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THE CAGED LION
by Charlotte M. Yonge
When the venture has been made of dealing with historical events and characters, it always seems fair towards the reader to avow what liberties have been taken, and how much of the sketch is founded on history. In the present case, it is scarcely necessary to do more than refer to the almost unique relations that subsisted between Henry V. and his prisoner, James I. of Scotland; who lived with him throughout his reign on the terms of friend rather than of captive, and was absolutely sheltered by this imprisonment throughout his nonage and early youth from the frightful violence and presumption of the nobles of his kingdom.
James's expedition to Scotland is wholly imaginary, though there appears to have been space for it during Henry's progress to the North to pay his devotions at Beverley Minster. The hero of the story is likewise invention, though, as Froissart ascribes to King Robert II. 'eleven sons who loved arms,' Malcolm may well be supposed to be the son of one of those unaccounted for in the pedigrees of Stewart. The same may be said of Esclairmonde. There were plenty of Luxemburgs in the Low Countries, but the individual is not to be identified. Readers of Tyler's 'Henry V.,' of Agnes Strickland's 'Queens,' Tytler's 'Scotland,' and Barante's 'Histoire de Bourgogne' will be at no loss for the origin of all I have ventured to say of the really historical personages. Mr. Fox Bourne's 'English Merchants' furnished the tradition respecting Whittington. I am afraid the knighthood was really conferred on Henry's first return to England, after the battle of Agincourt; but human--or at least story- telling--nature could not resist an anachronism of a few years for such a story. The only other wilful alteration of a matter of time is with regard to the Duke of Burgundy's interview with Henry. At the time of Henry's last stay at Paris the Duke was attending the death-bed of his wife, Michelle of France, but he had been several times in the King's camp at the siege of Meaux.
Another alteration of fact is that Ralf Percy, instead of being second son of Hotspur, should have been Henry Percy, son of Hotspur's brother Ralf; but the name would have been so confusing that it was thought better to set Dugdale at defiance and consider the reader's convenience. Alice Montagu, though her name sounds as if it came out of the most commonplace novelist's repertory, was a veritable personage--the heiress of the brave line of Montacute, or Montagu; daughter to the Earl of Salisbury who was killed at the siege of Orleans; wife to the Earl of the same title (in her right) who won the battle of Blore Heath and was beheaded at Wakefield; and mother to Earl Warwick the King-maker, the Marquis of Montagu, and George Nevil, Archbishop of York. As nothing is known of her but her name, I have ventured to make use of the blank.
For Jaqueline of Hainault, and her pranks, they are to be found in Monstrelet of old, and now in Barante; though justice to her and Queen Isabeau compels me to state that the incident of the ring is wholly fictitious. Of the trial of Walter Stewart no record is preserved save that he was accused of 'roborica.' James Kennedy was the first great benefactor to learning in Scotland, and founder of her earliest University, having been himself educated at Paris.
The Abbey of Coldingham is described from a local compilation of the early part of the century, with an account of the history of that grand old foundation, and the struggle for appointments between the parent house at Durham and the Scottish Government. Priors Akefield and Drax are historical, and as the latter really did commission a body of moss-troopers to divert an instalment of King James's ransom into his own private coffers, I do not think I can have done him much injustice. As the nunnery of St. Abbs has gone bodily into the sea, I have been the less constrained by the inconvenient action of fact upon fiction. And for the Hospital of St. Katharine's-by-the-Tower, its history is to be found in Stowe's 'Survey of London,' and likewise in the evidence before the Parliamentary Commission, which shows what it was intended by Queen Philippa to have been to the river-side population, and what it might have been had such intentions been understood and acted on--nay, what it may yet become, since the foundation remains intact, although the building has been removed.
C. M. YONGE.
November 24, 1869.
CHAPTER I: THE GUEST OF GLENUSKIE
A master hand has so often described the glens and ravines of Scotland, that it seems vain and presumptuous to meddle with them; and yet we must ask our readers to figure to themselves a sharp cleft sloping downwards to a brawling mountain stream, the sides scattered with gray rocks of every imaginable size, interspersed here and there with heather, gorse, or furze. Just in the widest part of the valley, a sort of platform of rock jutted out from the hill-side, and afforded a station for one of those tall, narrow, grim-looking fastnesses that were the strength of Scotland, as well as her bane.
