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How The Earl Of Surrey And The Fair Geraldine Plighted Their Troth In The Cloisters Of Saint George's Chapel

How The Earl Of Surrey And The Fair Geraldine Met In King James's Bower In The Moat

Of The Combat Between Will Sommers And Patch

How King Henry The Eighth Held A Chapter Of The Garter

What Passed Between Anne Boleyn And The Duke Of Suffolk And How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Her In The Oratory

How Mabel Lyndwood Was Taken To The Castle By Nicholas Clamp

Showing How Morgan Fenwolf Escaped From The Garter Tower

Of The Meeting Of King Henry The Eighth And Anne Boleyn At The Lower Gate

In What Manner Herne Declared His Passion For Mabel

How The Fair Geraldine Bestowed A Relic Upon Her Lover



Least Viewed

How Tristram Lyndwood Was Interrogated By The King

Of The Interview Between Henry And Catherine Of Arragon In The Urswick Chapel

The Last Great Epoch In The History Of The Castle

Of The Mysterious Noise Heard In The Curfew Tower

How Anne Boleyn Received Proof Of Henry's Passion For Jane Seymour

How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Henry On The Terrace

Of The Desperate Resolution Formed By Tristram And Fenwolf And How The Train Was Laid

Comprising The Fourth Epoch In The History Of The Castle

How Sir Thomas Wyat Found Mabel In The Sandstone Cave And What Happened To Him There

What Passed Between Norris And The Tall Monk






How Herne The Hunter Was Himself Hunted








On the guard's recovery, information of what had occurred was
immediately conveyed to the king, who had not yet retired to rest,
but was sitting in his private chamber with the Dukes of Suffolk and
Norfolk. The intelligence threw him into a great fury: he buffeted
the guard, and ordered him to be locked up in the dungeon whence the
prisoner had escaped; reprimanded the canon; directed the Duke of
Suffolk, with a patrol, to make search in the neighbourhood of the
castle for the fugitive and the friar; and bade the Duke of Norfolk
get together a band of arquebusiers; and as soon as the latter were
assembled, he put himself at their head and again rode into the forest.

The cavalcade had proceeded about a mile along the great avenue, when
one of the arquebusiers rode up and said that he heard some distant
sounds on the right. Commanding a halt, Henry listened for a moment,
and, satisfied that the man was right, quitted the course he was
pursuing, and dashed across the broad glade now traversed by the avenue
called Queen Anne's Ride. As he advanced the rapid trampling of horses
was heard, accompanied by shouts, and presently afterwards a troop of
wild-looking horsemen in fantastic garbs was seen galloping down the
hill, pursued by Bouchier and his followers. The king immediately shaped
his course so as to intercept the flying party, and, being in some
measure screened by the trees, he burst unexpectedly upon them at a turn
of the road.

Henry called to the fugitives to surrender, but they refused, and,
brandishing their long knives and spears, made a desperate resistance.
But they were speedily surrounded and overpowered. Bouchier inquired
from the king what should be done with the prisoners.

"Hang them all upon yon trees!" cried Henry, pointing to two sister oaks
which stood near the scene of strife.

The terrible sentence was immediately carried into execution. Cords were
produced, and in less than half-an-hour twenty breathless bodies were
swinging from the branches of the two trees indicated by the king.

"This will serve to deter others from like offences," observed Henry,
who had watched the whole proceedings with savage satisfaction. "And
now, Bouchier, how came you to let the leader of these villains escape?"

"I did not know he had escaped, my liege," replied Bouchier, in
astonishment.

"Yea, marry, but he has escaped," rejoined Henry; "and he has had
the audacity to show himself in the castle within this hour, and the
cunning, moreover, to set the prisoner free."

And he proceeded to relate what had occurred.

"This is strange indeed, my liege," replied Bouchier, at the close of
the king's recital, "and to my thinking, is proof convincing that we
have to do with a supernatural being."

"Supernatura!--pshaw!--banish the idle notion," rejoined Henry sternly.
"We are all the dupes of some jugglery. The caitiff will doubtless
return to the forest. Continue your search, therefore, for him
throughout the night. If you catch him, I promise you a royal reward."

