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THE CHILD ELIZABETH
T was a strange household at Hunsdon, a baby ruler
with crowds of attendants to do her honor and obey her
slightest whim. Over all was the strong hand of the
king, and his imperious will to which every member of
the house yielded save the one slender girl who paid no
heed to his threats, but stood firmly for her mother's
rights and her own.
For more than two years all honor was shown to the baby
Elizabeth, but on the king's marriage to Jane Seymour,
he commanded his obedient Parliament to decree that
Elizabeth should never wear the crown, and that, if
Jane had no children, the king might will his kingdom
to whom he would. To the little child the change in her
position was as yet a small matter, but to the young
girl of twenty-one years the future seemed very dark.
Her mother had died, praying in
 vain that the king would grant her but one hour with
her beloved daughter. Mary was fond of study and spent
much of the time with her books. Visitors were rare,
for few ventured to brave the wrath of Henry VIII., but
one morning it was announced that Lady Kingston awaited
"I give you cordial greeting," said Mary. "You were
ever true to me, and in these days it is but seldom
that I meet a faithful friend."
"A message comes to your Grace through me that will, I
hope, give you some little comfort," said Lady
"From my father?" cried Mary eagerly.
"No, but from one whose jealous dislike may have done
much to turn the king against you, from her who was
Anne Boleyn. The day before her death," continued Lady
Kingston, "she whispered to me, 'I have something to
say to you alone.' She sent away her attendants and
bade me follow her into the presence chamber of the
Tower. She locked and bolted the door with her own
hand. Then she commanded, 'Sit you down in the royal
seat.' I said, 'Your Majesty, in your presence it is my
duty to stand, not to
 sit, much less to sit in the seat of the queen.' She
shook her head and said sadly, 'I am no longer the
queen. I am but a poor woman condemned to die
to-morrow. I pray you be seated.' It seemed a strange
wish, but she was so earnest that I obeyed. She fell
upon her knees at my feet and said, 'Go you to Mary,
my stepdaughter, fall down before her feet as I now
fall before yours, and beg her humbly to pardon the
wrong that I have done her. This is my message.' "
Mary was silent. Then she said slowly:—
"Save for her, my mother's life and my own would have
been full of happiness, but I forgive her as I hope to
be forgiven. The child whom she has left to suffer, it
may be, much that I have suffered, shall be to me as a
sister—and truly, she is a winsome little maiden."
Mary's face softened at the thought of the baby
She kept her word, and it was but a few weeks before
Mary, who had once been bidden to look up to the child
as her superior, was generously trying to arouse her
father's interest in his forsaken little daughter.
Henry VIII., cruel as he showed himself, was always
eager to have people think well of him, and in his
 fashion, he was really fond of his children. Mary had
been treated most harshly, but she longed to meet him.
Her mother was dead, she was alone. If he would permit
her to come to him, it might be that he would show her
the same kindness and affection as when she was a
child. She wrote him submissive letters, and finally he
consented to pardon her for daring to oppose his will.
Hardly was she assured of his forgiveness before she
"My sister Elizabeth is in good health, thanks to our
Lord, and such a child as I doubt not but your Highness
shall have cause to rejoice of in time coming."
The months went by, and when Elizabeth was about four
years old, a message came from the king to say that a
son was born to him, and that the two princesses were
bidden to come to the palace to attend the christening.
Such a celebration it was! The queen was wrapped in a
mantle of crimson velvet edged with ermine. She was
laid upon a kind of sofa on which were many cushions of
damask with border of gold. Over her was spread a
robe of fine scarlet cloth with a lining of ermine.
 the procession, the baby son was carried in the arms of
a lady of high rank under a canopy borne by four
nobles. Then came other nobles, one bearing a great wax
candle, some with towels about their necks, and some
bringing bowls and cups, all of solid gold, as gifts
for the child who was to inherit the throne of England.
A long line of servants and attendants followed. The
Princess Mary wore a robe of cloth of silver trimmed
with pearls. Every motion of hers was watched, for she
was to be godmother to the little child. There was
another young maiden who won even more attention than
the baby prince, and this was the four-year-old
Princess Elizabeth. She was dressed in a robe of state
with as long a train as any of the ladies of the court.
