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´╗┐Title: Windsor Castle
Author: Ainsworth, William Harrison, 1805-1882
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Windsor Castle" ***

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WINDSOR CASTLE

By William H. Ainsworth


     "About, about!
     Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out."

     SHAKESPEARE, Merry Wives of Windsor



     "There is an old tale goes, that Herne the hunter,
     Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest,
     Doth all the winter time, at still midnight,
     Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
     And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
     And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
     In a most hideous and dreadful manner:
     You have heard of such a spirit; and well you know,
     The superstitious idle-headed eld
     Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
     This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth."--ibid



WINDSOR CASTLE



BOOK I. ANNE BOLEYN



I.

     Of the Earl of Surrey's solitary Ramble in the Home Park--Of
     the Vision beheld by him in the Haunted Dell--And of his
     Meeting with Morgan Fenwolf, the Keeper, beneath Herne's
     Oak.


In the twentieth year of the reign of the right high and puissant King
Henry the Eighth, namely, in 1529, on the 21st of April, and on one
of the loveliest evenings that ever fell on the loveliest district in
England, a fair youth, having somewhat the appearance of a page, was
leaning over the terrace wall on the north side of Windsor Castle, and
gazing at the magnificent scene before him. On his right stretched the
broad green expanse forming the Home Park, studded with noble trees,
chiefly consisting of ancient oaks, of which England had already learnt
to be proud, thorns as old or older than the oaks, wide-spreading
beeches, tall elms, and hollies. The disposition of these trees was
picturesque and beautiful in the extreme. Here, at the end of a sweeping
vista, and in the midst of an open space covered with the greenest
sward, stood a mighty broad-armed oak, beneath whose ample boughs,
though as yet almost destitute of foliage, while the sod beneath them
could scarcely boast a head of fern, couched a herd of deer. There lay
a thicket of thorns skirting a sand-bank, burrowed by rabbits, on this
hand grew a dense and Druid-like grove, into whose intricacies the
slanting sunbeams pierced; on that extended a long glade, formed by a
natural avenue of oaks, across which, at intervals, deer were passing.
Nor were human figures wanting to give life and interest to the scene.
Adown the glade came two keepers of the forest, having each a couple of
buckhounds with them in leash, whose baying sounded cheerily amid the
woods. Nearer the castle, and bending their way towards it, marched a
party of falconers with their well-trained birds, whose skill they had
been approving upon their fists, their jesses ringing as they moved
along, while nearer still, and almost at the foot of the terrace wall,
was a minstrel playing on a rebec, to which a keeper, in a dress of
Lincoln green, with a bow over his shoulder, a quiver of arrows at his
back, and a comely damsel under his arm, was listening.

On the left, a view altogether different in character, though scarcely
less beautiful, was offered to the gaze. It was formed by the town of
Windsor, then not a third of its present size, but incomparably
more picturesque in appearance, consisting almost entirely of a long
straggling row of houses, chequered black and white, with tall gables,
and projecting storeys skirting the west and south sides of the castle,
by the silver windings of the river, traceable for miles, and reflecting
the glowing hues of the sky, by the venerable College of Eton,
embowered in a grove of trees, and by a vast tract of well-wooded and
well-cultivated country beyond it, interspersed with villages, churches,
old halls, monasteries, and abbeys.

Taking out his tablets, the youth, after some reflection, traced a few
lines upon them, and then, quitting the parapet, proceeded slowly, and
with a musing air, towards the north west angle of the terrace. He
could not be more than fifteen, perhaps not so much, but he was tall and
well-grown, with slight though remarkably well-proportioned limbs;
and it might have been safely predicted that, when arrived at years of
maturity, he would possess great personal vigour. His countenance was
full of thought and intelligence, and he had a broad lofty brow,
shaded by a profusion of light brown ringlets, a long, straight, and
finely-formed nose, a full, sensitive, and well-chiselled mouth, and
a pointed chin. His eyes were large, dark, and somewhat melancholy in
expression, and his complexion possessed that rich clear brown tint
constantly met with in Italy or Spain, though but seldom seen in
a native of our own colder clime. His dress was rich, but sombre,
consisting of a doublet of black satin, worked with threads of Venetian
gold; hose of the same material, and similarly embroidered; a shirt
curiously wrought with black silk, and fastened at the collar with black
enamelled clasps; a cloak of black velvet, passmented with gold, and
lined with crimson satin; a flat black velvet cap, set with pearls and
goldsmith's work, and adorned with a short white plume; and black velvet
buskins. His arms were rapier and dagger, both having gilt and graven
handles, and sheaths of black velvet.

As he moved along, the sound of voices chanting vespers arose from Saint
George's Chapel; and while he paused to listen to the solemn strains,
a door, in that part of the castle used as the king's privy lodgings,
opened, and a person advanced towards him. The new-comer had broad,
brown, martial-looking features, darkened still more by a thick
coal-black beard, clipped short in the fashion of the time, and a pair
of enormous moustachios. He was accoutred in a habergeon, which gleamed
from beneath the folds of a russet-coloured mantle, and wore a steel cap
in lieu of a bonnet on his head, while a long sword dangled from beneath
his cloak. When within a few paces of the youth, whose back was towards
him, and who did not hear his approach, he announced himself by a loud
cough, that proved the excellence of his lungs, and made the old walls
ring again, startling the jackdaws roosting in the battlements.

"What! composing a vesper hymn, my lord of Surrey?" he cried with a
laugh, as the other hastily thrust the tablets, which he had hitherto
held in his hand, into his bosom. "You will rival Master Skelton, the
poet laureate, and your friend Sir Thomas Wyat, too, ere long. But
will it please your lord-ship to quit for a moment the society of the
celestial Nine, and descend to earth, while I inform you that, acting
as your representative, I have given all needful directions for his
majesty's reception to-morrow?"

"You have not failed, I trust, to give orders to the groom of the
chambers for the lodging of my fair cousin, Mistress Anne Boleyn,
Captain Bouchier?" inquired the Earl of Surrey, with a significant
smile.

"Assuredly not, my lord!" replied the other, smiling in his turn. "She
will be lodged as royally as if she were Queen of England. Indeed, the
queen's own apartments are assigned her."

"It is well," rejoined Surrey. "And you have also provided for the
reception of the Pope's legate, Cardinal Campeggio?"

Bouchier bowed.

"And for Cardinal Wolsey?" pursued the other.

The captain bowed again.

"To save your lordship the necessity of asking any further questions,"
he said, "I may state briefly that I have done all as if you had done it
yourself."

"Be a little more particular, captain, I pray you," said Surrey.

"Willingly, my lord," replied Bouchier. "In your lord ship's name, then,
as vice-chamberlain, in which character I presented myself, I summoned
together the dean and canons of the College of St. George, the usher of
the black rod, the governor of the alms-knights, and the whole of the
officers of the household, and acquainted them, in a set speech-which, I
flatter myself, was quite equal to any that your lordship, with all your
poetical talents, could have delivered--that the king's highness, being
at Hampton Court with the two cardinals, Wolsey and Campeggio, debating
the matter of divorce from his queen, Catherine of Arragon, proposes to
hold the grand feast of the most noble order of the Garter at this his
castle of Windsor, on Saint George's Day--that is to say, the day after
to-morrow--and that it is therefore his majesty's sovereign pleasure
that the Chapel of St. George, in the said castle, be set forth and
adorned with its richest furniture; that the high altar be hung with
arras representing the patron saint of the order on horseback, and
garnished with the costliest images and ornaments in gold and silver;
that the pulpit be covered with crimson damask, inwrought with
flowers-de-luces of gold, portcullises, and roses; that the royal stall
be canopied with a rich cloth of state, with a haut-pas beneath it of
a foot high; that the stalls of the knights companions be decked with
cloth of tissue, with their scutcheons set at the back; and that all be
ready at the hour of tierce-hora tertia vespertina, as appointed by his
majesty's own statute--at which time the eve of the feast shall be held
to commence."

"Take breath, captain," laughed the earl.

"I have no need," replied Bouchier. "Furthermore, I delivered your
lordship's warrant from the lord chamberlain to the usher of the black
rod, to make ready and furnish Saint George's Hall, both for the supper
to-morrow and the grand feast on the following day; and I enjoined the
dean and canons of the college, the alms-knights, and all the other
officers of the order, to be in readiness for the occasion. And now,
having fulfilled my devoir, or rather your lordship's, I am content to
resign my post as vice-chamberlain, to resume my ordinary one, that of
your simple gentleman, and to attend you back to Hampton Court whenever
it shall please you to set forth."

"And that will not be for an hour, at the least," replied the earl; "for
I intend to take a solitary ramble in the Home Park."

"What I to seek inspiration for a song--or to meditate upon the charms
of the fair Geraldine, eh, my lord?" rejoined Bouchier. "But I will not
question you too shrewdly. Only let me caution you against going near
Herne's Oak. It is said that the demon hunter walks at nightfall, and
scares, if he does not injure, all those who cross his path. At curfew
toll I must quit the castle, and will then, with your attendants proceed
to the Garter, in Thames Street, where I will await your arrival. If we
reach Hampton Court by midnight, it will be time enough, and as the moon
will rise in an hour, we shall have a pleasant ride."

"Commend me to Bryan Bowntance, the worthy host of the Garter," said the
earl; "and bid him provide you with a bottle of his best sack in which
to drink my health."

"Fear me not," replied the other. "And I pray your lordship not to
neglect my caution respecting Herne the Hunter. In sober sooth, I have
heard strange stories of his appearance of late, and should not care to
go near the tree after dark."

The earl laughed somewhat sceptically, and the captain reiterating his
caution, they separated--Bouchier returning the way he came, and Surrey
proceeding towards a small drawbridge crossing the ditch on the eastern
side of the castle, and forming a means of communication with the Little
Park. He was challenged by a sentinel at the drawbridge, but on giving
the password he was allowed to cross it, and to pass through a gate on
the farther side opening upon the park.

Brushing the soft and dewy turf with a footstep almost as light and
bounding as that of a fawn, he speeded on for more than a quarter of a
mile, when he reached a noble beech-tree standing at the end of a clump
of timber. A number of rabbits were feeding beneath it, but at his
approach they instantly plunged into their burrows.

Here he halted to look at the castle. The sun had sunk behind it,
dilating its massive keep to almost its present height and tinging the
summits of the whole line of ramparts and towers, since rebuilt and
known as the Brunswick Tower, the Chester Tower, the Clarence Tower, and
the Victoria Tower, with rosy lustre.

Flinging himself at the foot of the beech-tree, the youthful earl
indulged his poetical reveries for a short time, and then, rising,
retraced his steps, and in a few minutes the whole of the south side of
the castle lay before him. The view comprehended the two fortifications
recently removed to make way for the York and Lancaster Towers, between
which stood a gate approached by a drawbridge; the Earl Marshal's Tower,
now styled from the monarch in whose reign it was erected, Edward the
Third's Tower; the black rod's lodgings; the Lieutenant's--now Henry the
Third's Tower; the line of embattled walls, constituting the lodgings of
the alms-knights; the tower tenanted by the governor of that body, and
still allotted to the same officer; Henry the Eight's Gateway, and the
Chancellor of the Garter's Tower--the latter terminating the line
of building. A few rosy beams tipped the pinnacles of Saint George's
Chapel, seen behind the towers above-mentioned, with fire; but, with
this exception, the whole of the mighty fabric looked cold and grey.

At this juncture the upper gate was opened, and Captain Bouchier and his
attendants issued from it, and passed over the drawbridge. The curfew
bell then tolled, the drawbridge was raised, the horsemen disappeared,
and no sound reached the listener's ear except the measured tread of the
sentinels on the ramparts, audible in the profound stillness.

The youthful earl made no attempt to join his followers, but having
gazed on the ancient pile before him till its battlements and towers
grew dim in the twilight, he struck into a footpath leading across the
park towards Datchet, and pursued it until it brought him near a dell
filled with thorns, hollies, and underwood, and overhung by mighty oaks,
into which he unhesitatingly plunged, and soon gained the deepest part
of it. Here, owing to the thickness of the hollies and the projecting
arms of other large overhanging timber, added to the uncertain light
above, the gloom was almost impervious, and he could scarcely see a
yard before him. Still, he pressed on unhesitatingly, and with a sort of
pleasurable sensation at the difficulties he was encountering. Suddenly,
however, he was startled by a blue phosphoric light streaming through
the bushes on the left, and, looking up, he beheld at the foot of an
enormous oak, whose giant roots protruded like twisted snakes from the
bank, a wild spectral-looking object, possessing some slight resemblance
to humanity, and habited, so far as it could be determined, in the skins
of deer, strangely disposed about its gaunt and tawny-coloured limbs. On
its head was seen a sort of helmet, formed of the skull of a stag, from
which branched a large pair of antlers; from its left arm hung a heavy
and rusty-looking chain, in the links of which burnt the phosphoric fire
before mentioned; while on its right wrist was perched a large horned
owl, with feathers erected, and red staring eyes.

Impressed with the superstitious feelings common to the age, the young
earl, fully believing he was in the presence of a supernatural being,
could scarcely, despite his courageous nature, which no ordinary matter
would have shaken, repress a cry. Crossing himself, he repeated, with
great fervency, a prayer, against evil spirits, and as he uttered it the
light was extinguished, and the spectral figure vanished. The clanking
of the chain was heard, succeeded by the hooting of the owl; then came a
horrible burst of laughter, then a fearful wail, and all was silent.

Up to this moment the young earl had stood still, as if spell-bound; but
being now convinced that the spirit had fled, he pressed forward, and,
ere many seconds, emerged from the brake. The full moon was rising as he
issued forth, and illuminating the glades and vistas, and the calmness
and beauty of all around seemed at total variance with the fearful
vision he had just witnessed. Throwing a shuddering glance at the
haunted dell, he was about to hurry towards the castle, when a large,
lightning-scathed, and solitary oak, standing a little distance from
him, attracted his attention.

This was the very tree connected with the wild legend of Herne the
Hunter, which Captain Bouchier had warned him not to approach, and he
now forcibly recalled the caution. Beneath it he perceived a figure,
which he at first took for that of the spectral hunter; but his fears
were relieved by a shout from the person, who at the same moment
appeared to catch sight of him.

Satisfied that, in the present instance, he had to do with a being of
this world, Surrey ran towards the tree, and on approaching it
perceived that the object of his alarm was a young man of very athletic
proportions, and evidently, from his garb, a keeper of the forest.

He was habited in a jerkin of Lincoln green cloth, with the royal badge
woven in silver on the breast, and his head was protected by a flat
green cloth cap, ornamented with a pheasant's tail. Under his right
arm he carried a crossbow; a long silver-tipped horn was slung in
his baldric; and he was armed with a short hanger, or wood-knife. His
features were harsh and prominent; and he had black beetling brows, a
large coarse mouth, and dark eyes, lighted up with a very sinister and
malignant expression.

He was attended by a large savage-looking staghound, whom he addressed
as Bawsey, and whose fierceness had to be restrained as Surrey
approached.

"Have you seen anything?" he demanded of the earl.

"I have seen Herne the Hunter himself, or the fiend in his likeness,"
replied Surrey.

And he briefly related the vision he had beheld.

"Ay, ay, you have seen the demon hunter, no doubt," replied the keeper
at the close of the recital. "I neither saw the light, nor heard the
laughter, nor the wailing cry you speak of; but Bawsey crouched at my
feet and whined, and I knew some evil thing was at hand. Heaven shield
us!" he exclaimed, as the hound crouched at his feet, and directed her
gaze towards the oak, uttering a low ominous whine, "she is at the same
trick again."

The earl glanced in the same direction, and half expected to see the
knotted trunk of the tree burst open and disclose the figure of the
spectral hunter. But nothing was visible--at least, to him, though it
would seem from the shaking limbs, fixed eyes, and ghastly visage of the
keeper, that some appalling object was presented to his gaze.

"Do you not see him?" cried the latter at length, in thrilling accents;
"he is circling the tree, and blasting it. There! he passes us now--do
you not see him?"

"No," replied Surrey; "but do not let us tarry here longer."

So saying he laid his hand upon the keeper's arm. The touch seemed to
rouse him to exertion: He uttered a fearful cry, and set off at a quick
pace along the park, followed by Bawsey, with her tail between her legs.
The earl kept up with him, and neither halted till they had left the
wizard oak at a considerable distance behind them.

"And so you did not see him?" said the keeper, in a tone of exhaustion,
as he wiped the thick drops from his brow.

"I did not," replied Surrey.

"That is passing strange," rejoined the other. "I myself have seen him
before, but never as he appeared to-night."

"You are a keeper of the forest, I presume, friend?" said Surrey. "How
are you named?"

"I am called Morgan Fenwolf," replied the keeper; "and you?"

"I am the Earl of Surrey;' returned the young noble.

"What!" exclaimed Fenwolf, making a reverence, "the son to his grace of
Norfolk?"

The earl replied in the affirmative.

"Why, then, you must be the young nobleman whom I used to see so often
with the king's son, the Duke of Richmond, three or four years ago,
at the castle?" rejoined Fenwolf "You are altogether grown out of my
recollection."

"Not unlikely," returned the earl. "I have been at Oxford, and have only
just completed my studies. This is the first time I have been at Windsor
since the period you mention."

"I have heard that the Duke of Richmond was at Oxford likewise,"
observed Fenwolf.

"We were at Cardinal College together," replied Surrey. "But the duke's
term was completed before mine. He is my senior by three years."

"I suppose your lordship is returning to the castle?" said Fenwolf.

"No," replied Surrey. "My attendants are waiting for me at the Garter,
and if you will accompany me thither, I will bestow a cup of good ale
upon you to recruit you after the fright you have undergone."

Fenwolf signified his graceful acquiescence, and they walked on in
silence, for the earl could not help dwelling upon the vision he had
witnessed, and his companion appeared equally abstracted. In this sort
they descended the hill near Henry the Eighth's Gate, and entered Thames
Street.



II.

     Of Bryan Bowntance, the Host of the Garter--Of the Duke of
     Shoreditch--Of the Bold Words uttered by Mark Fytton, the
     Butcher, and how he was cast into the Vault of the Curfew
     Tower.


Turning off on the right, the earl and his companion continued to
descend the hill until they came in sight of the Garter--a snug little
hostel, situated immediately beneath the Curfew Tower.

Before the porch were grouped the earl's attendants, most of whom
had dismounted, and were holding their steeds by the bridles. At
this juncture the door of the hostel opened, and a fat jolly-looking
personage, with a bald head and bushy grey beard, and clad in a brown
serge doublet, and hose to match, issued forth, bearing a foaming jug of
ale and a horn cup. His appearance was welcomed by a joyful shout from
the attendants.

"Come, my masters!" he cried, filling the horn, "here is a cup of stout
Windsor ale in which to drink the health of our jolly monarch, bluff
King Hal; and there's no harm, I trust, in calling him so."

"Marry, is there not, mine host;" cried the foremost attendant. "I spoke
of him as such in his own hearing not long ago, and he laughed at me
in right merry sort. I love the royal bully, and will drink his health
gladly, and Mistress Anne Boleyn's to boot."

And he emptied the horn.

"They tell me Mistress Anne Boleyn is coming to Windsor with the king
and the knights-companions to-morrow--is it so?" asked the host, again
filling the horn, and handing it to another attendant.

The person addressed nodded, but he was too much engrossed by the horn
to speak.

"Then there will be rare doings in the castle," chuckled the host; "and
many a lusty pot will be drained at the Garter. Alack-a-day! how times
are changed since I, Bryan Bowntance, first stepped into my father's
shoes, and became host of the Garter. It was in 1501--twenty-eight years
ago--when King Henry the Seventh, of blessed memory, ruled the land, and
when his elder son, Prince Arthur, was alive likewise. In that year the
young prince espoused Catherine of Arragon, our present queen, and soon
afterwards died; whereupon the old king, not liking--for he loved his
treasure better than his own flesh--to part with her dowry, gave her to
his second son, Henry, our gracious sovereign, whom God preserve! Folks
said then the match wouldn't come to good; and now we find they spoke
the truth, for it is likely to end in a divorce."

"Not so loud, mine host!" cried the foremost attendant; "here comes our
young master, the Earl of Surrey."

"Well, I care not," replied the host bluffly. "I've spoken no treason.
I love my king; and if he wishes to have a divorce, I hope his holiness
the Pope will grant him one, that's all."

As he said this, a loud noise was heard within the hostel, and a man was
suddenly and so forcibly driven forth, that he almost knocked down Bryan
Bowntance, who was rushing in to see what was the matter. The person
thus ejected, who was a powerfully-built young man, in a leathern
doublet, with his muscular arms bared to the shoulder, turned his rage
upon the host, and seized him by the throat with a grip that threatened
him with strangulation. Indeed, but for the intervention of the earl's
attendants, who rushed to his assistance, such might have been his fate.
As soon as he was liberated, Bryan cried in a voice of mingled rage and
surprise to his assailant, "Why, what's the matter, Mark Fytton?--are
you gone mad, or do you mistake me for a sheep or a bullock, that you
attack me in this fashion? My strong ale must have got into your addle
pate with a vengeance.

"The knave has been speaking treason of the king's highness," said the
tall man, whose doublet and hose of the finest green cloth, as well as
the how and quiverful of arrows at his back, proclaimed him an
archer--"and therefore we turned him out!"

"And you did well, Captain Barlow," cried the host.

"Call me rather the Duke of Shoreditch," rejoined the tall archer; "for
since his majesty conferred the title upon me, though it were but in
jest, when I won this silver bugle, I shall ever claim it. I am always
designated by my neighbours in Shoreditch as his grace; and I require
the same attention at your hands. To-morrow I shall have my comrades,
the Marquises of Clerkenwell, Islington, Hogsden, Pancras, and
Paddington, with me, and then you will see the gallant figure we shall
cut."

"I crave your grace's pardon for my want of respect," replied the host.
"I am not ignorant of the distinction conferred upon you at the last
match at the castle butts by the king. But to the matter in hand. What
treason hath Mark Fytton, the butcher, been talking?"

"I care not to repeat his words, mine host," replied the duke; "but
he hath spoken in unbecoming terms of his highness and Mistress Anne
Boleyn."

"He means not what he says," rejoined the host. "He is a loyal subject
of the king; but he is apt to get quarrelsome over his cups."

"Well said, honest Bryan," cried the duke; "you have one quality of a
good landlord--that of a peacemaker. Give the knave a cup of ale, and
let him wash down his foul words in a health to the king, wishing him a
speedy divorce and a new queen, and he shall then sit among us again."

"I do not desire to sit with you, you self-dubbed duke," rejoined Mark;
"but if you will doff your fine jerkin, and stand up with me on the
green, I will give you cause to remember laying hands on me."

"Well challenged, bold butcher!" cried one of Surrey's attendants. "You
shall be made a duke yourself."

"Or a cardinal," cried Mark. "I should not be the first of my brethren
who has met with such preferment."

"He derides the Church in the person of Cardinal Wolsey!" cried the
duke. "He is a blasphemer as well as traitor."

"Drink the king's health in a full cup, Mark," interposed the host,
anxious to set matters aright, "and keep your mischievous tongue between
your teeth."

"Beshrew me if I drink the king's health, or that of his minion, Anne
Boleyn!" cried Mark boldly. "But I will tell you what I will drink.
I will drink the health of King Henry's lawful consort, Catherine
of Arragon; and I will add to it a wish that the Pope may forge her
marriage chains to her royal husband faster than ever."

"A foolish wish," cried Bryan. "Why, Mark, you are clean crazed!"

"It is the king who is crazed, not me!" cried Mark. "He would sacrifice
his rightful consort to his unlawful passion; and you, base hirelings,
support the tyrant in his wrongful conduct!"

"Saints protect us!" exclaimed Bryan. "Why, this is flat treason. Mark,
I can no longer uphold you."

"Not if you do not desire to share his prison, mine host," cried the
Duke of Shoreditch. "You have all heard him call the king a tyrant.
Seize him, my masters!"

"Let them lay hands upon me if they dare!" cried the butcher resolutely.
"I have felled an ox with a blow of my fist before this, and I promise
you I will show them no better treatment."

Awed by Mark's determined manner, the bystanders kept aloof.

"I command you, in the king's name, to seize him!" roared Shoreditch.
"If he offers resistance he will assuredly be hanged."

"No one shall touch me!" cried Mark fiercely.

"That remains to be seen," said the foremost of the Earl of Surrey's
attendants. "Yield, fellow!"

"Never!" replied Mark; "and I warn you to keep off."

The attendant, however, advanced; but before he could lay hands on the
butcher he received a blow from his ox-like fist that sent him reeling
backwards for several paces, and finally stretched him at full length
upon the ground. His companions drew their swords, and would have
instantly fallen upon the sturdy offender, if Morgan Fenwolf, who, with
the Earl of Surrey, was standing among the spectators, had not rushed
forward, and, closing with Mark before the latter could strike a blow,
grappled with him, and held him fast till he was secured, and his arms
tied behind him.

"And so it is you, Morgan Fenwolf, who have served me this ill turn,
eh?" cried the butcher, regarding him fiercely. "I now believe all I
have heard of you."

"What have you heard of him?" asked Surrey, advancing.

"That he has dealings with the fiend--with Herne the Hunter," replied
Mark. "If I am hanged for a traitor, he ought to be burnt for a wizard."

"Heed not what the villain says, my good fellow," said the Duke of
Shoreditch; "you have captured him bravely, and I will take care your
conduct is duly reported to his majesty. To the castle with him! To
the castle! He will lodge to-night in the deepest dungeon of yon
fortification," pointing to the Curfew Tower above them, "there to await
the king's judgment; and to-morrow night it will be well for him if he
is not swinging from the gibbet near the bridge. Bring him along."

And followed by Morgan Fenwolf and the others, with the prisoner, he
strode up the hill.

Long before this Captain Bouchier had issued from the hostel and joined
the earl, and they walked together after the crowd. In a few minutes the
Duke of Shoreditch reached Henry the Eighth's Gate, where he shouted to
a sentinel, and told him what had occurred. After some delay a wicket in
the gate was opened, and the chief persons of the party were allowed to
pass through it with the prisoner, who was assigned to the custody of a
couple of arquebusiers.

By this time an officer had arrived, and it was agreed, at the
suggestion of the Duke of Shoreditch, to take the offender to the Curfew
Tower. Accordingly they crossed the lower ward, and passing beneath an
archway near the semicircular range of habitations allotted to the
petty canons, traversed the space before the west end of Saint George's
Chapel, and descending a short flight of stone steps at the left, and
threading a narrow passage, presently arrived at the arched entrance in
the Curfew, whose hoary walls shone brightly in the moonlight.

They had to knock for some time against the stout oak door before any
notice was taken of the summons. At length an old man, who acted as
bellringer, thrust his head out of one of the narrow pointed windows
above, and demanded their business. Satisfied with the reply, he
descended, and, opening the door, admitted them into a lofty chamber,
the roof of which was composed of stout planks, crossed by heavy oaken
rafters, and supported by beams of the same material. On the left a
steep ladder-like flight of wooden steps led to an upper room, and from
a hole in the roof descended a bell-rope, which was fastened to one of
the beams, showing the use to which the chamber was put.

Some further consultation was now held among the party as to the
propriety of leaving the prisoner in this chamber under the guard of the
arquebusiers, but it was at last decided against doing so, and the old
bellringer being called upon for the keys of the dungeon beneath, he
speedily produced them. They then went forth, and descending a flight of
stone steps on the left, came to a low strong door, which they unlocked,
and obtained admission to a large octangular chamber with a vaulted
roof, and deep embrasures terminated by narrow loopholes. The light of
a lamp carried by the bellringer showed the dreary extent of the vault,
and the enormous thickness of its walls.

"A night's solitary confinement in this place will be of infinite
service to our prisoner," said the Duke of Shoreditch, gazing around.
"I'll be sworn he is ready to bite off the foolish tongue that has
brought him to such a pass."

The butcher made no reply, but being released by the arquebusiers, sat
down upon a bench that constituted the sole furniture of the vault.

"Shall I leave him the lamp?" asked the bellringer; "he may beguile the
time by reading the names of former prisoners scratched on the walls and
in the embrasures."

"No; he shall not even have that miserable satisfaction," returned the
Duke of Shoreditch. "He shall be left in the darkness to his own bad and
bitter thoughts."

With this the party withdrew, and the door was fastened upon the
prisoner. An arquebusier was stationed at the foot of the steps; and
the Earl of Surrey and Captain Bouchier having fully satisfied their
curiosity, shaped their course towards the castle gate. On their way
thither the earl looked about for Morgan Fenwolf, but could nowhere
discern him. He then passed through the wicket with Bouchier, and
proceeding to the Garter, they mounted their steeds, and galloped off
towards Datchet, and thence to Staines and Hampton Court.



III.

     Of the Grand Procession to Windsor Castle--Of the Meeting of
     King Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn at the Lower Gate-Of
     their Entrance into the Castle--And how the Butcher was
     Hanged from the Curfew Tower.


A joyous day was it for Windsor and great were the preparations made by
its loyal inhabitants for a suitable reception to their sovereign. At
an early hour the town was thronged with strangers from the neighbouring
villages, and later on crowds began to arrive from London, some having
come along the highway on horseback, and others having rowed in various
craft up the river. All were clad in holiday attire, and the streets
presented an appearance of unwonted bustle and gaiety. The Maypole
in Bachelors' Acre was hung with flowers. Several booths, with flags
floating above them, were erected in the same place, where ale, mead,
and hypocras, together with cold pasties, hams, capons, and large joints
of beef and mutton, might be obtained. Mummers and minstrels were in
attendance, and every kind of diversion was going forward. Here was one
party wrestling; there another, casting the bar; on this side a set
of rustics were dancing a merry round with a bevy of buxom Berkshire
lasses; on that stood a fourth group, listening to a youth playing on
the recorders. At one end of the Acre large fires were lighted, before
which two whole oxen were roasting, provided in honour of the occasion
by the mayor and burgesses of the town; at the other, butts were set
against which the Duke of Shoreditch and his companions, the five
marquises, were practising. The duke himself shot admirably, and never
failed to hit the bulls-eye; but the great feat of the day was performed
by Morgan Fenwolf, who thrice split the duke's shafts as they stuck in
the mark.

"Well done!" cried the duke, as he witnessed the achievement; "why, you
shoot as bravely as Herne the Hunter. Old wives tell us he used to split
the arrows of his comrades in that fashion."

"He must have learnt the trick from Herne himself in the forest," cried
one of the bystanders.

Morgan Fenwolf looked fiercely round in search of the speaker, but
could not discern him. He, however, shot no more, and refusing a cup of
hypocras offered him by Shoreditch, disappeared among the crowd.

Soon after this the booths were emptied, the bar thrown down, the
Maypole and the butts deserted, and the whole of Bachelors' Acre cleared
of its occupants--except those who were compelled to attend to the
mighty spits turning before the fires--by the loud discharge of ordnance
from the castle gates, accompanied by the ringing of bells, announcing
that the mayor and burgesses of Windsor, together with the officers of
the Order of the Garter, were setting forth to Datchet Bridge to meet
the royal procession.

Those who most promptly obeyed this summons beheld the lower castle
gate, built by the then reigning monarch, open, while from it issued
four trumpeters clad in emblazoned coats, with silken bandrols depending
from their horns, blowing loud fanfares. They were followed by twelve
henchmen, walking four abreast, arrayed in scarlet tunics, with the
royal cypher H.R. worked in gold on the breast, and carrying gilt
poleaxes over their shoulders. Next came a company of archers, equipped
in helm and brigandine, and armed with long pikes, glittering, as did
their steel accoutrements, in the bright sunshine. They were succeeded
by the bailiffs and burgesses of the town, riding three abreast, and
enveloped in gowns of scarlet cloth; after which rode the mayor of
Windsor in a gown of crimson velvet, and attended by two footmen, in
white and red damask, carrying white wands. The mayor was followed by a
company of the town guard, with partisans over the shoulders. Then
came the sheriff of the county and his attendants. Next followed the
twenty-six alms-knights (for such was their number), walking two and
two, and wearing red mantles, with a scutcheon of Saint George on the
shoulder, but without the garter surrounding it. Then came the thirteen
petty canons, in murrey-coloured gowns, with the arms of Saint George
wrought in a roundel on the shoulder; then the twelve canons, similarly
attired; and lastly the dean of the college, in his cope.

A slight pause ensued, and the chief officers of the Garter made their
appearance. First walked the Black Rod, clothed in a russet-coloured
mantle, faced with alternate panes of blue and red, emblazoned with
flower-de-luces of gold and crowned lions. He carried a small black rod,
the ensign of his office, surmounted with the lion of England in silver.
After the Black Rod came the Garter, habited in a gown of crimson satin,
paned and emblazoned like that of the officer who preceded him, hearing
a white crown with a sceptre upon it, and having a gilt crown in lieu
of a cap upon his head. The Garter was followed by the register, a
grave personage, in a black gown, with a surplice over it, covered by a
mantelet of furs. Then came the chancellor of the Order, in his robe of
murrey-coloured velvet lined with sarcenet, with a badge on the shoulder
consisting of a gold rose, enclosed in a garter wrought with pearls of
damask gold. Lastly came the Bishop of Winchester, the prelate of the
Order, wearing his mitre, and habited in a robe of crimson velvet
lined with white taffeta, faced with blue, and embroidered on the right
shoulder with a scutcheon of Saint George, encompassed with the Garter,
and adorned with cordons of blue silk mingled with gold.

Brought up by a rear guard of halberdiers, the procession moved slowly
along Thames Street, the houses of which, as well as those in Peascod
Street, were all more or less decorated--the humbler sort being covered
with branches of trees, intermingled with garlands of flowers, while the
better description was hung with pieces of tapestry, carpets, and
rich stuffs. Nor should it pass unnoticed that the loyalty of Bryan
Bowntance, the host of the Garter, had exhibited itself in an arch
thrown across the road opposite his house, adorned with various
coloured ribbons and flowers, in the midst of which was a large shield,
exhibiting the letters, b. and h. (in mystic allusion to Henry and Anne
Boleyn) intermingled and surrounded by love-knots.

Turning off on the left into the lower road, skirting the north of the
castle, and following the course of the river to Datchet, by which
it was understood the royal cavalcade would make its approach, the
procession arrived at an open space by the side of the river, where it
came to a halt, and the dean, chancellor, and prelate, together with
other officers of the Garter, embarked in a barge moored to the bank,
which was towed slowly down the stream in the direction of Datchet
Bridge--a band of minstrels stationed within it playing all the time.

Meanwhile the rest of the cavalcade, having again set for ward, pursued
their course along the banks of the river, proceeding at a foot's pace,
and accompanied by crowds of spectators, cheering them as they moved
along. The day was bright and beautiful, and nothing was wanting to
enhance the beauty of the spectacle. On the left flowed the silver
Thames, crowded with craft, filled with richly-dressed personages of
both sexes, amid which floated the pompous barge appropriated to the
officers of the Garter, which was hung with banners and streamers, and
decorated at the sides with targets, emblazoned with the arms of
St. George. On the greensward edging the stream marched a brilliant
cavalcade, and on the right lay the old woods of the Home Park, with
long vistas opening through them, giving exquisite peeps of the towers
and battlements of the castle.

Half an hour brought the cavalcade to Datchet Bridge, at the foot of
which a pavilion was erected for the accommodation of the mayor and
burgesses. And here, having dismounted, they awaited the king's arrival.

Shortly after this a cloud of dust on the Staines Road seemed to
announce the approach of the royal party, and all rushed forth and held
themselves in readiness to meet it. But the dust appeared to have been
raised by a company of horsemen, headed by Captain Bouchier, who rode up
the next moment. Courteously saluting the mayor, Bouchier informed him
that Mistress Anne Boleyn was close behind, and that it was the king's
pleasure that she should be attended in all state to the lower gate of
the castle, there to await his coming, as he himself intended to enter
it with her. The mayor replied that the sovereign's behests should be
implicitly obeyed, and he thereupon stationed himself at the farther
side of the bridge in expectation of Anne Boleyn's arrival.

Presently the sound of trumpets smote his ear, and a numerous and
splendid retinue was seen advancing, consisting of nobles, knights,
esquires, and gentlemen, ranged according to their degrees, and all
sumptuously apparelled in cloths of gold and silver, and velvets of
various colours, richly embroidered. Besides these, there were pages
and other attendants in the liveries of their masters, together with
sergeants of the guard and henchmen in their full accoutrements.
Among the nobles were the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk--the king being
desirous of honouring as much as possible her whom he had resolved to
make his queen. The former was clothed in tissue, embroidered with roses
of gold, with a baldric across his body of massive gold, and was mounted
on a charger likewise trapped in gold; and the latter wore a mantle of
cloth of silver, pounced in the form of letters, and lined with blue
velvet, while his horse was trapped hardwise in harness embroidered with
bullion gold curiously wrought. Both also wore the collar of the Order
of the Garter. Near them rode Sir Thomas Boleyn, who, conscious of the
dignity to which his daughter was to be advanced, comported himself with
almost intolerable haughtiness.

Immediately behind Sir Thomas Boleyn came a sumptuous litter covered
with cloth of gold, drawn by four white palfreys caparisoned in white
damask down to the ground, and each having a page in white and blue
satin at its head. Over the litter was borne a canopy of cloth of gold
supported by four gilt staves, and ornamented at the corners with silver
bells, ringing forth sweet music as it moved along. Each staff was borne
by a knight, of whom sixteen were in attendance to relieve one another
when fatigued.

In this litter sat Anne Boleyn. She wore a surcoat of white tissue,
and a mantle of the same material lined with ermine. Her gown, which,
however, was now concealed by the surcoat, was of cloth of gold tissue,
raised with pearls of silver damask, with a stomacher of purple gold
similarly raised, and large open sleeves lined with chequered tissue.
Around her neck she wore a chain of orient pearls, from which depended
a diamond cross. A black velvet cap, richly embroidered with pearls and
other precious stones, and ornamented with a small white plume, covered
her head; and her small feet were hidden in blue velvet brodequins,
decorated with diamond stars.

Anne Boleyn's features were exquisitely formed, and though not regular,
far more charming than if they had been so. Her nose was slightly
aquiline, but not enough so to detract from its beauty, and had a little
retrousse; point that completed its attraction. The rest of her features
were delicately chiselled: the chin being beautifully rounded, the brow
smooth and white as snow, while the rose could not vie with the bloom of
her cheek. Her neck--alas! that the fell hand of the executioner should
ever touch it--was long and slender, her eyes large and blue, and of
irresistible witchery--sometimes scorching the beholder like a sunbeam,
anon melting him with soul-subduing softness.

Of her accomplishments other opportunities will be found to speak; but
it may be mentioned that she was skilled on many instruments, danced and
sang divinely, and had rare powers of conversation and wit. If to these
she had not added the dangerous desire to please, and the wish to hold
other hearts than the royal one she had enslaved, in thraldom, all
might, perhaps, have been well. But, alas like many other beautiful
women, she had a strong tendency to coquetry. How severely she suffered
for it, it is the purpose of this history to relate. An excellent
description of her has been given by a contemporary writer, the Comte de
Chateaubriand, who, while somewhat disparaging her personal attractions,
speaks in rapturous terms of her accomplishments: "Anne," writes
the Comte, "avait un esprit si deslie qui c'estoit a qui l'ouiroit
desgoiser; et ci venoitelle a poetiser, telle qu' Orpheus, elle eust
faict les ours et rochers attentifs: puis saltoit, balloit, et dancoit
toutes dances Anglaises ou Estranges, et en imagina nombre qui ont garde
son nom ou celluy du galant pour qui les feit: puis scavoit tous les
jeux, qu'elle jouoit avec non plus d'heur que d'habilite puis chantoit
comme syrene, s'accompagnant de luth; harpoit mieueix que le roy David,
et manioit fort gentilment fleuste et rebec; puis s'accoustroit de tant
et si merveilleuses facons, que ses inventions, faisoient d'elle le
parangon de toutes des dames les plus sucrees de la court; mais nulle
n'avoit sa grace, laquelle, au dire d'un ancien, passe venuste'." Such
was the opinion of one who knew her well during her residence at the
French court, when in attendance on Mary of England, consort of Louis
XII., and afterwards Duchess of Suffolk.

At this moment Anne's eyes were fixed with some tenderness upon one of
the supporters of her canopy on the right--a very handsome young man,
attired in a doublet and hose of black tylsent, paned and cut, and
whose tall, well-proportioned figure was seen to the greatest advantage,
inasmuch as he had divested himself of his mantle, for his better
convenience in walking.

"I fear me you will fatigue yourself, Sir Thomas Wyat," said Anne
Boleyn, in tones of musical sweetness, which made the heart beat and the
colour mount to the cheeks of him she addressed. "You had better allow
Sir Thomas Arundel or Sir John Hulstone to relieve you."

"I can feel no fatigue when near you, madam," replied Wyat, in a low
tone.

A slight blush overspread Anne's features, and she raised her
embroidered kerchief to her lips.

"If I had that kerchief I would wear it at the next lists, and defy all
comers," said Wyat.

"You shall have it, then," rejoined Anne. "I love all chivalrous
exploits, and will do my best to encourage them."

"Take heed, Sir Thomas," said Sir Francis Weston, the knight who held
the staff on the other side, "or we shall have the canopy down. Let Sir
Thomas Arundel relieve you."

"No," rejoined Wyat, recovering himself; "I will not rest till we come
to the bridge."

"You are in no haste to possess the kerchief," said Anne petulantly.

"There you wrong me, madam!" cried Sir Thomas eagerly.

"What ho, good fellows!" he shouted to the attendants at the palfreys'
heads, "your lady desires you to stop."

"And I desire them to go on--I, Will Sommers, jester to the high and
mighty King Harry the Eighth!" cried a voice of mock authority behind
the knight. "What if Sir Thomas Wyat has undertaken to carry the canopy
farther than any of his companions, is that a reason he should be
relieved? Of a surety not--go on, I say!"

The person who thus spoke then stepped forward, and threw a glance so
full of significance at Anne Boleyn that she did not care to dispute the
order, but, on the contrary, laughingly acquiesced in it.

Will Sommers--the king's jester, as he described himself--was a small
middle-aged personage, with a physiognomy in which good nature and
malice, folly and shrewdness, were so oddly blended, that it was
difficult to say which predominated. His look was cunning and sarcastic,
but it was tempered by great drollery and oddity of manner, and he
laughed so heartily at his own jests and jibes, that it was scarcely
possible to help joining him. His attire consisted of a long loose gown
of spotted crimson silk, with the royal cipher woven in front in gold;
hose of blue cloth, guarded with red and black cloth; and red cordovan
buskins. A sash tied round his waist served him instead of a girdle, and
he wore a trencher-shaped velvet cap on his head, with a white tufted
feather in it. In his hand he carried a small horn. He was generally
attended by a monkey, habited in a crimson doublet and hood, which sat
upon his shoulder, and played very diverting tricks, but the animal was
not with him on the present occasion.

Will Sommers was a great favourite with the king, and ventured upon
familiarities which no one else dared to use with him. The favour in
which he stood with his royal master procured him admittance to his
presence at all hours and at all seasons, and his influence, though
seldom exerted, was very great. He was especially serviceable in turning
aside the edge of the king's displeasure, and more frequently exerted
himself to allay the storm than to raise it. His principal hostility was
directed against Wolsey, whose arrogance and grasping practices were the
constant subjects of his railing. It was seldom, such was his privileged
character, and the protection he enjoyed from the sovereign, that any of
the courtiers resented his remarks; but Sir Thomas Wyat's feelings being
now deeply interested, he turned sharply round, and said, "How now, thou
meddling varlet, what business hast thou to interfere?"

"I interfere to prove my authority, gossip Wyat," replied Sommers,
"and to show that, varlet as I am, I am as powerful as Mistress Anne
Boleyn--nay, that I am yet more powerful, because I am obeyed, while she
is not."

"Were I at liberty," said Sir Thomas angrily, "I would make thee repent
thine insolence."

"But thou art not at liberty, good gossip," replied the jester,
screaming with laughter; "thou art tied like a slave to the oar, and
cannot free thyself from it--ha! ha!" Having enjoyed the knight's
discomposure for a few seconds, he advanced towards him, and whispered
in his ear, "Don't mistake me, gossip. I have done thee good service in
preventing thee from taking that kerchief. Hadst thou received it in the
presence of these witnesses, thou wouldst have been lodged in the
Round Tower of Windsor Castle to-morrow, instead of feasting with the
knights-companions in Saint George's Hall."

"I believe thou art right, gossip," said Wyat in the same tone.

"Rest assured I am," replied Sommers; "and I further more counsel thee to
decline this dangerous gift altogether, and to think no more of the fair
profferer, or if thou must think of her, let it be as of one beyond thy
reach. Cross not the lion's path; take a friendly hint from the jackal."

And without waiting for a reply, he darted away, and mingled with the
cavalcade in the rear.

Immediately behind Anne Boleyn's litter rode a company of henchmen of
the royal household, armed with gilt partisans. Next succeeded a
chariot covered with red cloth of gold, and drawn by four horses
richly caparisoned, containing the old Duchess of Norfolk and the old
Marchioness of Dorset. Then came the king's natural son, the Duke of
Richmond--a young man formed on the same large scale, and distinguished
by the same haughty port, and the same bluff manner, as his royal
sire. The duke's mother was the Lady Talboys, esteemed one of the
most beautiful women of the age, and who had for a long time held
the capricious monarch captive. Henry was warmly attached to his son,
showered favours without number upon him, and might have done yet more
if fate had not snatched him away at an early age.

Though scarcely eighteen, the Duke of Richmond looked more than
twenty, and his lips and chin were clothed with a well-grown though
closely-clipped beard. He was magnificently habited in a doublet of
cloth of gold of bawdekin, the placard and sleeves of which were wrought
with flat gold, and fastened with aiglets. A girdle of crimson velvet,
enriched with precious stones, encircled his waist, and sustained a
poniard and a Toledo sword, damascened with gold. Over all he wore a
loose robe, or housse, of scarlet mohair, trimmed with minever, and was
further decorated with the collar of the Order of the Garter. His
cap was of white velvet, ornamented with emeralds, and from the side
depended a small azure plume. He rode a magnificent black charger,
trapped in housings of cloth of gold, powdered with ermine.

By the duke's side rode the Earl of Surrey attired--as upon the previous
day, and mounted on a fiery Arabian, trapped in crimson velvet fringed
with Venetian gold. Both nobles were attended by their esquires in their
liveries.

Behind them came a chariot covered with cloth of silver, and drawn,
like the first, by four horses in rich housings, containing two very
beautiful damsels, one of whom attracted so much of the attention of
the youthful nobles, that it was with difficulty they could preserve due
order of march. The young dame in question was about seventeen; her face
was oval in form, with features of the utmost delicacy and regularity.
Her complexion was fair and pale, and contrasted strikingly with her
jetty brows and magnificent black eyes, of oriental size, tenderness,
and lustre. Her dark and luxuriant tresses were confined by a cap of
black velvet faced with white satin, and ornamented with pearls. Her
gown was of white satin worked with gold, and had long open pendent
sleeves, while from her slender and marble neck hung a cordeliere--a
species of necklace imitated from the cord worn by Franciscan friars,
and formed of crimson silk twisted with threads of Venetian gold..

This fair creature was the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald
Fitzgerald, ninth Earl of Kildare, who claimed descent from the Geraldi
family of Florence; but she was generally known by the appellation of
the Fair Geraldine--a title bestowed upon her, on account of her beauty,
by the king, and by which she still lives, and will continue to live, as
long as poetry endures, in the deathless and enchanting strains of her
lover, the Earl of Surrey. At the instance of her mother, Lady Kildare,
the Fair Geraldine was brought up with the Princess Mary, afterwards
Queen of England; but she had been lately assigned by the royal order as
one of the attendants--a post equivalent to that of maid of honour--to
Anne Boleyn.

Her companion was the Lady Mary Howard, the sister of the Earl of
Surrey, a nymph about her own age, and possessed of great personal
attractions, having nobly-formed features, radiant blue eyes, light
tresses, and a complexion of dazzling clearness. Lady Mary Howard
nourished a passion for the Duke of Richmond, whom she saw with secret
chagrin captivated by the superior charms of the Fair Geraldine. Her
uneasiness, however, was in some degree abated by the knowledge, which
as confidante of the latter she had obtained, that her brother was
master of her heart. Lady Mary was dressed in blue velvet, cut and lined
with cloth of gold, and wore a headgear of white velvet, ornamented with
pearls.

Just as the cavalcade came in sight of Datchet Bridge, the Duke of
Richmond turned his horse's head, and rode up to the side of the chariot
on which the Fair Geraldine was sitting.

"I am come to tell you of a marvellous adventure that befell Surrey in
the Home Park at Windsor last night," he said. "He declares he has seen
the demon hunter, Herne."

"Then pray let the Earl of Surrey relate the adventure to us himself,"
replied the Fair Geraldine. "No one can tell a story so well as the hero
of it."

The duke signed to the youthful earl, who was glancing rather wistfully
at them, and he immediately joined them, while Richmond passed over to
the Lady Mary Howard. Surrey then proceeded to relate what had happened
to him in the park, and the fair Geraldine listened to his recital with
breathless interest.

"Heaven shield us from evil spirits!" she exclaimed, crossing herself.
"But what is the history of this wicked hunter, my lord? and why did he
incur such a dreadful doom?"

"I know nothing more than that he was a keeper in the forest, who,
having committed some heinous crime, hanged himself from a branch of the
oak beneath which I found the keeper, Morgan Fenwolf, and which still
bears his name," replied the earl. "For this unrighteous act he cannot
obtain rest, but is condemned to wander through the forest at midnight,
where he wreaks his vengeance in blasting the trees."

"The legend I have heard differs from yours," observed the Duke of
Richmond: "it runs that the spirit by which the forest is haunted is a
wood-demon, who assumes the shape of the ghostly hunter, and seeks to
tempt or terrify the keepers to sell their souls to him."

"Your grace's legend is the better of the two," said Lady Mary Howard,
"or rather, I should say, the more probable. I trust the evil spirit did
not make you any such offer, brother of Surrey?"

The earl gravely shook his head.

"If I were to meet him, and he offered me my heart's dearest wish, I
fear he would prevail with me," observed the duke, glancing tenderly at
the Fair Geraldine.

"Tush!--the subject is too serious for jesting, Richmond," said Surrey
almost sternly.

"His grace, as is usual in compacts with the fiend, might have reason to
rue his bargain," observed Lady Mary Howard peevishly.

"If the Earl of Surrey were my brother," remarked the Fair Geraldine
to the Lady Mary, "I would interdict him from roaming in the park after
nightfall."

"He is very wilful," said Lady Mary, smiling, "and holds my commands but
lightly."

"Let the Fair Geraldine lay hers upon me, and she shall not have to
reproach me with disobedience," rejoined the earl.

"I must interpose to prevent their utterance," cried Richmond, with a
somewhat jealous look at his friend, "for I have determined to know more
of this mystery, and shall require the earl's assistance to unravel it.
I think I remember Morgan Fenwolf, the keeper, and will send for him to
the castle, and question him. But in any case, I and Surrey will visit
Herne's Oak to-night."

The remonstrances of both ladies were interrupted by the sudden
appearance of Will Sommers.

"What ho! my lords--to your places! to your places!" cried the jester,
in a shrill angry voice. "See ye not we are close upon Datchet Bridge?
Ye can converse with these fair dames at a more fitting season; but it
is the king's pleasure that the cavalcade should make a goodly show. To
your places, I say!"

Laughing at the jester's peremptory injunction, the two young nobles
nevertheless obeyed it, and, bending almost to the saddle-bow to the
ladies, resumed their posts.

The concourse assembled on Datchet Bridge welcomed Anne Boleyn's arrival
with loud acclamations, while joyous strains proceeded from sackbut and
psaltery, and echoing blasts from the trumpets. Caps were flung into
the air, and a piece of ordnance was fired from the barge, which was
presently afterwards answered by the castle guns. Having paid his
homage to Anne Boleyn, the mayor rejoined the company of bailiffs and
burgesses, and the whole cavalcade crossed the bridge, winding their
way slowly along the banks of the river, the barge, with the minstrels
playing in it, accompanying them the while. In this way they reached
Windsor; and as Anne Boleyn gazed up at the lordly castle above which
the royal standard now floated, proud and aspiring thoughts swelled her
heart, and she longed for the hour when she should approach it as its
mistress. Just then her eye chanced on Sir Thomas Wyat, who was riding
behind her amongst the knights, and she felt, though it might cost her a
struggle, that love would yield to ambition.

Leaving the barge and its occupants to await the king's arrival, the
cavalcade ascended Thames Street, and were welcomed everywhere with
acclamations and rejoicing. Bryan Bowntance, who had stationed himself
on the right of the arch in front of his house, attempted to address
Anne Boleyn, but could not bring forth a word. His failure, how ever,
was more successful than his speech might have been, inasmuch as it
excited abundance of merriment.

Arrived at the area in front of the lower gateway, Anne Boleyn's litter
was drawn up in the midst of it, and the whole of the cavalcade
grouping around her, presented a magnificent sight to the archers and
arquebusiers stationed on the towers and walls.

Just at this moment a signal gun was heard from Datchet Bridge,
announcing that the king had reached it, and the Dukes of Suffolk,
Norfolk, and Richmond, together with the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas
Wyat, and a few of their gentle men, rode back to meet him. They had
scarcely, however, reached the foot of the hill when the royal party
appeared in view, for the king with his characteristic impatience, on
drawing near the castle, had urged his attendants quickly forward.

First came half a dozen trumpeters, with silken bandrols fluttering in
the breeze, blowing loud flourishes. Then a party of halberdiers, whose
leaders had pennons streaming from the tops of their tall pikes. Next
came two gentlemen ushers bareheaded, but mounted and richly habited,
belonging to the Cardinal of York, who cried out as they pressed
forward, "On before, my masters, on before!--make way for my lord's
grace."

Then came a sergeant-of-arms bearing a great mace of silver, and two
gentlemen carrying each a pillar of silver. Next rode a gentleman
carrying the cardinal's hat, and after him came Wolsey himself, mounted
on a mule trapped in crimson velvet, with a saddle covered with the same
stuff, and gilt stirrups. His large person was arrayed in robes of
the finest crimson satin engrained, and a silk cap of the same colour
contrasted by its brightness with the pale purple tint of his sullen,
morose, and bloated features. The cardinal took no notice of the clamour
around him, but now and then, when an expression of dislike was uttered
against him, for he had already begun to be unpopular with the people,
he would raise his eyes and direct a withering glance at the hardy
speaker. But these expressions were few, for, though tottering, Wolsey
was yet too formidable to be insulted with impunity. On either side of
him were two mounted attend ants, each caring a gilt poleaxe, who, if he
had given the word, would have instantly chastised the insolence of
the bystanders, while behind him rode his two cross-bearers upon homes
trapped in scarlet.

Wolsey's princely retinue was followed by a litter of crimson velvet, in
which lay the pope's legate, Cardinal Campeggio, whose infirmities
were so great that he could not move without assistance. Campeggio was
likewise attended by a numerous train.

After a long line of lords, knights, and esquires, came Henry the
Eighth. He was apparelled in a robe of crimson velvet furred with
ermines, and wore a doublet of raised gold, the placard of which was
embroidered with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, large pearls, and other
precious stones. About his neck was a baldric of balas rubies, and over
his robe he wore the collar of the Order of the Garter. His horse, a
charger of the largest size, and well able to sustain his vast weight,
was trapped in crimson velvet, purfled with ermines. His knights and
esquires were clothed in purple velvet, and his henchmen in scarlet
tunics of the same make as those worn by the warders of the Tower at the
present day.

Henry was in his thirty-eighth year, and though somewhat overgrown and
heavy, had lost none of his activity, and but little of the grace of his
noble proportions. His size and breadth of limb were well displayed in
his magnificent habiliment. His countenance was handsome and manly, with
a certain broad burly look, thoroughly English in its character, which
won him much admiration from his subjects; and though it might be
objected that the eyes were too small, and the mouth somewhat too
diminutive, it could not be denied that the general expression of the
face was kingly in the extreme. A prince of a more "royal presence"
than Henry the Eighth was never seen, and though he had many and grave
faults, want of dignity was not amongst the number.

Henry entered Windsor amid the acclamations of the spectators, the
fanfares of trumpeters, and the roar of ordnance from the castle walls.

Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn, having descended from her litter, which passed
through the gate into the lower ward, stood with her ladies beneath the
canopy awaiting his arrival.

A wide clear space was preserved before her, into which, however, Wolsey
penetrated, and, dismounting, placed himself so that he could witness
the meeting between her and the king. Behind him stood the jester, Will
Sommers, who was equally curious with himself. The litter of Cardinal
Campeggio passed through the gateway and proceeded to the lodgings
reserved for his eminence.

Scarcely had Wolsey taken up his station than Henry rode up, and,
alighting, consigned his horse to a page, and, followed by the Duke
of Richmond and the Earl of Surrey, advanced towards Anne Boleyn, who
immediately stepped forward to meet him.

"Fair mistress," he said, taking her hand, and regarding her with a look
of passionate devotion, "I welcome you to this my castle of Windsor,
and trust soon to make you as absolute mistress of it as I am lord and
master."

Anne Boleyn blushed, and cast down her eyes, and Sir Thomas Wyat, who
stood at some little distance with his hand upon his saddle, regarding
her, felt that any hopes he might have entertained were utterly
annihilated.

"Heard you that, my lord cardinal?" said Will Sommers to Wolsey. "She
will soon be mistress here. As she comes in, you go out--mind that!"

The cardinal made no answer further than was conveyed by the deepened
colour of his cheeks.

Amid continued fanfares and acclamations, Harry then led Anne Boleyn
through the gateway, followed by the ladies in waiting, who were joined
by Richmond and Surrey. The prelate, chancellor, register, black rod,
and other officers of the Garter, together with the whole of the
royal retinue who had dismounted, came after them. A vast concourse
of spectators, extending almost as far as the Lieutenant's Tower, was
collected in front of the alms-knights' houses; but a wide space had
been kept clear by the henchmen for the passage of the sovereign and his
train, and along this Henry proceeded with Anne Boleyn, in the direction
of the upper ward. Just as he reached the Norman Tower, and passed the
entrance to the keep, the Duke of Shoreditch, who was standing beneath
the gateway, advanced towards him and prostrated himself on one knee.

"May it please your majesty," said Shoreditch, "I last night arrested
a butcher of Windsor for uttering words highly disrespectful of your
highness, and of the fair and virtuous lady by your side."

"Ah! God's death!" exclaimed the king. "Where is the traitor? Bring him
before us."

"He is here," replied Shoreditch.

And immediately Mark Fytton was brought forward by a couple of
halberdiers. He still preserved his undaunted demeanour, and gazed
sternly at the king.

"So, fellow, thou hast dared to speak disrespectfully of us--ha!" cried
Henry.

"I have spoken the truth," replied the butcher fearlessly. "I have said
you were about to divorce your lawful consort, Catherine of Arragon, and
to take the minion, Anne Boleyn, who stands beside you, to your bed. And
I added, it was a wrongful act."

"Foul befall thy lying tongue for saying so!" replied Henry furiously.
"I have a mind to pluck it from thy throat, and cast it to the dogs.
What ho! guards, take this caitiff to the summit of the highest tower of
the castle--the Curfew Tower--and hang him from it, so that all my loyal
subjects in Windsor may see how traitors are served."

"Your highness has judged him justly," said Anne Boleyn. "You say so
now, Mistress Anne Boleyn," rejoined the butcher; "but you yourself
shall one day stand in as much peril of your life as I do, and shall
plead as vainly as I should, were I to plead at all, which I will never
do to this inexorable tyrant. You will then remember my end."

"Away with him!" cried Henry. "I myself will go to the Garter Tower to
see it done. Farewell for a short while, sweetheart. I will read these
partisans of Catherine a terrible lesson."

As the butcher was hurried off to the Curfew Tower, the king proceeded
with his attendants to the Garter Tower, and ascended to its summit.

In less than ten minutes a stout pole, like the mast of a ship, was
thrust through the battlements of the Curfew Tower, on the side looking
towards the town. To this pole a rope, of some dozen feet in length,
and having a noose at one end, was firmly secured. The butcher was then
brought forth, bound hand and foot, and the noose was thrown over his
neck.

While this was passing, the wretched man descried a person looking at
him from a window in a wooden structure projecting from the side of the
tower.

"What, are you there, Morgan Fenwolf?" he cried. "Remember what passed
between us in the dungeon last night, and be warned! You will not meet
your end as firmly as I meet mine?"

"Make thy shrift quickly, fellow, if thou hast aught to say," interposed
one of the halberdiers.

"I have no shrift to make," rejoined the butcher. "I have already
settled my account with Heaven. God preserve Queen Catherine!"

As he uttered these words, he was thrust off from the battlements by
the halberdiers, and his body swung into the abyss amid the hootings and
execrations of the spectators below.

Having glutted his eyes with the horrible sight, Henry descended from
the tower, and returned to Anne Boleyn.



IV.

     How King Henry the Eighth held a Chapter of the Garter--How
     he attended Vespers and Matins in Saint George's Chapel--And
     how he feasted with the Knights--Companions in Saint
     George's Hall.


From a balcony overlooking the upper ward, Anne Boleyn beheld the
king's approach on his return from the Garter Tower, and waving her hand
smilingly to him, she withdrew into the presence-chamber. Hastening to
her, Henry found her surrounded by her ladies of honour, by the chief
of the nobles and knights who had composed her train from Hampton Court,
and by the Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio; and having exchanged a few
words with her, he took her hand, and led her to the upper part of the
chamber, where two chairs of state were set beneath a canopy of crimson
velvet embroidered with the royal arms, and placed her in the seat
hitherto allotted to Catherine of Arragon. A smile of triumph irradiated
Anne's lovely countenance at this mark of distinction, nor was her
satisfaction diminished as Henry turned to address the assemblage.

"My lords," he said, "ye are right well aware of the scruples of
conscience I entertain in regard to my marriage with my brother's widow,
Catherine of Arragon. The more I weigh the matter, the more convinced am
I of its unlawfulness; and were it possible to blind myself to my sinful
condition, the preachers, who openly rebuke me from the pulpit, would
take care to remind me of it. Misunderstand me not, my lords. I have no
ground of complaint against the queen. Far otherwise. She is a lady
of most excellent character--full of devotion, loyalty, nobility, and
gentleness. And if I could divest myself of my misgivings, so far from
seeking to put her from me, I should cherish her with the greatest
tenderness. Ye may marvel that I have delayed the divorce thus long. But
it is only of late that my eyes have been opened; and the step was hard
to take. Old affections clung to me--old chains restrained me--nor could
I, without compunction, separate myself from one who has ever been to me
a virtuous and devoted consort."

"Thou hast undergone a martyrdom, gossip," observed Will Sommers, who
had posted himself at the foot of the canopy, near the king, "and shalt
henceforth be denominated Saint Henry."

The gravity of the hearers might have been discomposed by this remark,
but for the stern looks of the king.

"Ye may make a jest of my scruples, my lords," he continued, "and think
I hold them lightly; but my treatise on the subject, which has cost
me much labour and meditation, will avouch to the contrary. What would
befall this realm if my marriage were called in question after my
decease? The same trouble and confusion would ensue that followed on the
death of my noble grandfather, King Edward the Fourth. To prevent such
mischance I have resolved, most reluctantly, to put away my present
queen, and to take another consort, by whom I trust to raise up a worthy
successor and inheritor of my kingdom."

A murmur of applause followed this speech, and the two cardinals
exchanged significant glances, which were not unobserved by the king.

"I doubt not ye will all approve the choice I shall make," he pursued,
looking fiercely at Wolsey, and taking Anne Boleyn's hand, who arose
as he turned to her. "And now, fair mistress," he added to her, "as an
earnest of the regard I have for you, and of the honours I intend you,
I hereby create you Marchioness of Pembroke, and bestow upon you a
thousand marks a year in land, and another thousand to be paid out of my
treasury to support your dignity."

"Your majesty is too generous," replied Anne, bending the knee, and
kissing his hand.

"Not a whit, sweetheart--not a whit," replied Henry, tenderly raising
her; "this is but a slight mark of my goodwill. Sir Thomas Boleyn," he
added to her father, "henceforth your style and title will be that of
Viscount Rochford, and your patent will be made out at the same time as
that of your daughter, the Marchioness of Pembroke. I also elect you a
knight-companion of the most honourable Order of the Garter, and your
investiture and installation will take place to-day."

Having received the thanks and homage of the newly-created noble, Henry
descended from the canopy, and passed into an inner room with the Lady
Anne, where a collation was prepared for them. Their slight meal over,
Anne took up her lute, and playing a lively prelude, sang two or
three French songs with so much skill and grace, that Henry, who was
passionately fond of music, was quite enraptured. Two delightful hours
having passed by, almost imperceptibly, an usher approached the king,
and whispering a few words to him, he reluctantly withdrew, and Anne
retired with her ladies to an inner apartment.

On reaching his closet, the king's attendants proceeded to array him in
a surcoat of crimson velvet, powdered with garters embroidered in silk
and gold, with the motto--boni soft qui mal y pense--wrought within
them. Over the surcoat was thrown a mantle of blue velvet with a
magnificent train, lined with white damask, and having on the left
shoulder a large garter, wrought in pearls and Venice twists, containing
the motto, and encircling the arms of Saint George--argent, a cross
gules. The royal habiliments were completed by a hood of the same stuff
as the surcoat, decorated like it with small embroidered garters, and
lined with white satin. From the king's neck was suspended the collar
of the Great George, composed of pieces of gold, fashioned like garters,
the ground of which was enamelled, and the letters gold.

While Henry was thus arrayed, the knights-companions, robed in their
mantles, hoods, and collars, entered the closet, and waiting till he
was ready, marched before him into the presence-chamber, where were
assembled the two provincial kings-at-arms, Clarenceux and Norroy, the
heralds, and pursuivants, wearing their coats-of-arms, together with the
band of pensioners, carrying gilt poleaxes, and drawn up in two lines.
At the king's approach, one of the gentlemen-ushers who carried the
sword of state, with the point resting upon the ground, delivered it
to the Duke of Richmond,--the latter having been appointed to bear it
before the king during all the proceedings of the feast. Meanwhile, the
knights-companions having drawn up on either side of the canopy, Henry
advanced with a slow and stately step towards it, his train borne by
the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas Wyat, and other nobles and knights. As he
ascended the canopy, and faced the assemblage, the Duke of Richmond
and the chief officers of the Order drew up a little on his right. The
knights-companions then made their salutation to him, which he returned
by removing his jewelled cap with infinite grace and dignity, and
as soon as he was again covered they put on their caps, and ranging
themselves in order, set forward to Saint George's Chapel.

Quitting the royal lodgings, and passing through the gateway of the
Norman Tower, the procession wound its way along the base of the Round
Tower, the battlements of which bristled with spearmen, as did the walls
on the right, and the summit of the Winchester Tower, and crossing the
middle ward, skirted the tomb-house, then newly erected by Wolsey, and
threading a narrow passage between it and Saint George's Chapel, entered
the north-east door of the latter structure.

Dividing, on their entrance into the chapel, into two lines, the
attendants of the knights-companions flanked either side of the north
aisle; while between them walked the alms-knights, the verger, the
prebends of the college, and the officers-of-arms, who proceeded as far
as the west door of the choir, where they stopped. A slight pause then
ensued, after which the king, the knights-companions, and the chief
officers of the Order, entered the chapter-house--a chamber situated at
the north-east corner of the chapel--leaving the Duke of Richmond, the
sword-bearer, Lard Rochford, the knight-elect, the train-bearers, and
pensioners outside. The door of the chapter-house being closed by
the black-rod, the king proceeded to the upper end of the
vestments-board--as the table was designated--where a chair, cushions,
and cloth of state were provided for him; the knights-companions, whose
stalls in the choir were on the same side as his own, seating themselves
on his right, and those whose posts were on the prince's side taking
their places on the left. The prelate and the chancellor stood at the
upper end of the table; the Garter and register at the foot; while the
door was kept by the black-rod.

As soon as the king and the knights were seated, intimation was given by
an usher to the black-rod that the newly elected knight, Lord Rochford,
was without. The intelligence being communicated to the king, he ordered
the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk to bring him into his presence.
The injunction was obeyed, and the knight-elect presently made
his appearance, the Garter marching before him to the king. Bowing
reverently to the sovereign, Rochford, in a brief speech, expressed his
gratitude for the signal honour conferred upon him, and at its close
set his left foot upon a gilt stool, placed for him by the Garter, who
pronounced the following admonition:--"My good lord, the loving company
of the Order of the Garter have received you as their brother and
fellow. In token whereof, they give you this garter, which God grant you
may receive and wear from henceforth to His praise and glory, and to the
exaltation and honour of the noble Order and yourself."

Meanwhile the garter was girded on the leg of the newly-elected knight,
and buckled by the Duke of Suffolk. This done, he knelt before the king,
who hung a gold chain, with the image of Saint George attached to
it, about his neck, while another admonition was pronounced by
the chancellor. Rochford then arose, bowed to the monarch, to the
knights-companions, who returned his salutations, and the investiture
was complete.

Other affairs of the chapter were next discussed. Certain officers
nominated since the last meeting, were sworn; letters from absent
knights-companions, praying to be excused from attendance, were
read--and their pleas, except in the instance of Sir Thomas Cheney,
allowed. After reading the excuse of the latter, Henry uttered an angry
oath, declaring he would deprive him of his vote in the chapter-house,
banish him from his stall, and mulct him a hundred marks, to be paid
at Saint George's altar, when Will Sommers, who was permitted to be
present, whispered in his ear that the offender was kept away by the
devices of Wolsey, because he was known to be friendly to the divorce,
and to the interests of the lady Anne.

"Aha! by Saint Mary, is it so?" exclaimed Henry, knitting his brows.
"This shall be looked into. I have hanged a butcher just now. Let the
butcher's son take warning by his fate. He has bearded me long enough.
See that Sir Thomas Cheney be sent for with all despatch. I will hear
the truth from his own lips."

