Part 2 out of 5
though Suffolk and his shameful peace were thrown over,' eagerly
said the future king-maker.
'Gloucester would be willing,' added the Duke. 'He loved the
damsel's father, and hateth the French alliance.'
'I spoke with her,' added Nevil, 'and, red-hot little Scot as
she is, she only lacks an English wedlock to make her as truly
English, which this wench of Anjou can never be.'
'She would give our meek King just the spring and force he
needs,' said the Duke; 'but thou wilt hold thy peace, Sir
Knight, and let no whisper reach the women-folk.'
This Sir Patrick readily promised. He was considerably tickled
by the idea of negotiating such an important affair for his
young King and his protegee, feeling that the benefit to
Scotland might outweigh any qualms as to the disappointment to
the French allies. Besides, if King Henry of Windsor should
think proper to fall in love with her, he could not help it; he
had not brought her away from home or to England with any such
purpose; he had only to stand by and let things take their
course, so long as the safety and honour of her, her brother,
and the kingdom were secure. So reasoned the canny Scot, but he
held his tongue to his Lilias.
ST. HELEN S
'I thought King Henry had resembled thee,
In courage, courtship, and proportion:
But all his mind is bent to holiness,
To number Ave-Maries on his beads:
His champions are the prophets and apostles;
His weapons, holy saws of sacred writ.'
King Henry VI.
George Douglas's chivalrous venture in defence of the falcon of
his lady-love had certainly not done much for him hitherto, as
Davie observed. The Lady Joanna, as every one now called her,
took it as only the bounden duty and natural service of one of
her suite, and would have cared little for his suffering for it
personally, except so far as it concerned her own dignity, which
she understood much better than she had done in Scotland, where
she was only one of 'the lassies,' an encumbrance to every one.
The York retainers had dropped all idea of visiting his offence
upon Douglas when they found that he had acted in the service of
an honoured guest of their lord, but they did not look with much
favour on him or on any other of the Scottish troop, whom their
master enjoined them to treat as guests and comrades.
The uniting of so many suites of the mighty nobles of the
fifteenth century formed quite a little army, amounting to some
two or three hundred horsemen, mostly armed, and well appointed,
with their masters' badges on their sleeves,--falcon and
fetterlock, dun cow, bear and ragged staff and the cross of
Durham, while all likewise wore in their caps the white rose.
Waggons with household furniture and kitchen needments had been
sent in advance with the numerous 'black guard,' and a provision
of cattle for slaughter accompanied these, since it was one of
the considerate acts that already had won affection to Richard
of York that, unlike many of the great nobles, he always avoided
as much as possible letting his train be oppressive to the
David Drummond had been seeing that all his father's troop were
duly provided with the Drummond badge, the thyme, which was
requisite as showing them accepted of the Duke of York's
company, but as George and his follower had never submitted to
wear it, he was somewhat surprised to find the gray blossom
prominent in George's steel-guarded cap, and to hear him saying--
'Don it, Ringan, as thou wouldst obey me.'
'His father's son is not his own father,' said Ringan sulkily.
'Then tak' thy choice of wearing it, or winning hame as thou
canst--most like hanging on the nearest oak.'
'And I'd gey liefer than demean myself in the Drummond thyme!'
replied Ringan, half turning away. 'But then what would come of
Gray Meg wi' only the Master to see till her,' muttered he,
caressing the mare's neck. 'Weel, aweel, sir'--and he held out
his hand for the despised spray.
'Is yon thy wild callant, Geordie?' said David in some surprise,
for Ringan was not only provided with a pony, but his thatch of
tow-like hair had been trimmed and covered with a barret cap,
and his leathern coat and leggings were like those of the other
'Ay,' said George, 'this is no place to be ower kenspeckle.'
'I was coming to ask,' said David, 'if thou wouldst not own
thyself to my father, and take thy proper place ere ganging
farther south. It irks me to see some of the best blood in
Scotland among the grooms.'
'It must irk thee still, Davie,' returned George. 'These
English folk might not thole to see my father's son in their
hands without winning something out of him, and I saw by what
passed the other day that thou and thy father would stand by me,
hap what hap, and I'll never embroil him and peril the lady by
'My father kens pretty well wha is riding in his companie,' said
'Ay, but he is not bound to ken.'
'And thou winna write to the Yerl, as ye said ye would when ye
were ower the Border? There's a clerk o' the Bishop of Durham
ganging back, and my father is writing letters that he will send
forward to the King, and thou couldst get a scart o' the pen to
'And what wad be thought of a puir man-at-arms sending letters
to the Yerl?' said George. 'Na, na; I may write when we win to
France, a friendly land, but while we are in England, the loons
shall make naething out of my father's son.'
'Weel, gang thine ain gait, and an unco strange one it is,' said
David. 'I marvel what thou count'st on gaining by it!'
'The sicht of her at least,' said George. 'Nay, she needed a
stout hand once, she may need it again.'
Whereat David waved his hands in a sort of contemptuous wonder.
'If it were the Duchess of York now!' he said. 'She is far
bonnier and even prouder, gin that be what tak's your fancy!
And as to our Jeanie, they are all cockering her up till she'll
no be content with a king. I doot me if the Paip himself wad be
good enough for her!'
It was true that the brilliant and lively Lady Joanna was in
high favour with the princely gallants of the cavalcade. The
only member of the party at all equal to her in beauty was the
Duchess of York, who travelled in a whirlicote with her younger
children and her ladies, and at the halting-places never relaxed
the stiff dignity with which she treated every one. Eleanor did
indeed accompany her sister, but she had not Jean's quick power
of repartee, and she often answered at haphazard, and was not
understood when she did reply; nor had she Jean's beauty, so
that in the opinion of most of the young nobles she was but a
raw, almost dumb, Scotswoman, and was left to herself as much as
courtesy permitted, except by the young King of the Isle of
Wight, a gentle, poetical personage, in somewhat delicate
health, with tastes that made him the chosen companion of the
scholarly King Henry. He could repeat a great deal of Chaucer's
poetry by heart, the chief way in which people could as yet
enjoy books, and there was an interchange between them of "Blind
Harry "and of the "Canterbury Tales", as they rode side by side,
sometimes making their companions laugh, and wonder that the
youthful queen was not jealous. Dame Lilias found her congenial
companion in the Countess Alice of Salisbury, who could talk
with her of that golden age of the two kings, Henry and James,
of her brother Malcolm, and of Esclairmonde de Luxembourg, now
Sister Clare, whom they hoped soon to see in the sisterhood of
'Hers hath been the happy course, the blessed dedication,' said
'We have both been blessed too, thanks to the saints,' returned
'That is indeed sooth,' replied the other lady. 'My lord hath
ever been most good to me, and I have had joy of my sons. Yet
there is much that my mind forbodes and shrinks back from in
dread, as I watch my son Richard's overmastering spirit.'
'The Cardinal and the Duke of Gloucester have long been at
strife, as we heard,' said Lady Drummond, 'but sure that will be
appeased now that the Cardinal is an old man and your King come
to years of discretion.'
'The King is a sweet youth, a very saint already,' replied the
Countess, 'but I misdoubt whether he have the stout heart and
strong hand of his father, and he is set on peace.'
'Peace is to be followed,' said Lilias, amazed at the tone in
which her friend mentioned it.
'Peace at home! Ay, but peace at home is only to be had by war
abroad. Peace abroad without honour only leaves these fiery
spirits to fume, and fly at one another's throats, or at those
who wrought it. My mind misgives me, mine old friend, lest
wrangling lead to blows. I had rather see my Richard spurring
against the French than against his cousins of Somerset, and
while they advance themselves and claim to be nearer in blood to
the King than our good host of York, so long will there be cause
'Our kindly host seems to wish evil to no man.'
'Nay, he is content enough, but my sister his wife, and alas! my
son, cannot let him forget that after the Duke of Gloucester he
is highest in the direct male line to King Edward of Windsor,
and in the female line stands nearer than this present King.'
'In Scotland he would not forget that his father suffered for
that very cause.'
'Ah, Lilias, thou hast seen enow of what such blood-feuds work
in Scotland to know how much I dread and how I pray they may
never awaken here. The blessed King Harry of Monmouth kept them
down by the strong hand, while he won all hearts to himself. It
is my prayer that his young son may do the like, and that my
Lord of York be not fretted out of his peaceful loyalty by the
Somerset "outrecuidance", and above all that my own son be not
the make-bate; but Richard is proud and fiery, and I fear--I
greatly fear, what may be in store for us.'
Lilias thought of Eleanor's vision, but kept silence respecting
Forerunners had been sent on by the Duke of York to announce his
coming, and who were in his company; and on the last stage these
returned, bringing with them a couple of knights and of clerks
on the part of the Cardinal of Winchester to welcome his great-
nieces, whom he claimed as his guests.
'I had hoped that the ladies of Scotland would honour my poor
house,' said the Duke.
'The Lord Cardinal deems it thus more fitting,' said the portly
priest who acted as Beaufort's secretary, and who spoke with an
authority that chafed the Duke.
Richard Nevil rode up to him and muttered--'He hath divined our
purpose, and means to cross it.'
The clerk, however, spoke with Sir Patrick, and in a manner took
possession of the young ladies. They were riding between walled
courts, substantially built, with intervals of fields and woods,
or sometimes indeed of morass; for London was still an island in
the middle of swamps, with the great causeways of the old Roman
times leading to it. The spire of St. Paul's and the square
keep of the Tower had been pointed out to them, and Jean
'My certie, it is a braw toon!'
But Eleanor, on her side, exclaimed--
''Tis but a flat! Mine eye wearies for the sea; ay, and for
Arthur's Seat and the Castle! Oh, I wadna gie Embro' for forty
of sic toons!'
Perhaps Jean had guessed enough to make her look on London with
an eye of possession, for her answer was--
'Hear till her; and she was the first to cry out upon Embro' for
a place of reivers and land-loupers, and to want to leave it.'
