Author's Note: I had planned on posting this for Christmas, but I didn't have it ready in time. Then, I made the decision that I wouldn't post this chapter until I was nearly done with the next-to prevent a long wait in-between chapters-but I realized it had been too long since the last post.
I did take some author's license with some aspects of this chapter-one example being the Barony Cleddau.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy this chapter. Reviews are welcome, as always.
May 19, 1536
Nan and Madge arrived at the Tower just after dawn the next morning, having elected with little consideration to travel with their mistress-as opposed to traveling with her possessions. They had come dressed in their traveling clothes and were already prepared for the four-day journey to Wales.
Anne was not yet ready to leave and was attempting to force-feed herself at least a little portion of breakfast; she needed food, she knew she did, but she just could not make herself hungry. The past months had been tumultuous and caused her to have little desire to do anything, including those things that she biologically needed to survive. Aside from her nonexistent appetite, sleep was near impossible. Anne would lie in her bed and stare at the wooden ceiling as if it told the most riveting stories. The few times she did doze off she was assaulted by dreadful nightmares.
She had never been in such a state of depression before, and she knew it was not healthy but she often wondered if it would not have been better for the King to simply ignore the pleas of his subjects and have her killed, as he so obviously wanted. It was a selfish thought, true, but she would not be feeling the pain she felt if she were dead.
In this dark time there were very few consolations. She would be seeing Elizabeth again soon and would not have to forgo her company again until it came time for Elizabeth to marry. She supposed that she should consider it a consolation that she was still alive, but found it hard to do so. Anne struggled to think of more but she soon realised that her daughter was the only consolation, unless one could consider the age old wisdom that God would never present his children with more trouble than they could handle and even Anne was beginning to wonder if God did not have a sense of humour.
It was strange and saddening to think about what might have happened if she had not lost her son. She was fairly certain that her life would be much more mollifying; she would now be preparing to enter into seclusion and formally withdraw from court and, while she knew that she would likely have spent much of her confinement pondering over the sex of her baby, Anne knew with hindsight that her life would have taken a dramatic turn for the better. If she had not miscarried things would be so much better.
"My Lady, are you ready to prepare for your journey?"
Nan's voice called out, finally breaking Anne free of her despondent stupor. Anne jumped slightly as she came back to her harsh reality. Nan's gaze upon her was gentle and kind, but there was a trace of sadness hidden there as well. It was difficult for Nan to see the tribulations her mistress had gone through.
Anne smiled sadly, "I am."
Her Tower Ladies had already packed the one trunk she required the afternoon before. She was essentially ready for the journey, but she still needed to be dressed in her traveling clothes. Pushing herself up from what had served as her breakfast table, she heaved a slight sigh and with no emotion laced in her voice, she commanded, "Dress me."
The ladies set to work immediately and she was ready in no time. As if on queue, Master Kingston knocked on her chamber door. Bidding him to enter, Anne presented him with a small smile, though all in attendance were very aware that the smile failed to reach her eyes.
"Your escort and carriage are prepared for you, madam," he informed with no preamble.
"Thank you, Master Kingston," Anne responded, truly grateful to all that the Master of the Tower had done for her. "I shall never forget your kindness. You have been a sincere friend in this trying time."
"My Lady," replied Master Kingston with an inclination of his head.
With another half smile, Anne turned to her ladies and instructed, "Come: Nan, Madge. We've a long journey ahead and we had best be going."
Together, and headed by Master Kingston carrying Anne's sole trunk, they treaded quietly through the hallways of the Tower. Tower Guards flanked their path on each side, Henry's obvious attempt at preventing Anne from escaping. As if she would; the woman now to be known once more as the Marquess of Pembroke was much too smart to attempt running when such leniency had been granted, even when that mercy had not been desired. To rebel against that clemency now would only cause excessive threat to the well being of her daughter, and that was the most important thing in Anne's life.
Her shoes clicked annoyingly on the floor, disrupting the silence that enveloped her small entourage. Click…click… The sound reminded Anne of a heartbeat and she briefly wondered how she might have felt if, instead of walking towards a new life, she were walking towards death. She would have liked to tell herself that she would remain calm and serene but she worried now that the clicking of her heels would have caused her demeanor to falter. Even now the sound grated on her nerves and she yearned desperately to increase their pace, but she could not. Master Kingston had set the pace and the guards would likely react if she were to step ahead of him.
