Part 5 out of 7
Lamelyn--as he was familiarly termed--a Lombard, who pretended to
some knowledge of chirurgery, astrology, and alchemy, and who was a
constant attendant on Henry. At the head of the bench, on the right of
the table, sat Will Sommers. The jester was not partaking of the repast,
but was chatting with Simon Quanden, the chief cook, a good-
humoured personage, round-bellied as a tun, and blessed with a
spouse, yclept Deborah, as fond of good cheer, as fat, and as good-
humoured as himself. Behind the cook stood the cellarman, known by
the appellation of Jack of the Bottles, and at his feet were two playful
little turnspits, with long backs, and short forelegs, as crooked almost
On seeing Mabel, Will Sommers immediately arose, and advancing
towards her with a mincing step, bowed with an air of mock
ceremony,and said in an affected tone," Welcome, fair mistress, to the
king's kitchen. We are all right glad to see you; are we not, mates?"
"Ay, that we are!" replied a chorus of voices.
"By my troth, the wench is wondrously beautiful!" said Kit Coo, one of
the yeomen of the guard.
"No wonder the king is smitten with her," said Launcelot Rutter, the
bladesmith; "her eyes shine like a dagger's point."
"And she carries herself like a wafter on the river," said the bargeman.
"Her complexion is as good as if I had given her some of my sovereign
balsam of beauty," said Domingo Lamelyn.
"Much better," observed Joungevello, the minstrel; "I shall write a
canzonet in her praise, and sing it before the king."
"And get flouted for thy pains by the Lady Anne," said Kit Coo.
"The damsel is not so comely as I expected to find her," observed
Amice Lovekyn, one of the serving-women, to Hector Cutbeard, the
clerk of the kitchen.
"Why, if you come to that, she is not to be compared to you, pretty
Amice," said Cutbeard, who was a red-nosed, red-faced fellow, with a
twinkling merry eye.
"Nay, I meant not that," replied Amice, retreating.
"Excuse my getting up to receive you, fair mistress," cried Simon
Quanden, who seemed fixed to his chair; "I have been bustling about all
day, and am sore fatigued--sore fatigued. But will you not take
something? A sugared cate, and a glass of hypocras jelly, or a slice of
capon? Go to the damsel, dame, and prevail on her to eat."
That will I," replied Deborah. "What shall it be,sweetheart? We have a
well-stored larder here. You have only to ask and have."
"I thank you, but Jam in want of nothing," replied Mabel.
"Nay, that is against all rule, sweetheart," said Deborah; no one enters
the king's kitchen without tasting his royal cheer."
"I am sorry I must prove an exception, then," returned Mabel, smiling;
"for I have no appetite."
"Well, well, I will not force you to eat against your will," replied the good
dame "But a cup of wine will do you good after your walk."
"I will wait upon her," said the Duke of Shoreditch.' who vied with
Paddington and Nick Clamp in attention to the damsel.
"Let me pray you to cast your eyes upon these two dogs, fair Mabel,"
said Will Sommers, pointing to the two turn-spits, "they are special
favourites of the king's highness. They are much attached to the cook,
their master; but their chief love is towards each other, and nothing can
keep them apart."
"Will Sommers speaks the truth," rejoined Simon Quanden. "Hob and
Nob, for so they are named, are fast friends. When Hob gets into the
box to turn the spit, Nob will watch beside it till his brother is tired, and
then he will take his place. They always eat out of the same platter,
and drink out of the same cup. I once separated them for a few hours
to see what would happen, but they howled so piteously, that I was
forced to bring them together again. It would have done your heart
good to witness their meeting, and to see how they leaped and rolled
with delight. Here, Hob," he added, taking a cake from his apron
pocket, "divide this with thy brother."
Placing his paws upon his master's knees, the nearest turnspit took the
cake in his mouth, and proceeding towards Nob, broke it into two
pieces, and pushed the larger portion towards him.
While Mabel was admiring this display of sagacity and affection a
bustling step was heard behind her, and turning, she beheld a strange
figure in a parti-coloured gown and hose, with a fool's cap and bells on
his head, whom she immediately recognised as the cardinal's jester,
Patch. The new-comer recognised her too, stared in astonishment, and
gave a leering look at Will Sommers.
"What brings you here, gossip Patch?" cried Will Sommers. "I thought
you were in attendance upon your master, at the court at Blackfriars."
"So I have been," replied Patch, "and I am only just arrived with his
"What! is the decision pronounced?" cried Will Sommers eagerly. "Is
the queen divorced? Is the king single again? Let us hear the
"Ay, the sentence!--the sentence!" resounded on all hands.
Stimulated by curiosity, the whole of the party rose from the table;
Simon Quanden got out of his chair; the other cooks left their joints to
scorch at the fire; the scullions suspended their work; and Hob and Nob
fixed their large inquiring black eyes upon the jester.
"I never talk thirsting," said Patch, marching to the table, and filling
himself a flagon of mead. "Here's to you, fair maiden," he added,
kissing the cup to Mabel, and swallowing its contents at a draught.
"And now be seated, my masters, and you shall hear all I have to relate,
and it will be told in a few words. The court is adjourned for three days,
Queen Catherine having demanded that time to prepare her allegations,
and the delay has been granted her."
"Pest on it!--the delay is some trick of your crafty and double-dealing
master," cried Will Sommers. "Were I the king, I know how I would deal
"What wouldst thou do, thou scurril knave? "cried Patch angrily.
"I would strip him of his ill-gotten wealth, and leave him only thee--a
fitting attendant--of all his thousand servitors," replied Will.
"This shall to his grace's ears," screamed Patch, amid the laughter of
the company--" and see whether your back does not smart for it."
"I fear him not," replied Will Sommers. "I have not yet told the king my
master of the rare wine we found in his cellar."
"What wine was that, Will?" cried Jack of the Bottles.
"You shall hear," replied Will Sommers, enjoying the disconcerted look
of the other jester. "I was at the palace at Hampton, when this scant-
witted knave invited me to taste some of his master's wine, and
accordingly to the cellar we went. 'This wine will surprise you,' quoth
he, as we broached the first hogshead. And truly it did surprise me, for
no wine followed the gimlet. So we went on to another, and another,
and another, till we tried half a score of them, and all with the same
result. Upon this I seized a hammer which was lying by and sounded
the casks, but none of them seeming empty, I at last broke the lid of
one--and what do you think it contained?"
A variety of responses were returned by the laughing assemblage,
during which Patch sought to impose silence upon his opponent. But
Will Sommers was not to be checked.
"It contained neither vinegar, nor oil, nor lead," he said, " but gold; ay,
solid bars of gold-ingots. Every hogshead was worth ten thousand
pounds, and more."
"Credit him not, my masters," cried Patch, amid the roars of the
company; "the whole is a mere fable--an invention. His grace has no
such treasure. The truth is, Will Sommers got drunk upon some choice
Malmsey, and then dreamed he had been broaching casks of gold."
"It is no fable, as you and your master will find when the king comes to
sift the matter," replied Will. "This will be a richer result to him than
was ever produced by your alchemical experiments, good Signor
"It is false!--I say false!" screamed Patch. " let the cellars be searched,
and I will stake my head nothing is found."
"Stake thy cap, and there may be some meaning in it," said Will,
plucking Patch's cap from his head and elevating it on his truncheon.
"Here is an emblem of the Cardinal of York," he cried, pointing to it.
A roar of laughter from the company followed this sally, and Hob and
Nob looked up in placid wonderment.
"I shall die with laughing," cried Simon Quanden, holding his fat sides,
and addressing his spouse, who was leaning upon his shoulder.
In the meantime Patch sprang to his feet, and, gesticulating with rage
and fury, cried, "Thou hast done well to steal my cap and bells, for they
belong of right to thee. Add my folly to thy own, and thou wilt be a
fitting servant to thy master; or e'en give him the cap, and then there
will be a pair of ye."
"Who is the fool now, I should like to know?" rejoined Will Sommers
gravely. "I call you all to witness that he has spoken treason."
While this was passing Shoreditch had advanced with a flagon of
Malmsey to Mabel, but she was so interested in the quarrel between
the two jesters that she heeded him not; neither did she attend to
Nicholas Clamp, who was trying to explain to her what was going
forward. But just as Patch's indiscreet speech was uttered an usher
entered the kitchen and announced the approach of the king.
V. Of the Combat between Will Sommers and Patch--And how it
Mabel's heart fluttered violently at the usher's announcement, and for a
moment the colour deserted her cheek, while the next instant she was
covered with blushes. As to poor Patch, feeling that his indiscretion
might place him in great jeopardy and seriously affect his master, to
whom he was devotedly attached, he cast a piteous and imploring look
at his antagonist, but was answered only by a derisive laugh, coupled
with an expressive gesture to intimate that a halter would be his fate.
Fearful that mischief might ensue, the good-natured Simon Quanden
got out of his chair and earnestly besought Will not to carry matters too
far; but the jester remained implacable.
It was not unusual with Henry to visit the different offices of the castle
and converse freely and familiarly with the members of his household,
but it was by no means safe to trust to the continuance of his good
humour, or in the slightest degree to presume upon it. It is well known
that his taste for variety of character often led him, like the renowned
Caliph Haroun Al Raschid, to mix with the lower classes of his subjects
in disguise, at which times many extraordinary adventures are said to
have befallen him. His present visit to the kitchen, therefore, would
have occasioned no surprise to its occupants if it had not occurred so
soon after the cardinal's arrival. But it was this circumstance, in fact,
that sent him thither. The intelligence brought by Wolsey of the
adjournment of the court for three days, under the plea of giving the
queen time for her allegations, was so unlooked for by Henry that he
quitted the cardinal in high displeasure, and was about to repair to
Anne Boleyn, when he encountered Bouchier, who told him that Mabel
Lyndwood had been brought to the castle, and her grandsire arrested.
The information changed Henry's intentions at once, and he proceeded
with Bouchier and some other attendants to the kitchen, where he was
given to understand he should find the damsel.
Many a furtive glance was thrown at the king, for no one dared openly
to regard him as he approached the forester's fair granddaughter. But
he tarried only a moment beside her, chucked her under the chin, and,
whispering a word or two in her ear that heightened her blushes,
passed on to the spot where the two jesters were standing.
"What dost thou here, knave?" he said to Will Sommers.
