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The Caged Lion By Charlotte M. Yonge Characters: 35729

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07

Malcolm understood it at last. In the great chamber where he was bidden to wait within 'Nigel' till 'Sir James' came from a private conference with 'Harry,' he had all explained to him, but within a curtness and brevity that must not be imitated in the present narrative.

The squire Nigel was in fact Sir Nigel Baird, Baron of Bairdsbrae, the gentleman to whom poor King Robert II. had committed the charge of his young son James, when at fourteen he had been sent to France, nominally for education, but in reality to secure him from the fate of his brother Rothsay.

Captured by English vessels on the way, the heir of Scotland had been too valuable a prize to be resigned by the politic Henry IV., who had lodged him at Windsor Castle, together with Edmund Mortimer, earl of March, and placed both under the nominal charge of the Prince of Wales, a youth of a few years older. Unjust as was the detention, it had been far from severe; the boys had as much liberty as their age and recreation required, and received the choicest training both in the arts of war and peace. They were bred up in close intercourse with the King's own four sons, and were united with them by the warmest sympathy.

In fact, since usurpation had filled Henry of Lancaster's mind with distrust and jealousy, his eldest son had been in no such enviable position as to be beyond the capacity of fellow-feeling for the royal prisoner.

Of a peculiarly frank, open, and affectionate nature, young Henry had so warmly loved the gentle and fascinating Richard II., that his trust in the father, of whom he had seen little in his boyhood, had received a severe shock through Richard's fate. Under the influence of a new, suspicious, and avaricious wife, the King kept his son as much at a distance as possible, chiefly on the Welsh marches, learning the art of war under Hotspur and Oldcastle; and when the father and son were brought together again, the bold, free bearing and extraordinary ability of the Prince filled the suspicious mind of the King with alarm and jealousy. To keep him down, give him no money, and let him gain no influence, was the narrow policy of the King; and Henry, chafing, dreaming, feeling the injustice, and pining for occupation, shared his complaints within James, and in many a day-dream restored him freely to his throne, and together redressed the wrongs of the world. Meantime, James studied deep in preparation, and recreated himself with poetry, inspired by the charms of Joan Beaufort, the lovely daughter of the King's legitimatized brother, the Earl of Somerset; while Henry persisted in a boy's passionate love to King Richard's maiden widow, Isabel of France. Entirely unrequited as his affection was, it had a beneficial effect. Next after his deep sense of religion, it kept his life pure and chivalrous. He was for ever faithful to his future wife, even when Isabel had been returned to France, and his romantic passion had fixed itself on her younger sister Catherine, whom he endowed in imagination with all he had seen or supposed in her.

Credited with every excess by the tongue of his stepmother, too active-minded not to indulge in freakish sports and experiments in life very astounding to commonplace minds, sometimes when in dire distress even helping himself to his unpaid allowance from his father's mails, and always with buoyant high spirits and unfailing drollery that scandalized the grave seniors of the Court, there is full proof that Prince Hal ever kept free from the gross vices which a later age has fancied inseparably connected with his frolics; and though always in disgrace, the vexation of the Court, and a by-word for mirth, he was true to the grand ideal he was waiting to accomplish, and never dimmed the purity and loftiness of his aim. That little band of princely youths, who sported, studied, laughed, sang, and schemed in the glades of Windsor, were strangely brought together-the captive exiled King, the disinherited heir of the realm, and the sons of the monarch who held the one in durance and occupied the throne of the other; and yet their affection had all the frank delight of youthful friendship. The younger lads were in more favour with their father than was the elder. Thomas was sometimes preferred to him in a mortifying manner, John's grave, quiet nature prevented him from ever incurring displeasure, and Humfrey was the spoilt pet of the family; but nothing could lessen Harry's large-minded love of his brothers; and he was the idol and hero of the whole young party, who implicitly believed in his mighty destinies as a renovator of the world, the deliverer of Jerusalem, and restorer of the unity and purity of the Church.

'Harry the Fifth was crowned,' and with the full intention of carrying out his great dream. But his promise of releasing James became matter of question. The House of Albany, who held the chief power in Scotland, had bound Henry IV. over not to free their master; and it was plain that to send him home before his welcome was ensured would be but tossing him on their spears. In vain James pleaded that he was no boy, and was able to protect himself; and vowed that when the faithful should rally round his standard, he would be more than a match for his enemies; or that if not, he would rather die free than live in bondage. Henry would not listen, and insisted upon retaining him until he should himself be at leisure to bring him home with a high hand, utterly disregarding his assurance that this would only be rendering him in the eyes of his subjects another despised and hated Balliol.