There was so much that was new and wonderful that the sisters
pursued the question no further. They saw the masts of the
shipping in the Thames, and what seemed to them a throng of
church towers and spires; while, nearer, the road began to be
full of market-folk, the women in hoods and mantles and short
petticoats, the men in long frocks, such as their Saxon
forefathers had worn, driving the rough ponies or donkeys that
had brought in their produce. There were begging friars in cowl
and frock, and beggars, not friars, with crutch and bowl; there
were gleemen and tumbling women, solid tradesfolk going out to
the country farms they loved, troops of 'prentices on their way
to practice with the bow or cudgel, and parties of gaily-
coloured nobles, knights, squires, and burgesses, coming, like
their own party, to the meeting of Parliament.
There were continual greetings, the Duke of York showing himself
most markedly courteous to all, his dark head being almost
continuously uncovered, and bending to his saddle-bow in
response to the salutations that met him; and friendly
inquiries and answers being often exchanged. The Earl of
Salisbury and his son were almost equally courteous; but in the
midst of all the interest of these greetings, soon after
entering the city at Bishopsgate, the clerk caused the two
Scottish sisters to draw up at an arched gateway in a solid-
looking wall, saying that it was here that my Lord Cardinal
wished his royal kinswomen to be received, at the Priory of St. Helen's. A hooded lay-sister looked out at a wicket, and on his
speaking to her, proceeded to unbar the great gates, while the
Duke of York took leave in a more than kindly manner, declaring
that they would meet again, and that he knew 'My Lady of St.
Helen's would make them good cheer.'
Indeed, he himself and the King of Wight rode into the outer
court, and lifted the two ladies down from horseback, at the
inner gate, beyond which they might not go. Jean, crossed now
for the first time since she had left home, was in tears of
vexation, and could hardly control her voice to respond to his
'As if I looked for this. Beshrew the old priest!'
None but female attendants could be admitted. Sir Patrick, with
his sons and the rest of the train, was to be lodged at the
great palace of the Bishop of Winchester at Southwark, and as he
came up to take leave of Jean, she said, with a stamp of her
foot and a clench of her hand--
'Let my uncle know that I am no cloister-bird to be mewed up
here. I demand to be with the friends I have made, and who have
Shrewd Sir Patrick smiled a little as he said--
'I will tell the Lord Cardinal what you say, lady; but methinks
you will find that submission to him with a good grace carries
you farther here than does ill-humour.'
He said something of the same kind to his wife as he took leave
of her, well knowing who were predominant with the King, and who
were in opposition, the only link being the King of Wight, or
rather Earl of Warwick, who, as the son of Henry's guardian, had
been bred up in the closest intimacy with the monarch, and,
indeed, had been invested with his fantastic sovereignty that
he might be treated as a brother and on an equality.
Jean, however, remained very angry and discontented. After her
neglected and oppressed younger days, the courtesy and
admiration she had received for the last ten days had the effect
of making her like a spoilt child; and when they entered the
inner cloistered court within, and were met by the Lady
Prioress, at the head of all her sisters in black dresses, she
hardly vouchsafed an inclination of the head in reply to the
graceful and courtly welcome with which the princesses, nieces
to the great Cardinal, were received. Eleanor, usually in the
background, was left in surprise and confusion to stammer out
thanks in broad Scotch, seconded by Lady Drummond, who could
make herself far more intelligible to these south-country ears.
There was a beautiful cloister, a double walk with clustered
columns running down the centre and a vaulted roof, and with a
fountain in the midst of the quadrangle. There was a chapel on
one side, the buildings of the Priory on the others. It was
only a Priory, for the parent Abbey was in the country; but the
Prioress was a noble lady of the house of Stafford, a small
personage as to stature, but thoroughly alert and business-like,
and, in fact, the moving spring, not only of the actual house,
but of the parent Abbey, manager of the property it possessed in
the city, and of all its monastic politics.
Without apparent offence, she observed that no doubt the ladies
were weary, and that Sister Mabel should conduct them to the
guest-chamber. Accordingly one of the black figures led the
way, and as soon as they were beyond ear-shot there were
observations that would not have gratified Jean.
'The ill-nurtured Scots!' cried one young nun. ''Tis ever the
way with them,' returned a much older one. 'I mind when one was
captive in my father's castle who was a mere clown, and drank up
the water that was meant to wash his fingers after meat. The
guest-chamber will need a cleaning after they are gone!'
'Methinks it was less lack of manners than lack of temper,'
said the Prioress. 'She hath the Beaufort face and the Beaufort
The chapel bell began to ring, and the black veils and white
filed in long procession to the pointed doorway, while the two
Scottish damsels, with Lady Drummond, her daughter, and
Christie, were conducted to three chambers looking out on the
one side on the cloistered court, on the other over a choicely-
kept garden, walled in, but planted with trees shading the turf
walks. The rooms were, as Sister Mabel explained with some
complacency, reserved for the lodging of the noble ladies who
came to London as guests of my Lord Cardinal, or with petitions
to the King; and certainly there was nothing of asceticism about
them; but they were an advance even on those at Fotheringay.
St. Helena discovering the Cross was carved over the ample
chimney, and the hangings were of Spanish leather, with all the
wondrous history of Santiago's relics, including the miracle of
the cock and hen, embossed and gilt upon them. There was a
Venetian mirror, in which the ladies saw more of themselves than
they had ever done before, and with exquisite work around; there
were carved chests inlaid with ivory, and cushions, perfect
marvels of needlework, as were the curtains and coverlets of the
mighty bed, and the screens to be arranged for privacy. There
were toilette vessels of beautifully shaped and brightly
polished brass, and on a silver salver was a refection of
manchet bread, comfits, dried cherries, and wine.
Sister Mabel explained that a lay-sister would be at hand, in
case anything was needed by the noble ladies, and then hurried
away to vespers.
Jean threw herself upon the cross-legged chair that stood
'A nunnery forsooth! Does our uncle trow that is what I came here for? We have had enow of nunneries at home.'
'Oh, fie for shame, Jeanie!' cried Eleanor.
''Twas thou that saidst it,' returned Jean. 'Thou saidst thou
hadst no call to the veil, and gin my Lord trows that we shall
thole to be shut up here, he will find himself in the wrong.'
'Lassie, lassie,' exclaimed Lady Drummond, 'what ails ye? This
is but a lodging, and sic a braw chamber as ye hae scarce seen
before. Would you have your uncle lodge ye among all his
priests and clerks? Scarce the place for douce maidens, I trow.'
'Leddy of Glenuskie, ye're not sae sib to the bluid royal of
Scotland as to speak thus! Lassie indeed!'
Again Eleanor remonstrated. 'Jeanie, to speak thus to our gude
'I would have all about me ken their place, and what fits them,'
said the haughty young lady, partly out of ill-temper and
disappointment, partly in imitation of the demeanour of Duchess
Cicely. 'As to the Cardinal, I would have him bear in mind that
we are a king's own daughters, and he is at best but the
grandson of a king! And if he deems that he has a right to shut
us up here out of sight of the King and his court, lest we
should cross his rule over his King and disturb his French
policy and craft, there are those that will gar him ken better!'
'Some one else will ken better,' quietly observed Dame Lilias.
'Gin ye be no clean daft, Leddy Joanna, since naething else will
serve ye, canna ye see that to strive with the Cardinal is the
worst gait to win his favour with the King, gin that be what ye
be set upon?'
'There be others that can deal with the King, forbye the
Cardinal,' said Jean, tossing her head.
Just then arrived a sister, sent by the Mother Prioress, to
invite the ladies to supper in her own apartments.
Her respectful manner so far pacified Jean's ill-humour that a
civil reply was returned; the young ladies bestirred themselves
to make preparations, though Jean grumbled at the trouble for
'a pack of womenfolk'--and supposed they were to make a meal of
dried peas and red herrings, like their last on Lammermuir.
It was a surprise to be conducted, not to the refectory, where
all the nuns took their meal together, but to a small room
opening into the cloister on one side, and with a window
embowered in vines on the other, looking into the garden. It
was by no means bare, like the typical cells of strict convents.
The Mother, Margaret Stafford, was a great lady, and the
Benedictines of the old foundation of St. Helen's in the midst
of the capital were indeed respectable and respected, but very
far from strict observers of their rule--and St. Helen's was so
much influenced by the wealth and display of the city that the
nuns, many of whom were these great merchants' daughters, would
have been surprised to be told that they had departed from
Benedictine simplicity. So the Prioress's chamber was
tapestried above with St. Helena's life, and below was enclosed
with drapery panels. It was strewed with sweet fresh rushes,
and had three cross-legged chairs, besides several stools; the
table, as usual upon trestles, was provided with delicate
napery, and there was a dainty perfume about the whole; a
beautiful crucifix of ivory and ebony, with images of Our Lady
and St. John on either side, and another figure of St. Helena,
cross in hand, presiding over the holy water stoup, were the
most ecclesiastical things in the garniture, except the
exquisitely illuminated breviary that lay open upon a desk.
Mother Margaret rose to receive her guests with as much dignity
as Jean herself could have shown, and made them welcome to her
poor house, hoping that they would there find things to their mind.
Something restrained Jean from bursting out with her petulant complaint, and it was Eleanor who replied with warm thanks. 'My
Lord Cardinal would come to visit them on the morn,' the
Prioress said; 'and in the meantime, she hoped,' looking at
Jean, 'they would condescend to the hospitality of the poor
daughters of St. Helen.'
The hospitality, as brought in by two plump, well-fed lay-
sisters, consisted of 'chickens in cretyne,' stewed in milk,
seasoned with sugar, coloured with saffron, of potage of
oysters, butter of almond-milk, and other delicate meats, such
as had certainly never been tasted at Stirling or Dunbar. Lady
Drummond's birth entitled her and Annis to sit at table with
the Princesses and the Prioress, and she ventured to inquire
after Esclairmonde de Luxembourg, or, as she was now called,
Sister Clare of St. Katharine's.
'I see her at times. She is the head of the sisters,' said the
Prioress; 'but we have few dealings with uncloistered sisters.'
'They do a holy work,' observed Lady Lilias.
'None ever blamed the Benedictines for lack of alms-deeds,'
returned the Prioress haughtily, scarcely attending to the
guest's disclaimer. 'Nor do I deem it befitting that instead
of the poor coming to us our sisters should run about to all
the foulest hovels of the Docks, encountering men continually,
and those of the rudest sort.'