"I might rather ask that question of your majesty," replied Will; "and I
would do so but that I require not to be told"
"I have come to see what passeth in my household," replied the king,
throwing himself into the chair lately occupied by the chief cook. "Ah,
Hob and Nob, my merry rascals," he cried, patting the turnspits, who
ran towards him and thrust their noses against his hand, " ye are as
gamesome and loving as ever, I see. Give me a manchet for them,
Master Cook, and let not the proceedings in the kitchen be stayed for
my presence. I would not have my supper delayed, or the roasts
spoiled, for any false ceremony. And now, Will, what hast thou to say
that thou lookest so hard at me?"
"I have a heavy charge to bring against this knave, an' please your
majesty," replied Will Sommers, pointing to Patch.
"What! hath he retorted upon thee too sharply? "replied the king,
laughing. "If so, challenge him to the combat, and settle the grievance
with thy lathen dagger. But refer not the matter to me. I am no judge in
"Your own excepted," muttered Will. "This is not a quarrel that can be
so adjusted," he added aloud. "I charge this rascal Patch with
speaking disrespectfully of your highness in the hearing of the whole
kitchen. And I also charge his master the cardinal with having secreted
in his cellars at Hampton a vast amount of treasure, obtained by
extortion, privy dealings with foreign powers, and other iniquitous
practices, and which ought of right to find its way to your royal
"'And which shall find its way thither, if thou dost not avouch a fable,"
replied the king.
"Your majesty shall judge," rejoined Will. And he repeated the story
which he had just before related.
"Can this be true?" exclaimed Henry at its close.
"It is false, your highness, every word of it," cried Patch, throwing
himself at the king's feet, "except so far as relates to our visits to the
cellar, where, I shame to speak it, we drank so much that our senses
clean forsook us. As to my indiscreet speech touching your majesty,
neither disrespect nor disloyalty were intended by it. I was goaded to
the rejoinder by the sharp sting of this hornet."
"The matter of the treasure shall be inquired into without delay," said
Henry. "As to the quarrel, it shall be settled thus. Get both of you upon
that table. A flour-bag shall be given to each; and he who is first
knocked off shall be held vanquished."
The king's judgment was received with as much applause as dared be
exhibited by the hearers; and in an instant the board was cleared, and a
couple of flour-bags partly filled delivered to the combatants by Simon
Quanden, who bestirred himself with unwonted activity on the
Leaping upon the table, amid the smothered mirth of the assemblage,
the two jesters placed themselves opposite each other, and grinned
such comical defiance that the king roared with laughter. After a
variety of odd movements and feints on either side, Patch tried to bring
down his adversary by a tremendous two-handed blow; but in dealing it,
the weight of the hag dragged him forward, and well-nigh pitched him
head foremost upon the floor. As it was, he fell on his face upon the
table, and in this position received several heavy blows upon the
prominent part of his back from Will Sommers. Ere long, however, he
managed to regain his legs, and, smarting with pain, attacked his
opponent furiously in his turn. For a short space fortune seemed to
favour him. His bag had slightly burst, and the flour, showering from it
with every blow, well-nigh blinded his adversary, whom he drove to the
very edge of the table. At this critical juncture Will managed to bring
down his bag full upon his opponent's sconce, and the force of the blow
bursting it, Patch was covered from crown to foot with flour, and
blinded in his turn. The appearance of the combatants was now so
exquisitely ridiculous, that the king leaned back in his chair to indulge
his laughter, and the mirth of the spectators could no longer be kept
within decorous limits. The very turnspits barked in laughing concert.
"Well fought on both sides! "cried Henry; "it were hard to say which will
prove the victor. Now, knaves, to it again - ha! ha!--to it again!"
Once more the bags were wielded, descended, and the blows were so
well directed on either side, that both combatants fell backwards.
Again the king's laughter rose loud and long. Again the merriment of
the other beholders was redoubled. Again Hob and Nob barked
joyously, and tried to spring on to the table to take part in the conflict.
Amid the general glee, the combatants rose and renewed the fight,
dealing blows thick and fast--for the bags were now considerably
lightened of their contents--until they were completely hidden from view
by a cloud of white dust.
"We cannot see the fray," remarked Henry; "but we can hear the din of
battle. Which will prove the victor, I marvel?"
"I am for Will Sommers," cried Bouchier.
"And I for Patch," said Simon Quanden. "Latterly he hath seemed to me
to have the advantage."
"It is decided!" cried the king, rising, as one of the combatants was
knocked off the table, and fell to the floor with a great noise. "Who is
"Patch," replied a faint voice. And through the cloud of dust struggled
forth the forlorn figure of the cardinal's jester, while Will Sommers
leaped triumphantly to the ground.
"Get thee to a wash-tub, knave, and cleanse thyself," said Henry,
laughing. "In consideration of the punishment thou hast undergone, I
pardon thee thy treasonable speech."
So saying, he rose, and walked towards Mabel, who had been quite as
much alarmed as amused by the scene which had just taken place.
"I hope you have been as well cared for, damsel," he said, " since your
arrival at the castle, as you cared for the Duke of Suffolk and myself
when we visited your cottage?
"I have had everything I require, my liege," replied Mabel timidly.
"Dame Quanden will take charge of you till to-morrow," rejoined the
king, "when you will enter upon the service of one of our dames."
"Your majesty is very considerate," said Mabel, "but I would rather go
back at early dawn to my grandsire."
"That is needless," rejoined the king sternly. "Your grandsire is in the
"I am glad to hear it! " exclaimed Mabel. And then,altering her tone, for
she did not like the expression of the king's countenance, she added, "I
hope he has not incurred your majesty's displeasure."
"I trust he will be able to clear himself, Mabel," said Henry, "but he
labours under the grave suspicion of leaguing with lawless men."
Mabel shuddered, for the thought of what she had witnessed on the
previous night during the storm rushed forcibly to her recollection. The
king noticed her uneasiness, and added, in a gentler tone, "If he makes
such confession as will bring the others to justice, he has nothing to
fear. Dame Quanden, I commit this maiden to your charge. To-morrow
she will take her place as attendant to the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald."
So saying, he moved off with Bouchier and the rest of his attendants,
leaving Mabel to the care of the cook's good humoured spouse, who
seeing her eyes filled with tears, strove to cheer her, and led her
towards a small side-table, where she pressed wine and cates upon
"Be of good cheer, sweetheart," she said, in a soothing tone; "no harm
will befall your grandfather. You are much too high in favour with the
king for that."
"I liked the king much better as I saw him at our cottage, good dame,"
replied Mabel, smiling through her tears, "in the guise of a Guildford
merchant. He seemed scarcely to notice me just now."
"That was because so many eyes were upon you, sweet-heart," replied
Deborah; "but sooth to say, I should be better pleased if he did not
notice you at all."
Mabel blushed, and hung her head.
"I am glad you are to be an attendant on the Lady Fitzgerald," pursued
Deborah, "for she is the fairest young lady at court, and as good and
gentle as she is fair, and I am sure you will find her a kind mistress. I
will tell you something about her. She is beloved by the king's son, the
Duke of Richmond, but she requites not his passion, for her heart is
fixed on the youthful Earl of Surrey. Alack-a-day! the noble rivals
quarrelled and crossed swords about her; but as luck would have it,
they were separated before any mischief was done. The king was very
wroth with Lord Surrey, and ordered him to be imprisoned for two
months in the Round Tower, in this castle, where he is now, though his
term has very nearly expired."
"How I pity him, to be thus harshly treated!" remarked Mabel, her eyes
swimming with tears, "and the Lady Elizabeth too! I shall delight to
"I am told the earl passes the whole of his time in poring over books
and writing love-verses and sonnets," said Deborah. "It seems strange
that one so young should be a poet; but I suppose he caught the art
from his friend Sir Thomas Wyat."
"Is he a friend of Sir Thomas Wyat?" asked Mabel quickly.
His close friend," replied Deborah; "except the Duke of Richmond, now
his rival, he had none closer. Have you ever seen Sir Thomas,
"Yes, for a few moments," replied Mabel confusedly.
"I heard that he lingered for a short time in the forest before his
departure for Paris," said Dame Quanden. "There was a strange rumour
that he had joined the band of Herne the Hunter. But that must have
"Is he returned from France?" inquired Mabel, without heeding the
I fancy not," replied the good dame. " At all events, he is not come to
the castle. Know you not," she added, in a low confidential tone, "that
the king is jealous of him? He was a former suitor to the Lady Anne
Boleyn, and desperately in love with her; and it is supposed that his
mission to France was only a pretext to get him out of the way."
"I suspected as much," replied Mabel. "Alas! for Sir Thomas; and alas!
for the Earl of Surrey."
"And alas! for Mabel Lyndwood, if she allows her heart to be fixed upon
the king," said Deborah.
While this was passing the business of the kitchen, which had been
interrupted by the various incidents above related, and especially by
the conflict between the two jesters, was hurried forward, and for some
time all was bustle and confusion.
But as soon as the supper was served, and all his duties were fully
discharged, Simon Quanden, who had been bustling about, sat down in
his easy-chair, and recruited himself with a toast and a sack posset.
Hob and Nob had their supper at the same time, and the party at the
table, which had been increased by the two archers and Nicholas
Clamp, attacked with renewed vigour a fresh supply of mead and ale,
which had been provided for them by Jack of the Bottles.
The conversation then turned upon Herne the Hunter; and as all had
heard more or less about him, and some had seen him, while few knew
the legend connected with him, Hector Cutbeard volunteered to relate
it; upon which all the party gathered closer together, and Mabel and
Deborah left off talking, and drew near to listen.
VI. The Legend of Herne the Hunter.
"Nearly a century and a half ago," commenced Cutbeard, about the
middle of the reign of Richard the Second, there was among the
keepers of the forest a young man named Herne. He was expert
beyond his fellows in all matters of woodcraft, and consequently in
great favour with the king, who was himself devoted to the chase.
