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by his thonghts of Katherine, and of the prolongation of her anguish by his failure to overtake her captors, “und there is no time for words to reprobate your treachery--ay, and your cruelty to one whose happiness you should have been the first to defend."
“My hand shall never be raised to protect a false wife, and the wretch who has made her false.”
Gordon's blood tingled and his eyes flashed fiercely, but he checked his rising passion with a mighty effort, and answered calmly, although his lips trembled slightly.
“You are her brother, and therefore you know that you are safe from me; but you shall discover yet how villainously you have belied your sister and me.”
**T, safe from you!-then, by my sword, you shall learn speedily that you are not safe from me. You should have stayed your hand in time, if kinship to her had any sanctity in your sight. Fix your eyes on this," he said, pointing to the mourning badge on his arm, "and then you will understand why I bave brought you here, and how little your professions of amity will help you against my vengeance for my father's fate.”
“You know that I am blameless of his fall-you know that I would have protected him with my own life had I been near when danger threatened him; but your mad rage, and your blind faith in Cochrane, render you as-incapable of comprehending my motives as of seeing that you are befooled by a knave.”
“You think so," he muttered, sneeringly,
“Some day, when it is too late to save yourself, you will learn that he has betrayed you as he has done all others. But I have no time to reason with you. Farewell; when we meet next I trust that you may know me better."
Lamington made a movement to retrace his steps, but Janfarie
sprung forward and planted himself in his path. “I told
that we had reached the end of our journey here. Only one of us can leave this place alive.”
“Stand aside, madman. I cannot draw on you.”
Janfarie pointed again to his badge and unsheathed his sword.
At the same time from behind four of the huge Druid stones appeared four Borderers, and Lamington saw that he had fallen into a carefully planned ambuscade.
"I will not fight with you, MacVan,
You never me offended;
I'll own my fault and mend it.'
Does blood so much surprise you ?
Sir Niel and MacVan.
The men made no movement to advance upon their victim. Acting evidently on the command of their chief, they only stepped forth from their hiding-places, and halted with arms in readiness for action. The object seemed to be to make him aware of his position, and of the impossibility of escape rather than to assault him suddenly, and so take advantage of his surprise to despatch him before he could use any strategy in his defence.
This purpose was certainly accomplished as satisfactorily as the framer of the scheme could have desired. Lamington instantly became conscious of the whole peril in which he stood, and bitterly enraged with himself for having fallen so blindly into the trap.
Janfarie waited to note the effect of this revelation of his power, and his followers stood like dark executioners of a dire purpose-silent, motionless, and ready to do their fell work at the slightest signal from their leader.
Lamington having surveyed the men, turned with a scornful look to his betrayer.
"Your treachery has succeeded," he said, calmly; "and now that you have caught me in this ambush, what is your purpose ?”
"My purpose you already know; as for the treachery, as you call it, none would bave been used against you had not your nice sense of kinship rendered you so averse to cross weapons with me, that no choice was left save to place you in a position from which nothing but your sword could rescue you.”.
you aside, I
* And it shall do so, since there is no help for it. But stand you aside; for Katherine's sake do not force me to the risk of staining my hand with your blood."
“It is with me alone you have to deal.”
four cut-turoats do their worst upon me; but at least let me fall by any hand save one so near to her as yours.”
This earnest appeal only roused the angry nature of Janfarie to contempt. “If you are worthy to bear a sword-if
you claim to be called a man, you will draw and defend yourself, without further words."
“ But not against you."
' Ay, against me; for, by Heaven, and by the vow I pledged to my dead father, you shall fall by no other hand than mine. You call me traitor, but I give you a fair chance of life.”
“A chance you know I dare not accept.'
I give you the chance and you must accept. those men-at any moment during our journey hither any one of them might have struck you to the earth; even now, where you stand, they might rush upon you, and if you escaped them, they would be clumsier fellows than they have proved themselves. But that would not satisfy
“What will satisfy you ?"
