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Chapter 3

  • It was in that way, however sorely against her liking, that Katharine Howar_ame into a plot. It subdued her, it seemed to age her, it was as if she ha_arted with some virtue. When again she spoke with the King, who came to lol_n his daughter's armed chair one day out of every week, it troubled her t_ind that she could speak to him with her old tranquillity. She was ashamed a_eeling no shame, since all the while these letters were passing behind hi_ack. Once even he had been talking to her of how they nailed pear tree_gainst the walls in her Lincolnshire home.
  • 'Our garden man would say … ' she began a sentence. Her eye fell upon one o_hese very crumpled balls of paper. It lay upon the table and it confused he_o think that it appeared like an apple. 'Would say … would say … ' sh_altered.
  • He looked at her with enquiring eyes, round in his great head.
  • 'It is too late,' she finished.
  • 'Even too late for what?' he asked.
  • 'Too late in the year to set the trees back,' she answered and her fit o_ervousness had passed. 'For there is a fluid in trees that runneth upward i_he spring of the year to greet the blessed sun.'
  • 'Why, what a wise lady is this!' he said, half earnest. 'I would I had such a_dviser as thou hast,' he continued to his daughter.
  • He frowned for a moment, remembering that, being who he was, he should stan_n need of no advice.
  • 'See you,' he said to Katharine. 'You have spoken of many things and wisely, after a woman's fashion of book-learning. Now I am minded that you should hea_e speak upon the Word of God which is a man's matter and a King's. This da_ennight I am to have brought to my closet a heretic, Dr Barnes. If ye will y_ay hear me confound him with goodly doctrines.'
  • He raised both his eyebrows heavily and looked first at the Lady Mary.
  • 'You, I am minded, shall hear a word of true doctrine.'
  • And to Katharine, 'I would hear how you think that I can manage a disputation.
  • For the fellow is the sturdiest rogue with a yard of tongue to wag.'
  • Katharine maintained a duteous silence; the Lady Mary stood with her hand_lasped before her. Upon Katharine he smiled suddenly and heavily.
  • 'I grow too old to be a match for thee in the learning of this world. Th_ongue has outstripped me since I am become stale… . But hear me in the othe_ake of talk.'
  • 'I ask no better,' Katharine said.
  • 'Therefore,' he finished, 'I am minded that you, Mog, and your ladies all, d_ove your residences from here to my house at Hampton. This is an old and dar_lace; there you shall be better honoured.'
  • He lay back in his chair and was pleased with the care that he took of hi_aughter. Katharine glided intently across the smooth bare floor and took th_all of paper in her hand. His eyes followed her and he moved his head roun_fter her movements, heavily, and without any motion of his great body. He wa_n a comfortable mood, having slept well the night before, and havin_onversed agreeably in the bosom of a family where pleasant conversation was _are thing. For the Lady Mary had forborne to utter biting speeches, since he_yes too had been upon that ball of paper. The King did not stay for man_inutes after Katharine had gone.
  • She was excited, troubled and amused—and, indeed, the passing of those letter_eld her thoughts in those few days. Thus it was easy to give the paper to he_aid Margot, and easy to give Margot the directions. But she knew very well b_hat shift Margot persuaded her scarlet-clothed springald of a brother to tak_he ball and to throw it into the cookshop. For the young Poins was set upo_dvancement, and Margot, buxom, substantial and honest-faced, stood before hi_nd said: 'Here is your chance for advancement made … ' if he could carr_hese missives very secretly.
  • 'For, brother Poins,' she said, 'thou knowest these great folks rewar_reatly—and these things pass between folks very great. If I tell thee n_ames it is because thou canst see more through a stone wall than commo_olk.'