'Yet there are calls and vocations for all,' ventured Lady
Drummond. 'And the sick are brethren in need.'
'Let them send to us for succour then,' answered Mother
Margaret. 'I grant that it is well that some one should tend
them in their huts, but such tasks are for sisters of low birth
and breeding. Mine are ladies of noble rank, though I do admit
daughters of Lord Mayors and Aldermen.'
'Our Saint Margaret was a queen, Reverend Mother,' put in
'She was no nun, saving your Grace,' said the Prioress. 'What
I speak of is that which beseems a daughter of St. Bennet, of an
ancient and royal foundation! The saving of the soul is so much
harder to the worldly life, specially to a queen, that it is no
marvel if she has to abase herself more--even to the washing of
lepers--than is needful to a vowed and cloistered sister.'
It was an odd theory, that this Benedictine seclusion saved
trouble, as being actually the strait course; but the young
maidens were not scholars enough to question it, and Dame
Lilias, though she had learnt more from her brother and her
friend, would have deemed it presumptuous to dispute with a
Reverend Mother. So only Eleanor murmured, 'The holy Margaret
no saint'--and Jean, 'Weel, I had liefer take my chance.'
'All have not a vocation,' piously said the Mother. 'Taste this
Rose Dalmoyne, Madame; our lay-sister Mold is famed for making
it. An alderman of the Fishmongers' Company sent to beg that
his cook might know the secret, but that was not to be lightly
parted with, so we only send them a dish for their banquets.'
Rose Dalmoyne was chiefly of peas, flavoured with almonds and
milk, but the guests grew weary of the varieties of delicacies,
and were very glad when the tables were removed, and Eleanor
asked permission to look at the illuminations in the breviary
on the desk.
And exquisite they were. The book had been brought from Italy
and presented to the Prioress by a merchant who wished to place
his daughter in St. Helen's, and the beauty was unspeakable.
There were natural flowers painted so perfectly that the
scattered violets seemed to invite the hand to lift them up from
their gold-besprinkled bed, and flies and beetles that Eleanor
actually attempted to drive away; and at all the greater holy
days, the type and the antitype covering the two whole opposite
pages were represented in the admirable art and pure colouring
of the early Cinquecento.
Eleanor and Annis were entranced, and the Prioress, seeing that
books had an attraction for her younger guest, promised her on
the morrow a sight of some of the metrical lives of the saints,
especially of St. Katharine and of St. Cecilia. It must be
owned that Jean was not fretted as she expected by chapel bells
in the middle of the night, nor was even Lady Drummond summoned
by them as she intended, but there was a conglomeration of the
night services in the morning, with beautiful singing, that
delighted Eleanor, and the festival mass ensuing was also more
ornate than anything to be seen in Scotland. And that the
extensive almsgiving had not been a vain boast was evident from
the swarms of poor of all kinds who congregated in the outer
court for the attention of the Sisters Almoner and Infirmarer,
attended by two or three novices and some lay-sisters.
There were genuine poor, ragged forlorn women, and barefooted,
almost naked children, and also sturdy beggars, pilgrims and
palmers on their way to various shrines, north or south, and
many more for whom a dole of broth or bread sufficed; but there
were also others with heads or limbs tied up, sometimes injured
in the many street fights, but oftener with the terrible sores
only too common from the squalid habits and want of vegetable
diet of the poor. These were all attended to with a tenderness
and patience that spoke well for the charity of Sister Anne and
her assistants, and indeed before long Dame Lilias perceived
that, however slack and easy-going the general habits might be,
there were truly meek and saintly women among the sisterhood.
The morning was not far advanced before a lay-sister came
hurrying in from the portress's wicket to announce that my Lord
Cardinal was on his way to visit the ladies of Scotland. There
was great commotion. Mother Margaret summoned all her nuns and
drew them up in state, and Sister Mabel, who carried the tidings
to the guests, asked whether they would not join in receiving
'We are king's daughters,' said Jean haughtily.
'But he is a Prince of the Church and an aged man,' said Lady
Drummond, who had already risen, and was adjusting that headgear
of Eleanor's that never would stay in its place. And her
matronly voice acted upon Jean, so as to conquer the petulant
pride, enough to make her remember that the Lady of Glenuskie
was herself a Stewart and king's grandchild, and moreover knew
more of courts and their habits than herself.
So down they went together, in time to join the Prioress on the
steps, as the attendants of the great stately, princely Cardinal
Bishop began to appear. He did not come in state, so that he had
only half a dozen clerks and as many gentlemen in attendance,
together with Sir Patrick and his two sons.
Few of the Plantagenet family had been long-lived, and Cardinal
Beaufort was almost a marvel in the family at seventy. Much
evil has been said and written of him, and there is no doubt
that he was one of those mediaeval prelates who ought to have
been warriors or statesmen, and that he had been no model for
the Episcopacy in his youth. But though far from having been a
saint, it would seem that his unpopularity in his old age was
chiefly incurred by his desire to put an end to the long and
miserable war with France, and by his opposition to a much worse
man, the Duke of Gloucester, whose plausible murmurs and amiable
manners made him a general favourite. At this period of his
life the old man had lived past his political ambitions, and his
chief desire was to leave the gentle young king freed from the
wasting war by a permanent peace, to be secured by a marriage
with a near connection of the French monarch, and daughter to
the most honourable and accomplished Prince in Europe. That his
measures turned out wretchedly has been charged upon his memory,
and he has been supposed guilty of a murder, of which he was
certainly innocent, and which probably was no murder at all.
He had become a very grand and venerable old man, when old men
were scarce, and his white hair and beard (a survival of the
customs of the days of Edward III) contrasted well with his
scarlet hat and cape, as he came slowly into the cloistered
court on his large sober-paced Spanish mule; a knight and the
chaplain of the convent assisted him from it, and the whole
troop of the convent knelt as he lifted his fingers to bestow
his blessing, Jean casting a quick glance around to satisfy her
proud spirit. The Prioress then kissed his hand, but he raised
and kissed the cheeks of his two grand-nieces, after which he
moved on to the Prioress's chamber, and there, after being
installed in her large chair, and waving to the four favoured
inmates to be also seated, he looked critically at the two
sisters, and observed, 'So, maidens! one favours the mother,
the other the father! Poor Joan, it is two-and-twenty years
since we bade her good-speed, she and her young king--who
behoved to be a minstrel--on her way to her kingdom, as if it
were the land of Cockayne, for picking up gold and silver.
Little of that she found, I trow, poor wench. Alack! it was
a sore life we sent her to. And you are mourning her freshly,
my maidens! I trust she died at peace with God and man.'
'That reiver, Patrick Hepburn, let the priest from Haddington
come to assoilzie and housel her,' responded Jean.
'Ah! Masses shall be said for her by my bedesmen at St. Cross,
and at all my churches,' said the Cardinal, crossing himself.
'And you are on your way to your sister, the Dolfine, as your
knight tells me. It is well. You may be worthily wedded in
France, and I will take order for your safe going. Meantime,
this is a house where you may well serve your poor mother's
soul by prayers and masses, and likewise perfect yourselves in
This was not at all what Jean had intended, and she pouted a little, while the Cardinal asked, changing his language, 'Ces donzelles, ont elles appris le Francais?'
Jean, who had tried to let Father Romuald teach her a little in conversation during the first part of the journey, but who had
dropped the notion since other ideas had been inspired at
Fotheringay, could not understand, and pouted the more; but
Eleanor, who had been interested, and tried more in earnest, for
Margaret's sake, answered diffidently and blushing deeply, 'Un
petit peu, beau Sire Oncle.'
He smiled, and said, 'You can be well instructed here. The
Reverend Mother hath sisters here who can both speak and write
French of Paris.'
'That have I truly, my good Lord,' replied the Prioress.
'Sisters Isabel and Beata spent their younger days, the one at
Rouen, the other at Bordeaux, and have learned many young ladies
in the true speaking of the French tongue.'
'It is well!' said the Cardinal, 'my fair nieces will have good
leisure. While sharing the orisons that I will institute for
the repose of your mother, you can also be taught the French.'
Jean could not help speaking now, so far was this from all her
hopes. 'Sir, sir, the Duke and Duchess of York, and the
Countess of Salisbury, and the Queen of the Isle of Wight all
bade us to be their guests.'
'They could haply not have been aware of your dool,' said the
'But, my Lord, our mother hath been dead since before
Martinmas,' exclaimed Jean.
'I know not what customs of dool be thought befitting in a land
like Scotland,' said the Cardinal, in such a repressive manner
that Jean was only withheld by awe from bursting into tears of
disappointment and anger at the slight to her country.
Lady Drummond ventured to speak. 'Alack, my Lord,' she said,
'my poor Queen died in the hands of a freebooter, leaving her
daughters in such stress and peril that they had woe enough for
themselves, till their brother the King came to their rescue.'
'The more need that they should fulfil all that may be done for
the grace of her soul,' replied the uncle; but just at this
crisis of Jean's mortification there was a knocking at the door,
and a sister breathlessly entreated--
'Pardon! Merci! My Lord, my Lady Mother! Here's the King, the
King himself--and the King and Queen of the Isle of Wight asking
licence to enter to visit the ladies of Scotland.'
Kings were always held to be free to enter anywhere, even far
more dangerous monarchs than the pious Henry VI. Jean's heart
bounded up again, with a sense of exultation over the old uncle,
as the Prioress went out to receive her new guest, and the
Cardinal emitted a sort of grunting sigh, without troubling
himself to go out to meet the youth, whom he had governed from
babyhood, and in whose own name he had, as one of the council,
given permission for wholesome chastisements of the royal
King Henry entered. He was then twenty-four years old, tall,
graceful, and with beautiful features and complexion, almost
feminine in their delicacy, and with a wonderful purity and
sweetness in the expression of the mouth and blue eyes, so that
he struck Eleanor as resembling the angels in the illuminations
that she had been studying, as he removed his dark green velvet
jewelled cap on entering, and gave a cousinly, respectful kiss
lightly to each of the young ladies on her cheek, somewhat as if
he were afraid of them. Then after greeting the Cardinal, who
had risen on his entrance, he said that, hearing that his fair
cousins were arrived, he had come to welcome them, and to
entreat them to let him do them such honour as was possible in a
court without a queen.
