William Harrison Ainsworth
Part 1 out of 7
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Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out."
SHAKESPEARE, Merry Wives of Windsor
There is an old tale goes, that Herne the hunter,
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest,
Doth all the winter time, at still midnight,
Walk round about an oak, with great ragg'd horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner:
You have heard of such a spirit; and well you know,
The superstitious idle-headed eld
Receiv'd, and did deliver to our age,
This tale of Herne the hunter for a truth." --ibid
Book I Anne Boleyn
I. Of the Earl of Surrey's solitary Ramble in the Home Park--Of the Vision
beheld by him in the Haunted Dell--And of his Meeting with Morgan
Fenwolf, the Keeper, beneath Herne's Oak.
In the twentieth year of the reign of the right high and puissant King
Henry the Eighth, namely, in 1529, on the 21st of April, and on one of
the loveliest evenings that ever fell on the loveliest district in England,
a fair youth, having somewhat the appearance of a page, was leaning
over the terrace wall on the north side of Windsor Castle, and gazing at
the magnificent scene before him. On his right stretched the broad
green expanse forming the Home Park, studded with noble trees,
chiefly consisting of ancient oaks, of which England had already learnt
to be proud, thorns as old or older than the oaks, wide-spreading
beeches, tall elms, and hollies. The disposition of these trees was
picturesque and beautiful in the extreme. Here, at the end of a
sweeping vista, and in the midst of an open space covered with the
greenest sward, stood a mighty broad-armed oak, beneath whose
ample boughs, though as yet almost destitute of foliage, while the sod
beneath them could scarcely boast a head of fern, couched a herd of
deer. There lay a thicket of thorns skirting a sand-bank, burrowed by
rabbits, on this hand grew a dense and Druid-like grove, into whose
intricacies the slanting sunbeams pierced; on that extended a long
glade, formed by a natural avenue of oaks, across which, at intervals,
deer were passing. Nor were human figures wanting to give life and
interest to the scene. Adown the glade came two keepers of the forest,
having each a couple of buckhounds with them in leash, whose baying
sounded cheerily amid the woods. Nearer the castle, and bending their
way towards it, marched a party of falconers with their well-trained
birds, whose skill they had been approving upon their fists, their jesses
ringing as they moved along, while nearer still, and almost at the foot of
the terrace wall, was a minstrel playing on a rebec, to which a keeper,
in a dress of Lincoln green, with a bow over his shoulder, a quiver of
arrows at his back, and a comely damsel under his arm, was listening.
On the left, a view altogether different in character, though scarcely
less beautiful, was offered to the gaze. It was formed by the town of
Windsor, then not a third of its present size, but incomparably more
picturesque in appearance, consisting almost entirely of a long
straggling row of houses, chequered black and white, with tall gables,
and projecting storeys skirting the west and south sides of the castle,
by the silver windings of the river, traceable for miles, and reflecting the
glowing hues of the sky, by the venerable College of Eton, embowered
in a grove of trees, and by a vast tract of well-wooded and well-
cultivated country beyond it, interspersed with villages, churches, old
halls, monasteries, and abbeys.
Taking out his tablets, the youth, after some reflection, traced a few
lines upon them, and then, quitting the parapet, proceeded slowly, and
with a musing air, towards the north west angle of the terrace. He
could not be more than fifteen, perhaps not so much, but he was tall
and well-grown, with slight though remarkably well-proportioned limbs;
and it might have been safely predicted that, when arrived at years of
maturity, he would possess great personal vigour. His countenance
was full of thought and intelligence, and he had a broad lofty brow,
shaded by a profusion of light brown ringlets, a long, straight, and
finely-formed nose, a full, sensitive, and well-chiselled mouth, and a
pointed chin. His eyes were large, dark, and somewhat melancholy in
expression, and his complexion possessed that rich clear brown tint
constantly met with in Italy or Spain, though but seldom seen in a
native of our own colder clime. His dress was rich, but sombre,
consisting of a doublet of black satin, worked with threads of Venetian
gold; hose of the same material, and similarly embroidered; a shirt
curiously wrought with black silk, and fastened at the collar with black
enamelled clasps; a cloak of black velvet, passmented with gold, and
lined with crimson satin; a flat black velvet cap, set with pearls and
goldsmith's work, and adorned with a short white plume; and black
velvet buskins. His arms were rapier and dagger, both having gilt and
graven handles, and sheaths of black velvet.
As he moved along, the sound of voices chanting vespers arose from
Saint George's Chapel; and while he paused to listen to the solemn
strains, a door, in that part of the castle used as the king's privy
lodgings, opened, and a person advanced towards him. The new-comer
had broad, brown, martial-looking features, darkened still more by a
thick coal-black beard, clipped short in the fashion of the time, and a
pair of enormous moustachios. He was accoutred in a habergeon,
which gleamed from beneath the folds of a russet-coloured mantle, and
wore a steel cap in lieu of a bonnet on his head, while a long sword
dangled from beneath his cloak. When within a few paces of the youth,
whose back was towards him, and who did not hear his approach, he
announced himself by a loud cough, that proved the excellence of his
lungs, and made the old walls ring again, startling the jackdaws
roosting in the battlements.
"What! composing a vesper hymn, my lord of Surrey?" he cried with a
laugh, as the other hastily thrust the tablets, which he had hitherto held
in his hand, into his bosom. "You will rival Master Skelton, the poet
laureate, and your friend Sir Thomas Wyat, too, ere long. But will it
please your lord-ship to quit for a moment the society of the celestial
Nine, and descend to earth, while I inform you that, acting as your
representative, I have given all needful directions for his majesty's
"You have not failed, I trust, to give orders to the groom of the
chambers for the lodging of my fair cousin, Mistress Anne Boleyn,
Captain Bouchier?" inquired the Earl of Surrey, with a significant smile.
"Assuredly not, my lord!" replied the other, smiling in his turn. "She will
be lodged as royally as if she were Queen of England. Indeed, the
queen's own apartments are assigned her."
"It is well," rejoined Surrey. "And you have also provided for the
reception of the Pope's legate, Cardinal Campeggio?"
"And for Cardinal Wolsey?" pursued the other.
The captain bowed again.
"To save your lordship the necessity of asking any further questions,"
he said, "I may state briefly that I have done all as if you had done it
"Be a little more particular, captain, I pray you," said Surrey.
"Willingly, my lord," replied Bouchier. "In your lord ship's name, then, as
vice-chamberlain, in which character I presented myself, I summoned
together the dean and canons of the College of St. George, the usher of
the black rod, the governor of the alms-knights, and the whole of the
officers of the household, and acquainted them, in a set speech-which,
I flatter myself, was quite equal to any that your lordship, with all your
poetical talents, could have delivered--that the king's highness, being
at Hampton Court with the two cardinals, Wolsey and Campeggio,
debating the matter of divorce from his queen, Catherine of Arragon,
proposes to hold the grand feast of the most noble order of the Garter
at this his castle of Windsor, on Saint George's Day--that is to say, the
day after to-morrow--and that it is therefore his majesty's sovereign
pleasure that the Chapel of St. George, in the said castle, be set forth
and adorned with its richest furniture; that the high altar be hung with
arras representing the patron saint of the order on horseback, and
garnished with the costliest images and ornaments in gold and silver;
that the pulpit be covered with crimson damask, inwrought with
flowers-de-luces of gold, portcullises, and roses; that the royal stall be
canopied with a rich cloth of state, with a haut-pas beneath it of a foot
high; that the stalls of the knights companions be decked with cloth of
tissue, with their scutcheons set at the back; and that all be ready at
the hour of tierce-hora tertia vespertina, as appointed by his majesty's
own statute--at which time the eve of the feast shall be held to
"Take breath, captain," laughed the earl.
"I have no need," replied Bouchier. "Furthermore, I delivered your
lordship's warrant from the lord chamberlain to the usher of the black
rod, to make ready and furnish Saint George's Hall, both for the supper
to-morrow and the grand feast on the following day; and I enjoined the
dean and canons of the college, the alms-knights, and all the other
officers of the order) to be in readiness for the occasion. And now,
having fulfilled my devoir, or rather your lordship's, I am content to
resign my post as vice-chamberlain, to resume my ordinary one, that of
your simple gentleman, and to attend you back to Hampton Court
whenever it shall please you to set forth."
"And that will not be for an hour, at the least," replied the earl; "for I
intend to take a solitary ramble in the Home Park."
"What I to seek inspiration for a song--or to meditate upon the charms
of the fair Geraldine, eh, my lord? "rejoined Bouchier. "But I will not
question you too shrewdly. Only let me caution you against going near
Herne's Oak. It is said that the demon hunter walks at nightfall, and
scares, if he does not injure, all those who cross his path. At curfew toll
I must quit the castle, and will then, with your attendants proceed to
the Garter, in Thames Street, where I will await your arrival. If we reach
Hampton Court by midnight, it will be time enough, and as the moon will
rise in an hour, we shall have a pleasant ride."
"Commend me to Bryan Bowntance, the worthy host of the Garter," said
the earl; "and bid him provide you with a bottle of his best sack in which
to drink my health."
"Fear me not," replied the other. "And I pray your lordship not to
neglect my caution respecting Herne the Hunter. In sober sooth, I have
heard strange stories of his appearance of late, and should not care to
go near the tree after dark."
The earl laughed somewhat sceptically, and the captain reiterating his
caution, they separated--Bouchier returning the way he came, and
Surrey proceeding towards a small drawbridge crossing the ditch on
the eastern side of the castle, and forming a means of communication
with the Little Park. He was challenged by a sentinel at the
drawbridge, but on giving the password he was allowed to cross it, and
to pass through a gate on the farther side opening upon the park.
Brushing the soft and dewy turf with a footstep almost as light and
bounding as that of a fawn, he speeded on for more than a quarter of a
mile, when he reached a noble beech-tree standing at the end of a
clump of timber. A number of rabbits were feeding beneath it, but at his
approach they instantly plunged into their burrows.
Here he halted to look at the castle. The sun had sunk behind it,
dilating its massive keep to almost its present height and tinging the
summits of the whole line of ramparts and towers, since rebuilt and
known as the Brunswick Tower, the Chester Tower, the Clarence
Tower, and the Victoria Tower, with rosy lustre.
Flinging himself at the foot of the beech-tree, the youthful earl indulged
his poetical reveries for a short time, and then, rising, retraced his
steps, and in a few minutes the whole of the south side of the castle lay
before him. The view comprehended the two fortifications recently
removed to make way for the York and Lancaster Towers, between
which stood a gate approached by a drawbridge; the Earl Marshal's
Tower, now styled from the monarch in whose reign it was erected,
Edward the Third's Tower; the black rod's lodgings; the Lieutenant's--
now Henry the Third's Tower; the line of embattled walls, constituting
the lodgings of the alms-knights; the tower tenanted by the governor of
that body, and still allotted to the same officer; Henry the Eight's
Gateway, and the Chancellor of the Garter's Tower--the latter
terminating the line of building. A few rosy beams tipped the pinnacles
of Saint George's Chapel, seen behind the towers above-mentioned,
with fire; but, with this exception, the whole of the mighty fabric looked
cold and grey.
