‘I see Master Kingston has a loose hem to his cloak, ha, could he not have dressed with more care for my execution. I pray he does not catch his heel and trip over bringing to this most solemn occasion any laughter though in truth laughter it does deserve as I step along here amid these jeers and stares to have my head taken off. And oh, but I do wish I had used the pot before I began but too late now, too late for any such concerns, too late for everything. ‘
So went the thoughts in Anne’s mind as she made procession to the ominous, heavily draped platform where she would soon meet her end. The crowd was indeed jeering though in all truth a crowd it was not being but a paltry collection gathered for this execution, this farce in the name of justice; for the death of a woman, such a young woman, a crowned Queen though no longer to be known as such, this small gathering of witnesses, the curious and the chroniclers was minimal to say the least of it.
‘They never did like me though in truth I have done naught to gain such hatred. Dear Lord let me not shame myself afore them, my stomach does heave so.’
Reaching the small set of wooden stairs Anne looked up to see the two masked figures waiting to do their business as the baker does wait to remove his loaves from the oven or the fisherman stands hoping for his net to be filled, yes a business it were, nothing more nor less to them than a means of putting coins in their purses, ale in their bellys.
‘Never until this moment have I given much thought to those who kill for the law. Forgive them Father they but do what they have been bidden, as do I.’
From this angle her view of them showed four long legs clad in black cloth with shabby worn boots to the knees. Her gaze travelled ever up to see what seemed a much too small pair of heads covered tightly with black hoods. With a great intake of breath she gathered her skirts about her and proceeded up the shallow steps to reach the platform. The masked men were of quite ordinary size she now saw as they looked at but also through her.
‘I be already dead to them.’
She took the short walk left to her with her skirts disturbing the straw all about.
‘Soon to be stained by my blood.’
Her heart fluttered at the thought.
She turned slowly to face the people who stood with upturned faces, some showing pity, some gladness or spite and some cloaked in just plain old curiosity.
‘Jesu, now I have to make them all feel good about what is to come, now I have to make a good death, ha death, is death ever good? And there Suffolk stands, never a great friend to me but looking most downcast at this moment. Look up Suffolk, come look at me I say. Here raise your eyes, yes. Ah but down they fall once more you cannot bear to look upon me. You know this is wrong, so wrong. Do you know the whys of this Suffolk? Do you? Does your knowledge discomfort you?’
With a quiet sigh and gentle shake of her head she looked down to where her satin clad toes poked out from beneath her grey dress taking a short time to compose herself then raising her head to look out over the people before her and fixing her eyes upon a shining glass pane on the building there which glistened in the sunlight she began.
“Good Christian people” ‘Ah but not all among you are Christians I do swear.’
“I have not come here to preach a sermon; I have come here to die, for according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it.” ‘Though that law which is thought to bring justice to all has played me well false in these days past – being that one who has committed no crime has been made guilty of such sins as to bring death to so many innocent souls’
“I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die” ‘If your brains are not fully addled you must know of your own selves that what is about to happen here needs not me to accuse any man. I do not need to speak any words in condemnation. It is all plain to be seen and ever shall be until the end of time. I am innocent of all that has been laid against me.’
“but I pray God save the King and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.” ‘There you are Henry, as your true, loving wife and obedient subject I have absolved you of this sin in front of these your chosen witnesses and may God forgive you the sin committed here this day in your name and at your behest, you faithless turd of a mangy, worm bedevilled dog. Oh, Henry why?’
“And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best.” ‘Oh, yes judge the best I pray you – for you each, one and all, know I die this day by false charges and my crime has been naught in the eyes of God nor against the laws of any land even unto the most wild and heathen place.’
“And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me.” ‘You weak and lily livered knaves who have allowed, nay even encouraged such plottings as have been made against me and brought me here to die, the evil designs which have killed my sweet brother and those friends who died with him; it comes to me your prayers would be worthless in the eyes of the Lord so no I prefer you keep them for yourselves as the sinners you have shown yourselves to be for you will surely have more need of them than I who was ever the most loving and obedient wife to my Lord and husband.’
With a sharp nod of her head keeping her eyes fixed firmly ahead of her Anne stepped back a pace or two as her ladies approached to help her prepare for the last time. There were no tears to be seen, she would not so please the curs who watched her every move.
‘The sky is very blue today and now I must die. Oh, my Elizabeth, my sweet child I needs must leave you to fate. No I will not sob here in front of them. Oh Lord help me.’ “Jesu unto you I commend my soul.”
At the feel of a hand on her shoulder she obediently drops to her knees. She can no longer see the sun blessed glass which has been her focus these last minutes so raises her eyes to heaven.
‘Jesu I pray you see them all hereabout me today and bring down your vengeance upon them as they take from me my life and leave my dear daughter alone and a bastard, she who in her innocence will never know her mother or have a mother’s arms about her. Damn them Lord, strike them down I pray you.’ “Jesu unto you I commend my soul.”
Her hands are tightly clenched at her waist, mind racing, lips moving frantically.
‘I will not be broken even now. I am Anne Boleyn and I am strong. Lord I will be with you shortly and all will be well unto me. But Henry my love, my life I only wonder at this in great amazement and die with but one thought in my head. Oh why have you so deserted me, why Henry my lov………………….’ “Jesu unto you I comm………………………