Whenever he stayed at the castle, King Richard, like our own royal
Harry, would pass his time in hunting, hawking, or shooting with the
long-bow; and on all these occasions the young keeper was his
constant attendant. If a hart was to be chased, Herne and his two
black hounds of Saint Hubert's breed would hunt him down with
marvellous speed; if a wild boar was to be reared, a badger digged out,
a fox unkennelled, a marten bayed, or an otter vented, Herne was
chosen for the task. No one could fly a falcon so well as Herne--no one
could break up a deer so quickly or so skilfully as him. But in proportion
as he grew in favour with the king, the young keeper was hated by his
comrades, and they concerted together how to ruin him. All their
efforts, however, were ineffectual, and rather tended to his advantage
"One day it chanced that the king hunted in the forest with his
favourite, the Earl of Oxford, when a great deer of head was
unharboured, and a tremendous chase ensued, the hart leading his
pursuers within a few miles of Hungerford, whither the borders of the
forest then extended. All the followers of the king, even the Earl of
Oxford, had by this time dropped off, and the royal huntsman was only
attended by Herne, who kept close behind him. At last the hart, driven
to desperation, stood at bay, and gored the king's horse as he came up
in such a manner that it reared and threw its rider. Another instant, and
the horns of the infuriated animal would have been plunged into the
body of the king, if Herne had not flung himself between the prostrate
monarch and his assailant, and received the stroke intended for him.
Though desperately wounded, the young hunter contrived slightly to
raise himself, and plunged his knife into the hart's throat, while the king
regained his feet.
"Gazing with the utmost concern at his unfortunate deliverer, King
Richard demanded what he could do for him.
"'Nothing, sire--nothing,' replied Herne, with a groan. I shall require
nothing but a grave from you, for I have received a wound that will
speedily bring me to it.'
"'Not so, I trust, good fellow,' replied the king, in a tone meant to be
encouraging, though his looks showed that his heart misgave him; 'my
best leech shall attend you.'
"'No skill will avail me now,' replied Herne sadly. 'A hurt from hart's horn
bringeth to the bier.'
"'I hope the proverb will not be justified in thy case,' rejoined the king;
'and I promise thee, if thou dost recover, thou shalt have the post of
head keeper of the forest, with twenty nobles a year for wages. If,
unhappily, thy forebodings are realised, I will give the same sum to be
laid out in masses for thy soul.'
"'I humbly thank your highness,' replied the young man, 'and I accept
the latter offer, seeing it is the only one likely to profit me.'
"With this he put his horn to his lips, and winding the dead mot feebly,
fell back senseless. Much moved, the king rode off for succour; and
blowing a lusty call on his bugle, was presently joined by the Earl of
Oxford and some of his followers, among whom were the keepers. The
latter were secretly rejoiced on hearing what had befallen Herne, but
they feigned the greatest affliction, and hastened with the king to the
spot where the body was lying stretched out beside that of the hart.
"'It is almost a pity his soul cannot pass away thus,' said King Richard,
gazing compassionately at him, "for he will only revive to anguish and
"'Your highness is right,' replied the chief keeper, a grim old man named
Osmond Crooke, kneeling beside him, and half drawing his hunting-
knife; 'it were better to put him out of his misery.'
"'What! slay the man who has just saved my own life!' cried the king. 'I
will consent to no such infamous deed. I would give a large reward to
any one who could cure him.'
" As the words were uttered, a tall dark man, in a strange garb, and
mounted on a black wild-looking steed, whom no one had hitherto
observed, sprang to the ground and advanced towards the king.
"'I take your offer, sire,' said this personage, in a harsh voice. I will cure
"'Who art thou, fellow?' demanded King Richard doubtfully.
"'I am a forester,' replied the tall man, 'but I understand somewhat of
chirurgery and leechcraft.'
"'And woodcraft, too, I'll be sworn, fellow,' said the king 'Thou hast, or I
am mistaken, made free with some of my venison.'
"'He looks marvellously like Arnold Sheafe, who was outlawed for deer-
stealing,' said Osmond Crooke, regarding him steadfastly
"'I am no outlaw, neither am I called Arnold Sheafe,' replied the other.
'My name is Philip Urswick, and I can render a good account of myself
when it shall please the king's highness to interrogate me. I dwell on
the heath near Bagshot, which you passed today in the chase, and
where I joined you.'
"'I noted you not,' said Osmond.
"'Nor I--nor I!' cried the other keepers.
"'That may be; but I saw you,' rejoined Urswick contemptuously; 'and I
tell you there is not one among you to be compared with the brave
hunter who lies there. You have all pronounced his case hopeless. I
repeat I can cure him if the king will make it worth my while.'
"'Make good thy words, fellow,' replied the king; 'and thou shalt not only
be amply rewarded, but shalt have a free pardon for any offence thou
mayest have committed.'
"'Enough,' replied Urswick. And taking a large, keen-edged hunting-
knife from his girdle, he cut off the head of the hart close to the point
where the neck joins the skull, and then laid it open from the extremity
of the under-lip to the nuke. 'This must be bound on the head of the
wounded man,' he said.
"The keepers stared in astonishment. But the king commanded that
the strange order should be obeyed. Upon which the bleeding skull
was fastened upon the head of the keeper with leathern thongs.
"'I will now answer for his perfect cure in a month's time,' said Urswick
to the king; 'but I shall require to watch over him myself till all danger is
at an end. I pray your highness to command these keepers to transport
him to my hut.'
"'You hear what he says, knaves?' cried the king; 'do his bidding, and
carefully, or ye shall answer to me with your lives.'
"Accordingly a litter was formed with branches of trees, and on this the
body of Herne, with the hart's head still bound to it, was conveyed by
the keepers to Urswick's hut, a small dwelling, situated in the wildest
part of Bagshot Heath. After placing the body upon a bed of dried fern,
the keepers were about to depart, when Osmond Crooke observed to
the forester, 'I am now certain thou art Arnold Sheafe.'
"'It matters not who I am, since I have the king's pardon,' replied the
other, laughing disdainfully.
"'Thou hast yet to earn it,' said Osmond.
"'Leave that to me,' replied Urswick. 'There is more fear that thou wilt
lose thy post as chief keeper, which the king has promised to Herne,
than that I shall fail.'
"'Would the deer had killed him outright!' growled Osmond.
"And the savage wish was echoed by the other keepers. "'I see you all
hate him bitterly,' said Urswick. 'What will you give me for revenge?'
"'We have little to give, save a fat buck on occasions,'replied Osmond;
'and, in all likelihood, thou canst help thyself to venison.'
"'Will you swear to grant the first request I may make of you--provided it
shall be in your power?' demanded Urswick.
"'Readily' they replied.
"'Enough' said Urswick. 'I must keep faith with the king. Herne will
recover, but he will lose all his skill as an archer, all his craft as a
"'If thou canst accomplish this thou art the fiend himself' cried Osmond,
"'Fiend or not,' replied Urswick, with a triumphant laugh, 'ye have made
a compact with me, and must fulfil it. Now begone. I must attend to the
"And the keepers, full of secret misgiving, departed.
"At the precise time promised, Herne, attended by Urswick, presented
himself to the king. He looked thin and pale, but all danger was past.
King Richard gave the forester a purse full of nobles, and added a silver
bugle to the gift. He then appointed Herne his chief keeper, hung a
chain of gold round his neck, and ordered him to be lodged in the
"About a week after this, Herne, having entirely regained his strength,
accompanied the king on a hunting expedition to the forest, and they
had scarcely entered it when his horse started and threw him. Up to
that moment such an accident had never happened to him, for he was
an excellent horseman, and he arose greatly discomfited, while the
keepers eyed each other askance. Soon after this a buck was started,
and though Herne was bravely mounted on a black steed bestowed on
him on account of its swiftness by the king, he was the last in the
"'Thou art out of practice,' said the king, laughing, as he came up.
"'I know not what ails me,' replied Herne gloomily.
"'It cannot be thy steed's fault,' said the king, 'for he is usually as fleet
as the wind. But I will give thee an opportunity of gaining credit in
another way. Thou seest yon buck. He cannot be seventy yards off,
and I have seen thee hit the mark at twice the distance. Bring him
"Herne raised his crossbow, and let fly the bolt; but it missed its mark,
and the buck, startled by the noise, dashed down the brake wholly
"King Richard's brow grew dark, and Herne uttered an exclamation of
rage and despair.
"'Thou shalt have a third and yet easier trial,' said the king. Old Osmond
Crooke shall lend thee his bow, and thy quarry shall be yon magot-pie.'
"As he spoke, the arrow sped. But it quivered in the trunk of the tree,
some yards from the bird. The unfortunate shooter looked distracted;
but King Richard made no remark, until, towards the close of the day,
he said to him, 'Thou must regain thy craft, friend Herne, or I cannot
continue thee as my chief keeper.'
"The keepers congratulated each other in secret, for they felt that their
malice was about to be gratified.
"The next day Herne went forth, as he thought, alone, but he was
watched by his enemies. Not a shaft would go true, and he found that
he had completely lost his mastery over hound and horse. The day
after that he again rode forth to hunt with the king, and his failures
made him the laughing-stock of the party. Richard at length dismissed
him with these words, ' Take repose for a week, and then thou shalt
have a further trial. If thou dost not then succeed, I must perforce
discharge thee from thy post.'
"Instead of returning to the castle, Herne rode off wildly into the forest,
where he remained till eventide. He then returned with ghastly looks
and a strange appearance, having the links of a rusty chain which he
had plucked from a gibbet hanging from his left arm, and the hart's
antlered skull, which he had procured from Urswick, fixed like a helm
upon his head. His whole demeanour showed that he was crazed; and
his condition, which might have moved the compassion of his foes, only
provoked their laughter. After committing the wildest extravagances,
he burst from all restraint, and disappeared among the trees of the
"An hour after this a pedlar, who was crossing the park from Datchet,
found him suspended by a rope from a branch of the oak-tree which you
have all seen, and which bears his name. Despair had driven him to the
dreadful deed. Instead of cutting him down, the pedlar ran to the castle
to relate what he had witnessed; and the keepers, satisfied that their
revenge was now fully accomplished, hastened with him to the tree.
But the body was gone; and all that proclaimed it had been there, was
the rope hanging from the branch. Search was everywhere made for
the missing body, but without effect. When the matter was related to
the king he was much troubled, and would fain have had masses said
for the repose of the soul of the unfortunate keeper, but the priests
refused to perform them, alleging that he had 'committed self-
destruction, and was therefore out of the pale of the Church.
"On that night, a terrible thunderstorm occurred--as terrible, it may be,
as that of last night--and during its continuance, the oak on which
Herne had hanged himself was blasted by the lightning.