Nothing but your fall under my hand—there is no other way to redeem the pledge I gave my father; there is no other way to atone for his fate. Draw, then, for I am your only foe. Over my dead body you may pass freely, for yonder fellows have strict commands to lay no touch upon you if I fall, and to give you free passage, unless you attempt to fly before you have proved yourself against me.
The Burderer spoke with a proud, passionate utterance; and it must be understood that his deadly hate and his apparently unreasonable persistence in attempting to wreak vengeance for his father's fate upon Lamington was a characteristic of the feuds of the times. If a man fell in fight his friends declared feud, not only against the man who had actually struck the blow, but also against his kin; and more especially against the one who might be
presumed to have been the originator of the quarrel in which the first blood had been shed.
Thus Richard Janfarie was simply obeying the barbarous law which regulated feuds when he persistently sought to retaliate upon Lamington the death of Sir Hugh; but his rancour was heightened and goaded to a species of frenzy by the cunning suggestions of Cochrane. Something of this Lamington was conscious of when he made a last attempt to pacify the foe with whom he would so gladly have made terms for Katherine's sake.
“I hope the merit of my sword has been proved too often,” he said, almost sadly, "for even a foe to doubt my right to bear it
"By the Sacred Mother I shall doubt it much,” cried Janfarie, hotly, "if you do not show it to me speedily."
"Not yet, Japfarie—at least, not till I have spoken. You have for the last hour or more had my life at your mercy-any
your fellows might have taken it whilst I was passing through the glen. You have not availed yourself of that treacherous advantage, and I recognize some generosity in your forbearance despite the hatred with which you pursue me.”
He spoke rapidly and earnestly; but he paused to note the impression his words made upon the hearer.
He was disappointed, for Janfarie only frowned and muttered impatiently
“Well ? "
“Well, give me time to satisfy you that you have judged me wrongly; give me time to save your sister from the hands of the knave whose counsels, have poisoned your mind; and if I do not prove to you how false are all his pledges, and how base are all his motives, then call upon me when you will, and where you will, and denounce me as a coward if I do not meet you.'
Janfarie was not apparently affected in the least by the sincerity of this appeal. He listened with the restless bearing of one whose mind is quite made up, and whose resolution cannot be altered.
done ? he said.
“On my soul, I am glad of that; for now, perhaps, you will show yourself better than I begin to think you are.
Be Cochrane what he may, I have pledged myself to him whose sword I carry, that when you and I should meet, one of us should bite the dust. No more words, then, for they will be useless."
Lamington slowly unfastened his cloak, and permitted it to drop to the ground. Janfarie, with an ejaculation of satisfaction at seeing him prepare for the combat, rested the point of his weapon on the sod, and waited eagerly for him to cry “Ready.”
Gordon found himself placed in a cruel dilemma.
Already denounced as an accomplice in her father's fall, how could he ever look in her face if it should happen that her brother's fate also should be laid to his charge ? Yet how could he help himself ? The very necessity to speed on his way to her aid had led him into the trap, and left him no alternative save to draw upon Janfarie or leave her at the mercy of Cochrane.
“Not ready yet?" muttered Janfarie, exasperated by the slow movements of his antagonist; "by the Sacred Mother, I never knew a man so slow to defend all that was most precious to him!”
Lamington, with a reluctance he had never before experienced, unsheathed his sword.
"One moment,” he said, coldly, for the relentless fury of Janfarie was beginning to quicken his pulse; "one moment-if
should fall, will it be necessary for me to make way through your guards also ? "
Janfarie shouted to the men-
“I have given you my command, that if I fall this gentleman is to pass without let or hindrance from you. Pledge him
word that you will make no attempt to “We promise, since you command it," answered the
"You hear,” continued Janfarie, turning to Gordon, "and you can trust a Borderer's word.”
“ I accept the pledge."
Lamington inclined his head sadly, and the swords were crossed.
bar his way.'