He then arose, and quitting the chapter-house, proceeded with the
knights-companions to the choir--the roof and walls of the sacred
structure resounding with the solemn notes of the organ as they
traversed the aisle. The first to enter the choir were the alms-knights,
who passed through the door in a body, and making low obeisances
toward the altar and the royal stall, divided into two lines. They
were succeeded by the prebends of the College, who, making similar
obeisances, stationed themselves in front of the benches before the
stalls of the knights-companions. Next followed the pursuivants,
heralds, and provincial kings-of-arms, making like reverences,
and ranging themselves with the alms-knights. Then came the
knights-companions, who performed double reverences like the others, and
took their stations under their stalls; then came the black-rod, Garter,
and register, who having gone through the same ceremony as the others,
proceeded to their form, which was placed on the south side of the choir
before the sovereign's stall; then came the chancellor and prelate,
whose form was likewise placed before the royal stall, but nearer to it
than that allotted to the other officers; and, lastly, Henry himself,
with the sword borne before him by the Duke of Richmond, who as he
approached the steps of his stall bowed reverently towards the altar,
and made another obeisance before seating himself.

Meanwhile the Duke of Richmond posted himself in front of the royal
stall, the Earl of Oxford, as lord chamberlain, taking his station on
the king's right, and the Earl of Surrey, as vice-chamberlain, on the
left. As these arrangements were made, the two cardinals arrived, and
proceeded to the altar.

Mass was then said, and nothing could be more striking than the
appearance of the chapel during its performance. The glorious choir with
its groined and pendent roof, its walls adorned with the richest stuffs,
its exquisitely carved stalls, above which hung the banners of the
knights-companions, together with their helmets, crests, and swords, its
sumptuously--decorated altar, glittering with costly vessels, its pulpit
hung with crimson damask interwoven with gold, the magnificent and
varied dresses of the assemblage--all these constituted a picture of
surpassing splendour.

Vespers over, the king and his train departed with the same ceremonies
and in the same order as had been observed on their entrance to the
choir.

On returning to the royal lodgings, Henry proceeded to his closet, where
having divested himself of his mantle, he went in search of the Lady
Anne. He found her walking with her dames on the stately terrace at the
north of the castle, and the attendants retiring as he joined her, he
was left at full liberty for amorous converse. After pacing the terrace
for some time, he adjourned with Anne to her own apartments, where he
remained till summoned to supper with the knights-companions in Saint
George's Hall.

The next morning betimes, it being the day of the Patron Saint of the
Order of the Garter, a numerous cavalcade assembled in the upper ward of
the castle, to conduct the king to hear matins in Saint George's Chapel.
In order to render the sight as imposing as possible, Henry had arranged
that the procession should take place on horseback, and the whole of the
retinue were accordingly mounted. The large quadrangle was filled with
steeds and their attendants, and the castle walls resounded with the
fanfares of trumpets and the beating of kettledrums. The most attractive
feature of the procession in the eyes of the beholders was the Lady
Anne, who, mounted on a snow-white palfrey richly trapped, rode on the
right of the king. She was dressed in a rich gown of raised cloth of
gold; and had a coronet of black velvet, decorated with orient pearls,
on her head. Never had she looked so lovely as on this occasion, and the
king's passion increased as he gazed upon her. Henry himself was more
sumptuously attired than on the preceding day. He wore a robe of purple
velvet, made somewhat like a frock, embroidered with flat damask gold,
and small lace intermixed. His doublet was very curiously embroidered,
the sleeves and breast being lined with cloth of gold, and fastened with
great buttons of diamonds and rubies. His sword and girdle were adorned
with magnificent emeralds, and his bonnet glistened with precious
stones. His charger was trapped in cloth of gold, traversed
lattice-wise, square, embroidered with gold damask, pearled on every
side, and having buckles and pendants of fine gold. By his side ran
ten footmen, richly attired in velvet and goldsmith's work. They were
followed by the pages of honour, mounted on great horses, trapped in
crimson velvet embroidered with new devices and knots of gold.

In this state Henry and his favourite proceeded to the great
western door of Saint George's Chapel. Here twelve gentlemen of the
privy-chamber attended with a canopy of cloth of gold, which they bore
over the king's bead, and that of the Lady Anne, as she walked beside
him to the entrance of the choir, where they separated--he proceeding
to his stall, and she to a closet at the north-east corner of the choir
over the altar, while her ladies repaired to one adjoining it.

Matins then commenced, and at the appointed part of the service the dean
of the college took a silver box, containing the heart of Saint George,
bestowed upon King Henry the Fifth by the Emperor Sigismund, and after
incense had been shed upon it by one of the canons, presented it to the
king and the knights-companions to kiss.

After the offertory, a carpet was spread on the steps before the altar,
the alms-knights, pursuivants, and heralds stationing themselves on
either side of it. The Garter then descended from his seat, and waving
his rod, the knights-companions descended likewise, but remained before
their stalls. The black-rod next descended, and proceeding towards the
altar, a groom of the wardrobe brought him a small carpet of cloth of
gold, and a cushion of the same stuff, which were placed on the larger
carpet, the cushion being set on the head of the steps. Taking a large
gilt bason to receive the offerings, the prelate stationed himself with
one of the prebends in the midst of the altar. The king then rose from
his stall, and making a reverence as before, proceeded to the altar,
attended by the Garter, register, and chancellor, together with the
Duke of Richmond bearing the sword; and having reached the upper step,
prostrated himself on the cushion, while the black-rod bending the knee
delivered a chain of gold, intended afterwards to be redeemed, to the
Duke of Suffolk, who was appointed to make the royal offering, and who
placed it in the bason held by the prelate. This ceremony over, the king
got up, and with similar reverences returned to his stall. Then the two
provincial kings, Clarenceux and Norroy, proceeded along the choir, and
making due reverences to the altar and the sovereign, bowed to the two
senior knights; who thereupon advanced towards the altar, and kneeling
down, made their offering. The other imitated their example, coming
forward according to their seniority.

The service ended, the officers and knights-companions quitted the
chapel in the same order they had entered it, the king being received
under the canopy at the door of the choir, and passing through the
west entrance of the chapel, where he waited for the Lady Anne. On
her arrival they both mounted their steeds, and rode up to the royal
lodgings amid flourishes of trumpets and acclamations. Dismounting
at the great gate, Henry proceeded to the presence-chamber, where the
knights-companions had assembled, and having received their salutations,
retired to his closet. Here he remained in deep consultation with the
Duke of Suffolk for some hours, when it having been announced to him
that the first course of the banquet was served, he came forth,
and proceeded to the presence-chamber, where he greeted the
knights-companions, who were there assembled, and who immediately
put themselves in order of procession. After this, the alms-knights,
prebends, and officers-of-arms passed on through the guard-chamber into
Saint George's Hall. They were followed by the knights-companions, who
drew up in double file, the seniors taking the uppermost place; and
through these lines the king passed, his train borne up as before, until
reaching the table set apart for him beneath a canopy, he turned
round and received the knights' reverences. The Earl of Oxford, as
vice-chamberlain, then brought him a ewer containing water, the Earl of
Surrey a bason, and Lord Rochford a napkin. Henry having performed his
ablutions, grace was said by the prelate, after which the king seated
himself beneath the canopy in an ancient chair with a curiously carved
back representing the exploit of Saint George, which had once belonged
to the founder, King Edward the Third, and called up the two cardinals,
who by this time had entered the hall, and who remained standing beside
him, one on either hand, during the repast.

As soon as the king was seated, the knights-companions put on their
caps, and retired to the table prepared for them on the right side of
the hall, where they seated themselves according to their degree--the
Duke of Richmond occupying the first place, the Duke of Suffolk the
second, and the Duke of Norfolk the third. On the opposite side of the
hall was a long beaufet covered with flasks of wine, meats, and dishes,
for the service of the knights' table. Before this stood the attendants,
near whom were drawn up two lines of pensioners bearing the second
course on great gilt dishes, and headed by the sewer. In front of the
sewer were the treasurer and comptroller of the household, each bearing
a white wand; next them stood the officers-of-arms in two lines, headed
by the Garter. The bottom of the hall was thronged with yeomen of the
guard, halberdiers, and henchmen. In a gallery at the lower end were
stationed a band of minstrels, and near them sat the Lady Anne and her
dames to view the proceedings.

The appearance of the hall during the banquet was magnificent, the upper
part being hung with arras representing the legend of Saint
George, placed there by Henry the Sixth, and the walls behind the
knights-companions adorned with other tapestries and rich stuffs.
The tables groaned with the weight of dishes, some of which may be
enumerated for the benefit of modern gastronomers. There were Georges on
horseback, chickens in brewis, cygnets, capons of high grease, carpes of
venison, herons, calvered salmon, custards planted with garters, tarts
closed with arms, godwits, peafowl, halibut engrailed, porpoise in
armour, pickled mullets, perch in foyle, venison pasties, hypocras
jelly, and mainemy royal.

Before the second course was served, the Garter, followed by Clarenceux
and Norroy, together with the heralds and pursuivants, advanced towards
the sovereign's canopy, and cried thrice in a loud voice, "Largesse!"

Upon this, all the knights-companions arose and took off their caps. The
Garter then proceeded to proclaim the king's titles in Latin and French,
and lastly in English, as follows:--"Of the most high, most excellent,
and most mighty monarch, Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God King of
England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and Sovereign of
the most noble Order of the Garter."

This proclamation made, the treasurer of the household put ten golden
marks into the Garter's cap, who making a reverence to the sovereign,
retired from the hall with his followers.

"Come, my lord legate," said Henry, when this ceremony was at an end,
"we will drink to my future queen. What ho! wine!" he added to the Earl
of Surrey, who officiated as cup-bearer.

"Your highness is not yet divorced from your present consort," replied
Campeggio. "If it please you, I should prefer drinking the health of
Catherine of Arragon."

"Well, as your eminence pleases," replied the king, taking the goblet
from the hand of Surrey; "I shall not constrain you."

And looking towards the gallery, he fixed his eyes on the Lady Anne and
drained the cup to the last drop.

"Would it were poison," muttered Sir Thomas Wyat, who stood behind the
Earl of Surrey, and witnessed what was passing.

"Give not thy treasonable thoughts vent, gossip," said Will Sommers,
who formed one of the group near the royal table, "or it may chance that
some one less friendly disposed towards thee than myself may overhear
them. I tell thee, the Lady Anne is lost to thee for ever. Think'st thou
aught of womankind would hesitate between a simple knight and a king? My
lord duke," he added sharply to Richmond, who was looking round at him,
"you would rather be in yonder gallery than here."

"Why so, knave?" asked the duke.

"Because the Fair Geraldine is there," replied the jester. "And yet your
grace is not the person she would most desire to have with her."

"Whom would she prefer?" inquired the duke angrily.

The jester nodded at Surrey, and laughed maliciously.

"You heard the health given by the king just now, my lord," observed the
Duke of Suffolk to his neighbour the Duke of Norfolk; "it was a shrewd
hint to the lord legate which way his judgment should decline. Your
niece will assuredly be Queen of England."

"I did not note what was said, my lord," replied Norfolk; "I pray you
repeat it to me."

Suffolk complied, and they continued in close debate until the
termination of the banquet, when the king, having saluted the company,
returned to the presence-chamber.



V.

     Of the Ghostly Chase beheld by the Earl of Surrey and the
     Duke of Richmond in Windsor Forest.


On that same night, and just as the castle clock was on the stroke of
twelve, the Earl of Surrey and the Duke of Richmond issued from the
upper gate, and took their way towards Herne's Oak. The moon was shining
brightly, and its beams silvered the foliage of the noble trees with
which the park was studded. The youthful friends soon reached the
blasted tree; but nothing was to be seen near it, and all looked so
tranquil, so free from malignant influence, that the Duke of Richmond
could not help laughing at his companion, telling him that the supposed
vision must have been the offspring of his over-excited fancy. Angry at
being thus doubted, the earl walked off, and plunged into the haunted
dell. The duke followed, but though they paused for some time beneath
the gnarled oak-tree, the spirit did not appear.

"And thus ends the adventure of Herne the Hunter!" laughed the duke,
as they emerged from the brake. "By my halidom, Surrey, I am grievously
disappointed. You must have mistaken some large stag, caught by its
antlers in the branches of the oak-tree, for the demon."

"I have told you precisely what occurred," replied Surrey angrily. "Ha!
there he is--look! look!"

And he pointed to a weird figure, mounted on a steed as weird-looking as
itself, galloping through the trees with extraordinary swiftness, at a
little distance from them. This ghostly rider wore the antlered helmet
described by Surrey, and seemed to be habited in a garb of deer-skins.
Before him flew a large owl, and a couple of great black dogs ran beside
him. Staring in speechless wonder at the sight, the two youths watched
the mysterious being scour a glade brightly illumined by the moon,
until, reaching the pales marking the confines of the Home Park, he
leaped them and disappeared.

"What think you of that?" cried Surrey, as soon as he had recovered from
his surprise, glancing triumphantly at the duke. "Was that the offspring
of my fancy?"

"It was a marvellous sight, truly!" exclaimed Richmond. "Would we had
our steeds to follow him."

"We can follow him on foot," replied the earl--"he is evidently gone
into the forest."

And they set off at a quick pace in the direction taken by the ghostly
rider. Clambering the park pales, they crossed the road leading to
Old Windsor, and entered that part of the forest which, in more recent
times, has been enclosed and allotted to the grounds of Frogmore.
Tracking a long vista, they came to a thick dell, overgrown with
large oaks, at the bottom of which lay a small pool. Fleeter than his
companion, and therefore somewhat in advance of him, the Earl of Surrey,
as he approached this dell, perceived the spectral huntsman and his dogs
standing at the edge of the water. The earl instantly shouted to him,
and the horseman turning his head, shook his hand menacingly, while the
hounds glared fiercely at the intruder, and displayed their fangs, but
did not bark. As Surrey, however, despite this caution, continued to
advance, the huntsman took a strangely shaped horn that hung by his
side, and placing it to his lips, flames and thick smoke presently
issued from it, and before the vapour had cleared off, he and his dogs
had disappeared.. The witnesses of this marvellous spectacle crossed
themselves reverently, and descended to the brink of the pool; but the
numerous footprints of deer, that came there to drink, prevented them
from distinguishing any marks of the steed of the ghostly hunter.

"Shall we return, Surrey?" asked the duke.

"No," replied the earl. "I am persuaded we shall see the mysterious
huntsman again. You can return, if you think proper. I will go on."

"Nay, I will not leave you," rejoined Richmond.

And they set off again at the same quick pace as before. Mounting a hill
covered with noble beeches and elms, a magnificent view of the castle
burst upon them, towering over the groves they had tracked, and looking
almost like the work of enchantment. Charmed with the view, the young
men continued to contemplate it for some time. They then struck off on
the right, and ascended still higher, until they came to a beautiful
grove of beeches cresting the hill where the equestrian statue of George
the Third is now placed. Skirting this grove, they disturbed a herd of
deer, which started up, and darted into the valley below.

At the foot of two fine beech-trees lay another small pool, and Surrey
almost expected to see the spectral huntsman beside it.

From this spot they could discern the whole of the valley beyond, and
they scanned it in the hope of perceiving the object of their search.
Though not comparable to the view on the nearer side, the prospect was
nevertheless exceedingly beautiful. Long vistas and glades stretched out
before them, while in the far distance might be seen glittering in the
moonbeams the lake or mere which in later days has received the name of
Virginia Water.

While they were gazing at this scene, a figure habited like a keeper of
the forest suddenly emerged from the trees at the lower end of one of
the glades. Persuaded that this person had some mysterious connection
with the ghostly huntsman, the earl determined to follow him, and
hastily mentioning his suspicions and design to Richmond, he hurried
down the hill. But before he accomplished the descent, the keeper was
gone.

At length, however, on looking about, they perceived him mounting the
rising ground on the left, and immediately started after him, taking
care to keep out of sight. The policy of this course was soon apparent.
Supposing himself no longer pursued, the keeper relaxed his pace, and
the others got nearer to him.

In this way both parties went on, the keeper still hurrying forward,
every now and then turning his head to see whether any one was on his
track, until he came to a road cut through the trees that brought him to
the edge of a descent leading to the lake. Just at this moment a
cloud passed over the moon, burying all in comparative obscurity.
The watchers, however, could perceive the keeper approach an ancient
beech-tree of enormous growth, and strike it thrice with the short
hunting-spear which he held in his grasp.

The signal remaining unanswered, he quitted the tree, and shaped his
course along the side of a hill on the right. Keeping under the
shelter of the thicket on the top of the same hill, Surrey and Richmond
followed, and saw him direct his steps towards another beech-tree of
almost double the girth of that he had just visited. Arrived at this
mighty tree, he struck it with his spear, while a large owl, seated on
a leafless branch, began to hoot; a bat circled the tree; and two large
snakes, glistening in the moonlight, glided from its roots. As the tree
was stricken for the third time, the same weird figure that the watchers
had seen ride along the Home Park burst from its riften trunk, and
addressed its summoner in tones apparently menacing and imperious, but
whose import was lost upon the listeners. The curiosity of the beholders
was roused to the highest pitch, but an undefinable awe prevented them
from rushing forward.

Suddenly the demon hunter waved a pike with which he was armed, and
uttered a peculiar cry, resembling the hooting of an owl. At this sound,
and as if by magic, a couple of steeds, accompanied by the two hounds,
started from the brake. In an instant the demon huntsman vaulted upon
the hack of the horse nearest to him, and the keeper almost as quickly
mounted the other. The pair then galloped off through the glen, the owl
flying before them, and the hounds coursing by their side.

The two friends gazed at each other, for some time, in speechless
wonder. Taking heart, they then descended to the haunted tree, but could
perceive no traces of the strange being by whom it had been recently
tenanted. After a while they retraced their course towards the castle,
hoping they might once more encounter the wild huntsman. Nor were they
disappointed. As they crossed a glen, a noble stag darted by. Close at
its heels came the two black hounds, and after them the riders hurrying
forward at a furious pace, their steeds appearing to breathe forth flame
and smoke.

In an instant the huntsmen and hounds were gone, and the trampling of
the horses died away in the distance. Soon afterwards a low sound, like
the winding of a horn, broke upon the ear, and the listeners had no
doubt that the buck was brought down. They hurried in the direction
of the sound, but though the view was wholly unobstructed for a
considerable distance, they could see nothing either of horsemen,
hounds, or deer.



VI.

     How the Fair Geraldine bestowed a Relic upon her Lover--How
     Surrey and Richmond rode in the Forest at Midnight--And
     where they found the Body of Mark Fytton, the Butcher.


Surrey and Richmond agreed to say nothing for the present of their
mysterious adventure in the forest; but their haggard looks, as they
presented themselves to the Lady Anne Boleyn in the reception-chamber on
the following morning, proclaimed that something had happened, and they
had to undergo much questioning from the Fair Geraldine and the Lady
Mary Howard.

"I never saw you so out of spirits, my lord," remarked the Fair
Geraldine to Surrey; "you must have spent the whole night in study--or
what is more probable, you have again seen Herne the Hunter. Confess
now, you have been in the forest."

"I will confess anything you please," replied Surrey evasively.

"And what have you seen?--a stranger vision than the first?" rejoined
the Fair Geraldine.

"Since your ladyship answers for me, there is no need for explanation on
my part," rejoined Surrey, with a faint laugh. "And know you not, that
those who encounter super natural beings are generally bound to profound
secrecy?"

"Such, I hope, is not your case, Henry?" cried the Lady Mary Howard, in
alarm;--"nor yours, my lord?" she added to the Duke of Richmond.

"I am bound equally with Surrey," returned the duke mysteriously

"You pique my curiosity, my lords," said the Fair Geraldine; "and since
there is no other way of gratifying it, if the Lady Mary Howard will
accompany me, we will ourselves venture into the forest, and try whether
we cannot have a meeting with this wild huntsman. Shall we go to-night?

"Not for worlds," replied the Lady Mary, shuddering; "were I to see
Herne, I should die of fright."

"Your alarm is groundless," observed Richmond gallantly. "The presence
of two beings, fair and pure as yourself and the Lady Elizabeth
Fitzgerald, would scare away aught of evil."

The Lady Mary thanked him with a beaming smile, but the Fair Geraldine
could not suppress a slight laugh.

"Your grace is highly flattering," she said. "But, with all faith
in beauty and purity, I should place most reliance in a relic I
possess--the virtue of which has often been approved against evil
spirits. It was given by a monk--who had been sorely tempted by a demon,
and who owed his deliverance to it--to my ancestor, Luigi Geraldi of
Florence; and from him it descended to me."

"Would I had an opportunity of proving its efficacy!" exclaimed the Earl
of Surrey.

"You shall prove it, if you choose," rejoined the Fair Geraldine. "I
will give you the relic on condition that you never part with it to
friend or foe."

And detaching a small cross of gold, suspended by a chain from her neck,
she presented it to the Earl of Surrey.

"This cross encloses the relic," she continued; "wear it, and may it
protect you from all ill!"

Surrey's pale cheek glowed as he took the gift. "I will never past
with it but with life," he cried, pressing the cross to his lips, and
afterwards placing it next his heart.

"I would have given half my dukedom to be so favoured," said Richmond
moodily.

And quitting the little group, he walked towards the Lady Anne. "Henry,"
said the Lady Mary, taking her brother aside, "you will lose your
friend."

"I care not," replied Surrey.

"But you may incur his enmity," pursued the Lady Mary. "I saw the glance
he threw at you just now, and it was exactly like the king's terrible
look when offended."

"Again I say I care not," replied Surrey. "Armed with this relic, I defy
all hostility."

"It will avail little against Richmond's rivalry and opposition,"
rejoined his sister.

"We shall see," retorted Surrey. "Were the king himself my rival, I
would not resign my pretensions to the Fair Geraldine."

"Bravely resolved, my lord," said Sir Thomas Wyat, who, having overheard
the exclamation, advanced towards him. "Heaven grant you may never be
placed in such jeopardy!"

"I say amen to that prayer, Sir Thomas," rejoined Surrey "I would not
prove disloyal, and yet under such circumstances--"

"What would you do?" interrupted Wyat.

"My brother is but a hasty boy, and has not learned discretion, Sir
Thomas," interposed the Lady Mary, trying by a significant glance to
impose silence on the earl.

"Young as he is, he loves well and truly," remarked Wyat, in a sombre
tone.

"What is all this?" inquired the Fair Geraldine, who had been gazing
through the casement into the court below.

"I was merely expressing a wish that Surrey may never have a monarch for
a rival, fair lady," replied Wyat.

"It matters little who may be his rival," rejoined Geraldine, "provided
she he loves be constant."

"Right, lady, right," said Wyat, with great bitterness. At this moment
Will Sommers approached them. "I come to bid you to the Lady Anne's
presence, Sir Thomas, and you to the king's, my lord of Surrey," said
the jester. "I noticed what has just taken place," he remarked to the
latter, as they proceeded towards the royal canopy, beneath which Henry
and the Lady Anne Boleyn were seated; "but Richmond will not relinquish
her tamely, for all that."

Anne Boleyn had summoned Sir Thomas Wyat, in order to gratify her vanity
by showing him the unbounded influence she possessed over his royal
rival; and the half-suppressed agony displayed by the unfortunate lover
at the exhibition afforded her a pleasure such as only the most refined
coquette can feel.

Surrey was sent for by the king to receive instructions, in his quality
of vice-chamberlain, respecting a tilting-match and hunting-party to be
held on successive days--the one in the upper quadrangle of the castle,
the other in the forest.

Anxious, now that he was somewhat calmer, to avoid a rupture with
Richmond, Surrey, as soon as he had received the king's instructions,
drew near the duke; and the latter, who had likewise reasoned himself
out of his resentment, was speedily appeased, and they became, to all
appearance, as good friends as ever.

Soon afterwards the Lady Anne and her dames retired, and the court
breaking up, the two young nobles strolled forth to the stately terrace
at the north of the castle, where, while gazing at the glorious view it
commanded, they talked over the mysterious event of the previous night.

"I cannot help suspecting that the keeper we beheld with the demon
hunter was Morgan Fenwolf," remarked the earl. "Suppose we make inquiry
whether he was at home last night. We can readily find out his dwelling
from Bryan Bowntance, the host of the Garter."

Richmond acquiesced in the proposal, and they accordingly proceeded
to the cloisters of Saint George's Chapel, and threading some tortuous
passages contrived among the canons' houses, passed through a small
porch, guarded by a sentinel, and opening upon a precipitous and
somewhat dangerous flight of steps, hewn out of the rock and leading to
the town.

None except the more important members of the royal household were
allowed to use this means of exit from the castle, but, of course, the
privilege extended to Richmond and Surrey. Here in later times, and when
the castle was not so strictly guarded, a more convenient approach
was built, and designated, from the number of its stairs, "The Hundred
Steps."

Having accomplished the descent in safety, and given the password to the
sentinel at the foot of the steps, the two young nobles emerged into the
street, and the first object they beheld was the body of the miserable
butcher swinging from the summit of the Curfew Tower, where it was left
by order of the king.

Averting their gaze from this ghastly spectacle, they took their way up
Thames Street, and soon reached the Garter. Honest Bryan was seated on a
bench before the dwelling, with a flagon of his own ale beside him,
and rising as he saw the others approach, he made them a profound
salutation.

Upon leaning what they sought, he told them that Morgan Fenwolf dwelt
in a small cottage by the river-side not far from the bridge, and if
it pleased them, he would guide them to it himself--an offer which they
gladly accepted.

"Do you know anything of this Fenwolf?" asked Surrey, as they proceeded
on their way.

"Nothing particular," replied Bryan, with some hesitation. "There are
some strange reports about him, but I don't believe 'em."

"What reports are they, friend?" asked the Duke of Richmond.

"Why, your grace, one ought to be cautious what one says, for fear of
bringing an innocent man into trouble," returned the host. "But if the
truth must be spoken, people do say that Morgan Fenwolf is in league
with the devil--or with Herne the Hunter, which is the same thing."

Richmond exchanged a look with his friend.

"Folks say strange sights have been seen in the forest of late," pursued
Bryan--"and it may be so. But I myself have seen nothing--but then, to
be sure, I never go there. The keepers used to talk of Herne the
Hunter when I was a lad, but I believe it was only a tale to frighten
deer-stealers; and I fancy it's much the same thing now."

Neither Surrey nor Richmond made any remark, and they presently reached
the keeper's dwelling.

It was a small wooden tenement standing, as the host had stated, on the
bank of the river, about a bow-shot from the bridge. The door was opened
by Bryan, and the party entered without further ceremony. They found
no one within except an old woman, with harsh, wrinkled features, and a
glance as ill-omened as that of a witch, whom Bryan Bowntance told them
was Fenwolf's mother. This old crone regarded the intruders uneasily.

"Where is your son, dame?" demanded the duke.

"On his walk in the forest," replied the old crone bluntly.

"What time did he go forth?" inquired Surrey.

"An hour before daybreak, as is his custom," returned the woman, in the
same short tone as before.

"You are sure he slept at home last night, dame?" said Surrey.

"As sure as I am that the question is asked me," she replied. "I can
show you the very bed on which he slept, if you desire to see it. He
retired soon after sunset--slept soundly, as he always sleeps--and arose
as I have told you. I lighted a fire, and made him some hot pottage
myself."

"If she speaks the truth, you must be mistaken," observed Richmond in a
whisper to his friend.

"I do not believe her," replied Surrey, in the same tone. "Show us his
chamber, dame."

The old crone sullenly complied, and, throwing open a side door,
disclosed an inner apartment, in which there was a small bed. There
was nothing noticeable in the room except a couple of fishing-nets, a
hunting-spear, and an old cross-bow. A small open casement looked upon
the river, whose clear sparkling waters flowed immediately beneath it.

Surrey approached the window, and obtained a fine view of the Brocas
meads on the one hand, and the embowered college of Eton on the other.
His attention, however, was diverted by a fierce barking without, and
the next moment, in spite of the vociferations of the old woman, a large
black staghound, which Surrey recognised as Fenwolf's dog, Bawsey, burst
through the door, and rushed furiously towards him. Surrey drew his
dagger to defend himself from the hound's attack, but the precaution
was needless. Bawsey's fierceness changed suddenly to the most abject
submission, and with a terrified howl, she retreated from the room with'
her tail between her legs. Even the old woman uttered a cry of surprise.

"Lord help us!" exclaimed Bryan; "was ever the like o' that seen? Your
lordship must have a strange mastery over dogs. That hound," he added,
in a whisper, "is said to be a familiar spirit."

"The virtue of the relic is approved," observed Surrey to Richmond, in
an undertone.

"It would seem so," replied the duke.

The old woman now thought proper to assume a more respectful demeanour
towards her visitors, and inquired whether her son should attend upon
them on his return from the forest, but they said it was unnecessary.

"The king is about to have a grand hunting-party the day after
to-morrow," observed Surrey, "and we wished to give your son some
instructions respecting it. They can, however, be delivered to another
keeper."

And they departed with Bryan, and returned to the castle. At midnight
they again issued forth. Their steeds awaited them near the upper gate,
and, mounting, they galloped across the greensward in the direction of
Herne's Oak. Discerning no trace of the ghostly huntsman, they shaped
their course towards the forest.

Urging their steeds to their utmost speed, and skirting the long avenue,
they did not draw the rein till they reached the eminence beyond it;
having climbed which, they dashed down the farther side at the same
swift pace as before. The ride greatly excited them, but they saw
nothing of the wild huntsman; nor did any sound salute their ears except
the tramp of their own horses, or the occasional darting forth of a
startled deer.

Less than a quarter of an hour brought them to the haunted beech-tree;
but all was as silent and solitary here as at the blasted oak. In vain
Surrey smote the tree. No answer was returned to the summons; and,
finding all efforts to evoke the demon fruitless, they quitted the
spot, and, turning their horses' heads to the right, slowly ascended the
hill-side.

Before they had gained the brow of the hill the faint blast of a horn
saluted their ears, apparently proceeding from the valley near the
lake. They instantly stopped and looked in that direction, but could
see nothing. Presently, however, the blast was repeated more loudly than
before, and, guided by the sound, they discerned the spectral huntsman
riding beneath the trees at some quarter of a mile's distance.

Striking spurs into their steeds, they instantly gave him chase; but
though he lured them on through thicket and over glade--now climbing
a hill, now plunging into a valley, until their steeds began to show
symptoms of exhaustion--they got no nearer to him; and at length, as
they drew near the Home Park, to which he had gradually led them, he
disappeared from view.

"I will take my station near the blasted oak," said Surrey, galloping
towards it: "the demon is sure to revisit his favourite tree before
cock-crowing."

"What is that?" cried the Earl of Surrey, pointing to a strange and
ghastly-looking object depending from the tree. "Some one has hanged
himself! It may be the caitiff, Morgan Fenwolf."

With one accord they dashed forward, and as they drew nearer the tree,
they perceived that the object that had attracted their attention was
the body of Mark Fytton, the butcher, which they had so recently seen
swinging from the summit of the Curfew Tower. It was now suspended from
an arm of the wizard oak.

A small scroll was stuck upon the breast of the corpse, and, taking it
off, Surrey read these words, traced in uncouth characters--"Mark Fytton
is now one of the band of Herne the Hunter."

"By my fay, this passes all comprehension," said Richmond, after a few
moments' silence. "This castle and forest seem under the sway of the
powers of darkness. Let us return. I have had enough of adventure for
to-night."

And he rode towards the castle, followed more slowly by the earl.



VII.

     How the Earl of Surrey and the Fair Geraldine plighted their
     troth in the Cloisters of Saint George's Chapel.


Barriers were erected on the following day in the upper ward of the
castle, and the Lady Anne and her dames assembled in the balcony in
front of the royal lodgings, which was decorated with arras, costly
carpets, and rich stuffs, to view the spectacle.

Perfect in all manly accomplishments, Henry splintered several lances
with his brother-in-law, the Duke of Suffolk, who formed an admirable
match for him in point of weight and strength; and at last, though he
did not succeed in unhorsing the duke, he struck off his helmet, the
clasp of which, it was whispered, was left designedly unfastened; and
being thereupon declared the victor, he received the prize--a scarf
embroidered by her own hands--from the fair Anne herself.

He then retired from the lists, leaving them free for the younger
knights to run a course at the ring. The first to enter the arena was
Sir Thomas Wyat; and as he was known to be a skilful jouster, it was
expected he would come off triumphantly. But a glance from the royal
balcony rendered his arm unsteady, and he missed the mark.

Next came the Duke of Richmond, superbly accoutred. Laughing at Wyat's
ill success, he bowed to the Fair Geraldine, and taking a lance from his
esquire, placed it in the rest, and rode gallantly forward. But he was
equally unsuccessful, and retired, looking deeply chagrined.

The third knight who presented himself was Surrey. Mounted on his
favourite black Arabian--a steed which, though of fiery temper, obeyed
his slightest movement--his light symmetrical figure was seen to the
greatest advantage in his close-fitting habiliments of silk and velvet.
Without venturing a look at the royal balcony, the earl couched his
lance, and bounding forward, bore away the ring on its point.

Amid the plaudits of the spectators, he then careered around the arena,
and approaching the royal balcony, raised his lance, and proffered the
ring to the Fair Geraldine, who blushingly received it. Henry, though by
no means pleased with Surrey's success, earned as it was at the expense
of his son, complimented him upon his skill, and Anne Boleyn joined
warmly in his praises.

The lists were then closed, and the royal party retired to partake of
refreshments; after which they proceeded to the butts erected in the
broad mead at the north of the castle, where the Duke of Shoreditch and
his companions shot a well-contested match with the long-bow.

During these sports, Surrey placed himself as near as he could to the
Fair Geraldine, and though but few opportunities occurred of exchanging
a syllable with her, his looks spoke a sufficiently intelligible
language. At last, just as they were about to return to the palace, he
breathed in an imploring tone in her ear--

"You will attend vespers at Saint George's Chapel this evening. Return
through the cloisters. Grant me a moment's interview alone there."

"I cannot promise," replied the Fair Geraldine. And she followed in the
train of the Lady Anne.

The earl's request had not been unheard. As the royal train proceeded
towards the castle, Will Sommers contrived to approach the Duke of
Richmond, and said to him, in a jeering tone "You ran but indifferently
at the ring to-day, gossip. The galliard Surrey rode better, and carried
off the prize."

"Pest on thee, scurril knave--be silent!" cried Richmond angrily;
"failure is bad enough without thy taunts."

"If you had only missed the ring, gossip, I should have thought nothing
of it," pursued Will Sommers; "but you lost a golden opportunity of
ingratiating yourself with your lady-love. All your hopes are now at an
end. A word in your ear--the Fair Geraldine will meet Surrey alone this
evening."

"Thou liest, knave!" cried the duke fiercely.

"Your grace will find the contrary, if you will be at Wolsey's
tomb-house at vesper-time," replied the jester.

"I will be there," replied the duke; "but if I am brought on a bootless
errand, not even my royal father shall save thee from chastisement."

"I will bear any chastisement your grace may choose to inflict upon
me, if I prove not the truth of my assertion," replied Sommers. And he
dropped into the rear of the train.

The two friends, as if by mutual consent, avoided each other during
the rest of the day--Surrey feeling he could not unburden his heart to
Richmond, and Richmond brooding jealously over the intelligence he had
received from the jester.

At the appointed hour the duke proceeded to the lower ward, and
stationed himself near Wolsey's tomb-house. Just as he arrived there,
the vesper hymn arose from the adjoining fane, and its solemn strains
somewhat soothed his troubled spirit. But they died away; and as the
jester came not, Richmond grew impatient, and began to fear he had been
duped by his informant. At length the service concluded, and, losing all
patience, he was about to depart, when the jester peered round the lower
angle of the tomb-house, and beckoned to him. Obeying the summons,
the duke followed his conductor down the arched passage leading to the
cloisters.

"Tread softly, gossip, or you will alarm them," said Sommers, in a low
tone.

They turned the corner of the cloisters; and there, near the entrance of
the chapel, stood the youthful pair--the Fair Geraldine half reclining
upon the earl's breast, while his arm encircled her slender waist.

"There!" whispered the jester, chuckling maliciously, "there! did I speak
falsely--eh, gossip?"

Richmond laid his hand upon his sword.

"Hist!" said the jester; "hear what the Fair Geraldine has to say."

"We must meet no more thus, Surrey," she murmured:

"I feel I was wrong in granting the interview, but I could not help it.
If, when a few more years have flown over your head, your heart remains
unchanged."

"It will never change!" interrupted Surrey. "I here solemnly pledge my
troth to you."

"And I return the pledge," replied the Fair Geraldine earnestly. "I vow
to be yours, and yours only."

"Would that Richmond could hear your vow!" said Surrey; "it would
extinguish his hopes."

"He has heard it!" cried the duke, advancing. "But his hopes are not yet
extinguished."

The Fair Geraldine uttered a slight scream, and disengaged herself from
the earl.

"Richmond, you have acted unworthily in thus playing the spy," said
Surrey angrily.

"None but a spy can surprise interviews like these," rejoined Richmond
bitterly. "The Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald had better have kept her
chamber, than come here to plight her troth with a boy, who will change
his mind before his beard is grown."

"Your grace shall find the boy man enough to avenge an insult," rejoined
Surrey sternly.

"I am glad to hear it," returned the duke. "Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, I
must pray you to return to your lodgings. The king's jester will attend
you. This way, my lord."

Too much exasperated to hesitate, Surrey followed the duke down the
passage, and the next moment the clashing of swords was heard. The Fair
Geraldine screamed loudly, and Will Sommers began to think the jest had
been carried too far.

"What is to be done?" he cried. "If the king hears of this quarrel, he
will assuredly place the Earl of Surrey in arrest. I now repent having
brought the duke here."

"You acted most maliciously," cried the Fair Geraldine; "but fly, and
prevent further mischief."

Thus urged, the jester ran towards the lower ward, and finding an
officer of the guard and a couple of halberdiers near the entrance
of St. George's Chapel, told them what was taking place, and they
immediately hastened with him to the scene of the conflict.

"My lords!" cried the officer to the combatants, "I command you to lay
down your weapons."

But finding no respect paid to his injunctions, he rushed between them,
and with the aid of the halberdiers, forcibly separated them.

"My lord of Surrey," said the officer, "you are my prisoner. I demand
your sword."

"On what plea, sir?" rejoined the other.

"You have drawn it against the king's son--and the act is treason,"
replied the officer. "I shall take you to the guard house until the
king's pleasure is known."

"But I provoked the earl to the conflict," said Richmond: "I was the
aggressor."

"Your grace will represent the matter as you see fit to your royal
father," rejoined the officer. "I shall fulfil my duty. My lord, to the
guard-house!"

"I will procure your instant liberation, Surrey," said Richmond.

The earl was then led away, and conveyed to a chamber in the lower part
of Henry the Eighth's gate, now used as a place of military punishment,
and denominated the "black hole."



VIII.

     Of Tristram Lyndwood, the old Forester, and his Grand-
     daughter Mabel--Of the Peril in which the Lady Anne Boleyn
     was placed during the chase--And by whom she was rescued.


In consequence of the announcement that a grand hunting party would be
held in the forest, all the verderers, rangers, and keepers assembled at
an early hour on the fourth day after the king's arrival at Windsor in
an open space on the west side of the great avenue, where a wooden stand
was erected, canopied over with green boughs and festooned with garlands
of flowers, for the accommodation of the Lady Anne Boleyn and her dames,
who, it was understood, would be present at the chase.

At a little distance from the stand an extensive covert was fenced round
with stout poles, to which nets were attached so as to form a haye or
preserve, where the game intended for the royal sport was confined;
and though many of the animals thus brought together were of hostile
natures, they were all so terrified, and seemingly so conscious of the
danger impending over them, that they did not molest each other.
The foxes and martins, of which there were abundance, slunk into the
brushwood with the hares and rabbits, but left their prey untouched. The
harts made violent efforts to break forth, and, entangling their horns
in the nets, were with difficulty extricated and driven back; while the
timid does, not daring to follow them, stood warily watching the result
of the struggle.

Amongst the antlered captives was a fine buck, which, having been once
before hunted by the king, was styled a "hart royal," and this noble
animal would certainly have effected his escape if he had not been
attacked and driven back by Morgan Fenwolf, who throughout the morning's
proceedings displayed great energy and skill. The compliments bestowed
on Fenwolf for his address by the chief verderer excited the jealousy
of some of his comrades, and more than one asserted that he had been
assisted in his task by some evil being, and that Bawsey herself was no
better than a familiar spirit in the form of a hound.

Morgan Fenwolf scouted these remarks; and he was supported by some
others among the keepers, who declared that it required no supernatural
aid to accomplish what he had done--that he was nothing more than a good
huntsman, who could ride fast and boldly--that he was skilled in all the
exercises of the chase, and possessed a stanch and well-trained hound.

The party then sat down to breakfast beneath the trees, and the talk
fell upon Herne the Hunter, and his frequent appearance of late in the
forest (for most of the keepers had heard of or encountered the spectral
huntsman); and while they were discussing this topic, and a plentiful
allowance of cold meat, bread, ale, and mead at the same time, two
persons were seen approaching along a vista on the right, who specially
attracted their attention and caused Morgan Fenwolf to drop the
hunting-knife with which he was carving his viands, and start to his
feet.

The new-comers were an old man and a comely young damsel. The former,
though nearer seventy than sixty, was still hale and athletic, with
fresh complexion, somewhat tanned by the sun, and a keen grey eye,
which had lost nothing of its fire. He was habited in a stout leathern
doublet, hose of the same material, and boots rudely fashioned out of
untanned ox-hide, and drawn above the knee. In his girdle was thrust a
large hunting-knife; a horn with a silver mouthpiece depended from his
shoulder, and he wore a long bow and a quiver full of arrows at his
back. A flat bonnet, made of fox-skin and ornamented with a raven's
wing, covered his hair, which was as white as silver.

But it was not upon this old forester, for such his attire proclaimed
him, that the attention of the beholders, and of Morgan Fenwolf in
especial, was fixed, but upon his companion. Amongst the many lovely and
high-born dames who had so recently graced the procession to the castle
were few, if any, comparable to this lowly damsel. Her dress--probably
owing to the pride felt in her by her old relative was somewhat superior
to her station. A tightly-laced green kirtle displayed to perfection her
slight but exquisitely-formed figure A gown of orange-coloured cloth,
sufficiently short to display her small ankles, and a pair of green
buskins, embroidered with silver, together with a collar of the whitest
and finest linen, though shamed by the neck it concealed, and fastened
by a small clasp, completed her attire. Her girdle was embroidered with
silver, and her sleeves were fastened by aiglets of the same metal.

"How proud old Tristram Lyndwood seems of his granddaughter," remarked
one of the keepers.

"And with reason," replied another. "Mabel Lyndwood is the comeliest
lass in Berkshire."

"Ay, marry is she," rejoined the first speaker; "and, to my thinking,
she is a fairer and sweeter flower than any that blooms in yon stately
castle--the flower that finds so much favour in the eyes of our royal
Hal not excepted."

"Have a care, Gabriel Lapp," observed another keeper. "Recollect that
Mark Fytton, the butcher, was hanged for speaking slightingly of the
Lady Anne Boleyn; and you may share his fate if you disparage her
beauty."

"Na I meant not to disparage the Lady Anne," replied Gabriel. "Hal
may marry her when he will, and divorce her as soon afterwards as he
pleases, for aught I care. If he marries fifty wives, I shall like him
all the better. The more the merrier, say I. But if he sets eyes on Mab
Lyndwood it may somewhat unsettle his love for the Lady Anne."

"Tush, Gabriel!" said Morgan Fenwolf, darting an angry look at him.
"What business have you to insinuate that the king would heed other than
the lady of his love?"

"You are jealous, Morgan Fenwolf," rejoined Gabriel, with a malignant
grin. "We all know you are in love with Mabel yourself."

"And we all know, likewise, that Mabel will have nothing to say to you!"
cried another keeper, while the others laughed in chorus. "Come and sit
down beside us, Morgan, and finish your breakfast."

But the keeper turned moodily away, and hied towards Tristram Lyndwood
and his granddaughter. The old forester shook him cordially by the hand,
and after questioning him as to what had taken place, and hearing how
he had managed to drive the hart royal into the haye, clapped him on the
shoulder and said, "Thou art a brave huntsman, Morgan. I wish Mab could
only think as well of thee as I do."

To this speech Mabel not only paid no attention, but looked studiously
another way.

"I am glad your grandfather has brought you out to see the chase to-day,
Mabel," observed Morgan Fenwolf.

"I dame not to see the chase, but the king," she replied, somewhat
petulantly.

"It is not every fair maid who would confess so much," observed Fenwolf,
frowning.

"Then I am franker than some of my sex," replied Mabel. "But who is the
strange man looking at us from behind that tree, grandfather!

"I see no one," replied the old forester.

"Neither do I," added Morgan Fenwolf, with a shudder. "You are wilfully
blind," rejoined Mabel. "But see, the person I mentioned stalks forth.
Now, perhaps, he is visible to you both."

And as she spoke, a tall wild-looking figure, armed with a
hunting-spear, emerged from the trees and advanced towards them. The
garb of the newcomer somewhat resembled that of a forester; but his
arms and lower limbs were destitute of covering, and appeared singularly
muscular, while his skin was swarthy as that of a gipsy. His jet-black
hair hung in elf-locks over his savage-looking features.

In another moment he was beside them, and fixed his dark piercing eyes
on Mabel in such a manner as to compel her to avert her gaze.

"What brings you here this morning, Tristram Lyndwood?" he demanded, in
a hoarse imperious tone.

"The same motive that brought you, Valentine Hagthorne," replied the old
forester--"to see the royal chase."

"This, I suppose, is your granddaughter?" pursued Hagthorne.

"Ay," replied Tristram bluntly.

"Strange I should never have seen her before," rejoined the other. "She
is very fair. Be ruled by me, friend Tristram--take her home again. If
she sees the king, ill will come of it. You know, or should know, his
character."

"Hagthorne advises well," interposed Fenwolf. "Mabel will be better at
home."

"But she has no intention of returning at present," replied Mabel. "You
brought me here for pastime, dear grandfather, and will not take me back
at the recommendation of this strange man?"

"Content you, child--content you," replied Tristram kindly. "You shall
remain where you are."

"You will repent it!" cried Hagthorne.

And hastily darting among the trees, he disappeared from view.

Affecting to laugh at the occurrence, though evidently annoyed by it,
the old forester led his granddaughter towards the stand, where he was
cordially greeted by the keepers, most of whom, while expressing their
pleasure at seeing him, strove to render themselves agreeable in the
eyes of Mabel.

From this scene Morgan Fenwolf kept aloof, and remained leaning against
a tree, with his eyes riveted upon the damsel. He was roused from his
reverie by a slight tap upon the shoulder; and turning at the touch,
beheld Valentine Hagthorne. Obedient to a sign from the latter, he
followed him amongst the trees, and they both plunged into a dell.

An hour or two after this, when the sun was higher in the heavens, and
the dew dried upon the greensward, the king and a large company of lords
and ladies rode forth from the upper gate of the castle, and taking
their way along the great avenue, struck off on the right when about
half-way up it, and shaped their course towards the haye.

A goodly sight it was to see this gallant company riding beneath the
trees; and pleasant was it, also, to listen to the blithe sound of
their voices, amid which Anne Boleyn's musical laugh could be plainly
distinguished. Henry was attended by his customary band of archers and
yeomen of the guard, and by the Duke of Shoreditch and his followers. On
reaching the haye, the king dismounted, and assisting the Lady Anne from
her steed, ascended the stand with her.

He then took a small and beautifully fashioned bow from an attendant,
and stringing it, presented it to her.

"I trust this will not prove too strong for your fair hands," he said.

"I will make shift to draw it," replied Anne, raising the bow, and
gracefully pulling the string. "Would I could wound your majesty as
surely as I shall hit the first roe that passes."

"That were a needless labour," rejoined Henry, "seeing that you have
already stricken me to the heart. You should cure the wound you have
already made, sweetheart-not inflict a new one."

At this juncture the chief verderer, mounted on a powerful steed, and
followed by two keepers, each holding a couple of stag-hounds in leash,
rode up to the royal stand, and placing his horn to his lips, blew three
long mootes from it. At the same moment part of the network of the haye
was lifted up, and a roebuck set free.

By the management of the keepers, the animal was driven past the royal
stand; and Anne Boleyn, who had drawn an arrow nearly to the head, let
it fly with such good aim that she pierced the buck to the heart. A loud
shout from the spectators rewarded the prowess of the fair huntress; and
Henry was so enchanted, that he bent the knee to her, and pressed
her hand to his lips. Satisfied, however, with the' achievement, Anne
prudently declined another shot. Henry then took a bow from one of the
archers, and other roes being turned out, he approved upon them his
unerring skill as a marksman.

Meanwhile, the hounds, being held in leash, kept up a loud and incessant
baying; and Henry, wearying of his slaughterous sport, turned to Anne,
and asked her whether she was disposed for the chase. She answered in
the affirmative, and the king motioned his henchmen to bring forward the
steeds.

In doing this, he caught sight of Mabel, who was standing with her
grandsire among the keepers, at a little distance from the stand, and,
struck with her extraordinary beauty, he regarded her for a moment
intently, and then called to Gabriel Lapp, who chanced to be near him,
and demanded her name.

"It is Mabel Lyndwood, an't please your majesty," replied Gabriel. "She
is granddaughter to old Tristram Lyndwood, who dwells at Black Nest,
near the lake, at the farther extremity of Windsor Forest, and who
was forester to your royal father, King Henry the Seventh, of blessed
memory."

"Ha! is it so?" cried Henry.

But he was prevented from further remark by Anne Boleyn, who, perceiving
how his attention was attracted, suddenly interposed.

"Your majesty spoke of the chase," she said impatiently. "But perhaps you
have found other pastime more diverting?"

"Not so--not so, sweetheart," he replied hastily.

"There is a hart royal in the haye," said Gabriel Lapp. "Is it your
majesty's pleasure that I set him free?

"It is, good fellow--it is," replied the king.

And as Gabriel hastened to the netted fencework, and prepared to
drive forth the hart, Henry assisted Anne Boleyn, who could not help
exhibiting some slight jealous pique, to mount her steed, and having
sprung into his own saddle, they waited the liberation of the buck,
which was accomplished in a somewhat unexpected manner.

Separated from the rest of the herd, the noble animal made a sudden dart
towards Gabriel, and upsetting him in his wild career, darted past the
king, and made towards the upper part of the forest. In another instant
the hounds were un coupled and at his heels, while Henry and Anne urged
their steeds after him, the king shouting at the top of his lusty
voice. The rest of the royal party followed as they might, and the woods
resounded with their joyous cries.

The hart royal proved himself worthy of his designation. Dashing forward
with extraordinary swiftness, he rapidly gained upon his pursuers--for
though Henry, by putting his courser to his utmost speed, could have
kept near him, he did not choose to quit his fair companion.

In this way they scoured the forest, until the king, seeing they should
be speedily distanced, commanded Sir Thomas Wyat, who, with the Dukes of
Suffolk and Norfolk, was riding close behind him, to cross by the
lower ground on the left, and turn the stag. Wyat instantly obeyed,
and plunging his spurs deeply into his horse's sides, started off at a
furious pace, and was soon after seen shaping his rapid course through a
devious glade.

Meanwhile, Henry and his fair companion rode on without relaxing their
pace, until they reached the summit of a knoll, crowned by an old oak
and beech-tree, and commanding a superb view of the castle, where they
drew in the rein.

From this eminence they could witness the progress of the chase, as it
continued in the valley beyond. An ardent lover of hunting, the king
watched it with the deepest interest, rose in his saddle, and uttering
various exclamations, showed, from his impatience, that he was only
restrained by the stronger passion of love from joining it.

Ere long, stag, hounds, and huntsmen were lost amid a thicket, and
nothing could be distinguished but a distant baying and shouts. At last
even these sounds died away.

Henry, who had ill brooked the previous restraint, now grew so
impatient, that Anne begged him to set off after them, when suddenly the
cry of hounds burst upon their ears, and the hart was seen issuing from
the dell, closely followed by his pursuers.

The affrighted animal, to the king's great satisfaction, made his way
directly towards the spot where he was stationed; but on reaching the
side of the knoll, and seeing his new foes, he darted off on the right,
and tried to regain the thicket below. But he was turned by another band
of keepers, and again driven towards the knoll.

Scarcely had Sir Thomas Wyat reined in his steed by the side of the
king, than the hart again appeared bounding up the hill. Anne Boleyn,
who had turned her horse's head to obtain a better view of the hunt,
alarmed by the animal's menacing appearance, tried to get out of
his way. But it was too late. Hemmed in on all sides, and driven to
desperation by the cries of hounds and huntsmen in front, the hart
lowered his horns, and made a furious push at her.

Dreadfully alarmed, Anne drew in the rein so suddenly and sharply, that
she almost pulled her steed back upon his haunches; and in trying to
avoid the stag's attack, caught hold of Sir Thomas Wyat, who was close
beside her. In all probability she would have received some serious
injury from the infuriated animal, who was just about to repeat his
assault and more successfully, when a bolt from a cross-bow, discharged
by Morgan Fenwolf, who suddenly made his appearance from behind the
beech-tree, brought him to the ground.

But Anne Boleyn escaped one danger only to encounter another equally
serious. On seeing her fling herself into the arms of Sir Thomas Wyat,
Henry regarded her in stern displeasure for a moment, and then calling
angrily to his train, without so much as deigning to inquire whether
she had sustained any damage from the accident, or making the slightest
remark upon her conduct, rode sullenly towards the castle.



IX.

     By what means Sir Thomas Wyat obtained an Interview with
     Anne Boleyn--And how the Earl of Surrey saved them from the
     King's anger.


The incident above related gave new life to the adherents of Catherine
of Arragon, while it filled those devoted to Anne Boleyn with alarm.
Immediately on Anne's return to the castle Lord Rochford had a private
interview with her, and bitterly reproached her for endangering her
splendid prospects. Anne treated the matter very lightly--said it was
only a temporary gust of jealousy--and added that the king would be at
her feet again before the day was past.

"You are over-confident, mistress!" cried Rochford angrily. "Henry is
not an ordinary gallant."

"It is you who are mistaken, father," replied Anne. "The king differs
in no respect from any of his love-smitten subjects. I have him in my
toils, and will not let him escape."

"You have a tiger in your toils, daughter, and take heed he breaks not
forcibly through them," rejoined Rochford. "Henry is more wayward than
you suppose him. Once let him take up a notion, and nothing can shake
him from it. He has resolved upon the divorce as much from self-will as
from any other consideration. If you regain your position with him, of
which you seem so confident, do not consider yourself secure--not even
when you are crowned queen--but be warned by Catherine of Arragon."

"Catherine has not the art to retain him," said Anne. "Henry will never
divorce me."

"Take care he does not rid himself of you in a more summary manner,
daughter," rejoined Rochford. "If you would stand well with him, you
must study his lightest word, look, and action--humour him in every
whim--and yield to every caprice. Above all, you must exhibit no
jealousy."

"You are wrong in all but the last, father," returned Anne. "Henry is
not to be pleased by such nice attention to his humours. It is because
I have shown myself careless of them that I have captivated him. But
I will take care not to exhibit jealousy, and, sooth to say, I do not
think I shall have cause."

"Be not too sure of that," replied Rochford. "And at all events, let not
the king have cause to be jealous of you. I trust Wyat will be banished
from court. But if he is not, do not let him approach you more."

"Poor Sir Thomas!" sighed Anne. "He loved me very dearly."

"But what is his love compared to the king's?" cried Rochford. "Tut,
tut, girl! think no more of him."

"I will not, my lord," she rejoined; "I see the prudence of your
counsel, and will obey it. Leave me, I pray you. I will soon win back
the affections of the king."

No sooner had Rochford quitted the chamber than the arras at the farther
end was raised, and Wyat stepped from behind it. His first proceeding
was to bar the door.

"What means this, Sir Thomas?" cried Anne in alarm. "How have you
obtained admittance here?"

"Through the secret staircase," replied Wyat, bending the knee before
her.

"Rise, sir!" cried Anne, in great alarm. "Return, I beseech you, as you
came. You have greatly endangered me by coming here. If you are seen to
leave this chamber, it will be in vain to assert my innocence to Henry.
Oh, Sir Thomas! you cannot love me, or you would not have done this."

"Not love you, Anne!" he repeated bitterly; "not love you I Words cannot
speak my devotion. I would lay down my head on the scaffold to prove it.
But for my love for you, I would throw open that door, and walk forth so
that all might see me--so that Henry might experience some part of the
anguish I now feel."

"But you will not do so, good Sir Thomas--dear Sir Thomas," cried Anne
Boleyn, in alarm.

"Have no fear," rejoined Wyat, with some contempt; "I will sacrifice
even vengeance to love."

"Sir Thomas, I had tolerated this too long," said Anne. "Begone--you
terrify me."

"It is my last interview with you, Anne," said Wyat imploringly; "do
not abridge it. Oh, bethink you of the happy hours we have passed
together--of the vows we have interchanged--of the protestations you
have listened to, and returned--ay, returned, Anne. Are all these
forgotten?"

"Not forgotten, Sir Thomas," replied Anne mournfully; "but they must not
be recalled. I cannot listen to you longer. You must go. Heaven grant
you may get hence in safety!"

"Anne," replied Wyat in a sombre tone, "the thought of Henry's happiness
drives me mad. I feel that I am grown a traitor--that I could slay him."

"Sir Thomas!" she exclaimed, in mingled fear and anger.

"I will not go," he continued, flinging himself into a seat. "Let them
put what construction they will upon my presence. I shall at least wring
Henry's heart. I shall see him suffer as I have suffered; and I shall be
content."

"This is not like you, Wyat," cried Anne, in great alarm. "You were wont
to be noble, generous, kind. You will not act thus disloyally?

"Who has acted disloyally, Anne?" cried Wyat, springing to his feet, and
fixing his dark eyes, blazing with jealous fury, upon her--"you or I?
Have you not sacrificed your old affections at the shrine of ambition?
Are you not about to give yourself to one to whom--unless you are
foresworn--you cannot give your heart? Better had you been the mistress
of Allington Castle--better the wife of a humble knight like myself,
than the queen of the ruthless Henry."

"No more of this, Wyat," said Anne.

"Better far you should perish by his tyranny for a supposed fault now
than hereafter," pursued Wyat fiercely. "Think not Henry will respect
you more than her who had been eight-and-twenty years his wife. No;
when he is tired of your charms--when some other dame, fair as yourself,
shall enslave his fancy, he will cast you off, or, as your father truly
intimated, will seek a readier means of ridding himself of you. Then you
will think of the different fate that might have been yours if you had
adhered to your early love."

"Wyat! Wyat! I cannot bear this--in mercy spare me!" cried Anne.

"I am glad to see you weep," said Wyat; "your tears make you look more
like your former self."

"Oh, Wyat, do not view my conduct too harshly!" she said. "Few of my sex
would have acted other than I have done."

"I do not think so," replied Wyat sternly; "nor will I forego my
vengeance. Anne, you shall die. You know Henry too well to doubt your
fate if he finds me here."

"You cannot mean this," she rejoined, with difficulty repressing a
scream; "but if I perish, you will perish with me."

"I wish to do so," he rejoined, with a bitter laugh.

"Wyat," cried Anne, throwing herself on her knees before him, "by your
former love for me, I implore you to spare me! Do not disgrace me thus."

But Wyat continued inexorable.

"O God!" exclaimed Anne, wringing her hands in agony. A terrible silence
ensued, during which Anne regarded Wyat, but she could discern no change
in his countenance.

At this juncture the tapestry was again raised, and the Earl of Surrey
issued from it.

"You here, my lord?" said Anne, rushing towards him.

"I am come to save you, madame," said the earl. "I have been just
liberated from arrest, and was about to implore your intercession with
the king, when I learned he had been informed by one of his pages that
a man was in your chamber. Luckily, he knows not who it is, and while he
was summoning his attendants to accompany him, I hurried hither by the
secret staircase. I have arrived in time. Fly--fly! Sir Thomas Wyat!"

But Wyat moved not.

At this moment footsteps were heard approaching the door--the handle
was tried--and the stern voice of the king was heard commanding that it
might be opened.

"Will you destroy me, Wyat?" cried Anne.

"You have destroyed yourself," he rejoined.

"Why stay you here, Sir Thomas?" said Surrey, seizing his arm. "You may
yet escape. By heaven! if you move not, I will stab you to the heart!"

"You would do me a favour, young man," said Wyat coldly; "but I will go.
I yield to love, and not to you, tyrant!" he added, shaking his hand
at the door. "May the worst pangs of jealously rend your heart!" And he
disappeared behind the arras.

"I hear voices," cried Henry from without. "God's death! madam, open the
door--or I will burst it open!"

"Oh, heaven! what is to be done?" cried Anne Boleyn, in despair.

"Open the door, and leave all to me, madam," said Surrey; "I will save
you, though it cost me my life!"

Anne pressed his hand, with a look of ineffable gratitude, and Surrey
concealed himself behind the arras.

The door was opened, and Henry rushed in, followed by Richmond, Norfolk,
Suffolk, and a host of attendants.

"Ah! God's death! where is the traitor?" roared the king, gazing round.

"Why is my privacy thus broken upon?" said Anne, assuming a look of
indignation.

"Your privacy!" echoed Henry, in a tone of deep derision--"Your privacy!
--ha!--ha! You bear yourself bravely, it must be confessed. My lords,
you heard the voices as well as myself. Where is Sir Thomas Wyat?"

"He is not here," replied Anne firmly.

"Aha! we shall see that, mistress," rejoined Henry fiercely. "But if Sir
Thomas Wyat is not here, who is? for I am well assured that some one is
hidden in your chamber."

"What if there be?" rejoined Anne coldly.

"Ah! by Saint Mary, you confess it!" cried the king. "Let the traitor
come forth."

"Your majesty shall not need to bid twice," said Surrey, issuing from
his concealment.

"The Earl of Surrey!" exclaimed Henry, in surprise. "How come you here,
my lord? Methought you were under arrest at the guard-house."

"He was set free by my orders," said the Duke of Richmond.

"First of all I must entreat your majesty to turn your resentment
against me," said the earl. "I am solely to blame, and I would not have
the Lady Anne suffer for my fault. I forced myself into her presence.
She knew not of my coming."

"And wherefore did you so, my lord?" demanded Henry sternly.

"Liberated from the guard-house at the Duke of Richmond's instance, my
liege, I came to entreat the Lady Anne to mediate between me and
your majesty, and to use her influence with your highness to have me
betrothed to the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald."

"Is this so, madam?" asked the king.

Anne bowed her head.

"But why was the door barred?" demanded Henry, again frowning
suspiciously.

"I barred it myself," said Surrey, "and vowed that the Lady Anne should
not go forth till she had granted my request."

"By our lady you have placed yourself in peril, my lord," said Henry
sternly.

"Your majesty will bear in mind his youth," said the Duke of Norfolk
anxiously.

"For my sake overlook the indiscretion," cried the Duke of Richmond.

"It will not, perhaps, avail him to hope that it may be overlooked for
mine," added Anne Boleyn.

"The offence must not pass unpunished," said Henry musingly. "My lord of
Surrey, you must be content to remain for two months a prisoner in the
Round Tower of this castle."

"Your majesty!" cried Richmond, bending the knee in supplication.

"The sentence is passed," replied Henry coldly; "and the earl may thank
you it is not heavier. Richmond, you will think no more of the fair
Geraldine; and it is my pleasure, Lady Anne, that the young dame
withdraw from the court for a short while."

"Your majesty shall be obeyed," said Anne; "but--"

"But me no buts, sweetheart," said the king peremptorily. "Surrey's
explanation is satisfactory so far as it goes, but I was told Sir Thomas
Wyat was here."

"Sir Thomas Wyat is here," said Will Sommers, pointing out the knight,
who had just joined the throng of courtiers at the door.

"I have hurried hither from my chamber, my liege," said Wyat, stepping
forward, "hearing there was some inquiry concerning me."

"Is your majesty now satisfied?" asked Anne Boleyn.

"Why, ay, sweetheart, well enough," rejoined Henry. "Sir Thomas Wyat,
we have a special mission for you to the court of our brother of France.
You will set out to-morrow."

Wyat bowed.

"You have saved your head, gossip," whispered Will Sommers in the
knight's ear. "A visit to Francis the First is better than a visit to
the Tower."

"Retire, my lords," said Henry to the assemblage; "we owe some apology
to the Lady Anne for our intrusion, and desire an opportunity to make
it."

Upon this the chamber was instantly cleared of its occupants, and the
Earl of Surrey was conducted, under a guard, to the Round Tower.

Henry, however, did not find it an easy matter to make peace with the
Lady Anne. Conscious of the advantage she had gained, she determined not
to relinquish it, and, after half an hour's vain suing, her royal lover
proposed a turn in the long gallery, upon which her apartments opened.
Here they continued conversing--Henry pleading in the most passionate
manner, and Anne maintaining a show of offended pride.

At last she exhibited some signs of relenting, and Henry led her into
a recess in the gallery, lighted by a window filled with magnificent
stained glass. In this recess was a seat and a small table, on which
stood a vase filled with flowers, arranged by Anne's own hand; and here
the monarch hoped to adjust his differences with her.

Meanwhile, word having reached Wolsey and Campeggio of the new cause of
jealousy which the king had received, it was instantly resolved that the
former should present to him, while in his present favourable mood, a
despatch received that morning from Catherine of Arragon.

Armed with the letter, Wolsey repaired to the king's closet. Not finding
him there, and being given to understand by an usher that he was in
the great gallery, he proceeded thither. As he walked softly along
the polished oak floor, he heard voices in one of the recesses, and
distinguished the tones of Henry and Anne Boleyn.

Henry was clasping the snowy fingers of his favourite, and gazing
passionately at her, as the cardinal approached.

"Your majesty shall not detain my hand," said Anne, "unless you swear to
me, by your crown, that you will not again be jealous without cause."

"I swear it," replied Henry.

"Were your majesty as devoted to me as you would have me believe, you
would soon bring this matter of the divorce to an issue," said Anne.

"I would fain do so, sweetheart," rejoined Henry; "but these cardinals
perplex me sorely."

"I am told by one who overheard him, that Wolsey has declared the
divorce shall not be settled these two years," said Anne; "in which case
it had better not be settled at all; for I care not to avow I cannot
brook so much delay. The warmth of my affection will grow icy cold by
that time."

"It were enough to try the patience of the most forbearing," rejoined
the king, smiling--"but it shall not be so--by this lily hand it shall
not! And now, sweetheart, are we entirely reconciled?

"Not yet," replied Anne. "I shall claim a boon from your majesty before
I accord my entire forgiveness."

"Name it," said the king, still clasping her hand tenderly, and
intoxicated by the witchery of her glance.

"I ask an important favour," said Anne, "but as it is one which will
benefit your majesty as much as myself, I have the less scruple in
requesting it. I ask the dismissal of one who has abused your favour,
who, by his extortion and rapacity, has in some degree alienated the
affections of your subjects from you, and who solely opposes your
divorce from Catherine of Arragon because he fears my influence may be
prejudicial to him."

"You cannot mean Wolsey?" said Henry uneasily.

"Your majesty has guessed aright," replied Anne.

"Wolsey has incurred my displeasure oft of late," said Henry; "and yet
his fidelity--"

"Be not deceived, my liege," said Anne; "he is faithful to you only so
far as serves his turn. He thinks he rules you."

Before Henry could reply, the cardinal stepped forward.

"I bring your majesty a despatch, just received from the queen," he
said.

"And you have been listening to our discourse?" rejoined Henry sternly.
"You have overheard--"

"Enough to convince me, if I had previously doubted it, that the Lady
Anne Boleyn is my mortal foe," replied Wolsey.

"Foe though I am, I will make terms with your eminence," said Anne.
"Expedite the divorce--you can do so if you will--and I am your fast
friend."

"I know too well the value of your friendship, noble lady, not to do all
in my power to gain it," replied Wolsey. "I will further the matter, if
possible. But it rests chiefly in the hands of his holiness Pope Clement
the Seventh."

"If his majesty will listen to my counsel, he will throw off the pope's
yoke altogether," rejoined Anne. "Nay, your eminence may frown at me
if you will. Such, I repeat, shall be my counsel. If the divorce is
speedily obtained, I am your friend: if not--look to yourself."

"Do not appeal to me, Wolsey," said Henry, smiling approval at Anne; "I
shall uphold her."

"Will it please your majesty to peruse this despatch?" said Wolsey,
again offering Catherine's letter.

"Take it to my closet," replied the king; "I will join you there. And
now at last we are good friends, sweetheart."

"Excellent friends, my dear liege," replied Anne; "but I shall never be
your queen while Wolsey holds his place."

"Then, indeed, he shall lose it," replied Henry.

"She is a bitter enemy, certes," muttered Wolsey as he walked away. "I
must overthrow her quickly, or she will overthrow me. A rival must be
found--ay, a rival--but where? I was told that Henry cast eyes on a
comely forester's daughter at the chase this morning. She may do for the
nonce."



X.

     Of the Mysterious Disappearance of Herne the Hunter in the
     Lake.


Unable to procure any mitigation of Surrey's sentence, the Duke of
Richmond proceeded to the Round Tower, where he found his friend in a
small chamber, endeavouring to beguile his captivity by study.

Richmond endeavoured to console him, and was glad to find him in better
spirits than he expected. Early youth is seldom long dejected, and
misfortunes, at that buoyant season, seem lighter than they appear later
on in life. The cause for which he suffered, moreover, sustained Surrey,
and confident of the Fair Geraldine's attachment, he cared little
for the restraint imposed upon him. On one point he expressed some
regret--namely, his inability to prosecute the adventure of Herne the
Hunter with the duke.

"I grieve that I cannot accompany you, Richmond," he said; "but since
that is impossible, let me recommend you to take the stout archer who
goes by the name of the Duke of Shoreditch with you. He is the very man
you require."

After some consideration the duke assented, and, promising to return on
the following day and report what had occurred he took his leave, and
went in search of the archer in question. Finding he had taken up his
quarters at the Garter, he sent for him and proposed the matter.

Shoreditch heard the duke's relation with astonishment, but expressed
the greatest willingness to accompany him, pledging himself, as Richmond
demanded, to profound secrecy on the subject.

At the appointed hour--namely, midnight--the duke quitted the castle,
and found Shoreditch waiting for him near the upper gate. The latter was
armed with a stout staff, and a bow and arrows.

"If we gain sight of the mysterious horseman to-night," he said, "a
cloth-yard shaft shall try whether he is of mortal mould or not. If he
be not a demon, I will warrant he rides no more."

Quitting the Home Park, they shaped their course at once towards the
forest. It was a stormy night, and the moon was obscured by thick
clouds. Before they reached the hill, at the end of the long avenue, a
heavy thunderstorm came on, and the lightning, playing among the trees,
seemed to reveal a thousand fantastic forms to their half-blinded gaze.
Presently the rain began to descend in torrents, and compelled them to
take refuge beneath a large beech-tree.

