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ELIZABETH OF TUDOR
THE GIRL OF THE HERTFORD MANOR
[Afterward Queen Elizabeth of England; the "Good Queen Bess."] A.D.
 THE iron-shod hoofs of the big gray courser rang sharply on the frozen ground, as, beneath the creaking
boughs of the long-armed oaks, Launcelot Crue, the Lord Protector's fleetest courser-man, galloped
across the Hertford fells or hills, and reined up his horse within the great gates of Hatfield
 "From the Lord Protector," he said; and Master Avery Mitchell, the feodary,
who had been closely watching for this same courser-man for several anxious hours, took from his
hands a scroll, on which was inscribed:
"To Avery Mitchell, feodary of the Wards in Herts, at Halfield House. From the Lord Protector,
And next, the courser-man, in secrecy, unscrewed one of the bullion buttons on his buff jerkin, and
taking from it a scrap of paper, handed this also to the watchful feodary. Then, his mission ended,
he repaired to the buttery to satisfy his lusty English appetite with a big dish of pasty, followed
by ale and "wardens" (as certain hard pears, used chiefly for cooking, were called in those days),
while the cautious Avery Mitchell, unrolling the scrap of paper, read:
"In secrecy, THESE: Under guise of mummers place a half-score good
men and true in your Yule-tide maskyng. Well armed and safely conditioned. They will be there who
shall command. Look for the green dragon of Wantley. On your allegiance. This from ye wit who."
Scarcely had the feodary read, re-read, and then destroyed this secret and singular missive, when
the "Ho! hollo!" of Her Grace the Princess' outriders
 rang on the crisp December air, and there galloped up to the broad doorway of the manor-house, a
gayly costumed train of lords and ladies, with huntsmen and falconers and yeomen following on
behind. Central in the group, flushed with her hard gallop through the wintry air, a young girl of
fifteen, tall and trim in figure, sat her horse with the easy grace of a practised and confident
rider. Her long velvet habit was deeply edged with fur, and both kirtle and head-gear were of a rich
purple tinge, while from beneath the latter just peeped a heavy coil of sunny, golden hair. Her face
was fresh and fair, as should be that of any young girl of fifteen, but its expression was rather
that of high spirits and of heedless and impetuous moods than of simple maidenly beauty.
"Tilly-vally, my lord," she cried, dropping her bridle-rein into the hands of a waiting groom, " 't
was my race to-day, was it not? Odds fish, man!" she cried out sharply to the attendant groom; "be
ye easier with Roland's bridle there. One beast of his gentle mettle were worth a score of clumsy
varlets like to you! Well, said I not right, my Lord Admiral; is not the race fairly mine, I ask?"
and, careless in act as in speech, she gave the Lord Admiral's horse, as she spoke, so sharp a cut
with her riding whip as to make the big brute rear in sudden surprise, and almost unhorse its rider,
 while an unchecked laugh came from its fair tormentor.
"Good faith, Mistress," answered Sir Thomas Seymour, the Lord High Admiral, gracefully swallowing
his exclamation of surprise, "your ladyship hath fairly won, and, sure, hath no call to punish both
myself and my good Selim here by such unwarranted chastisement. Will your grace dismount?"
And, vaulting from his seat, he gallantly extended his hand to help the young girl from her horse;
while, on the same instant, another in her train, a handsome young fellow of the girl's own age,
knelt on the frozen ground and held her stirrup.
But this independent young maid would have none of their courtesies. Ignoring the outstretched hands
of both the man and boy, she sprang lightly from her horse, and, as she did so, with a sly and
sudden push of her dainty foot, she sent the kneeling lad sprawling backward, while her merry peal
of laughter rang out as an accompaniment to his downfall.
"Without your help, my lords—without your help, so please you both," she cried. "Why, Dudley,"
she exclaimed, in mock surprise, as she threw a look over her shoulder at the prostrate boy, "are
you there? Beshrew me, though, you do look like one, of goodman Roger's Dorking cocks in the
 poultry yonder, so red and ruffled of feather do you seem. There, see now, I do repent me of my
discourtesy. You, Sir Robert, shall squire me to the hall, and Lord Seymour must even content
himself with playing the gallant to good Mistress Ashley"; and, leaning on the arm of the now
pacified Dudley, the self-willed girl tripped lightly up the entrance-steps.