At this juncture the upper gate was opened, and Captain Bouchier and
his attendants issued from it, and passed over the drawbridge. The
curfew bell then tolled, the drawbridge was raised, the horsemen
disappeared, and no sound reached the listener's ear except the
measured tread of the sentinels on the ramparts, audible in the
The youthful earl made no attempt to join his followers, but having
gazed on the ancient pile before him till its battlements and towers
grew dim in the twilight, he struck into a footpath leading across the
park towards Datchet, and pursued it until it brought him near a dell
filled with thorns, hollies, and underwood, and overhung by mighty
oaks, into which he unhesitatingly plunged, and soon gained the
deepest part of it. Here, owing to the thickness of the hollies and the
projecting arms of other large overhanging timber, added to the
uncertain light above, the gloom was almost impervious, and he could
scarcely see a yard before him. Still, he pressed on unhesitatingly, and
with a sort of pleasurable sensation at the difficulties he was
encountering. Suddenly, however, he was startled by a blue
phosphoric light streaming through the bushes on the left, and, looking
up, he beheld at the foot of an enormous oak, whose giant roots
protruded like twisted snakes from the bank, a wild spectral-looking
object, possessing some slight resemblance to humanity, and habited,
so far as it could be determined, in the skins of deer, strangely
disposed about its gaunt and tawny-coloured limbs. On its head was
seen a sort of helmet, formed of the skull of a stag, from which
branched a large pair of antlers; from its left arm hung a heavy and
rusty-looking chain, in the links of which burnt the phosphoric fire
before mentioned; while on its right wrist was perched a large horned
owl, with feathers erected, and red staring eyes.
Impressed with the superstitious feelings common to the age, the
young earl, fully believing he was in the presence of a supernatural
being, could scarcely, despite his courageous nature, which no
ordinary matter would have shaken, repress a cry. Crossing himself, he
repeated, with great fervency, a prayer, against evil spirits, and as he
uttered it the light was extinguished, and the spectral figure vanished.
The clanking of the chain was heard, succeeded by the hooting of the
owl; then came a horrible burst of laughter, then a fearful wail, and all
Up to this moment the young earl had stood still, as if spell-bound; but
being now convinced that the spirit had fled, he pressed forward, and,
ere many seconds, emerged from the brake. The full moon was rising
as he issued forth, and illuminating the glades and vistas, and the
calmness and beauty of all around seemed at total variance with the
fearful vision he had just witnessed. Throwing a shuddering glance at
the haunted dell, he was about to hurry towards the castle, when a
large, lightning-scathed, and solitary oak, standing a little distance from
him, attracted his attention.
This was the very tree connected with the wild legend of Herne the
Hunter, which Captain Bouchier had warned him not to approach, and
he now forcibly recalled the caution. Beneath it he perceived a figure,
which he at first took for that of the spectral hunter; but his fears were
relieved by a shout from the person, who at the same moment appeared
to catch sight of him.
Satisfied that, in the present instance, he had to do with a being of this
world, Surrey ran towards the tree, and on approaching it perceived
that the object of his alarm was a young man of very athletic
proportions, and evidently, from his garb, a keeper of the forest.
He was habited in a jerkin of Lincoln green cloth, with the royal badge
woven in silver on the breast, and his head was protected by a flat
green cloth cap, ornamented with a pheasant's tail. Under his right arm
he carried a crossbow; a long silver-tipped horn was slung in his
baldric; and he was armed with a short hanger, or wood-knife. His
features were harsh and prominent; and he bad black beetling brows, a
large coarse mouth, and dark eyes, lighted up with a very sinister and
He was attended by a large savage-looking staghound, whom he
addressed as Bawsey, and whose fierceness had to be restrained as
Have you seen anything?" he demanded of the earl.
"I have seen Herne the Hunter himself, or the fiend in his likeness,"
And he briefly related the vision he had beheld.
"Ay, ay, you have seen the demon hunter, no doubt," replied the keeper
at the close of the recital. "I neither saw the light, nor heard the
laughter, nor the wailing cry you speak of; but Bawsey crouched at my
feet and whined, and I knew some evil thing was at hand. Heaven
shield us!" he exclaimed, as the hound crouched at his feet, and
directed her gaze towards the oak, uttering a low ominous whine, "she
is at the same trick again."
The earl glanced in the same direction, and half expected to see the
knotted trunk of the tree burst open and disclose the figure of the
spectral hunter. But nothing was visible--at least, to him, though it
would seem from the shaking limbs, fixed eyes, and ghastly visage of
the keeper, that some appalling object was presented to his gaze.
"Do you not see him?" cried the latter at length, in thrilling accents; "he
is circling the tree, and blasting it. There! he passes us now--do you not
"No," replied Surrey; "but do not let us tarry here longer."
So saying he laid his hand upon the keeper's arm. The touch seemed to
rouse him to exertion: He uttered a fearful cry, and set off at a quick
pace along the park, followed by Bawsey, with her tail between her
legs. The earl kept up with him, and neither halted till they had left the
wizard oak at a considerable distance behind them.
"And so you did not see him?" said the keeper, in a tone of exhaustion,
as he wiped the thick drops from his brow.
"I did not," replied Surrey.
"That is passing strange," rejoined the other. " I myself have seen him
before, but never as he appeared to-night."
"You are a keeper of the forest, I presume, friend?" said Surrey. "How
are you named?"
"I am called Morgan Fenwolf," replied the keeper; "and you?"
"I am the Earl of Surrey;' returned the young noble.
"What!" exclaimed Fenwolf, making a reverence, "the son to his grace
The earl replied in the affirmative.
"Why, then, you must be the young nobleman whom I used to see so
often with the king's son, the Duke of Richmond, three or four years
ago, at the castle? " rejoined Fenwolf "You are altogether grown out of
Not unlikely," returned the earl. " I have been at Oxford, and have only
just completed my studies. This is the first time I have been at Windsor
since the period you mention."
"I have heard that the Duke of Richmond was at Oxford likewise,"
"We were at Cardinal College together," replied Surrey. "But the duke's
term was completed before mine. He is my senior by three years."
I suppose your lordship is returning to the castle? " said Fenwolf.
"No," replied Surrey. " My attendants are waiting for me at the Garter,
and if you will accompany me thither, I will bestow a cup of good ale
upon you to recruit you after the fright you have undergone."
Fenwolf signified his graceful acquiescence, and they walked on in
silence, for the earl could not help dwelling upon the vision he had
witnessed, and his companion appeared equally abstracted. In this
sort they descended the hill near Henry the Eighth's Gate, and entered
II. Of Bryan Bowntance, the Host of the Garter--Of the Duke of
Shoreditch--Of the Bold Words uttered by Mark Fytton, the Butcher, and
how he was cast into the Vault of the Curfew Tower.
Turning off on the right, the earl and his companion continued to
descend the hill until they came in sight of the Garter--a snug little
hostel, situated immediately beneath the Curfew Tower.
Before the porch were grouped the earl's attendants, most of whom had
dismounted, and were holding their steeds by the bridles. At this
juncture the door of the hostel opened, and a fat jolly-looking
personage, with a bald head and bushy grey beard, and clad in a brown
serge doublet, and hose to match, issued forth, bearing a foaming jug of
ale and a horn cup. His appearance was welcomed by a joyful shout
from the attendants.
"Come, my masters!" he cried, filling the horn, "here is a cup of stout
Windsor ale in which to drink the health of our jolly monarch, bluff King
Hal; and there's no harm, I trust, in calling him so."
"Marry, is there not, mine host;" cried the foremost attendant. "I spoke
of him as such in his own hearing not long ago, and he laughed at me in
right merry sort. I love the royal bully, and will drink his health gladly,
and Mistress Anne Boleyn's to boot."
And he emptied the horn.
"They tell me Mistress Anne Boleyn is coming to Windsor with the king
and the knights-companions to-morrow--is it so?" asked the host, again
filling the horn, and handing it to another attendant.
The person addressed nodded, but he was too much engrossed by the
horn to speak.
"Then there will be rare doings in the castle," chuckled the host; "and
many a lusty pot will be drained at the Garter. Alack-a-day! how times
are changed since I, Bryan Bowntance, first stepped into my father's
shoes, and became host of the Garter. It was in 1501--twenty-eight
years ago--when King Henry the Seventh, of blessed memory, ruled the
land, and when his elder son, Prince Arthur, was alive likewise. In that
year the young prince espoused Catherine of Arragon, our present
queen, and soon afterwards died; whereupon the old king, not liking--for
he loved his treasure better than his own flesh--to part with her dowry,
gave her to his second son, Henry, our gracious sovereign, whom God
preserve! Folks said then the match wouldn't come to good; and now
we find they spoke the truth, for it is likely to end in a divorce."
"Not so loud, mine host!" cried the foremost attendant; "here comes our
young master, the Earl of Surrey."
"Well, I care not," replied the host bluffly. "I've spoken no treason. I
love my king; and if he wishes to have a divorce, I hope his holiness the
Pope will grant him one, that's all."
As he said this, a loud noise was heard within the hostel, and a man
was suddenly and so forcibly driven forth, that he almost knocked down
Bryan Bowntance, who was rushing in to see what was the matter. The
person thus ejected, who was a powerfully-built young man, in a
leathern doublet, with his muscular arms bared to the shoulder, turned
his rage upon the host, and seized him by the throat with a grip that
threatened him with strangulation. Indeed, but for the intervention of
the earl's attendants, who rushed to his assistance, such might have
been his fate. As soon as he was liberated, Bryan cried in a voice of
mingled rage and surprise to his assailant, "Why, what's the matter,
Mark Fytton?--are you gone mad, or do you mistake me for a sheep or a
bullock, that you attack me in this fashion? My strong ale must have
got into your addle pate with a vengeance.
"The knave has been speaking treason of the king's highness," said the
tall man, whose doublet and hose of the finest green cloth, as well as
the how and quiverful of arrows at his back, proclaimed him an archer--"
and therefore we turned him out!"
"And you did well, Captain Barlow," cried the host.
"Call me rather the Duke of Shoreditch," rejoined the tall archer; "for
since his majesty conferred the title upon me, though it were but in jest,
when I won this silver bugle, I shall ever claim it. I am always
designated by my neighbours in Shoreditch as his grace; and I require
the same attention at your hands. To-morrow I shall have my
comrades, the Marquises of Clerkenwell, Islington, Hogsden, Pancras,
and Paddington, with me, and then you will see the gallant figure we
"I crave your grace's pardon for my want of respect," replied the host.
"I am not ignorant of the distinction conferred upon you at the last
match at the castle butts by the king. But to the matter in hand. What
treason hath Mark Fytton, the butcher, been talking?"
"I care not to repeat his words, mine host," replied the duke; "but he
hath spoken in unbecoming terms of his highness and Mistress Anne
"He means not what he says," rejoined the host. "He is a loyal subject
of the king; but he is apt to get quarrelsome over his cups."
"Well said, honest Bryan," cried the duke; "you have one quality of a
good landlord--that of a peacemaker. Give the knave a cup of ale, and
let him wash down his foul words in a health to the king, wishing him a
speedy divorce and a new queen, and he shall then sit among us
"I do not desire to sit with you, you self-dubbed duke," rejoined Mark;
"but if you will doff your fine jerkin, and stand up with me on the green, I
will give you cause to remember laying hands on me."
"Well challenged, bold butcher!" cried one of Surrey's attendants. "You
shall be made a duke yourself."
"Or a cardinal," cried Mark. "I should not be the first of my brethren
who has met with such preferment."
"He derides the Church in the person of Cardinal Wolsey!" cried the
duke. "He is a blasphemer as well as traitor."
