I have been having the same dream for the last seven years. It is strange, weird, and very unusual. I am not usually one known for having a good imagination, yet this dream proves otherwise.
In this dream, it is Christmas and I feel content. I am happy. There is singing and lots of people talking. As I walk past the people and out of the hall, there is an old, brown door to my right left slightly ajar. I think nothing of it until I hear a piece of furniture scrape on the floor. This catches my attention and so I check that nobody is around before I listen at the door. I hear kisses and the noise of lips moving. Normal courtly traditions, I think, as I smile and go to walk away. However, I stop dead in my tracks when I hear my husband, King Henry talk.
‘O Jane. I do love you.’
‘I love you Henry.’
I am shocked. I cannot move. Surely that cannot be my Henry? I listen again.
‘Are you sure the Queen will not find out?’
‘I am sure, my love.’
It hits me that that this is my Henry talking about me with another woman called Jane. It is at this point that my dream flicks dramatically to a silver sword, and then I awaken.
As I wake startled from my dream, I lay still and turn to see Henry still led in bed, slightly larger than he used to be. He has started to put weight on, but I still adore him. He keeps the fire alive in me. As he lies hunched over on his side, snoring loudly, I get out of bed, put on my slippers and walk to the table where some wine is left from earlier. I drink it fast and shake my head to try and remove the dream from my mind. It worries me.
I started having this dream a month before I became a Lady-in-Waiting at this English court, and have been having them every four weeks since then. At first it made no sense and I believed it to be just another silly dream. Nevertheless, then it kept happening and when I moved into the court and saw Henry for the first time, it seemed too much of a coincidence that this man, though a little fatter, should be in my dream. Me and Henry are now married and have a beautiful daughter, Elizabeth. We are happily married, so I do not why this dream shows him loving another woman. I only know two Janes, Jane Parker and Jane Seymour. It certainly was not Jane Parker because she has a manly voice compared to the woman in my dream, and Jane Seymour is so much of a shy, scrawny little girl, she would not have the confidence for such a thing. I shake my head. I do not know why I am trying to analyse it, I have tried many times before. Anyway, Henry would never do such a thing to me. The spirits are just messing with me. I look at Henry, but cannot help to feel a little suspicious. After all, this dream started before I had even met Henry. No! I will not allow myself to think that of him.
I go over to the bed, stroke his ginger hair from his face and kiss his forehead, cheek and lips. As I slowly move to kiss his neck, he awakens and kisses me back. Satisfaction overcomes me when I realise that I am the only woman that he has ever loved and I am the only woman he will love until death separates us. I make him happy. He then rolls me over and kisses my neck, taking me to bliss.
The following day, as I awaken, Jane Parker comes in to help me dress. She is a nosey, busy body who thrives off of spreading rumours because she has no friends. I try to keep my thoughts to myself when around her, although she is soon to be my Sister-in-Law, so I guess I should learn to trust her. As she is putting my brooch of red rubies on, Jane Seymour enters the room to bring breakfast. As she lays the tray down, I notice a big jewelled necklace dangling from her neck. It is a locket. How pretty I think, before noticing that it looks awfully expensive!
‘What a gorgeous locket Jane.’
‘Why…thank you my lady.’ Jane seems a little tense which is unlike her. I ask what is wrong.
‘Nothing my lady. Just this necklace is a terribly heavy thing.’
I laugh. I remember thinking that when I first wore my first set of the Queen’s jewels. ‘Aw dear. Yes, I agree. However, beauty comes at a price. Who do you hold dear inside it?’
At this, Jane misplaces my goblet and spills some ale on the table.
‘O…um…just my parents. I don’t get to see them as often as I like.’ I smile and she then leaves. I wonder who has been so generous to give her this gift. Then I remember my dream. Surely not Henry? The Seymour and Boleyn families have never got on. Our ancestors have always seen each other as rivals. Thankfully my family reach a higher standing when I became Queen. It was difficult for the Seymours to accept when Henry chose me, a Boleyn, but they had no other choice.