Self-willed and thoughtless—even rude and hoydenish—we may think her in these days of
gentler manners and more guarded speech. But those were less refined and cultured times than these
in which we live; and the rough, uncurbed nature of "Kinge Henrye the viii. of Most Famous Memorye,"
as the old chronicles term the "bluff King Hal," reappeared to a noticeable extent in the person of
his second child, the daughter of ill-fated Anne Boleyn —"my ladye's grace" the Princess
Elizabeth of England.
"WITHOUT YOUR HELP, MY LORDS! WITHOUT YOUR HELP!"
And yet we should be readier to excuse this impetuous young princess of three hundred years ago than
were even her associates and enemies. For enemies she had, poor child, envious and vindictive ones,
who sought to work her harm. Varied and unhappy had her young life already been. Born amid splendid
hopes, in the royal palace of Greenwich; called Elizabeth after that grandmother, the fair heiress
of the House of York, whose marriage
 to a prince of the House of Lancaster had ended the long and cruel War or the Roses; she had been
welcomed with the peal of bells and the boom of cannon, and christened with all the regal ceremonial
of King Henry's regal court. Then, when scarcely three years old, disgraced by the wicked murder of
her mother, cast off and repudiated by her brutal father, and only received again to favor at the
christening of her baby brother, passing her childish days in grim old castles and a wicked court,
—she found herself, at thirteen, fatherless as well as motherless, and at fifteen cast on her
own resources, the sport of men's ambitions and of conspirators' schemes. To-day the girl of
fifteen, tenderly reared, shielded from trouble by a mother's watchful love and a father's loving
care, can know but little of the dangers that compassed this princess of England, the Lady
Elizabeth. Deliberately separated from her younger brother, the king, by his unwise and selfish
counsellors, hated by her elder sister, the Lady Mary, as the daughter of the woman who had made
her mother's life so miserable, she was, even in her manor-home of Hatfield, where she
should have been most secure, in still greater jeopardy. For this same Lord Seymour of Sudleye, who
was at once Lord High Admiral of England, uncle to the king, and brother of Somerset the Lord
Protector, had by fair promises and
 lavish gifts bound to his purpose this defenceless girl's only protectors, Master Parry, her
cofferer, or steward, and Mistress Katherine Ashley, her governess. And that purpose was to force
the young princess into a marriage with himself, so as to help his schemes of treason against the
Lord Protector, and get into his own hands the care of the boy king and the government of the realm.
It was a bold plot, and, if unsuccessful, meant attainder and death for high treason; but Seymour,
ambitious, reckless, and unprincipled, thought only of his own desires, and cared little for the
possible ruin into which he was dragging the unsuspecting and orphaned daughter of the king who had
been his ready friend and patron.
So matters stood at the period of our store, on the eve of the Christmas festivities of 1548, as,
on, the arm of her boy escort, Sir Robert Dudley, gentleman usher at King Edward's court, and, years
after, the famous Earl of Leicester of Queen Elizabeth's day, the royal maiden entered the hall of
Hatfield House. And, within the great hall, she was greeted by Master Parry, her cofferer, Master
Runyon, her yeoman of the robes, and Master Mitchell, the feodary. Then, with a low obeisance, the
feodary presented her the scroll which had been brought him, post-haste, by Launcelot Crue, the
 "What, good Master Avery," exclaimed Elizabeth, as she ran her eye over the scroll, "you to be Lord
of Misrule and Master of the Revels! And by my Lord of Somerset's own appointing? I am right glad to
And this is what she read:
I give leave to Avery Mitchell, feodary, gentleman, to be Lord of Misrule of all good orders, at
the Manor of Hatfield, during the twelve days of Yule-tide. And, also, I give free leave to the said
Avery Mitchell to command all and every person or persons whatsoever, as well servants as others, to
be at his command whensoever be shall sound his trumpet or music, and to do him good service, as
though I were present myself, at their perils. I give full power and authority to his lordship to
break all locks, bolts, bars, doors, and latches to come at all those who presume to disobey his
lordship's commands. God save the King.
