Chapter 65: Hide and Seek
May 19, 1536
Victoria relentlessly searched for us for years.
Fortunately for us, Alice and Isabella became close in the short time we were at court all those years ago. Since Alice is well respected at court even though her brother Charles has a tenuous hold on his friendship with the king, she thwarts Victoria's vicious pursuit of us.
The calculating nature of Victoria is most frightening.
Anne Boleyn seems to be the only one to keep Victoria reined in.
But today that ends.
Today Anne Boleyn will be executed.
We moved back to England and now hide out in plain sight; back in Kent.
I grew weary of life in France, and Isabella was tired of being married to a bear of a man.
She hates being here in the crowd before the scaffolding—the place where they killed Emmett. After they racked him and I escaped, they had him drawn, quartered and beheaded.
Being here fills me with dread as well, but I have to witness this myself.
I cannot fathom Henry decapitating his own wife he professes to love.
It has to be an elaborate ruse.
My wife is ensconced by my arms as I shield her from view of the blood stained block.
She is ripe with our third child, two months away from delivering.
My heart tells me another boy is on the way.
Birds chirp around us in the bright morning sun.
It is morbid to start an execution at eight in the morning—a time when the mind is barely sharpening.
"What if the pig sees us?" my wife whispers, her lips against my chest.
"He won't be here. He has Jane to warm him in his sheets," I say confidently. I rub her back.
We have long been forgotten. I daresay Henry remembers us as an afterthought, but to the rest of his court . . . we vanished from existence.
My uncle, King James of Scotland, and I, correspond regularly now.
I bought an apple orchard where we raise a rare breed of Scottish horses.
I sell them to nobleman for an exorbitant price, and hide my notes of rebellion in the saddles. Uncle James receives them and we plot on how I shall take Henry's throne a few years hence.
Anne Boleyn is brought out of the tower and followed by her lady's in waiting.
This is a private execution to give Anne some dignity. It is held at the Tower Green. I found a way to be allowed a presence.
Isabella tries to get me to reveal my sources to be here, but she need not be bothered.
Anne stands before the small crowd, head held high, a twinkle of defiance in her eyes. She takes a deep breath. "Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never. And to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. Oh Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul." Anne speaks as if she is reciting scripture.
She kneels on the scaffold bravely, without a tear shed. Her unwavering hands remove her English gable hood. I am surprised she does not wear her usual fashionable French headdress, but then she comes to die, not to dine and make merry.
Her ladies tie a blindfold over her eyes amidst their silent sobbing. Anne stills herself as if she readies to be saved at the last moment by Henry.
I steady my twitching legs. He will not come to her aid. The pig has no mercy. How can she not know this about her own husband?
Henry paid to have a swordsman chop her head off, rather than the normal block executioner. He purports this to be a more merciful means of death.
And it tells me he is serious about being rid of her.
I think him full of himself, and arrogant as ever if he imagines this will endear the hearts of the people to him.
Anne repeats over and over to herself, "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul."
I shiver on the spot, praying this is not really happening. My jaw tenses, and I hold my breath.
The swordsman asks her forgiveness. She nods in agreement, and then his assistant distracts her by asking for his sword. The assistant moves to her right, and her eyes follow him. Then the swordsman reaches below him while he stands off to her left, and hidden in the hay, is his sword. He picks it up, and with one swift slice in the air, severs her head from her regal body.
Isabella looks up right as the blow occurs, and she yelps, then caves in on my chest.
I hold her as she keens and wallows in despair.
"Fear not, little bird. We are safe," I say, rocking her lightly back and forth.
And that is the moment when I stop desiring Henry's throne. He may have it, if this is what the crown does to men. I will stay with my bird in our nest, far from all this violence and debauchery. I will live with love for the rest of my days.
Anne's body and head were put into a narrow chest and buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, adjoining the Tower Green. Her body was one that was identified in renovations of the chapel under the reign of Queen Victoria, so Anne's final resting place is now marked in the marble floor, but for centuries it was unknown where precisely she lie. And actually, there is still ongoing controversy on exactly which cadaver is actually hers since Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's 5th wife, is down there as well, with her head lopped off as well, adding to the confusion of which skeleton is who. What a travesty.
So what say ye? Has this tale of blood and love and sacrifice moved thy core sufficiently? *sigh* I enjoyed sharing this with you. It was my warm up to write my full length novel I published. I actually have two more Tudor stories, different than this one, I'm considering sharing here on FF if there's an interest. One of them I might not be able to fit into the Twilight sphere though, so I'd have to see what I can do. That one I can't promise on.
Thanks for reading and putting up with my A/Ns, where I spewed forth the little things I've learned along the way as I explored my obsession with all things Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn so I could write and publish my novel, Hart Coursing: Hounding Anne Boleyn. It's on Amazon if you want to take a look. If you want a free copy, email me and I'll send you the electronic version (no paperbacks, sorry. That costs money I don't have to spend).
Okay, so that's it for this little bird and her knight in training. I put my longsword and armor away, so now this bard wearies of the battle and must travel on to greener pastures where she may rest her weary feet…
I do plan to eventually post another story in Tudor times over on my other account (which means it'll most definitely have lemons galore).
Good day to you all,