Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

only ceasing their continuous halloo when they took the ford and saw that their leaders awaited them.

In a few minutes Katherine was surrounded by the Borderers, and she comprehended then with what dexterity her persecutor had arranged his plans; for by the simple means of causing the men to follow he had guarded the retreat, and by the alarm which the idea of pursuit had caused her, she had not been permitted time to reflect upon the manners of her guide or to entertain more than a passing suspicion of his purpose. She had, in fact, become a willing companion in the flight with the man whom of all the world she would have most avoided.

She ceased her struggles now, for she was bitterly satisfied of her helpless position. She would have been hopeless too had not her indignation sustained her.

“You have done brave work, gentlemen,” she said, contemptuously; "and you have won great honour in your treacherous triumph over a defenceless woman.

"I regret, madam," answered Cochrane, suavely," that you have forced us to adopt these measures ; but if they offend you, the blame rests with yourself. You will learn by-and-by that in what we have done we have studied your welfare more than our own desires.”

“You interpret baseness finely, Sir Robert Cochrane; but you shall not make me accept your reading of it.”

“There is the more to be regretted, since you must be guided by it."

She turned to her brother.
Are

you so much this creature's slave that you will not stretch forth your hand to protect me from him ?”

“He is your husband, "answered Janfarie, dourly.

“ You would have me so," she cried with flashing eyes ; “but iterate the claim until your tongues are palsied you shall not find me submit to it. Out upon you both-if were scious of the injustice of your claim, why

me thus ? Why have you snatched protection of the Lord Abbot, who your rights by the judgment of the ;" broke in Cochrane, coolly, whilst cap which had been brought to him hom he gave the friar's habit that

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

I told you

Discovering the failure, and without reflecting upon what she was about to do, she made a movement to leap from the saddle into the water. But Cochrane's companion, as if prepared for such a desperate measure, grasped her round the waist, and held her tightly on the seat.

She turned upon the man furiously, and tore the friar's hood from his head, revealing the stern features of her brother.

“Shame upon you, Richard Janfarie," she cried, "to lend yourself to this black scheme. But it shall not serve you. We are followed by those who will give you prompt payment for your falsehood."

She struggled with him violently, screaming with all her strength, in the hope that the pursuers might hear and come to her assistance before her captors were able to start the horses again.

“Be still, madam,” said Cochrane, fiercely, at once throwing aside all effort to disguise his voice or to conceal his purpose.

“Your cries will avail you as little as your struggles. Those who follow us are our men. that they were pursuers only to quicken your pace. It was no more than another part of the stratagem which your obstinacy has compelled me to use to make you sensible of your duty. Be silent, I say, or we must use means to still your tongue that I would fain avoid.”

Her heart sank at the revelation of the device by which she had been betrayed; but as she heard the shouts of those who followed, a faint hope presented itself.

He was capable of any deception, and it might be that he was deceiving her again in saying that the pursuers were only the men of Johnstone.

Acting upon that suggestion, she redoubled her efforts to release herself, and to attract the attention of any

who might be within hearing. But Janfarie held her fast; and Cochrane urged the horses out of the water and up

the embankment.

Then he halted, and with a cold smile watching the effect which the discovery might produce on her, permitted her to look behind.

The small troop of Borderers had just appeared from the wood, and were galloping down the hill to the river,

[ocr errors]

only ceasing their continuous halloo when they took the ford and saw that their leaders awaited them.

In a few minutes Katherine was surrounded by the Borderers, and she comprehended then with what dexterity her persecutor had arranged his plans; for by the simple means of causing the men to follow he had guarded the retreat, and by the alarm which the idea of pursuit had caused her, she had not been permitted time to reflect upon the manners of her guide or to entertain more than a passing suspicion of his purpose. She had, in fact, become a willing companion in the flight with the man whom of all the world she would have most avoided.

She ceased her struggles now, for she was bitterly satisfied of her helpless position. She would have been hopeless too had not her indignation sustained her.

“You have done brave work, gentlemen,” she said, contemptuously; "and you have won great honour in your treacherous triumph over a defenceless woman.”

"I regret, madam,” answered Cochrane, suavely, “that you have forced us to adopt these measures; but if they offend you, the blame rests with yourself. You will learn by-and-by that in what we have done we have studied your welfare more than our own desires."

