When Henry was calmed by his pacing in her chamber he came out to her in th_unlight, rolling and bear-like, and so huge that the terrace seemed to gro_maller.
'Chuck,' he said to her, 'I ha' done a thing to pleasure thee.' He moved tw_ingers upwards to save the Duke of Norfolk from falling to his knees, caugh_atharine by the elbow, and, turning upon himself as on a huge pivot, swun_er round him so that they faced the pavilion. 'Sha't not talk with a citron- faced uncle,' he said; 'sha't save sweet words for me. I will tell thee what _a' done to pleasure thee.'
'Save it a while and do another ere ye tell me,' she said.
'Now, what is your reasoning about that, wise one?' he asked.
She laughed at him, for she took pleasure in his society and, except when sh_as earnest to beg things of him, she was mostly gay at his side.
'It takes a woman to teach kings,' she said.
He answered that it took a Queen to teach him.
'Why,' she said, 'listen! I know that each day ye do things to pleasure me, things prodigal or such little things as giving me pouncet boxes. But you wil_ind—and a woman, quean or queen, knows it well—that to take the full pleasur_f her lover's surprises well, she must have an easy mind. And to have an eas_ind she must have granted her the little, little boons she asketh.'
He reflected ponderously upon this point and at last, with a sort of peasant'_ravity, nodded his head.
'For,' she said, 'if a woman is to take pleasure she must guess at what yo_en have done for her. And if she be to guess pleasurably, she must have _lear mind. And if I am to have a clear mind I must have a maiden console_ith a husband.'
Henry seated himself carefully in the great chair of the small pavilion. H_pread out his knees, blinked at the view and when, having cast a look roun_o see that Norfolk was gone—for it did not suit her that he should see o_hat terms she was with the King—she seated herself on a little foot-pillow a_is feet, he set a great hand upon her head. She leaned her arms across ove_is knees, and looked up at him appealingly.
'I do take it,' he said, 'that I must make some man rich to wed some poo_aid.'
'Oh, Solomon!' she said.
'And I do take it,' he continued with gravity, 'that this maid is thy mai_argot.'
'How know you that?' she said.
'I have observed her,' he maintained gravely.
'Why, you could not well miss her,' she answered. 'She is as big as a plough- ox.'
'I have observed,' he said—and he blinked his little eyes as if, pleasurably, she were, with her words, whispering around his head. 'I have observed that y_ffected her.'
'Why, she likes me well. She is a good wench—and to-day she tore my hair.'
'Then that is along of a man?' he asked. 'Didst not stick thy needle in he_rm? Or wilto be quit of her?'
She rubbed her chin.
'Why, if she wed, I mun be quit of her,' she said, as if she had never though_f that thing.
'Assuredly; for ye may not part man and lawful wife were you seven time_ueen.'
'Why,' she said, 'I have little pleasure in Margot as she is.'
'Then let her go,' he answered.
'But I am a very lonely Queen,' she said, 'for you are much absent.'
He reflected pleasurably.
'Thee wouldst have about thee a little company of well-wishers?'
'So that they be those thou lovest well,' she said.
'Why, thy maid contents me,' he answered. He reflected slowly. 'We must giv_er man a post about thee,' he uttered triumphantly.
'Why, trust thee to pleasure me,' she said. 'You will find out a way always.'
He scrubbed her nose gently with his heavy finger.
'Who is the man?' he said. 'What ruffler?'
'I think it is the Magister Udal,' she answered.
'Oh ho! oh ho!' And after a moment he slapped his thigh and laughed like _hild. She laughed with him, silverly upon a little sound between 'ah' and
'e.' He stopped his laugh to listen to hers, and then he said gravely—
'I think your laugh is the prettiest sound I ever heard. I would give thy mai_argot a score of husbands to make thee laugh.'
'One is enough to make her weep,' she said; 'and I may laugh at thee.'
'Let us finish this business within the hour. Sit you upon your chair that _ay call one to send this ruffler here.'
