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and the queen, likewise with this design, had withdrawn to her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
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
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
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
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
"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,
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
He handed the queen the rosette, and she smilingly fastened it on her
"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
"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."