Deeming himself a divinely-appointed redresser of wrongs, Henry was already beginning on his great work of purifying Europe in preparation for his mighty Crusade; and having won that splendid victory which laid distracted France at his feet, he only waited to complete the conquest as thoroughly and rapidly as might be; and, lest his grand purpose should be obstructed, this great practical visionary, though full of kindness and generosity, kept in thraldom a whole troop of royal and noble captives.

He had, however, been so far moved by James's entreaties, as to consent that when he himself offered his devotions at the shrine of St. John of Beverley, the native saint who shared with the two cordwainers his gratitude for the glories of 'Crispin Crispian's day,' his prisoner should, unknown to any save the few who shared the pilgrimage, push on to reconnoitre his own country, and judge for himself, having first sworn to reveal himself to no one, and to avoid all who could recognize him. James had visited Glenuskie within a special view to profiting by the wisdom of Sir David Drummond, and had then been at Stirling, Edinburgh, and Perth. On his way back, falling in with Malcolm in his distress, he had conceived the project of taking him to England; and finding himself already more than half recognized by Sir David, had obtained his most grateful and joyous consent. In truth, James's heart had yearned to his young cousin, his own situation had become much more lonely of late; for Henry was no longer the comrade he had once been, since he had become a keeper instead of a fellow-sufferer. It was true that he did his best to forget this by lavishing indulgences on his captive, and insisting on being treated on terms of brotherly familiarity; but though his transcendent qualities commanded love, the intimacy could be but a semblance of the once equal friendship. Moreover, that conspiracy which cost the life of the Earl of Cambridge had taught James that cautious reserve was needed in dealing with even his old friends the princes, so easily might he be accused of plotting either with Henry's immediate heir or with the Mortimers; and, in this guarded life, he had hailed with delight the opportunity of taking to himself the young orphan cousin of kindred blood, of congenial tastes, and home-like speech, whom he might treat at once as a younger brother and friend, and mould by and by into a trusty counsellor and assistant. That peculiar wistfulness and gentleness of Malcolm's look and manner, together with the refinement and intellect apparent to all who conversed with him without alarming him, had won the King's heart, and made him long to keep the boy with him. As to Malcolm's longing for the cloister, he deemed it the result of the weakly health and refined nature which shrank from the barbarism of the outer world, and he thought it would pass away under shelter from the rude taunts of the fierce cousins, at a distance from the well-meaning exhortations of the monks, and at the spectacle of brave and active men who could also be pious, conscientious, and cultivated. In the renewed sojourn at Windsor which James apprehended, the training of such a youth as Malcolm of Glenuskie would be no small solace.

By the time Malcolm had learnt as much of all this as Sir Nigel Baird knew, or chose to communicate, the King entered the room. He flung himself on his knees, exclaiming, with warm gratitude, as he kissed the King's hand, 'My liege, I little kenned-'

'I meant thee to ken little,' said James, smiling. 'Well, laddie, wilt thou share the prisoner's cell?-Ay, Bairdsbrae, you were a true prophet. Harry will do all himself, and will not hear of losing me to deal with my own people at my own gate. No, no, he'll have me back with Southron bows and bills, so soon as this small trifle of France lies quiet in his grasp! I had nearly flung back my parole in his face, and told him that no English sword should set me on the Bruce's throne; but there is something in Harry of Monmouth that one must love, and there are moments when to see and hear him one would as soon doubt the commission of an angel with a flaming sword.'

'A black angel!' growled Sir Nigel.

'Scoff and chafe, Baird, but look at his work. Look at Normandy, freed from misrule and exaction, in peace and order. Look at this land. Was ever king so loved? Or how durst he act as he did this day?'

'Nay, an it were so at home,' said Baird, 'I had as lief stay here as where a man is not free to fight out his own feud. Even this sackless callant thought it shame to see two honest men baulked.'

'Poor Scotland!' sighed James. 'Woe is the land where such thoughts come readiest to gray-haired men and innocent boys. I tell you, cousin, this precious right is the very cause that our poor country is so lawless and bloody, that yon poor silly sparrow would fain be caged for fear of the kites and carrion-crows.'

