Hi, there! Yes, it is my birthday. Don’t ask me how old I am. I’m old. Let’s leave it at that.
In celebration of my birthday, I thought I would share a creative piece with you that I wrote a little while ago (about a year ago, now).
It’s another piece of historical fiction. Though it is based on non-fiction elements, I definitely too creative license with it, so please don’t use this information as part of your history assignment, or something, because some of it just ain’t true.
Anyway, it’s called ‘The Jewel’. I hope you enjoy it!
A jewel, thought she as she stood as still as she possibly could, must make a statement.
One of my predecessors, Anne Boleyn, wore a statement. It said: ‘We are Boleyn. We are no Tudor.’
She shifted from one foot to the other. The silk pumps she wore had no comfort left in them; the soles were wearing to a few strong and stubborn threads.
The artiste, had his brow furrowed, and he worked in silence. He knew his king’s rule. Though Henry forbade the artiste speak, she longed for a conversation to distract from her aching feet and her stiff limbs. It had been three hours, at least.
I long for a jewel that has statement, she wanted to say, what do you recommend for a queen with my complexion?
His eyes darted from his work to her, from her to his work. His arm seemed to move on an independent axis and flourished when she thought it would finally rest.
She thought of Anne’s necklace again. Though a simple ‘B’ with silky white pearls dangling from its base, it spoke those words to all who saw it. ‘We are Boleyn. We are no Tudor.’
Indeed, when she thought about having her own necklace made with a ‘P’ rather than a ‘B’, she was caused to consider how long it had been since ‘P’ was an accurate letter. First she was ‘P’, then ‘B’, then ‘N’, then ‘T’. So which did she choose?
Nay, this was Anne’s jewel. Henry must not be tormented.
At that moment, one of her ladies entered the chamber.
‘Jane,’ she addressed her subject, noticing a flush in the girl’s cheek, ‘is there something of urgency you wish me to know?’
‘Your Majesty,’ said her lady, ‘His Majesty wishes to speak with you.’
‘Does he know that my portrait is being took?’
‘Indeed, Your Majesty,’ she bowed her head a little, ‘but he is quite insistent.’
‘We shall resume later.’ She said to the stunned and disgruntled artiste behind his easel. He watched as his queen picked up layer upon layer of her skirts and whisked herself from the room. He scratched at the sores on his scalp.
She found her husband sitting in his bed, an array of physicians tending to the gaping wound in his leg.
‘My dear,’ she took note of how the infection had spread, ‘you wished to see me?’ She curtsied before her king.
‘Katherine,’ said he, ‘you must organise a feast. Find the best cooks. Dismiss the ones we have. I feel myself improving. It is cause for celebration, is it not? I want swan, goose, turkey, partridge, pheasant, and pork. Twelve courses. Entertainment, too. A dancing bear should do.’ He used all his strength to sit further upright.
‘Music. Find the best composers and minstrels. Invite the entire court. No wives. Can’t stand them, except you, of course. Make sure you see that Mary and Elizabeth are there so they may flaunt to the ambassadors. They must be married somehow and if they flaunt, the ambassadors report to their masters.’ He coughed, as though he were to bring up a horse, and continued speaking, ‘Of course, you must implore to all that I insist it must be perfect. I am king, after all. That will be all.’
She made her way to the door, which was held open for her to pass through uninhibited. Just before she stepped off the threshold, he spoke again, ‘Oh, and Katherine,’ she turned to see her husband, limp in his bed, ‘be sure to bring your ladies. The men of court love an ogle.’
‘Yes, my dear.’
Over the next week, she acquiesced to her husband’s requests as best she could.
She found a dancing bear and his master in a travelling fair. Though the master might be a little uncouth for a banquet of Henry’s taste, she was sure that he would be no trouble after completing his entertainment.
She had invitations designed and handcrafted by the artiste and sent express to the households of each member of court. She made sure to make it clear invitation did not extend to the ‘weaker’ sex.
Orders for hunting parties went out for ten swans, seven wild boar, fifty pheasants, five turkeys, eight venison, fifteen geese and thirty partridges to be shot, collected and brought to the kitchens.
She reviewed menus with the new cooks and settled on twelve courses including swan pie, roasted venison, glazed boar and a selection of fine sweet meats.
She spoke with composers about their new creations, and listened for hours to minstrels. Some she thought would make her ears bleed. A small group of musicians, about five or so, was decided on. They had strings and whistles which, she believed, would please Henry.
She did this as his chamber began to exude pungent odours and the sweat on his brow became thicker.
Thursday raced toward them all. She had a new gown fitted—a gold embroidered fabric that had flashes of ruby shades streaked throughout—and also had one fitted each for Mary and Elizabeth. They chose a deep and scorching red and a pale lilac respectively.
The one thing I missed, she thought, is a jewel to adorn my person.
As queen, she had many jewels to exhibit her status. Both stepdaughters bent over the cases, lifting and considering, deciding then returning. No jewel in the collection would suit the complexion nor the character of the woman they adorned. They sat upon the collarbone, dull and silent.
On Tuesday morning, Katherine sat as her lady wove her hair. The preparations were sorted on her part, now it was up to the servants. Her lady hummed a tune whilst she worked and Katherine shut her eyes to listen to the rise and fall. She smiled. Henry would be happy.
The door to her chamber burst open and knocked back upon its hinges as the bells began to chime outside.
Katherine’s smile left through the open door. Her hands were latched upon each other, and her lady dropped the hair she held. She would have to start again.
Two sets of four words tumbled from the mouth of the messenger.
Katherine forced her gaze from the reflection of the messenger in her looking glass to the reflection of herself.
Her skin was pale, but set in her face, now, were a set of jewels—ones that made statement.
I am free.
And there you have it, friends! As you know I love an ambiguous ending. How did you find this one? Too ambiguous? Not ambiguous enough? Let me know your thoughts and interpretations in the comments.
See you Tuesday! Much love xxx