How Herne The Hunter Appeared To Henry On The Terrace





Henry again sat down to his despatches, and employed himself upon them

to a late hour. At length, feeling heated and oppressed, he arose, and

opened a window. As he did so, he was almost blinded by a vivid flash

of forked lightning. Ever ready to court danger, and convinced, from

the intense gloom without, that a fearful storm was coming on, Henry

resolved to go forth to witness it. With this view he quitted the

closet, and passed through a small door opening on the northern terrace.

The castle clock tolled the hour of midnight as he issued forth, and the

darkness was so profound that he could scarcely see a foot before him.

But he went on.



"Who goes there?" cried a voice, as he advanced, and a partisan was

placed at his breast.



"The king!" replied Henry, in tones that would have left no doubt of

the truth of the assertion, even if a gleam of lightning had not at the

moment revealed his figure and countenance to the sentinel.



"I did not look for your majesty at such a time," replied the man,

lowering his pike. "Has your majesty no apprehension of the storm? I

have watched it gathering in the valley, and it will be a dreadful one.

If I might make bold to counsel you, I would advise you to seek instant

shelter in the castle."



"I have no fear, good fellow," laughed the king. "Get thee in yon porch,

and leave the terrace to me. I will warn thee when I leave it."



As he spoke a tremendous peal of thunder broke overhead, and seemed to

shake the strong pile to its foundations. Again the lightning rent

the black canopy of heaven in various places, and shot down in forked

flashes of the most dazzling brightness. A rack of clouds, heavily

charged with electric fluid, hung right over the castle, and poured down

all their fires upon it.



Henry paced slowly to and fro, utterly indifferent to the peril he

ran--now watching the lightning as it shivered some oak in the home

park, or lighted up the wide expanse of country around him--now

listening to the roar of heaven's artillery; and he had just quitted the

western extremity of the terrace, when the most terrific crash he had

yet heard burst over him. The next instant a dozen forked flashes shot

from the sky, while fiery coruscations blazed athwart it; and at the

same moment a bolt struck the Wykeham Tower, beside which he had been

recently standing. Startled by the appalling sound, he turned and beheld

upon the battlemented parapet on his left a tall ghostly figure, whose

antlered helm told him it was Herne the Hunter. Dilated against the

flaming sky, the proportions of the demon seemed gigantic. His right

hand was stretched forth towards the king, and in his left he held a

rusty chain. Henry grasped the handle of his sword, and partly drew it,

keeping his gaze fixed upon the figure.



"You thought you had got rid of me, Harry of England," cried Herne, "but

were you to lay the weight of this vast fabric upon me, I would break

from under it--ho! ho!"



"What wouldst thou, infernal spirit?" cried Henry.



"I am come to keep company with you, Harry," replied the demon; "this is

a night when only you and I should be abroad. We know how to enjoy

it. We like the music of the loud thunder, and the dance of the blithe

lightning."



"Avaunt, fiend!" cried Henry. "I will hold no converse with thee. Back

to thy native hell!"



"You have no power over me, Harry," rejoined the demon, his words

mingling with the rolling of the thunder, "for your thoughts are evil,

and you are about to do an accursed deed. You cannot dismiss me. Before

the commission of every great crime--and many great crimes you will

commit--I will always appear to you. And my last appearance shall he

three days before your end--ha! ha!"



"Darest thou say this to me!" cried Henry furiously.



"I laugh at thy menaces," rejoined Herne, amid another peal of

thunder--"but I have not yet done. Harry of England! your career shall

be stained in blood. Your wrath shall descend upon the heads of those

who love you, and your love shall be fatal. Better Anne Boleyn fled

this castle, and sought shelter in the lowliest hovel in the land, than

become your spouse. For you will slay her--and not her alone. Another

shall fall by your hand; and so, if you had your own will, would all!"



"What meanest thou by all?" demanded the king.



"You will learn in due season," laughed the fiend. "But now mark me,

Harry of England, thou fierce and bloody kin--thou shalt be drunken with

the blood of thy wives; and thy end shall be a fearful one. Thou shalt

linger out a living death--a mass of breathing corruption shalt thou

become--and when dead the very hounds with which thou huntedst me shall

lick thy blood!"



These awful words, involving a fearful prophecy, which was afterwards,

as will be shown, strangely fulfilled, were so mixed up with the rolling

of the thunder that Henry could scarcely distinguish one sound from the

other. At the close of the latter speech a flash of lightning of such

dazzling brilliancy shot down past him, that he remained for some

moments almost blinded; and when he recovered his powers of vision the

demon had vanished.





How Herne Appeared To Henry In The Home Park How Herne The Hunter Showed The Earl Of Surrey The Fair Geraldine In A Vision facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback