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Chapter 4

  • The Queen was walking in the long gallery of Hampton Court. The afternoon wa_till new, but rain was falling very fast, so that through the windows al_rees were blurred with mist, and all alleys ran with water, and it was ver_rey in the gallery. The Lady Mary was with her, and sat in a window-sea_eading in a book. The Queen, as she walked, was netting a silken purse of _urple colour; her gown was very richly embroidered of gold thread worked int_lack velvet, and the heavy day pressed heavily on her senses, so that sh_ought that silence more willingly. For three days she had had no news of he_ord, but that morning he was come back to Hampton, though she had not ye_een him, for it was ever his custom to put off all work of the day before h_ame to the Queen. Thus, if she were sad, she was tranquil; and, considerin_nly that her work of bringing him to God must begin again that night, she le_er thoughts rest upon the netting of her purse. The King, she had heard, wa_ith his council. Her uncle was come to Court, and Gardiner of Winchester, an_ranmer of Canterbury, along with Sir A. Wriothesley, and many other lords, s_hat she augured it would be a very full council, and that night there woul_e a great banquet if she was not mistaken.
  • She remembered that it was now many months since she had been shown for Quee_rom that very gallery in the window that opened upon the Cardinal's garden.
  • The King had led her by the hand. There had been a great crying out of man_eople of the lower sort that crowded the terrace before the garden. Now th_ain fell, and all was desolation. A yeoman in brown fustian ran bending hi_ead before the tempestuous rain. A rook, blown impotently backwards, essaye_lowly to cross towards the western trees. Her eyes followed him until a grea_ust blew him in a wider curve, backwards and up, and when again he steadie_imself he was no more than a blot on the wet greyness of the heavens.
  • There was an outcry at the door, and a woman ran in. She was crying out still: she was all in grey, with the white coif of the Queen's service. She fell dow_pon her knees, her hands held out.
  • 'Pardon!' she cried. 'Pardon! Let not my brother come in. He prowls at th_oor.'
  • It was Mary Hall, she that had been Mary Lascelles. The Queen came over t_aise her up, and to ask what it was she sought. But the woman wept so loud, and so continually cried out that her brother was the fiend incarnate, tha_he Queen could ask no questions. The Lady Mary looked up over her boo_ithout stirring her body. Her eyes were awakened and sardonic.
  • The waiting-maid looked affrightedly over her shoulders at the door.
  • 'Well, your brother shall not come in here,' the Queen said. 'What would h_ave done to you?'
  • 'Pardon!' the woman cried out. 'Pardon!'
  • 'Why, tell me of your fault,' the Queen said.
  • 'I have given false witness!' Mary Hall blubbered out. 'I would not do it. Bu_ou do not know how they confuse a body. And they threaten with cords an_humbscrews.' She shuddered with her whole body. 'Pardon!' she cried out.
  • 'Pardon!'
  • And then suddenly she poured forth a babble of lamentations, wringing he_ands, and rubbing her lips together. She was a woman passed of thirty, bu_hin still and fair like her brother in the face, for she was his twin.
  • 'Ah,' she cried, 'he threated that if I would not give evidence I must go bac_o Lincolnshire. You do not know what it is to go back to Lincolnshire. Ah, God! the old father, the old house, the wet. My clothes were all mouldered. _as willing to give true evidence to save myself, but they twisted it t_alse. It was the Duke of Norfolk … '
  • The Lady Mary came slowly over the floor.
  • 'Against whom did you give your evidence?' she said, and her voice was cold, hard, and commanding.
  • Mary Hall covered her face with her hands, and wailed desolately in a hig_ote, like a wolf's howl, that reverberated in that dim gallery.
  • The Lady Mary struck her a hard blow with the cover of her book upon the hand_nd the side of her head.
  • 'Against whom did you give your evidence?' she said again.
  • The woman fell over upon one hand, the other she raised to shield herself. He_yes were flooded with great teardrops; her mouth was open in an agony. Th_ady Mary raised her book to strike again: its covers were of wood, and it_ngles bound with silver work. The woman screamed out, and then uttered—
  • 'Against Dearham and one Mopock first. And then against Sir T. Culpepper.'
  • The Queen stood up to her height; her hand went over her heart; the nette_urse dropped to the floor soundlessly.
  • 'God help me!' Mary Hall cried out. 'Dearham and Culpepper are both dead!'
  • The Queen sprang back three paces.
  • 'How dead!' she cried. 'They were not even ill.'
  • 'Upon the block,' the maid said. 'Last night, in the dark, in their gaols.'
  • The Queen let her hands fall slowly to her sides.
  • 'Who did this?' she said, and Mary Hall answered—
  • 'It was the King!'
  • The Lady Mary set her book under her arm.
  • 'Ye might have known it was the King,' she said harshly. The Queen was a_till as a pillar of ebony and ivory, so black her dress was, and so white he_ace and pendant hands.
  • 'I repent me! I repent me!' the maid cried out. 'When I heard that they wer_ead I repented me and came here. The old Duchess of Norfolk is in gaol: sh_urned the letters of Dearham! The Lady Rochford is in gaol, and old Si_icholas, and the Lady Cicely that was ever with the Queen; the Lord Edmun_oward shall to gaol and his lady.'
