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“Yonder lady is the source of my complaint. Briefly, this is the whole matter :-Yesterday, by the wish and consent of her parents and kinsfolk, she was wedded to me. A holy man from Carlisle performed the ceremony with all due rights. But before night had fallen the lady fled from me and from her father's house with the gallant who stands there so pale before you.
“She fled from bondage that had been forced upon her and that was hateful to her, as you, sir, were well aware," interrupted Lamington, haughtily.
"I charge you, Gordon, be silent," said the Abbot, sternly; "we must hear this matter from him who seems most wronged ; and as you shall have unbridled speech when he has done, he too must have his say without check from any
here." Lamington bit his lip, but made no attempt to reply.
Katherine trembled, for the rebuke her lover had received seemed to indicate still more clearly the favour with which Cochrane was regarded.
“For this protection I give your lordship thanks," continued the wily courtier, with a mock air of humility; “but I need not try the patience even of an enemy in this matter. You are already acquainted with it in some measure from my appeal, which has moved you to summon us to your presence here. Wherefore I have only to repeat those charges on which the justice of my complaint depends."
"That will suffice.”
"This lady, then, being newly bound to me in bonds of wedlock, fled. Her father and his kindred pursued her and her gallant to Dumfries. The town was alarmed, the burgesses rose, and Lamington by some base trick deceived them, so that they set the lawful symbol of the Hot Trod at defiance, and assailed our party. Sir Hugh Janfarie, eager to pacify the rioters, rode into their midst, and whilst seeking to explain our purpose there, he was set upon and treacherously slain, if not by the hand of Lamington, by his connivance; wherein the guilt is as much his as if he had struck the blow."
Katherine with startled eyes gazed at Lamington, and he made a hasty movement as if he would interrupt the speaker; but he was checked by a motion of the Abbot's hand.
“We shut our sorrow in our breasts,” Cochrane went on, "and turned sternly to the duty that lay before us. We rode with all haste to the tower of Lamington, and failing there to find any tidings of the fugitives, I, having learned that your lordship was at present here, came to seek your aid in arresting a traitor, and in rescuing a foolish lady from her own ruin. At the gate we learned that fortune had favoured us, and that in coming to seek your help we had lighted upon those whom we pursued."
“ Your charge is grave against the man and woman both," said the Abbot, deliberately; "what proof have you to hold it good ? "
"So please you, here is the lady's brother, Richard Janfarie, who will confirm me. He is now chief of his house; and next to her husband is the guardian of the dame, holding all the authority of his kinship to direct her steps. If that be not enough to prove my charge good, I will attest it with my life.”
He flung his glove down in front of the state chair, and Lamington sprang cagerly forward to pick it up.
But the Abbot, rising quickly, planted his foot upon the glove, and gazed frowningly at the challenged and the challenger.
“Stand back, Gordon ; and you, Cochrane, take up your glove again. You have made appeal to me in this matter, and you insult my judgment by challenging its justice before it is spoken. Take up your gage, and hold it for more fitting time and place.”
The Abbot gave the command with a dignity and authority that could not be opposed.
Lamington drew back, with lips clenched tightly, indicating the disappointment he felt at losing the opportunity of defending his honour with his sword.
Cochrane, sensible that he had made a false step, endeavoured to retrieve it by obeying the command with a submissive bow.
The Abbot resumed his seat.
“ Answer you, Janfarie,” he said; so far as your knowledge goes, bas Sir Robert Cochrane spoken truly?”
“He has spoken truth in all that he has said. I own it with shame, for it is my sister who has played the wanton, and it is our father who has fallen in striving to
rescue her. I, too, call for justice upon yonder man; and I, too, crave your lordship to deliver the woman into the keeping of her husband.”
The Abbot turned to Katherine.
“If it be true, madam, that your father has fallen under Gordon's hand, I cannot think that you would wish to consort with him, however strong may be your reasons for shunning him who seems to have the right to call
“But he is guiltless, my lord," cried Katherine, stretching out her hands appealingly; “if my father has fallen, Lamington had no share in the ill fortune. I alone merit the blame, for it was my act that led him to his doom.”
Speak, then, and acquaint me by what means, by what temptations, you were persuaded to the rash act which has bad such sad results."
