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answered by the counter reasons of your friends. You will forgive me when I say that the passion you had roused made me perhaps too willing to accept any explanation which would permit me to persevere


suit.' His iteration of the nature of his esteem for her became unbearable. "You mean that the purpose you

had to serve made you resolute to persevere, indifferent to what sorrow a mere woman might endure.'

“Purpose!” he exclaimed, raising his heavy eyebrows; "what purpose could I have other than yourself presented to me? You had no wealth of lands or gold to bring me. “But


father had kinsmen, had followers whose arms might be of valuable service to you in the crooked paths through which your policy winds to favour."

The clearness of her vision into his motives and the sharpness with which she laid them bare, produced a pause, but he was too well skilled in the command of his coun. tenance to permit it to display the least change.

“I see your prejudice enables you to misconstrue me at every turn. Had I songht only a powerful ally, I think a more powerful one than the Janfarie's might have been found in Scotland-with the hand of a dame more kindly to my

deserts.” There was a touch of injured honesty in his manner, but Katherine's repugnance was too keen for her to be deceived by it.

“I am content to wish your choice had been made more in accordance with your merits, sir," she responded; "and so beseech you to proceed with what brevity you may, and release me from this thraldom.

He bit his lips and bowed.

“Your wish, madam, shall be obeyed. I yield then to my own desire and the arguments of your family. I became persuaded that your attachment to a ruined and absent gentleman was a girlish fancy which would disappear as soon as you became aware that your parents were bent upon our union."

“Because you would not release them from a hasty promise given in the heat of gratitude.”

“Again you misinterpret and compel me to remind you

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that the marriage was as much desired by those to whom you were bound to render obedience as by myself.”

Say on.”

“These were the grounds on which I, unhappily for myself, rejected your appeal, and permitted the matter to gó forward. I am still convinced that had not your gay gallant appeared upon our bridal day you would have been content to bear the honours it was in my power to bestow on you as Lady Cochrane.”'

“ You are mistaken, for I had prepared a means of relcase should I be driven to the last extremity.”

" And pray what were the means which were so well concealed from all others ?

“ Death.”

“Tush !—that is the merest babble of a silly child. You would have been wiser, credit me.” “I pray

that you may never have it in your power to put me to the test.

“I trust that aught I may do will never form so harsh a test of your obduracy, madam, for it can have no better name. Had I known in time my person was so hateful to you I would have held myself in poor esteem if I had prosecuted my cause. Even now I would freely release you were it not that all Scotland knows you as my bride. To relinquish you now would be to present myself to the world as a coward and a fool-to be laughed and jeered at as a dishonoured man unworthy of the name and title he bears."

Her heart palpitated, for he spoke in a cold hard voice, indicative not only of his resolution but also of his power to enforce it.

“What would you do ? ” she asked, bending forward with anxious gaze.

“I would first endeavour, for the love I bear you, to persuade you from the mad course on which you have ventured.”

“And that failing ?"

" Then, madam, I must compel you, for my own reputation's sake, to renounce your present folly, and to go with me to the home I have provided for you. There I will endeavour to forget your escapade, and will adopt such measures to prevent a repetition of it as your conduct may render necessary."

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“You think it is in your power, then, to compel


“I am sure of it."

Her cheeks were tingling with the mingled sensations of shame and rage. “And I am as sure


will fail." “Sick children and the insane, madam, dread the physician who labours to save them," he retorted, with a cold smile.

“But I am neither a sick child nor an insane woman.

“Then you will be guided by reason, and you will resume something of the discretion you have so far set at defiance. If you be sane you cannot wish to remain longer under the protection of one whose treachery has destroyed

your father."


" It is false."

“You wish to believe it so; but you cannot surely deny the testimony of your brothers and your kinsmen, Musgrave and Fenwick, however lightly you may value mine."

“It cannot be true," she murmured in a low voice that was like a moan, and pressing her hands on her brow, overcome by the calm assurance with which he made the assertion.