'The which lack will soon be remedied,' put in his grand-uncle.
'Truly you are in holy keeping here,' said the pious young King,
crossing himself, 'but I trust, my sweet cousins, that you will
favour my poor house at Westminster with your presence at a
supper, and share such entertainment as is in our power to
'My nieces are keeping their mourning for their mother, from
which they have hitherto been hindered by the tumults of their
kingdom,' said the Cardinal.
'Ah!' said the King, crossing himself, and instantly moved, 'far
be it from me to break into their holy retirement for such a
purpose.' (Jean could have bitten the Cardinal.) 'But I will
take order with my Lord Abbot of Westminster for a grand requiem
mass for the good Queen Joanna, at which they will, I trust, be
present, and they will honour my poor table afterwards.'
To refuse this was quite impossible, and the day was to be fixed
after reference to the Abbess. Meantime the King's eye was
caught by the illuminated breviary. He was a connoisseur in
such arts, and eagerly stood up to look at it as it lay on the
desk. Eleanor could not but come and direct him to the pages
with which she had been most delighted. She found him looking
at Jacob's dream on the one side, the Ascension on the other.
'How marvellous it is!' she said. 'It is like the very light
from the sky!'
'Light from heaven,' said the King; 'Jacob has found it among
the stones. Wandering and homelessness are his first step in
the ladder to heaven!'
'Ah, sir, did you say that to comfort and hearten us?' said
There was a strange look in the startled blue eyes that met
hers. 'Nay, truly, lady, I presumed not so far! I was but
wondering whether those who are born to have all the world are
in the way of the stair to heaven.'
Meantime the King of Wight had made his request for the presence
of the ladies at a supper at Warwick House, and Jean, clasping
her hands, implored her uncle to consent.
'I am sure our mother cannot be the better for our being thus
mewed up,' she cried, 'and I'll rise at prime, and tell my beads
She looked so pretty and imploring that the old man's heart was
melted, all the more that the King was paying more attention to
the book and the far less beautiful Eleanor, than to her and the
invitation was accepted.
The convent bell rang for nones, and the King joined the
devotions of the nuns, though he was not admitted within the
choir; and just as these were over, the Countess of Salisbury
arrived to take the Lady of Glenuskie to see their old friend,
the Mother Clare at St. Katharine's, bringing a sober palfrey
for her conveyance.
'A holy woman, full of alms-deeds,' said the King. 'The lady is
happy in her friendship.'
Which words were worth much to Lady Drummond, for the Prioress
sent a lay-sister to invite Mother Clare to a refection at the
THE MEEK USURPER
'Henry, thou of holy birth,
Thou to whom thy Windsor gave
Nativity and name and grave!
Heavily upon his head
Ancestral crimes were visited.'--SOUTHEY.
It suits not with the main thread of our story to tell of the
happy and peaceful meetings between the Lady of Glenuskie and
her old friend, who had given up almost princely rank and honour
to become the servant of the poor and suffering strangers at the
wharves of London. To Dame Lilias, Mother Clare's quiet cell at
St. Katharine's was a blessed haven of rest, peace, and charity,
such as was neither the guest-chamber nor the Prioress's parlour
at St. Helen's, with all the distractions of the princesses'
visitors and invitations, and with the Lady Joanna continually
pulling against the authority that the Cardinal, her uncle, was
exerting over his nieces.
His object evidently was to keep them back, firstly, from the
York party, and secondly, from the King, under pretext of their
mourning for their mother; and in this he might have succeeded
but for the interest in them that had been aroused in Henry by
his companion, namesake, and almost brother, the King of Wight.
The King came or sent each day to St. Helen's to arrange about
the requiem at Westminster, and when their late travelling
companions invited the young ladies to dinner or to supper
expressly to meet the King and the Cardinal--not in state, but
at what would be now called a family party--Beaufort had no
excuse for a refusal, such as he could not give without dire
offence. And, indeed, he was even then obliged to yield to the
general voice, and, recalling his own nephew from Normandy, send
the Duke of York to defend the remnant of the English conquests.
He could only insist that the requiem should be the first
occasion of the young ladies going out of the convent; but they
had so many visitors there that they had not much cause for
murmuring, and the French instructions of Sister Beata did not
amount to much, even with Eleanor, while Jean loudly protested
that she was not going to school.
The great day of the requiem came at last. The Cardinal had,
through Sir Patrick Drummond and the Lady, provided handsome
robes of black and purple for his nieces, and likewise palfreys
for their conveyance to Westminster; and made it understood that
unless Lady Joanna submitted to be completely veiled he should
send a closed litter.
'The doited auld carle!' she cried, as she unwillingly hooded
and veiled herself. 'One would think we were basilisks to slay
the good folk of London with our eyes.'
The Drummond following, with fresh thyme sprays, beginning to
turn brown, were drawn up in the outer court, all with black
scarves across the breast--George Douglas among them, of
course--and they presently united with the long train of clerks
who belonged to the household of the Cardinal of Winchester.
Jean managed her veil so as to get more than one peep at the
throng in the streets through which they passed, so as to see
and to be seen; and she was disappointed that no acclamations
greeted the fair face thus displayed by fits. She did not
understand English politics enough to know that a Beaufort face
and Beaufort train were the last things the London crowd was
likely to applaud. They had not forgotten the penance of the
popular Duke Humfrey's wife, which, justly or unjustly, was
imputed to the Cardinal and his nephews of Somerset.
But the King, in robes of purple and black, came to assist her
from her palfrey before the beautiful entry of the Abbey Church,
and led her up the nave to the desks prepared around what was
then termed 'a herce,' but which would now be called a
catafalque, an erection supposed to contain the body, and
adorned with the lozenges of the arms of Scotland and Beaufort,
and of the Stewart, in honour of the Black Knight of Lorn.
The Cardinal was present, but the Abbot of Westminster
celebrated. All was exceedingly solemn and beautiful, in a far
different style from the maimed rites that had been bestowed
upon poor Queen Joanna in Scotland. The young King's face was
more angelic than ever, and as psalm and supplication, dirge and
hymn arose, chanted by the full choir, speaking of eternal
peace, Eleanor bowed her head under her veil, as her bosom
swelled with a strange yearning longing, not exactly grief, and
large tears dropped from her eyes as she thought less of her
mother than of her noble-hearted father; and the words came back
to her in which Father Malcolm Stewart, in his own bitter grief,
had told the desolate children to remember that their father was
waiting for them in Paradise. Even Jean was so touched by the
music and carried out of herself that she forgot the spectators,
forgot the effect she was to produce, forgot her struggle with
her uncle, and sobbed and wept with all her heart, perhaps with
the more abandon because she, like all the rest, was fasting.
With much reverence for her emotion, the King, when the service
was over, led her out of the church to the adjoining palace,
where the Queen of Wight and the Countess of Suffolk, a
kinswoman through the mother of the Beauforts, conducted the
ladies to unveil themselves before they were to join the
noontide refection with the King.
There was no great state about it, spread, as it was, not in the
great hall, but in the richly-tapestried room called Paradise.
The King's manner was most gently and sweetly courteous to both
sisters. His three little orphan half-brothers, the Tudors,
were at table; and his kind care to send them dainties, and the
look with which he repressed an unseasonable attempt of Jasper's
to play with the dogs, and Edmund's roughness with little Owen,
reminded the sisters of Mary with 'her weans,' and they began to
speak of them when the meal was over, while he showed them his
chief treasures, his books. There was St. Augustine's City of
God, exquisitely copied; there was the History of St. Louis, by
the bon Sire deJoinville; there were Sir John Froissart's
Chronicles, the same that the good Canon had presented to King
Richard of Bordeaux.
Jean cast a careless glance at the illuminations, and exclaimed
at Queen Isabel's high headgear and her becloaked greyhound.
Eleanor looked and longed, and sighed that she could not read
the French, and only a very little of the Latin.
'This you can read,' said Henry, producing the Canterbury Tales;
'the fair minstrelsy of my Lady of Suffolk's grandsire.'
Eleanor was enchanted. Here were the lines the King of Wight
had repeated to her, and she was soon eagerly listening as Henry
read to her the story of 'Patient Grisell.'
'Ah! but is it well thus tamely to submit?' she asked.
'Patience is the armour and conquest of the godly,' said Henry,
quoting a saying that was to serve 'the meek usurper' well in
'May not patience go too far?' said Eleanor.
'In this world, mayhap,' said he; 'scarcely so in that which is to come.'
'I would not be the King's bride to hear him say so,' laughed
the Lady of Suffolk. 'Shall I tell her, my lord, that this is
your Grace's ladder to carry her to heaven?'
Henry blushed like a girl, and said that he trusted never to be
so lacking in courtesy as the knight; and the King of Wight,
wishing to change the subject, mentioned that the Lady Eleanor
had sung or said certain choice ballads, and Henry eagerly
entreated for one. It was the pathetic 'Wife of Usher's Well'
that Eleanor chose, with the three sons whose hats were wreathen
with the birk that
'Neither grew in dyke nor ditch,
Nor yet in any shaugh,
But at the gates of Paradise
That birk grew fair eneugh.'
Henry was greatly delighted with the verse, and entreated her,
if it were not tedious, to repeat it over again.
In return he promised to lend her some of the translations from
the Latin of Lydgate, the Monk of Bury, and sent them, wrapped
in a silken neckerchief, by the hands of one of his servants to
'Was that a token?' anxiously asked young Douglas, riding up to
David Drummond, as they got into order to ride back to
Winchester House, after escorting the ladies to St. Helen's.
'Token, no; 'tis a book for Lady Elleen. Never fash yourself,
man; the King, so far as I might judge, is far more taken with
Elleen than ever he is with Jean. He seems but a bookish sort
of bodie of Malcolm's sort.'
'My certie, an' that be sae, we may look to winning back
Roxburgh and Berwick!' returned the Douglas, his eye flashing.
'He's welcome to Lady Elleen! But that ane should look at her
in presence of her sister! He maun be mair of a monk than a
Such was, in truth, Jean's own opinion when she flounced into
her chamber at the Priory and turned upon her sister.
