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

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

How Sir Thomas Wyat Hunted With Herne






How The King And The Duke Of Suffolk Were Assailed By Herne's Band








Henry and Suffolk, on leaving the forester's hut, took their way for
a sort space along the side of the lake, and then turned into a path
leading through the trees up the eminence on the left. The king was in
a joyous mood, and made no attempt to conceal the passion with which the
fair damsel had inspired him.

"I' faith!" he cried, "the cardinal has a quick eye for a pretty wench.
I have heard that he loves one in secret, and I am therefore the more
beholden to him for discovering Mabel to me."

"You forget, my liege, that it is his object to withdraw your regards
from the Lady Anne Boleyn," remarked Suffolk.

"I care not what his motive may be, as long as the result is so
satisfactory," returned Henry. "Confess now, Suffolk, you never beheld
a figure so perfect, a complexion so blooming, or eyes so bright. As to
her lips, by my soul, I never tasted such."

"And your majesty is not inexperienced in such matters," laughed
Suffolk. "For my own part, I was as much struck by her grace as by her
beauty, and can scarcely persuade myself she can be nothing more than a
mere forester's grand-daughter."

"Wolsey told me there was a mystery about her birth," rejoined Henry;
"but, pest on it; her beauty drove all recollection of the matter out of
my head. I will go back, and question her now."

"Your majesty forgets that your absence from the castle will occasion
surprise, if not alarm," said Suffolk. "The mystery will keep till
to-morrow."

"Tut, tut!--I will return," said the king perversely. And Suffolk,
knowing his wilfulness, and that all remonstrance would prove fruitless,
retraced his steps with him. They had not proceeded far when they
perceived a female figure at the bottom of the ascent, just where the
path turned off on the margin of the lake.

"As I live, there she is!" exclaimed the king joyfully. "She has divined
my wishes, and is come herself to tell me her history."

And he sprang forward, while Mabel advanced rapidly towards him.

They met half-way, and Henry would have caught her in his arms, but
she avoided him, exclaiming, in a tone of confusion and alarm, "Thank
Heaven, I have found you, sire!"

"Thank Heaven, too, sweetheart!" rejoined Henry. "I would not hide when
you are the seeker. So you know me--ha?

"I knew you at first," replied Mabel confusedly. "I saw you at the great
hunting party; and, once beheld, your majesty is not easily forgotten."

"Ha! by Saint George! you turn a compliment as soothly as the most
practised dame at court," cried Henry, catching her hand.

"Beseech your majesty, release me!" returned Mabel, struggling to get
free. "I did not follow you on the light errand you suppose, but to warn
you of danger. Before you quitted my grandsire's cottage I told you
this part of the forest was haunted by plunderers and evil beings, and
apprehensive lest some mischance might befall you, I opened the window
softly to look after you--"

"And you overheard me tell the Duke of Suffolk how much smitten I was
with your beauty, ha?" interrupted the king, squeezing her hand--"and
how resolved I was to make you mine--ha! sweetheart?"

"The words I heard were of very different import, my liege," rejoined
Mabel. "You were menaced by miscreants, who purposed to waylay you
before you could reach your steed."

"Let them come," replied Henry carelessly; "they shall pay for their
villainy. How many were there?"

"Two, sire," answered Mabel; "but one of them was Herne, the weird
hunter of the forest. He said he would summon his band to make you
captive. What can your strong arm, even aided by that of the Duke of
Suffolk, avail against numbers?"

"Captive! ha!" exclaimed the king. "Said the knave so?"

"He did, sire," replied Mabel; "and I knew it was Herne by his antlered
helm."

"There is reason in what the damsel says, my liege," interposed Suffolk.
"If possible, you had better avoid an encounter with the villains."

"My hands itch to give them a lesson," rejoined Henry. "But I will be
ruled by you. God's death! I will return to-morrow, and hunt them down
like so many wolves."

"Where are your horses, sire?" asked Mabel.

"Tied to a tree at the foot of the hill," replied Henry. "But I have
attendants midway between this spot and Snow Hill."

"This way, then!" said Mabel, breaking from him, and darting into a
narrow path among the trees.

Henry ran after her, but was not agile enough to overtake her. At length
she stopped.

"If your majesty will pursue this path," she cried, "you will come to an
open space amid the trees, when, if you will direct your course towards
a large beech-tree on the opposite side, you will find another narrow
path, which will take you where you desire to go."

"But I cannot go alone," cried Henry.

Mabel, however, slipped past him, and was out of sight in an instant.

Henry looked as if he meant to follow her, but Suffolk ventured to
arrest him.

"Do not tarry here longer, my gracious liege," said the duke. "Danger is
to be apprehended, and the sooner you rejoin your attendants the better.
Return with them, if you please, but do not expose yourself further
now."

Henry yielded, though reluctantly, and they walked on in silence. Ere
long they arrived at the open space described by Mabel, and immediately
perceived the large beech-tree, behind which they found the path. By
this time the moon had arisen, and as they emerged upon the marsh they
easily discovered a track, though not broader than a sheep-walk, leading
along its edge. As they hurried across it, Suffolk occasionally cast a
furtive glance over his shoulder, but he saw nothing to alarm him. The
whole tract of marshy land on the left was hidden from view by a silvery
mist.

