Burial and Loss

Kristen Baker is currently writing a Tudor novel and has kindly shared this excerpt with us.

Chapter 4 Burial and Loss
January 29, 1536

Anne sat at her window with some shirts for the poor, only absentmindedly sewing as she relived the past 10 years of uncertainty she had gone through, thinking of her life now as she watched the people file into the church for the funeral of Katherine. Anne could not go, though she wished she could, if only to pay her respects. She knew that Henry would not be there, as it was unlawful to think of the demise of a king. Her ladies sat about her as usual, whispering about the shame that Henry had forbidden the Lady Mary from attending the funeral.

Just another thing for people to blame on me, she thought sadly. Anne felt badly for her poor treatment of Mary, it weighed on her soul like lead. Why was I always so cruel to the poor child? Can I blame her for siding with her mother? She thought with more than a little shame. Making Mary’s life more difficult had gained her nothing but the added contempt of the court and people. Who could blame them, when she had openly wished for the death of the girl in fits of temper, and even made her daughter’s governess strike her for her disobedience. It pained Anne to think on it now, though her attempt at reconciliation with the girl had been rudely rebuffed. Instead of accepting Anne’s apology, she had sent back a rude note. “I know of no queen of England save my mother, but if the King’s Mistress would consent to intervene on my behalf…” Anne had thrown it in the fireplace and dismissed it as the grieved reaction of a motherless child. She would try again after the birth of her son. As she thought on that, she rubbed her belly absentmindedly, watching her ladies sewing and whispering to one another around the warm braziers. As she watched, she noticed an unease on the faces of a few in the corner of the room farthest from her own chair. The girls kept whispering nervously and watching her from beneath frantically lowered eyelids, obviously afraid she would see something amiss. Rising laboriously, she went about the room from group to group, admiring the embroidery of Madge Shelton, stopping to chasten Anne Basset from gossiping…until she reached the trembling ladies in the corner.

“Come now,” she said to them gently. “Show me your work, I should think it quite close to finished now” she motioned for them to put a shirt into her outstretched hand. The youngest of the two did so reluctantly, her face lowered as though she was ashamed of something. Anne turned it over, admiring the small embroidered sleeves, and handed it back. “Well done, Lady Turner,” she said. “I am sure it will make someone very happy to see your fine and charitable work.” As she turned to go and sit again, she noticed the half-done shirt between the ladies. “And whose shirt is this?” She asked, lifting it to see if she could tell by the needlework whose it was. Her eyes narrowed as she strained to see anything familiar in the patterns. She was almost sure of whose it was, but the light was poor. She turned to the two ladies for an answer.

“L-l-lady Seymour’s, your Majesty,” Lady Turner stammered, her face white. “She left us for a moment to get something more to embroider it by-” but Anne was already out the door before the poor girl could finish. Walking briskly, she meandered the palace in the hopes of bumping into Jane on her way back to her rooms. When after a few moments of circling the area outside of her apartments came up with nothing but astonished servants, she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and headed for the King’s rooms. She tried to contain the pounding in her heart as she swept up the halls of the castle, hoping against hope her fears would not come true. She knew well that Henry had taken a fancy to Jane Seymour, everyone did, but she also hoped it to be no more than a passing one. She absently nodded to the people she passed, not seeing them. She was almost running, and had to stop in a window to catch her breath. A sharp pain raced across her back, but she dismissed it as shortness of breath.

Calm down, she thought, holding her side and resting on the ledge, pressing her face to the cold panes of glass and looking out on the lawns. The palace had been decked out in black for the funeral, and there were few liveried servants there shoveling snow from the walks. Just breathe. Henry is alone with his fool…she thought. Her nerves steeled, she proceeded again towards Henry’s apartments. As she turned the corner, his servants opened the doors to her. As regally as she could muster, she swept into the presence chamber.

“Darling, I have come to see if you will dine with me to-” the words died in her throat. There, sitting on his lap with her arms about his neck, was Jane. In that instant, her heart broke. Henry looked as though he were trying to get a kiss from her, when they both looked up to see Anne. Jane stood up hurriedly as Henry pushed her from his embrace.

“Sweeting” he cooed at her “This is naught to fret over.” He moved toward her, arms open, as Anne backed away, reaching for the door to support her. She shook her head as the hot tears streamed down her cheeks. The closer he came to her, the madder she became. “Calm yourself, Anne” Henry caught her by the wrist as she turned to go, moving to embrace her. “Think of the baby.”

“I came to offer you comfort,” Anne said through clenched teeth. “And I find you locked in embrace with this, this whore…how could you?” She tried to break free of his grasp, but he only tightened it, trying to comfort her. “I love you, Henry. I am carrying your child!” She wailed now, twisting frantically with pain. “How can you do this to us? Why am I not enough for you?” It was too much to bear. Her tears flowed unrestrained down her face.

Wrenching her arm free of his grasp, she fled down the corridors to her chambers. Servants and courtiers turned to get out of her way as she fled him, but she saw no one through the blur of her tears. She found her rooms from memory, her feet merely leading her there. Bursting into her chamber, her ladies rose with shock and alarm. Anne brushed by them all, throwing herself onto her bed. She was full of pain, her body shaking with it is as she sobbed, her arms clutching her aching belly. She thought she must be dying, the pain was so much. Screaming and sobbing, she tried to wave her ladies away, to no avail. They had come into the room with her, mouths agape and wide-eyed in horror and sorrow for their mistress. Lady Shelton and Lady Rochford rushed to her side and gasped with fright, hands over their mouths. They saw what Anne did not yet see-a trail of blood where she had been standing, pooling now beneath her as she sobbed.

The baby was dying, and Anne wished she could die with him.

(Read about Anne Boleyn’s final miscarriage here.)

Share

Comments

  1. Hi, just one teeny little suggestion, the briskly walking & meandering don’t really gel together, if you’re meandering its ” To move aimlessly and idly without fixed direction”, somehow briskly seems to imply more purpose. Otherwise I really enjoyed it 🙂

    • Ah yes, well spotted Leonie. I am sure Kristen will appreciate the feedback, the benefits of having a community to share things with.

      • I can see what Kristen’s trying to say there, the words restless, frantic, trepidation & panicked sprang to mind, perhaps her steps could even be faltering 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed this. I was immediately caught up in the scene and felt you really captured Anne’s thoughts and feelings well. I hope to read the rest of it when it’s published. Good luck!

  3. Kristen Baker says:

    Thank you all for your comments. I will have to reword the “briskly…meandering”…I meant she walked all over the palace to the places she hoped Jane was, but secretly knew Jane wasn’t. 🙂

Leave a Comment

*