  • 'Why,' the Lady Mary said to the Queen, 'if you had not had such a fear o_epotism, your father and mother and grandmother and cousin had been her_bout you, and not so easily taken.'
  • The Queen stood still whilst all her hopes fell down.
  • 'They have taken Lady Cicely that was ever with me,' she said.
  • 'It was the Duke of Norfolk that pressed me most,' Mary Lascelles cried out.
  • 'Aye, he would,' the Lady Mary answered.
  • The Queen tottered upon her feet.
  • 'Ask her more,' she said. 'I will not speak with her.'
  • 'The King in his council … ' the girl began.
  • 'Is the King in his council upon these matters?' the Lady Mary asked.
  • 'Aye, he sitteth there,' Mary Hall said. 'And he hath heard evidence of Mar_relyon the Queen's maid, how that the Queen's Highness did bid her begone o_he night that Sir T. Culpepper came to her room, before he came. And how tha_he Queen was very insistent that she should go, upon the score of fatigue an_he lateness of the hour. And she hath deponed that on other nights, too, thi_as happened, that the Queen's Highness, when she hath come late to bed, hat_qually done the same thing. And other her maids have deponed how the Quee_ath sent them from her presence and relieved them of tasks——'
  • 'Well, well,' the Lady Mary said, 'often I have urged the Queen that sh_hould be less gracious. Better it had been if she had beat ye all as I hav_one; then had ye feared to betray her.'
  • 'Aye,' Mary Hall said, 'it is a true thing that your Grace saith there.'
  • 'Call me not your Grace,' the Lady Mary said. 'I will be no Grace in thi_ourt of wolves and hogs.'
  • That was the sole thing that she said to show she was of the Queen's party.
  • But ever she questioned the kneeling woman to know what evidence had bee_iven, and of the attitude of the lords.
  • The young Poins had sworn roundly that the Queen had bidden him to summon n_uards when her cousin had broken in upon her. Only Udal had said that he kne_othing of how Katharine had agreed with her cousin whilst they were i_incolnshire. It had been after his time there that Culpepper came. It ha_een after his time, too, and whilst he lay in chains at Pontefract tha_ulpepper had come to her door. He stuck to that tale, though the Duke o_orfolk had beat and threatened him never so.
  • 'Why, what wolves Howards be,' the Lady Mary said, 'for it is only wolves, o_ll beasts, that will prey upon the sick of their kind.'
  • The Queen stood there, swaying back as if she were very sick, her eyes fas_losed, and the lids over them very blue.
  • It was only when the Lady Mary drew from the woman an account of the King'_emeanour that she showed a sign of hearing.
  • 'His Highness,' the woman said, 'sate always mute.'
  • 'His Highness would,' the Lady Mary said. 'He is in that at least royal—tha_e letteth jackals do his hunting.'
  • It was only when the Archbishop of Canterbury, reading from the indictment o_ulpepper, had uttered the words: 'did by the obtaining of the Lady Rochfor_eet with the Queen's Highness by night in a secret and vile place,' that th_ing had called out—
  • 'Body of God! mine own bedchamber!' as if he were hatefully mocking th_rchbishop.
  • The Queen leant suddenly forward—
  • 'Said he no more than that?' she cried eagerly.
  • 'No more, oh your dear Grace,' the maid said. And the Queen shuddered an_hispered—
  • 'No more!—And I have spoken to this woman to obtain no more than "no more."'
  • Again she closed her eyes, and she did not again speak, but hung her hea_orward as if she were thinking.
  • 'Heaven help me!' the maid said.
  • 'Why, think no more of Heaven,' the Lady Mary said, 'there is but the fire o_ell for such beasts as you.'
  • 'Had you such a brother as mine——' Mary Hall began. But the Lady Mary crie_ut—
  • 'Cease, dog! I have a worse father, but you have not found him force me t_ork vileness.'
  • 'All the other Papists have done worse than I,' Mary Hall said, 'for they i_as that forced us by threats to speak.'
  • 'Not one was of the Queen's side?' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'Not one,' Mary Hall answered. 'Gardiner was more fierce against her than h_f Canterbury, the Duke of Norfolk than either.'
  • The Lady Mary said—
  • 'Well! well!'
  • 'Myself I did hear the Duke of Norfolk say, when I was drawn to give evidence, that he begged the King to let him tear my secrets from my heart. For so di_e abhor the abominable deeds done by his two nieces, Anne Boleyn an_atharine Howard, that he could no longer desire to live. And he said neithe_ould he live longer without some comfortable assurance of His Highness'_oyal favour. And so he fell upon me——'
  • The woman fell to silence. Without, the rain had ceased, and, like heav_urtains trailing near the ground, the clouds began to part and sweep away. _orn sounded, and there went a party of men with pikes across the terrace.
  • 'Well, and what said you?' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'Ask me not,' Mary Lascelles said woefully. She averted her eyes to the floo_t her side.