  • So the young Poins cocked his bonnet more jauntily, and, setting out up rive_o Hampton, changed his scarlet clothes for a grey coat and puritan hose, an_n the dark did his errand very well. He carried a large poke in which he pu_he larded capons and the round loaves that the cook sold to him. Later, following a reed path along the river, he came swiftly down to Isleworth wit_is bag on a cord and, in the darkness from beneath the walls, he slung ba_nd cord in at Katharine Howard's open window. For several times this happene_efore the Lady Mary's court was moved to Hampton. At first, Katharine had he_remors to put up with—and it was only when, each evening, with a thump an_wish, the bag, sweeping out of the darkness, sped across her floor—it wa_nly then that Katharine's heart ceased from pulsing with a flutter. All th_hile the letters were out of her own hands she moved on tiptoe, as if sh_ere a hunter intent on surprising a coy quarry. Nevertheless, it wa_mpossible for her to believe that this was a dangerous game; it wa_mpossible to believe that the heavy, unsuspicious and benevolent man wh_ried clumsily to gain his daughter's love with bribes of cakes an_erchiefs—that this man could be roused to order her to her death because sh_onveyed from one place to another a ball of paper. It was more like a game o_assing a ring from hand to hand behind the players' backs, for kisses fo_orfeits if the ring were caught. Nevertheless, this was treason-felony; ye_t was furthering the dear cause of the saints.
  • It was on the day on which her uncle Norfolk had sent for her that the Kin_ad his interview with the heretical Dr Barnes—nicknamed Antoninus Anglicanus.
  • The Lady Mary and Katharine Howard and her maid, Margot, were set in a tin_loset in which there was, in a hole in the wall, a niche for the King'_onfessor. The King's own chamber was empty when they passed through, and the_eft the door between ajar. There came a burst of voices, and swiftly th_ishop of Winchester himself entered their closet. He lifted his blac_yebrows at sight of them, and rubbed his thin hands with satisfaction.
  • 'Now we shall hear one of Crummock's henchmen swinged,' he whispered. H_aised a finger for them to lend ear and gazed through the crack of the door.
  • They heard a harsh voice, like a dog's bay, utter clearly:
  • 'Now goodly goodman Doctor, thou hast spoken certain words at Paul's Cross.
  • They touched on Justification; thou shalt justify them to me now.' There cam_ sound of a man who cleared his throat—and then again the heavy voice:
  • 'Why, be not cast down; we spoke as doctor to doctor. Without a doubt thou ar_earned. Show then thy learning. Wast brave at Paul's Cross. Justify now!'
  • Gardiner, turning from gazing through the door-crack, grinned at the thre_omen.
  • 'He rated _me_ at Paul's Cross!' he said. 'He thumped me as I had been _hrashing floor.' They missed the Doctor's voice—but the King's came again.
  • 'Why, this is a folly. I am Supreme Head, but I bid thee to speak.'
  • There was a long pause till they caught the words.
  • 'Your Highness, I do surrender my learning to your Highness'.' Then, indeed, there was a great roar:
  • 'Unworthy knave; surrender thyself to none but God. He is above me as abov_hee. To none but God.'
  • There was another long silence, and then the King's voice again:
  • 'Why, get thee gone. Shalt to gaol for a craven… .' And then came a hissin_ound of vexation, a dull thud, and other noises.
  • The King's bonnet lay on the floor, and the King himself alone was paddin_own the room when they opened their door. His face was red with rage.
  • 'Why, what a clever fiend is this Cromwell!' the Lady Mary said; but th_ishop of Winchester was laughing. He pushed Margot Poins from the closet, bu_aught Katharine Howard tightly by the arm.
  • 'Thou shalt write what thy uncle asked of thee!' he commanded in a low voice,
  • 'an thou do it not, thy cousin shall to gaol! I have a letter thou didst writ_e.'
  • A black despair settled for a moment upon Katharine, but the King was standin_efore her. He had walked with inaudible swiftness up from the other end o_he room.
  • 'Didst not hear me argue!' he said, with the vexation of a great child. 'Tha_oxy knave out-marched me!'
  • 'Why,' the Lady Mary sniggered at him, 'thy brewer's son is too many for you_ighness.'
  • Henry snarled round at her; but she folded her hands before her and uttered:
  • 'The brewer's son made your Highness Supreme Head of the Church. Therefore, the brewer's son hath tied your Highness' tongue. For who may argue with you_ighness?'
  • He looked at her for a moment with a bemused face.
  • 'Very well,' he said.
  • 'The brewer's son should have made your Highness the lowest suppliant at th_hurch doors. Then, if, for the astounding of certain beholders, your Highnes_ere minded to argue, your Highness should find adversaries.'
  • The bitter irony of her words made Katharine Howard angry. This poor, heav_an had other matters for misgiving than to be badgered by a woman. But th_rony was lost upon the King. He said very simply:
  • 'Why, that is true. If I be the Head, the Tail shall fear to bandy words wit_e.' He addressed himself again to Katharine: 'I am sorry that you did no_ear me argue. I am main good at these arguments.' He looked reflectively a_ardiner and said: 'Friend Winchester, one day I will cast a main at argument_ith thee, and Kat Howard shall hear. But I doubt thou art little skilled wit_hy tongue.'
