Library of Alexandria
The World's Greatest Books (Fiction) by Various Authors Summary
Edward VI. was dead, poisoned, it was rumoured, by the Duke of Northumberland, Grandmaster of the Realm. For three days had an attempt been made to keep his death secret, so that the proud and ambitious duke might seize the persons of the Princess Mary and the Princess Elizabeth. But the former, warned in time, had escaped the snare; and the Duke of Northumberland, finding further dissimulation useless, boldly proclaimed his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, queen. On July 10, 1553, Queen Jane, the wisest and most beautiful woman in the kingdom, though only sixteen years of age, was conducted in state to the Tower, where it was the custom for the monarchs of England to spend the first few days of their reign. But the crowds who watched her departure from Durham House, in the Strand, were silent and sullen. Her youthful beauty and grace might win an involuntary cry of admiration, but the heart of the people was not hers. They recognised that she was but the tool of her father-in-law, whom, because of his overweening ambition, they hated. All the pride and pomp of silken banners and cloth of gold could not mask the gloomy presage of the young queen's reign. The very heavens thundered; and owing to the press of boats that surrounded the procession, many small craft were overturned and their occupants thrown into the water. And if further signs of portending evil were wanted, they could be discerned in the uneasy whisperings of those lords of the Privy Council who were present, or in the sinister face of the Spaniard, Simon Renard, ambassador to the Emperor Charles V. "This farce will not last long," he said to De Noailles, the French ambassador. "The Privy Council are the duke's secret enemies, and through them I shall strike the scepter from Jane's grasp and place it in the hand of Mary." Elsewhere in the procession, Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, uttered in a low voice to Ridley, Bishop of London, his fears for the future; while certain lords of the Privy Council, who had planned the assassination of the Duke of Northumberland, and were aware that their plot had been discovered, approached the portals of the Tower in fear and trembling. But there was one man at least who did not share the general depression and uneasiness. Cuthbert Cholmondeley, esquire to Lord Guildford Dudley, husband of Queen Jane, found much to interest him in the scene. The reception of her Majesty by Og, Gog, and Magog had already driven away the sense of portending evil from his mind when he caught sight of a girl's face in the crowd. It was only for a moment that he had sight of it; but it left such a deep impression on his mind that for the rest of the day he burned with impatience to discover who the girl might be.