After many long and maddening moments, they finally arrived at the exit. From beyond the gate, Anne could hear a roar of voices, all speaking out at once and generally incoherent. As she and her retinue emerged through the gate and finally out of her prison walls, the voices only grew louder. She noticed immediately that members of the Royal Guard flanked their short path leading from the Tower Gate to her awaiting carriage. Four Royal Guards were positioned on horses at the carriage, two guards preceding the carriage and two guards following. Having taken in the sight of Henry's excessive precautions, Anne paused and cast a hungry stare at the sky, her face fully inclined to the dismal gray above. Almost as if God himself had timed it, a droplet of water hit Anne square on the nose when she looked up to Heaven. More and more drops began to fall as the Tower of London began to have its first rainfall in nearly three weeks.
Giggling, she remembered with a certain fondness the prediction she had made to Master Kingston when he brought her dinner that first night.
She was staring absentmindedly at the window high up on the wall. After weeping for hours, Anne had sat up straight on her bed and stared out the window to the sky that stretched for miles. That was all she could see from her vantage point – the sky, and even the sky itself seemed to be depressed by her imprisonment. It was a dank gray and was very bleak. She watched in silence, transfixed as rain pouring from that same sky assaulted her window, trying in vain to break her free of the Tower, to let her go home and pretend this was naught but a dream.
Master Kingston knocked twice on the chamber door before she heard him. Because she was the Queen he could not proceed through the door until she bade him to.
When she finally did her the knocking, Anne commanded, her voice hoarse from all her crying, "Enter."
He did not speak to her as he went about his business of setting her food on the table provided, and she said nothing to him. What would a prisoner have to say to their jailor when their proclamations of innocence had gone ignored, and likewise what would that jailor have to say to a prisoner that was innocent of the crimes they were accused of but would be convicted regardless?
It was not until he approached to take his leave that she spoke to him, "It shall not rain."
"I beg your pardon, Your Majesty?" the Master of the Tower questioned, truly perplexed. "It is raining now."
"God is crying. He knows of my innocence and it hurts Him that I must be treated so poorly," she explained but did not really clarify Master Kingston's confusion. "This is the last time that it will rain until I am released, and then God shall weep with joy."
Unsure what to make of her statement, Master Kingston took his leave, "Your Majesty, I fear I must go and return to my own chambers for the night. If you should require of anything, do not hesitate to let your ladies know."
Anne waved him off, her gaze still fixed upon the window, and repeated, "It shall not rain, Master Kingston. Remember."
Returning her gaze ahead, she straightened her stance and continued forward. The faces in the crowd were surprisingly sympathetic and bore no hatred towards her, as she had expected. She realized now that their shouts did not spew venom towards her, but instead proclaimed their infinite love and loyalty to her. They begged her to live a long life and to not falter in hope, and they insisted that they would not rest until the Queen's Jewels were hers once more.
Anne did not know what to say to people who had once hated her so fiercely and now loved her so intently, so she settled for nothing.
When they reached the carriage, Anne was the first to enter. She was eager to leave the Tower behind and she hoped most sincerely that she would never have to step foot through the gate again. Nan and Madge climbed gracefully behind her and situated themselves on the cushioned seat opposite to their mistress. The carriage lurched with a start, jolting Anne back towards the wooden wall.
"Are you comfortable, My Lady?"
Madge's voice rang out suddenly and Anne's gaze rested upon her companion's eyes quickly. Her voice depicting very little emotion, she responded, "Yes, Madge. Thank you."
"It's so exciting to be moving to a new castle," Madge said cheerily, not noticing Nan's warning glare; she obviously didn't realize that she was treading quickly on painful territory for her mistress, even while trying to make the situation seem more promising than it was. "I cannot wait to see what it looks like!"
Anne tried to appear as enthused as Madge had been, but her present melancholy made optimism near impossible, "Yes. It is very exciting."
"Come, Madge," Nan commanded gently, "I am sure My Lady Pembroke must be very tired and would like to rest for the remainder of our journey."
