Innocence Lost

Isadora Richards-Strong

Geelong Grammar

Lady Jane Grey was only a young adolescent when the blade swiftly struck her delicate neck, forever closing her mouth about the truth of her short but innocent life. The sounds of the peasants crying out ‘traitor’ to this now lifeless decapitated body gently placed on the black stone. Guilford had been dumbstruck; he could not turn his watery eyes away from ‘the nine day queen’, knowing too well that at any moment the ruthless guards would barge in to whisk him away also. A flurry of memories returned to him as though a cluster of butterflies had rushed into his mind. He had first laid eyes on her in the most unsatisfactory way. Her true beauty had not been clear in that garden, where tall walls of the castle lay either side. They were barriers between the inhabitants and their enemies beyond. When he was younger, he had wished to be an underprivileged boy, just so he could live a life removed from these immensely claustrophobic fortifications. This was not the only problem to exert greater control over him; it was the inhabitants who lived inside these walls who were the real enemies, the ones who manipulated his life. The ones who would make the legacy theirs, no matter what the price of casualties were. These were the callous times of the Tudor dynasty, and these traditions would not be stopped automatically.

The morning dew shone on the hedges that surrounded them on that bitter winter’s day. His breath still had the scent of Gin, from drinking heavily the night before, He looked at her attentively, he received a harsh cold stare in return, thoughts momentarily rushed through his mind … ‘Nothing more than some petty affluent girl who has been forced into this stupid godforsaken arranged marriage.’ His gaze cleverly darted away. He could not bear the sight of this pathetic girl any longer. As his eyes averted across the castle he noticed a figure at one of the windows. He could see a set of eyes following them both with a peculiar intensity through the slightly drawn curtains. He could tell it was her mother, for only she could have the power in her stare to suck the blood out of her victim’s heart. ‘Cold blooded bitch,’ he thought. However as he felt his hatred towards this despicable woman boil, a pang of empathy went out to her; no mother should ever have to witness her daughter’s death. His eyes returned towards the girl, her dress was as black as the night sky, which helped show her incandescent porcelain face placed firmly on her gentle neck. Her lips pursed and her eyes were full of fear. At that moment, he felt a sudden adrenalin rush through his body like water running out of a tap. He began to move slowly towards her.

At any moment Queen Mary’s soldiers would hasten in and take him to be executed. His arms which had been shaking uncontrollably had now almost completely stopped, as if remembering her was somehow comforting for him. He decided he would make one last prayer to God, kneeling down with his hands up against his wooden bed he made a final, desperate plea for his life. Once he had finished he was forced to return to his state of utter delirium, confused and shaking hysterically. In an attempt to calm himself, he fell deep into a dream of the fleeting reminiscences that were left of their love.

They cantered together on beautiful chestnut horses, back through the pathway of the paddock in the castle grounds, their eyes interlocked with such vivid excitement, that not even Romeo and Juliet could emanate such a scene.  She had become Queen and it was all theirs; at least that is what they thought. For he knew fear in those eyes would return and her skin would turn to ice when wickedness lurched in their proximity. For when he had been in the presence either of her father or mother, he had watched as she spoke, sat, stood, ate or even drank, with such poise and self control, it seemed to compel her to restrain herself as perfectly as God had made the world, or else she would be sharply taunted, cruelly threatened, by the evil creators that had brought her into this world and put her through more hell than one could possibly imagine.

Now, in the seconds before his death, he was in a state of limbo as the guards pushed him towards the crowd which had gathered to watch his execution. A drop of cold water from the grey sky hit the top of his curly brown head, bringing him back to a state of certainty. His heart filled with dread at the sudden realisation the masses were coming to watch the spectacle of his death. Abruptly, a young boy placed his small hand on his shoulder, and Guilford felt a sudden burst of pleasure temporarily energizing his body. Though it was forbidden, he smiled slightly at the boy knowing he would be classed an outcast. The boy’s courage humanized him, silencing the crowd. As he laid his head down on the piece of wood he closed his eyes and smiled and knew that he would soon be back in her arms.