Showing How Morgan Fenwolf Escaped From The Garter Tower





Half-an-hour afterwards Fenwolf was visited by the Duke of Suffolk and

a canon of the college; and the guard-chamber being cleared, the duke

enjoined him to make clear his bosom by confession.



"I hold it my duty to tell you, prisoner," said Suffolk, "that there

is no hope of your life. The king's highness is determined to make a

fearful example of you and all your companions in crime; but he does not

seek to destroy your soul, and has therefore sent this holy man to you,

with the desire that you may open your heart to him, and by confession

and repentance save yourself from eternal perdition."



"Confession will profit me nothing," said Fenwolf moodily. "I cannot

pray if I would."



"You cannot be so utterly lost, my son," rejoined the canon. "Hell may

have woven her dark chains round you, but not so firmly but that the

hand of Heaven can burst them."



"You waste time in seeking to persuade me," returned Fenwolf.



"You are not ignorant of the punishment inflicted upon those condemned

for sorcery, my son?" demanded the canon.



"It is the stake, is it not?" replied Fenwolf



"Ay," replied the canon; "but even that fiery trial will fail to purge

out your offences without penitence. My lord of Suffolk, this wretched

man's condition demands special attention. It will profit the Church

much to win his soul from the fiend. Let him, I pray you, be removed to

the dungeon beneath the Garter Tower, where a priest shall visit him,

and pray by his side till daybreak."



"It will be useless, father," said Fenwolf.



"I do not despair, my son," replied the canon; "and when I see you again

in the morning I trust to find you in a better frame of mind."



The duke then gave directions to the guard to remove the prisoner, and

after some further conference with the canon, returned to the royal

apartments.



Meanwhile, the canon shaped his course towards the Horseshoe Cloisters,

a range of buildings so designated from their form, and situated at the

west end of St. George's Chapel, and he had scarcely entered them

when he heard footsteps behind him, and turning at the sound, beheld a

Franciscan friar, for so his habit of the coarsest grey cloth, tied

with a cord round the waist, proclaimed him. The friar was very tall

and gaunt, and his cowl was drawn over his face so as to conceal his

features.



"What would you, brother?" inquired the canon, halting. "I have a

request to make of you, reverend sir," replied the friar, with a lowly

inclination of the head. "I have just arrived from Chertsey Abbey,

whither I have been tarrying for the last three days, and while

conversing with the guard at the gate, I saw a prisoner brought into the

castle charged with heinous offences, and amongst others, with dealings

with the fiend."



"You have been rightly informed, brother," rejoined the canon.



"And have I also been rightly informed that you desire a priest to pass

the night with him, reverend sir?" returned the friar. "If so, I would

crave permission to undertake the office. Two souls, as deeply laden as

that of this poor wretch, have been snatched from the jaws of Satan by

my efforts, and I do not despair of success now."



"Since you are so confident, brother," said the canon, "I commit him

readily to your hands. I was about to seek other aid, but your offer

comes opportunely. With Heaven's help I doubt not you will achieve a

victory over the evil one."



As the latter words were uttered a sudden pain seemed to seize the

friar. Staggering slightly, he caught at the railing of the cloisters

for support, but he instantly recovered himself.



"It is nothing, reverend sir," he said, seeing that the good canon

regarded him anxiously. "Long vigils and fasting have made me liable to

frequent attacks of giddiness, but they pass as quickly as they come.

Will it please you to go with me, and direct the guard to admit me to

the prisoner?"



The canon assented; and crossing the quadrangle, they returned to the

gateway.



Meanwhile, the prisoner had been removed to the lower chamber of the

Garter Tower. This fortification, one of the oldest in the castle, being

coeval with the Curfew Tower, is now in a state of grievous neglect and

ruin. Unroofed, unfloored, filled with rubbish, masked by the yard walls

of the adjoining habitations, with one side entirely pulled down, and

a great breach in front, it is solely owing to the solid and

rock-like construction of its masonry that it is indebted for partial

preservation. Still, notwithstanding its dilapidated condition, and

that it is the mere shell of its former self, its appearance is highly

picturesque. The walls are of prodigious thickness, and the deep

embrasures within them are almost perfect; while a secret staircase may

still be tracked partly round the building. Amid the rubbish choking up

its lower chamber grows a young tree, green and flourishing-a type, it



is to be hoped, of the restoration of the structure.



Conducted to a low vaulted chamber in this tower, the prisoner was cast

upon its floor-for he was still hound hand and foot-and left alone and

in darkness. But he was not destined to continue in this state long. The

door of the dungeon opened, and the guard ushered in the tall Franciscan

friar.