"Old Osmond was immediately reinstated in his post of chief keeper;
but he had little time for rejoicing, for he found that the same spell that
had bound Herne had fallen upon him. His bolts and arrows went wide
of their mark, his hounds lost their scent, and his falcon would not be
lured back. Half frantic, and afraid of exposing himself to the taunts of
his companons, he feigned illness, and left his comrade, Roger Barfoot,
to take his place. But the same ill-luck befell Barfoot, and he returned
in woeful plight, without a single head of game. Four others were
equally unfortunate, and it was now clear that the whole party were
"Luckily, the king had quitted the castle, but they felt certain they
should be dismissed on his return, if not more severely punished. At
last, after taking counsel together, they resolved to consult Urswick,
who they doubted not could remove the spell. Accordingly, they went to
Bagshot Heath, and related their story to him. When they had done, he
said, 'The curse of Herne's blood is upon you, and can only be removed
in one way. As you return to the castle, go to the tree on which he
destroyed himself, and you may learn how to act.'
"The keepers would have questioned him further, but he refused to
answer, and dismissed them.
"The shades of evening had fallen as they quitted Bagshot; and it was
midnight as they entered the home park, and proceeded towards the
fatal oak. It was pitchy dark, and they could only distinguish the tree
by its white, scathed trunk. All at once, a blue flame, like a will-o'-the-
wisp, appeared, flitted thrice round the tree, and then remained
stationary, its light falling upon a figure in a wild garb, with a rusty
chain hanging from its left arm, and an antlered helm upon its head.
They knew it to be Herne, and instantly fell down before him, while a
burst of terrible laughter sounded in their ears.
"Without heeding them further, the spirit darted round the tree, rattling
its chain, and uttering appalling imprecations. It then stopped, and
turning to the terrified beholders, bade them, in a hollow voice, bring
hounds and horses as for the chase on the following night and
"Filled with dread, the keepers returned home, and the next day Old
Osmond again sought the forester, and told him what had occurred.
"'You must obey the spirit's injunctions, or worse mischief will befall
you,' said Urswick. 'Go to the tree, mounted as for a hunting-party, and
take the black steed given to Herne by the king, and the two black
hounds with you. You will see what will ensue.' And without another
word he dismissed him.
"Osmond told his comrades what the forester had said, and though they
were filled with alarm, they resolved upon compliance. At midnight,
therefore, they rode towards the tree with the black hounds in leash,
and leading Herne's favourite horse, saddled and bridled. As they drew
near, they again saw the terrible shape stalking round the tree, and
heard the fearful imprecations.
"His spells ended, Herne called to Osmond to bring him his steed; and
the old man tremblingly obeyed. In an instant the mysterious being
vaulted on its back, and in a voice of resistless authority cried, 'To the
forest!--to the forest!' With this, he dashed forward, and the whole party,
hounds and men, hurried after him.
They rode at a furious pace for five or six miles over the great park, the
keepers wondering where their unearthly leader was taking them, and
almost fancying they were hurrying to perdition, when they descended
a hillside leading to the marsh, and halted before a huge beech-tree,
where Herne dismounted and pronounced certain mystic words,
accompanying them with strange gestures.
"Presently, he became silent and motionless. A flash of fire then burst
from the roots of the tree, and the forester Urswick stood before him.
But his aspect was more terrible and commanding than it had seemed
heretofore to the keepers.
'Welcome, Herne,' he cried; 'welcome, lord of the forest. And you his
comrades, and soon to be his followers, welcome too. The time is
come for the fulfilment of your promise to me. I require you to form a
band for Herne the Hunter, and to serve him as leader. Swear to obey
him, and the spell that hangs over you shall be broken. If not, I leave
you to the king's justice.'
"Not daring to refuse compliance, the keepers took the oath proposed--
and a fearful one it was! As soon as it was Urswick vanished, as he
came, in a flash of fire. Herne, then commanded the others to
dismount, and made them prostrate themselves before him, and pay
This done, he blew a strike on his horn, rode swiftly up the hillside, and
a stag being unharboured, the chase commenced. Many a fat buck was
hunted and slaughtered that night; and an hour before daybreak, Herne
commanded them to lay the four finest and fattest at the foot of the
beech-tree, and then dismissed them, bidding them meet him at
midnight at the scathed oak in the home park.
"They came as they were commanded; but fearful of detection, they
adopted strange disguises, not unlike those worn by the caitiffs who
were put to death, a few weeks ago, by the king in the great park.
Night after night they thus went forth, thinning the herds of deer, and
committing other outrages and depredations. Nor were their dark
proceedings altogether unnoticed. Belated travellers crossing the
forest beheld them, and related what they had seen; others watched for
them, but they were so effectually disguised that they escaped
"At last, however, the king returned to the castle, and accounts of the
strange doings in the forest were instantly brought to him. Astonished
at what he heard, and determined to ascertain the truth of the
statement, he ordered the keepers to attend him that night in an
expedition to the forest, when he hoped to encounter the demon
huntsman and his hand. Much alarmed, Osmond Crooke, who acted as
spokesman, endeavoured, by representing the risk he would incur, to
dissuade the king from the enterprise; but he would not be deterred,
and they now gave themselves up for lost.
"As the castle clock tolled forth the hour of midnight, Richard,
accompanied by a numerous guard, and attended by the keepers,
issued from the gates, and rode towards the scathed oak. As they drew
near the tree, the figure of Herne, mounted on his black steed, was
discerned beneath it. Deep fear fell upon all the beholders, but chiefly
upon the guilty keepers, at the sight. The king, however, pressed
forward, and cried, 'Why does thou disturb the quietude of night,
"Because I desire vengeance!' replied Herne, in a hollow voice. 'I was
brought to my present woeful condition by Osmond Crooke and his
"'But you died by your own hand,--did you not?' demanded King Richard.
"'Yea,' replied Herne; 'but I was driven to the deed by an infernal spell
laid upon me by the malice of the wretches I have denounced. Hang
them upon this tree, and I will trouble these woods no longer whilst
"The king looked round at the keepers. They all remained obdurate,
except Roger Barfoot, who, falling on his knees, confessed his guilt,
and accused the others.
"It is enough,' cried the king to Herne; 'they shall all suffer for their
"Upon this a flash of fire enveloped the spirit and his horse, and he
"The king kept his word. Osmond and his comrades were all hanged
upon the scathed tree, nor was Herne seen again in the forest while
Richard sat upon the throne. But he reappeared with a new band at the
commencement of the rule of Henry the Fourth, and again hunted the
deer at night. His band was destroyed, but he defied all attempts at
capture; and so it has continued to our own time, for not one of the
seven monarchs who have held the castle since Richard's day have
been able to drive him from the forest."
"Nor will the present monarch be able to drive him thence," said a deep
voice. "As long as Windsor Forest endures, Herne the Hunter will haunt
All turned at the exclamation and saw that it proceeded from a tall dark
man, in an archer's garb, standing behind Simon Quanden's chair.
"Thou hast told thy legend fairly enough, good clerk of the kitchen
continued this personage; "but thou art wrong on many material
"I have related the story as it was related to me," said Cutbeard
somewhat nettled at the remark; but perhaps you will set me right
where I have erred."
"It is true that Herne was a keeper in the reign of Richard the Second,"
replied the tall archer. "It is true also that he was expert in all matters
of woodcraft, and that he was in high favour with the king; but he was
bewitched by a lovely damsel, and not by a weird forester. He carried
off a nun and dwelt with her in a cave in the forest where he assembled
his brother keepers, and treated them to the king's venison and the
"A sacreligious villain and a reprobate!" exclaimed Launcelot Rutter.
"His mistress was fair enough, I will warrant her," said Kit Coo.
"She was the very image of this damsel," rejoined the tall archer,
pointing to Mabel, "and fair enough to work his ruin, for it was through
her that the fiend tempted him. The charms that proved his undoing
were fatal to her also, for in a fit of jealousy he slew her. The remorse
occasioned by this deed made him destroy himself."
"Well, your version of the legend may be the correct one, for aught I
know, worthy sir," said Cutbeard; "but I see not that it accounts for
Herne's antlers so well as mine, unless he were wedded to the nun, who
you say played him false. But how came you to know she resembled
"Ay, I was thinking of that myself," said Simon Quanden. "How do you
know that, master?"
"Because I have seen her picture," replied the tall archer.
"Painted by Satan's chief limner, I suppose? " rejoined Cutbeard.
"He who painted it had seen her," replied the tall archer sternly. "But,
as I have said, it was the very image of this damsel."
And as he uttered the words, he quitted the kitchen.
"Who is that archer?" demanded Cutbeard, looking after him. But no
one could answer the question, nor could any one tell when he had
entered the kitchen.
"Strange!" exclaimed Simon Quanden, crossing himself. "Have you ever
seen him before, Mabel?"
"I almost think I have," she replied, with a slight shudder.
"I half suspect he is Herne himself," whispered the Duke of Shoreditch
"It may be," responded the other; "his glance made my blood run cold."
"You look somewhat fatigued, sweetheart," said Deborah, observing
Mabel's uneasiness. "Come with me and I will show you to a chamber."
Glad to escape Mabel followed the good dame out of the kitchen, and
they ascended a winding staircase which brought them to a
commodious chamber in the upper part of Henry the Seventh's
buildings, where Deborah sat down with her young charge and
volunteered a great deal of good advice to her, which the other listened
to with becoming attention, and promised to profit by it.
VII. Of the Mysterious Noise heard in the Curfew Tower.
On quitting the kitchen, Henry, having been informed by Bouchier that
Tristram Lyndwood was lodged in the prison-chamber in the lower
gateway, proceeded thither to question him. He found the old man
seated on a bench, with his hands tied behind him; but though evidently
much alarmed at his situation, he could not be brought either by threats
or proffers to make any confession.
Out of patience, at length, the king ordered him to be conveyed to the
dungeon beneath the Curfew Tower, and personally superintended his
"I will find a means of shaking his obstinacy," said Henry, as he quitted
the vault with Bouchier. "If I cannot move him by other means, I may
through his granddaughter I will interrogate him in her presence to-
"To-night, sire!" exclaimed Bouchier.