"Drink the king's health in a full cup, Mark," interposed the host,
anxious to set matters aright, "and keep your mischievous tongue
between your teeth."
"Beshrew me if I drink the king's health, or that of his minion, Anne
Boleyn!" cried Mark boldly. "But I will tell you what I will drink. I will
drink the health of King Henry's lawful consort, Catherine of Arragon;
and I will add to it a wish that the Pope may forge her marriage chains
to her royal husband faster than ever."
"A foolish wish," cried Bryan. "Why, Mark, you are clean crazed!"
"It is the king who is crazed, not me! " cried Mark. "He would sacrifice
his rightful consort to his unlawful passion; and you, base hirelings,
support the tyrant in his wrongful conduct I"
"Saints protect us! " exclaimed Bryan. " Why, this is flat treason. Mark,
I can no longer uphold you."
"Not if you do not desire to share his prison, mine host," cried the Duke
of Shoreditch. "You have all heard him call the king a tyrant. Seize him,
"Let them lay hands upon me if they dare!" cried the butcher resolutely.
"I have felled an ox with a blow of my fist before this, and I promise you
I will show them no better treatment."
Awed by Mark's determined manner, the bystanders kept aloof.
"I command you, in the king's name, to seize him!" roared Shoreditch.
"If he offers resistance he will assuredly be hanged."
"No one shall touch me!" cried Mark fiercely.
"That remains to be seen," said the foremost of the Earl of Surrey's
attendants. " Yield, fellow!"
"Never!" replied Mark; "and I warn you to keep off."
The attendant, however, advanced; but before he could lay hands on
the butcher he received a blow from his ox-like fist that sent him reeling
backwards for several paces, and finally stretched him at full length
upon the ground. His companions drew their swords, and would have
instantly fallen upon the sturdy offender, if Morgan Fenwolf, who, with
the Earl of Surrey, was standing among the spectators, had not rushed
forward, and, closing with Mark before the latter could strike a blow,
grappled with him, and held him fast till he was secured, and his arms
tied behind him.
"And so it is you, Morgan Fenwolf, who have served me this ill turn, eh?"
cried the butcher, regarding him fiercely. "I now believe all I have
heard of you."
"What have you heard of him? "asked Surrey, advancing.
"That he has dealings with the fiend--with Herne the Hunter," replied
Mark. "If I am hanged for a traitor, he ought to be burnt for a wizard."
"Heed not what the villain says, my good fellow," said the Duke of
Shoreditch; "you have captured him bravely, and I will take care your
conduct is duly reported to his majesty. To the castle with him! To the
castle! He will lodge to-night in the deepest dungeon of yon
fortification," pointing to the Curfew Tower above them, "there to await
the king's judgment; and to-morrow night it will be well for him if he is
not swinging from the gibbet near the bridge. Bring him along."
And followed by Morgan Fenwolf and the others, with the prisoner, he
strode up the hill.
Long before this Captain Bouchier had issued from the hostel and
joined the earl, and they walked together after the crowd. In a few
minutes the Duke of Shoreditch reached Henry the Eighth's Gate, where
he shouted to a sentinel, and told him what had occurred. After some
delay a wicket in the gate was opened, and the chief persons of the
party were allowed to pass through it with the prisoner, who was
assigned to the custody of a couple of arquebusiers.
By this time an officer had arrived, and it was agreed, at the suggestion
of the Duke of Shoreditch, to take the offender to the Curfew Tower.
Accordingly they crossed the lower ward, and passing beneath an
archway near the semicircular range of habitations allotted to the petty
canons, traversed the space before the west end of Saint George's
Chapel, and descending a short flight of stone steps at the left, and
threading a narrow passage, presently arrived at the arched entrance
in the Curfew, whose hoary walls shone brightly in the moonlight.
They had to knock for some time against the stout oak door before any
notice was taken of the summons. At length an old man, who acted as
bellringer, thrust his head out of one of the narrow pointed windows
above, and demanded their business. Satisfied with the reply, he
descended, and, opening the door, admitted them into a lofty chamber,
the roof of which was composed of stout planks, crossed by heavy
oaken rafters, and supported by beams of the same material. On the
left a steep ladder-like flight of wooden steps led to an upper room, and
from a hole in the roof descended a bell-rope, which was fastened to
one of the beams, showing the use to which the chamber was put.
Some further consultation was now held among the party as to the
propriety of leaving the prisoner in this chamber under the guard of the
arquebusiers, but it was at last decided against doing so, and the old
bellringer being called upon for the keys of the dungeon beneath, he
speedily produced them. They then went forth, and descending a flight
of stone steps on the left, came to a low strong door, which they
unlocked, and obtained admission to a large octangular chamber with a
vaulted roof, and deep embrasures terminated by narrow loopholes.
The light of a lamp carried by the bellringer showed the dreary extent of
the vault, and the enormous thickness of its walls.
"A night's solitary confinement in this place will be of infinite service to
our prisoner," said the Duke of Shoreditch, gazing around. "I'll be sworn
he is ready to bite off the foolish tongue that has brought him to such a
The butcher made no reply, but being released by the arquebusiers, sat
down upon a bench that constituted the sole furniture of the vault.
"Shall I leave him the lamp?" asked the bellringer; "he may beguile the
time by reading the names of former prisoners scratched on the walls
and in the embrasures."
"No; he shall not even have that miserable satisfaction," returned the
Duke of Shoreditch. "He shall be left in the darkness to his own bad
and bitter thoughts."
With this the party withdrew, and the door was fastened upon the
prisoner. An arquebusier was stationed at the foot of the steps; and the
Earl of Surrey and Captain Bouchier having fully satisfied their curiosity,
shaped their course towards the castle gate. On their way thither the
earl looked about for Morgan Fenwolf, but could nowhere discern him.
He then passed through the wicket with Bouchier, and proceeding to
the Garter, they mounted their steeds, and galloped off towards
Datchet, and thence to Staines and Hampton Court.
III. Of the Grand Procession to Windsor Castle--Of the Meeting of King
Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn at the Lower Gate-Of their Entrance
into the Castle--And how the Butcher was Hanged from the Curfew
A joyous day was it for Windsor and great were the preparations made
by its loyal inhabitants for a suitable reception to their sovereign. At
an early hour the town was thronged with strangers from the
neighbouring villages, and later on crowds began to arrive from
London, some having come along the highway on horseback, and
others having rowed in various craft up the river. All were clad in
holiday attire, and the streets presented an appearance of unwonted
bustle and gaiety. The Maypole in Bachelors' Acre was hung with
flowers. Several booths, with flags floating above them, were erected
in the same place, where ale, mead, and hypocras, together with cold
pasties, hams, capons, and large joints of beef and mutton, might be
obtained. Mummers and minstrels were in attendance, and every kind
of diversion was going forward. Here was one party wrestling; there
another, casting the bar; on this side a set of rustics were dancing a
merry round with a bevy of buxom Berkshire lasses; on that stood a
fourth group, listening to a youth playing on the recorders. At one end
of the Acre large fires were lighted, before which two whole oxen were
roasting, provided in honour of the occasion by the mayor and
burgesses of the town; at the other, butts were set against which the
Duke of Shoreditch and his companions, the five marquises, were
practising. The duke himself shot admirably, and never failed to hit the
bulls-eye; but the great feat of the day was performed by Morgan
Fenwolf, who thrice split the duke's shafts as they stuck in the mark.
"Well done !" cried the duke, as he witnessed the achievement; "why,
you shoot as bravely as Herne the Hunter. Old wives tell us he used to
split the arrows of his comrades in that fashion."
"He must have learnt the trick from Herne himself in the forest," cried
one of the bystanders.
Morgan Fenwolf looked fiercely round in search of the speaker, but
could not discern him. He, however, shot no more, and refusing a cup
of hypocras offered him by Shoreditch, disappeared among the crowd.
Soon after this the booths were emptied, the bar thrown down, the
Maypole and the butts deserted, and the whole of Bachelors' Acre
cleared of its occupants--except those who were compelled to attend
to the mighty spits turning before the fires--by the loud discharge of
ordnance from the castle gates, accompanied by the ringing of bells,
announcing that the mayor and burgesses of Windsor, together with the
officers of the Order of the Garter, were setting forth to Datchet Bridge
to meet the royal procession.
Those who most promptly obeyed this summons beheld the lower
castle gate, built by the then reigning monarch, open, while from it
issued four trumpeters clad in emblazoned coats, with silken bandrols
depending from their horns, blowing loud fanfares. They were followed
by twelve henchmen, walking four abreast, arrayed in scarlet tunics,
with the royal cypher H.R. worked in gold on the breast, and carrying
gilt poleaxes over their shoulders. Next came a company of archers,
equipped in helm and brigandine, and armed with long pikes, glittering,
as did their steel accoutrements, in the bright sunshine. They were
succeeded by the bailiffs and burgesses of the town, riding three
abreast, and enveloped in gowns of scarlet cloth; after which rode the
mayor of Windsor in a gown of crimson velvet, and attended by two
footmen, in white and red damask, carrying white wands. The mayor
was followed by a company of the town guard, with partisans over the
shoulders. Then came the sheriff of the county and his attendants.
Next followed the twenty-six alms-knights (for such was their number),
walking two and two, and wearing red mantles, with a scutcheon of
Saint George on the shoulder, but without the garter surrounding it.
Then came the thirteen petty canons, in murrey-coloured gowns, with
the arms of Saint George wrought in a roundel on the shoulder; then the
twelve canons, similarly attired; and lastly the dean of the college, in
A slight pause ensued, and the chief officers of the Garter made their
appearance. First walked the Black Rod, clothed in a russet-coloured
mantle, faced with alternate panes of blue and red, emblazoned with
flower-de-luces of gold and crowned lions. He carried a small black rod,
the ensign of his office, surmounted with the lion of England in silver.
After the Black Rod came the Garter, habited in a gown of crimson
satin, paned and emblazoned like that of the officer who preceded him,
hearing a white crown with a sceptre upon it, and having a gilt crown in
lieu of a cap upon his head. The Garter was followed by the register, a
grave personage, in a black gown, with a surplice over it, covered by a
mantelet of furs. Then came the chancellor of the Order, in his robe of
murrey-coloured velvet lined with sarcenet, with a badge on the
shoulder consisting of a gold rose, enclosed in a garter wrought with
pearls of damask gold. Lastly came the Bishop of Winchester, the
prelate of the Order, wearing his mitre, and habited in a robe of crimson
velvet lined with white taffeta, faced with blue, and embroidered on the
right shoulder with a scutcheon of Saint George, encompassed with the
Garter, and adorned with cordons of blue silk mingled with gold.
Brought up by a rear guard of halberdiers, the procession moved slowly
along Thames Street, the houses of which, as well as those in Peascod
Street, were all more or less decorated--the humbler sort being covered
with branches of trees, intermingled with garlands of flowers, while the
better description was hung with pieces of tapestry, carpets, and rich
stuffs. Nor should it pass unnoticed that the loyalty of Bryan
Bowntance, the host of the Garter, had exhibited itself in an arch
thrown across the road opposite his house, adorned with various
coloured ribbons and flowers, in the midst of which was a large shield,
exhibiting the letters, b. and h. (in mystic allusion to Henry and Anne
Boleyn) intermingled and surrounded by love-knots.