Either by nature or art, the rock had been scarped away on three sides, so that the walls of the castle rose sheer from the steep descent, except where the platform was connected with the mountain side by, as it were, an isthmus joining the peninsula to the main rock; and even this isthmus, a narrow ridge of rock just wide enough for the passage of a single horse, had been cut through, no doubt with great labour, and rendered impassable, except by the lowering of a drawbridge. Glenuskie Castle was thus nearly impregnable, so long as it was supplied with water, and for this all possible provision had been made, by guiding a stream into the court.
The castle was necessarily narrow and confined; its massive walls took up much even of the narrow space that the rock afforded; but it had been so piled up that it seemed as though the builders wished to make height compensate for straitness. There was, too, an unusual amount of grace, both in the outline of the gateway with its mighty flanking towers, and of the lofty donjon tower, that shot up like a great finger above the Massy More, as the main building was commonly called by the inhabitants of Glenuskie.
Wondrous as were the walls, and deep-set as were the arches, they had all that peculiar slenderness of contour that Scottish taste seemed to have learnt from France; and a little more space was gained at the top, both of the gateway towers and the donjon, by a projecting cornice of beautifully vaulted arches supporting a battlement, that gave the building a crowned look. On the topmost tower was of course planted the ensign of the owner, and that ensign was no other than the regal ruddy Lion of Scotland, ramping on his gold field within his tressure fiery and counter flory, but surmounted by a label divided into twelve, and placed upon a pen-noncel, or triangular piece of silk. The eyes of the early fifteenth century easily deciphered such hieroglyphics as these, which to every one with the least tincture of 'the noble science' indicated that the owner of the castle was of royal Stewart blood, but of a younger branch, and not yet admitted to the rank of knighthood.
The early spring of the year 1421 was bleak and dreary in that wild lonely vale, and large was the fire burning on the hearth in the castle hall, in the full warmth of which there sat, with a light blue cloth cloak drawn tightly round him, a tall old man, of the giant mould of Scotland, and with a massive thoughtful brow, whose grand form was rendered visible by the absence of hair, only a few remnants of yellow locks mixed with silver floating from his temples to mingle with his magnificent white beard. A small blue bonnet, with a short eagle feather, fastened with a brooch of river pearl, was held in the hands that were clasped over his face, as, bending down in his chair, he murmured through his white beard, 'Have mercy, good Lord, have mercy on the land. Have mercy on my son,--and guard him when he goes out and when he comes in. Have mercy on the children I have toiled for, and teach me to judge and act for them aright in these sore straits; and above all, have mercy on our King, break his fetters, and send him home to be the healer of his land, the avenger of her cruel wrongs.'
So absorbed was the old man that he never heard the step that came across the hall. It was a slightly unequal step, but was carefully hushed at entrance, as if supposing the old man asleep; and at a slow pace the new-comer crossed the hall to the chimney, where he stood by the fire, warming himself and looking wistfully at the old Knight.
He was wrapped in a plaid, black and white, which increased the gray appearance of the pale sallow face and sad expression of the wearer, a boy of about seventeen, with soft pensive dark eyes and a sickly complexion, with that peculiar wistful cast of countenance that is apt to accompany deformity, though there was no actual malformation apparent, unless such might be reckoned the slight halt in the gait, and the small stature of the lad, who was no taller than many boys of twelve or fourteen. But there was a depth of melancholy in those dark brown eyes, that went far into the heart of any one who had the power to be touched with their yearning, appealing, almost piteous gaze, as though their owner had come into a world that was much too hard for him, and were looking out in bewilderment and entreaty for some haven of peace.
He had stood for some minutes looking thoughtfully into the fire, and the sadness of his expression ever deepening, before the old man raised his face, and said, 'You here, Malcolm? where are the others?'
'Patie and Lily are still on the turret-top, fair Uncle,' returned the boy. 'It was so cold;' and he shivered again, and seemed as though he would creep into the fire.
'And the reek?' asked the uncle.
'There is another reek broken out farther west,' replied Malcolm. 'Patie is sure now that it is as you deemed, Uncle; that it is a cattle-lifting from Badenoch.'
'Heaven help them!' sighed the old man, again folding his hands in prayer. 'How long, O Lord, how long?'
Malcolm took up the appeal of the Psalm, repeating it in Latin, but with none the less fervency; that Psalm that has ever since David's
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