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Presently his eyes became accustomed to the place, and he descried a man crouching in the furthest corner.

“Draw, villain, and save yourself, if you may,” shouted Lamington, raising his sword, “or die defenceless, as the noble Earl of Mar fell under your murderous bands."

The sword was drawn back to thrust, when, with a wild scream of horror, Katherine arrested his arm.

“ IT IS THE KING !” she cried.

CHAPTER XXVI.

WHICH IS THE TRAITOR ?

H' May I find grace, my sovereign liege,

Grace for my loyal men and me ?
For my name it is Johnnie Armstrong,

And subject of yours, my liege,' said he.

"• Away, away, thou traitor strang!

Out o' my sicht soon may'st thou be;
I grantit never a traitor's life,
And now I'll not begin with thee.""

Johnnie Armstrong. Gordon's arm was paralyzed. His heart seemed to bound in his throat, choking him; his eyes became dazed, and a thousand lights appeared to be glancing before them, whilst he could see nothing. He remained transfixed in his position_his sword raised, ready to thrust, and the taper held above his head.

When the King had asked the question which had disclosed bis hiding-place, he had been under the impression that the footsteps he heard were those of Cochrane, who had just left him, returning with the news that the con. spirators had discovered his retreat, and he had spoken in his eagerness to learn the worst.

It had been his wish to take refuge in the Queen's apartments, but Cochrane, aware of the small esteem in which her Majesty held him, feared that to pacify Angus and his companions, and to insure. the safety of the King, she would not hesitate to deliver him into the hands of bis enemies as soon as she was informed that he was the cause and object of the outbreak. So he had persuaded his master to fly to the vaults, and had left him there whilst at no little risk he proceeded to seek assistance.

There was small generosity in his apparent devotion, however. He had simply chosen the least of two dangers. Safe as he might have been in this place of hiding, he knew that the safety would only continue for a time, and that probably in a very brief space his foes would fall upon him. Therefore he preferred to brave the more immediate hazard for the chance of finding help, and by another bold stroke defeating his pursuers. Then he might put what interpretation he pleased on the conduct of the barons, and his own position would be more secure than ever. To fall a prisoner into their hands in this hole, like a fox run to earth, would be irremediable ruin, even if his life were not taken on the spot.

The King discovered the blunder he had made the instant Lamington had answered his inquiry by appearing with the light; and fancying that a troop of regicides were behind him, he had crouched back in the farthest corner of the cell.

Everything seemed to confirm his suspicion of the man's purpose, and the short instant which intervened between the discovery and Katherine's recognition, was to the unfortunate monarch a long period of acutest agony.

Now, observing that the impending blow was arrested, and that his assailant made no movement to effect the threat he had just uttered, James rose slowly from his undignified posture, but he was obliged to lean heavily against the wall for support. He was sick with terror, and with the sudden revulsion of emotion which he experienced in his confused sense that by some miraculous means he had been saved from the wretched fate which a second ago had been imminent.

Katherine could not atter anything more than that exclamation which rung in her lover's ears with a sound of inexpressible horror; but the horror was mingled with thankfulness as he slowly began to realize the position, and to perceive from what a crime he had been opportunely rescued.

Katherine was the first to recover from the stupor which affected them all. She threw herself on her knces service."

before the monarch, thus placing herself between him and Gordon.

“ Your Majesty will pardon the blind haste of one who mistook you for him who is your Grace's worst foe. Oh, Heaven is kind, my liege, and has spared you whilst it has saved one who loves you from a deed that would have made him accursed in his own eyes and in the eyes of the world for ever. Speak, speak, your Majesty. You will pardon his haste, which the saints above know was intended for

your

James motioned to her feebly with his hand; but whether in token that he granted her prayer, or merely that he desired her to be silent, it was impossible to tell.

Lamington was roused by the sound of her voice, and he dropped on his knee.

The instant he moved the King started, and watched him nervously.

Lamington bared his head, seized his sword by the blade, and extended the hilt towards James, who shrank from it, whilst at the same time he seemed to remember the humiliating character in which such a movement presented him, and he made an effort to recover himself.

“Your Majesty can yourself judge how miserably blind I have been,” said Gordon, huskily. I am your true servant, and will prove it with my life.”