She rose, with one sinuous motion that pleased him well, half to her feet and, feeling behind her with one hand for the chair, aided herself with the othe_pon his shoulder because she knew that it gave him joy to be her prop.
'Call the maid, too,' she said, 'for I would come to the secret soon.'
That pleased him too, and, having shouted for a knave he once more shook wit_aughter.
'Oh ho,' he said, 'you will net this old fox, will you?'
And, having sent his messenger off to summon the Magister from the Lady Mary'_oom, and the maid from the Queen's, he continued for a while to soliloquis_s to Udal's predicament. For he had heard the Magister rail against matrimon_n Latin hexameters and doggerel Greek. He knew that the Magister was a_ncorrigible fumbler after petticoats. And now, he said, this old fox was t_e bagged and tied up.
'Well, well, well; well, well!'
For, if a Queen commanded a marriage, a marriage there must be; there was n_ore hope for the Magister than for any slave of Cato's. He was cabined, ginned, trapped, shut in from the herd of bachelors. It pleased the King ver_ell.
The King grasped the gilded arms of his great chair, Katharine sat beside him, her hands laid one within another upon her lap. She did not say one singl_ord during the King's interview with Magister Udal.
The Magister fell upon his knees before them and, seeing the laughing wrinkle_ound the King's little eyes, made sure that he was sent for—as had often bee_he case—to turn into Latin some jest the King had made. His gown fell abou_is kneeling shins, his cap was at his side, his lean, brown, and sly face, with the long nose and crafty eyes, was like a woodpecker's.
'Goodman Magister,' Henry said. 'Stand up. We have sent for thee to advanc_hee.' Without moving his head he rolled his eyes to one side. He loved hi_ramatic effects and wished to await the coming of the Queen's maid, Margot, before he gave the weight of his message.
Udal picked up his cap and came up to his feet before them; he had beneath hi_own a little book, and one long finger between its leaves to keep his plac_here he had been reading. For he had forgotten a saying of Thales, and wa_eading through Cæsar's Commentaries to find it.
'As Seneca said,' he uttered in his throat, 'advancement is doubly sweet t_hem that deserve it not.'
'Why,' the King said, 'we advance thee on the deserts of one that finds the_weet, and is sweet to one doubly sweet to us, Henry of Windsor that spea_weet words to thee.'
The lines on Udal's face drooped all a little downwards.
'Y'are reader in Latin to the Lady Mary,' the King said.
'I have little deserved in that office,' Udal answered; 'the lady reads Lati_etter than even I.'
'Why, you lie in that,' Henry said, ''a readeth well for she's my daughter; but not so well as thee.'
Udal ducked his head; he was not minded to carry modesty further than i_eason.
'The Lady Mary—the Lady Mary of England——' the King said weightily—and thes_ast two words of his had a weight all their own, so that he added, 'o_ngland' again, and then, 'will have little longer need of thee. She shall we_ith a puissant Prince.'
'I hail, I felicitate, I bless the day I hear those words,' the Magister said.
'Therefore,' the King said—and his ears had caught the rustle of Margot's gre_own—'we will let thee no more be reader to that my daughter.'
Margot came round the green silk curtains that were looped on the corner post_f the pavilion. When she saw the Magister her great, fair face became slowl_f a fiery red; slowly and silently she fell, with motions as if bovine, t_er knees at the Queen's side. Her gown was all grey, but it had roses of re_nd white silk round the upper edges of the square neck-place, and white law_howed beneath her grey cap.
'We advance thee,' Henry said, 'to be Chancellier de la Royne, with an hundre_ounds by the year from my purse. Do homage for thine office.'
Udal fell upon one knee before Katharine, and dropping both cap and book, too_er hand to raise to his lips. But Margot caught her hand when he had don_ith it and set upon it a huge pressure.
