For a few days past the king's gout had grown worse, and, to his wrath

and grief, it confined him as a prisoner to his rolling chair.

The king was, therefore, very naturally gloomy and dejected, and hurled

the lightnings of his wrath on all those who enjoyed the melancholy

prerogative of being in his presence. His pains, instead of softening

his disposition, seemed only to heighten still more his natural

erocity; and often might be heard through the palace of Whitehall the

king's angry growl, and his loud, thundering invectives, which no longer

spared any one, nor showed respect for any rank or dignity.

Earl Douglas, Gardiner, and Wriothesley very well knew how to take

advantage of this wrathful humor of the king for their purposes, and

to afford the cruel monarch, tortured with pain, one satisfaction at

least--the satisfaction of making others suffer also.

Never had there been seen in England so many burnt at the stake as

in those days of the king's sickness; never had the prisons been so

crowded; never had so much blood flowed as King Henry now caused to be

shed. [Footnote: During the king's reign, and at the instigation of the

clergy, twenty-eight hundred persons were burnt and executed, because

they would not recognize the religious institutions established by the

king as the only right and true ones.--Leti, vol. i, p. 34.] But all

this did not yet suffice to appease the blood-thirstiness of the king,

and his friends and counsellors, and his priests.

Still there remained untouched two mighty pillars of Protestantism that

Gardiner and Wriothesley had to overthrow. These were the queen and

Archbishop Cranmer.

Still there were two powerful and hated enemies whom the Seymours had

to overcome; these were the Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of


But the various parties that in turn besieged the king's ear and

controlled it, were in singular and unheard-of opposition, and at the

same time inflamed with bitterest enmity, and they strove to supplant

each other in the favor of the king.

To the popish party of Gardiner and Earl Douglas, everything depended on

dispossessing the Seymours of the king's favor; and they, on the other

hand, wanted above all things to continue in power the young queen,

already inclined to them, and to destroy for the papists one of their

most powerful leaders, the Duke of Norfolk.

The one party controlled the king's ear through the queen; the other,

through his favorite, Earl Douglas.

Never had the king been more gracious and affable to his consort--never

had he required more Earl Douglas's presence than in those days of his

sickness and bodily anguish.

But there was yet a third party that occupied an important place in the

king's favor--a power which every one feared, and which seemed to keep

itself perfectly independent and free from all foreign influences. This

power was John Heywood, the king's fool, the epigrammatist, who was

dreaded by the whole court.

Only one person had influence with him. John Heywood was the friend

of the queen. For the moment, then, it appeared as if the "heretical

party," of which the queen was regarded as the head, was the most

powerful at court.

It was therefore very natural for the popish party to cherish an ardent

hatred against the queen; very natural for them to be contriving new

plots and machinations to ruin her and hurl her from the throne.

But Catharine knew very well the danger that threatened her, and she was

on her guard. She watched her every look, her every word; and Gardiner

and Douglas could not examine the queen's manner of life each day and

hour more suspiciously than she herself did.

She saw the sword that hung daily over her head; and, thanks to

her prudence and presence of mind, thanks to the ever-thoughtful

watchfulness and cunning of her friend Heywood! she had still known how

to avoid the falling of that sword.

Since that fatal ride in the wood of Epping Forest, she had not again

spoken to Thomas Seymour alone; for Catharine very well knew that

everywhere, whithersoever she turned her steps, some spying eye might

follow her, some listener's ear might be concealed, which might hear

her words, however softly whispered, and repeat them where they might be

interpreted into a sentence of death against her.

She had, therefore, renounced the pleasure of speaking to her lover

otherwise than before witnesses, and of seeing him otherwise than in the

presence of her whole court.

What need had she either for secret meetings? What mattered it to her

pure and innocent heart that she was not permitted to be alone with him?

Still she might see him, and drink courage and delight from the sight

of his haughty and handsome face; still she might be near him, and could

listen to the music of his voice, and intoxicate her heart with his

fine, euphonious and vigorous discourse.

Catharine, the woman of eight-and-twenty, had preserved the enthusiasm

and innocence of a young girl of fourteen. Thomas Seymour was her first

love; and she loved him with that purity and guileless warmth which is

indeed peculiar to the first love only.

