‘Who is here?’ he said, awakening. ’Some drink! What you, Jamie! You that were on fire to see a stricken field!’
‘Not so much as to see you better at ease,’ said James.
‘I am better,’ said Henry. ’I could move now; and I must. This tent will stifle me by noon.’
‘You will not go forward?’
’No; I’ll go back. A sick man is best with his wife. And I can battle it no further, nor grudge the glory of the day to John. He deserves it.’
The irascible sharpness had passed from his voice and manner, and given place to a certain languid cheerfulness, as arrangements were made for his return to Vincennes.
There proved to be a large and commodious barge, in which the transit could be effected on the river, with less of discomfort than in the springless horse litter by which he had travelled the day before; and this was at once prepared.
Malcolm had meanwhile remained, as in duty bound, in attendance on his king. James had found time to enjoin him to stay, being, to say the truth, unwilling to trust one so inexperienced and fragile in the melee without himself; nor indeed would this have been a becoming moment for him to put himself forward to win his spurs in the English cause.
Nothing had passed about Patrick Drummond, nor the high words of last night. Henry seemed to have forgotten them, between his bodily suffering and the anxiety of being forced to relinquish the command just before a battle; and James would have felt it ungenerous to harass him at such a moment, when absolutely committed to his charge. For the present, there was no fear of the prisoner being summarily executed by any lawful authority, since the King had promised to take cognizance of the case; and the chief danger was from his chance discovery by some lawless man-at-arms, who would think himself doing good service by killing a concealed Scot under any circumstances.
Drummond himself, after his delirious night, had sunk into a heavy sleep; and the King thought the best hope for him would be to remain under the care of Sir Nigel Baird for the present, until he could obtain favour for him from Henry, and could send back orders from Vincennes. He would not leave Malcolm to share the care of him, declaring that the canny Sir Nigel would have quite enough to do in averting suspicion without him; and, besides, he needed Malcolm himself, in the scarcity of attendants who had any tenderness or dexterity of hand to wait upon the suffering King.
Henry had rallied enough to walk down to the river, leaning upon James; and he smiled thanks when he was assisted by Trenton and Kitson to lie along on cushions. ‘So, my Yorkshire knights,’ he said, ’’tis you that have had to stop from the battle to watch a sick man home!’
‘Ay, Sir,’ said Sir Christopher; ’I did it with the better will, that Trenton here has not been his own man since the fever; and ’twere no fair play in the matter your Grace wets of, did I go into battle whole and sound, and he sick and sorry.’