“It is sadly too true," he proceeded, eagerly taking advantage of her distress in the hope that it would help to bring her to submission : “the guilt rests wholly on Lamington's head, and he will speedily have to answer it, and other matters, before the Lords of the Council.”

“ Ah !” she cried, her face brightening, “ he will prove himself blameless."

“It is impossible, unless crime can change its nature. He will be condemned.”

“It will be by forsworn judges, then, and I will know where to find their instigator." Would you have

father's assassin escape

? Is there no drop of the Janfarie blood in your veins that calls out for vengeance ?"

I seek no vengeance. I am content with justice." “ And that you shall have, I swear to you ; but you must yourself render justice to others.”

“In wbat, and to whom?"



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“To me, whom you have so bitterly wronged, that a whole life's submission would be poor atonement. You owe justice to me, whose head is bowed under the disgrace you have wrought me."

He spoke with an affectation of frankness and injured dignity which was sufficiently effective upon an honourable nature such as hers to make her keenly sensible that the man had suffered some wrong at her hands.

She was abashed and silent.

He saw his advantage, and was not slow to avail himself of it to the uttermost.

“I have explained our position," he continued, in the same strain.

“I have told you why I must persist in thrusting upon you a duty which seems so little to your liking, and from which I would therefore gladly release you, but that in doing so I must go and hide


head in some obscure corner of the earth, and forego the brilliant prospect which is almost now within my grasp. Surely, madam, you cannot blame me for my persistence under these circumstances ?

He paused, as if expecting her to speak; but she could not yet. She was too much confused and troubled by the new light in which her conduct appeared to her; and she averted her face to conceal the agitation expressed there.

As he observed this a scarcely perceptible glimmer of triumph crossed his face, and he went on

“I am aware that I am no dame’s chevalier, and that I am perhaps too abstracted—too deeply busied in the great affairs of state ever to make a wooer who will tickle a romantic girl's ear with honeyed monthings. But I am no goblin either, I trust. There is no deformity in my person, no cloven hoof to shock the eye; and if I cannot make soft speeches, I can at least render you honourable services."

“I do not doubt it, sir; but--"

“Nay, do not qualify so small an admission. prepared to forget what has passed, and I will use what skill I may command to stifle the rumours which have already got afloat to your discredit. I will stand between you and the tongue of scandal ; I will win honours for you that shall place you so high that no envious breath shall tarnish your good name. I stand so well in the king's

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favour, that there is no dignity your heart can crave that I will not obtain for you.”

“ Enough, sir, enough; these are things to move an ambitious mind, but they cannot change a faithful heart.”

But he would not be stayed; he believed she was yielding, and that her protestations were the surest indications of it.

“ Already the first earldom of our nobility—the title which stands next to the throne itself—the earldom of Mar, which the king's younger brother bore, is at my disposal. Within a few days it will be mine, and you shall share it. As Countess of Mar you will forget the childish passion which has made you so indiscreet, and in time, Katherine, you will learn to think of me even with some small favour.”

Moved by the fervency of his own speech, and misinterpreting her confusion, he approached her and attempted to take her hand. But with a half-smothered cry of alarm she sprang away from him. “Do not touch me," she cried, breathlessly, her

eyes flashing indignation upon him. “All that you have said serves no better purpose than to show me how little you can esteem a woman's nature. Were it in your power to elevate me to the throne itself, so near to which you offer to place me, I would reject your proposal. I have told you that nothing can move me from my resolution to share the good or ill fortune of him to whom my troth was pledged long ago; and you, sir, must hold my fidelity at slight value in thinking that you can purchase it with titles that would be to me only the badges of my own falsehood.”

His features were for an instant distorted with rage and chagrin; but the next instant his countenance was calm.

“You are determined, then, to force me to my last resource ?"

“I would ask you to pity me, but I see that it would be useless. Do your worst, then, and I will trust to a power greater than any of earth to give me protection."

With his eyes fixed steadily on her, he approached, and in spite of her efforts to avoid him, he grasped her wrist.

You will not yield to any persuasion,” he said, deliberately. “You would still defy the sacred rights that

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