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       I, Jane: In The Court of Henry VIII, p.1

           Diane Haeger
 
I, Jane: In The Court of Henry VIII


  Praise for the Novels

  of Diane Haeger

  The Queen’s Rival

  “Made me fall in love with Diane Haeger’s gift for storytelling all over again…an impeccably written piece of prose.”

  —Historically Obsessed (5/5)

  “It’s official—Diane Haeger is one of my favorite authors. I love her ongoing series about Henry VIII’s court, and The Queen’s Rival was no disappointment. I read it in less than twenty-four hours…. Four and a half stars to a well-written and very interesting book. Definitely recommended to all lovers of the Tudors and romantic historical fiction.”

  —Fresh Off the Shelf

  “Brings to life one of the lesser-known but no less interesting figures in one of history’s most dynamic and intriguing times. As a fan of English history, I have read tons of books surrounding this time period, and Diane Haeger promises to become one of my favorite authors.”

  —Night Owl Reviews (top pick)

  “The author brought history to life with this story. The descriptions on court life, the beautiful gowns, and the intrigues were fantastic. In truth, I did not want this story to end.”

  —To Read or Not to Read

  “Bessie…[brings] freshness as a rarely used (if ever) character…engaging biographical fiction.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Haeger plots swiftly and fills the court with a plausible cast of characters.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  The Queen’s Mistake

  “Haeger’s characters, even her minor ones, have a certain depth that’s often lacking in novels that trod this well-traveled ground, and she handles the love affair between Catherine and Thomas Culpeper skillfully and sympathetically.”

  —Historical Novels Review

  “Fans will enjoy Diane Haeger’s take on sixteenth-century aristocratic permissiveness.”

  —Genre Go Round Reviews

  “Fans of tales of royalty will find Haeger’s novel both historically accurate and sympathetically written.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  The Secret Bride

  “Haeger delivers complexities of court and duty plausibly and with aplomb.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Haeger masterfully brings the past alive in her latest historical novel. A tale of thwarted desire and sacrifice, it is rich in court intrigue and lavishly detailed descriptions of court life during the early years of Henry VIII’s reign. Both fans of Haeger and readers new to her novels will relish her insightful story about the one woman Henry truly loved: his sister.”

  —Booklist

  “An enjoyable, well-written book about one of history’s true love stories.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  Other Historical Novels

  by Diane Haeger

  “In Haeger’s impressive Restoration romance, King Charles II and his mistress…leap off the page…. Charles and Nell are marvelously complex—jealous and petty, devoted yet fallible. Haeger perfectly balances the history with the trystery.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Engagingly deep romantic historical fiction.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Romantic…filled with intrigue and danger.”

  —The Indianapolis Star

  “Set against the vivid descriptive detail of Rome and Trastevere, Haeger’s tale of how the ring came to be obscured in the Raphael masterpiece resonates with the grandeur and intimacy of epic love stories…. This romance is first to be savored as the wonderful historical tale that it is.”

  —BookPage

  “Lush…rich yet fast-paced story.”

  —Historical Novels Review

  “Spectacular…Haeger explores the fascinating, rich, exciting, and tragic life of Henry II’s beloved…. Lush in characterization and rich in historical detail, Courtesan will sweep readers up into its pages and carry them away.”

  —Romantic Times

  “With her wealth of detail cleverly interwoven into a fabulous plot, Diane Haeger has written a triumphant tale that will provide much delight to fans of historical fiction and Regency romance.”

  —Affaire de Coeur

  NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY NOVELS

  BY DIANE HAEGER

  The Queen’s Rival

  The Queen’s Mistake

  The Secret Bride

  I, Jane

  IN THE COURT OF HENRY VIII

  DIANE HAEGER

  New American Library

  Published by New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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  Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

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  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, September 2012

  1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

  Copyright © Diane Haeger, 2012

  Readers Guide copyright © Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2012

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned,

  or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not

  participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

  Purchase only authorized editions.

  REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

  LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

  Haeger, Diane.

  I, Jane : in the court of Henry VIII / Diane Haeger.

  p. cm.

