In years to come, they shall wonder why I married a man who sought another. In years to come, outside, the sapphire ribbon meandering through the meadows past my window shall be dried up. I stare at the undulating faded emerald peaks in the horizon. Mayhap the future, the horizon, will be as bleak too.
‘Twas not my choice. I married Henry Percy only at my Father’s insistence to honour our betrothal. I had no such desire to wed a man whose eyes glistened with the love of another. Tell me what a woman can do in this Christendom I live in to truly go against a man’s wishes? But what Christendom do I live in? Henry loves another woman, but she is sought by another far magnanimous than he: His Majesty, the King. The King has gone to Hell and back to marry this lady- this lady whose favour from a long ago tourney Henry still carries, cherishes, in the breast pocket of his doublet. He will never let go of her, even though the King has her instead. Anna Bolina. Anne Boleyn. Nan Bullen. Whatever you may call her.
The King has chased her, a poacher for a doe too quick for him in his hunt. He has chased and chased her for many years. He has broken with Rome for her, and we are all ordered to convert from our faith to his. His church; the Church of England. Nay. Never. No such person shall pull my rosary from my girdle until the beads all split as they are wrenched, shattering like glass, echoing like cries, bouncing on the flagstones of my home, Alnwick Castle, rolling slowly to a fragmented stop. I will hear Mass, I shall let the roll of Latin wash over me. Stop me, if you dare. I am a Catholic. I was born a Catholic. I will die a Catholic. I will do naught for Anna Bolina.
She is the whore who has enticed the King from the true faith and his lovely wife, his Queen, Catalina de Aragon. He seeks to divorce her, say the marriage was false, all for a whore. All for an heir; a son. He can crown Nan Bullen, but she will never be a Queen like Catalina with her peasant blood, when Catalina is the daughter of Europe’s finest sovereigns- Ferdinand of Aragon, and Isabella of Castile. The King can call her his Queen, but still she will remain the same witch from the French court who lured my husband Henry with her siren song, and a countenance to render any person senseless.
She has captivated two Henrys- but only the greatest of all, King Henry, can have her. My Henry is trapped; the walls of Alnwick are his prison, and these battlements are the arrows to his heart. He cannot marry her, for the King caught her on the end of his fishing net instead, and Henry had to settle for his smaller first catch, the inconsequential, loveless betrothal. Myself. He is chained to me and Alnwick. I can almost sense him pressing against our little archer’s slits for windows, as his heart cries Anne, Anne, but who is he, compared to the King?
Every time he gazes upon me, I know he wishes he could see Anne. He wishes I could be Anne. He is haunted by her; her merry tinkle of laugh as it catches on the breeze, and her voice, melodious and crystal as a songbird when she softly weaves her spell. My eyes, as dull as the brown brick Alwnick is built in, merge into hers: deep, mysterious realms, pools of depth, enflamed with the fire of honey liquid and lust, flashing like cobalt. He desires my thin body to be hers, with her budding breasts and the chain that dangles before them- a rope of pearls with a ‘B’ on the end for Boleyn, swinging tantalizingly back and forth in front of them as she leans over towards you, swinging back and forth, back and forth, back… forth… B for Boleyn. Boleyn. Boleyn… swish…swish…swish.
They shall fall, the Boleyns, mark my words. The King tired of her other sister Mary, another whore trained at the French court, another great Boleyn whore. He will tire of Anne soon, and especially when she does not give England their Prince, their son. For I, Mary Talbot, Countess of Northumberland, curse her. I shall curse her to produce a useless girl, or be barren, or to have a stillborn child as I did. For while she sits there, preening her silky mane and setting a French hood atop it, and running her hands through ermine and sables, my husband wants for her still. He thinks of the marriage they never had, for the King, when he found out they intended to marry, took it much to his displeasure, and banished them both from court, forbidding such a union. And now he has Anne.
I have lived whilst my husband lives with the chimera of her, his whore, Anna Bolina, for many years. I have suffered, I have been bound to misery itself. I will see her die for the agony she has put me through, as the rounded towers of my Alnwick close in on me. She will pay. She will pay for the years I have spent in this marriage as Henry dreams of her. The executor’s swish of his axe rings in my ears, a knell. A death knell for her. I will not rest until Anna Bolina’s heart stops beating; the Queen of Hearts herself. I will not rest until Anna Bolina’s head is chopped from her pretty little neck, and ruby rivulets trickle down from it.