It was evident, notwithstanding his boasting, that the courage of
Shoreditch was waning fast, and he at last proposed to his leader that
they should return as soon as the rain abated. But the duke indignantly
rejected the proposal.

While they were thus sheltering themselves, the low winding of a horn
was heard. The sound was succeeded by the trampling of horses' hoofs,
and the next moment a vivid flash of lightning showed a hart darting
past, followed by a troop of some twenty ghostly horsemen, headed by the
demon hunter.

The Duke of Richmond bade his companion send a shaft after them; but the
latter was so overcome by terror that he could scarcely fix an arrow
on the string, and when he bent the bow, the shaft glanced from the
branches of an adjoining tree.

The storm continued with unabated fury for nearly an hour, at the
expiration of which time it partially cleared off, and though it was
still profoundly dark, the duke insisted upon going on. So they pressed
forward beneath the dripping trees and through the wet grass. Ever and
anon the moon broke through the rifted clouds, and shed a wild glimmer
upon the scene.

As they were tracking a glade on the farther side of the hill, the
spectral huntsmen again swept past them, and so closely that they could
almost touch their horses. To the duke's horror, he perceived among
them the body of the butcher, Mark Fytton, sitting erect upon a powerful
black steed.

By this time, Shoreditch, having somewhat regained his courage,
discharged another shaft at the troop. The arrow struck the body of the
butcher, and completely transfixed it, but did not check his career;
while wild and derisive laughter broke from the rest of the cavalcade.

The Duke of Richmond hurried after the band, trying to keep them in
sight; and Shoreditch, flinging down his bow, which he found useless,
and grasping his staff, endeavoured to keep up with him. But though they
ran swiftly down the glade, and tried to peer through the darkness, they
could see nothing more of the ghostly company.

After a while they arrived at a hillside, at the foot of which lay the
lake, whose darkling waters were just distinguishable through an opening
in the trees. As the duke was debating with himself whether to go on or
retrace his course, the trampling of a horse was heard behind them, and
looking in the direction of the sound, they beheld Herne the Hunter,
mounted on his swarthy steed and accompanied only by his two black
hounds, galloping furiously down the declivity. Before him flew the owl,
whooping as it sailed along the air.

The demon hunter was so close to them that they could perfectly discern
his horrible lineaments, the chain depending from his neck, and his
antlered helm. Richmond shouted to him, but the rider continued his
headlong course towards the lake, heedless of the call.

The two beholders rushed forward, but by this time the huntsman had
gained the edge of the lake. One of his sable hounds plunged into it,
and the owl skimmed over its surface. Even in the hasty view which the
duke caught of the flying figure, he fancied he perceived that it was
attended by a fantastic shadow, whether cast by itself or arising from
some supernatural cause he could not determine.

But what followed was equally marvellous and incomprehensible. As the
wild huntsman reached the brink of the lake, he placed a horn to his
mouth, and blew from it a bright blue flame, which illumined his own
dusky and hideous features, and shed a wild and unearthly glimmer over
the surrounding objects.

While enveloped in this flame, the demon plunged into the lake, and
apparently descended to its abysses, for as soon as the duke could
muster courage to approach its brink, nothing could be seen of him, his
steed, or his hounds.

THUS ENDS THE FIRST BOOK OF THE CHRONICLE OF WINDSOR CASTLE



BOOK II. HERNE THE HUNTER



I.

     Of the Compact between Sir Thomas Wyat and Herne the Hunter.


On the day after his secret interview with Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas Wyat
received despatches from the king for the court of France.

"His majesty bade me tell you to make your preparations quickly, Sir
Thomas," said the messenger who delivered the despatches; "he cares not
how soon you set forth."

"The king's pleasure shall be obeyed," rejoined Wyat.

And the messenger retired.

Left alone, Wyat remained for some time in profound and melancholy
thought. Heaving a deep sigh, he then arose, and paced the chamber with
rapid strides.

"Yes, it is better thus," he ejaculated. "If I remain near her, I shall
do some desperate deed. Better--far better--I should go. And yet to
leave her with Henry--to know that he is ever near her--that he drinks
in the music of her voice, and basks in the sunshine of her smile--while
I am driven forth to darkness and despair--the thought is madness! I
will not obey the hateful mandate! I will stay and defy him!"

As he uttered aloud this wild and unguarded speech, the arras screening
the door was drawn aside, and gave admittance to Wolsey.

Wyat's gaze sunk before the penetrating glance fixed upon him by the
Cardinal.

"I did not come to play the eavesdropper, Sir Thomas," said Wolsey; "but
I have heard enough to place your life in my power. So you refuse to
obey the king's injunctions. You refuse to proceed to Paris. You refuse
to assist in bringing about the divorce, and prefer remaining here to
brave your sovereign, and avenge yourself upon a fickle mistress. Ha?"

Wyat returned no answer.

"If such be your purpose," pursued Wolsey, after a pause, during which
he intently scrutinised the knight's countenance, "I will assist you in
it. Be ruled by me, and you shall have a deep and full revenge."

"Say on," rejoined Wyat, his eyes blazing with infernal fire, and his
hand involuntarily clutching the handle of his dagger.

"If I read you aright," continued the cardinal, "you are arrived at that
pitch of desperation when life itself becomes indifferent, and when but
one object remains to be gained--"

"And that is vengeance!" interrupted Wyat fiercely. "Right,
cardinal--right. I will have vengeance--terrible vengeance!"

"You shall. But I will not deceive you. You will purchase what you seek
at the price of your own head."

"I care not," replied Wyat. "All sentiments of love and loyalty are
swallowed up by jealousy and burning hate. Nothing but blood can allay
the fever that consumes me. Show me how to slay him!"

"Him!" echoed the cardinal, in alarm and horror. "Wretch! would you kill
your king? God forbid that I should counsel the injury of a hair of
his head! I do not want you to play the assassin, Wyat," he added more
calmly, "but the just avenger. Liberate the king from the thraldom of
the capricious siren who enslaves him, and you will do a service to the
whole country. A word from you--a letter--a token--will cast her from
the king, and place her on the block. And what matter? The gory scaffold
were better than Henry's bed."

"I cannot harm her," cried Wyat distractedly. "I love her still,
devotedly as ever. She was in my power yesterday, and without your aid,
cardinal, I could have wreaked my vengeance upon her, if I had been so
minded."

"You were then in her chamber, as the king suspected?" cried Wolsey,
with a look of exultation. "Trouble yourself no more, Sir Thomas. I will
take the part of vengeance off your hands."

"My indiscretion will avail you little, cardinal," replied Wyat sternly.
"A hasty word proves nothing. I will perish on the rack sooner than
accuse Anne Boleyn. I am a desperate man, but not so desperate as you
suppose me. A moment ago I might have been led on, by the murderous and
traitorous impulse that prompted me, to lift my hand against the king,
but I never could have injured her."

"You are a madman!" cried Wolsey impatiently, "and it is a waste of time
to argue with you. I wish you good speed on your journey. On your return
you will find Anne Boleyn Queen of England."

"And you disgraced," rejoined Wyat, as, with a malignant and vindictive
look, the cardinal quitted the chamber.

Again left alone, Wyat fell into another fit of despondency from which
he roused himself with difficulty, and went forth to visit the Earl of
Surrey in the Round Tower.

Some delay occurred before he could obtain access to the earl. The
halberdier stationed at the entrance to the keep near the Norman Tower
refused to admit him without the order of the officer in command of the
tower, and as the latter was not in the way at the moment, Wyat had to
remain without till he made his appearance.

While thus detained, he beheld Anne Boleyn and her royal lover mount
their steeds in the upper ward, and ride forth, with their attendants,
on a hawking expedition. Anne Boleyn bore a beautiful falcon on her
wrist--Wyat's own gift to her in happier days--and looked full of
coquetry, animation, and delight--without the vestige of a cloud upon
her brow, or a care on her countenance. With increased bitterness
of heart, he turned from the sight, and shrouded himself beneath the
gateway of the Norman Tower.

Soon after this, the officer appeared, and at once according Wyat
permission to see the earl, preceded him up the long flight of stone
steps communicating with the upper part of the keep, and screened by
an embattled and turreted structure, constituting a covered way to the
Round Tower.

Arrived at the landing, the officer unlocked a door on the left, and
ushered his companion into the prisoner's chamber.

Influenced by the circular shape of the structure in which it was
situated, and of which it formed a segment, the farther part of this
chamber was almost lost to view, and a number of cross-beams and wooden
pillars added to its sombre and mysterious appearance. The walls were of
enormous thickness, and a narrow loophole, terminating a deep embrasure,
afforded but scanty light. Opposite the embrasure sat Surrey, at a small
table covered with books and writing materials. A lute lay beside him on
the floor, and there were several astrological and alchemical implements
within reach.

So immersed was the youthful prisoner in study, that he was not aware,
until a slight exclamation was uttered by Wyat, of the entrance of the
latter. He then arose, and gave him welcome.

Nothing material passed between them as long as the officer remained
in the chamber, but on his departure Surrey observed laughingly to his
friend, "And how doth my fair cousin, the Lady Anne Boleyn?"

"She has just ridden forth with the king, to hawk in the park," replied
Wyat moodily. "For myself, l am ordered on a mission to France, but I
could not depart without entreating your forgiveness for the jeopardy in
which I have placed you. Would I could take your place."

"Do not heed me," replied Surrey; "I am well content with what has
happened. Virgil and Homer, Dante and Petrarch, are the companions of
my confinement; and in good sooth, I am glad to be alone. Amid the
distractions of the court I could find little leisure for the muse."

"Your situation is, in many respects, enviable, Surrey," replied Wyat.
"Disturbed by no jealous doubts and fears, you can beguile the tedious
hours in the cultivation of your poetical tastes, or in study. Still, I
must needs reproach myself with being the cause of your imprisonment."

"I repeat, you have done me a service," rejoined the earl, "I would lay
down my life for my fair cousin, Anne Boleyn, and I am glad to be able
to prove the sincerity of my regard for you, Wyat. I applaud the king's
judgment in sending you to France, and if you will be counselled by me,
you will stay there long enough to forget her who now occasions you so
much uneasiness."

"Will the Fair Geraldine be forgotten when the term of your imprisonment
shall expire, my lord?" asked Wyat.

"Of a surety not," replied the earl.

"And yet, in less than two months I shall return from France," rejoined
Wyat.

"Our cases are not alike," said Surrey. "The Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald
has plighted her troth to me."

"Anne Boleyn vowed eternal constancy to me," cried Wyat bitterly; "and
you see how she kept her oath. The absent are always in danger; and few
women are proof against ambition. Vanity--vanity is the rock they
split upon. May you never experience from Richmond the wrong I have
experienced from his father."

"I have no fear," replied Surrey.

As he spoke, there was a slight noise in that part of the chamber which
was buried in darkness.

"Have we a listener here?" cried Wyat, grasping his sword.

"Not unless it be a four-legged one from the dungeons beneath," replied
Surrey. "But you were speaking of Richmond. He visited me this morning,
and came to relate the particulars of a mysterious adventure that
occurred to him last night."

And the earl proceeded to detail what had befallen the duke in the
forest.

"A marvellous story, truly!" said Wyat, pondering upon the relation. "I
will seek out the demon huntsman myself."

Again a noise similar to that heard a moment before resounded from the
lower part of the room. Wyat immediately flew thither, and drawing his
sword, searched about with its point, but ineffectually.

"It could not be fancy," he said; "and yet nothing is to be found."

"I do not like jesting about Herne the Hunter," remarked Surrey, "after
what I myself have seen. In your present frame of mind I advise you not
to hazard an interview with the fiend. He has power over the desperate."

Wyat returned no answer. He seemed lost in gloomy thought, and soon
afterwards took his leave.

On returning to his lodgings, he summoned his attendants, and ordered
them to proceed to Kingston, adding that he would join them there
early the next morning. One of them, an old serving-man, noticing the
exceeding haggardness of his looks, endeavoured to persuade him to
go with them; but Wyat, with a harshness totally unlike his customary
manner, which was gracious and kindly in the extreme, peremptorily
refused.

"You look very ill, Sir Thomas," said the old servant; "worse than I
ever remember seeing you. Listen to my counsel, I beseech you. Plead ill
health with the king in excuse of your mission to France, and retire for
some months to recruit your strength and spirits at Allington."

"Tush, Adam Twisden! I am well enough," exclaimed Wyat impatiently. "Go
and prepare my mails."

"My dear, dear master," cried old Adam, bending the knee before him, and
pressing his hand to his lips; "something tells me that if I leave you
now I shall never see you again. There is a paleness in your cheek, and
a fire in your eye, such as I never before observed in you, or in mortal
man. I tremble to say it, but you look like one possessed by the
fiend. Forgive my boldness, sir. I speak from affection and duty. I was
serving-man to your father, good Sir Henry Wyat, before you, and I love
you as a son, while I honour you as a master. I have heard that there
are evil beings in the forest--nay, even within the castle--who lure men
to perdition by promising to accomplish their wicked desires. I trust no
such being has crossed your path."

"Make yourself easy, good Adam," replied Wyat; "no fiend has tempted
me."

"Swear it, sir," cried the old man eagerly--"swear it by the Holy
Trinity."

"By the Holy Trinity, I swear it," replied Wyat.

As the words were uttered, the door behind the arras was suddenly shut
with violence.

"Curses on you, villain! you have left the door open," cried Wyat
fiercely. "Our conversation has been overheard."

"I will soon see by whom," cried Adam, springing to his feet, and
rushing towards the door, which opened upon a long corridor.

"Well!" cried Wyat, as Adam returned the next moment, with cheeks almost
as white as his own--"was it the cardinal?"

"It was the devil, I believe!" replied the old man. "I could see no
one."

"It would not require supernatural power to retreat into an adjoining
chamber!" replied Wyat, affecting an incredulity he was far from
feeling.

"Your worship's adjuration was strangely interrupted," cried the old
man, crossing himself devoutly. "Saint Dunstan and Saint Christopher
shield us from evil spirits!"

"A truce to your idle terrors, Adam," said Wyat. "Take these packets,"
he added, giving him Henry's despatches, "and guard them as you would
your life. I am going on an expedition of some peril to-night, and
do not choose to keep them about me. Bid the grooms have my steed in
readiness an hour before midnight."

"I hope your worship is not about to ride into the forest at that hour?"
said Adam, trembling. "I was told by the stout archer, whom the king
dubbed Duke of Shoreditch, that he and the Duke of Richmond ventured
thither last night, and that they saw a legion of demons mounted on
coal-black horses, and amongst them Mark Fytton, the butcher, who was
hanged a few days ago from the Curfew Tower by the king's order, and
whose body so strangely disappeared. Do not go into the forest, dear Sir
Thomas!"

"No more of this!" cried Wyat fiercely. "Do as I bid you, and if I join
you not before noon to-morrow, proceed to Rochester, and there await my
coming."

"I never expect to see you again, sir!" groaned the old man, as he took
his leave.

The anxious concern evinced in his behalf by his old and trusty servant
was not without effect on Sir Thomas Wyat, and made him hesitate in
his design; but by-and-by another access of jealous rage came on, and
overwhelmed all his better resolutions. He remained within his chamber
to a late hour, and then issuing forth, proceeded to the terrace at
the north of the castle, where he was challenged by a sentinel, but was
suffered to pass on, on giving the watch-word.

The night was profoundly dark, and the whole of the glorious prospect
commanded by the terrace shrouded from view. But Wyat's object in coming
thither was to gaze, for the last time, at that part of the castle which
enclosed Anne Boleyn, and knowing well the situation of her apartments,
he fixed his eyes upon the windows; but although numerous lights
streamed from the adjoining corridor, all here was buried in obscurity.

Suddenly, however, the chamber was illumined, and he beheld Henry and
Anne Boleyn enter it, preceded by a band of attendants bearing tapers.
It needed not Wyat's jealousy-sharpened gaze to read, even at that
distance, the king's enamoured looks, or Anne Boleyn's responsive
glances. He saw that one of Henry's arms encircled her waist, while the
other caressed her yielding hand. They paused. Henry bent forward, and
Anne half averted her head, but not so much so as to prevent the king
from imprinting a long and fervid kiss upon her lips.

Terrible was its effect upon Wyat. An adder's bite would have been less
painful. His hands convulsively clutched together; his hair stood erect
upon his head; a shiver ran through his frame; and he tottered back
several paces. When he recovered, Henry had bidden good-night to the
object of his love, and, having nearly gained the door, turned and waved
a tender valediction to her. As soon as he was gone, Anne looked round
with a smile of ineffable pride and pleasure at her attendants, but a
cloud of curtains dropping over the window shrouded her from the sight
of her wretched lover.

In a state of agitation wholly indescribable, Wyat staggered towards
the edge of the terrace--it might be with the design of flinging himself
from it--but when within a few yards of the low parapet wall defending
its precipitous side, he perceived a tall dark figure standing directly
in his path, and halted. Whether the object he beheld was human or not
he could not determine, but it seemed of more than mortal stature. It
was wrapped in a long black cloak, and wore a high conical cap on its
head. Before Wyat could speak the figure addressed him.

"You desire to see Herne the Hunter," said the figure, in a deep,
sepulchral tone. "Ride hence to the haunted beechtree near the marsh, at
the farther side of the forest, and you will find him."

"You are Herne--I feel it," cried Wyat. "Why go into the forest? Speak
now."

And he stepped forward with the intention of grasping the figure, but it
eluded him, and, with a mocking laugh, melted into the darkness.

Wyat advanced to the edge of the terrace and looked over the parapet,
but he could see nothing except the tops of the tall trees springing
from the side of the moat. Flying to the sentinel, he inquired whether
any one had passed him, but the man returned an angry denial.

Awestricken and agitated, Wyat quitted the terrace, and, seeking his
steed, mounted him, and galloped into the forest.

"If he I have seen be not indeed the fiend, he will scarcely outstrip me
in the race," he cried, as his steed bore him at a furious pace up the
long avenue.

The gloom was here profound, being increased by the dense masses of
foliage beneath which he was riding. By the time, however, that he
reached the summit of Snow Hill the moon struggled through the clouds,
and threw a wan glimmer over the leafy wilderness around. The deep
slumber of the woods was unbroken by any sound save that of the frenzied
rider bursting through them.

Well acquainted with the forest, Wyat held on a direct course. His
brain was on fire, and the fury of his career increased his fearful
excitement. Heedless of all impediments, he pressed forward--now dashing
beneath overhanging boughs at the risk of his neck--now skirting the
edge of a glen where a false step might have proved fatal.

On--on he went, his frenzy increasing each moment.

At length he reached the woody height overlooking the marshy tract
that formed the limit of his ride. Once more the moon had withdrawn her
lustre, and a huge indistinct black mass alone pointed out the
position of the haunted tree. Around it wheeled a large white owl,
distinguishable by its ghostly plumage through the gloom, like a
sea-bird in a storm, and hooting bodingly as it winged its mystic
flight. No other sound was heard, nor living object seen.

While gazing into the dreary expanse beneath him, Wyat for the first
time since starting experienced a sensation of doubt and dread; and the
warning of his old and faithful attendant rushed upon his mind. He tried
to recite a prayer, but the words died away on his lips--neither would
his fingers fashion the symbol of a cross.

But even these admonitions did not restrain him. Springing from his
foaming and panting steed, and taking the bridle in his hand, he
descended the side of the acclivity. Ever and anon a rustling among the
grass told him that a snake, with which description of reptile the spot
abounded, was gliding away from him. His horse, which had hitherto
been all fire and impetuosity, now began to manifest symptoms of alarm,
quivered in every limb, snorted, and required to be dragged along
forcibly.

When within a few paces of the tree, its enormous rifted trunk became
fully revealed to him; but no one was beside it. Wyat then stood still,
and cried in a loud, commanding tone, "Spirit, I summon thee!--appear!"

At these words a sound like a peal of thunder rolled over head,
accompanied by screeches of discordant laughter. Other strange and
unearthly noises were heard, and amidst the din a blue phosphoric light
issued from the yawning crevice in the tree, while a tall, gaunt figure,
crested with an antlered helm, sprang from it. At the same moment a
swarm of horribly grotesque, swart objects, looking like imps, appeared
amid the branches of the tree, and grinned and gesticulated at Wyat,
whose courage remained unshaken during the fearful ordeal. Not so his
steed. After rearing and plunging violently, the affrighted animal broke
its hold and darted off into the swamp, where it floundered and was
lost.

"You have called me, Sir Thomas Wyat," said the demon, in a sepulchral
tone. "I am here. What would you?"

"My name being known to you, spirit of darkness, my errand should be
also," replied Wyat boldly.

"Your errand is known to me," replied the demon. "You have lost a
mistress, and would regain her?"

"I would give my soul to win her back from my kingly rival," cried Wyat.

"I accept your offer," rejoined the spirit. "Anne Boleyn shall be yours.
Your hand upon the compact."

Wyat stretched forth his hand, and grasped that of the demon.

His fingers were compressed as if by a vice, and he felt himself dragged
towards the tree, while a stifling and sulphurous vapour rose around
him. A black veil fell over his head, and was rapidly twined around his
brow in thick folds.

Amid yells of fiendish laughter he was then lifted from the ground,
thrust into the hollow of the tree, and thence, as it seemed to him,
conveyed into a deep subterranean cave.



II.

     In what manner Wolsey put his Scheme into Operation.


Foiled in his scheme of making Wyat the instrument of Anne Boleyn's
overthrow, Wolsey determined to put into immediate operation the plan
he had conceived of bringing forward a rival to her with the king. If a
choice had been allowed him, he would have selected some high-born dame
for the purpose; but as this was out of the question--and as, indeed,
Henry had of late proved insensible to the attractions of all the
beauties that crowded his court except Anne Boleyn--he trusted to the
forester's fair granddaughter to accomplish his object. The source
whence he had received intelligence of the king's admiration of Mabel
Lyndwood was his jester, Patch--a shrewd varlet who, under the mask
of folly, picked up many an important secret for his master, and was
proportionately rewarded.

Before executing the scheme, it was necessary to ascertain whether the
damsel's beauty was as extraordinary as it had been represented; and
with this view, Wolsey mounted his mule one morning, and, accompanied by
Patch and another attendant, rode towards the forest.

It was a bright and beautiful morning, and preoccupied as he was, the
plotting cardinal could not be wholly insensible to the loveliness of
the scene around him. Crossing Spring Hill, he paused at the head of a
long glade, skirted on the right by noble beech-trees whose silver stems
sparkled in the sun shine, and extending down to the thicket now called
Cooke's Hill Wood. From this point, as from every other eminence on
the northern side of the forest, a magnificent view of the castle was
obtained.

The sight of the kingly pile, towering above its vassal woods, kindled
high and ambitious thoughts in his breast.

"The lord of that proud structure has been for years swayed by me,"
he mused, "and shall the royal puppet be at last wrested from me by a
woman's hand? Not if I can hold my own."

Roused by the reflection, he quickened his pace, and shaping his course
towards Black Nest, reached in a short time the borders of a wide swamp
lying between the great lake and another pool of water of less extent
situated in the heart of the forest. This wild and dreary marsh,
the haunt of the bittern and the plover, contrasted forcibly and
disagreeably with the rich sylvan district he had just quitted.

"I should not like to cross this swamp at night," he observed to Patch,
who rode close behind him.

"Nor I, your grace," replied the buffoon. "We might chance to be led by
a will-o'-the-wisp to a watery grave."

"Such treacherous fires are not confined to these regions, knave,"
rejoined Wolsey. "Mankind are often lured, by delusive gleams of glory
and power, into quagmires deep and pitfalls. Holy Virgin; what have we
here?"

The exclamation was occasioned by a figure that suddenly emerged from
the ground at a little distance on the right. Wolsey's mule swerved so
much as almost to endanger his seat, and he called out in a loud angry
tone to the author of the annoyance--"Who are you, knave? and what do
you here?"

I am a keeper of the forest, an't please your grace, replied the
other, doffing his cap, and disclosing harsh features which by no means
recommended him to the cardinal, "and am named Morgan Fenwolf. I
was crouching among the reeds to get a shot at a fat buck, when your
approach called me to my feet."

"By St. Jude! this is the very fellow, your grace, who shot the
hart-royal the other day," cried Patch.

"And so preserved the Lady Anne Boleyn," rejoined the cardinal. "Art
sure of it, knave?"

"As sure as your grace is of canonisation," replied Patch. "That shot
should have brought you a rich reward, friend--either from the king's
highness or the Lady Anne," remarked Wolsey to the keeper.

"It has brought me nothing," rejoined Fenwolf sullenly.

"Hum!" exclaimed the cardinal. "Give the fellow a piece of gold, Patch."

"Methinks I should have better earned your grace's bounty if I had let
the hart work his will," said Fenwolf, reluctantly receiving the coin.

"How, fellow?" cried the cardinal, knitting his brows.

"Nay, I mean no offence," replied Fenwolf; "but the rumour goes that
your grace and the Lady Anne are not well affected towards each other."

"The rumour is false," rejoined the cardinal, "and you can now
contradict it on your own experience. Harkee, sirrah! where lies
Tristram Lyndwood's hut?"

Fenwolf looked somewhat surprised and confused by the question.

"It lies on the other side of yonder rising ground, about half a mile
hence," he said. "But if your grace is seeking old Tristram, you will
not find him. I parted with him, half-an-hour ago, on Hawk's Hill, and
he was then on his way to the deer-pen at Bray Wood."

"If I see his granddaughter Mabel, it will suffice," rejoined the
cardinal. "I am told she is a comely damsel. Is it so?"

"I am but an indifferent judge of beauty," replied Fenwolf moodily.

"Lead my mule across this swamp, thou senseless loon," said the
cardinal, "and I will give thee my blessing."

With a very ill grace Fenwolf complied, and conducted Wolsey to the
farther side of the marsh.

"If your grace pursues the path over the hill," he said, "and then
strikes into the first opening on the right, it will bring you to the
place you seek." And, without waiting for the promised blessing, he
disappeared among the trees.

On reaching the top of the hill, Wolsey descried the hut through an
opening in the trees at a few hundred yards' distance. It was pleasantly
situated on the brink of the lake, at the point where its width was
greatest, and where it was fed by a brook that flowed into it from a
large pool of water near Sunninghill.

From the high ground where Wolsey now stood the view of the lake was
beautiful. For nearly a mile its shining expanse was seen stretching out
between banks of varied form, sometimes embayed, sometimes running out
into little headlands, but everywhere clothed with timber almost to the
water's edge. Wild fowl skimmed over its glassy surface, or dipped in
search of its finny prey, and here and there a heron might be detected
standing in some shallow nook, and feasting on the smaller fry. A flight
of cawing rooks were settling upon the tall trees on the right bank, and
the voices of the thrush, the blackbird, and other feathered songsters
burst in redundant melody from the nearer groves.

A verdant path, partly beneath the trees, and partly on the side of the
lake, led Wolsey to the forester's hut. Constructed of wood and clay,
with a thatched roof, green with moss, and half overgrown with ivy, the
little building was in admirable keeping with the surrounding scenery.
Opposite the door, and opening upon the lake, stood a little boathouse,
and beside it a few wooden steps, defended by a handrail, ran into
the water. A few yards beyond the boathouse the brook before mentioned
emptied its waters into the lake.

Gazing with much internal satisfaction at the hut, Wolsey bade Patch
dismount, and ascertain whether Mabel was within. The buffoon obeyed,
tried the door, and finding it fastened, knocked, but to no purpose.

After a pause of a few minutes, the cardinal was turning away in extreme
disappointment, when a small skiff, rowed by a female hand, shot round
an angle of the lake and swiftly approached them. A glance from Patch
would have told Wolsey, had he required any such information, that this
was the forester's granddaughter. Her beauty quite ravished him, and
drew from him an exclamation of wonder and delight. Features regular,
exquisitely moulded, and of a joyous expression, a skin dyed like a
peach by the sun, but so as to improve rather than impair its hue; eyes
bright, laughing, and blue as a summer sky; ripe, ruddy lips, and pearly
teeth; and hair of a light and glossy brown, constituted the sum of
her attractions. Her sylph-like figure was charmingly displayed by
the graceful exercise on which she was engaged, and her small hands,
seemingly scarcely able to grasp an oar, impelled the skiff forwards
with marvellous velocity, and apparently without much exertion on her
part.

Unabashed by the presence of the strangers, though Wolsey's attire could
leave her in no doubt as to his high ecclesiastical dignity, she sprang
ashore at the landing-place, and fastened her bark to the side of the
boathouse.

"You are Mabel Lyndwood, I presume, fair maiden?" inquired the cardinal,
in his blandest tones.

"Such is my name, your grace," she replied; "for your garb tells me I am
addressing Cardinal Wolsey."

The cardinal graciously inclined his head.

"Chancing to ride in this part of the forest," he said, "and having
heard of your beauty, I came to see whether the reality equalled the
description, and I find it far transcends it."

Mabel blushed deeply, and cast down her eyes.

"Would that Henry could see her now!" thought the cardinal, "Anne
Boleyn's reign were nigh at an end.--How long have you dwelt in this
cottage, fair maid?" he added aloud.

"My grandsire, Tristram Lyndwood, has lived here fifty years and more,"
replied Mabel, "but I have only been its inmate within these few weeks.
Before that time I lived at Chertsey, under the care of one of the lay
sisters of the monastery there--Sister Anastasia."

"And your parents--where are they?" asked the cardinal curiously.

"Alas! your grace, I have none," replied Mabel with a sigh. "Tristram
Lyndwood is my only living relative. He used to come over once a month
to see me at Chertsey--and latterly, finding his dwelling lonely, for
he lost the old dame who tended it for him, he brought me to dwell with
him. Sister Anastasia was loth to part with me--and I was grieved to
leave her--but I could not refuse my grandsire."

"Of a surety not," replied the cardinal musingly, and gazing hard at
her. "And you know nothing of your parents?"

"Little beyond this," replied Mabel:--"My father was a keeper of the
forest, and being unhappily gored by a stag, perished of the wound--for
a hurt from a hart's horn, as your grace knows, is certain death; and
my mother pined after him and speedily followed him to the grave. I
was then placed by my grandsire with Sister Anastasia, as I have just
related--and this is all my history."

"A simple yet a curious one," said Wolsey, still musing. "You are the
fairest maid of low degree I ever beheld. You saw the king at the chase
the other day, Mabel?"

"Truly, did I, your grace," she replied, her eyes brightening and her
colour rising; "and a right noble king he is."

"And as gentle and winning as he is goodly to look upon," said Wolsey,
smiling.

"Report says otherwise," rejoined Mabel.

"Report speaks falsely," cried Wolsey; "I know him well, and he is what
I describe him."

"I am glad to hear it," replied Mabel; "and I must own I formed the same
opinion myself--for the smile he threw upon me was one of the sweetest
and kindliest I ever beheld."

"Since you confess so much, fair maiden," rejoined Wolsey, "I will be
equally frank, and tell you it was from the king's own lips I heard of
your beauty."

"Your grace!" she exclaimed.

"Well, well," said Wolsey, smiling, "if the king is bewitched, I cannot
marvel at it. And now, good day, fair maiden; you will hear more of me."

"Your grace will not refuse me your blessing?" said Mabel.

"Assuredly not, my child," replied Wolsey, stretching his hands over
her. "All good angels and saints bless you, and hold you in their
keeping. Mark my words: a great destiny awaits you; but in all changes,
rest assured you will find a friend in Cardinal Wolsey."

"Your grace overwhelms me with kindness," cried Mabel; "nor can I
conceive how I have found an interest in your eyes--unless Sister
Anastasia or Father Anslem, of Chertsey Abbey, may have mentioned me to
you."

"You have found a more potent advocate with me than either Sister
Anastasia or Father Anselm," replied Wolsey; "and now, farewell."

And turning the head of his mule, he rode slowly away.

On the same day there was a great banquet in the castle, and, as usual,
Wolsey took his station on the right of the sovereign, while the papal
legate occupied a place on the left. Watching a favourable opportunity,
Wolsey observed to Henry that he had been riding that morning in the
forest, and had seen the loveliest damsel that eyes ever fell upon.

"Ah! by our Lady! and who may she be?" asked the king curiously.

"She can boast little in regard to birth, being grandchild to an old
forester," replied Wolsey; "but your majesty saw her at the hunting
party the other day."

"Ah, now I bethink me of her," said Henry. "A comely damsel, in good
sooth."

"I know not where her match is to be found," cried the cardinal. "Would
your majesty had seen her skim over the lake in a fairy boat managed by
herself, as I beheld her this morning. You would have taken her for a
water-sprite, except that no water-sprite was half so beautiful."

"You speak in raptures, cardinal," cried Henry. "I must see this
damsel again. Where does she dwell? I have heard, but it has slipped my
memory."

"In a hut near the great lake," replied Wolsey. "There is some mystery
attached to her birth, which I have not yet fathomed."

"Leave me to unriddle it," replied the king laughingly.

And he turned to talk on other subjects to Campeggio, but Wolsey felt
satisfied that the device was successful. Nor was he mistaken. As Henry
retired from the banquet, he motioned the Duke of Suffolk towards him,
and said, in an undertone--"I shall go forth at dusk to-morrow even in
disguise, and shall require your attendance."

"On a love affair?" asked the duke, in the same tone.

"Perchance," replied Henry; "but I will explain myself more fully anon."

This muttered colloquy was overheard by Patch, and faithfully reported
by him to the cardinal.



III.

     Of the Visit of the Two Guildford Merchants to the
     Forester's Hut.


Tristam Lyndwood did not return home till late in the evening; and when
informed of the cardinal's visit, he shook his head gravely.

"I am sorry we went to the hunting party," he observed. "Valentine
Hagthorne said mischief would come of it, and I wish I had attended to
his advice."

"I see no mischief in the matter, grandsire," cried Mabel. "On the
contrary, I think I have met with excellent fortune. The good cardinal
promises me a high destiny, and says the king himself noticed me."

"Would his regards had fallen anywhere than on you," rejoined Tristram.
"But I warrant me you told the cardinal your history--all you know of
it, at least."

"I did so," she replied; "nor did I know I was doing any harm."

"Answer no such inquiries in future," said Tristram angrily.

"But, grandfather, I could not refuse to answer the cardinal," she
replied, in a deprecating voice.

"No more excuses, but attend to my injunctions," said Tristram. "Have
you seen Morgan Fenwolf to-day?"

"No; and I care not if I never see him again," she replied pettishly.

"You dislike him strangely, Mab," rejoined her grandfather; "he is the
best keeper in the forest, and makes no secret of his love for you."

"The very reason why I dislike him," she returned.

"By the same rule, if what the cardinal stated be true--though, trust
me, he was but jesting--you ought to dislike the king. But get my
supper. I have need of it, for I have fasted long."

Mabel hastened to obey, and set a mess of hot pottage and other viands
before him. Little more conversation passed between them, for the old
man was weary, and sought his couch early.

That night Mabel did nothing but dream of the king--of stately chambers,
rich apparel, and countless attendants. She awoke, and finding herself
in a lowly cottage, and without a single attendant, was, like other
dreamers of imaginary splendour, greatly discontented.

The next morning her grandsire went again to Bray Wood, and she was
left to muse upon the event of the previous day. While busied about
some trifling occupation, the door suddenly opened, and Morgan Fenwolf
entered the cottage. He was followed by a tall man, with a countenance
of extreme paleness, but a noble and commanding figure. There was
something so striking in the appearance of the latter person, that it
riveted the attention of Mabel. But no corresponding effect was produced
on the stranger, for he scarcely bestowed a look upon her.

Morgan Fenwolf hastily asked whether her grandsire was at home, or near
at hand, and being answered in the negative, appeared much disappointed.
He then said that he must borrow the skiff for a short while, as he
wished to visit some nets on the lake. Mabel readily assented, and
the stranger quitted the house, while Fenwolf lingered to offer some
attention to Mabel, which was so ill received that he was fain to hurry
forth to the boathouse, where he embarked with his companion. As soon as
the plash of oars announced their departure, Mabel went forth to watch
them. The stranger, who was seated in the stern of the boat, for the
first time fixed his large melancholy eyes full upon her, and did not
withdraw his gaze till an angle of the lake hid him from view.

Marvelling who he could be, and reproaching herself for not questioning
Fenwolf on the subject, Mabel resolved to repair the error when the
skiff was brought back. But the opportunity did not speedily occur.
Hours flew by, the shades of evening drew on, but neither Fenwolf nor
the stranger returned.

Soon after dusk her grandfather came home. He did not express the least
astonishment at Fenwolf's prolonged absence, but said that he was sure
to be back in the course of the evening, and the skiff was not wanted.

"He will bring us a fine jack or a carp for dinner to-morrow, I'll
warrant me," he said. "If he had returned in time we might have had
fish for supper. No matter. I must make shift with the mutton pie and a
rasher of bacon. Morgan did not mention the name of his companion, you
say?"

"He did not," replied Mabel; "but I hope he will bring him with him. He
is the goodliest gentleman I ever beheld."

"What! a goodlier gentleman than the king!" cried Tristram.

"Nay, they should not be compared," replied Mabel: "the one is stout
and burly; the other slight, long-visaged, and pale, but handsome
withal--very handsome."

"Well, I daresay I shall see him anon," said Tristram. "And now for
supper, for I am as sharp-set as a wolf; and so is old Hubert," he
added, glancing affectionately at the hound by which he was attended.

Mabel placed the better part of a huge pie before him, which the old
forester attacked with great zeal. He then fell to work upon some slices
of bacon toasted over the embers by his granddaughter, and having washed
them down with a jug of mead, declared he had supped famously. While
taking care of himself, he did not forget his hound. From time to time
he threw him morsels of the pie, and when he had done he gave him a
large platterful of bones.

"Old Hubert has served me faithfully nigh twenty years," he said,
patting the hound's shaggy neck, "and must not be neglected."

Throwing a log of wood on the fire, he drew his chair into the
ingle-nook, and disposed himself to slumber. Meanwhile, Mabel busied
herself about her household concern, and was singing a lulling melody to
her grandfather, in a voice of exquisite sweetness, when a loud tap was
heard at the door. Tristram roused himself from his doze, and old Hubert
growled menacingly.

"Quiet, Hubert--quiet!" cried Tristram. "It cannot be Morgan Fenwolf,"
he added. "He would never knock thus. Come in, friend, whoever thou
art."

At this invitation two persons darkened the doorway. The foremost was a
man of bulky frame and burly demeanour. He was attired in a buff jerkin,
over which he wore a loose great surcoat; had a flat velvet cap on his
head; and carried a stout staff in his hand. His face was broad and
handsome, though his features could scarcely be discerned in the
doubtful light to which they were submitted. A reddish-coloured beard
clothed his chin. His companion, who appeared a trifle the taller of the
two, and equally robust, was wrapped in a cloak of dark green camlet.

"Give you good e'en, friend," said the foremost stranger to the
forester. "We are belated travellers, on our way from Guildford
to Windsor, and, seeing your cottage, have called to obtain some
refreshment before we cross the great park. We do not ask you to bestow
a meal upon us, but will gladly pay for the best your larder affords."

"You shall have it, and welcome, my masters," replied Tristram, "but I am
afraid my humble fare will scarcely suit you."

"Fear nothing," replied the other; "we have good appetites, and are not
over dainty. Beshrew me, friend," he added, regarding Mabel, "you have a
comely daughter."

"She is my granddaughter, sir," replied Tristram.

"Well, your granddaughter, then," said the other; "by the mass, a lovely
wench. We have none such in Guildford, and I doubt if the king hath such
in Windsor Castle. What say you, Charles Brandon?"

"It were treason to agree with you, Harry La Roy," replied Brandon,
laughing, "for they say the king visits with the halter all those who
disparage the charms of the Lady Anne Boleyn. But, comparisons apart,
this damsel is very fair."

"You will discompose her, my masters, if you praise her thus to her
face," said Tristram somewhat testily. "Here, Mab, bring forth all my
scanty larder affords, and put some rashers of bacon on the fire."

"Cold meat and bread will suffice for us," said Harry: "we will not
trouble the damsel to play the cook."

With this Mabel, who appeared a good deal embarrassed by the presence of
the strangers, spread a cloth of snow-white linen on the little table,
and placed the remains of the pie and a large oven cake before them. The
new-comers sate down, and ate heartily of the humble viands, he who had
answered to the name of Harry frequently stopping in the course of his
repast to compliment his fair attendant.

"By our Lady, I have never been so waited on before," he added, rising
and removing his stool towards the fire, while his companion took up a
position, with his back against the wall, near the fireplace. "And now,
my pretty Mabel, have you never a cup of ale to wash down the pie?"

"I can offer you a draught of right good mead, master," said Tristram;
"and that is the only liquor my cottage can furnish."

"Nothing can be better," replied Harry. "The mead, by all means."

While Mabel went to draw the liquor, Tristram fixed his eyes on Harry,
whose features were now fully revealed by the light of the fire.

"Why do you look at me so hard, friend?" demanded Harry bluffly.

"I have seen some one very like you, master," replied Tristram, "and one
whom it is no light honour to resemble."

"You mean the king," returned Harry, laughing. "You are not the first
person who has thought me like him."

"You are vain of the likeness, I see, master," replied Tristram, joining
in the laugh. "How say you, Mab?" he added to his granddaughter, who at
that moment returned with a jug and a couple of drinking-horns. "Whom
does this gentleman resemble?"

"No one," returned Mabel, without raising her eyes.

"No one," echoed Harry, chucking her under the chin. "Look me full in
the face, and you will find out your mistake. Marry, if I were the royal
Henry, instead of what I am, a plain Guildford merchant, I should prefer
you to Anne Boleyn."

"Is that said in good sooth, sir?" asked Mabel, slightly raising
her eyes, and instantly dropping them before the ardent gaze of the
self-styled merchant.

"In good sooth and sober truth," replied Henry, rounding his arm and
placing his hand on his lusty thigh in true royal fashion.

"Were you the royal Henry, I should not care for your preference," said
Mabel more confidently. "My grandsire says the king changes his love as
often as the moon changes--nay, oftener."

"God's death!--your grandsire is a false knave to say so! cried Harry.

"Heaven help us! you swear the king's oaths," said Mabel. "And wherefore
not, sweetheart?" said Harry, checking himself. "It is enough to make
one swear, and in a royal fashion too, to hear one's liege lord unjustly
accused. I have ever heard the king styled a mirror of constancy. How
say you, Charles Brandon?--can you not give him a good character?"

"Oh! an excellent character," said Brandon. "He is constancy
itself--while the fit lasts," he added, aside.

"You hear what my friend says, sweetheart," observed Harry; "and I
assure you he has the best opportunities of judging. But I'll be sworn
you did not believe your grand-sire when he thus maligned the king."

"She contradicted me flatly," said Tristram. "But pour out the mead,
girl; our guests are waiting for it."

While Mabel, in compliance with her grandsire's directions, filled the
horn, the door of the cottage was noiselessly opened by Morgan Fenwolf,
who stepped in, followed by Bawsey. He stared inquisitively at the
strangers, but both were so much occupied by the damsel that he remained
unnoticed. A sign from the old forester told him he had better retire:
jealous curiosity, however, detained him, and he tarried till Harry had
received the cup from Mabel, and drained it to her health. He then drew
back, closed the door softly, and joined a dark and mysterious figure,
with hideous lineaments and an antlered helm upon its brows, lurking
outside the cottage.

Meanwhile, a cup of mead having been offered to Brandon, he observed to
his companion, "We must now be setting forth on our journey. Night is
advancing, and we have five long miles to traverse across the great
park."

"I would stay where I am," rejoined Harry, "and make a bench near
the fire serve me in lieu of a couch, but that business requires our
presence at the castle to-night. There is payment for our meal, friend,"
he added, giving a mark to Tristram, "and as we shall probably return
to-morrow night, we will call and have another supper with you. Provide
us a capon, and some fish from the lake."

"You pay as you swear, good sir, royally," replied Tristram. "You shall
have a better supper to-morrow night."

"You have a dangerous journey before you, sir," said Mabel. "They say
there are plunderers and evil spirits in the great park."

"I have no fear of any such, sweetheart," replied Harry. "I have a
strong arm to defend myself, and so has my friend Charles Brandon. And
as to evil spirits, a kiss from you will shield me from all ill."

And as he spoke, he drew her towards him, and clasping her in his arms,
imprinted a score of rapid kisses on her lips.

"Hold! hold, master!" cried Tristram, rising angrily; "this may not be.
'Tis an arrant abuse of hospitality."

"Nay, be not offended, good friend," replied Harry, laughing. "I am
on the look-out for a wife, and I know not but I may take your
granddaughter with me to Guildford."

"She is not to be so lightly won," cried Tristram; "for though I am but
a poor forester, I rate her as highly as the haughtiest noble can rate
his child."

"And with reason," said Harry. "Good-night, sweet-heart! By my crown,
Suffolk!" he exclaimed to his companion, as he quitted the cottage, "she
is an angel, and shall be mine."

"Not if my arm serves me truly," muttered Fenwolf, who, with his
mysterious companion, had stationed himself at the window of the hut.

"Do him no injury," returned the other; "he is only to be made
captive-mark that. And now to apprise Sir Thomas Wyat. We must intercept
them before they reach their horses."



IV.

     How Herne the Hunter showed the Earl of Surrey the Fair
     Geraldine in a Vision.


On the third day after Surrey's imprisonment in the keep, he was removed
to the Norman Tower. The chamber allotted him was square, tolerably
lofty, and had two narrow-pointed windows on either side, looking on
the one hand into the upper quadrangle, and on the other into the middle
ward. At the same time permission was accorded him to take exercise on
the battlements of the Round Tower, or within the dry and grassy moat at
its foot.

The Fair Geraldine, he was informed, had been sent to the royal palace
at Greenwich; but her absence occasioned him little disquietude, because
he knew, if she had remained at Windsor, he would not have been allowed
to see her.

On the same day that Surrey was removed to the Norman Tower, the Duke
of Richmond quitted the castle without assigning any motive for his
departure, or even taking leave of his friend. At first some jealous
mistrust that he might be gone to renew his suit to the Fair
Geraldine troubled the earl; but he strongly combated the feeling, as
calculated, if indulged, to destroy his tranquillity; and by fixing
his thoughts sedulously on other subjects, he speedily succeeded in
overcoming it.

On that night, while occupied in a translation of the Aeneid which he
had commenced, he remained at his task till a late hour. The midnight
bell had tolled, when, looking up, he was startled by perceiving a tall
figure standing silent and motionless beside him.

Independently of the difficulty of accounting for its presence, the
appearance of the figure was in itself sufficiently appalling. It was
above the ordinary stature, and was enveloped in a long black cloak,
while a tall, conical black cap, which added to its height, and
increased the hideousness of its features, covered its head.

For a few minutes Surrey remained gazing at the figure in mute
astonishment, during which it maintained the same motionless posture. At
length he was able to murmur forth the interrogation, "Who art thou?"

"A friend," replied the figure, in a sepulchral tone.

"Are you a man or spirit?" demanded Surrey.

"It matters not--I am a friend," rejoined the figure.

"On what errand come you here?" asked Surrey.

"To serve you," replied the figure; "to liberate you. You shall go hence
with me, if you choose."

"On what condition?" rejoined Surrey.

"We will speak of that when we are out of the castle, and on the green
sod of the forest," returned the figure.

"You tempt in vain," cried Surrey. "I will not go with you. I recognise
in you the demon hunter Herne." The figure laughed hollowly--so hollowly
that Surrey's flesh crept upon his bones.

"You are right, lord of Surrey," he said; "I am Herne the Hunter. You
must join me. Sir Thomas Wyat is already one of my band."

"You lie, false fiend!" rejoined Surrey. "Sir Thomas Wyat is in France."

"It is you who lie, lord of Surrey," replied Herne; "Sir Thomas Wyat is
now in the great park. You shall see him in a few minutes, if you will
come with me."

"I disbelieve you, tempter!" cried Surrey indignantly. "Wyat is too good
a Christian, and too worthy a knight, to league with a demon."

Again Herne laughed bitterly.

"Sir Thomas Wyat told you he would seek me out," said the demon. "He did
so, and gave himself to me for Anne Boleyn."

"But you have no power over her, demon?" cried Surrey, shuddering.

"You will learn whether I have or not, in due time," replied Herne. "Do
you refuse to go with me?"

"I refuse to deliver myself to perdition," rejoined the earl.

"An idle fear," rejoined Herne. "I care not for your soul--you will
destroy it without my aid. I have need of you. You shall be back again
in this chamber before the officer visits it in the morning, and no one
shall be aware of your absence. Come, or I will bear you hence."

"You dare not touch me," replied Surrey, placing his hand upon his
breast; "I am armed with a holy relic."

"I know it," said Herne; "and I feel its power, or I would not have
trifled with you thus long. But it cannot shield you from a rival. You
believe the Fair Geraldine constant--ha?"

"I know her to be so," said Surrey.

A derisive laugh broke from Herne.

"Peace, mocking fiend!" cried Surrey furiously.

"I laugh to think how you are deceived," said Herne. "Would you behold
your mistress now?--would you see how she conducts herself during your
absence?"

"If you choose to try me, I will not oppose the attempt," replied
Surrey; "but it will be futile."

"Remove the relic from your person," rejoined Herne. "Place it upon the
table, within your grasp, and you shall see her."

Surrey hesitated; but he was not proof against the low mocking laugh of
the demon.

"No harm can result from it," he cried at length, detaching the relic
from his neck, and laying it on the table.

"Extinguish the light!" cried Herne, in a commanding voice.

Surrey instantly sprang to his feet, and dashed the lamp off the table.
"Behold!" cried the demon.

And instantly a vision, representing the form and lineaments of the
Fair Geraldine to the life, shone forth against the opposite wall of the
chamber. At the feet of the visionary damsel knelt a shape resembling
the Duke of Richmond. He was pressing the hand extended to him by
the Fair Geraldine to his lips, and a smile of triumph irradiated his
features.

"Such is man's friendship--such woman's constancy!" cried Herne. "Are
you now satisfied?"

"I am, that you have deceived me, false spirit!" cried the earl. "I
would not believe the Fair Geraldine inconstant, though all hell told me
so."

A terrible laugh broke from the demon, and the vision faded away. All
became perfect darkness, and for a few moments the earl remained silent.
He then called to the demon, but receiving no answer, put forth his hand
towards the spot where he had stood. He was gone.

Confounded, Surrey returned to the table, and searched for the relic,
but, with a feeling of indescribable anguish and self-reproach, found
that it had likewise disappeared.



V.

     What befell Sir Thomas Wyat in the Sandstone Cave--And how
     he drank a maddening Potion.


THE cave in which Sir Thomas Wyat found himself, on the removal of the
bandage from his eyes, was apparently--for it was only lighted by a
single torch--of considerable width and extent, and hewn out of a bed
of soft sandstone. The roof, which might be about ten feet high, was
supported by the trunks of three large trees rudely fashioned into
pillars. There were several narrow lateral passages within it,
apparently communicating with other caverns; and at the farther end,
which was almost buried in obscurity, there was a gleam seemingly
occasioned by the reflection of the torchlight upon water. On the right
hand stood a pile of huge stones, disposed somewhat in the form of a
Druidical altar, on the top of which, as on a throne, sat the demon
hunter, surrounded by his satellites--one of whom, horned and bearded
like a satyr, had clambered the roughened sides of the central pillar,
and held a torch over the captive's head.

Half-stifled by the noxious vapour he had inhaled, and blinded by the
tightness of the bandage, it was some time before Wyat fully recovered
his powers of sight and utterance.

"Why am I brought hither, false fiend?" he demanded at length.

"To join my band," replied the demon harshly and imperiously.

"Never!" rejoined Wyat. "I will have nought to do with you, except as
regards our compact."

"What I require from you is part of our compact," rejoined the demon.
"He who has once closed hands with Herne the Hunter cannot retreat. But
I mean you fairly, and will not delude you with false expectation. What
you seek cannot be accomplished on the instant. Ere three days Anne
Boleyn shall be yours."

"Give me some proof that you are not deceiving me, spirit," said Wyat.

"Come, then!" replied Herne. So saying, he sprang from the stone, and,
taking Wyat's hand, led him towards the lower end of the cave, which
gradually declined till it reached the edge of a small but apparently
deep pool of water, the level of which rose above the rock that formed
its boundary.

"Remove the torch!" thundered the demon to those behind. "Now summon
your false love, Sir Thomas Wyat," he added, as his orders were obeyed,
and the light was taken into one of the side passages, so that its gleam
no longer fell upon the water.

"Appear, Anne Boleyn!" cried Wyat.

Upon this a shadowy resemblance of her he had invoked flitted over the
surface of the water, with hands outstretched towards him. So moved was
Wyat by the vision, that he would have flung himself into the pool to
grasp it if he had not been forcibly detained by the demon. During the
struggle the figure vanished, and all was buried in darkness.

"I have said she shall be yours," cried Herne; "but time is required for
the accomplishment of my purpose. I have only power over her when evil
is predominant in her heart. But such moments are not unfrequent," he
added, with a bitter laugh. "And now to the chase. I promise you it will
be a wilder and more exciting ride than you ever enjoyed in the king's
company. To the chase!--to the chase, I say!"

Sounding a call upon his horn, the light instantly reappeared. All was
stir and confusion amid the impish troop--and presently afterwards a
number of coal-black horses, and hounds of the same hue, leashed in
couples, were brought out of one of the side passages. Among the latter
were two large sable hounds of Saint Hubert's breed, whom Herne summoned
to his side by the names of Saturn and Dragon.

A slight noise, as of a blow dealt against a tree, was now heard
overhead, and Herne, imposing silence on the group by a hasty gesture,
assumed an attitude of fixed attention. The stroke was repeated a second
time.

"It is our brother, Morgan Fenwolf," cried the demon.

Catching hold of a chain hanging from the roof, which Wyat had not
hitherto noticed, he swung himself into a crevice above, and disappeared
from view. During the absence of their leader the troop remained
motionless and silent.

A few minutes afterwards Herne reappeared at the upper end of the cave.
He was accompanied by Fenwolf, between whom and Wyat a slight glance of
recognition passed.

The order being given by the demon to mount, Wyat, after an instant's
hesitation, seized the flowing mane of the horse nearest him--for it was
furnished neither with saddle nor bridle-and vaulted upon its back. At
the same moment Herne uttered a wild cry, and plunging into the pool,
sunk within it. Wyat's steed followed, and swam swiftly forward beneath
the water.

When Wyat rose to the surface, he found himself in the open lake, which
was gleaming in the moonlight. Before him he beheld Herne clambering the
bank, accompanied by his two favourite hounds, while a large white
owl wheeled round his head, hooting loudly. Behind came the grisly
cavalcade, with their hounds, swimming from beneath a bank covered by
thick overhanging trees, which completely screened the secret entrance
to the cave. Having no control over his steed, Wyat was obliged to
surrender himself to its guidance, and was soon placed by the side of
the demon hunter.

"Pledge me, Sir Thomas Wyat," said Herne, unslinging a gourd-shaped
flask from his girdle, and offering it to him. "'Tis a rare wine, and
will prevent you from suffering from your bath, as well as give you
spirits for the chase."

Chilled to the bone by the immersion he had undergone, Wyat did not
refuse the offer, but placing the flask to his lips took a deep draught
from it. The demon uttered a low bitter laugh as he received back the
flask, and he slung it to his girdle without tasting it.

The effect of the potion upon Wyat was extraordinary. The whole scene
seemed to dance around him;-the impish figures in the lake, or upon its
bank, assumed forms yet more fantastic; the horses looked like monsters
of the deep; the hounds like wolves and ferocious beasts; the branches
of the trees writhed and shot forward like hissing serpents;--and though
this effect speedily passed off, it left behind it a wild and maddening
feeling of excitement.

"A noble hart is lying in yon glen," said Morgan Fenwolf, advancing
towards his leader; "I tracked his slot thither this evening."

"Haste, and unharbour him," replied Herne, "and as soon as you rouse
him, give the halloa." Fenwolf obeyed; and shortly afterwards a cry was
heard from the glen.

"List halloa! list halloa!" cried Herne, "that's he! that's he! hyke!
Saturn! hyke, Dragon--Away!--away, my merry men all."



VI.

     How Sir Thomas Wyat hunted with Herne.


Accompanied by Wyat, and followed by the whole cavalcade, Herne dashed
into the glen, where Fenwolf awaited him. Threading the hollow, the
troop descried the hart flying swiftly along a sweeping glade at
some two hundred yards distance. The glade was passed--a woody knoll
skirted--a valley traversed--and the hart plunged into a thick grove
clothing the side of Hawk's Hill. But it offered him no secure retreat.
Dragon and Saturn were close upon him, and behind them came Herne,
crashing through the branches of the trees, and heedless of all
impediments. By-and-by the thicket became more open, and they entered
Cranbourne Chase. But the hart soon quitted it to return to the great
park, and darted down a declivity skirted by a line of noble oaks. Here
he was so hotly pressed by his fierce opponents, whose fangs he could
almost feel within his haunches, that he suddenly stopped and stood at
bay, receiving the foremost of his assailants, Saturn, on the points of
his horns. But his defence, though gallant, was unavailing. In another
instant Herne came up, and, dismounting, called off Dragon, who was
about to take the place of his wounded companion. Drawing a knife from
his girdle, the hunter threw himself on the ground, and, advancing on
all fours towards the hart, could scarcely be distinguished himself
from some denizen of the forest. As he approached the hart snorted and
bellowed fiercely, and dashed its horns against him; but the blow was
received by the hunter upon his own antlered helm, and at the same
moment his knife was thrust to the hilt into the stag's throat, and it
fell to the ground.

Springing to his feet, Herne whooped joyfully, placed his bugle to his
lips, and blew the dead mot. He then shouted to Fenwolf to call away and
couple the hounds, and, striking off the deer's right forefoot with his
knife, presented it to Wyat. Several large leafy branches being gathered
and laid upon the ground, the hart was placed upon them, and Herne
commenced breaking him up, as the process of dismembering the deer is
termed in the language of woodcraft. His first step was to cut off
the animal's head, which he performed by a single blow with his heavy
trenchant knife.

"Give the hounds the flesh," he said, delivering the trophy to Fenwolf;
"but keep the antlers, for it is a great deer of head."

Placing the head on a hunting-pole, Fenwolf withdrew to an open space
among the trees, and, halloing to the others, they immediately cast off
the hounds, who rushed towards him, leaping and baying at the
stag's head, which he alternately raised and lowered until they were
sufficiently excited, when he threw it on the ground before them.

While this was going forward the rest of the band were occupied in
various ways--some striking a light with flint and steel--some gathering
together sticks and dried leaves to form a fire--others producing
various strange-shaped cooking utensils--while others were assisting
their leader in his butcherly task, which he executed with infinite
skill and expedition.

As soon as the fire was kindled, Herne distributed certain portions of
the venison among his followers, which were instantly thrown upon the
embers to broil; while a few choice morsels were stewed in a pan with
wine, and subsequently offered to the leader and Wyat.

This hasty repast concluded, the demon ordered the fire to be
extinguished, and the quarters of the deer to be carried to the cave. He
then mounted his steed, and, attended by Wyat and the rest of his troop,
except those engaged in executing his orders, galloped towards Snow
Hill, where he speedily succeeded in unharbouring another noble hart.

Away then went the whole party--stag, hounds, huntsmen, sweeping like a
dark cloud down the hill, and crossing the wide moonlit glade, studded
with noble trees, on the west of the great avenue.

For a while the hart held a course parallel with the avenue; he then
dashed across it, threaded the intricate woods on the opposite side,
tracked a long glen, and leaping the pales, entered the home park. It
almost seemed as if he designed to seek shelter within the castle, for
he made straight towards it, and was only diverted by Herne himself,
who, shooting past him with incredible swiftness, turned him towards the
lower part of the park.

Here the chase continued with unabated ardour, until, reaching the banks
of the Thames, the hart plunged into it, and suffered himself to be
carried noiselessly down the current. But Herne followed him along the
banks, and when sufficiently near, dashed into the stream, and drove him
again ashore.

Once more they flew across the home park--once more they leaped its
pales--once more they entered the great park--but this time the stag
took the direction of Englefield Green. He was not, however, allowed
to break forth into the open country; but, driven again into the thick
woods, he held on with wondrous speed till the lake appeared in view. In
another instant he was swimming across it.

Before the eddies occasioned by the affrighted animal's plunge had
described a wide ring, Herne had quitted his steed, and was cleaving
with rapid strokes the waters of the lake. Finding escape impossible,
the hart turned to meet him, and sought to strike him with his horns,
but as in the case of his ill-fated brother of the wood, the blow was
warded by the antlered helm of the swimmer. The next moment the clear
water was dyed with blood, and Herne, catching the gasping animal by the
head, guided his body to shore.

Again the process of breaking up the stag was gone through; and when
Herne had concluded his task, he once more offered his gourd to Sir
Thomas Wyat. Reckless of the consequences, the knight placed the flask
to his lips, and draining it to the last drop, fell from his horse
insensible.



VII.

     How Wyat beheld Mabel Lyndwood--And how he was rowed by
     Morgan Fenwolf upon the Lake.


When perfect consciousness returned to him, Wyat found himself lying
upon a pallet in what he first took to be the cell of an anchorite; but
as the recollection of recent events arose more distinctly before him,
he guessed it to be a chamber connected with the sandstone cave. A small
lamp, placed in a recess, lighted the cell; and upon a footstool by his
bed stood a jug of water, and a cup containing some drink in which herbs
had evidently been infused. Well-nigh emptying the jug, for he felt
parched with thirst, Wyat attired himself, took up the lamp, and walked
into the main cavern. No one was there, nor could he obtain any answer
to his calls. Evidences, however, were not wanting to prove that a feast
had recently been held there. On one side were the scarcely extinguished
embers of a large wood fire; and in the midst of the chamber was a rude
table, covered with drinking-horns and wooden platters, as well as with
the remains of three or four haunches of venison. While contemplating
this scene Wyat heard footsteps in one of the lateral passages, and
presently afterwards Morgan Fenwolf made his appearance.

"So you are come round at last, Sir Thomas," observed the keeper, in a
slightly sarcastic tone.

"What has ailed me?" asked Wyat, in surprise.

"You have had a fever for three days," returned Fenwolf, "and have been
raving like a madman."

"Three days!" muttered Wyat. "The false juggling fiend promised her to
me on the third day."

"Fear not; Herne will be as good as his word," said Fenwolf. "But will
you go forth with me? I am about to visit my nets. It is a fine day, and
a row on the lake will do you good."

Wyat acquiesced, and followed Fenwolf, who returned along the passage.
It grew narrower at the sides and lower in the roof as they advanced,
until at last they were compelled to move forward on their hands and
knees. For some space the passage, or rather hole (for it was nothing
more) ran on a level. A steep and tortuous ascent then commenced, which
brought them to an outlet concealed by a large stone.

Pushing it aside, Fenwolf crept forth, and immediately afterwards Wyat
emerged into a grove, through which, on one side, the gleaming waters
of the lake were discernible. The keeper's first business was to replace
the stone, which was so screened by brambles and bushes that it could
not, unless careful search were made, be detected.

Making his way through the trees to the side of the lake, Fenwolf
marched along the greensward in the direction of Tristram Lyndwood's
cottage. Wyat mechanically followed him; but he was so pre-occupied that
he scarcely heeded the fair Mabel, nor was it till after his embarkation
in the skiff with the keeper, when she came forth to look at them, that
he was at all struck with her beauty. He then inquired her name from
Fenwolf.

"She is called Mabel Lyndwood, and is an old forester's granddaughter,"
replied the other somewhat gruffly.

"And do you seek her love?" asked Wyat.

"Ay, and wherefore not?" asked Fenwolf, with a look of displeasure.

"Nay, I know not, friend," rejoined Wyat. "She is a comely damsel."

"What!--comelier than the Lady Anne?" demanded Fenwolf spitefully.

"I said not so," replied Wyat; "but she is very fair, and looks
true-hearted."

Fenwolf glanced at him from under his brows; and plunging his oars into
the water, soon carried him out of sight of the maiden.

It was high noon, and the day was one of resplendent loveliness. The
lake sparkled in the sunshine, and as they shot past its tiny bays and
woody headlands, new beauties were every moment revealed to them. But
while the scene softened Wyat's feelings, it filled him with intolerable
remorse, and so poignant did his emotions become, that he pressed his
hands upon his eyes to shut out the lovely prospect. When he looked
up again the scene was changed. The skiff had entered a narrow creek,
arched over by huge trees, and looking as dark and gloomy as the rest
of the lake was fair and smiling. It was closed in by a high overhanging
bank, crested by two tall trees, whose tangled roots protruded through
it like monstrous reptiles, while their branches cast a heavy shade over
the deep, sluggish water.

"Why have you come here?" demanded Wyat, looking uneasily round the
forbidding spot.

"You will discover anon," replied Fenwolf moodily.

"Go back into the sunshine, and take me to some pleasant bank--I will
not land here," said Wyat sternly.

"Needs must when--I need not remind you of the proverb," rejoined
Fenwolf, with a sneer.

"Give me the oars, thou malapert knave!" cried Wyat fiercely, "and I
will put myself ashore."

"Keep quiet," said Fenwolf; "you must perforce abide our master's
coming."

Wyat gazed at the keeper for a moment, as if with the intention of
throwing him overboard; but abandoning the idea, he rose up in the
boat, and caught at what he took to be a root of the tree above. To his
surprise and alarm, it closed upon him with an iron grasp, and he felt
himself dragged upwards, while the skiff, impelled by a sudden stroke
from Morgan Fenwolf, shot from beneath him. All Wyat's efforts to
disengage himself were vain, and a wild, demoniacal laugh, echoed by a
chorus of voices, proclaimed him in the power of Herne the Hunter. The
next moment he was set on the top of the bank, while the demon greeted
him with a mocking laugh.

"So you thought to escape me, Sir Thomas Wyatt," he cried, in a taunting
tone; "but any such attempt will prove fruitless. The murderer may
repent the blow when dealt; the thief may desire to restore the gold he
has purloined; the barterer of his soul may rue his bargain; but they
are Satan's, nevertheless. You are mine, and nothing can redeem you!"

"Woe is me that it should be so!" groaned Wyat.

"Lamentation is useless and unworthy of you," rejoined Herne scornfully.
"Your wish will be speedily accomplished. This very night your kingly
rival shall be placed in your hands."

"Ha!" exclaimed Wyat, the flame of jealousy again rising within his
breast.

"You can make your own terms with him for the Lady Anne," pursued Herne.
"His life will be at your disposal."

"Do you promise this?" cried Wyat.

"Ay," replied Herne. "Put yourself under the conduct of Fenwolf, and all
shall happen as you desire. We shall meet again at night. I have other
business on hand now. Meschines," he added to one of his attendants, "go
with Sir Thomas to the skiff."

The personage who received the command, and who was wildly and
fantastically habited, beckoned Wyat to follow him, and after many
twistings and turnings brought them to the edge of the lake, where the
skiff was lying, with Fenwolf reclining at full length upon its benches.
He arose, however, quickly at the appearance of Meschines, and asked him
for some provisions, which the latter promised to bring, and while Wyat
got into the skiff he disappeared, but returned a few minutes afterwards
with a basket, which he gave to the keeper.

Crossing the lake, Fenwolf then shaped his course towards a verdant bank
enamelled with wild flowers, where he landed. The basket being opened,
was found to contain a flask of wine and the better part of a venison
pasty, of which Wyat, whose appetite was keen enough after his long
fasting, ate heartily. He then stretched himself on the velvet sod,
and dropped into a tranquil slumber which lasted to a late hour in the
evening.

He was roused from it by a hand laid on his shoulder, while a deep voice
thundered in his ear--"Up, up, Sir Thomas, and follow me, and I will
place the king in your hands!"



VIII.

     How the King and the Duke of Suffolk were assailed by
     Herne's Band--And what followed the Attack.


Henry and Suffolk, on leaving the forester's hut, took their way for
a sort space along the side of the lake, and then turned into a path
leading through the trees up the eminence on the left. The king was in
a joyous mood, and made no attempt to conceal the passion with which the
fair damsel had inspired him.

"I' faith!" he cried, "the cardinal has a quick eye for a pretty wench.
I have heard that he loves one in secret, and I am therefore the more
beholden to him for discovering Mabel to me."

"You forget, my liege, that it is his object to withdraw your regards
from the Lady Anne Boleyn," remarked Suffolk.

"I care not what his motive may be, as long as the result is so
satisfactory," returned Henry. "Confess now, Suffolk, you never beheld
a figure so perfect, a complexion so blooming, or eyes so bright. As to
her lips, by my soul, I never tasted such."

"And your majesty is not inexperienced in such matters," laughed
Suffolk. "For my own part, I was as much struck by her grace as by her
beauty, and can scarcely persuade myself she can be nothing more than a
mere forester's grand-daughter."

"Wolsey told me there was a mystery about her birth," rejoined Henry;
"but, pest on it; her beauty drove all recollection of the matter out of
my head. I will go back, and question her now."

"Your majesty forgets that your absence from the castle will occasion
surprise, if not alarm," said Suffolk. "The mystery will keep till
to-morrow."

"Tut, tut!--I will return," said the king perversely. And Suffolk,
knowing his wilfulness, and that all remonstrance would prove fruitless,
retraced his steps with him. They had not proceeded far when they
perceived a female figure at the bottom of the ascent, just where the
path turned off on the margin of the lake.

"As I live, there she is!" exclaimed the king joyfully. "She has divined
my wishes, and is come herself to tell me her history."

And he sprang forward, while Mabel advanced rapidly towards him.

They met half-way, and Henry would have caught her in his arms, but
she avoided him, exclaiming, in a tone of confusion and alarm, "Thank
Heaven, I have found you, sire!"

"Thank Heaven, too, sweetheart!" rejoined Henry. "I would not hide when
you are the seeker. So you know me--ha?

"I knew you at first," replied Mabel confusedly. "I saw you at the great
hunting party; and, once beheld, your majesty is not easily forgotten."

"Ha! by Saint George! you turn a compliment as soothly as the most
practised dame at court," cried Henry, catching her hand.

"Beseech your majesty, release me!" returned Mabel, struggling to get
free. "I did not follow you on the light errand you suppose, but to warn
you of danger. Before you quitted my grandsire's cottage I told you
this part of the forest was haunted by plunderers and evil beings, and
apprehensive lest some mischance might befall you, I opened the window
softly to look after you--"

"And you overheard me tell the Duke of Suffolk how much smitten I was
with your beauty, ha?" interrupted the king, squeezing her hand--"and
how resolved I was to make you mine--ha! sweetheart?"

"The words I heard were of very different import, my liege," rejoined
Mabel. "You were menaced by miscreants, who purposed to waylay you
before you could reach your steed."