So saying, he rode back to the castle, somewhat appeased by the
wholesale vengeance he had taken upon the offenders.

In obedience to the orders he had received, Bouchier, with his
followers, continued riding about the forest during the whole night,
but without finding anything to reward his search, until about dawn
it occurred to him to return to the trees on which the bodies were
suspended. As he approached them he fancied he beheld a horse standing
beneath the nearest tree, and immediately ordered his followers to
proceed as noiselessly as possible, and to keep under the cover of the
wood. A nearer advance convinced him that his eyes had not deceived him.
It was a swart, wild-looking horse that he beheld, with eyes that flamed
like carbuncles, while a couple of bodies, evidently snatched from the
branches, were laid across his back. A glance at the trees, too, showed
Bouchier that they had been considerably lightened of their hideous
spoil.

Seeing this, Bouchier dashed forward. Alarmed by the noise, the wild
horse neighed loudly, and a dark figure instantly dropped from the tree
upon its back, and proceeded to disencumber it of its load. But before
this could be accomplished, a bolt from a cross-bow, shot by one of
Bouchier's followers, pierced the animal's brain. Rearing aloft, it fell
backwards in such manner as would have crushed an ordinary rider, but
Herne slipped off uninjured, and with incredible swiftness darted among
the trees. The others started in pursuit, and a chase commenced in which
the demon huntsman had to sustain the part of the deer--nor could any
deer have afforded better sport.

Away flew the pursued and pursuers over broad glade and through tangled
glen, the woods resounding with their cries. Bouchier did not lose sight
of the fugitive for a moment, and urged his men to push on; but, despite
his alternate proffers and menaces, they gained but little on Herne,
who, speeding towards the home park, cleared its high palings with a
single bound.

Over went Bouchier and his followers, and they then descried him making
his way to a large oak standing almost alone in the centre of a
wide glade. An instant afterwards he reached the tree, shook his arm
menacingly at his pursuers, and vanished.

The next moment Bouchier came up, flung himself from his panting steed,
and, with his drawn sword in hand, forced himself through a rift in its
side into the tree. There was a hollow within it large enough to allow
a man to stand upright, and two funnel-like holes ran upwards into the
branches. Finding nothing, Bouchier called for a hunting-spear, and
thrust it as far as he could into the holes above. The point encountered
no obstruction except such as was offered by the wood itself. He stamped
upon the ground, and sounded it on all sides with the spear, but with no
better success.

Issuing forth he next directed his attention to the upper part of the
tree, which, while he was occupied inside, had been very carefully
watched by his followers, and not content with viewing it from below, he
clambered into the branches. But they had nothing to show except their
own leafy covering.

The careful examination of the ground about the tree at length led to
the discovery of a small hole among its roots, about half a dozen yards
from the trunk, and though this hole seemed scarcely large enough
to serve for an entrance to the burrow of a fox, Bouchier deemed it
expedient to keep a careful watch over it.

His investigation completed, he dispatched a sergeant of the guard to
the castle to acquaint the king with what had occurred.

Disturbed by the events of the night, Henry obtained little sleep, and
at an early hour summoned an attendant, and demanded whether there were
any tidings from the forest The attendant replied that a sergeant of
the guard was without, sent by Captain Bouchier with a message for his
majesty. The sergeant was immediately admitted to the royal presence,
and on the close of his marvellous story the king, who had worked
himself into a tremendous fury during its relation, roared out, "What!
foiled again? ha! But he shall not escape, if I have to root up half the
trees in the forest. Bouchier and his fellows must be bewitched. Harkye,
knaves: get together a dozen of the best woodmen and yeomen in the
castle--instantly, as you value your lives; bid them bring axe and saw,
pick and spade. D'ye mark me? ha! Stay, I have not done. I must have
fagots and straw, for I will burn this tree to the ground--burn it to
a char. Summon the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk--the rascal archer I
dubbed the Duke of Shoreditch and his mates--the keepers of the forest
and their hounds--summon them quickly, and bid a band of the yeomen of
the guard get ready." And he sprang from his couch.

The king's commands were executed with such alacrity, that by the time
he was fully attired the whole of the persons he had ordered to be
summoned were assembled. Putting himself at their head, he rode forth to
the home park, and found Bouchier and his followers grouped around the
tree.

"We are still at fault, my liege," said Bouchier.

"So I see, Sir," replied the king angrily. "Hew down the tree instantly,
knaves," he added to the woodmen. "Fall to--fall to."

Ropes were then fastened to the head of the tree, and the welkin
resounded with the rapid strokes of the hatchets. It was a task of some
difficulty, but such zeal and energy were displayed by the woodmen that
ere long the giant trunk lay prostrate on the ground. Its hollows were
now fully exposed to view, but they were empty.

"Set fire to the accursed piece of timber!" roared the king, "and burn
it to dust, and scatter it to the wind!"

At these orders two yeomen of the guard advanced, and throwing down a
heap of fagots, straw, and other combustibles on the roots of the tree,
soon kindled a fierce fire.

Meanwhile a couple of woodmen, stripped of their jerkins, and with their
brawny arms bared to the shoulder, mounted on the trunk, and strove to
split it asunder. Some of the keepers likewise got into the branches,
and peered into every crack and crevice, in the hope of making some
discovery. Amongst the latter was Will Sommers, who had posted himself
near a great arm of the tree, which he maintained when lopped off would
be found to contain the demon.

Nor were other expedients neglected. A fierce hound had been sent into
the hole near the roots of the tree by Gabriel Lapp, but after a short
absence he returned howling and terrified, nor could all the efforts of
Gabriel, seconded by a severe scourging with his heavy dog-whip, induce
him to enter it again.

When the hound had come forth, a couple of yeomen advanced to enlarge
the opening, while a third with a pick endeavoured to remove the root,
which formed an impediment to their efforts.

"They may dig, but they'll never catch him," observed Shoreditch, who
stood by, to his companions. "Hunting a spirit is not the same thing as
training and raising a wolf, or earthing and digging out a badger."

"Not so loud, duke," said Islington; "his majesty may think thy jest
irreverent."

"I have an arrow blessed by a priest," said Paddington, "which I shall
let fly at the spirit if he appears."

"Here he is--here he is!" cried Will Sommers, as a great white horned
owl, which had been concealed in some part of the tree, flew forth.

"It may be the demon in that form--shoot! shoot!" cried Shoreditch.

Paddington bent his bow. The arrow whistled through the air, and
in another moment the owl fell fluttering to the ground completely
transfixed; but it underwent no change, as was expected by the credulous
archer.

Meanwhile the fire, being kept constantly supplied with fresh fagots,
and stirred by the yeomen of the guard, burnt bravely. The lower part
of the tree was already consumed, and the flames, roaring through the
hollow within with a sound like that of a furnace, promised soon to
reduce it to charcoal.

The mouth of the hole having now been widened, another keeper, who had
brought forward a couple of lurchers, sent them into it; but in a few
moments they returned, as the hound had done, howling and with scared
looks. Without heeding their enraged master, they ran off, with their
tails between their legs, towards the castle.

"I see how it is, Rufus," said Gabriel, patting his hound, who looked
wistfully and half-reproachfully at him. "Thou wert not to blame, poor
fellow! The best dog that ever was whelped cannot be expected to face
the devil."

Though long ere this it had become the general opinion that it
was useless to persevere further in the search, the king, with his
characteristic obstinacy, would not give it up. In due time the whole of
the trunk of the enormous tree was consumed, and its branches cast
into the fire. The roots were rent from the ground, and a wide and deep
trench digged around the spot. The course of the hole was traced for
some distance, but it was never of any size, and was suddenly lost by
the falling in of the earth.

At length, after five hours' close watching, Henry's patience was
exhausted, and he ordered the pit to be filled up, and every crevice and
fissure in the ground about to be carefully stopped.

"If we cannot unkennel the fox," he said, "we will at least earth him
up.

"For all your care, gossip Henry," muttered Will Sommers, as he rode
after his royal master to the castle, "the fox will work his way out."





Next: Comprising The First Two Epochs In The History Of Windsor Castle

Previous: Showing How Morgan Fenwolf Escaped From The Garter Tower



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