‘Hal,’ said James, seeing his gay temper restored, ’you have grievously hurt that springald of mine. His northern blood cannot away with the taste he got of your fist.’
‘Pretty well for your godly young monk, to expect to rob unchecked!’ laughed Henry.
‘He will do well at last,’ said James. ’Manhood has come on him with a rush, and borne him off his feet; nor would I have him over-tame.’
‘There spake the Scot!’ said Henry. ’By my faith, Jamie, we should have had you the worst robber of all had we not caught you young! Well, what am I do for this sprig of royalty? Say I struck unawares? Nay, had I known him, I’d have struck with as much of a will as his slight bones would bear.’
’An you love me, Hal, do something to cool his ill blood, and remove the sense of shame that sinks a lad in his own eyes.’
‘Methought,’ said Henry, ’there was more shame in the deed than in the buffet.’
Nevertheless the good-natured King took an occasion of saying: ’My Lord of Glenuskie, I smote without knowing you. It was no place for a prince—nay, for any honest man; otherwise no hand should have been laid on my guest or my brother’s near kinsman. And whereas I hear that both you and my fiery hot Percy verily credited the cry that prisoners were hid in that house, let me warn you that never was place yielded on composition but some villain got up the shout, and hundreds of fools followed it, till they learnt villainy in their turn. Therefore I ever chastise transgression of my command to touch neither dwelling nor inhabitant. You have both learnt your lesson, and the lion rampant and he of the straight tail will both be reined up better another time.’
Malcolm had no choice but to bend his head, mutter something, and let the King grasp his hand, though to him the apology seemed none at all, but rather to increase the offence, since the blame was by no means taken back again, while the condescension was such as could not be rejected, and thus speciously took away his excuse for brooding over his wrath. His hand lay so unwillingly in that strong hearty clasp that the King dropped it, frowned, shrugged his shoulders, and muttered to himself, ’Sullen young dog! No Scot can let bygones be bygones!’ and then he turned away and cast the trifle from his memory.
James was amazed not to see the moody face clear up, and asked of Malcolm whether he were not gratified with this ample satisfaction.
‘I trow I must be, Sir,’ said Malcolm.
‘I tell thee, boy,’ said James, ’not one king—nay, not one man—in a thousand would have offered thee the frank amends King Harry hath done this day: nay, I doubt whether even he could so have done, were it not that the hope of his wife’s coming hath made him overflow with joy and charity to all the world.’