'Weel, Elleen, and I hope ye've had your will, and are a bit
shamed, taking up his Grace so that none by yersell could get in
a word wi' him.'
'Deed, Jeanie, I could not help it; if he would ask me about our
ballants and buiks, that ye would never lay your mind to--'
'Ballants and buiks! Bonnie gear for a king that should be
thinking of spears and jacks, lances and honours. Ye're welcome
to him, Elleen, sin ye choose to busk your cockernnonny at ane
that's as good as wedded! I'll never have the man who's wanting
the strick of carle hemp in the making of him!'
Eleanor burst into tears and pleaded that she was incapable of
any such intentions towards a man who was truly as good as
married. She declared that she had only replied as courtesy
required, and that she would not have her harp taken to Warwick
House the next day, as she had been requested to do.
Dame Lilias here interposed. With a certain conviction that
Jean's dislike to the King was chiefly because the grapes were
sour, she declared that Lady Elleen had by no means gone beyond
the demeanour of a douce maiden, and that the King had only
shown due attention to guests of his own rank, and who were
nearly of his own age. In fact, she said, it might be his
caution and loyalty to his espoused lady that made him avoid
distinguishing the fairest.
It was not complimentary to Eleanor, but Jean's superior beauty
was as much an established fact as her age, and she was pacified
in some degree, agreeing with the Lady of Glenuskie that Eleanor
was bound to take her harp the next day.
Warwick House was a really magnificent place, its courts,
gardens, and offices covering much of the ground that still
bears the name in the City, and though the establishment was not
quite as extensive as it became a few years later, when Richard
Nevil had succeeded his brother-in-law, it was already on a
All the party who had travelled together from Fotheringay were
present, besides the King, young Edmund and Jasper Tudor, and
the Earl and Countess of Suffolk; and the banquet, though not a
state one, nor encumbered with pageants and subtilties, was even
more refined and elegant than that at Westminster, showing, as
all agreed, the hand of a mistress of the household. The King's
taste had been consulted, for in the gallery were the children
of St. Paul's choir and of the chapel of the household, who sang
hymns with sweet trained voices. Afterwards, on the beautiful
October afternoon, there was walking in the garden, where Edmund
and Jasper played with little Lady Anne Beauchamp, and again
King Henry sought out Eleanor, and they had an enjoyable
discussion of the Tale of Troie, which he had lent her, as they
walked along the garden paths. Then she showed him her cousin
Malcolm, and told of Bishop Kennedy and the schemes for St.
Andrews, and he in return described Winchester College, and
spoke of his wish to have such another foundation as Wykeham's
under his own eye near Windsor, to train up the godly clergy,
whom he saw to be the great need and lack of the Church at that
By and by, on going in from the garden, the King and Eleanor
found that a tall, gray-haired gentleman, richly but darkly clad,
had entered the hall. He had been welcomed by the young King
and Queen of Wight, who had introduced Jean to him. 'My uncle
of Gloucester,' said the King, aside. 'It is the first time he
has come among us since the unhappy affair of bis wife. Let me
present you to him.'
Going forward, as the Duke rose to meet him, Henry bent his knee
and asked his fatherly blessing, then introduced the Lady
Eleanor of Scotland--'who knows all lays and songs, and loves
letters, as you told me her blessed father did, my fair uncle,'
he said, with sparkling eyes.
Duke Humfrey looked well pleased as he greeted her. 'Ever the
scholar, Nevoy Hal,' he said, as if marvelling at the preference
above the beauty, 'but each man knows his own mind. So best.'
Eleanor's heart began to beat high! What did this bode? Was
this King fully pledged? She had to fulfil her promise of
singing and playing to the King, which she did very sweetly,
some of the pathetic airs of her country, which reach back much
farther than the songs with which they have in later times been
associated. The King thoroughly enjoyed the music, and the Duke
of York came and paid her several compliments, begging for the
song she had once begun at Fotheringay. Eleanor began--not
perhaps so willingly as before. Strangely, as she sang--
'Owre muckle blinking blindeth the ee, lass,
Owre muckle thinking changeth the mind,'--
her face and voice altered. Something of the same mist of tears
and blood seemed to rise before her eyes as before--enfolding
all around. Such a winding-sheet which had before enwrapt the
King of Wight, she saw it again--nay, on the Duke of Gloucester
there was such another, mounting--mounting to his neck. The
face of Henry himself grew dim and ghastly white, like that of
a marble saint. She kept herself from screaming, but her voice
broke down, and she gave a choking sob.
King Henry's arm was the first to support her, though she
shuddered as he touched her, calling for essences, and lamenting
that they had asked too much of her in begging her to sing what
so reminded her of her home and parents.
'She hath been thus before. It was that song,' said Jean, and
the Lady of Glenuskie coming up at the same time confirmed the
idea, and declined all help except to take her back to the
Priory. The litter that had brought the Countess of Salisbury
was at the door, and Henry would not be denied the leading her
to it. She was recovering herself, and could see the extreme
sweetness and solicitude of his face, and feel that she had
never before leant on so kind and tender a supporting arm, since
she had sat on her father's knee. 'Ah! sir, you mind me of my
blessed father,' she said.
'Your father was a holy man, and died well-nigh a martyr's
death,' said Henry. ''Tis an honour I thank you for to even me
to him--such as I am.'
'Oh, sir! the saints guard you from such a fate,' she said,
'Was it so sad a fate--to die for the good he could not work in
his life?' said Henry.
They had reached the arch into the court. A crowd was round
them, and no more could be said. Henry kissed Eleanor's hand,
as he assisted her into the litter, and she was shut in between
the curtains, alone, for it only held one person. There was a
strange tumult of feeling. She seemed lifted into a higher
region, as if she had been in contact with an angel of purity,
and yet there was that strange sense of awful fate all round,
as if Henry were nearer being the martyr than the angel. And
was she to share that fate? The generous young soul seemed to
spring forward with the thought that, come what might, it would
be hallowed and sweetened with such as he! Yet withal there was
a sense of longing to protect and shield him.
As usual, she had soon quite recovered, but Jean pronounced it
'one of Elleen's megrims--as if she were a Hielander to have
'But,' said the young lady, 'it takes no second sight to spae
ill to yonder King. He is not one whose hand will keep his
head, and there are those who say that he had best look to his
crown, for he hath no more right thereto than I have to be Queen
'Fie, Jean, that's treason.'
'I'm none of his, nor ever will be! I have too much spirit for
a gudeman who cares for nothing but singing his psalter like a
Jean was even more of that opinion when, the next day, at York
House, only Edmund and Jasper Tudor appeared with their
brother's excuses. He had been obliged to give audience to a
messenger from the Emperor. 'Moreover,' added Edmund
disconsolately, 'to-morrow he is going to St. Albans for a
week's penitence. Harry is always doing penance, I cannot
think what for. He never eats marchpane in church--nor rolls
'I know,' said Jasper sagely. 'I heard the Lord Cardinal rating
him for being false to his betrothed--that's the Lady Margaret,
'Ha!' said the Duke of York, before whom the two little boys
were standing. 'How was that, my little man?'
'Hush, Jasper,' said Edmund; 'you do not know.'
'But I do, Edmund; I was in the window all the time. Harry said
he did not know it, he only meant all courtesy; and then the
Lord Cardinal asked him if he called it loyalty to his betrothed
to be playing the fool with the Scottish wench. And then Harry
stared--like thee, Ned, when thy bolt had hit the Lady of
Suffolk: and my Lord went on to say that it was perilous to play
the fool with a king's sister, and his own niece. Then, for all
that Harry is a king and a man grown, he wept like Owen, only
not loud, and he went down on his knees, and he cried, "Mea
peccata, mea peccata, mea infirmitas," just as he taught me to
do at confession. And then he said he would do whatever the
Lord Cardinal thought fit, and go and do penance at St. Albans,
if he pleased, and not see the lady that sings any more.'
'And I say,' exclaimed Edmund, 'what's the good of being a king
and a man, if one is to be rated like a babe?'
'So say I, my little man,' returned the Duke, patting him on the
head, then adding to his own two boys, 'Take your cousins and
play ball with them, or spin tops, or whatever may please them.'
'There is the king we have,' quoth Richard Nevil 'to be at the
beck of any misproud priest, and bewail with tears a moment's
following of his own will, like other men.'
Most of the company felt such misplaced penitence and
submission, as they deemed it, beneath contempt; but while
Eleanor had pride enough to hold up her head so that no one
might suppose her to be disappointed, she felt a strange awe of
the conscientiousness that repented when others would only have
felt resentment--relief, perhaps, at not again coming into
contact with one so unlike other men as almost to alarm her.
Jean tossed up her head, and declared that her brother knew
better than to let any bishop put him into leading-strings. By
and by there was a great outcry among the children, and Edmund
Tudor and Edward of York were fighting like a pair of mastiff-
puppies because Edward had laughed at King Harry for minding
what an old shaveling said. Edward, though the younger, was
much the stronger, and was decidedly getting the best of it,
when he was dragged off and sent into seclusion with his tutor
for misbehaviour to his guest.
No one was amazed when the next day the Cardinal arrived, and
told his grand-nieces and the Lady of Glenuskie that he had
arranged that they should go forward under the escort of the
Earl and Countess of Suffolk, who were to start immediately for
Nanci, there to espouse and bring home the King's bride, the
Lady Margaret. There was reason to think that the French Royal
Family would be present on the occasion, as the Queen of France
was sister to King Rene of Sicily and Jerusalem, and thus the
opportunity of joining their sister was not to be missed by the
two Scottish maidens. The Cardinal added that he had
undertaken, and made Sir Patrick Drummond understand, that he
would be at all charges for his nieces, and further said that
merchants with women's gear would presently be sent in, when
they were to fit themselves out as befitted their rank for
appearance at the wedding. At a sign from him a large bag,
jingling heavily, was laid on the table by a clerk in
attendance. There was nothing to be done but to make a low
reverence and return thanks.
