A strong convulsive shuddering passed over the bowed frame of Isabella of Buchan; then she lifted up her head, and all traces of emotion had passed from her features. Silently she pressed her lips on the fair brows of her children alternately, and her voice faltered not as she bade them rise and heed her not.
“We will speak further of this anon, Sir Robert,” she said, so calmly that the knight started. “Hurried and important as I deem your mission, the day is too far spent to permit of your departure until the morrow; you will honor our evening meal, and this true Scottish tower for a night’s lodging, and then we can have leisure for discourse on the weighty matters you have touched upon.”
She bowed courteously, as she turned with a slow, unfaltering step to leave the room. Her resumed dignity recalled the bewildered senses of her son, and, with graceful courtesy, he invited the knight to follow him, and choose his lodging for the night.
“Agnes, mine own Agnes, now, indeed, may I win thee,” whispered Nigel, as tenderly he folded his arm round her, and looked fondly in her face. “Scotland shall be free! her tyrants banished by her patriot king; and then, then may not Nigel Bruce look to this little hand as his reward? Shall not, may not the thought of thy pure, gentle love be mine, in the tented field and battle’s roar, urging me on, even should all other voice be hushed?”
“Forgettest thou I am a Comyn, Nigel? That the dark stain of traitor, of disloyalty is withering on our line, and wider and wider grows the barrier between us and the Bruce?” The voice of the maiden was choked, her bright eyes dim with tears.
“All, all I do forget, save that thou art mine own sweet love; and though thy name is Comyn, thy heart is all Macduff. Weep not, my Agnes; thine eyes were never framed for tears. Bright times for us and Scotland are yet in store!”
For the better comprehension of the events related in the preceding chapter, it will be necessary to cast a summary glance on matters of historical and domestic import no way irrelevant to our subject, save and except their having taken place some few years previous to the commencement of our tale.