'Alack, my Lord, let me but have my way. I cannot fight! Let Patrick Drummond have my sister and my lands, and your service will be far better done,' said Malcolm.

'I know all that,' said the King, kindly. 'There is time enough for settling that question; and meantime you will not be spoilt for monk or priest by cheering me awhile in my captivity. I need you, laddie,' me added, laying his hand on the boy's shoulder, with all the instinctive fascination of a Stewart. 'I lack a comrade of my own blood, for I am all alone!'

'Oh, Sir!' and Malcolm, looking into his face, saw it full of tenderness.

'Books and masters you shall have,' continued James, 'such as for church or state, cathedral, cloister, or camp, shall render you the meeter prince; and I pass you my royal word, that if at full age the cowl be your choice, I will not gainsay you. Meantime, abide with me, and be the young brother I have yearned for.'

The King threw his arms round Malcolm, who felt, and unconsciously manifested, a strange bliss in that embrace, even while fixed in his determination that nothing should make him swerve from his chosen path, nor render him false to his promise to Patrick and Lilias. It was a strange change, from being despised and down-trodden by fierce cousins, or only fondled, pitied, and treated with consideration by his own nearest and dearest friends, to be the chosen companion of a king, and such a king. Nor could it be a wile of Satan, thought Malcolm, since James still promised him liberty of choice. He would ask counsel of a priest next time he went to confession; and in the meantime, in the full tide of gratitude, admiration, and affection, he gave himself up to the enjoyment of his new situation, and of time King's kindness and solicitude. This was indeed absolutely that of an elder brother; for, observing that Malcolm's dress and equipments, the work of Glenuskie looms, supplemented by a few Edinburgh purchases, was uncouth enough to attract some scornful glances from the crowd who came out to welcome the royal entrance into York the next day, he instantly sent Brewster in search of the best tailor and lorimer in the city, and provided so handsomely for the appearance of young Glenuskie, his horse, and his attendants, that the whole floor of their quarters was strewn with doublets, boots, chaperons, and gloves, saddles, bridles, and spurs, when the Duke of Bedford loitered into the room, and began to banter James for thus (as he supposed) pranking himself out to meet the lady of his love; and then bemoaned the fripperies that had become the rage in their once bachelor court, vowing, between sport and earnest, that Hal was so enamoured of his fair bride, that anon the conquest of France would be left to himself and his brother, Tom of Clarence; while James retorted by thrusts at Bedford's own rusticity of garb, and by endeavouring to force on him a pair of shoes with points like ram's horns, as a special passport to the favour of Dame Jac-a lady who seemed to be the object of Duke John's great distaste.

Suddenly a voice was heard in the gallery of the great old mansion where they were lodged. 'John! John! Here!-Where is the Duke, I say?' It was thick and husky, as with some terrible emotion; and the King and Duke had already started in dismay before the door was thrown open, and King Henry stood among them, his face of a burning red.

'See here, John!' he said, holding out a letter; and then, with an accent of wrathful anguish, and a terrible frown, he turned on James, exclaiming, 'I would send you to the Tower, Sir, did I think you had a hand in this!'

Malcolm trembled, and sidled nearer his prince; while James, with an equally fierce look, replied, 'Hold, Sir! Send me where you will, but dare not dishonour my name!' Then changing, as he saw the exceeding grief on Henry's brow, and heard John's smothered cry of dismay, 'For Heaven's sake, Harry, what is it?'

'This!' said Henry, less loudly, less hotly, but still with an agony of indignation: 'Thomas is dead-and by the hand of two of your traitor Scots!'

'Murdered!' cried James, aghast.

'Murdered by all honest laws of war, but on the battlefield,' said Henry. 'Your cousin of Buchan and old Douglas fell on my brave fellows at Beaugé, when they were spent with travel to stop the robberies in Anjou. They closed in with their pikes on my brave fellows, took Somerset prisoner, and for Thomas, while he was dealing with a knight named Swinton in front, the villain Buchan comes behind and cleaves his head in twain; and that is what you Scots call fighting!'

'It was worthy of a son of Albany!' said James. 'Would that vengeance were in my power!'