"Let them come," replied Henry carelessly; "they shall pay for their
villainy. How many were there?"

"Two, sire," answered Mabel; "but one of them was Herne, the weird
hunter of the forest. He said he would summon his band to make you
captive. What can your strong arm, even aided by that of the Duke of
Suffolk, avail against numbers?"

"Captive! ha!" exclaimed the king. "Said the knave so?"

"He did, sire," replied Mabel; "and I knew it was Herne by his antlered
helm."

"There is reason in what the damsel says, my liege," interposed Suffolk.
"If possible, you had better avoid an encounter with the villains."

"My hands itch to give them a lesson," rejoined Henry. "But I will be
ruled by you. God's death! I will return to-morrow, and hunt them down
like so many wolves."

"Where are your horses, sire?" asked Mabel.

"Tied to a tree at the foot of the hill," replied Henry. "But I have
attendants midway between this spot and Snow Hill."

"This way, then!" said Mabel, breaking from him, and darting into a
narrow path among the trees.

Henry ran after her, but was not agile enough to overtake her. At length
she stopped.

"If your majesty will pursue this path," she cried, "you will come to an
open space amid the trees, when, if you will direct your course towards
a large beech-tree on the opposite side, you will find another narrow
path, which will take you where you desire to go."

"But I cannot go alone," cried Henry.

Mabel, however, slipped past him, and was out of sight in an instant.

Henry looked as if he meant to follow her, but Suffolk ventured to
arrest him.

"Do not tarry here longer, my gracious liege," said the duke. "Danger is
to be apprehended, and the sooner you rejoin your attendants the better.
Return with them, if you please, but do not expose yourself further
now."

Henry yielded, though reluctantly, and they walked on in silence. Ere
long they arrived at the open space described by Mabel, and immediately
perceived the large beech-tree, behind which they found the path. By
this time the moon had arisen, and as they emerged upon the marsh they
easily discovered a track, though not broader than a sheep-walk, leading
along its edge. As they hurried across it, Suffolk occasionally cast a
furtive glance over his shoulder, but he saw nothing to alarm him. The
whole tract of marshy land on the left was hidden from view by a silvery
mist.

In a few minutes the king and his companion gained firmer ground, and
ascending the gentle elevation on the other side of the marsh, made
their way to a little knoll crowned by a huge oak, which commanded a
fine view of the lake winding through the valley beyond. Henry, who was
a few yards in advance of his companion, paused at a short distance from
the free, and being somewhat over-heated, took off his cap to wipe his
brow, laughingly observing--"In good truth, Suffolk, we must henceforth
be rated as miserable faineants, to be scared from our path by a silly
wench's tale of deerstealers and wild huntsmen. I am sorry I yielded to
her entreaties. If Herne be still extant, he must be more than a century
and a half old, for unless the legend is false, he flourished in the
time of my predecessor, Richard the Second. I would I could see him!"

"Behold him, then!" cried a harsh voice from behind.

Turning at the sound, Henry perceived a tall dark figure of hideous
physiognomy and strange attire, helmed with a huge pair of antlers,
standing between him and the oak-tree. So sudden was the appearance of
the figure, that in spite of himself the king slightly started.

"What art thou--ha?" he demanded.

"What I have said," replied the demon. "I am Herne the Hunter. Welcome
to my domain, Harry of England. You are lord of the castle, but I am
lord of the forest. Ha! ha!"

"I am lord both of the forest and the castle--yea, of all this broad
land, false fiend!" cried the king, "and none shall dispute it with
me. In the name of the most holy faith, of which I am the defender, I
command thee to avoid my path. Get thee backwards, Satan!"

The demon laughed derisively.

"Harry of England, advance towards me, and you advance upon your peril,"
he rejoined.

"Avaunt, I say!" cried the king. "In the name of the blessed Trinity,
and of all holy angels and saints, I strike!"

And he whirled the staff round his head. But ere the weapon could
descend, a flash of dazzling fire encircled the demon, amidst which he
vanished.

"Heaven protect us!" exclaimed Henry, appalled.

At this juncture the sound of a horn was heard, and a number of
wild figures in fantastic garbs--some mounted on swarthy steeds, and
accompanied by hounds, others on foot-issued from the adjoining covert,
and hurried towards the spot occupied by the king.

"Aha!" exclaimed Henry--"more of the same sort. Hell, it would seem, has
let loose her hosts; but I have no fear of them. Stand by me, Suffolk."

"To the death, sire," replied the duke, drawing his sword. By this
time one of the foremost of the impish crew had reached the king, and
commanded him to yield himself prisoner.

"Dost know whom thou askest to yield, dog?" cried Henry furiously.

"Yea," replied the other, "thou art the king!"

"Then down on thy knees, traitor!" roared Henry; "down all of ye, and
sue for mercy."

"For mercy--ha! ha!" rejoined the other; "it is thy turn to sue for
mercy, tyrant! We acknowledge no other ruler than Herne the Hunter."

"Then seek him in hell!" cried Henry, dealing the speaker a tremendous
blow on the head with his staff, which brought him senseless to the
ground.

The others immediately closed round him, and endeavoured to seize the
king.

"Ha! dogs--ha! traitors!" vociferated Henry, plying his staff with great
activity, and bringing down an assailant at each stroke; "do you dare to
lay hands upon our sacred person? Back! back!"

The determined resistance offered by the king, supported as he was by
Suffolk, paralysed his assailants, who seemed more bent upon securing
his person than doing him injury. But Suffolk's attention was presently
diverted by the attack of a fierce black hound, set upon him by a stout
fellow in a bearded mask. After a hard struggle, and not before he had
been severely bitten in the arm, the duke contrived to despatch his
assailant.

"This to avenge poor Bawsey!" cried the man who had set on the hound,
stabbing at Suffolk with his knife.

But the duke parried the blow, and, disarming his antagonist, forced
him to the ground, and tearing off his mask, disclosed the features of
Morgan Fenwolf.

Meanwhile, Henry had been placed in considerable jeopardy. Like Suffolk,
he had slaughtered a hound, and, in aiming a blow at the villain who set
it on, his foot slipped, and he lay at his mercy. The wretch raised his
knife, and was in the act of striking when a sword was passed through
his body. The blow was decisive; the king instantly arose, and the
rest of his assailants-horse as well as foot--disheartened by what had
occurred, beat a hasty retreat. Harry turned to look for his deliverer,
and uttered an exclamation of astonishment and anger.

"Ah! God's death!" he cried, "can I believe my eyes? Is it you, Sir
Thomas Wyat?"

"Ay," replied the other.

"What do you here? Ha!" demanded the king. "You should be in Paris."

"I have tarried for revenge," replied Wyat.

"Revenge!--ha!" cried Henry. "On whom?"

"On you," replied Wyat.

"What!" vociferated Henry, foaming with rage. "Is it you, traitor, who
have devised this damnable plot?--is it you who would make your king a
captive?--you who slay him? Have you leagued yourself with fiends?"

But Wyat made no answer; and though he lowered the point of his sword,
he regarded the king sternly.

A female figure now rushed forward, and bending before the king, cried
in an imploring voice--"Spare him, sire--spare him! He is no party to
the attack. I was near him in yon wood, and he stirred not forth till he
saw your life in danger. He then delivered you from the assassin."

"I did so because I reserved him for my own hand," said Wyat.

"You hear him confess his treason," cried Henry; "down on your knees,
villain, or I will strike you to my feet."

"He has just saved your life, my liege," cried the supplicant. "Oh,
spare him!"

"What make you here, Mabel?" cried Henry angrily. "I followed your
majesty unseen," she replied, in some confusion, "and reached yon wood
just as the attack commenced. I did not dare to advance farther."

"You should have gone home--gone home," rejoined the king. "Wyat," he
continued, in a tone of stern reproach, "you were once a loyal subject.
What means this change?"

"It means that you have robbed me of a mistress," replied Wyat; "and for
this cause I have damned myself."

"Pardon him!-oh, pardon him, sire," cried Mabel.

"I cannot understand you, Wyat," said Henry, after a pause; "but I have
myself suffered from the pangs of jealousy. You have saved my life, and
I will spare yours."

"Sire!" cried Wyat.

"Suffolk," exclaimed Henry, looking towards the duke, who was holding
Fenwolf by the throat, "shall I be justified in letting him go free?

"Strike!--strike!" cried a deep voice in Wyat's ear; "your rival is now
in your power."

"Far be it from me to thwart your majesty's generous impulses," rejoined
Suffolk. "It is true that Wyat has saved your life; and if he had been
disposed to take it, you have this moment exposed yourself to him."

"Sir Thomas Wyat," said the king, turning to him, "you have my full and
free pardon. Quit this forest instantly, and make your way to Paris. If
you are found within it to-morrow you will be lodged in the Tower."

Wyat knelt down, and would have pressed Henry's hand to his lips, but
the latter pushed him aside.

"No--no! Not now--on your return."

Thus rebuffed, Wyat strode away, and as he passed the tree he heard a
voice exclaim, "You have escaped him, but think not to escape me!"

"And now, sweetheart," said Henry, turning to Mabel, "since you are so
far on the way, you shall go with me to the castle."

"On no account, my liege," she returned; "my grandsire will wonder what
has become of me. He must already be in great alarm."

"But I will send an attendant to quiet his fears," urged Henry.

"That would only serve to increase them," she rejoined. "Nay, I must
go."

And breaking from him, she darted swiftly down the hill, and glanced
across the marsh like a moonbeam.

"Plague on it!" cried Henry, "I have again forgotten to question her
about her birth."

"Shall I despatch this knave, my liege?" cried Suffolk, pointing with
his sword to Fenwolf.

"By no means," said the king; "something may be learnt from him. Hark
thee, thou felon hound; if thou indeed servest the fiend, thou seest he
deserts thee, as he does all who put faith in him."

"I see it," replied Fenwolf, who, finding resistance vain, had folded
his hands doggedly upon his breast.

"Then confess thy evil practices," said the king.

"Give me my life, and I will," replied Fenwolf. And as he uttered the
words, he caught sight of the dark figure of Herne, stationed at the
side of the oak, with its right arm raised menacingly.

"What seest thou?" cried Henry, remarking his fixed gaze towards the
tree, and glancing in that direction.

Fenwolf made no reply.

Henry went up to the tree, and walked round it, but he could see
nothing.

"I will scour the forest to-morrow," he muttered, "and hang every knave
I find within it who cannot give a good account of himself."

"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed a voice, which seemed to proceed from the branches
of the tree. Henry looked up, but no one was visible.

"God's death--derided!" he roared. "Man or devil, thou shalt feel my
wrath."

"Ho! ho! ho!" again laughed the voice.

Stamping with rage, Henry swore a great oath, and smote the trunk of the
tree with his sword.

"Your majesty will search in vain," said Suffolk; "it is clearly the
fiend with whom you have to deal, and the aid of holy priests must be
obtained to drive him from the forest."

"Ho! ho! ho!" again laughed the voice.

A party of horsemen now appeared in view. They proved to be the royal
attendants, who had ridden forward in search of the king, and were
instantly hailed by Henry and Suffolk. They were headed by Captain
Bouchier, who at a sign from the king instantly dismounted.

"Give me your horse, Bouchier," said Henry, "and do you and half-a-dozen
of your men remain on guard at this tree till I send a troop of
arquebusiers to relieve you. When they arrive, station them near it, and
let them remain here till I return in the morning. If any one appears,
make him a prisoner."

"Your majesty's orders shall be faithfully obeyed," replied Bouchier.

Bound hand and foot, Fenwolf was thrown upon the back of a horse, and
guarded by two halberdiers, who were prepared to strike him dead on
the slightest movement. In this way he was conveyed to the castle, and
placed in the guard-chamber of the lower gate till further orders should
be issued respecting him.



IX.

     Showing how Morgan Fenwolf escaped from the Garter Tower.


Half-an-hour afterwards Fenwolf was visited by the Duke of Suffolk and
a canon of the college; and the guard-chamber being cleared, the duke
enjoined him to make clear his bosom by confession.

"I hold it my duty to tell you, prisoner," said Suffolk, "that there
is no hope of your life. The king's highness is determined to make a
fearful example of you and all your companions in crime; but he does not
seek to destroy your soul, and has therefore sent this holy man to you,
with the desire that you may open your heart to him, and by confession
and repentance save yourself from eternal perdition."

"Confession will profit me nothing," said Fenwolf moodily. "I cannot
pray if I would."

"You cannot be so utterly lost, my son," rejoined the canon. "Hell may
have woven her dark chains round you, but not so firmly but that the
hand of Heaven can burst them."

"You waste time in seeking to persuade me," returned Fenwolf.

"You are not ignorant of the punishment inflicted upon those condemned
for sorcery, my son?" demanded the canon.

"It is the stake, is it not?" replied Fenwolf

"Ay," replied the canon; "but even that fiery trial will fail to purge
out your offences without penitence. My lord of Suffolk, this wretched
man's condition demands special attention. It will profit the Church
much to win his soul from the fiend. Let him, I pray you, be removed to
the dungeon beneath the Garter Tower, where a priest shall visit him,
and pray by his side till daybreak."

"It will be useless, father," said Fenwolf.

"I do not despair, my son," replied the canon; "and when I see you again
in the morning I trust to find you in a better frame of mind."

The duke then gave directions to the guard to remove the prisoner, and
after some further conference with the canon, returned to the royal
apartments.

Meanwhile, the canon shaped his course towards the Horseshoe Cloisters,
a range of buildings so designated from their form, and situated at the
west end of St. George's Chapel, and he had scarcely entered them
when he heard footsteps behind him, and turning at the sound, beheld a
Franciscan friar, for so his habit of the coarsest grey cloth, tied
with a cord round the waist, proclaimed him. The friar was very tall
and gaunt, and his cowl was drawn over his face so as to conceal his
features.

"What would you, brother?" inquired the canon, halting. "I have a
request to make of you, reverend sir," replied the friar, with a lowly
inclination of the head. "I have just arrived from Chertsey Abbey,
whither I have been tarrying for the last three days, and while
conversing with the guard at the gate, I saw a prisoner brought into the
castle charged with heinous offences, and amongst others, with dealings
with the fiend."

"You have been rightly informed, brother," rejoined the canon.

"And have I also been rightly informed that you desire a priest to pass
the night with him, reverend sir?" returned the friar. "If so, I would
crave permission to undertake the office. Two souls, as deeply laden as
that of this poor wretch, have been snatched from the jaws of Satan by
my efforts, and I do not despair of success now."

"Since you are so confident, brother," said the canon, "I commit him
readily to your hands. I was about to seek other aid, but your offer
comes opportunely. With Heaven's help I doubt not you will achieve a
victory over the evil one."

As the latter words were uttered a sudden pain seemed to seize the
friar. Staggering slightly, he caught at the railing of the cloisters
for support, but he instantly recovered himself.

"It is nothing, reverend sir," he said, seeing that the good canon
regarded him anxiously. "Long vigils and fasting have made me liable to
frequent attacks of giddiness, but they pass as quickly as they come.
Will it please you to go with me, and direct the guard to admit me to
the prisoner?"

The canon assented; and crossing the quadrangle, they returned to the
gateway.

Meanwhile, the prisoner had been removed to the lower chamber of the
Garter Tower. This fortification, one of the oldest in the castle, being
coeval with the Curfew Tower, is now in a state of grievous neglect and
ruin. Unroofed, unfloored, filled with rubbish, masked by the yard walls
of the adjoining habitations, with one side entirely pulled down, and
a great breach in front, it is solely owing to the solid and
rock-like construction of its masonry that it is indebted for partial
preservation. Still, notwithstanding its dilapidated condition, and
that it is the mere shell of its former self, its appearance is highly
picturesque. The walls are of prodigious thickness, and the deep
embrasures within them are almost perfect; while a secret staircase may
still be tracked partly round the building. Amid the rubbish choking up
its lower chamber grows a young tree, green and flourishing-a type, it
is to be hoped, of the restoration of the structure.

Conducted to a low vaulted chamber in this tower, the prisoner was cast
upon its floor-for he was still hound hand and foot-and left alone and
in darkness. But he was not destined to continue in this state long. The
door of the dungeon opened, and the guard ushered in the tall Franciscan
friar.

"What ho! dog of a prisoner," he cried, "here is a holy man come to pass
the night with you in prayer."

"He may take his Ave Maries and Paternosters elsewhere-I want them not,"
replied Fenwolf moodily.

"You would prefer my bringing Herne the Hunter, no doubt," rejoined the
guard, laughing at his own jest; "but this is a physician for your soul.
The saints help you in your good work, father; you will have no easy
task."

"Set down the light, my son," cried the friar harshly, "and leave us; my
task will be easily accomplished."

Placing the lamp on the stone floor of the dungeon, the guard withdrew,
and locked the door after him.

"Do you repent, my son?" demanded the friar, as soon as they were alone.

"Certes, I repent having put faith in a treacherous fiend, who has
deserted me-but that is all," replied Fenwolf, with his face turned to
the ground.

"Will you put faith in me, if I promise you deliverance?" demanded the
friar.

"You promise more than you can perform, as most of your brethren do,"
rejoined the other.

"You will not say so if you look up," said the friar.

Fenwolf started at the words, which were pronounced in a different tone
from that previously adopted by the speaker, and raised himself as far
as his bonds would permit him. The friar had thrown hack his cowl, and
disclosed features of appalling hideousness, lighted up by a diabolical
grin.

"You here!" cried Fenwolf.

"You doubted me," rejoined Herne, "but I never desert a follower.
Besides, I wish to show the royal Harry that my power is equal to his
own."

"But how are we to get out of this dungeon?" asked Fenwolf, gazing round
apprehensively.

"My way out will be easy enough," replied Herne; "but your escape is
attended with more difficulty. You remember how we went to the vaulted
chamber in the Curfew Tower on the night when Mark Fytton, the butcher,
was confined within it?"

"I do," replied Fenwolf; "but I can think of nothing while I am tied
thus."

Heme instantly drew forth a hunting-knife, and cutting Fenwolf's bonds
asunder, the latter started to his feet.

"If that bull-headed butcher would have joined me, I would have
liberated him as I am about to liberate you," pursued Herne. "But to
return to the matter in hand. You recollect the secret passage we then
tracked? There is just such another staircase in this tower."

And stepping to the farther side of the chamber, he touched a small knob
in the wall, and a stone flew hack, disclosing an aperture just large
enough to allow a man to pass through it.

"There is your road to freedom," he said, pointing to the hole. "Creep
along that narrow passage, and it will bring you to a small loophole in
the wall, not many feet from the ground. The loophole is guarded by a
bar of iron, but it is moved by a spring in the upper part of the stone
in which it appears to be mortised. This impediment removed, you will
easily force your way through the loophole. Drop cautiously, for fear of
the sentinels on the walls; then make your way to the forest, and if
you 'scape the arquebusiers who are scouring it, conceal yourself in the
sandstone cave below the beech-tree."

"And what of you?" asked Fenwoif.

"I have more to do here," replied Herne impatiently-"away!"

Thus dismissed, Fenwolf entered the aperture, which was instantly closed
after him by Herne. Carefully following the instructions of his leader,
the keeper passed through the loophole, let himself drop softly down,
and keeping close to the walls of the tower till he heard the sentinels
move off, darted swiftly across the street and made good his escape.

Meanwhile Herne drew the cowl over his head, and stepping to the door,
knocked loudly against it.

"What would you, father?" cried the guard from without.

"Enter, my son, and you shall know," replied Herne.

The next moment the door was unlocked, and the guard advanced into the
dungeon.

"Ha!" he exclaimed, snatching up the lamp and looking around, "where is
the prisoner?"

"Gone," replied Herne.

"What! has the fiend flown away with him?" cried the man, in mixed
astonishment and alarm.

"He has been set free by Herne the Hunter!" cried the demon. "Tell all
who question thee so, and relate what thou now seest."

At the words a bright blue flame illumined the chamber, in the midst of
which was seen the tall dark figure of Herne. His Franciscan's gown had
dropped to his feet, and he appeared habited in his wild deer-skin garb.
With a loud cry, the guard fell senseless on the ground.

A few minutes after this, as was subsequently ascertained, a tall
Franciscan friar threaded the cloisters behind Saint George's Chapel,
and giving the word to the sentinels, passed through the outer door
communicating with the steep descent leading to the town.



X.

     How Herne the Hunter was himself hunted.


On the guard's recovery, information of what had occurred was
immediately conveyed to the king, who had not yet retired to rest,
but was sitting in his private chamber with the Dukes of Suffolk and
Norfolk. The intelligence threw him into a great fury: he buffeted
the guard, and ordered him to be locked up in the dungeon whence the
prisoner had escaped; reprimanded the canon; directed the Duke of
Suffolk, with a patrol, to make search in the neighbourhood of the
castle for the fugitive and the friar; and bade the Duke of Norfolk
get together a band of arquebusiers; and as soon as the latter were
assembled, he put himself at their head and again rode into the forest.

The cavalcade had proceeded about a mile along the great avenue, when
one of the arquebusiers rode up and said that he heard some distant
sounds on the right. Commanding a halt, Henry listened for a moment,
and, satisfied that the man was right, quitted the course he was
pursuing, and dashed across the broad glade now traversed by the avenue
called Queen Anne's Ride. As he advanced the rapid trampling of horses
was heard, accompanied by shouts, and presently afterwards a troop of
wild-looking horsemen in fantastic garbs was seen galloping down the
hill, pursued by Bouchier and his followers. The king immediately shaped
his course so as to intercept the flying party, and, being in some
measure screened by the trees, he burst unexpectedly upon them at a turn
of the road.

Henry called to the fugitives to surrender, but they refused, and,
brandishing their long knives and spears, made a desperate resistance.
But they were speedily surrounded and overpowered. Bouchier inquired
from the king what should be done with the prisoners.

"Hang them all upon yon trees!" cried Henry, pointing to two sister oaks
which stood near the scene of strife.

The terrible sentence was immediately carried into execution. Cords were
produced, and in less than half-an-hour twenty breathless bodies were
swinging from the branches of the two trees indicated by the king.

"This will serve to deter others from like offences," observed Henry,
who had watched the whole proceedings with savage satisfaction. "And
now, Bouchier, how came you to let the leader of these villains escape?"

"I did not know he had escaped, my liege," replied Bouchier, in
astonishment.

"Yea, marry, but he has escaped," rejoined Henry; "and he has had
the audacity to show himself in the castle within this hour, and the
cunning, moreover, to set the prisoner free."

And he proceeded to relate what had occurred.

"This is strange indeed, my liege," replied Bouchier, at the close of
the king's recital, "and to my thinking, is proof convincing that we
have to do with a supernatural being."

"Supernatura!--pshaw!--banish the idle notion," rejoined Henry sternly.
"We are all the dupes of some jugglery. The caitiff will doubtless
return to the forest. Continue your search, therefore, for him
throughout the night. If you catch him, I promise you a royal reward."

So saying, he rode back to the castle, somewhat appeased by the
wholesale vengeance he had taken upon the offenders.

In obedience to the orders he had received, Bouchier, with his
followers, continued riding about the forest during the whole night,
but without finding anything to reward his search, until about dawn
it occurred to him to return to the trees on which the bodies were
suspended. As he approached them he fancied he beheld a horse standing
beneath the nearest tree, and immediately ordered his followers to
proceed as noiselessly as possible, and to keep under the cover of the
wood. A nearer advance convinced him that his eyes had not deceived him.
It was a swart, wild-looking horse that he beheld, with eyes that flamed
like carbuncles, while a couple of bodies, evidently snatched from the
branches, were laid across his back. A glance at the trees, too, showed
Bouchier that they had been considerably lightened of their hideous
spoil.

Seeing this, Bouchier dashed forward. Alarmed by the noise, the wild
horse neighed loudly, and a dark figure instantly dropped from the tree
upon its back, and proceeded to disencumber it of its load. But before
this could be accomplished, a bolt from a cross-bow, shot by one of
Bouchier's followers, pierced the animal's brain. Rearing aloft, it fell
backwards in such manner as would have crushed an ordinary rider, but
Herne slipped off uninjured, and with incredible swiftness darted among
the trees. The others started in pursuit, and a chase commenced in which
the demon huntsman had to sustain the part of the deer--nor could any
deer have afforded better sport.

Away flew the pursued and pursuers over broad glade and through tangled
glen, the woods resounding with their cries. Bouchier did not lose sight
of the fugitive for a moment, and urged his men to push on; but, despite
his alternate proffers and menaces, they gained but little on Herne,
who, speeding towards the home park, cleared its high palings with a
single bound.

Over went Bouchier and his followers, and they then descried him making
his way to a large oak standing almost alone in the centre of a
wide glade. An instant afterwards he reached the tree, shook his arm
menacingly at his pursuers, and vanished.

The next moment Bouchier came up, flung himself from his panting steed,
and, with his drawn sword in hand, forced himself through a rift in its
side into the tree. There was a hollow within it large enough to allow
a man to stand upright, and two funnel-like holes ran upwards into the
branches. Finding nothing, Bouchier called for a hunting-spear, and
thrust it as far as he could into the holes above. The point encountered
no obstruction except such as was offered by the wood itself. He stamped
upon the ground, and sounded it on all sides with the spear, but with no
better success.

Issuing forth he next directed his attention to the upper part of the
tree, which, while he was occupied inside, had been very carefully
watched by his followers, and not content with viewing it from below, he
clambered into the branches. But they had nothing to show except their
own leafy covering.

The careful examination of the ground about the tree at length led to
the discovery of a small hole among its roots, about half a dozen yards
from the trunk, and though this hole seemed scarcely large enough
to serve for an entrance to the burrow of a fox, Bouchier deemed it
expedient to keep a careful watch over it.

His investigation completed, he dispatched a sergeant of the guard to
the castle to acquaint the king with what had occurred.

Disturbed by the events of the night, Henry obtained little sleep, and
at an early hour summoned an attendant, and demanded whether there were
any tidings from the forest The attendant replied that a sergeant of
the guard was without, sent by Captain Bouchier with a message for his
majesty. The sergeant was immediately admitted to the royal presence,
and on the close of his marvellous story the king, who had worked
himself into a tremendous fury during its relation, roared out, "What!
foiled again? ha! But he shall not escape, if I have to root up half the
trees in the forest. Bouchier and his fellows must be bewitched. Harkye,
knaves: get together a dozen of the best woodmen and yeomen in the
castle--instantly, as you value your lives; bid them bring axe and saw,
pick and spade. D'ye mark me? ha! Stay, I have not done. I must have
fagots and straw, for I will burn this tree to the ground--burn it to
a char. Summon the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk--the rascal archer I
dubbed the Duke of Shoreditch and his mates--the keepers of the forest
and their hounds--summon them quickly, and bid a band of the yeomen of
the guard get ready." And he sprang from his couch.

The king's commands were executed with such alacrity, that by the time
he was fully attired the whole of the persons he had ordered to be
summoned were assembled. Putting himself at their head, he rode forth to
the home park, and found Bouchier and his followers grouped around the
tree.

"We are still at fault, my liege," said Bouchier.

"So I see, Sir," replied the king angrily. "Hew down the tree instantly,
knaves," he added to the woodmen. "Fall to--fall to."

Ropes were then fastened to the head of the tree, and the welkin
resounded with the rapid strokes of the hatchets. It was a task of some
difficulty, but such zeal and energy were displayed by the woodmen that
ere long the giant trunk lay prostrate on the ground. Its hollows were
now fully exposed to view, but they were empty.

"Set fire to the accursed piece of timber!" roared the king, "and burn
it to dust, and scatter it to the wind!"

At these orders two yeomen of the guard advanced, and throwing down a
heap of fagots, straw, and other combustibles on the roots of the tree,
soon kindled a fierce fire.

Meanwhile a couple of woodmen, stripped of their jerkins, and with their
brawny arms bared to the shoulder, mounted on the trunk, and strove to
split it asunder. Some of the keepers likewise got into the branches,
and peered into every crack and crevice, in the hope of making some
discovery. Amongst the latter was Will Sommers, who had posted himself
near a great arm of the tree, which he maintained when lopped off would
be found to contain the demon.

Nor were other expedients neglected. A fierce hound had been sent into
the hole near the roots of the tree by Gabriel Lapp, but after a short
absence he returned howling and terrified, nor could all the efforts of
Gabriel, seconded by a severe scourging with his heavy dog-whip, induce
him to enter it again.

When the hound had come forth, a couple of yeomen advanced to enlarge
the opening, while a third with a pick endeavoured to remove the root,
which formed an impediment to their efforts.

"They may dig, but they'll never catch him," observed Shoreditch, who
stood by, to his companions. "Hunting a spirit is not the same thing as
training and raising a wolf, or earthing and digging out a badger."

"Not so loud, duke," said Islington; "his majesty may think thy jest
irreverent."

"I have an arrow blessed by a priest," said Paddington, "which I shall
let fly at the spirit if he appears."

"Here he is--here he is!" cried Will Sommers, as a great white horned
owl, which had been concealed in some part of the tree, flew forth.

"It may be the demon in that form--shoot! shoot!" cried Shoreditch.

Paddington bent his bow. The arrow whistled through the air, and
in another moment the owl fell fluttering to the ground completely
transfixed; but it underwent no change, as was expected by the credulous
archer.

Meanwhile the fire, being kept constantly supplied with fresh fagots,
and stirred by the yeomen of the guard, burnt bravely. The lower part
of the tree was already consumed, and the flames, roaring through the
hollow within with a sound like that of a furnace, promised soon to
reduce it to charcoal.

The mouth of the hole having now been widened, another keeper, who had
brought forward a couple of lurchers, sent them into it; but in a few
moments they returned, as the hound had done, howling and with scared
looks. Without heeding their enraged master, they ran off, with their
tails between their legs, towards the castle.

"I see how it is, Rufus," said Gabriel, patting his hound, who looked
wistfully and half-reproachfully at him. "Thou wert not to blame, poor
fellow! The best dog that ever was whelped cannot be expected to face
the devil."

Though long ere this it had become the general opinion that it
was useless to persevere further in the search, the king, with his
characteristic obstinacy, would not give it up. In due time the whole of
the trunk of the enormous tree was consumed, and its branches cast
into the fire. The roots were rent from the ground, and a wide and deep
trench digged around the spot. The course of the hole was traced for
some distance, but it was never of any size, and was suddenly lost by
the falling in of the earth.

At length, after five hours' close watching, Henry's patience was
exhausted, and he ordered the pit to be filled up, and every crevice and
fissure in the ground about to be carefully stopped.

"If we cannot unkennel the fox," he said, "we will at least earth him
up.

"For all your care, gossip Henry," muttered Will Sommers, as he rode
after his royal master to the castle, "the fox will work his way out."


THUS ENDS THE SECOND BOOK OF THE CHRONICLE OF WINDSOR CASTLE



BOOK III. THE HISTORY OF THE CASTLE



I.

     Comprising the First Two Epochs in the History of Windsor
     Castle.


Amid the gloom hovering over the early history of Windsor Castle appear
the mighty phantoms of the renowned King Arthur and his knights, for
whom it is said Merlin reared a magic fortress upon its heights, in a
great hall whereof, decorated with trophies of war and of the chase, was
placed the famous Round Table. But if the antique tale is now worn out,
and no longer part of our faith, it is pleasant at least to record it,
and surrendering ourselves for a while to the sway of fancy, to conjure
up the old enchanted castle on the hill, to people its courts with
warlike and lovely forms, its forests with fays and giants.

Windsor, or Wyndleshore, so called from the winding banks of the river
flowing past it, was the abode of the ancient Saxon monarchs; and a
legend is related by William of Malmesbury of a woodman named Wulwin,
who being stricken with blindness, and having visited eighty-seven
churches and vainly implored their tutelary saints for relief, was at
last restored to sight by the touch of Edward the Confessor, who further
enhanced the boon by making him keeper of his palace at Windsor. But
though this story may be doubted, it is certain that the pious king
above mentioned granted Windsor to the abbot and monks of Saint Peter at
Westminster, "for the hope of eternal reward, the remission of his sins,
the sins of his father, mother, and all his ancestors, and to the praise
of Almighty God, as a perpetual endowment and inheritance."

But the royal donation did not long remain in the hands of the
priesthood. Struck by the extreme beauty of the spot, "for that it
seemed exceeding profitable and commodious, because situate so near the
Thames, the wood fit for game, and many other particulars lying there,
meet and necessary for kings--yea, a place very convenient for his
reception," William the Conqueror prevailed upon Abbot Edwin to accept
in exchange for it Wakendune and Feringes, in Essex, together with three
other tenements in Colchester; and having obtained possession of the
coveted hill, he forthwith began to erect a castle upon it--occupying a
space of about half a hide of land. Around it he formed large parks, to
enable him to pursue his favourite pastime of hunting; and he enacted
and enforced severe laws for the preservation of the game.

As devoted to the chase as his father, William Rufus frequently hunted
in the forests of Windsor, and solemnised some of the festivals of the
Church in the castle.

In the succeeding reign--namely, that of Henry the First--the castle
was entirely rebuilt and greatly enlarged--assuming somewhat of the
character of a palatial residence, having before been little more than
a strong hunting-seat. The structure then erected in all probability
occupied the same site as the upper and lower wards of the present pile;
but nothing remains of it except perhaps the keep, and of that little
beyond its form and position. In 1109 Henry celebrated the feast of
Pentecost with great state and magnificence within the castle. In 1122
he there espoused his second wife, Adelicia, daughter of Godfrey, Duke
of Louvain; and failing in obtaining issue by her, assembled the barons
at Windsor, and causing them, together with David, King of Scotland,
his sister Adela, and her son Stephen, afterwards King of England, to do
homage to his daughter Maud, widow of the Emperor Henry the Fifth.

Proof that Windsor Castle was regarded as the second fortress in the
realm is afforded by the treaty of peace between the usurper Stephen and
the Empress Maud, in which it is coupled with the Tower of London under
the designation of Mota de Windsor. At the signing of the treaty it was
committed to the custody of Richard de Lucy, who was continued in the
office of keeper by Henry the Second.

In the reign of this monarch many repairs were made in the castle, to
which a vineyard was attached--the cultivation of the grape being at
this time extensively practised throughout England. Strange as the
circumstance may now appear, Stow mentions that vines grew in abundance
in the home park in the reign of Richard the Second, the wine made from
them being consumed at the king's table, and even sold.

It is related by Fabian that Henry, stung by the disobedience and
ingratitude of his sons, caused an allegorical picture to be painted,
representing an old eagle assailed by four young ones, which he placed
in one of the chambers of the castle. When asked the meaning of the
device, he replied, "I am the old eagle, and the four eaglets are
my sons, Who cease not to pursue my death. The youngest bird, who
is tearing out its parent's eyes, is my son John, my youngest and
best-loved son, and who yet is the most eager for my destruction."

On his departure for the holy wars Richard Coeur de Lion entrusted the
government of the castle to Hugh de Pudsey, Bishop of Durham and Earl of
Northumberland; but a fierce dispute arising between the warrior-prelate
and his ambitious colleague, William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, he was
seized and imprisoned by the latter, and compelled to surrender the
castle. After an extraordinary display of ostentation, Longchamp was
ousted in his turn. On the arrival of the news of Richard's capture and
imprisonment in Austria, the castle was seized by Prince John; but it
was soon afterwards taken possession of in the king's behalf by the
barons, and consigned to the custody of Eleanor, the queen-dowager.

In John's reign the castle became the scene of a foul and terrible event
William de Braose, a powerful baron, having offended the king, his wife
Maud was ordered to deliver up her son a hostage for her husband.
But instead of complying with the injunction, she rashly returned for
answer--"that she would not entrust her child to the person who could
slay his own nephew." Upon which the ruthless king seized her and her
son, and enclosing them in a recess in the wall of the castle, built
them up within it.

Sorely pressed by the barons in 1215, John sought refuge within the
castle, and in the same year signed the two charters, Magna Charta and
Charta de Foresta, at Runnymede--a plain between Windsor and Staines. A
curious account of his frantic demeanour, after divesting himself of
so much power and extending so greatly the liberties of the subject, is
given by Holinshed:--"Having acted so far contrary to his mind, the king
was right sorrowful in heart, cursed his mother that bare him, and
the hour in which he was born; wishing that he had received death by
violence of sword or knife instead of natural nourishment. He whetted
his teeth, and did bite now on one staff, now on another, as he walked,
and oft brake the same in pieces when he had done, and with such
disordered behaviour and furious gestures he uttered his grief, that
the noblemen very well perceived the inclination of his inward affection
concerning these things before the breaking-up of the council, and
therefore sore lamented the state of the realm, guessing what would
follow of his impatience, and displeasant taking of the matter."
The faithless king made an attempt to regain his lost power, and war
breaking out afresh in the following year, a numerous army, under the
command of William de Nivernois, besieged the castle, which was stoutly
defended by Inglehard de Achie and sixty knights. The barons, however,
learning that John was marching through Norfolk and Suffolk, and
ravaging the country, hastily raised the siege and advanced to meet him.
But he avoided them, marched to Stamford and Lincoln, and from thence
towards Wales. On his return from this expedition he was seized with the
distemper of which he died.

Henry the Third was an ardent encourager of architecture, and his reign
marks the second great epoch in the annals of the castle. In 1223 eight
hundred marks were paid to Engelhard de Cygony, constable of the castle,
John le Draper, and William the clerk of Windsor, masters of the works,
and others, for repairs and works within the castle; the latter, it is
conjectured, referring to the erection of a new great hall within the
lower ward, there being already a hall of small dimensions in the upper
court. The windows of the new building were filled with painted glass,
and at the upper end, upon a raised dais, was a gilt throne sustaining
a statue of the king in his robes. Within this vast and richly decorated
chamber, in 1240, on the day of the Nativity, an infinite number of poor
persons were collected and fed by the king's command.

During the greater part of Henry's long and eventful reign the works
within the castle proceeded with unabated activity. Carpenters were
maintained on the royal establishment; the ditch between the hall and
the lower ward was repaired; a new kitchen was built; the bridges were
repaired with timber procured from the neighbouring forests; certain
breaches in the wall facing the garden were stopped; the fortifications
were surveyed, and the battlements repaired. At the same time the
queen's chamber was painted and wainscoted, and iron bars were placed
before the windows of Prince Edward's chamber. In 1240 Henry commenced
building an apartment for his own use near the wall of the castle,
sixty feet long and twenty-eight high; another apartment for the queen
contiguous to it; and a chapel, seventy feet long and twenty-eight feet
wide, along the same wall, but with a grassy space between it and the
royal apartments. The chapel, as appears from an order to Walter de
Grey, Archbishop of York, had a Galilee and a cloister, a lofty wooden
roof covered with lead, and a stone turret in front holding three or
four bells. Withinside it was made to appear like stone-work with good
ceiling and painting, and it contained four gilded images.

This structure is supposed to have been in existence, under the
designation of the Old College Church, in the latter part of the reign
of Henry the Seventh, by whom it was pulled down to make way for the
tomb-house. Traces of its architecture have been discovered by diligent
antiquarian research in the south ambulatory of the Dean's Cloister, and
in the door behind the altar in St. George's Chapel, the latter of
which is conceived to have formed the principal entrance to the older
structure, and has been described as exhibiting "one of the most
beautiful specimens which time and innovation have respected of the
elaborate ornamental work of the period."

In 1241 Henry commenced operations upon the outworks of the castle, and
the three towers on the western side of the lower ward--now known as the
Curfew, the Garter, and the Salisbury Towers--were erected by him. He
also continued the walls along the south side of the lower ward, traces
of the architecture of the period being discoverable in the inner walls
of the houses of the alms-knights as far as the tower now bearing his
name. From thence it is concluded that the ramparts ran along the east
side of the upper ward to a tower occupying the site of the Wykeham or
Winchester Tower.

The three towers at the west end of the lower ward, though much
dilapidated, present unquestionable features of the architecture of the
thirteenth century. The lower storey of the Curfew Tower, which has been
but little altered, consists of a large vaulted chamber, twenty-two feet
wide, with walls of nearly thirteen feet in thickness, and having
arched recesses terminated by loopholes. The walls are covered with the
inscriptions of prisoners who have been confined within it. The Garter
Tower, though in a most ruinous condition, exhibits high architectural
beauty in its moulded arches and corbelled passages. The Salisbury Tower
retains only externally, and on the side towards the town, its original
aspect. The remains of a fourth tower are discernible in the Governor
of the Alms-Knights' Tower; and Henry the Third's Tower, as
before observed, completes what remains of the original chain of
fortifications.

On the 24th of November 1244 Henry issued a writ enjoining "the clerks
of the works at Windsor to work day and night to wainscot the high
chamber upon the wall of the castle near our chapel in the upper bailey,
so that it may be ready and properly wainscoted on Friday next [the 24th
occurring on a Tuesday, only two days were allowed for the task], when
we come there, with boards radiated and coloured, so that nothing be
found reprehensible in that wainscot; and also to make at each gable of
the said chamber one glass window, on the outside of the inner window
of each gable, so that when the inner window shall be closed the glass
windows may be seen outside."

The following year the works were suspended, but they were afterwards
resumed and continued, with few interruptions; the keep was new
constructed; a stone bench was fixed in the wall near the grass-plot by
the king's chamber; a bridge was thrown across the ditch to the king's
garden, which lay outside the walls; a barbican was erected, to which
a portcullis was subsequently attached; the bridges were defended by
strong iron chains; the old chambers in the upper ward were renovated;
a conduit and lavatory were added; and a fountain was constructed in the
garden.

In this reign, in all probability, the Norman Tower, which now forms a
gateway between the middle and the upper ward, was erected. This tower,
at present allotted to the house keeper of the castle, Lady Mary Fox,
was used as a prison-lodging during the civil wars of Charles the
First's time; and many noble and gallant captives have left mementoes of
their loyalty and ill fate upon its walls.

In 1260 Henry received a visit to Windsor from his daughter Margaret,
and her husband, Alexander the Third, King of Scotland. The queen gave
birth to a daughter during her stay at the castle.

In 1264, during the contest between Henry and the barons, the valiant
Prince Edward, his son, returning from a successful expedition into
Wales, surprised the citizens of London, and carrying off their
military chest, in which was much treasure, retired to Windsor Castle
and strongly garrisoned it. The Queen Eleanor, his mother, would fain
have joined him there, but she was driven back by the citizens at London
Bridge, and compelled to take sanctuary in the palace of the Bishop of
London, at St. Paul's.

Compelled at length to surrender the castle to the barons, and to depart
from it with his consort, Eleanor of Castile, the brave prince soon
afterwards recovered it, but was again forced to deliver it up to
Simon de Montford, Earl of Leicester, who appointed Geoffrey de Langele
governor. But though frequently wrested from him at this period, Windsor
Castle was never long out of Henry's possession; and in 1265 the chief
citizens of London were imprisoned till they had paid the heavy fine
imposed upon them for their adherence to Simon de Montford, who had been
just before slain at the battle of Evesham.

During this reign a terrific storm of wind and thunder occurred, which
tore up several great trees in the park, shook the castle, and blew down
a part of the building in which the queen and her family were lodged,
but happily without doing them injury.

Four of the children of Edward the First, who was blessed with a
numerous offspring, were born at Windsor; and as he frequently
resided at the castle, the town began to increase in importance and
consideration. By a charter granted in 1276 it was created a free
borough, and various privileges were conferred on its inhabitants. Stow
tells us that in 1295, on the last day of February, there suddenly arose
such a fire in the castle of Windsor that many offices were therewith
consumed, and many goodly images, made to beautify the buildings,
defaced and deformed.

Edward the Second, and his beautiful but perfidious queen, Isabella of
France, made Windsor Castle their frequent abode; and here, on the 13th
day of November 1312 at forty minutes past five in the morning, was
born a prince, over whose nativity the wizard Merlin must have presided.
Baptized within the old chapel by the name of Edward, this prince became
afterwards the third monarch of the name, and the greatest, and was also
styled, from the place of his birth, EDWARD OF WINDSOR.



II.

     Comprising the Third Great Epoch in the History of the
     Castle--And showing how the Most Noble Order of the Garter
     was instituted.


Strongly attached to the place of his birth, Edward the Third, by his
letters patent dated from Westminster, in the twenty-second year of his
reign, now founded the ancient chapel established by Henry the First,
and dedicated it to the Virgin, Saint George of Cappadocia, and Saint
Edward the Confessor; ordaining that to the eight canons appointed by
his predecessor there should be added one custos, fifteen more canons,
and twenty-four alms-knights; the whole to be maintained out of the
revenues with which the chapel was to be endowed. The institution was
confirmed by Pope Clement the Sixth, by a bull issued at Avignon the
13th of November 1351.

In 1349, before the foundation of the college had been confirmed, as
above related, Edward instituted the Order of the Garter. The origin of
this illustrious Order has been much disputed. By some writers it has
been ascribed to Richard Coeur de Lion, who is said to have girded a
leathern band round the legs of his bravest knights in. Palestine. By
others it has been asserted that it arose from the word "garter" having
been used as a watchword by Edward at the battle of Cressy. Others again
have stoutly maintained that its ringlike form bore mysterious reference
to the Round Table. But the popular legend, to which, despite the doubts
thrown upon it, credence still attaches, declares its origin to be as
follows: Joan, Countess of Salisbury, a beautiful dame, of whom Edward
was enamoured, while dancing at a high festival accidentally slipped
her garter, of blue embroidered velvet. It was picked up by her royal
partner, who, noticing the significant looks of his courtiers on the
occasion, used the words to them which afterwards became the motto of
the Order--"Honi soit qui mal y pense;" adding that "in a short time
they should see that garter advanced to so high honour and estimation as
to account themselves happy to wear it."

But whatever may have originated the Order, it unquestionably owes
its establishment to motives of policy. Wise as valiant, and bent upon
prosecuting his claim to the crown of France, Edward, as a means of
accomplishing his object, resolved to collect beneath his standard the
best knights in Europe, and to lend a colour to the design, he gave
forth that he intended a restoration of King Arthur's Round Table, and
accordingly commenced constructing within the castle a large circular
building of two hundred feet in diameter, in which he placed a round
table. On the completion of the work, he issued proclamations throughout
England, Scotland, France, Burgundy, Flanders, Brabant, and the Empire,
inviting all knights desirous of approving their valour to a solemn
feast and jousts to be holden within the castle of Windsor on Saint
George's Day, 1345. The scheme was completely successful. The flower of
the chivalry of Europe--excepting that of Philip the Sixth of France,
who, seeing through the design, interdicted the attendance of his
knights-were present at the tournament, which was graced by Edward
and his chief nobles, together with his queen and three hundred of
her fairest dames, "adorned with all imaginable gallantry." At this
chivalrous convocation the institution of the Order of the Garter
was arranged; but before its final establishment Edward assembled his
principal barons and knights, to determine upon the regulations, when it
was decided that the number should be limited to twenty-six.

The first installation took place on the anniversary of Saint George,
the patron of the Order, 1349, when the king, accompanied by the
twenty-five knights'-companions, attired in gowns of russet, with
mantles of fine blue woollen cloth, powdered with garters, and hearing
the other insignia of the Order, marched bareheaded in solemn procession
to the chapel of Saint George, then recently rebuilt, where mass was
performed by William Edington, Bishop of Winchester, after which they
partook of a magnificent banquet. The festivities were continued for
several days. At the jousts held on this occasion, David, King of
Scotland, the Lord Charles of Blois, and Ralph, Earl of Eu and Guisnes,
and Constable of France, to whom the chief prize of the day was
adjudged, with others, then prisoners, attended. The harness of the King
of Scotland, embroidered with a pale of red velvet, and beneath it a
red rose, was provided at Edward's own charge. This suit of armour was,
until a few years back, preserved in the Round Tower, where the royal
prisoner was confined. Edward's device was a white swan, gorged, or,
with the "daring and inviting" motto--

Hay hay the wythe swan By God's soul I am thy man.

The insignia of the Order in the days of its founder were the garter,
mantle, surcoat, and hood, the George and collar being added by Henry
the Eighth. The mantle, as before intimated, was originally of fine blue
woollen cloth; but velvet, lined with taffeta, was substituted by
Henry the Sixth, the left shoulder being adorned with the arms of Saint
George, embroidered within a garter. Little is known of the materials
of which the early garter was composed; but it is supposed to have been
adorned with gold, and fastened with a buckle of the same metal.
The modern garter is of blue velvet, bordered with gold wire, and
embroidered with the motto, "Honi soit qui mal y pense." It is worn on
the left leg, a little below the knee. The most magnificent garter
that ever graced a sovereign was that presented to Charles the First by
Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, each letter in the motto of which was
composed of diamonds. The collar is formed of pieces of gold fashioned
like garters, with a blue enamelled ground. The letters of the motto are
in gold, with a rose enamelled red in the centre of each garter. From
the collar hangs the George, an ornament enriched with precious stones,
and displaying the figure of the saint encountering the dragon.

The officers of the Order are the prelate, represented by the Bishop
of Winchester; the Chancellor, by the Bishop of Oxford; the registrar,
dean, garter king-at-arms, and the usher of the black rod. Among the
foreign potentates who have been invested with the Order are eight
emperors of Germany, two of Russia, five kings of France, three of
Spain, one of Arragon, seven of Portugal, one of Poland, two of Sweden,
six of Denmark, two of Naples, one of Sicily and Jerusalem, one of
Bohemia, two of Scotland, seven princes of Orange, and many of the most
illustrious personages of different ages in Europe.

Truly hath the learned Selden written, "that the Order of the Garter
hath not only precedency of antiquity before the eldest rank of honour
of that kind anywhere established, but it exceeds in majesty, honour,
and fame all chivalrous orders in the world." Well also hath glorious
Dryden, in the "Flower and the Leaf," sung the praises of the
illustrious Institution:--

"Behold an order yet of newer date, Doubling their number, equal in
their state; Our England's ornament, the crown's defence, In battle
brave, protectors of their prince: Unchanged by fortune, to their
sovereign true, For which their manly legs are bound with blue. These
of the Garter call'd, of faith unstain'd, In fighting fields the laurel
have obtain'd, And well repaid the laurels which they gained."

In 1357 John, King of France, defeated at the battle of Poitiers by
Edward the Black Prince, was brought captive to Windsor; and on the
festival of Saint George in the following year; 1358, Edward outshone
all his former splendid doings by a tournament which he gave in honour
of his royal prisoner. Proclamation having been made as before, and
letters of safe conduct issued, the nobles and knighthood of Almayne,
Gascoigne, Scotland, and other countries, flocked to attend it, The
Queen of Scotland, Edward's sister, was present at the jousts; and it is
said that John, commenting upon the splendour of the spectacle, shrewdly
observed "that he never saw or knew such royal shows and feastings
without some after-reckoning." The same monarch replied to his
kingly captor, who sought to rouse him from dejection, on another
occasion--"Quomodo cantabimus canticum in terra aliena!"

That his works might not be retarded for want of hands, Edward in the
twenty-fourth year of his reign appointed John de Sponlee master of the
stonehewers, with a power not only "to take and keep, as well within
the liberties as without, as many masons and other artificers as were
necessary, and to convey them to Windsor, but to arrest and imprison
such as should disobey or refuse; with a command to all sheriffs,
mayors, bailiffs, etc., to assist him." These powers were fully acted
upon at a later period, when some of the workmen, having left their
employment, were thrown into Newgate; while the place of others, who had
been carried off by a pestilence then raging in the castle, was supplied
by impressment.

In 1356 WILLIAM OF WYKEHAM was constituted superintendent of the works,
with the same powers as John de Sponlee, and his appointment marks
an important era in the annals of the castle. Originally secretary to
Edward the Third, this remarkable man became Bishop of Winchester and
prelate of the Garter. When he solicited the bishopric, it is said
that Edward told him he was neither a priest nor a scholar; to which he
replied that he would soon be the one, and in regard to the other, he
would make more scholars than all the bishops of England ever did. He
made good his word by founding the collegiate school at Winchester, and
erecting New College at Oxford. When the Winchester Tower was finished,
he caused the words, HOC FECIT WYKEHAM, to be carved upon it; and the
king, offended at his presumption, Wykeham turned away his displeasure
by declaring that the inscription meant that the castle had made him,
and not that he had made the castle. It is a curious coincidence that
this tower, after a lapse of four centuries and a half, should become
the residence of an architect possessing the genius of Wykeham, and who,
like him, had rebuilt the kingly edifice--SIR JEFFRY WYATVILLE.

William of Wykeham retired from office, loaded with honours, in 1362,
and was succeeded by William de Mulso. He was interred in the cathedral
at Winchester. His arms were argent, two chevrons, sable, between three
roses, gules, with the motto--"Manners maketh man."

In 1359 Holinshed relates that the king "set workmen in hand to take
down much old buildings belonging to the castle, and caused divers other
fine and sumptuous works to be set up in and about the same castle, so
that almost all the masons and carpenters that were of any account
in the land were sent for and employed about the same works." The old
buildings here referred to were probably the remains of the palace and
keep of Henry the First in the middle ward.

As the original chapel dedicated to Saint George was demolished by
Edward the Fourth, its position and form cannot be clearly determined,
But a conjecture has been hazarded that it occupied the same ground as
the choir of the present chapel, and extended farther eastward.

"Upon the question of its style," says Mr. Poynter, from whose valuable
account of the castle much information has been derived, "there is the
evidence of two fragments discovered near this site, a corbel and
a piscina, ornamented with foliage strongly characteristic of the
Decorated English Gothic, and indicating, by the remains of colour
on their surfaces, that they belonged to an edifice adorned in the
polychromatic style, so elaborately developed in the chapel already
built by Edward the Third at Westminster."

The royal lodgings, Saint George's Hall, the buildings on the east and
north sides of the upper ward, the Round Tower, the canons' houses in
the lower ward, and the whole circumference of the castle, exclusive of
the towers erected in Henry the Third's reign, were now built. Among the
earlier works in Edward's reign is the Dean's Cloister. The square of
the upper ward, added by this monarch, occupied a space of four
hundred and twenty feet, and encroached somewhat upon the middle ward.
Externally the walls presented a grim, regular appearance, broken only
by the buttresses, and offering no other apertures than the narrow
loopholes and gateways. Some traces of the architecture of the period
may still be discerned in the archway and machecoulis of the principal
gateway adjoining the Round Tower; the basement chamber of the Devil
Tower, or Edward the Third's Tower; and in the range of groined and
four-centred vaulting, extending along the north side of the upper
quadrangle, from the kitchen gateway to King John's Tower.

In 1359 Queen Philippa, consort of Edward the Third, breathed her last
in Windsor Castle.

Richard the Second, grandson of Edward the Third, frequently kept his
court at Windsor. Here, in 1382, it was determined by council that war
should be declared against France; and here, sixteen years later, on a
scaffold erected within the castle, the famous appeal for high treason
was made by Henry of Lancaster, Duke of Hereford, against Thomas
Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, the latter of whom defied his accuser to
mortal combat. The duel was stopped by the king, and the adversaries
banished; but the Duke of Lancaster afterwards returned to depose his
banisher. About the same time, the citizens of London having refused
Richard a large loan, he summoned the lord mayor, sheriffs, aldermen,
and twenty-four of the principal citizens, to his presence, and after
rating them soundly, ordered them all into custody, imprisoning the lord
mayor in the castle.

In this reign Geoffrey Chaucer, "the father of English poetry," was
appointed clerk to the works of Saint George's Chapel, at a salary of
two shillings per day (a sum equal to 657 pounds per annum of modern
money), with the same arbitrary power as had been granted to previous
surveyors to impress carpenters and masons. Chaucer did not retain his
appointment more than twenty months, and was succeeded by John Gedney.

It was at Windsor that Henry the Fourth, scarcely assured of the crown
he had seized, received intelligence of a conspiracy against his life
from the traitorous Aumerle, who purchased his own safety at the expense
of his confederates. The timely warning enabled the king to baffle the
design. It was in Windsor also that the children of Mortimer, Earl of
March, the rightful successor to the throne, were detained as hostages
for their father. Liberated by the Countess-dowager of Gloucester,
who contrived to open their prison door with false keys, the youthful
captives escaped to the marshes of Wales, where, however, they were
overtaken by the emissaries of Henry, and brought back to their former
place of confinement.

A few years later another illustrious prisoner was brought to
Windsor--namely, Prince James, the son of King Robert the Third, and
afterwards James the First of Scotland. This prince remained a captive
for upwards of eighteen years; not being released till 1424, in the
second of Henry the Sixth, by the Duke of Bedford, then regent. James's
captivity, and his love for Jane of Beaufort, daughter of the Duke of
Somerset, and granddaughter to John of Gaunt, to whom he was united,
have breathed a charm over the Round Tower, where he was confined; and
his memory, like that of the chivalrous and poetical Surrey, whom he
resembled in character and accomplishments, will be ever associated with
it.

In the "King's Quair," the royal poet has left an exquisite picture of a
garden nook, contrived within the dry moat of the dungeon.

"Now was there made, fast by the tower's wall, A garden faire, and in
the corners set An arbour green with wandis long and small Railed about,
and so with leaves beset Was all the place, and hawthorn hedges knet,
That lyf was none, walking there forbye, That might within scarce any
wight espy. So thick the branches and the leave's green Beshaded all
the alleys that there were. And midst of every harbour might be seen
The sharpe, green, sweet juniper, Growing so fair with branches here
and there, That as it seemed to a lyf without The boughs did spread the
arbour all about."

And he thus describes the first appearance of the lovely Jane, and the
effect produced upon him by her charms:

"And therewith cast I down mine eye again, Where as I saw walking under
the tower, Full secretly, new comyn her to plain, The fairest and the
freshest younge flower That e'er I saw, methought, before that hour;
For which sudden abate, anon did start The blood of all my body to my
heart."

Henry the Fifth occasionally kept his court at Windsor, and in 1416
entertained with great magnificence the Emperor Sigismund, who brought
with him an invaluable relic--the heart of Saint George--which he
bestowed upon the chapter. The emperor was at the same time invested
with the Order.

In 1421 the unfortunate Henry the Sixth was born within the castle, and
in 1484 he was interred within it.



III.

     Comprising the Fourth Epoch in the History of the Castle--
     And showing how Saint George's Chapel was rebuilt by King
     Edward the Fourth.


Finding the foundation and walls of Saint George's Chapel much
dilapidated and decayed, Edward the Fourth resolved to pull down the
pile, and build a larger and statelier structure in its place. With this
view, he constituted Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, surveyor
of the works, from whose designs arose the present beautiful edifice. To
enable the bishop to accomplish the work, power was given him to remove
all obstructions, and to enlarge the space by the demolition of the
three buildings then commonly called Clure's Tower, Berner's Tower, and
the Almoner's Tower.

The zeal and assiduity with which Beauchamp prosecuted his task is
adverted to in the patent of his appointment to the office of chancellor
of the Garter, the preamble whereof recites, "that out of mere love
towards the Order, he had given himself the leisure daily to attend the
advancement and progress of this goodly fabric."

The chapel, however, was not completed in one reign, or by one
architect. Sir Reginald Bray, prime minister of Henry the Seventh,
succeeded Bishop Beauchamp as surveyor of the works, and it was by him
that the matchless roof of the choir and other parts of the fabric were
built. Indeed, the frequent appearance of Bray's arms, sometimes single,
sometimes impaling his alliances, in many parts of the ceiling and
windows, has led to the supposition that he himself contributed largely
to the expense of the work. The groined ceiling of the chapel was
not commenced till the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Henry the
Seventh, when the pinnacles of the roof were decorated with vanes,
supported by gilt figures of lions, antelopes, greyhounds, and dragons,
the want of which is still a detriment to the external beauty of the
structure.

"The main vaulting of St. George's Chapel," says Mr. Poynter, "is
perhaps, without exception, the most beautiful specimen of the Gothic
stone roof in existence; but it has been very improperly classed with
those of the same architectural period in the chapels of King's College,
Cambridge, and Henry the Seventh, at Westminster. The roofing of the
aisle and the centre compartment of the body of the building are indeed
in that style, but the vault of the nave and choir differ essentially
from fan vaulting, both in drawing and construction. It is, in fact,
a waggon-headed vault, broken by Welsh groins--that is to say, groins
which cut into the main arch below the apex. It is not singular in the
principle of its design, but it is unique in its proportions, in which
the exact mean seems to be attained between the poverty and monotony of
a waggon-headed ceiling and the ungraceful effect of a mere groined roof
with a depressed roof or large span--to which may be added, that with a
richness of effect scarcely, if at all, inferior to fan tracery, it
is free from those abrupt junctions of the lines and other defects of
drawing inevitable when the length and breadth of the compartments of
fan vaulting differ very much, of which King's College Chapel exhibits
some notable instances."

Supported by these exquisite ribs and groins, the ceiling is decorated
with heraldic insignia, displaying the arms of Edward the Confessor,
Edward the Third, Edward the Black Prince, Henry the Sixth, Edward
the Fourth, Henry the Seventh, and Henry the Eighth; with the arms of
England and France quartered, the holy cross, the shield or cross of
Saint George, the rose, portcullis, lion rampant, unicorn, fleur-de-lis,
dragon, and prince's feathers, together with the arms of a multitude of
noble families. In the nave are emblazoned the arms of Henry the Eighth,
and of several knights-companions, among which are those of Charles the
Fifth, Francis the First, and Ferdinand, Infant of Spain. The extreme
lightness and graceful proportions of the pillars lining the aisles
contribute greatly to the effect of this part of the structure.

Beautiful, however, as is the body of the chapel, it is not comparable
to the choir. Here, and on either side, are ranged the stalls of the
knights, formerly twenty-six in number, but now increased to thirty-two,
elaborately carved in black oak, and covered by canopies of the richest
tabernacle-work, supported by slender pillars. On the pedestals is
represented the history of the Saviour, and on the front of the stalls
at the west end of the choir is carved the legend of Saint George; while
on the outside of the upper seat is cut, in old Saxon characters, the
twentieth Psalm in Latin. On the canopies of the stalls are placed the
mantle, helmet, coat, and sword of the knights-companions; and above
them are hung their emblazoned banners. On the back of each stall are
fixed small enamelled plates, graven with the titles of the knights
who have occupied it. The ancient stall of the sovereign was removed in
1788, and a new seat erected.

The altar was formerly adorned with costly hangings of crimson velvet
and gold, but these, together with the consecrated vessels of great
value, were seized by order of Parliament in 1642 amid the general
plunder of the foundation. The service of the altar was replaced by
Charles the Second.

The sovereign's stall is immediately on the right on the entrance to the
choir, and the prince's on the left. The queen's closet is on the
north side above the altar. Beneath it is the beautiful and
elaborately-wrought framework of iron, representing a pair of gates
between two Gothic towers, designed as a screen to the tomb of Edward
the Fourth, and which, though popularly attributed to Quentin Matsys,
has with more justice been assigned to Master John Tressilian.

One great blemish to the chapel exists in the window over the altar,
the mullions and tracery of which have been removed to make way for
dull colourless copies in painted glass of West's designs. Instead of
--"blushing with the blood of kings, And twilight saints, and dim
emblazonings"--steeping the altar in rich suffusion, chequering the
walls and pavement with variegated hues, and filling the whole sacred
spot with a warm and congenial glow, these panes produce a cold,
cheerless, and most disagreeable effect.

The removal of this objectionable feature, and the restoration of
framework and compartments in the style of the original, and enriched
with ancient mellow-toned and many-hued glass in keeping with the place,
are absolutely indispensable to the completeness and unity of character
of the chapel. Two clerestory windows at the east end of the choir,
adjoining the larger window, have been recently filled with stained
glass in much better taste.

The objections above made may be urged with equal force against the east
and west windows of the south aisle of the body of the fane, and the
west window of the north aisle. The glorious west window, composed of
eighty compartments, embellished with figures of kings, patriarchs, and
bishops, together with the insignia of the Garter and the arms of the
prelates--the wreck gathered from all the other windows--and streaming
with the radiance of the setting sun upon the broad nave and graceful
pillars of the aisles--this superb window, an admirable specimen of the
architecture of the age in which it was designed, had well-nigh shared
the fate of the others, and was only preserved from desecration by the
circumstance of the death of the glass-painter. The mullions of this
window being found much decayed, were carefully and consistently
restored during the last year by Mr. Blore, and the ancient stained
glass replaced.

Not only does Saint George's Chapel form a house of prayer and a temple
of chivalry, but it is also the burial-place of kings. At the east end
of the north aisle of the choir is a plain flag, bearing the words--

King Edward IIII. And his Queen Elizabeth Widville.

The coat of mail and surcoat, decorated with rubies and precious stones,
together with other rich trophies once ornamenting this tomb, were
carried off by the Parliamentary plunderers. Edward's queen, Elizabeth
Woodville, it was thought, slept beside him; but when the royal tomb was
opened in 1789, and the two coffins within it examined, the smaller one
was found empty. The queen's body was subsequently discovered in a stone
coffin by the workmen employed in excavating the vault for George the
Third. Edward's coffin was seven feet long, and contained a perfect
skeleton. On the opposite aisle, near the choir door, as already
mentioned, rests the ill-fated Henry the Sixth, beneath an arch
sumptuously embellished by Henry the Eighth, on the key-stone of which
may still be seen his arms, supported by two antelopes connected by a
golden chain. Henry's body was removed from Chertsey, where it was first
interred, and reburied in 1484, with much solemnity, in this spot. Such
was the opinion entertained of his sanctity that miracles were supposed
to be wrought upon his tomb, and Henry the Seventh applied to have
him canonised, but the demands of the Pope were too exorbitant. The
proximity of Henry and Edward in death suggested the following lines to
Pope--

"Here, o'er the martyr-king the marble weeps, And fast beside him
once-fear'd Edward sleeps; The grave unites, where e'en the grave finds
rest, And mingled here the oppressor and the opprest."

In the royal vault in the choir repose Henry the Eighth and his third
queen Jane Seymour, together with the martyred Charles the First.

Space only permits the hasty enumeration of the different chapels and
chantries adorning this splendid fane. These are Lincoln Chapel, near
which Richard Beauchamp, Bishop of Salisbury, is buried; Oxenbridge
Chapel; Aldworth Chapel; Bray Chapel, where rests the body of Sir
Reginald de Bray, the architect of the pile; Beaufort Chapel, containing
sumptuous monuments of the noble family of that name; Rutland Chapel;
Hastings Chapel; and Urswick Chapel, in which is now placed the cenotaph
of the Princess Charlotte, sculptured by Matthew Wyatt.

In a vault near the sovereign's stall lie the remains of the Duke of
Gloucester, who died in 1805, and of his duchess, who died two years
after him. And near the entrance of the south door is a slab of grey
marble, beneath which lies \one who in his day filled the highest
offices of the realm, and was the brother of a king and the husband of a
queen. It is inscribed with the great name of Charles Brandon.

At the east end of the north aisle is the chapter-house, in which is a
portrait and the sword of state of Edward the Third.

Adjoining the chapel on the east stands the royal tombhouse. Commenced
by Henry the Seventh as a mausoleum, but abandoned for the chapel in
Westminster Abbey, this structure was granted by Henry the Eighth to
Wolsey, who, intending it as a place of burial for himself, erected
within it a sumptuous monument of black and white marble, with eight
large brazen columns placed around it, and four others in the form of
candlesticks.

At the time of the cardinal's disgrace, when the building reverted to
the crown, the monument was far advanced towards completion--the vast
sum of 4280 ducats having been paid to Benedetto, a Florentine sculptor,
for work, and nearly four hundred pounds for gilding part of it. This
tomb was stripped of its ornaments and destroyed by the Parliamentary
rebels in 1646; but the black marble sarcophagus forming part of it, and
intended as a receptacle for Wolsey's own remains, escaped destruction,
and now covers the grave of Nelson in a crypt of Saint Paul's Cathedral.

Henry the Eighth was not interred in this mausoleum, but in Saint
George's Chapel, as has just been mentioned, and as he himself directed,
"midway between the state and the high altar." Full instructions
were left by him for the erection of a monument which, if it had been
completed, would have been truly magnificent. The pavement was to be of
oriental stones, with two great steps upon it of the same material. The
two pillars of the church between which the tomb was to be set were to
be covered with bas-reliefs, representing the chief events of the Old
Testament, angels with gilt garlands, fourteen images of the prophets,
the apostles, the evangelists, and the four doctors of the Church, and
at the foot of every image a little child with a basket full of red and
white roses enamelled and gilt. Between these pillars, on a basement of
white marble, the epitaphs of the king and queen were to be written in
letters of gold.

On the same basement were to be two tombs of black touchstone supporting
the images of the king and queen, not as dead, but sleeping, "to show,"
so runs the order, "that famous princes leaving behind them great fame
do never die." On the right hand, at either corner of the tomb, was to
be an angel holding the king's arms, with a great candlestick, and
at the opposite corners two other angels hearing the queen's arms and
candlesticks. Between the two black tombs was to rise a high basement,
like a sepulchre, surmounted by a statue of the king on horseback, in
armour--both figures to be "of the whole stature of a goodly man and
a large horse." Over this statue was to be a canopy, like a triumphal
arch, of white marble, garnished with oriental stones of divers colours,
with the history of Saint John the Baptist wrought in gilt brass upon
it, with a crowning group of the Father holding the soul of the king in
his right hand and the soul of the queen in his left, and blessing them.
The height of the monument was to be twenty-eight feet.

The number of statues was to be one hundred and thirty-four, with
forty-four bas-reliefs. It would be matter of infinite regret that this
great design was never executed, if its destruction by the Parliamentary
plunderers would not in that case have been also matter of certainty.

Charles the First intended to fit up this structure as a royal
mausoleum, but was diverted from the plan by the outbreak of the civil
war. It was afterwards used as a chapel by James the Second, and mass
was publicly performed in it. The ceiling was painted by Verrio, and the
walls highly ornamented; but the decorations were greatly injured by the
fury of an anti-Catholic mob, who assailed the building, and destroyed
its windows, on the occasion of a banquet given to the Pope's nuncio by
the king.

In this state it continued till the commencement of the present century,
when the exterior was repaired by George the Third, and a vault,
seventy feet in length, twenty-eight in width, and fourteen in depth,
constructed within it, for the reception of the royal family. Catacombs,
formed of massive octangular pillars, and supporting ranges of shelves,
line the walls on either side.

At the eastern extremity there are five niches, and in the middle twelve
low tombs. A subterranean passage leads from the vault beneath the choir
of Saint George's altar to the sepulchre. Within it are deposited the
bodies of George the Third and Queen Charlotte, the Princesses Amelia
and Charlotte, the Dukes of Kent and York, and the last two sovereigns,
George the Fourth and William the Fourth.

