, man,"

he added, pushing the canon aside, and rushing up the short wooden

staircase.



When Wolsey returned from his interview with the king, which had been

so unluckily interrupted by Anne Boleyn, he found his ante-chamber

beset with a crowd of suitors to whose solicitations he was compelled to

listen, and having been detained in this manner for nearly half an hour,

he at length retired into an inner room.



"Vile sycophants!" he muttered, "they bow the knee before me, and pay me

greater homage than they render the king, but though they have fed upon

my bounty and risen by my help, not one of them, if he was aware of my

true position, but would desert me. Not one of them but would lend a

helping hand to crush me. Not one but would rejoice in my downfall. But

they have not deceived me. I knew them from the first--saw through their

hollowness and despised them. While power lasts to me, I will punish

some of them. While power lasts!" he repeated. "Have I any power

remaining? I have already given up Hampton and my treasures to the king;

and the work of spoliation once commenced, the royal plunderer will not

be content till he has robbed me of all; while his minion, Anne Boleyn,

has vowed my destruction. Well, I will not yield tamely, nor fall

unavenged."



As these thoughts passed through his mind, Patch, who had waited for

a favourable moment to approach him, delivered him a small billet

carefully sealed, and fastened with a silken thread. Wolsey took it,

and broke it open; and as his eye eagerly scanned its contents, the

expression of his countenance totally changed. A flash of joy and

triumph irradiated his fallen features; and thrusting the note into

the folds of his robe, he inquired of the jester by whom it had been

brought, and how long.



"It was brought by a messenger from Doctor Sampson," replied Patch, "and

was committed to me with special injunctions to deliver it to your grace

immediately on your return, and secretly."



The cardinal sat down, and for a few moments appeared lost in deep

reflection; he then arose, and telling Patch he should return presently,

quitted the chamber. But the jester, who was of an inquisitive turn, and

did not like to be confined to half a secret, determined to follow him,

and accordingly tracked him along the great corridor, down a winding

staircase, through a private door near the Norman Gateway, across the

middle ward, and finally saw him enter Doctor Sampson's dwelling, at the

back of the north ambulatory. He was reconnoitring the windows of the

house from the opposite side of the cloisters in the hope of discovering

something, when he was caught, as before mentioned, by the king.



Wolsey, meanwhile, was received by Doctor Sampson at the doorway of

his dwelling, and ushered by him into a chamber on the upper floor,

wainscoted with curiously carved and lustrously black oak. A silver lamp

was burning the on the table, and in the recess of the window, which

was screened by thick curtains, sat a majestic lady, who rose on the

cardinal's entrance. It was Catherine of Arragon.



"I attend your pleasure, madam," said Wolsey, with a profound

inclination.



"You have been long in answering my summons," said the queen; "but

I could not expect greater promptitude. Time was when a summons from

Catherine of Arragon would have been quickly and cheerfully attended to;

when the proudest noble in the land would have borne her message to you,

and when you would have passed through crowds to her audience-chamber.

Now another holds her place, and she is obliged secretly to enter the

castle where she once ruled, to despatch a valet to her enemy, to attend

his pleasure, and to receive him in the dwelling of an humble canon.

Times are changed with me, Wolsey--sadly changed."



"I have been in attendance on the king, madam, or I should have been

with you sooner," replied Wolsey. "It grieves me sorely to see you

here."



"I want not your pity," replied the queen proudly. "I did not send for

you to gratify your malice by exposing my abject state. I did not send

for you to insult me by false sympathy; but in the hope that your own

interest would induce you to redress the wrongs you have done me."



"Alas! madam, I fear it is now too late to repair the error I have

committed," said Wolsey, in a tone of affected penitence and sorrow.



"You admit, then, that it was an error," cried Catherine. "Well, that

is something. Oh! that you had paused before you began this evil

work--before you had raised a storm which will destroy me and yourself.

Your quarrel with my nephew the Emperor Charles has cost me dear, but it

will cost you yet more dearly."



"I deserve all your reproaches, madam," said Wolsey, with feigned

meekness; "and I will bear them without a murmur. But you have sent for

me for some specific object, I presume?"



