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hunting-ground by the Bruce, and was a favourite resort of the Scottish monarchs for the pleasures of the chase. The memory of its ancient glory is still preserved in several of its local names. Tradition, too, has much of interest to tell of the Druid stones which lie upon the surrounding heights; the murder holes which are found in the table lands, and which were anciently used by the barons who had the right of putting offenders to death by pit and gibbet—that is, by drowning and smothering them in the pits, or hanging them on the nearest tree-and of the old wall called the Deil's Dyke.
The Priory of Kells was a small establishment, which had been given in free alms to the Archdeacon of Galloway by Robert Bruce, and which obtained some importance as an occasional resting place of the royal party when engaged in the chase. The building stood at one of the mouths of the forest; it was square and bare, but it had the strength of a feudal tower.
When the fugitires drew rein at the gate, the bell was sounding for early matins; but it was some time before Lamington's summons was answered.
The gatekeeper at length showed himself, and Lamington announced that he was there by tryst with the Abbot Panther. That name having been repeated, the man opened the gate. The visitors were conducted across a grass court to the entrance to the Prior's house.
There the mention of the Abbot's name had the effect of procuring them immediate admission. They were conducted to a small waiting-room with bare walls and a small grated window. It was lit by a small cruzie, standing in a niche in the wall, and furnished with a couple of chairs and a reading-desk. They had not to wait long. A hooded monk appeared, and led Gordon to the presence of the Abbot, whilst Katherine was left alone.
The same monk again entered the waiting-room after the lapse of a little time, bearing a lighted cruzie in his hand. He beckoned the lady to follow him, and she obeyed.
They passed along a narrow corridor, the bare grey walls of which, feebly illumed by the lamp in the monk's hand, looked so cold and dismal that it was more like the hall of a prison than that of the residence of a church dignitary.
They ascended a narrow staircase and entered another passage similar to the first. At the farther end of this passage the monk threw open a door.
“ This is your chamber, sister; here you may rest for the present," said the monk.
He handed the light to her, and without waiting for any thanks or question, departed with noiseless steps.
Although Katherine was sorely bewildered by the manner of her monkly chamberlain, and by the continued absence of her lover, she made no effort to satisfy her curiosity; for she was too much fatigued by her journey and too much awed by the grimness of the place and the soleinn stillness pervading it—a stillness broken only by the subdued chant of the monks at their morning exercise in the Priory Chapel. She entered the chamber and closed the door. Like the other apartments she had seen, the walls were bare; the furniture consisted of a table with a missal, a priedieu and a crucifix, and a low narrow couch. After an earnest supplication for pardon for whatever error she had committed, and for the happiness of those from whom she had fled, she laid herself, dressed as she was, on the conch. Sleep soon brought a blissful oblivion to all the anxieties and fatigues of the night.
The sun gleamed in through the narrow window of Katherine's chamber and she wakened wearily from her sleep. She bad been dreaming of her brother Richard -dreaming that he had come to her dressed in a shroud, and bad stretched forth skeleton hands towards her warningly.
She lay half awake now, her eyes twinkling under the ray of sunlight that was crossing them, and fancying that she heard her brother's voice pronouncing ber name.
The sound echoed strangely in her ears, and in a half-conscious way she tried to argue with herself that the sound existed only in her dream. But it was suddenly repeated with such sharp emphasis that with a smothered cry she sprang from the couch.
Her startled eyes became fixed upon Richard Janfarie, who stood by the door, pale and worn by exertion, but with a stern, relentless expression that chilled her blood. More,
however, than his stern visage, more than the surprise of discovering him there, her eyes were attracted and her mind appalled by the black badge which he wore on his right arm. A thousand wild fancies flashed upon
her mind at once, but none explained the meaning of that grim badge; her heart beat quick and her limbs trembled as she gazed alternately upon it and the man's face.
He remained silent, as if conscious of her torturing doubts, and willing to leave her to them for a space.
She roused herself with a violent effort, and pointing with trembling finger to his badge, she spoke in a terrified whisper
Why do you wear that?
He advanced a step into the apartment, and halted in a position which permitted the rays of the sun to fall directly on his arm.
“I wear this for our father," he said, slowly.