Yes, yes—and you were like to prove it with mine enow,” muttered the King, struggling to speak with some degree of dignity and calmness, but glancing anxiously toward the entrance in the hope of seeing Cochrane arrive with the guard to assure him of safety.

“The circumstances are not altered, sire, since I entered this place. Your gracious person is as much at my mercy now as then. You cannot, sire, doubt my fidelity, when I offer you my sword; and, if it please you, I am ready to pay the penalty of my blunder and place myself at your mercy.

"He is innocent, sire-innocent of any thought of treachery to you," cried Katherine ; "and your Grace is too good, too generous, to blame him for the accident which has made him appear in such threatening fashion before you. The guilt is mine, sir, if any guilt there be in this, for it was I who led him hither; it was I who made him

believe that he would find the enemy he sought. Grace, grace, my liege, for both, or let me alone bear your wrath."

James snatched the sword from Gordon's hand, but he showed no intention of using it for the purpose for which it had been presented to him. Resting the point on the ground, he leaned on the hilt whilst he spoke hoarsely“Who and what are you? Why are you

here? “Bertrand Gordon, of Lamington, so please your Grace. I came here to seek Robert Cochrane, who has defamed me in

your esteem, who has endeavoured to force from me this lady whose troth has been long plighted to me. I thought to find here him who has this night foully murdered your royal brother, the Earl of Mar." Have you proof of that? Give it to me if

you

have, and his head shall answer for it.”

“I have no other proof than the averment of a faithful servant of his lordship, who, on discovering what had been done, rode poste haste to Linlithgow, and made known his dread

tidings to the Earl of Angus and Lord Gray.

They are the avowed foes of Sir Robert Cochrane, and you yourself proclaim an enmity bitter as theirs."

I bave had bitter cause to do so, my liege."

Why has not the messenger come to us? We are the

proper head of the State, and the nearest kin of him who has been slain—as you say.

“ The man feared that Cochrane wonld be with your Majesty before him, and that you would give credit to whatever cunning lie he might devise, so that the courier would have suffered for his rashness in opposing his own unaided testimony to that of one so powerful.”

“ The knave must have given us little credit for judgment, else he would have known that in a matter so nearly affecting our own person we would have given it grave consideration, in despite of the little belief we might have given 30 wild a story.”

“ He erred in that, my liege ; but the man deemed it more respectful to you that the charge should be made known by the tongues of those who were privileged to speak frankly in your presence."

“And therefore sought the help of gentlemen whose feud with the accused would at once cast discredit on their

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accusation. But the matter shall be looked to. Where is the fellow, and wbat is his tale?”

“He asserts that when his master entered his bath, he was not permitted to attend him. Two hours later he was summoned to the room, and there beheld Mar dead. He had been smothered-by accident, Cochrane and the others stated--but he was assured in his own mind that it was not so.

When he sought to uncover the throat of his master he was prevented by Cochrane; and when he craved permission to leave the house it was denied him. He made his escape by stealth, and rode hither to tell what had been done.” *

And on the word of a mere scullion you charge Sir Robert Cochrane with murder! It is like an enemy to transform an accident into a crime.”

“He was no scullion, sire, but the faithful follower and close friend of your royal brother, a gentleman by birth and training."

“Cochrane has been my attached follower, and one whose genins lifts him to a level with the proudest of those whose ignorance despises him.”

“I see that it is useless to debate this further with your Majesty.”

"It is no matter for debate, sir," said the King, irritably, and now oblivious to the fears which a little while ago bad rendered him so distraught; "it is a matter for proof, and the proof you shall produce, or by our royal hand you

shall рау. the forfeit of this most villainous charge. What sound

is that?"

Katherine hastened to the entrance, and peered forth.

“Armed men, your Grace, descending the stairs with torches,” she answered, in a quick undertone.

Bar them out; do not let one of them enter,” cried James, again beset by his alarm.

“There is no danger, sire,” said Gordon, rising to his feet; “ but if you will give me back my sword, none shall approach you save over my body, unless it be your pleasure.”

The monarch, scarcely knowing what he did-forgetful of the distrust with which he had regarded Lamington, in

* Historians are not agreed as to whether the Earl of Mar was smothercd in his bath or bled to death,

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