Henry is delighted with Jane at dinner. Her dulcet voice soothes him and is such a contrast to Anne’s sharp tongue. He lingers at the the table, taking his time as he spears into the juicy boar and game pies. The ruby wine smells like a bowl of berries and all the gold plates sparkle. He looks on favorably at his sister and Brandon and for a moment feels a pang of guilt for beimg so forceful with Mary. As the the meal ends he asks Lady Jane if she would like to accompany him on a walk to stretch their legs. Mary smiles and arches her eyebrows to Charles as he winks back with a smug expression and raises his goblet to Mary.
My expression is calm and serene, but inside my stomach is all a flutter. The king offers me his arm as we leave the hall. I keep my eyes down and my look demure, a contrast to the flashy women of court. I do not wish to be another lady of the court- this will be my point of difference.
As they walk through the hall, heading towards the gardens of Westhrope Hall, He looks toward the young woman on his arm and wonders what would make the Seymours hide such a rare jewel in the remote countryside instead of having her flourish in his court. In such a short conversation, The King greatly appreciated the peace of a respectful, compliant woman and was sure that Mistress Seymour would be a shining example to many women of the court….especially his own wife, who emotional range of late has been entirely displeasing to him. Henry looks down on the young woman with interest and smiles lightly,”So tell me, Mistress Seymour, How is your father, Sir John, doing? It has been some time since I’ve seen him last.”
”He has been quite busy at Wulf Hall, your Majesty, however he is in good health when I departed his home. I hope to return briefly to Wulf Hall before returning to Her Majesty’s service.” I speak clearly, eyes ahead as I feel the king’s eyes upon my face. I am concentrating on keeping my countenance steady, that I stumble slightly on uneven ground. The king’s strong arm keeps me steady as my body leans into his, my face flushes, I straighten quickly.”I am so sorry your Majesty, I must take more care in watching where I step.”I can feel my brothers approving looks all the way from Court. I however, just feel clumsy. A Boleyn girl I am not.
Her words give me pause, and I search her face for hidden meaning, but I find no coyness in her expression. I have grown too accustomed to those who say one thing but mean another, I find myself questioning what people really want of me as they flatter and flirt. What gift, what office, what judgement they think to win from me with their honeyed words and their sly smiles. I long for the old days, those heady days, Charles and I chivalrous, giants of the tilt yard.I once had the wise council of honest men, instead of factions who seek to play me against each other for their own gain. I miss the poignancy of youth, and the simplicity. I find myself growing bitter at the thought of the years wasted in battle with Kate, and the Pope, and the whole damn world. For what? I ask myself, of late I have questioned the reward.
But look, now I am here in this garden. And I find no serpent here. Only this sweet maid, with her shy glance, and her worried eyes. ”Peace, Mistress Jane. You have no need to fear. Of course you must seek the advice of your father. I would never do anything to dishonor you or offend Sir John, he has been a most loyal friend for many years.” As she turns back to the fountain, I gently take her arm again. ”Come Mistress, let us rejoin my sweet sister. I know she enjoys your company, and I fear I have stolen too much of your time.” I bow and brush a kiss across the back of her hand,”Forgive me.
As we stroll back to join the others, I make note to speak to Cromwell. Edward Seymour is a good man, he has proven himself ready for advancement. A capable man, I will see that his loyalty is rewarded. Of Thomas Seymour I am less sure. He is not a man of serious countenance like his brother, but I am certain Master Secretary can find some way to make use of him. It is time I place fresh men around me, men who are still eager to prove their loyalty. I smile as I see the one man who I know could never betray me. As much as their marriage angered me, I can not deny the love between my best friend and my sister. They exchange a glance as I approach them. These two have been talking about me, no doubt. These two have known me and loved me for most of my life, and I them. I glance at Jane, sweet Jane, and wish I could whisk her back to the garden. But instead I say,”Thank you for the pleasure of your company, Mistress Jane.” I lean forward and murmur just for her hearing, ”Do ask Sir John about those sonnets, won’t you? I remain your devoted servant, and wait anxiously for his consideration.” I hear the sharp intake of her breath as I turn away, ”Charles! Sweet sister! What have you had your heads together about?”
By King Henry UK and Jane Seymour UK Z