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12. CHAPTER XII.
HENRY VIII. AND ANNE BOLEYN. - DISADVANTAGES OF LIVING IN SAME HOUSE WITH PAIR OF LOVERS. - A TRYING TIME FOR THE ENGLISH NATION. - A NIGHT SEARCH FOR THE PICTURESQUE. - HOMELESS AND HOUSELESS. - HARRIS PREPARES TO DIE. - AN ANGEL COMES ALONG. - EFFECT OF SUDDEN JOY ON HARRIS. - A LITTLE SUPPER. - LUNCH. - HIGH PRICE FOR MUSTARD. - A FEARFUL BATTLE. - MAIDENHEAD. - SAILING. - THREE FISHERS. - WE ARE CURSED.
I WAS sitting on the bank, conjuring up this scene to myself, when George remarked that when I was quite rested, perhaps I would not mind helping to wash up; and, thus recalled from the days of the glorious past to the prosaic present, with all its misery and sin, I slid down into the boat and cleaned out the frying-pan with a stick of wood and a tuft of grass, polishing it up finally with George's wet shirt.
We went over to Magna Charta Island, and had a look at the stone which stands in the cottage there and on which the great Charter is said to have been signed; though, as to whether it really was signed there, or, as some say, on the other bank at "Runningmede," I decline to commit myself. As far as my own personal opinion goes, however, I am inclined to give weight to the popular island theory. Certainly, had I been one of the Barons, at the time, I should have strongly urged upon my comrades the advisability of our getting such a slippery customer as King John on to the island, where there was less chance of surprises and tricks.
There are the ruins of an old priory in the grounds of Ankerwyke House, which is close to Picnic Point, and it was round about the grounds of this old priory that Henry VIII. is said to have waited for and met Anne Boleyn. He also used to meet her at Hever Castle in Kent, and also somewhere near St. Albans. It must have been difficult for the people of England in those days to have found a spot where these thoughtless young folk were NOT spooning.
Have you ever been in a house where there are a couple courting? It is most trying. You think you will go and sit in the drawing-room, and you march off there. As you open the door, you hear a noise as if somebody had suddenly recollected something, and, when you get in, Emily is over by the window, full of interest in the opposite side of the road, and your friend, John Edward, is at the other end of the room with his whole soul held in thrall by photographs of other people's relatives.
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