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entertained for the generous youth, in whose companionship she had spent so many of her happier days.

But although she failed to respond to his embrace his absence produced a marked effect on her, for those last words of his betokened that he had gone forth to deadly strife, from which he might never return.

A few moments after he had gone she started from the species of lethargy that had become almost habitual to her during her imprisonment, and since she had parted with Lamington for ever.

The thought which quickened her now was that of Nicol's danger; for her heart seemed to stand still in horror at the bare possibility that he too might fall by the hand of the man she loved-ay, loved still in spite of all that had passed. Her pulse quickened as she strove wildly to find some means of saving him, for her terror made his fate appear certain.

“There is only one hope," she reflected, distractedly; “Gordon must be warned, and by me.

He will not deny my prayer to avoid, even by flight, the encounter which Nicol is madly determined to bring about. But where and how am I to communicate with him ?'

That was a difficulty which she had no power to overcome; for, besides not knowing where Lamington might be found, she had no messenger whom she could entrust with her warning.

Since the day following the escape of Gordon she had been placed under restraint; she had not been permitted to quit the apartments appointed for her use, and she had been strictly prohibited and guarded from holding communication with any one, save the persons charged by Cochrane with her safe keeping. Of these, Ross was the chief, and no bribe could tempt him to be false to his master, of whom he stood so much in awe, and in whose power he had such firm reliance.

Occasionally she was allowed to have Mysie Ross to wait upon her; but the girl had evidently been cautioned and threatened, for she was timidly shy of conversation which had the slightest relation to the doings without the walls of the lady's chamber. Once Katherine had asked her to convey a missive to the Queen, but the girl with a frightened look had told her that she dared neither carry

letter nor word of mouth for any one without the sanction of Sir Robert Cochrane—now becoming known as the Earl of Mar.

But the kindly lassie looked so distressed in giving the refusal, that it was easy to perceive how gladly she would have consented if there had been any probability of accomplishing the task without detection. Katherine did not attempt to persuade her, for she feared that the discovery of the attempt to appeal to her Majesty for help, might end in depriving her even of the occasional visits of Mysie. Therefore, she had concealed her disappointment as best she might, and told Mysie not to heed the unhappy circumstances which rendered her compliance impossible.

The imprisonment proceeded no further than this entire seclusion. She was served with every delicacy the royal pantry could supply, and she was waited upon by her gaolers with the utmost deference. Above all, Cochrane uid not take advantage of her position to obtrude his society upon her. During the weeks which had elapsed since he had intimated to her that she was to be placed under restraint until his Majesty's pleasure should be made known, he had not once presented himself.

She was not deceived by this apparent consideration : at every turn she was made aware of the man's influence, and she knew that his silence was the result of his convic. tion that she was in his power, and of his desire to impress her with a due sense of that power. But if that had been his object, it bad miscarried; for she was so sick of life that her bondage gave her none of those pangs she would have suffered had there been the least hope for her beyond the walls of her prison-house.

There was none, and she suffered without one word of complaint more than might have been implied in her desire to obtain an audience of the Queen.

Now, however, the anxiety to save her brother from the consequences of the deadly feud in which he was engaged, quickened the springs of life, and her silken bonds became as hard to bear as fetters of hardest iron.

The only prospect she possessed of accomplishing the object which reanimated her was by the aid of Mysie, and se determined to make another effort to win the girl's service at their next interview.

of age;

Some hours had elapsed since the departure of Nicol, when she arrived at this resolution. Her pale cheeks were flushed, and her eyes were brighter than they had been for many days.

The door opened and the man Ross appeared. He was slightly amazed by the satisfactory change in her aspect and manner—for she had been pacing the room, and she confronted him with something of her old dignity and resolution.

With a respectful inclination, he intimated that the King's page, John Ramsay, of Balmain, desired speech with her.

