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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

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

How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Henry On The Terrace

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






The Signal Gun








Anne Boleyn's arraignment took place in the great hall of the White
Tower, on the 16th of May, before the Duke of Norfolk, who was created
lord high steward for the occasion, and twenty-six peers. The duke had
his seat under a canopy of state, and beneath him sat the Earl of Surrey
as deputy earl-marshal.

Notwithstanding an eloquent and impassioned defence, Anne was found
guilty; and having been required to lay aside her crown and the other
insignia of royalty, was condemned to be burned or beheaded at the
king's pleasure.

On the following day, she was summoned to the archiepiscopal palace at
Lambeth, whither she was privately conveyed; and her marriage with the
king was declared by Cranmer to be null and void, and to have always
been so. Death by the axe was the doom awarded to her by the king, and
the day appointed for the execution was Friday the 19th of May, at the
hour of noon.

Leaving the conduct of the fatal ceremony to the Duke of Suffolk, who
had orders to have a signal gun fired from the summit of the White
Tower, which was to be answered from various points, when all was over,
Henry repaired to Windsor Castle on the evening of Thursday. Before
this, he had formally offered his hand to Jane Seymour; and while the
unfortunate queen was languishing within the Tower, he was basking in
the smiles of his new mistress, and counting the hours till he could
make her his own. On the Tuesday before the execution, Jane Seymour
retired to her father's mansion, Wolff Hall, in Wiltshire, where
preparations were made for the marriage, which it was arranged should
take place there in private on the Saturday.

On arriving at the castle, Henry gave out that he should hunt on the
following morning in the great park, and retired to his closet. But he
did not long remain there, and putting on the garb of a yeoman of the
guard, descended by the narrow flight of steps (already mentioned as
occupying the same situation as the existing Hundred Steps) to the town,
and proceeded to the Garter, where he found several guests assembled,
discussing the affairs of the day, and Bryan Bowntance's strong ale
at the same time. Amongst the number were the Duke of Shoreditch,
Paddington, Hector Cutbeard, and Kit Coo. At the moment of the king's
entrance, they were talking of the approaching execution.

"Oh, the vanity of worldly greatness!" exclaimed Bryan, lifting up his
hands. "Only seven years ago, last Saint George's Day, this lovely queen
first entered the castle with the king, amid pomp and splendour and
power, and with a long life--apparently--of happiness before her. And
now she is condemned to die."

"But if she has played the king false she deserves her doom," replied
Shoreditch. "I would behead my own wife if she served me the same
trick--that is, if I could."

"You do right to say 'if you could,'" rejoined Paddington. "The
beheading of a wife is a royal privilege, and cannot be enjoyed by a
subject."

"Marry, I wonder how the king could prefer Mistress Jane Seymour, for my
part!" said Hector Cutbeard. "To my thinking she is not to be compared
with Queen Anne."

"She has a lovely blue eye, and a figure as straight as an arrow,"
returned Shoreditch. "How say you, master?" he added, turning to the
king; "what think you of Mistress Jane Seymour?"

"That she is passably fair, friend," replied Henry.

"But how as compared with the late--that is, the present queen, for,
poor soul! she has yet some hours to live," rejoined Shoreditch. "How,
as compared with her?"

"Why, I think Jane Seymour the more lovely, Undoubtedly," replied Henry.
"But I may be prejudiced."

"Not in the least, friend," said Cutbeard. "You but partake of your
royal master's humour. Jane Seymour is beautiful, no doubt, and so was
Anne Boleyn. Marry! we shall see many fair queens on the throne. The
royal Henry has good taste and good management. He sets his subjects
a rare example, and shows them how to get rid of troublesome wives.
We shall all divorce or hang our spouses when we get tired of them. I
almost wish I was married myself, that I might try the experiment-ha!
ha!"

"Well, here's the king's health!" cried Shoreditch, "and wishing him as
many wives as he may desire. What say you, friend?" he added, turning to
Henry. "Will you not drink that toast?"

"That will I," replied Henry; "but I fancy the king will be content for
the present with Mistress Jane Seymour."

"For the present, no doubt," said Hector Cutbeard; "but the time will
come--and ere long--when Jane will be as irksome to him as Anne is now."

"Ah, God's death, knave! darest thou say so?" cried Henry furiously.

