‘Like a young bridegroom—nay, more like a young suitor.’
’You’re jealous, Jamie—afraid of being outshone. ’Tis is your own fault, man; none can ever tell whether you be in festal trim or not.’
For King James’s taste was for sober, well-blending hues; and as he never lapsed into Henry’s carelessness, his state apparel was not very apparently dissimilar from his ordinary dress, being generally of dark rich crimson, blue, or russet, with the St. Andrew’s cross in white silk on his breast, or else the ruddy lion, but never conspicuously; and the sombre hues always seemed particularly well to suit his auburn colouring.
Malcolm, in scarlet and gold, was a far gayer figure, and quite conscious of the change in his own appearance—how much taller, ruddier, and browner he had become; how much better he held himself both in riding and walking; and how much awkwardness and embarrassment he had lost. No wonder Esclairmonde had despised the sickly, timid, monkish school-boy; and if she had then shown him any sort of grace or preference, what would she think of the princely young squire he could new show her, who had seen service, had proved his valour, and was only not a knight because of King Henry’s unkindness and King James’s punctilio?—at any rate, no child to be brow-beaten and silenced with folly about cloistral dedication, but a youth who had taken his place in the world, and could allege that his inspiration had come through her bright eyes.
Would she be there? That was the chief anxiety: for it was not certain that either she or her mistress would risk themselves on the Continent; and Catherine had given no intimation as to who would be in her suite—so that, as Henry had merrily observed, he was the only one in the whole party who was not in suspense, except indeed Salisbury, who had sent his commands to his little daughter to come out with the Queen.
‘She is come!’ cried Henry. ‘Beforehand with us, after all;’ and he spurred his horse on as he saw the banner raised, and the escort around the gate; and in a few seconds more he and his companions had hurried through the court, where the ladies had scarcely dismounted, and hastened into the hall, breaking into the seneschal’s solemn reception of the Queen.
‘My Kate, my fairest! Mine eyes have been hungry for a sight of thee.’
And Catherine, in her horned head-gear and flutter of spangled veil, was almost swallowed up in his hearty embrace; and the fervency of his great love so far warmed her, that she clung to him, and tenderly said, ’My lord, it is long since I saw you.’