But to return to the reign of Edward the Fourth, from which the desire
to bring down the history of Saint George's Chapel to the present time
has led to the foregoing digression. About the same time that the chapel
was built, habitations for the dean and canons were erected on the
north-east of the fane, while another range of dwellings for the minor
canons was built at its west end, disposed in the form of a fetterlock,
one of the badges of Edward the Fourth, and since called the Horse-shoe
Cloisters. The ambulatory of these cloisters once displayed a fine
specimen of the timber architecture of Henry the Seventh's time, when
they were repaired, but little of their original character can now be
discerned.

In 1482 Edward, desirous of advancing his popularity with the citizens
of London, invited the lord mayor and aldermen to Windsor, where he
feasted them royally, and treated them to the pleasures of the chase,
sending them back to their spouses loaded with game.

In 1484 Richard the Third kept the feast of Saint George at Windsor, and
the building of the chapel was continued during his reign.

The picturesque portion of the castle on the north side of the upper
ward, near the Norman Gateway, and which is one of the noblest Gothic
features of the proud pile, was built by Henry the Seventh, whose name
it still bears. The side of this building looking towards the terrace
was originally decorated with two rich windows, but one of them has
disappeared, and the other has suffered much damage.

In 1500 the deanery was rebuilt by Dean Urswick. At the lower end of
the court, adjoining the canons' houses behind the Horse-shoe Cloisters,
stands the Collegiate Library, the date of which is uncertain, though it
may perhaps be referred to this period. The establishment was enriched
in later times by a valuable library, bequeathed to it by the Earl of
Ranelagh.

In 1506 Windsor was the scene of great festivity, in consequence of the
unexpected arrival of Philip, King of Castile, and his queen, who had
been driven by stress of weather into Weymouth. The royal visitors
remained for several weeks at the castle, during which it continued a
scene of revelry, intermixed with the sports of the chase. At the same
time Philip was invested with the Order of the Garter, and installed in
the chapel of St. George.

The great gateway to the lower ward was built in the commencement of
the reign of Henry the Eighth; it is decorated with his arms and
devices--the rose, portcullis, and fleur-de-lis, and with the bearings
of Catherine of Arragon. In 1522 Charles the Fifth visited Windsor, and
was installed I knight of the Garter.

During a period of dissension in the council, Edward the Sixth was
removed for safety to Windsor by the Lord Protector Somerset, and here,
at a later period, the youthful monarch received a letter from the
council urging the dismissal of Somerset, with which, by the advice of
the Arch-bishop of Canterbury, he complied.

In this reign an undertaking to convey water to the castle from
Blackmore Park, near Wingfield, a distance of five miles, was commenced,
though it was not till 1555, in the time of Mary, that the plan was
accomplished, when a pipe was brought into the upper ward, "and there
the water plenteously did rise thirteen feet high." In the middle of the
court was erected a magnificent fountain, consisting of a canopy
raised upon columns, gorgeously decorated with heraldic ornaments, and
surmounted by a great vane, with the arms of Philip and Mary impaled
upon it, and supported by a lion and an eagle, gilt and painted. The
water was discharged by a great dragon, one of the supporters of the
Tudor arms, into the cistern beneath, whence it was conveyed by pipes to
every part of the castle.

Mary held her court at Windsor soon after her union with Philip of
Spain. About this period the old habitations of the alms-knights on the
south side of the lower quadrangle were taken down, and others erected
in their stead.

Fewer additions were made to Windsor Castle by Elizabeth than might have
been expected from her predilection for it as a place of residence. She
extended and widened the north terrace, where, when lodging within the
castle, she daily took exercise, whatever might be the weather. The
terrace at this time, as it is described by Paul Hentzner, and as it
appears in Norden's view, was a sort of balcony projecting beyond the
scarp of the hill, and supported by great cantilevers of wood.

In 1576 the gallery still bearing her name, and lying between Henry the
Seventh's buildings and the Norman Tower, was erected by Elizabeth. This
portion of the castle had the good fortune to escape the alterations and
modifications made in almost every other part of the upper ward after
the restoration of Charles the Second. It now forms the library. A large
garden was laid out by the same queen, and a small gateway on Castle
Hill built by her--which afterwards became one of the greatest
obstructions to the approach, and it was taken down by George the
Fourth.

Elizabeth often hunted in the parks, and exhibited her skill in archery,
which was by no means inconsiderable, at the butts. Her fondness for
dramatic performances likewise induced her to erect a stage within
the castle, on which plays and interludes were performed. And to her
admiration of the character of Falstaff, and her love of the locality,
the world is indebted for the "Merry Wives of Windsor."

James the First favoured Windsor as much as his predecessors; caroused
within its halls, and chased the deer in its parks; Christian the Fourth
of Denmark was sumptuously entertained by him at Windsor. In this reign
a curious dispute occurred between the king and the dean and chapter
respecting the repair of a breach in the wall, which was not brought
to issue for three years, when, after much argument, it was decided in
favour of the clergy.

Little was done at Windsor by Charles the First until the tenth year of
his reign, when a banqueting-house erected by Elizabeth was taken down,
and the magnificent fountain constructed by Queen Mary demolished. Two
years after wards "a pyramid or lantern," with a clock, hell, and dial,
was ordered to be set up in front of the castle, and a balcony was
erected before the room where Henry the Sixth was born.

In the early part of the year 1642 Charles retired to Windsor to
shield himself from the insults of the populace, and was followed by a
committee of the House of Commons, who prevailed upon him to desist from
the prosecution of the impeached members. On the 23rd of October in
the same year, Captain Fogg, at the head of a Parliamentarian force,
demanded the keys of the college treasury, and, not being able to obtain
them, forced open the doors, and carried off the whole of the plate.

The plunder of the college was completed by Vane, the Parliamentary
governor of the castle, who seized upon the whole of the furniture and
decorations of the choir, rifled the tomb of Edward the Fourth,
stripped off all the costly ornaments from Wolsey's tomb, defaced the
emblazonings over Henry the Sixth's grave, broke the rich painted glass
of the windows, and wantonly destroyed the exquisite woodwork of the
choir.

Towards the close of the year 1648 the ill-fated Charles was brought a
prisoner to Windsor, where he remained while preparations were made for
the execrable tragedy soon afterwards enacted. After the slaughter of
the martyr-monarch the castle became the prison of the Earl of Norwich,
Lord Capel, and the Duke of Hamilton, and other royalists and cavaliers.

Cromwell frequently resided within the castle, and often took a moody
and distrustful walk upon the terrace. It was during the Protectorate,
in 1677, that the ugly buildings appropriated to the naval knights, and
standing between the Garter Tower and Chancellor's Tower, were erected
by Sir Francis Crane.



IV.

     Containing the History of the Castle from the Reign of
     Charles the Second to that of George the Third--With a few
     Particulars concerning the Parks and the Forest. Windsor
     Castle.

ON the Restoration the castle resumed its splendour, and presented a
striking contrast to the previous gloomy period. The terrace, with its
festive groups, resembled a picture by Watteau, the courts resounded
with laughter, and the velvet sod of the home park was as often pressed
by the foot of frolic beauty as by that of the tripping deer.

Seventeen state apartments were erected by Sir Christopher Wren, under
the direction of Sir John Denham. The ceilings were painted by Verrio,
and the walls decorated with exquisite carvings by Grinling Gibbons. A
grand staircase was added at the same time. Most of the chambers were
hung with tapestry, and all adorned with pictures and costly furniture.
The addition made to the castle by Charles was the part of the north
front, then called the "Star Building," from the star of the Order of
the Garter worked in colours in the front of it, but now denominated the
"Stuart Building," extending eastward along the terrace from Henry the
Seventh's building one hundred and seventy feet. In 1676 the ditch was
filled up, and the terrace carried along the south and east fronts of
the castle.

Meanwhile the original character of the castle was completely destroyed
and Italianised. The beautiful and picturesque irregularities of the
walls were removed, the towers shaved off, the windows transformed into
commonplace circular-headed apertures. And so the castle remained for
more than a century.

Edward the Third's Tower, indifferently called the Earl Marshal's
Tower and the Devil Tower, and used as a place of confinement for state
prisoners, was now allotted to the maids of honour. It was intended by
Charles to erect a monument in honour of his martyred father on the site
of the tomb-house, which he proposed to remove, and 70,000 pounds were
voted by Parliament for this purpose. The design, however, was abandoned
under the plea that the body could not be found, though it was perfectly
well known where it lay. The real motive, probably, was that Charles had
already spent the money.

In 1680 an equestrian statue of Charles the Second, executed by Strada,
at the expense of Tobias Rustat, formerly housekeeper at Hampton Court,
was placed in the centre of the upper ward. It now stands at the lower
end of the same court. The sculptures on the pedestal were designed by
Grinling Gibbons; and Horace Walpole pleasantly declared that the statue
had no other merit than to attract attention to them.

In old times a road, forming a narrow irregular avenue, ran through the
woods from the foot of the castle to Snow Hill but this road having been
neglected during a long series of years, the branches of the trees
and underwood had so much encroached upon it as to render it wholly
impassable. A grand avenue, two hundred and forty feet wide, was planned
by Charles in its place, and the magnificent approach called the Long
Walk laid out and planted.

The only material incident connected with the castle during the reign of
James the Second has been already related.

Windsor was not so much favoured as Hampton Court by William the Third,
though he contemplated alterations within it during the latter part of
his life which it may be matter of rejoicing were never accomplished.

Queen Anne's operations were chiefly directed towards the parks,
in improving which nearly 40,000 pounds were expended. In 1707 the
extensive avenue running almost parallel with the Long Walk, and called
the "Queen's Walk," was planted by her; and three years afterwards
a carriage road was formed through the Long Walk. A garden was also
planned on the north side of the castle. In this reign Sir James
Thornhill commenced painting Charles the Second's staircase with designs
from Ovid's Metamorphoses, but did not complete his task till after the
accession of George the First. This staircase was removed in 1800, to
make way for the present Gothic entrance erected by the elder Wyatt.

The first two monarchs of the house of Hanover rarely used Windsor as a
residence, preferring Hampton Court and Kensington; and even George the
Third did not actually live in the castle, but in the Queen's Lodge--a
large detached building, with no pretension to architectural beauty,
which he himself erected opposite the south terrace, at a cost of nearly
44,000 pounds. With most praiseworthy zeal, and almost entirely at his
own expense, this monarch undertook the restoration of Saint George's
Chapel. The work was commenced in 1787, occupied three years, and
was executed by Mr. Emlyn, a local architect. The whole building was
repaved, a new altar-screen and organ added, and the carving restored.

In 1796 Mr. James Wyatt was appointed surveyor-general of the royal
buildings, and effected many internal arrangements. Externally he
restored Wren's round-headed windows to their original form, and at the
same time gothicized a large portion of the north and south sides of the
upper ward.

Before proceeding further, a word must be said about the parks. The home
park, which lies on the east and north sides of the castle, is about
four miles in circumference, and was enlarged and enclosed with a brick
wall by William the Third. On the east, and nearly on the site of the
present sunk garden, a bowling-green was laid out by Charles the Second.
Below, on the north, were Queen Anne's gardens, since whose time the
declivity of the hill has been planted with forest trees. At the
east angle of the north terrace are the beautiful slopes, with a path
skirting the north side of the home park and leading through charming
plantations in the direction of the royal farm and dairy, the ranger's
lodge, and the kennel for the queen's harriers. This park contains many
noble trees; and the grove of elms in the south-east, near the spot
where the scathed oak assigned to Herne stands, is traditionally
asserted to have been a favourite walk of Queen Elizabeth. It still
retains her name.

The great park is approached by the magnificent avenue called the Long
Walk, laid out, as has been stated, by Charles the Second, and extending
to the foot of Snow Hill, the summit of which is crowned by the colossal
equestrian statue of George the Third, by Westmacott. Not far from this
point stands Cumberland Lodge, which derives its name from William, Duke
of Cumberland, to whom it was granted in 1744. According to Norden's
survey, in 1607, this park contained 3050 acres; but when surveyed by
George the Third it was found to consist of 3800 acres, of which 200
were covered with water. At that time the park was over grown with fern
and rushes, and abounded in bogs and swamps, which in many places were
dangerous and almost impassable. It contained about three thousand head
of deer in bad condition. The park has since been thoroughly drained,
smoothed, and new planted in parts; and two farms have been introduced
upon it, under the direction of Mr. Kent, at which the Flemish and
Norfolk modes of husbandry have been successfully practised.

Boasting every variety of forest scenery, and commanding from its knolls
and acclivities magnificent views of the castle, the great park is
traversed, in all directions, by green drives threading its long
vistas, or crossing its open glades, laid out by George the Fourth.
Amid the groves at the back of Spring Hill, in a charmingly sequestered
situation, stands a small private chapel, built in the Gothic style, and
which was used as a place of devotion by George the Fourth during the
progress of the improvements at the castle, and is sometimes attended by
the present queen.

Not the least of the attractions of the park is Virginia Water, with
its bright and beautiful expanse, its cincture of green banks, soft and
smooth as velvet, its screen of noble woods, its Chinese fishing-temple,
its frigates, its ruins, its cascade, cave, and Druidical temple, its
obelisk and bridges, with numberless beauties besides, which it would be
superfluous to describe here. This artificial mere covers pretty nearly
the same surface of ground as that occupied by the great lake of olden
times.

Windsor forest once comprehended a circumference of a hundred and twenty
miles, and comprised part of Buckinghamshire, a considerable portion
of Surrey, and the whole south-east side of Berkshire, as far as
Hungerford. On the Surrey side it included Chobham and Chertsey, and
extended along the side of the Wey, which marked its limits as far as
Guildford. In the reign of James the First, when it was surveyed by
Norden, its circuit was estimated at seventy-seven miles and a half,
exclusive of the liberties extending into Buckinghamshire. There were
fifteen walks within it, each under the charge of a head keeper, and the
whole contained upwards of three thousand head of deer. It is now almost
wholly enclosed.



V.

     The Last Great Epoch in the History of the Castle.


A prince of consummate taste and fine conceptions, George the Fourth
meditated, and, what is better, accomplished the restoration of the
castle to more than its original grandeur. He was singularly fortunate
in his architect. Sir Jeffry Wyatville was to him what William
of Wykeham had been to Edward the Third. All the incongruities of
successive reigns were removed: all, or nearly all, the injuries
inflicted by time repaired; and when the work so well commenced was
finished, the structure took its place as the noblest and most majestic
palatial residence in existence.

To enter into a full detail of Wyatville's achievements is beyond the
scope of the present work; but a brief survey may be taken of them.
Never was lofty design more fully realised. View the castle on the
north, with its grand terrace of nearly a thousand feet in length,
and high embattled walls; its superb facade, comprehending the stately
Brunswick Tower; the Cornwall Tower, with its gorgeous window; George
the Fourth's Tower, including the great oriel window of the state
drawing-room; the restored Stuart buildings, and those of Henry the
Seventh and of Elizabeth; the renovated Norman Tower; the Powder Tower,
with the line of walls as far as the Winchester Tower;--view this, and
then turn to the east, and behold another front of marvellous beauty
extending more than four hundred feet from north to south, and
displaying the Prince of Wales's Tower, the Chester, Clarence, and
Victoria Towers--all of which have been raised above their former level,
and enriched by great projecting windows;--behold also the beautiful
sunken garden, with its fountain and orangery, its flights of steps, and
charming pentagonal terrace;--proceed to the south front, of which the
Victoria Tower, with its machicolated battlements and oriel window,
forms so superb a feature at the eastern corner, the magnificent gateway
receiving its name from George the Fourth, flanked by the York and
Lancaster Towers, and opening in a continued line from the Long Walk;
look at Saint George's Gate, Edward the Third's renovated tower, and the
octagon tower beyond it; look at all these, and if they fail to excite a
due appreciation of the genius that conceived them, gaze at the triumph
of the whole, and which lords over all the rest--the Round Tower--gaze
at it, and not here alone, but from the heights of the great park,
from the vistas of the home park, from the bowers of Eton, the meads
of Clewer and Datchet, from the Brocas, the gardens of the naval
knights--from a hundred points; view it at sunrise when the royal
standard is hoisted, or at sunset when it is lowered, near or at
a distance, and it will be admitted to be the work of a prodigious
architect!

But Wyatville's alterations have not yet been fully considered. Pass
through Saint George's Gateway, and enter the grand quadrangle to which
it leads. Let your eye wander round it, beginning with the inner
sides of Edward the Third's Tower and George the Fourth's Gateway,
and proceeding to the beautiful private entrance to the sovereign's
apartments, the grand range of windows of the eastern corridor, the
proud towers of the gateway to the household, the tall pointed windows
of Saint George's Hall, the state entrance tower, with its noble
windows, until it finally rests upon the Stuart buildings and King
John's Tower, at the angle of the pile.

Internally the alterations made by the architects have been of
corresponding splendour and importance. Around the south and east sides
of the court at which you are gazing, a spacious corridor has been
constructed, five hundred and fifty feet in length, and connected with
the different suites of apartments on these sides of the quadrangle;
extensive alterations have been made in the domestic offices; the state
apartments have been repaired and rearranged; Saint George's Hall
has been enlarged by the addition of the private chapel (the only
questionable change), and restored to the Gothic style; and the Waterloo
Chamber built to contain George the Fourth's munificent gift to the
nation of the splendid collection of portraits now occupying it.

"The first and most remarkable characteristic of operations of Sir
Jeffry Wyatville on the exterior," observes Mr. Poynter, "is the
judgment with which he has preserved the castle of Edward the Third.
Some additions have been made to it, and with striking effect--as the
Brunswick Tower, and the western tower of George the Fourth's Gate-way
which so nobly terminates the approach from the great park. The more
modern buildings on the north side have also been assimilated to the
rest; but the architect has yielded to no temptation to substitute his
own design for that of William of Wykeham, and no small difficulties
have been combated and overcome for the sake of preserving the outline
of the edifice, and maintaining the towers in their original position."

The Winchester Tower, originally inhabited by William of Wykeham, was
bestowed upon Sir Jeffry Wyatville as a residence by George the Fourth;
and, on the resignation of the distinguished architect, was continued to
him for life by the present queen.

The works within the castle were continued during the reign of William
the Fourth, and at its close the actual cost of the buildings had
reached the sum of 771,000, pounds and it has been asserted that the
general expenditure up to the present time has exceeded a million and a
half of money.

The view from the summit of the Round Tower is beyond description
magnificent, and commands twelve counties--namely, Middlesex, Essex,
Hertford, Berks, Bucks, Oxford, Wilts, Hants, Surrey, Sussex, Kent,
and Bedford; while on a clear day the dome of Saint Paul's may be
distinguished from it. This tower was raised thirty-three feet by Sir
Jeffry Wyatville, crowned with a machicolated battlement, and surmounted
with a flag-tower.

The circumference of the castle is 4180 feet; the length from east to
west, 1480 feet; and the area, exclusive of the terraces, about twelve
acres.

For the present the works are suspended. But it is to be hoped that the
design of Sir Jeffry Wyatville will be fully carried out in the lower
ward, by the removal of such houses on the north as would lay Saint
George's Chapel open to view from this side; by the demolition of the
old incongruous buildings lying westward of the bastion near the Hundred
Steps, by the opening out of the pointed roof of the library; the repair
and reconstruction in their original style of the Curfew, the Garter,
and the Salisbury Towers; and the erection of a lower terrace extending
outside the castle, from the bastion above mentioned to the point of
termination of the improvements, and accessible from the town; the
construction of which terrace would necessitate the removal of the
disfiguring and encroaching houses on the east side of Thames Street.
This accomplished, Crane's ugly buildings removed, and the three western
towers laid open to the court, the Horse-shoe Cloisters consistently
repaired, Windsor Castle would indeed be complete. And fervently do
we hope that this desirable event may be identified with the reign of
VICTORIA.


THUS ENDS THE THIRD BOOK OF THE CHRONICLE OF WINDSOR CASTLE



BOOK IV. CARDINAL WOLSEY



I.

     Of the Interview between Henry and Catherine of Arragon in
     the Urswick Chapel--And how it was interrupted.



IT was now the joyous month of June; and where is June so joyous as
within the courts and halls of peerless Windsor? Where does the summer
sun shine so brightly as upon its stately gardens and broad terraces,
its matchless parks, its silver belting river and its circumference of
proud and regal towers? Nowhere in the world. At all seasons Windsor is
magnificent: whether, in winter, she looks upon her garnitures of woods
stripped of their foliage--her river covered with ice--or the wide
expanse of country around her sheeted with snow--or, in autumn, gazes
on the same scene--a world of golden-tinted leaves, brown meadows, or
glowing cornfields. But summer is her season of beauty--June is the
month when her woods are fullest and greenest; when her groves are
shadiest; her avenues most delicious; when her river sparkles like a
diamond zone; when town and village, mansion and cot, church and tower,
hill and vale, the distant capital itself--all within view--are seen to
the highest advantage. At such a season it is impossible to behold from
afar the heights of Windsor, crowned, like the Phrygian goddess, by
a castled diadem, and backed by lordly woods, and withhold a burst of
enthusiasm and delight. And it is equally impossible, at such a season,
to stand on the grand northern terrace, and gaze first at the proud
pile enshrining the sovereign mistress of the land, and then gaze on the
unequalled prospect spread out before it, embracing in its wide range
every kind of beauty that the country can boast, and not be struck
with the thought that the perfect and majestic castle--"In state
as wholesome as in state 'tis fit Worthy the owner, and the owner
it,"--together with the wide, and smiling, and populous district
around it, form an apt representation of the British sovereign and her
dominions. There stands the castle, dating back as far as the Conquest,
and boasting since its foundation a succession of royal inmates, while
at its foot lies a region of unequalled fertility and beauty-full of
happy homes, and loving, loyal hearts--a miniature of the old country
and its inhabitants. What though the smiling landscape may he darkened
by a passing cloud!--what though a momentary gloom may gather round
the august brow of the proud pile!--the cloud will speedily vanish, the
gloom disperse, and the bright and sunny scene look yet brighter and
sunnier from the contrast.

It was the chance of the writer of these lines upon one occasion to
behold his sovereign under circumstances which he esteems singularly
fortunate. She was taking rapid exercise with the prince upon the south
side of the garden-terrace. All at once the royal pair paused at the
summit of the ascent leading from George the Fourth's gateway. The
prince disappeared along the eastern terrace, leaving the queen alone.
And there she stood, her slight, faultless figure sharply defined
against the clear sky. Nothing was wanting to complete the picture: the
great bay-windows of the Victoria Tower on the one hand--the balustrade
of the terrace on the other--the home park beyond. It was thrilling to
feel that that small, solitary figure comprehended all the might and
majesty of England--and a thousand kindling aspirations were awakened by
the thought.

But it was, as has been said, the merry month of June, and Windsor
Castle looked down in all its magnificence upon the pomp of woods, and
upon the twelve fair and smiling counties lying within its ken. A joyous
stir was within its courts--the gleam of arms and the fluttering of
banners was seen upon its battlements and towers, and the ringing of
bells, the beating of drums, and the fanfares of trumpets, mingled with
the shouting of crowds and the discharge of ordnance.

Amidst this tumult a grave procession issued from the deanery, and took
its way across the lower quadrangle, which was thronged with officers
and men-at-arms, in the direction of the lower gate. Just as it arrived
there a distant gun was heard, and an answering peal was instantly
fired from the culverins of the Curfew Tower, while a broad standard,
emblazoned with the arms of France and England within the garter,
and having for supporters the English lion crowned and the red dragon
sinister, was reared upon the keep. All these preparations betokened the
approach of the king, who was returning to the castle after six weeks'
absence.

Though information of the king's visit to the castle had only preceded
him by a few hours, everything was ready for his reception, and the
greatest exertions were used to give splendour to it.

In spite of his stubborn and tyrannical nature, Henry was a popular
monarch, and never showed himself before his subjects but he gained
their applauses; his love of pomp, his handsome person, and manly
deportment, always winning him homage from the multitude. But at
no period was he in a more critical position than the present. The
meditated divorce from Catherine of Arragon was a step which found no
sympathy from the better portion of his subjects, while the ill-assorted
union of Anne Boleyn, an avowed Lutheran, which it was known would
follow it, was equally objectionable. The seeds of discontent had been
widely sown in the capital; and tumults had occurred which, though
promptly checked, had nevertheless alarmed the king, coupled as
they were with the disapprobation of his ministers, the sneering
remonstrances of France, the menaces of the Papal See, and the open
hostilities of Spain. But the characteristic obstinacy of his nature
kept him firm to his point, and he resolved to carry it, be the
consequences what they might.

All his efforts to win over Campeggio proved fruitless. The legate was
deaf to his menaces or promises, well knowing that to aid Anne Boleyn
would be to seriously affect the interests of the Church of Rome.

The affair, however, so long and so artfully delayed, was now drawing to
a close. A court was appointed by the legates to be holden on the 18th
of June, at Blackfriars, to try the question. Gardiner had been recalled
from Rome to act as counsel for Henry; and the monarch, determining
to appear by proxy at the trial, left his palace at Bridewell the day
before it was to come on, and set out with Anne Boleyn and his chief
attendants for Windsor Castle.

Whatever secret feelings might be entertained against him, Henry was
received by the inhabitants of Windsor with every demonstration of
loyalty and affection. Deafening shouts rent the air as he approached;
blessings and good wishes were showered upon him; and hundreds of caps
were flung into the air. But noticing that Anne Boleyn was received with
evil looks and in stern silence, and construing this into an affront to
himself, Henry not only made slight and haughty acknowledgment of the
welcome given him, but looked out for some pretext to manifest his
displeasure. Luckily none was afforded him, and he entered the castle in
a sullen mood.

The day was spent in gentle exercise within the home park and on the
terrace, and the king affected the utmost gaiety and indifference; but
those acquainted with him could readily perceive he was ill at ease.
In the evening he remained for some time alone in his closet penning
despatches, and then summoning an attendant, ordered him to bring
Captain Bouchier into his presence.

"Well, Bouchier," he said, as the officer made his appearance, "have you
obeyed my instructions in regard to Mabel Lyndwood?"

"I have, my liege," replied Bouchier. "In obedience to your majesty's
commands, immediately after your arrival at the castle I rode to the
forester's hut, and ascertained that the damsel was still there."

"And looking as beautiful as ever, I'll be sworn!" said the king.

"It was the first time I had seen her, my liege," replied Bouchier; "but
I do not think she could have ever looked more beautiful."

"I am well assured of it," replied Henry. "The pressure of affairs
during my absence from the castle had banished her image from my mind;
but now it returns as forcibly as before. And you have so arranged it
that she will be brought hither to-morrow night?"

Bouchier replied in the affirmative.

"It is well," pursued Henry; "but what more?--for you look as if you had
something further to declare."

"Your majesty will not have forgotten how you exterminated the band of
Herne the Hunter?" said Bouchier.

"Mother of Heaven, no!" cried the king, starting up; "I have not
forgotten it. What of them?--Ha! have they come to life again?--do they
scour the parks once more? That were indeed a marvel!"

"What I have to relate is almost as great a marvel," returned Bouchier.
"I have not heard of the resurrection of the band though for aught I
know it may have occurred. But Herne has been seen again in the forest.
Several of the keepers have been scared by him--travellers have been
affrighted and plundered--and no one will now cross the great park after
nightfall."

"Amazement!" cried Henry, again seating himself; "once let the divorce
be settled, and I will effectually check the career of this lawless and
mysterious being."

"Pray heaven your majesty may be able to do so!" replied Bouchier. "But
I have always been of opinion that the only way to get rid of the
demon would be by the aid of the Church. He is unassailable by mortal
weapons."

"It would almost seem so," said the king. "And yet I do not like to
yield to the notion."

"I shrewdly suspect that old Tristram Lyndwood, the grandsire of the
damsel upon whom your majesty has deigned to cast your regards, is in
some way or other leagued with Herne," said Bouchier. "At all events, I
saw him with a tall hideous-looking personage, whose name I understand
to be Valentine Hagthorne, and who, I feel persuaded, must be one of the
remnants of the demon hunter's band."

"Why did you not arrest him?" inquired Henry.

"I did not like to do so without your majesty's authority," replied
Bouchier. "Besides, I could scarcely arrest Hagthorne without at the
same time securing the old forester, which might have alarmed the
damsel. But I am ready to execute your injunctions now."

"Let a party of men go in search of Hagthorne to-night," replied Henry;
"and while Mabel is brought to the castle to-morrow, do you arrest old
Tristram, and keep him in custody till I have leisure to examine him."

"It shall be done as you desire, my liege," replied Bouchier, bowing and
departing.

Shortly after this Henry, accompanied by Anne Boleyn, proceeded with his
attendants to Saint George's Chapel, and heard vespers performed. Just
as he was about to return, an usher advanced towards him, and making
a profound reverence, said that a masked dame, whose habiliments
proclaimed her of the highest rank, craved a moment's audience of him.

"Where is she?" demanded Henry.

"In the north aisle, an't please your majesty," replied the usher,
"near the Urswick Chapel. I told her that this was not the place for an
audience of your majesty, nor the time; but she would not be said nay,
and therefore, at the risk of incurring your sovereign displeasure, I
have ventured to proffer her request."

The usher omitted to state that his chief inducement to incur the risk
was a valuable ring, given him by the lady.

"Well, I will go to her," said the king. "I pray you, excuse me for a
short space, fair mistress," he added to Anne Boleyn.

And quitting the choir, he entered the northern aisle, and casting his
eyes down the line of noble columns by which it is flanked, and seeing
no one, he concluded that the lady must have retired into the Urswick
Chapel. And so it proved; for on reaching this exquisite little shrine
he perceived a tall masked dame within it, clad in robes of the richest
black velvet. As he entered the chapel, the lady advanced towards him,
and throwing herself on her knees, removed her mask--disclosing features
stamped with sorrow and suffering, but still retaining an expression of
the greatest dignity. They were those of Catherine of Arragon.

Uttering an angry exclamation, Henry turned on his heel and would have
left her, but she clung to the skirts of his robe.

"Hear me a moment, Henry--my king--my husband--one single moment--hear
me!" cried Catherine, in tones of such passionate anguish that he could
not resist the appeal.

"Be brief, then, Kate," he rejoined, taking her hand to raise her.

"Blessings on you for the word!" cried the queen, covering his hand with
kisses. "I am indeed your own true Kate--your faithful, loving, lawful
wife!"

"Rise, madam!" cried Henry coldly; "this posture beseems not Catherine of
Arragon."

"I obey you now as I have ever done," she replied, rising; "though if
I followed the prompting of my heart, I should not quit my knees till I
had gained my suit."

"You have, done wrong in coming here, Catherine, at this juncture," said
Henry, "and may compel me to some harsh measure which I would willingly
have avoided."

"No one knows I am here," replied the queen, "except two faithful
attendants, who are vowed to secrecy; and I shall depart as I came."

"I am glad you have taken these precautions," replied Henry. "Now speak
freely, but again I must bid you be brief."

"I will be as brief as I can," replied the queen; "but I pray you
bear with me, Henry, if I unhappily weary you. I am full of misery and
affliction, and never was daughter and wife of king wretched as I am.
Pity me, Henry--pity me! But that I restrain myself, I should pour forth
my soul in tears before you. Oh, Henry, after twenty years' duty and
to be brought to this unspeakable shame--to be cast from you with
dishonour--to be supplanted by another--it is terrible!"

"If you have only come here to utter reproaches, madam, I must put an
end to the interview," said Henry, frowning.

"I do not reproach you, Henry," replied Catherine meekly, "I only wish
to show you the depth and extent of my affection. I only implore you to
do me right and justice--not to bring shame upon me to cover your own
wrongful action. Have compassion upon the princess our daughter--spare
her, if you will not spare me!"

"You sue in vain, Catherine," replied Henry. "I lament your condition,
but my eyes are fully opened to the sinful state in which I have so long
lived, and I am resolved to abandon it."

"An unworthy prevarication," replied Catherine, "by which you seek to
work my ruin, and accomplish your union with Anne Boleyn. And you will
no doubt succeed; for what can I, a feeble woman, and a stranger in your
country, do to prevent it? You will succeed, I say--you will divorce me
and place her upon the throne. But mark my words, Henry, she will not
long remain there."

The king smiled bitterly

"She will bring dishonour upon you," pursued Catherine. "The woman who
has no regard for ties so sacred as those which bind us will not respect
other obligations."

"No more of this!" cried Henry. "You suffer your resentment to carry you
too far."

"Too far!" exclaimed Catherine. "Too far!--Is to warn you that you are
about to take a wanton to your bed--and that you will bitterly repent
your folly when too late, going too far? It is my duty, Henry, no less
than my desire, thus to warn you ere the irrevocable step be taken."

"Have you said all you wish to say, madam?" demanded the king.

"No, my dear liege, not a hundredth part of what my heart prompts me
to utter," replied Catherine. "I conjure you by my strong and tried
affection--by the tenderness that has for years subsisted between us--by
your hopes of temporal prosperity and spiritual welfare--by all you hold
dear and sacred--to pause while there is yet time. Let the legates meet
to-morrow--let them pronounce sentence against me and as surely as those
fatal words are uttered, my heart will break."

"Tut, tut!" exclaimed Henry impatiently, "you will live many years in
happy retirement."

"I will die as I have lived--a queen," replied Catherine; "but my
life will not be long. Now, answer me truly--if Anne Boleyn plays you
false--"

"She never will play me false!" interrupted Henry.

"I say if she does," pursued Catherine, "and you are satisfied of her
guilt, will you be content with divorcing her as you divorce me?"

"No, by my father's head!" cried Henry fiercely. "If such a thing were
to happen, which I hold impossible, she should expiate her offence on
the scaffold."

"Give me your hand on that," said Catherine.

"I give you my hand upon it," he replied.

"Enough," said the queen: "if I cannot have right and justice I shall at
least have vengeance, though it will come when I am in my tomb. But it
will come, and that is sufficient."

"This is the frenzy of jealousy, Catherine," said Henry.

"No, Henry; it is not jealousy," replied the queen, with dignity. "The
daughter of Ferdinand of Spain and Isabella of Castile, with the
best blood of Europe in her veins, would despise herself if she could
entertain so paltry a feeling towards one born so much beneath her as
Anne Boleyn."

"As you will, madam," rejoined Henry. "It is time our interview
terminated."

"Not yet, Henry--for the love of Heaven, not yet!" implored Catherine.
"Oh, bethink you by whom we were joined together!--by your father, Henry
the Seventh--one of the wisest princes that ever sat on a throne; and by
the sanction of my own father, Ferdinand the Fifth, one of the justest.
Would they have sanctioned the match if it had been unlawful? Were they
destitute of good counsellors? Were they indifferent to the future?"

"You had better reserve these arguments for the legates' ears tomorrow,
madam," said Henry sternly.

"I shall urge them there with all the force I can," replied Catherine,
"for I will leave nought untried to hinder an event so fraught with
misery. But I feel the struggle will be hopeless."

"Then why make it?" rejoined Henry.

"Because it is due to you--to myself--to the princess our daughter--to
our illustrious progenitors--and to our people, to make it," replied
Catherine. "I should be unworthy to be your consort if I acted
otherwise--and I will never, in thought, word, or deed, do aught
derogatory to that title. You may divorce me, but I will never assent to
it; you may wed Anne Boleyn, but she will never be your lawful spouse;
and you may cast me from your palace, but I will never go willingly."

"I know you to be contumacious, madam," replied Henry. "And now, I pray
you, resume your mask, and withdraw. What I have said will convince you
that your stay is useless."

"I perceive it," replied Catherine. "Farewell, Henry--farewell, loved
husband of my heart--farewell for ever!"

"Your mask--your mask, madam!" cried Henry impatiently. "God's death!
footsteps are approaching. Lot no one enter here!" he cried aloud.

"I will come in," said Anne Boleyn, stepping into the chapel just as
Catherine had replaced her mask. "Ah! your majesty looks confused. I
fear I have interrupted some amorous conference."

"Come with me, Anne," said Henry, taking her arm, and trying to draw her
away--"come with me."

"Not till I learn who your lady--love is," replied Anne pettishly. "You
affect to be jealous of me, my liege, but I have much more reason to be
jealous of you. When you were last at Windsor, I heard you paid a
secret visit to a fair maiden near the lake in the park, and now you are
holding an interview with a masked dame here. Nay, I care not for your
gestures of silence. I will speak."

"You are distraught, sweetheart," cried the king. "Come away."

"No," replied Anne. "Lot this dame be dismissed."

"I shall not go at your bidding, minion!" cried Catherine fiercely.

"Ah!" cried Anne, starting, "whom have we here?"

"One you had better have avoided," whispered Henry.

"The queen!" exclaimed Anne, with a look of dismay.

"Ay, the queen!" echoed Catherine, unmasking. "Henry, if you have any
respect left for me, I pray you order this woman from my presence. Lot
me depart in peace."

"Lady Anne, I pray you retire," said Henry. But Anne stood her ground
resolutely.

"Nay, let her stay, then," said the queen; "and I promise you she shall
repent her rashness. And do you stay too, Henry, and regard well her
whom you are about to make your spouse. Question your sister
Mary, somewhile consort to Louis the Twelfth and now Duchess of
Suffolk--question her as to the character and conduct of Anne Boleyn
when she was her attendant at the court of France--ask whether she had
never to reprove her for levity--question the Lord Percy as to her love
for him--question Sir Thomas Wyat, and a host of others."

"All these charges are false and calumnious!" cried Anne Boleyn.

"Let the king inquire and judge for himself," rejoined Catherine; "and if
he weds you, let him look well to you, or you will make him a scoff to
all honourable men. And now, as you have come between him and me--as
you have divided husband and wife--for the intent, whether successful or
not, I denounce you before Heaven, and invoke its wrath upon your head.
Night and day I will pray that you may be brought to shame; and when I
shall be called hence, as I maybe soon, I will appear before the throne
of the Most High, and summon you to judgment."

"Take me from her, Henry!" cried Anne faintly; "her violence affrights
me."

"No, you shall stay," said Catherine, grasping her arm and detaining
her; "you shall hear your doom. You imagine your career will be a
brilliant one, and that you will be able to wield the sceptre you
wrongfully wrest from me; but it will moulder into dust in your
hand--the crown unjustly placed upon your brow will fall to the ground,
and it will bring the head with it."

"Take me away, Henry, I implore you!" cried Anne.

"You shall hear me out," pursued Catherine, exerting all her strength,
and maintaining her grasp, "or I will follow you down yon aisles,
and pour forth my malediction against you in the hearing of all your
attendants. You have braved me, and shall feel my power. Look at her,
Henry--see how she shrinks before the gaze of an injured woman. Look me
in the face, minion--you cannot!--you dare not!"

"Oh, Henry!" sobbed Anne.

"You have brought it upon yourself," said the king.

"She has," replied Catherine; "and, unless she pauses and repents, she
will bring yet more upon her head. You suffer now, minion, but how will
you feel when, in your turn, you are despised, neglected, and supplanted
by a rival--when the false glitter of your charms having passed away,
Henry will see only your faults, and will open his eyes to all I now
tell him?"

A sob was all the answer Anne could return.

"You will feel as I feel towards you," pursued the queen--"hatred
towards her; but you will not have the consolations I enjoy. You will
have merited your fate, and you will then think upon me and my woes, and
will bitterly, but unavailingly, repent your conduct. And now, Henry,"
she exclaimed, turning solemnly to him, "you have pledged your royal
word to me, and given me your hand upon it, that if you find this woman
false to you she shall expiate her offence on the block. I call upon you
to ratify the pledge in her presence."

"I do so, Catherine," replied the king. "The mere suspicion of her guilt
shall be enough."

"Henry!" exclaimed Anne.

"I have said it," replied the king.

"Tremble, then, Anne Boleyn!" cried Catherine, "tremble! and when you
are adjudged to die the death of an adulteress, bethink you of the
prediction of the queen you have injured. I may not live to witness your
fate, but we shall meet before the throne of an eternal Judge."

"Oh, Henry, this is too much!" gasped Anne, and she sank fainting into
his arms.

"Begone!" cried the king furiously. "You have killed her!"

"It were well for us both if I had done so," replied Catherine. "But she
will recover to work my misery and her own. To your hands I commit her
punishment. May God bless you, Henry!"

With this she replaced her mask, and quitted the chapel.

Henry, meanwhile, anxious to avoid the comments of his attendants,
exerted himself to restore Anne Boleyn to sensibility, and his efforts
were speedily successful.

"Is it then reality?" gasped Anne, as she gazed around. "I hoped it was
a hideous dream. Oh, Henry, this has been frightful! But you will not
kill me, as she predicted? Swear to me you will not!"

"Why should you be alarmed?" rejoined the king. "If you are faithful,
you have nothing to fear."

"But you said suspicion, Henry--you said suspicion!" cried Anne.

"You must put the greater guard upon your conduct," rejoined the
king moodily. "I begin to think there is some truth in Catherine's
insinuations."

"Oh no, I swear to you there is not," said Anne--"I have trifled
with the gallants of Francis's court, and have listened, perhaps too
complacently, to the love-vows of Percy and Wyat, but when your majesty
deigned to cast eyes upon me, all others vanished as the stars of
night before the rising of the god of day. Henry, I love you deeply,
devotedly--but Catherine's terrible imprecations make me feel more
keenly than I have ever done before the extent of the wrong I am about
to inflict upon her--and I fear that retributive punishment will follow
it."

"You will do her no wrong," replied Henry. "I am satisfied of the
justice of the divorce, and of its necessity; and if my purposed union
with you were out of the question, I should demand it. Be the fault on
my head."

"Your words restore me in some measure, my liege," said Anne. "I
love you too well not to risk body and soul for you. I am yours for
ever--ah!" she exclaimed, with a fearful look.

"What ails you, sweetheart?" exclaimed the king.

"I thought I saw a face at the window," she replied--"a black and
hideous face like that of a fiend."

"It was mere fancy," replied the king. "Your mind is disturbed by what
has occurred. You had better join your attendants, and retire to your
own apartments."

"Oh, Henry!" cried Anne--"do not judge me unheard--do not believe what
any false tongue may utter against me. I love only you and can love only
you. I would not wrong you, even in thought, for worlds."

"I believe you, sweetheart," replied the king tenderly.

So saying, he led her down the aisle to her attendants. They then
proceeded together to the royal lodgings, where Anne retired to her own
apartments, and Henry withdrew to his private chamber.



II.

     How Herne the Hunter appeared to Henry on the Terrace.


Henry again sat down to his despatches, and employed himself upon them
to a late hour. At length, feeling heated and oppressed, he arose, and
opened a window. As he did so, he was almost blinded by a vivid flash
of forked lightning. Ever ready to court danger, and convinced, from
the intense gloom without, that a fearful storm was coming on, Henry
resolved to go forth to witness it. With this view he quitted the
closet, and passed through a small door opening on the northern terrace.
The castle clock tolled the hour of midnight as he issued forth, and the
darkness was so profound that he could scarcely see a foot before him.
But he went on.

"Who goes there?" cried a voice, as he advanced, and a partisan was
placed at his breast.

"The king!" replied Henry, in tones that would have left no doubt of
the truth of the assertion, even if a gleam of lightning had not at the
moment revealed his figure and countenance to the sentinel.

"I did not look for your majesty at such a time," replied the man,
lowering his pike. "Has your majesty no apprehension of the storm? I
have watched it gathering in the valley, and it will be a dreadful one.
If I might make bold to counsel you, I would advise you to seek instant
shelter in the castle."

"I have no fear, good fellow," laughed the king. "Get thee in yon porch,
and leave the terrace to me. I will warn thee when I leave it."

As he spoke a tremendous peal of thunder broke overhead, and seemed to
shake the strong pile to its foundations. Again the lightning rent
the black canopy of heaven in various places, and shot down in forked
flashes of the most dazzling brightness. A rack of clouds, heavily
charged with electric fluid, hung right over the castle, and poured down
all their fires upon it.

Henry paced slowly to and fro, utterly indifferent to the peril he
ran--now watching the lightning as it shivered some oak in the home
park, or lighted up the wide expanse of country around him--now
listening to the roar of heaven's artillery; and he had just quitted the
western extremity of the terrace, when the most terrific crash he had
yet heard burst over him. The next instant a dozen forked flashes shot
from the sky, while fiery coruscations blazed athwart it; and at the
same moment a bolt struck the Wykeham Tower, beside which he had been
recently standing. Startled by the appalling sound, he turned and beheld
upon the battlemented parapet on his left a tall ghostly figure, whose
antlered helm told him it was Herne the Hunter. Dilated against the
flaming sky, the proportions of the demon seemed gigantic. His right
hand was stretched forth towards the king, and in his left he held a
rusty chain. Henry grasped the handle of his sword, and partly drew it,
keeping his gaze fixed upon the figure.

"You thought you had got rid of me, Harry of England," cried Herne, "but
were you to lay the weight of this vast fabric upon me, I would break
from under it--ho! ho!"

"What wouldst thou, infernal spirit?" cried Henry.

"I am come to keep company with you, Harry," replied the demon; "this is
a night when only you and I should be abroad. We know how to enjoy
it. We like the music of the loud thunder, and the dance of the blithe
lightning."

"Avaunt, fiend!" cried Henry. "I will hold no converse with thee. Back
to thy native hell!"

"You have no power over me, Harry," rejoined the demon, his words
mingling with the rolling of the thunder, "for your thoughts are evil,
and you are about to do an accursed deed. You cannot dismiss me. Before
the commission of every great crime--and many great crimes you will
commit--I will always appear to you. And my last appearance shall he
three days before your end--ha! ha!"

"Darest thou say this to me!" cried Henry furiously.

"I laugh at thy menaces," rejoined Herne, amid another peal of
thunder--"but I have not yet done. Harry of England! your career shall
be stained in blood. Your wrath shall descend upon the heads of those
who love you, and your love shall be fatal. Better Anne Boleyn fled
this castle, and sought shelter in the lowliest hovel in the land, than
become your spouse. For you will slay her--and not her alone. Another
shall fall by your hand; and so, if you had your own will, would all!"

"What meanest thou by all?" demanded the king.

"You will learn in due season," laughed the fiend. "But now mark me,
Harry of England, thou fierce and bloody kin--thou shalt be drunken with
the blood of thy wives; and thy end shall be a fearful one. Thou shalt
linger out a living death--a mass of breathing corruption shalt thou
become--and when dead the very hounds with which thou huntedst me shall
lick thy blood!"

These awful words, involving a fearful prophecy, which was afterwards,
as will be shown, strangely fulfilled, were so mixed up with the rolling
of the thunder that Henry could scarcely distinguish one sound from the
other. At the close of the latter speech a flash of lightning of such
dazzling brilliancy shot down past him, that he remained for some
moments almost blinded; and when he recovered his powers of vision the
demon had vanished.



III.

     How Mabel Lyndwood was taken to the Castle by Nicholas
     Clamp--And how they encountered Morgan Fenwolf by the way.


THE storm which had fallen so heavily on the castle had likewise visited
the lake, and alarmed the inmates of the little dwelling on its banks.
Both the forester and his grand-daughter were roused from their beds,
and they sat together in the chief apartment of the cottage, listening
to the awful rolling of the thunder, and watching the blue flashing of
the lightning. The storm was of unusually long duration, and continued
for more than an hour with unintermitted violence. It then paused; the
thunder rolled off, and the flashes of lightning grew fainter and less
frequent. During the storm Mabel continued on her knees, addressing the
most earnest prayers to the Virgin for her preservation and that of
her grandfather; but the old forester, though evidently much alarmed,
uttered not a single supplication, but remained sitting in his chair
with a sullen, scared look. As the thunder died away, he recovered
his composure, and addressed himself to soothe the fears of his
granddaughter. In this he had partially succeeded, and was urging her
again to seek her couch, when the storm recommenced with fresh fury.
Mabel once more fell on her knees, and the old man resumed his sullen
posture. Another dreadful half-hour, marked by a succession of terrible
peals and vivid flashes, succeeded, when, amidst an awful pause, Mabel
ventured to address her old relative.

"Why do you not pray, grandfather?" she said, regarding him uneasily.
"Sister Anastasia and good Father Anselm always taught me to utter
an Ave and cross myself during a thunderstorm. Why do you not pray,
grandfather?"

"Do not trouble me. I have no fear."

"But your cheeks and lips are blanched," rejoined Mabel; "and I observed
you shudder during that last awful crash. Pray, grandfather, pray!"

"Peace, wench, and mind your own business!" returned the old man
angrily. "The storm will soon be over--it cannot last long in this way."

"The saints preserve us!" cried Mabel, as a tremendous concussion was
heard overhead, followed by a strong sulphureous smell. "The cottage is
struck!"

"It is--it is!" cried Tristram, springing to his feet and rushing forth.

For a few minutes Mabel continued in a state of stupefaction. She then
staggered to the door, and beheld her grandfather occupied with two dark
figures, whom she recognised as Valentine Hagthorne and Morgan Fenwolf,
in extinguishing the flames, which were bursting from the thatched roof
of the hut. Surprise and terror held her silent, and the others were so
busily engaged that they did not notice her.

At last, by their united efforts, the fire was got under without
material damage to the little building, and Mabel retired, expecting her
grandsire to return; but as he did not do so, and as almost instantly
afterwards the plash of oars was heard en the lake, she flew to the
window, and beheld him, by the gleam of the lightning, seated in the
skiff with Morgan Fenwolf, while Valentine Hagthorne had mounted a black
horse, and was galloping swiftly away. Mabel saw no more. Overcome by
fright, she sank on the ground insensible. When she recovered the storm
had entirely ceased. A heavy shower had fallen, but the sky was now
perfectly clear, and day had begun to dawn. Mabel went to the door of
the hut, and looked forth for her grandfather, but he was nowhere to
be seen. She remained gazing at the now peaceful lake till the sun had
fairly risen, when, feeling more composed, she retired to rest, and
sleep, which had been banished from them during the greater part of the
night, now fell upon her lovely eyelids.

When she awoke, the day was far advanced, but still old Tristram had not
returned; and with a heavy heart she set about her household concerns.
The thought, however, of her anticipated visit to the castle speedily
dispelled her anxiety, and she began to make preparations for setting
out, attiring herself with unusual care. Bouchier had not experienced
much difficulty in persuading her to obey the king's behest, and by his
artful representations he had likewise induced her grandfather to give
his consent to the visit--the old forester only stipulating that she
should be escorted there and back by a falconer, named Nicholas Clamp,
in whom he could put trust; to which proposition Bouchier readily
assented.

At length five o'clock, the appointed hour, arrived, and with it came
Nicholas Clamp. He was a tall, middle-aged man, with yellow hair,
clipped closely over his brows, and a beard and moustaches to match.
His attire resembled that of a keeper of the forest, and consisted of
a doublet and hose of green cloth; but he did not carry a bugle or
hunting-knife. His sole weapon was a stout quarter-staff. After some
little hesitation Mabel consented to accompany the falconer, and they
set forth together.

The evening was delightful, and their way through the woods was marked
by numberless points of beauty. Mabel said little, for her thoughts
were running upon her grandfather, and upon his prolonged and mysterious
absence; but the falconer talked of the damage done by the thunderstorm,
which he declared was the most awful he had ever witnessed; and he
pointed out to her several trees struck by the lightning. Proceeding in
this way, they gained a road leading from Blacknest, when, from behind
a large oak, the trunk of which had concealed him from view, Morgan
Fenwolf started forth, and planted himself in their path. The gear
of the proscribed keeper was wild and ragged, his locks matted and
disordered, his demeanour savage, and his whole appearance forbidding
and alarming.

"I have been waiting for you for some time, Mabel Lyndwood," he said.
"You must go with me to your grandfather."

"My grandfather would never send you for me," replied Mabel; "but if he
did, I will not trust myself with you."

"The saints preserve us!" cried Nicholas Clamp. "Can I believe my
eyes!--do I behold Morgan Fenwolf!"

"Come with me, Mabel," cried Fenwolf, disregarding him.

But she returned a peremptory refusal.

"She shall not stir an inch!" cried the falconer. "It is thou, Morgan
Fenwolf, who must go with me. Thou art a proscribed felon, and thy life
is forfeit to the king. Yield thee, dog, as my prisoner!"

"Thy prisoner!" echoed Fenwolf scornfully. "It would take three such as
thou art to make me captive! Mabel Lyndwood, in your grandfather's name,
I command you to come with me, and let Nick Clamp look to himself if he
dares to hinder you."

"Nick will do something more than hinder her," rejoined the falconer,
brandishing his staff, and rushing upon the other. "Felon hound! I
command thee to yield!"

Before the falconer could reach him, Morgan Fenwolf plucked a long
hunting-knife from his girdle, and made a desperate stab at his
assailant. But Clamp avoided the blow, and striking Fenwolf on the
shins, immediately afterwards closed with him.

The result was still doubtful, when the struggle was suddenly
interrupted by the trampling of horse approaching from the side of
Windsor; and at the sound Morgan Fenwolf disengaged himself from his
antagonist and plunged into the adjoining wood. The next moment Captain
Bouchier rode up, followed by a small band of halberdiers, and receiving
information from the falconer of what had occurred, darted with his
men into the wood in search of the fugitive. Nicholas Clamp and his
companion did not await the issue of the search, but proceeded on their
way.

As they walked at a brisk pace, they reached the long avenue in about
half-an-hour, and took their way down it. When within a mile of the
castle they were overtaken by Bouchier and his followers, and the
falconer was much disappointed to learn that they had failed in tracking
Morgan Fenwolf to his lair. After addressing a few complimentary words
to the maiden, Bouchier rode on.

Soon after this the pair quitted the great park, and passing through a
row of straggling houses, divided by gardens and closes, which skirted
the foot of Castle Hill, presently reached the lower gate. They were
admitted without difficulty; but just as they entered the lower ward
the falconer was hailed by Shoreditch and Paddington, who at the moment
issued from the doorway of the guard-room.

Clamp obeyed the call and went towards them, and it was evident, from
the gestures of the archers, that they were making inquiries about
Mabel, whose appearance seemed to interest them greatly. After a brief
conversation with the falconer they approached her, and, respectfully
addressing her, begged leave to attend her to the royal lodgings,
whither they understood she was going. No objection being made to the
proposal by Mabel, the party directed their course towards the middle
ward.

Passing through the gateway of the Norman Tower, they stopped before a
low portal in a picturesque Gothic wing of the castle, with projecting
walls and bay-windows, which had been erected in the preceding reign of
Henry the Seventh, and was consequently still in all its freshness and
beauty.



IV.

     How Mabel was received by the Party in the Kitchen--And of
     the Quarrel between the two Jesters.


Addressing himself to a stout-built yeoman of the guard, who was
standing within the doorway, Nicholas Clamp demanded admittance to the
kitchen, and the man having detained them for a few moments, during
which he regarded Mabel with a very offensive stare, ushered them into
a small hall, and from thence into a narrow passage connected with it.
Lighted by narrow loopholes pierced through the walls, which were of
immense thickness, this passage described the outer side of the whole
upper quadrangle, and communicated with many other lateral passages and
winding stairs leading to the chambers allotted to the household or
to the state apartments. Tracking it for some time, Nicholas Clamp at
length turned off on the right, and, crossing a sort of ante-room, led
the way into a large chamber with stone walls and a coved and groined
roof, lighted by a great window at the lower end. This was the royal
kitchen, and in it yawned no fewer than seven huge arched fireplaces,
in which fires were burning, and before which various goodly joints were
being roasted, while a number of cooks and scullions were congregated
round them. At a large table in the centre of the kitchen were seated
some half-dozen yeomen of the guard, together with the clerk of the
kitchen, the chief bargeman, and the royal cutler, or bladesmith, as he
was termed.

These worthies were doing ample justice to a chine of beef, a wild-boar
pie, a couple of fat capons, a peacock pasty, a mess of pickled
lobsters, and other excellent and inviting dishes with which the board
was loaded. Neither did they neglect to wash down the viands with
copious draughts of ale and mead from great pots and flagons placed
beside them. Behind this party stood Giovanni Joungevello, an Italian
minstrel, much in favour with Anne Boleyn, and Domingo Lamellino, or
Lamelyn--as he was familiarly termed--a Lombard, who pretended to some
knowledge of chirurgery, astrology, and alchemy, and who was a constant
attendant on Henry. At the head of the bench, on the right of the table,
sat Will Sommers. The jester was not partaking of the repast, but was
chatting with Simon Quanden, the chief cook, a good-humoured personage,
round-bellied as a tun, and blessed with a spouse, yclept Deborah, as
fond of good cheer, as fat, and as good-humoured as himself. Behind
the cook stood the cellarman, known by the appellation of Jack of the
Bottles, and at his feet were two playful little turnspits, with long
backs, and short forelegs, as crooked almost as sickles.

On seeing Mabel, Will Sommers immediately arose, and advancing towards
her with a mincing step, bowed with an air of mock ceremony, and said in
an affected tone, "Welcome, fair mistress, to the king's kitchen. We are
all right glad to see you; are we not, mates?"

"Ay, that we are!" replied a chorus of voices.

"By my troth, the wench is wondrously beautiful!" said Kit Coo, one of
the yeomen of the guard.

"No wonder the king is smitten with her," said Launcelot Rutter, the
bladesmith; "her eyes shine like a dagger's point."

"And she carries herself like a wafter on the river," said the bargeman.

"Her complexion is as good as if I had given her some of my sovereign
balsam of beauty," said Domingo Lamelyn.

"Much better," observed Joungevello, the minstrel; "I shall write a
canzonet in her praise, and sing it before the king."

"And get flouted for thy pains by the Lady Anne," said Kit Coo.

"The damsel is not so comely as I expected to find her," observed Amice
Lovekyn, one of the serving-women, to Hector Cutbeard, the clerk of the
kitchen.

"Why, if you come to that, she is not to be compared to you, pretty
Amice," said Cutbeard, who was a red-nosed, red-faced fellow, with a
twinkling merry eye.

"Nay, I meant not that," replied Amice, retreating.

"Excuse my getting up to receive you, fair mistress," cried Simon
Quanden, who seemed fixed to his chair; "I have been bustling about
all day, and am sore fatigued--sore fatigued. But will you not take
something? A sugared cate, and a glass of hypocras jelly, or a slice of
capon? Go to the damsel, dame, and prevail on her to eat."

"That will I," replied Deborah. "What shall it be, sweetheart? We have a
well-stored larder here. You have only to ask and have."

"I thank you, but I am in want of nothing," replied Mabel.

"Nay, that is against all rule, sweetheart," said Deborah; "no one enters
the king's kitchen without tasting his royal cheer."

"I am sorry I must prove an exception, then," returned Mabel, smiling;
"for I have no appetite."

"Well, well, I will not force you to eat against your will," replied the
good dame "But a cup of wine will do you good after your walk."

"I will wait upon her," said the Duke of Shoreditch.' who vied with
Paddington and Nick Clamp in attention to the damsel.

"Let me pray you to cast your eyes upon these two dogs, fair Mabel,"
said Will Sommers, pointing to the two turn-spits, "they are special
favourites of the king's highness. They are much attached to the cook,
their master; but their chief love is towards each other, and nothing
can keep them apart."

"Will Sommers speaks the truth," rejoined Simon Quanden. "Hob and Nob,
for so they are named, are fast friends. When Hob gets into the box to
turn the spit, Nob will watch beside it till his brother is tired, and
then he will take his place. They always eat out of the same platter,
and drink out of the same cup. I once separated them for a few hours to
see what would happen, but they howled so piteously, that I was forced
to bring them together again. It would have done your heart good to
witness their meeting, and to see how they leaped and rolled with
delight. Here, Hob," he added, taking a cake from his apron pocket,
"divide this with thy brother."

Placing his paws upon his master's knees, the nearest turnspit took the
cake in his mouth, and proceeding towards Nob, broke it into two pieces,
and pushed the larger portion towards him.

While Mabel was admiring this display of sagacity and affection a
bustling step was heard behind her, and turning, she beheld a strange
figure in a parti-coloured gown and hose, with a fool's cap and bells
on his head, whom she immediately recognised as the cardinal's jester,
Patch. The new-comer recognised her too, stared in astonishment, and
gave a leering look at Will Sommers.

"What brings you here, gossip Patch?" cried Will Sommers. "I thought you
were in attendance upon your master, at the court at Blackfriars."

"So I have been," replied Patch, "and I am only just arrived with his
grace."

"What! is the decision pronounced?" cried Will Sommers eagerly. "Is the
queen divorced? Is the king single again? Let us hear the sentence."

"Ay, the sentence!--the sentence!" resounded on all hands.

Stimulated by curiosity, the whole of the party rose from the table;
Simon Quanden got out of his chair; the other cooks left their joints to
scorch at the fire; the scullions suspended their work; and Hob and Nob
fixed their large inquiring black eyes upon the jester.

"I never talk thirsting," said Patch, marching to the table, and filling
himself a flagon of mead. "Here's to you, fair maiden," he added,
kissing the cup to Mabel, and swallowing its contents at a draught. "And
now be seated, my masters, and you shall hear all I have to relate, and
it will be told in a few words. The court is adjourned for three days,
Queen Catherine having demanded that time to prepare her allegations,
and the delay has been granted her."

"Pest on it!--the delay is some trick of your crafty and double-dealing
master," cried Will Sommers. "Were I the king, I know how I would deal
with him."

"What wouldst thou do, thou scurril knave?" cried Patch angrily.

"I would strip him of his ill-gotten wealth, and leave him only thee--a
fitting attendant--of all his thousand servitors," replied Will.

"This shall to his grace's ears," screamed Patch, amid the laughter of
the company--"and see whether your back does not smart for it."

"I fear him not," replied Will Sommers. "I have not yet told the king my
master of the rare wine we found in his cellar."

"What wine was that, Will?" cried Jack of the Bottles.

"You shall hear," replied Will Sommers, enjoying the disconcerted
look of the other jester. "I was at the palace at Hampton, when this
scant-witted knave invited me to taste some of his master's wine, and
accordingly to the cellar we went. 'This wine will surprise you,' quoth
he, as we broached the first hogshead. And truly it did surprise me, for
no wine followed the gimlet. So we went on to another, and another,
and another, till we tried half a score of them, and all with the same
result. Upon this I seized a hammer which was lying by and sounded
the casks, but none of them seeming empty, I at last broke the lid of
one--and what do you think it contained?"

A variety of responses were returned by the laughing assemblage, during
which Patch sought to impose silence upon his opponent. But Will Sommers
was not to be checked.

"It contained neither vinegar, nor oil, nor lead," he said, "but gold;
ay, solid bars of gold-ingots. Every hogshead was worth ten thousand
pounds, and more."

"Credit him not, my masters," cried Patch, amid the roars of the
company; "the whole is a mere fable--an invention. His grace has no such
treasure. The truth is, Will Sommers got drunk upon some choice Malmsey,
and then dreamed he had been broaching casks of gold."

"It is no fable, as you and your master will find when the king comes
to sift the matter," replied Will. "This will be a richer result to
him than was ever produced by your alchemical experiments, good Signor
Domingo Lamelyn."

"It is false!--I say false!" screamed Patch, "let the cellars be
searched, and I will stake my head nothing is found."

"Stake thy cap, and there may be some meaning in it," said Will,
plucking Patch's cap from his head and elevating it on his truncheon.
"Here is an emblem of the Cardinal of York," he cried, pointing to it.

A roar of laughter from the company followed this sally, and Hob and Nob
looked up in placid wonderment.

"I shall die with laughing," cried Simon Quanden, holding his fat sides,
and addressing his spouse, who was leaning upon his shoulder.

In the meantime Patch sprang to his feet, and, gesticulating with rage
and fury, cried, "Thou hast done well to steal my cap and bells, for
they belong of right to thee. Add my folly to thy own, and thou wilt
be a fitting servant to thy master; or e'en give him the cap, and then
there will be a pair of ye."

"Who is the fool now, I should like to know?" rejoined Will Sommers
gravely. "I call you all to witness that he has spoken treason."

While this was passing Shoreditch had advanced with a flagon of Malmsey
to Mabel, but she was so interested in the quarrel between the two
jesters that she heeded him not; neither did she attend to Nicholas
Clamp, who was trying to explain to her what was going forward. But just
as Patch's indiscreet speech was uttered an usher entered the kitchen
and announced the approach of the king.



V.

     Of the Combat between Will Sommers and Patch--And how it
     terminated.


Mabel's heart fluttered violently at the usher's announcement, and for
a moment the colour deserted her cheek, while the next instant she was
covered with blushes. As to poor Patch, feeling that his indiscretion
might place him in great jeopardy and seriously affect his master, to
whom he was devotedly attached, he cast a piteous and imploring look at
his antagonist, but was answered only by a derisive laugh, coupled
with an expressive gesture to intimate that a halter would be his fate.
Fearful that mischief might ensue, the good-natured Simon Quanden got
out of his chair and earnestly besought Will not to carry matters too
far; but the jester remained implacable.

It was not unusual with Henry to visit the different offices of the
castle and converse freely and familiarly with the members of his
household, but it was by no means safe to trust to the continuance of
his good humour, or in the slightest degree to presume upon it. It is
well known that his taste for variety of character often led him, like
the renowned Caliph Haroun Al Raschid, to mix with the lower classes of
his subjects in disguise, at which times many extraordinary adventures
are said to have befallen him. His present visit to the kitchen,
therefore, would have occasioned no surprise to its occupants if it
had not occurred so soon after the cardinal's arrival. But it was this
circumstance, in fact, that sent him thither. The intelligence brought
by Wolsey of the adjournment of the court for three days, under the plea
of giving the queen time for her allegations, was so unlooked for by
Henry that he quitted the cardinal in high displeasure, and was about to
repair to Anne Boleyn, when he encountered Bouchier, who told him
that Mabel Lyndwood had been brought to the castle, and her grandsire
arrested. The information changed Henry's intentions at once, and he
proceeded with Bouchier and some other attendants to the kitchen, where
he was given to understand he should find the damsel.

Many a furtive glance was thrown at the king, for no one dared openly
to regard him as he approached the forester's fair granddaughter. But
he tarried only a moment beside her, chucked her under the chin, and,
whispering a word or two in her ear that heightened her blushes, passed
on to the spot where the two jesters were standing.

"What dost thou here, knave?" he said to Will Sommers.

"I might rather ask that question of your majesty," replied Will; "and I
would do so but that I require not to be told."

"I have come to see what passeth in my household," replied the king,
throwing himself into the chair lately occupied by the chief cook. "Ah,
Hob and Nob, my merry rascals," he cried, patting the turnspits, who ran
towards him and thrust their noses against his hand, "ye are as gamesome
and loving as ever, I see. Give me a manchet for them, Master Cook,
and let not the proceedings in the kitchen be stayed for my presence. I
would not have my supper delayed, or the roasts spoiled, for any false
ceremony. And now, Will, what hast thou to say that thou lookest so hard
at me?"

"I have a heavy charge to bring against this knave, an' please your
majesty," replied Will Sommers, pointing to Patch.

"What! hath he retorted upon thee too sharply?" replied the king,
laughing. "If so, challenge him to the combat, and settle the grievance
with thy lathen dagger. But refer not the matter to me. I am no judge in
fools' quarrels."

"Your own excepted," muttered Will. "This is not a quarrel that can be
so adjusted," he added aloud. "I charge this rascal Patch with speaking
disrespectfully of your highness in the hearing of the whole kitchen.
And I also charge his master the cardinal with having secreted in his
cellars at Hampton a vast amount of treasure, obtained by extortion,
privy dealings with foreign powers, and other iniquitous practices, and
which ought of right to find its way to your royal exchequer."

"'And which shall find its way thither, if thou dost not avouch a
fable," replied the king.

"Your majesty shall judge," rejoined Will. And he repeated the story
which he had just before related.

"Can this be true?" exclaimed Henry at its close.

"It is false, your highness, every word of it," cried Patch, throwing
himself at the king's feet, "except so far as relates to our visits to
the cellar, where, I shame to speak it, we drank so much that our senses
clean forsook us. As to my indiscreet speech touching your majesty,
neither disrespect nor disloyalty were intended by it. I was goaded to
the rejoinder by the sharp sting of this hornet."

"The matter of the treasure shall be inquired into without delay," said
Henry. "As to the quarrel, it shall be settled thus. Get both of you
upon that table. A flour-bag shall be given to each; and he who is first
knocked off shall be held vanquished."

The king's judgment was received with as much applause as dared be
exhibited by the hearers; and in an instant the board was cleared, and a
couple of flour-bags partly filled delivered to the combatants by Simon
Quanden, who bestirred himself with unwonted activity on the occasion.

Leaping upon the table, amid the smothered mirth of the assemblage,
the two jesters placed themselves opposite each other, and grinned such
comical defiance that the king roared with laughter. After a variety of
odd movements and feints on either side, Patch tried to bring down his
adversary by a tremendous two-handed blow; but in dealing it, the weight
of the hag dragged him forward, and well-nigh pitched him head foremost
upon the floor. As it was, he fell on his face upon the table, and in
this position received several heavy blows upon the prominent part of
his back from Will Sommers. Ere long, however, he managed to regain his
legs, and, smarting with pain, attacked his opponent furiously in
his turn. For a short space fortune seemed to favour him. His bag
had slightly burst, and the flour, showering from it with every blow,
well-nigh blinded his adversary, whom he drove to the very edge of the
table. At this critical juncture Will managed to bring down his bag full
upon his opponent's sconce, and the force of the blow bursting it, Patch
was covered from crown to foot with flour, and blinded in his turn. The
appearance of the combatants was now so exquisitely ridiculous, that the
king leaned back in his chair to indulge his laughter, and the mirth of
the spectators could no longer be kept within decorous limits. The very
turnspits barked in laughing concert.

"Well fought on both sides!" cried Henry; "it were hard to say which
will prove the victor. Now, knaves, to it again--ha! ha!--to it again!"

Once more the bags were wielded, descended, and the blows were so well
directed on either side, that both combatants fell backwards. Again the
king's laughter rose loud and long. Again the merriment of the other
beholders was redoubled. Again Hob and Nob barked joyously, and tried
to spring on to the table to take part in the conflict. Amid the general
glee, the combatants rose and renewed the fight, dealing blows thick
and fast--for the bags were now considerably lightened of their
contents--until they were completely hidden from view by a cloud of
white dust.

"We cannot see the fray," remarked Henry; "but we can hear the din of
battle. Which will prove the victor, I marvel?"

"I am for Will Sommers," cried Bouchier.

"And I for Patch," said Simon Quanden. "Latterly he hath seemed to me to
have the advantage."

"It is decided!" cried the king, rising, as one of the combatants was
knocked off the table, and fell to the floor with a great noise. "Who is
it?"

"Patch," replied a faint voice. And through the cloud of dust struggled
forth the forlorn figure of the cardinal's jester, while Will Sommers
leaped triumphantly to the ground.