Anne did not contradict the woman who was still to be the head of her Ladies and she instead accepted the gracious allowance of quiet peace. They sat in silence for a while, Anne listening contentedly to the constant drizzle of rain on the ceiling of the carriage and allowing the serene sound to lull her off into a slight daze as her eyes closed. She was not fully asleep and she did not dream but, despite her unhappiness, it was the best rest she had taken part in for a while.
When the silence no longer soothed her, she became desperate for some form of interaction. For nearly three weeks, she had been allowed virtually no company and had not seen those that she truly trusted in the privacy that they needed to discuss what she wanted to know.
"Is it true that Mistress Seymour was sent from Court?"
Madge jumped and began to stare uncomfortably out of the carriage window, so it was Nan who answered Anne, "Yes, My Lady, the King sent Lady Jane from Court just before your arrest-though, to be true, I must tell you that she is to return today by Royal Barge."
The scenario was so reminiscent of Henry's courtship with Anne that she nearly laughed: the former Queen that the King no longer found to be exciting was to be sent away in exile to a far out castle where she never had to be thought of again, while a new and alluring woman took her place. Anne had never before believed in karma, but she felt sure that this must be what it was like. If she had been kinder to Katherine, more courteous, more generous, more…understanding, then perhaps karma would not have allowed her to be exposed to this terrible fate.
"And I suppose a betrothal is to be announced?"
"Tomorrow?!" Anne exclaimed and then snorted uncharacteristically, "Henry always was impatient. Nan, do you think that I'll be invited to the wedding? How wonderfully exciting that would be! I don't think that I'd be able to contain my happiness for the bubbling couple! All of England must certainly be rejoicing; the whore is banished and the virginal Jane Seymour is Queen! I wonder if the Queen knows how to write her name…? There are rumours she doesn't, you know."
Anne was laughing hysterically now, her sarcasm and the adrenaline she received from it served as the perfect antidote for her depression. She was speaking dangerous things, things that could easily be construed as treason, but she found it difficult to make herself care. The King would never dare to touch her now, not after his people had threatened to kill him if he did. She was invincible and that was a thought she relished in.
"My Lady, please," Nan implored, "hush yourself! If someone were to hear you, they might think you mad and deem you unfit to oversee your daughter. And you! You'd been sent to one of those houses…"
Anne's adrenaline slowly seeped out of her; her melancholy returned with every unit of adrenaline lost. She was once again dull and felt lifeless. The carriage suddenly became tight and menacing. She could not move properly and the muscles in her legs were constricting painfully. She couldn't breathe and she wanted nothing more than to be out of the carriage.
"Nan, I can't breathe," she stated, trying to remain calm and pretend that there was no panic seeping through her voice. "I need to get out of the carriage. I can't breathe. Nan!"
Nan banged hard on the roof of the carriage, signaling the driver to stop. When the carriage finally did, Anne bolted out of the carriage door. The Royal Guards that accompanied the carriage drew quickly around her, forming something akin to a cage of horses.
"My Lady, you must stop! You are commanded by the King to journey to Pembroke Castle. You must return to the carriage at once!"
She turned to the guard who had spoken and said, "My Lord, I apologise. I have no intention of running, but I desperately need to stretch my legs and catch my breath. It is often very cramped and stuffy in a carriage, after all."
"Very well, My Lady," the guard conceded sympathetically, and Anne wondered if he too needed to stretch his legs out after having been on a horse for so long a time. "We shall take a few minutes to walk the cramps out of our legs."
"Thank you, sir," Anne smiled slightly and then she began to pace slowly back and forth beside the carriage. Almost instantly, the vacant road they were traveling down caught her attention and she could not help but stop and peer down the trail with wonder. The dirt road outstretched for miles before them, a sight Anne interpreted to be a symbol of life itself. The road was never fully straight for long and Anne was sure there were plenty of holes to cause bumps along their journey. If they were unlucky, Anne knew that there could very well be a tree down and blocking their way, a direct result of a recent storm that wreaked havoc upon the feeble road. Their journey would be paused so that the men could move the tree out of the way. Depending on the size of the tree, that could potentially take hours, but they could always, of course, simply find a way around the fallen tree.