Jean had it in her to break out with ironical hopes that they
would see something beyond the walls of a priory abroad, and not
be ordered off the moment any one cast eyes on them; but my Lord
of Winchester was not the man to be impertinent to, especially
when bringing gifts as a kindly uncle, and when, moreover, King
Henry had the bad taste to be more occupied with her sister than
It was Eleanor who chiefly felt a sort of repugnance to being
thus, as it were, bought off or compensated for being sent out
of reach. She could have found it in her heart to be offended at
being thought likely to wish to steal the King's heart, and yet
flattered by being, for the first time, considered as dangerous,
even while her awe, alike of Henry's holiness and of those
strange visions that had haunted her, made her feel it a relief
that her lot was not to be cast with him.
The Cardinal did not seem to wish to prolong the interview with
his grand-nieces, having perhaps a certain consciousness of
injury towards them; and, after assuring brilliant marriages for
them, and graciously blessing them, he bade them farewell,
saying that the Lady of Suffolk would come and arrange with
them for the journey. No doubt, though he might have been glad
to place a niece on the throne, it would have been fatal to the
peace he so much desired for Henry to break his pledges to so
near a kinswoman of the King of France. And when the bag was
opened, and the rouleaux of gold and silver crowns displayed,
his liberality contradicted the current stories of his avarice.
And by and by arrived a succession of merchants bringing horned
hoods, transparent veils, like wings, supported on wire
projections, long trained dresses of silk and sendal, costly
stomachers, bands of velvet, buckles set with precious stones,
chains of gold and silver--all the fashions, in fact, enough to
turn the head of any young lady, and in which the staid Lady
Prioress seemed to take quite as much interest as if she had
been to wear them herself--indeed, she asked leave to send
Sister Mabel to fetch a selection of the older nuns given to
needlework and embroidery to enjoy the exhibition, though it was
to be carefully kept out of sight of the younger ones, and
especially of the novices.
The excitement was enough to put the Cardinal's offences out of
mind, while the delightful fitting and trying on occupied the
maidens, who looked at themselves in the little hand-mirrors
held up to them by the admiring nuns, and demanded every one's
opinion. Jean insisted that Annis should have her share, and
Eleanor joined in urging it, when Dame Lilias shook her head,
and said that was not the use the Lord Cardinal intended for his
'He gave it to us to do as we would with it,' argued Eleanor.
'And she is our maiden, and it befits us not that she should
look like ane scrub,' added Jean, in the words used by her
brother's descendant, a century later.
'I thank you, noble cousins,' replied Annis, with a little
haughtiness, 'but Davie would never thole to see me pranking it
out of English gold.'
'She is right, Jeanie,' cried Eleanor. 'We will make her braw
with what we bought at York with gude Scottish gold.'
'All the more just,' added Jean, 'that she helped us in our
need with her ain.'
'And we are sib--near cousins after a',' added Eleanor; 'so we
may well give and take.'
So it was settled, and all was amicable, except that there was
a slight contest between the sisters whether they should dress
alike, as Eleanor wished, while Jean had eyes and instinct
enough to see that the colours and forms that set her fair
complexion and flaxen tresses off to perfection were damaging to
Elleen's freckles and general auburn colouring. Hitherto the
sisters had worn only what they could get, happy if they could
call it ornamental, and the power of choice was a novelty to
them. At last the decision fell to the one who cared most about
it, namely Jean. Elleen left her to settle for both, being,
after the first dazzling display, only eager to get back again
to Saint Marie Maudelin before the King should reclaim it.
There was something in the legend, wild and apocryphal as it is,
together with what she had seen of the King, that left a deep
impression upon her.
'And by these things ye understand maun
The three best things which this Mary chose,
As outward penance and inward contemplation,
And upward bliss that never shall cease,
Of which God said withouten bees
That the best part to her chose Mary,
Which ever shall endure and never decrease,
But with her abideth eternally.'
Stiff, quaint, and awkward sounds old Bokenham's translation of
the 'Golden Legend,' but to Eleanor it had much power. The
whole history was new to her, after her life in Scotland, where
information had been slow to reach her, and books had been few.
The gewgaws spread out before Jean were to her like the gloves,
jewels, and braiding of hair with which Martha reproached her
sister in the days of her vanity, and the cloister with its calm
services might well seem to her like the better part. These
nuns indeed did not strike her as models of devotion, and there
was something in the Prioress's easy way of declaring that being
safe there might prevent any need of special heed, which rung
false on her ear; and then she thought of King Henry, whose rapt
countenance had so much struck her, turning aside from enjoyment
to seclude himself at the first hint that his pleasure might be
a temptation. She recollected too what Lady Drummond had told
her of Father Malcolm and Mother Clare, and how each had
renounced the world, which had so much to offer them, and chosen
the better part! She remembered Father Malcolm's sweet smile
and kind words, and Mother Clare's face had impressed her deeply
with its lofty peace and sweetness. How much better than all
these agitations about princely bridegrooms! and broken lances
and queens of beauty seemed to fade into insignificance, or to
be only incidents in the tumult of secular life and worldly
struggle, and her spirit quailed at the anticipation of the
journey she had once desired, the gay court with its follies,
empty show, temptations, coarsenesses and cruelties, and the
strange land with its new language. The alternative seemed to
her from Maudelin in her worldly days to Maudelin at the
Saviour's feet, and had Mother Margaret Stafford been one whit
more the ideal nun, perhaps every one would have been perplexed
by a vehement request to seclude herself at once in the cloister
of St. Helen's.
Looking up, she saw a figure slowly pacing the turf walk. It
was the Mother Clare, who had come to see the Lady of Glenuskie,
but finding all so deeply engaged, had gone out to await her in
Much indeed had Dame Lilias longed to join her friend, and make
the most of these precious hours, but as purse-bearer and adviser
to her Lady Joanna, it was impossible to leave her till the
arrangements with the merchants were over. And the nuns of St.
Helen's did not, as has already been seen, think much of an
uncloistered sister. In her twenty years' toils among the poor
it had been pretty well forgotten that Mother Clare was
Esclairmonde de Luxembourg, almost of princely rank, so that no
one took the trouble to entertain her, and she had slipped out
almost unperceived to the quiet garden with its grass walks.
And there Eleanor came up to her, and with glistening tears, on
a sudden impulse exclaimed, 'Oh, holy Mother, keep me with you,
tell me to choose the better part.'
'You, lady? What is this?'
'Not lady, daughter--help me! I kenned it not before--but all
is vanity, turmoil, false show, except the sitting at the Lord's
'Most true, my child. Ah! have I not felt the same? But we
must wait His time.'
'It was I--it was I,' continued Eleanor, 'who set Jean upon this
journey, leaving my brother and Mary and the bairns. And the
farther we go, the more there is of vain show and plotting and
scheming, and I am weary and heartsick and homesick of it all,
and shall grow worse and worse. Oh! shelter me here, in your
good and holy house, dear Reverend Mother, and maybe I could
learn to do the holy work you do in my own country.'
How well Esclairmonde knew it all, and what aspirations had been
hers! She took Elleen's hand kindly and said, 'Dear maid, I can
only aid you by words! I could not keep you here. Your uncle
the Cardinal would not suffer you to abide here, nor can I take
sisters save by consent of the Queen--and now we have no Queen,
of the King, and--'
'Oh no, I could not ask that,' said Eleanor, a deep blush
mounting, as she remembered what construction might be put on
her desire to remain in the King's neighbourhood. 'Ah! then
must I go on--on--on farther from home to that Court which they
say is full of sin and evil and vanity? What will become of
'If the religious life be good for you, trust me, the way will
open, however unlikely it may seem. If not, Heaven and the
saints will show what your course should be.'
'But can there be such safety and holiness, save in that higher
path?' demanded Eleanor.
'Nay, look at your own kinswoman, Dame Lilias--look at the Lady
of Salisbury. Are not these godly, faithful women serving God
through their duty to man--husband, children, all around? And
are the longings and temptations to worldly thoughts and
pleasures of the flesh so wholly put away in the cloister?'
'Not here,' began Eleanor, but Mother Clare hushed her.
'Verily, my child,' she added, 'you must go on with your sister
on this journey, trusting to the care and guidance of so good a
woman as my beloved old friend, Dame Lilias; and if you say your
prayers with all your heart to be guarded from sin and
temptation, and led into the path that is fittest for you, trust
that our blessed Master and our Lady will lead you. Have you
the Pater Noster in the vulgar tongue?' she added.
'We--we had it once ere my father's death. And Father Malcolm
taught us; but we have since been so cast about that--that--I
'Ah! Father Malcolm taught you,' and Esclairmonde took the
girl's hand. 'You know how much I owe to Father Malcolm,' she
softly added, as she led the maiden to a carved rood at the end
of the cloister, and, before it, repeated the vernacular version
of the Lord's Prayer till Eleanor knew it perfectly, and
promised to follow up her 'Pater Nosters' with it.
And from that time there certainly was a different tone and
spirit in Eleanor.
David, urged by his father, who still publicly ignored the young
Douglas, persuaded him to write to his father now that there
could be no longer any danger of pursuit, and the messenger Sir
Patrick was sending to the King would afford the last
opportunity. George growled and groaned a good deal, but
perhaps Father Romuald pressed the duty on him in confession,
for in his great relief at his lady's going off unplighted from
London, he consented to indite, in the chamber Father Romuald
shared with two of the Cardinal's chaplains, in a crooked and
crabbed calligraphy and language much more resembling Anglo-
Saxon than modern English, a letter to the most high and mighty,
the Yerl of Angus, 'these presents.'
But when he was entreated to assume his right position in the
troop, he refused. 'Na, na, Davie,' he said, 'gin my father
chooses to send me gear and following, 'tis all very weel, but
'tisna for the credit of Scotland nor of Angus that the Master
should be ganging about like a land-louper, with a single laddie
after him--still less that he should be beholden to the
'Ye would win to the speech of the lassie,' suggested David,
'gin that be what ye want!'
'Na kenning me, she willna look at me. Wait till I do that
which may gar her look at me,' said the chivalrous youth.