“My father!" she cried, while she sprang towards him and grasped his arm;
" is he dead ? Richard shook her hand from him with the scorn of one who feels that he is polluted by a touch.
“Ay, he is dead—he has been murdered; and you, mistress, and Lamington are his assassins."
The scorn with which he bad flung her from him made her shrink back a pace with tingling cheeks. His scorn she would have resented, but the accusation he had made struck her speechless. She stood mutely gazing at him, unable to realize the full import of his words.
Her silence enraged him.
“Are you so callous that you are not moved even by the tidings of the foul work which has been done ? Are you so heartless that even your father's murder cannot make you sensible of your shame?'
“My father dead-and by foul work!” she muttered, absently, and in a low tone of anguish; "a d you charge Lamington with the crime-oh, you are mad, Richard ! or you are trying to frighten me that you may force me to yield myself to Robert Cochrane."
And she sank upon the couch, covering her face with her hands and sobbing bitterly:
“I have no need to frighten you to yield to your busband. He is here with power to enforce his right to
control you; and I am here to conduct you to the Abbot's court, where you will learn your duty from fitter lips than mine, and where you shall have proofs of Lamington's guilt."
"Upraise she trembling frae her seat,
And tottered like to fa';
Lady Jean. DISTRAUGHT by the declaration of her brother, doubting its truth, and yet compelled to give it credence by the bitter earnestness of his manner, Katherine sat dumbly looking at him. Her sobs had ceased now; for, although the first sharp pangs the intelligence of her father's death caused her had wrung from her a woman's tears, the grave charge which accompanied the tidings, and the intimation of Cochrane's presence for the purpose of enforcing his hateful claims, stirred the spirit of resistance within her, and for the moment grief was overcome by indignation.
Still there was an undercurrent of contending emotions which she could not control. Her heart revolted from the bare thought of the guilt attributed to Lamington, whilst it was filled with anguish at the consciousness that by whatever hand her father bad fallen, her flight had led him to his death. Besides, Gordon had been some time away from her while they had been at the hostelry in Dumfries, and sorely pressed by her father's followers, obliged to strike for his own life, it was possible that in the darkness or in the confusion of the struggle his hand might have stricken the fatal blow. That was the doubt which lingered in her mind and constrained her indignation. It weakened her, notwithstanding the strength she obtained from her conviction of Lamington's innocence in intention at least, and from the shuddering repugnance with which she had now come to regard the very.name of Cochrane,
She rose slowly from the couch, her hands clasped, and her features fixed. But she made no movement to approach her brother. She spoke in a low soft tone, in which there was a piteous chord of pain.
“You give me sad news, brother—the sadder in that if it be true my father is dead, I ain robbed of the hope I held
I that one day I would satisfy him and our dear mother-and all of you, that in
disobedience I had spared you much misery.”
Her evident distress was not without its effect upon him, for Janfarie had a kindly regard for his sister, although he could not pardon the measure she had taken to thwart the designs and aspirations of their house. He had all bis mother's ambition, and Cochrane had proffered him the opportunity to carry that ambition to its highest bent. His mind had been dazzled by the prospect thus presented to him; and in proportion to the brilliance of the prospect he was blinded to the real nature of the magician who presented it, whilst he became insensible to the tenderer and nobler feelings which had driven his sister to rebellion. He saw in her conduct only the perversity of a silly woman, and so he made answer harshlyThen
you will satisfy us that we have all been fools, and yours the only head with a grain of wisdom amongst
Your shame will serve us to good purpose ifsit can do that."
She winced; her brow became flushed and her eyes kindled, but she spoke sadly
“You have driven me to what error I may have done. You counted it no sacrifice to make me the price of a knave's favour. In spite of every prayer and appeal I made, you dragged me to the altar. You took no thought of the years of agony to which you were dooming me; you took no thought of the death to which you condemned me when you told me I was his wife; for if my loathing for the bonds
you had thrust upon me—if Robert Cochrane's touch had not been enough to kill me, my own hand would have released me.”
“I would have pitied you had you been released so; but now you have made yourself a thing of scorn.”
“You will learn to think otherwise yet, Richard. At present you are smarting under the memory of onr father's death ; you do not see that Cochrane has cajoled you—that he is fooling you."