It sufficed her, therefore, to see him; to be near him; to know that

he loved her; that he was true to her; that all his thoughts and wishes

belonged to her, as hers to him.

And that she knew. For there ever remained to her the sweet enjoyment of

his letters--of those passionately written avowals of his love. If

she was not permitted to say also to him how warmly and ardently she

returned this love, yet she could write it to him.

It was John Heywood, the true and discreet friend, that brought her

these letters, and bore her answers to him, stipulating, as a reward for

this dangerous commission, that they both should regard him as the sole

confidant of their love; that both should burn up the letters which he

brought them. He had not been able to hinder Catharine from this unhappy

passion, but wanted at least to preserve her from the fatal consequences

of it. Since he knew that this love needed a confidant, he assumed

this role, that Catharine, in the vehemence of her passion and in the

simplicity of her innocent heart, might not make others sharers of her

dangerous secret.

John Heywood therefore watched over Catharine's safety and happiness,

as she watched over Thomas Seymour and her friends. He protected and

guarded her with the king, as she guarded Cranmer, and protected him

from the constantly renewed assaults of his enemies.

This it was that they could never forgive the queen--that she

had delivered Cranmer, the noble and liberal-minded Archbishop of

Canterbury, from their snares. More than once Catharine had succeeded

in destroying their intriguing schemes, and in rending the nets that

Gardiner and Earl Douglas, with so sly and skilful a hand, had spread

for Cranmer.

If, therefore, they would overthrow Cranmer, they must first overthrow

the queen. For this there was a real means--a means of destroying at

once the queen and the hated Seymours, who stood in the way of the


If they could prove to the king that Catharine entertained criminal

intercourse with Thomas Seymour, then were they both lost; then were the

power and glory of the papists secured.

But whence to fetch the proofs of this dangerous secret, which the

crafty Douglas had read only in Catharine's eyes, and for which he had

no other support than his bare conviction? How should they begin to

influence the queen to some inconsiderate step, to a speaking witness of

her love?

Time hung so heavily on the king's hands! It would have been so easy to

persuade him to some cruel deed--to a hasty sentence of death!

But it was not the blood of the Seymours for which the king thirsted.

Earl Douglas very well knew that. He who observed the king day and

night--he who examined and sounded his every sigh, each of his softly

murmured words, every twitch of his mouth, every wrinkle of his brow--he

well knew what dark and bloody thoughts stirred the king's soul, and

whose blood it was for which he thirsted.

The royal tiger would drink the blood of the Howards; and that they

still lived in health, and abundance, and glory, while he, their

king and master, lonely and sad, was tossing on his couch in pain and

agony--that was the worm which gnawed at the king's heart, which made

his pains yet more painful, his tortures yet keener.

The king was jealous--jealous of the power and greatness of the Howards.

It filled him with gloomy hatred to think that the Duke of Norfolk, when

he rode through the streets of London, was everywhere received with

the acclamations and rejoicing of the people, while he, the king, was a

prisoner in his palace. It was a gnawing pain for him to know that Henry

Howard, Earl of Surrey, was praised as the handsomest and greatest man

of England; that he was called the noblest poet; the greatest scholar;

while yet he, the king, had also composed his poems and written his

learned treatises, aye, even a particular devout book, which he had

printed for his people, and ordered them to read instead of the Bible.

[Footnote: Burnet, vol. i, p. 95.]

It was the Howards who everywhere disputed his fame. The Howards

supplanted him in the favor of his people, and usurped the love and

admiration which were due to the king alone, and which should be

directed toward no one but him. He lay on his bed of pain, and without

doubt the people would have forgotten him, if he had not by the block,

the stake, and the scaffold, daily reminded them of himself. He lay on

his bed of pain, while the duke, splendid and magnificent, exhibited

himself to the people and transported them with enthusiasm by the

lavish and kingly generosity with which he scattered his money among the


Yes, the Duke of Norfolk was the king's dangerous rival. The crown was

not secure upon his head so long as the Howards lived. And who could

conjecture whether in time to come, when Henry closed his eyes, the

exultant love of the people might not call to the throne the Duke of

Norfolk, or his noble son, the Earl of Surrey, instead of the rightful

heir--instead of the little boy Edward, Henry's only son?

