“Nor would I pledge a hawk for her safety, if she fall into his grace’s hands, whether with her lord’s consent or no,” replied the young nobleman, laughing. “Your royal father is fearfully incensed.”
“Better destroy them root and branch at once,” said the prince, who, like all weak minds, loved any extremity better than a protracted struggle. “Exterminate with fire and sword; ravage the land till there be neither food for man nor beast; let neither noble nor serf remain, and then, perchance, we shall hear no more of Scotland. On my faith, I am sick of the word.”
“Not so the king, my royal lord,” returned his companion. “See how eagerly he talks to my lords of Pembroke and Hereford. We shall have our sovereign yet again at our head.”
And it was even as he said. The king, with that strong self-command which disease alone could in any way cause to fail, now conquering alike his bitter disappointment and the fury it engendered, turned his whole thought and energy towards obtaining the downfall of his insolent opponents at one stroke; and for that purpose, summoning around him the brave companions of former campaigns, and other officers of state, he retired with them to his private closet to deliberate more at length on the extraordinary news they had received, and the best means of nipping the rebellion in the bud.
The evening of this eventful day found the Scottish earls seated together in a small apartment of one of the buildings adjoining the royal palace, which in the solemn seasons we have enumerated was always crowded with guests, who were there feasted and maintained at the king’s expense during the whole of their stay. Inconveniences in their private quarters were little heeded by the nobles, who seldom found themselves there, save for the purpose of a few hours sleep, and served but to enhance by contrast the lavish richness and luxury which surrounded them in the palace and presence of their king; but to the Earls of Buchan and Fife the inconveniences of their quarters very materially increased the irritability and annoyance of their present situation. Fife had stretched himself on two chairs, and leaning his elbows on the broad shelf formed by the small casement, cast many wistful glances on the street below, through which richly-attired gallants, both on foot and horseback, were continually passing. He was one of those frivolous little minds with whom the present is all in all, caring little for the past, and still less for the future. It was no marvel, therefore, that he preferred the utter abandonment of his distracted country for the luxury and ease attending the court and camp of Edward, to the great dangers and little recompense attending the toils and struggles of a patriot. The only emotion of any weight with him was the remembrance of and desire of avenging petty injuries, fancying and aggravating them when, in fact, none was intended.