'Ay, you loved him!' said Henry, grasping James's hand, his passion softened into a burst of tears, as he wrung his prisoner's hand. 'Nay, who did not love him, my brave, free-hearted brother? And that I-I should have dallied here and left him to bear the brunt, and be cut off by you felon Scots!' And he hid his face, struggling within an agony of heart-rending grief, which seemed to sway his whole tall, powerful frame as he leant against the high back of a chair; while John, together with James, was imploring him not to accuse himself, for his presence had been needful at home; and, to turn the tenor of his thought, James inquired whether there were any further disaster.

'Not as yet,' said Henry; 'there is not a man left in that heaven-abandoned crew who knows how to profit by what they have got! but I must back again ere the devil stir them up a man of wit!-And you, Sir, can you take order with these heady Scots?'

'From Windsor? no,' said James; 'but set me in the saddle, let me learn war under such a captain as yourself, and maybe they will not take the field against me; or if they do, the slayer of Clarence shall rue it.'

'Be it so,' said Henry, wringing his hand. 'You shall with me to France, Jamie, and see war. The Scots should flock to the Lion rampant, and without them the French are mo better than deer, under the fool and murderer they call Dauphin. Yet, alas! will any success give me back my brother-my brother, the brave and true?' he added, weeping again within time abandon of an open nature and simple age. 'It was for my sins, my forgetfulness of my great work, that this has come on me.-Ho, Marmion! carry these tidings from me to the Dean; pray him that the knell be tolled at the Minster, and a requiem sung for my brother and all who fell with him. We will be there ourselves, and the mayor must hold us excused from his banquet; these men are too loyal not to grieve for their King.'

And, with his arm round the neck of his brother John, Henry left the room; and before another word could be said, Sir Nigel was there, having only retired on the King's entrance. The news was of course all over the house, and with an old attendant's freedom he exclaimed, 'So, Sir, the English have found tough cummers at last!'

'Not too honourably,' said James, sadly.

'Hout, would not the puir loons be glad enow of any gate of coming by a clout at the man's brother that keeps you captive!'

'They have taken away one of those I loved best!' said James.

'I'm no speaking ill of the lad Clarence himself,' said Nigel; 'he was a braw youth, leal and bold

, and he has died in his helm and spurs, as a good knight should. I'd wish none of these princes a waur ending. Moreover, could Swinton have had the wit to keep him living, he'd have been a bonnie barter for you, my Lord; but ony way the fight was a gallant one, and the very squire that brought the tidings cannot deny that our Scots fought like lions.'

'Would Douglas but so fight in any good quarrel!' sighed the King. 'But what are you longing to ask, Malcolm? Is it for your kinsman Patrick? I fear me that there is little chance of your hearing by name of him.'

'I wot not,' said Sir Nigel; 'I did but ask for that hare-brained young cousin of mine, Davie Baird, that must needs be off on this journey to France; and the squire tells me he was no herald, to be answerable for the rogues that fought on the other side.'

'We shall soon see for ourselves,' said James; 'I am to make this campaign.'

'You! you, my liege! Against your own ally, and under the standard of England! Woe's me, how could ye be so lost!'

James argued on his own conviction that the true France was with poor Charles VI., and that it was doing the country no service to prolong the resistance of the Armagnacs and the Dauphin, who then appeared mere partisans instead of patriots. As to fighting under the English banner, no subjection was involved in an adventurer king so doing: had not the King of Bohemia thus fought at Crecy? and was not the King of Sicily with the French army? Moreover, James himself felt the necessity of gaining some experience in the art of war. Theoretically he had studied it with all his might, from C?sar, Quintus Curtius, and that favourite modern authority, the learned ecclesiastic, Jean Pavé, who was the Vauban of the fifteenth century; and he had likewise obtained greedily all the information he could from Henry himself and his warriors; but all this had convinced him that if war was to be more than a mere raid, conducted by mere spirit and instinct, some actual apprenticeship was necessary. Even for such a dash, Henry himself had told him that he would find his book-knowledge an absolute impediment without some practice, and would probably fail for that very reason when opposed to tough old seasoned warriors. And, prudence apart, James, at five-and-twenty, absolutely glowed with shame at the thought that every one of his companions had borne arms for at least ten years past, while his arrows had no mark but the target, his lances had all been broken in the tilt-yard. It was this argument that above all served to pacify old Bairdsbrae; though he confessed himself very uneasy as to the prejudice it would create in Scotland, and so evidently loathed the expedition, that James urged on him to return to Scotland, instead of continuing his attendance. There was no fear but that his ransom would be accepted, and he had been absent twelve years from his home.

