‘You!’ said James; ’but for me—it is like to be the library and the Round Tower again.’
‘Scarcely,’ said Bedford, ’the Beauforts will never rest till Joan is on a throne.’
‘Ay,’ said Bedford, ’the Bishop of Winchester will be no small power, you will find. Would that I could throw up this France and come home, for he and Humfrey will clash for ever. James, an you love me, see Humfrey alone, and remind him that all the welfare of Harry’s child may hang on his forbearance—on union with the Bishop. Tell him, if he ever loved the noblest brother that ever lived, to rein himself in, and live only for the child’s good, not his own. Tell him that Bedford and Gloucester must be nothing henceforth—only heads and hands doing Harry’s will for his babe. Oh, James, what can you tell Humfrey that will make him put himself aside?’
‘You have writ to him Harry’s words as to Dame Jac?’
’The wanton! ay, I have; and if you can whisper in his ear that matter of Malcolm and the signet, it might lessen his inclination. But,’ he sighed, ’I have little hope, James; I see nothing for Lancaster but that which the old man at York invoked upon us!’
’Yet, when I look at you and Humfrey, and think of the contrast with my own father’s brethren, I see nothing but hope and promise for England,’ said James.
‘We must do our best, however heavy-hearted,’ said John of Bedford, pausing in his walk, and standing steadfast. ’The rod becomes a palm to those who do not freshly bring it on themselves. May this poor child of Harry’s be bred up so that he may be fit to meet evil or good!’
‘Poor child,’ repeated James. ‘Were he not there, and you—’
‘Peace, James,’ said Bedford; ’it is well that such a weight is not added! While I act for my nephew, I know my duty; were it for myself, methinks I should be crazed with doubts and questions. Well,’ as a messenger came up with tidings that all was ready, ’fare thee well, Jamie. In you I lose the only man with whom I can speak my mind, or take counsel. You’ll not let me gain a foe, as well as lose a friend, when you get home?’
‘Never, in heart, John!’ said the King. ’As to hand—Scotland must be to England what she will have her. Would that I saw my way thither! Windsor will have lost all that made captivity well-nigh sweet. And so farewell, dear brother. I thank you for the granting to me of this sacred charge.’
And so, with hands clasped and wrung together, with tears raining from James’s eyes, and a dry settled melancholy more sad than tears on John’s countenance, the two friends parted, never again to meet; each to run a course true, brave, and short—extinguished the one in bitter grief, the other in blood.
On All Saints’ Day, while James stood with Humfrey of Gloucester at the head of the grave at Westminster, where Henry’s earthly form was laid to rest amid the kings his fathers, amid the wail of a people as sorrowful as if they knew all the woes that were to ensue, Bedford was in like manner standing over a grave at the Royal Abbey of St. Denis. He, the victor’s brother, represented all the princely kindred of Charles VI. of France, and, with his heart at Westminster, filled the chief mourner’s place over the king who had pined to death for his conqueror.