  • 'Why, I will make a better shift with my tongue than Privy Seal's men dare,'
  • the bishop said. He glanced under his brows at Henry, as if he were measurin_he ground for a leap.
  • 'The Lady Mary is in the right,' he ventured.
  • The King, who was thinking out a speech to Katharine, said, 'Anan?' an_ardiner ventured further:
  • 'I hold it for true that this man held his peace, because Cromwell s_ommanded it. He is Cromwell's creature, and Cromwell is minded to escape fro_he business with a whole skin.'
  • The King bent him an attentive ear.
  • 'It is to me, in the end, that Privy Seal owes amends,' Gardiner sai_ancorously. 'Since it was at me that this man, by Cromwell's orders, did hur_is foul words at Paul's Cross.'
  • The King said:
  • 'Why, it is true that thou art more sound in doctrine than is Privy Seal. Wha_ouldst thou have?'
  • Gardiner made an immense gesture, as if he would have embraced the whol_orld.
  • Katharine Howard trembled. Here they were, all the three of them Cromwell'_nemies. They were all alone with the King in a favouring mood, and she was o_he point of crying out:
  • 'Give us Privy Seal's head.'
  • But, in this very moment of his opportunity, Gardiner faltered. Even th_lackness of his hatred could not make him bold.
  • 'That he should make me amends in public for the foul words that knav_ttered. That they should both sue to me for pardon: that it should be showe_o the world what manner of man it is that they have dared to flout.'
  • 'Why, goodman Bishop, it shall be done,' the King said, and Katharine groane_loud. A clock with two quarter boys beside the large fireplace chimed th_our of four.
  • 'Aye!' the King commented to Katharine. 'I thought to have had a pleasante_our of it. Now you see what manner of life is mine: I must go to a plaguin_ouncil!'
  • 'An I were your Highness,' Katharine cried, 'I would be avenged on them tha_arred my pleasures.'
  • He touched her benevolently upon the cheek.
  • 'Sweetheart,' he said, 'an thou wert me thou'dst do great things.' He rolle_owards the door, heavy and mountainous: with the latch in his hand, he crie_ver his shoulder: 'But thou shalt yet hear me argue!'
  • 'What a morning you have made of this!' Katharine threw at the bishop. Th_ady Mary shrugged her shoulders to her ears and turned away. Gardiner said:
  • 'Anan?'
  • 'Oh, well your Holiness knows,' Katharine said. 'You might have come within a_ce of having Cromwell down.'
  • His eyes flashed, and he swallowed with a bitter delight.
  • 'I have him at my feet,' he said. 'He shall do public reparation to me. Yo_ave heard the King say so.'
  • There were tears of vexation in Katharine's eyes.
  • 'Well I know how it is that this brewer's son has king'd it so long!' sh_aid. 'An I had been a man it had been his head or mine.'
  • Gardiner shook himself like a dog that is newly out of the water.
  • 'Madam Howard,' he said, 'you are mighty high. I have observed how the Kin_poke all his words for your ear. His passions are beyond words and beyon_hame.'
  • The Lady Mary was almost out of the room, and he came close enough to speak i_atharine's ears.
  • 'But be you certain that his Highness' passions are not beyond the reverse o_assion, which is jealousy. You have a cousin at Calais… .'
  • Katharine moved away from him.
  • 'Why, God help you, priest,' she said. 'Do you think you are the only man tha_nows that?'
  • He laughed melodiously, with a great anger.
  • 'But I am the man that knoweth best how to use my knowledge. Therefore yo_hall do my will.'
  • Katharine Howard laughed back at him:
  • 'Where your lordship's will marches with mine I will do it,' she said. 'But _m main weary of your lordship's threats. You know the words of Artemidorus?'
  • Gardiner contained his rage.
  • 'You will write the letter we have asked you to write?'
  • She laughed again, and faced him, radiant, fair and flushed in the cheeks.
  • 'In so far as you beg me to write a letter praying the King of France and th_mperor to abstain from war upon this land, I will write the letter. But, i_o far as that helps forward the plotting of you and a knave calle_hrockmorton, I am main sorry that I must write it.'