It was Christmas Eve. The great hall of Hatfield House gleamed with the light of many candles that
flashed upon the sconce and armor and polished floor. Holly and mistletoe, rosemary and bay, and all
the decorations of an old-time English Christmas were tastefully arranged. A burst of laughter ran
through the hall, as through the ample doorway, and down the broad stair, trooped the Motley train
of the Lord of Misrule to open the Christmas revels. A fierce and ferocious-looking fellow was
 he, with his great green mustache and his ogre-like face. His dress was a gorgeous parti-colored
jerkin and half-hose, trunks, ruff, slouch-boots of Cordova leather, and high befeathered steeple
hat. His long staff, topped with a fool's head, cap, and bells, rang loudly on the floor, as,
preceded by his diminutive but pompous page, he led his train around and around the great hall,
lustily singing the chorus:
"Like prince and king he leads the ring;
Right merrily we go. Sing hey-trix, trim-go-trix,
Under the mistletoe!"
A menagerie let loose, or the most dyspeptic of after-dinner dreams, could not be more bewildering
than was this motley train of the Lord of Misrule. Giants and dwarfs, dragons and griffins,
hobby-horses and goblins, Robin Hood and the Grand Turk, bears and boars and fantastic animals that
never had a name, boys and girls, men and women, in every imaginable costume and device—around
and around the hall they went, still ringing out the chorus:
"Sing hey-trix, trim-go-trix,
Under the mistletoe!"
Then, standing in the centre of his court, the Lord of Misrule bade his herald declare that from
Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night he was Lord Supreme; that, with his magic art, he transformed all
 there into children, and charged them, on their fealty to act only as such. "I absolve them all from
wisdom," he said; "I bid them be just wise enough to make fools of themselves, and do decree that
none shall sit apart in pride and eke in self-sufficiency to laugh at others"; and then the fun
DOWN THE BROAD STAIRS TROOPED THE MOTLEY TRAIN OF THE
LORD OF MISRULE.
Off in stately Whitehall, in the palace of the boy king, her brother, the revels were grander and
showier; but to the young Elizabeth, not yet skilled in all the stiffness of the royal court, the
Yule-tide feast at Hatfield House brought pleasure enough; and so, seated at her holly-trimmed
virginal—that great-great-grandfather of the piano of to-day,—she, whose rare skill as a
musician has come down to us, would—when wearied with her "prankes and japes"—"tap
through" some fitting Christmas carol, or that older lay of the Yule-tide "Mumming":
"To shorten winter's sadness see where the folks with gladness
Disguised, are all a-coming, right wantonly a-mumming,
"Whilst youthful sports are lasting, to feasting turn our fasting:
With revels and with wassails make grief and care our vassals,
The Yule-log had been noisily dragged in "to the firing," and as the big sparks raced up the wide
chimney, the boar's head and the tankard of sack,
 the great Christmas candle and the Christmas pie, were escorted around the room to the flourish of
trumpets and welcoming shouts; the Lord of Misrule, with a wave of his staff, was about to give the
order for all to unmask, when suddenly there appeared in the circle a new character—a great
green dragon, as fierce and ferocious as well could be, from his pasteboard jaws to his curling
canvas tail. The green dragon of Wantley! Terrified urchins backed hastily away from his horrible
jaws, and the Lord of Misrule gave a sudden and visible start. The dragon himself, scarce waiting
for the surprise to subside, waved his paw for silence, and said, in a hollow, pasteboardy voice:
"Most noble Lord of Misrule, before your feast commences and the masks are doff'd, may we not as
that which should give good appetite to all,—with your lordship's permit and that of my lady's
grace,—tell each some wonder-filling tale as suits the goodly time of Yule? Here be stout
maskers can tell us strange tales of fairies and goblins, or, perchance, of the foreign folk with
whom they have trafficked in Calicute and Affrica, Barbaria, Perew, and other diverse lands and
countries over-sea. And after they have ended, then will I essay a tale that shall cap them all, so
past belief shall it appear."
The close of the dragon's speech, of course, made
 them all the more curious; and the Lady Elizabeth did but speak for all when she said: "I pray you,
good Sir Dragon, let us have your tale first. We have had enow of Barbaria and Perew. If that yours
may be so wondrous, let us hear it even now, and then may we decide."
"As your lady's grace wishes," said the dragon. "But methinks when you have heard me through, you
would that it had been the last or else not told at all."
