The Blessed Tower-Short Historical FictionA Story by Jennifer Marie Theresa Spencer
Charity Cole sat on the ivory window seat as she stared out absent mindedly. Her fingers unconsciously traced the engraved carvings on the wooden windows. Through the glass the green pastures lay out like a blanket and the warm sun looked inviting. If she really looked hard enough she can see the small cottages of villagers out in the distance. The day was filled with promises and beauty- she itched to just run out of her chamber and to feel the grass tickle her feet. The only movements were the lords dressed in official garments of the kingdom of royal blue. They rode with urgency upon stallions of onyx colors and deep browns; perhaps it is another message from the former Church of England. Ever since his highness, King Henry VIII decided to separate from the church due to the desire for annulment, all went to chaos. She nervously bit her lip refusing to think about such matters now.
Her mind drifted to past memories of a lavish yet simple lifestyle. She grew up in it a distinguished and respected family. Her mother was prized for her angelic beauty amongst the court and her ability to charm the Queen. To this day people ask about Lady Margaret Stone and confusing Charity with her mother. A soft smile tugged at her mouth as she combed through her golden locks she inherited from her. Her eyes were the replica of her father’s but were a deeper green that held knowledge, serenity and truth. The combination of both features gave her a silent yet knowing aura that kept people curious at what laid behind her eyes. As she was smoothing out her gown of pure dark green silk, she heard the urgency of footsteps heading towards her chamber.
She lifted up the corners of her gown and moved her legs over the window seat. Her feet slipped into golden slippers embedded with a green jade towards the head of the shoe. She was about to pin her hair into a bun when pounding fell against the hard wood door. Anxious she runs towards the door and calls out her warnings of her inappropriate attire. Yet the hard knocks on the door and shuffling of keys persist. Her feet step backwards frantically to avoid the opening of the door. She reaches and her hands wrap around the pillar of the bed for support while four guards push into the room with the king’s messenger, Thomas Cromwell at their heels.
A look of alarm is in his eyes as he tries to suppress it with a smile. He’s being strong for me. The guards move in closer as she lets go of the pillars and moves backwards only to fall into the tapestry. The tapestry was that of strength to her; embroidered with the fields of the kingdom and the skies that showed a glimpse of heaven. The threads showed the architecture of the kingdom at its finest. Now the tapestry was only a barrier, preventing her of escape and into the grips of the guards before her. The guards were dressed in hard steel armor mesh material around their chest. A guard stopped before her and his hand reached out as the steel gauntlet pressed against her neck. The taste of metal filled her mouth as she was biting her tongue to resist screaming. Two guards swiftly moved aside each grabbing her wrists in a painful manner. She felt frozen as if time was stopping; a few minutes of hell fell into what felt like hours. Her legs broke free from the feeling of being paralyzed as she started kicking into air. Screams pierced the air and she wondered who was yelling and how she may help them; only to realize the screaming was her own. The Earl of Essex, Thomas Cromwell’s protests echoed in the room on how the guards were handling her. She was lifted into the air as she moved through the door. Her arms ached and felt as if they were about the break.
Her struggles were in vain as she was carried forcefully down the stone path of the kingdom. Her head lolled back and her back ached with pain. She felt the cool air on her skin and the rips in her gown, making her feel vulnerable and shamed. Orders were barked in a deep hoarse voice to prepare the chambers for a new inmate at the legendary Tower of London. Her mind felt chaotic as she struggled to comprehend the scene taking place around her. The countenance was that of confusion and shock. The tower came into view. Its structure reaches towards the heavens- at least a hundred feet high and its beauty seemed malicious in a way. She was struck with the realization that her impending fate would be determined by the tower in which she was led. Her feet now dragged to the floor without any reserve for empathy from the guards.
The River of Thames came into view as she was laid into an old shaky wooden boat with the guards. The river had a smoky gleam. The scenery which was so beautiful enveloped into darkness as if mimicking her reflection. The clouds collided into a deep gray. Guards pulled the oars and moved with difficulty until they reached the traitor’s gates. I am heading into the pits of Hade’s realm; this is more of the River of Lethe then that of Thames. If only she could forget the monstrous present life like that of the souls which reach the forgotten waters of the underworld rather than the pits of darkness William the Conqueror created. She was in front of the White Tower’s underground gates. The tower for lower class criminals and people accused of treason. The black gate was one all queens saw in their nightmares. The heavy latch was final and the hand marks as people pulled from being taken inside showed on the heavy design of crisscross patterns. She was faced with stone arches of bricks above and pillars of stone on each side as she moved along the river. The ground was cobblestone and the scratches of fingernails left a mark. The only light was that of the slit windows. She was pushed into a small dungeon known as the “Little Ease”. The name fit the structure well. Her legs were cramped and she could neither sit nor stand. The doors locked behind her and the echoes of laughter faded into the distance as the guards went on their merry way.
