For some hours Anne Boleyn's attendants were alarmed for her reason, and there seemed good grounds for the apprehension, so wildly and incoherently did she talk, and so violently comport herself -- she who was usually so gentle now weeping as if her soul would pass away in tears -- now breaking into fearful hysterical laughter. It was a piteous sight, and deeply moved all who witnessed it. But towards evening she became calmer, and desired to be left by herself. Her wish being complied with, she fell upon her knees, and besought Heaven's forgiveness for her manifold offences.

"May my earthly sufferings," she cried, "avail me here -- after, and may my blood wash out my guilt. I feel the enormity of my offence, and acknowledge the justice of my punishment. Pardon me, O injured Catherine -- pardon me, I implore thee! Thou seest in me the most abject pitiable woman in the whole realm! Overthrown, neglected, despised -- about to die a shameful death -- what worse can befall me? Thine anguish was great, but it was never sharpened by remorse like mine. Oh! that I could live my life over again. I would resist all the dazzling temptations I have yielded to -- above all, I would not injure thee. Oh! that I had resisted Henry's love -- his false vows -- his fatal lures! But it is useless to repine. I have acted wrongfully and must pay the penalty of my crime. May my tears, my penitence, my blood operate as an atonement, and procure me pardon from the merciful Judge before whom I shall shortly appear."

In such prayers and lamentations she passed more than an hour, when her attendants entered to inform her that the Duke of Suffolk and the Lords Audley and Cromwell were without, and desired to see her. She immediately went forth to them.

"We are come to acquaint you, madam," said Suffolk, that you will be removed at an early hour tomorrow morning, to the Tower, there to abide during the king's pleasure."

"If the king will have it so, my lords," she replied, " I must needs go; but I protest my innocence, and will protest it to the last. I have ever been a faithful and loyal consort to his highness, and though I may not have demeaned myself to him so humbly and gratefully as I ought to have done -- seeing how much I owe him- yet I have lacked nothing in affection and duty. I have had jealous fancies and suspicions of him, especially of late, and have troubled him with them; but I pray his forgiveness for my folly, which proceeded from too much regard, and if I am acquitted of my present charge, I will offend him so no more."

"We will report what you say to the king," rejoined Suffolk gravely; "but we are bound to add that his highness does not act on mere suspicion, the proofs of your guilt being strong against you."

"There can be no such proofs," cried Anne quickly. "Who are my accusers? and what do they state?"

"You are charged with conspiring against the king's life, and dishonouring his bed," replied Suffolk sternly. "Your accusers will appear in due season."

"They are base creatures suborned for the purpose!" cried Anne. "No loyal. person would so forswear himself."

"Time will show you who they are, madam," said Suffolk.

" But having now answered all your questions, I pray you permit us to retire."

"Shall I not see the king before I am taken to the Tower?" said Anne, upon whom the terror of her situation rushed with new force.

"His highness has quitted the castle," replied Suffolk, " and there is no likelihood of his return to-night."

"You tell me so to deceive me," cried Anne. "Let me see him -- let me throw myself at his feet! I can convince him of my innocence and move him to compassion! Let me see him, I implore of you -- I charge you!"

"I swear to you, madam, that the king has departed for Hampton Court," replied Suffolk.

"Then take me to him there, under strong guard, or as secretly as you please," she cried passionately; "I will return with you instantly, if I am unsuccessful."

"Were I to comply with your request it would be fruitless, madam," replied Suffolk; "the king would not see you."

"Oh, Suffolk!" cried Anne, prostrating herself before him, "I have shown you many kindnesses in my season of power, and have always stood your friend with the king. Do me this favour now; I will never forget it. Introduce me to the king. I am sure I can move his heart, if I can only see him."

"It would cost me my head, madam," said the duke in an inexorable tone. " Rise, I pray you."

"You are more cruel than the king," said Anne, obeying. "And now, my lords," she continued with more composure and dignity, "since you refuse my last request, and plainly prove to me the sort of justice I may expect, I will not detain you longer. I shall be ready to attend you to the Tower tomorrow."

"The barge will proceed an hour before dawn," said Suffolk.

"Must I, then, go by water? " asked Anne.

"Such are the king's commands," replied Suffolk.

"It is no matter," she rejoined; "I shall be ready when you will, for I shall not retire to rest during the night."

Upon this Suffolk and the others slowly withdrew, and Anne again retired to the oratory.

She remained alone, brooding, in a state of indescribable anguish, upon the probable fate awaiting her, when all at once, raising her eyes, she beheld a tall dark figure near the arras.

Even in the gloom she recognised Herne the Hunter, and with difficulty repressed a scream.

"Be silent!" cried Herne, with an emphatic gesture. "I am come to deliver you."

Anne could not repress a joyful cry.

"Not so loud," rejoined Herne, "or you will alarm your attendants. I will set you free on certain conditions."

"Ah! conditions!" exclaimed Anne, recoiling; "if they are such as will affect my eternal welfare, I cannot accept them."

"You will repent it when it is too late," replied Herne. "Once removed to the Tower I can no longer aid you. My power extends only to the forest and the castle."

"Will you take me to the king. at Hampton Court?" said Anne.

"It would be useless," replied Herne. "I will only do what I have stated. If you fly with me, you can never appear again as Anne Boleyn. Sir Henry Norris shall be set free at the same time, and you shall both dwell with me in the forest. Come!"

"I cannot go," said Anne, holding back; "it were to fly to a worse danger. I may save my soul now; but if I embrace your offer I am lost for ever."

Herne laughed derisively.

"You need have no fear on that score" he said.

"I will not trust you," replied Anne. "I have yielded to temptation already, and am now paying the penalty of it."

"You are clinging to the crown," said Herne, "because you know that by this step you will irrecoverably lose it. And you fancy that some change may yet operate to your advantage with the king. It is a vain delusive hope. If you leave this castle for the Tower, you will perish ignominiously on the block."

"What will be, must be!" replied Anne. "I will not save myself in the way you propose."

"Norris will say, and with reason, that you love him not," cried Herne.

"Then he will wrong me," replied Anne; "for I do love him. But of what account were a few years of fevered happiness compared with endless torture?"

"I will befriend you in spite of yourself," vociferated Herne, seizing her arm; "you shall go with me!"

"I will not," said Anne, falling on her knees. "Oh, Father of Mercy!" she cried energetically, "deliver me from this fiend!"

"Take your fate, then!" rejoined Herne, dashing her furiously backwards.

And when her attendants, alarmed by the sound, rushed into the chamber, they found her stretched on the floor in a state of insensibility.