In her hand she carried a golden vase containing the
chrism, or anointing oil, and she herself was borne in
the arms of the queen's brother. She had been sound
asleep when the time came to make ready for the
ceremony, for the christening took place late in the
evening, and the procession set out with the light of
many torches flashing upon the jewels of the nobles
 and ladies of rank and upon the golden cups and bowls.
Along the wide hall and down the grand staircase went
the glittering line. The baby was christened "Edward,"
and then was proclaimed "the beloved son of our most
dread and gracious Lord, Henry VIII." On the return the
little Elizabeth walked beside Mary, keeping fast hold
of her sister's hand, while the long train was borne by
a noble lady of the court. The trumpet sounded all the
way back to the royal bedchamber where lay the queen,
waiting to greet her son with her blessing. It was
midnight, and Elizabeth as well as her baby brother
must have been glad to be allowed to rest.
Only a few days later came the death of the mother of
the little prince. Greatly as King Henry disliked
black, he wore it for four months, even on Christmas
day. Elizabeth was probably at Hunsdon, but Mary spent
Christmas with her father. She did not forget the
little sister, but sent her a box decorated with silver
needlework made by her own hand. She gave the baby
brother a cap which must have been very
elabo-  rate, for it cost enough to pay the wages of a working man
for four months. To the baby's nurse she sent a bonnet
that cost half as much as the cap. Another gift, which
she herself made, was a cushion covered with rich
This baby brother was a delight to both the princesses.
Mary went often to see him, and looked after him as if
he had been her own child, and to Elizabeth he was the
most precious thing in all the world. "I pray you, take
me to see my brother," she often pleaded. One day the
older sister said to her, "Elizabeth, is there aught
that I can do to please you greatly?"
"I would gladly go to see my brother," was the child's
"That cannot well be," said Mary. "Is there nothing
better that you can wish?"
"But there is surely one thing better. When it is two
of the clock, stand you close by the west window of the
hall, and what is to come will come."
Clocks were not very common in those days, but there
was one in the hall at Hunsdon, and the excited little
girl watched the hands move slowly
 around until they marked the hour of two. What was to
A little after two a single rider appeared. "Make way
for his Grace, Edward, Prince of Wales!" he cried. Then
came the trumpeters and, following them, the nobles.
After the nobles came the royal baby for whom all this
ceremonial had been arranged. He lay in the arms of his
nurse, "Mother Jack," and was borne in a litter. The
upright poles were heavily gilded, and the canopy was
of the richest white silk edged with a golden fringe.
Clusters of white plumes were fixed at each corner. On
the shoulders of eight men rested the shafts of the
chair. All around it gathered noble lords and ladies,
mounted on horses whose trappings were marked with the
monogram of many a family of rank and power. Every man
wore a sword to defend the heir of England's king, if
need should arise, and stalwart guards marched on
"It's my own little brother," cried Elizabeth.
"And he comes to abide with us for a while," said Mary.
"Is not that better, my little sister, than going to
him to pay a visit of a day?"
 "Will Lady Margaret grant me leave to show him my birds
and my rabbits? He shall play on my virginals, if he
will; and, truly, I'll not mind the sharp prick of the
needle, if I may but sew a dress for him. I would fain
learn to make letters with the needle, sister Mary,
that I might sew one all myself on everything that he
will wear. Oh, it will be an 'E,' even as it is on
whatever is mine."
It is quite possible that the next few years were the
happiest that Elizabeth ever knew. She was four years
older than Edward, and she had been so carefully
trained by Lady Margaret that King Henry was glad that
she should be the playmate of the sweet-tempered little
fellow who was his only son and heir. Lady Margaret was
troubled because Edward's best coat was "only tinsel"
instead of cloth of gold, and because he had "never a
good jewel to set on his cap;" but this was nothing to
the little prince so long as he had his sister. Lady
Margaret wrote to the king that she wished he could
have seen the prince, for "the minstrels played, and
his Grace danced and played so wantonly that he could
not stand still." Elizabeth taught him to speak, and
for his sake
 she even conquered her dislike to the "prick of the
needle," for when his second birthday came and the rich
nobles of the kingdom sent him jewels and all sorts of
beautiful things made of gold and silver, she gave him
a tiny cambric shirt, every stitch of which had been
made by the little fingers of his six-year-old sister.
Mary sent him a cloak of crimson satin. The sleeves
were of tinsel. It was heavily embroidered with gold
thread and with pansies made of pearls.
It was about this time that King Henry sent an officer
of high rank expressly to bestow the royal blessing
upon the two princesses. On his return he reported to
the king the grateful message that Mary had sent.
"And how found you her Grace, the Lady Elizabeth?"
asked King Henry.
"Truly, your Majesty," replied the chancellor, "were
the Lady Elizabeth not the offspring of your
illustrious Highness, I could in no way account for her
charm of manner and of speech. 'I humbly thank his most
excellent Majesty,' she said, 'that he has graciously
deigned to think upon me, who am verily his loving
child and his true and faithful subject.' "
 "She is but six years old," mused Henry. "Were those
"I would gladly have had pen and paper," answered the
chancellor, "that no one of them should have been lost,
but I give the message as it has remained in my memory.
She asked after your Majesty's welfare with as great a
gravity as she had been forty years old."
More than one trouble came to the older princess. Soon
after the king had sent his blessing to the two
sisters, a councilor came to Mary with a message of
quite another character.
"It is his Majesty's pleasure," said he, "that your
Grace should receive the Duke Philip of Germany as a
suitor for your hand." This German duke was a
Protestant, and Mary was a firm Roman Catholic, but she
dared not refuse to obey the king's bidding.
"I would gladly remain single," said she, "but I am
bound to obey his Majesty. I would, too, that the duke
were of my own faith, but in so weighty a matter I can
do naught save to commit myself to my merciful father
and most sovereign lord, knowing that his goodness and
 provide for me far better than I could make protection
The duke sent her a beautiful diamond cross, but before
a year had passed, she was bidden by the King to return
the gift. Henry had wedded a German wife, and had
treated her so badly that Mary's betrothal was broken.
There were sad times in England in those days. When
Henry VIII. wished to marry Anne Boleyn, he asked the
Pope to declare that his marriage to the mother of Mary
was not lawful. The Pope refused. Henry then asked the
opinion of several universities in England, Italy, and
France, and it is probable that his question was
accompanied by either bribes or threats. The
universities declared the first marriage unlawful; but
the Pope would not yield. Henry then declared that the
English church should be free from the Pope, and that
the king himself was properly the supreme head of the
church in his own kingdom.
There were tyrants, and most cruel tyrants before the
days of Henry VIII., but they were generally satisfied
to rule men's deeds. Henry
 was determined to rule his subjects' most secret
thoughts. If he suspected that a man did not believe
that his divorce was right, he would pursue the man and
force him to express his opinion. If the man was too
honest to tell a falsehood, he was imprisoned or
executed, for Henry said that it was treason to refuse
to acknowledge that the king of England was at the head
of the church of England. Many of the noblest, truest
men in the land were put to death for this reason. This
was not all, for although Henry would not acknowledge
the authority of the Pope, he nevertheless declared
that he was a Roman Catholic, and that all Protestants
were heretics and deserved to be burned to death. The
result of this strange reasoning was that if a man was
a Protestant, he ran the risk of being burned at the
stake, while if he was a Roman Catholic, he was in
danger of being hanged.
Mary was often at the court. She must have heard her
father's brutal threats against all those who did not
love his will. One after another of her childhood's
friends was beheaded or burned at the stake; her old
teacher, her mother's chaplain, and the beloved
countess to whose care her mother
 had confided her as an infant. Not a word or look of
criticism might she venture, for the despot would
hardly have hesitated to send his own daughter to the
stake if she had dared to resist him in this matter.
The case was quite different with Elizabeth and Edward.
They knew little of burnings and executions. Whatever
of gentleness and kindness was in King Henry was shown
to the children, especially to his son. The little
ones played and studied together. "My sweetest and
dearest sister" was the little boy's name for
Elizabeth. She was a favorite wherever she went. The
king married three times after the death of Jane
Seymour, and each of these stepmothers was fond of the
merry, pleasing little girl.
