“Lift up the eyes of your soul, Sir,” he said, “and represent to yourself your sweet Saviour here crucified, bowing down His Head to kiss you; His Arms stretched out to embrace you; His Body and members all bloody and pale with death to redeem you. Beseech Him, Sir, with all humility that His most Precious Blood may not be shed in vain for you; and that it will please Him, by the merits of His bitter Death and Passion, to pardon and forgive you all your offences; and, finally, to receive your soul into His Blessed Hands; and, when it shall please Him to take it out of this transitory world, to grant you a joyful resurrection, and an eternal crown of glory in the next.”
He bent lower, making a great sign of the cross with his right hand—(and the King too tried to bless himself in response).
“In the Name,” said he, “of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
* * * * *
One more joy and sorrow all in one was yet to be mine before the end. As I opened the door for the priest to come back, His Majesty lifted his eyes and saw me there; and I perceived that he recognized me. The Duke had already risen up and gone down the room to bid them, I suppose, to open the door and let the folks in again. Then, as the King’s eyes met my own he made a sign with his head that I should come near. I think that if the chamber had been filled with but one mob of priest-hunters and Protestants, I should have obeyed him then, even though I should have been torn to pieces the next instant.
I went forward without a word, leaving the door open behind me, and flung myself on my knees at the bedside.
His Majesty was too weary to speak, but, as I kneeled there, with my face in my hands on the bedclothes, and my tears raining down, he lifted his right hand and put it on my head, leaving it there for an instant. It was all he could do to thank me; and I value that blessing from him, a penitent sinner as he was, with the Body of our Saviour still in his breast, as much as any blessing I have ever had from any man, priest or bishop or Pope.
As he lifted his hand off again, I caught at it, and kissed it three or four times, careless whether or no my tears poured down upon it.
* * * * *
As I passed back again through the door to where Mr. Huddleston was waiting for me, I heard the doors at the further end of the chamber unlatched and the footsteps of the folks—physicians, courtiers, Bishops and the rest—that poured in to see the end.