Queen of This Realm, стр. 2

“I repeat she is the King's daughter and we should never forget that. Who knows…”

“Just what is your implication, Mr Shelton?”

He did not reply. I kept my eyes and ears open and because I knew strange matters were being decided outside my nursery I began to realize that for some reason Mr Shelton was trying hard to win my good graces and wean my affection from Lady Bryan. He never denied me anything that he could and he was always most obsequious.

At first I thought what a nice man he was and then when I discovered that Lady Bryan restricted me and meted out her little punishments because she felt it was her duty to do so, I did not like Mr Shelton so much; and whatever disagreement there was between us I always turned back to Lady Bryan when I was in need of comfort.

Mr Shelton, like Lady Bryan, was related to my mother, and that was the reason why they were at Hunsdon in my household. Those two were in constant conflict. Once I heard Lady Bryan declare to him: “You want to keep my Lady in royal state as long as you can, do you not, Master Shelton? But I tell you this: it will avail you little. There has been a new Queen now ever since the death of Queen Anne, and she is with child, and if that child should prove to be a boy… what of our lady then?”

“But what if it is not a boy eh?” demanded Mr Shelton. “What if Queen Jane goes the way of Queen Anne.”

“Hush,” said Lady Bryan. “Such words are treason and should never be spoken. All I ask of you is not to indulge the child. Do you not understand that these highly seasoned foods are bad for her digestion? I believe you give her sweetmeats outside meals, and if you do not desist from such I shall be forced to make complaints where they could come to the ears of the King.”

Mr Shelton was unimpressed and I learned later that she did write to Thomas Cromwell himself, telling him that I had neither gown nor kirtle, nor any manner of linen, and begging him to send something for me to wear. She also complained of Mr Shelton's insistence that I sit at table where spiced foods were served and suggested that I have plain wholesome food served in a way suitable for a child of my age.

I did get some new clothes but I think that may have been due to the intervention of my sister Mary. She was twenty years of age at that time, which seemed very old to me. She was pleasant-looking and very serious, spending a great deal of time on her knees. An example to me, said Lady Bryan, for I was far less dedicated to my religious studies than Mary had been as a child. (Lady Bryan had been her governess, too, so she could speak with conviction.) I was interested in so many things and asked too many questions, I was told. “There are matters which must be accepted without question,” said Lady Bryan. “One's faith for one, loyalty to the King for another.” Even at that stage I was beginning to have doubts of sustaining either.

Lady Mary's mother, Katharine of Aragon, had died a few months before my own, and my sister was stricken with grief because they had been especially devoted to each other. Before her mother's death Mary had not liked me at all. On the rare occasions when we had met, young as I was, I had sensed that my presence angered her. Now it was different. We had both lost our mothers; both had died outside the King's favor; we were both branded bastards. It was because of her uncertain position that Mary was not married, and it was strange for a King's daughter to reach the age of twenty without having a husband found for her. But now she was quite tender toward me and since I tried to please her we were becoming friends. When one has no mother and one's father is a king whom one rarely sees, it is very pleasant to have a sister. I hoped Mary felt this too.

I was very sad when Mary left Hunsdon but she was delighted to go, for Queen Jane had asked for her to go to Court. Much of this I learned later. Because of my extreme youth I must have been very much in the dark at this time. It was when Katharine Champernowne came to be my governess that I made my discoveries through her. Katharine—I was soon calling her Kat— was the most indiscreet and delightful person I had ever known and I grew to love her dearly.

It appeared that the King could deny his new wife nothing; fair where my mother was dark, docile where she was vivacious, Queen Jane was the greatest possible contrast to Queen Anne for whom out of the white heat of his passion had grown a burning hatred. Moreover Jane was almost immediately pregnant after her marriage, which took place, most shamefully, ten days after my mother's death by the sword.

Queen Jane, it seemed, asked the King if Mary could come to Court and be with her during her pregnancy.

“She shall come to thee, darling,” Kat told me he said; and so gladly Mary went.

I missed her, but like everyone else I wanted to hear of the birth of the child.

When Lady Bryan took me to her own private chamber, I knew I was going to learn something important. She put her arms round me and drew me close to her.

“The Queen has given birth to a son,” she said. “The King and the whole country are very happy.”

I felt my face go hard as it did when I was angry. Lady Bryan had told me of it many times. “A bad habit,” she said, “and one which can bring you no good.” I tried to curb it but on this occasion it was difficult, for how could I prevent the resentment which rose in me when I heard another than my mother called the Queen? Moreover this new Jane had given birth to a boy—the son which I should have been.

“The bells are ringing all over the country,” said Lady Bryan. “The King is so happy. This little boy will one day be King though, God willing, not for a very long time. His Grace the King has sent word to Mr Shelton and to me that you are to have the very special honor of carrying the chrisom at the christening. There! What do you think of that?”

I thought very well of it. At last I was going to Court.

How happy I was on that October day when I sailed along the river to Hampton Court, most sumptuously attired as befitted one who was to take part in such an important ceremony.

There lay the palace, majestically beautiful seen from the river. Small wonder that my father had said when it had belonged to Cardinal Wolsey that it was too fine a residence for a subject and had taken it for his own. I was enchanted by its enormous gatehouse, its privy gardens, its tennis courts and its fireplaces, each of them large enough to roast an ox. It was in settings such as this that I belonged.

I was delighted by the respect shown to me and I deluded myself into thinking that this might be the beginning of a change for me, and I wondered whether the pallid Queen who had replaced my mother was responsible for it.

Looking back it is not easy to say whether I remember the details of that ceremony or whether they were related to me afterward. I was only four years old but I do remember how happy I was—contented rather—to be among those powerful and important people. The King was not present in the chapel. He had remained with the Queen in her bedchamber for it was reported that she was very weak indeed. But several important people were there. The Duke of Suffolk, the Marquis of Exeter, the Earl of Arundel and Lord William Howard held the canopy over the baby who was carried by the Marchioness of Exeter. I heard that among the nobles was my grandfather Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire, with a wax taper in his hand and a towel about his neck, playing his part in the ceremony. I did not see him and I was glad I did not, for it occurred to me later that it was somewhat contemptible of him to take part in such a ceremony since his own daughter had been murdered by the King in order that the mother of this child might replace her. At the time I was completely happy. I was part of all this splendor, and the gloriously appareled infant who was the reason for the ceremony was my brother.