The affair, however, so long and so artfully delayed, was now drawing to a close. A court was appointed by the legates to be holden on the 18th of June, at Blackfriars, to try the question. Gardiner had been recalled from Rome to act as counsel for Henry; and the monarch, determining to appear by proxy at the trial, left his palace at Bridewell the day before it was to come on, and set out with Anne Boleyn and his chief attendants for Windsor Castle.

Whatever secret feelings might be entertained against him, Henry was received by the inhabitants of Windsor with every demonstration of loyalty and affection. Deafening shouts rent the air as he approached; blessings and good wishes were showered upon him; and hundreds of caps were flung into the air. But noticing that Anne Boleyn was received with evil looks and in stern silence, and construing this into an affront to himself, Henry not only made slight and haughty acknowledgment of the welcome given him, but looked out for some pretext to manifest his displeasure. Luckily none was afforded him, and he entered the castle in a sullen mood.

The day was spent in gentle exercise within the home park and on the terrace, and the king affected the utmost gaiety and indifference; but those acquainted with him could readily perceive he was ill at ease. In the evening he remained for some time alone in his closet penning despatches, and then summoning an attendant, ordered him to bring Captain Bouchier into his presence.

"Well, Bouchier," he said, as the officer made his appearance, "have you obeyed my instructions in regard to Mabel Lyndwood?"

"I have, my liege," replied Bouchier. "In obedience to your majesty's commands, immediately after your arrival at the castle I rode to the forester's hut, and ascertained that the damsel was still there."

"And looking as beautiful as ever, I'll be sworn!" said the king.

It was the first time I had seen her, my liege," replied Bouchier; "but I do not think she could have ever looked more beautiful."

"I am well assured of it," replied Henry. "The pressure of affairs during my absence from the castle had banished her image from my mind; but now it returns as forcibly as before. And you have so arranged it that she will be brought hither to-morrow night?"

Bouchier replied in the affirmative.

"It is well," pursued Henry; "but what more? -- for you look as if you had something further to declare."

"Your majesty will not have forgotten how you exterminated the band of Herne the Hunter?" said Bouchier.

"Mother of Heaven, no!" cried the king, starting up;"I have not forgotten it. What of them ? -- Ha! have they come to life again? -- do they scour the parks once more? That were indeed a marvel!"

"What I have to relate is almost as great a marvel," returned Bouchier. "I have not heard of the resurrection of the band though for aught I know it may have occurred. But Herne has been seen again in the forest. Several of the keepers have been scared by him -- travellers have been affrighted and plundered -- and no one will now cross the great park after nightfall."

"Amazement!" cried Henry, again seating himself; once let the divorce be settled, and I will effectually check the career of this lawless and mysterious being."

"Pray heaven your majesty may be able to do so! "replied Bouchier. "But I have always been of opinion that the only way to get rid of the demon would be by the aid of the Church. He is unassailable by mortal weapons."

"It would almost seem so," said the king. "And yet I do not like to yield to the notion."

"I shrewdly suspect that old Tristram Lyndwood, the grandsire of the damsel upon whom your majesty has deigned to cast your regards, is in some way or other leagued with Herne," said Bouchier. "At all events, I saw him with a tall hideous-looking personage, whose name I understand to be Valentine Hagthorne, and who, I feel persuaded, must be one of the remnants of the demon hunter's band."

"Why did you not arrest him?" inquired Henry.

"I did not like to do so without your majesty's authority," replied Bouchier. "Besides, I could scarcely arrest Hagthorne without at the same time securing the old forester, which might have alarmed the damsel. But I am ready to execute your injunctions now."

"Let a party of men go in search of Hagthorne to-night" replied Henry; "and while Mabel is brought to the castle to-morrow, do you arrest old Tristram, and keep him in custody till I have leisure to examine him."

"It shall be done as you desire, my liege," replied Bouchier, bowing and departing.

Shortly after this Henry, accompanied by Anne Boleyn, proceeded with his attendants to Saint George's Chapel, and heard vespers performed. Just as he was about to return, an usher advanced towards him, and making a profound reverence, said that a masked dame, whose habiliments proclaimed her of the highest rank, craved a moment's audience of him.

"Where is she? "demanded Henry.

"In the north aisle, an't please your majesty," replied the usher, "near the Urswick Chapel. I told her that this was not the place for an audience of your majesty, nor the time; but she would not be said nay, and therefore, at the risk of incurring your sovereign displeasure, I have ventured to proffer her request."

The usher omitted to state that his chief inducement to incur the risk was a valuable ring, given him by the lady.

"Well, I will go to her," said the king. " I pray you, excuse me for a short space, fair mistress," he added to Anne Boleyn.

And quitting the choir, he entered the northern aisle, and casting his eyes down the line of noble columns by which it is flanked, and seeing no one, he concluded that the lady must have retired into the Urswick Chapel. And so it proved; for on reaching this exquisite little shrine he perceived a tall masked dame within it, clad in robes of the richest black velvet. As he entered the chapel, the lady advanced towards him, and throwing herself on her knees, removed her mask -- disclosing features stamped with sorrow and suffering, but still retaining an expression of the greatest dignity. They were those of Catherine of Arragon.