The cells were joined together and thin in which you can hear the cries and whimpers of prisoners around. The putrid air was so thick she can taste it on her tongue. The darkness was absolute and isolating. Her fingers wrapped around her legs massaging movement into them. Her breath was shallow and the dampness of the air left her shivering in despair. She fell into waves of unconsciousness and the times when she was awake felt like torture. When she fell into a state of dreams she pictured her family. Her mother’s smile rang true when she delivered the news to her daughter of the King’s arrival to the land. Charity flashed back as she remembered the alarm of such a visit; for the king was known for his impetuous and cruel ways when it concerned matters of love. She was thought to be an interest to the king who admired her strength and reserve amongst his visit. Before his departure he promised to fetch her to appear at court. Her father beamed with pride at the king’s request, believing his daughter would be the next queen of England. Yet Charity remembered the flicker of lust appearing in King Henry VIII’s eyes and knew that danger lurked ahead. He was known for his mistresses since Katherine of Aragon and she knew she may be one of the next women to please the king. Her worries were ignored by both parents and she was urged to not refuse the king. There was great risk concerned with the land due to the soil not being fertile and the poor weather. To be under the king’s advances would promote prosperity and gifts; one of the masked attributes of the great king.
Three days hence, she heard the arrival of a carriage and was beckoned by the king. She left for court only to be given a lavished room of green and gold. Her eyes set upon the window seat and the library in the far corner of the room. He researched about herself and her interests and regarded it as his own. That night, a lady in waiting came into her room and explained that the king wanted her in his bedchamber. She was led into a dark room; the only light were that of candles covered in red silk to give an eerie glow. She trembled that night as the door closed and regarded her fate as the King’s mistress.
Her mind awakened from her remembrances and focused on the closet she was cramped in. The sound of footsteps came in and the latch opened blinding her eyes with the harsh light. She heard muttering from a supposed guard, “The king requests you to be in a more applicable environment until your sentence is read.” She was lifted with harshness as he carried her into a wide chamber filled with other prisoners. He left her on top of a clad of filthy hay which pricked her skin. She cried out in pain as she tried to move her legs covered in scars. Her once beautiful gown was tarnished and tattered and her hair was thick with mud. The face that was regarded with beauty and admiration held traces of dried blood and a paleness that dead could not even compare to. Charity focuses her eyes and sees silhouettes of other prisoners in the cell. Some were chained to the wall without any recognition of movement. The bones were visible through their skin as if it would protrude outwards at any possible moment.
Tears of frustration poured down her face and she tasted the salt in her mouth. She cried to scream out and communicate with her fellow inmates to question the fates yet her mouth was dry. Her tongue felt like sandpaper and no voice would propel through her lips. There was no more count of the days. Gruel was given through a latch at the door. Her legs pushed her and she attempted to crawl to reach the food. Buckets of gray and filthy water were forced through and her hands cupped the heavenly liquid to her mouth and relished as it slid down her throat. The gruel was bumpy and dark yet she ate it as if it was a feast. Her mind drifted to a normal night in which the king beckoned her to his bed.
She laid in the bed waiting and silent as she forced her body and mind to become numb as he pushed himself on her. His weight nearly suffocated her and the foul odor that seeped from his legs made it nearly impossible not to flinch. After his enjoyment was finished he would turn and sleep until morning came queuing her departure. She would then crawl under her own covers and wept until light touched her face. Later that day, there was coldness from the King and the head lady in waiting, Jane Boleyn gossiped about an urgent meeting in which the king had to depart for five days. Her countenance held satisfaction and knowledge as she left the room. Now it felt as if years had passed her by without any consolation or warning as she drifted in frightening slumber.
