hope, he realized that only by the merest chance could
She would have arisen, but her own exhaustion and Lord Seymour's hand caused her to sink back again.
"No, I will not be silent," said he. "I will not be silent until I have told you all that rages and glows within me. The Queen of England may either condemn me or pardon me, but she shall know that to me she is not Henry the Eighth's wife, but only the most charming and graceful, the noblest and loveliest woman in England. I will tell her that I never recollect she is my queen, or, if I do so, it is only to curse the king, who was presumptuous enough to set this brightly sparkling jewel in his bloody crown."
Catharine, almost horrified, laid her hand on Seymour's lips. "Silence, unhappy man, silence! Know you that it is your sentence of death which you are now uttering? Your sentence of death, if any soul hears you?"
"But no one hears me. No one save the queen, and God, who, however, is perhaps more compassionate and merciful than the queen. Accuse me then, queen; go and tell your king that Thomas Seymour is a traitor; that he dares love the queen. The king will send me to the scaffold, but I shall nevertheless deem myself happy, for I shall at least die by your instrumentality. Queen, if I cannot live for you, then beautiful it is to die for you!"
Catharine listened to him wholly stupefied, wholly intoxicated. This was, for her, language wholly new and never heard before, at which her heart trembled in blissful awe, which rushed around her in enchanting melodies and lulled her into a sweet stupefaction. Now she herself even forgot that she was queen, that she was the wife of Henry, the bloodthirsty and the jealous. She was conscious only of this, that the man whom she had so long loved, was now kneeling at her side. With rapture she drank in his words, which struck upon her ear like exquisite music.
Thomas Seymour continued. He told her all he had suffered. He told her he had often resolved to die, in order to put an end to these tortures, but that then a glance of her eye, a word from her lips, had given him strength to live, and still longer endure these tortures, which were at the same time so full of rapture.
"But now, queen, now my strength is exhausted, and it is for you to give me life or death. To-morrow I will ascend the scaffold, or you shall permit me to live, to live for you."
Catharine trembled and looked at him wellnigh astounded. He seemed so proud and imperative, she almost felt a fear for him, but it was the happy fear of a loving, meek woman before a strong, commanding man.
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