'No, no, my Lord; I sware to your father that I'd never quit you till I brought you safe home again, and, God willing, I'll keep my oath. But what's this puir callant to do, that you were set upon rearing upon your books at Windsor?'

'He shall choose,' said James. 'Either he shall study at the learned university at Oxford or at Paris, or he shall ride with me, and see how cities and battles are won. Speak not yet, cousin; it takes many months to shake out the royal banner, and you shall look about you ere deciding. Now give me yonder black cloak; they are assembling for the requiem.'

Malcolm, as he followed his king, was not a little amazed to see that Henry, the magnificent victor, was wrapped in a plain black serge garment, his short dark hair uncovered, his feet bare; and that on arriving at the Minster he threw himself on his knees, almost on his face, before the choir steps, there remaining while the De profundis and the like solemn and mournful strains floated through the dark vaultings above him, perhaps soothing while giving expression to the agony of his affliction, and self-accusation, not for the devastation of the turbulent country of an insane sovereign, but for his having relaxed in the mighty work of renovation that he had imposed on himself.

Even when the service was ended, the King would not leave the Minster. He lifted himself up to bid Bedford and his companions return; but for himself, he intended to remain and confess, in preparation for being 'houselled' at the Mass for the dead early the next morning, before hastening on the southern journey.

Was this, thought the bewildered Malcolm as he fell asleep, the godless atmosphere he had been used to think all that was not Glenuskie or Coldingham-England above all?

Indeed, in the frosty twilight of the spring morning, though Henry was now clad in his usual garb, sleeplessness, sorrow, and fasting made him as wan and haggard as any ascetic monk; his eyes were sunken, and his closed lips bore a stern fixed expression, which scarcely softened even when the sacrificial rite struck the notes of praise; and though a light came into his eye, it was rather the devotion of one who had offered himself, than the gleam of hopeful exultation. The horses stood saddled at the west door, for Henry was feverishly eager to reach Pontefract, where he had left his queen, and wished to avoid the delay of breaking his fast at York, but only to snatch a meal at some country hostel on his way.

Round the horses, however, a crowd of the citizens were collected to gaze; and two or three women with children in their arms made piteous entreaties for the King's healing touch for their little ones. The kind Henry waited, ungloved his hand, asked his treasurer for the gold pieces that were a much-esteemed part of the cure, and signed to his attendant chaplain to say the Collect appointed for the rite.

Fervent blessings were meantime murmured through the crowd, which broke out into loud shouts of 'God save King Harry!' as he at length leapt into the saddle; but at that moment, a feeble, withered old man, leaning on a staff, and wearing a bedesman's gown, peered up, and muttered to a comrade-

'Fair-faced, quotha-fair, maybe, but not long for this world! One is gone already, and the rest will not be long after; the holy man's words will have their way-the death mark is on him.'

The words caught James's ear, and he angrily turned round: 'Foul-mouthed raven, peace with thy traitor croak!' but Bedford caught his arm, crying-

'Hush! 'tis a mere bedesman;' and bending forward to pour a handful of silver into the beggar's cap, he said, 'Pray, Gaffer, pray-pray for the dead and living, both.'

'So,' said James, as both mounted, 'there's a fee for a boding traitor.'

'I knew his face,' said Bedford, with a shudder; 'he belonged to Archbishop Scrope.'

'A traitor, too,' said James.

'Nay, there was too much cause for his words. Never shall I forget the day when Scrope was put to death on this very moor on which we are entering. There sat my father on his horse, with us four boys around him, when the old man passed in front of us, and looked at him with a face pitiful and terrible. "Harry of Bolingbroke," he said, "because thou hast done these things, therefore shall thy foes be of thine own household; the sword shall never depart therefrom, but all the increase of thy house shall die in the flower of their age, and in the fourth generation shall their name be clean cut off." The commons will have it that at that moment my father was struck with leprosy; and struck to the heart assuredly he was, nor was he ever the same man again. I always believed that those words made him harder upon every prank of poor Hal's, till any son save Hal would have become his foe! And see now, the old bedesman may be in the right; poor pretty Blanche has long been in her grave, Thomas is with her now, and Jamie,'-he lowered his voice,-'when men say that Harry hath more of Alexander in him than there is in other men, it strikes to my heart to think of the ring lying on the empty throne.'

