After these, and other calm collected farewells, Henry required to know from his physicians how long his time might yet be. There was hesitation in answering, plainly as they saw that mortification had set in.
‘What,’ he said, ’do ye think I have faced death so many times to fear it now?’
Then came the reply given by the weeping, kneeling physician: ’Sir, think of your soul, for, without a miracle, you cannot live two hours.’
The King beckoned his confessor, and his friends retired, to return again to take their part in the last rites, the Viaticum and Unction.
Henry was collected, and alive to all that was passing, responding duly, and evidently entering deeply into the devotions that were to aid his spirit in that awful passage; his face gravely set, but firm and fearless as ever. The ceremonial ended, he was still sensible, though with little power of voice or motion left; but the tone, though low, was steady as ever, when he asked for the Penitential Psalms. Still they doubted whether he were following them, for his eyes closed, and his lips ceased to move, until, as they chanted the revival note of David’s mournful penance—’O be favourable and gracious unto Sion; build Thou the walls of Jerusalem;’—at that much-loved word, the light of the blue eyes once more beamed out, and he spoke again. ’Jerusalem! On the faith of a dying king, it was my earnest purpose to have composed matters here into peace and union, and so to have delivered Jerusalem. But the will of God be done, since He saw me unworthy.’
Then his eyes closed again; he slept, or seemed to sleep; and then a strange quivering came over the face, the lips moved again, and the words broke from them, ‘Thou liest, foul spirit! thou liest!’ but, as though the parting soul had gained the victory in that conflict, peace came down on the wasted features; and with the very words of his Redeemer Himself, ‘Into Thy hands I commend my spirit,’ he did indeed fall asleep; the mighty soul passed from the worn-out frame.
CHAPTER XIII: THE RING AND THE EMPTY THRONE
No one knows how great a tree has been till it has fallen; nor how large a space a mighty man has occupied till he is removed.
King Henry V. left his friends and foes alike almost dizzy, as in place of his grand figure they found a blank; instead of the hand whose force they had constantly felt, mere emptiness.
Malcolm of Glenuskie, who had been asserting constantly that King Henry was no master of his, and had no rights over him, had nevertheless, for the last year or more, been among those to whom the King’s will was the moving spring, fixing the disposal of almost every hour, and making everything dependent thereon.