It was his last disappointment; but still he bore it cheerily.
‘Best,’ he said. ’My fair one was not made for sights like this; and were she here’—his lip trembled—’I might bear me less as a Christian man should. My sweet Catherine! Take care of her, John; she will be the most desolate being in the world.’
John promised with all his heart; though pity for cold-hearted Catherine was not the predominant feeling there.
‘I would I had seen my child’s face, and blessed him,’ continued Henry. ‘Poor boy! I would have him Warwick’s charge.’
‘Warwick is waiting admission,’ said Bedford. ’He and Salisbury and Exeter rode with me.’
The King’s face lighted up with joy as he heard this. ’It is good for a man to have his friends about him,’ he said; and as they entered he held out his hand to them and thanked them.
Then took place the well-known scene, when, looking back on his career, he pronounced it to have been his endeavour to serve God and his people, and declared himself ready to face death fearlessly, since such was the will of his Maker: grieving only for the infancy of his son, but placing his hope and comfort in his brother John, and commending the babe to the fatherly charge of Warwick. ’You cannot love him for his own sake as yet; but if you think you owe me aught, repay it to him.’ And as he thought over the fate of other infant kings, he spoke of some having hated the father and loved the child, others who had loved the father and hated the child.
To Humfrey of Gloucester he sent stringent warnings against giving way to his hot and fiery nature, offending Burgundy, or rushing into a doubtful wedlock with Jaqueline of Hainault; speaking of him with an elder brother’s fatherly affection, but turning ever to John of Bedford with full trust and reliance, as one like-minded, and able to carry out all his intentions. For the French prisoners, they might not be released, ‘lest more fire be kindled in one day than can be quenched in three.’
‘And for you, Jamie,’ he said, affectionately holding out his hand, ’my friend, my brother-in-arms, I must say the same as ever. Pardon me, Jamie; but I have not kept you out of malice, such as man must needs renounce on his death-bed. I trust to John, and to the rest, for giving you freedom at such time as you can safely return to be such a king indeed as we have ever hoped to be. Do you pardon me, James, for this, as for any harshness or rudeness you may have suffered from me?’
James, with full heart, murmured out his ardent love, his sense that no captive had ever been so generously treated as he.
‘And you, my young lord,’ said Henry, looking towards Malcolm, whose light touch and tender hands had made him a welcome attendant in the illness, ’I have many a kind service to thank you for. And I believe I mightily angered you once; but, boy, remember—ay, and you too, Ralf Percy—that he is your friend who turns you back from things sore to remember in a case like mine!’