Of Tristram Lyndwood The Old Forester And His Granddaughter Mabel





In consequence of the announcement that a grand hunting party would be

held in the forest, all the verderers, rangers, and keepers assembled at

an early hour on the fourth day after the king's arrival at Windsor in

an open space on the west side of the great avenue, where a wooden stand

was erected, canopied over with green boughs and festooned with garlands

of flowers, for the accommodation of the Lady Anne Boleyn and her dames,

who, it was understood, would be present at the chase.



At a little distance from the stand an extensive covert was fenced round

with stout poles, to which nets were attached so as to form a haye or

preserve, where the game intended for the royal sport was confined;

and though many of the animals thus brought together were of hostile

natures, they were all so terrified, and seemingly so conscious of the

danger impending over them, that they did not molest each other.

The foxes and martins, of which there were abundance, slunk into the

brushwood with the hares and rabbits, but left their prey untouched. The

harts made violent efforts to break forth, and, entangling their horns

in the nets, were with difficulty extricated and driven back; while the

timid does, not daring to follow them, stood warily watching the result

of the struggle.



Amongst the antlered captives was a fine buck, which, having been once

before hunted by the king, was styled a "hart royal," and this noble

animal would certainly have effected his escape if he had not been

attacked and driven back by Morgan Fenwolf, who throughout the morning's

proceedings displayed great energy and skill. The compliments bestowed

on Fenwolf for his address by the chief verderer excited the jealousy

of some of his comrades, and more than one asserted that he had been

assisted in his task by some evil being, and that Bawsey herself was no

better than a familiar spirit in the form of a hound.



Morgan Fenwolf scouted these remarks; and he was supported by some

others among the keepers, who declared that it required no supernatural

aid to accomplish what he had done--that he was nothing more than a good

huntsman, who could ride fast and boldly--that he was skilled in all the

exercises of the chase, and possessed a stanch and well-trained hound.



The party then sat down to breakfast beneath the trees, and the talk

fell upon Herne the Hunter, and his frequent appearance of late in the

forest (for most of the keepers had heard of or encountered the spectral

huntsman); and while they were discussing this topic, and a plentiful

allowance of cold meat, bread, ale, and mead at the same time, two

persons were seen approaching along a vista on the right, who specially

attracted their attention and caused Morgan Fenwolf to drop the

hunting-knife with which he was carving his viands, and start to his

feet.



The new-comers were an old man and a comely young damsel. The former,

though nearer seventy than sixty, was still hale and athletic, with

fresh complexion, somewhat tanned by the sun, and a keen grey eye,

which had lost nothing of its fire. He was habited in a stout leathern

doublet, hose of the same material, and boots rudely fashioned out of

untanned ox-hide, and drawn above the knee. In his girdle was thrust a

large hunting-knife; a horn with a silver mouthpiece depended from his

shoulder, and he wore a long bow and a quiver full of arrows at his

back. A flat bonnet, made of fox-skin and ornamented with a raven's

wing, covered his hair, which was as white as silver.



But it was not upon this old forester, for such his attire proclaimed

him, that the attention of the beholders, and of Morgan Fenwolf in

especial, was fixed, but upon his companion. Amongst the many lovely and

high-born dames who had so recently graced the procession to the castle

were few, if any, comparable to this lowly damsel. Her dress--probably

owing to the pride felt in her by her old relative was somewhat superior

to her station. A tightly-laced green kirtle displayed to perfection her

slight but exquisitely-formed figure A gown of orange-coloured cloth,

sufficiently short to display her small ankles, and a pair of green

buskins, embroidered with silver, together with a collar of the whitest

and finest linen, though shamed by the neck it concealed, and fastened

by a small clasp, completed her attire. Her girdle was embroidered with

silver, and her sleeves were fastened by aiglets of the same metal.



"How proud old Tristram Lyndwood seems of his granddaughter," remarked

one of the keepers.



"And with reason," replied another. "Mabel Lyndwood is the comeliest

lass in Berkshire."



"Ay, marry is she," rejoined the first speaker; "and, to my thinking,

she is a fairer and sweeter flower than any that blooms in yon stately

castle--the flower that finds so much favour in the eyes of our royal

Hal not excepted."



"Have a care, Gabriel Lapp," observed another keeper. "Recollect that

Mark Fytton, the butcher, was hanged for speaking slightingly of the

Lady Anne Boleyn; and you may share his fate if you disparage her

beauty."



"Na I meant not to disparage the Lady Anne," replied Gabriel. "Hal

may marry her when he will, and divorce her as soon afterwards as he

pleases, for aught I care. If he marries fifty wives, I shall like him

all the better. The more the merrier, say I. But if he sets eyes on Mab

Lyndwood it may somewhat unsettle his love for the Lady Anne."



"Tush, Gabriel!" said Morgan Fenwolf, darting an angry look at him.

"What business have you to insinuate that the king would heed other than

the lady of his love?"



"You are jealous, Morgan Fenwolf," rejoined Gabriel, with a malignant

grin. "We all know you are in love with Mabel yourself."



