"Because it is due to you -- to myself -- to the princess our daughter -- to our illustrious progenitors -- and to our people, to make it," replied Catherine. "I should be unworthy to be your consort if I acted otherwise -- and I will never, in thought, word, or deed, do aught derogatory to that title. You may divorce me, but I will never assent to it; you may wed Anne Boleyn, but she will never be your lawful spouse; and you may cast me from your palace, but I will never go willingly."
"I know you to be contumacious, madam," replied Henry. "And now, I pray you, resume your mask, and withdraw. What I have said will convince you that your stay is useless."
"I perceive it," replied Catherine. "Farewell, Henry -- farewell, loved husband of my heart -- farewell for ever!"
"Your mask -- your mask, madam!" cried Henry impatiently. "God's death! footsteps are approaching. Lot no one enter here! " he cried aloud.
"I will come in," said Anne Boleyn, stepping into the chapel just as Catherine had replaced her mask. "Ah! your majesty looks confused. I fear I have interrupted some amorous conference."
"Come with me, Anne," said Henry, taking her arm, and trying to draw her away -- " come with me."
"Not till I learn who your lady -- love is," replied Anne pettishly. "You affect to be jealous of me, my liege, but I have much more reason to be jealous of you. When you were last at Windsor, I heard you paid a secret visit to a fair maiden near the lake in the park, and now you are holding an interview with a masked dame here. Nay, I care not for your gestures of silence. I will speak."
"You are distraught, sweetheart," cried the king. "Come away."
"No," replied Anne. "Lot this dame be dismissed."
"I shall not go at your bidding, minion!" cried Catherine fiercely.
"Ah! "cried Anne, starting, " whom have we here?"
"One you had better have avoided," whispered Henry.
"The queen! " exclaimed Anne, with a look of dismay.
"Ay, the queen!" echoed Catherine, unmasking. "Henry, if you have any respect left for me, I pray you order this woman from my presence. Lot me depart in peace."
"Lady Anne, I pray you retire," said Henry. But Anne stood her ground resolutely.
"Nay, let her stay, then," said the queen; "and I promise you she shall repent her rashness. And do you stay too, Henry, and regard well her whom you are about to make your spouse. Question your sister Mary, somewhile consort to Louis the Twelfth and now Duchess of Suffolk -- question her as to the character and conduct of Anne Boleyn when she was her attendant at the court of France -- ask whether she had never to reprove her for levity -- question the Lord Percy as to her love for him -- question Sir Thomas Wyat, and a host of others."
"All these charges are false and calumnious!" cried Anne Boleyn.
Let the king inquire and judge for himself," rejoined Catherine; "and if he weds you, let him look well to you, or you will make him a scoff to all honourable men. And now, as you have come between him and me -- as you have divided husband and wife -- for the intent, whether successful or not, I denounce you before Heaven, and invoke its wrath upon your head. Night and day I will pray that you may be brought to shame; and when I shall be called hence, as I maybe soon, I will appear before the throne of the Most High, and summon you to judgment."
"Take me from her, Henry!" cried Anne faintly; "her violence affrights me."
"No, you shall stay," said Catherine, grasping her arm and detaining her; "you shall hear your doom. You imagine your career will be a brilliant one, and that you will be able to wield the sceptre you wrongfully wrest from me; but it will moulder into dust in your hand -- the crown unjustly placed upon your brow will fall to the ground, and it will bring the head with it."
"Take me away, Henry, I implore you!" cried Anne.
"You shall hear me out," pursued Catherine, exerting all her strength, and maintaining her grasp, " or I will follow you down yon aisles, and pour forth my malediction against you in the hearing of all your attendants. You have braved me, and shall feel my power. Look at her, Henry -- see how she shrinks before the gaze of an injured woman. Look me in the face, minion -- you cannot! -- you dare not!"
"Oh, Henry!" sobbed Anne.
"You have brought it upon yourself," said the king.
"She has," replied Catherine; "and, unless she pauses and repents, she will bring yet more upon her head. You suffer now, minion, but how will you feel when, in your turn, you are despised, neglected, and supplanted by a rival -- when the false glitter of your charms having passed away, Henry will see only your faults, and will open his eyes to all I now tell him?"
A sob was all the answer Anne could return.
"You will feel as I feel towards you," pursued the queen -- "hatred towards her; but you will not have the consolations I enjoy. You will have merited your fate, and you will then think upon me and my woes, and will bitterly, but unavailingly, repent your conduct. And now, Henry," she exclaimed, turning solemnly to him, "you have pledged your royal word to me, and given me your hand upon it, that if you find this woman false to you she shall expiate her offence on the block. I call upon you to ratify the pledge in her presence."
"I do so, Catherine," replied the king. "The mere suspicion of her guilt shall be enough."
"Henry!" exclaimed Anne.
"I have said it," replied the king.
"Tremble, then, Anne Boleyn!" cried Catherine, "tremble! and when you are adjudged to die the death of an adulteress, bethink you of the prediction of the queen you have injured. I may not live to witness your fate, but we shall meet before the throne of an eternal Judge."
"Oh, Henry, this is too much!" gasped Anne, and she sank fainting into his arms.
"Begone!" cried the king furiously. "You have killed her!"
"It were well for us both if I had done so," replied Catherine. "But she will recover to work my misery and her own. To your hands I commit her punishment. May God bless you, Henry!"
With this she replaced her mask, and quitted the chapel.
Henry, meanwhile, anxious to avoid the comments of his attendants, exerted himself to restore Anne Boleyn to sensibility, and his efforts were speedily successful.
"Is it then reality?" gasped Anne, as she gazed around. "I hoped it was a hideous dream. Oh, Henry, this has been frightful! But you will not kill me, as she predicted? Swear to me you will not!"
"Why should you be alarmed?" rejoined the king. "If you are faithful, you have nothing to fear."
"But you said suspicion, Henry -- you said suspicion!" cried Anne.
"You must put the greater guard upon your conduct," rejoined the king moodily. "I begin to think there is some truth in Catherine's insinuations."
"Oh no, I swear to you there is not," said Anne -- "I have trifled with the gallants of Francis's court, and have listened, perhaps too complacently, to the love-vows of Percy and Wyat, but when your majesty deigned to cast eyes upon me, all others vanished as the stars of night before the rising of the god of day. Henry, I love you deeply, devotedly -- but Catherine's terrible imprecations make me feel more keenly than I have ever done before the extent of the wrong I am about to inflict upon her -- and I fear that retributive punishment will follow it."
"You will do her no wrong," replied Henry. "I am satisfied of the justice of the divorce, and of its necessity; and if my purposed union with you were out of the question, I should demand it. Be the fault on my head."
"Your words restore me in some measure, my liege," said Anne. "I love you too well not to risk body and soul for you. I am yours for ever -- ah!" she exclaimed, with a fearful look.
"What ails you, sweetheart?" exclaimed the king.
"I thought I saw a face at the window," she replied -- "a black and hideous face like that of a fiend."
"It was mere fancy," replied the king. "Your mind is disturbed by what has occurred. You had better join your attendants, and retire to your own apartments."
"Oh, Henry!" cried Anne -- " do not judge me unheard - do not believe what any false tongue may utter against me. I love only you and can love only you. I would not wrong you, even in thought, for worlds."
"I believe you, sweetheart," replied the king tenderly.
So saying, he led her down the aisle to her attendants. They then proceeded together to the royal lodgings, where Anne retired to her own apartments, and Henry withdrew to his private chamber.