'But, Sir Chancellor,' the King said, 'it is evident that so grave an offic_ust have a grave fulfiller. And, to ballast thee the better, the Queen of he_raciousness hath found thee a weighty helpmeet. So that, before you shal_ouch the duties and emoluments of this charge you shall, and that even to- night, wed this Madam Margot that here kneels.'
Udal's face had been of a coppery green pallor ever since he had heard th_itle of Chancellor.
'Eheu!' he said, 'this is the torture of Tantalus that might never drink.'
In its turn the face of Margot Poins grew pale, pushed forward towards him; but her eyes appeared to blaze, for all they were a mild blue, and the Quee_elt the pressure upon her hand grow so hard that it pained her.
The King uttered the one word, 'Magister!'
Udal's fingers picked at the fur of his moth-eaten gown.
'God be favourable to me,' he said. 'If it were anything but Chancellor!'
The King grew more rigid.
'Body of God,' he said, 'will you wed with this maid?'
'Ahí!' the Magister wailed; and his perturbation had in it something comic an_carecrowlike, as if a wind shook him from within. 'If you will make m_nything but a Chancellor, I will. But a Chancellor, I dare not.'
The King cast himself back in his chair. The suggested gibe rose furiously t_is lips; the Magister quailed and bent before him, throwing out his hands.
'Sire,' he said, 'if—which God forbid—this were a Protestant realm I might d_t. But oh, pardon and give ear. Pardon and give ear——'
He waved one hand furiously at the silken canopy above them.
'It is agreed with one of mine in Paris that she shall come hither—God forgiv_e, I must make avowal, though God knows I would not—she shall come hither t_e if she do hear that I have risen to be a Chancellor.'
The King said, 'Body of God!' as if it were an earthquake.
'If it were anything else but Chancellor she might not come, and I would we_argot Poins more willingly than any other. But—God knows I do not willingl_ake this avowal, but am in a corner, _sicut vulpis in lucubris_ , like a fo_n the coils—this Paris woman is my wife.'
Henry gave a great shout of laughter, but slowly Margot Poins fell across th_ueen's knees. She uttered no sound, but lay there motionless. The sigh_ffected Udal to an epileptic fury.
'Jove be propitious to me!' he stuttered out. 'I know not what I can do.' H_egan to tear the fur of his cloak and toss it over the battlements. 'Th_oman is my wife—wed by a friar. If this were a Protestant realm now—or if _leaded pre-contract—and God knows I ha' promised marriage to twenty wome_efore I, in an evil day, married one—eheu!—to this one——'
He began to sob and to wring his thin hands.
' _Quod faciam? Me miser! Utinam. Utinam——_ '
He recovered a little coherence.
'If this were a Protestant land ye might say this wedding was no wedding, fo_hat a friar did it; but I know ye will not suffer that——' His eyes appeale_iteously to the Queen.
'Why, then,' he said, 'it is not upon my head that I do not wed this wench.
You be my witness that I would wed; it gores my heart to see her look so pale.
It tears my vitals to see any woman look pale. As Lucretius says, "Better th_unshine of smiles——"'
A little outputting of impatient breath from Katharine made him stop.
'It is you, your Grace,' he said, 'that make me thus tied. If you would let u_e Protestant, or, again, if I could plead pre-contract to void this Pari_arriage it would let me wed with this wench—eheu—eheu. Her brother will brea_y bones——'
He began to cry out so lamentably, invoking Pluto to bear him to th_nderworld, that the King roared out upon him—
'Why, get you gone, fool.'
The Magister threw himself suddenly upon his knees, his hands clasped, hi_own drooping over them down to his wrists. He turned his face to the Queen.
'Before God,' he said, 'before high and omnipotent Jove, I swear that when _ade this marriage I thought it was no marriage!' He reflected for a breat_nd added, at the recollection of the cook's spits that had been turne_gainst him when he had by woman's guile been forced into marriage with th_idow in Paris, 'I was driven into it by force, with sharp points at m_hroat. Is that not enow to void a marriage? Is that not enow? Is that no_now?'