"Ay, to-night," repeated the king. "I am resolved, even if it should cost
the life of this maiden, whose charms have moved me so, to break the
infernal machinery woven around me. And now as I think it not unlikely
the miscreant Herne may attempt the prisoner's deliverance, let the
strictest watch be kept over the tower. Station an arquebusier
throughout the night at the door of the dungeon, and another at the
entrance to the chamber on the ground floor. Your own post must be
on the roof of the fortification, that you may watch if any attempt is
made to scale it from the town side, or to get in through the loopholes.
Keep a sharp lookout Bouchier, for I shall hold you responsible if any
"I will do my best, my liege," replied Bouchier; "and were it with a mortal
foe I had to contend, I should have no fear. But what vigilance can avail
against a fiend?"
"You have heard my injunctions, and will attend to them," rejoined the
king harshly. "I shall return anon to the examination."
So saying, he departed.
Brave as a lion on ordinary occasions, Bouchier entered upon his
present duty with reluctance and misgiving; and he found the
arquebusiers by whom he was attended, albeit stout soldiers, equally
uneasy. Herne had now become an object of general dread throughout
the castle; and the possibility of an encounter with him was enough to
daunt the boldest breast. Disguising his alarm, Bouchier issued his
directions in an authoritative tone, and then mounted with three
arquebusiers to the summit of the tower. It was now dark, but the
moon soon arose, and her beams rendered every object as
distinguishable as daylight would have done, so that watch was easily
kept. But nothing occurred to occasion alarm, until all at once, a noise
like that of a hammer stricken against a board, was heard in the
Drawing his sword, Bouchier hurried down the steps leading into this
chamber, which was buried in darkness, and advanced so precipitately
and incautiously into the gloom, that he struck his head against a
crossbeam. The violence of the blow stunned him for a moment, but as
soon as he recovered, he called to the guard in the lower chamber to
bring up a torch. The order was promptly obeyed; but, meanwhile, the
sound had ceased, and, though they searched about, they could not
discover the occasion of it.
This, however, was not so wonderful for the singular construction of the
chamber, with its numerous crossbeams, its deep embrasures and
recesses, its insecure and uneven floor, its steep ladder-like staircases,
was highly favourable to concealment, it being utterly impossible,
owing to the intersections of the beams, for the searchers to see far
before them, or to move about quickly. In the midst of the chamber was
a large wooden compartment enclosing the cumbrous and uncouth
machinery of the castle clock, and through the box ran the cord
communicating with the belfry above. At that time, pieces of ordnance
were mounted in all the embrasures, but there is now only one gun,
placed in a porthole commanding Thames Street, and the long
thoroughfare leading to Eton. The view from this porthole of the groves
of Eton, and of the lovely plains on the north-west, watered by the river,
is enchanting beyond description.
Viewed from a recess which has been partly closed, the appearance of
this chamber is equally picturesque and singular; and it is scarcely
possible to pass beneath its huge beams or to gaze at the fantastic yet
striking combinations they form in connection with the deep
embrasures, the steep staircases and trap-doors, and not feel that the
whole place belongs to romance, and that a multitude of strange and
startling stories must be connected with it. The old architects were
indeed great romancers, and built for the painter and the poet.
Bouchier and his companion crept about under the great meshwork of
beams-peered into all the embrasures, and beneath the carriages of the
culverins. There was a heap of planks and beams lying on the floor
between the two staircases, but no one was near it.
The result of their investigations did not tend to decrease their alarm.
Bouchier would fain have had the man keep watch in the chamber, but
neither threats nor entreaties could induce him to remain there. He
was therefore sent below, and the captain returned to the roof. He had
scarcely emerged upon the leads when the hammering recommenced
more violently than before. In vain Bouchier ordered his men to go
down. No one would stir; and superstitious fear had by this time
obtained such mastery over the captain, that he hesitated to descend
alone. To add to his vexation, the arquebusier had taken the torch with
him, so that he should have to proceed in darkness.
At length he mustered up courage to make the attempt; but he paused
between each step, peering through the gloom, and half fancying he
could discern the figure of Herne near the spot where the pile of wood
lay. Certain it was that the sound of diabolical laughter, mingled with
the rattling of the chain and the sharp blows of the hammer, smote his
ears. The laughter became yet louder as Bouchier advanced, the
hammering ceased, and the clanking of the chain showed that its
mysterious wearer was approaching the foot of the steps to meet him.
But the captain had not nerve enough for the encounter. Invoking the
protection of the saints, he beat a precipitate retreat, and closed the
little door at the head of the steps after him.
The demon was apparently satisfied with the alarm he had occasioned,
for the hammering was not renewed at that time.
VIII Showing the Vacillations of the King between Wolsey and Anne
Before returning to the state apartments, Henry took a turn on the
ramparts on the north side of the castle, between the Curfew Tower
and the Winchester Tower, and lingered for a short time on the bastion
commanding that part of the acclivity where the approach, called the
Hundred Steps, is now contrived. Here he cautioned the sentinels to be
doubly vigilant throughout the night, and having gazed for a moment at
the placid stream flowing at the foot of the castle, and tinged with the
last rays of the setting sun, he proceeded to the royal lodgings, and
entered the banquet chamber, where supper was already served.
Wolsey sat on his right hand, but he did not vouchsafe him a single
word, addressing the whole of his discourse to the Duke of Suffolk,
who was placed on his left. As soon as the repast was over, he retired
to his closet. But the cardinal would not be so repulsed, and sent one
of his gentlemen to crave a moment's audience of the king, which with
some reluctance was accorded.
"Well, cardinal," cried Henry, as Wolsey presented himself, and the
usher withdrew. "You are playing a deep game with me, as you think;
but take heed, for I see through it." "I pray you dismiss these
suspicions from your mind, my liege," said Wolsey. "No servant was
ever more faithful to his master than I have been to you."
"No servant ever took better care of himself," cried the king fiercely.
"Not alone have you wronged me to enrich yourself, but you are ever
intriguing with my enemies. I have nourished in my breast a viper; but I
will cast you off--will crush you as I would the noxious reptile."
And he stamped upon the floor, as if he could have trampled the
cardinal beneath his foot.
"Beseech you calm yourself, my liege," replied Wolsey, in the soft and
deprecatory tone which he had seldom known to fail with the king. "I
have never thought of my own aggrandisement, but as it was likely to
advance your power. For the countless benefits I have received at
your hands, my soul overflows with gratitude. You have raised me from
the meanest condition to the highest. You have made me your
confidant, your adviser, your treasurer, and with no improper boldness
I say it, your friend. But I defy the enemies who have poisoned your
ears against me, to prove that I have ever abused the trust placed in
me. The sole fault that can be imputed to me is, that I have meddled
more with temporal matters than with spiritual, and it is a crime for
which I must answer before Heaven. But I have so acted because I felt
that I might thereby best serve your highness. If I have aspired to the
papal throne--which you well know I have--it has been that I might be
yet a more powerful friend to your majesty, and render you what you
are entitled to be, the first prince in Christendom."
"Tut, tut!" exclaimed the king, who was, nevertheless, moved by the
"The gifts I have received from foreign princes," pursued Wolsey,
seeing the effect he had produced, "the wealth I have amassed, have
all been with a view of benefiting your majesty." "Humph!" exclaimed
"To prove that I speak the truth, sire," continued the wily cardinal, "the
palace at Hampton Court, which I have just completed--"
"And at a cost more lavish than I myself should have expended on it,"
interrupted the king angrily.
"If I had destined it for myself, I should not have spent a tithe of what I
have done," rejoined Wolsey. "Your highness's unjust accusations
force me to declare my intentions somewhat prematurely. Deign," he
cried, throwing at the king's feet, "deign to accept that palace and all
within it. You were pleased, during your late residence there,to
express your approval of it. And I trust it will find equal favour in your
eyes, now that it is your own."
"By holy Mary, a royal gift!" cried Henry. "Rise, You are not the
grasping, selfish person you have been represented."
"Declare as much to my enemies, sire, and I shall be more content.
"You will find the palace better worth acceptance than at first sight
"How so?" cried the king.
" Your highness will be pleased to take this key," said the cardinal; "it
is the key of the cellar."
"You have some choice wine there," cried Henry significantly; "given
you by some religious house, or sent you by some foreign potentate,
"It is wine that a king might prize," replied the cardinal. "Your majesty
will find a hundred hogsheads in that cellar, and each hogshead filled
"You amaze me!" cried the king, feigning astonishment. "And all this
you freely give me?"
"Freely and fully, sire," replied Wolsey. "Nay, I have saved it for you.
Men think I have cared for myself, whereas I have cared only for your
majesty. Oh! my dear liege, by the devotion I have just approved to
you, and which I would also approve, if needful, with my life, I beseech
you to consider well before you raise Anne Boleyn to the throne. In
giving you this counsel, I know I hazard the favour I have just regained.
But even at that hazard, I must offer it. Your infatuation blinds you to
the terrible consequences of the step. The union is odious to all your
subjects, but most of all to those not tainted with the new heresies and
opinions. It will never be forgiven by the Emperor Charles the Fifth,
who will seek to avenge the indignity offered to his illustrious relative;
while Francis will gladly make it a pretext for breaking his truce with
you. Add to this the displeasure of the Apostolic See, and it must be
apparent that, powerful as you are, your position will be one of infinite
"Thus far advanced, I cannot honourably abandon the divorce," said
"Nor do I advise its abandonment, sire," replied Wolsey; "but do not let
it be a means of injuring you with all men. Do not let a mal-alliance
place your very throne in jeopardy; as, with your own subjects and all
foreign powers against you, must necessarily be the case."
"You speak warmly, cardinal," said Henry.
"My zeal prompts me to do so," replied Wolsey. "Anne Boleyn is in no
respect worthy of the honour you propose her."
"And whom do you think more worthy?" demanded Henry.
"Those whom I have already recommended to your majesty, the
Duchess d'Alencon, or the Princess Renee," replied Wolsey; "by a union
with either of whom you would secure the cordial co-operation of
Francis, and the interests of the see of Rome, which, in the event of a
war with Spain, you may need."
"No, Wolsey," replied Henry, taking a hasty turn across the chamber;
"no considerations of interests or security shall induce me to give up
Anne. I love her too well for that. Let the lion Charles roar, the fox
Francis snarl, and the hydra-headed Clement launch forth his flames, I
will remain firm to my purpose. I will not play the hypocrite with you,
whatever I may do with others. I cast off Catherine that I may wed
Anne, because I cannot otherwise obtain her. And shall I now, when I
have dared so much, and when the prize is within my grasp, abandon
it?--Never! Threats, expostulations, entreaties are alike unavailing."