"Get thee to a wash-tub, knave, and cleanse thyself," said Henry,
laughing. "In consideration of the punishment thou hast undergone, I
pardon thee thy treasonable speech."

So saying, he rose, and walked towards Mabel, who had been quite as much
alarmed as amused by the scene which had just taken place.

"I hope you have been as well cared for, damsel," he said, "since your
arrival at the castle, as you cared for the Duke of Suffolk and myself
when we visited your cottage?

"I have had everything I require, my liege," replied Mabel timidly.

"Dame Quanden will take charge of you till to-morrow," rejoined the
king, "when you will enter upon the service of one of our dames."

"Your majesty is very considerate," said Mabel, "but I would rather go
back at early dawn to my grandsire."

"That is needless," rejoined the king sternly. "Your grandsire is in the
castle."

"I am glad to hear it!" exclaimed Mabel. And then, altering her tone, for
she did not like the expression of the king's countenance, she added, "I
hope he has not incurred your majesty's displeasure."

"I trust he will be able to clear himself, Mabel," said Henry, "but he
labours under the grave suspicion of leaguing with lawless men."

Mabel shuddered, for the thought of what she had witnessed on the
previous night during the storm rushed forcibly to her recollection. The
king noticed her uneasiness, and added, in a gentler tone, "If he makes
such confession as will bring the others to justice, he has nothing to
fear. Dame Quanden, I commit this maiden to your charge. To-morrow she
will take her place as attendant to the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald."

So saying, he moved off with Bouchier and the rest of his attendants,
leaving Mabel to the care of the cook's good humoured spouse, who seeing
her eyes filled with tears, strove to cheer her, and led her towards a
small side-table, where she pressed wine and cates upon her.

"Be of good cheer, sweetheart," she said, in a soothing tone; "no harm
will befall your grandfather. You are much too high in favour with the
king for that."

"I liked the king much better as I saw him at our cottage, good dame,"
replied Mabel, smiling through her tears, "in the guise of a Guildford
merchant. He seemed scarcely to notice me just now."

"That was because so many eyes were upon you, sweet-heart," replied
Deborah; "but sooth to say, I should be better pleased if he did not
notice you at all."

Mabel blushed, and hung her head.

"I am glad you are to be an attendant on the Lady Fitzgerald," pursued
Deborah, "for she is the fairest young lady at court, and as good and
gentle as she is fair, and I am sure you will find her a kind mistress.
I will tell you something about her. She is beloved by the king's son,
the Duke of Richmond, but she requites not his passion, for her heart
is fixed on the youthful Earl of Surrey. Alack-a-day! the noble rivals
quarrelled and crossed swords about her; but as luck would have it, they
were separated before any mischief was done. The king was very wroth
with Lord Surrey, and ordered him to be imprisoned for two months in the
Round Tower, in this castle, where he is now, though his term has very
nearly expired."

"How I pity him, to be thus harshly treated!" remarked Mabel, her eyes
swimming with tears, "and the Lady Elizabeth too! I shall delight to
serve her."

"I am told the earl passes the whole of his time in poring over books
and writing love-verses and sonnets," said Deborah. "It seems strange
that one so young should be a poet; but I suppose he caught the art from
his friend Sir Thomas Wyat."

"Is he a friend of Sir Thomas Wyat?" asked Mabel quickly.

"His close friend," replied Deborah; "except the Duke of Richmond,
now his rival, he had none closer. Have you ever seen Sir Thomas,
sweetheart?"

"Yes, for a few moments," replied Mabel confusedly.

"I heard that he lingered for a short time in the forest before his
departure for Paris," said Dame Quanden. "There was a strange rumour
that he had joined the band of Herne the Hunter. But that must have been
untrue."

"Is he returned from France?" inquired Mabel, without heeding the
remark.

"I fancy not," replied the good dame. "At all events, he is not come to
the castle. Know you not," she added, in a low confidential tone, "that
the king is jealous of him? He was a former suitor to the Lady Anne
Boleyn, and desperately in love with her; and it is supposed that his
mission to France was only a pretext to get him out of the way."

"I suspected as much," replied Mabel. "Alas! for Sir Thomas; and alas!
for the Earl of Surrey."

"And alas! for Mabel Lyndwood, if she allows her heart to be fixed upon
the king," said Deborah.

While this was passing the business of the kitchen, which had been
interrupted by the various incidents above related, and especially by
the conflict between the two jesters, was hurried forward, and for some
time all was bustle and confusion.

But as soon as the supper was served, and all his duties were fully
discharged, Simon Quanden, who had been bustling about, sat down in his
easy-chair, and recruited himself with a toast and a sack posset. Hob
and Nob had their supper at the same time, and the party at the table,
which had been increased by the two archers and Nicholas Clamp, attacked
with renewed vigour a fresh supply of mead and ale, which had been
provided for them by Jack of the Bottles.

The conversation then turned upon Herne the Hunter; and as all had heard
more or less about him, and some had seen him, while few knew the legend
connected with him, Hector Cutbeard volunteered to relate it; upon which
all the party gathered closer together, and Mabel and Deborah left off
talking, and drew near to listen.



VI.

     The Legend of Herne the Hunter.


"Nearly a century and a half ago," commenced Cutbeard, about the middle
of the reign of Richard the Second, there was among the keepers of the
forest a young man named Herne. He was expert beyond his fellows in all
matters of woodcraft, and consequently in great favour with the king,
who was himself devoted to the chase. Whenever he stayed at the castle,
King Richard, like our own royal Harry, would pass his time in hunting,
hawking, or shooting with the long-bow; and on all these occasions the
young keeper was his constant attendant. If a hart was to be chased,
Herne and his two black hounds of Saint Hubert's breed would hunt him
down with marvellous speed; if a wild boar was to be reared, a badger
digged out, a fox unkennelled, a marten bayed, or an otter vented, Herne
was chosen for the task. No one could fly a falcon so well as Herne--no
one could break up a deer so quickly or so skilfully as him. But in
proportion as he grew in favour with the king, the young keeper was
hated by his comrades, and they concerted together how to ruin him.
All their efforts, however, were ineffectual, and rather tended to his
advantage than injury.

"One day it chanced that the king hunted in the forest with his
favourite, the Earl of Oxford, when a great deer of head was
unharboured, and a tremendous chase ensued, the hart leading his
pursuers within a few miles of Hungerford, whither the borders of the
forest then extended. All the followers of the king, even the Earl of
Oxford, had by this time dropped off, and the royal huntsman was only
attended by Herne, who kept close behind him. At last the hart, driven
to desperation, stood at bay, and gored the king's horse as he came up
in such a manner that it reared and threw its rider. Another instant,
and the horns of the infuriated animal would have been plunged into the
body of the king, if Herne had not flung himself between the prostrate
monarch and his assailant, and received the stroke intended for him.
Though desperately wounded, the young hunter contrived slightly to raise
himself, and plunged his knife into the hart's throat, while the king
regained his feet.

"Gazing with the utmost concern at his unfortunate deliverer, King
Richard demanded what he could do for him.

"'Nothing, sire--nothing,' replied Herne, with a groan. I shall require
nothing but a grave from you, for I have received a wound that will
speedily bring me to it.'

"'Not so, I trust, good fellow,' replied the king, in a tone meant to
be encouraging, though his looks showed that his heart misgave him; 'my
best leech shall attend you.'

"'No skill will avail me now,' replied Herne sadly. 'A hurt from hart's
horn bringeth to the bier.'

"'I hope the proverb will not be justified in thy case,' rejoined the
king; 'and I promise thee, if thou dost recover, thou shalt have the
post of head keeper of the forest, with twenty nobles a year for wages.
If, unhappily, thy forebodings are realised, I will give the same sum to
be laid out in masses for thy soul.'

"'I humbly thank your highness,' replied the young man, 'and I accept
the latter offer, seeing it is the only one likely to profit me.'

"With this he put his horn to his lips, and winding the dead mot feebly,
fell back senseless. Much moved, the king rode off for succour; and
blowing a lusty call on his bugle, was presently joined by the Earl
of Oxford and some of his followers, among whom were the keepers. The
latter were secretly rejoiced on hearing what had befallen Herne, but
they feigned the greatest affliction, and hastened with the king to the
spot where the body was lying stretched out beside that of the hart.

"'It is almost a pity his soul cannot pass away thus,' said King
Richard, gazing compassionately at him, 'for he will only revive to
anguish and speedy death.'"

"'Your highness is right,' replied the chief keeper, a grim old
man named Osmond Crooke, kneeling beside him, and half drawing his
hunting-knife; 'it were better to put him out of his misery.'

"'What! slay the man who has just saved my own life!' cried the king.
'I will consent to no such infamous deed. I would give a large reward to
any one who could cure him.'

"As the words were uttered, a tall dark man, in a strange garb,
and mounted on a black wild-looking steed, whom no one had hitherto
observed, sprang to the ground and advanced towards the king.

"'I take your offer, sire,' said this personage, in a harsh voice. I
will cure him.'

"'Who art thou, fellow?' demanded King Richard doubtfully.

"'I am a forester,' replied the tall man, 'but I understand somewhat of
chirurgery and leechcraft.'

"'And woodcraft, too, I'll be sworn, fellow,' said the king 'Thou hast,
or I am mistaken, made free with some of my venison.'

"'He looks marvellously like Arnold Sheafe, who was outlawed for
deer-stealing,' said Osmond Crooke, regarding him steadfastly.

"'I am no outlaw, neither am I called Arnold Sheafe,' replied the other.
'My name is Philip Urswick, and I can render a good account of myself
when it shall please the king's highness to interrogate me. I dwell on
the heath near Bagshot, which you passed today in the chase, and where I
joined you.'

"'I noted you not,' said Osmond.

"'Nor I--nor I!' cried the other keepers.

"'That may be; but I saw you,' rejoined Urswick contemptuously; 'and I
tell you there is not one among you to be compared with the brave hunter
who lies there. You have all pronounced his case hopeless. I repeat I
can cure him if the king will make it worth my while.'

"'Make good thy words, fellow,' replied the king; 'and thou shalt not
only be amply rewarded, but shalt have a free pardon for any offence
thou mayest have committed.'

"'Enough,' replied Urswick. And taking a large, keen-edged hunting-knife
from his girdle, he cut off the head of the hart close to the point
where the neck joins the skull, and then laid it open from the extremity
of the under-lip to the nuke. 'This must be bound on the head of the
wounded man,' he said.

"The keepers stared in astonishment. But the king commanded that the
strange order should be obeyed. Upon which the bleeding skull was
fastened upon the head of the keeper with leathern thongs.

"'I will now answer for his perfect cure in a month's time,' said
Urswick to the king; 'but I shall require to watch over him myself till
all danger is at an end. I pray your highness to command these keepers
to transport him to my hut.'

"'You hear what he says, knaves?' cried the king; 'do his bidding, and
carefully, or ye shall answer to me with your lives.'

"Accordingly a litter was formed with branches of trees, and on this the
body of Herne, with the hart's head still bound to it, was conveyed by
the keepers to Urswick's hut, a small dwelling, situated in the wildest
part of Bagshot Heath. After placing the body upon a bed of dried fern,
the keepers were about to depart, when Osmond Crooke observed to the
forester, 'I am now certain thou art Arnold Sheafe.'

"'It matters not who I am, since I have the king's pardon,' replied the
other, laughing disdainfully.

"'Thou hast yet to earn it,' said Osmond.

"'Leave that to me,' replied Urswick. 'There is more fear that thou wilt
lose thy post as chief keeper, which the king has promised to Herne,
than that I shall fail.'

"'Would the deer had killed him outright!' growled Osmond.

"And the savage wish was echoed by the other keepers. "'I see you all
hate him bitterly,' said Urswick. 'What will you give me for revenge?'

"'We have little to give, save a fat buck on occasions,'replied Osmond;
'and, in all likelihood, thou canst help thyself to venison.'

"'Will you swear to grant the first request I may make of you--provided
it shall be in your power?' demanded Urswick.

"'Readily' they replied.

"'Enough' said Urswick. 'I must keep faith with the king. Herne will
recover, but he will lose all his skill as an archer, all his craft as a
hunter.'

"'If thou canst accomplish this thou art the fiend himself' cried
Osmond, trembling.

"'Fiend or not,' replied Urswick, with a triumphant laugh, 'ye have made
a compact with me, and must fulfil it. Now begone. I must attend to the
wounded man.'

"And the keepers, full of secret misgiving, departed.

"At the precise time promised, Herne, attended by Urswick, presented
himself to the king. He looked thin and pale, but all danger was past.
King Richard gave the forester a purse full of nobles, and added a
silver bugle to the gift. He then appointed Herne his chief keeper,
hung a chain of gold round his neck, and ordered him to be lodged in the
castle.

"About a week after this, Herne, having entirely regained his strength,
accompanied the king on a hunting expedition to the forest, and they
had scarcely entered it when his horse started and threw him. Up to
that moment such an accident had never happened to him, for he was an
excellent horseman, and he arose greatly discomfited, while the keepers
eyed each other askance. Soon after this a buck was started, and though
Herne was bravely mounted on a black steed bestowed on him on account of
its swiftness by the king, he was the last in the chase.

"'Thou art out of practice,' said the king, laughing, as he came up.

"'I know not what ails me,' replied Herne gloomily.

"'It cannot be thy steed's fault,' said the king, 'for he is usually as
fleet as the wind. But I will give thee an opportunity of gaining credit
in another way. Thou seest yon buck. He cannot be seventy yards off, and
I have seen thee hit the mark at twice the distance. Bring him down.'

"Herne raised his crossbow, and let fly the bolt; but it missed its
mark, and the buck, startled by the noise, dashed down the brake wholly
uninjured.

"King Richard's brow grew dark, and Herne uttered an exclamation of rage
and despair.

"'Thou shalt have a third and yet easier trial,' said the king. Old
Osmond Crooke shall lend thee his bow, and thy quarry shall be yon
magot-pie.'

"As he spoke, the arrow sped. But it quivered in the trunk of the tree,
some yards from the bird. The unfortunate shooter looked distracted;
but King Richard made no remark, until, towards the close of the day,
he said to him, 'Thou must regain thy craft, friend Herne, or I cannot
continue thee as my chief keeper.'

"The keepers congratulated each other in secret, for they felt that
their malice was about to be gratified.

"The next day Herne went forth, as he thought, alone, but he was watched
by his enemies. Not a shaft would go true, and he found that he had
completely lost his mastery over hound and horse. The day after that he
again rode forth to hunt with the king, and his failures made him the
laughing-stock of the party. Richard at length dismissed him with these
words, 'Take repose for a week, and then thou shalt have a further
trial. If thou dost not then succeed, I must perforce discharge thee
from thy post.'

"Instead of returning to the castle, Herne rode off wildly into the
forest, where he remained till eventide. He then returned with ghastly
looks and a strange appearance, having the links of a rusty chain which
he had plucked from a gibbet hanging from his left arm, and the hart's
antlered skull, which he had procured from Urswick, fixed like a helm
upon his head. His whole demeanour showed that he was crazed; and his
condition, which might have moved the compassion of his foes, only
provoked their laughter. After committing the wildest extravagances, he
burst from all restraint, and disappeared among the trees of the home
park.

"An hour after this a pedlar, who was crossing the park from Datchet,
found him suspended by a rope from a branch of the oak-tree which you
have all seen, and which bears his name. Despair had driven him to the
dreadful deed. Instead of cutting him down, the pedlar ran to the castle
to relate what he had witnessed; and the keepers, satisfied that their
revenge was now fully accomplished, hastened with him to the tree. But
the body was gone; and all that proclaimed it had been there, was the
rope hanging from the branch. Search was everywhere made for the missing
body, but without effect. When the matter was related to the king he was
much troubled, and would fain have had masses said for the repose of the
soul of the unfortunate keeper, but the priests refused to perform them,
alleging that he had 'committed self-destruction, and was therefore out
of the pale of the Church.

"On that night, a terrible thunderstorm occurred--as terrible, it may
be, as that of last night--and during its continuance, the oak on which
Herne had hanged himself was blasted by the lightning.

"Old Osmond was immediately reinstated in his post of chief keeper; but
he had little time for rejoicing, for he found that the same spell that
had bound Herne had fallen upon him. His bolts and arrows went wide of
their mark, his hounds lost their scent, and his falcon would not be
lured back. Half frantic, and afraid of exposing himself to the taunts
of his companions, he feigned illness, and left his comrade, Roger
Barfoot, to take his place. But the same ill-luck befell Barfoot, and
he returned in woeful plight, without a single head of game. Four others
were equally unfortunate, and it was now clear that the whole party were
bewitched.

"Luckily, the king had quitted the castle, but they felt certain they
should be dismissed on his return, if not more severely punished. At
last, after taking counsel together, they resolved to consult Urswick,
who they doubted not could remove the spell. Accordingly, they went to
Bagshot Heath, and related their story to him. When they had done, he
said, 'The curse of Herne's blood is upon you, and can only be removed
in one way. As you return to the castle, go to the tree on which he
destroyed himself, and you may learn how to act.'

"The keepers would have questioned him further, but he refused to
answer, and dismissed them.

"The shades of evening had fallen as they quitted Bagshot; and it was
midnight as they entered the home park, and proceeded towards the fatal
oak. It was pitchy dark, and they could only distinguish the tree by
its white, scathed trunk. All at once, a blue flame, like a
will-o'-the-wisp, appeared, flitted thrice round the tree, and then
remained stationary, its light falling upon a figure in a wild garb,
with a rusty chain hanging from its left arm, and an antlered helm upon
its head. They knew it to be Herne, and instantly fell down before him,
while a burst of terrible laughter sounded in their ears.

"Without heeding them further, the spirit darted round the tree,
rattling its chain, and uttering appalling imprecations. It then
stopped, and turning to the terrified beholders, bade them, in a hollow
voice, bring hounds and horses as for the chase on the following night
and vanished.

"Filled with dread, the keepers returned home, and the next day Old
Osmond again sought the forester, and told him what had occurred.

"'You must obey the spirit's injunctions, or worse mischief will befall
you,' said Urswick. 'Go to the tree, mounted as for a hunting-party,
and take the black steed given to Herne by the king, and the two black
hounds with you. You will see what will ensue.' And without another word
he dismissed him.

"Osmond told his comrades what the forester had said, and though they
were filled with alarm, they resolved upon compliance. At midnight,
therefore, they rode towards the tree with the black hounds in leash,
and leading Herne's favourite horse, saddled and bridled. As they drew
near, they again saw the terrible shape stalking round the tree, and
heard the fearful imprecations.

"His spells ended, Herne called to Osmond to bring him his steed; and
the old man tremblingly obeyed. In an instant the mysterious being
vaulted on its back, and in a voice of resistless authority cried, 'To
the forest!--to the forest!' With this, he dashed forward, and the whole
party, hounds and men, hurried after him.

"They rode at a furious pace for five or six miles over the great park,
the keepers wondering where their unearthly leader was taking them, and
almost fancying they were hurrying to perdition, when they descended
a hillside leading to the marsh, and halted before a huge beech-tree,
where Herne dismounted and pronounced certain mystic words, accompanying
them with strange gestures.

"Presently, he became silent and motionless. A flash of fire then burst
from the roots of the tree, and the forester Urswick stood before him.
But his aspect was more terrible and commanding than it had seemed
heretofore to the keepers.

"'Welcome, Herne,' he cried; 'welcome, lord of the forest. And you his
comrades, and soon to be his followers, welcome too. The time is come
for the fulfilment of your promise to me. I require you to form a band
for Herne the Hunter, and to serve him as leader. Swear to obey him, and
the spell that hangs over you shall be broken. If not, I leave you to
the king's justice.'

"Not daring to refuse compliance, the keepers took the oath
proposed--and a fearful one it was! As soon as it was Urswick vanished,
as he came, in a flash of fire. Herne, then commanded the others to
dismount, and made them prostrate themselves before him, and pay him
homage.

"This done, he blew a strike on his horn, rode swiftly up the hillside,
and a stag being unharboured, the chase commenced. Many a fat buck was
hunted and slaughtered that night; and an hour before daybreak, Herne
commanded them to lay the four finest and fattest at the foot of the
beech-tree, and then dismissed them, bidding them meet him at midnight
at the scathed oak in the home park.

"They came as they were commanded; but fearful of detection, they
adopted strange disguises, not unlike those worn by the caitiffs who
were put to death, a few weeks ago, by the king in the great park.
Night after night they thus went forth, thinning the herds of deer,
and committing other outrages and depredations. Nor were their dark
proceedings altogether unnoticed. Belated travellers crossing the forest
beheld them, and related what they had seen; others watched for them,
but they were so effectually disguised that they escaped detection.

"At last, however, the king returned to the castle, and accounts of the
strange doings in the forest were instantly brought to him. Astonished
at what he heard, and determined to ascertain the truth of the
statement, he ordered the keepers to attend him that night in an
expedition to the forest, when he hoped to encounter the demon huntsman
and his hand. Much alarmed, Osmond Crooke, who acted as spokesman,
endeavoured, by representing the risk he would incur, to dissuade the
king from the enterprise; but he would not be deterred, and they now
gave themselves up for lost.

"As the castle clock tolled forth the hour of midnight, Richard,
accompanied by a numerous guard, and attended by the keepers, issued
from the gates, and rode towards the scathed oak. As they drew near the
tree, the figure of Herne, mounted on his black steed, was discerned
beneath it. Deep fear fell upon all the beholders, but chiefly upon the
guilty keepers, at the sight. The king, however, pressed forward, and
cried, 'Why does thou disturb the quietude of night, accursed spirit?'

"Because I desire vengeance!' replied Herne, in a hollow voice. 'I
was brought to my present woeful condition by Osmond Crooke and his
comrades.'

"'But you died by your own hand,--did you not?' demanded King Richard.

"'Yea,' replied Herne; 'but I was driven to the deed by an infernal
spell laid upon me by the malice of the wretches I have denounced. Hang
them upon this tree, and I will trouble these woods no longer whilst
thou reignest!'

"The king looked round at the keepers. They all remained obdurate,
except Roger Barfoot, who, falling on his knees, confessed his guilt,
and accused the others.

"It is enough,' cried the king to Herne; 'they shall all suffer for
their offence.'

"Upon this a flash of fire enveloped the spirit and his horse, and he
vanished.

"The king kept his word. Osmond and his comrades were all hanged upon
the scathed tree, nor was Herne seen again in the forest while
Richard sat upon the throne. But he reappeared with a new band at the
commencement of the rule of Henry the Fourth, and again hunted the deer
at night. His band was destroyed, but he defied all attempts at capture;
and so it has continued to our own time, for not one of the seven
monarchs who have held the castle since Richard's day have been able to
drive him from the forest."

"Nor will the present monarch be able to drive him thence," said a deep
voice. "As long as Windsor Forest endures, Herne the Hunter will haunt
it."

All turned at the exclamation and saw that it proceeded from a tall dark
man, in an archer's garb, standing behind Simon Quanden's chair.

"Thou hast told thy legend fairly enough, good clerk of the kitchen,"
continued this personage; "but thou art wrong on many material points."

"I have related the story as it was related to me," said Cutbeard
somewhat nettled at the remark; "but perhaps you will set me right where
I have erred."

"It is true that Herne was a keeper in the reign of Richard the Second,"
replied the tall archer. "It is true also that he was expert in all
matters of woodcraft, and that he was in high favour with the king; but
he was bewitched by a lovely damsel, and not by a weird forester. He
carried off a nun and dwelt with her in a cave in the forest where he
assembled his brother keepers, and treated them to the king's venison
and the king's wine.

"A sacreligious villain and a reprobate!" exclaimed Launcelot Rutter.

"His mistress was fair enough, I will warrant her," said Kit Coo.

"She was the very image of this damsel," rejoined the tall archer,
pointing to Mabel, "and fair enough to work his ruin, for it was through
her that the fiend tempted him. The charms that proved his undoing were
fatal to her also, for in a fit of jealousy he slew her. The remorse
occasioned by this deed made him destroy himself."

"Well, your version of the legend may be the correct one, for aught I
know, worthy sir," said Cutbeard; "but I see not that it accounts for
Herne's antlers so well as mine, unless he were wedded to the nun, who
you say played him false. But how came you to know she resembled Mabel
Lyndwood?"

"Ay, I was thinking of that myself," said Simon Quanden. "How do you
know that, master?"

"Because I have seen her picture," replied the tall archer.

"Painted by Satan's chief limner, I suppose?" rejoined Cutbeard.

"He who painted it had seen her," replied the tall archer sternly. "But,
as I have said, it was the very image of this damsel."

And as he uttered the words, he quitted the kitchen.

"Who is that archer?" demanded Cutbeard, looking after him. But no one
could answer the question, nor could any one tell when he had entered
the kitchen.

"Strange!" exclaimed Simon Quanden, crossing himself. "Have you ever
seen him before, Mabel?"

"I almost think I have," she replied, with a slight shudder.

"I half suspect he is Herne himself," whispered the Duke of Shoreditch
to Paddington.

"It may be," responded the other; "his glance made my blood run cold."

"You look somewhat fatigued, sweetheart," said Deborah, observing
Mabel's uneasiness. "Come with me and I will show you to a chamber."

Glad to escape Mabel followed the good dame out of the kitchen, and they
ascended a winding staircase which brought them to a commodious chamber
in the upper part of Henry the Seventh's buildings, where Deborah sat
down with her young charge and volunteered a great deal of good advice
to her, which the other listened to with becoming attention, and
promised to profit by it.



VII.

     Of the Mysterious Noise heard in the Curfew Tower.


On quitting the kitchen, Henry, having been informed by Bouchier that
Tristram Lyndwood was lodged in the prison-chamber in the lower gateway,
proceeded thither to question him. He found the old man seated on a
bench, with his hands tied behind him; but though evidently much alarmed
at his situation, he could not be brought either by threats or proffers
to make any confession.

Out of patience, at length, the king ordered him to be conveyed to
the dungeon beneath the Curfew Tower, and personally superintended his
removal.

"I will find a means of shaking his obstinacy," said Henry, as he
quitted the vault with Bouchier. "If I cannot move him by other means,
I may through his granddaughter I will interrogate him in her presence
to-night."

"To-night, sire!" exclaimed Bouchier.

"Ay, to-night," repeated the king. "I am resolved, even if it should
cost the life of this maiden, whose charms have moved me so, to break
the infernal machinery woven around me. And now as I think it not
unlikely the miscreant Herne may attempt the prisoner's deliverance,
let the strictest watch be kept over the tower. Station an arquebusier
throughout the night at the door of the dungeon, and another at the
entrance to the chamber on the ground floor. Your own post must be on
the roof of the fortification, that you may watch if any attempt is made
to scale it from the town side, or to get in through the loopholes.
Keep a sharp lookout Bouchier, for I shall hold you responsible if any
mischance occurs."

"I will do my best, my liege," replied Bouchier; "and were it with a
mortal foe I had to contend, I should have no fear. But what vigilance
can avail against a fiend?"

"You have heard my injunctions, and will attend to them," rejoined the
king harshly. "I shall return anon to the examination."

So saying, he departed.

Brave as a lion on ordinary occasions, Bouchier entered upon his present
duty with reluctance and misgiving; and he found the arquebusiers by
whom he was attended, albeit stout soldiers, equally uneasy. Herne had
now become an object of general dread throughout the castle; and the
possibility of an encounter with him was enough to daunt the boldest
breast. Disguising his alarm, Bouchier issued his directions in an
authoritative tone, and then mounted with three arquebusiers to the
summit of the tower. It was now dark, but the moon soon arose, and her
beams rendered every object as distinguishable as daylight would have
done, so that watch was easily kept. But nothing occurred to occasion
alarm, until all at once, a noise like that of a hammer stricken against
a board, was heard in the chamber below.

Drawing his sword, Bouchier hurried down the steps leading into this
chamber, which was buried in darkness, and advanced so precipitately
and incautiously into the gloom, that he struck his head against a
crossbeam. The violence of the blow stunned him for a moment, but as
soon as he recovered, he called to the guard in the lower chamber to
bring up a torch. The order was promptly obeyed; but, meanwhile, the
sound had ceased, and, though they searched about, they could not
discover the occasion of it.

This, however, was not so wonderful for the singular construction of the
chamber, with its numerous crossbeams, its deep embrasures and recesses,
its insecure and uneven floor, its steep ladder-like staircases, was
highly favourable to concealment, it being utterly impossible, owing
to the intersections of the beams, for the searchers to see far before
them, or to move about quickly. In the midst of the chamber was a large
wooden compartment enclosing the cumbrous and uncouth machinery of the
castle clock, and through the box ran the cord communicating with the
belfry above. At that time, pieces of ordnance were mounted in all
the embrasures, but there is now only one gun, placed in a porthole
commanding Thames Street, and the long thoroughfare leading to Eton. The
view from this porthole of the groves of Eton, and of the lovely
plains on the north-west, watered by the river, is enchanting beyond
description.

Viewed from a recess which has been partly closed, the appearance of
this chamber is equally picturesque and singular; and it is scarcely
possible to pass beneath its huge beams or to gaze at the fantastic yet
striking combinations they form in connection with the deep embrasures,
the steep staircases and trap-doors, and not feel that the whole place
belongs to romance, and that a multitude of strange and startling
stories must be connected with it. The old architects were indeed great
romancers, and built for the painter and the poet.

Bouchier and his companion crept about under the great meshwork of
beams-peered into all the embrasures, and beneath the carriages of
the culverins. There was a heap of planks and beams lying on the floor
between the two staircases, but no one was near it.

The result of their investigations did not tend to decrease their alarm.
Bouchier would fain have had the man keep watch in the chamber, but
neither threats nor entreaties could induce him to remain there. He
was therefore sent below, and the captain returned to the roof. He had
scarcely emerged upon the leads when the hammering recommenced more
violently than before. In vain Bouchier ordered his men to go down. No
one would stir; and superstitious fear had by this time obtained such
mastery over the captain, that he hesitated to descend alone. To add to
his vexation, the arquebusier had taken the torch with him, so that he
should have to proceed in darkness.

At length he mustered up courage to make the attempt; but he paused
between each step, peering through the gloom, and half fancying he could
discern the figure of Herne near the spot where the pile of wood lay.
Certain it was that the sound of diabolical laughter, mingled with the
rattling of the chain and the sharp blows of the hammer, smote his
ears. The laughter became yet louder as Bouchier advanced, the hammering
ceased, and the clanking of the chain showed that its mysterious wearer
was approaching the foot of the steps to meet him. But the captain
had not nerve enough for the encounter. Invoking the protection of the
saints, he beat a precipitate retreat, and closed the little door at the
head of the steps after him.

The demon was apparently satisfied with the alarm he had occasioned, for
the hammering was not renewed at that time.



VIII.

     Showing the Vacillations of the King between Wolsey and Anne
     Boleyn.


Before returning to the state apartments, Henry took a turn on the
ramparts on the north side of the castle, between the Curfew Tower
and the Winchester Tower, and lingered for a short time on the bastion
commanding that part of the acclivity where the approach, called the
Hundred Steps, is now contrived. Here he cautioned the sentinels to be
doubly vigilant throughout the night, and having gazed for a moment at
the placid stream flowing at the foot of the castle, and tinged with the
last rays of the setting sun, he proceeded to the royal lodgings, and
entered the banquet chamber, where supper was already served.

Wolsey sat on his right hand, but he did not vouchsafe him a single
word, addressing the whole of his discourse to the Duke of Suffolk, who
was placed on his left. As soon as the repast was over, he retired to
his closet. But the cardinal would not be so repulsed, and sent one of
his gentlemen to crave a moment's audience of the king, which with some
reluctance was accorded.

"Well, cardinal," cried Henry, as Wolsey presented himself, and the
usher withdrew. "You are playing a deep game with me, as you think; but
take heed, for I see through it." "I pray you dismiss these suspicions
from your mind, my liege," said Wolsey. "No servant was ever more
faithful to his master than I have been to you."

"No servant ever took better care of himself," cried the king fiercely.
"Not alone have you wronged me to enrich yourself, but you are ever
intriguing with my enemies. I have nourished in my breast a viper; but I
will cast you off--will crush you as I would the noxious reptile."

And he stamped upon the floor, as if he could have trampled the cardinal
beneath his foot.

"Beseech you calm yourself, my liege," replied Wolsey, in the soft and
deprecatory tone which he had seldom known to fail with the king. "I
have never thought of my own aggrandisement, but as it was likely to
advance your power. For the countless benefits I have received at your
hands, my soul overflows with gratitude. You have raised me from the
meanest condition to the highest. You have made me your confidant, your
adviser, your treasurer, and with no improper boldness I say it, your
friend. But I defy the enemies who have poisoned your ears against me,
to prove that I have ever abused the trust placed in me. The sole fault
that can be imputed to me is, that I have meddled more with temporal
matters than with spiritual, and it is a crime for which I must answer
before Heaven. But I have so acted because I felt that I might thereby
best serve your highness. If I have aspired to the papal throne--which
you well know I have--it has been that I might be yet a more powerful
friend to your majesty, and render you what you are entitled to be, the
first prince in Christendom."

"Tut, tut!" exclaimed the king, who was, nevertheless, moved by the
artful appeal.

"The gifts I have received from foreign princes," pursued Wolsey, seeing
the effect he had produced, "the wealth I have amassed, have all been
with a view of benefiting your majesty." "Humph!" exclaimed the king.

"To prove that I speak the truth, sire," continued the wily cardinal,
"the palace at Hampton Court, which I have just completed--"

"And at a cost more lavish than I myself should have expended on it,"
interrupted the king angrily.

"If I had destined it for myself, I should not have spent a tithe of
what I have done," rejoined Wolsey. "Your highness's unjust accusations
force me to declare my intentions somewhat prematurely. Deign," he
cried, throwing at the king's feet, "deign to accept that palace and all
within it. You were pleased, during your late residence there, to express
your approval of it. And I trust it will find equal favour in your eyes,
now that it is your own."

"By holy Mary, a royal gift!" cried Henry. "Rise, You are not the
grasping, selfish person you have been represented."

"Declare as much to my enemies, sire, and I shall be more content. You
will find the palace better worth acceptance than at first sight might
appear."

"How so?" cried the king.

"Your highness will be pleased to take this key," said the cardinal; "it
is the key of the cellar."

"You have some choice wine there," cried Henry significantly; "given you
by some religious house, or sent you by some foreign potentate, ha!"

"It is wine that a king might prize," replied the cardinal. "Your
majesty will find a hundred hogsheads in that cellar, and each hogshead
filled with gold."

"You amaze me!" cried the king, feigning astonishment. "And all this you
freely give me?"

"Freely and fully, sire," replied Wolsey. "Nay, I have saved it for you.
Men think I have cared for myself, whereas I have cared only for your
majesty. Oh! my dear liege, by the devotion I have just approved to you,
and which I would also approve, if needful, with my life, I beseech you
to consider well before you raise Anne Boleyn to the throne. In giving
you this counsel, I know I hazard the favour I have just regained. But
even at that hazard, I must offer it. Your infatuation blinds you to
the terrible consequences of the step. The union is odious to all your
subjects, but most of all to those not tainted with the new heresies and
opinions. It will never be forgiven by the Emperor Charles the Fifth,
who will seek to avenge the indignity offered to his illustrious
relative; while Francis will gladly make it a pretext for breaking his
truce with you. Add to this the displeasure of the Apostolic See, and it
must be apparent that, powerful as you are, your position will be one of
infinite peril."

"Thus far advanced, I cannot honourably abandon the divorce," said
Henry.

"Nor do I advise its abandonment, sire," replied Wolsey; "but do not let
it be a means of injuring you with all men. Do not let a mal-alliance
place your very throne in jeopardy; as, with your own subjects and all
foreign powers against you, must necessarily be the case."

"You speak warmly, cardinal," said Henry.

"My zeal prompts me to do so," replied Wolsey. "Anne Boleyn is in no
respect worthy of the honour you propose her."

"And whom do you think more worthy?" demanded Henry.

"Those whom I have already recommended to your majesty, the Duchess
d'Alencon, or the Princess Renee," replied Wolsey; "by a union with
either of whom you would secure the cordial co-operation of Francis,
and the interests of the see of Rome, which, in the event of a war with
Spain, you may need."

"No, Wolsey," replied Henry, taking a hasty turn across the chamber; "no
considerations of interests or security shall induce me to give up Anne.
I love her too well for that. Let the lion Charles roar, the fox Francis
snarl, and the hydra-headed Clement launch forth his flames, I will
remain firm to my purpose. I will not play the hypocrite with you,
whatever I may do with others. I cast off Catherine that I may wed Anne,
because I cannot otherwise obtain her. And shall I now, when I
have dared so much, and when the prize is within my grasp, abandon
it?--Never! Threats, expostulations, entreaties are alike unavailing."

"I grieve to hear it, my liege," replied Wolsey, heaving a deep sigh.
"It is an ill-omened union, and will bring woe to you, woe to your
realm, and woe to the Catholic Church."

"And woe to you also, false cardinal," cried Anne Boleyn, throwing aside
the arras, and stepping forward. "I have overheard what has passed;
and from my heart of hearts I thank you, Henry, for the love you have
displayed for me. But I here solemnly vow never to give my hand to you
till Wolsey is dismissed from your counsels."

"Anne!" exclaimed the king.

"My own enmity I could forego," pursued Anne vehemently, "but I cannot
forgive him his duplicity and perfidy towards you. He has just proffered
you his splendid palace of Hampton, and his treasures; and wherefore?--I
will tell you: because he feared they would be wrested from him. His
jester had acquainted him with the discovery just made of the secret
hoard, and he was therefore compelled to have recourse to this desperate
move. But I was apprized of his intentions by Will Sommers, and have
come in time to foil him."

"By my faith, I believe you are right, sweetheart," said the king.

"Go, tell your allies, Francis and Clement, that the king's love for me
outweighs his fear of them," cried Anne, laughing spitefully. "As for
you, I regard you as nothing."

"Vain woman, your pride will be abased," rejoined Wolsey bitterly.

"Vain man, you are already abased," replied Anne. "A few weeks ago I
would have made terms with you. Now I am your mortal enemy, and will
never rest till I have procured your downfall."

"The king will have an amiable consort, truly," sneered Wolsey.

"He will have one who can love him and hate his foes," replied Anne;
"and not one who would side with them and thee, as would be the case
with the Duchess d'Alencon or the Princess Renee. Henry, you know the
sole terms on which you can procure my hand."

The king nodded a playful affirmative.

"Then dismiss him at once, disgrace him," said Anne.

"Nay, nay," replied Henry, "the divorce is not yet passed. You are
angered now, and will view matters more coolly to-morrow."

"I shall never change my resolution," she replied.

"If my dismissal and disgrace can save my sovereign, I pray him to
sacrifice me without hesitation," said Wolsey; "but while I have liberty
of speech with him, and aught of power remaining, I will use it to his
advantage. I pray your majesty suffer me to retire."

And receiving a sign of acquiescence from the king, he withdrew, amid
the triumphant laughter of Anne.



IX.

     How Tristram Lyndwood was interrogated by the King.


Anne Boleyn remained with her royal lover for a few minutes to pour
forth her gratitude for the attachment he had displayed to her, and to
confirm the advantage she had gained over Wolsey. As soon as she
was gone, Henry summoned an usher, and giving him some instructions
respecting Mabel Lyndwood, proceeded to the Curfew Tower.

Nothing was said to him of the strange noise that had been heard in
the upper chamber, for the arquebusiers were fearful of exciting his
displeasure by a confession of their alarm, and he descended at once to
the dungeon.

"Well, fellow," he cried, sternly regarding the captive, who arose at
his entrance, "you have now had ample time for reflection, and I trust
are in a better frame of mind than when I last spoke with you. I command
you to declare all you know concerning Herne the Hunter, and to give
me such information respecting the proscribed felon, Morgan Fenwolf, as
will enable me to accomplish his capture."

"I have already told your highness that my mouth is sealed by an oath of
secrecy," replied Tristram, humbly, but firmly.

"Obstinate dog! thou shalt either speak, or I will hang thee from the
top of this tower, as I hanged Mark Fytton the butcher," roared Henry.

"You will execute your sovereign pleasure, my liege," said the old man.
"My life is in your hands. It is little matter whether it is closed now
or a year hence. I have well nigh run out my term."

"If thou carest not for thyself, thou mayest not be equally indifferent
to another," cried the king. "What ho! bring in his granddaughter."

The old man started at the command, and trembled violently. The next
moment, Mabel was led into the dungeon by Shoreditch and Paddington.
Behind her came Nicholas Clamp. On seeing her grandsire, she uttered a
loud cry and would have rushed towards him, but she was held back by her
companions.

"Oh grandfather!" she cried, "what have you done?-why do I find you
here?"

Tristram groaned, and averted his head.

"He is charged with felony and sorcery," said the king sternly, "and you,
maiden, come under the same suspicion."

"Believe it not, sire," cried the old man, flinging himself at Henry's
feet; "oh, believe it not. Whatever you may judge of me, believe her
innocent. She was brought up most devoutly, by a lay sister of the
monastery at Chertsey; and she knows nothing, save by report, of what
passes in the forest."

"Yet she has seen and conversed with Morgan Fenwolf," the king.

"Not since he was outlawed," said Tristram.

"I saw him to--day, as I was brought to the castle," cried Mabel,
"and--" but recollecting that she might implicate her grandfather, she
suddenly stopped.

"What said he?--ha!" demanded the king.

"I will tell your majesty what passed," interposed Nicholas Clamp,
stepping forward, "for I was with the damsel at the time. He came upon
us suddenly from behind a great tree, and ordered her to accompany him
to her grandsire."

"Ha!" exclaimed the king.

"But he had no authority for what he said, I am well convinced," pursued
Clamp. "Mabel disbelieved him and refused to go, and I should have
captured him if the fiend he serves had not lent him a helping hand."

"What says the prisoner himself to this?" observed the king. "Didst thou
send Fenwolf on the errand?"

"I did," replied Tristram. "I sent him to prevent her from going to the
castle."

Mabel sobbed audibly.

"Thou art condemned by thy own confession, caitiff," said the king,
"and thou knowest upon what terms alone thou canst save thyself from the
hangman, and thy grand-daughter from the stake."

"Oh, mercy, sire, mercy!" shrieked Mabel.

"Your fate rests with your grandsire," said the king sternly. "If he
chooses to be your executioner he will remain silent."

"Oh, speak, grandsire, speak!" cried Mabel. "What matters the violation
of an unholy vow?"

"Give me till to-morrow for consideration, sire," said the old man.

"Thou shalt have till midnight," replied the king; "and till then Mabel
shall remain with thee."

"I would rather be left alone," said Tristram.

"I doubt it not," replied the king; "but it shall not be." And without
bestowing a look at Mabel, whose supplications he feared might shake
his purpose, he quitted the vault with his attendants, leaving her alone
with her grandsire.

"I shall return at midnight," he said to the arquebusier stationed at
the door; "and meanwhile let no one enter the dungeon--not even the Duke
of Suffolk--unless," he added, holding forth his hand to display a ring,
"he shall bring this signet."



X.

     Of the Brief Advantage gained by the Queen and the Cardinal.


As the king, wholly unattended--for he had left the archers at the
Curfew Tower--was passing at the back of Saint George's Chapel, near the
north transept, he paused for a moment to look at the embattled entrance
to the New Commons--a structure erected in the eleventh year of his own
reign by James Denton, a canon, and afterwards Dean of Lichfield, for
the accommodation of such chantry priests and choristers as had no place
in the college. Over the doorway, surmounted by a niche, ran (and still
runs) the inscription--

"AEDES PRO SACELLANORUM CHORISTARUM COVIVIIS EXTRUCTA, A.D. 1519."

The building has since been converted into one of the canons' houses.

While he was contemplating this beautiful gateway, which was glimmering
in the bright moonlight, a tall figure suddenly darted from behind one
of the buttresses of the chapel, and seized his left arm with an
iron grasp. The suddenness of the attack took him by surprise; but he
instantly recovered himself, plucked away his arm, and, drawing his
sword, made a pass at his assailant, who, however, avoided the thrust,
and darted with inconceivable swiftness through the archway leading to
the cloisters. Though Henry followed as quickly as he could, he lost
sight of the fugitive, but just as he was about to enter the passage
running between the tomb-house and the chapel, he perceived a person in
the south ambulatory evidently anxious to conceal himself, and, rushing
up to him and dragging him to the light he found it was no other than
the cardinal's jester, Patch.

"What does thou here, knave?" cried Henry angrily.

"I am waiting for my master, the cardinal," replied the jester,
terrified out of his wits.

"Waiting for him here!" cried the king. "Where is he?"

"In that house," replied Patch, pointing to a beautiful bay-window,
full of stained glass, overhanging the exquisite arches of the north
ambulatory.

"Why, that is Doctor Sampson's dwelling," cried Henry; "he who was
chaplain to the queen, and is a strong opponent of the divorce. What doth
he there?"

"I am sure I know not," replied Patch, whose terror increased each
moment. "Perhaps I have mistaken the house. Indeed, I am sure it must be
Doctor Voysey's, the next door."

"Thou liest, knave!" cried Henry fiercely; "thy manner convinces me
there is some treasonable practice going forward. But I will soon find
it out. Attempt to give the alarm, and I will cut thy throat."

With this he proceeded to the back of the north ambulatory, and finding
the door he sought unfastened, raised the latch and walked softly in.
But before he got half-way down the passage, Doctor Sampson himself
issued from an inner room with a lamp in his hand. He started on seeing
the king, and exhibited great alarm.

"The Cardinal of York is here--I know it," said Henry in a deep whisper.
"Lead me to him."

"Oh, go not forward, my gracious liege!" cried Sampson, placing himself
in his path.

"Wherefore not?" rejoined the king. "Ha! what voice is that I heard in
the upper chamber? Is she here, and with Wolsey? Out of my way, man,"
he added, pushing the canon aside, and rushing up the short wooden
staircase.

When Wolsey returned from his interview with the king, which had been
so unluckily interrupted by Anne Boleyn, he found his ante-chamber
beset with a crowd of suitors to whose solicitations he was compelled to
listen, and having been detained in this manner for nearly half an hour,
he at length retired into an inner room.

"Vile sycophants!" he muttered, "they bow the knee before me, and pay me
greater homage than they render the king, but though they have fed upon
my bounty and risen by my help, not one of them, if he was aware of my
true position, but would desert me. Not one of them but would lend a
helping hand to crush me. Not one but would rejoice in my downfall. But
they have not deceived me. I knew them from the first--saw through their
hollowness and despised them. While power lasts to me, I will punish
some of them. While power lasts!" he repeated. "Have I any power
remaining? I have already given up Hampton and my treasures to the king;
and the work of spoliation once commenced, the royal plunderer will not
be content till he has robbed me of all; while his minion, Anne Boleyn,
has vowed my destruction. Well, I will not yield tamely, nor fall
unavenged."

As these thoughts passed through his mind, Patch, who had waited for
a favourable moment to approach him, delivered him a small billet
carefully sealed, and fastened with a silken thread. Wolsey took it,
and broke it open; and as his eye eagerly scanned its contents, the
expression of his countenance totally changed. A flash of joy and
triumph irradiated his fallen features; and thrusting the note into
the folds of his robe, he inquired of the jester by whom it had been
brought, and how long.

"It was brought by a messenger from Doctor Sampson," replied Patch, "and
was committed to me with special injunctions to deliver it to your grace
immediately on your return, and secretly."

The cardinal sat down, and for a few moments appeared lost in deep
reflection; he then arose, and telling Patch he should return presently,
quitted the chamber. But the jester, who was of an inquisitive turn, and
did not like to be confined to half a secret, determined to follow him,
and accordingly tracked him along the great corridor, down a winding
staircase, through a private door near the Norman Gateway, across the
middle ward, and finally saw him enter Doctor Sampson's dwelling, at the
back of the north ambulatory. He was reconnoitring the windows of the
house from the opposite side of the cloisters in the hope of discovering
something, when he was caught, as before mentioned, by the king.

Wolsey, meanwhile, was received by Doctor Sampson at the doorway of
his dwelling, and ushered by him into a chamber on the upper floor,
wainscoted with curiously carved and lustrously black oak. A silver lamp
was burning the on the table, and in the recess of the window, which
was screened by thick curtains, sat a majestic lady, who rose on the
cardinal's entrance. It was Catherine of Arragon.

"I attend your pleasure, madam," said Wolsey, with a profound
inclination.

"You have been long in answering my summons," said the queen; "but
I could not expect greater promptitude. Time was when a summons from
Catherine of Arragon would have been quickly and cheerfully attended to;
when the proudest noble in the land would have borne her message to you,
and when you would have passed through crowds to her audience-chamber.
Now another holds her place, and she is obliged secretly to enter the
castle where she once ruled, to despatch a valet to her enemy, to attend
his pleasure, and to receive him in the dwelling of an humble canon.
Times are changed with me, Wolsey--sadly changed."

"I have been in attendance on the king, madam, or I should have been
with you sooner," replied Wolsey. "It grieves me sorely to see you
here."

"I want not your pity," replied the queen proudly. "I did not send for
you to gratify your malice by exposing my abject state. I did not send
for you to insult me by false sympathy; but in the hope that your own
interest would induce you to redress the wrongs you have done me."

"Alas! madam, I fear it is now too late to repair the error I have
committed," said Wolsey, in a tone of affected penitence and sorrow.

"You admit, then, that it was an error," cried Catherine. "Well, that
is something. Oh! that you had paused before you began this evil
work--before you had raised a storm which will destroy me and yourself.
Your quarrel with my nephew the Emperor Charles has cost me dear, but it
will cost you yet more dearly."

"I deserve all your reproaches, madam," said Wolsey, with feigned
meekness; "and I will bear them without a murmur. But you have sent for
me for some specific object, I presume?"

"I sent for you to give me aid, as much for your own sake as mine,"
replied the queen, "for you are in equal danger. Prevent this
divorce--foil Anne--and you retain the king's favour. Our interests are
so far leagued together, that you must serve me to serve yourself. My
object is to gain time to enable my friends to act. Your colleague is
secretly favourable to me. Pronounce no sentence here, but let the cause
be removed to Rome. My nephew the emperor will prevail upon the Pope to
decide in my favour."

"I dare not thus brave the king's displeasure, madam;" replied Wolsey.

"Dissembler!" exclaimed Catherine. "I now perceive the insincerity of
your professions. This much I have said to try you. And now to my real
motive for sending for you. I have in my possession certain letters,
that will ruin Anne Boleyn with the king."

"Ha!" exclaimed the cardinal joyfully; "if that be the case, all the
rest will be easy. Let me see the letters, I pray you, madam."

Before Catherine could reply, the door was thrown violently open, and
the king stood before them.

"Soh!" roared Henry, casting a terrible look at Wolsey, "I have caught
you at your treasonable practices at last! And you, madam," he added,
turning to Catherine, who meekly, but steadily, returned his gaze, "what
brings you here again? Because I pardoned your indiscretion yesterday,
think not I shall always be so lenient. You will leave the castle
instantly. As to Wolsey, he shall render me a strict account of his
conduct."

"I have nothing to declare, my liege," replied Wolsey, recovering
himself, "I leave it to the queen to explain why I came hither."

"The explanation shall be given at once," said Catherine. "I sent for
the cardinal to request him to lay before your majesty these two letters
from Anne Boleyn to Sir Thomas Wyat, that you might judge whether one
who could write thus would make you a fitting consort. You disbelieved
my charge of levity yesterday. Read these, sire, and judge whether I
spoke the truth."

Henry glanced at the letters, and his brow grew dark.

"What say you to them, my liege?" cried Catherine, with a glance of
triumph. "In the one she vows eternal constancy to Sir Thomas Wyat, and
in the other--written after her engagement to you--he tells him that
though they can never meet as heretofore, she will always love him."

"Ten thousand furies!" cried the king. "Where got you these letters,
madam?"

"They were given to me by a tall dark man, as I quitted the castle last
night," said the queen. "He said they were taken from the person of Sir
Thomas Wyat while he lay concealed in the forest in the cave of Herne
the Hunter."

"If I thought she wrote them," cried Henry, in an access jealous fury,
"I would cast her off for ever."

"Methinks your majesty should be able to judge whether they are true or
false," said Catherine. "I know her writing well--too well, alas!--and
am satisfied they are genuine."

"I am well assured that Wyat was concealed in the Lady Anne's chamber
when your majesty demanded admittance and could not obtain it--when the
Earl of Surrey sacrificed himself for her, and for his friend," said
Wolsey.

"Perdition!" exclaimed the king, striking his brow with his clenched
hand. "Oh, Catherine!" he continued, after a pause, during which she
intently watched the workings of his countenance, "and it was for this
light-hearted creature I was about to cast you off."

"I forgive you, sire--I forgive you!" exclaimed the queen, clasping his
hands, and bedewing them with grateful tears. "You have been deceived.
Heaven keep you in the same mind!"

"You have preserved me," said Henry, "but you must not tarry here. Come
with me to the royal lodgings."

"No, Henry," replied Catherine, with a shudder, "not while she is
there."

"Make no conditions, madam," whispered Wolsey. "Go."

"She shall be removed to-morrow," said Henry.

"In that case I am content to smother my feelings," said the queen.

"Come, then, Kate," said Henry, taking her hand. "Lord cardinal, you
will attend us."

"Right gladly, my liege," replied Wolsey. "If this mood will only
endure," he muttered, "all will go well. But his jealousy must not be
allowed to cool. Would that Wyat were here!"

Doctor Sampson could scarcely credit his senses as he beheld the august
pair come forth together, and a word from Wolsey explaining what had
occurred, threw him into transports of delight. But the surprise of the
good canon was nothing to that exhibited as Henry and Catherine entered
the royal lodgings, and the king ordered his own apartments to be
instantly prepared for her majesty's reception.



XI.

     How Tristram Lyndwood and Mabel were liberated.


Intelligence of the queen's return was instantly conveyed to Anne
Boleyn, and filled her with indescribable alarm. All her visions of
power and splendour seemed to melt away at once. She sent for her
father, Lord Rochford, who hurried to her in a state of the utmost
anxiety, and closely questioned her whether the extraordinary change had
not been occasioned by some imprudence of her own. But she positively
denied the charge, alleging that she had parted with the king scarcely
an hour before on terms of the most perfect amity, and with the full
conviction that she had accomplished the cardinal's ruin.

"You should not have put forth your hand against him till you were sure
of striking the blow," said Rochford. "There is no telling what secret
influence he has over the king; and there may yet be a hard battle to
fight. But not a moment must be lost in counteracting his operations.
Luckily, Suffolk is here, and his enmity to the cardinal will make him
a sure friend to us. Pray Heaven you have not given the king fresh
occasion for jealousy! That is all I fear."

And quitting his daughter, he sought out Suffolk, who, alarmed at what
appeared like a restoration of Wolsey to favour, promised heartily to
co-operate with him in the struggle; and that no time might be lost,
the duke proceeded at once to the royal closet, where he found the king
pacing moodily to and fro.

"Your majesty seems disturbed," said the duke.

"Disturbed!--ay!" exclaimed the king. "I have enough to disturb me. I
will never love again. I will forswear the whole sex. Harkee, Suffolk,
you are my brother, my second self, and know all the secrets of
my heart. After the passionate devotion I have displayed for Anne
Boleyn--after all I have done for her--all I have risked for her--I have
been deceived."

"Impossible, my liege?" exclaimed Suffolk.

"Why, so I thought," cried Henry, "and I turned a deaf ear to all
insinuations thrown out against her, till proof was afforded which I
could no longer doubt."

"And what was the amount of the proof, my liege?" asked Suffolk.

"These letters," said Henry, handing them to him, "found on the person
of Sir Thomas Wyat."

"But these only prove, my liege, the existence of a former
passion--nothing more," remarked Suffolk, after he had scanned them.

"But she vows eternal constancy to him!" cried Henry; "says she shall
ever love him--says so at the time she professes devoted love for me!
How can I trust her after that? Suffolk, I feel she does not love me
exclusively; and my passion is so deep and devouring, that it demands
entire return. I must have her heart as well as her person; and I feel I
have only won her in my quality of king."

"I am persuaded your majesty is mistaken," said the duke. "Would I
could think so!" sighed Henry. "But no--no, I cannot be deceived. I
will conquer this fatal passion. Oh, Suffolk! it is frightful to be the
bondslave of a woman--a fickle, inconstant woman. But between the depths
of love and hate is but a step; and I can pass from one to the other."

"Do nothing rashly, my dear liege," said Suffolk; "nothing that may
bring with it after-repentance. Do not be swayed by those who have
inflamed your jealousy, and who could practise upon it. Think the
matter calmly over, and then act. And till you have decided, see neither
Catherine nor Anne; and, above all, do not admit Wolsey to your secret
counsels."

"You are his enemy, Suffolk," said the king sternly.

"I am your majesty's friend," replied the duke. "I beseech you, yield to
me on this occasion, and I am sure of your thanks hereafter."

"Well, I believe you are right, my good friend and brother," said Henry,
"and I will curb my impulses of rage and jealousy. To-morrow, before I
see either the queen or Anne, we will ride forth into the forest, and
talk the matter further over."

"Your highness has come to a wise determination," said the duke.

"Oh, Suffolk!" sighed Henry, "would I had never seen this siren! She
exercises a fearful control over me, and enslaves my very soul."

"I cannot say whether it is for good or ill that you have met, my dear
liege," replied Suffolk, "but I fancy I can discern the way in which
your ultimate decision will be taken. But it is now near midnight. I
wish your majesty sound and untroubled repose."

"Stay!" cried Henry, "I am about to visit the Curfew Tower, and must
take you with me. I will explain my errand as we go. I had some thought
of sending you there in my stead. Ha!" he exclaimed, glancing at his
finger, "By Saint Paul, it is gone!"

"What is gone, my liege?" asked Suffolk.

"My signet," replied Henry, "I missed it not till now. It has been
wrested from me by the fiend, during my walk from the Curfew Tower. Let
us not lose a moment, or the prisoners will be set free by him,--if they
have not been liberated already."

So saying, he took a couple of dags--a species of short gun--from a
rest on the wall, and giving one to Suffolk, thrust the other into his
girdle. Thus armed, they quitted the royal lodgings, and hurried in
the direction of the Curfew Tower. Just as they reached the Horseshoe
Cloisters, the alarm-bell began to ring.

"Did I not tell you so?" cried Henry furiously; "they have escaped. Ha!
it ceases!--what has happened?"

About a quarter of an hour after the king had quitted the Curfew Tower,
a tall man, enveloped in a cloak, and wearing a high conical cap,
presented himself to the arquebusier stationed at the entrance to the
dungeon, and desired to be admitted to the prisoners.

"I have the king's signet," he said, holding forth the ring. On seeing
this, the arquebusier, who recognised the ring, unlocked the door, and
admitted him. Mabel was kneeling on the ground beside her grandsire,
with her hands raised as in prayer, but as the tall man entered the
vault, she started to her feet, and uttered a slight scream.

"What is the matter, child?" cried Tristram..

"He is here!--he is come!" cried Mabel, in a tone of the deepest terror.

"Who--the king?" cried Tristram, looking up. "Ah! I see! Herne is come
to deliver me."

"Do not go with him, grandsire," cried Mabel. "In the name of all the
saints, I implore you, do not."

"Silence her!" said Herne in a harsh, imperious voice, "or I leave you."

The old man looked imploringly at his granddaughter.

"You know the conditions of your liberation?" said Herne.

"I do--I do," replied Tristram hastily, and with a shudder.

"Oh, grandfather!" cried Mabel, falling at his feet, "do not, I conjure
you, make any conditions with this dreaded being, or it will be at the
expense of your salvation. Better I should perish at the stake--better
you should suffer the most ignominious death, than this should be."

"Do you accept them?" cried Herne, disregarding her supplications.

Tristram answered in the affirmative.

"Recall your words, grandfather--recall your words!" cried Mabel. "I
will implore pardon for you on my knees from the king, and he will not
refuse me."

"The pledge cannot be recalled, damsel," said Herne; "and it is to save
you from the king, as much as to accomplish his own preservation, that
your grandsire consents. He would not have you a victim to Henry's
lust." And as he spoke, he divided the forester's bonds with his knife.
"You must go with him, Mabel," he added.

"I will not!" she cried. "Something warns me that a great danger awaits
me."

"You must go, girl," cried Tristram angrily. "I will not leave you to
Henry's lawless passion."

Meanwhile, Herne had passed into one of the large embrasures, and
opened, by means of a spring, an entrance to a secret staircase in
the wall. He then beckoned Tristram towards him, and whispered some
instructions in his ear.

"I understand," replied the old man.

"Proceed to the cave," cried Herne, "and remain there till I join you."

Tristram nodded assent.

"Come, Mabel!" he cried, advancing towards her, and seizing her hand.

"Away!" cried Herne in a menacing tone.

Terrified by the formidable looks and gestures of the demon, the poor
girl offered no resistance, and her grandfather drew her into the
opening, which was immediately closed after her.

About an hour after this, and when it was near upon the stroke of
midnight, the arquebusier who had admitted the tall stranger to the
dungeon, and who had momentarily expected his coming forth, opened the
door to see what was going forward. Great was his astonishment to find
the cell empty! After looking around in bewilderment, he rushed to the
chamber above, to tell his comrades what had happened.

"This is clearly the work of the fiend," said Shoreditch; "it is useless
to strive against him."

"That tall black man was doubtless Herne himself." said Paddington. "I
am glad he did us no injury. I hope the king will not provoke his malice
further."

"Well, we must inform Captain Bouchier of the mischance," said
Shoreditch. "I would not be in thy skin, Mat Bee, for a trifle. The king
will be here presently, and then--"

"It is impossible to penetrate through the devices of the evil one,"
interrupted Mat. "I could have sworn it was the royal signet, for I saw
it on the king's finger as he delivered the order. I wish such another
chance of capturing the fiend would occur to me."

As the words were uttered, the door of a recess was thrown suddenly
open, and Herne, in his wild garb, with his antlered helm upon his brow,
and the rusty chain depending from his left arm, stood before them. His
appearance was so terrific and unearthly that they all shrank aghast,
and Mat Bee fell with his face on the floor.

"I am here!" cried the demon. "Now, braggart, wilt dare to seize me?"

But not a hand was moved against him. The whole party seemed transfixed
with terror.

"You dare not brave my power, and you are right," cried Herne--"a wave
of my hand would bring this old tower about your ears--a word would
summon a legion of fiends to torment you."

"But do not utter it, I pray you, good Herne--excellent Herne," cried
Mat Bee. "And, above all things, do not wave your hand, for we have no
desire to be buried alive,--have we, comrades? I should never have said
what I did if I had thought your friendship within hearing."

"Your royal master will as vainly seek to contend with me as he did to
bury me beneath the oak-tree," cried Herne. "If you want me further,
seek me in the upper chamber."

And with these words he darted up the ladder-like flight of steps and
disappeared.

As soon as they recovered from the fright that had enchained them,
Shoreditch and Paddington rushed forth into the area in front of the
turret, and shouting to those on the roof told them that Herne was in
the upper room--a piece of information which was altogether superfluous,
as the hammering had recommenced, and continued till the clock struck
twelve, when it stopped. Just then, it occurred to Mat Bee to ring the
alarm-bell, and he seized the rope, and began to pull it; but the bell
had scarcely sounded, when the cord, severed from above, fell upon his
head.

At this juncture, the king and the Duke of Suffolk arrived. When told
what had happened, though prepared for it, Henry burst into a terrible
passion, and bestowed a buffet on Mat Bee, that well nigh broke his jaw,
and sent him reeling to the farther side of the chamber. He had not at
first understood that Herne was supposed to be in the upper room; but
as soon as he was made aware of the circumstance, he cried out--"Ah,
dastards! have you let him brave you thus? But I am glad of it. His
capture is reserved for my own hand."

"Do not expose yourself to this risk, my gracious liege," said Suffolk.

"What! are you too a sharer in their womanish fears, Suffolk?" cried
Henry. "I thought you had been made of stouter stuff. If there is
danger, I shall be the first to encounter it. Come," he added, snatching
a torch from an arquebusier. And, drawing his dag, he hurried up the
steep steps, while Suffolk followed his example, and three or four
arquebusiers ventured after them.

Meanwhile Shoreditch and Paddington ran out, and informed Bouchier that
the king had arrived, and was mounting in search of Herne, upon which
the captain, shaking off his fears, ordered his men to follow him, and
opening the little door at the top of the stairs, began cautiously to
descend, feeling his way with his sword. He had got about half-way down,
when Henry sprang upon the platform. The light of the torch fell upon
the ghostly figure of Herne, with his arms folded upon his breast,
standing near the pile of wood, lying between the two staircases. So
appalling was the appearance of the demon, that Henry stood still to
gaze at him, while Bouchier and his men remained irresolute on the
stairs. In another moment, the Duke of Suffolk had gained the platform,
and the arquebusiers were seen near the head of the stairs.

"At last, thou art in my power, accursed being!" cried Henry. "Thou art
hemmed in on all sides, and canst not escape!"

"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed Herne.

"This shall prove whether thou art human or not," cried Henry, taking
deliberate aim at him with the dag.

"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed Herne. And as the report rang through the room, he
sank through the floor, and disappeared from view.

"Gone!" exclaimed Henry, as the smoke cleared off; "gone! Holy Mary!
then it must indeed be the fiend. I made the middle of his skull my aim,
and if he had not been invulnerable, the bullet must have pierced his
brain.

"I heard it rebound from his horned helmet, and drop to the floor," said
Bouchier.

"What is that chest?" cried Henry, pointing to a strange coffin-shaped
box, lying, as it seemed, on the exact spot where the demon had
disappeared.

No one had seen it before, though all called to mind the mysterious
hammering; and they had no doubt that the coffin was the work of the
demon.

"Break it open," cried Henry; "for aught we know, Herne may be concealed
within it."

The order was reluctantly obeyed by the arquebusiers. But no force was
required, for the lid was not nailed down; and when it was removed, a
human body in the last stage of decay was discovered.

"Pah! close it up," cried Henry, turning away in disgust. "How came it
there?"

"It must have been brought by the powers of darkness," said Bouchier;
"no such coffin was here when I searched the chamber two hours ago. But
see," he suddenly added, stooping down, and picking up a piece of paper
which had fallen from the coffin, "here is a scroll."

"Give it me!" cried Henry; and holding it to the light, he read the
words, "The body of Mark Fytton, the butcher, the victim of a tyrant's
cruelty."

Uttering a terrible imprecation, Henry flung the paper from him; and
bidding the arquebusiers burn the body at the foot of the gallows
without the town, he quitted the tower without further search.



XII.

     How Wolsey was disgraced by the King.


On the following day, a reconciliation took place between the king and
Anne Boleyn. During a ride in the great park with his royal brother,
Suffolk not only convinced him of the groundlessness of his jealousy,
but contrived to incense him strongly against Wolsey. Thus the queen and
the cardinal lost the momentary advantage they had gained, while Anne's
power was raised yet higher. Yielding to her entreaties not to see
Catherine again, nor to hold further conference with Wolsey until the
sentence of the court should be pronounced, Henry left the castle that
very day, and proceeded to his palace of Bridewell. The distress of the
unhappy queen at this sudden revolution of affairs may be conceived.
Distrusting Wolsey, and putting her sole reliance on Heaven and the
goodness of her cause, she withdrew to Blackfriars, where she remained
till the court met. As to the cardinal himself, driven desperate by
his situation, and exasperated by the treatment he had experienced,
he resolved, at whatever risk, to thwart Henry's schemes, and revenge
himself upon Anne Boleyn.

Thus matters continued till the court met as before in the
Parliament-chamber, at Blackfriars. On this occasion Henry was present,
and took his place under a cloth of estate,--the queen sitting at some
distance below him. Opposite them were the legates, with the Archbishop
of Canterbury, and the whole of the bishops. The aspect of the
assemblage was grave and anxious. Many eyes were turned on Henry, who
looked gloomy and menacing, but the chief object of interest was the
queen, who, though pale as death, had never in her highest days of power
worn a more majestic and dignified air than on this occasion.

The proceedings of the court then commenced, and the king being called
by the crier, he immediately answered to the summons. Catherine was next
called, and instead of replying, she marched towards the canopy beneath
which the king was seated, prostrated herself, and poured forth a most
pathetic and eloquent appeal to him, at the close of which she arose,
and making a profound reverence, walked out of the court, leaning upon
the arm of her general receiver, Griffith. Henry desired the crier to
call her back, but she would not return; and seeing the effect produced
by her address upon the auditory, he endeavoured to efface it by an
eulogium on her character and virtues, accompanied by an expression of
deep regret at the step he was compelled to take in separating himself
from her. But his hypocrisy availed him little, and his speech was
received with looks of ill-disguised incredulity. Some further discourse
then took place between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop
of Rochester; but as the queen had absented herself, the court was
adjourned to the next day, when it again met, and as she did not then
appear, though summoned, she was pronounced contumacious. After repeated
adjournments, the last session was held, and judgment demanded on the
part of the king, when Campeggio, as had been arranged between him and
Wolsey, declined to pronounce it until he had referred the matter to the
Pope, and the court was dissolved.

About two months after this event, during which time the legate's
commission had been revoked, while Henry was revolving the expediency of
accomplishing the divorce through the medium of his own ecclesiastical
courts, and without reference to that of Rome, a despatch was received
from the Pope by the two cardinals, requiring them to cite the king
to appear before him by attorney on a certain day. At the time of the
arrival of this instrument, Campeggio chanced to be staying with Wolsey
at his palace at Esher, and as the king was then holding his court at
Windsor, they both set out for the castle on the following day, attended
by a retinue of nearly a hundred horsemen, splendidly equipped.

It was now the middle of September, and the woods, instead of presenting
one uniform mass of green, glowed with an infinite variety of lovely
tints. And yet, despite the beauty of the scene, there was something
melancholy in witnessing the decline of the year, as marked by those old
woods, and by the paths that led through them, so thickly strewn with
leaves. Wolsey was greatly affected. "These noble trees will ere long
bereft of all their glories," he thought, "and so, most likely, will it
be with me, and perhaps my winter may come sooner than theirs!"