Was this the same for the way of life, then? Whenever you encounter problems you simply move them out of the way or go around them? Anne found it difficult to believe that way of thinking but it seemed to be the King's view of life, in any case.
May 22, 1536
Anne had dozed off into a restless sleep when the carriage suddenly came to a sharp stop. Her eyes snapped open, acutely aware what the carriage's abrupt halt meant.
They had arrived.
A sense of anxiety overwhelmed Anne; what could she expect to find when the carriage doors opened and revealed her prison? The Princess Dowager of Wales had been given lodgings that would not have been sufficient for a knight; what kind of Hell would a "traitor" and a "whore" be given?
She could hear the sounds of servants gathering outside of the carriage and of orders being shouted. In an unusual reaction, Anne's palms became uncomfortably clammy. With little warning, the door to the carriage opened and the guard that allowed Anne to stretch her legs appeared through the opening. He outstretched his hand to help Nan and Madge out of the carriage, assistance they were glad to accept.
Once Nan and Madge were out of the carriage and had busied themselves with adjusting their gowns, the guard offered his hand to Anne, announcing, "My Lady Pembroke, we have arrived at your Welsh estate."
"Thank you, My Lord," she responded and then, exercising only a slight amount of hesitation, Anne took his hand firmly and gathered her skirts in her free hand, so as not to disgrace herself by tripping as she exited the confines of the carriage. When her feet were planted safely on the ground she began to carefully arrange her skirts, shaking out any crinkles that had resulted from her time in the carriage. Only after she was sure that she appeared every bit the regal woman she wanted to display did Anne look up to the servants who had gathered to greet her and the area in which they had gathered.
Like most castles and estates of high-ranking peerage, the outer walls of Pembroke Castle protected a little hamlet made up of the buildings necessary for the castle's upkeep. The servants blocked much of her view of the little buildings and the servants themselves looked just as she had expected they would. They neither smiled nor glared at her, but instead peered at her curiously, as if they were trying to formulate their opinion of her-as if they were trying to determine if it could be possible for their new mistress to be as iniquitous as had been proclaimed.
It was strange but relieving for Anne to realize that she did not care what their opinions of her were; all Anne truly cared about now was returning Elizabeth to the King's good and fickle graces and raising their daughter with her own mistakes in the forefront of her mind. She would ensure that Elizabeth was better prepared for courtlife than she apparently had been.
The Royal Guards did not allow Anne and her ladies much time to dawdle in the courtyard and ushered them indoors almost immediately. Anne, Nan, and Madge were directed into the Entrance Hall where a portly woman waited, standing anxiously in the centre. A man who appeared to be the exact opposite of her accompanied the woman. Where the woman was short and pudgy, the man was tall and thin. She looked kind and happy to have the opportunity to serve a woman of such high standing, even if the noblewoman was in exile. The man, however, appeared stern and unforgiving, his demeanor saying that Anne's presence before him was more of a burden than an honour.
The woman and man curtseyed and bowed respectively and then the man drawled out his salutations to her in a dry voice, "Welcome, My Lady, to Pembroke Castle. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Cecil Williams, and this is my wife Elinor."
His introduction was not needed; Anne had already been told that she was to be put under the care of Lord Cecil Williams, the Baron Cleddau. It had annoyed her that her jailors, for that's what Cecil and Elinor really were—no matter what the King tried to pretend, were below her in station, but she assumed that the His Majesty had arranged it to be so. He had a habit of not being courteous to his ex-wives.
"Now, if you please, My Lady, my wife will lead you to your chambers," he concluded, taking his leave of her with a nod and disappearing down a nearby corridor.
Lady Elinor Williams, the Baroness Cleddau gave Anne a hearty smile and gestured down the opposite corridor and up a set of stairs, "This way, My Lady."
Anne followed the woman to her chambers, which were boasted at the end of the second floor hallway. When they entered the antechamber, Anne was pleased to discover that its condition was satisfactory. Apparently, the servants of Pembroke Castle prided themselves with a clean and well-kept estate.
"Is everything to your liking, ma'am?" the Baroness said quietly, taking stock of Anne's emotions.
