‘My King! my hermit father! Forgive! Down, Watch!’ cried Hal, falling down at his feet, with one arm holding down Watch, who tried to lick his face and the King’s hand by turns.
‘Is it thou, my child, my shepherd?’ said Henry, his hands on the lad’s head. ’Bless thee! Oh, bless thee, much loved child of my wanderings! I have longed after thee, and prayed for thee, and now God hath given thee to me at this shrine! Kneel and give the Lord thy best thanks, my lad! Ah! how tall thou art! I should not have known thee, Hal, but for Watch.’
‘It is well,’ muttered Oxford to Musgrave. ’I have not seen him so well nor so cheery all this day. The lad will waken him up and do him good.’
CHAPTER XVII. A CAPTIVE KING
And we see far on holy ground,
If duly purged our mental view.—Keble.
The King held Harry Clifford by the hand as he left St. Peter’s Church. ‘My child, my shepherd boy,’ he said, and he called Watch after him, and interested himself in establishing a kind of suspicious peace between the shaggy collie and his own ‘Minion,’ a small white curly-haired dog, which belonged to a family that had been brought by Queen Margaret from Provence.
His attendant knight, Sir Nicolas Romford, told Sir Giles Musgrave that he had really never seemed so happy since his deliverance, and Sir Nicolas had waited on him ever since his capture, six years previously. He led the youth along to the royal rooms, asking on the way after his sheep and the goodwife who had sent him presents of eggs, then showing him the bullfinch, that greeted his return with loving chirps, and when released from its cage came and sat upon his shoulder and played with his hair, ’A better pet than a fierce hawk, eh, Hal?’ he said.
He laughed when he found that Harry thought he had spent all this time in a dark underground dungeon with fetters on his feet.
‘Oh no!’ he said; ’they were kindly jailors. They dealt better with me than with my Master.’
‘Sir, sir, that terrible ride through Cheapside!’ said Harry. ’We heard of it at Derwent-side, and we longed to have our pikes at the throats of the villain traitors.’
The King looked as if he hardly remembered that cruel procession, when he was set upon a sorry jade with his feet tied to the stirrups, and shouts of ‘Behold the traitor!’ around him. Then with a sweet smile of sudden recollection, he said, ’Ah! I recall it, and how I rejoiced to be led in the steps of my Lord, and how the cries sounded, “We will not have this man to reign over us!” Gratias ago, unworthy me, who by my own fault could not reign.’
Harry was silenced, awe-struck, and by-and-by the King took him to see his old chamber in the White Tower, up a winding stone stair. It was not much inferior to the royal lodgings, except in the matter of dais, canopy, and tapestry, and the window looked out into the country, so that the King said he had loved it, and it had many a happy thought connected with it.