"And we all know, likewise, that Mabel will have nothing to say to you!"

cried another keeper, while the others laughed in chorus. "Come and sit

down beside us, Morgan, and finish your breakfast."



But the keeper turned moodily away, and hied towards Tristram Lyndwood

and his granddaughter. The old forester shook him cordially by the hand,

and after questioning him as to what had taken place, and hearing how

he had managed to drive the hart royal into the haye, clapped him on the

shoulder and said, "Thou art a brave huntsman, Morgan. I wish Mab could

only think as well of thee as I do."



To this speech Mabel not only paid no attention, but looked studiously

another way.



"I am glad your grandfather has brought you out to see the chase to-day,

Mabel," observed Morgan Fenwolf.



"I dame not to see the chase, but the king," she replied, somewhat

petulantly.



"It is not every fair maid who would confess so much," observed Fenwolf,

frowning.



"Then I am franker than some of my sex," replied Mabel. "But who is the

strange man looking at us from behind that tree, grandfather!



"I see no one," replied the old forester.



"Neither do I," added Morgan Fenwolf, with a shudder. "You are wilfully

blind," rejoined Mabel. "But see, the person I mentioned stalks forth.

Now, perhaps, he is visible to you both."



And as she spoke, a tall wild-looking figure, armed with a

hunting-spear, emerged from the trees and advanced towards them. The

garb of the newcomer somewhat resembled that of a forester; but his

arms and lower limbs were destitute of covering, and appeared singularly

muscular, while his skin was swarthy as that of a gipsy. His jet-black

hair hung in elf-locks over his savage-looking features.



In another moment he was beside them, and fixed his dark piercing eyes

on Mabel in such a manner as to compel her to avert her gaze.



"What brings you here this morning, Tristram Lyndwood?" he demanded, in

a hoarse imperious tone.



"The same motive that brought you, Valentine Hagthorne," replied the old

forester--"to see the royal chase."



"This, I suppose, is your granddaughter?" pursued Hagthorne.



"Ay," replied Tristram bluntly.



"Strange I should never have seen her before," rejoined the other. "She

is very fair. Be ruled by me, friend Tristram--take her home again. If

she sees the king, ill will come of it. You know, or should know, his

character."



"Hagthorne advises well," interposed Fenwolf. "Mabel will be better at

home."



"But she has no intention of returning at present," replied Mabel. "You

brought me here for pastime, dear grandfather, and will not take me back

at the recommendation of this strange man?"



"Content you, child--content you," replied Tristram kindly. "You shall

remain where you are."



"You will repent it!" cried Hagthorne.



And hastily darting among the trees, he disappeared from view.



Affecting to laugh at the occurrence, though evidently annoyed by it,

the old forester led his granddaughter towards the stand, where he was

cordially greeted by the keepers, most of whom, while expressing their

pleasure at seeing him, strove to render themselves agreeable in the

eyes of Mabel.



From this scene Morgan Fenwolf kept aloof, and remained leaning against

a tree, with his eyes riveted upon the damsel. He was roused from his

reverie by a slight tap upon the shoulder; and turning at the touch,

beheld Valentine Hagthorne. Obedient to a sign from the latter, he

followed him amongst the trees, and they both plunged into a dell.



An hour or two after this, when the sun was higher in the heavens, and

the dew dried upon the greensward, the king and a large company of lords

and ladies rode forth from the upper gate of the castle, and taking

their way along the great avenue, struck off on the right when about

half-way up it, and shaped their course towards the haye.



A goodly sight it was to see this gallant company riding beneath the

trees; and pleasant was it, also, to listen to the blithe sound of

their voices, amid which Anne Boleyn's musical laugh could be plainly

distinguished. Henry was attended by his customary band of archers and

yeomen of the guard, and by the Duke of Shoreditch and his followers. On

reaching the haye, the king dismounted, and assisting the Lady Anne from

her steed, ascended the stand with her.



He then took a small and beautifully fashioned bow from an attendant,

and stringing it, presented it to her.



"I trust this will not prove too strong for your fair hands," he said.



"I will make shift to draw it," replied Anne, raising the bow, and

gracefully pulling the string. "Would I could wound your majesty as

surely as I shall hit the first roe that passes."



"That were a needless labour," rejoined Henry, "seeing that you have

already stricken me to the heart. You should cure the wound you have

already made, sweetheart-not inflict a new one."



At this juncture the chief verderer, mounted on a powerful steed, and

followed by two keepers, each holding a couple of stag-hounds in leash,

rode up to the royal stand, and placing his horn to his lips, blew three

long mootes from it. At the same moment part of the network of the haye

was lifted up, and a roebuck set free.



By the management of the keepers, the animal was driven past the royal

stand; and Anne Boleyn, who had drawn an arrow nearly to the head, let

it fly with such good aim that she pierced the buck to the heart. A loud

shout from the spectators rewarded the prowess of the fair huntress; and

Henry was so enchanted, that he bent the knee to her, and pressed

her hand to his lips. Satisfied, however, with the' achievement, Anne

prudently declined another shot. Henry then took a bow from one of the

archers, and other roes being turned out, he approved upon them his

unerring skill as a marksman.



