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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 Train Was Fired And What Followed The Explosion








About ten o'clock in the night under consideration, Surrey and Richmond,
accompanied by the Duke of Shoreditch, and half a dozen other archers,
set out from the castle, and took their way along the great park, in the
direction of the lake.

They had not ridden far, when they were overtaken by two horsemen who,
as far as they could be discerned in that doubtful light, appeared
stalwart personages, and well mounted, though plainly attired. The
new-comers very unceremoniously joined them.

"There are ill reports of the park, my masters," said the foremost of
these persons to Surrey, "and we would willingly ride with you across
it."

"But our way may not be yours, friend," replied Surrey, who did not
altogether relish this proposal. "We are not going farther than the
lake."

"Our road lies in that direction," replied the other, "and, if you
please, we will bear you company as far as we go. Come, tell me
frankly," he added, after a pause, "are you not in search of Herne the
Hunter?"

"Why do you ask, friend?" rejoined the earl somewhat angrily.

"Because if so," replied the other, "I shall be right glad to join you,
and so will my friend, Tony Cryspyn, who is close behind me. I have an
old grudge to settle with this Herne, who has more than once attacked
me, and I shall be glad to pay it."

"If you will take my advice, Hugh Dacre, you will ride on, and leave
the achievement of the adventure to these young galliards," interposed
Cryspyn.

"Nay, by the mass! that shall never be," rejoined Dacre, "if they have
no objection to our joining them. If they have, they have only to say
so, and we will go on."

"I will be plain with you, my masters," said Surrey. "We are determined
this night, as you have rightly conjectured, to seek out Herne the
Hunter; and we hope to obtain such clue to him as will ensure his
capture. If, therefore, you are anxious to join us, we shall be glad of
your aid. But you must be content to follow, and not lead--and to act
as you are directed--or you will only be in the way, and we would rather
dispense with your company."

"We are content with the terms--are we not, Tony?" said Dacre.

His companion answered somewhat sullenly in the affirmative.

"And now that the matter is arranged, may I ask when you propose to go?"
he continued.

"We are on our way to a hut on the lake, where we expect a companion to
join us," replied Surrey.

"What! Tristram Lyndwood's cottage?" demanded Dacre.

"Ay," replied the earl, "and we hope to recover his fair granddaughter
from the power of the demon."

"Ha! say you so?" cried Dacre; "that were a feat, indeed!"

The two strangers then rode apart for a few moments, and conversed
together in a low tone, during which Richmond expressed his doubts of
them to Surrey, adding that he was determined to get rid of them.

The new-comers, however, were not easily shaken off. As soon as they
perceived the duke's design, they stuck more pertinaciously to him and
the earl than before, and made it evident they would not be dismissed.

By this time they had passed Spring Hill, and were within a mile of
the valley in which lay the marsh, when a cry for help was heard in
the thicket on the left, and the troop immediately halted. The cry was
repeated, and Surrey, bidding the others follow him, dashed off in the
direction of the sound.

Presently, they perceived two figures beneath the trees, whom they
found, on a nearer approach, were Sir Thomas Wyat, with Mabel in a state
of insensibility in his arms.

Dismounting by the side of his friend, Surrey hastily demanded how he
came there, and what had happened?

"It is too long a story to relate now," said Wyat; "but the sum of it
is, that I have escaped, by the aid of this damsel, from the clutches
of the demon. Our escape was effected on horseback, and we had to plunge
into the lake. The immersion deprived my fair preserver of sensibility,
so that as soon as I landed, and gained a covert where I fancied
myself secure, I dismounted, and tried to restore her. While I was thus
occupied, the steed I had brought with me broke his bridle, and darted
off into the woods. After a while, Mabel opened her eyes, but she was so
weak that she could not move, and I was fain to make her a couch in the
fern, in the hope that she would speedily revive. But the fright and
suffering had been too much for her, and a succession of fainting-fits
followed, during which I thought she would expire. This is all. Now, let
us prepare a litter for her, and convey her where proper assistance can
be rendered."

Meanwhile, the others had come up, and Hugh Dacre, flinging himself from
his horse, and pushing Surrey somewhat rudely aside, advanced towards
Mabel, and, taking her hand, said, in a voice of some emotion, "Alas!
poor girl! I did not expect to meet thee again in this state."

"You knew her, then?" said Surrey.

Dacre muttered an affirmative.

"Who is this man?" asked Wyat of the earl.

"I know him not," answered Surrey. "He joined us on the road hither."

"I am well known to Sir Thomas Wyat," replied Dacre, in a significant
tone, "as he will avouch when I recall certain matters to his mind. But
do not let us lose time here. This damsel claims our first attention.
She must be conveyed to a place of safety, and where she can be well
tended. We can then return to search for Herne."

Upon this, a litter of branches were speedily made, and Mabel being laid
upon it, the simple conveyance was sustained by four of the archers.
The little cavalcade then quitted the thicket, and began to retrace its
course towards the castle. Wyat had been accommodated with a horse by
one of the archers, and rode in a melancholy manner by the side of the
litter.