"Yes, Lady Cleddau. Thank you," Anne replied and then stated, "I'll dine alone in my rooms tonight. Will you inform the appropriate people?"
"Yes, ma'am. I'll do that right away," Lady Cleddau quipped instantly and then exited the room, leaving Anne alone with Madge and Nan.
Nan offered her a small smile, "It's not all bad."
"Indeed," Anne replied, peering out the window and noticing she had a view of the river she had been told was also called Cleddau. "It could have been much worse."
May 26, 1536
Initially, she paid her ailments little heed. It had been a difficult year thus far and it was well known that too much stress often threw one's humours off. But now that Elizabeth had joined her at Pembroke, something needed to be done. If Anne was genuinely ill, she couldn't risk infecting her daughter, who was still so young and could not fight off contagion as well as adults could.
It was for that reason that Anne asked Lady Cleddau to summon a physician to examine her.
Anne was terrified of what the physician would say. After everything, it would be immensely ironic if she had a fatal illness. Henry would certainly be pleased that he no longer had his whore of an ex-wife to deal with. The thought did cross Anne's mind numerous times that perhaps he or his bride-to-be's ambitious family had arranged for her to be poisoned.
Her fear of poisoning had escalated in the Tower and even more since her arrival at Pembroke. It would be very convenient for the Seymours if Anne died while in exile. The public may have risen up to protect her when Henry attempted to kill her, but they could do nothing if she suddenly died of an unexplained illness. True, they could whisper and speculate, but it would make no difference.
At first, Anne thought that she would not care if she were poisoned, but now she was convinced otherwise. Elizabeth's arrival at Pembroke Castle with Lady Bryan had certainly changed things. After her father's betrayal, Elizabeth needed her mother and Anne couldn't afford to be ripped from her daughter for a second time. Anne could not afford such self-deprecating thoughts to plague her.
The physician's diagnosis had shocked her.
"My Lady, it would seem that you are with child."
Anne, who had been sitting on her lush bed so that the physician might properly examine her, jumped instantly to her feet. The room became an unforgiving blur and she had to place a hand upon the bedpost to steady herself as the world spun around her. With child? How could she possibly be with child? It had been months since she had shared a bed with the King; if she was pregnant, surely she would have noticed it before now. And yet, though her mind tried desperately to reject the idea, it made sense.
Belatedly, she realized she would not have pieced the early signs of pregnancy together, if only because many signs of pregnancy were shared with extreme stress.
Oh, how this complicated matters.
A floodgate opened and a wealth of emotion erupted within Anne—shock, trepidation, perhaps a bit of excitement and then…anger.
She had not been examined when she arrived at the Tower. It was required that all female prisoners be examined by a team of midwives; it was not proper to execute a pregnant woman. But no midwives had come to her. It had not occurred to her before now, but now that it did a fury like no other erupted from deep within. Had this been a calculated move by the King? Had His Majesty, knowing that it had not been too long since he had last bedded his wife, been fearful that Anne could be pregnant and ruin his quest to be rid of her?
Could the man she had loved so adamantly for so long really have been so careless…so heartless?
With a heavy heart, Anne was forced to admit that she believed he could. If he was willing to murder a wife to marry another, why should he not be willing to potentially murder his unborn child as well?
"Thank you, Dr. Lowthe," Anne finally said, struggling to keep her voice even. "You may go now."
She needed to be alone. She needed to think-to breathe. This pregnancy complicated matters and she needed to be careful how she went about handling it. Anne was not sure she wanted to tell the King, but she knew that incorrect assumptions would be made after the babe's birth if she didn't. Elizabeth would have to be told eventually-even a two year old would notice her mother's rapidly expanding waistline.
Unconsciously, Anne rested a hand upon her belly; she had not yet gained the visual proof that she was with child, but she still felt a yearning for the unborn baby. While she was uncertain about many things regarding her pregnancy, she could not bring herself to not be at least a little excited. The child might be considered a bastard in the eyes of its father and the rest of the country but that did not inhibit the baby's right to be celebrated.
Anne tried once again to convince herself that God would not present her with more troubles than she could possibly handle and that everything would be okay. It would have to be.