"I attend your pleasure, madam," said Wolsey, with a profound inclination.

"You have been long in answering my summons," said the queen; "but I could not expect greater promptitude. Time was when a summons from Catherine of Arragon would have been quickly and cheerfully attended to; when the proudest noble in the land would have borne her message to you, and when you would have passed through crowds to her audience-chamber. Now another holds her place, and she is obliged secretly to enter the castle where she once ruled, to despatch a valet to her enemy, to attend his pleasure, and to receive him in the dwelling of an humble canon. Times are changed with me, Wolsey -- sadly changed."

"I have been in attendance on the king, madam, or I should have been with you sooner," replied Wolsey. "It grieves me sorely to see you here."

"I want not your pity," replied the queen proudly. "I did not send for you to gratify your malice by exposing my abject state. I did not send for you to insult me by false sympathy; but in the hope that your own interest would induce you to redress the wrongs you have done me."

"Alas! madam, I fear it is now too late to repair the error I have committed," said Wolsey, in a tone of affected penitence and sorrow.

"You admit, then, that it was an error," cried Catherine. "Well, that is something. Oh! that you had paused before you began this evil work -- before you had raised a storm which will destroy me and yourself. Your quarrel with my nephew the Emperor Charles has cost me dear, but it will cost you yet more dearly."

"I deserve all your reproaches, madam," said Wolsey, with feigned meekness; "and I will bear them without a murmur. But you have sent for me for some specific object, I presume?"

"I sent for you to give me aid, as much for your own sake as mine," replied the queen, "for you are in equal danger. Prevent this divorce -- foil Anne -- and you retain the king's favour. Our interests are so far leagued together, that you must serve me to serve yourself. My object is to gain time to enable my friends to act. Your colleague is secretly favourable to me. Pronounce no sentence here, but let the cause be removed to Rome. My nephew the emperor will prevail upon the Pope to decide in my favour."

"I dare not thus brave the king's displeasure, madam;" replied Wolsey.

"Dissembler!" exclaimed Catherine. "I now perceive the insincerity of your professions. This much I have said to try you. And now to my real motive for sending for you. I have in my possession certain letters, that will ruin Anne Boleyn with the king."

"Ha!" exclaimed the cardinal joyfully; "if that be the case, all the rest will be easy. Let me see the letters, I pray you, madam."

Before Catherine could reply, the door was thrown violently open, and the king stood before them.

"Soh!" roared Henry, casting a terrible look at Wolsey, "I have caught you at your treasonable practices at last! And you, madam," he added, turning to Catherine, who meekly, but steadily, returned his gaze, "what brings you here again? Because I pardoned your indiscretion yesterday, think not I shall always be so lenient. You will leave the castle instantly. As to Wolsey, he shall render me a strict account of his conduct."

"I have nothing to declare, my liege," replied Wolsey, recovering himself, "I leave it to the queen to explain why I came hither."

"The explanation shall be given at once," said Catherine. "I sent for the cardinal to request him to lay before your majesty these two letters from Anne Boleyn to Sir Thomas Wyat, that you might judge whether one who could write thus would make you a fitting consort. You disbelieved my charge of levity yesterday. Read these, sire, and judge whether I spoke the truth."

Henry glanced at the letters, and his brow grew dark.

"What say you to them, my liege?" cried Catherine, with a glance of triumph. "In the one she vows eternal constancy to Sir Thomas Wyat, and in the other -- written after her engagement to you -- he tells him that though they can never meet as heretofore, she will always love him."

"Ten thousand furies!" cried the king. "Where got you these letters, madam?"

"They were given to me by a tall dark man, as I quitted the castle last night," said the queen. "He said they were taken from the person of Sir Thomas Wyat while he lay concealed in the forest in the cave of Herne the Hunter."

"If I thought she wrote them," cried Henry, in an access jealous fury, "I would cast her off for ever."

"Methinks your majesty should be able to judge whether they are true or false," said Catherine. "I know her writing well -- too well, alas! -- and am satisfied they are genuine."

"I am well assured that Wyat was concealed in the Lady Anne's chamber when your majesty demanded admittance and could not obtain it -- when the Earl of Surrey sacrificed himself for her, and for his friend," said Wolsey.

"Perdition!" exclaimed the king, striking his brow with his clenched hand. "Oh, Catherine!" he continued, after a pause, during which she intently watched the workings of his countenance, "and it was for this light-hearted creature I was about to cast you off."

"I forgive you, sire -- I forgive you!" exclaimed the queen, clasping his hands, and bedewing them with grateful tears. "You have been deceived. Heaven keep you in the same mind!"

"You have preserved me," said Henry, " but you must not tarry here. Come with me to the royal lodgings."

"No, Henry," replied Catherine, with a shudder, "not while she is there."

"Make no conditions, madam," whispered Wolsey. "Go."

"She shall be removed to-morrow," said Henry.

"In that case I am content to smother my feelings," said the queen.

"Come, then, Kate," said Henry, taking her hand. "Lord cardinal, you will attend us."

"Right gladly, my liege," replied Wolsey. "If this mood will only endure," he muttered, "all will go well. But his jealousy must not be allowed to cool. Would that Wyat were here!"

Doctor Sampson could scarcely credit his senses as he beheld the august pair come forth together, and a word from Wolsey explaining what had occurred, threw him into transports of delight. But the surprise of the good canon was nothing to that exhibited as Henry and Catherine entered the royal lodgings, and the king ordered his own apartments to be instantly prepared for her majesty's reception.