Katherine related simply in what manner she had been forced to the altar with Sir Robert Cochrane, despite her plighted troth to Lamington; how, even at the altar, she had refused her consent to the union; and how the priest had been compelled to perform the ceremony, notwithstanding her refusal to make the usual responses. She would have told him, too, how she had resolved to die rather than live the wife of one who had so cruelly taken advantage of his position to force her to the marriage; but all the time she had been speaking her heart had been quivering with the knowledge that the assassins were lying in wait, and that any word she uttered might be the signal for Bertrand's destruction. Therefore she omitted much that she might have said in condonement of her own offence.
The Abbot, however, seemed to pity her unhappy circumstances.
“A marriage so forced,” he said, “cannot be prosperous, and it is scarcely lawful. Still you erred, madam, in resisting the authority of your parents; and in a measure they erred
too, in seeking to compel your inclination when it was so much opposed to your wishes in this especial matter ; for it is one in which the child's inclinations should be consulted, seeing that upon it so much of her future welfare is dependent. But most of all, you erred, Cochrane, in taking a wife where you found so little favour. I would have deemed you wiser than to risk the perils of such a bridal.”
“I could not know the lady's dislike was so fixed,” rejoined Cochrane, placidly ; “but as we stand now I must insist upon my claim. Thus far I will yield, however, that you may let her choose between me and the assassin of her
Katherine's blood became chilled, and she felt as if her heart ceased beating. She would have made instant appeal to be spared such a test, but the cold glittering eye of Cochrane was upon her and arrested her.
" It is a fair proposal," said his lordship; “but first let Gordon answer to the charge you have made of his part in the death of Janfarie."
“By what mishap the knight has fallen," said Lamington, calmly, “I am ignorant. Till the foul charge was made against me I knew nothing of his fate. I have had little reason to be the friend of Janfarie ; but for this lady's sake I would a thousand times rather have given my own life, than that his should have been harmed. Cochrane makes this charge to serve his own ends, and Richard Janfarie supports him in it because his passion blinds him to the truth.'
“You swear that by no direet act of yours you were a party to the deed ? ”
I had no further part in this mishap than you may account due to me, since it was in pursuing me he fell. I own it was by me a cry was raised against Sir Robert Cochrane, but in doing that I sought no more than to spread confusion amongst his party so that we might escape
and when the cry was raised, Sir Hugh Janfarie was at the monastery of Grey Friars. What followed after I do not know, and how far I may be answerable for it I leave your lordship to decide."
“ Then I decide against you
“We may arrest him, then," cried Cochrane, eagerly, “and bring him for trial before the barons and wardens of the Marches."
Katherine grew sick and faint, for it seemed that she was to be left in the power of the man she dreaded, whilst he was to drag Gordon before a court over which he had so much control as the king's favourite.
There could only be one result: he would be doomed.
But the next words of the Abbot thrilled her with hope.
“ You are too fast, sir; I have not done. I decide against him in so far as I recognize in him the immediate source of the quarrel in which the knight fell : but as he meditated no harm to Janfarie, we must take into account preceding causes, and they seem to me to justify Lamington's effort to elude your vigilance."
“How, my lord ? ” exclaimed Cochrane, astounded by this sudden adverse turn of the judgment.
“I mean that as you cannot prove it was his hand which struck the blow, and as I can well believe that he would for the daughter's sake avoid doing such harm to the father, we must attribute Janfarie's fate to the accident of the riot rather than to his premeditation. Wherefore of this charge he stands acquitted."
Katherine with difficulty restrained a cry of joy.
“I protest against this decision," said Cochrane, maintaining a polite bearing despite the wrath he felt; " and I will make appeal to a higher power.”
“ To whom, sir ? ”
"That will be as you please; and I would say take the matter straight to the King at once, for I doubt the barons will give you little satisfaction, seeing that it was your name which caused the good folks of Dumfries to forget their respect for the symbol of the Hot Trod.”
“Your lordship speaks impartially in this at least," was the suave rejoinder. “I will take the matter straight to the King, and meanwhile I will arrest Gordon.”
Nay, by my faith, sir, that would be carrying your contempt for
decision a little too far. None shall touch him here."
Who, then, will answer for his appearance ? ”. “I myself will answer for it," broke in Lamington. “I pledge my troth to meet the charge whenever and wherever my accusers may appoint."
A cold smile of distrust passed over Cochrane's features.
“I fear we need better surety than that you proffer us.”
“Then you must hold my desire to prove your falsehood at slighter value than the passages that have taken place between us might warrant you.'
“Be satisfied, Cochrane,” said the Abbot, somewhat