  • The bishop drew back, and uttered:
  • 'Madam Howard, ye are forward.'
  • 'Why, God help your lordship,' she said. 'Where I see little course fo_espect I show little. You see I am friends with the King—therefore leave yo_y cousin be. Because I am friends with the King, who is a man among wolves, _ill pray my mistress to indite a letter that shall save this King som_roubles. But, if you threaten me with my cousin, or my cousin with me, I wil_se my friendship with the King as well against you as against any other.'
  • Gardiner swallowed in his throat, winked his eyes, and muttered:
  • 'Why, so you do what we will, it matters little in what spirit you shall d_t.'
  • 'So you and my uncle and Throckmorton keep your feet from my paths, you ma_ave my leavings,' she said. 'And they will be the larger part, since I as_ittle for myself.'
  • He gave her his episcopal blessing as she followed the Lady Mary to her rooms.
  • Her mind was made up—and she knew that it had been made up hastily, but sh_as never one to give much time to doubting. She wished these men to leave he_ut of their plots—but four men are stronger than one woman. Yet, as he_hilosophy had it, you may make a woman your tool, but she will bend in you_and and strike where she will, for all that. Therefore she must plot, but no_ith them.
  • As soon as she could she found the Lady Mary alone, and, setting her valour u_gainst the other's dark and rigid figure, she spoke rapidly:
  • She would have her lady write to her friends across the sea that, if Cromwel_ere ever to fall, they must now stay their hands against the King: they mus_iminish their bands, discontinue their fortifyings and feign even to quarre_mongst themselves. Otherwise the King must rest firm in his alliance wit_leves, to counterbalance them.
  • The Lady Mary raised her eyebrows with a show of insolent astonishment tha_as for all the world like the King's.
  • 'You affect my father!' she said. 'Is it not a dainty plan?'
  • Katharine brushed past her words with:
  • 'It matters little who affects what thing. The main is that Privy Seal must b_ast down.'
  • 'Carthage must be destroyed, O Cato,' the Lady Mary sneered. 'Ye ar_eremptory.'
  • 'I am as God made me,' Katharine answered. 'I am for God's Church… .' She ha_ sharp spasm of impatience. 'Here is a thing to do, and the one and the othe_narl like dogs, each for his separate ends.'
  • 'Oh, la, la,' the Lady Mary laughed.
  • 'A Howard is as good as any man,' Katharine said. Her ingenuous face flushed, and she moved her hand to her throat. 'God help me: it is true that I swore t_e your woman. But it is the true province of your woman to lead you to wor_or justice and the truth.'
  • A black malignancy settled upon the face of the princess.
  • 'I have been called bastard,' she said. 'My mother was done to death.'
  • 'No true man believes you misbegotten,' Katharine answered hotly.
  • 'Well, it is proclaimed treason, to speak thus,' the Lady Mary sneered.
  • 'Neither can you give your sainted mother her life again.' Katharine ignore_er words. 'But these actions were not your father's. It was an ill man force_im to them. The saints be good to you; is it not time to forgive a sad ma_hat would make amends? I would have you to write this letter.'
  • The Lady Mary's lips moved into the curves of a tormenting smile.
  • 'You plead your lover's cause main well,' she uttered.
  • Katharine had another motion of impatience.
  • 'Your cause I plead main better,' she said. 'It is certain that, this man onc_own, your bastardy should be reversed.'
  • 'I do not ask it,' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'But I ask that you give us peace here, so that the King may make amends t_any that he hath sorely wronged. Do you not see that the King inclineth t_he Church of God? Do you not see… .'
  • 'I see very plainly that I needs must thank you for better housing,' Mar_nswered. 'It is certain that my father had never brought me from that well a_sleworth, had it not been that he desireth converse with thee at his ease.'
  • Katharine's lips parted with a hot anger, but before she could speak th_itter girl said calmly:
  • 'Oh, I have not said thou art his leman. I know my father. His blood is no_ot—but his ears crave tickling. Tickle them whilst thou mayest. Have I staye_hee? Have I sent thee from my room when he did come?'
  • Katharine cast back the purple hood from over her forehead, she brushed he_and across her brow, and made herself calm.
  • 'This is a trifling folly,' she said. 'In two words: will your Highness writ_e this letter?'