The cardinal and his train had crossed Staines Bridge, and passing
through Egham, had entered the great park near Englefield Green. They
were proceeding along the high ridge overlooking the woody region
between it and the castle, when a joyous shout in the glades beneath
reached them, and looking down, they saw the king accompanied by Anne
Boleyn, and attended by his falconers and a large company of horsemen,
pursuing the sport of hawking. The royal party appeared so much
interested in their sport that they did not notice the cardinal and his
train, and were soon out of sight. But as Wolsey descended Snow Hill,
and entered the long avenue, he heard the trampling of horses at a
little distance, and shortly afterwards, Henry and Anne issued from out
the trees. They were somewhat more than a bow-shot in advance of the
cardinal; but instead of halting till he came up, the king had no sooner
ascertained who it was, than, despatching a messenger to the castle, who
was seen galloping swiftly down the avenue, he rode off with Anne Boleyn
towards the opposite side of the park. Though deeply mortified by the
slight, Wolsey concealed his vexation from his brother cardinal, and
pursued his way to the castle, before which he presently arrived. The
gate was thrown open at his approach, but he had scarcely entered
the lower ward when Sir Henry Norris, the king's groom of the stole,
advanced to meet him, and, with a sorrowful expression of countenance,
said that his royal master had so many guests at the castle, that he
could not accommodate him and his train.

"I understand your drift, sir," replied Wolsey; "you would tell me I am
not welcome. Well, then, his eminence Cardinal Campeggio and myself must
take up our lodging at some hostel in the town, for it is necessary we
should see the king."

"If your grace is content to dismiss your attendants," said Norris in a
low tone, "you and Cardinal Campeggio can be lodged in Henry the Third's
Tower. Thus much I will take upon me; but I dare not admit you to the
royal lodgings."

Wolsey tried to look unconcerned, and calling to his gentleman usher,
George Cavendish, gave him some instructions in a low voice, upon which
the other immediately placed himself at the head of the retinue, and
ordered them to quit the castle with him, leaving only the jester,
Patch, to attend upon his master. Campeggio's attendants being
comparatively speaking, few in number, were allowed to remain, and
his litter was conveyed to Henry the Third's Tower--a fortification
standing, as already stated, in the south side of the lower ward, near
the edge of the dry moat surrounding the Round Tower. At the steps of
this tower Wolsey dismounted, and was about to follow Campeggio into
the doorway, when Will Sommers, who had heard of his arrival, stepped
forward, and with a salutation of mock formality, said, "I am sure it
will grieve the king, my master, not to be able to accommodate your
grace's train; but since it is larger than his own, you will scarce
blame his want of hospitality."

"Nor the courtesy of his attendants," rejoined Wolsey sharply. "I am in
no mood for thy jesting now. Stand aside, sirrah, or I will have the rod
applied to thy back!"

"Take care the king does not apply the rod to your own, lord cardinal,"
retorted Will Sommers. "If he scourges you according to your deserts,
your skin will be redder than your robe." And his mocking laugh pursued
Wolsey like the hiss of a snake into the tower.

Some two hours after this, Henry and his attendants returned from the
chase. The king seemed in a blithe humour, and Wolsey saw him laugh
heartily as Will Sommers pointed with his bauble towards Henry the
Third's Tower. The cardinal received no invitation to the royal banquet;
and the answer to his solicitation for an interview was, that he and
Campeggio would be received in the presence-chamber on the following
morning, but not before.

That night a great revel was held in the castle. Masquing, dancing,
and feasting filled up the evening, and the joyous sounds and strains
reached Wolsey in his seclusion, and forced him to contrast it with his
recent position, when he would have been second only to the king in the
entertainment. He laid his head upon his pillow, but not to rest, and
while tossing feverishly about his couch, he saw the arras with which
the walls were covered, move, and a tall, dark figure step from behind
it. The cardinal would have awakened his jester, who slept in a small
truckle-bed at his feet, but the strange visitor motioned him to be
still.

"You may conjecture who I am, cardinal," he said, "but in case you
should doubt, I will tell you. I am Herne the Hunter! And now to my
errand. There is a damsel, whom you once saw in the forest near the
great lake, and whom you promised to befriend. You can assist her
now--to-morrow it may be out of your power."

"I have enough to do to aid myself, without meddling with what concerns
me not," said Wolsey.

"This damsel does concern you," cried Herne. "Read this, and you will
see in what way."

And he tossed a letter to Wolsey, who glanced at it by the light of the
lamp.

"Ha! is it so?" he exclaimed. "Is she--"

"Hush!" cried Herne, "or you will wake this sleeper. It is as you
suppose. Will you not aid her now? Will you not bestow some of your
treasure upon her before it is wholly wrested from you by the king? I
will do aught you wish, secretly and swiftly."

"Go, then, to my palace at Esher," cried the cardinal. "Take this key
to my treasurer--it is the key of my coffers. Bid him deliver to you the
six caskets in the cabinet in the gilt chamber. Here is a token by which
he will know that you came from me," he added, delivering him a small
chain of gold, "for it has been so agreed between us. But you will be
sure to give the treasure to Mabel."

"Fear nothing," replied Herne. And stretching forth his hand to receive
the key and the chain, he glided behind the tapestry, and disappeared.

This strange incident gave some diversion to Wolsey's thought; but ere
long they returned to their former channel. Sleep would not be summoned,
and as soon as the first glimpse of day appeared, he arose, and wrapping
his robe around him, left his room and ascended a winding staircase
leading to the roof of the tower.

The morning promised to be fine, but it was then hazy, and the greater
part of the forest was wrapped in mist. The castle, however, was seen to
great advantage. Above Wolsey rose the vast fabric of the Round Tower,
on the summit of which the broad standard was at that moment being
unfurled; while the different battlements and towers arose majestically
around. But Wolsey's gaze rested chiefly upon the exquisite mausoleum
lying immediately beneath him; in which he had partly prepared
for himself a magnificent monument. A sharp pang shook him as he
contemplated it, and he cried aloud, "My very tomb will be wrested from
me by this rapacious monarch; and after all my care and all my cost, I
know not where I shall rest my bones!"

Saddened by the reflection, he descended to his chamber, and again threw
himself on the couch.

But Wolsey was not the only person in the castle who had passed a
sleepless night. Of the host of his enemies many had been kept awake by
the anticipation of his downfall on the morrow; and among these was
Anne Boleyn, who had received an assurance from the king that her enmity
should at length be fully gratified.

At the appointed hour, the two cardinals, proceeded to the royal
lodgings. They were detained for some time in the ante-chamber, where
Wolsey was exposed to the taunts and sneers of the courtiers, who had
lately so servilely fawned upon him. At length, they were ushered
into the presence chamber, at the upper end of which beneath a canopy
emblazoned with the royal arms woven in gold, sat Henry, with Anne
Boleyn on his right hand. At the foot of the throne stood Will Sommers,
and near him the Dukes of Richmond and Suffolk. Norfolk, Rochford, and
a number of other nobles, all open enemies of Wolsey, were also present.
Henry watched the advance of the cardinals with a stern look, and after
they had made an obeisance to him, he motioned them to rise.

"You have sought an interview with me, my lords," he said, with
suppressed rage. "What would you?"

"We have brought an instrument to you, my liege," said Wolsey, "which
has just been received from his holiness the Pope."

"Declare its nature," said Henry.

"It is a citation," replied Wolsey, "enjoining your high ness to appear
by attorney in the papal court, under a penalty of ten thousand ducats."

And he presented a parchment, stamped with the great seal of Rome, to
the king, who glanced his eye fiercely over it, and then dashed it to
the ground, with an explosion of fury terrible to hear and to witness.

"Ha! by Saint George!" he cried; "am I as nothing, that the Pope dares
to insult me thus?"

"It is a mere judicial form your majesty," interposed Campeggio, "and
is chiefly sent by his holiness to let you know we have no further
jurisdiction in the matter of the divorce."

"I will take care you have not, nor his holiness either," roared the
king. "By my father's head, he shall find I will be no longer trifled
with."

"But, my liege," cried Campeggio.

"Peace!" cried the king. "I will hear no apologies nor excuses. The
insult has been offered, and cannot be effaced. As for you, Wolsey--"

"Sire!" exclaimed the cardinal, shrinking before the whirlwind of
passion, which seemed to menace his utter extermination.

"As for you, I say," pursued Henry, extending his hand towards him,
while his eyes flashed fire, "who by your outrageous pride have so long
overshadowed our honour--who by your insatiate avarice and appetite for
wealth have oppressed our subjects--who by your manifold acts of bribery
and extortion have impoverished our realm, and by your cruelty and
partiality have subverted the due course of justice and turned it to
your ends--the time is come when you shall receive due punishment for
your offences."

"You wrong me, my dear liege," cried Wolsey abjectly. "These are the
accusations of my enemies. Grant me a patient hearing, and I will
explain all."

"I would not sharpen the king's resentment against you, lord cardinal,"
said Anne Boleyn, "for it is keen enough; but I cannot permit you to
say that these charges are merely hostile. Those who would support
the king's honour and dignity must desire to see you removed from his
counsels."

"I am ready to take thy place, lord cardinal," said Will Sommers; "and
will exchange my bauble for thy chancellor's mace, and my fool's cap for
thy cardinal's hat."

"Peace!" thundered the king. "Stand not between me and the object of my
wrath. Your accusers are not one but many, Wolsey; nay, the whole of my
people cry out for justice against you. And they shall have it. But you
shall hear the charges they bring. Firstly, contrary to our prerogative,
and for your own advancement and profit, you have obtained authority
legatine from the Pope; by which authority you have not only spoiled and
taken away their substance from many religious houses, but have usurped
much of our own jurisdiction. You have also made a treaty with the
King of France for the Pope without our consent, and concluded another
friendly treaty with the Duke of Ferrara, under our great seal, and
in our name, without our warrant. And furthermore you have presumed to
couple yourself with our royal self in your letters and instructions, as
if you were on an equality with us."

"Ha! ha! 'The king and I would have you do thus!' 'The king and I give
you our hearty thanks!' Ran it not so, cardinal?" cried Will Sommers.
"You will soon win the cap and bells."

"In exercise of your legatine authority," pursued the king, "you have
given away benefices contrary to our crown and dignity, for the which
you are in danger of forfeiture of your lands and goods."

"A premunire, cardinal," cried Will Sommers. "A premunire!--ha! ha!"

"Then it has been your practice to receive all the ambassadors to our
court first at your own palace," continued Henry, "to hear their charges
and intentions, and to instruct them as you might see fit. You have also
so practised that all our letters sent from beyond sea have first come
to your own hands, by which you have acquainted yourself with their
contents, and compelled us and our council to follow your devices.
You have also written to all our ambassadors abroad in your own name
concerning our affairs, without our authority; and received letters in
return from them by which you have sought to compass your own purposes.
By your ambition and pride you have undone many of our poor subjects;
have suppressed religious houses, and received their possessions; have
seized upon the goods of wealthy spiritual men deceased; constrained all
ordinaries yearly to compound with you; have gotten riches for yourself
and servants by subversion of the laws, and by abuse of your authority
in causing divers pardons of the Pope to be suspended until you, by
promise of a yearly pension, chose to revive them; and also by crafty
and untrue tales have sought to create dissention among our nobles."

"That we can all avouch for," cried Suffolk. "It was never merry in
England while there were cardinals among us."

"Of all men in England your grace should be the last to say so,"
rejoined Wolsey; "for if I had not been cardinal, you would not have had
a head upon your shoulders to utter the taunt."

"No more of this!" cried the king. "You have misdemeaned yourself in
our court by keeping up as great state in our absence as if we had been
there in person, and presumptuously have dared to join and imprint your
badge, the cardinal's hat, under our arms, graven on our coins struck at
York. And lastly, whenever in open Parliament allusion hath been made
to heresies and erroneous sects, you have failed to correct and notice
them, to the danger of the whole body of good and Christian people of
this our realm."

"This last charge ought to win me favour in the eyes of one who
professes the Opinions of Luther," said Wolsey to Anne. "But I deny it,
as I do all the rest."

"I will listen to no defence, Wolsey," replied the king. "I will
make you a terrible example to others how they offend us and our laws
hereafter."

"Do not condemn me unheard!" cried the cardinal, prostrating himself.

"I have heard too much, and I will hear no more!" cried the king
fiercely. "I dismiss you from my presence for ever. If you are innocent,
as you aver, justice will be done you.. If you are guilty, as I believe
you to be, look not for leniency from me, for I will show you none."
And, seating himself, he turned to Anne, and said, in a low tone, "Are
you content, sweetheart?"

"I am," she replied. "I shall not now break my vow. False cardinal," she
added aloud, "your reign is at an end."

"Your own may not be much longer, madam," rejoined Wolsey bitterly. "The
shadow of the axe," he added, pointing to the reflection of a partisan
on the floor, "is at your feet. Ere long it may rise to the head."

And, accompanied by Campeggio, he slowly quitted the presence-chamber.


THUS ENDS THE FOURTH BOOK OF THE CHRONICLE OF WINDSOR CASTLE



BOOK V. MABEL LYNDWOOD



I.

     How the Earl of Surrey and the Fair Geraldine met in King
     James's Bower in the Moat--And how they were surprised by
     the Duke of Richmond.


IN order to preserve unbroken the chain of events with which the last
book of this chronicle concluded, it was deemed expedient to disturb
the unity of time, so far as it related to some of the less important
characters; and it will now be necessary, therefore, to return to the
middle of June, when the Earl of Surrey's term of captivity was drawing
to a close.

As the best means of conquering the anxiety produced by the vision
exhibited to him by Herne, increased as it was by the loss of the relic
he had sustained at the same time, the earl had devoted himself to
incessant study, and for a whole month he remained within his chamber.
The consequence of his unremitting application was that, though he
succeeded in his design and completely regained his tranquillity, his
strength gave way under the effort, and he was confined for some days to
his couch by a low fever.

As soon as he was sufficiently recovered to venture forth, he mounted to
the summit of the Round Tower, in the hope that a walk round its breezy
battlements might conduce to his restoration to health. The day was
bright and beautiful, and a gentle wind was stirring; and as Surrey
felt the breath of heaven upon his cheek, and gazed upon the glorious.
prospect before him, he wondered that his imprisonment had not driven
him mad. Everything around him, indeed, was calculated to make the
sense of captivity painful. The broad and beautiful meads, stretching
out beneath him, seemed to invite a ramble over them; the silver river
courted a plunge into its waves, the woods an hour's retirement into
their shady recesses, The bells of Eton College rang out merrily, but
their sound saddened rather than elated him. The road between Eton and
Windsor, then marked by straggling cottages with gardens between them,
with here and there a dwelling of a better kind, was thronged with herds
of cattle and their drivers, for a fair was held that day in the town of
Windsor, to which they were hastening. Then there were country maidens
and youthful hinds in their holiday apparel, trooping towards the
bridge. Booths were erected, near which, in the Brocas meads, the rustic
sports of wrestling, running, and casting the bar were going forward,
while numbers of boats shot to and fro upon the river, and strains of
music proceeded from a large gilt barge moored to its banks. Nearer, and
in the broad green plain lying beneath the north terrace, were a company
of archers shooting at the butts. But these sights, instead of affording
pleasure to Surrey, only sharpened the anguish of his feelings by the
contrast they offered to his present position.

To distract his thoughts, he quitted the near view, and let his eye run
along the edge of the horizon, until it rested upon a small speck,
which he knew to be the lofty spire of Saint Paul's Cathedral. If, as he
supposed, the Fair Geraldine was in attendance upon Anne Boleyn, at the
palace at Bridewell, she must be under the shadow of this very spire;
and the supposition, whether correct or not, produced such quick and
stifling emotions, that the tears rushed to his eyes.

Ashamed of his weakness, he turned to the other side of the tower, and
bent his gaze upon the woody heights of the great park. These recalled
Herne the Hunter; and burning with resentment at the tricks practised
upon him by the demon, he determined that the first use he would make of
his liberty should be to seek out, and, if possible, effect the capture
of this mysterious being. Some of the strange encounters between Herne
and the king had been related to him by the officer on guard at the
Norman Tower but these only served as stimulants to the adventure. After
a couple of hours thus passed on the keep, he descended refreshed and
invigorated. The next day he was there again, and the day after that;
when, feeling that his restoration was well nigh complete, he requested
permission to pass the following evening in the dry moat of the donjon.
And this was readily accorded him.

Covered with green sod, and shaded by many tall trees growing out of
the side of the artificial mound on which the keep was built, the fosse
offered all the advantages of a garden to the prisoners who were allowed
to take exercise within it. Here, as has been mentioned, King James the
First of Scotland first beheld, from the battlements above, the lovely
Jane Beaufort take her solitary walk, and by his looks and gestures
contrived to make her sensible of the passion with which she inspired
him; and here at last, in an arbour which, for the sake of the old and
delightful legend connected with it, was kept up at the time of this
chronicle, and then bore the name of the royal poet, they had secretly
met, and interchanged their vows of affection.

Familiar with the story, familiar also with the poetic strains to which
the monarch's passion gave birth, Surrey could not help comparing his
own fate with that of the illustrious captive who had visited the spot
before him. Full of such thoughts, he pensively tracked the narrow path
winding between the grassy banks of the fosse--now casting up his eyes
to the keep--now looking towards the arbour, and wishing that he had
been favoured with such visitings as lightened the captivity of the
Scottish king. At last, he sought the bower--a charming little nest of
green leaves and roses, sheltering a bench which seemed only contrived
for lovers--and taking out his tablets, began to trace within them some
stanzas of that exquisite poem which has linked his name for ever with
the Round Tower. Thus occupied, the time stole on insensibly, and he was
not aware that he had over-stayed the limits allowed him, till he was
aroused by the voice of the officer, who came to summon him back to his
prison.

"You will be removed to your old lodging, in the Round Tower, to-morrow
night, my lord," said the officer.

"For what reason?" demanded the earl, as he followed his conductor up
the steep side of the mound. But receiving no reply, he did not renew
the inquiry.

Entering a door in the covered way at the head of the flight of steps
communicating with the Norman Tower, they descended them in silence.
Just as they reached the foot of this long staircase, the earl chanced
to cast back his eyes, and, to his inexpressible astonishment, perceived
on the landing at the head of the steps, and just before the piece of
ordnance commanding the ascent, the figure of Herne the Hunter.

Before he could utter an exclamation, the figure retreated through the
adjoining archway. Telling the officer what he had seen, Surrey would
fain have gone in quest of the fiendish spy; but the other would not
permit him; and affecting to treat the matter as a mere creation of
fancy, he hurried the earl to his chamber in the Curfew Tower.

The next day, Surrey was removed betimes to the Round Tower, and the
cause of the transfer was soon explained by the discharge of ordnance,
the braying of trumpets and the rolling of drums, announcing the arrival
of the king. From the mystery observed towards him, Surrey was led to
the conclusion that the Fair Geraldine accompanied the royal party;
but he in vain sought to satisfy himself of the truth of the surmise by
examining, through the deep embrasure of his window, the cavalcade
that soon afterwards entered the upper quadrangle. Amid the throng of
beautiful dames surrounding Anne Boleyn he could not be certain that he
detected the Fair Geraldine; but he readily distinguished the Duke
of Richmond among the nobles, and the sight awakened a pang of bitter
jealousy in his breast.

The day wore away slowly, for he could not fix his attention upon his
books, neither was he allowed to go forth upon the battlements of the
tower. In the evening, however, the officer informed him he might
take exercise within the dry moat if he was so inclined, and he gladly
availed himself of the permission.

After pacing to and fro along the walk for a short time, he entered the
arbour, and was about to throw himself upon the bench, when he observed
a slip of paper lying upon it. He took it up, and found a few lines
traced upon it in hurried characters. They ran thus:--"The Fair
Geraldine arrived this morning in the castle. If the Earl of Surrey
desires to meet her, he will find her within this arbour at midnight."

This billet was read and re-read by the young earl with feelings of
indescribable transport; but a little reflection damped his ardour,
and made him fear it might be a device to ensnare him. There was no
certainty that the note proceeded in any way from the Fair Geraldine,
nor could he even be sure that she was in the castle. Still, despite
these misgivings, the attraction was too powerful to be resisted, and
he turned over the means of getting out of his chamber, but the scheme
seemed wholly impracticable. The window was at a considerable height
above the ramparts of the keep, and even if he could reach them, and
escape the notice of the sentinels, he should have to make a second
descent into the fosse. And supposing all this accomplished how was
he to return? The impossibility of answering this latter mental
interrogation compelled him to give up all idea of the attempt.

On returning to his prison-chamber, he stationed himself at the
embrasure overlooking the ramparts, and listened to the regular tread of
the sentinel below, half resolved, be the consequences what they might,
to descend. As the appointed time approached, his anxiety became almost
intolerable, and quitting the window, he began to pace hurriedly to and
fro within the chamber, which, as has been previously observed, partook
of the circular form of the keep, and was supported in certain places
by great wooden pillars and cross-beams. But instead of dissipating
his agitation, his rapid movements seemed rather to increase it, and at
last, wrought to a pitch of uncontrollable excitement, he cried aloud--
"If the fiend were to present himself now, and offer to lead me to her,
I would follow him."

Scarcely were the words uttered than a hollow laugh broke from the
farther end of the chamber, and a deep voice exclaimed--"I am ready to
take you to her." "I need not ask who addresses me," said Surrey, after
a pause, and straining his eyes to distinguish the figure of the speaker
in the gloom.

"I will tell you who I am," rejoined the other. "I am he who visited you
once before--who showed you a vision of the Fair Geraldine--and carried
off your vaunted relic--ho! ho!"

"Avoid thee, false fiend!" rejoined Surrey, "thou temptest me now in
vain."

"You have summoned me," returned Herne; "and I will not be dismissed. I
am ready to convey you to your mistress, who awaits you in King James's
bower, and marvels at your tardiness."

"And with what design dost thou offer me this service?" demanded Surrey.

"It will be time enough to put that question when I make any condition,"
replied Herne. "Enough, I am willing to aid you. Will you go?"

"Lead on!" replied Surrey, marching towards him.

Suddenly, Herne drew a lantern from beneath the cloak in which he was
wrapped, and threw its light on a trap-door lying open at his feet.

"Descend!"

Surrey hesitated a moment, and then plunged down the steps. In another
instant the demon followed. Some hidden machinery was then set in
motion, and the trap-door returned to its place. At length, Surrey
arrived at a narrow passage, which appeared to correspond in form with
the bulwarks of the keep. Here Herne passed him, and taking the lead,
hurried along the gallery and descended another flight of steps, which
brought them to a large vault, apparently built in the foundation of the
tower. Before the earl had time to gaze round this chamber, the demon
masked the lantern, and taking his hand, drew him through a narrow
passage, terminated by a small iron door, which flew open at a touch,
and they emerged among the bushes clothing the side of the mound.

"You can now proceed without my aid," said Herne: "but take care not to
expose yourself to the sentinels."

Keeping under the shade of the trees, for the moon was shining brightly,
Surrey hastened towards the arbour, and as he entered it, to his
inexpressible delight found that he had not been deceived, but that the
Fair Geraldine was indeed there.

"How did you contrive this meeting?" she cried, after their first
greetings had passed. "And how did you learn I was in the castle, for
the strictest instructions were given that the tidings should not reach
you."

The only response made by Surrey was to press her lily hand devotedly to
his lips.

"I should not have ventured hither," pursued the Fair Geraldine, "unless
you had sent me the relic as a token. I knew you would never part with
it, and I therefore felt sure there was no deception."

"But how did you get here?" inquired Surrey.

"Your messenger provided a rope-ladder, by which I descended into the
moat," she replied.

Surrey was stupefied.

"You seem astonished at my resolution," she continued; "and, indeed,
I am surprised at it myself; but I could not overcome my desire to see
you, especially as this meeting may be our last. The king, through the
Lady Anne Boleyn, has positively enjoined me to think no more of you
and has given your father, the Duke of Norfolk, to understand that your
marriage without the royal assent will be attended by the loss of all
the favour he now enjoys."

"And think you I will submit to such tyranny?" cried Surrey.

"Alas!" replied the Fair Geraldine in a mournful tone, "I feel we shall
never be united. This conviction, which has lately forced itself upon
my mind, has not made me love you less, though it has in some degree
altered my feelings towards you."

"But I may be able to move the king," cried Surrey. "I have some claim
besides that of kindred on the Lady Anne Boleyn--and she will obtain his
consent."

"Do not trust to her," replied the Fair Geraldine. "You may have
rendered her an important service, but be not too sure of a return.
No, Surrey, I here release you from the troth you plighted to me in the
cloisters."

"I will not be released from it!" cried the earl hastily; "neither will
I release you. I hold the pledge as sacred and as binding as if we had
been affianced together before Heaven."

"For your own sake, do not say so, my dear lord," rejoined the Fair
Geraldine; "I beseech you, do not. That your heart is bound to me now,
I well believe--and that you could become inconstant I will not permit
myself to suppose. But your youth forbids an union between us for many
years; and if during that time you should behold some fairer face than
mine, or should meet some heart you may conceive more loving--though
that can hardly be--I would not have a hasty vow restrain you. Be free,
then--free at least for three years--and if at the end of that time your
affections are still unchanged, I am willing you should bind yourself to
me for ever."

"I cannot act with equal generosity to you," rejoined Surrey in a tone
of deep disappointment. "I would sooner part with life than relinquish
the pledge I have received from you. But I am content that my constancy
should be put to the test you propose. During the long term of my
probation, I will shrink from no trial of faith. Throughout Europe I
will proclaim your beauty in the lists, and will maintain its supremacy
against all comers. But, oh! sweet Geraldine, since we have met in this
spot, hallowed by the loves of James of Scotland and Jane Beaufort, let
us here renew our vows of eternal constancy, and agree to meet again at
the time you have appointed, with hearts as warm and loving as those we
bring together now."

And as he spoke he drew her towards him, and imprinted a passionate kiss
on her lips.

"Let that ratify the pledge," he said.

"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed a deep voice without.

"What was that?" demanded the Fair Geraldine in a tone of alarm.

"You have the relic, have you not?" inquired the earl in a low tone.

"No!" she replied, "your messenger merely showed it to me. But why do
you ask? Ah! I understand. The fiendish laughter that just now sounded
in my ears proceeded from--"

"Herne the Hunter," replied Surrey, in a whisper. "But fear nothing. I
will defend you with my life. Ah! accursed chance! I have no weapon."

"None would avail against him," murmured the Fair Geraldine. "Lead me
forth; I shall die if I stay here."

Supporting her in his arms, Surrey complied, but they had scarcely
gained the entrance of the arbour, when a tall figure stood before them.
It was the Duke of Richmond. A gleam of moonlight penetrating through
the leaves, fell upon the group, and rendered them distinctly visible to
each other.

"Soh!" exclaimed the duke, after regarding the pair in silence for
a moment, "I have not been misinformed. You have contrived a meeting
here."

"Richmond," said Surrey sternly, "we once were dear and loving friends,
and we are still honourable foes. I know that I am safe with you. I
know you will breathe no word about this meeting, either to the Fair
Geraldine's prejudice or mine.

"You judge me rightly, my lord," replied the duke, in a tone of equal
sternness. "I have no thought of betraying you; though, by a word to my
royal father, I could prevent all chance of future rivalry on your part.
I shall, however, demand a strict account from you on liberation."

"Your grace acts as beseems a loyal gentleman," replied Surrey.
"Hereafter I will not fail to account to you for my conduct in any way
you please."

"Oh! let me interpose between you, my lords," cried the Fair Geraldine,
"to prevent the disastrous consequences of this quarrel. I have already
told your grace I cannot love you, and that my heart is devoted to
the Earl of Surrey. Let me appeal to your noble nature--to your
generosity--not to persist in a hopeless suit."

"You have conquered madam," said the duke, after a pause. "I have been
to blame in this matter. But I will make amends for my error. Surrey, I
relinquish her to you."

"My friend!" exclaimed the earl, casting himself into the duke's arms.

"I will now endeavour to heal the wounds I have unwittingly occasioned,"
said the Fair Geraldine. "I am surprised your grace should be insensible
to attractions so far superior to mine as those of the Lady Mary
Howard."

"The Lady Mary is very beautiful, I confess," said the duke; "and if you
had not been in the way, I should assuredly have been her captive."

"I ought not to betray the secret, perhaps," hesitated the Fair
Geraldine, "but gratitude prompts me to do so. The lady is not so blind
to your grace's merits as I have been."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the duke. "If it be so, Surrey, we may yet be
brothers as well as friends."

"And that it is so I can avouch, Richmond," rejoined the earl, "for I am
in my sister's secret as well as the Fair Geraldine. But now that this
explanation has taken place, I must entreat your grace to conduct the
Fair Geraldine back to her lodgings, while I regain, the best way I can,
my chamber in the Round Tower."

"I marvel how you escaped from it," said Richmond; "but I suppose it was
by the connivance of the officer."

"He who set me free--who brought the Fair Geraldine hither--and who, I
suspect, acquainted you with our meeting, was no other than Herne the
Hunter," replied Surrey.

"You amaze me!" exclaimed the duke; "it was indeed a tall dark man,
muffled in a cloak, who informed me that you were to meet at midnight in
King James's bower in the moat, and I therefore came to surprise you."

"Your informant was Herne," replied Surrey.

"Right!" exclaimed the demon, stepping from behind a tree, where he
had hitherto remained concealed; "it was I--I, Herne the Hunter. And
I contrived the meeting in anticipation of a far different result from
that which has ensued. But I now tell you, my lord of Surrey, that it
is idle to indulge a passion for the Fair Geraldine. You will never wed
her."

"False fiend, thou liest!" cried Surrey.

"Time will show," replied Herne. "I repeat, you will wed another--and
more, I tell you, you are blinder than Richmond has shown himself--for
the most illustrious damsel in the kingdom has regarded you with eyes of
affection, and yet you have not perceived it."

"The Princess Mary?" demanded Richmond.

"Ay, the Princess Mary," repeated Herne. "How say you now, my
lord?--will you let ambition usurp the place of love?"

"No," replied Surrey. "But I will hold no further converse with thee.
Thou wouldst tempt to perdition. Hence, fiend!"

"Unless you trust yourself to my guidance, you will never reach your
chamber," rejoined Herne, with a mocking laugh. "The iron door in
the mound cannot be opened on this side, and you well know what the
consequence of a discovery will be. Come, or I leave you to your fate."
And he moved down the path on the right.

"Go with him, Surrey," cried Richmond.

Pressing the Fair Geraldine to his breast, the Earl committed her to the
charge of his friend, and tearing himself away, followed the steps of
the demon. He had not proceeded far when he heard his name pronounced by
a voice issuing from the tree above him. Looking up, he saw Herne in one
of the topmost branches, and at a sign, instantly climbed up to him. The
thick foliage screened them from observation, and Surrey concluded his
guide was awaiting the disappearance of the sentinel, who was at that
moment approaching the tree. But such apparently was not the other's
intentions; for the man had scarcely passed than Herne sprang upon the
ramparts, and the poor fellow turning at the sound, was almost scared
out of his senses at the sight of the dreaded fiend. Dropping his
halbert, he fell upon his face with a stifled cry Herne then motioned
Surrey to descend, and they marched together quickly to a low door
opening into the keep. Passing through it, and ascending a flight
of steps, they stood upon the landing at the top of the staircase
communicating with the Norman Tower, and adjoining the entrance to
Surrey's chamber.

Apparently familiar with the spot, Herne took down a large key from a
nail in the wall, against which it hung, and unlocked the door.

"Enter," he said to Surrey, "and do not forget the debt you owe to Herne
the Hunter."

And as the earl stepped into the chamber, the door was locked behind
him.



II.

     How Sir Thomas Wyat found Mabel in the Sandstone Cave, and
     what happened to him there


A week after the foregoing occurrence, the Earl of Surrey was set free.
But his joy at regaining his liberty was damped by learning that the
Fair Geraldine had departed for Ireland. She had left the tenderest
messages for him with his sister, the Lady Mary Howard, accompanied with
assurances of unalterable attachment.

But other changes had taken place, which were calculated to afford him
some consolation. Ever since the night on which he had been told the
Lady Mary was not indifferent to him, Richmond had devoted himself
entirely to her; and matters had already proceeded so far, that he had
asked her in marriage of the Duke of Norfolk, who, after ascertaining
the king's pleasure on the subject, had gladly given his consent, and
the youthful pair were affianced to each other. Surrey and Richmond now
became closer friends than ever; and if, amid the thousand distractions
of Henry's gay and festive court, the young earl did not forget the
Fair Geraldine, he did not, at least, find the time hang heavily on his
hands.

About a week after Wolsey's dismissal, while the court was still
sojourning at Windsor, Surrey proposed to Richmond to ride one morning
with him in the great park. The Duke willingly assented, and mounting
their steeds, they galloped towards Snow Hill, wholly unattended. While
mounting this charming ascent at a more leisurely pace, the earl said
to his companion, "I will now tell you why I proposed this ride to you,
Richmond. I have long determined to follow up the adventure of Herne the
Hunter, and I wish to confer with you about it, and ascertain whether
you are disposed to join me."

"I know not what to say, Surrey," replied the duke gravely, and speaking
in a low tone. "The king, my father, failed in his endeavours to expel
the demon, who still lords it in the forest."

"The greater glory to us if we succeed," said Surrey.

"I will take counsel with Lady Mary on the subject before I give an
answer," rejoined Richmond.

"Then there is little doubt what your grace's decision will be," laughed
Surrey. "To speak truth, it was the fear of your consulting her that
made me bring you here. What say you to a ride in the forest to-morrow
night?"

"I have little fancy for it," replied Richmond; "and if you will be
ruled by me, you will not attempt the enterprise yourself."

"My resolution is taken," said the earl; "but now, since we have reached
the brow of the hill, let us push forward to the lake."

A rapid ride of some twenty minutes brought them to the edge of
the lake, and they proceeded along the verdant path leading to the
forester's hut. On arriving at the dwelling, it appeared wholly
deserted, but they nevertheless dismounted, and tying their horses
to the trees at the back of the cottage, entered it. While they were
examining the lower room, the plash of oars reached their ears, and
rushing to the window, they descried the skiff rapidly approaching the
shore. A man was seated within it, whose attire, though sombre, seemed
to proclaim him of some rank, but as his back was towards them, they
could not discern his features. In another instant the skiff touched the
strand, and the rower leaping ashore, proved to be Sir Thomas Wyat.
On making this discovery they both ran out to him, and the warmest
greetings passed between them. When these were over, Surrey expressed
his surprise to Wyat at seeing him there, declaring he was wholly
unaware of his return from the court of France.

"I came back about a month ago," said Wyat. "His majesty supposes me at
Allington; nor shall I return to court without a summons."

"I am not sorry to hear it," said Surrey; "but what are you doing here?"

"My errand is a strange and adventurous one," replied Wyat. "You may
have heard that before I departed for France I passed some days in the
forest in company with Herne the Hunter. What then happened to me I may
not disclose; but I vowed never to rest till I have freed this forest
from the weird being who troubles it."

"Say you so?" cried Surrey; "then you are most fortunately encountered,
Sir Thomas, for I myself, as Richmond will tell you, am equally bent
upon the fiend's expulsion. We will be companions in the adventure."

"We will speak of that anon," replied Wyat. "I was sorry to find this
cottage uninhabited, and the fair damsel who dwelt within it, when I
beheld it last, gone. What has become of her?

"It is a strange story," said Richmond. And he proceeded to relate all
that was known to have befallen Mabel.

Wyat listened with profound attention to the recital, and at its close,
said, "I think I can find a clue to this mystery, but to obtain it I
must go alone. Meet me here at midnight to-morrow, and I doubt not we
shall be able to accomplish our design."

"May I not ask for some explanation of your scheme?" said Surrey.

"Not yet," rejoined Wyat. "But I will freely confess to you that there
is much danger in the enterprise--danger that I would not willingly any
one should share with me, especially you, Surrey, to whom I owe so much.
If you do not find me here, therefore, to-morrow night, conclude that I
have perished, or am captive."

"Well, be it as you will, Wyat," said Surrey; "but I would gladly
accompany you, and share your danger."

"I know it, and I thank you," returned Wyat, warmly grasping the other's
hand; "but much--nay, all--may remain to be done to-morrow night. You
had better bring some force with you, for we may need it."

"I will bring half a dozen stout archers," replied Surrey--"and if you
come not, depend upon it, I will either release you or avenge you."

"I did not intend to prosecute this adventure further," said Richmond;
"but since you are both resolved to embark in it, I will not desert
you."

Soon after this, the friends separated,--Surrey and Richmond taking
horse and returning to the castle, discoursing on the unlooked--for
meeting with Wyat, while the latter again entered the skiff, and rowed
down the lake. As soon as the hut was clear, two persons descended the
steps of a ladder leading to a sort of loft in the roof, and sprang upon
the floor of the hut.

"Ho! ho! Ho!" laughed the foremost, whose antlered helm and wild garb
proclaimed him to be Herne; "they little dreamed who were the hearers of
their conference. So they think to take me, Fenwolf--ha!"

"They know not whom they have to deal with," rejoined the latter.

"They should do so by this time," said Herne; "but I will tell thee why
Sir Thomas Wyat has undertaken this enterprise. It is not to capture me,
though that may be one object that moves him. But he wishes to see
Mabel Lyndwood. The momentary glimpse he caught of her bright eyes was
sufficient to inflame him."

"Ah!" exclaimed Fenwolf, "think you so?"

"I am assured of it," replied Herne. "He knows the secret of the cave,
and will find her there."

"But he will never return to tell what he has seen," said Fenwolf
moodily.

"I know not that," replied Herne. "I have my own views respecting him. I
want to renew my band."

"He will never join you," rejoined Fenwolf.

"What if I offer him Mabel as a bait?" said Herne.

"You will not do so, dread master?" rejoined Fenwolf, trembling and
turning pale. "She belongs to me."

"To thee, fool!" cried Herne, with a derisive laugh. "Thinkest thou I
would resign such a treasure to thee? No, no. But rest easy, I will not
give her to Wyat."

"You mean her for yourself, then?" said Fenwolf.

"Darest thou to question me?" cried Herne, striking him with the hand
armed with the iron gyves. "This to teach thee respect."

And this to prove whether thou art mortal or rejoined Fenwolf, plucking
his hunting-knife from his belt, and striking it with all his force
against the other's breast. But though surely and forcibly dealt, the
blow glanced off as if the demon were cased in steel, and the intended
assassin fell back in amazement, while an unearthly laugh rang in his
ears. Never had Fenwolf seen Herne wear so formidable a look as he at
that moment assumed. His giant frame dilated, his eyes flashed fire, and
the expression of his countenance was so fearful that Fenwolf shielded
his eyes with his hands.

"Ah, miserable dog!" thundered Herne; "dost thou think I am to be hurt
by mortal hands, or mortal weapons? Thy former experience should have
taught thee differently. But since thou hast provoked it, take thy
fate!"

Uttering these words, he seized Fenwolf by the throat, clutching him
with a terrific gripe, and in a few seconds the miserable wretch would
have paid the penalty of his rashness, if a person had not at the moment
appeared at the doorway. Flinging his prey hastily backwards, Herne
turned at the interruption, and perceived old Tristram Lyndwood, who
looked appalled at what he beheld.

"Ah, it is thou, Tristram?" cried Herne; "thou art just in time to
witness the punishment of this rebellious hound."

"Spare him, dread master! oh, spare him!" cried Tristram imploringly.

"Well," said Herne, gazing at the half-strangled caitiff, "he may
live. He will not offend again. But why hast thou ventured from thy
hiding-place, Tristram?"

"I came to inform you that I have just observed a person row across the
lake in the skiff," replied the old man. "He appears to be taking the
direction of the secret entrance to the cave."

"It is Sir Thomas Wyat," replied Herne, "I am aware of his proceedings.
Stay with Fenwolf till he is able to move, and then proceed with him to
the cave. But mark me, no violence must be done to Wyat if you find
him there. Any neglect of my orders in this respect will be followed by
severe punishment. I shall be at the cave ere long; but, meanwhile, I
have other business to transact."

And quitting the hut, he plunged into the wood.

Meanwhile, Sir Thomas Wyat, having crossed the lake, landed, and
fastened the skiff to a tree, struck into the wood, and presently
reached the open space in which lay the secret entrance to the cave. He
was not long in finding the stone, though it was so artfully concealed
by the brushwood that it would have escaped any uninstructed eye, and
removing it, the narrow entrance to the cave was revealed.

Committing himself to the protection of Heaven, Wyat entered, and having
taken the precaution of drawing the stone after him, which was easily
accomplished by a handle fixed to the inner side of it, he commenced the
descent. At first, he had to creep along, but the passage gradually got
higher, until at length, on reaching the level ground, he was able to
stand upright. There was no light to guide him, but by feeling against
the sides of the passage, he found that he was in the long gallery he
had formerly threaded. Uncertain which way to turn, he determined to
trust to chance for taking the right direction, and drawing his sword,
proceeded slowly to the right.

For some time he encountered no obstacle, neither could he detect the
slightest sound, but he perceived that the atmosphere grew damp, and
that the sides of the passage were covered with moisture. Thus warned,
he proceeded with great caution, and presently found, after emerging
into a more open space, and striking off on the left, that he had
arrived at the edge of the pool of water which he knew lay at the end of
the large cavern.

While considering how he should next proceed, a faint gleam of light
became visible at the upper end of the vault. Changing his position,
for the pillars prevented him from seeing the source of the glimmer, he
discovered that it issued from a lamp borne by a female hand, who he had
no doubt was Mabel. On making this discovery, he sprang forwards, and
called to her, but instantly repented his rashness, for as he uttered
the cry the light was extinguished.

Wyat was now completely at a loss how to proceed. He was satisfied that
Mabel was in the vault; but in what way to guide himself to her retreat
he could not tell, and it was evident she herself would not assist him.
Persuaded, however, if he could but make himself known, he should no
longer be shunned, he entered one of the lateral passages, and ever and
anon, as he proceeded, repeated Mabel's name in a low, soft tone.
The stratagem was successful. Presently he heard a light footstep
approaching him, and a gentle voice inquired--"Who calls me?"

"A friend," replied Wyat.

"Your name?" she demanded.

"You will not know me if I declare myself, Mabel," he replied, "but I am
called Sir Thomas Wyat."

"The name is well known to me," she replied, in trembling tones; "and I
have seen you once--at my grandfather's cottage. But why have you come
here? Do you know where you are?

"I know that I am in the cave of Herne the Hunter," replied Wyat; "and
one of my motives for seeking it was to set you free. But there is
nothing to prevent your flight now."

"Alas! there is," she replied. "I am chained here by bonds I cannot
break. Herne has declared that any attempt at escape on my part shall be
followed by the death of my grandsire. And he does not threaten idly, as
no doubt you know. Besides, the most terrible vengeance would fall on my
own head. No,--I cannot--dare not fly. But let us not talk in the dark.
Come with me to procure a light. Give me your hand, and I will lead you
to my cell."

Taking the small, trembling hand offered him, Wyat followed his
conductress down the passage. A few steps brought them to a door, which
she pushed aside, and disclosed a small chamber, hewn out of the rock,
in a recess of which a lamp was burning. Lighting the lamp which she had
recently extinguished, she placed it on a rude table.

"Have you been long a prisoner here?" asked Wyat, fixing his regards
upon her countenance, which, though it had lost somewhat of its bloom,
had gained much in interest and beauty.

"For three months, I suppose," she replied; "but I am not able to
calculate the lapse of time. It has seemed very--very long. Oh that I
could behold the sun again, and breathe the fresh, pure air!

"Come with me, and you shall do so," rejoined Wyat.

"I have told you I cannot fly," she answered. "I cannot sacrifice my
grandsire."

"But if he is leagued with this demon he deserves the worst fate that
can befall him," said Wyat. "You should think only of your own safety.
What can be the motive of your detention?"

"I tremble to think of it," she replied; "but I fear that Herne has
conceived a passion for me."

"Then indeed you must fly," cried Wyat; "such unhallowed love will tend
to perdition of soul and body."

"Oh that there was any hope for me!" she ejaculated.

"There is hope," replied Wyat. "I will protect you--will care for
you--will love you."

"Love me!" exclaimed Mabel, a deep blush overspreading her pale
features. "You love another."

"Absence has enabled me to overcome the vehemence of my passion,"
replied Wyat, "and I feel that my heart is susceptible of new emotions.
But you, maiden," he added coldly, "you are captivated by the admiration
of the king."

"My love, like yours, is past," she answered, with a faint smile; "but
if I were out of Herne's power I feel that I could love again, and
far more deeply than I loved before--for that, in fact, was rather the
result of vanity than of real regard."

"Mabel," said Wyat, taking her hand, and gazing into her eyes, "if I set
you free, will you love me?"

"I love you already," she replied; "but if that could be, my whole life
should be devoted to you. Ha!" she exclaimed with a sudden change of
tone, "footsteps are approaching; it is Fenwolf. Hide yourself within
that recess."

Though doubting the prudence of the course, Wyat yielded to her
terrified and imploring looks, and concealed himself in the manner she
had indicated. He was scarcely ensconed in the recess, when the door
opened, and Morgan Fenwolf stepped in, followed by her grandfather.
Fenwolf gazed suspiciously round the little chamber, and then glanced
significantly at old Tristram, but he made no remark.

"What brings you here?" demanded Mabel tremblingly.

"You are wanted in the cave," said Fenwolf.

"I will follow you anon," she replied.

"You must come at once," rejoined Fenwolf authoritatively. "Herne will
become impatient."

Upon this Mabel rose, and, without daring to cast a look towards the
spot where Wyat was concealed, quitted the cell with them. No sooner
were they all out, than Fenwolf, hastily shutting the door, turned the
key in the lock, and taking it out, exclaimed, "So we have secured you,
Sir Thomas Wyat. No fear of your revealing the secret of the cave now,
or flying with Mabel--ha! ha!" to here.



III.

     In what manner Herne declared his Passion for Mabel.


Utterly disregarding her cries and entreaties, Fenwolf dragged Mabel
into the great cavern, and forced her to take a seat on a bench near the
spot where a heap of ashes showed that the fire was ordinarily lighted.
All this while, her grandfather had averted his face from her, as if
fearing to meet her regards, and he now busied himself in striking a
light and setting fire to a pile of fagots and small logs of wood.

"I thought you told me Herne was here," said Mabel in a tone of bitter
reproach, to Fenwolf, who seated himself beside her on the bench.

"He will be here ere long," he replied sullenly.

"Oh, do not detain Sir Thomas Wyat!" cried Mabel piteously; "do not
deliver him to your dread master! Do what you will with me--but let him
go."

"I will tell you what I will do," replied Fenwolf, in a low tone;
"I will set Sir Thomas at liberty, and run all risks of Herne's
displeasure, if you will promise to be mine."

Mabel replied by a look of unutterable disgust.

"Then he will await Herne's coming where he is," rejoined Fenwolf.

Saying which he arose, and, pushing a table near the bench, took the
remains of a huge venison pasty and a loaf from a hutch standing on one
side of the cavern.

By this time Old Tristram, having succeeded in lighting the fire, placed
himself at the farther end of the table, and fell to work upon the
viands with Fenwolf. Mabel was pressed to partake of the repast, but she
declined the offer. A large stone bottle was next produced and emptied
of its contents by the pair, who seemed well contented with their
regale.

Meanwhile Mabel was revolving the possibility of flight, and had more
than once determined to make an attempt, but fear restrained her. Her
grandsire, as has been stated, sedulously avoided her gaze, and turned a
deaf ear to her complaints and entreaties. But once, when Fenwolf's back
was turned, she caught him gazing at her with peculiar significance, and
then comprehended the meaning of his strange conduct. He evidently only
awaited an opportunity to assist her.

Satisfied of this, she became more tranquil, and about an hour having
elapsed, during which nothing was said by the party, the low winding of
a horn was heard, and Fenwolf started to his feet, exclaiming--

"It is Herne!"

The next moment the demon huntsman rode from one of the lateral passages
into the cave. He was mounted on a wild-looking black horse, with
flowing mane and tail, eyes glowing like carbuncles, and in all respects
resembling the sable steed he had lost in the forest.

Springing to the ground, he exchanged a few words with Fenwolf in a low
tone, and delivering his steed to him, with orders to take it to the
stable, signed to Tristram to go with him, and approached Mabel.

"So you have seen Sir Thomas Wyat, I find," he said, in a stern tone.

Mabel made no answer, and did not even raise her eyes towards him.

"And he has told you he loves you, and has urged you to fly with
him--ha?" pursued Herne.

Mabel still did not dare to look up, but a deep blush overspread her
cheek.

"He was mad to venture hither," continued Herne; "but having done so, he
must take the consequences."

"You will not destroy him?" cried Mabel imploringly.

"He will perish by a hand as terrible as mine," laughed Herne--"by that
of famine. He will never quit the dungeon alive unless--"

"Unless what?" gasped Mabel.

"Unless he is leagued with me," replied Herne. "And now let him pass,
for I would speak of myself. I have already told you that I love you,
and am resolved to make you mine. You shudder, but wherefore? It is
a glorious destiny to be the' bride of the wild hunter--the fiend who
rules the forest, and who, in his broad domain, is more powerful than
the king. The old forester, Robin Hood, had his maid Marian; and what
was he compared to me? He had neither my skill nor my power. Be mine,
and you shall accompany me on my midnight rides; shall watch the fleet
stag dart over the moonlight glade, or down the lengthened vista. You
shall feel all the unutterable excitement of the chase. You shall thread
with me the tangled grove, swim the river and the lake, and enjoy a
thousand pleasures hitherto unknown to you. Be mine, and I will make you
mistress of all my secrets, and compel the band whom I will gather round
me to pay you homage. Be mine, and you shall have power of life and
death over them, as if you were absolute queen. And from me, whom all
fear, and all obey, you shall have love and worship."

"And he would have taken her hand; but she recoiled from horror.

"Though I now inspire you with terror and aversion," pursued "the time
will come when you will love me as passionately as I was beloved by one
of whom you are the image."

And she is dead? "asked Mabel, with curiosity.

"Dead!" exclaimed Herne. "Thrice fifty years have flown since she dwelt
upon earth. The acorn which was shed in the forest has grown into a
lusty oak, while trees at that time in their pride have fallen and
decayed away. Dead!--yes, she has passed from all memory save mine,
where she will ever dwell. Generations of men have gone down to the
grave since her time--a succession of kings have lodged within the
castle but I am still a denizen of the forest. For crimes I then
committed I am doomed to wander within it, and I shall haunt it, unless
released, till the crack of doom."

"Liberate me!" cried Mabel; "liberate your other prisoner and we will
pray for your release."

"No more of this!" cried Herne fiercely. "If you would not call down
instant and terrible punishment on your head--punishment that I cannot
avert, and must inflict--you will mention nothing sacred in my hearing,
and never allude to prayer, I am beyond the reach of salvation."

"Oh, say not so!" cried Mabel, in a tone of commiseration. "I will tell
you how my doom was accomplished," rejoined Herne wildly. "To gain
her of whom I have just spoken, and who was already vowed to Heaven, I
invoked the powers of darkness. I proffered my soul to the Evil One if
he would secure her to me, and the condition demanded by him was that I
should become what I am--the fiend of the forest, with power to terrify
and to tempt, and with other more fearful and fatal powers besides."

"Oh!" exclaimed Mabel.

"I grasped at the offer," pursued Herne. "She I loved became mine. But
she was speedily snatched from me by death, and since then I have known
no human passion except hatred and revenge. I have dwelt in this forest,
sometimes alone, sometimes at the head of a numerous band, but always
exerting a baneful influence over mankind. At last, I saw the image
of her I loved again appear before me, and the old passion was revived
within my breast. Chance has thrown you in my way, and mine you shall
be, Mabel."

"I will die rather," she replied, with a shudder.

"You cannot escape me," rejoined He me, with a triumphant laugh; "you
cannot avoid your fate. But I want not to deal harshly with you. I love
you, and would win you rather by persuasion than by force. Consent to be
mine, then, and I give Wyat his life and liberty."

"I cannot--I cannot!" she replied.

"Not only do I offer you Wyat's life as the price of your compliance,"
persevered Herne; "but you shall have what ever else you may
seek--jewels, ornaments, costly attire, treasure--for of such I possess
a goodly store."

"And of what use would they be to me here?" said Mabel.

"I will not always confine you to this cave," replied Herne. "You shall
go where you please, and live as you please, but you must come to me
whenever I summon you."

"And what of my grandsire?" she demanded.

"Tristram Lyndwood is no relative of yours," replied Herne. "I will now
clear up the mystery that hangs over your birth. You are the offspring
of one who for years has exercised greater sway than the king within
this realm, but who is now disgraced and ruined, and nigh his end. His
priestly vows forbid him to own you, even if he desired to do so."

"Have I seen him?" demanded Mabel.

"You have," replied Herne; "and he has seen you--and little did he know
when he sought you out, that he was essaying to maintain his own power,
and overturn that of another, by the dishonour of his daughter--though
if he had done so," he added, with a scoffing laugh, "it might not have
restrained him."

"I know whom you mean," said Mabel. "And is it possible he can be my
father?"

"It is as I have told you," replied Herne. "You now know my resolve.
To-morrow at midnight our nuptials shall take place."

"Nuptials!" echoed Mabel.

"Ay, at that altar," he cried, pointing to the Druid pile of stones;
"there you shall vow yourself to me and I to you, before terrible
witnesses. I shall have no fear that you will break your oath. Reflect
upon what I have said."

With this he placed the bugle to his lips, blew a low call upon it, and
Fenwolf and Tristram immediately answering the summons, he whispered
some instructions to the former, and disappeared down one of the side
passages.

Fenwolf's, deportment was now more sullen than before. In vain did Mabel
inquire from him what Herne was about to do with Sir Thomas Wyat. He
returned no answer, and at last, wearied by her importunity, desired her
to hold her peace. Just then, Tristram quitted the cavern for a moment,
when he instantly changed his manner, and 'said to her quickly, "I
overheard what passed between you and Herne. Consent to be mine, and I
will deliver you from him."

"That were to exchange one evil for another," she replied, "If you would
serve me, deliver Sir Thomas Wyat."

"I will only deliver him on the terms I have mentioned," replied Fenwolf.

At this moment, Tristram returned, and the conversation ceased.

Fresh logs were then thrown on the fire by Fenwolf, and, at his request,
Tristram proceeded to a hole in the rock, which served as a sort of
larder, and brought from it some pieces of venison, which were broiled
upon the embers.

At the close of the repast, of which she sparingly partook, Mabel was
conducted by Morgan Fenwolf into a small chamber opening out of the
great cavern, which was furnished like the cell she had lately occupied,
with a small straw pallet. Leaving her a lamp, Fenwolf locked the door,
and placed the key in his girdle.



IV.

     How Sir Thomas Wyat was visited by Herne in the Cell.


Made aware by the clangour of the lock, and Fenwolf's exulting laughter,
of the snare in which he had been caught, Sir Thomas Wyat instantly
sprang from his hiding-place, and rushed to the door; but being framed
of the stoutest oak, and strengthened with plates of iron, it defied all
his efforts, nerved as they were by rage and despair, to burst it
open. Mabel's shrieks, as she was dragged away, reached his ears, and
increased his anguish; and he called out loudly to her companions to
return, but his vociferations were only treated with derision.

Finding it useless to struggle further, Wyat threw himself upon the
bench, and endeavoured to discover some means of deliverance from his
present hazardous position. He glanced round the cell to see whether
there was any other outlet than the doorway, but he could discern none,
except a narrow grated loophole opening upon the passage, and contrived,
doubtless, for the admission of air to the chamber. No dungeon could be
more secure.

Raising the lamp, he examined every crevice, but all seemed solid stone.
The recess in which he had taken shelter proved to be a mere hollow in
the wall. In one corner lay a small straw pallet, which, no doubt, had
formed the couch of Mabel; and this, together with the stone bench and
rude table of the same material, constituted the sole furniture of the
place.

Having taken this careful survey of the cell, Wyat again sat down upon
the bench with the conviction that escape was out of the question; and
he therefore endeavoured to prepare himself for the worst, for it was
more than probable he would be allowed to perish of starvation. To a
fiery nature like his, the dreadful uncertainty in which he was placed
was more difficult of endurance than bodily torture. And he was destined
to endure it long. Many hours flew by, during which nothing occurred to
relieve the terrible monotony of his situation. At length, in spite of
his anxiety, slumber stole upon him unawares; but it was filled with
frightful visions.

How long he slept he knew not, but when he awoke, he found that the
cell must have been visited in the interval, for there was a manchet of
bread, part of a cold neck of venison, and a flask of wine on the table.
It was evident, therefore, that his captors did not mean to starve him,
and yielding to the promptings of appetite, he attacked the provisions,
determined to keep strict watch when his gaoler should next visit him.

The repast finished, he again examined the cell, but with no better
success than before; and he felt almost certain, from the position in
which the bench was placed, that the visitor had not found entrance
through the door.

After another long and dreary interval, finding that sleep was stealing
upon him fast, he placed the bench near the door, and leaned his back
against the latter, certain that in this position he should be awakened
if any one attempted to gain admittance in that way. His slumber was
again disturbed by fearful dreams; and he was at length aroused by a
touch upon the shoulder, while a deep voice shouted his own name in her
ears.

Starting to his feet, and scarcely able to separate the reality from
the hideous phantasms that had troubled him, he found that the door was
still fastened, and the bench unremoved, while before him stood Herne
the Hunter.

"Welcome again to my cave, Sir Thomas Wyat!" cried the demon, with a
mocking laugh. "I told you, on the night of the attempt upon the king,
that though you escaped him, you would not escape me. And so it has come
to pass. You are now wholly in my power, body and soul--ha! ha!"

"I defy you, false fiend," replied Wyat. "I was mad enough to proffer
you my soul on certain conditions; but they have never been fulfilled."

"They may yet be so," rejoined Herne.

"No," replied Wyat, "I have purged my heart from the fierce and
unhallowed passion that swayed it. I desire no assistance from you."

"If you have changed your mind, that is nought to me," rejoined the demon
derisively--"I shall hold you to your compact."

"Again I say I renounce you, infernal spirit!" cried Wyat; "you may
destroy my body--but you can work no mischief to my soul."

"You alarm yourself without reason, good Sir Thomas," replied Herne, in
a slightly sneering tone. "I am not the malignant being you suppose
me; neither am I bent upon fighting the battles of the enemy of mankind
against Heaven. I may be leagued with the powers of darkness, but I have
no wish to aid them; and I therefore leave you to take care of your soul
in your own way. What I desire from you is your service while living.
Now listen to the conditions I have to propose. You must bind yourself
by a terrible oath, the slightest infraction of which shall involve the
perdition of the soul you are so solicitous to preserve, not to disclose
aught you may see, or that may be imparted to you here. You must also
swear implicit obedience to me in all things--to execute any secret
commissions, of whatever nature, I may give you--to bring associates
to my band--and to join me in any enterprise I may propose. This oath
taken, you are free. Refuse it, and I leave you to perish."

"I do refuse it," replied Wyat boldly. "I would die a thousand deaths
rather than so bind myself. Neither do I fear being left to perish here.
You shall not quit this cell without me."

"You are a stout soldier, Sir Thomas Wyat," rejoined the demon, with a
scornful laugh; "but you are scarcely a match for Herne the Hunter, as
you will find, if you are rash enough to make the experiment. Beware!"
he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, observing the knight lay his hand
upon his sword, "I am invulnerable, and you will, therefore, vainly
strike at me. Do not compel me to use the dread means, which I could
instantly employ, to subject you to my will. I mean you well, and would
rather serve than injure you. But I will not let you go, unless you
league yourself with me. Swear, therefore, obedience to me, and depart
hence to your friends, Surrey and Richmond, and tell them you have
failed to find me."

"You know, then, of our meeting?" exclaimed Wyat.

"Perfectly well," laughed Herne. "It is now eventide, and at midnight
the meeting will take place in the forester's hut. If you attend it not,
I will. They will be my prisoners as well as you. To preserve yourself
and save them, you must join me."

"Before I return an answer," said Wyat, "I must know what has become of
Mabel Lyndwood."

"Mabel Lyndwood is nought to you, Sir Thomas," rejoined Herne coldly.

"She is so much to me that I will run a risk for her which I would not
run for myself," replied Wyat. "If I promise obedience to you, will you
liberate her? will you let her depart with me?"

"No," said Herne peremptorily. "Banish all thoughts of her from your
breast. You will never behold her again. I will give you time for
reflection on my proposal. An hour before midnight I shall return, and
if I find you in the same mind, I abandon you to your fate."

And with these words he stepped back towards the lower end of the cell.
Wyat instantly sprang after him, but before he could reach him a flash
of fire caused him to recoil, and to his horror and amazement, he beheld
the rock open, and yield a passage to the retreating figure.

When the sulphureous smoke, with which the little cell was filled, had
in some degree cleared off, Wyat examined the sides of the rock, but
could not find the slightest trace of a secret outlet, and therefore
concluded that the disappearance of the demon had been effected by
magic.



V.

     How Mabel escaped from the Cave with Sir Thomas Wyat.


The next day Mabel was set at liberty by her gaoler, and the hours flew
by without the opportunity of escape, for which she sighed, occurring to
her. As night drew on, she became more anxious, and at last expressed a
wish to retire to her cell. When about to fasten the door, Fenwolf found
that the lock had got strained, and the bolts would not move, and he was
therefore obliged to content himself with placing a bench against it, on
which he took a seat.

About an hour after Mabel's retirement, old Tristram offered to relieve
guard with Fenwolf, but this the other positively declined, and leaning
against the door, disposed himself to slumber. Tristram then threw
himself on the floor, and in a short time all seemed buried in repose.

By-and-by, however, when Fenwolf's heavy breathing gave token of the
soundness of his sleep, Tristram raised himself upon his elbow, and
gazed round. The lamp placed upon the table imperfectly illumined the
cavern, for the fire which had been lighted to cook the evening meal
had gone out completely. Getting up cautiously, and drawing his
hunting-knife, the old man crept towards Fenwolf, apparently with the
intent of stabbing him, but he suddenly changed his resolution, and
dropped his arm.

At that moment, as if preternaturally warned, Fenwolf opened his eyes,
and seeing the old forester standing by, sprang upon him, and seized him
by the throat.

"Ah traitor!" he exclaimed; "what are you about to do?"

"I am no traitor," replied the old man. "I heard a noise in the passage
leading to Wyat's cell, and was about to rouse you, when you awakened of
your own accord, probably disturbed by the noise."

"It may be," replied Fenwolf, satisfied with the excuse, and
relinquishing his grasp. "I fancied I heard something in my dreams. But
come with me to Wyat's cell. I will not leave you here."

And snatching up the lamp, he hurried with Tristram into the passage.
They were scarcely gone, when the door of the cell was opened by Mabel,
who had overheard what had passed; and so hurriedly did she issue
forth that she over-turned the bench, which fell to the ground with
a considerable clatter. She had only just time to replace it, and to
conceal herself in an adjoining passage, when Fenwolf rushed back into
the cavern.

"It was a false alarm," he cried. "I saw Sir Thomas Wyat in his cell
through the loop-hole, and I have brought the key away with me. But I am
sure I heard a noise here."

"It must have been mere fancy," said Tristram. "All is as we left it."

"It seems so, certes," replied Fenwolf doubtfully. "But I will make
sure."

While he placed his ear to the door, Mabel gave a signal to Tristram
that she was safe. Persuaded that he heard some sound in the chamber,
Fenwolf nodded to Tristram that all was right, and resumed his seat.

In less than ten minutes he was again asleep. Mabel then emerged from
her concealment, and cautiously approached Tristram, who feigned, also,
to slumber. As she approached him, he rose noiselessly to his feet.

"The plan has succeeded," he said in a low tone. "It was I who spoiled
the lock. But come with me. I will lead you out of the cavern."

"Not without Sir Thomas Wyat," she replied; "I will not leave him here."

"You will only expose yourself to risk, and fail to deliver him,"
rejoined Tristram. "Fenwolf has the key of his cell. Nay, if you are
determined upon it, I will not hinder you. But you must find your own
way out, for I shall not assist Sir Thomas Wyat."

Motioning him to silence, Mabel crept slowly, and on the points of her
feet, towards Fenwolf.

The key was in his girdle. Leaning over him, she suddenly and
dexterously plucked it forth.

At the very moment she possessed herself of it, Fenwolf stirred, and she
dived down, and concealed herself beneath the table. Fenwolf, who had
been only slightly disturbed, looked up, and seeing Tristram in his
former position, which he had resumed when Mabel commenced her task,
again disposed himself to slumber.

Waiting till she was assured of the soundness of his repose, Mabel crept
from under the table, signed to Tristram to remain where he was, and
glided with swift and noiseless footsteps down the passage leading to
the cell.

In a moment, she was at the door--the key was in the lock--and she stood
before Sir Thomas Wyat.

A few words sufficed to explain to the astonished knight how she came
there, and comprehending that not a moment was to be lost, he followed
her forth.

In the passage, they held a brief consultation together in a low tone,
as to the best means of escape, for they deemed it useless to apply to
Tristram. The outlet with which Sir Thomas Wyat was acquainted lay
on the other side of the cavern; nor did he know how to discover the
particular passage leading to it.

As to Mabel, she could offer no information, but she knew that the
stable lay in an adjoining passage.

Recollecting, from former experience, how well the steeds were trained,
Sir Thomas Wyat eagerly caught at the suggestion, and Mabel led him
farther down the passage, and striking off through an opening on the
left, brought him, after a few turns, to a large chamber, in which two
or three black horses were kept.

Loosening one of them, Wyat placed a bridle on his neck, sprang upon his
back, and took up Mabel beside him. He then struck his heels against the
sides of the animal, who needed no further incitement to dash along the
passage, and in a few seconds brought them into the cavern.

The trampling of the horse wakened Fenwolf, who started to his feet,
and ran after them, shouting furiously. But he was too late. Goaded
by Wyat's dagger, the steed dashed furiously on, and plunging with its
double burden into the pool at the bottom of the cavern, disappeared.



VI.

     Of the Desperate Resolution formed by Tristram and Fenwolf,
     and how the Train was laid.


Transported with rage at the escape of the fugitives, Fenwolf turned to
old Tristram, and drawing his knife, threatened to make an end of him.
But the old man, who was armed with a short hunting-sword, stood upon
his defence, and they remained brandishing their weapons at each other
for some minutes, but without striking a blow.

"Well, I leave you to Herne's vengeance," said Fenwolf, returning his
knife to his belt. "You will pay dearly for allowing them to escape."

"I will take my chance," replied Tristram moodily: "my mind is made up
to the worst. I will no longer serve this fiend."

"What! dare you break your oath?" cried Fenwolf. "Remember the terrible
consequences."

"I care not for them," replied Tristram. "Harkee, Fenwolf: I know you
will not betray me, for you hate him as much as I do, and have as great
a desire for revenge. I will rid the forest of this fell being."

"Would you could make good your words, old man!" cried Fenwolf. "I would
give my life for vengeance upon him."

"I take the offer," said Tristram; "you shall have vengeance."

"But how?" cried the other. "I have proved that he is invulnerable and
the prints of his hands are written in black characters upon my throat.
If we could capture him, and deliver him to the king, we might purchase
our own pardon."

"No, that can never be," said Tristram. "My plan is to destroy him."

"Well, let me hear it," said Fenwolf.

"Come with me, then," rejoined Tristram.

And taking up the lamp, he led the way down a narrow lateral passage.
When about half-way down it, he stopped before a low door, cased with
iron, which he opened, and showed that the recess was filled with large
canvas bags.

"Why, this is the powder-magazine," said Fenwolf. "I can now guess how
you mean to destroy Herne. I like the scheme well enough; but it cannot
be executed without certain destruction to ourselves."

"I will take all the risk upon myself," said Tristram, "I only require
your aid in the preparations. What I propose to do is this. There is
powder enough in the magazine, not only to blow up the cave, but to set
fire to all the wood surrounding it. It must be scattered among the dry
brush-wood in a great circle round the cave, and connected by a train
with this magazine. When Herne comes hack, I will fire the train."

"There is much hazard in the scheme, and I fear it will fail," replied
Fenwolf, after a pause, "nevertheless, I will assist you."

"Then, let us go to work at once," said Tristram, "for we have no time
to lose. Herne will be here before midnight, and I should like to have
all ready for him."

Accordingly, they each shouldered a couple of the bags, and returning
to the cavern, threaded a narrow passage, and emerged from the secret
entrance in the grove.

While Fenwolf descended for a fresh supply of powder, Tristram
commenced operations. Though autumn was now far advanced, there had
been remarkably fine weather of late; the ground was thickly strewn with
yellow leaves, the fern was brown and dry, and the brushwood crackled
and broke as a passage was forced through it. The very trees were
parched by the long-continued drought. Thus favoured in his design,
Tristram scattered the contents of one of the bags in a thick line among
the fern and brushwood, depositing here and there among the roots of a
tree, several pounds of powder, and covering the heaps over with dried
sticks and leaves.

While he was thus employed, Fenwolf appeared with two more bags of
powder, and descended again for a fresh supply. When he returned, laden
as before, the old forester had already described a large portion of the
circle he intended to take.

Judging that there was now powder sufficient, Tristram explained to his
companion how to proceed; and the other commenced laying a train on the
left of the secret entrance, carefully observing the instructions given
him. In less than an hour, they met together at a particular tree, and
the formidable circle was complete.

"So far, well!" said Tristram, emptying the contents of his bag beneath
the tree, and covering it with leaves and sticks, as before; "and now to
connect this with the cavern."

With this, he opened another bag, and drew a wide train towards the
centre of the space. At length, he paused at the foot of a large hollow
tree.

"I have ascertained," he said, "that this tree stands immediately over
the magazine; and by following this rabbit's burrow, I have contrived
to make a small entrance into it. A hollow reed introduced through the
hole, and filled with powder, will be sure to reach the store below."

"An excellent ideal," replied Fenwolf. "I will fetch one instantly."

And starting off to the side of the lake, he presently returned with
several long reeds, one of which was selected by Tristram and thrust
into the burrow. It proved of the precise length required; and as soon
as it touched the bottom, it was carefully filled with powder from a
horn. Having connected this tube with the side train, and scattered
powder for several yards around, so as to secure instantaneous ignition,
Tristram pronounced that the train was complete.

"We have now laid a trap from which Herne will scarcely escape," he
observed, with a moody laugh, to Fenwolf.

They then prepared to return to the cave, but had not proceeded many
yards, when Herne, mounted on his sable steed, burst through the trees.

"Ah! what make you here?" he cried, instantly checking his career. "I
bade you keep a strict watch over Mabel. Where is she?"

"She has escaped with Sir Thomas Wyat," replied Fenwolf, "and we have
been in search of them."

"Escaped!" exclaimed Herne, springing from his steed, and rushing up
to him; "dogs! you have played me false. But your lives shall pay the
penalty of your perfidy."

"We had no hand in it whatever," replied Fenwolf doggedly. "She
contrived to get out of a chamber in which I placed her, and to liberate
Sir Thomas Wyat. They then procured a steed from the stable, and plunged
through the pool into the lake."

"Hell's malison upon them, and upon you both!" cried Herne. "But you
shall pay dearly for your heedlessness,--if, indeed, it has not been
something worse. How long have they been gone?"

"It may be two hours," replied Fenwolf.

"Go to the cave," cried Herne, "and await my return there; and if I
recover not the prize, woe betide you both!"

And with these words, he vaunted upon his steed and disappeared.

"And woe betide you too, false fiend!" cried Fenwolf. "When you come
back you shall meet with a welcome you little expect. Would we had fired
the train, Tristram, even though we had perished with him!"

"It will be time enough to fire it on his return," replied the old
forester; "it is but postponing our vengeance for a short time. And now
to fix our positions. I will take my station in yon brake."

"And I in that hollow tree," said Fenwolf. "Whoever first beholds him
shall fire the train."

"Agreed!" replied Tristram. "Let us now descend to the cave and see that
all is right in the magazine, and then we will return and hold ourselves
in readiness for action."



VII.

     How the Train was fired, and what followed the Explosion.


About ten o'clock in the night under consideration, Surrey and Richmond,
accompanied by the Duke of Shoreditch, and half a dozen other archers,
set out from the castle, and took their way along the great park, in the
direction of the lake.

They had not ridden far, when they were overtaken by two horsemen who,
as far as they could be discerned in that doubtful light, appeared
stalwart personages, and well mounted, though plainly attired. The
new-comers very unceremoniously joined them.

"There are ill reports of the park, my masters," said the foremost of
these persons to Surrey, "and we would willingly ride with you across
it."

"But our way may not be yours, friend," replied Surrey, who did not
altogether relish this proposal. "We are not going farther than the
lake."

"Our road lies in that direction," replied the other, "and, if you
please, we will bear you company as far as we go. Come, tell me
frankly," he added, after a pause, "are you not in search of Herne the
Hunter?"

"Why do you ask, friend?" rejoined the earl somewhat angrily.

"Because if so," replied the other, "I shall be right glad to join you,
and so will my friend, Tony Cryspyn, who is close behind me. I have an
old grudge to settle with this Herne, who has more than once attacked
me, and I shall be glad to pay it."

"If you will take my advice, Hugh Dacre, you will ride on, and leave
the achievement of the adventure to these young galliards," interposed
Cryspyn.

"Nay, by the mass! that shall never be," rejoined Dacre, "if they have
no objection to our joining them. If they have, they have only to say
so, and we will go on."

"I will be plain with you, my masters," said Surrey. "We are determined
this night, as you have rightly conjectured, to seek out Herne the
Hunter; and we hope to obtain such clue to him as will ensure his
capture. If, therefore, you are anxious to join us, we shall be glad of
your aid. But you must be content to follow, and not lead--and to act
as you are directed--or you will only be in the way, and we would rather
dispense with your company."

"We are content with the terms--are we not, Tony?" said Dacre.

His companion answered somewhat sullenly in the affirmative.

"And now that the matter is arranged, may I ask when you propose to go?"
he continued.

"We are on our way to a hut on the lake, where we expect a companion to
join us," replied Surrey.

"What! Tristram Lyndwood's cottage?" demanded Dacre.

"Ay," replied the earl, "and we hope to recover his fair granddaughter
from the power of the demon."

"Ha! say you so?" cried Dacre; "that were a feat, indeed!"

The two strangers then rode apart for a few moments, and conversed
together in a low tone, during which Richmond expressed his doubts of
them to Surrey, adding that he was determined to get rid of them.

The new-comers, however, were not easily shaken off. As soon as they
perceived the duke's design, they stuck more pertinaciously to him and
the earl than before, and made it evident they would not be dismissed.

By this time they had passed Spring Hill, and were within a mile of
the valley in which lay the marsh, when a cry for help was heard in
the thicket on the left, and the troop immediately halted. The cry was
repeated, and Surrey, bidding the others follow him, dashed off in the
direction of the sound.

Presently, they perceived two figures beneath the trees, whom they
found, on a nearer approach, were Sir Thomas Wyat, with Mabel in a state
of insensibility in his arms.

Dismounting by the side of his friend, Surrey hastily demanded how he
came there, and what had happened?

"It is too long a story to relate now," said Wyat; "but the sum of it
is, that I have escaped, by the aid of this damsel, from the clutches
of the demon. Our escape was effected on horseback, and we had to plunge
into the lake. The immersion deprived my fair preserver of sensibility,
so that as soon as I landed, and gained a covert where I fancied
myself secure, I dismounted, and tried to restore her. While I was thus
occupied, the steed I had brought with me broke his bridle, and darted
off into the woods. After a while, Mabel opened her eyes, but she was so
weak that she could not move, and I was fain to make her a couch in the
fern, in the hope that she would speedily revive. But the fright and
suffering had been too much for her, and a succession of fainting-fits
followed, during which I thought she would expire. This is all. Now, let
us prepare a litter for her, and convey her where proper assistance can
be rendered."

Meanwhile, the others had come up, and Hugh Dacre, flinging himself from
his horse, and pushing Surrey somewhat rudely aside, advanced towards
Mabel, and, taking her hand, said, in a voice of some emotion, "Alas!
poor girl! I did not expect to meet thee again in this state."

"You knew her, then?" said Surrey.

Dacre muttered an affirmative.

"Who is this man?" asked Wyat of the earl.

"I know him not," answered Surrey. "He joined us on the road hither."

"I am well known to Sir Thomas Wyat," replied Dacre, in a significant
tone, "as he will avouch when I recall certain matters to his mind. But
do not let us lose time here. This damsel claims our first attention.
She must be conveyed to a place of safety, and where she can be well
tended. We can then return to search for Herne."

Upon this, a litter of branches were speedily made, and Mabel being laid
upon it, the simple conveyance was sustained by four of the archers.
The little cavalcade then quitted the thicket, and began to retrace its
course towards the castle. Wyat had been accommodated with a horse by
one of the archers, and rode in a melancholy manner by the side of the
litter.

They had got back nearly as far as the brow of Spring Hill, when a
horseman, in a wild garb, and mounted on a coal black steed, lashed
suddenly and at a furious pace, out of the trees on the right. He
made towards the litter, over-turning Sir Thomas Wyat, and before any
opposition could be offered him, seized the inanimate form of Mabel, and
placing her before him on his steed, dashed off as swiftly as he came,
and with a burst of loud, exulting laughter.

"It is Herne! it is Herne!" burst from every lip. And they all started
in pursuit, urging the horses to their utmost speed. Sir Thomas Wyat had
instantly remounted his steed, and he came up with the others.

Herne's triumphant and demoniacal laugh was heard as he scoured with
the swiftness of the wind down the long glade. But the fiercest
determination animated his pursuers, who, being all admirably mounted,
managed to keep him fully in view.

Away! away! he speeded in the direction of the lake; and after him they
thundered, straining every sinew in the desperate chase. It was a wild
and extraordinary sight, and partook of the fantastical character of a
dream.

At length Herne reached the acclivity, at the foot of which lay the
waters of the lake glimmering in the starlight; and by the time he had
descended to its foot, his pursuers had gained its brow.

The exertions made by Sir Thomas Wyat had brought him a little in
advance of the others. Furiously goading his horse, he dashed down the
hillside at a terrific pace.

All at once, as he kept his eye on the flying figure of the demon, he
was startled by a sudden burst of flame in the valley. A wide circle
of light was rapidly described, a rumbling sound was heard like that
preceding an earth-quake, and a tremendous explosion followed, hurling
trees and fragments of rock into the air.

Astounded at the extraordinary occurrence, and not knowing what might
ensue, the pursuers reined in their steeds. But the terror of the scene
was not yet over. The whole of the brushwood had caught fire, and blazed
up with the fury and swiftness of lighted flax. The flames caught the
parched branches of the trees, and in a few seconds the whole grove was
on fire.

The sight was awfully grand, for the wind, which was blowing strongly,
swept the flames forward, so that they devoured all before them.

When the first flash was seen the demon had checked his steed and backed
him, so that he had escaped without injury, and he stood at the edge of
the flaming circle watching the progress of the devastating element; but
at last, finding that his pursuers had taken heart and were approaching
him, he bestirred himself, and rode round the blazing zone.

Having by this time recovered from their surprise, Wyat and Surrey
dashed after him, and got so near him that they made sure of his
capture. But at the very moment they expected to reach him, he turned
his horse's head, and forced him to leap over the blazing boundary.

In vain the pursuers attempted to follow. Their horses refused to
encounter the flames; while Wyat's steed, urged on by its frantic
master, reared bolt upright, and dislodged him.

But the demon held on his way, apparently unscathed in the midst of the
flames, casting a look of grim defiance at his pursuers. As he passed
a tree, from which volumes of fire were bursting, the most appalling
shrieks reached his ear, and he beheld Morgan Fenwolf emerging from a
hole in the trunk. But without bestowing more than a glance upon his
unfortunate follower, he dashed forward, and becoming involved in the
wreaths of flame and smoke, was lost to sight.

Attracted by Fenwolf's cries, the beholders perceived him crawl out of
the hole, and clamber into the upper part of the tree, where he roared
to them most piteously for aid. But even if they had been disposed
to render it, it was impossible to do so now; and after terrible and
protracted suffering, the poor wretch, half stifled with smoke, and
unable longer to maintain his hold of the branch to which he crept, fell
into the flames beneath, and perished.

Attributing its outbreak to supernatural agency, the party gazed on in
wonder at the fire, and rode round it as closely as their steeds would
allow them. But though they tarried till the flames had abated, and
little was left of the noble grove but a collection of charred and
smoking stumps, nothing was seen of the fiend or of the hapless girl
he had carried off. It served to confirm the notion of the supernatural
origin of the fire, in that it was confined within the mystic circle,
and did not extend farther into the woods.

At the time that the flames first burst forth, and revealed the
countenances of the lookers--on, it was discovered that the self-styled
Dacre and Cryspyn were no other than the king and the Duke of Suffolk.

"If this mysterious being is mortal, he must have perished now,"
observed Henry; "and if he is not, it is useless to seek for him
further."

Day had begun to break as the party quitted the scene of devastation.
The king and Suffolk, with the archers, returned to the castle; but
Wyat, Surrey, and Richmond rode towards the lake, and proceeded along
its banks in the direction of the forester's hut.

Their progress was suddenly arrested by the sound of lamentation, and
they perceived, in a little bay overhung by trees, which screened it
from the path, an old man kneeling beside the body of a female, which
he had partly dragged out of the lake. It was Tristram Lyndwood, and the
body was that of Mabel. Her tresses were dishevelled, and dripping with
wet, as were her garments; and her features white as marble. The old man
was weeping bitterly.

With Wyat, to dismount and grasp the cold hand of the hapless maiden was
the work of a moment.

"She is dead!" he cried, in a despairing voice, removing the dank
tresses from her brow, and imprinting a reverent kiss upon it.
"Dead!--lost to me for ever!"

"I found her entangled among those water-weeds," said Tristram, in tones
broken by emotion, "and had just dragged her to shore when you came up.
As you hope to prosper, now and hereafter, give her a decent burial. For
me all is over."

And, with a lamentable cry, he plunged into the lake, struck out to a
short distance, and then sank to rise no more.


THUS ENDS THE FIFTH BOOK OF THE CHRONICLE OF WINDSOR CASTLE



BOOK VI. JANE SEYMOUR



I.

     Of Henry's Attachment to Jane Seymour.


ON the anniversary of Saint George, 1536, and exactly seven years from
the opening of this chronicle, Henry assembled the knights-companions
within Windsor Castle to hold the grand feast of the most noble Order of
the Garter.

Many important events had occurred in the wide interval thus suffered
to elapse. Wolsey had long since sunk under his reverses--for he never
regained the royal favour after his dismissal--and had expired at
Leicester Abbey, on the 26th November 1530.

But the sufferings of Catherine of Arragon were prolonged up to the
commencement of the year under consideration. After the divorce and the
elevation of Anne Boleyn to the throne in her stead, she withdrew to
Kimbolten Castle, where she dwelt in the greatest retirement, under the
style of the Princess Dowager. Finding her end approaching, she sent
a humble message to the king, imploring him to allow her one last
interview with her daughter, that she might bestow her blessing upon
her; but the request was refused.

A touching letter, however, which she wrote to the king on her
death-bed, moved him to tears; and having ejaculated a few expressions
of his sense of her many noble qualities, he retired to his closet
to indulge his grief in secret. Solemn obsequies were ordered to be
performed at Windsor and Greenwich on the day of her interment, and the
king and the whole of his retinue put on mourning for her.

With this arrangement Anne Boleyn cared not to comply. Though she
had attained the summit of her ambition; though the divorce had been
pronounced, and she was crowned queen; though she had given birth to a
daughter--the Princess Elizabeth, afterwards the illustrious queen of
that name two years before; and though she could have no reasonable
apprehensions from her, the injured Catherine, during her lifetime,
had always been an object of dread to her. She heard of her death
with undisguised satisfaction, clapped her hands, exclaiming to her
attendants, "Now I am indeed queen!" and put the crowning point to her
unfeeling conduct by decorating herself and her dames in the gayest
apparel on the day of the funeral.

Alas! she little knew that at that very moment the work of retribution
commenced, and that the wrongs of the injured queen, whose memory she
thus outraged, were soon to be terribly and bloodily avenged.

Other changes had likewise taken place, which may be here recorded. The
Earl of Surrey had made the tour of France, Italy, and the Empire,
and had fully kept his word, by proclaiming the supremacy of the Fair
Geraldine's beauty at all tilts and tournaments, at which he constantly
bore away the prize. But the greatest reward, and that which he hoped
would crown his fidelity--the hand of his mistress--was not reserved for
him.

At the expiration of three years, he returned home, polished by travel,
and accounted one of the bravest and most accomplished cavaliers of the
day. His reputation had preceded him, and he was received with marks of
the highest distinction and favour by Henry, as well as by Anne Boleyn.
But the king was still averse to the match, and forbade the Fair
Geraldine to return to court.

Finding so much opposition on all sides, the earl was at last brought to
assent to the wish of the Fair Geraldine, that their engagement should
be broken off. In her letters, she assured him that her love had
undergone no abatement--and never would do so--but that she felt they
must give up all idea of an union.

These letters, probably the result of some manoeuvring on his own part,
set on foot by the royal mandate, were warmly seconded by the Duke of
Norfolk, and after many and long solicitations, he succeeded in wringing
from his son a reluctant acquiescence to the arrangement.

The disappointment produced its natural consequences on the ardent
temperament of the young earl, and completely chilled and blighted his
feelings. He became moody and discontented; took little share in the
amusement and pastimes going forward; and from being the blithest
cavalier at court, became the saddest. The change in his demeanour did
not escape the notice of Anne Boleyn, who easily divined the cause, and
she essayed by raillery and other arts to wean him from his grief. But
all was for some time of no avail. The earl continued inconsolable. At
last, however, by the instrumentality of the queen and his father, he
was contracted to the Lady Frances Vere, daughter of the Earl of Oxford,
and was married to her in 1535.

Long before this the Duke of Richmond had been wedded to the Lady Mary
Howard.

For some time previous to the present era of this chronicle, Anne Boleyn
had observed a growing coolness towards her on the part of the king,
and latterly it had become evident that his passion for her was fast
subsiding, if indeed it had not altogether expired.

Though Anne had never truly loved her royal consort, and though at that
very time she was secretly encouraging the regards of another, she
felt troubled by this change, and watched all the king's movements
with jealous anxiety, to ascertain if any one had supplanted her in his
affections.

At length her vigilance was rewarded by discovering a rival in one
of the loveliest of her dames, Jane Seymour. This fair creature, the
daughter of Sir John Seymour, of Wolff Hall, in Wiltshire, and who was
afterwards, it is almost needless to say, raised to as high a dignity
as Anne Boleyn herself, was now in the very pride of her beauty. Tall,
exquisitely proportioned, with a complexion of the utmost brilliancy and
delicacy, large liquid blue eyes, bright chestnut tresses, and lovely
features, she possessed charms that could not fall to captivate the
amorous monarch. It seems marvellous that Anne Boleyn should have such
an attendant; but perhaps she felt confident in her own attractions.

Skilled in intrigue herself, Anne, now that her eyes were opened,
perceived all the allurements thrown out by Jane to ensnare the king,
and she intercepted many a furtive glance between them. Still she did
not dare to interfere. The fierceness of Henry's temper kept her in awe,
and she knew well that the slightest opposition would only make him the
more determined to run counter to her will. Trusting, therefore, to get
rid of Jane Seymour by some stratagem, she resolved not to attempt to
dismiss her, except as a last resource.

A slight incident occurred, which occasioned a departure from the
prudent course she had laid down to herself.

Accompanied by her dames, she was traversing the great gallery of the
palace at Greenwich, when she caught the reflection of Jane Seymour,
who was following her, in a mirror, regarding a jewelled miniature.
She instantly turned round at the sight, and Jane, in great confusion,
thrust the picture into her bosom.

"Ah I what have you there?" cried Anne.

"A picture of my father, Sir John Seymour," replied Jane, blushing
deeply.

"Let me look at it," cried Anne, snatching the picture from her. "Ah!
call you this your father? To my thinking it is much more like my royal
husband. Answer me frankly, minion--answer me, as you value your life!
Did the king give you this?"

"I must decline answering the question," replied Jane, who by this time
had recovered her composure.

"Ah! am I to be thus insolently treated by one of my own dames?" cried
Anne.

"I intend no disrespect to your majesty," replied Jane, "and I will,
since you insist upon it, freely confess that I received the portrait
from the king. I did not conceive there could be any harm in doing so,
because I saw your majesty present your own portrait, the other day, to
Sir Henry Norris."

Anne Boleyn turned as pale as death, and Jane Seymour perceived that she
had her in her power.

"I gave the portrait to Sir Henry as a recompense for an important
service he rendered me," said Anne, after a slight pause.

"No doubt," replied Jane; "and I marvel not that he should press it so
fervently to his lips, seeing he must value the gift highly. The king
likewise bestowed his portrait upon me for rendering him a service."

"And what was that?" asked Anne.

"Nay, there your majesty must hold me excused," replied the other. "It
were to betray his highness's confidence to declare it. I must refer you
to him for explanation."

"Well, you are in the right to keep the secret," said Anne, forcing a
laugh. "I dare say there is no harm in the portrait--indeed, I am
sure there is not, if it was given with the same intent that mine was
bestowed upon Norris. And so we will say no more upon the matter, except
that I beg you to be discreet with the king. If others should comment
upon your conduct, I may be compelled to dismiss you."

"Your majesty shall be obeyed," said Jane, with a look that intimated
that the request had but slight weight with her.

"Catherine will be avenged by means of this woman," muttered Anne as
she turned away. "I already feel some of the torments with which she
threatened me. And she suspects Norris. I must impress more caution
on him. Ah! when a man loves deeply, as he loves me, due restraint is
seldom maintained."

But though alarmed, Anne was by no means aware of the critical position
in which she stood. She could not persuade herself that she had
entirely lost her influence with the king; and she thought that when his
momentary passion had subsided, it would return to its old channels.

She was mistaken. Jane Seymour was absolute mistress of his heart; and
Anne was now as great a bar to him as she had before been an attraction.
Had her conduct been irreproachable, it might have been difficult to
remove her; but, unfortunately, she had placed herself at his mercy, by
yielding to the impulses of vanity, and secretly encouraging the passion
of Sir Henry Norris, groom of the stole.

This favoured personage was somewhat above the middle Size, squarely and
strongly built. His features were regularly and finely formed, and he
had a ruddy complexion, brown curling hair, good teeth, and fine eyes
of a clear blue. He possessed great personal strength, was expert in all
manly exercises, and shone especially at the jousts and the manege. He
was of an ardent temperament, and Anne Boleyn had inspired him with so
desperate a passion that he set at nought the fearful risk he ran to
obtain her favour.

In all this seemed traceable the hand of fate--in Henry's passion for
Jane Seymour, and Anne's insane regard for Norris--as if in this way,
and by the same means in which she herself had been wronged, the injured
Catherine of Arragon was to be avenged.

How far Henry's suspicions of his consort's regard for Norris had been
roused did not at the time appear. Whatever he felt in secret, he took
care that no outward manifestation should betray him. On the contrary he
loaded Norris, who had always been a favourite with him, with new marks
of regard, and encouraged rather than interdicted his approach to the
queen.

Things were in this state when the court proceeded to Windsor, as before
related, on Saint George's day.



II.

     How Anne Boleyn received Proof of Henry's Passion for Jane
     Seymour.


On the day after the solemnisation of the Grand Feast of the Order of
the Garter, a masqued fete of great splendour and magnificence was held
within the castle. The whole of the state apartments were thrown open to
the distinguished guests, and universal gaiety prevailed. No restraint
was offered to the festivity by the king, for though he was known to be
present, he did not choose to declare himself.

The queen sat apart on a fauteuil in the deep embrasure of a window; and
as various companies of fantastic characters advanced towards her,
she more than once fancied she detected amongst them the king, but the
voices convinced her of her mistake. As the evening was wearing, a mask
in a blue domino drew near her, and whispered in a devoted and familiar
tone, "My queen!"

"Is it you, Norris?" demanded Anne, under her breath.

"It is," he replied. "Oh, madam! I have been gazing at you the whole
evening, but have not dared to approach you till now."

"I am sorry you have addressed me at all, Norris," she rejoined. "Your
regard for me has been noticed by others, and may reach the king's ears.
You must promise never to address me in the language of passion again."

"If I may not utter my love I shall go mad," replied Norris. "After
raising me to the verge of Paradise, do not thrust me to the depths of
Tartarus."

"I have neither raised you nor do I cast you down," rejoined Anne.
"That I am sensible of your devotion, and grateful for it, I admit, but
nothing more. My love and allegiance are due to the king."

"True," replied Norris bitterly; "they are so, but he is wholly
insensible to your merits. At this very moment he is pouring his
love-vows in the ear of Jane Seymour."

"Ah! is he so?" cried Anne. "Let me have proof of his perfidy, and I may
incline a more favourable ear to you."

"I will instantly obtain you the proof, madam," replied Norris, bowing
and departing.

Scarcely had he quitted the queen, and mixed with the throng of dancers,
than he felt a pressure upon his arm, and turning at the touch, beheld
a tall monk, the lower part of whose face was muffled up, leaving only a
pair of fierce black eyes and a large aquiline nose visible.

"I know what you want, Sir Henry Norris," said the tall monk in a
low deep voice; "you wish to give the queen proof of her royal lord's
inconstancy. It is easily done. Come with me."

"Who are you?" demanded Norris doubtfully.

"What matters it who I am?" rejoined the other; "I am one of the
masquers, and chance to know what is passing around me. I do not inquire
into your motives, and therefore you have no right to inquire into
mine."

"It is not for my own satisfaction that I desire this proof," said
Norris, "because I would rather shield the king's indiscretions than
betray them. But the queen has conceived suspicions which she is
determined to verify."

"Think not to impose upon me," replied the monk with a sneer. "Bring the
queen this way, and she shall be fully satisfied."

"I can run no risk in trusting you," said Norris, "and therefore I
accept your offer."

"Say no more," cried the monk disdainfully, "I will await you here."

And Norris returned to the queen.

"Have you discovered anything?" she cried.

"Come with me, madam," said Norris, bowing and taking her hand.

Proceeding thus they glided through the throng of dancers, who
respectfully cleared a passage for them as they walked along until they
approached the spot where the tall monk was standing. As they drew near
him he moved on, and Norris and the queen followed in silence. Passing
from the great hall in which the crowd of dancers were assembled, they
descended a short flight of steps, at the foot of which the monk paused,
and pointed with his right hand to a chamber, partly screened by the
folds of a curtain.

At this intimation the queen and her companion stepped quickly on, and
as she advanced, Anne Boleyn perceived Jane Seymour and the king seated
on a couch within the apartment. Henry was habited like a pilgrim,
but he had thrown down his hat, ornamented with the scallop-shell, his
vizard, and his staff, and had just forced his fair companion to unmask.

At the sight, Anne was transfixed with jealous rage, and was for the
moment almost unconscious of the presence of Norris, or of the monk, who
remained behind the curtain, pointing to what was taking place.

"Your majesty is determined to expose my blushes," said Jane Seymour,
slightly struggling with her royal lover.

"Nay, I only want to be satisfied that it is really yourself,
sweetheart," cried Henry passionately. "It was in mercy to me, I
suppose, that you insisted upon shrouding those beauteous features from
my view.

"Hear you that, madam?" whispered Norris to Anne.

The queen answered by a convulsive clasp of the hand.

"Your majesty but jests with me," said Jane Seymour. "Jests!" cried
Henry passionately. "By my faith! I never understood the power of beauty
till now. No charms ever moved my heart like yours; nor shall I know a
moment's peace till you become mine."

"I am grieved to hear it, my liege," replied Jane Seymour, "for I never
can be yours, unless as your queen."

Again Norris hazarded a whisper to Anne Boleyn, which was answered by
another nervous grasp of the hand.

"That is as much as to say," pursued Jane, seeing the gloomy reverie
into which her royal lover was thrown, "I can give your majesty no hopes
at all."

"You have been schooled by Anne Boleyn, sweetheart," said Henry.

"How so, my liege?" demanded Jane Seymour.

"Those are the very words she used to me when I wooed her, and which
induced me to divorce Catherine of Arragon," replied Henry. "Now they
may bring about her own removal."

"Just Heaven!" murmured Anne.

"I dare not listen to your majesty," said Jane Seymour, in a tremulous
tone; "and yet, if I dared speak--"

"Speak on, fearlessly, sweetheart," said Henry.

"Then I am well assured," said Jane, "that the queen no longer loves
you; nay, that she loves another."

"It is false, minion!" cried Anne Boleyn, rushing forward, while Norris
hastily retreated, "it is false! It is you who would deceive the king
for your own purposes. But I have fortunately been brought hither to
prevent the injury you would do me. Oh, Henry! have I deserved this of
you?"

"You have chanced to overhear part of a scene in a masquerade,
madam--that is all," said the king.

"I have chanced to arrive most opportunely for myself," said Anne. "As
for this slanderous and deceitful minion, I shall dismiss her from my
service. If your majesty is determined to prove faithless to me, it
shall not be with one of my own dames."

"Catherine of Arragon should have made that speech," retorted Jane
Seymour bitterly. "She had reason to complain that she was supplanted by
one much beneath her. And she never played the king falsely."

"Nor have I!" cried Anne fiercely. "If I had my will, I should strike
thee dead for the insinuation. Henry, my lord--my love--if you have any
regard for me, instantly dismiss Jane Seymour."

"It may not be, madam," replied Henry in a freezing tone; "she has done
nothing to deserve dismissal. If any one is to blame in the matter, it
is myself."

"And will you allow her to make these accusations against me without
punishment?" cried Anne.

"Peace, madam!" cried the king sternly; "and thank my good-nature that
I go no further into the matter. If you are weary of the masque, I pray
you retire to your own apartments. For myself, I shall lead Jane Seymour
to the bransle."

"And if your majesty should need a partner," said Jane, walking up to
Anne and speaking in a low tone, "you will doubtless find Sir Henry
Norris disengaged."

The queen looked as if stricken by a thunderbolt. She heard the
triumphant laugh of her rival; she saw her led forth, all smiles and
beauty and triumph, by the king to the dance, and she covered her face
in agony. While she was in this state, a deep voice breathed in her
ears, "The vengeance of Catherine of Arragon begins to work!"

Looking up, she beheld the tall figure of the monk retreating from the
chamber.



III.

     What passed between Norris and the Tall Monk.


Tottering to the seat which Henry and Jane had just quitted, Anne
sank into it. After a little time, having in some degree recovered
her composure, she was about to return to the great hall, when Norris
appeared.

"I did not deceive you, madam," he said, "when I told you the king was
insensible to your charms; he only lives for Jane Seymour."

"Would I could dismiss her!" cried Anne furiously.

"If you were to do so, she would soon be replaced by another," rejoined
Norris. "The king delights only in change. With him, the last face is
ever the most beautiful."

"You speak fearful treason, sir!" replied Anne; "but I believe it to be
the truth."

"Oh, then, madam!" pursued Norris, "since the king is so regardless of
you, why trouble yourself about him? There are those who would sacrifice
a thousand lives, if they possessed them, for your love."

"I fear it is the same with all men," rejoined Anne. "A woman's heart is
a bauble which, when obtained, is speedily tossed aside."

"Your majesty judges our sex too harshly," said Norris. "If I had the
same fortune as the king, I should never change."

"The king himself once thought so--once swore so," replied Anne
petulantly. "It is the common parlance of lovers. But I may not listen
to such discourse longer."

"Oh, madam!" cried Norris, "you misjudge me greatly. My heart is
not made of the same stuff as that of the royal Henry. I can love
deeply--devotedly--lastingly."

"Know you not that by these rash speeches you place your head in
jeopardy?" said Anne.

"I would rather lose it than not be permitted to love you," he replied.

"But your rashness endangers me," said the queen. "Your passion
has already been noticed by Jane Seymour, and the slightest further
indiscretion will be fatal."

"Nay, if that be so," cried Norris, "and your majesty should be placed
in peril on my account, I will banish myself from the court, and from
your presence, whatever the effort cost me."

"No," replied Anne, "I will not tax you so hardly. I do not think," she
added tenderly, "deserted as I am by the king, that I could spare you."

"You confess, then, that I have inspired you with some regard?" he cried
rapturously.

"Do not indulge in these transports, Norris," said Anne mournfully.
"Your passion will only lead to your destruction--perchance to mine. Let
the certainty that I do love, content you, and seek not to tempt your
fate further."

"Oh, madam! you make me the happiest of men by the avowal," he cried. "I
envy not now the king, for I feel raised above him by your love."

"You must join the revel, Norris," said Anne; "your absence from it will
be observed."

And extending her hand to him, he knelt down and pressed it passionately
to his lips.

"Ah! we are observed," she cried suddenly, and almost with a shriek.
"Rise, sir!"

Norris instantly sprang to his feet, and, to his inexpressible dismay,
saw the figure of a tall monk gliding away. Throwing a meaning look at
the almost sinking queen, he followed the mysterious observer into
the great hall, determined to rid himself of him in some way before he
should have time to make any revelations.

Avoiding the brilliant throng, the monk entered the adjoining corridor,
and descending the great staircase, passed into the upper quadrangle.
From thence he proceeded towards the cloisters near St. George's Chapel,
where he was overtaken by Norris, who had followed him closely.

"What would you with me, Sir Henry Norris?" cried the monk, halting.

"You may guess," said Norris, sternly and drawing his sword. "There are
secrets which are dangerous to the possessor. Unless you swear never to
betray what you have seen and heard, you die."

The tall monk laughed derisively.

"You know that your life is in my power," he said, "and therefore you
threaten mine. Well, e'en take it, if you can."

As he spoke, he drew a sword from beneath his robe, and stood upon his
defence. After a few passes, Norris's weapon was beaten from his grasp.

"You are now completely at my mercy," said the monk, "and I have nothing
to do but to call the guard, and declare all I have heard to the king."

"I would rather you plunged your sword into my heart," said Norris.

"There is one way--and only one--by which my secrecy may be purchased,"
said the monk.

"Name it," replied Norris. "Were it to be purchased by my soul's
perdition, I would embrace it."

"You have hit the point exactly," rejoined the monk drily. "Can you not
guess with whom you have to deal?"

"Partly," replied Norris "I never found such force in mortal arm as you
have displayed."

"Probably not," laughed the other: "most of those who have ventured
against me have found their match. But come with me into the park, and
you shall learn the condition of my secrecy."

"I cannot quit the castle," replied Norris; "but I will take you to my
lodgings, where we shall be wholly unobserved."

And crossing the lower ward, they proceeded to the tower on the south
side of it, now appropriated to the governor of the alms knights.

About an hour after this Norris returned to the revel. His whole
demeanour was altered, and his looks ghastly. He sought the queen, who
had returned to the seat in the embrasure.

"What has happened?" said Anne, in a low tone, as he approached her.
"Have you killed him?"

"No," he replied; "but I have purchased our safety at a terrible price."

"You alarm me, Norris; what mean you?" she cried. "I mean this," he
answered, regarding her with passionate earnestness: "that you must love
me now, for I have perilled my salvation for you. That tall monk was
Herne the Hunter."



IV.

     Of the Secret Interview between Norris and Anne Boleyn, and
     of the Dissimulation practised by the King.


Henry's attentions to Jane Seymour at the masqued fete were so marked,
that the whole court was made aware of his passion. But it was not
anticipated that any serious and extraordinary consequences would result
from the intoxication--far less that the queen herself would be removed
to make way for her successful rival. It was afterwards, however,
remembered that at this time Henry held frequent, long, and grave
conferences with the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk, and appeared to be
engrossed in the meditation of some project.

After the scene at the revel, Anne did not make another exhibition of
jealousy; but it was not that she was reconciled to her situation, or in
any way free from uneasiness. On the contrary, the unhappy Catherine of
Arragon did not suffer more in secret; but she knew, from experience,
that with her royal consort all reproaches would be unavailing.

One morning, when she was alone within her chamber, her father, who was
now Earl of Wiltshire, obtained admittance to her.

"You have a troubled look, my dear lord," she said, as she motioned him
to a seat.

"And with good reason," he replied. "Oh, Anne! words cannot express my
anxiety at the present state of things."

"It will speedily pass by, my lord," she replied; "the king will soon be
tired of his new idol."

"Not before he has overthrown the old one, I fear," rejoined the earl.
"Jane Seymour's charms have usurped entire sovereignty over him. With
all her air of ingenuousness and simplicity, the minion is artful and
dangerous She has a high mark, I am persuaded--no less than the throne."

"But Henry cannot wed her--he cannot divorce me," said Anne.

"So thought Catherine of Arragon," replied her father; "and yet she was
divorced. Anne, I am convinced a plot is hatching against you."

"You do not fear for my life, father?" she cried, trembling.

"I trust there are no grounds for charges against you by which it might
be brought in jeopardy," replied the earl gravely.

"None, father--none!" she exclaimed.

"I am glad of it," rejoined the earl; "for I have heard that the king
said to one who suggested another divorce to him, 'No, if the queen
comes within the scope of the divorce, she also comes within the pale of
the scaffold.'"

"A pledge was extorted from him to that effect," said Anne, in a hollow
voice.

"That an attempt will be made against you, I firmly believe," replied
the earl; "but if you are wholly innocent you have nothing to fear."

"Oh, father! I know not that," cried Anne. "Innocence avails little with
the stony-hearted Henry."

"It will prove your best safeguard," said the earl. "And now farewell,
daughter! Heaven guard you! Keep the strictest watch upon yourself."

So saying, he quitted the apartment, and as soon as she was left alone,
the unhappy Anne burst into an agony of tears.

From this state of affliction she was roused by hearing her own name
pronounced in low accents, and looking up, she beheld Sir Henry Norris.

"Oh, Norris!" she said, in a tone of reproach, "you have come hither to
destroy me."

"No one knows of my coming," he said; "at least, no one who will betray
me. I was brought hither by one who will take care we are not observed."

"By Herne?" demanded Anne.

Norris answered in the affirmative.

"Would you had never leagued yourself with him!" she cried; "I fear the
rash act will bring destruction upon us both."

"It is too late to retract now," he replied; "besides, there was no
help for it. I sacrificed myself to preserve you."

"But will the sacrifice preserve me?" she cried. "I fear not. I have
just been told that the king is preparing some terrible measure against
me--that he meditates removing me, to make way for Jane Seymour."

"You have heard the truth, madam," replied Norris, "he will try to bring
you to the block."

"And with him, to try is to achieve," said Anne. "Oh, Norris! it is a
fearful thing to contemplate such a death!"

"But why contemplate it, madam?" said Norris; "why, if you are satisfied
that the king has such designs against you--why, if you feel that he
will succeed, tarry for the fatal blow? Fly with me--fly with one who
loves you, and will devote his whole life to you--who regards you,
not as the queen, but as Anne Boleyn. Relinquish this false and hollow
grandeur, and fly with me to happiness and peace."

"And relinquish my throne to Jane Seymour?" rejoined Anne "Never! I feel
that all you assert is true--that my present position is hazardous--that
Jane Seymour is in the ascendant, while I am on the decline, if not
wholly sunk--that you love me entirely, and would devote your life
to me--still, with all these motives for dread, I cannot prevail upon
myself voluntarily to give up my title, and to abandon my post to a
rival."

"You do not love me, then, as I love you, Anne," said Norris. "If I were
a king, I would abandon my throne for you."

"You think so now, Norris, because you are not king," she replied. "But
I am queen, and will remain so, till I am forced to abandon my dignity."

"I understand, madam," rejoined Norris gloomily. "But oh I bethink
you to what risks you expose yourself. You know the king's terrible
determination--his vindictiveness, his ferocity."

"Full well," she replied--"full well; but I will rather die a queen than
live disgrace and ruined. In wedding Henry the Eighth, I laid my account
to certain risks, and those I must brave."

Before Norris could urge anything further, the door was suddenly opened,
and a tall dark figure entered the chamber, and said hastily--"The king
is at hand."

"One word more, and it is my last," said Norris to Anne. "Will you fly
with me to-night?--all shall be ready."

"I cannot," replied Anne.

"Away!" cried Herne, dragging Norris forcibly behind the tapestry.

Scarcely had they disappeared when Henry entered the chamber. He was in
a gayer mood than had been usual with him of late.

"I am come to tell you, madam," he said, "that I am about to hold jousts
in the castle on the first of May, at which your good brother and mine,
the Lord Rochford, will be the challenger, while I myself shall be the
defendant. You will adjudge the prize."

"Why not make Jane Seymour queen of the jousts?" said Anne, unable to
resist the remark.

"She will be present at them," said Henry, "but I have my own reasons,"
he added significantly, "for not wishing her to appear as queen on this
occasion."

"Whatever may be your reasons, the wish is sufficient for me," said
Anne. "Nay, will you tarry a moment with me? It is long since we have
had any converse in private together."

"I am busy at this moment," replied Henry bluffly; "but what is it you
would say to me?"

"I would only reproach you for some lack of tenderness, and much
neglect," said Anne. "Oh, Henry! do you remember how you swore by your
life--your crown--your faith--all that you held sacred or dear--that you
would love me ever?"

"And so I would, if I could," replied the king; "but unfortunately the
heart is not entirely under control. Have you yourself, for instance,
experienced no change in your affections?"

"No," replied Anne. "I have certainly suffered severely from your
too evident regard for Jane Seymour; but, though deeply mortified and
distressed, I have never for a moment been shaken in my love for your
majesty."

"A loyal and loving reply," said Henry. "I thought I had perceived some
slight diminution in your regard."

"You did yourself grievous injustice by the supposition," replied Anne.

"I would fain believe so," said the king; "but there are some persons
who would persuade me that you have not only lost your affection for me,
but have even cast eyes of regard on another."

"Those who told you so lied!" cried Anne passionately. "Never woman was
freer from such imputation than myself."

"Never woman was more consummate hypocrite," muttered Henry.

"You do not credit me, I see," cried Anne.

"If I did not, I should know how to act," replied the king. "You
remember my pledge?"

"Full well," replied Anne; "and if love and duty would not restrain me,
fear would."

"So I felt," rejoined the king; "but there are some of your sex upon
whom nothing will operate as a warning--so faithless and inconstant are
they by nature. It has been hinted to me that you are one of these;
but I cannot think it. I can never believe that a woman for whom I
have placed my very throne in jeopardy--for whom I have divorced my
queen-whose family I have elevated and ennobled--and whom I have placed
upon the throne would play me false. It is monstrous-incredible!"

"It is--it is!" replied Anne.

"And now farewell," said Henry. "I have stayed longer than I intended,
and I should not have mentioned these accusations, which I regard as
wholly groundless, unless you had reproached me."

And he quitted the chamber, leaving Anne in a strange state of
perplexity and terror.



V.

     What happened at the Jousts.


The first of May arrived; and though destined to set in darkness and
despair, it arose in sunshine and smiles.

All were astir at an early hour within the castle, and preparations
were made for the approaching show. Lists were erected in the upper
quadrangle, and the whole of the vast area was strewn with sand. In
front of the royal lodgings was raised a gallery, the centre of which,
being set apart for the queen and her dames, was covered with cloth
of gold and crimson velvet, on which the royal arms were gorgeously
emblazoned. The two wings were likewise richly decorated, and adorned
with scutcheons and pennons, while from the battlements of the eastern
side of the court were hung a couple of long flags.

As soon as these preparations were completed, a throng of pages,
esquires, armourers, archers, and henchmen, entered it from the Norman
gateway, and took up positions within the barriers, the space without
the pales being kept by a double line of halberdiers. Next came the
trumpeters, mounted on richly caparisoned horses, and having their
clarions decorated with silken bandrols, fringed with gold. Stationing
themselves at the principal entrance of the lists, they were speedily
joined by the heralds, pursuivants, and other officers of the tilt-yard.

Presently afterwards, the Duke of Suffolk, who was appointed judge of
the lists, appeared, and rode round the arena to see that all was in
order. Apparently well satisfied with the survey, he dismounted, and
proceeded to the gallery.

Meanwhile, the crowd within the court was increased by a great influx
of the different members of the household, amongst whom were Shoreditch,
Paddington, and Hector Cutbeard.

"Marry, this promises to be a splendid sight!" said the clerk of the
kitchen; "the king will, no doubt, do his devoir gallantly for the sake
of the bright eyes that will look upon him."

"You mean the queen's, of course?" said Shoreditch.

"I mean hers who may be queen," replied Cutbeard; "Mistress Jane
Seymour."

"May be queen!" exclaimed Shoreditch. "You surely do not think the king
will divorce his present consort?"

"Stranger things have happened," replied Cutbeard significantly. "If
I am not greatly out of my reckoning," he added, "these are the last
jousts Queen Anne will behold."

"The saints forefend!" cried Shoreditch; "what reason have you for
thinking so?"

"That I may not declare," replied Cutbeard; "but before the jousts are
over you will see whether I have been rightly informed or not."

"Hush!" exclaimed Shoreditch. "There is a tall monk eyeing us strangely;
and I am not certain that he has not overheard what you have said."

"He is welcome to the intelligence," replied Cutbeard; "the end will
prove its truth."

Though this was uttered in a confident tone, he nevertheless glanced
with some misgiving at the monk, who stood behind Paddington. The object
of the investigation was a very tall man, with a cowl drawn over his
brow. He had a ragged black beard, fierce dark eyes, and a complexion
like bronze. Seeing Cutboard's glance anxiously fixed upon him, he
advanced towards him, and said in a low tone--"You have nothing to fear
from me; but talk not so loud if you value your head."

"So saying he proceeded to another part of the lists.

"Who is that tall monk?" asked Paddington.

"Devil knows!" answered Cutbeard; "I never saw him before. But he has a
villainous cut-throat look."

Soon afterwards a flourish of trumpets was heard, and amid their joyous
bruit the queen, sumptuously arrayed in cloth of gold and ermine, and
having a small crown upon her brow, entered the gallery, and took her
seat within it. Never had she looked more beautiful than on this fatal
morning, and in the eyes of all the beholders she completely eclipsed
her rival, Jane Seymour. The latter, who stood on her right hard, and
was exquisitely attired, had a thoughtful and anxious air, as if some
grave matter weighed upon her.

While the queen's attendants were taking their places, Lord Rochford,
accompanied by Sir Henry Norris and the Earls of Surrey and Essex,
entered the lists. The four knights were completely armed, and mounted
on powerful steeds barded with rich cloth of gold, embroidered with
silver letters. Each had a great crimson plume in his helmet. They rode
singly round the arena, and bowed as they passed the royal gallery,
Norris bending almost to his saddle-bow while performing his salutation
to the queen.

The field being thus taken by the challengers, who retired to the upper
end of the court, a trumpet was thrice sounded by a herald, and an
answer was immediately made by another herald stationed opposite Henry
the Seventh's buildings. When the clamour ceased, the king fully armed,
and followed by the Marquis of Dorset, Sir Thomas Wyat, and the Lord
Clifford, rode into the lists.

Henry was equipped in a superb suit of armour, inlaid with gold, and
having a breastplate of the globose form, then in vogue; his helmet was
decorated with a large snow-white plume. The trappings of his steed were
of crimson velvet, embroidered with the royal arms, and edged with great
letters of massive gold bullion, full of pearls and precious stones.
He was attended by a hundred gentlemen, armourers, and other officers,
arrayed in white velvet.

Having ridden round the court like the others, and addressed his
salutation exclusively to Jane Seymour, Henry took his station with his
companions near the base of the Round Tower, the summit of which was
covered with spectators, as were the towers and battlements around.

A trumpet was now sounded, and the king and the Lord Rochford having
each taken a lance from his esquire, awaited the signal to start from
the Duke of Suffolk, who was seated in the left wing of the royal
gallery. It was not long delayed. As the clarion sounded clearly and
loudly for the third time, he called out that the champions might go.

No sooner were the words uttered, than the thundering tramp of the
steeds resounded, and the opponents met midway. Both their lances were
shivered; but as the king did not, in the slightest degree, change his
position, he was held to have the best of it. Courses were then run by
the others, with varied success, the Marquis of Dorset being unhorsed
by Sir Henry Norris, whose prowess was rewarded by the plaudits of the
assemblage, and what was infinitely more dear to him, by the smiles of
the queen.

"You have ridden well, Norris," cried Henry, advancing towards him.
"Place yourself opposite me, and let us splinter a lance together."

As Norris reined back his steed, in compliance with the injunction, the
tall monk stepped from out the line, and drawing near him, said, "If you
wish to prove victorious, aim at the upper part of the king's helmet."
And with these words he withdrew.

By the time Norris had placed his lance in the rest, the trumpet
sounded. The next moment the word was given, and the champions started.
Henry rode with great impetuosity, and struck Norris in the gorget with
such good will that both he and his steed were shaken.

But Norris was more fortunate. Following the advice of the monk, he made
the upper part of the king's helmet his mark, and the blow was so well
dealt, that, though he did not dislodge the royal horseman, it drove
back his steed on its haunches.

The success was so unequivocal that Norris was at once declared the
victor by the judge. No applause, however, followed the decision, from a
fear of giving offence to the king.

Norris dismounted, and committing his steed to the care of an esquire,
and his lance to a page, took off his helmet and advanced towards the
royal gallery, near which the Earl of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyat were
standing talking with the other dames. As Norris drew near, Anne leaned
over the edge of the gallery, and smiled at him tenderly, and, whether
by design or accident, let fall her embroidered handkerchief.

Norris stooped to pick it up, regarding her as he did so with a glance
of the most passionate devotion. A terrible gaze, however, was fixed
on the unfortunate pair at that moment. It was that of the king. While
Henry was careering in front of the gallery to display himself before
Jane Seymour, a tall monk approached him, and said, "Look at Sir Henry
Norris!"

Thus addressed, Henry raised his beaver, that he might see more
distinctly, and beheld Norris take up the embroidered handkerchief,
which he recognised as one that he had given, in the early days of his
affection, to the queen.

The sight stung him almost to madness, and he had great difficulty
in repressing his choler. But if this slight action, heightened to
importance, as it was, by the looks of the parties, roused his ire,
it was nothing to what followed. Instead of restoring it to the queen,
Norris, unconscious of the danger in which he stood, pressed the
handkerchief fervently to his lips.

"I am hitherto the victor of the jousts," he said; "may I keep this as
the prize?"

Anne smiled assent.

"It is the proudest I ever obtained," pursued Norris. And he placed it
within his helmet.

"Does your majesty see that?" cried the tall monk, who still remained
standing near the king.

"Death of my life!" exclaimed Henry, "it is the very handkerchief I gave
her before our union! I can contain myself no longer, and must perforce
precipitate matters. What ho!" he cried, riding up to that part of
the gallery where the Duke of Suffolk was seated--"let the jousts be
stopped!"

"Wherefore, my dear liege?" said Suffolk. "The Earl of Surrey and Sir
Thomas Wyat are about to run a course."

"Let them he stopped I say!" roared Henry, in a tone that admitted of
no dispute. And wheeling round his charger, he dashed into the middle of
the barriers, shouting in loud, authoritative accents, "The jousts are
at an end! Disperse!"

The utmost consternation was occasioned by the announcement. The Duke of
Suffolk instantly quitted his seat, and pressed through the crowd to the
king, who whispered a few hasty words in his ear. Henry then called to
the Earl of Surrey, the Marquis of Dorset, the Lord Clifford, Wyat, and
some others, and bidding them attend him, prepared to quit the court.
As he passed the royal gallery, Anne called to him in an agonised
voice--"Oh, Henry! what is the matter?--what have I done?"

But without paying the slightest attention to her, he dashed through the
Norman Gate, galloped down the lower quadrangle, and quitted the castle.

The confusion that ensued may be imagined. All saw that something
extraordinary and terrible had taken place, though few knew precisely
what it was. Dismay sat in every countenance, and the general anxiety
was heightened by the agitation of the queen, who, uttering a piercing
scream, fell back, and was borne off in a state of insensibility by her
attendants.

Unable to control himself at the sight, Norris burst through the guard,
and rushing up the great staircase, soon gained the apartment to which
the queen had been conveyed. Owing to the timely aid afforded her, she
was speedily restored, and the first person her eyes fell upon was her
lover. At the sight of him a glance of affection illumined her features,
but it was instantly changed into an expression of alarm.

At this juncture the Duke of Suffolk, who, with Bouchier and a party
of halberdiers, had entered the room, stepped up to the queen, and
said-"Will it please you, madam, to retire to an inner apartment? I
grieve to say you are under arrest."

"Arrest!" exclaimed Anne; "for what crime, your grace?"

"You are charged with incontinency towards the king's highness," replied
Suffolk sternly.

"But I am innocent!" cried Anne--"as Heaven shall judge me, I am
innocent!"

"I trust you will be able to prove yourself so, madam," said Suffolk.
"Sir Henry Norris, your person is likewise attached."

"Then I am lost indeed!" exclaimed Anne distractedly.

"Do not let these false and malignant accusations alarm you, madam," said
Norri. "You have nothing to fear. I will die protesting your innocence."

"Sir Henry Norris," said the duke coldly, "your own imprudence has
brought about this sad result."

"I feel it," replied Norris; "and I deserve the worst punishment that
can be inflicted upon me for it. But I declare to you as I will
declare upon the rack, if I am placed upon it--that the queen is wholly
innocent. Let her not suffer for my fault."

"You hear what Sir Henry says," cried Anne; "and I call upon you to
recollect the testimony he has borne."

"I shall not fail to do so, madam," replied Suffolk. "Your majesty will
have strict justice."

"Justice!" echoed Anne, with a laugh of bitter incredulity. "Justice
from Henry the Eighth?"

"Beseech you, madam, do not destroy yourself," said Norris, prostrating
himself before her. "Recollect by whom you are surrounded. My folly and
madness have brought you into this strait, and I sincerely implore your
pardon for it."

"You are not to blame, Norris," said Anne; "it is fate, not you, that
has destroyed me. The hand that has dealt this blow is that of a queen
within the tomb."

"Captain Bouchier," said the Duke of Suffolk, addressing that officer,
who stood near him, "you will convey Sir Henry Norris to the strong-room
in the lower gateway, whence he will be removed to the Tower."

"Farewell for ever, Norris!" cried Anne. "We shall meet no more on
earth. In what has fallen on me I recognise the hand of retribution. But
the same measure which has been meted to me shall be dealt to others. I
denounce Jane Seymour before Heaven! She shall not long retain the crown
she is about to snatch from me!"

"That imprecation had better have been spared, madam," said the duke.

"Be advised, my gracious mistress," cried Norris, "and do not let your
grief and distraction place you in the power of your enemies. All may
yet go well."

"I denounce her!" persisted Anne, wholly disregarding the caution; "and
I also denounce the king. No union of his shall be happy, and other
blood than mine shall flow."

At a sign from the duke she was here borne, half suffocated with
emotion, to an inner apartment, while Norris was conveyed by Bouchier
and a company of halberdiers to the lower gateway, and placed within the
prison chamber.



VI.

     What passed between Anne Boleyn and the Duke of Suffolk, and
     how Herne the Hunter appeared to her in the Oratory.


For some hours Anne Boleyn's attendants were alarmed for her reason,
and there seemed good grounds for the apprehension, so wildly and
incoherently did she talk, and so violently comport herself--she who
was usually so gentle now weeping as if her soul would pass away in
tears--now breaking into fearful hysterical laughter. It was a piteous
sight, and deeply moved all who witnessed it. But towards evening
she became calmer, and desired to be left by herself. Her wish
being complied with, she fell upon her knees, and besought Heaven's
forgiveness for her manifold offences.

"May my earthly sufferings," she cried, "avail me here--after, and
may my blood wash out my guilt. I feel the enormity of my offence,
and acknowledge the justice of my punishment. Pardon me, O injured
Catherine--pardon me, I implore thee! Thou seest in me the most
abject pitiable woman in the whole realm! Overthrown, neglected,
despised--about to die a shameful death--what worse can befall me? Thine
anguish was great, but it was never sharpened by remorse like mine. Oh!
that I could live my life over again. I would resist all the dazzling
temptations I have yielded to--above all, I would not injure thee. Oh!
that I had resisted Henry's love--his false vows--his fatal lures!
But it is useless to repine. I have acted wrongfully and must pay the
penalty of my crime. May my tears, my penitence, my blood operate as an
atonement, and procure me pardon from the merciful Judge before whom I
shall shortly appear."

In such prayers and lamentations she passed more than an hour, when her
attendants entered to inform her that the Duke of Suffolk and the
Lords Audley and Cromwell were without, and desired to see her. She
immediately went forth to them.

"We are come to acquaint you, madam," said Suffolk, "that you will be
removed at an early hour tomorrow morning, to the Tower, there to abide
during the king's pleasure."

"If the king will have it so, my lords," she replied, "I must needs go;
but I protest my innocence, and will protest it to the last. I have ever
been a faithful and loyal consort to his highness, and though I may not
have demeaned myself to him so humbly and gratefully as I ought to have
done--seeing how much I owe him--yet I have lacked nothing in affection
and duty. I have had jealous fancies and suspicions of him, especially
of late, and have troubled him with them; but I pray his forgiveness for
my folly, which proceeded from too much regard, and if I am acquitted of
my present charge, I will offend him so no more."

"We will report what you say to the king," rejoined Suffolk gravely;
"but we are bound to add that his highness does not act on mere
suspicion, the proofs of your guilt being strong against you."

"There can be no such proofs," cried Anne quickly. "Who are my accusers?
and what do they state?"

"You are charged with conspiring against the king's life, and
dishonouring his bed," replied Suffolk sternly. "Your accusers will
appear in due season."

"They are base creatures suborned for the purpose!" cried Anne. "No
loyal person would so forswear himself."

"Time will show you who they are, madam," said Suffolk.

"But having now answered all your questions, I pray you permit us to
retire."

"Shall I not see the king before I am taken to the Tower?" said Anne,
upon whom the terror of her situation rushed with new force.

"His highness has quitted the castle," replied Suffolk, "and there is no
likelihood of his return to-night."

"You tell me so to deceive me," cried Anne. "Let me see him--let me
throw myself at his feet! I can convince him of my innocence and move
him to compassion! Let me see him, I implore of you--I charge you!"

"I swear to you, madam, that the king has departed for Hampton Court,"
replied Suffolk.

"Then take me to him there, under strong guard, or as secretly as you
please," she cried passionately; "I will return with you instantly, if I
am unsuccessful."

"Were I to comply with your request it would be fruitless, madam,"
replied Suffolk; "the king would not see you."

"Oh, Suffolk!" cried Anne, prostrating herself before him, "I have shown
you many kindnesses in my season of power, and have always stood your
friend with the king. Do me this favour now; I will never forget it.
Introduce me to the king. I am sure I can move his heart, if I can only
see him."

"It would cost me my head, madam," said the duke in an inexorable tone.
"Rise, I pray you."

"You are more cruel than the king," said Anne, obeying. "And now, my
lords," she continued with more composure and dignity, "since you refuse
my last request, and plainly prove to me the sort of justice I may
expect, I will not detain you longer. I shall be ready to attend you to
the Tower tomorrow."

"The barge will proceed an hour before dawn," said Suffolk.

"Must I, then, go by water?" asked Anne.

"Such are the king's commands," replied Suffolk.

"It is no matter," she rejoined; "I shall be ready when you will, for I
shall not retire to rest during the night."

Upon this Suffolk and the others slowly withdrew, and Anne again retired
to the oratory.

She remained alone, brooding, in a state of indescribable anguish, upon
the probable fate awaiting her, when all at once, raising her eyes, she
beheld a tall dark figure near the arras.

Even in the gloom she recognised Herne the Hunter, and with difficulty
repressed a scream.

"Be silent!" cried Herne, with an emphatic gesture. "I am come to
deliver you."

Anne could not repress a joyful cry.

"Not so loud," rejoined Herne, "or you will alarm your attendants. I
will set you free on certain conditions."

"Ah! conditions!" exclaimed Anne, recoiling; "if they are such as will
affect my eternal welfare, I cannot accept them."

"You will repent it when it is too late," replied Herne. "Once removed
to the Tower I can no longer aid you. My power extends only to the
forest and the castle."

"Will you take me to the king at Hampton Court?" said Anne.

"It would be useless," replied Herne. "I will only do what I have
stated. If you fly with me, you can never appear again as Anne Boleyn.
Sir Henry Norris shall be set free at the same time, and you shall both
dwell with me in the forest. Come!"

"I cannot go," said Anne, holding back; "it were to fly to a worse
danger. I may save my soul now; but if I embrace your offer I am lost
for ever."

Herne laughed derisively.

"You need have no fear on that score," he said.

"I will not trust you," replied Anne. "I have yielded to temptation
already, and am now paying the penalty of it."

"You are clinging to the crown," said Herne, "because you know that by
this step you will irrecoverably lose it. And you fancy that some change
may yet operate to your advantage with the king. It is a vain
delusive hope. If you leave this castle for the Tower, you will perish
ignominiously on the block."

"What will be, must be!" replied Anne. "I will not save myself in the
way you propose."

"Norris will say, and with reason, that you love him not," cried Herne.

"Then he will wrong me," replied Anne; "for I do love him. But of what
account were a few years of fevered happiness compared with endless
torture?"

"I will befriend you in spite of yourself," vociferated Herne, seizing
her arm; "you shall go with me!"

"I will not," said Anne, falling on her knees. "Oh, Father of Mercy!"
she cried energetically, "deliver me from this fiend!"

"Take your fate, then!" rejoined Herne, dashing her furiously backwards.

And when her attendants, alarmed by the sound, rushed into the chamber,
they found her stretched on the floor in a state of insensibility.



VII.

     How Herne appeared to Henry In the Home Park.


On that same night, at a late hour, a horseman, mounted on a powerful
steed, entered the eastern side of the home park, and stationed himself
beneath the trees. He had not been there long, when the castle clock
tolled forth the hour of midnight, and ere the deep strokes died away, a
second horseman was seen galloping across the moonlit glade towards him.

"Has all been done as I directed, Suffolk?" he demanded, as the newcomer
approached him.

"It has, my liege," replied the duke. "The queen is imprisoned within
her chamber, and will be removed, at early dawn, to the Tower."

"You had better start in an hour from this time," said the king. "It is
a long passage by water, and I am anxious to avoid all chance of attempt
at rescue."

"Your wishes shall be obeyed," replied the duke. "Poor soul! her grief
was most agonizing, and I had much ado to maintain my composure. She
implored, in the most passionate manner, to be allowed to see your
highness before her removal. I told her it was impossible; and that even
if you were at the castle, you would not listen to her supplications."

"You did right," rejoined Henry; "I will never see her more--not that
I fear being moved by her prayers, but that, knowing how deceitful and
faithless she is, I loathe to look upon her. What is expressed upon the
matter by the household? Speak frankly."

"Frankly then," replied the duke, "your highness's proceedings are
regarded as harsh and unjustifiable. The general opinion is, that you
only desire to remove Anne to make way for Mistress Jane Seymour."

"Ha! they talk thus, do they?" cried the king. "I will silence their
saucy prating ere long. Tell all who venture to speak to you on the
subject that I have long suspected the queen of a secret liking for
Norris, but that I determined to conceal my suspicions till I found I
had good warrant for them. That occurred, as you know, some weeks ago.
However, I awaited a pretext for proceeding against them, and it was
furnished by their own imprudence to-day. Convinced that something would
occur, I had made my preparations; nor was I deceived. You may add,
also, that not until my marriage is invalidated, Anne's offspring
illegitimatised, and herself beheaded, shall I consider the foul blot
upon my name removed."

"Has your majesty any further commands?" said Suffolk. "I saw Norris in
his prison before I rode forth to you."

"Let him be taken to the Tower, under a strong escort, at once," said
Henry. "Lord Rochford, I suppose, has already been removed there?"

"He has," replied the duke. "Shall I attend your majesty to your
followers?"

"It is needless," replied the king. "They are waiting for me, close at
hand, at the foot of Datchet Bridge. Fare well, my good brother; look
well to your prisoners. I shall feel more easy when Anne is safely
lodged within the Tower."

So saying he wheeled round, and striking spurs into his steed, dashed
through the trees, while the duke rode back to the castle.

Henry had not proceeded far, when a horseman, mounted on a sable steed,
emerged from the thicket, and galloped up to him. The wild attire and
antlered helm of this personage proclaimed the forest fiend.

"Ah! thou here, demon!" cried the king, his lion nature overmastered by
superstitious fear for a moment. "What wouldst thou?"

"You are on the eve of committing a great crime," replied Herne; "and I
told you that at such times I would always appear to you."

"To administer justice is not to commit crime," rejoined the king. "Anne
Boleyn deserves her fate."

"Think not to impose on me as you have imposed on Suffolk!" cried Herne,
with a derisive laugh. "I know your motives better; I know you have no
proof of her guilt, and that in your heart of hearts you believe her
innocent. But you destroy her because you would wed Jane Seymour! We
shall meet again ere long--ho! ho! ho!"

And giving the rein to his steed, he disappeared among the trees.



VIII.

     The Signal Gun.


Anne Boleyn's arraignment took place in the great hall of the White
Tower, on the 16th of May, before the Duke of Norfolk, who was created
lord high steward for the occasion, and twenty-six peers. The duke had
his seat under a canopy of state, and beneath him sat the Earl of Surrey
as deputy earl-marshal.

Notwithstanding an eloquent and impassioned defence, Anne was found
guilty; and having been required to lay aside her crown and the other
insignia of royalty, was condemned to be burned or beheaded at the
king's pleasure.

On the following day, she was summoned to the archiepiscopal palace at
Lambeth, whither she was privately conveyed; and her marriage with the
king was declared by Cranmer to be null and void, and to have always
been so. Death by the axe was the doom awarded to her by the king, and
the day appointed for the execution was Friday the 19th of May, at the
hour of noon.

Leaving the conduct of the fatal ceremony to the Duke of Suffolk, who
had orders to have a signal gun fired from the summit of the White
Tower, which was to be answered from various points, when all was over,
Henry repaired to Windsor Castle on the evening of Thursday. Before
this, he had formally offered his hand to Jane Seymour; and while the
unfortunate queen was languishing within the Tower, he was basking in
the smiles of his new mistress, and counting the hours till he could
make her his own. On the Tuesday before the execution, Jane Seymour
retired to her father's mansion, Wolff Hall, in Wiltshire, where
preparations were made for the marriage, which it was arranged should
take place there in private on the Saturday.

On arriving at the castle, Henry gave out that he should hunt on the
following morning in the great park, and retired to his closet. But he
did not long remain there, and putting on the garb of a yeoman of the
guard, descended by the narrow flight of steps (already mentioned as
occupying the same situation as the existing Hundred Steps) to the town,
and proceeded to the Garter, where he found several guests assembled,
discussing the affairs of the day, and Bryan Bowntance's strong ale
at the same time. Amongst the number were the Duke of Shoreditch,
Paddington, Hector Cutbeard, and Kit Coo. At the moment of the king's
entrance, they were talking of the approaching execution.

"Oh, the vanity of worldly greatness!" exclaimed Bryan, lifting up his
hands. "Only seven years ago, last Saint George's Day, this lovely queen
first entered the castle with the king, amid pomp and splendour and
power, and with a long life--apparently--of happiness before her. And
now she is condemned to die."

"But if she has played the king false she deserves her doom," replied
Shoreditch. "I would behead my own wife if she served me the same
trick--that is, if I could."

"You do right to say 'if you could,'" rejoined Paddington. "The
beheading of a wife is a royal privilege, and cannot be enjoyed by a
subject."

"Marry, I wonder how the king could prefer Mistress Jane Seymour, for my
part!" said Hector Cutbeard. "To my thinking she is not to be compared
with Queen Anne."

"She has a lovely blue eye, and a figure as straight as an arrow,"
returned Shoreditch. "How say you, master?" he added, turning to the
king; "what think you of Mistress Jane Seymour?"

"That she is passably fair, friend," replied Henry.

"But how as compared with the late--that is, the present queen, for,
poor soul! she has yet some hours to live," rejoined Shoreditch. "How,
as compared with her?"

"Why, I think Jane Seymour the more lovely, Undoubtedly," replied Henry.
"But I may be prejudiced."

"Not in the least, friend," said Cutbeard. "You but partake of your
royal master's humour. Jane Seymour is beautiful, no doubt, and so was
Anne Boleyn. Marry! we shall see many fair queens on the throne. The
royal Henry has good taste and good management. He sets his subjects
a rare example, and shows them how to get rid of troublesome wives.
We shall all divorce or hang our spouses when we get tired of them. I
almost wish I was married myself, that I might try the experiment-ha!
ha!"

"Well, here's the king's health!" cried Shoreditch, "and wishing him as
many wives as he may desire. What say you, friend?" he added, turning to
Henry. "Will you not drink that toast?"

"That will I," replied Henry; "but I fancy the king will be content for
the present with Mistress Jane Seymour."

"For the present, no doubt," said Hector Cutbeard; "but the time will
come--and ere long--when Jane will be as irksome to him as Anne is now."

"Ah, God's death, knave! darest thou say so?" cried Henry furiously.

"Why, I have said nothing treasonable, I hope?" rejoined Cutbeard,
turning pale; "I only wish the king to be happy in his own way. And as
he seems to delight in change of wives, I pray that he may have it to
his heart's content."

"A fair explanation," replied Henry, laughing.

"Let me give a health, my masters!" cried a tall archer, whom no one had
hitherto noticed, rising in one corner of the room. "It is--The headsman
of Calais, and may he do his work featly tomorrow!"

"Ha! ha! ha! a good toast!" cried Hector Cutbeard.

"Seize him who has proposed it!" cried the king, rising; "it is Herne
the Hunter!"

"I laugh at your threats here as elsewhere, Harry," cried Herne. "We
shall meet tomorrow."

And flinging the horn cup in the face of the man nearest him, he sprang
through an open window at the back, and disappeared.

Both Cutbeard and Shoreditch were much alarmed lest the freedom of their
expressions should be taken in umbrage by the king; but he calmed their
fears by bestowing a good humoured buffet on the cheek of the latter of
them, and quitting the hostel, returned to the castle by the same way he
had left it.

On the following morning, about ten o'clock, he rode into the great
park, attended by a numerous train. His demeanour was moody and stern,
and a general gloom pervaded the company. Keeping on the western side
of the park, the party crossed Cranbourne chase; but though they
encountered several fine herds of deer, the king gave no orders to
uncouple the hounds.

At last they arrived at that part of the park where Sandpit Gate is now
situated, and pursuing a path bordered by noble trees, a fine buck was
suddenly unharboured, upon which Henry gave orders to the huntsmen and
others to follow him, adding that he himself should proceed to Snow
Hill, where they would find him an hour hence.

All understood why the king wished to be alone, and for what purpose he
was about to repair to the eminence in question, and therefore, without
a word, the whole company started off in the chase.

Meanwhile, the king rode slowly through the woods, often pausing to
listen to the distant sounds of the hunters, and noticing the shadows
on the greensward as they grew shorter, and proclaimed the approach of
noon. At length he arrived at Snow Hill, and stationed himself beneath
the trees on its summit.

From this point a magnificent view of the castle, towering over its
pomp of woods, now covered with foliage of the most vivid green, was
commanded. The morning was bright and beautiful, the sky cloudless,
and a gentle rain had fallen over night, which had tempered the air and
freshened the leaves and the greensward. The birds were singing blithely
in the trees, and at the foot of the hill crouched a herd of deer. All
was genial and delightful, breathing of tenderness and peace, calculated
to soften the most obdurate heart.

The scene was not without its effect upon Henry; but a fierce tumult
raged within his breast. He fixed his eyes on the Round Tower, which
was distinctly visible, and from which he expected the signal, and then
tried to peer into the far horizon. But he could discern nothing. A
cloud passed over the sun, and cast a momentary gloom over the smiling
landscape. At the same time Henry's fancy was so powerfully excited,
that he fancied he could behold the terrible tragedy enacting at the
Tower.

"She is now issuing forth into the green in front of Saint Peter's
Chapel," said Henry to himself. "I can see her as distinctly as if I
were there. Ah, how beautiful she looks! and how she moves all hearts to
pity! Suffolk, Richmond, Cromwell, and the Lord Mayor are there to meet
her. She takes leave of her weeping attendants--she mounts the steps of
the scaffold firmly--she looks round, and addresses the spectators. How
silent they are, and how clearly and musically her voice sounds! She
blesses me.--I hear It!--I feel it here! Now she disrobes herself, and
prepares for the fatal axe. It is wielded by the skilful executioner
of Calais, and he is now feeling its edge. Now she takes leave of her
dames, and bestows a parting gift on each. Again she kneels and
prays. She rises. The fatal moment is at hand. Even now she retains her
courage--she approaches the block, and places her head upon it. The axe
is raised--ha!"

The exclamation was occasioned by a flash of fire from the battlements
of the Round Tower, followed by a volume of smoke, and in another second
the deep boom of a gun was heard.

At the very moment that the flash was seen, a wild figure, mounted on a
coal-black steed, galloped from out the wood, and dashed towards Henry,
whose horse reared and plunged as he passed.

"There spoke the knell of Anne Boleyn!" cried Herne, regarding Henry
sternly, and pointing to the Round Tower. "The bloody deed is done, and
thou art free to wed once more. Away to Wolff Hall, and bring thy new
consort to Windsor Castle!"


THUS ENDS THE SIXTH AND LAST BOOK OF THE CHRONICLE OF WINDSOR CASTLE





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