Confessions of a Nine Day Queen
By Autumn Faery

Young, beautiful and learned Jane, intent
On knowledge, fount it peace; her vast acquirement
Of goodness was her fall; she was content
With dulcet pleasures, such as calm retirement
Yields to the wise alone; -- her only vice
Was virtue: in obedience to her sire
And lord she died, with them a sacrifice
To their ambition: her own mild desire
Was rather to be happy than be great;
For though at their request, she claimed the crown,
That they through her might rise to rule the state,
Yet the bright diadem and gorgeous throne
She viewed as cares, dimming the dignity
Of her unsullied mind and pur benignity.
--William Hone (1780 -1842)

Part I

I have but a day before my life comes to an end.

After being imprisoned in the Tower of London for six woeful months, I have just been informed of my execution. It takes place tomorrow morning, and I am to "prepare" myself for it. Queen Mary has decided to sign the death warrants of my husband and me.

The news shocked me at first, resulting fits of hysterics that consumed my body. The sound of my two ladies-in-waiting weeping seemed so distant and muffled as I wondered over and over again if I have truly met my end, for the news seemed so unreal. I could not bear to accept it. My heart pounded rapidly and violently against my chest as my insides shook with fear, dread, and most of all, outrage.

Before I continue my tale any farther, this is my confession: I am innocent of any wrong doings!

I was sure--positive, even--the Queen would recognize my innocence and pardon my deed. Yet in front of me a few hours ago was the Queen's chaplain, Dr. John Feckenham, announcing my execution and telling me not to despair,

"My Lady Jane, have no fear! Worry not," said he, "for there is time, still, to obtain God's pardon: repent--save your soul!" The elderly man had a raspy voice that was rather high. "It would please her Majesty and God, our Sovereign Lord, if my Lady chooses to convert to Catholicism. You shall be saved in God Almighty's eyes."

My sobs turned into a quiet but hysterical laugh. Ah, so good Queen Mary wishes me to give up my faith as well as my head, I thought. If fear I felt earlier, it was replaced with indignance. Fully facing the chaplain, I exclaimed, "Saved . . . the day before my demise! Do you jest? I have but a single day and night before I face the executioner's axe, and my good sir cannot possibly mean to tell me that Imust convert to the religion I've always been against, as well?" My voice trembled and I slowly clutched and unclutched my hands to compose myself.

Dr. Freckenham looked deeply offended as he opened his mouth, which, a moment ago, wascompressed to a thin white line, their deep corners twitching with annoyance and anger. His lips moved, but his raspy voice did not come out. Coughing several times, he opened them and tried again.

Before he found his voice however, I took many deep breaths and calmed my mind. Reluctantly taking advantage of his affliction, I interrupted as gently as I could muster:

"Please, good sir, allow me to humbly beseech your forgiveness of my crude . . . words." Dr. Freckenham made a noise that would've been a scoff, if he had not smothered it with a dignified toss of his head.

Paying no attention to his reaction, I continued quietly, but not without vehemence, "This is the truth of my heart: I am no hypocrite, nor do I plan to be one before I die. I chose to be a Protestant because this is the religion in which I hold firmly in my heart, wherein for many it was for ambition and political reasons. It matters not, to me at least, if converting into Catholicism will please the Queen or the Church. I simply cannot--and will not--give up my faith in exchangefor their favor. In my eyes, God has already forgiven me. Hence," I paused to give him a wry look, "what good will it do, to win the favor of Queen Mary if I am already condemned to die?"

For a single moment, all was silent as Dr. Freckenham held an appalled, unmoving gaze on me. His once thinly compressed lips were now slightly parted, aghast. I blinked several times at his unmoving face before the old man slowly hissed, "Such sin! You, my disobedient child, have just insulted Queen Mary and the Catholic church. Shame on you!" His slow hiss soon changed into a rapid, unarticulate muttering; I hardly understood his words. "The Queen is too righteous . . . " mutter, mutter " . . . grant a sinful creature like you another chance with God!" mutter, mutter "Such stubbornness and pride are sinful, vile . . . " mutter, mutter ". . . and did I mention sinful?!"

"Yes, indeed you did."

"Goodbye! I shall come back one final time before your execution tomorrow. I pray you, reflect carefully of my words and clear your heart of your odious sins!" Without another word, he turned curtly and disappeared through the door. A sharp sigh escaped my trembling lips as I collapsed unceremoniously in a heap on the floor, barely noticing the alarmed gasps of my ladies-in-waiting.

After the first wave of hysteria passed, I now feel surprisingly calm as I record my fate. Often have I wondered with amazement and incomprehension of late Queen Katherine Howard's placidness as she faced the executioner. Yet now I understand: When one finally realizes one's fate and resigns to it, there is really nothing left to despair. I shall die tomorrow, whether I want it or not--'tis the cutting truth. Weeping for such ill fortune will change nothing; I rather face my death with courage. Alas, is such insight bestowed only to those who await their quietus?

Why am I writing such thoughts? Perhaps I need distraction. After all, who with a sane mind would want to simply sit as the hours escape like sand in an hourglass, bringing death closer every second?

I think, however, this is the main reason that urged me to record my thoughts: it puts my heart more at ease knowing that somehow, after I am gone, someone--anyone--might discover the truth behind being a royal . . . and the folly of ambition and greed.

I am Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen. To begin my story, I must bring you 16 year back in time--to the year of our Lord God 1537.

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Author's Note: I think it's such a shame that Lady Jane has quite faded. I mean, I've read books and historic fictions that mention her, but other than the "poor girl that died after being queen for nine days" line, not much else was written. Even here on Fictionpress, there's tons of Tudor era storries about the wives (specificly Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard) of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, but there's hardly any other stories about these other figures that in my opinion, played just as big of a role.

I first started this story last year in 8th grade for the historic fiction genre of my school's creative arts and writing contest. At first I wanted to write about Elizabeth. Yet, I also wanted something original. I've read so, so many books and stories about Elizabeth and her mother Anne Boleyn that writing yet another story about them seemed quite boring and flat to me.

Then I vaguely remembered about Elizabeth's cousin, Jane. I began tons of web searches on her and evetually came familiar with her story. What a girl! I remember feeling awfully sad she had to die so young. She had such a tragic (well, from a modern view point at least, not a Tudor one, since Elizabeth and Mary's childhoods were equally morbid) life, but she was also so very pure and insightful. I decided I had to write her story.

I think I got like second place in the contest, so I was happy. But then my computer hardware died and I lost the entire story. I remember being quite exasperated! Fortunately, I found a rough draft copy (that need lots and lots of revision) when I was cleaning my room today. As a result I've decided to post this story. I'll try to post a new chapter each day. I hope you'll enjoy it. :)