"What ho! dog of a prisoner," he cried, "here is a holy man come to pass

the night with you in prayer."



"He may take his Ave Maries and Paternosters elsewhere-I want them not,"

replied Fenwolf moodily.



"You would prefer my bringing Herne the Hunter, no doubt," rejoined the

guard, laughing at his own jest; "but this is a physician for your soul.

The saints help you in your good work, father; you will have no easy

task."



"Set down the light, my son," cried the friar harshly, "and leave us; my

task will be easily accomplished."



Placing the lamp on the stone floor of the dungeon, the guard withdrew,

and locked the door after him.



"Do you repent, my son?" demanded the friar, as soon as they were alone.



"Certes, I repent having put faith in a treacherous fiend, who has

deserted me-but that is all," replied Fenwolf, with his face turned to

the ground.



"Will you put faith in me, if I promise you deliverance?" demanded the

friar.



"You promise more than you can perform, as most of your brethren do,"

rejoined the other.



"You will not say so if you look up," said the friar.



Fenwolf started at the words, which were pronounced in a different tone

from that previously adopted by the speaker, and raised himself as far

as his bonds would permit him. The friar had thrown hack his cowl, and

disclosed features of appalling hideousness, lighted up by a diabolical

grin.



"You here!" cried Fenwolf.



"You doubted me," rejoined Herne, "but I never desert a follower.

Besides, I wish to show the royal Harry that my power is equal to his

own."



"But how are we to get out of this dungeon?" asked Fenwolf, gazing round

apprehensively.



"My way out will be easy enough," replied Herne; "but your escape is

attended with more difficulty. You remember how we went to the vaulted

chamber in the Curfew Tower on the night when Mark Fytton, the butcher,

was confined within it?"



"I do," replied Fenwolf; "but I can think of nothing while I am tied

thus."



Heme instantly drew forth a hunting-knife, and cutting Fenwolf's bonds

asunder, the latter started to his feet.



"If that bull-headed butcher would have joined me, I would have

liberated him as I am about to liberate you," pursued Herne. "But to

return to the matter in hand. You recollect the secret passage we then

tracked? There is just such another staircase in this tower."



And stepping to the farther side of the chamber, he touched a small knob

in the wall, and a stone flew hack, disclosing an aperture just large

enough to allow a man to pass through it.



"There is your road to freedom," he said, pointing to the hole. "Creep

along that narrow passage, and it will bring you to a small loophole in

the wall, not many feet from the ground. The loophole is guarded by a

bar of iron, but it is moved by a spring in the upper part of the stone

in which it appears to be mortised. This impediment removed, you will

easily force your way through the loophole. Drop cautiously, for fear of

the sentinels on the walls; then make your way to the forest, and if

you 'scape the arquebusiers who are scouring it, conceal yourself in the

sandstone cave below the beech-tree."



"And what of you?" asked Fenwoif.



"I have more to do here," replied Herne impatiently-"away!"



Thus dismissed, Fenwolf entered the aperture, which was instantly closed

after him by Herne. Carefully following the instructions of his leader,

the keeper passed through the loophole, let himself drop softly down,

and keeping close to the walls of the tower till he heard the sentinels

move off, darted swiftly across the street and made good his escape.



Meanwhile Herne drew the cowl over his head, and stepping to the door,

knocked loudly against it.



"What would you, father?" cried the guard from without.



"Enter, my son, and you shall know," replied Herne.



The next moment the door was unlocked, and the guard advanced into the

dungeon.



"Ha!" he exclaimed, snatching up the lamp and looking around, "where is

the prisoner?"



"Gone," replied Herne.



"What! has the fiend flown away with him?" cried the man, in mixed

astonishment and alarm.



"He has been set free by Herne the Hunter!" cried the demon. "Tell all

who question thee so, and relate what thou now seest."



At the words a bright blue flame illumined the chamber, in the midst of

which was seen the tall dark figure of Herne. His Franciscan's gown had

dropped to his feet, and he appeared habited in his wild deer-skin garb.

With a loud cry, the guard fell senseless on the ground.



A few minutes after this, as was subsequently ascertained, a tall

Franciscan friar threaded the cloisters behind Saint George's Chapel,

and giving the word to the sentinels, passed through the outer door

communicating with the steep descent leading to the town.





Of Tristram Lyndwood The Old Forester And His Granddaughter Mabel Showing The Vacillations Of The King Between Wolsey And Anne Boleyn facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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