They had got back nearly as far as the brow of Spring Hill, when a
horseman, in a wild garb, and mounted on a coal black steed, lashed
suddenly and at a furious pace, out of the trees on the right. He
made towards the litter, over-turning Sir Thomas Wyat, and before any
opposition could be offered him, seized the inanimate form of Mabel, and
placing her before him on his steed, dashed off as swiftly as he came,
and with a burst of loud, exulting laughter.

"It is Herne! it is Herne!" burst from every lip. And they all started
in pursuit, urging the horses to their utmost speed. Sir Thomas Wyat had
instantly remounted his steed, and he came up with the others.

Herne's triumphant and demoniacal laugh was heard as he scoured with
the swiftness of the wind down the long glade. But the fiercest
determination animated his pursuers, who, being all admirably mounted,
managed to keep him fully in view.

Away! away! he speeded in the direction of the lake; and after him they
thundered, straining every sinew in the desperate chase. It was a wild
and extraordinary sight, and partook of the fantastical character of a
dream.

At length Herne reached the acclivity, at the foot of which lay the
waters of the lake glimmering in the starlight; and by the time he had
descended to its foot, his pursuers had gained its brow.

The exertions made by Sir Thomas Wyat had brought him a little in
advance of the others. Furiously goading his horse, he dashed down the
hillside at a terrific pace.

All at once, as he kept his eye on the flying figure of the demon, he
was startled by a sudden burst of flame in the valley. A wide circle
of light was rapidly described, a rumbling sound was heard like that
preceding an earth-quake, and a tremendous explosion followed, hurling
trees and fragments of rock into the air.

Astounded at the extraordinary occurrence, and not knowing what might
ensue, the pursuers reined in their steeds. But the terror of the scene
was not yet over. The whole of the brushwood had caught fire, and blazed
up with the fury and swiftness of lighted flax. The flames caught the
parched branches of the trees, and in a few seconds the whole grove was
on fire.

The sight was awfully grand, for the wind, which was blowing strongly,
swept the flames forward, so that they devoured all before them.

When the first flash was seen the demon had checked his steed and backed
him, so that he had escaped without injury, and he stood at the edge of
the flaming circle watching the progress of the devastating element; but
at last, finding that his pursuers had taken heart and were approaching
him, he bestirred himself, and rode round the blazing zone.

Having by this time recovered from their surprise, Wyat and Surrey
dashed after him, and got so near him that they made sure of his
capture. But at the very moment they expected to reach him, he turned
his horse's head, and forced him to leap over the blazing boundary.

In vain the pursuers attempted to follow. Their horses refused to
encounter the flames; while Wyat's steed, urged on by its frantic
master, reared bolt upright, and dislodged him.

But the demon held on his way, apparently unscathed in the midst of the
flames, casting a look of grim defiance at his pursuers. As he passed
a tree, from which volumes of fire were bursting, the most appalling
shrieks reached his ear, and he beheld Morgan Fenwolf emerging from a
hole in the trunk. But without bestowing more than a glance upon his
unfortunate follower, he dashed forward, and becoming involved in the
wreaths of flame and smoke, was lost to sight.

Attracted by Fenwolf's cries, the beholders perceived him crawl out of
the hole, and clamber into the upper part of the tree, where he roared
to them most piteously for aid. But even if they had been disposed
to render it, it was impossible to do so now; and after terrible and
protracted suffering, the poor wretch, half stifled with smoke, and
unable longer to maintain his hold of the branch to which he crept, fell
into the flames beneath, and perished.

Attributing its outbreak to supernatural agency, the party gazed on in
wonder at the fire, and rode round it as closely as their steeds would
allow them. But though they tarried till the flames had abated, and
little was left of the noble grove but a collection of charred and
smoking stumps, nothing was seen of the fiend or of the hapless girl
he had carried off. It served to confirm the notion of the supernatural
origin of the fire, in that it was confined within the mystic circle,
and did not extend farther into the woods.

At the time that the flames first burst forth, and revealed the
countenances of the lookers--on, it was discovered that the self-styled
Dacre and Cryspyn were no other than the king and the Duke of Suffolk.

"If this mysterious being is mortal, he must have perished now,"
observed Henry; "and if he is not, it is useless to seek for him
further."

Day had begun to break as the party quitted the scene of devastation.
The king and Suffolk, with the archers, returned to the castle; but
Wyat, Surrey, and Richmond rode towards the lake, and proceeded along
its banks in the direction of the forester's hut.

Their progress was suddenly arrested by the sound of lamentation, and
they perceived, in a little bay overhung by trees, which screened it
from the path, an old man kneeling beside the body of a female, which
he had partly dragged out of the lake. It was Tristram Lyndwood, and the
body was that of Mabel. Her tresses were dishevelled, and dripping with
wet, as were her garments; and her features white as marble. The old man
was weeping bitterly.

With Wyat, to dismount and grasp the cold hand of the hapless maiden was
the work of a moment.

"She is dead!" he cried, in a despairing voice, removing the dank
tresses from her brow, and imprinting a reverent kiss upon it.
"Dead!--lost to me for ever!"

"I found her entangled among those water-weeds," said Tristram, in tones
broken by emotion, "and had just dragged her to shore when you came up.
As you hope to prosper, now and hereafter, give her a decent burial. For
me all is over."

And, with a lamentable cry, he plunged into the lake, struck out to a
short distance, and then sank to rise no more.





Next: Of Henry's Attachment To Jane Seymour

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



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