Was this retribution for his broken purpose, and for having fallen away, not merely into secular life, but into sins that stood between him and religious rites? The King had called St. Andrew to aid! Must a proof of repentance and change be given, ere that aid would come? Should he vow himself again to the cloister, yield up the hope of Esclairmonde, and devote himself for Patrick’s sake? Could he ever be happy with Patrick dead, and Esclairmonde driven and harassed into being his wife? Were it not better to vow at once, that so his cousin were spared he would return to his old purposes?
Almost had he uttered the vow, when, tugging hard at his heart, came the vision of Esclairmonde’s loveliness, and he felt it beyond his strength to resign her voluntarily; besides, how Madame of Hainault and Monseigneur de Therouenne would deride his uncertainties; and how intolerable it would be to leave Esclairmonde to fall into the hands of Boemond of Burgundy.
Such a renunciation could not be made; he did not even know that Patrick’s safety depended on it; and instead of that, he promised, with great fervency of devotion, that if St. Andrew would save Patrick Drummond, and bring about the two marriages, a most splendid monastery for educational purposes, such as the King so much wished to found, should be his reward. It should be in honour of St. Andrew, and should be endowed with Esclairmonde’s wealth, which would be quite ample enough, both for this and for a noble portion for Lily. Surely St. Andrew must accept such a vow, and spare Patrick! So Malcolm tried to pacify an anguish of suspense that would not be pacified.
CHAPTER XII: THE LAST PILGRIMAGE
The summer morning came; the reveille sounded, Mass was sung in the chapel tent, without which Henry never moved; and Malcolm tried to reassure his sinking heart by there pledging his vow to St. Andrew.
The English king was not present; but the troops were drawing up in complete array, that he might inspect them before the march. And a glorious array they were, of steel-clad men-at-arms on horseback, in bands around their leader’s banner, and of ranks of sturdy archers, with their long-bows in leathern cases; the orderly multitude, stretching as far as the eye could reach, glittering in the early sun, and waiting with bold and glad hearts to greet the much-loved king, who had always led them to victory.
The only unarmed knight was James of Scotland. He stood in the space beside the standard of England, in his plain suit of chamois leather, his crimson cloak over his shoulder, but with no weapon about him, waiting with crossed arms for the morning’s decision.
Close outside the royal tent waited Henry’s horse, and those of his brother and other immediate attendants; and after a short interval the King came forth in his brightest armour, with the coronal on his helmet, and the beaver up; and as he mounted, not without considerable aid, enthusiastic shouts of ‘Long live King Harry!’ broke forth, and came echoing back and back from troop to troop, gathering fervour as they rose.