Charity was awoken by the sounds of heavy footsteps. Her eyes moved upwards towards the man that was standing before her. He moved with hesitation, stepping over the bodies while trying not to flinch. Thomas Cromwell kneeled before her and stared at her form with hidden disgust. He explained that a note was given to the king by a trusted servant named Jane Boleyn. The note entailed a romance between Charity and a Lord from her social standing back at the village in which she resided. He clasped his hands together and furrowed his brows. “Letters being given from male residences was not a crime. Yet there was severe coquetry between you and this gentleman that brought the conclusion that you were not an innocent before being given to the king.” He waited and fastened the buckles at his wrists, waiting for the information to seep through. Charity managed to lift her head and look at Cromwell, “I have not deceived the king in any way. I was called by him to please him in his bed in which his wife cannot. He needed an heir and I was told I was his only option. My protests would not divert the king into believing that all accusations are false. The maids were known to have found blood on his sheets when prepared to be washed” she hesitated and her eyes lowered to her hands, “I am an innocent prisoner of fate and will hold all dignity. My hope lies in the afterlife that waits for me.” Cromwell stared at her with a glimpse of respect and sadness in his eyes. He studied her for a moment then pushed against the floor and stood up. His eyes circled the room and he all he said was, “The king has made his decision, you are guilty of betrayal towards the king of England”. With a slight hand movement, he beckoned the guards and left without another word.
The guards walked in and lifted her through the latched door. The dim light was all she saw as she grasped for any memories of comfort. None had come. She was alone with her soul and the path destiny had chosen for her and others before her. Her legs were unable to hold up her body, forcing the guards to carry her through the fortress towards the green pastures. She heard yells and cheers of people outside. As the light came through the opening, she felt blinded and flinched against the sunlight. Groups of people waited around the guillotine behind a fenced in gate. As her eyes accustomed to the sunlight she analyzed her surroundings. The people’s dispositions were mixed. She recognized some faces from the palace. Tears stained their cheeks and hands covered their eyes as they stood as one. She felt pity for them and wondered why they were crying. Did they not know that all will be well again? The blessed tower will being me peace and ends all torture for prisoners and the damned of King Henry VIII’s wrath. Her eyes then focused on another mixture of people who geld apprehension and curiosity at her demise. Their eyes gleamed with anticipation for this was the only entertainment given to the people.
She was then lead up a few steps in which the guillotine waited. Its broad wooden structure was one to be admired for its strength and agility. It was regarded as a blessing from the king to get an execution so swift and tolerable. She nearly laughed aloud. The blade shone and sparkled under the sun, its smooth edges yearned to cut through. She was made to kneel down on a structure and the guards tied thick ropes around her wrists. Her body quivered and her mind went into chaos. Her head was placed on a ledge and a basket waited underneath. A blindfold covered my eyes and pulled tight around my head. She drew a sharp intake of breath. Delusions filled her mind. Pictures of the pastures of land and the smiles of her family filled her thoughts. The feeling of the wind pulled her hair and caressed her face. In spite of herself a smile worked its way to her lips. She welcomes the touch of insanity, for anything was appreciated then this present time of corruption and horror. The executioner asked for her final words before the people and if she admitted her sins to the Church of King Henry VIII. Her lips parted and a soft voice came about, “God has created a place for all the souls he has killed and I anticipate the afterlife waiting for the evils given to England. I will accept my fate and walk into heavens with purity and stature of not of a mistress but that of the dignity of a Queen.” She then pressed her eyes tight and tensed her body. Her last memory was the feel of the wind as the blade fell down upon her.
Days later, the king’s arrival was welcomed among the palace. He walked with a limp and had Cromwell at his heels telling him the execution was completed. The king always left the lands when blood was to be shed, for he cannot face the wrath of the court which grown to love his future prisoners. He fell into his throne with a heaving sigh waiting on the visitors to rally the political standings on his kingdom. The Duke of Norfolk walked up to him and bowed in respect. He lowered his voice and eyes set straight at the king and whispered, “Your highness, I applaud you for another great decision in exterminating impure blood in our kingdom.” The king nodded his head in approval as the duke left to his quarters only to witness Jane Boleyn. She nervously moved her hands, playing with a loose thread on her dress and said to the duke, “My lord, your service has been completed, the letter was a success. The threat is no more. Anne of Boleyn may now rise to power.”
© 2010 Jennifer Marie Theresa Spencer
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on January 13, 2010
Last Updated on May 10, 2010
Jennifer Marie Theresa Spencer
AboutMy name is Jennifer and I am an aspiring poet/writer like everyone on this site. I write when inspiration hits me whether its on the road or 2 a.m. in the morning. I love to write about past experienc.. more..