'Now,' said James, 'what strikes me is, what doleful bodings can come into a brave man's head on a chill morning before he has broken his fast. A tankard of hot ale will chase away omens, whether of bishop or bedesman.'

'It may chase them from the mind, but will not make away with them,' said John. 'But I might have known better than to speak to you of such things-you who are well-nigh a Lollard in disbelief of all beyond nature.'

'No Lollard am I,' said James. 'What Holy Church tells me, I believe devoutly; but not in that which she bids me loathe as either craft of devils or of men.'

'Ay, of which? There lies the question,' said John.

'Of men,' said the Scottish king; 'of men who have wit enough to lay hold of the weaker side even of a sober youth such as Lord John of Lancaster! Your proneness to believe in sayings and prophecies, in sorceries and magic, is the weakest point of all of you.'

'And it is the weakest point in you, James, that you will not credit upon proof, such proof as was the fulfilment of the prophecy of the place of my father's death.'

'One such saying as that, fulfilled to the ear, though not in truth, is made the plea for all this heart-sinking-ay, and what is worse, for the durance of your father's widow as a witch, and of her brave young son, because forsooth his name is Arthur of Richemont, and some old Welsh rhymester hath whispered to Harry that Richmond shall come out of Brittany, and be king of England.'

'Arthur is no worse off than any other captive of Agincourt,' said Bedford; 'and I tell you, James, the day may come when you will rue your want of heed to timely warnings.'

'Better rue once than pine under them all my life, and far better than let them betray me into deeming some grewsome crime an act of justice, as you may yet let them do,' said James.

Such converse passed between the two princes, while King Henry rode in advance, for the most part silent, and only desirous of reaching Pontefract Castle, where he had left the young wife whose presence he longed for the more in his trouble. The afternoon set in with heavy rain, but he would not halt, although he gave free permission to any of his suite to do so; and James recommended Malcolm to remain, and come on the next day with Brewster. The boy, however, disclaimed all weariness, partly because bashfulness made him unwilling to venture from under his royal kinsman's wing, and partly because he could not bear to let the English suppose that a Scotsman and a Stewart could be afraid of weather. As the rain became harder with the evening twilight, silence sank upon the whole troop, and they went splashing on through the deep lanes, in mud and mire, until the lights of Pontefract Castle shimmered on high from its hill. The gates were opened, the horses clattered in, torches came forth, flickering and hissing in the darkness. The travellers went through what seemed to Malcolm an interminable number of courts and gateways, and at length flung themselves off their horses, when Henry, striding on, mounted the steps, entered the building, and, turning the corner of a great carved screen, he and his brother, with James and Malcolm, found themselves in the midst of a blaze of cressets and tapers, which lighted up the wainscoted part of the hall.

The whole scene was dazzling to eyes coming in from the dark, and only after a moment or two could Malcolm perceive that, close to the great fire, sat a party of four, playing at what he supposed to be that French game with painted cards of which Patrick Drummond had told him, and that the rest seemed to be in attendance upon them.

Dark eyed and haired, with a creamy ivory skin, and faultless form and feature, the fair Catherine would have been unmistakable, save that as Henry hurried forward, the lights glancing on his jaded face, matted hair, and soaked dress, the first to spring forward to meet him was a handsome young man, who wrung his hand, crying, 'Ah, Harry, Harry, then 'tis too true!' while the lady made scarcely a step forwards: no shade of colour tinged her delicate cheek; and though she did not resist his fervent embrace, it was with a sort of recoil, and all she was heard to say was, 'Eh, Messire, vos bottes sont crottées!'

'You know all, Kate?' he asked, still holding her hand, and looking afraid of inflicting a blow.

'The battle? Is it then so great a disaster?' and, seeing his amazed glance, 'The poor Messire de Clarence! it was pity of him; he was a handsome prince.'

'Ah, sweet, he held thee dear,' said Henry, catching at the crumb of sympathy.

'But yes,' said Catherine, evidently perplexed by the strength of his feeling, and repeating, 'He was a beau sieur courtois. But surely it will not give the Armagnacs the advantage?'

'With Heaven's aid, no! But how fares it with poor Madge-his wife, I mean?'

'She is away to her estates. She went this morn, and wished to have taken with her the Demoiselle de Beaufort; but I forbade that-I could not be left without one lady of the blood.'