Turning off on the left into the lower road, skirting the north of the
castle, and following the course of the river to Datchet, by which it was
understood the royal cavalcade would make its approach, the
procession arrived at an open space by the side of the river, where it
came to a halt, and the dean, chancellor, and prelate, together with
other officers of the Garter, embarked in a barge moored to the bank,
which was towed slowly down the stream in the direction of Datchet
Bridge--a band of minstrels stationed within it playing all the time.
Meanwhile the rest of the cavalcade, having again set for ward,
pursued their course along the banks of the river, proceeding at a foot's
pace, and accompanied by crowds of spectators, cheering them as
they moved along. The day was bright and beautiful, and nothing was
wanting to enhance the beauty of the spectacle. On the left flowed the
silver Thames, crowded with craft, filled with richly-dressed personages
of both sexes, amid which floated the pompous barge appropriated to
the officers of the Garter, which was hung with banners and streamers,
and decorated at the sides with targets, emblazoned with the arms of
St. George. On the greensward edging the stream marched a brilliant
cavalcade, and on the right lay the old woods of the Home Park, with
long vistas opening through them, giving exquisite peeps of the towers
and battlements of the castle.
Half an hour brought the cavalcade to Datchet Bridge, at the foot of
which a pavilion was erected for the accommodation of the mayor and
burgesses. And here, having dismounted, they awaited the king's
Shortly after this a cloud of dust on the Staines Road seemed to
announce the approach of the royal party, and all rushed forth and held
themselves in readiness to meet it. But the dust appeared to have
been raised by a company of horsemen, headed by Captain Bouchier,
who rode up the next moment. Courteously saluting the mayor,
Bouchier informed him that Mistress Anne Boleyn was close behind,
and that it was the king's pleasure that she should be attended in all
state to the lower gate of the castle, there to await his coming, as he
himself intended to enter it with her. The mayor replied that the
sovereign's behests should be implicitly obeyed, and he thereupon
stationed himself at the farther side of the bridge in expectation of
Anne Boleyn's arrival.
Presently the sound of trumpets smote his ear, and a numerous and
splendid retinue was seen advancing, consisting of nobles, knights,
esquires, and gentlemen, ranged according to their degrees, and all
sumptuously apparelled in cloths of gold and silver, and velvets of
various colours, richly embroidered. Besides these, there were pages
and other attendants in the liveries of their masters, together with
sergeants of the guard and henchmen in their full accoutrements.
Among the nobles were the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk--the king being
desirous of honouring as much as possible her whom he had resolved
to make his queen. The former was clothed in tissue, embroidered with
roses of gold, with a baldric across his body of massive gold, and was
mounted on a charger likewise trapped in gold; and the latter wore a
mantle of cloth of silver, pounced in the form of letters, and lined with
blue velvet, while his horse was trapped bardwise in harness
embroidered with bullion gold curiously wrought. Both also wore the
collar of the Order of the Garter. Near them rode Sir Thomas Boleyn,
who, conscious of the dignity to which his daughter was to be
advanced, comported himself with almost intolerable haughtiness.
Immediately behind Sir Thomas Boleyn came a sumptuous litter
covered with cloth of gold, drawn by four white palfreys caparisoned in
white damask down to the ground, and each having a page in white and
blue satin at its head. Over the litter was borne a canopy of cloth of
gold supported by four gilt staves, and ornamented at the corners with
silver bells, ringing forth sweet music as it moved along. Each staff
was borne by a knight, of whom sixteen were in attendance to relieve
one another when fatigued.
In this litter sat Anne Boleyn. She wore a surcoat of white tissue, and a
mantle of the same material lined with ermine. Her gown, which,
however, was now concealed by the surcoat, was of cloth of gold
tissue, raised with pearls of silver damask, with a stomacher of purple
gold similarly raised, and large open sleeves lined with chequered
tissue. Around her neck she wore a chain of orient pearls, from which
depended a diamond cross. A black velvet cap, richly embroidered with
pearls and other precious stones, and ornamented with a small white
plume, covered her head; and her small feet were hidden in blue velvet
brodequins, decorated with diamond stars.
Anne Boleyn's features were exquisitely formed, and though not
regular, far more charming than if they had been so. Her nose was
slightly aquiline, but not enough so to detract from its beauty, and had
a little retrousse; point that completed its attraction. The rest
of her features were delicately chiselled: the chin being beautifully
rounded, the brow smooth and white as snow, while the rose could not
vie with the bloom of her cheek. Her neck--alas! that the fell hand of
the executioner should ever touch it--was long and slender, her eyes
large and blue, and of irresistible witchery--sometimes scorching the
beholder like a sunbeam, anon melting him with soul-subduing softness.
Of her accomplishments other opportunities will be found to speak; but
it may be mentioned that she was skilled on many instruments, danced
and sang divinely, and had rare powers of conversation and wit. If to
these she had not added the dangerous desire to please, and the wish
to hold other hearts than the royal one she had enslaved, in thraldom,
all might, perhaps, have been well. But, alas like many other beautiful
women, she had a strong tendency to coquetry. How severely she
suffered for it, it is the purpose of this history to relate. An excellent
description of her has been given by a contemporary writer, the Comte
de Chateaubriand, who, while somewhat disparaging her personal
attractions, speaks in rapturous terms of her accomplishments: "Anne,"
writes the Comte, " avait un esprit si deslie qui c'estoit a qui l'ouiroit
desgoiser; et ci venoitelle a poetiser, telle qu' Orpheus, elle eust faict
les ours et rochers attentifs: puis saltoit, balloit, et dancoit toutes
dances Anglaises ou Estranges, et en imagina nombre qui ont garde
son nom ou celluy du galant pour qui les feit: puis scavoit tous les jeux,
qu'elle jouoit avec non plus d'heur que d'habilite puis chantoit comme
syrene, s'accompagnant de luth; harpoit mieuelx que le roy David, et
manioit fort gentilment fleuste et rebec; puis s'accoustroit de tant et si
merveilleuses facons, que ses inventions, faisoient d'elle le parangon
de toutes des dames les plus sucrees de la court; mais nulle n'avoit sa
grace, laquelle, au dire d'un ancien, passe venuste'." Such was the
opinion of one who knew her well during her residence at the French
court, when in attendance on Mary of England, consort of Louis XII.,
and afterwards Duchess of Suffolk.
At this moment Anne's eyes were fixed with some tenderness upon one
of the supporters of her canopy on the right--a very handsome young
man, attired in a doublet and hose of black tylsent, paned and cut, and
whose tall, well-proportioned figure was seen to the greatest
advantage, inasmuch as he had divested himself of his mantle, for his
better convenience in walking.
"I fear me you will fatigue yourself, Sir Thomas Wyat," said Anne Boleyn,
in tones of musical sweetness, which made the heart beat and the
colour mount to the cheeks of him she addressed. "You had better
allow Sir Thomas Arundel or Sir John Hulstone to relieve you."
"I can feel no fatigue when near you, madam," replied Wyat, in a low
A slight blush overspread Anne's features, and she raised her
embroidered kerchief to her lips.
"If I had that kerchief I would wear it at the next lists, and defy all
comers," said Wyat.
"You shall have it, then," rejoined Anne. "I love all chivalrous exploits,
and will do my best to encourage them."
"Take heed, Sir Thomas," said Sir Francis Weston, the knight who held
the staff on the other side," or we shall have the canopy down. Let Sir
Thomas Arundel relieve you."
"No," rejoined Wyat, recovering himself; "I will not rest till we come to
"You are in no haste to possess the kerchief," said Anne petulantly.
"There you wrong me, madam! "cried Sir Thomas eagerly.
"What ho, good fellows!" he shouted to the attendants at the palfreys'
heads, "your lady desires you to stop."
And I desire them to go on--I, Will Sommers, jester to the high and
mighty King Harry the Eighth!" cried a voice of mock authority behind
the knight. "What if Sir Thomas Wyat has undertaken to carry the
canopy farther than any of his companions, is that a reason he should
be relieved? Of a surety not--go on, I say!"
The person who thus spoke then stepped forward, and threw a glance
so full of significance at Anne Boleyn that she did not care to dispute
the order, but, on the contrary, laughingly acquiesced in it.
Will Sommers--the king's jester, as he described himself--was a small
middle-aged personage, with a physiognomy in which good nature and
malice, folly and shrewdness, were so oddly blended, that it was
difficult to say which predominated. His look was cunning and
sarcastic, but it was tempered by great drollery and oddity of manner,
and he laughed so heartily at his own jests and jibes, that it was
scarcely possible to help joining him. His attire consisted of a long
loose gown of spotted crimson silk, with the royal cipher woven in front
in gold; hose of blue cloth, guarded with red and black cloth; and red
cordovan buskins. A sash tied round his waist served him instead of a
girdle, and he wore a trencher-shaped velvet cap on his head, with a
white tufted feather in it. In his hand he carried a small horn. He was
generally attended by a monkey, habited in a crimson doublet and
hood, which sat upon his shoulder, and played very diverting tricks, but
the animal was not with him on the present occasion.
Will Sommers was a great favourite with the king, and ventured upon
familiarities which no one else dared to use with him. The favour in
which he stood with his royal master procured him admittance to his
presence at all hours and at all seasons, and his influence, though
seldom exerted, was very great. He was especially serviceable in
turning aside the edge of the king's displeasure, and more frequently
exerted himself to allay the storm than to raise it. His principal hostility
was directed against Wolsey, whose arrogance and grasping practices
were the constant subjects of his railing. It was seldom, such was his
privileged character, and the protection he enjoyed from the sovereign,
that any of the courtiers resented his remarks; but Sir Thomas Wyat's
feelings being now deeply interested, he turned sharply round, and
said, "How now, thou meddling varlet, what business hast thou to
"I interfere to prove my authority, gossip Wyat," replied Sommers, " and
to show that, varlet as I am, I am as powerful as Mistress Anne Boleyn--
nay, that I am yet more powerful, because I am obeyed, while she is
"Were I at liberty," said Sir Thomas angrily, "I would make thee repent
"But thou art not at liberty, good gossip," replied the jester, screaming
with laughter; " thou art tied like a slave to the oar, and cannot free
thyself from it--ha! ha!" Having enjoyed the knight's discomposure for a
few seconds, he advanced towards him, and whispered in his ear,
"Don't mistake me, gossip. I have done thee good service in preventing
thee from taking that kerchief. Hadst thou received it in the presence
of these witnesses, thou wouldst have been lodged in the Round Tower
of Windsor Castle to-morrow, instead of feasting with the knights-
companions in Saint George's Hall."
"I believe thou art right, gossip,"said Wyat in the same tone.
Rest assured I am," replied Sommers; "and I further more counsel thee
to decline this dangerous gift altogether, and to think no more of the
fair profferer, or if thou must think of her, let it be as of one beyond thy
reach. Cross not the lion's path; take a friendly hint from the jackal."
And without waiting for a reply, he darted away, and mingled with the
cavalcade in the rear.
Immediately behind Anne Boleyn's litter rode a company of henchmen
of the royal household, armed with gilt partisans. Next succeeded a
chariot covered with red cloth of gold, and drawn by four horses richly
caparisoned, containing the old Duchess of Norfolk and the old
Marchioness of Dorset. Then came the king's natural son, the Duke of
Richmond--a young man formed on the same large scale, and
distinguished by the same haughty port, and the same bluff manner, as
his royal sire. The duke's mother was the Lady Talboys, esteemed one
of the most beautiful women of the age, and who had for a long time
held the capricious monarch captive. Henry was warmly attached to
his son, showered favours without number upon him, and might have
done yet more if fate had not snatched him away at an early age.