Katharine looked out over the great levels of the view. Her face was rigid, and she swallowed in her throat, her eye being glazed and hard. The King too_is cue from a glance at her face.
'Get you gone, Goodman Rogue Magister,' he said, and he adopted a canonica_one that went heavily with his rustic pose. 'A marriage made and consummate_nd properly blessed by holy friar there is no undoing. You are learned enoug_o know that. Rogue that you be, I am very glad that you are trapped by thi_arriage. Well I know that you have dangled too much with petticoats, to th_reat scandal of this my Court. Now you have lost your preferment, and I a_lad of it. Another and a better than thou shall be the Queen's Chancellor, for another and a better than thou shall wed this wench. We will get her suc_ goodly husband——'
A low, melancholy wail from Margot Poins' agonised face—a sound such as migh_ave been made by an ox in pain—brought him to a stop. It wrung the Magister, who could not bear to see a woman pained, up to a pitch of ecstatic courage.
' _Quid fecit Cæsar_ ,' he stuttered; 'what Cæsar hath done, Cæsar can d_gain. It was not till very lately since this canon of wedding an_onsummating and blessing by a holy friar hath been derided and contemned i_his realm. And so it might be again——'
Katharine Howard cried out, 'Ah!' Her features grew rigid and as ashen as col_teel. And, at her cry, the King—who could less bear than Udal to hear a woma_n pain—the King sprang up from his chair. It was as amazing to all them as t_unters it is to see a great wild bull charge with a monstrous velocity. Uda_as rigid with fear, and the King had him by the throat. He shook hi_ackwards and forwards so that his book fell upon the Queen's feet, burstin_ut of his ragged gown, and his cap, flying from his opened hand, fell dow_ver the battlement into an elm top. The King guttered out unintelligibl_ounds of fury from his vast chest and, planted on his huge feet, he swung th_agister round him till, backwards and staggering, the eyes growing fixed i_is brown and rigid face, he was pushed, jerking at each step of the King, ou_f sight behind the green silk curtains.
The Queen sat motionless in her purple velvet. She twisted one hand into th_hain of the medallion about her throat, and one hand lay open and pale by he_ide. Margot Poins knelt at her side, her face hidden in the Queen's lap, he_wo arms stretched out beyond her grey coifed head. For a minute she wa_ilent. Then great sobs shook her so that Katharine swayed upon her seat. Fro_er hidden face there came muffled and indistinguishable words, and at las_atharine said dully—
'What, child? What, child?'
Margot moved her face sideways so that her mouth was towards Katharine.
'You can unmake it! You can unmake the marriage,' she brought out in hug_obs.
'You unmade a King's marriage,' Margot wailed.
'No! No!' She started and uttered the words loudly; she added pitifully, 'Yo_o not understand! You do not understand!'
It was the more pitiful in that Margot understood very well. She hid her fac_gain and only sobbed heavily and at long intervals, and then with many sob_t once. The Queen laid her white hand upon the girl's head. Her other stil_layed with the chain.
'Christ be piteous to me,' she said. 'I think it had been better if I ha_ever married the King.'
Margot uttered an indistinguishable sound.
'I think it had been better,' the Queen said; 'though I had jeoparded m_mmortal part.'
Margot moved her head up to cry out in her turn—
'No! No! You may not say it!'
Then she dropped her face again. When she heard the King coming back an_reathing heavily, she stood up, and with huge tears on her red and crumple_ace she looked out upon the fields as if she had never seen them before. A_mmense sob shook her. The King stamped his foot with rage, and then, becaus_e was soft-hearted to them that he saw in sorrow, he put his hand upon he_houlder.
'Sha't have a better mate,' he uttered. 'Sha't be a knight's dame! There!
there!' and he fondled her great back with his hand. Her eyes screwed tightl_p, she opened her mouth wide, but no words came out, and suddenly she shoo_er head as if she had been an enraged child. Her loud cries, shaken out o_er with her tears, died away as she went across the terrace, a loud one an_hen a little echo, a loud one and then two more.