  ISBN: 978-1-101-59968-6

  1. Jane Seymour, Queen, consort of Henry VIII, King of England, 1509–1537—Fiction. 2. Henry VIII, King of England, 1491–1547—Fiction. 3. Great Britain—History— Henry VIII, 1509–1547—Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3558.A32125I15 2012

  813’.54—dc23

  2012013251

  Set in Simoncini Garamond • Designed by Elke Sigal

  Printed in the United States of America

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  ALWAYS LEARNING

  PEARSON

  For my dear friend Karen Thorne Isé

  Acknowledgments

  This journey with Jane has been a true joy for me, and for helping me along that journey I have many people to thank:

  Dr. Bill Creasy, for graciously clarifying issues regarding the religious themes
and religious works during the Renaissance. Helen and Phlippe Tartavull, for their many years of generous assistance with all things French.

  Jhanteigh Kupihea, my incredible and gifted editor, for patience and continued care with my words. Working with you is a true privilege.

  Irene Goodman, my truly amazing literary agent, for so many years of encouragement, direction, and unfailing belief in me. Our shared love of France, travel, and the historical novel continue to be a great inspiration.

  Kelly Stevens Costello. Your friendship and support are gifts for which I am thankful every single day.

  Ken, Elizabeth, and Alex, my wonderful family. As always, you are my light, my purpose, and my anchor, without whom…ah, but then that would have been impossible!

  According to historians, the details of Jane Seymour’s childhood have been a mystery for ages. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, as well as Dr. Pamela Gross, associate professor of history at Adams State College—herself a descendant of Jane Seymour—and other scholars consulted for this work, find there is no record of the birth or baptism of Jane Seymour or her siblings. Dates given in historical works are based on scant evidence. Jane is thought by most to have been born between 1505 and 1509, and while I have consulted many sources, there is no absolute consensus. Thus, for the purposes of this work, I have chosen the year 1505. The few clues that history has left us about her early life, including her years at Wolf Hall and her brief engagement to William Dormer, were used as threads to weave this beautiful tale lost to time.

  Accept the things to which fate binds you,

  and love the people with whom fate brings you

  together, but do so with all of your heart.

  —MARCUS AURELIUS

  I, Jane

  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  Part I: Jane and Margery

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Part II: Jane and Katherine

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Part III: Jane and Francis

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Part IV: Jane and William

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Part V: Jane and Henry

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Epilogue

  Author’s Note

  About the Author

  Prologue

  October 24, 1537

  Hampton Court

  “Quickly, fetch pen and ink and some paper, Anne, for I will soon die.”

  Jane murmured the declaration to her brother’s wife, already knowing the truth. Anne Seymour had been sitting vigil at her bedside, cloaked in the amber glow of a candle and the dark and shadows beyond the swagged bed curtain. Everyone else had gone to bed, so it was just the two of them now. They had been reminiscing as wind and cold English rain beat hard against the window glass.

  “You’ll not die; such a thing is unimaginable!” Anne replied a little too vehemently for the truth that lay before them.

  “Yet there is much to life that happens, whether we can imagine it or not. And death still comes to each of us…So you must write it down, Anne, all that I am telling you. I know Hal well enough, and there shall be another queen soon after me—another mother for my son. I want my precious Edward to have this much of his real mother. I want him to know about my life. I fear this shall be the only way. I shall talk for as long as I can, and you shall write it all down.”

  Tears glistened in Anne Seymour’s weary eyes. “It shall be done, Your Majesty.”

  “Every word of it, Anne, do you promise?”

  “… Even about William?”

  “Especially about William,” Jane said with a sigh as memories flooded her mind at the sound of his name. “Few know of him, especially in relation to me, so the words shall be William’s legacy as well as my own.”

  “Will the king not be very angry with you if we do this?” the languid-looking blue-eyed woman dared to ask. She leaned forward into the light, revealing her stiff, embroidered white collar and pearl necklace, which hung over the tightly laced bodice of her gown, so she would not be overheard if there were spies about. Usually there were.

  “In another day or so I think it shall matter very little who is angry with me but the wood and the worms.”

  Anne gasped. “Oh, sister, please speak not of such things, I bid you!”

  Jane glanced over to the small cradle she insisted on having beside her, where her days-old infant son lay peacefully sleeping. “Now it only matters to me that he, whom I so dearly love, knows how little Jane Seymour of Wiltshire—who might have been Lady Dormer—came to be Jane, Queen of England, instead. The story shall be my legacy to him. That I lived a life much richer than people thought of me. So, pray, fetch that pen now. I can feel the heat of the fever rushing through me like a wildfire. Now we must begin. There’ll not be much time.”

  PART I

  Jane and Margery

  Set me as a seal upon thine heart,

  as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death;

  jealousy is cruel as the grave.

