of a cruel enemy who doubtless deserved the worst suffering
As she now stood before John Heywood, she was not, however, the haughty, imperious princess, but merely the shy, blushing maiden, who feared to trust her first girlish secret to another's ear, and ventured only with trembling hand to draw aside the veil which concealed her heart.
"John Heywood," said she, "you have often told me that you loved me; and I know that my poor unfortunate mother trusted you, and summoned you as a witness of her innocence. You could not at that time save the mother, but will you now serve Anne Boleyn's daughter, and be her faithful friend?"
"I will," said Heywood, solemnly, "and as true as there is a God above us, you shall never find me a traitor."
"I believe you, John; I know that I may trust you. Listen then, I will now tell you my secret--a secret which no one but God knows, and the betrayal of which might bring me to the scaffold. Will you then swear to me, that you will never, under any pretext, and from any motive whatsoever, betray to anybody, so much as a single word of what I am now about to tell you? Will you swear to me, never to intrust this secret to any one, even on your death-bed, and not to betray it even in the confessional?"
"Now as regards that, princess," said John, with a laugh, "you are perfectly safe. I never go to confession, for confession is a highly-spiced dish of popery on which I long since spoilt my stomach; and as concerns my deathbed, one cannot, under the blessed and pious reign of Henry the Eighth, altogether know whether he will be really a participant of any kind, or whether he may not make a far more speedy and convenient trip into eternity by the aid of the hangman."
"Oh, be serious, John--do, I pray you! Let the fool's mask, under which you hide your sober and honest face, not hide it from me also. Be serious, John, and swear to me that you will keep my secret."
"Well, then, I swear, princess; I swear by your mother's spirit to betray not a word of what you are going to tell me."
"I thank you, John. Now lean this way nearer to me, lest the breeze may catch a single word of mine and bear it farther. John, I love!"
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