Though scarcely eighteen, the Duke of Richmond looked more than
twenty, and his lips and chin were clothed with a well-grown though
closely-clipped beard. He was magnificently habited in a doublet of
cloth of gold of bawdekin, the placard and sleeves of which were
wrought with flat gold, and fastened with aiglets. A girdle of crimson
velvet, enriched with precious stones, encircled his waist, and
sustained a poniard and a Toledo sword, damascened with gold. Over
all he wore a loose robe, or housse, of scarlet mohair, trimmed with
minever, and was further decorated with the collar of the Order of the
Garter. His cap was of white velvet, ornamented with emeralds, and
from the side depended a small azure plume. He rode a magnificent
black charger, trapped in housings of cloth of gold, powdered with
By the duke's side rode the Earl of Surrey attired--as upon the previous
day, and mounted on a fiery Arabian, trapped in crimson velvet fringed
with Venetian gold. Both nobles were attended by their esquires in
Behind them came a chariot covered with cloth of silver, and drawn,
like the first, by four horses in rich housings, containing two very
beautiful damsels, one of whom attracted so much of the attention of
the youthful nobles, that it was with difficulty they could preserve due
order of march. The young dame in question was about seventeen; her
face was oval in form, with features of the utmost delicacy and
regularity. Her complexion was fair and pale, and contrasted strikingly
with her jetty brows and magnificent black eyes, of oriental size,
tenderness, and lustre. Her dark and luxuriant tresses were confined
by a cap of black velvet faced with white satin, and ornamented with
pearls. Her gown was of white satin worked with gold, and had long
open pendent sleeves, while from her slender and marble neck hung a
cordeliere--a species of necklace imitated from the cord worn by
Franciscan friars, and formed of crimson silk twisted with threads of
This fair creature was the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald
Fitzgerald, ninth Earl of Kildare, who claimed descent from the Geraldi
family of Florence; but she was generally known by the appellation of
the Fair Geraldine--a title bestowed upon her, on account of her beauty,
by the king, and by which she still lives, and will continue to live, as
long as poetry endures, in the deathless and enchanting strains of her
lover, the Earl of Surrey. At the instance of her mother, Lady Kildare,
the Fair Geraldine was brought up with the Princess Mary, afterwards
Queen of England; but she had been lately assigned by the royal order
as one of the attendants--a post equivalent to that of maid of honour--to
Her companion was the Lady Mary Howard, the sister of the Earl of
Surrey, a nymph about her own age, and possessed of great personal
attractions, having nobly-formed features, radiant blue eyes, light
tresses, and a complexion of dazzling clearness. Lady Mary Howard
nourished a passion for the Duke of Richmond, whom she saw with
secret chagrin captivated by the superior charms of the Fair Geraldine.
Her uneasiness, however, was in some degree abated by the
knowledge, which as confidante of the latter she had obtained, that her
brother was master of her heart. Lady Mary was dressed in blue velvet,
cut and lined with cloth of gold, and wore a headgear of white velvet,
ornamented with pearls.
Just as the cavalcade came in sight of Datchet Bridge, the Duke of
Richmond turned his horse's head, and rode up to the side of the
chariot on which the Fair Geraldine was sitting.
"I am come to tell you of a marvellous adventure that befell Surrey in
the Home Park at Windsor last night," he said. "He declares he has
seen the demon hunter, Herne."
"Then pray let the Earl of Surrey relate the adventure to us himself,"
replied the Fair Geraldine. "No one can tell a story so well as the hero
The duke signed to the youthful earl, who was glancing rather wistfully
at them, and he immediately joined them, while Richmond passed over
to the Lady Mary Howard. Surrey then proceeded to relate what had
happened to him in the park, and the fair Geraldine listened to his
recital with breathless interest.
"Heaven shield us from evil spirits!" she exclaimed, crossing herself.
"But what is the history of this wicked hunter, my lord? and why did he
incur such a dreadful doom?"
"I know nothing more than that he was a keeper in the forest, who,
having committed some heinous crime, hanged himself from a branch
of the oak beneath which I found the keeper, Morgan Fenwolf, and
which still bears his name," replied the earl. "For this unrighteous act
he cannot obtain rest, but is condemned to wander through the forest
at midnight, where he wreaks his vengeance in blasting the trees."
"The legend I have heard differs from yours," observed the Duke of
Richmond: "it runs that the spirit by which the forest is haunted is a
wood-demon, who assumes the shape of the ghostly hunter, and seeks
to tempt or terrify the keepers to sell their souls to him."
"Your grace's legend is the better of the two," said Lady Mary Howard,
"or rather, I should say, the more probable. I trust the evil spirit did not
make you any such offer, brother of Surrey?"
The earl gravely shook his head.
"If I were to meet him, and he offered me my heart's dearest wish, I fear
he would prevail with me," observed the duke, glancing tenderly at the
"Tush!--the subject is too serious for jesting, Richmond," said Surrey
"His grace, as is usual in compacts with the fiend, might have reason to
rue his bargain," observed Lady Mary Howard peevishly.
"If the Earl of Surrey were my brother," remarked the Fair Geraldine to
the Lady Mary, "I would interdict him from roaming in the park after
"He is very wilful," said Lady Mary, smiling, "and holds my commands
"Let the Fair Geraldine lay hers upon me, and she shall not have to
reproach me with disobedience," rejoined the earl.
I must interpose to prevent their utterance," cried Richmond, with a
somewhat jealous look at his friend, "for I have determined to know
more of this mystery, and shall require the earl's assistance to unravel
it. I think I remember Morgan Fenwolf, the keeper, and will send for him
to the castle, and question him. But in any case, I and Surrey will visit
Herne's Oak to-night."
The remonstrances of both ladies were interrupted by the sudden
appearance of Will Sommers.
"What ho! my lords--to your places! to your places!" cried the jester, in a
shrill angry voice. "See ye not we are close upon Datchet Bridge? Ye
can converse with these fair dames at a more fitting season; but it is
the king's pleasure that the cavalcade should make a goodly show. To
your places, I say!"
Laughing at the jester's peremptory injunction, the two young nobles
nevertheless obeyed it, and, bending almost to the saddle-bow to the
ladies, resumed their posts.
The concourse assembled on Datchet Bridge welcomed Anne Boleyn's
arrival with loud acclamations, while joyous strains proceeded from
sackbut and psaltery, and echoing blasts from the trumpets. Caps
were flung into the air, and a piece of ordnance was fired from the
barge, which was presently afterwards answered by the castle guns.
Having paid his homage to Anne Boleyn, the mayor rejoined the
company of bailiffs and burgesses, and the whole cavalcade crossed
the bridge, winding their way slowly along the banks of the river, the
barge, with the minstrels playing in it, accompanying them the while. In
this way they reached Windsor; and as Anne Boleyn gazed up at the
lordly castle above which the royal standard now floated, proud and
aspiring thoughts swelled her heart, and she longed for the hour when
she should approach it as its mistress. Just then her eye chanced on
Sir Thomas Wyat, who was riding behind her amongst the knights, and
she felt, though it might cost her a struggle, that love would yield to
Leaving the barge and its occupants to await the king's arrival, the
cavalcade ascended Thames Street, and were welcomed everywhere
with acclamations and rejoicing. Bryan Bowntance, who had stationed
himself on the right of the arch in front of his house, attempted to
address Anne Boleyn, but could not bring forth a word. His failure, how
ever, was more successful than his speech might have been, inasmuch
as it excited abundance of merriment.
Arrived at the area in front of the lower gateway, Anne Boleyn's litter
was drawn up in the midst of it, and the whole of the cavalcade
grouping around her, presented a magnificent sight to the archers and
arquebusiers stationed on the towers and walls.
Just at this moment a signal gun was heard from Datchet Bridge,
announcing that the king had reached it, and the Dukes of Suffolk,
Norfolk, and Richmond, together with the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas
Wyat, and a few of their gentle men, rode back to meet him. They had
scarcely, however, reached the foot of the hill when the royal party
appeared in view, for the king with his characteristic impatience, on
drawing near the castle, had urged his attendants quickly forward.
First came half a dozen trumpeters, with silken bandrols fluttering in
the breeze, blowing loud flourishes. Then a party of halberdiers, whose
leaders had pennons streaming from the tops of their tall pikes. Next
came two gentlemen ushers bareheaded, but mounted and richly
habited, belonging to the Cardinal of York, who cried out as they
pressed forward, "On before, my masters, on before!--make way for my
Then came a sergeant-of-arms bearing a great mace of silver, and two
gentlemen carrying each a pillar of silver. Next rode a gentleman
carrying the cardinal's hat, and after him came Wolsey himself,
mounted on a mule trapped in crimson velvet, with a saddle covered
with the same stuff, and gilt stirrups. His large person was arrayed in
robes of the finest crimson satin engrained, and a silk cap of the same
colour contrasted by its brightness with the pale purple tint of his
sullen, morose, and bloated features. The cardinal took no notice of
the clamour around him, but now and then, when an expression of
dislike was uttered against him, for he had already begun to be
unpopular with the people, he would raise his eyes and direct a
withering glance at the hardy speaker. But these expressions were
few, for, though tottering, Wolsey was yet too formidable to be insulted
with impunity. On either side of him were two mounted attend ants,
each caring a gilt poleaxe, who, if he had given the word, would have
instantly chastised the insolence of the bystanders, while behind him
rode his two cross-bearers upon homes trapped in scarlet.
Wolsey's princely retinue was followed by a litter of crimson velvet, in
which lay the pope's legate, Cardinal Campeggio, whose infirmities
were so great that he could not move without assistance. Campeggio
was likewise attended by a numerous train.
After a long line of lords, knights, and esquires, came Henry the Eighth.
He was apparelled in a robe of crimson velvet furred with ermines, and
wore a doublet of raised gold, the placard of which was embroidered
with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, large pearls, and other precious
stones. About his neck was a baldric of balas rubies, and over his robe
he wore the collar of the Order of the Garter. His horse, a charger of the
largest size, and well able to sustain his vast weight, was trapped in
crimson velvet, purfled with ermines. His knights and esquires were
clothed in purple velvet, and his henchmen in scarlet tunics of the
same make as those worn by the warders of the Tower at the present
Henry was in his thirty-eighth year, and though somewhat overgrown
and heavy, had lost none of his activity, and but little of the grace of his
noble proportions. His size and breadth of limb were well displayed in
his magnificent habiliment. His countenance was handsome and
manly, with a certain broad burly look, thoroughly English in its
character, which won him much admiration from his subjects; and
though it might be objected that the eyes were too small, and the
mouth somewhat too diminutive, it could not be denied that the general
expression of the face was kingly in the extreme. A prince of a more
"royal presence" than Henry the Eighth was never seen, and though he
had many and grave faults, want of dignity was not amongst the
Henry entered Windsor amid the acclamations of the spectators, the
fanfares of trumpeters, and the roar of ordnance from the castle walls.
Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn, having descended from her litter, which
passed through the gate into the lower ward, stood with her ladies
beneath the canopy awaiting his arrival.
A wide clear space was preserved before her, into which, however,
Wolsey penetrated, and, dismounting, placed himself so that he could
witness the meeting between her and the king. Behind him stood the
jester, Will Sommers, who was equally curious with himself. The litter
of Cardinal Campeggio passed through the gateway and proceeded to
the lodgings reserved for his eminence.