'Alack, Joan-' and Henry was turning, but Catherine interrupted him. 'You have not spoken to Madame of Hainault, nor to the Duke of Orleans. Nay, you are in no guise to speak to any one,' she added, looking with repugnance at the splashes of mud that reached even to his waist.

'I will don a fresh doublet, sweetheart,' said Henry, more rebuked than seemed fitting, 'and be ready to sup anon.'

'Supper! We supped long ago.'

'That may be; but we have ridden long since we snatched our meal, that I might be with thee the sooner, my Kate.'

'That was not well in you, my Lord, to come in thus dishevelled, steaming with wet-not like a king. You will be sick, my Lord.'

The little word of solicitude recalled his sweet tender smile of gratitude. No fear, ma belle; sickness dares not touch me.'

'Then,' said the Queen, 'you will be served in your chamber, and we will finish our game.'

Henry turned submissively away; but Bedford tarried an instant to say, 'Fair sister, he is sore distressed. It would comfort him to have you with him. He has longed for you.'

Catherine opened her beautiful brown eyes in a stare of surprise and reproof at the infraction of the rules of ceremony which she had brought with her. John of Bedford had never seemed to her either beau or courtois, and she looked unutterable things, to which he replied by an elevation of his marked eyebrows.

She sat down to her game, utterly ignoring the other princes in their weather-beaten condition; and they were forced to follow the King, and make their way to their several chambers, for Queen Catherine's will was law in matters of etiquette.

'The proud peat! She is jealous of every word Harry speaks-even to his cousin,' muttered James, as he reached his own room. 'You saw her, though,-you saw her!' he added, smiling, as he laid his hand on Malcolm's shoulder.

The boy coloured like a poppy, and answered awkwardly enough, 'The Lady Joan, Sir?'

'Who but the Lady Joan, thou silly lad? How say'st thou? Will not Scotland forget in the sight of that fair face all those fule phantasies-the only folly I heard at Glenuskie?'

'Methinks,' said Malcolm, looking down in sheer awkwardness, 'it were easier to bow to her than to King Harry's dame. She hath more of stateliness.'

'Humph!' said James, 'dost so serve thy courtly 'prenticeship? Nay, but in a sort I see thy meaning. The royal blood of England shows itself to one who hath an eye for princeliness of nature.'

'Nay,' said Malcolm, gratified, 'those dark eyes and swart locks-'

'Dark eyes-swart locks!' interrupted the King. 'His wits have gone wool-gathering.'

'Indeed, Sir!' exclaimed Malcolm, 'I thought you meant the lady who stood by the Queen's table, with the grand turn of the neck and the white wimple and veil.'

'Pshaw!' said James; 'the foolish callant! he hath taken that great brown Luxemburg nun of Dame Jac's for the Rose of Somerset.'

However, James, seeing how confounded the boy was by this momentary displeasure, explained to him who the other persons he had seen were-Jaqueline, the runaway Countess of Hainault in her own right, and Duchess of Brabant by marriage; Humfrey, duke of Gloucester, the King's young, brilliant brother; the grave, melancholy Duke of Orleans, who had been taken captive at Agincourt, and was at present quartered at Pontefract; the handsome, but stout and heavy-looking Earl of March; brave Lord Warwick; Sir Lewis Robsart, the old knight to whose charge the Queen had been specially committed from the moment of her betrothal; and a young, bold, gay-looking lad, of Malcolm's own age, but far taller and stouter, and with a merry, half-defiant, half-insouciant air, who had greatly taken his fancy, was, he was told, Ralf Percy, the second son of Sir Harry Percy.

'Of him they called Hotspur?-who was taken captive at Otterburn, who died a rebel!' exclaimed Malcolm.

'Ay,' said James; 'but King Harry had learnt the art of war as a boy, first under Hotspur, in Wales; nor doth he love that northern fashion of ours of keeping up feud from generation to generation. So hath he restored the eldest son to his barony, and set him to watch our Borders; and the younger, Ralf, he is training in his own school of chivalry.'

More wonders for Malcolm Stewart, who had learnt to believe it mere dishonour and tameness to forgive the son for his father's deeds. A cloistered priest could hardly do so: pardon to a hostile family came only with the last mortal throe; and here was this warlike king forgiving as a mere matter of course!

'But,' added James, 'you had best not speak of your bent conventwards in the Court here. I should not like to have you called the monkling!'

Malcolm crimsoned, with the resolution never to betray himself.

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