The first of the three was the German princess. She
was rather slow and dull, and Henry took a great
dislike to her. When the little Elizabeth, then about
seven years old, begged to be allowed to come to court
to see the queen, King Henry roared, "Tell her that her
own mother was so different from this woman that she
ought not to wish to see her." This was the only time
that he ever spoke of Anne Boleyn.
 Elizabeth met the new stepmother after a short delay,
and this lady was so charmed with the little maiden
that she begged to see much of her, the only favor that
she ever asked of the king. The next wife was a distant
relative of Anne Boleyn, and when she dined in public,
she gave the place opposite herself to the child. "She
is of my own blood," said the queen, "and it is only
right that she should be next to me."
At Henry's last marriage Mary and the two children were
present, and this new queen became like the others a
warm friend of Elizabeth, who was now fully ten years
old. Henry must have felt some affection for Anne
Boleyn, for he was never displeased to hear the praises
of her daughter. He seemed beginning to have a real
fondness for the child, and one day he looked at her
keenly and said:—
"There's more than one that would be glad to have you.
Would you be married, Elizabeth, or would you stay with
your books and birds and viols and lutes?"
"I would fain do that which your Majesty bids,"
answered the child. "I know well that
 what your Majesty commands is ever the thing which is
"She's a child of wisdom," declared Henry with a smile
of gratification, "and I'll do more for her than anyone
can guess." Then said he to Elizabeth:—
"It shall be brought about that you shall become the
bride of some great man. If any German Emperor plays
you false, he shall feel the weight of my hand. How
would it please your Grace to marry a prince of
Portugal?" he asked playfully, for he was in a rarely
good humor, "Or perhaps, Philip of Spain? Philip will
be a king, and he would make you a great lady. Would
it please you to wed one that would make you a queen?"
"Far rather would I wed one that I could make a king,"
answered the child, drawing herself up to her full
"What!" cried the king, his face changing in a moment,
and his eyes flashing ominously. The girl seemed
looking not at the king, but far away into some distant
future. She did not see the warning glance of the
 "I would fain be so beautiful and so great," said she,
"that whoever came near me should admire me and should
beg me to become his wife. I would say no to one and
all, but by and by I would choose one for myself. Him I
would raise to be as great as I, and I would——"
Elizabeth of England, even as a child, rarely forgot
herself, but she was absorbed in the picture that she
was making, and she stopped only when she felt the
silence and saw her father's wrathful gaze fixed upon
her. His eyes were fairly blazing with anger, and his
face was purple.
"So that is what you plan, is it?" he roared. "And here
you stand before me and tell your schemes to become
queen and raise some miserable rascal to the throne.
Get out of my sight, ingrate that you are."
Quick-witted as Elizabeth was, she did not at once see
wherein she was in fault. She was so dazed by this
sudden fury that she did not even think to throw
herself at the feet of the king and beg to be forgiven,
even though she knew not for what. The stepmother
pleaded, "Pardon the child, my king. She meant no
 "No wrong," thundered the king. "Is it 'no wrong' to
plan what she will do as soon as the breath is out of
her father's body? I tell you, girl that you may find
another father and another throne, for never shall you
sit upon mine. Get to your litter, and do you never
come before my eyes again."
The little Edward had slipped up softly behind father
and had laid his tiny hand upon the king's purple cheek.
"Your Majesty is naughty," he declared bravely, "You
have made my sweetest sister cry. I don't want my
sister to cry." Never had the little boy received a harsh
word from his father, and he was perhaps the only one
in the kingdom who had no fear of the king. "Come,"
said he, "and tell her not to cry." He caught the king
by the hand, but even for his son King Henry's anger
could not be suppressed.
"You little know her," he said. "It is you that she
would rob. She would seize upon the place that is your
own and drive you from it. Tell her to depart from the
palace and never enter it," he commanded his
chamberlain, and soon the little
 girl, not yet twelve years old, was sent away from the
court in disgrace.
"Hold yourself with patience," whispered the queen to
the child. "Trust me, and believe that it shall not be
long before you will again be sent for."