He was not entirely without means, for the links of a gold chain
which he had brought from home went a good way in exchange, and
though he had spoken of being at his own charges, he had found
himself compelled to live as one of the train of the princesses,
who were treated as the guests first of the Duke of York, then
of the Cardinal, who had given Sir Patrick a sum sufficient to
defray all possible expenses as far as Bourges, besides having
arranged for those of the journey with Suffolk whose rank had
been raised to that of a Marquis, in honour of his activity as
proxy for the King.
THE PRICE OF A GOOSE
'We would have all such offenders cut off, and we give
express charge that, in the marches through the country,
there be nothing compelled from the villages.'
--King Henry V.
The Marquis of Suffolk's was a slow progress both in England and
abroad, with many halts both on account of weather and of feasts
and festivals. Cardinal Beaufort had hurried the party away
from London partly in order to make the match with Margaret of
Anjou irrevocable, partly for the sake of removing Eleanor of
Scotland, the only maiden who had ever produced the slightest
impression on the monastic-minded Henry of Windsor.
When once out of London there were, however, numerous halts on
the road,--two or three days of entertainment at every castle,
and then a long delay at Canterbury to give time for Suffolk's
retainers, and all the heralds, pursuivants, and other adjuncts
of pomp and splendour, to join them. They were the guests of
Archbishop Stafford, one of the peace party, and a friend of
Beaufort and Suffolk, so that their entertainment was costly and
magnificent, as befitted the mediaeval notions of a high-born
gentleman, Primate of all England. A great establishment for
the chase was kept by almost all prelates as a necessity; and
whenever the weather was favourable, hunting and hawking could
be enjoyed by the princesses and their suite. Indeed Jean, if
not in the saddle, was pretty certain to be visiting the hawks
all the morning, or else playing at ball or some other sport
with her cousins or some of the young gentlemen of Suffolk's
train, who were all devoted to her.
Lady Drummond found that to try to win her to quieter
occupations was in vain. The girl would not even try to learn
French from Father Romuald by reading, though she would pick up
words and phrases by laughing and chattering with the young
knights who chanced to know the language. But as by this time
Dame Lilias had learnt that there were bounds that princely
pride and instinct prevented from overpassing, she contented
herself with seeing that there was fit attendance, either by her
daughter Annis, Sir Patrick himself, or one or other of Lady
To some degree Eleanor shared in her sister's outdoor
amusements, but she was far more disposed to exercise her mind
than her body. After having pined in weariness for want of
intellectual food, her opportunities were delightful to her.
Not only did she read with Father Romuald with intense interest
the copy of the bon Sire Jean Froissart in the original, which
he borrowed from the Archbishop's library, but she listened
with great zest to the readings which the Lady of Suffolk
extracted from her chaplains and unwilling pages while the
ladies sat at work, for the Marchioness, a grandchild of
Geoffrey Chaucer, had a strong taste for literature. Moreover,
from one of the choir Eleanor obtained lessons on the lute, as
well as her beloved harp, and was taught to train her voice, and
sing from 'pricke-song,' so that she much enjoyed this period of
Nothing could be more courteous and punctilious than the Marquis
of Suffolk to the two princesses, and indeed to every one of his
own degree; but there was something of the parvenu about him,
and, unlike the Duke of York or Archbishop Stafford, who were
free, bright, and good-natured to the meanest persons, he was
haughty and harsh to every one below the line of gentle blood,
and in his own train he kept up a discipline, not too strict in
itself, but galling in the manner in which it was enforced by
those who imitated his example. By the time the suite was
collected, Christmas and the festival of St. Thomas a Becket
were so near that it would have been neglect of a popular saint
to have left his shrine without keeping his day. And after the
Epiphany, though the party did reach Dover in a day's ride, a
stormy period set in, putting crossing out of the question, and
detaining the suite within the massive walls of the castle.
At last, on a brisk, windless day of frost, the crossing to
Calais was effected, and there was another week of festivals
spread by the hospitality of the Captain of Calais, where
everything was as English as at Dover. When they again started
on their journey, Suffolk severely insisted on the closest
order, riding as travellers in a hostile country, where a
misadventure might easily break the existing truce, although
the territories of the Duke of Burgundy, through which their
route chiefly lay, were far less unfavourable to the English
than actual French countries; indeed, the Flemings were never
willingly at war with the English, and some of the Burgundian
nobles and knights had been on intimate terms with Suffolk.
Still, he caused the heralds always to keep in advance, and
allowed no stragglers behind the rearguard that came behind the
long train of waggons loaded with much kitchen apparatus, and
with splendid gifts for the bride and her family, as well as
equipments for the wedding-party, and tents for such of the
troop as could not find shelter in the hostels or monasteries
where the slowly-moving party halted for the night. It was
unsafe to go on after the brief hours of daylight, especially in
the neighbourhood of the Forest of Ardennes, for wolves might be
near on the winter nights. It was thus that the first trouble
arose with Sir Patrick Drummond's two volunteer followers.
Ringan Raefoot had become in his progress a very different
looking being from the wild creature who had come with 'Geordie
of the Red Peel,' but there was the same heart in him. He had
endured obedience to the Knight of Glenuskie as a Scot, and with
the Duke of York and through England the discipline of the troop
had not been severe; but Suffolk, though a courtly, chivalrous
gentleman to his equals, had not the qualities of popularity,
and chafed his inferiors.
There were signs of confusion in the cavalcade as they passed
between some of the fertile fields of Namur, and while Suffolk
was halting and about to send a squire to the rear to interfere,
a couple of his retainers hurried up, saying, 'My Lord, those
Scottish thieves will bring the whole country down on us if
order be not taken with them.'
Sir Patrick did not need the end of the speech to gallop off at
full speed to the rear of all the waggons, where a crowd might
be seen, and there was a perfect Babel of tongues, rising in
only too intelligible shouts of rage. Swords and lances were
flashing on one side among the horsemen, on the other stones
were flying from an ever-increasing number of leather-jerkined
men and boys, some of them with long knives, axes, and scythes.
George Douglas's high head seemed to be the main object of
attack, and he had Ringan Raefoot before him across his horse,
apparently retreating, while David, Malcolm, and a few more made
charges on the crowd to guard him. When he was seen, there was
a cry of which he could distinguish nothing but 'Ringan!
Geordie! goose--Flemish hounds.'
Riding between, regardless of the stones, he shouted in the
Burgundian French he had learnt in his campaigns, to demand the
cause of the attack. The stones ceased, and the head man of the
village, a stout peasant, came forward and complained that the
varlet, as he called Ringan, had been stealing the village geese
on their pond, and when they were about to do justice on him,
yonder man-at-arms had burst in, knocked down and hurt several,
and carried him off.
Before there had been time for further explanation, to Sir
Patrick's great vexation, the Marshal of the troop and his guard
came up, and the complaint was repeated. George, at the same
time, having handed Ringan over to some others of the Scots,
rode up with his head very high.
'Sir Patrick Drummond,' said the Marshal stiffly, 'you know my
Lord's rules for his followers, as to committing outrages on the
villeins of the country.'
'We are none of my Lord of Suffolk's following,' began Douglas;
but Sir Patrick, determined to avoid a breach if possible, said--
'Sir Marshal, we have as yet heard but one side of the matter.
If wrong have been done to these folk, we are ready to offer
compensation, but we should hear how it has been--'
'Am I to see my poor laddie torn to bits, stoned, and hanged by
these savage loons,' cried George, 'for a goose's egg and an old
Of course his defence was incomprehensible to the Flemings, but
on their side a man with a bound-up head and another limping
were produced, and the head man spoke of more serious damage to
others who could not appear, demanding both the aggressors to be
dealt with, i.e. to be hanged on the next tree.
'These men are of mine, Master Marshal,' said Sir Patrick.
'My Lord can permit no violence by those under his banner,' said
the Marshal stiffly. 'I must answer it to him.'
'Do so then,' said Sir Patrick. 'This is a matter for him.'
The Marshal, who had much rather have disposed of the Scottish
thieves on his own responsibility, was forced to give way so far
as to let the appeal be carried to the Marquis of Suffolk,
telling the Flemings, in something as near their language as he
could accomplish, that his Lord was sure to see justice done,
and that they should follow and make their complaint.
Suffolk sat on his horse, tall, upright, and angry. 'What is
this I hear, Sir Patrick Drummond,' said he, 'that your
miscreants of wild Scots have been thieving from the peaceful
peasant-folk, and then beating them and murdering them? I
deemed you were a better man than to stand by such deeds and not
give up the fellows to justice.'
'It were shame to hang a man for one goose,' said Sir Patrick.
'All plunder is worthy of death,' returned the Englishman.
'Your Border law may be otherwise, but 'tis not our English rule
of honest men. And here's this other great lurdane knave been
striking the poor rogues down right and left! A halter fits
'My Lord, they are no subjects of England. I deny your rights
'Whoever rides in my train is under me, I would have you to
'Hark ye, my Lord of Suffolk,' said Sir Patrick, coming near
enough to speak in an undertone, 'that lurdane, as you call him,
is heir of a noble house in Scotland, come here on a young man's
freak of chivalry. You will do no service to the peace of the
realms if you give him up to these churls, for making in to save
Before Sir Patrick had done speaking, while Suffolk was frowning
grimly in perplexity, a wild figure, with blood on the face,
rushed forth with a limping run, crying 'Let the loons hang me
and welcome, if they set such store by their lean old gander,
but they shanna lay a finger on the Master.'
And he had nearly precipitated himself into the hands of the
sturdy rustics, who shouted with exultation, but with two
strides Geordie caught him up. 'Peace, Ringan! They shall no
more hang thee than me,' and he stood with one hand on Ringan's
shoulder and his sword in the other, looking defiant.
'If he be a young gentleman masking, I am not bound to know it,'
said Suffolk impatiently to Drummond; 'but if he will give up
that rascal, and make compensation, I will overlook it.'
'Who touches my fellow does so at his peril,' shouted George,
menacing with his sword.
'Peace, young man!' said Sir Patrick. 'Look here, my Lord of
Suffolk, we Scots are none of your men. We need no favour of
you English with our allies. There be enough of us to make our
way through these peasants to the French border, so unless you
let us settle the matter with a few crowns to these rascallions,
we part company.'
'The ladies were entrusted to my charge,' began Lord Suffolk.