"Your lordship of Misrule and my lady's grace must know," began the dragon, "that my story, though a
short, is a startling one. Once on a time there lived a king, who, though but a boy, did, by God's
grace, in talent, industry, perseverance, and knowledge, surpass both his own years and the belief
of men. And because he was good and gentle alike and conditioned beyond the measure of his years, he
was the greater prey to the wicked wiles of traitorous men. And one such, high in the king's court,
thought to work him ill; and to carry out his ends did wantonly awaken seditious and rebellious
intent even among the king's kith and kin, whom lie traitorously sought to wed,—his royal and
younger sister,—nay, start' not my lady's grace!" exclaimed the dragon quickly, as Elizabeth
turned upon him a look of sudden and haughty surprise. "All is known! And this is the ending
 of my wondrous tale. My Lord Seymour of Sudleye is this day taken for high treason and haled
to the Tower. They of your own household are held as accomplice to the Lord Admiral's wicked intent,
and you, Lady Elizabeth Tudor, are by order of the council to be restrained in prison wards in this
your manor of Hatfield until such time as the king's Majesty and the honorable council shall decide.
This on your allegiance!"
The cry of terror that the dragon's words awoke, died into silence as the Lady Elizabeth rose to her
feet, flushed with anger.
"Is this a fable or the posy of a ring, Sir Dragon?" she said, sharply. "Do you come to try or tempt
me, or is this perchance but some part of my Lord of Misrule's Yule-tide mumming? 'Sblood, sir; only
cravens sneak behind masks to strike and threaten. Have off your disguise, if you be a true man; or,
by my word as Princess of England, he shall bitterly rue the day who dares to befool the daughter of
"As you will, then, my lady," said the dragon. "Do you doubt me now?" and, tearing off his
pasteboard wrapping, he stood disclosed before them all as the grim Sir Robert Trywhitt, chief
examiner of the Lord Protector's council. "Move not at your peril," he said, as a stir in the throng
 seemed to indicate the presence of some brave spirits who would have shielded their young princess.
"Master Feodary, bid your varlets stand to their arms."
And at a word from Master Avery Mitchell, late Lord of Misrule, there flashed from beneath the
cloaks of certain tall figures on the circle's edge the halberds of the guard. The surprise was
complete. The Lady Elizabeth was a prisoner in her own manor-house, and the Yule-tide revels had
reached a sudden and sorry ending.
And yet, once again, under this false accusation, did the hot spirit of the Tudors flame in the face
and speech of the Princess Elizabeth.
"Sir Robert Trywhitt," cried the brave young girl, "these be but lying rumors that do go against my
honor and my fealty. God knoweth they be shameful slanders, sir; for the which, besides the desire I
have to see the King's Majesty, I pray you let me also be brought straight before the court that I
may disprove these perjured tongues."
But her appeal was not granted. For months she was kept close prisoner at Hatfield House, subject
daily to most rigid cross-examination by Sir Robert Trywhitt for the purpose of implicating her if
possible in the Lord Admiral's plot. But all in vain; and at last even Sir Robert gave up the
attempt, and wrote to the council that "the Lady
 Elizabeth hath a good wit, and nothing is gotten of her but by great policy."
Lord Seymour of Sudleye, was beheaded for treason on Tower Hill, and others, implicated in his
plots, were variously punished; but even "great policy" cannot squeeze a lie out of the truth, and
Elizabeth was finally declared free of the stain of treason.
Experience, which is a hard teacher, often brings to light the best that is in us. It was so in this
case. For, as one writer says: "The long and harassing ordeal disclosed the splendid courage, the
reticence, the rare discretion, which were to carry the Princess through many an awful peril in the
years to come. Probably no event of her early girlhood went so far toward making a woman of
Elizabeth as did this miserable affair."
Within ten years thereafter the Lady Elizabeth ascended the throne of England. Those ten years
covered many strange events, many varying fortunes—the death of her brother, the boy King
Edward, the sad tragedy of Lady Jane Grey, Wyatt's rebellion, the tanner's revolt, and all the long
horror of the reign of "Bloody Mary." You may read of all this in history, and may see how, through
it all, the young princess grew still more firm of will, more self-reliant, wise, and strong,
developing all those peculiar qualities that helped to make her
 England's greatest queen, and one of the most wonderful women in history. But through all her long
and most historic life,—a life of over seventy years, forty-five of which were passed as
England's queen,—scarce any incident made so lasting an impression upon her as when, in
Hatfield House, the first shock of the false charge of treason fell upon the thoughtless girl of
fifteen in the midst of the Christmas revels.