“There is one I fear yet more than Edward,” continued the maiden, fearfully; “one that I should love more. Oh, Nigel, my very spirit shrinks from the image of my father. I have sought to love him, to dismiss the dark haunting visions which his name has ever brought before me. I saw him once, but once, and his stern terrible features and harsh voice so terrified my childish fancies, that I hid myself till he had departed, and I have never seen him since, and yet, oh yet, I fear him!”
“What is it that thou fearest, love?”
“I know not,” she answered; “but if evil approach my mother, it will come from him, and so silently, so unsuspectedly, that none may avoid it. Nigel, he cannot love my mother! he is a foe to Bruce, a friend of the slaughtered Comyn, and will he not demand a stern account of the deed that she hath done? will he not seek vengeance? and oh, will he not, may he not in wrath part thee and me, and thus thy bodings be fulfilled?”
“Agnes, never! The mandate of man shall never part us; the power of man, unless my limbs be chained, shall never sever thee and me. He that hath never acted a father’s part, can have no power on his child. Thou art mine, my beloved!—mine with thy mother’s blessing; and mine thou shalt be—no earthly power shall part us. Death, death alone can break the links that bind us, and must be of God, though man may seem the cause. Be comforted, sweet love. Hark! they are chiming vespers; I must be gone for the solemn vigil of to-night, and to-morrow thou shalt arm thine own true knight, mine Agnes, and deck me with that blue scarf, more precious even than the jewelled sword my sovereign brother gives. Farewell, for a brief, brief while; I go to watch and pray. Oh, let thy orisons attend me, and surely then my vigil shall be blest.”
“Pray thou for me, my Nigel,” whispered the trembling girl, as he clasped her in his arms, “that true as I may be, strength befitting thy promised bride may be mine own. Nigel, my beloved, indeed I need such prayer.”
He whispered hope and comfort, and departed by the stone stairs which led from the gothic casement where they had been sitting, into the garden; he lingered to gather some delicate blue-bells which had just blown, and turned back to place them in the lap of Agnes. She eagerly raised them and pressed them to her lips, but either their fragile blossoms could not bear even her soft touch, or the heavy air had inwardly withered their bloom, for the blossoms fell from their stalks, and scattered their beautiful petals at her feet.