At that instant, however, both Jean and Eleanor came on the
scene, riding fast, having in truth been summoned by Malcolm,
who shrewdly suspected that thus an outbreak might be best
It was Eleanor who spoke first. In spite of all her shyness,
when her blood was up, she was all the princess.
What is this, my Lord of Suffolk?' she said. 'If one of our
following have transgressed, it is the part of ourselves and of
Sir Patrick Drummond to see to it, as representing the King my
'Lady,' replied Suffolk, bowing low and doffing his cap, 'yonder
ill-nurtured knave hath been robbing the country-folk, and the--
the man-at-arms there not only refuses to give him up to
justice, but has hurt, well-nigh slain, some of them in
violently taking him from them. They ride in my train and I am
Jean broke in: 'He only served the cowardly loons right. A
whole crowd of the rogues to hang one poor laddie for one goose!
Shame on a gentleman for hearkening to the foul-mouthed villains
one moment. Come here, Ringan. King Jamie's sister will never
see them harm thee.'
Perhaps Suffolk was not sorry to see a way out of the perplexity.
'Far be it from a knight to refuse a boon to a fair lady in her
selle, farther still to _two_ royal damsels. The lives are
granted, so satisfaction in coin be made to yon clamorous
'I do not call it a boon but a right, said Eleanor gravely;
'nevertheless I thank you, my Lord Marquis.'
George would have thrown himself at their feet, but Jean coldly
said, 'Spare thanks, sir. It was for my brother's right,' and
she turned her horse away, and rode off at speed, while Eleanor
could not help pausing to say, 'She is more blithe than she
lists to own! Sir Patrick, what the fellows claim must come
from my uncle's travelling purse.'
George's face was red. This was very bitter to him, but he
could only say, 'It shall be repaid so soon as I have the
The peasants meanwhile were trying to make the best bargain they
could by representing that they were tenants of an abbey, so that
the death of the gander was sacrilegious on that account as well
as because it was in Lent. To this, however, Sir Patrick turned
a deaf ear: he threw them a couple of gold pieces, with which,
as he told them, they were much better off than with either the
live goose or the dead Ringan.
Suffolk had halted for the mid-day rest and was waiting for him
till this matter was disposed of. 'Sir Patrick Drummond,' he
said with some ceremony, 'this company of yours may be Scottish
subjects, but while they are riding with me I am answerable for
them. It may be the wont in Scotland, but it is not with us
English, to let unnamed adventurers ride under our banner.'
'The young man is not unnamed,' said Sir Patrick, on his mettle.
'You know him?'
'I'll no say, but I have an inkling. My son David kenn'd him
and answered for him when he joined himself to my following; nor
has he hitherto done aught to discredit himself.'
'What is his name, or the name he goes by?'
'H'm! Your Scottish names may belong to any one, from your
earls down to your herdboys; and they, forsooth, are as like as
not to call themselves gentlemen.'
'And wherefore not, if theirs is gentle blood?' said Sir
'Nay, now, Sir Patrick, stand not on your Scotch pride.
Gentlemen all, if you will, but you gave me to understand that
this was none of your barefoot gentlemen, and I ask if you can
tell who he truly is?'
'I have never been told, my Lord, and I had rather you put the
question to himself than to me.'
'Call him then, an' so please you.'
Sir Patrick saw no alternative save compliance; and he found
Ringan undergoing a severe rating, not unaccompanied by blows
from the wood of his master's lance. The perfect willingness to
die for one another was a mere natural incident, but the having
transgressed, and caused such a serious scrape, made George very
indignant and inflict condign punishment. 'Better fed than he
had ever been in his life, the rogue' (and he looked it, though
he muttered, 'A bannock and a sup of barley brose were worth the
haill of their greasy beeves!'). 'Better fed than ever before.
Couldn't the daft loon keep the hands of him off poor folks' bit
goose? In Lent, too!' (by far the gravest part of the offence).
George did, however, transfer Ringan's explanation to Sir
Patrick, and make some apology. A nest of goose eggs apparently
unowned had been too much for him, incited further by a couple
of English horseboys, who were willing to share goose eggs for
supper, and let the Scotsman bear the wyte of it. The goose had
been nearer than expected, and summoned her kin; the gander had
shown fight; the geese had gabbled, the gooseherd and his kind
came to the rescue, the horseboys had made off; Ringan, impeded
by his struggle with the ferocious gander, was caught; and
Geordie had come up just in time to see him pricked with goads
and axes to a tree, where a halter was making ready for him.
Of course, without asking questions, George hurried to save him,
pushing his horse among the angry crew, and striking right and
left, and equally of course the other Scots came to his
Sir Patrick agreed that he could not have done otherwise, though
better things might have been hoped of Ringan by this time.
'But,' said he, 'there's not an end yet of the coil. Here has
my Lord of Suffolk been speiring after your name and quality,
till I told him he must ask at you and not at me.'
'Tell'd you the dour meddling Englishman my name?' asked George.
'I told him only what ye told me yerself. In that there was no
lie. But bethink you, royal maidens dinna come to speak for
lads without a cause.'
George's colour mounted high in his sunburnt, freckled cheek.
'Kens--ken they, trow ye, Sir Pate?'
'Cannie folk, even lassies, can ken mair than they always tell,'
said the knight of Glenuskie. 'Yonder is my Lord Marquis, as
they ca' him; so bethink you weel how you comport yerself with
him, and my counsel is to tell him the full truth. He is a dour
man towards underlings, whom he views as made not of the same
flesh and blood with himself, but he is the very pink of
courtesy to men of his own degree.'
'Set him up,' quoth the heir of the Douglas, with a snort. 'His
own degree, indeed! scarce even a knight's son!'
'What he deems his own degree, then,' corrected Sir Patrick;
'but he holds himself full of chivalry to them, and loves a
spice of the errant knight; ye may trust his honour. And mind
ye,' he added, laughing, 'I've never been told your name and
Which the Master of Angus returned with an equally canny laugh.
The young man, as he approached the Marquis, drew his head up,
straightened his tall form, brushed off the dust that obscured
the bloody heart on his breast, and altogether advanced with a
step and bearing far more like the great Earl's son than the
man-at-arms of the Glenuskie following; his eyes bespoke
equality or more as they met those of William de la Pole, and
yet there was that in the glance which forbade the idea of
insolence, so that Suffolk, instead of remaining seated rose to
meet him and took him aside, standing as they talked.
'Sir Squire,' he said, 'for such I understand your degree in
chivalry to be.'
'I have not won my spurs,' said George.
'It is not our rule to take to foreign courts gentlemen from
another realm unknown to us,' proceeded Suffolk, with much
civility; 'therefore, unless any vow of chivalry binds you, I
should be glad to know who it is who does my banner the honour
of riding in its company for a time. If a secret, it is safe
George gave his name.
'That is the name of one of the chief nobles in Scotland,' said
Suffolk. 'Do I see before me his son?' George bowed.
'Then, my Lord Douglas, am I permitted to ask wherefore this
mean disguise? Is it for some vow of chivalry, or for that
which is the guerdon of chivalry?' the Marquis added in a lower,
softer tone, which, however, extremely chafed the proud young
Scot, all the more that he felt himself blushing.
'My Lord,' he said, 'I am not bound to render a reason to any
save my father, from whom I hope for letters shortly.'
To his further provocation Suffolk smiled meaningly, and
'I understand. But if my Lord Douglas would honour my suite by
assuming the place that befits him, I should be happy that aught
of mine should serve--'
'I am beholden to you, my Lord, for the offer,' replied George,
somewhat roughly. 'Whatever I make use of must be my father's
or my own. All I crave of you is to keep my secret, and not
make me the common talk. Have I your licence to depart?'
Wherewith, tall, irate, and shamefaced, the Master of Angus
stalked away to meet David Drummond, to whom he confided his
'The parlous fulebody! As though I were like to make myself a
mere sport for ballad-mongers, such as Lady Elleen is always
mooning after; or as if I would stoop to borrow a following of
the English blackguard, to bolster up my state like King Herod
in a mystery play. If my father lists, he may send me out a
band, but the Douglas shall have Douglas's men, or none at all.'
David approved the sentiment, but added--
'Ye could win to Jeanie if ye took your right place.'
'What good would that do me while she is full of her fine
daffing, singing, clacking, English knights, that would only
gibe at the red-haired Scot? Let her wait to see what the Red
Douglas's hand can do in time of need! But, Davie, you that can
speak to her, let her know how deeply I thank her for what she
did even now on my behalf, or rather on puir Ringan's, and that
I am trebly bound to her service though I make no minstrel
David delivered his message, but did not obtain much by it for
his friend's satisfaction, for Jeanie only tossed her head and
'Does the gallant cock up his bonnet because he thinks it was
for his sake. It was Elleen's doing there, firstly; and next,
wadna we have done the like for the meanest of Jamie's
'Dinna credit her, Davie,' said Eleanor. 'Ye should have seen
her start in her saddle, and wheel round her palfrey at
Malcolm's first word.'
'It wasna for him,' replied Jean hotly. 'They dinna hang the
like of him for twisting a goose's neck; it was for the puir
leal laddie; and ye may tak' that to him.'
'Shall I, Elleen?' asked David, with a twinkle in his eye of
'An' ye do not, I shall proclaim ye in the lists at Nanci as a
corbie messenger and mansworn squire, unworthy of your spurs,'
threatened Jeanie, in all good humour however.
Suffolk, baffled in his desire to patronise the young Master of
Angus, examined both Sir Patrick and Lady Drummond as far as
their caution would allow, telling that the youth had confessed
his rank and admitted the cause--making inquiry whether the
match would be held suitable in Scotland, and why it had not
taken place there--a matter difficult to explain, since it did
not merely turn upon the young lady's ambition--which would have
gone for nothing--but on the danger to the Crown of offending
rival houses. Suffolk had a good deal about him of the flashy
side of chivalry, and loved its brilliance and romance; he was
an honourable man, and the weak point about him was that he never
understood that knighthood should respect men of meaner birth.
He was greatly flattered by the idea of having the eldest son of
the great Earl of Angus riding as an unknown man-at-arms in his
troop, and on the way likewise to the most chivalrous of kings.