When the king thought of that, he had a feeling as though a stream of

fire were whirling up to his brain; and he convulsively clenched his

hands, and screamed and roared that he would take vengeance--vengeance

on those hated Howards, who wanted to snatch the crown from his son.

Edward, the little boy of tender age--he alone was the divinely

consecrated, legitimate heir to the king's crown. It had cost his father

so great a sacrifice to give his people this son and successor! In order

to do it, he had sacrificed Jane Seymour, his own beloved wife; he had

let the mother be put to death, in order to preserve the son, the heir

of his crown.

And the people did not once thank the king for this sacrifice that Jane

Seymour's husband had made for them. The people received with shouts the

Duke of Norfolk, the father of that adulterous queen whom Henry loved

so much that her infidelity had struck him like the stab of a poisoned


These were the thoughts that occupied the king on his bed of pain, and

upon which he dwelt with all the wilfulness and moodiness of a sick man.

"We shall have to sacrifice these Howards to him!" said Earl Douglas to

Gardiner, as they had just again listened to a burst of rage from their

royal master. "If we would at last succeed in ruining the queen, we must

first destroy the Howards."

The pious bishop looked at him inquiringly, and in astonishment.

Earl Douglas smiled. "Your highness is too exalted and noble to be

always able to comprehend the things of this world. Your look, which

seeks only God and heaven, does not always see the petty and pitiful

things that happen here on the earth below."

"Oh, but," said Gardiner, with a cruel smile, "I see them, and it charms

my eye when I see how God's vengeance punishes the enemies of the Church

here on earth. Set up then, by all means, a stake or a scaffold for

these Howards, if their death can be to us a means to our pious and

godly end. You are certain of my blessing and my assistance. Only I do

not quite comprehend how the Howards can stand in the way of our plots

which are formed against the queen, inasmuch as they are numbered among

the queen's enemies, and profess themselves of the Church in which alone

is salvation."

"The Earl of Surrey is an apostate, who has opened his ear and heart to

the doctrines of Calvin!"

"Then let his head fall, for he is a criminal before God, and no one

ought to have compassion on him! And what is there that we lay to the

charge of the father?"

"The Duke of Norfolk is well-nigh yet more dangerous than his son; for

although a Catholic, he has not nevertheless the right faith; and his

soul is full of unholy sympathy and injurious mildness. He bewails those

whose blood is shed because they were devoted to the false doctrine of

the priests of Baal; and-he calls us both the king's blood-hounds."

"Well, then," cried Gardiner with an uneasy, dismal smile, "we will

show him that he has called us by the right name; we will rend him in


"Besides, as we have said, the Howards stand in the way of our schemes

in relation to the queen," said Earl Douglas, earnestly. "The king's

mind is so completely filled with this one hatred and this one jealousy,

that there is no room in it for any other feeling, for any other hate.

It is true he signs often enough these death-warrants which we lay

before him; but he does it, as the lion, with utter carelessness and

without anger, crushes the little mouse that is by chance under his

paws. But if the lion is to rend in pieces his equal, he must beforehand

be put into a rage. When he is raging, then you must let him have his

prey. The Howards shall be his first prey. But, then, we must exert

ourselves, that when the lion again shakes his mane his wrath may fall

upon Catharine Parr and the Seymours."

"The Lord our God will be with us, and enlighten us, that we may find

the right means to strike His enemies a sure blow!" exclaimed Gardiner,

devoutly folding his hands.

"I believe the right means are already found," said Earl Douglas, with a

smile; "and even before this day descends to its close, the gates of the

Tower will open to receive this haughty and soft-hearted Duke of Norfolk

and this apostate Earl Surrey. Perchance we may even succeed in striking

at one blow the queen together with the Howards. See! an equipage stops

before the grand entrance, and I see the Duchess of Norfolk and her

daughter, the Duchess of Richmond, getting out of the carriage. Only

see! they are making signs to us. I have promised to conduct these two

noble and pious ladies to the king, and I shall do so. Whilst we are

there, pray for us, your highness, that our words, like well-aimed

arrows, may strike the king's heart, and then rebound upon the queen and

the Seymours!"