Later that day, I decide to go for a walk in the gardens with my Ladies-in-Waiting. All are quiet as we walk along. As I turn a corner through hedgerows, I hear some murmuring behind me, but carry on as I see Sir Thomas Wyatt ahead. I wish to talk to him about writing my dear Henry something for Christmas as it is only two days away. He tells me that he will write a beautiful poem for me to give him at New Year. Before I walk ahead, I look behind to see less women than when I had started. I squint my eyes and scan for who it is that is missing.
‘Your Majesty?’ Says Madge Shelton, my cousin, who I detest after receiving attention from the King.
‘Who is missing? Who has disappeared?’
‘O…that would be Jane Seymour your majesty. She looked unwell, and ran off to be sick.’
‘O dear. Well go and check on her.’ Madge slowly walked off to check on Jane.
As I come to the end of the gardens, I walk back into the Entrance Hall. Jane Seymour steps out of the Duke of Norfolk’s Office and jumps when she sees me. Behind her exits the King. I give him a gushing smile and greet his Majesty. How handsome he is!
‘Ah! Wife! I was just checking on Jane. It seems she felt unwell.’
I am just about to thank him, when I notice that her hair is slightly loose and her skirt is turned up at the back. It was definitely not like that earlier. I check myself. I must not get suspicious like this. It was just a dream. Right?
‘Sorry your Majesty. I felt faint and had to run inside to sit down.’ Jane explains.
‘Madge came after you as she was under the impression that you ran because you were going to be sick. I am guessing you have not seen her?’
‘O right…um…yes…and no, I have not seen her your Majesty.’ She gives me a feeble smile and gets into line with my other Ladies-in-Waiting. I say goodbye to Henry and go up to my Bedroom for an early night as it is Christmas Eve tomorrow, so we have a long couple of days ahead.
I wake to notice that I had that dream again last night. As I look over to my window, I see that snow has fallen. It looks beautiful, but all I can think about is how cold it is. I call Jane Parker in and reprimand her for not keeping the fire hot enough. While I am getting ready, another of my Ladies-in-Waiting, Elizabeth, comes to bring me breakfast instead of Jane Seymour.
‘Where is young Jane?’ I ask. Elizabeth replies.
‘She has sent word that she is unwell your Majesty. She has taken to her bed and does not want to pass any illness on to you, especially when you hope to conceive a boy soon.’
At this thought I smile. How sweet and thoughtful of her. How could I have ever doubted her? She is such a sweet, quiet, little thing.
As supper is served, I glance around the room to find everybody so merry. It makes me smile to think of where I have come from, what I have achieved, and how wonderful both Henry and our beautiful baby Elizabeth are. As the dancing begins, I watch and analyse people. The Duke of Suffolk is looking healthy, although the same cannot be said for his wife, Mary. I notice that Henry has left. I assume it is to use the Privy. After a few more dances, I decide to retire to bed. As I walk out of the Grand Hall to singing and loud talking, something seems very familiar. This is the same as my dream. Is this real? Perhaps I am dreaming again. I pinch myself but do not wake. I get a horrible feeling in my belly as I realise that I am going to find out the truth. As I walk past the people, the door on my right is ajar and I hear furniture moving. I get ready for the sound of kissing only to feel sick when I hear it. I then go on to hear Henry and the woman declare their love for each other. I feel a pang of sickness as I recognise Jane Seymour’s voice. She does not sound very sick to me. She is laughing and giggling.
‘One day Jane, you will be my Queen.‘ Henry says before the sound of kissing begins again.
‘O Henry. There is nothing I want more. However, it is impossible while Queen Anne lives.‘ My heart sinks. This is serious, not some fleeting passionate affair. I urge Henry to agree with her. However, he scares me with his reply.
‘I cannot wait. I need to have you as my wife as soon as possible. I have punished several men with stories of Anne’s past before now and perhaps we can use this to our advantage. She even knew that Elizabeth would be a girl. If that is not cause for witchcraft, then I do not know what is.’
At this, my husband turning against me, I turn and flee. I stop only when I am out of breath. My mind is racing. I am in big trouble and I do not know how to react. I need to bear him a son. That is my only chance. That is my only defence. I am startled when I realise that my dream was a vision. Henry was right, I could be tried for Witchcraft if anyone knew! I wonder what will become of me and then I break down at the possibility of Elizabeth growing up without a Mother. It then dawns on me that the last part of my dream was of a silver sword. I look up the sky and whisper, ‘God help me.’