  —SONG OF SOLOMON, 8:6

  Chapter One

  August 1514

  Wiltshire, England

  She ran swiftly. They were faster. Brambles and thorns cut into her soft-soled shoes, but she could not stop. She need not turn around. They were upon her, near enough for her to hear them giggling as they chased her through the broad meadow carpeted with the waving wild bluebells of summer. They darted across the timbered estate of Wolf Hall, the big house nestled among rolling grassy hills, tall fragrant flowers, and endless fields, then down the gentle slope, ever nearer to Savernake Forest.

  Jane was not to go into the forest. None of the Seymour children were permitted that folly. Not even Edward, the eldest. The favorite son. Their father had made that more than clear to them. Jane was a child of eight years old, and her little heart quaked at the thought of the repercussions of disobeying their father. But at this desperate moment there was no other option. They would catch her and torment her as only cruel, bored children could.

  The broad beams of sunlight, like great silvery fingers through the arching boughs of trees, warmed her buttoned, velvet-clad back but gave way to heavy shadows as she darted between the tree trunks and low-lying ferns. As she ran, she felt perspiration drip from her neck down the length of her spine beneath the layers of cotton and heavy velvet. She was nearly out of breath, but deep within her, the instinct to survive flickered like a flame in the wind. She was so young, so untested, but she knew how to survive.

  Deeper into the forest she was drawn, panic now guiding her. It was not an unfounded fear. She had been hotly pursued by this group before. Just a bit of fun, her brother always said as she wept afterward, her dress caked in mud, her face covered with dirt and tears. But this torment had nothing to do with fun. At least not for her. To Jane, the reason they singled her out was because she was common looking. With her broad forehead, weak receding chin, mousy hair, and pale blue eyes, she looked nothing like the other young girls who lived around the Wiltshire countryside that flanked her family’s home. They had glowing, round, and ruddy cheeks, bright eyes, and shiny hair that reflected the sun like silk.

  “’Tis settled, then. Little Mistress Seymour is going to be an old maid someday with dozens of cats, like the milkmaid round back of her house. No one else will want her with such a plain face as that,” fat-faced Cecily Strathmore declared once they had caught her.

  The cruel taunts predictably came as the collection of girls pulled off her headdress and began tossing it among themselves like a ball, giggling as they did. But it was Lucy Hill’s blithe tone, full of delight at the taunting, that hit Jane like
a physical blow. She once had thought they might become friends. In the next moment, as she stumbled and lost her balance, Jane felt the tight clasp of a firm hand on her shoulder. Then the heat of fingers through the velvet sleeve. It was not Lucy’s hand but a male one, more certain in its grip. She was spun back around by that same hand and lost her footing with the force of it. Her dress billowed up around her and she stumbled back, tumbling with a little splash directly into a blue-black pond beside them.

  “Forgive me, I meant to catch you!” the boy exclaimed, drawing her back up out of the mossy muck with the same awkward movement that had caused her to stumble. As the words left his lips, he pivoted back toward the others, shielding her.

  “A wet rat. How appropriate,” Lucy said.

  “That is the end of it, Lucy!” he announced, with far more maturity than any ruddy-skinned, sandy-haired boy his age should have possessed. Through the fog of her tears and the water dripping from her hair, he appeared to Jane only slightly older than herself but possessed of a confidence that was striking.

  “Meddler!” Lucy Hill whined, her thick lower lip turning out in a predictably childish pout. “You might save her from us, William, but you’ll never save her from being ugly.”

  By any standard, Lucy was Jane’s polar opposite. Lucy’s hair, parted and showing at her forehead, was golden and shiny as it hung down behind her blue muffin cap, banded in red and white. Her brown eyes, fringed with dark lashes, were lively and full of mischief. Where Jane was thin, Lucy had a shapely body, one that amply filled out her gray clothing and bespoke her coming womanhood. Lucy’s skin was like fresh cream, her features striking, compared to Jane’s own pallid complexion. Jane’s beauty, if there was a hint of it, was fragile. She was not a verdant, budding thing, as Lucy was. But there was beauty lying fallow beneath the awkward waiflike frailty, a consequence of neglect.

  “Why on earth do you want to ruin our fun, Will?”

  The question came from Cecily Strathmore. The voice was sharper, full of even more venom. Jane did not know her, but she was not as pretty as Lucy. Though Jane could see, as she pressed the wet hair away from her eyes with the dirty palm of her hand, that they shared the same air of entitlement.

 
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