Part 3 out of 7
"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,
"Report says otherwise," rejoined Mabel.
"Report speaks falsely," cried Wolsey; "I know him well, and he is what I
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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,
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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."
"5he 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
" 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
"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 he 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
"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
" 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 he 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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
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-
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
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
"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
"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
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-
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
" 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
"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,
"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
The others immediately closed round him, and endeavoured to seize
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"Will you put faith in me, if I promise you deliverance?" demanded the
"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
"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
"But how are we to get out of this dungeon?" asked Fenwolf, gazing
My way out will he 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
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
"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
"I did not know he had escaped, my liege," replied Bouchier, in
"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 he
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
"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
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
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
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
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, be 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