"You interpret baseness finely, Sir Robert Cochrane ; but

you shall not make me accept your reading of it.”

“There is the more to be regretted, since you must be guided by it."

She turned to her brother.

Are you so much this creature's slave that you will not stretch forth your hand to protect me from him ?

“He is your husband, "answered Janfarie, dourly.

“ You would have me so," she cried with flashing eyes ; “but iterate the claim until your tongues are palsied you shall not find me submit to it. Out upon you both—if you were not conscious of the injustice of your claim, why have you entrapped me thus ? Why have you snatched me away from the protection of the Lord Abbot, who pledged himself to test your rights by the judgment of the King himself ? "

"That I will answer," broke in Cochrane, coolly, whilst he adjusted his feather cap which had been brought to him by one of the men to whom he gave the friar's habit that he had hastily taken off.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

was

“Speak, then," said Katherine, viewing him haughtily; “and speak honestly, if you can."

The desperate position in which she was placed, the mental anguish she was enduring, whipped her into a species of frenzy, so that she spoke passionately, and without any regard for the consequences of redoubled watchfulness which would ensue upon her further irritating her persecutors.

“I have removed you from Abbot Panther's care, mistress,” said Cochrane, frowning, but still with a degree of politeness, “ because he is no fit guardian for one so fair, and because he is too partial a judge of your position."

He acted as a worthy man should have done; he merciful to the weak, and he was just to you, who deserved it so little. He offered you fair opportunity to prove your truth.”

“ You do not know him as I do,” was the perfectly cool response.

“ You are too rash, and in too high a temper to understand these matters now; but I promise you that before long you will be in a better mood. As for the opportunity Panther offered to me, it was one he had no power to deny me, or he would have done so.

“It is your evil nature that sees all hearts as black as your own.

“You are wasting words, mistress ; but I will give you no reason to complain of my courtesy, and I will satisfy all your inquiries. I have already given you several of my arguments for removing you from the Abbot Panther's patronage. The most important argument of all, however, remains to be told. Powerful as he may have seemed to you in the isolated Priory of Kells, he holds no place of credit in the estimation of their Majesties; and your presentation by him would have been a disgrace to you and to me.'

“I am willing to take that risk. If he is in disgrace at court it will be so much to

your advantage. Let me return to him, since I accept the risk of what harm his protection may do my cause.' “But I do not accept it, madam; and you must permit

1; me to present you to their Majesties, since I, who suffer most at your hands, have the best reason to cry for justice. I will do so in a manner that even you shall not dare to impugn."

66

6 will

Katherine held her breath ; she could scarcely believe that she had heard him aright; for she could not comprehend how he, by whom she had been so wronged, could be willing to place in her hands the means of obtaining justice from an authority to which even he must submit. Will you

take me to the Queen ? ” she asked ; you take me without halt or delay ? "

As fast as horses can carry us,” he said, with the same tone of injured dignity in which he had last spoken, "we shall ride to Linlithgow."

“You will permit me to see the Queen alone ?"
“If such is your pleasure-yes."

Janfarie spoke with a degree of relief, as if his conscience, which had been burdened by his share in his sister's present predicament, were lightened

“It was on these conditions,” he said, “ that I consented to take part with Cochrane in the trick by which you

have been placed under our control.”

“Dare I trust you ? ” she asked, regarding the men doubtingly. “You must,” retorted Cochrane, “for you have no

But I pledge my credit that you shall be carried to Linlithgow without delay; and you may trust me the more readily when you learn that my own position is involved, and that for my own sake I desire no better issue to the unhappy misunderstanding between us than that which the King may direct.”

“Ride on, then,” she said, firmly ; “since I must trust you so far, I will be no hindrance to your speed.”

Cochrane inclined his head coldly, and made a motion with his hand to Janfarie. The latter appeared to understand the motion as a signal, and quietly fell behind, retaining with him four men.

Katherine, surprised, and rendered, if possible, more uncomfortable than before by the retirement of her brother, observed that amongst the four Borderers whom he retained was one of those who had been engaged in the struggle with Lamington at the Dumfries Hostelry.

What was their purpose ?

She had not far to seek for an answer to that question. Their purpose was to cover the retreat, and probably by

resource.

« PreviousContinue »