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its thin blue lips quivering as if in terror; and as a panel slid back in its grooves, Torphichen, the little fat master of fence, stood staring at the mysterious visitor.
The latter faltered for an instant, as if doubtful whether to advance or retreat; then, clenching his teeth, he crossed the threshold, and hastily closed the panel.
Torphicben drew back a pace, with a look of fright.
“Swords and daggers, Cochrane !” he gasped, “what makes you look so haggard ? Have the rebel dogs broke loose_are we surrounded ?"
Cochrane, with a forced smile, and his lips still quivering, removed bis hat, shook the raindrops from it, and thrust back his hair, evidently desiring to rectify something of the disorder of his appearance.
“Seem I so wild, then ?” he said, and his voice was strangely husky, whilst his manner was nervous despite his affected calmness; seem I so wild that nothing better than rapine and murder is suggested by my presence ?"
“I said nothing of murder," was the fencing-master's retort; “but by the best Toledo that was ever tempered there is that in your air which made me fancy that Angus himself and all his howling tribe were at your heels, ready to wipe off with their blades the long score of grudge they owe us.”
“Pshaw! am I the one to blanch or look strange if all the wolves of Scotland were griping at my throat ?"
“In faith, at such a pass, I would not stake my finger on the complexion of the best of us. But what is the stir, then ?” “ You will know in time enough.
Is his Majesty alone ?
“No; Rogers is with him, and Innis, the armour-bearer, is fitting on a new shirt of mail that Leonard just finished before he went away with you and Hommel. Our Lady send that the mail be of good proof, for there will be need of its best service speedily, or I am out in my reckoning. There has been thunder on every face since the news came.”
The words “ the news were pronounced with a significance which plainly showed their application to the arrest of the royal brothers.
“The thunder will burst to-morrow," muttered Cochrane, gloomily. "Fetch Rogers and the other fellow in here, and leave me with our master for a while.”
The chamber in which this colloquy had taken place was a small, square cupboard of a place, only large enough to have permitted six persons to be seated at a table, and was used chiefly as a sort of waiting-room for his favourites whenever his Majesty desired to be alone.
Cochrane advanced brusquely into the royal tiringroom, where James stood at the moment, with Innis buckling on the new coat of mail, which was constructed of such finely wrought links that it did not interfere with the least or most violent exertion of the body.
“It fits as neat as though it were made of silk," the King was saying ; "and so Burniewind (the smith, Leonard) said it would. If it will only stand hard dunts as well as it fits the body we'll owe him something."
“May your Majesty never require to put it to the proof,” said Rogers, softly.
“I can say amen to that, man, with a clear conscience,” answered James, somewhat sadly; “ but I doubt that's a prayer we cannot hope to have answered. Eh, what the deevil's
?" "Your servant, Cochrane, my liege," answered that person, approaching and kneeling.
The King started back as if alarmed by his wild appearance.
By my faith, sir, you come as if the hour had already struck when the strength of our mail and heart were to be put to the proof,” exclaimed his Majesty, with an air of mingled anxiety and displeasure.
“My hope is of another kind, sire. I trust that your servant brings you tidings that will delay the proof of your armour, although it
heart. I crave private speech with your Majesty."
The countenance of James became agitated as he surveyed the disordered guise in which Sir Robert, the most fastidious of all his courtiers, had a second time entered his presence, and on this occasion there was a gleam of excitement in the man's eyes, and a haggard expression on his face, which, with the tone of his voice, suggested that something of
very unusual import had occurred. The knowledge of the threatening circumstances which
surrounded him, and into which he had been led as much by this man's counsel as by bis own fears, or the occasion for them, combined with the observation of Cochrane's trembling lips, served to thrill the King with a foreboding of the calamity that had befallen his family.
He signified to his attendants that they were to retire. Innis offered to remove the hauberk, but the King impatiently bade him leave it alone, and to give him his mantle. A handsome purple cloak, lined with ermine, was thrown over his shoulders, and Torphichen, obedient to Cochrane’s hint, led the way into the waiting-room.
Cochrane had not yet risen from his knee, and whether with real or simulated agitation, his form shivered.
“In the name of all the powers of heaven,” exclaimed his Majesty, eager to hear and yet dreading what was to come of all this singular conduct, "explain, man, what is it that moves you so ? '
“Oh, my liege--my liege,” cried Cochrane, with vehement sorrow, “I, who would lay down my life to spare you the pettiest pang, am doomed to be
torture.” The monarch's countenance expressed astonishment and increasing alarm.
“Do your work, then, sir; since yon are doomed to it you cannot escape it; but if your intent be kindly, spare me at least that portion of the torture which lies in suspense."
Cochrane seized the hem of his Majesty's cloak and bowed his head upon it with an air of abject and awed submission,
“ I dare not look upon your Grace's countenance, lest its frown kill me,” he said huskily; " for the tidings I bring will afflict you whilst they promise you increased safety.”
"Let them be spoken, then.”
One of your enemies—one of the most dangerous of your Grace's foes, because one of those most highly placed -is dead."
The King's cheek became pallid.
“My despatches acquainted you that he lay ill in the house in Canongate.”
Then it is Jolin of Mar you speak of,” cried James.
66 Dare you
“ The same, my liege, and he is dead.”
The monarch snatched his cloak from the man's grasp, and recoiled from him as if there had been poison in his touch.
“ Villain!” he cried, with a violence of passion of which few would have believed him capable; "bloodthirsty hound-you have murdered him !”
“Sire, sire, hear before you condemn me," exclaimed Cochrane, now seriously alarmed for his own safety, and speaking in sincere distress of mind ; " for all that I have done I had your Majesty's warrant.”
A loud peal of thunder shook the foundations of the palace, and there was a pause, during which the King stood as one appalled.
“My warrant ? ” he said, rousing himself. so far as claim
me for your accomplice? I gave no warrant for murder. Heaven itself proclaims you liar. You have stained your hand with the same blood that flows in our veins, and God bear witness, but there is no torture man or fiend can invent that you shall not undergo. Ho, there, Rogers, Torphichen, summon the guard and carry this loathsome vampire to the blackest dungeon of our hold.”
Rogers and the others, astounded by the loud outcry of their master, appeared in haste, and stood still more astounded by the strange command they had received.
Cochrane rose slowly to his feet and stood with an air of dejection and of respectful submission, but also with the firmness of one who feels himself injured.
"Your Majesty can take my life,” he said, in a low voice, which reached only the King's ears ; it has been yours always, and I am as ready to yield it to you in this fashion as in any other. But I said nought of murder. The letter of my warrant I have obeyed, no more. What has been done, I have done in your service; and till now I have believed that he whom I served would never spurn from him, without hearing a word of justification, one who has been true to him when all others have been false. But I accept my fate ; and, sire, believe that there is no torture your hangman can invent that will make me cease to pray, whilst I have breath, for your safety in the midst of the perils which are about to assail you.”
The King, during this address, stood at first irresolute, and when it was finished he motioned to his attendants to withdraw again. Then, as another peal of thunder shook the building, he sank on a chair, shuddering, and covered his face with his hand.
THE FATE OF MAP.
“Fell Lindsay puts his harness on,
His steed doth ready stand;
With poniard in his hand.
He shook wi' guilty fear;
The Murder of Caerlaveroe. The silence which prevailed in the royal apartments for several minutes after the retreat of those whom the King had so hastily summoned with the intention of placing the bearer of the evil tidings under arrest, was rendered only the more observable by the wild din of the tempest which raged without. To the superstitious mind of James it seemed as if the evil spirits with which his imagination filled the air were rejoicing over the demoniac work that had been done, and were loudly claiming him for their victim.
Cochrane's features were hard set and inscrutable, his bearing was that of one who had been unjustly accused, and whose offended dignity would not permit him to offer an explanation unsolicited.
The monarch abruptly removed his hands from his face as if angry at his own we
He fixed a look of scornful loathing upon his favourite; but the expression gradually became tinged with uneasiness as he observed the emotionless visage of the man who confronted him.
But his indignation was still strong, and sustained bim in his resolution to wreak a terrible retribution for his brother's fate.