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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

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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

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

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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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

Comprising The Fourth Epoch In The History Of The Castle

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

How Herne Appeared To Henry In The Home Park

Of Henry's Attachment To Jane Seymour

Containing The History Of The Castle From The Reign Of Charles The Second To That Of George The Third






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 deceived."

"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 other."

"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
refuse me."

"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
me."

"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
further."

"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 friendship 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
disappeared.

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
brain.

"I heard it rebound from his horned helmet, and drop to the floor," said
Bouchier.

"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
disappeared.

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
demon.

"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
there?"

"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.





Next: How Wolsey Was Disgraced By The King

Previous: Of The Brief Advantage Gained By The Queen And The Cardinal



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