Scarcely had Wolsey taken up his station than Henry rode up, and,
alighting, consigned his horse to a page, and, followed by the Duke of
Richmond and the Earl of Surrey, advanced towards Anne Boleyn, who
immediately stepped forward to meet him.
"Fair mistress," he said, taking her hand, and regarding her with a look
of passionate devotion, "I welcome you to this my castle of Windsor,
and trust soon to make you as absolute mistress of it as I am lord and
Anne Boleyn blushed, and cast down her eyes, and Sir Thomas Wyat,
who stood at some little distance with his hand upon his saddle,
regarding her, felt that any hopes he might have entertained were
"Heard you that, my lord cardinal?" said Will Sommers to Wolsey. "She
will soon be mistress here. As she comes in, you go out--mind that!"
The cardinal made no answer further than was conveyed by the
deepened colour of his cheeks.
Amid continued fanfares and acclamations, Harry then led Anne Boleyn
through the gateway, followed by the ladies in waiting, who were joined
by Richmond and Surrey. The prelate, chancellor, register, black rod,
and other officers of the Garter, together with the whole of the royal
retinue who had dismounted, came after them. A vast concourse of
spectators, extending almost as far as the Lieutenant's Tower, was
collected in front of the alms-knights' houses; but a wide space had
been kept clear by the henchmen for the passage of the sovereign and
his train, and along this Henry proceeded with Anne Boleyn, in the
direction of the upper ward. Just as he reached the Norman Tower,
and passed the entrance to the keep, the Duke of Shoreditch, who was
standing beneath the gateway, advanced towards him and prostrated
himself on one knee.
"May it please your majesty," said Shoreditch, "I last night arrested a
butcher of Windsor for uttering words highly disrespectful of your
highness, and of the fair and virtuous lady by your side."
"Ah! God's death! " exclaimed the king. "Where is the traitor? Bring him
"He is here," replied Shoreditch.
And immediately Mark Fytton was brought forward by a couple of
halberdiers. He still preserved his undaunted demeanour, and gazed
sternly at the king.
"So, fellow, thou hast dared to speak disrespectfully of us--ha!" cried
I have spoken the truth," replied the butcher fearlessly. "I have said
you were about to divorce your lawful consort, Catherine of Arragon,
and to take the minion, Anne Boleyn, who stands beside you, to your
bed. And I added, it was a wrongful act."
"Foul befall thy lying tongue for saying so!" replied Henry furiously. "I
have a mind to pluck it from thy throat, and cast it to the dogs. What
ho! guards, take this caitiff to the summit of the highest tower of the
castle--the Curfew Tower--and hang him from it, so that all my loyal
subjects in Windsor may see how traitors are served."
"Your highness has judged him justly," said Anne Boleyn. "You say so
now, Mistress Anne Boleyn," rejoined the butcher; "but you yourself
shall one day stand in as much peril of your life as I do, and shall plead
as vainly as I should, were I to plead at all, which I will never do to this
inexorable tyrant. You will then remember my end."
Away with him! " cried Henry. " I myself will go to the Garter Tower to
see it done. Farewell for a short while, sweetheart. I will read these
partisans of Catherine a terrible lesson."
As the butcher was hurried off to the Curfew Tower, the king proceeded
with his attendants to the Garter Tower, and ascended to its summit.
In less than ten minutes a stout pole, like the mast of a ship, was thrust
through the battlements of the Curfew Tower, on the side looking
towards the town. To this pole a rope, of some dozen feet in length,
and having a noose at one end, was firmly secured. The butcher was
then brought forth, bound hand and foot, and the noose was thrown
over his neck.
While this was passing, the wretched man descried a person looking at
him from a window in a wooden structure projecting from the side of
"What, are you there, Morgan Fenwolf?" he cried. "Remember what
passed between us in the dungeon last night, and be warned l You will
not meet your end as firmly as I meet mine?'
"Make thy shrift quickly, fellow, if thou hast aught to say," interposed
one of the halberdiers.
"I have no shrift to make," rejoined the butcher. "I have already settled
my account with Heaven. God preserve Queen Catherine!"
As he uttered these words, he was thrust off from the battlements by
the halberdiers, and his body swung into the abyss amid the hootings
and execrations of the spectators below.
Having glutted his eyes with the horrible sight, Henry descended from
the tower, and returned to Anne Boleyn.
IV. How King Henry the Eighth held a Chapter of the Garter--How he
attended Vespers and Matins in Saint George's Chapel--And how he
feasted with the Knights--Companions in Saint George's Hall.
From a balcony overlooking the upper ward, Anne Boleyn beheld the
king's approach on his return from the Garter Tower, and waving her
hand smilingly to him, she withdrew into the presence-chamber.
Hastening to her, Henry found her surrounded by her ladies of honour,
by the chief of the nobles and knights who had composed her train from
Hampton Court, and by the Cardinals Wolsey and Campeggio; and
having exchanged a few words with her, he took her hand, and led her
to the upper part of the chamber, where two chairs of state were set
beneath a canopy of crimson velvet embroidered with the royal arms,
and placed her in the seat hitherto allotted to Catherine of Arragon. A
smile of triumph irradiated Anne's lovely countenance at this mark of
distinction, nor was her satisfaction diminished as Henry turned to
address the assemblage.
"My lords," he said, "ye are right well aware of the scruples of
conscience I entertain in regard to my marriage with my brother's
widow, Catherine of Arragon. The more I weigh the matter, the more
convinced am I of its unlawfulness; and were it possible to blind myself
to my sinful condition, the preachers, who openly rebuke me from the
pulpit, would take care to remind me of it. Misunderstand me not, my
lords. I have no ground of complaint against the queen. Far otherwise.
She is a lady of most excellent character--full of devotion, loyalty,
nobility, and gentleness. And if I could divest myself of my misgivings,
so far from seeking to put her from me, I should cherish her with the
greatest tenderness. Ye may marvel that I have delayed the divorce
thus long. But it is only of late that my eyes have been opened; and the
step was hard to take. Old affections clung to me--old chains
restrained me--nor could I, without compunction, separate myself from
one who has ever been to me a virtuous and devoted consort."
"Thou hast undergone a martyrdom, gossip," observed Will Sommers,
who had posted himself at the foot of the canopy, near the king, " and
shalt henceforth be denominated Saint Henry"
The gravity of the hearers might have been discomposed by this
remark, but for the stern looks of the king.
"Ye may make a jest of my scruples, my lords," he continued, "and think
I hold them lightly; but my treatise on the subject, which has cost me
much labour and meditation, will avouch to the contrary. What would
befall this realm if my marriage were called in question after my
decease? The same trouble and confusion would ensue that followed
on the death of my noble grandfather, King Edward the Fourth. To
prevent such mischance I have resolved, most reluctantly, to put away
my present queen, and to take another consort, by whom I trust to raise
up a worthy successor and inheritor of my kingdom."
A murmur of applause followed this speech, and the two cardinals
exchanged significant glances, which were not unobserved by the
"I doubt not ye will all approve the choice I shall make," he pursued,
looking fiercely at Wolsey, and taking Anne Boleyn's hand, who arose
as he turned to her. "And now, fair mistress," he added to her, "as an
earnest of the regard I have for you, and of the honours I intend you, I
hereby create you Marchioness of Pembroke, and bestow upon you a
thousand marks a year in land, and another thousand to be paid out of
my treasury to support your dignity."
"Your majesty is too generous," replied Anne, bending the knee, and
kissing his hand.
"Not a whit, sweetheart--not a whit," replied Henry, tenderly raising her;
"this is but a slight mark of my goodwill. Sir Thomas Boleyn," he added
to her father, "henceforth your style and title will be that of Viscount
Rochford, and your patent will be made out at the same time as that of
your daughter, the Marchioness of Pembroke. I also elect you a knight-
companion of the most honourable Order of the Garter, and your
investiture and installation will take place to-day."
Having received the thanks and homage of the newly-created noble,
Henry descended from the canopy, and passed into an inner room with
the Lady Anne, where a collation was prepared for them. Their slight
meal over, Anne took up her lute, and playing a lively prelude, sang two
or three French songs with so much skill and grace, that Henry, who
was passionately fond of music, was quite enraptured. Two delightful
hours having passed by, almost imperceptibly, an usher approached
the king, and whispering a few words to him, he reluctantly withdrew,
and Anne retired with her ladies to an inner apartment.
On reaching his closet, the king's attendants proceeded to array him in
a surcoat of crimson velvet, powdered with garters embroidered in silk
and gold, with the motto--boni soft qui mal y pense--wrought within
them. Over the surcoat was thrown a mantle of blue velvet with a
magnificent train, lined with white damask, and having on the left
shoulder a large garter, wrought in pearls and Venice twists, containing
the motto, and encircling the arms of Saint George--argent, a cross
gules. The royal habiliments were completed by a hood of the same
stuff as the surcoat, decorated like it with small embroidered garters,
and lined with white satin. From the king's neck was suspended the
collar of the Great George, composed of pieces of gold, fashioned like
garters, the ground of which was enamelled, and the letters gold.
While Henry was thus arrayed, the knights-companions, robed in their
mantles, hoods, and collars, entered the closet, and waiting till he was
ready, marched before him into the presence-chamber, where were
assembled the two provincial kings-at-arms, Clarenceux and Norroy,
the heralds, and pursuivants, wearing their coats-of-arms, together with
the band of pensioners, carrying gilt poleaxes, and drawn up in two
lines. At the king's approach, one of the gentlemen-ushers who carried
the sword of state, with the point resting upon the ground, delivered it
to the Duke of Richmond,--the latter having been appointed to bear it
before the king during all the proceedings of the feast. Meanwhile, the
knights-companions having drawn up on either side of the canopy,
Henry advanced with a slow and stately step towards it, his train borne
by the Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas Wyat, and other nobles and knights.
As he ascended the canopy, and faced the assemblage, the Duke of
Richmond and the chief officers of the Order drew up a little on his
right. The knights-companions then made their salutation to him, which
he returned by removing his jewelled cap with infinite grace and
dignity, and as soon as he was again covered they put on their caps,
and ranging themselves in order, set forward to Saint George's Chapel.
Quitting the royal lodgings, and passing through the gateway of the
Norman Tower, the procession wound its way along the base of the
Round Tower, the battlements of which bristled with spearmen, as did
the walls on the right, and the summit of the Winchester Tower, and
crossing the middle ward, skirted the tomb-house, then newly erected
by Wolsey, and threading a narrow passage between it and Saint
George's Chapel, entered the north-east door of the latter structure.
Dividing, on their entrance into the chapel, into two lines, the
attendants of the knights-companions flanked either side of the north
aisle; while between them walked the alms-knights, the verger, the
prebends of the college, and the officers-of-arms, who proceeded as far
as the west door of the choir, where they stopped. A slight pause then
ensued, after which the king, the knights-companions, and the chief
officers of the Order, entered the chapter-house--a chamber situated at
the north-east corner of the chapel--leaving the Duke of Richmond, the
sword-bearer, Lard Rochford, the knight-elect, the train-bearers, and
pensioners outside. The door of the chapter-house being closed by the
black-rod, the king proceeded to the upper end of the vestments-board--
as the table was designated--where a chair, cushions, and cloth of
state were provided for him; the knights-companions, whose stalls in
the choir were on the same side as his own, seating themselves on his
right, and those whose posts were on the prince's side taking their
places on the left. The prelate and the chancellor stood at the upper
end of the table; the Garter and register at the foot; while the door was
kept by the black-rod.
As soon as the king and the knights were seated, intimation was given
by an usher to the black-rod that the newly elected knight, Lord
Rochford, was without. The intelligence being communicated to the
king, he ordered the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk to bring him into his
presence. The injunction was obeyed, and the knight-elect presently
made his appearance, the Garter marching before him to the king.
Bowing reverently to the sovereign, Rochford, in a brief speech,
expressed his gratitude for the signal honour conferred upon him, and
at its close set his left foot upon a gilt stool, placed for him by the
Garter, who pronounced the following admonition:--" My good lord, the
loving company of the Order of the Garter have received you as their
brother and fellow. In token whereof, they give you this garter, which
God grant you may receive and wear from henceforth to His praise and
glory, and to the exaltation and honour of the noble Order and yourself."
Meanwhile the garter was girded on the leg of the newly-elected knight,
and buckled by the Duke of Suffolk. This done, he knelt before the king,
who hung a gold chain, with the image of Saint George attached to it,
about his neck, while another admonition was pronounced by the
chancellor. Rochford then arose, bowed to the monarch, to the knights-
companions, who returned his salutations, and the investiture was
Other affairs of the chapter were next discussed. Certain officers
nominated since the last meeting, were sworn; letters from absent
knights-companions, praying to be excused from attendance, were
read--and their pleas, except in the instance of Sir Thomas Cheney,
allowed. After reading the excuse of the latter, Henry uttered an angry
oath, declaring he would deprive him of his vote in the chapter-house,
banish him from his stall, and mulct him a hundred marks, to be paid at
Saint George's altar, when Will Sommers, who was permitted to be
present, whispered in his ear that the offender was kept away by the
devices of Wolsey, because he was known to be friendly to the divorce,
and to the interests of the lady Anne.
"Aha! by Saint Mary, is it so?" exclaimed Henry, knitting his brows.
"This shall be looked into. I have hanged a butcher just now. Let the
butcher's son take warning by his fate. He has bearded me long
enough. See that Sir Thomas Cheney be sent for with all despatch. I
will hear the truth from his own lips."
He then arose, and quitting the chapter-house, proceeded with the
knights-companions to the choir--the roof and walls of the sacred
structure resounding with the solemn notes of the organ as they
traversed the aisle. The first to enter the choir were the aIms-knights,
who passed through the door in a body, and making low obeisances
toward the altar and the royal stall, divided into two lines. They were
succeeded by the prebends of the College, who, making similar
obeisances, stationed themselves in front of the benches before the
stalls of the knights-companions. Next followed the pursuivants,
heralds, and provincial kings-of-arms, making like reverences, and
ranging themselves with the alms-knights. Then came the knights-
companions, who performed double reverences like the others, and
took their stations under their stalls; then came the black-rod, Garter,
and register, who having gone through the same ceremony as the
others, proceeded to their form, which was placed on the south side of
the choir before the sovereign's stall; then came the chancellor and
prelate, whose form was likewise placed before the royal stall, but
nearer to it than that allotted to the other officers; and, lastly, Henry
himself, with the sword borne before him by the Duke of Richmond, who
as he approached the steps of his stall bowed reverently towards the
altar, and made another obeisance before seating himself.
Meanwhile the Duke of Richmond posted himself in front of the royal
stall, the Earl of Oxford, as lord chamberlain, taking his station on the
king's right, and the Earl of Surrey, as vice-chamberlain, on the left. As
these arrangements were made, the two cardinals arrived, and
proceeded to the altar.
Mass was then said, and nothing could be more striking than the
appearance of the chapel during its performance. The glorious choir
with its groined and pendent roof, its walls adorned with the richest
stuffs, its exquisitely carved stalls, above which hung the banners of
the knights-companions, together with their helmets, crests, and
swords, its sumptuously--decorated altar, glittering with costly vessels,
its pulpit hung with crimson damask interwoven with gold, the
magnificent and varied dresses of the assemblage--all these
constituted a picture of surpassing splendour.
Vespers over, the king and his train departed with the same
ceremonies and in the same order as had been observed on their
entrance to the choir.
On returning to the royal lodgings, Henry proceeded to his closet,
where having divested himself of his mantle, he went in search of the
Lady Anne. He found her walking with her dames on the stately terrace
at the north of the castle, and the attendants retiring as he joined her,
he was left at full liberty for amorous converse. After pacing the
terrace for some time, he adjourned with Anne to her own apartments,
where he remained till summoned to supper with the knights-
companions in Saint George's Hall.
The next morning betimes, it being the day of the Patron Saint of the
Order of the Garter, a numerous cavalcade assembled in the upper
ward of the castle, to conduct the king to hear matins in Saint George's
Chapel. In order to render the sight as imposing as possible, Henry had
arranged that the procession should take place on horseback, and the
whole of the retinue were accordingly mounted. The large quadrangle
was filled with steeds and their attendants, and the castle walls
resounded with the fanfares of trumpets and the beating of
kettledrums. The most attractive feature of the procession in the eyes
of the beholders was the Lady Anne, who, mounted on a snow-white
palfrey richly trapped, rode on the right of the king. She was dressed in
a rich gown of raised cloth of gold; and had a coronet of black velvet,
decorated with orient pearls, on her head. Never had she looked so
lovely as on this occasion, and the king's passion increased as he
gazed upon her. Henry himself was more sumptuously attired than on
the preceding day. He wore a robe of purple velvet, made somewhat
like a frock, embroidered with flat damask gold, and small lace
intermixed. His doublet was very curiously embroidered, the sleeves
and breast being lined with cloth of gold, and fastened with great
buttons of diamonds and rubies. His sword and girdle were adorned
with magnificent emeralds, and his bonnet glistened with precious
stones. His charger was trapped in cloth of gold, traversed lattice-wise,
square, embroidered with gold damask, pearled on every side, and
having buckles and pendants of fine gold. By his side ran ten footmen,
richly attired in velvet and goldsmith's work. They were followed by the
pages of honour, mounted on great horses, trapped in crimson velvet
embroidered with new devices and knots of gold.
In this state Henry and his favourite proceeded to the great western
door of Saint George's Chapel. Here twelve gentlemen of the privy-
chamber attended with a canopy of cloth of gold, which they bore over
the king's bead, and that of the Lady Anne, as she walked beside him to
the entrance of the choir, where they separated--he proceeding to his
stall, and she to a closet at the north-east corner of the choir over the
altar, while her ladies repaired to one adjoining it.
Matins then commenced, and at the appointed part of the service the
dean of the college took a silver box, containing the heart of Saint
George, bestowed upon King Henry the Fifth by the Emperor Sigismund,
and after incense had been shed upon it by one of the canons,
presented it to the king and the knights-companions to kiss.
After the offertory, a carpet was spread on the steps before the altar,
the alms-knights, pursuivants, and heralds stationing themselves on
either side of it. The Garter then descended from his seat, and waving
his rod, the knights-companions descended likewise, but remained
before their stalls. The black-rod next descended, and proceeding
towards the altar, a groom of the wardrobe brought him a small carpet
of cloth of gold, and a cushion of the same stuff, which were placed on
the larger carpet, the cushion being set on the head of the steps.
Taking a large gilt bason to receive the offerings, the prelate stationed
himself with one of the prebends in the midst of the altar. The king
then rose from his stall, and making a reverence as before, proceeded
to the altar, attended by the Garter, register, and chancellor, together
with the Duke of Richmond bearing the sword; and having reached the
upper step, prostrated himself on the cushion, while the black-rod
bending the knee delivered a chain of gold, intended afterwards to be
redeemed, to the Duke of Suffolk, who was appointed to make the royal
offering, and who placed it in the bason held by the prelate. This
ceremony over, the king got up, and with similar reverences returned to
his stall. Then the two provincial kings, Clarenceux and Norroy,
proceeded along the choir, and making due reverences to the altar and
the sovereign, bowed to the two senior knights; who thereupon
advanced towards the altar, and kneeling down, made their offering.
The other imitated their example, coming forward according to their
The service ended, the officers and knights-companions quitted the
chapel in the same order they had entered it, the king being received
under the canopy at the door of the choir, and passing through the west
entrance of the chapel, where he waited for the Lady Anne. On her
arrival they both mounted their steeds, and rode up to the royal
lodgings amid flourishes of trumpets and acclamations. Dismounting at
the great gate, Henry proceeded to the presence-chamber, where the
knights-companions had assembled, and having received their
salutations, retired to his closet. Here he remained in deep
consultation with the Duke of Suffolk for some hours, when it having
been announced to him that the first course of the banquet was served,
he came forth, and proceeded to the presence-chamber, where he
greeted the knights-companions, who were there assembled, and who
immediately put themselves in order of procession. After this, the alms-
knights, prebends, and officers-of-arms passed on through the guard-
chamber into Saint George's Hall. They were followed by the knights-
companions, who drew up in double file, the seniors taking the
uppermost place; and through these lines the king passed, his train
borne up as before, until reaching the table set apart for him beneath a
canopy, he turned round and received the knights' reverences. The
Earl of Oxford, as vice-chamberlain, then brought him a ewer containing
water, the Earl of Surrey a bason, and Lord Rochford a napkin. Henry
having performed his ablutions, grace was said by the prelate, after
which the king seated himself beneath the canopy in an ancient chair
with a curiously carved back representing the exploit of Saint George,
which had once belonged to the founder, King Edward the Third, and
called up the two cardinals, who by this time had entered the hall, and
who remained standing beside him, one on either hand, during the
As soon as the king was seated, the knights-companions put on their
caps, and retired to the table prepared for them on the right side of the
hall, where they seated themselves according to their degree--the Duke
of Richmond occupying the first place, the Duke of Suffolk the second,
and the Duke of Norfolk the third. On the opposite side of the hall was a
long beaufet covered with flasks of wine, meats, and dishes, for the
service of the knights' table. Before this stood the attendants, near
whom were drawn up two lines of pensioners bearing the second
course on great gilt dishes, and headed by the sewer. In front of the
sewer were the treasurer and comptroller of the household, each
bearing a white wand; next them stood the officers-of-arms in two lines,
headed by the Garter. The bottom of the hall was thronged with
yeomen of the guard, halberdiers, and henchmen. In a gallery at the
lower end were stationed a band of minstrels, and near them sat the
Lady Anne and her dames to view the proceedings.
The appearance of the hall during the banquet was magnificent, the
upper part being hung with arras representing the legend of Saint
George, placed there by Henry the Sixth, and the walls behind the
knights-companions adorned with other tapestries and rich stuffs. The
tables groaned with the weight of dishes, some of which may be
enumerated for the benefit of modern gastronomers. There were
Georges on horseback, chickens in brewis, cygnets, capons of high
grease, carpes of venison, herons, calvered salmon, custards planted
with garters, tarts closed with arms, godwits, peafowl, halibut
engrailed, porpoise in armour, pickled mullets, perch in foyle, venison
pasties, hypocras jelly, and mainemy royal.
Before the second course was served, the Garter, followed by
Clarenceux and Norroy, together with the heralds and pursuivants,
advanced towards the sovereign's canopy, and cried thrice in a loud
Upon this, all the knights-companions arose and took off their caps.