'Before God!' the King said, 'that knave shall eat ten years of prison bread.'
His wife looked still over the wooded enclosures, the little stone walls, an_he copses. A small cloud had come before the sun, and its shadow was movin_eisurely across the ridge where stood the roofless abbey.
'The maid shall have the best man I can give her,' the King said.
'Why, no good man would wed her!' Katharine answered dully.
'Anan?' Then he fingered the dagger on the chain before his chest.
'Why,' he added slowly, 'then the Magister shall die by the rope. It is a_ffence that can be quitted with death. It is time such a thing were done.'
Katharine's dull silence spurred him; he shrugged his shoulders and heaved _eep breath out.
'Why,' he said, 'a man can be found to wed the wench.'
She moved one hand and uttered—
'I would not wed her to such a man!' as if it were a matter that was not muc_n her thoughts.
'Then she may go into a nunnery,' the King said; 'for before three months ar_ut we will have many nunneries in this realm.'
She looked upon him a little absently, but she smiled at him to give hi_leasure. She was thinking that she wished she had not wedded him; but sh_miled because, things being as they were, she thought that she had all th_uthorities of the noble Greeks and Romans to bid her do what a good wif_hould.
He laughed at her griefs, thinking that they were all about Margot Poins. H_ttered jolly grossnesses; he said that she little knew the way of courts i_he thought that a man, and a very good man, might not be found to wed th_ench.
She was troubled that he could not better read what was upon her mind, for sh_as thinking that her having consented to his making null his marriage wit_he Princess of Cleves that he might wed her would render her work always th_ore difficult. It would render her more the target for evil tongues, it woul_et a sterner and a more stubborn opposition against her task of restoring th_ingdom of God within that realm.
'Ye hannot guessed what my secret was? What have I done for thee this day?'
She still looked away over the lands. She made her face smile—
'Nay, I know not. Ha' ye brought me the musk I love well?'
He shook his head.
'It is more than that!' he said.
She still smiled—
'Ha' ye—ha' ye—made make for me a new crown?'
She feared a little that that was what he had done. For he had been urgen_ith her, many months, to be crowned. It was his way to love these things. An_er heart was a little gladder when he shook his head once again and uttered—
'It is more than that!'
She dreaded his having made ready in secret a great pageant in her honour, fo_he was afraid of all aggrandisements, and thought still it had been bette_hat she had remained his sweet friend ever and not the Queen. For in that wa_he would have had as much empire over him, and there would have been muc_ess clamour against her—much less clamour against the Church of her Saviour.
She forced her mind to run upon all the things that she could wish for. Whe_he said it must be that he had ordered for her enough French taffetas to mak_welve gowns, he laughed and said that he had said that it was more than _rown. When she guessed that he had made ready such a huge cavalcade that sh_ight with great comfort and safety ride with him into Scotland, he laughed, contented that she should think of going with him upon that long journey. H_tood looking at her, his little eyes blinking, his face full of pride an_oy, and suddenly he uttered—
'The Church of God is come back again.' He touched his cap at the sacred name.
'I ha' made submission to the Pope.'
He looked her full in the face to get all the delight he might from her look_nd her movements.
Her blue eyes grew large; she leaned forward in her chair; her mouth opened _ittle; her sleeves fell down to the ground. 'Now am I indeed crowned!' sh_aid, and closed her eyes. ' _Benedicta sit mater dei!_ ' she uttered, and he_and went over her heart place; ' _deo clamavi nocte atque dië._ '
She was silent again, and she leaned more forward.
' _Sit benedicta dies haec; sit benedicta hora haec benedictaque, saeculu_aeculûm, castra haec._ '
She looked out upon the great view: she aspired the air.
' _Ad colles_ ,' she breathed, ' _levavi oculos meos; unde venit salvati_ostra!_ '
'Body of God,' Henry said, 'all things grow plain. All things grow plain. Thi_s the best day that ever I knew.'