Page images

now to escape before Janfarie recovered sufficiently to be able to make any effort to stay him.

He hastily searched for his sword, hat, and cloak, and having found them, cast one last glance toward Katherine's brother, and hurried away from the Druids' Circle, to seek his horse and continue his journey. It was not until he had reached the den that he discovered the absence of the hound Stark. He whistled shrilly for the dog and called it by name, but without effect; and at last he was obliged to conclude that Stark, annoyed by the neglect, with which its repeated warnings had been received, had deserted him.

He soon regained the road, and there he' mounted his horse. After pausing a few minutes, and listening for any sound that might indicate the approach of Muckle Will, without being gratified by any such indication, he urged his horse forward.

He was too eager to regain some of the time so disagreeably wasted to think anything of the discomforts of his wet and soiled habiliments. He proposed obtaining a change at the first hostelry or friendly house which he might reach. The change would add to his comfort, and would at the same time serve as a useful disguise until he reached Linlithgow, where he might obtain garments suitable for his appearance at the palace.

He was disturbed by many conflicting thoughts, and it was not until he had ridden several miles that he remembered the tablet containing the list of friendly names with wbich the Abbot had entrusted him. He hurriedly searched his pouch for the list, and to his dismay he discovered that

He remembered the warning and solicitude with which the Abbot had presented it to him, and, with a jerk of the rein, he brought his horse to a sudden stand, uncertain whether to proceed or turn back,

He searched his pouch again; he searched every corner in which he might have stowed the tablet, but it was gone ; and it became clear that in the recent struggle he must have lost it.

His only hope was that it might have fallen-as was, indeed, most probable-into the pit during the struggle at its edge; but in any case it was too late to turn back now,

it was gone.

for the tablet would be by this time in the hands of the enemy, if they were to find it at all; and Katherine's safety was of more importance to bim than that of all the world beside.



“Of all the palaces so fair,

Built for the royal dwelling,
In Scotland, far beyond compare,

Linlithgow is excelling;
And in its park in jovial June,
How sweet the merry linnet's tuno,

How blithe the blackbird's lay!
The wild buck-bells from ferny brake,
Tho coot dives merry on the lake,
The saddest heart might pleasure take
To see all nature gay.



for proper


Under any circumstances the ride from Kells to Linlithgow was a long and tiresome one to be performed without a halt

but it was especially wearisome to Katherine, whose mind was distracted by the terror of the purpose, for which her brother had remained behind, and by the companionship of Cochrane.

She glanced backwards repeatedly, but her eyes were not relieved by any sign of following friends. Her pulse quickened at every sound of approaching horses ; but only to relax into a state of sickening weariness as the sound faded away or a stray horseman appeared in the opposite direction. The fatigue of the journey was a merciful bard. ship to her, for it helped to stultify the poignancy of the pangs which her reflections inflicted. Otherwise the dread of what might be passing amidst the dreary Glenkens, and the dread of what might be the upshot of this excursion, would have proved too much for her to hold up against with any degree of calmness. And that was the quality of which she felt most in need at this crisis.

Cochrane was true to his word so far that he showed no inclination to tarry on the road ; indeed, he had good reasons for desiring to stand in the presence of his royal master at the earliest possible moment. First, that his version of the recent events might obtain the advantage of forestalling any other which might be laid before his Majesty; this he knew would be a considerable advantage in the present instance, for King James was apt to form an opinion on the impulse of the moment, and to adhere to it obstinately afterwards in spite of any proofs to the contrary that might be offered to him.

His second reason for haste was one of graver import, for it related to certain intrigues involving the honour and lives of high personages, and the arrival at the palace of the Abbot Panther before him might prove fatal to the schemes on which his ambition had ventured its boldest flight.

On these grounds he was as eager to push forward as Katherine could have desired. He maintained toward her a coldly respectful bearing, scarcely addressing a word to her except when at several balting-places he requested her to partake of some refreshment. But although she could take little food of any kind, he used no persuasion ; he left her as freely to her own humour in that respect as on the road he left her free to her own thoughts.

He still carefully retained the leading-rein, but otherwise he did not attempt to interfere with her. By the time they were nearing Lanark, the fatigue had begun to tell upon her, and displayed itself in an unusual pallor and a sunken, worn look in the eyes.