"I grieve to hear it, my liege," replied Wolsey, heaving a deep sigh. "It
is an ill-omened union, and will bring woe to you, woe to your realm,
and woe to the Catholic Church."
"And woe to you also, false cardinal," cried Anne Boleyn, throwing
aside the arras, and stepping forward. "I have overheard what has
passed; and from my heart of hearts I thank you, Henry, for the love
you have displayed for me. But I here solemnly vow never to give my
hand to you till Wolsey is dismissed from your counsels."
"Anne!" exclaimed the king.
"My own enmity I could forego," pursued Anne vehemently,"but I
cannot forgive him his duplicity and perfidy towards you. He has just
proffered you his splendid palace of Hampton, and his treasures; and
wherefore?--I will tell you: because he feared they would be wrested
from him. His jester had acquainted him with the discovery just made
of the secret hoard, and he was therefore compelled to have recourse
to this desperate move. But I was apprized of his intentions by Will
Sommers, and have come in time to foil him."
"By my faith, I believe you are right, sweetheart," said the king.
"Go, tell your allies, Francis and Clement, that the king's love for me
outweighs his fear of them," cried Anne, laughing spitefully. "As for
you, I regard you as nothing."
"Vain woman, your pride will be abased," rejoined Wolsey bitterly.
"Vain man, you are already abased," replied Anne. "A few weeks ago I
would have made terms with you. Now I am your mortal enemy, and
will never rest till I have procured your downfall."
"The king will have an amiable consort, truly," sneered Wolsey.
"He will have one who can love him and hate his foes," replied Anne;
"and not one who would side with them and thee, as would be the case
with the Duchess d'Alencon or the Princess Renee. Henry, you know
the sole terms on which you can procure my hand."
The king nodded a playful affirmative.
"Then dismiss him at once, disgrace him," said Anne.
"Nay, nay," replied Henry," the divorce is not yet passed. You are
angered now, and will view matters more coolly to-morrow."
"I shall never change my resolution," she replied.
"If my dismissal and disgrace can save my sovereign, I pray him to
sacrifice me without hesitation," said Wolsey; "but while I have liberty
of speech with him, and aught of power remaining, I will use it to his
advantage. I pray your majesty suffer me to retire."
And receiving a sign of acquiescence from the king, he withdrew, amid
the triumphant laughter of Anne.
IX. How Tristram Lyndwood was interrogated by the King.
Anne Boleyn remained with her royal lover for a few minutes to pour
forth her gratitude for the attachment he had displayed to her, and to
confirm the advantage she had gained over Wolsey. As soon as she
was gone, Henry summoned an usher, and giving him some instructions
respecting Mabel Lyndwood, proceeded to the Curfew Tower.
Nothing was said to him of the strange noise that had been heard in the
upper chamber, for the arquebusiers were fearful of exciting his
displeasure by a confession of their alarm, and he descended at once
to the dungeon.
"Well, fellow," he cried, sternly regarding the captive, who arose at his
entrance, "you have now had ample time for reflection, and I trust are in
a better frame of mind than when I last spoke with you. I command you
to declare all you know concerning Herne the Hunter, and to give me
such information respecting the proscribed felon, Morgan Fenwolf, as
will enable me to accomplish his capture."
"I have already told your highness that my mouth is sealed by an oath
of secrecy," replied Tristram, humbly, but firmly.
"Obstinate dog! thou shalt either speak, or I will hang thee from the top
of this tower, as I hanged Mark Fytton the butcher," roared Henry.
"You will execute your sovereign pleasure, my liege," said the old man.
"My life is in your hands. It is little matter whether it is closed now or a
year hence. I have well nigh run out my term."
"If thou carest not for thyself, thou mayest not be equally indifferent to
another," cried the king. "What ho! bring in his granddaughter."
The old man started at the command, and trembled violently. The next
moment, Mabel was led into the dungeon by Shoreditch and
Paddington. Behind her came Nicholas Clamp. On seeing her grandsire,
she uttered a loud cry and would have rushed towards him, but she was
held back by her companions.
"Oh grandfather!" she cried, "what have you done?-why do I find you
Tristram groaned, and averted his head.
"He is charged with felony and sorcery," said the king sternly, and you,
maiden, come under the same suspicion."
"Believe it not, sire," cried the old man, flinging himself at Henry's feet;
"oh, believe it not. Whatever you may judge of me, believe her
innocent. She was brought up most devoutly, by a lay sister of the
monastery at Chertsey; and she knows nothing, save by report, of what
passes in the forest."
"Yet she has seen and conversed with Morgan Fenwolf," the king.
"Not since he was outlawed," said Tristram.
"I saw him to--day, as I was brought to the castle," cried Mabel, "and--"
but recollecting that she might implicate her grandfather, she suddenly
"What said he ?--ha!" demanded the king.
"I will tell your majesty what passed," interposed Nicholas Clamp,
stepping forward, "for I was with the damsel at the time. He came upon
us suddenly from behind a great tree, and ordered her to accompany
him to her grandsire."
"Ha!" exclaimed the king.
"But he had no authority for what he said, I am well convinced,"
pursued Clamp. "Mabel disbelieved him and refused to go, and I should
have captured him if the fiend he serves had not lent him a helping
"What says the prisoner himself to this? " observed the king. "Didst
thou send Fenwolf on the errand?"
"I did," replied Tristram. " I sent him to prevent her from going to the
Mabel sobbed audibly.
"Thou art condemned by thy own confession, caitiff," said the king,
"and thou knowest upon what terms alone thou canst save thyself from
the hangman, and thy grand-daughter from the stake."
"Oh, mercy, sire, mercy! " shrieked Mabel.
"Your fate rests with your grandsire," said the king sternly. "If he
chooses to be your executioner he will remain silent."
"Oh, speak, grandsire, speak!" cried Mabel. "What matters the violation
of an unholy vow?"
"Give me till to-morrow for consideration, sire," said the old man.
"Thou shalt have till midnight," replied the king; "and till then Mabel
shall remain with thee."
"I would rather be left alone," said Tristram.
"I doubt it not," replied the king; " but it shall not be." And without
bestowing a look at Mabel, whose supplications he feared might shake
his purpose, he quitted the vault with his attendants, leaving her alone
with her grandsire.
"I shall return at midnight," he said to the arquebusier stationed at the
door; "and meanwhile let no one enter the dungeon--not even the Duke
of Suffolk--unless," he added, holding forth his hand to display a ring,
"he shall bring this signet."
X. Of the Brief Advantage gained by the Queen and the Cardinal.
As the king, wholly unattended--for he had left the archers at the
Curfew Tower--was passing at the back of Saint George's Chapel, near
the north transept, he paused for a moment to look at the embattled
entrance to the New Commons--a structure erected in the eleventh year
of his own reign by James Denton, a canon, and afterwards Dean of
Lichfield, for the accommodation of such chantry priests and choristers
as had no place in the college. Over the doorway, surmounted by a
niche, ran (and still runs) the inscription--
"AEDES PRO SACELLANORUM CHORISTARUM COVIVIIS EXTRUCTA, A.D.
The building has since been converted into one of the canons' houses.
While he was contemplating this beautiful gateway, which was
glimmering in the bright moonlight, a tall figure suddenly darted from
behind one of the buttresses of the chapel, and seized his left arm with
an iron grasp. The suddenness of the attack took him by surprise; but
he instantly recovered himself, plucked away his arm, and, drawing his
sword, made a pass at his assailant, who, however, avoided the thrust,
and darted with inconceivable swiftness through the archway leading
to the cloisters. Though Henry followed as quickly as he could, he lost
sight of the fugitive, but just as he was about to enter the passage
running between the tomb-house and the chapel, he perceived a person
in the south ambulatory evidently anxious to conceal himself, and,
rushing up to him and dragging him to the light he found it was no other
than the cardinal's jester, Patch.
"What does thou here, knave?" cried Henry angrily.
"I am waiting for my master, the cardinal," replied the jester, terrified
out of his wits.
"Waiting for him here! "cried the king. " Where is he?"
"In that house," replied Patch, pointing to a beautiful bay-window, full of
stained glass, overhanging the exquisite arches of the north
"Why, that is Doctor Sampson's dwelling," cried Henry; "he who was
chaplain to the queen, and is a strong opponent of the divorce.What
doth he there?"
"I am sure I know not," replied Patch, whose terror increased each
moment. "Perhaps I have mistaken the house. Indeed, I am sure it
must be Doctor Voysey's, the next door."
"Thou liest, knave! " cried Henry fiercely; "thy manner convinces me
there is some treasonable practice going forward. But I will soon find it
out. Attempt to give the alarm, and I will cut thy throat."
With this he proceeded to the back of the north ambulatory, and finding
the door he sought unfastened, raised the latch and walked softly in.
But before he got half-way down the passage, Doctor Sampson himself
issued from an inner room with a lamp in his hand. He started on
seeing the king, and exhibited great alarm.
"The Cardinal of York is here--I know it," said Henry in a deep whisper.
"Lead me to him."
"Oh, go not forward, my gracious liege!" cried Sampson, placing himself
in his path.
"Wherefore not?" rejoined the king. "Ha! what voice is that I heard in
the upper chamber? Is she here, and with Wolsey? Out of my way, man,"
he added, pushing the canon aside, and rushing up the short wooden
When Wolsey returned from his interview with the king, which had been
so unluckily interrupted by Anne Boleyn, he found his ante-chamber
beset with a crowd of suitors to whose solicitations he was compelled
to listen, and having been detained in this manner for nearly half an
hour, he at length retired into an inner room.
"Vile sycophants!" he muttered, "they bow the knee before me, and pay
me greater homage than they render the king, but though they have fed
upon my bounty and risen by my help, not one of them, if he was aware
of my true position, but would desert me. Not one of them but would
lend a helping hand to crush me. Not one but would rejoice in my
downfall. But they have not deceived me. I knew them from the first--
saw through their hollowness and despised them. While power lasts to
me, I will punish some of them. While power lasts!" he repeated. "Have
I any power remaining? I have already given up Hampton and my
treasures to the king; and the work of spoliation once commenced, the
royal plunderer will not be content till he has robbed me of all; while his
minion, Anne Boleyn, has vowed my destruction. Well, I will not yield
tamely, nor fall unavenged."
As these thoughts passed through his mind, Patch, who had waited for
a favourable moment to approach him, delivered him a small billet
carefully sealed, and fastened with a silken thread. Wolsey took it, and
broke it open; and as his eye eagerly scanned its contents, the
expression of his countenance totally changed. A flash of joy and
triumph irradiated his fallen features; and thrusting the note into the
folds of his robe, he inquired of the jester by whom it had been brought,
and how long.
"It was brought by a messenger from Doctor Sampson," replied Patch,
"and was committed to me with special injunctions to deliver it to your
grace immediately on your return, and secretly."
The cardinal sat down, and for a few moments appeared lost in deep
reflection; he then arose, and telling Patch he should return presently,
quitted the chamber. But the jester, who was of an inquisitive turn, and
did not like to be confined to half a secret, determined to follow him,
and accordingly tracked him along the great corridor, down a winding
staircase, through a private door near the Norman Gateway, across the
middle ward, and finally saw him enter Doctor Sampson's dwelling, at
the back of the north ambulatory. He was reconnoitring the windows of
the house from the opposite side of the cloisters in the hope of
discovering something, when he was caught, as before mentioned, by
Wolsey, meanwhile, was received by Doctor Sampson at the doorway of
his dwelling, and ushered by him into a chamber on the upper floor,
wainscoted with curiously carved and lustrously black oak. A silver
lamp was burning the on the table, and in the recess of the window,
which was screened by thick curtains, sat a majestic lady, who rose on
the cardinal's entrance. It was Catherine of Arragon.
"I attend your pleasure, madam," said Wolsey, with a profound
"You have been long in answering my summons," said the queen; "but I
could not expect greater promptitude. Time was when a summons
from Catherine of Arragon would have been quickly and cheerfully
attended to; when the proudest noble in the land would have borne her
message to you, and when you would have passed through crowds to
her audience-chamber. Now another holds her place, and she is
obliged secretly to enter the castle where she once ruled, to despatch
a valet to her enemy, to attend his pleasure, and to receive him in the
dwelling of an humble canon. Times are changed with me, Wolsey--
"I have been in attendance on the king, madam, or I should have been
with you sooner," replied Wolsey. "It grieves me sorely to see you
"I want not your pity," replied the queen proudly. "I did not send for you
to gratify your malice by exposing my abject state. I did not send for
you to insult me by false sympathy; but in the hope that your own
interest would induce you to redress the wrongs you have done me."
"Alas! madam, I fear it is now too late to repair the error I have
committed," said Wolsey, in a tone of affected penitence and sorrow.
"You admit, then, that it was an error," cried Catherine. "Well, that is
something. Oh! that you had paused before you began this evil work--
before you had raised a storm which will destroy me and yourself. Your
quarrel with my nephew the Emperor Charles has cost me dear, but it
will cost you yet more dearly."
"I deserve all your reproaches, madam," said Wolsey, with feigned
meekness; "and I will bear them without a murmur. But you have sent
for me for some specific object, I presume?"
"I sent for you to give me aid, as much for your own sake as mine,"
replied the queen, "for you are in equal danger. Prevent this divorce--
foil Anne--and you retain the king's favour. Our interests are so far
leagued together, that you must serve me to serve yourself. My object
is to gain time to enable my friends to act. Your colleague is secretly
favourable to me. Pronounce no sentence here, but let the cause be
removed to Rome. My nephew the emperor will prevail upon the Pope
to decide in my favour."
"I dare not thus brave the king's displeasure, madam;" replied Wolsey.
"Dissembler!" exclaimed Catherine. "I now perceive the insincerity of
your professions. This much I have said to try you. And now to my real
motive for sending for you. I have in my possession certain letters, that
will ruin Anne Boleyn with the king."
"Ha!" exclaimed the cardinal joyfully; "if that be the case, all the rest
will be easy. Let me see the letters, I pray you, madam."
Before Catherine could reply, the door was thrown violently open, and
the king stood before them.
"Soh!" roared Henry, casting a terrible look at Wolsey, "I have caught
you at your treasonable practices at last! And you, madam," he added,
turning to Catherine, who meekly, but steadily, returned his gaze, "what
brings you here again? Because I pardoned your indiscretion yesterday,
think not I shall always be so lenient. You will leave the castle
instantly. As to Wolsey, he shall render me a strict account of his
"I have nothing to declare, my liege," replied Wolsey, recovering
himself, "I leave it to the queen to explain why I came hither."
"The explanation shall be given at once," said Catherine. "I sent for the
cardinal to request him to lay before your majesty these two letters
from Anne Boleyn to Sir Thomas Wyat, that you might judge whether
one who could write thus would make you a fitting consort. You
disbelieved my charge of levity yesterday. Read these, sire, and judge
whether I spoke the truth."
Henry glanced at the letters, and his brow grew dark.
"What say you to them, my liege?" cried Catherine, with a glance of
triumph. "In the one she vows eternal constancy to Sir Thomas Wyat,
and in the other--written after her engagement to you--he tells him that
though they can never meet as heretofore, she will always love him."
"Ten thousand furies!" cried the king. "Where got you these letters,
"They were given to me by a tall dark man, as I quitted the castle last
night," said the queen. "He said they were taken from the person of Sir
Thomas Wyat while he lay concealed in the forest in the cave of Herne
"If I thought she wrote them," cried Henry, in an access jealous fury, "I
would cast her off for ever."
"Methinks your majesty should be able to judge whether they are true
or false," said Catherine. "I know her writing well--too well, alas!--and
am satisfied they are genuine."
"I am well assured that Wyat was concealed in the Lady Anne's
chamber when your majesty demanded admittance and could not
obtain it--when the Earl of Surrey sacrificed himself for her, and for his
friend," said Wolsey.
"Perdition!" exclaimed the king, striking his brow with his clenched
hand. "Oh, Catherine!" he continued, after a pause, during which she
intently watched the workings of his countenance, "and it was for this
light-hearted creature I was about to cast you off."
"I forgive you, sire--I forgive you!" exclaimed the queen, clasping his
hands, and bedewing them with grateful tears. "You have been
deceived. Heaven keep you in the same mind!"
"You have preserved me," said Henry, " but you must not tarry here.
Come with me to the royal lodgings."
"No, Henry," replied Catherine, with a shudder, "not while she is there."
"Make no conditions, madam," whispered Wolsey. "Go."
"She shall be removed to-morrow," said Henry.
"In that case I am content to smother my feelings," said the queen.
"Come, then, Kate," said Henry, taking her hand. "Lord cardinal, you
will attend us."
"Right gladly, my liege," replied Wolsey. "If this mood will only endure,"
he muttered, "all will go well. But his jealousy must not be allowed to
cool. Would that Wyat were here!"
Doctor Sampson could scarcely credit his senses as he beheld the
august pair come forth together, and a word from Wolsey explaining
what had occurred, threw him into transports of delight. But the
surprise of the good canon was nothing to that exhibited as Henry and
Catherine entered the royal lodgings, and the king ordered his own
apartments to be instantly prepared for her majesty's reception.
XI. How Tristram Lyndwood and Mabel were liberated.
Intelligence of the queen's return was instantly conveyed to Anne
Boleyn, and filled her with indescribable alarm. All her visions of power
and splendour seemed to melt away at once. She sent for her father,
Lord Rochford, who hurried to her in a state of the utmost anxiety, and
closely questioned her whether the extraordinary change had not been
occasioned by some imprudence of her own. But she positively denied
the charge, alleging that she had parted with the king scarcely an hour
before on terms of the most perfect amity, and with the full conviction
that she had accomplished the cardinal's ruin.
"You should not have put forth your hand against him till you were sure
of striking the blow," said Rochford. "There is no telling what secret
influence he has over the king; and there may yet be a hard battle to
fight. But not a moment must be lost in counteracting his operations.
Luckily, Suffolk is here, and his enmity to the cardinal will make him a
sure friend to us. Pray Heaven you have not given the king fresh
occasion for jealousy! That is all I fear."
And quitting his daughter, he sought out Suffolk, who, alarmed at what
appeared like a restoration of Wolsey to favour, promised heartily to co-
operate with him in the struggle; and that no time might be lost, the
duke proceeded at once to the royal closet, where he found the king
pacing moodily to and fro.
"Your majesty seems disturbed," said the duke.
"Disturbed!--ay!" exclaimed the king. "I have enough to disturb me. I
will never love again. I will forswear the whole sex. Harkee, Suffolk,
you are my brother, my second self, and know all the secrets of my
heart. After the passionate devotion I have displayed for Anne Boleyn--
after all I have done for her--all I have risked for her--I have been
"Impossible, my liege?" exclaimed Suffolk.
"Why, so I thought," cried Henry, "and I turned a deaf ear to all
insinuations thrown out against her, till proof was afforded which I
could no longer doubt."
"And what was the amount of the proof, my liege?" asked Suffolk.
"These letters," said Henry, handing them to him, "found on the person
of Sir Thomas Wyat."
"But these only prove, my liege, the existence of a former passion--
nothing more," remarked Suffolk, after he had scanned them.
"But she vows eternal constancy to him!" cried Henry; "says she shall
ever love him--says so at the time she professes devoted love for me!
How can I trust her after that? Suffolk, I feel she does not love me
exclusively; and my passion is so deep and devouring, that it demands
entire return. I must have her heart as well as her person; and I feel I
have only won her in my quality of king."
"I am persuaded your majesty is mistaken," said the duke. "Would I
could think so!" sighed Henry. "But no--no, I cannot be deceived. I will
conquer this fatal passion. Oh, Suffolk! it is frightful to be the
bondslave of a woman--a fickle, inconstant woman. But between the
depths of love and hate is but a step; and I can pass from one to the
"Do nothing rashly, my dear liege," said Suffolk; "nothing that may bring
with it after-repentance. Do not be swayed by those who have inflamed
your jealousy, and who could practise upon it. Think the matter calmly
over, and then act. And till you have decided, see neither Catherine nor
Anne; and, above all, do not admit Wolsey to your secret counsels."
"You are his enemy, Suffolk," said the king sternly.