In a few minutes the king and his companion gained firmer ground, and
ascending the gentle elevation on the other side of the marsh, made
their way to a little knoll crowned by a huge oak, which commanded a
fine view of the lake winding through the valley beyond. Henry, who was
a few yards in advance of his companion, paused at a short distance from
the free, and being somewhat over-heated, took off his cap to wipe his
brow, laughingly observing--"In good truth, Suffolk, we must henceforth
be rated as miserable faineants, to be scared from our path by a silly
wench's tale of deerstealers and wild huntsmen. I am sorry I yielded to
her entreaties. If Herne be still extant, he must be more than a century
and a half old, for unless the legend is false, he flourished in the
time of my predecessor, Richard the Second. I would I could see him!"

"Behold him, then!" cried a harsh voice from behind.

Turning at the sound, Henry perceived a tall dark figure of hideous
physiognomy and strange attire, helmed with a huge pair of antlers,
standing between him and the oak-tree. So sudden was the appearance of
the figure, that in spite of himself the king slightly started.

"What art thou--ha?" he demanded.

"What I have said," replied the demon. "I am Herne the Hunter. Welcome
to my domain, Harry of England. You are lord of the castle, but I am
lord of the forest. Ha! ha!"

"I am lord both of the forest and the castle--yea, of all this broad
land, false fiend!" cried the king, "and none shall dispute it with
me. In the name of the most holy faith, of which I am the defender, I
command thee to avoid my path. Get thee backwards, Satan!"

The demon laughed derisively.

"Harry of England, advance towards me, and you advance upon your peril,"
he rejoined.

"Avaunt, I say!" cried the king. "In the name of the blessed Trinity,
and of all holy angels and saints, I strike!"

And he whirled the staff round his head. But ere the weapon could
descend, a flash of dazzling fire encircled the demon, amidst which he
vanished.

"Heaven protect us!" exclaimed Henry, appalled.

At this juncture the sound of a horn was heard, and a number of
wild figures in fantastic garbs--some mounted on swarthy steeds, and
accompanied by hounds, others on foot-issued from the adjoining covert,
and hurried towards the spot occupied by the king.

"Aha!" exclaimed Henry--"more of the same sort. Hell, it would seem, has
let loose her hosts; but I have no fear of them. Stand by me, Suffolk."

"To the death, sire," replied the duke, drawing his sword. By this
time one of the foremost of the impish crew had reached the king, and
commanded him to yield himself prisoner.

"Dost know whom thou askest to yield, dog?" cried Henry furiously.

"Yea," replied the other, "thou art the king!"

"Then down on thy knees, traitor!" roared Henry; "down all of ye, and
sue for mercy."

"For mercy--ha! ha!" rejoined the other; "it is thy turn to sue for
mercy, tyrant! We acknowledge no other ruler than Herne the Hunter."

"Then seek him in hell!" cried Henry, dealing the speaker a tremendous
blow on the head with his staff, which brought him senseless to the
ground.

The others immediately closed round him, and endeavoured to seize the
king.

"Ha! dogs--ha! traitors!" vociferated Henry, plying his staff with great
activity, and bringing down an assailant at each stroke; "do you dare to
lay hands upon our sacred person? Back! back!"

The determined resistance offered by the king, supported as he was by
Suffolk, paralysed his assailants, who seemed more bent upon securing
his person than doing him injury. But Suffolk's attention was presently
diverted by the attack of a fierce black hound, set upon him by a stout
fellow in a bearded mask. After a hard struggle, and not before he had
been severely bitten in the arm, the duke contrived to despatch his
assailant.

"This to avenge poor Bawsey!" cried the man who had set on the hound,
stabbing at Suffolk with his knife.

But the duke parried the blow, and, disarming his antagonist, forced
him to the ground, and tearing off his mask, disclosed the features of
Morgan Fenwolf.

Meanwhile, Henry had been placed in considerable jeopardy. Like Suffolk,
he had slaughtered a hound, and, in aiming a blow at the villain who set
it on, his foot slipped, and he lay at his mercy. The wretch raised his
knife, and was in the act of striking when a sword was passed through
his body. The blow was decisive; the king instantly arose, and the
rest of his assailants-horse as well as foot--disheartened by what had
occurred, beat a hasty retreat. Harry turned to look for his deliverer,
and uttered an exclamation of astonishment and anger.

"Ah! God's death!" he cried, "can I believe my eyes? Is it you, Sir
Thomas Wyat?"

"Ay," replied the other.

"What do you here? Ha!" demanded the king. "You should be in Paris."

"I have tarried for revenge," replied Wyat.

"Revenge!--ha!" cried Henry. "On whom?"

"On you," replied Wyat.

"What!" vociferated Henry, foaming with rage. "Is it you, traitor, who
have devised this damnable plot?--is it you who would make your king a
captive?--you who slay him? Have you leagued yourself with fiends?"

But Wyat made no answer; and though he lowered the point of his sword,
he regarded the king sternly.

A female figure now rushed forward, and bending before the king, cried
in an imploring voice--"Spare him, sire--spare him! He is no party to
the attack. I was near him in yon wood, and he stirred not forth till he
saw your life in danger. He then delivered you from the assassin."

"I did so because I reserved him for my own hand," said Wyat.

"You hear him confess his treason," cried Henry; "down on your knees,
villain, or I will strike you to my feet."

"He has just saved your life, my liege," cried the supplicant. "Oh,
spare him!"

"What make you here, Mabel?" cried Henry angrily. "I followed your
majesty unseen," she replied, in some confusion, "and reached yon wood
just as the attack commenced. I did not dare to advance farther."

"You should have gone home--gone home," rejoined the king. "Wyat," he
continued, in a tone of stern reproach, "you were once a loyal subject.
What means this change?"

"It means that you have robbed me of a mistress," replied Wyat; "and for
this cause I have damned myself."

"Pardon him!-oh, pardon him, sire," cried Mabel.

"I cannot understand you, Wyat," said Henry, after a pause; "but I have
myself suffered from the pangs of jealousy. You have saved my life, and
I will spare yours."

"Sire!" cried Wyat.

"Suffolk," exclaimed Henry, looking towards the duke, who was holding
Fenwolf by the throat, "shall I be justified in letting him go free?

"Strike!--strike!" cried a deep voice in Wyat's ear; "your rival is now
in your power."

"Far be it from me to thwart your majesty's generous impulses," rejoined
Suffolk. "It is true that Wyat has saved your life; and if he had been
disposed to take it, you have this moment exposed yourself to him."

"Sir Thomas Wyat," said the king, turning to him, "you have my full and
free pardon. Quit this forest instantly, and make your way to Paris. If
you are found within it to-morrow you will be lodged in the Tower."

Wyat knelt down, and would have pressed Henry's hand to his lips, but
the latter pushed him aside.

"No--no! Not now--on your return."

Thus rebuffed, Wyat strode away, and as he passed the tree he heard a
voice exclaim, "You have escaped him, but think not to escape me!"

"And now, sweetheart," said Henry, turning to Mabel, "since you are so
far on the way, you shall go with me to the castle."

"On no account, my liege," she returned; "my grandsire will wonder what
has become of me. He must already be in great alarm."

"But I will send an attendant to quiet his fears," urged Henry.

"That would only serve to increase them," she rejoined. "Nay, I must
go."

And breaking from him, she darted swiftly down the hill, and glanced
across the marsh like a moonbeam.

"Plague on it!" cried Henry, "I have again forgotten to question her
about her birth."

"Shall I despatch this knave, my liege?" cried Suffolk, pointing with
his sword to Fenwolf.

"By no means," said the king; "something may be learnt from him. Hark
thee, thou felon hound; if thou indeed servest the fiend, thou seest he
deserts thee, as he does all who put faith in him."

"I see it," replied Fenwolf, who, finding resistance vain, had folded
his hands doggedly upon his breast.

"Then confess thy evil practices," said the king.

"Give me my life, and I will," replied Fenwolf. And as he uttered the
words, he caught sight of the dark figure of Herne, stationed at the
side of the oak, with its right arm raised menacingly.

"What seest thou?" cried Henry, remarking his fixed gaze towards the
tree, and glancing in that direction.

Fenwolf made no reply.

Henry went up to the tree, and walked round it, but he could see
nothing.

"I will scour the forest to-morrow," he muttered, "and hang every knave
I find within it who cannot give a good account of himself."

"Ho! ho! ho!" laughed a voice, which seemed to proceed from the branches
of the tree. Henry looked up, but no one was visible.

"God's death--derided!" he roared. "Man or devil, thou shalt feel my
wrath."

"Ho! ho! ho!" again laughed the voice.

Stamping with rage, Henry swore a great oath, and smote the trunk of the
tree with his sword.

"Your majesty will search in vain," said Suffolk; "it is clearly the
fiend with whom you have to deal, and the aid of holy priests must be
obtained to drive him from the forest."

"Ho! ho! ho!" again laughed the voice.

A party of horsemen now appeared in view. They proved to be the royal
attendants, who had ridden forward in search of the king, and were
instantly hailed by Henry and Suffolk. They were headed by Captain
Bouchier, who at a sign from the king instantly dismounted.

"Give me your horse, Bouchier," said Henry, "and do you and half-a-dozen
of your men remain on guard at this tree till I send a troop of
arquebusiers to relieve you. When they arrive, station them near it, and
let them remain here till I return in the morning. If any one appears,
make him a prisoner."

"Your majesty's orders shall be faithfully obeyed," replied Bouchier.

Bound hand and foot, Fenwolf was thrown upon the back of a horse, and
guarded by two halberdiers, who were prepared to strike him dead on
the slightest movement. In this way he was conveyed to the castle, and
placed in the guard-chamber of the lower gate till further orders should
be issued respecting him.





Next: Showing How Morgan Fenwolf Escaped From The Garter Tower

Previous: How Wyat Beheld Mabel Lyndwood



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