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from you in the hour of danger like the base thing you suspect me of being."
“Few men are ready to prove their gratitude with their lives—unless when they desire some further favour,” interrupted James, moodily, but eyeing his favourite with some curiosity.
"Perhaps, sire, I am one of the few," proceeded Cochrane ; “ but the place you have given me has made me the mark of scorn, envy, and bate to many, and I know that my head will be the first to fall when your power fails to protect
I might save myself; the way is still clear to me, and your Majesty has been good enough to indicate it. A week hence-a day hence—it will be too late; but at this moment the choice lies with myself. I have chosen, then; and I remain by your side, my liege, to meet the worst, and to give you what help my poor wit and arm may be able to give in your extremity."
He spoke sincerely; and whatever might be the unscrupulous nature of his dealings in pursuing his particular aims and ambition, Robert Cochrane was, at any rate, worthy of the favour he had received in the fidelity with which he served his master at various crises.
The King was visibly relieved by this display of loyalty, and more so when Rogers, Hommel, Leonard, Torphichen, and the rest hastened to assure him of their steady allegiance in good or ill. They could, indeed, do no less. Rogers did so spontaneously; but the others were not altogether satisfied that they were doing the best for their own interests in clinging to a monarch whose throne was shaken at its foundations.
James, however, perceived nothing of that doubt; the sincerity of Cochrane rendered him insensible to the suspicious protestations of the others, and he accepted them all in good faith.
He personally examined the courier who had brought the despatches, and was well rewarded for his trouble. The courier, although he spoke in a very low voice, and kept his head always bowed, so that his features were never clearly discernible, proved to be a man of superior information, and was able to supplement the contents of the despatches by various items of importance. To his Majesty this was the most satisfactory portion of all his tidings.
“I know the Borders well, sire, and although there is a strong body of stout fellows in Berwick, who will stand for Albany, your Grace's brother, there are not half a dozen of the Border leaders, beside, who will join him, coming as he does under the protection of England.”
“What makes you so sure of that, sirrah? queried James, anxiously. .
“I have received assurance from the principal chiefs, sire, and they have already appointed a leader under whose general directions they will act for your Majesty."
“And who is the leader? We should know one who so promptly steps forward to our aid.”
“Gordon of Lamington, so please your Majesty." “Him !” exclaimed the King.
“Him !" echoed Cochrane, startled, and eyeing the courier suspiciously.
“ The same," proceeded the man, respectfully; "he has had early tidings of the proceedings of the Duke of Albany, and has been stirring himself on your Majesty's behalf, so that he enabled to send you this assurance by me, that when your Grace marches to the Debateable Land you will find him at the head of such an army of Borderers as has never been banded together before.”
The King was pleased, although much perplexed, that a man who had appeared to be so uncompromising a traitor should so actively bestir himself in his behalf.
Cochrane was as much disturbed by this intelligence as by that of the despatches; but he made no further comment than to hope that the courier had not been deceived, and that the force under Lamington was not intended to aid rather than oppose Albany.
The suggestion had its effect on James ; but he was excited by the conflicting reports of invasion, rebellion, and loyalty, and with a firmness and promptitude which he rarely displayed, he issued directions that all liege vassals of the crown who were capable of bearing arms should assemble at the Borough Moor of Edinburgh; and that an immediate council of the nobles and gentlemen of the realm should be held at the castle of the capital, whither his Majesty would at once proceed to join them.
In the midst of the numerous occupations which these commands and the events of the hour entailed on him, there were two objects which Cochrane endeavoured to compass without delay. The first was to secure the submission of Katherine to the union with himself, in order that he might be able to claim the allegiance of the Janfaries, the Fenwicks, and the Musgraves in the forthcoming contest, and so sustain his own
prove his importance in the eyes of the antagonistic nobles.
The second object was to insure the removal of Lamington, who had been the great stumbling-block in the way of the achievement of one of his most eagerly pursued desires. At first he had been indifferent to the man, but now he hated him thoroughly, and was resolved to extirpate him at any hazard, for he had arisen at the last moment in the shape of a loyal leader instead of a treacherous conspirator, and had thus given the lie to all the statements and asseverations Cochrane had made to the King
He had never before found himself so closely matched. Again and again he had seemed to triumph, and still his enemy had baffled him. But this time he should not escape. The men who accompanied the treacherous servant, Muckle Will, had strict orders not to spare their prey; and they were men who understood such commands perfectly.
So Čochrane turned to the accomplishment of his first object, feeling assured that the second was safe.
“Nae pity was there in his breast,
For war alane he lo'ed ;
Of plunder, death, and bluid.
*Bend to a woman's sang ?
vespers in the royal chapel, and although still cold and hopeless in regard to her own future, she prayed fervently for the safety of her brotherprayed earnestly that Heaven might avert the meeting he desired, and that no ill-fortune might render his death chargeable to Gordon. The terror of such a catastrophe thrilled her with exquisite agony, and to prevent it she would have submitted to any penance or sacrifice.
So deep and absorbing were her prayers that she remained in the chapel long after all others had quitted it. When she rose from her knees, even the priests had retired, either without observing her in the shadowed nook which she had chosen for her devotions, or not desiring to disturb her.
With slow and sorrowful steps she moved towards the doorway, lingering as if she regretted to leave the sacred place, which, with its dim lights and solemn silence, so well accorded with her melancholy mood.
She was too much occupied by her own unhappy reflections to observe a hasty movement as of some one behind her-a sound which would have startled her if she had noticed it, for the place appeared to be deserted by all save herself.
Before the sound was repeated, the door which she was approaching hurriedly opened, and Cochrane presented himself.
She displayed neither surprise nor repugnance, but acknowledged his respectful salutation with quiet courtesy. “I have been seeking you, madam," he said, “having somewhat of import, to me, at least, to communicate. Will you permit me to conduct you to your apartments ? ”
She grew slightly faint at the intimation he made, but she only showed it by a sudden pallor of the cheeks changing to crimson.
She maintained her composure, and answered, coldly
“What your lordship desires to say may be said here."
“As you will, madam; but you will accord me the favour of being seated.”
And he pointed to a seat in one of the niches in the wall.
“Your lordship will pardon me if I remain standing, and proceed to the matter which has procured me the honour of your attention.”
“You are very cold, Katherine," he said, regarding her with a mixture of curiosity and chagrin.
“I await the communication your lordship has for me.”
He seemed to thrust aside some faint sentiment of pity which her sad appearance had conjured up in his breast, and he spoke in his usual tone of cold courtesy
“I regret, madam, that you will not permit me to be your friend, but I will try to prove myself so in spite of your resistance.
You have been made aware that his Majesty has been pleased to sanction the new performance of the marriage ceremony between us?”
She inclined her head—that was all the ontward sign she made; but her heart throbbed wildly with its alarm and anguish.
“I have come now to inform you that the ceremony must take place within six days,” he went on, "and to beg of you to regard me with at least some slight degree less of disfavour, if you cannot yet give me any token of friendship."
“Does the hawk claim friendship with the quarry it pursues ? " she asked, coldly, but her heart trembled.
Devotion and respect are not the characteristics of a bird of prey,” he rejoined.
“When they take the form of relentless persecution it is not easy to distinguish them from those qualities which make a týrant and an enemy."