"I am your majesty's friend," replied the duke. " I beseech you, yield to
me on this occasion, and I am sure of your thanks hereafter."
"Well, I believe you are right, my good friend and brother," said Henry,
"and I will curb my impulses of rage and jealousy. To-morrow, before I
see either the queen or Anne, we will ride forth into the forest, and talk
the matter further over."
"Your highness has come to a wise determination," said the duke.
"Oh,Suffolk!" sighed Henry, "would I had never seen this siren! She
exercises a fearful control over me, and enslaves my very soul."
"I cannot say whether it is for good or ill that you have met, my dear
liege," replied Suffolk, "but I fancy I can discern the way in which your
ultimate decision will be taken. But it is now near midnight. I wish your
majesty sound and untroubled repose."
"Stay!" cried Henry, "I am about to visit the Curfew Tower, and must
take you with me. I will explain my errand as we go. I had some
thought of sending you there in my stead. Ha!" he exclaimed, glancing
at his finger, "By Saint Paul, it is gone!"
"What is gone, my liege?" asked Suffolk.
My signet," replied Henry," I missed it not till now. It has been wrested
from me by the fiend, during my walk from the Curfew Tower. Let us not
lose a moment, or the prisoners will be set free by him,--if they have not
been liberated already."
So saying, he took a couple of dags--a species of short gun-- from a rest
on the wall, and giving one to Suffolk, thrust the other into his girdle.
Thus armed, they quitted the royal lodgings, and hurried in the direction
of the Curfew Tower. Just as they reached the Horseshoe Cloisters,
the alarm-bell began to ring.
"Did I not tell you so?" cried Henry furiously; "they have escaped. Ha! it
ceases!--what has happened?"
About a quarter of an hour after the king had quitted the Curfew Tower,
a tall man, enveloped in a cloak, and wearing a high conical cap,
presented himself to the arquebusier stationed at the entrance to the
dungeon, and desired to be admitted to the prisoners.
"I have the king's signet," he said, holding forth the ring. On seeing this,
the arquebusier, who recognised the ring, unlocked the door, and
admitted him. Mabel was kneeling on the ground beside her grandsire,
with her hands raised as in prayer, but as the tall man entered the
vault, she started to her feet, and uttered a slight scream.
"What is the matter, child?" cried Tristram..
"He is here!--he is come!" cried Mabel, in a tone of the deepest terror.
"Who--the king?" cried Tristram, looking up. "Ah! I see! Herne is come
to deliver me."
"Do not go with him, grandsire," cried Mabel. "In the name of all the
saints, I implore you, do not."
"Silence her! "said Herne in a harsh, imperious voice," or I leave you."
The old man looked imploringly at his granddaughter.
"You know the conditions of your liberation? "said Herne.
"I do--I do," replied Tristram hastily, and with a shudder.
"Oh, grandfather!" cried Mabel, falling at his feet, "do not, I conjure you,
make any conditions with this dreaded being, or it will be at the
expense of your salvation. Better I should perish at the stake--better
you should suffer the most ignominious death, than this should be."
"Do you accept them?" cried Herne, disregarding her supplications.
Tristram answered in the affirmative.
"Recall your words, grandfather--recall your words!" cried Mabel. "I will
implore pardon for you on my knees from the king, and he will not
"The pledge cannot be recalled, damsel," said Herne; " and it is to save
you from the king, as much as to accomplish his own preservation, that
your grandsire consents. He would not have you a victim to Henry's
lust." And as he spoke, he divided the forester's bonds with his knife.
"You must go with him, Mabel," he added.
I will not!" she cried. "Something warns me that a great danger awaits
"You must go, girl," cried Tristram angrily. "I will not leave you to
Henry's lawless passion."
Meanwhile, Herne had passed into one of the large embrasures, and
opened, by means of a spring, an entrance to a secret staircase in the
wall. He then beckoned Tristram towards him, and whispered some
instructions in his ear.
"I understand," replied the old man.
"Proceed to the cave," cried Herne, "and remain there till I join you."
Tristram nodded assent.
"Come, Mabel!" he cried, advancing towards her, and seizing her hand.
"Away!"cried Herne in a menacing tone.
Terrified by the formidable looks and gestures of the demon, the poor
girl offered no resistance, and her grandfather drew her into the
opening, which was immediately closed after her.
About an hour after this, and when it was near upon the stroke of
midnight, the arquebusier who had admitted the tall stranger to the
dungeon, and who had momentarily expected his coming forth, opened
the door to see what was going forward. Great was his astonishment to
find the cell empty! After looking around in bewilderment, he rushed to
the chamber above, to tell his comrades what had happened.
"This is clearly the work of the fiend," said Shoreditch; "it is useless to
strive against him."
"That tall black man was doubtless Herne himself." said Paddington. "I
am glad he did us no injury. I hope the king will not provoke his malice
"Well, we must inform Captain Bouchier of the mischance," said
Shoreditch. "I would not be in thy skin, Mat Bee, for a trifle. The king
will be here presently, and then--"
"It is impossible to penetrate through the devices of the evil one,"
interrupted Mat. "I could have sworn it was the royal signet, for I saw it
on the king's finger as he delivered the order. I wish such another
chance of capturing the fiend would occur to me."
As the words were uttered, the door of a recess was thrown suddenly
open, and Herne, in his wild garb, with his antlered helm upon his brow,
and the rusty chain depending from his left arm, stood before them. His
appearance was so terrific and unearthly that they all shrank aghast,
and Mat Bee fell with his face on the floor.
"I am here!" cried the demon. "Now, braggart, wilt dare to seize me?"
But not a hand was moved against him. The whole party seemed
transfixed with terror.
"You dare not brave my power, and you are right," cried Herne--" a wave
of my hand would bring this old tower about your ears--a word would
summon a legion of fiends to torment you."
"But do not utter it, I pray you, good Herne--excellent Herne," cried Mat
Bee. "And, above all things, do not wave your hand, for we have no
desire to be buried alive,-- have we, comrades? I should never have said
what I did if I had thought your fiendship within hearing."
"Your royal master will as vainly seek to contend with me as he did to
bury me beneath the oak-tree," cried Herne. "If you want me further,
seek me in the upper chamber."
And with these words he darted up the ladder-like flight of steps and
As soon as they recovered from the fright that had enchained them,
Shoreditch and Paddington rushed forth into the area in front of the
turret, and shouting to those on the roof told them that Herne was in
the upper room--a piece of information which was altogether
superfluous, as the hammering had recommenced, and continued till
the clock struck twelve, when it stopped. Just then, it occurred to Mat
Bee to ring the alarm-bell, and he seized the rope, and began to pull it;
but the bell had scarcely sounded, when the cord, severed from above,
fell upon his head.
At this juncture, the king and the Duke of Suffolk arrived. When told
what had happened, though prepared for it, Henry burst into a terrible
passion, and bestowed a buffet on Mat Bee, that well nigh broke his
jaw, and sent him reeling to the farther side of the chamber. He had not
at first understood that Herne was supposed to be in the upper room;
but as soon as he was made aware of the circumstance, he cried
out--"Ah, dastards! have you let him brave you thus? But I am glad of it.
His capture is reserved for my own hand."
"Do not expose yourself to this risk, my gracious liege," said Suffolk.
"What! are you too a sharer in their womanish fears, Suffolk?" cried
Henry. "I thought you had been made of stouter stuff. If there is
danger, I shall be the first to encounter it. Come," he added, snatching
a torch from an arquebusier. And, drawing his dag, he hurried up the
steep steps, while Suffolk followed his example, and three or four
arquebusiers ventured after them.
Meanwhile Shoreditch and Paddington ran out, and informed Bouchier
that the king had arrived, and was mounting in search of Herne, upon
which the captain, shaking off his fears, ordered his men to follow him,
and opening the little door at the top of the stairs, began cautiously to
descend, feeling his way with his sword. He had got about half-way
down, when Henry sprang upon the platform. The light of the torch fell
upon the ghostly figure of Herne, with his arms folded upon his breast,
standing near the pile of wood, lying between the two staircases. So
appalling was the appearance of the demon, that Henry stood still to
gaze at him, while Bouchier and his men remained irresolute on the
stairs. In another moment, the Duke of Suffolk had gained the platform,
and the arquebusiers were seen near the head of the stairs.
"At last, thou art in my power, accursed being!" cried Henry. "Thou art
hemmed in on all sides, and canst not escape!"
"Ho! ho! ho! "laughed Herne.
This shall prove whether thou art human or not," cried Henry, taking
deliberate aim at him with the dag.
"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed Herne. And as the report rang through the room,
he sank through the floor, and disappeared from view.
"Gone!" exclaimed Henry, as the smoke cleared off; "gone! Holy Mary!
then it must indeed be the fiend. I made the middle of his skull my aim,
and if he had not been invulnerable, the bullet must have pierced his
"I heard it rebound from his horned helmet, and drop to the floor," said
"What is that chest?" cried Henry, pointing to a strange coffin-shaped
box, lying, as it seemed, on the exact spot where the demon had
No one had seen it before, though all called to mind the mysterious
hammering; and they had no doubt that the coffin was the work of the
"Break it open," cried Henry; "for aught we know, Herne may be
concealed within it."
The order was reluctantly obeyed by the arquebusiers. But no force
was required, for the lid was not nailed down; and when it was
removed, a human body in the last stage of decay was discovered.
"Pah! close it up," cried Henry, turning away in disgust. "How came it
"It must have been brought by the powers of darkness," said Bouchier;
"no such coffin was here when I searched the chamber two hours ago.
But see," he suddenly added, stooping down, and picking up a piece of
paper which had fallen from the coffin, "here is a scroll."
"Give it me!" cried Henry; and holding it to the light, he read the words,
"The body of Mark Fytton, the butcher, the victim of a tyrant's cruelty."
Uttering a terrible imprecation, Henry flung the paper from him; and
bidding the arquebusiers burn the body at the foot of the gallows
without the town, he quitted the tower without further search.
XII. How Wolsey was disgraced by the King.
On the following day, a reconciliation took place between the king and
Anne Boleyn. During a ride in the great park with his royal brother,
Suffolk not only convinced him of the groundlessness of his jealousy,
but contrived to incense him strongly against Wolsey. Thus the queen
and the cardinal lost the momentary advantage they had gained, while