The Caged Lion eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 390 pages of information about The Caged Lion.

It was no small plunge for one hitherto watched, tended, and guarded as Malcolm had been, to set forth entirely alone; but as he had approached manhood, and strengthened in body, his spirit had gained much in courage, and the anxiety about his sister swallowed up all other considerations.  Even while he entreated the prayers of the Abbess, he felt quite sure that he had those of Esclairmonde; and when he had hunted out of his mails the plain bachelor’s rabbit-skin hood and black gown—­which, perhaps, was a little too fine in texture for the poor wanderer—­and fastened on his back, with a leathern thong, a package containing a few books and a change of linen, his pale and intellectual face made him look so entirely the young clerk, that Patrick hardly believed it was Malcolm.

And when the roads parted, and Drummond and his escort had to turn towards Berwick, while Malcolm took the path to the monastery, it was the younger who was the stronger and more resolute of the two; for Patrick could neither reconcile himself to peril the boy, who had always been his anxious trust, nor to return to the King without him; and yet no one who loved Lilias could withhold him from his quest.

Malcolm did not immediately speed to the monastery on taking leave of Patrick.  He stood first to watch the armour flashes gradually die away, and the little troop grow smaller to his eye, across the brown moor, till they were entirely out of sight, and he himself left alone.  Then he knelt by a bush of gorse, told his beads, and earnestly entreated direction and aid for himself, and protection for his sister; and when the sun grew so low as to make it time for a wanderer to seek harbour, he stained and daggled his gown in the mire and water of a peat-moss, so as to destroy its Oxford gloss, took a book in his hand, and walked towards the monastery, reciting Latin verses in the sing-song tone then universally followed.

As he came among the fields, he saw that the peasants, and lay brethren who had been working among them, were returning, some from sowing, others from herding the cattle, which they drove before them to the byre within the protecting wall of the monastery.

A monk—­with a weather-beaten face and athletic figure, much like a farmer’s of the present day—­overtook him, and hailed him with ’Benedicite, you there and welcome to your clerkship!  Are you coming for supper and bed in the convent?’

Malcolm knew good-natured Brother Nicolas, and kept his hood well over his face after the first salutation; though he felt confident that Lord Malcolm could hardly be recognized in the begging scholar, as he made reply, ‘Salve, reverende frater.  Venio de Lutetia Parisiorum.’ {1}

‘Whisht with your Latin, laddie,’ said the brother.  ’Speak out, if you’ve a Scots tongue in your head, and have not left it in foreign parts.’

‘For bed and board, holy father, I shall be most thankful,’ replied Malcolm.

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The Caged Lion from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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