The Garter then proceeded to proclaim the king's titles in Latin and
French, and lastly in English, as follows:--" Of the most high, most
excellent, and most mighty monarch, Henry the Eighth, by the grace of
God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and
Sovereign of the most noble Order of the Garter."
This proclamation made, the treasurer of the household put ten golden
marks into the Garter's cap, who making a reverence to the sovereign,
retired from the hall with his followers.
"Come, my lord legate," said Henry, when this ceremony was at an end,
"we will drink to my future queen. What ho! wine!" he added to the Earl
of Surrey, who officiated as cup-bearer.
"Your highness is not yet divorced from your present consort," replied
Campeggio. "If it please you, I should prefer drinking the health of
Catherine of Arragon."
"Well, as your eminence pleases," replied the king, taking the goblet
from the hand of Surrey; "I shall not constrain you.
And looking towards the gallery, he fixed his eyes on the Lady Anne and
drained the cup to the last drop.
"Would it were poison," muttered Sir Thomas Wyat, who stood behind
the Earl of Surrey, and witnessed what was passing.
"Give not thy treasonable thoughts vent, gossip," said Will Sommers,
who formed one of the group near the royal table, "or it may chance
that some one less friendly disposed towards thee than myself may
overhear them. I tell thee, the Lady Anne is lost to thee for ever.
Think'st thou aught of womankind would hesitate between a simple
knight and a king? My lord duke," he added sharply to Richmond, who
was looking round at him) "you would rather be in yonder gallery than
"Why so, knave?" asked the duke.
"Because the Fair Geraldine is there," replied the jester. "And yet your
grace is not the person she would most desire to have with her."
"Whom would she prefer? " inquired the duke angrily.
The jester nodded at Surrey, and laughed maliciously.
"You heard the health given by the king just now, my lord," observed
the Duke of Suffolk to his neighbour the Duke of Norfolk; "it was a
shrewd hint to the lord legate which way his judgment should decline.
Your niece will assuredly be Queen of England."
"I did not note what was said, my lord," replied Norfolk; "I pray you
repeat it to me."
Suffolk complied, and they continued in close debate until the
termination of the banquet, when the king, having saluted the company,
returned to the presence-chamber.
V. Of the Ghostly Chase beheld by the Earl of Surrey and the Duke of
Richmond in Windsor Forest.
On that same night, and just as the castle clock was on the stroke of
twelve, the Earl of Surrey and the Duke of Richmond issued from the
upper gate, and took their way towards Herne's Oak. The moon was
shining brightly, and its beams silvered the foliage of the noble trees
with which the park was studded. The youthful friends soon reached
the blasted tree; but nothing was to be seen near it, and all looked so
tranquil, so free from malignant influence, that the Duke of Richmond
could not help laughing at his companion, telling him that the supposed
vision must have been the offspring of his over-excited fancy. Angry at
being thus doubted, the earl walked off, and plunged into the haunted
dell. The duke followed, but though they paused for some time beneath
the gnarled oak-tree, the spirit did not appear.
"And thus ends the adventure of Herne the Hunter!" laughed the duke,
as they emerged from the brake. "By my halidom, Surrey, I am
grievously disappointed. You must have mistaken some large stag,
caught by its antlers in the branches of the oak-tree, for the demon."
"I have told you precisely what occurred," replied Surrey angrily. "Ha!
there he is--look! look!"
And he pointed to a weird figure, mounted on a steed as weird-looking
as itself, galloping through the trees with extraordinary swiftness, at a
little distance from them. This ghostly rider wore the antlered helmet
described by Surrey, and seemed to be habited in a garb of deer-skins.
Before him flew a large owl, and a couple of great black dogs ran
beside him. Staring in speechless wonder at the sight, the two youths
watched the mysterious being scour a glade brightly illumined by the
moon, until, reaching the pales marking the confines of the Home Park,
he leaped them and disappeared.
"What think you of that?" cried Surrey, as soon as he had recovered
from his surprise, glancing triumphantly at the duke. "Was that the
offspring of my fancy?"
"It was a marvellous sight, truly!" exclaimed Richmond. "Would we had
our steeds to follow him."
"We can follow him on foot," replied the earl--" he is evidently gone into
And they set off at a quick pace in the direction taken by the ghostly
rider. Clambering the park pales, they crossed the road leading to Old
Windsor, and entered that part of the forest which, in more recent
times, has been enclosed and allotted to the grounds of Frogmore.
Tracking a long vista, they came to a thick dell, overgrown with large
oaks, at the bottom of which lay a small pool. Fleeter than his
companion, and therefore somewhat in advance of him, the Earl of
Surrey, as he approached this dell, perceived the spectral huntsman
and his dogs standing at the edge of the water. The earl instantly
shouted to him, and the horseman turning his head, shook his hand
menacingly, while the hounds glared fiercely at the intruder, and
displayed their fangs, but did not bark. As Surrey, however, despite this
caution, continued to advance, the huntsman took a strangely shaped
horn that hung by his side, and placing it to his lips, flames and thick
smoke presently issued from it, and before the vapour had cleared off,
he and his dogs had disappeared.. The witnesses of this marvellous
spectacle crossed themselves reverently, and descended to the brink
of the pool; but the numerous footprints of deer, that came there to
drink, prevented them from distinguishing any marks of the steed of the
"Shall we return, Surrey?" asked the duke.
"No," replied the earl. "I am persuaded we shall see the mysterious
huntsman again. You can return, if you think proper. I will go on."
Nay, I will not leave you," rejoined Richmond.
And they set off again at the same quick pace as before. Mounting a
hill covered with noble beeches and elms, a magnificent view of the
castle burst upon them, towering over the groves they had tracked, and
looking almost like the work of enchantment. Charmed with the view,
the young men continued to contemplate it for some time. They then
struck off on the right, and ascended still higher, until they came to a
beautiful grove of beeches cresting the hill where the equestrian statue
of George the Third is now placed. Skirting this grove, they disturbed a
herd of deer, which started up, and darted into the valley below.
At the foot of two fine beech-trees lay another small pool, and Surrey
almost expected to see the spectral huntsman beside it.
From this spot they could discern the whole of the valley beyond, and
they scanned it in the hope of perceiving the object of their search.
Though not comparable to the view on the nearer side, the prospect
was nevertheless exceedingly beautiful. Long vistas and glades
stretched out before them, while in the far distance might be seen
glittering in the moonbeams the lake or mere which in later days has
received the name of Virginia Water.
While they were gazing at this scene, a figure habited like a keeper of
the forest suddenly emerged from the trees at the lower end of one of
the glades. Persuaded that this person had some mysterious
connection with the ghostly huntsman, the earl determined to follow
him, and hastily mentioning his suspicions and design to Richmond, he
hurried down the hill. But before he accomplished the descent, the
keeper was gone.
At length, however, on looking about, they perceived him mounting the
rising ground on the left, and immediately started after him, taking care
to keep out of sight. The policy of this course was soon apparent.
Supposing himself no longer pursued, the keeper relaxed his pace, and
the others got nearer to him.
In this way both parties went on, the keeper still hurrying forward,
every now and then turning his head to see whether any one was on his
track, until he came to a road cut through the trees that brought him to
the edge of a descent leading to the lake. Just at this moment a cloud
passed over the moon, burying all in comparative obscurity. The
watchers, however, could perceive the keeper approach an ancient
beech-tree of enormous growth, and strike it thrice with the short
hunting-spear which he held in his grasp.
The signal remaining unanswered, he quitted the tree, and shaped his
course along the side of a hill on the right. Keeping under the shelter of
the thicket on the top of the same hill, Surrey and Richmond followed,
and saw him direct his steps towards another beech-tree of almost
double the girth of that he had just visited. Arrived at this mighty tree,
he struck it with his spear, while a large owl, seated on a leafless
branch, began to hoot; a bat circled the tree; and two large snakes,
glistening in the moonlight, glided from its roots. As the tree was
stricken for the third time, the same weird figure that the watchers had
seen ride along the Home Park burst from its riften trunk, and
addressed its summoner in tones apparently menacing and imperious,
but whose import was lost upon the listeners. The curiosity of the
beholders was roused to the highest pitch, but an undefinable awe
prevented them from rushing forward.
Suddenly the demon hunter waved a pike with which he was armed,
and uttered a peculiar cry, resembling the hooting of an owl. At this
sound, and as if by magic, a couple of steeds, accompanied by the two
hounds, started from the brake. In an instant the demon huntsman
vaulted upon the hack of the horse nearest to him, and the keeper
almost as quickly mounted the other. The pair then galloped off
through the glen, the owl flying before them, and the hounds coursing
by their side.
The two friends gazed at each other, for some time, in speechless
wonder. Taking heart, they then descended to the haunted tree, but
could perceive no traces of the strange being by whom it had been
recently tenanted. After a while they retraced their course towards the
castle, hoping they might once more encounter the wild huntsman. Nor
were they disappointed. As they crossed a glen, a noble stag darted
by. Close at its heels came the two black hounds, and after them the
riders hurrying forward at a furious pace, their steeds appearing to
breathe forth flame and smoke.
In an instant the huntsmen and hounds were gone, and the trampling of
the horses died away in the distance. Soon afterwards a low sound,
like the winding of a horn, broke upon the ear, and the listeners had no
doubt that the buck was brought down. They hurried in the direction of
the sound, but though the view was wholly unobstructed for a
considerable distance, they could see nothing either of horsemen,
hounds, or deer.
VI. How the Fair Geraldine bestowed a Relic upon her Lover--How
Surrey and Richmond rode in the Forest at Midnight--And where they
found the Body of Mark Fytton, the Butcher.
Surrey and Richmond agreed to say nothing for the present of their
mysterious adventure in the forest; but their haggard looks, as they
presented themselves to the Lady Anne Boleyn in the reception-
chamber on the following morning, proclaimed that something had
happened, and they had to undergo much questioning from the Fair
Geraldine and the Lady Mary Howard.
"I never saw you so out of spirits, my lord," remarked the Fair Geraldine
to Surrey; "you must have spent the whole night in study--or what is
more probable, you have again seen Herne the Hunter. Confess now,
you have been in the forest."
"I will confess anything you please," replied Surrey evasively.
"And what have you seen?--a stranger vision than the first?" rejoined
the Fair Geraldine.
"Since your ladyship answers for me, there is no need for explanation
on my part," rejoined Surrey, with a faint laugh. "And know you not,
that those who encounter super natural beings are generally bound to
"Such, I hope, is not your case, Henry?" cried the Lady Mary Howard, in
alarm;--" nor yours, my lord?" she added to the Duke of Richmond.
"I am bound equally with Surrey," returned the duke mysteriously
"You pique my curiosity, my lords," said the Fair Geraldine; "and since
there is no other way of gratifying it, if the Lady Mary Howard will
accompany me, we will ourselves venture into the forest, and try
whether we cannot have a meeting with this wild huntsman. Shall we
"Not for worlds," replied the Lady Mary, shuddering; "were I to see
Herne, I should die of fright."
"Your alarm is groundless," observed Richmond gallantly. "The
presence of two beings, fair and pure as yourself and the Lady
Elizabeth Fitzgerald, would scare away aught of evil."
The Lady Mary thanked him with a beaming smile, but the Fair
Geraldine could not suppress a slight laugh.
"Your grace is highly flattering," she said. "But, with all faith in beauty
and purity, I should place most reliance in a relic I possess--the virtue of
which has often been approved against evil spirits. It was given by a
monk- who had been sorely tempted by a demon, and who owed his
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