Part 2 out of 7
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
"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
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
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
"It will avail little against Richmond's rivalry and opposition," rejoined
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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 l 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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
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-
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-
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
The Fair Geraldine uttered a slight scream, and disengaged herself from
"Richmond, you have acted unworthily in thus playing the spy," said
"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
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
"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-
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"It is not every fair maid who would confess so much," observed
"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
"Hagthorne advises well," interposed Fenwolf. "Mabel will be better at
"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 prudentlv 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
" 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
"Catherine has not the art to retain him," said Anne. "Henry will never
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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.
"0 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.
"l 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
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
"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
"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
"Your majesty shall not need to bid twice," said Surrey, issuing from his
"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
"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
"Your majesty will bear in mind his youth," said the Duke of Norfolk
"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."
"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
"Retire, my lords," said Henry to the assemblage; "we owe some
apology to the Lady Anne for our intrusion, and desire an opportunity to
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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 behoIders 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
"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.
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
I never expect to see you again, sir! " groaned the old man, as he took
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
"You are Mabel Lyndwood, I presume, fair maiden?" inquired the
cardinal, in his blandest tones.