How Wyat Beheld Mabel Lyndwood





When perfect consciousness returned to him, Wyat found himself lying

upon a pallet in what he first took to be the cell of an anchorite; but

as the recollection of recent events arose more distinctly before him,

he guessed it to be a chamber connected with the sandstone cave. A small

lamp, placed in a recess, lighted the cell; and upon a footstool by his

bed stood a jug of water, and a cup containing some drink in which herbs

had evidently been infused. Well-nigh emptying the jug, for he felt

parched with thirst, Wyat attired himself, took up the lamp, and walked

into the main cavern. No one was there, nor could he obtain any answer

to his calls. Evidences, however, were not wanting to prove that a feast

had recently been held there. On one side were the scarcely extinguished

embers of a large wood fire; and in the midst of the chamber was a rude

table, covered with drinking-horns and wooden platters, as well as with

the remains of three or four haunches of venison. While contemplating

this scene Wyat heard footsteps in one of the lateral passages, and

presently afterwards Morgan Fenwolf made his appearance.



"So you are come round at last, Sir Thomas," observed the keeper, in a

slightly sarcastic tone.



"What has ailed me?" asked Wyat, in surprise.



"You have had a fever for three days," returned Fenwolf, "and have been

raving like a madman."



"Three days!" muttered Wyat. "The false juggling fiend promised her to

me on the third day."



"Fear not; Herne will be as good as his word," said Fenwolf. "But will

you go forth with me? I am about to visit my nets. It is a fine day, and

a row on the lake will do you good."



Wyat acquiesced, and followed Fenwolf, who returned along the passage.

It grew narrower at the sides and lower in the roof as they advanced,

until at last they were compelled to move forward on their hands and

knees. For some space the passage, or rather hole (for it was nothing

more) ran on a level. A steep and tortuous ascent then commenced, which

brought them to an outlet concealed by a large stone.



Pushing it aside, Fenwolf crept forth, and immediately afterwards Wyat

emerged into a grove, through which, on one side, the gleaming waters

of the lake were discernible. The keeper's first business was to replace

the stone, which was so screened by brambles and bushes that it could

not, unless careful search were made, be detected.



Making his way through the trees to the side of the lake, Fenwolf

marched along the greensward in the direction of Tristram Lyndwood's

cottage. Wyat mechanically followed him; but he was so pre-occupied that

he scarcely heeded the fair Mabel, nor was it till after his embarkation

in the skiff with the keeper, when she came forth to look at them, that

he was at all struck with her beauty. He then inquired her name from

Fenwolf.



"She is called Mabel Lyndwood, and is an old forester's granddaughter,"

replied the other somewhat gruffly.



"And do you seek her love?" asked Wyat.



"Ay, and wherefore not?" asked Fenwolf, with a look of displeasure.



"Nay, I know not, friend," rejoined Wyat. "She is a comely damsel."



"What!--comelier than the Lady Anne?" demanded Fenwolf spitefully.



"I said not so," replied Wyat; "but she is very fair, and looks

true-hearted."



Fenwolf glanced at him from under his brows; and plunging his oars into

the water, soon carried him out of sight of the maiden.



It was high noon, and the day was one of resplendent loveliness. The

lake sparkled in the sunshine, and as they shot past its tiny bays and

woody headlands, new beauties were every moment revealed to them. But

while the scene softened Wyat's feelings, it filled him with intolerable

remorse, and so poignant did his emotions become, that he pressed his

hands upon his eyes to shut out the lovely prospect. When he looked

up again the scene was changed. The skiff had entered a narrow creek,

arched over by huge trees, and looking as dark and gloomy as the rest

of the lake was fair and smiling. It was closed in by a high overhanging

bank, crested by two tall trees, whose tangled roots protruded through

it like monstrous reptiles, while their branches cast a heavy shade over

the deep, sluggish water.



"Why have you come here?" demanded Wyat, looking uneasily round the

forbidding spot.



"You will discover anon," replied Fenwolf moodily.



"Go back into the sunshine, and take me to some pleasant bank--I will

not land here," said Wyat sternly.



"Needs must when--I need not remind you of the proverb," rejoined

Fenwolf, with a sneer.



"Give me the oars, thou malapert knave!" cried Wyat fiercely, "and I

will put myself ashore."



"Keep quiet," said Fenwolf; "you must perforce abide our master's

coming."



Wyat gazed at the keeper for a moment, as if with the intention of

throwing him overboard; but abandoning the idea, he rose up in the

boat, and caught at what he took to be a root of the tree above. To his

surprise and alarm, it closed upon him with an iron grasp, and he felt

himself dragged upwards, while the skiff, impelled by a sudden stroke

from Morgan Fenwolf, shot from beneath him. All Wyat's efforts to

disengage himself were vain, and a wild, demoniacal laugh, echoed by a

chorus of voices, proclaimed him in the power of Herne the Hunter. The

next moment he was set on the top of the bank, while the demon greeted

him with a mocking laugh.



"So you thought to escape me, Sir Thomas Wyatt," he cried, in a taunting

tone; "but any such attempt will prove fruitless. The murderer may

repent the blow when dealt; the thief may desire to restore the gold he

has purloined; the barterer of his soul may rue his bargain; but they

are Satan's, nevertheless. You are mine, and nothing can redeem you!"



"Woe is me that it should be so!" groaned Wyat.



"Lamentation is useless and unworthy of you," rejoined Herne scornfully.

"Your wish will be speedily accomplished. This very night your kingly

rival shall be placed in your hands."



"Ha!" exclaimed Wyat, the flame of jealousy again rising within his

breast.



"You can make your own terms with him for the Lady Anne," pursued Herne.

"His life will be at your disposal."



"Do you promise this?" cried Wyat.



"Ay," replied Herne. "Put yourself under the conduct of Fenwolf, and all

shall happen as you desire. We shall meet again at night. I have other

business on hand now. Meschines," he added to one of his attendants, "go

with Sir Thomas to the skiff."



The personage who received the command, and who was wildly and

fantastically habited, beckoned Wyat to follow him, and after many

twistings and turnings brought them to the edge of the lake, where the

skiff was lying, with Fenwolf reclining at full length upon its benches.

He arose, however, quickly at the appearance of Meschines, and asked him

for some provisions, which the latter promised to bring, and while Wyat

got into the skiff he disappeared, but returned a few minutes afterwards

with a basket, which he gave to the keeper.



Crossing the lake, Fenwolf then shaped his course towards a verdant bank

enamelled with wild flowers, where he landed. The basket being opened,

was found to contain a flask of wine and the better part of a venison

pasty, of which Wyat, whose appetite was keen enough after his long

fasting, ate heartily. He then stretched himself on the velvet sod,

and dropped into a tranquil slumber which lasted to a late hour in the

evening.



He was roused from it by a hand laid on his shoulder, while a deep voice

thundered in his ear--"Up, up, Sir Thomas, and follow me, and I will

place the king in your hands!"





How Wolsey Was Disgraced By The King In What Manner Herne Declared His Passion For Mabel facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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