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“ Did he say that his brother was dead ? "
he said that Richard died two days after he had been carried from the place where you had encountered him.”
“ Then Heaven forgive me, for my love has been the cause of bloody work.”
She drew back, shuddering, and staring at him like one fascinated, as he rose slowly to his feet, with an expression of utter hopelessness on his countenance.
“Be merciful to me, and say that no man may charge you with my brother's fate, as they have charged you with my father's," she cried in pitiful suspense.
A pause, and then he turned to her sadly, but calm as one who feel that fate is victor, and further struggle against it is useless.
“I cannot answer as you and I would wish, Katherine. I know how much is sacrificed by my confession, but even to win you and keep you I dare not dishonour myself by a falsehood.”
" Then it is all true,” she moaned, clasping her hands in distress.
“It is true that we fought, and accident gave me the victory-a fatal and accursed one. It is unavailing to explain to you by what means he forced me to draw against him, and by what strange mishap he received his deathwound. All that would not make me the less responsible for his doom.” · Had you no thought of me when
armed against my brother ? »
"Ay-every word spoken, every blow aimed at my heart, made me think of you and submit to contumely that no other man dared have cast upon me.
I tried to save him by all means short of exposing my breast to his sword, and yet he fell. The dread of the tidings which you have brought me has haunted me for days. It is over now—the worst has come, and, since you wish it, we must part. But, Heaven knows how hard I strove to avert this calamity. I give up the contest now: for fate has made our love a sign of doom to all."
“One word from you and I would have placed my hand in yours, ready to fly with you wherever you might lead me, We might have fled to some far-off land where our happi.
ness in being together would have enabled us to forget all the horrors we have been involved in here, and that one word you cannot speak."
She said this almost as if she were disappointed that he had not, rightly or wrongly, denied the truth of the accusation she herself had made against him.
“ Because that one word would have been a falsehood."
“And I honour you the more, Bertrand, because you could not speak it," she replied, in faltering tones, but gazing at him proudly through her tears ; "I honour you the more, although my heart will break in the separation to which your own confession condemns us.'
His brave submission to the truth, when he knew how much it was to cost him-a truth which he might have dared to deny—and the sight of his despair, overcame the bitter reflections which had at first given her strength to control the turbulent emotions the thought of their parting aroused, and she sobbed piteously,
His head was bowed, and he could not look at her, for he felt as if he were the guilty cause of her misery, although he had been powerless to check the course of events which made him so; and every sigh she uttered smote him to the quick. For a little while there was no sound in the gloomy dungeon save that of her sobs and of his half-stifled respiration.
Oh, it is a cursed fate,” he cried at length, his whole nature vehemently rebelling against the course into which they were driven by circumstances they had been unable to control; “it is cruel that we who love, and who have risked so much for its sake, should be severed because ou renemies were those who should have been our truest friends. It was no fault of mine-no fault of yours that raised this fatal barrier of your brother's blood; why should we let it stand between us ? Why should we not trample it underfoot and forget it ? ”
He seized her hands, holding them tightly in his own, as if he would keep her there in spite of every power that sought to drag her from him.
“Oh, if we could forget!” she exclaimed fervently, but hopelessly.
“We shall, we shall," was his passionate cry.
when my breast is racked by the strife of love against the instinct which my father's and my brother's spirits inspire —even now, when you seem more dear to me than ever, the touch of your hand reminds me that under it Richard fell.”
Shudderingly she turned her face aside, and he dropped her hands.
“ You are right, Katherine,” he said, gloomily; "after the first glow of our passionate resolve to cleave to each other had faded, my every touch would make think of him until you might learn to hate me. Better we should part in agony than live in hate. I, too, would feel the influence of the dead, and I could not look into your sad eyes without remembering Richard Janfarie. The sacrifice must be made for your sake as much as for aught else."
“ It will kill me,” she moaned, growing weak as he became strong in the resolve to do what seemed right.
“No, Katherine; you will live to know that, whether I am near or far away, my heart is always with you. Every thought of mine your dear image will share, and every act your sweet influence will guide. In memory, at least, you will be mine always, and that memory will be to me a beacon, directing and leading me wherever noble deeds may be done to expiate my crime.
“I came here, Bertrand, so filled with horror at the thought of the ruin our love had wrought upon my nearest kin that I was calm and cold. The parting which I came to announce seemed no more than a just punishment for the evil we had done, but now I feel that it is a sacrifice too great for me to bear."
He too felt that, but he would not show his weakness again. His heart ached cruelly, and he would have prolonged the parting indefinitely. But he wished to spare her some portion of the anguish she endured. “I will help you, Katherine,” he said, with forced calm
“Show me how I may escape from this den and I will go
at once. So long as you remain in safety, I will not cross your path again; but when danger threatens, I will be near you.”
"Do not risk that do not remain in the country; for whilst you are near me, you are within reach of Cochrane's treachery."
He bit his lip, and his brow darkened.
“Give me one promise before I go-that you will never give that man any claim over you.
“Do you need such a promise ? "
“No,” he answered, after an instant, in ich he scrutinized her face curiously;"I do not need it, for I read your hate of him too clearly. You must seek no promise from me as to my movements, for although I part from you, I cannot part from the hope of vengeance, which is all that his villainy has left to me."
“As you will," she murmured, miserably.
He kissed her; and then, with the sudden coldness of a man resolved to meet the worst, he asked her to show him how he was to escape from the dungeon.
She gave him a cloak, which he donned at once. She watched him with a species of wonder in the midst of her distress ; for he had become strangely calm and firm. She did not at the moment understand that it was the very bitterness of his despair, and the parching thirst to begin the work of retaliation upon the man to whose machinations he traced all their misfortunes, that gave him the resolution and steadiness of fate itself.
“What next ? ” he said, with unshaken voice.
“ This ring will enable us to pass the guard; after that you must make your way from the palace as opportunity may offer. If the private passage to the church is clear, you will pass forth without difficulty. Follow me, and let nothing tempt you to speak.”
Having taken the lantern which the captain had left, she drew open the door of the dungeon and passed out, Gordon keeping close behind her. He closed the door, so that no chance observation of the sentinels might discover his flight too soon.
“But she has stown the King's redding kaim,
Likewise the Queen her wedding knife,
To cause young Logie get his life.
Another o' the white monie;
The Laird of Logie. The passage conducted straight into a ward-room where the sentinels were always to be found on duty, with several of their comrades who were off duty, and who were either waiting to take their turn on guard, and beguiling themselves with some game at hazard meanwhile, or who came there to spend an idle hour.
There was no other way of ingress to the dungeon or egress from them save by this ward-room, and therefore it was unnecessary for the sentinel to remain in the passagefor no prisoner could escape, even if he managed to open his dungeon door, unless be passed through the midst of the soldiers.
The escaping prisoner and his guide halted on the threshold of the ward-room.
Katherine drew breath, closing her lips firmly to hide their tremor, whilst she strove to nerve herself for the crisis which was at hand. She touched Gordon's arm as if to convey a tender reassurance.
“ Řemember—be silent, no matter what is said or done,” she whispered.
He was as coldly unmoved as if he had been the least interested of all persons in the world in the present peril.
“I will remember," he said.
The sentinel confronted her, and the butt of his halberd rang on the stone floor as he brought it down from his shoulder into the position of rest.