"Why, I have said nothing treasonable, I hope?" rejoined Cutbeard,
turning pale; "I only wish the king to be happy in his own way. And as
he seems to delight in change of wives, I pray that he may have it to
his heart's content."

"A fair explanation," replied Henry, laughing.

"Let me give a health, my masters!" cried a tall archer, whom no one had
hitherto noticed, rising in one corner of the room. "It is--The headsman
of Calais, and may he do his work featly tomorrow!"

"Ha! ha! ha! a good toast!" cried Hector Cutbeard.

"Seize him who has proposed it!" cried the king, rising; "it is Herne
the Hunter!"

"I laugh at your threats here as elsewhere, Harry," cried Herne. "We
shall meet tomorrow."

And flinging the horn cup in the face of the man nearest him, he sprang
through an open window at the back, and disappeared.

Both Cutbeard and Shoreditch were much alarmed lest the freedom of their
expressions should be taken in umbrage by the king; but he calmed their
fears by bestowing a good humoured buffet on the cheek of the latter of
them, and quitting the hostel, returned to the castle by the same way he
had left it.

On the following morning, about ten o'clock, he rode into the great
park, attended by a numerous train. His demeanour was moody and stern,
and a general gloom pervaded the company. Keeping on the western side
of the park, the party crossed Cranbourne chase; but though they
encountered several fine herds of deer, the king gave no orders to
uncouple the hounds.

At last they arrived at that part of the park where Sandpit Gate is now
situated, and pursuing a path bordered by noble trees, a fine buck was
suddenly unharboured, upon which Henry gave orders to the huntsmen and
others to follow him, adding that he himself should proceed to Snow
Hill, where they would find him an hour hence.

All understood why the king wished to be alone, and for what purpose he
was about to repair to the eminence in question, and therefore, without
a word, the whole company started off in the chase.

Meanwhile, the king rode slowly through the woods, often pausing to
listen to the distant sounds of the hunters, and noticing the shadows
on the greensward as they grew shorter, and proclaimed the approach of
noon. At length he arrived at Snow Hill, and stationed himself beneath
the trees on its summit.

From this point a magnificent view of the castle, towering over its
pomp of woods, now covered with foliage of the most vivid green, was
commanded. The morning was bright and beautiful, the sky cloudless,
and a gentle rain had fallen over night, which had tempered the air and
freshened the leaves and the greensward. The birds were singing blithely
in the trees, and at the foot of the hill crouched a herd of deer. All
was genial and delightful, breathing of tenderness and peace, calculated
to soften the most obdurate heart.

The scene was not without its effect upon Henry; but a fierce tumult
raged within his breast. He fixed his eyes on the Round Tower, which
was distinctly visible, and from which he expected the signal, and then
tried to peer into the far horizon. But he could discern nothing. A
cloud passed over the sun, and cast a momentary gloom over the smiling
landscape. At the same time Henry's fancy was so powerfully excited,
that he fancied he could behold the terrible tragedy enacting at the
Tower.

"She is now issuing forth into the green in front of Saint Peter's
Chapel," said Henry to himself. "I can see her as distinctly as if I
were there. Ah, how beautiful she looks! and how she moves all hearts to
pity! Suffolk, Richmond, Cromwell, and the Lord Mayor are there to meet
her. She takes leave of her weeping attendants--she mounts the steps of
the scaffold firmly--she looks round, and addresses the spectators. How
silent they are, and how clearly and musically her voice sounds! She
blesses me.--I hear It!--I feel it here! Now she disrobes herself, and
prepares for the fatal axe. It is wielded by the skilful executioner
of Calais, and he is now feeling its edge. Now she takes leave of her
dames, and bestows a parting gift on each. Again she kneels and
prays. She rises. The fatal moment is at hand. Even now she retains her
courage--she approaches the block, and places her head upon it. The axe
is raised--ha!"

The exclamation was occasioned by a flash of fire from the battlements
of the Round Tower, followed by a volume of smoke, and in another second
the deep boom of a gun was heard.

At the very moment that the flash was seen, a wild figure, mounted on a
coal-black steed, galloped from out the wood, and dashed towards Henry,
whose horse reared and plunged as he passed.

"There spoke the knell of Anne Boleyn!" cried Herne, regarding Henry
sternly, and pointing to the Round Tower. "The bloody deed is done, and
thou art free to wed once more. Away to Wolff Hall, and bring thy new
consort to Windsor Castle!"






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