This effect he observed, and he was well pleased even in such a petty way as this to punish her for the scorn she had cast on him. Besides, with a wearied body, and an exbausted mind, she would be less formidable when presented to the King than she might have been with all her faculties fresh and alert.

At Lanark it became necessary to change horses; and as only four could be procured, after an hour's halt, Cochrane and Katherine, followed by only two of the men, continued the route to Linlithgow. The remaining Borderers were quartered at the Lanark hostelry for the night, under commands to ride forward in the morning, by which time their nags would be sufficiently rested.

It was late in the evening when they rode into the town, and in the darkness they passed along the main street with its irregular lines of buildings, the gables of which fronted the thoroughfare, withont much heed being paid to them by the burgesses, who, during the residence of the court at the palace, were accustomed to the sound of traffic at all hours.

The city-for so it was legally designated-was of much higher importance, although somewhat less in extent in those days than in the present. The convenience afforded by the surrounding district for the sports of hunting and falconry had rendered the town a favourite place of resort for Majesty and its troupe of attendant courtiers. The armorial bearings of the city represent a black greyhound bitch, tied to a tree, and suggest at once the origin of the place. Tradition, however, ascribes the emblem to another and less pleasant source-namely, to a witch who was in the habit of assuming the form of a hound the better to carry out her evil intents upon the inhabitants, and who at length, being caught in her unnatural form, was firmly bound to a tree by a cord which had been dipped in sanctified water. After that the beldame was unable to release herself, notwithstanding her friendly relations to the powers of darkness, and she had been left to perish whilst the city prospered.

A Celtic explanation of the emblem finds its meaning in the name of the place—that is, lin-liath-cu, the Lake of the Greyhound. But a famous historian claims a Gothic derivation for the name--that is, lin-lyth-gou, or the Lake of the Great Vale. Be that as it may, the beauty of the district, with its undulating and wooded plains, coursed by glittering streamlets, traversed by the Avon, and bordered by the Fortb, whilst northward rise towering and snowcovered mountains, renders it one of the most picturesque -straths in Scotland.

The palace stands on an elevated promontory, the foot of which is lapped by the loch. The building was originally nothing more than a square pile, or peel as it was called, and was merely used as a place of defence. In 1300 it fell into the hands of Edward I. of England, who, after causing it to be strengthened by numerous repairs, garrisoned it as one of the citadels by which he hoped to retain dominion over Scotland.

The stratagem by which the sturdy farmer, William Binnock, introduced a number of armed men into the stronghold under the disguise of a cart-load of hay, and wrested the fortress from Edward's soldiers, forms one of the most interesting episodes of the Bruce's struggle.

In 1414 the town and palace were accidentally burned down; the former having undergone a similar calamity only three years preriously. The reign of the Stuarts had then begun, and the palace, with its royal chapel, were rebuilt with greater magnificence than ever. Successive Stuarts added to the architectural beauties of the building, and in the time of James III. it was one of the best appointed of the royal palaces.

On this account, and also because the lordship of the town had been settled upon her, it was the favourite residence of Margaret of Denmark; and King James III. so far approved the taste of his queen as to spend much of his time at the same place. The palace when completedwhich was not until the time of James VI.-formed a square with an interior quadrangle, which was overlooked by the principal windows. In the centre stood a fountain, one of the many which gave rise to the old rhyme, ,

“Linlithgow for wells,

Stirling for bells." Late as the hour was, Cochrane advanced to the palace with the air of a man who is confident of his reception. He approached by the ancient entrance at the eastern side, where his summons was immediately answered by the warder, who, recognizing him, gave his party admission without question.

They rode into the court, and balting near the fountain, Sir Robert leaped to the ground and proffered his assistance to Katherine; but she, although tired enough in body and mind, still shrank from his touch, and hastily slipped from the saddle unaided.

Without appearing to notice this fresh sign of repugnance, Cochrane turned to the men and directed them to take the horses to the stables, and then proceed to the guard-room to wait bis further orders.

“Now, madam,” he said, “I will conduct yon to apartments where you can prepare yourself to attend the presence of his Majesty."

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »