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

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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

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In What Manner Herne Declared His Passion For Mabel

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How Tristram Lyndwood Was Interrogated By The King

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How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Henry On The Terrace

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Comprising The Fourth Epoch In The History Of The Castle

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How Sir Thomas Wyat Hunted With Herne






How Sir Thomas Wyat Was Visited By Herne In The Cell








Made aware by the clangour of the lock, and Fenwolf's exulting laughter,
of the snare in which he had been caught, Sir Thomas Wyat instantly
sprang from his hiding-place, and rushed to the door; but being framed
of the stoutest oak, and strengthened with plates of iron, it defied all
his efforts, nerved as they were by rage and despair, to burst it
open. Mabel's shrieks, as she was dragged away, reached his ears, and
increased his anguish; and he called out loudly to her companions to
return, but his vociferations were only treated with derision.

Finding it useless to struggle further, Wyat threw himself upon the
bench, and endeavoured to discover some means of deliverance from his
present hazardous position. He glanced round the cell to see whether
there was any other outlet than the doorway, but he could discern none,
except a narrow grated loophole opening upon the passage, and contrived,
doubtless, for the admission of air to the chamber. No dungeon could be
more secure.

Raising the lamp, he examined every crevice, but all seemed solid stone.
The recess in which he had taken shelter proved to be a mere hollow in
the wall. In one corner lay a small straw pallet, which, no doubt, had
formed the couch of Mabel; and this, together with the stone bench and
rude table of the same material, constituted the sole furniture of the
place.

Having taken this careful survey of the cell, Wyat again sat down upon
the bench with the conviction that escape was out of the question; and
he therefore endeavoured to prepare himself for the worst, for it was
more than probable he would be allowed to perish of starvation. To a
fiery nature like his, the dreadful uncertainty in which he was placed
was more difficult of endurance than bodily torture. And he was destined
to endure it long. Many hours flew by, during which nothing occurred to
relieve the terrible monotony of his situation. At length, in spite of
his anxiety, slumber stole upon him unawares; but it was filled with
frightful visions.

How long he slept he knew not, but when he awoke, he found that the
cell must have been visited in the interval, for there was a manchet of
bread, part of a cold neck of venison, and a flask of wine on the table.
It was evident, therefore, that his captors did not mean to starve him,
and yielding to the promptings of appetite, he attacked the provisions,
determined to keep strict watch when his gaoler should next visit him.

The repast finished, he again examined the cell, but with no better
success than before; and he felt almost certain, from the position in
which the bench was placed, that the visitor had not found entrance
through the door.

After another long and dreary interval, finding that sleep was stealing
upon him fast, he placed the bench near the door, and leaned his back
against the latter, certain that in this position he should be awakened
if any one attempted to gain admittance in that way. His slumber was
again disturbed by fearful dreams; and he was at length aroused by a
touch upon the shoulder, while a deep voice shouted his own name in her
ears.

Starting to his feet, and scarcely able to separate the reality from
the hideous phantasms that had troubled him, he found that the door was
still fastened, and the bench unremoved, while before him stood Herne
the Hunter.

"Welcome again to my cave, Sir Thomas Wyat!" cried the demon, with a
mocking laugh. "I told you, on the night of the attempt upon the king,
that though you escaped him, you would not escape me. And so it has come
to pass. You are now wholly in my power, body and soul--ha! ha!"

"I defy you, false fiend," replied Wyat. "I was mad enough to proffer
you my soul on certain conditions; but they have never been fulfilled."

"They may yet be so," rejoined Herne.

"No," replied Wyat, "I have purged my heart from the fierce and
unhallowed passion that swayed it. I desire no assistance from you."

"If you have changed your mind, that is nought to me," rejoined the demon
derisively--"I shall hold you to your compact."

"Again I say I renounce you, infernal spirit!" cried Wyat; "you may
destroy my body--but you can work no mischief to my soul."

"You alarm yourself without reason, good Sir Thomas," replied Herne, in
a slightly sneering tone. "I am not the malignant being you suppose
me; neither am I bent upon fighting the battles of the enemy of mankind
against Heaven. I may be leagued with the powers of darkness, but I have
no wish to aid them; and I therefore leave you to take care of your soul
in your own way. What I desire from you is your service while living.
Now listen to the conditions I have to propose. You must bind yourself
by a terrible oath, the slightest infraction of which shall involve the
perdition of the soul you are so solicitous to preserve, not to disclose
aught you may see, or that may be imparted to you here. You must also
swear implicit obedience to me in all things--to execute any secret
commissions, of whatever nature, I may give you--to bring associates
to my band--and to join me in any enterprise I may propose. This oath
taken, you are free. Refuse it, and I leave you to perish."

"I do refuse it," replied Wyat boldly. "I would die a thousand deaths
rather than so bind myself. Neither do I fear being left to perish here.
You shall not quit this cell without me."

"You are a stout soldier, Sir Thomas Wyat," rejoined the demon, with a
scornful laugh; "but you are scarcely a match for Herne the Hunter, as
you will find, if you are rash enough to make the experiment. Beware!"
he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, observing the knight lay his hand
upon his sword, "I am invulnerable, and you will, therefore, vainly
strike at me. Do not compel me to use the dread means, which I could
instantly employ, to subject you to my will. I mean you well, and would
rather serve than injure you. But I will not let you go, unless you
league yourself with me. Swear, therefore, obedience to me, and depart
hence to your friends, Surrey and Richmond, and tell them you have
failed to find me."

"You know, then, of our meeting?" exclaimed Wyat.

"Perfectly well," laughed Herne. "It is now eventide, and at midnight
the meeting will take place in the forester's hut. If you attend it not,
I will. They will be my prisoners as well as you. To preserve yourself
and save them, you must join me."

"Before I return an answer," said Wyat, "I must know what has become of
Mabel Lyndwood."

"Mabel Lyndwood is nought to you, Sir Thomas," rejoined Herne coldly.

"She is so much to me that I will run a risk for her which I would not
run for myself," replied Wyat. "If I promise obedience to you, will you
liberate her? will you let her depart with me?"

"No," said Herne peremptorily. "Banish all thoughts of her from your
breast. You will never behold her again. I will give you time for
reflection on my proposal. An hour before midnight I shall return, and
if I find you in the same mind, I abandon you to your fate."

And with these words he stepped back towards the lower end of the cell.
Wyat instantly sprang after him, but before he could reach him a flash
of fire caused him to recoil, and to his horror and amazement, he beheld
the rock open, and yield a passage to the retreating figure.

When the sulphureous smoke, with which the little cell was filled, had
in some degree cleared off, Wyat examined the sides of the rock, but
could not find the slightest trace of a secret outlet, and therefore
concluded that the disappearance of the demon had been effected by
magic.





Next: How Mabel Escaped From The Cave With Sir Thomas Wyat

Previous: In What Manner Herne Declared His Passion For Mabel



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