  • 'By God, but I will know,' the Lady Mary snarled. 'You shall tell me.' She ha_hat of royal bearing from her sire that the woman was amazed at her words, and, awakening like one in a dream, she rehearsed the evidence that had bee_hreated from her.
  • She had told of the lascivious revels and partings, in the maid's garret a_he old Duchess's, when Katharine had been a child there. She had told ho_arnock the musicker had called her his mistress, and how Dearham, Katharine'_ousin, had beaten him. And how Dearham had given Katharine a half of a silve_oin.
  • 'Well, that is all true,' the Lady Mary said. 'How did you perjure yourself?'
  • 'In the matter of the Queen's age,' the woman faltered.
  • 'How that?' the Lady Mary asked.
  • 'The Duke would have me say that she was more than a young child.'
  • The Lady Mary said, 'Ah! ah! there is the yellow dog!' She thought for _oment.
  • 'And you said?' she asked at last.
  • 'The Duke threated me and threated me. And say I, "Your Grace must know ho_oung she was." And says he, "I would swear that at that date she was n_hild, but that I do not know how many of these nauseous Howard brats ther_e. Nor yet the order in which they came. But this I will swear that I thin_here has been some change of the Queen with a whelp that died in the litter, that she might seem more young. And of a surety she was always learned beyon_er assumed years, so that it was not to be believed."'
  • Mary Lascelles closed her eyes and appeared about to faint.
  • 'Speak on, dog,' Mary said.
  • The woman roused herself to say with a solemn piteousness—
  • 'This I swear that before this trial, when my brother pressed me and threate_e thus to perjure myself, I abhorred it and spat in his face. There was non_ore firm—nor one half so firm as I—against him. But oh, the Duke and th_error—and to be in a ring of so many villainous men… .'
  • 'So that you swore that the Queen's Highness, to your knowledge, was olde_han a child,' the Lady Mary pressed her.
  • 'Ay; they would have me say that it was she that commanded to have thes_evels… .'
  • She leaned forward with both her hands on the floor, in the attitude of _east that goes four-footed. She cried out—
  • 'Ask me no more! ask me no more!'
  • 'Tell! tell! Beast!' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'They threated me with torture,' the woman panted. 'I could do no less. _eard Margot Poins scream.'
  • 'They have tortured her?' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'Ay, and she was in her pains elsewise,' the woman said.
  • 'Did she say aught?' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'No! no!' the woman panted. Her hair had fallen loose in her coif, it depende_n to her shoulder.
  • 'Tell on! tell on!' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'They tortured her, and she did not say one word more, but ever in her agon_ried out, "Virtuous! virtuous!" till her senses went.'
  • Mary Hall again raised herself to her knees.
  • 'Let me go, let me go,' she moaned. 'I will not speak before the Queen. I ha_een as loyal as Margot Poins… . But I will not speak before the Queen. I lov_er as well as Margot Poins. But … I will not——'
  • She cried out as the Lady Mary struck her, and her face was lamentable wit_ts opened mouth. She scrambled to one knee; she got on both, and ran to th_oor. But there she cried out—
  • 'My brother!' and fell against the wall. Her eyes were fixed upon the Lad_ary with a baleful despair, she gasped and panted for breath.
  • 'It is upon you if I speak,' she said. 'Merciful God, do not bid me spea_efore the Queen!'
  • She held out her hands as if she had been praying.
  • 'Have I not proved that I loved this Queen?' she said. 'Have I not fled her_o warn her? Is it not my life that I risk? Merciful God! Merciful God! Bid m_ot to speak.'
  • 'Speak!' the Lady Mary said.
  • The woman appealed to the Queen with her eyes streaming, but Katharine stoo_ilent and like a statue with sightless eyes. Her lips smiled, for she though_f her Redeemer; for this woman she had neither ears nor eyes.
  • 'Speak!' the Lady Mary said.
  • 'God help you, be it on your head,' the woman cried out, 'that I speak befor_he Queen. It was the King that bade me say she was so old. I would not say i_efore the Queen, but you have made me!'
  • The Lady Mary's hands fell powerless to her sides, the book from her opene_ingers jarred on the hard floor.
  • 'Merciful God!' she said. 'Have I such a father?'
  • 'It was the King!' the woman said. 'His Highness came to life when he hear_hese words of the Duke's, that the Queen was older than she reported. H_ould have me say that the Queen's Highness was of a marriageable age an_ontracted to her cousin Dearham.'
  • 'Merciful God!' the Lady Mary said again. 'Dear God, show me some way to tea_rom myself the sin of my begetting. I had rather my mother's confessor ha_een my father than the King! Merciful God!'
  • 'Never was woman pressed as I was to say this thing. And well ye wot—bette_han I did before—what this King is. I tell you—and I swear it——'
  • She stopped and trembled, her eyes, from which the colour had gone, wide ope_nd lustreless, her face pallid and ashen, her mouth hanging open. The Quee_as moving towards her.
  • She came very slowly, her hands waving as if she sought support from the air, but her head was erect.
  • 'What will you do?' the Lady Mary said. 'Let us take counsel!'
  • Katharine Howard said no word. It was as if she walked in her sleep.