Henry’s morning decisions were not apt to vary from his evening ones. There was a terrible implacability about him at times, and he had never ceased to visit his brother of Clarence’s death upon the Scots, on the plea that they were in arms against their king. Even Bedford obviously thought that the prisoner would be safest out of his reach; and this could hardly be accomplished, since Patrick had been placed in James’s tent, in the very centre of the camp, near the King’s own. And though Bedford and March might have connived at his being taken away, yet the mass of the soldiery would, if they detected a Scot being smuggled away into the town, have been persuaded that King James was acting treacherously.
Besides, the captive himself proved to be so exhausted, that to transport him any further in his present state would have been almost certainly fatal. A barber surgeon from Corbeil had been fetched, and was dealing with the injuries, which had apparently been the effect of a fall some days previously, probably when on his way to join the French army at Cosne; and the first fever of these hurts had no doubt been aggravated by the adventures of the day. At any rate Patrick lay unconscious, or only from time to time groaning or murmuring a few words, sometimes French, sometimes Scotch.
Malcolm would have fallen on his knees by his side, and striven to win a word or a look, but James forcibly withheld him. ’If you roused him into loud ravings in our own tongue, all hope of saving him would be gone,’ he said.
‘Shall we? Oh, can we?’ cried Malcolm, catching at the mere word hope.
‘I only know,’ said the King, ’that unless we do so by Harry’s good-will, I will never serve under him again.’
‘And if he persists in his cruelty?’
’Then must some means be found of carrying Drummond into Corbeil. It will go hard with me but he shall be saved, Malcolm. But this whole army is against a Scot; and Harry’s eye is everywhere, and his fierceness unrelenting. Malcolm, this is bondage! May God and St. Andrew aid us!’
When the King came to saying that, it was plain he deemed the case past all other aid.
Malcolm’s misery was great. The very sight of Patrick had made a mighty revulsion in his feelings. The almost forgotten associations of Glenuskie were revived; the forms of his guardian and of Lily came before him, as he heard familiar names and phrases in the dear home accent fall from the fevered lips. Coldingham rose up before him, and St. Abbs, with Lily watching on the rocks for tidings of her knight—her knight, to whom her brother had once promised to resign all his lands and honours, but who now lay captured by plunderers, among whom that brother made one, and in peril of a shameful death. Oh, far better die in his stead, than return to Lily with tidings such as these!