"I sent for you to give me aid, as much for your own sake as mine,"

replied the queen, "for you are in equal danger. Prevent this

divorce--foil Anne--and you retain the king's favour. Our interests are

so far leagued together, that you must serve me to serve yourself. My

object is to gain time to enable my friends to act. Your colleague is

secretly favourable to me. Pronounce no sentence here, but let the cause

be removed to Rome. My nephew the emperor will prevail upon the Pope to

decide in my favour."



"I dare not thus brave the king's displeasure, madam;" replied Wolsey.



"Dissembler!" exclaimed Catherine. "I now perceive the insincerity of

your professions. This much I have said to try you. And now to my real

motive for sending for you. I have in my possession certain letters,

that will ruin Anne Boleyn with the king."



"Ha!" exclaimed the cardinal joyfully; "if that be the case, all the

rest will be easy. Let me see the letters, I pray you, madam."



Before Catherine could reply, the door was thrown violently open, and

the king stood before them.



"Soh!" roared Henry, casting a terrible look at Wolsey, "I have caught

you at your treasonable practices at last! And you, madam," he added,

turning to Catherine, who meekly, but steadily, returned his gaze, "what

brings you here again? Because I pardoned your indiscretion yesterday,

think not I shall always be so lenient. You will leave the castle

instantly. As to Wolsey, he shall render me a strict account of his

conduct."



"I have nothing to declare, my liege," replied Wolsey, recovering

himself, "I leave it to the queen to explain why I came hither."



"The explanation shall be given at once," said Catherine. "I sent for

the cardinal to request him to lay before your majesty these two letters

from Anne Boleyn to Sir Thomas Wyat, that you might judge whether one

who could write thus would make you a fitting consort. You disbelieved

my charge of levity yesterday. Read these, sire, and judge whether I

spoke the truth."



Henry glanced at the letters, and his brow grew dark.



"What say you to them, my liege?" cried Catherine, with a glance of

triumph. "In the one she vows eternal constancy to Sir Thomas Wyat, and

in the other--written after her engagement to you--he tells him that

though they can never meet as heretofore, she will always love him."



"Ten thousand furies!" cried the king. "Where got you these letters,

madam?"



"They were given to me by a tall dark man, as I quitted the castle last

night," said the queen. "He said they were taken from the person of Sir

Thomas Wyat while he lay concealed in the forest in the cave of Herne

the Hunter."



"If I thought she wrote them," cried Henry, in an access jealous fury,

"I would cast her off for ever."



"Methinks your majesty should be able to judge whether they are true or

false," said Catherine. "I know her writing well--too well, alas!--and

am satisfied they are genuine."



"I am well assured that Wyat was concealed in the Lady Anne's chamber

when your majesty demanded admittance and could not obtain it--when the

Earl of Surrey sacrificed himself for her, and for his friend," said

Wolsey.



"Perdition!" exclaimed the king, striking his brow with his clenched

hand. "Oh, Catherine!" he continued, after a pause, during which she

intently watched the workings of his countenance, "and it was for this

light-hearted creature I was about to cast you off."



"I forgive you, sire--I forgive you!" exclaimed the queen, clasping his

hands, and bedewing them with grateful tears. "You have been deceived.

Heaven keep you in the same mind!"



"You have preserved me," said Henry, "but you must not tarry here. Come

with me to the royal lodgings."



"No, Henry," replied Catherine, with a shudder, "not while she is

there."



"Make no conditions, madam," whispered Wolsey. "Go."



"She shall be removed to-morrow," said Henry.



"In that case I am content to smother my feelings," said the queen.



"Come, then, Kate," said Henry, taking her hand. "Lord cardinal, you

will attend us."



"Right gladly, my liege," replied Wolsey. "If this mood will only

endure," he muttered, "all will go well. But his jealousy must not be

allowed to cool. Would that Wyat were here!"



Doctor Sampson could scarcely credit his senses as he beheld the august

pair come forth together, and a word from Wolsey explaining what had

occurred, threw him into transports of delight. But the surprise of the

good canon was nothing to that exhibited as Henry and Catherine entered

the royal lodgings, and the king ordered his own apartments to be

instantly prepared for her majesty's reception.





Of Henry's Attachment To Jane Seymour Of The Combat Between Will Sommers And Patch facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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