saw that it did not seem to be alive, and when this white
"And do you know, earl," whispered Catharine, "that you are very cruel? You want me to be either an accuser or an accomplice. You leave me no choice but that of being either your murderess or a perjured and adulterous woman--a wife who forgets her plighted faith and her sacred duty, and defiles the crown which my husband has placed upon my head with stains, which Henry will wash out with my own blood and with yours also."
"Let it be so, then," cried the earl, almost joyfully. "Let my head fall, no matter how or when, if you but love me; for then I shall still be immortal; for a moment in your arms is an eternity of bliss."
"But I have already told you that not only your head, but mine also, is concerned in this matter. You know the king's harsh and cruel disposition. The mere suspicion is enough to condemn me. Ah, if he knew what we have just now spoken here, he would condemn me, as he condemned Catharine Howard, though I am not guilty as she was. Ah, I shudder at the thought of the block; and you, Earl Seymour, you would bring me to the scaffold, and yet you say you love me!"
Seymour sunk his head mournfully upon his breast and sighed deeply. "You have pronounced my sentence, queen, and though you are too noble to tell me the truth, yet I have guessed it. No, you do not love me, for you see with keen eyes the danger that threatens you, and you fear for yourself. No, you love me not, else you would think of nothing save love alone. The dangers would animate you, and the sword which hangs over your head you would not see, or you would with rapture grasp its edge and say, 'What is death to me, since I am happy! What care I for dying, since I have felt immortal happiness!' Ah, Catharine, you have a cold heart and a cool head. May God preserve them both to you; then will you pass through life quietly and safely; but you will yet be a poor, wretched woman, and when you come to die, they will place a royal crown upon your coffin, but love will not weep for you. Farewell, Catharine, Queen of England, and since you cannot love him, give Thomas Seymour, the traitor, your sympathy at least."
He bowed low and kissed her feet, then he arose and walked with firm step to the tree where he had tied the horses. But now Catharine arose, now she flew to him, and grasping his hand, asked, trembling and breathless, "What are you about to do? whither are you going?"
"I will show him a traitor who has dared love the queen. You have just killed my heart; he will kill only my body. That is less painful, and I will thank him for it."
Catharine uttered a cry, and with passionate vehemence drew him back to the place where she had been resting.
"If you do what you say, you will kill me," said she, with trembling lips. "Hear me, hear! The moment you mount your horse to go to the king, I mount mine too; but not to follow you, not to return to London, but to plunge with my horse down yonder precipice. Oh, fear nothing; they will not accuse you of my murder. They will say that I plunged down there with my horse, and that the raging animal caused my death."
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