CHAPTER XI: THE TWO PROMISES
After all, Alice Montagu was married almost privately, and without any preparation. Tidings came that the Duke of Alencon was besieging Cosne, a city belonging to the Duke of Burgundy, and that instant relief was needed. The Duke was urgent with Henry to save the place for him, and set off at once to collect his brilliant chivalry; while Henry, rousing at the trumpet-call, declared that nothing ailed him but pageants, sent orders to all his troops to collect from different quarters, and prepared to take the command in person; while reports daily came in of the great muster the Armagnacs were making, as though determined to offer battle.
Salisbury was determined not to abide the chances of the battle without first giving a protector to his little daughter; and therefore, as quietly as if she had been merely going to mass, the Lady Alice was wedded to her Sir Richard Nevil, who treated the affair as the simplest matter of course, and troubled himself with very slight demonstrations of affection. The wedding took place at Senlis, whither the female part of the Court had accompanied the King, upon the very day of the parting. No one was present, except one of Sir Richard’s brothers (the whole family numbered twenty-two), his esquire; and on Alice’s side, her father, Esclairmonde, and a few other ladies.
At the last moment, however, the King himself came up, leaning on Warwick’s arm, looking thin, ill, and flushed, but resolved to do honour to his faithful Salisbury, at whose request he had permitted the barony of Montagu to be at once transferred to Nevil, who would thenceforth be called by that title.
After the ceremony, King Henry kissed the gentle bride, placed a costly ring upon her finger, and gave his best and warmest wishes to the newly-married pair. Little guessed any there present what the sound of Warwick and Salisbury would be in forty years’ time to the babe cradled at Windsor.
As the King passed Esclairmonde, he paused, and said, in an undertone, ’Dear lady, deem not that I have forgotten your holy purpose; but you understand that there are some who are jealous of any benefit conferred on Paris save from themselves, and whose alliance I may not risk. But if God be pleased to grant me this battle also, then, with His good pleasure, I shall not be forced to have such respect to persons; and when I return, lady, whether the endowment come from your bounty or no, God helping us, you shall begin the holy work of St. Katharine’s bedeswomen among the poor of Paris.’
But while Henry V., with all his grave sweetness, spoke these words to Esclairmonde de Luxemburg, this was the farewell of Countess Jaqueline of Hainault to Malcolm Stewart:
’Look here, my languishing swain; never mind her scorn, but win your spurs in the battle that is to be, and then make some excuse to get back again to us before the two Kings, with all their scruples. Then beshrew me but she shall be yours! If Monseigneur de Therouenne and I cannot manage one proud girl, I am not Countess of Hainault!’