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What Passed Between Anne Boleyn And The Duke Of Suffolk And How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Her In The Oratory








For some hours Anne Boleyn's attendants were alarmed for her reason,
and there seemed good grounds for the apprehension, so wildly and
incoherently did she talk, and so violently comport herself--she who
was usually so gentle now weeping as if her soul would pass away in
tears--now breaking into fearful hysterical laughter. It was a piteous
sight, and deeply moved all who witnessed it. But towards evening
she became calmer, and desired to be left by herself. Her wish
being complied with, she fell upon her knees, and besought Heaven's
forgiveness for her manifold offences.

"May my earthly sufferings," she cried, "avail me here--after, and
may my blood wash out my guilt. I feel the enormity of my offence,
and acknowledge the justice of my punishment. Pardon me, O injured
Catherine--pardon me, I implore thee! Thou seest in me the most
abject pitiable woman in the whole realm! Overthrown, neglected,
despised--about to die a shameful death--what worse can befall me? Thine
anguish was great, but it was never sharpened by remorse like mine. Oh!
that I could live my life over again. I would resist all the dazzling
temptations I have yielded to--above all, I would not injure thee. Oh!
that I had resisted Henry's love--his false vows--his fatal lures!
But it is useless to repine. I have acted wrongfully and must pay the
penalty of my crime. May my tears, my penitence, my blood operate as an
atonement, and procure me pardon from the merciful Judge before whom I
shall shortly appear."

In such prayers and lamentations she passed more than an hour, when her
attendants entered to inform her that the Duke of Suffolk and the
Lords Audley and Cromwell were without, and desired to see her. She
immediately went forth to them.

"We are come to acquaint you, madam," said Suffolk, "that you will be
removed at an early hour tomorrow morning, to the Tower, there to abide
during the king's pleasure."

"If the king will have it so, my lords," she replied, "I must needs go;
but I protest my innocence, and will protest it to the last. I have ever
been a faithful and loyal consort to his highness, and though I may not
have demeaned myself to him so humbly and gratefully as I ought to have
done--seeing how much I owe him--yet I have lacked nothing in affection
and duty. I have had jealous fancies and suspicions of him, especially
of late, and have troubled him with them; but I pray his forgiveness for
my folly, which proceeded from too much regard, and if I am acquitted of
my present charge, I will offend him so no more."

"We will report what you say to the king," rejoined Suffolk gravely;
"but we are bound to add that his highness does not act on mere
suspicion, the proofs of your guilt being strong against you."

"There can be no such proofs," cried Anne quickly. "Who are my accusers?
and what do they state?"

"You are charged with conspiring against the king's life, and
dishonouring his bed," replied Suffolk sternly. "Your accusers will
appear in due season."

"They are base creatures suborned for the purpose!" cried Anne. "No
loyal person would so forswear himself."

"Time will show you who they are, madam," said Suffolk.

"But having now answered all your questions, I pray you permit us to
retire."

"Shall I not see the king before I am taken to the Tower?" said Anne,
upon whom the terror of her situation rushed with new force.

"His highness has quitted the castle," replied Suffolk, "and there is no
likelihood of his return to-night."

"You tell me so to deceive me," cried Anne. "Let me see him--let me
throw myself at his feet! I can convince him of my innocence and move
him to compassion! Let me see him, I implore of you--I charge you!"

"I swear to you, madam, that the king has departed for Hampton Court,"
replied Suffolk.

"Then take me to him there, under strong guard, or as secretly as you
please," she cried passionately; "I will return with you instantly, if I
am unsuccessful."

"Were I to comply with your request it would be fruitless, madam,"
replied Suffolk; "the king would not see you."

"Oh, Suffolk!" cried Anne, prostrating herself before him, "I have shown
you many kindnesses in my season of power, and have always stood your
friend with the king. Do me this favour now; I will never forget it.
Introduce me to the king. I am sure I can move his heart, if I can only
see him."

"It would cost me my head, madam," said the duke in an inexorable tone.
"Rise, I pray you."

"You are more cruel than the king," said Anne, obeying. "And now, my
lords," she continued with more composure and dignity, "since you refuse
my last request, and plainly prove to me the sort of justice I may
expect, I will not detain you longer. I shall be ready to attend you to
the Tower tomorrow."

"The barge will proceed an hour before dawn," said Suffolk.

"Must I, then, go by water?" asked Anne.

"Such are the king's commands," replied Suffolk.

"It is no matter," she rejoined; "I shall be ready when you will, for I
shall not retire to rest during the night."

Upon this Suffolk and the others slowly withdrew, and Anne again retired
to the oratory.

She remained alone, brooding, in a state of indescribable anguish, upon
the probable fate awaiting her, when all at once, raising her eyes, she
beheld a tall dark figure near the arras.

Even in the gloom she recognised Herne the Hunter, and with difficulty
repressed a scream.

"Be silent!" cried Herne, with an emphatic gesture. "I am come to
deliver you."

Anne could not repress a joyful cry.

"Not so loud," rejoined Herne, "or you will alarm your attendants. I
will set you free on certain conditions."

"Ah! conditions!" exclaimed Anne, recoiling; "if they are such as will
affect my eternal welfare, I cannot accept them."

"You will repent it when it is too late," replied Herne. "Once removed
to the Tower I can no longer aid you. My power extends only to the
forest and the castle."

"Will you take me to the king at Hampton Court?" said Anne.

"It would be useless," replied Herne. "I will only do what I have
stated. If you fly with me, you can never appear again as Anne Boleyn.
Sir Henry Norris shall be set free at the same time, and you shall both
dwell with me in the forest. Come!"

"I cannot go," said Anne, holding back; "it were to fly to a worse
danger. I may save my soul now; but if I embrace your offer I am lost
for ever."

Herne laughed derisively.

"You need have no fear on that score," he said.

"I will not trust you," replied Anne. "I have yielded to temptation
already, and am now paying the penalty of it."

"You are clinging to the crown," said Herne, "because you know that by
this step you will irrecoverably lose it. And you fancy that some change
may yet operate to your advantage with the king. It is a vain
delusive hope. If you leave this castle for the Tower, you will perish
ignominiously on the block."

"What will be, must be!" replied Anne. "I will not save myself in the
way you propose."

"Norris will say, and with reason, that you love him not," cried Herne.

"Then he will wrong me," replied Anne; "for I do love him. But of what
account were a few years of fevered happiness compared with endless
torture?"

"I will befriend you in spite of yourself," vociferated Herne, seizing
her arm; "you shall go with me!"

"I will not," said Anne, falling on her knees. "Oh, Father of Mercy!"
she cried energetically, "deliver me from this fiend!"

"Take your fate, then!" rejoined Herne, dashing her furiously backwards.

And when her attendants, alarmed by the sound, rushed into the chamber,
they found her stretched on the floor in a state of insensibility.





Next: How Herne Appeared To Henry In The Home Park

Previous: What Happened At The Jousts



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