Somewhat surprised by the arrival of this special emissary from his Majesty, she assented to the interview, and Ross retired. Ramsay, who afterwards became a man of some account, was at this period scarcely sixteen years

He had a comely person, polite manners, and arrayed in the gay trappings which became his years and office, he seemed a gentle lad, worthy of the esteem hls royal master bestowed on him. His brow was unmarked by the furrows of anxious thought, for he had yet little to do with the numerous State intrigues which surrounded him. This was the more fortunate for him, as he had the courage and audacity natural to high-spirited youth, and therefore, placing some dependence on his manhood, he might have been easily led into several conspiracies, but for the simple fidelity with which he served the King.

Entering with cap in hand, he gracefully saluted the lady. But when he had performed that act of courtesy, he stood dangling his hat and hesitating, as if the duty he had to discharge were a somewhat awkward one. At length

“I have to greet you, madam, in the name of his Majesty the King'

Katherine inclined her head, acknowledging her submission to the royal pleasure. The page, Ramsay, gained confidence and proceeded

“His Majesty is graciously pleased to inform you, madam, that in consideration of your loyal services at a moment of some excitement, he deigns to overlook the active part taken by you in aiding the escape of the


prisoner Gordon of Lamington, of which your own lips made free confession."

“ His Majesty's generosity is greater than my deserts might claim,” she answered quietly, but with brightening eyes in anticipation what might be to follow.

" It is my good fortune, therefore, madam, to be privileged to acquaint you that from this hour no further restraint will be placed upon your movements.”

Her heart beat quick with joy at this announcement, for it seemed to provide the opportunity she so much desired of finding a messenger by whom to communicate with Lamington.

The obstacles to this purpose which a moment before had been so huge were dispelled as by the touch of a fairy wand. She checked the eager thanks she was about to express on observing that Ramsay had something more to say.

“The only condition, madam,” he went on, "attached to this gracious remission of your offence, is that you shall not quit the palace, save in the train of her Majesty the Queen, or when attended by an escort befitting your position.”

Her joy was not abated even by this limitation of her privilege, although she perfectly understood that the polite phrases of her informant implied a much greater degree of restraint than might be at first apparent.

"My position, sir,” she said, "demands little state; but I submit myself in all things to his Majesty's pleasure, and hold myself bound to him in all gratitude for the clemency with which he visits my offence, and for the release which he has been pleased to grant me now.”

“Pardon me, madam,” said Ramsay, with a slight return of his former awkwardness; “but I have not yet discharged all my instructions, or you would understand why your position becomes a matter of consideration.”

“ I attend, sir,” she rejoined, with a degree of surprise.

“It is further his Majesty's pleasure that you, madam, should conduct yourself as becomes the bride of the Earl of Mar

“ Robert Cochrane?" she exclaimed, starting.
Ramsay bowed.

The same, madam ; for it is the will of his Grace that

This was

you should prepare yourself for the re-performance of the ceremony of marriage with his lordship, as his Majesty is given to understand that there were some informalities in the celebration of the first ceremony at Johnstone. His Majesty therefore desires that you will hold yourself in readiness for the bridal, which will be appointed for an early date.”

Katherine was stunned by this intimation. the cause of the King's clemency, and the real purport of his message: that she should prepare herself, under the penalty of his royal displeasure, to accept Robert Cochrane as her husband.

The days of solitude and miserable reflection through which she had passed had fixed upon her mind the conviction that union with Gordon was impossible. She had come to believe also, in the gloomy meditations of her solitude, that the anguish she experienced on account of the eternal separation from her lover was even sinful; but she had not come to regard Cochrane with one degree less of abhorrence than before.

And so the verdict fell upon her like a thunderbolt. An innocent prisoner unexpectedly condemned to die could not have endured greater torment than Katherine suffered when she heard the King's command to prepare for this marriage.

But Nicol was to be saved, and any violent opposition at this juncture would deprive her of the opportunity of accomplishing that purpose. She therefore, with a mighty effort, composed herself to answer with seeming calmness.

"I am his Majesty's loyal servant,” she said, inclining respectfully, “and will give his behest all the obedience my circumstances permit."

“Is that your answer, madam ? said the courteous page, as if doubting whether or not it were enough.

That is my answer.”
Ramsay bowed low and retired.


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