"So you are come round at last, Sir Thomas," observed the keeper, in a slightly sarcastic tone.

"What has ailed me? " asked Wyat, in surprise.

"You have had a fever for three days," returned Fenwolf, "and have been raving like a madman."

"Three days!" muttered Wyat. "The false juggling fiend promised her to me on the third day."

"Fear not; Herne will be as good as his word," said Fenwolf. "But will you go forth with me? I am about to visit my nets. It is a fine day, and a row on the lake will do you good."

Wyat acquiesced, and followed Fenwolf, who returned along the passage. It grew narrower at the sides and lower in the roof as they advanced, until at last they were compelled to move forward on their hands and knees. For some space the passage, or rather hole (for it was nothing more) ran on a level. A steep and tortuous ascent then commenced, which brought them to an outlet concealed by a large stone.

Pushing it aside, Fenwolf crept forth, and immediately afterwards Wyat emerged into a grove, through which, on one side, the gleaming waters of the lake were discernible. The keeper's first business was to replace the stone, which was so screened by brambles and bushes that it could not, unless careful search were made, be detected.

Making his way through the trees to the side of the lake, Fenwolf marched along the greensward in the direction of Tristram Lyndwood's cottage. Wyat mechanically followed him; but he was so pre-occupied that he scarcely heeded the fair Mabel, nor was it till after his embarkation in the skiff with the keeper, when she came forth to look at them, that he was at all struck with her beauty. He then inquired her name from Fenwolf.

"She is called Mabel Lyndwood, and is an old forester's granddaughter," replied the other somewhat gruffly.

"And do you seek her love?," asked Wyat.

"Ay, and wherefore not? " asked Fenwolf, with a look of displeasure.

"Nay, I know not, friend," rejoined Wyat. "She is a comely damsel."

"What!- comelier than the Lady Anne?" demanded Fenwolf spitefully.

"I said not so," replied Wyat; "but she is very fair, and looks true- hearted."

Fenwolf glanced at him from under his brows; and plunging his oars into the water, soon carried him out of sight of the maiden.

It was high noon, and the day was one of resplendent loveliness. The lake sparkled in the sunshine, and as they shot past its tiny bays and woody headlands, new beauties were every moment revealed to them. But while the scene softened Wyat's feelings, it filled him with intolerable remorse, and so poignant did his emotions become, that he pressed his hands upon his eyes to shut out the lovely prospect. When he looked up again the scene was changed. The skiff had entered a narrow creek, arched over by huge trees, and looking as dark and gloomy as the rest of the lake was fair and smiling. It was closed in by a high overhanging bank, crested by two tall trees, whose tangled roots protruded through it like monstrous reptiles, while their branches cast a heavy shade over the deep, sluggish water.

"Why have you come here?" demanded Wyat, looking uneasily round the forbidding spot.

"You will discover anon," replied Fenwolf moodily.

"Go back into the sunshine, and take me to some pleasant bank -- I will not land here," said Wyat sternly.

"Needs must when -- I need not remind you of the proverb," rejoined Fenwolf, with a sneer.

"Give me the oars, thou malapert knave!" cried Wyat fiercely, "and I will put myself ashore."

"Keep quiet," said Fenwolf; "you must perforce abide our master's coming."

Wyat gazed at the keeper for a moment, as if with the intention of throwing him overboard; but abandoning the idea, he rose up in the boat, and caught at what he took to be a root of the tree above. To his surprise and alarm, it closed upon him with an iron grasp, and he felt himself dragged upwards, while the skiff, impelled by a sudden stroke from Morgan Fenwolf, shot from beneath him. All Wyat's efforts to disengage himself were vain, and a wild, demoniacal laugh, echoed by a chorus of voices, proclaimed him in the power of Herne the Hunter. The next moment he was set on the top of the bank, while the demon greeted him with a mocking laugh.

"So you thought to escape me, Sir Thomas Wyatt" he cried, in a taunting tone; "but any such attempt will prove fruitless. The murderer may repent the blow when dealt; the thief may desire to restore the gold he has purloined; the barterer of his soul may rue his bargain; but they are Satan's, nevertheless. You are mine, and nothing can redeem you!"

"Woe is me that it should be so! " groaned Wyat.

"Lamentation is useless and unworthy of you," rejoined Herne scornfully. "Your wish will be speedily accomplished. This very night your kingly rival shall be placed in your hands."

"Ha! " exclaimed Wyat, the flame of jealousy again rising within his breast.

"You can make your own terms with him for the Lady Anne," pursued Herne. "His life will be at your disposal."

"Do you promise this?" cried Wyat.

"Ay," replied Herne. "Put yourself under the conduct of Fenwolf, and all shall happen as you desire. We shall meet again at night. I have other business on hand now. Meschines," he added to one of his attendants, " go with Sir Thomas to the skiff."

The personage who received the command, and who was wildly and fantastically habited, beckoned Wyat to follow him, and after many twistings and turnings brought them to the edge of the lake, where the skiff was lying, with Fenwolf reclining at full length upon its benches. He arose, however, quickly at the appearance of Meschines, and asked him for some provisions, which the latter promised to bring, and while Wyat got into the skiff he disappeared, but returned a few minutes afterwards with a basket, which he gave to the keeper.

Crossing the lake, Fenwolf then shaped his course towards a verdant bank enamelled with wild flowers, where he landed. The basket being opened, was found to contain a flask of wine and the better part of a venison pasty, of which Wyat, whose appetite was keen enough after his long fasting, ate heartily. He then stretched himself on the velvet sod, and dropped into a tranquil slumber which lasted to a late hour in the evening.

He was roused from it by a hand laid on his shoulder, while a deep voice thundered in his ear -- "Up, up, Sir Thomas, and follow me, and I will place the king in your hands!"