  • 'Then, in four words,' Mary answered, 'my Highness cares not.'
  • The mobile brows above Katharine's blue eyes made a hard straight line.
  • 'An you will not,' she brought out, 'I will leave your Highness' service. _ill get me away to Calais, where my father is.'
  • 'Why, you will never do that,' the Lady Mary said; 'you have tasted bloo_ere.'
  • Katharine hung her head and meditated for a space.
  • 'No, before God,' she said earnestly, 'I think you judge me wrong. I think _m not as you think me. I think that I do seek no ends of my own.'
  • The Lady Mary raised her eyebrows and snickered ironically.
  • 'But of this I am very certain,' Katharine said. She spoke more earnestly, seeming to plead: 'If I thought that I were grown a self-seeker, by Mars wh_hanged Alectryon to a cock, and by Pallas Athene who changed Arachne to _pider—if I were so changed, I would get me gone from this place. But here i_ thing that I may do. If you will aid me to do it I will stay. If you wil_ot I will get me gone.'
  • 'Good wench,' Mary answered, 'let us say for the sake of peace that thou ar_onest… . Yet I have sworn by other gods than thine that never will I do augh_hat shall be of aid, comfort or succour to my father's cause.'
  • 'Take back your oaths!' Katharine cried.
  • 'For thee!' Mary said. 'Wench, thou hast brought me food: thou hast served m_n the matter of letters. I might only with great trouble get another so t_erve me. But, by Mars and Pallas and all the constellation of the deities, thou mightest get thee to Hell's flames or ever I would take back an oath.'
  • 'Oh, madness,' Katharine cried out. 'Oh, mad frenzy of one whom the gods woul_estroy.' Three times before she had reined in her anger: now she stretche_ut her hands with her habitual gesture of pitiful despair. Her eyes looke_traight before her, and, as she inclined her knees, the folds of her gre_ress bent round her on the floor.
  • 'Here I have pleaded with you, and you have gibed me with the love of th_ing. Here I have been earnest with you, and you have mocked. God help me!'
  • she sobbed, with a catch in her throat. 'Here is rest, peace and the blessin_f God offered to this land. Here is a province that is offered back to th_other of God and the dear hosts of heaven. Here might we bring an erring Kin_ack to the right way, a sinful man back unto his God. But you, for a parce_f wrongs of your own… .'
  • 'Now hold thy peace,' Mary said, between anger and irony. 'Here is a matter o_ farthing or two. Be the letter written, and kiss upon it.'
  • Katharine stayed herself in the tremor of her emotions, and the Lady Mary sai_rily:
  • 'Be the letter written. But thou shalt write it. I have sworn that I will d_othing to give this King ease.'
  • 'But my writing… .' Katharine began.
  • 'Thou shalt write,' Mary interrupted her harshly. 'If thou wilt have this Kin_t peace for a space that Cromwell may fall, why I am at one with thee. Fo_his King is such a palterer that without this knave at his back I might hav_ad him down ten years ago. Therefore, thou shalt write, and I wil_ountersign the words.'
  • 'That were to write thyself,' Katharine said.
  • 'Good wench,' the Lady Mary said. 'I am thy slave: but take what thou cans_et.'
  • Towards six of the next day young Poins clambered in at Katharine Howard'_indow and stood, pale, dripping with rain and his teeth chattering, betwee_icely Elliott and her old knight.
  • 'The letter,' he said. 'They have taken thy letter. My advancement is at a_nd!' And he fell upon the floor.
  • Going jauntily along the Hampton Street, he had been filled, that afternoon, with visions of advancement. Drifts of rain hid the osiers across the rive_nd made the mud ooze in over the laces of his shoes. The tall white and blac_ouse, where the Emperor's ambassador had his lodgings, leaned in all it_ewness over the path, and the water from its gutters fell right into th_iver, making a bridge above a passer's head. The little cookshop, with it_eet, as it were, in the water, made a small hut nestling down beneath th_hadow of the great house. It was much used by Chapuys' grooms, trencher boy_nd javelin men, because the cook was a Fleming, and had a comfortable hand i_tewing eels.
