The Afterlife Journals: The Blue Ribbon
to the elbow and then puffed out with black velvet and a billow of lace coming out of the cuff. Elizabeth was a
moderately plump young woman. She stood approximately five- feet five- inches tall. Her hair was a chestnut
brown and her eyes were also brown. She was pale skinned and by most accounts considered to be attractive.
She was lucky to escape the gaze of Henry VIII during her time as a maid; this is perhaps because his sights
were set firmly on Anne Boleyn.
“Lady Elizabeth, you look lovely. Truly a very fitting gown for such a joyous occasion. Lady Walden and
Miss Walden, you are also looking very well this morning.” As was customary, my mother answered Edwards’s
compliments for us all. “Thank you, sir. I am glad Elizabeth appears to your liking.”
“She is lovely indeed, Lady Walden. Sir Walden, would you and your family grace my family by sitting next
to us during mass?”
“It would be an honor, sir,” replied my father.
The service I remember seemed to drag on, as did every service in my opinion. I knew the importance of
today and did not want to do anything to ruin it for my sister, but I was very uncomfortable in my clothes. “Stop
fidgeting,” Mother said in her hushed voice as she nudged me with her elbow.
“I am trying!” I replied in a not so hushed voice. O f course at that moment four or five heads turned to look
at me including Edward’s mother. She looked very displeased with me. I sank down farther in the pew. As I did
so, I kicked the pew in front of me. Mother shot me one of her looks that made me want to hide in shame. For
the rest of the service I played a game in my own head that I was a statue and therefore was unable to move. I
often got lost in my own head. In this situation it was to my benefit.
Finally the service was over and the time for the announcements had come. Father John began reading from
his list until he finally arrived to ours. “Sir Walden and Sir Annesley, would you please join me in the front?”
said Father John. Both men made their way to the front. My father looked quite large next to Sir Annesley. His
black doublet was decorated with gold embroidery. He looked very distinguished. I briefly caught a glimpse of
my mother’s face in that moment and her smile could not have been any bigger. The two fathers shook hands
and began to speak. Sir Annesley commented first.
“Sir Walden and I have come to an agreement regarding my son Sir Edward Annesley.”
“And my niece, Lady Elizabeth Walden.”
Both men stretched their hands forward as to invite Edward and Elizabeth to join them in the front. Edward
stood next to his father on his right, while my sister stood next to our father on his left. “I speak for the entire
Walden family when I say with great excitement that my daughter Lady Elizabeth, maid to Queen Catherine, is
to be married to Sir Edward Annesley, gentlemen usher in the house of the Earl of Shrewsbury.”
“The king and queen have affirmed this union and are pleased with the pairing,” Sir Annesley added.
My father took Elizabeth’s hand and placed it into Edward’s. Clamors of applause followed. Now both my
sister and Edward were in between their fathers. As the two turned to face the crowd Elizabeth took a small step
back and tucked herself behind my father and Edward. She did not do this out of shyness; it was improper for a
woman to stand in front of a man. No one but me noticed her gesture but in that moment it annoyed me slightly.
Edward began to speak now about his engagement to Elizabeth. “While it is true that my father was the first to
bring Elizabeth to my attention as a potential wife, I already knew her by reputation. Elizabeth has always
behaved in the most respectable manner. She is a virtuous woman. I was more than pleased with the suggestion
and found myself even more delighted during my time getting to know her. She and I will be very happy
together.” Elizabeth did not speak at all. She smiled at Edward and curtseyed to him to accept his compliments
to her. She had every right to speak at this time, but she did not because she did not want to appear outspoken or
upstage her fiancé.
I was never one to really subscribe to the idea that women had to be subordinate. The women of this time, I
believe, had more power over men then they were ever given credit for. I must admit that I never rebelled
against this system during this era. If there was one thing I never wanted to do that was cause problems for my
family. Fate and nature were cruel to me with regard to this desire.
Later that week, we attended the engagement party at the home of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury. This
party was also to serve as my official coming out. Coming out meant that I was now eligible for marriage.
Mother was thrilled and I was absolutely disgusted. “Mother, everyone knows who I am. They have seen me
before, and they all know how old I am. Why is this necessary, and why do I have to dress up?”