It is indeed a strange story—king and marquis, attended by a doctor of divinity, of the faith of the one, but the trusted friend of the other, meeting—at midnight, although in the house of the marquis—to discuss points of theology—both king and marquis in mortal terror of discovery.
Meantime Dorothy had done as she had been ordered, had felt her way through the darkness to the picture-gallery, had locked the door at the top of the one stair, and taken her stand in the recess at the foot of the other—in pitch darkness, close to the king’s bedchamber, for the gallery was but thirteen feet in width, keeping watch over him! The darkness felt like awe around her.
The door of the chamber opened: it gave no sound, but the glimmer of the night-light shone out. By that she saw a figure enter the gallery. The door closed softly and slowly, and all was darkness again. No sound of movement across the floor followed: but she heard a deep sigh, as from a sorely burdened heart. Then, in an agonised whisper, as if wrung by torture from the depths of the spirit, came the words: ’Oh Stafford, thou art avenged! I left thee to thy fate, and God hath left me to mine. Thou didst go for me to the scaffold, but thou wilt not out of my chamber. O God, deliver me from blood-guiltiness.’
Dorothy stood in dismay, a mere vessel containing a tumult of emotions. The king re-entered his chamber, and closed the door. The same instant a light appeared at the further end of the gallery—a long way off, and Dr. Bayly came, like a Will o’ the wisp, gliding from afar; till, softly walking up, he stopped within a yard or two of the king’s door, and there stood, with his candle in his hand. His round face was pale that should have been red, and his small keen eyes shone in the candle light with mingled importance and anxiety. He saw Dorothy, but the only notice he took of her presence was to turn from her with his face towards the king’s door, so that his shadow might shroud the recess where she stood.
A minute or so passed, and the king’s door re-opened. He came out, said a few words in a whisper to his guide, and walked with him down the gallery, whispering as he went.
Dorothy hastened to her chamber, threw herself on the bed, and wept. The king was cast from the throne of her conscience, but taken into the hospital of her heart.
What followed between the king and the marquis belongs not to my tale. When, after a long talk, the chaplain had conducted the king to his chamber and returned to lord Worcester, he found him in the dark upon his knees.
Gifts of healing.
Soon after the king’s departure, the marquis received from him a letter containing another addressed ’To our Attorney or Solicitor-General for the time being,’ in which he commanded the preparation of a bill for his majesty’s signature, creating the marquis of Worcester duke of Somerset. The enclosing letter required, however, that it should—’be kept private, until I shall esteem the time convenient.’ In the next year we have causes enough for the fact that the king’s pleasure never reached any attorney or solicitor-general for the time being.