Was this the reading of Esclairmonde’s riddle? suddenly thought Malcolm. Was the true search for heavenly Light, then, to consist in holding up to his countrymen the lamp he was kindling for himself? Must true wisdom consist in treasuring knowledge, not for his own honour among learned men, or the delectation of his own mind, but to scatter it among these rude northern souls? Must the vision of learned research and scholarly calm vanish, as cloistral peace, and chivalrous love and glory, had vanished before? and was the lot of a hard-working secular priest that which called him?
For Malcolm to speak with his sister was well-nigh an impossibility. Had he been detected, he would have been immediately treated as a spy, and the suspicion thus excited would have been a dangerous preparation for the King as well as for himself; nor was there any pretext for giving the wandering scholar an interview with her.
But harsh and strict as was the Duchess of Albany—a tall, raw-boned, red-haired woman, daughter of the fierce old Earl of Lennox—and resolved as she was to bend Lilias by persecution to accept her son, she could not debar a young gentleman of the royal kindred, like James Kennedy, from entering the apartment where the ladies of the family sat with their needles; and the Regent, half from pity, half from shame, had refused to permit Lilias Stewart’s being treated as a mere captive.
Thus Malcolm remained in Kennedy’s room in much anxiety, while his cousin went forth to do his best in his cause, and after some hours returned to him with the tidings that he had succeeded in letting Lily know that he was in the Castle. Standing over her while she bent over her embroidery, and thus concealing her trembling agitation, he had found it possible to whisper in her ears the tidings of her brother having come to save her, and of hearing her insist that Malcolm, ’wee Malcolm, must run no peril, but that she would do and dare everything—nay, would prefer death itself to Walter Stewart.’
‘Have you any device in this matter?’ demanded James Kennedy, when he had thus spoken.
‘Have you your college gown here?’ inquired Malcolm.
‘I have, in yon kist,’ said Kennedy. ’Would you disguise her therein? You and she are nearly of a height.’
‘Ay,’ said Malcolm. ’The plot I thought on is this—the worst is that the risk rests with you.’
‘That is naught, less than naught,’ said Kennedy. ’I had risked myself ten times over had I seen any hope for her in so doing.’
Malcolm then explained his plan, namely, that if Lilias could have Kennedy’s gown conveyed to her, she should array herself therein, and be conducted out of the castle by her cousin by one gate, he himself in secular garb going by another, and joining at some place of meeting, whence, as a pair of brothers, Malcolm and she might gain the English border.