Meanwhile, the hounds, being held in leash, kept up a loud and incessant

baying; and Henry, wearying of his slaughterous sport, turned to Anne,

and asked her whether she was disposed for the chase. She answered in

the affirmative, and the king motioned his henchmen to bring forward the

steeds.



In doing this, he caught sight of Mabel, who was standing with her

grandsire among the keepers, at a little distance from the stand, and,

struck with her extraordinary beauty, he regarded her for a moment

intently, and then called to Gabriel Lapp, who chanced to be near him,

and demanded her name.



"It is Mabel Lyndwood, an't please your majesty," replied Gabriel. "She

is granddaughter to old Tristram Lyndwood, who dwells at Black Nest,

near the lake, at the farther extremity of Windsor Forest, and who

was forester to your royal father, King Henry the Seventh, of blessed

memory."



"Ha! is it so?" cried Henry.



But he was prevented from further remark by Anne Boleyn, who, perceiving

how his attention was attracted, suddenly interposed.



"Your majesty spoke of the chase," she said impatiently. "But perhaps you

have found other pastime more diverting?"



"Not so--not so, sweetheart," he replied hastily.



"There is a hart royal in the haye," said Gabriel Lapp. "Is it your

majesty's pleasure that I set him free?



"It is, good fellow--it is," replied the king.



And as Gabriel hastened to the netted fencework, and prepared to

drive forth the hart, Henry assisted Anne Boleyn, who could not help

exhibiting some slight jealous pique, to mount her steed, and having

sprung into his own saddle, they waited the liberation of the buck,

which was accomplished in a somewhat unexpected manner.



Separated from the rest of the herd, the noble animal made a sudden dart

towards Gabriel, and upsetting him in his wild career, darted past the

king, and made towards the upper part of the forest. In another instant

the hounds were un coupled and at his heels, while Henry and Anne urged

their steeds after him, the king shouting at the top of his lusty

voice. The rest of the royal party followed as they might, and the woods

resounded with their joyous cries.



The hart royal proved himself worthy of his designation. Dashing forward

with extraordinary swiftness, he rapidly gained upon his pursuers--for

though Henry, by putting his courser to his utmost speed, could have

kept near him, he did not choose to quit his fair companion.



In this way they scoured the forest, until the king, seeing they should

be speedily distanced, commanded Sir Thomas Wyat, who, with the Dukes of

Suffolk and Norfolk, was riding close behind him, to cross by the

lower ground on the left, and turn the stag. Wyat instantly obeyed,

and plunging his spurs deeply into his horse's sides, started off at a

furious pace, and was soon after seen shaping his rapid course through a

devious glade.



Meanwhile, Henry and his fair companion rode on without relaxing their

pace, until they reached the summit of a knoll, crowned by an old oak

and beech-tree, and commanding a superb view of the castle, where they

drew in the rein.



From this eminence they could witness the progress of the chase, as it

continued in the valley beyond. An ardent lover of hunting, the king

watched it with the deepest interest, rose in his saddle, and uttering

various exclamations, showed, from his impatience, that he was only

restrained by the stronger passion of love from joining it.



Ere long, stag, hounds, and huntsmen were lost amid a thicket, and

nothing could be distinguished but a distant baying and shouts. At last

even these sounds died away.



Henry, who had ill brooked the previous restraint, now grew so

impatient, that Anne begged him to set off after them, when suddenly the

cry of hounds burst upon their ears, and the hart was seen issuing from

the dell, closely followed by his pursuers.



The affrighted animal, to the king's great satisfaction, made his way

directly towards the spot where he was stationed; but on reaching the

side of the knoll, and seeing his new foes, he darted off on the right,

and tried to regain the thicket below. But he was turned by another band

of keepers, and again driven towards the knoll.



Scarcely had Sir Thomas Wyat reined in his steed by the side of the

king, than the hart again appeared bounding up the hill. Anne Boleyn,

who had turned her horse's head to obtain a better view of the hunt,

alarmed by the animal's menacing appearance, tried to get out of

his way. But it was too late. Hemmed in on all sides, and driven to

desperation by the cries of hounds and huntsmen in front, the hart

lowered his horns, and made a furious push at her.



Dreadfully alarmed, Anne drew in the rein so suddenly and sharply, that

she almost pulled her steed back upon his haunches; and in trying to

avoid the stag's attack, caught hold of Sir Thomas Wyat, who was close

beside her. In all probability she would have received some serious

injury from the infuriated animal, who was just about to repeat his

assault and more successfully, when a bolt from a cross-bow, discharged

by Morgan Fenwolf, who suddenly made his appearance from behind the

beech-tree, brought him to the ground.



But Anne Boleyn escaped one danger only to encounter another equally

serious. On seeing her fling herself into the arms of Sir Thomas Wyat,

Henry regarded her in stern displeasure for a moment, and then calling

angrily to his train, without so much as deigning to inquire whether

she had sustained any damage from the accident, or making the slightest

remark upon her conduct, rode sullenly towards the castle.





Of The Visit Of The Two Guildford Merchants To The Forester's Hut Showing How Morgan Fenwolf Escaped From The Garter Tower facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback