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you stand, and how I came to have assurance of it. By the earnest entreaty of the Queen, his Majesty convened the barons to meet him in council this morning ; but Cochrane had been with him at an early hour, and entered the council chamber with him.”

“And was not the knave arraigned by any of the lords and charged with the crime of which all know him to be guilty ? "

Angus denounced him, and others bore testimony to the charge. His Majesty interrupted them, refused to examine their proofs, and declared he had been satisfied that morning that this charge was nothing more than the result of a conspiracy to ruin a worthy gentleman who had served him faithfully."

“What said their lordships ? "

Angus answered the King that if such service as Cochrane had rendered him were accounted faithful, there was no need for his presence at the court, as he would never do the work his Majesty required of his followers. The King told him angrily to go, and never to appear before him again unless specially summoned. Then Angus marched out of the chamber, and he was followed by nearly all the barons assembled.

“ Did not his Grace recall them?"

“No; he hastily dismissed the council, saying that what business he had to transact he would do without their lordships' aid.”

“Was there not one near him bold enough to make an effort to stay the course of such wild folly ? '

“ There was one—the Queen. She implored him to recall their lordships, or at least to take time to consider what he was about to do. He replied that they were rebellious knaves, and that he was the monarch of Scotland, as he would make them understand.”

“He has been goaded into this mad course by some subtle lie of the arch-traitor Cochrane."

“That is too certain. The Queen, finding all effort to soothe him or to alter his resolution vain, begged him to set you free, and

“ He refused ?"

Ay, refused most resolutely. Her Majesty informed me of it all, and then enabled me to obtain audience of the King.”


“For what purpose ? ”

“There could only be one—to implore mercy for you. I knelt at the feet of his Grace and besought his clemency. He sternly answered me that you had openly defied his authority at Dumfries, that you had been party to the death of a loyal knight, and that you had been leagued with certain persons whose names were written on a tablet which had been in your possession, to disturb the peace of the realm by a rebellious attempt to dethrone his Majesty."

“ It was the tablet Panther gave me. I lost itHe checked himself, for he remembered Richard Janfarie, of whose fate he was still uncertain. He added hastily, “I lost it on my way to Linlithgow."

Katherine's head was again bowed.

“His Grace charged you with another crime, of which we need not speak at present,” she went on, with difficulty controlling the emotion which some unexpressed thought or memory caused her ; "and he bade me rise, for no prayer of mine could obtain from him the boon I sought. Then he counselled me to forget you as speedily as possible, and to think well of Sir Robert Cochrane, who would soon be in a position to offer me the coronet of a countess, as his services had won for him the earldom of Mar."

Gordon gasped for breath, and then, hoarsely-
"The King said this ! What answer gave you?

“That I could never respect the man, although he offered me the crown of a queen, and proved you base as I believe you poble.”

“That was bravely spoken, my own true heart."

And again he clasped her passionately in his arms, but she seemed to shrink under the embrace, although she made no violent effort to disengage herself.

“It was Cochrane who led me from the chamber," she continued, hurriedly, "and in the ante-room he offered to save your

life if-
“Well ? Proceed.”

“If I would consent to acknowledge his claim as my husband. I told him that you would scorn me and spurn the offer of life on such terms. He did not try to persuade

He said he was sorry that I had determined so, and left me.”

“You were right, Kate, and you were faithful to me

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and to yourself. If I had fifty lives I would rather lose them all than live to know that you had paid such a price for one of them. But all hope may not be lost yet. Albany is still a prisoner at Edinburgh. Angus and the nobles who have been driven from the court will rise to protect him, and perhaps they will do it in time to save me also.'

Alas, no; for to-night you are to be removed from the palace by a strong guard of Cochrane's men, and that means that they are to conduct you to execution in some secret place.”

“Gracious powers ! his Majesty can never have sanctined that?

“ His Majesty has consigned you to the care of Cochrane, to deal with as he may think best for the peace and welfare of the country.”

“How do you know this ? "

“My good, gracious mistress the Queen, who is sadly distressed by these events,-seeing more clearly than his Grace to what they will lead,—told me all.”

“ Saints guard her from the storm which will soon sweep over our poor country!”

“Amen with all my soul, for she has been our true friend. It is by her aid that I obtained the King's signet and permission to see you. We must use the opportunity this gives us."

“To what advantage ?” he queried, gloomily.
" To enable you to quit this dungeon.'
"Escape ?"

* Ay, it is better you should fall in trying to save yourself than perish under Cochrane's hand. This signet will open the doors to you, and you must fly hence to some place of safe hiding until the man's villainy evokes the retribution he merits. Then you may show yourself freely again."

“You will go with me?'

“No; I remain under the protection of the Queen, and when that fails, I must seek shelter in some convent.”

He regarded her searchingly, and for the first time became conscious of the singular coldness of her manner. A glimmering suspicion disturbed him that there was something behind all she had said.

"It cannot be," he muttered uneasily, “that you are “


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away her face.

deceiving me in aught. It cannot be that you are trying to save my life whilst you hide from me that you have sacrificed yourself to Cochrane

She drew back from him with a disdainful glance.

"Forgive me,” he cried, before she could speak; "it was the doubt of a moment. It is gone, and will never ruffle my mind again. Be content, and pardon me. I will do what you wish; but you must follow me if you will not go with me." “It cannot be,” she said, stilling a sob and turning

6. It can never be now.He stood dumfoundered, staring at her and discrediting his ears. But his eyes confirmed the words which seemed to be still ringing against the walls of the dungeon, and filling his soul with more despair than he had ex. perienced even when the intimation was made to him that he had been condemned unheard and without any form of trial.

“Can never be now ? ” he echoed at length, pausing after each word as if trying to realize its full meaning. Then vehemently, “And why not? What act of mine relieves


from the vows that you have pledged to me? What crime have I committed that gives you the right to turn from me ? Right! No, we shall not talk of right; for love is circumscribed by no law or condition. If you ever loved me, no misfortune of mine-no guilt evencould make you renounce me.”

Whilst he spoke she covered her face with her hands, and, swaying to and fro, she seemed distracted by the harrowing emotions his words conjured up.

“I loved you, Bertrand, and I love you—I can never change in that. The bitterness with which I recognize the need for our separation teaches me how much more dear to me you are than all the world. But I dare not place my hand in yours and fulfil the pledge that I have given, as I yearn to do. I dare not do it without bringing an eternal curse upon you and myself.”

He was, if possible, more astounded by this strange speech than by the first. He made an effort to compose himself so that he might not add to the pain which he saw she was enduring.

“ In the saints' name, Kate, read me your riddle," he

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his arms.

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said, perplexedly; "for I can make nothing of it save that some wild fantasy, and the sorrows which surround us, have disturbed your reason.


you still love me, what is there that can part us ?” He drew her hands down and attempted to take her in

But she drew back from him with an exclamation that had in it something of horror,

“Must I tell you that?" she cried in passionate grief. " Oh, Bertrand, Bertrand, search your memory, and say to me then, if you can, that there is no act of yours which could render our union impious.”

His lips trembled, and he was silent, for the unknown issue of the combat at the Druid's Circle haunted him. • It

was by our means that my father fell,” she went on, wildly ; “but that I tried to forget. I tried to deceive myself with the thought that we were blameless, and I would not let the mishap part us.”.

“Had he been more just to us, he would not have fallen so," said Gordon, hoarsely.

Hush, and remember that I owed him a daughter's duty. I might have learned in time to believe that my rebellion would be pardoned; but now—the same messenger who brought the tablet containing the names of

your fellowconspirators brought also the black tidings that my brother had fallen under


hand.” “ Heaven is witness that he forced the quarrel upon me with scornful menaces; and Heaven is witness that I no more than defended my life against his furious onslaught,” answered Lamington in a low, dejected tone, for he began to see the dismal barrier that had sprung up between them in spite of all his efforts to prevent it.

You own, then, that it was your hand that robbed him of life ? ” she cried, piteously, as if she had entertained some vague hope that he would deny it. “Speak, and if you can, swear that this is some new trick invented by our enemies to separate us.”

He could not speak. He sat down on the couch, and pressed his hand against his brow.

“Speak,” she said, touching his arm, and gazing at him with eager and yet despairing eyes; "say that Nicol, who brought me the tidings, has been deceived by Cochrane, or that he is himself trying to deceive us.”



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