  • Ned Poins must pass the ambassador's house in his walk, but in under the dar_rchway there stood four men sheltering, in grey cloaks that reached to thei_eet. Stepping gingerly on the brick causeway that led down to the barge- steps, they came and stood before the young man, three being in a lin_ogether and one a little to the side. He hardly looked at them because he wa_hinking: 'This afternoon I will say to my sister Margot: "Fifteen letters _ave carried for thy great persons. I have carried them with secrecy an_peed. Now, by Cock, I will be advanced to ancient."' He had imagined hi_ister pleading with him to be patient, and himself stamping with his foot an_wearing that he would be advanced instantly.
  • The solitary one of the four men barred his way, and said:
  • 'No further! You go back with us!'
  • Poins swung his cape back and touched his sword-hilt.
  • 'You will have your neck stretched if you stay me,' he said.
  • The other loosened his cloak which had covered him up to the nose. He showed _ocking mouth, a long red beard that blew aside in a wild gust of the weather, and displayed on his breast the lion badge of the Lord Privy Seal.
  • 'An you will not come you shall be carried!' he said.
  • 'Nick Throckmorton,' Poins answered, 'I will slit thy weazand! I am on _reater errand than thine.'
  • It was strong in his mind that he was bearing a letter for the King'_ighness. The other three laid hands swiftly upon him, and a wet cloak flappe_ver his head. They had his elbows bound together behind his back before hi_yes again had the river and the muddy path to look upon. Throckmorton grinne_ardonically, and they forced him along in the mud. The rain fell down; hi_loak was gone. And then a great dread entered into his simple mind. It kep_unning through his head:
  • 'I was carrying a letter for the King—I was carrying a letter for the King!'
  • but his addled brains would bear his thoughts no further until he was cas_oose in the very room of Privy Seal himself. They had used him very roughly, and he staggered back against the wall, gasping for breath and weeping wit_age and fear.
  • Privy Seal stood before the fire; his eyes lifted a little but he said nothin_t all. Throckmorton took a dagger from the chain round his neck, and cut th_ag from the boy's girdle. Still smiling sardonically, he placed it in Priv_eal's fat hands.
  • 'Here is the great secret,' he said. 'I took it even in the gates of Chapuys.'
  • Privy Seal started a little and cried, 'Ah!' The boy would have spoken, but h_eared even to cry out; his eyes were starting from his head, and his breat_ame in great gusts that shook him. Privy Seal sat down in a large chair b_he fire and considered for a moment. Then he slowly drew out the crumple_all of paper. Here at last he held the Lady Mary utterly in his power; her_t last, at the eleventh hour, he had a new opportunity to show to the Kin_is vigilance, his power, and how necessary he was to the safety of the realm.
  • He had been beginning to despair; Winchester was to confess the King tha_ight. Now he held them… .
  • 'I have been diligent,' Throckmorton said. 'I had had the Lady Mary set in th_oom that has a spy-hole beside a rose in the ceiling. So I saw the writing o_his letter.'
  • Cromwell said, 'Ah!' He had pulled the paper apart, smoothed it across hi_nee, and looked at it attentively. Then he held it close to the fire, for n_lank paper could trouble the Privy Seal. This was a child's trick at best.
  • In the warmth faint lines became visible on the paper; they darkened an_arkened beneath his intent eyes. Behind his back Throckmorton, with hi_mmense beard and sardonic eyes, rubbed his hands and smiled. Privy Seal'_ingers trembled, but he gave no further sign.
  • Suddenly he cried, 'What!' and then, 'Both women! both… .'
  • He fell back in the chair, and the sudden quaver of his face, the deep breat_hat he drew, showed his immense joy.
  • 'God of my heart! Both women!' he said again.
  • The rain hurled itself with a great rustling against the casement. Though i_as so early, it was already nearly dark. Cromwell sat up suddenly and pointe_t the boy.
  • 'Take that rat away!' he said. 'Set him in irons, and come back here.'
  • Throckmorton caught the quivering boy by the ear and led him out at the door.
  • He took him down a small stair that opened behind a curtain. At the stair-foo_e pulled open a small, heavy door. He still held his dagger, and he cut th_opes that tied Poins' elbows. With a sudden alacrity and a grin of malice h_icked him violently.
  • 'Get you gone to your mistress,' he said.
  • Poins stood for a moment, wavering on his feet. He slipped miserably in th_ud of the park, and suddenly he ran. His grey, straining form disappeare_ound the end of the dark buildings, and then Throckmorton waved a hand at th_rey sky and laughed noiselessly. Thomas Cromwell was making notes in hi_ablets when his spy re-entered the room, with the rain-drops glistening i_is beard.
  • 'Here are some notes for you,' Cromwell said. He rose to his feet with a swif_nd intense energy. 'I have given you five farms. Now I go to the King.'
  • Throckmorton spoke gently.
  • 'You are over-eager,' he said. 'It is early to go to the King's Highness. W_ay find much more yet.'
  • 'It is already late,' Cromwell said.
  • 'Sir,' Throckmorton urged, 'consider that the King is much affected to thi_ady. Consider that this letter contains nothing that is treasonable; rathe_t urges peace upon the King's enemies.'
  • 'Aye,' said Cromwell; 'but it is written covertly to the King's enemies.'
  • 'That, it is true, is a treason,' Throckmorton said; 'but it is very certai_hat the Lady Mary hath written letters very much more hateful. By questionin_his boy that we have in gaol, by gaoling this Lady Katharine—why, we shal_ut her to the thumbscrews!—by gaol and by thumbscrew, we shall gar her to se_er hand to another make of confession. Then you may go to the King'_ighness.'
  • 'Nick Throckmorton,' Cromwell said, 'Winchester hath to-night the King's ear… .'
  • 'Sir,' Throckmorton answered, and a tremble in his calm voice showed hi_agerness, 'I beseech you to give my words your thoughts. Winchester hath th_ing's ear for the moment; but I will get you letters wherein these ladie_hall reveal Winchester for the traitor that we know him to be. Listen to me… .' He paused and let his crafty eyes run over his master's face. 'Let thi_atter be for an hour. See you, you shall make a warrant to take this Lad_atharine.'
  • He paused and appeared to reflect.
  • 'In an hour she shall be here. Give me leave to use my thumbscrews… .'
  • 'Aye, but Winchester,' Cromwell said.
  • 'Why,' Throckmorton answered confidently, 'in an hour, too, Winchester shal_e with the King in the King's Privy Chapel. There will be a make of prayers; ten minutes to that. There shall be Gardiner talking to the King against you_ordship; ten minutes to that. And, Winchester being craven, it shall cost hi_wice ten minutes to come to begging your lordship's head of the King, if eve_e dare to beg it. But he never shall.'
  • Cromwell said, 'Well, well!'
  • 'There we have forty minutes,' Throckmorton said. He licked his lips and hel_is long beard in his hand carefully, as if it had been a bird. 'But give m_en minutes to do my will upon this lady's body, and ten to write down wha_he shall confess. Then, if it take your lordship ten minutes to dres_ourself finely, you shall have still ten in which you shall show the King ho_is Winchester is traitor to him.'
  • Cromwell considered for a minute; his lips twitched cautiously the one abov_he other.
  • 'This is a great matter,' he said. He paused again. 'If this lady should no_onfess! And it is very certain that the King affects her.'
  • 'Give me ten minutes of her company,' the spy answered.
  • Cromwell considered again.
  • 'You are very certain,' he said; and then:
  • 'Wilt thou stake thy head upon it?'
  • Throckmorton wagged his beard slowly up and down.
  • 'Thy head and beard!' Cromwell repeated. He struck his hands briskly together.
  • 'It is thine own asking. God help thee if thou failest!'
  • 'I will lay nothing to your lordship's door,' Throckmorton said eagerly.
  • 'God knows!' Cromwell said. 'No man that hath served me have I deserted. So i_s that no one hath betrayed me. But thou shalt take this lady without warran_rom my hand.'
  • Throckmorton nodded.
  • 'If thou shalt wring avowal from her thou shalt be the wealthiest commoner o_ngland,' Cromwell said. 'But I will not be here. Nay, thou shalt take her t_hine own rooms. I will not be seen in this matter. And if thou fail… .'
  • 'Sir, I stand more sure of my succeeding than ever your lordship stood,'
  • Throckmorton answered him.
  • 'It is not I that shall betray thee if thou fail,' Cromwell answered. 'Ge_hee gone swiftly… .' He took the jewelled badge from his cap that lay on th_able. 'Thou hast served me well,' he said; 'take this in case I never see th_ace again.'
  • 'Oh, you shall see my triumph!' Throckmorton answered.
  • He bent himself nearly double as he passed through the door.
  • Cromwell sat down in his great chair, and his eyes gazed at nothing throug_he tapestry of his room.