Part I A happy marriage
The woman lying in a large, richly decorated bed was dying. Death has come to the quiet rooms in the huge Greenwich Palace, where this woman was born forty-two years ago. The woman was Mary, our Queen, the most hated person in England and... my best friend.
The Queen was crying. She had been crying for days, I was told. Nobody knew why. Was she crying about her husband whom she had loved so much and who had never loved her? Was she crying about the children that she had never had? Or was she thinking about the thousands and thousands of good, brave people who had been burned at the stake on her orders?
The door to the room opened and a group of men dressed in black came up to the bed. It was the Queen's council. "The heir", one of them whispered to the Queen. "Your Majesty must name her sister Elizabeth as her heir" Suddenly Mary sat up in the bed. "Not her!" she shouted. "Not Elizabeth Not the daughter of that witch Anne Boleyn, who ruined my life. I can't forgive her..." Suddenly all her strength left her and she fell back on the pillows.
"When will her Majesty wake up again?" the members of the council asked the doctors. The people in the streets are getting angry. They call the Queen Bloody Mary. They want Princess Elizabeth for their queen. There will be a revolt if we don't do something."
I couldn't listen anymore. "Bloody Mary" that's what my poor friend will be called after her death. It was all my fault, and at least my family had to know the truth. I sat down and started to write. I cried when I remembered the tragic events of the past: the story of Mary Tudor.
I come from an old Scottish family, the MacWizards and was born in Edinburgh in 1500. "The magic year," my father always laughed. "You will be the greatest woman in our family." I believed him: he was the most famous astrologer of our time.
When I was nine, the English king, Henry VIII, invited my father to his court. The King was going to get married to a Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon, and needed my father's advice. Father took me with him. "It will be interesting for you to see London and the great court of the young king," he said.
We arrived in April. It wasn't London or the court that impressed me most It was the King himself. He was eighteen and to my eyes he was the most handsome man in the world. Henry was tall and muscular. His golden hair shone in the sunlight and his merry blue eyes were kind and clever He was the strongest athlete, the best poet, and his music touched the heart of every lady at court. He smiled all the time, and when he looked at his young bride Catherine everybody could see that he was really in love with her.
I thought Princess Catherine was very lucky with her future husband She was twenty-three, five years older than Henry, and not a great beauty. She had already been married to Henry's elder brother, but he had died.
Henry wanted to know about the future of his marriage with Catherine so my father promised to make a horoscope for the King and his bride. The day it was ready Father woke me up in the morning. He looked like a madman I got scared. "What's happened, Father?" I cried, "You look awful!" "It's the horoscope. It's ready," my father whispered. "Have you shown it to the King? Did he like it?" I asked. "Show it to the King!," Father laughed, "No never' The King must never see it." "You're scaring me, Father," I cried, "What did the horoscope say?"
And then he showed me the horoscope. I was only a child, but my father had already started teaching me and the prediction was simple enough even for a child.
There were two possible lines. The first line showed Henry and Catherine together. They were happy and smiled at each other.
The second line showed Catherine alone. She was dying in a dark, wet room. King Henry was an ugly old man, and his hands were covered with blood. Between them I saw a woman. She was pale with long dark hair and six fingers on her left hand. And I saw the shadow of the girl. In horoscopes it means possibility. The girl had beautiful golden-red hair which shone in the sun behind her. In her hands there was the crown of England and... with that crown she was crowning a Scottish king!
Father looked at me and saw the understanding (понимание) in my eyes. "Listen, Edina," he said, "Listen carefully. If the King doesn't meet the woman with long dark hair and six fingers on her hand, he WILL be happy with Catherine, but we can't tell him about that. You know all about the ancient prophecy. For centuries we, the MacWizards, have been waiting for this chance. Now it's time to act.
I won't show the horoscope to the King. I'll tell him that I couldn't make it. Then I'll go home, but you will stay here and wait for the child with golden hair. Guard her like a dog, give your life for her if you have to, but that girl mustn't die. She must become the Queen of England and then give the crown to a Scottish king!"
"But I'm only a little girl, and I'll be all alone at the English court. How can I protect the child?" I asked.
"You will not be alone," Father said. "Take the MacWizards's ring, and magic which is older and more powerful than anything in the world will be with you." Father took the big, gold ring with snakes off his finger and gave it to me. I had seen that ring before. It was the biggest treasure of the family. "Remember: anybody who wears this ring will not die until he does what he was born for," Father said.
"Father," I cried. "You should give this ring to Donald, my younger brother, not to me. The magic ring shouldn't go to a girl!" But Father put the ring on my finger. "A girl is sometimes better than a boy," he smiled. "A lot of people will have to learn that soon."
Father's plan worked. The King took the silence of the stars as a good sign. Henry also allowed me to stay at the court and asked Catherine to look after me.
On 23 June, a sunny day, Henry and Catherine were crowned in Westminster Abbey. Everybody was happy for them. "Long live the king, long live Henry VIII!" I shouted together with thousand of other people "Long live Queen Catherine!" On that day I didn't want to think about the gloomy future of that marriage.
Years passed and I lived at court as one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting. The King and the Queen were happy together. Catherine was kind and helped her husband with everything. Like him (как и он , she enjoyed music and dance. The King asked the Queen's advice and followed it. There was only one problem: Catherine couldn't give Henry an heir to the throne. None of their children lived for longer than a month. Catherine was getting very depressed, but Henry didn't lose hope.
On 18th February 1516, seven years after her wedding day, Catherine gave birth to a healthy girl. I held the baby in my arms and went to the window. When I opened the curtains, my heart jumped. The girl's hair shone in the sun. The red-haired princess had come. There wasn't going to be any woman with six fingers.
The girl was called Mary. I looked after her from the first day of her life She was the little sun of our court. The King used to carry her on his shoulder and show her off. "This is Mary," he used to say. "My pearl! The diamond of all England!" Mary was not only pretty but also clever. She took after both her father and mother. The princess was kind and religious like her mother, and she got her strong character and great talent for music, poetry and languages from her father.
Mary's perfect childhood came to an end when she was about ten. One day I found my little princess in tears. "I don't want to go away! I want to be here with Mother and Father. Why should I go to Wales?" Mary was crying. "Because the King wishes it," the Queen answered. She saw me and smiled proudly: "The King wants to crown Mary Princess of Wales. It means that she will become the Queen of England after him. Oh, Edina, it's the best news I've had for years," she whispered. I felt sorry for her. Catherine looked old, tired and ill. She couldn't have any more children and all her hopes were for Mary. I explained to Mary that she was a big girl now and a future queen and that she had to learn to live alone and think for herself, but she was still very sad. It broke my heart when I saw her and King Henry together. Mary was trying to hide her tears from her father. "Why? Why are you doing this to me?" her eyes asked, but she didn't say a word.
I went to Wales with my princess. Our new castle was big and comfortable but Mary missed her mother terribly. She wrote letters to her every day.
Six months later we went to London for Christmas. Mary was the happiest girl in the world. She was with her father and mother again. I was glad too I enjoyed everything we didn't have in Wales: beautiful dresses, music, games and feasts. On Christmas Day there was a carnival. I was dancing and laughing when suddenly I noticed a strange lady who was not wearing a mask. Her hair was as black as night, her eyes as dark as onyx and her skin as pale as snow. She was slim and wore a black and white dress with very long sleeves. She wasn't beautiful, but everybody was looking at her. A tall man came up to her and asked her to dance. His eyes were fixed on her, he didn't notice anything around him. That moment I recognized the man. It was the King! She put her hand into his and I saw that she had six fingers.
That's how I met Anne Boleyn, the woman who changed our life and England forever.