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Wolsey tried to look unconcerned, and calling to his gentleman usher, George Cavendish, gave him some instructions in a low voice, upon which the other immediately placed himself at the head of the retinue, and ordered them to quit the castle with him, leaving only the jester, Patch, to attend upon his master. Campeggio's attendants being comparatively speaking, few in number, were allowed to remain, and his litter was conveyed to Henry the Third's Tower--a fortification standing, as already stated, in the south side of the lower ward, near the edge of the dry moat surrounding the Round Tower. At the steps of this tower Wolsey dismounted, and was about to follow Campeggio into the doorway, when Will Sommers, who had heard of his arrival, stepped forward, and with a salutation of mock formality, said, "I am sure it will grieve the king, my master, not to be able to accommodate your grace's train; but since it is larger than his own, you will scarce blame his want of hospitality."
"Nor the courtesy of his attendants," rejoined Wolsey sharply. "I am in no mood for thy jesting now. Stand aside, sirrah, or I will have the rod applied to thy back!"
"Take care the king does not apply the rod to your own, lord cardinal," retorted Will Sommers. "If he scourges you according to your deserts, your skin will be redder than your robe." And his mocking laugh pursued Wolsey like the hiss of a snake into the tower.
Some two hours after this, Henry and his attendants returned from the chase. The king seemed in a blithe humour, and Wolsey saw him laugh heartily as Will Sommers pointed with his bauble towards Henry the Third's Tower. The cardinal received no invitation to the royal banquet; and the answer to his solicitation for an interview was, that he and Campeggio would be received in the presence-chamber on the following morning, but not before.
That night a great revel was held in the castle. Masquing, dancing, and feasting filled up the evening, and the joyous sounds and strains reached Wolsey in his seclusion, and forced him to contrast it with his recent position, when he would have been second only to the king in the entertainment. He laid his head upon his pillow, but not to rest, and while tossing feverishly about his couch, he saw the arras with which the walls were covered, move, and a tall, dark figure step from behind it. The cardinal would have awakened his jester, who slept in a small truckle-bed at his feet, but the strange visitor motioned him to be still.
"You may conjecture who I am, cardinal," he said, "but in case you should doubt, I will tell you. I am Herne the Hunter! And now to my errand. There is a damsel, whom you once saw in the forest near the great lake, and whom you promised to befriend. You can assist her now--to-morrow it may be out of your power."
"I have enough to do to aid myself, without meddling with what concerns me not," said Wolsey.
"This damsel does concern you," cried Herne. "Read this, and you will see in what way."
And he tossed a letter to Wolsey, who glanced at it by the light of the lamp.
"Ha!is it so?" he exclaimed. "Is she--"
"Hush!" cried Herne, "or you will wake this sleeper. It is as you suppose. Will you not aid her now? Will you not bestow some of your treasure upon her before it is wholly wrested from you by the king? I will do aught you wish, secretly and swiftly."
"Go, then, to my palace at Esher," cried the cardinal. "Take this key to my treasurer--it is the key of my coffers. Bid him deliver to you the six caskets in the cabinet in the gilt chamber. Here is a token by which he will know that you came from me," he added, delivering him a small chain of gold, "for it has been so agreed between us. But you will be sure to give the treasure to Mabel."
"Fear nothing," replied Herne. And stretching forth his hand to receive the key and the chain, he glided behind the tapestry, and disappeared
This strange incident gave some diversion to Wolsey's thought; but ere long they returned to their former channel. Sleep would not be summoned, and as soon as the first glimpse of day appeared, he arose, and wrapping his robe around him, left his room and ascended a winding staircase leading to the roof of the tower.
The morning promised to be fine, but it was then hazy, and the greater part of the forest was wrapped in mist. The castle, however, was seen to great advantage. Above Wolsey rose the vast fabric of the Round Tower, on the summit of which the broad standard was at that moment being unfurled; while the different battlements and towers arose majestically around. But Wolsey's gaze rested chiefly upon the exquisite mausoleum lying immediately beneath him; in which he had partly prepared for himself a magnificent monument. A sharp pang shook him as he contemplated it, and he cried aloud, "My very tomb will be wrested from me by this rapacious monarch; and after all my care and all my cost, I know not where I shall rest my bones!"
Saddened by the reflection, he descended to his chamber, and again threw himself on the couch.
But Wolsey was not the only person in the castle who had passed a sleepless night. Of the host of his enemies many had been kept awake by the anticipation of his downfall on the morrow; and among these was Anne Boleyn, who had received an assurance from the king that her enmity should at length be fully gratified.
At the appointed hour, the two cardinals, proceeded to the royal lodgings. They were detained for some time in the ante-chamber, where Wolsey was exposed to the taunts and sneers of the courtiers, who had lately so servilely fawned upon him. At length, they were ushered into the presence chamber, at the upper end of which beneath a canopy emblazoned with the royal arms woven in gold, sat Henry, with Anne Boleyn on his right hand. At the foot of the throne stood Will Sommers, and near him the Dukes of Richmond and Suffolk. Norfolk, Rochford, and a number of other nobles, all open enemies of Wolsey, were also present. Henry watched the advance of the cardinals with a stern look, and after they had made an obeisance to him, he motioned them to rise.
"You have sought an interview with me, my lords," he said, with suppressed rage. "What would you?"
"We have brought an instrument to you, my liege," said Wolsey, "which has just been received from his holiness the Pope."
"Declare its nature," said Henry.
"It is a citation," replied Wolsey, "enjoining your high ness to appear by attorney in the papal court, under a penalty of ten thousand ducats."
And he presented a parchment, stamped with the great seal of Rome, to the king, who glanced his eye fiercely over it, and then dashed it to the ground, with an explosion of fury terrible to hear and to witness.
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Windsor Castle -by- William Harrison Ainsworth