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´╗┐Title: Bonnie Prince Charlie : a Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bonnie Prince Charlie : a Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden" ***

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Bonnie Prince Charlie

A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden


by G. A. Henty



CHAPTER I: The Return of a Prodigal.


It was a dull evening in the month of September, 1728. The apprentices
had closed and barred the shutters and the day's work was over. Supper
was laid in the long room over the shop, the viands were on the table,
and round it were standing Bailie Anderson and his wife, his foreman John
Gillespie, and his two apprentices. The latter were furtively eying the
eatables, and wondering how much longer the grace which their master was
delivering would be. Suddenly there was a knock at the door below. No one
stirred until the bailie had finished his grace, before which time the
knock had been twice repeated.

"Elspeth, woman," the bailie said when he had brought the grace to an
end, "go down below and see who knocks so impatiently; look through the
grille before you open the door; these are nor times when one opens to
the first stranger who knocks."

The old servant, who had been standing behind her mistress, went
downstairs. The door was opened, and they heard an exclamation of
surprise at the answer to her question, "Who is it that's knocking as if
the house belonged to him?"

Those gathered up stairs heard the bolts withdrawn. There was a confused
sound of talking and then a heavy step was heard ascending the stairs,
and without introduction a tall man, wrapped in a cloak and carrying a
child of some two years old, strode into the room. He threw his hat on to
a settle and advanced straight towards the bailie, who looked in surprise
at this unceremonious entry.

"Don't you know me, Andrew?"

"Heaven preserve us," the bailie exclaimed, "why it's Malcolm!"

"Malcolm himself," the visitor repeated, "sound in wind and limb."

"The Lord be praised!" the bailie exclaimed as he grasped the other's
hand and wrung it warmly. "I had thought you dead years and years ago.
Janet, this is my brother Malcolm of whom you have often heard me speak."

"And of whom you can have heard little good, mistress, if my brother has
spoken the truth concerning me. I was ever a ne'er do well, while Andrew
struck hard and fast to our father's trade."

"My husband has ever spoken with affection of you," Janet Anderson said.
"The bailie is not given to speak ill of any, much less of his own flesh
and blood."

"And now sit down, Malcolm. Supper is waiting, and you are, I doubt not,
ready for it. It is ill talking to a fasting man. When you have done you
shall tell me what you have been doing for the last fifteen years, and
how it comes that you thus suddenly come back among us with your boy."

"He is no boy of mine," Malcolm said; "but I will tell you all about it
presently. First let me lay him down on that settle, for the poor little
chap is fast asleep and dead tired out. Elspeth, roll up my cloak and
make a pillow for him. That's right, he will do nicely now. You are
changed less than any of us, Elspeth. Just as hard to look at, and, I
doubt not, just as soft at heart as you used to be when you tried to
shield me when I got into scrapes. And now to supper."

Little was said during the meal; fortunately the table was bounteously
spread, for the newcomer's appetite was prodigious; but at last he was
satisfied, and after a long drink at the horn beside him, which Elspeth
had kept filled with ale, he said:

"There's nothing like a Scottish meal after all, Andrew. French living is
well enough for a time, but one tires of it; and many a time when I have
been lying down supperless on the sod, after marching and fighting the
whole day, I have longed for a bowl of porridge and a platter well filled
with oatmeal cakes."

Supper over, John and the apprentices retired. Elspeth went off to
prepare the guest's chamber and to make up a little bed for the child.

"Now, brother, let us hear your story; but, first of all, perhaps you
want to light your pipe?"

"That do I," Malcolm replied, "if Mistress Janet has no objection
thereto."

"She is accustomed to it," the bailie said, answering for her. "I smoke
myself; I deem that tobacco, like other things, was given for our use,
and methinks that with a pipe between the lips men's brains work more
easily and that it leadeth to pleasant converse."

Janet went to a cupboard, brought out two long pipes and a jar of
tobacco, placed two tumblers, a flat bottle, and a jug of water on the
table.

"That is right," the bailie said. "I do not often touch strong waters.
The habit, as I see too plainly, is a harmful one, and in this good city
of Glasgow there are many, even of those so placed that they should be an
example to their fellows, who are given nightly to drink more than is
good for them; but on an occasion like the present I deem it no harm to
take a glass."

"I should think not," Malcolm said heartily; "it is long since I tasted a
glass of real Scotch spirit, and I never need an excuse for taking a
glass of whatever it be that comes in my way. Not, Mistress Janet, that I
am a toper. I don't say that at the sack of a town, or at times when
liquor is running, so to speak, to waste, I am more backward than the
rest; but my hand wouldn't be as steady as it is if I had been one of
those who are never so happy as when they are filling themselves with
liquor. And now, Andrew, to my story. You know that when I saw you
last--just when the troubles in `15 began--in spite of all your warnings
to the contrary, I must needs throw myself into the thick of them. You,
like a wise man, stuck to your shop, and here you are now a bailie of
Glasgow; while I, who have been wandering over the face of the earth
fighting for the cause of France and risking my life a thousand times in
a matter which concerned me in no way, have returned just as penniless as
I set out."

"It is said, brother Malcolm," Janet said mildly, "that a rolling stone
gathers no moss."

"That is true enough," Malcolm assented; "and yet do you know there are
few rolling stones who, if their time were to come over again, would
remain fixed in their bed. Of course we have not the pleasures of home,
of wives and children; but the life of adventure has its own joys, which
I, for one, would not change for the others. However, brother, as you
know, I threw myself heart and soul into that business.

"The last time I saw you was just as I was starting with a score of
others to make our way to join the Earl of Mar's army at Perth. I have
seen many an army since, but never did I see sixteen thousand finer
fighting men than were there assembled. The Laird of Mackintosh brought
five hundred clansmen from Inverness shire, the Marquis of Huntly had
five hundred horse and two thousand foot, and the Earl Marischal had a
thousand men. The Laird of Glenlyon brought five hundred Campbells, and
the Marquis of Tullibardine fourteen hundred, and a score of other chiefs
of less power were there with their clansmen. There were enough men there
to have done anything had they been properly armed and led; but though
arms and ammunition had been promised from France, none came, and the
Earl of Mar had so little decision that he would have wrecked the finest
army that ever marched.

"The army lay doing nothing for weeks, and just before we were expecting
a movement, the company I belonged to was sent with a force of
Highlanders under Mackintosh to join the army under the Lords
Derwentwater, Kenmure, and Nithsdale. Lord Derwentwater had risen with a
number of other gentlemen, and with their attendants and friends had
marched against Newcastle. They had done nothing there but remained idle
near Hexham till, joined by a force raised in the Lowlands of Scotland by
the Earls of Nithsdale, Carnwath, and Wintoun, the united army marched
north again to Kelso, where we joined them.

"We Scots soon saw that we had gained nothing by the change of
commanders. Lord Derwentwater was ignorant of military affairs, and he
was greatly swayed by a Mr. Forster, who was somehow at the head of the
business, and who was not only incompetent, but proved to be a coward, if
not, as most folks believed, a traitor. So dissension soon broke out, and
four hundred Highlanders marched away north. After a long delay it was
resolved to move south, where, it was said, we should be joined by great
numbers in Lancashire; but by this time all had greatly lost spirit and
hope in the enterprise. We crossed the border and marched down through
Penrith, Appleby, and Kendal to Lancaster, and then on to Preston.

"I was little more than a lad, Andrew, but even to me it seemed madness
thus to march into England with only two thousand men. Of these twelve
hundred were foot, commanded by Brigadier Mackintosh; the others were
horse. There were two troops of Stanhope's dragoons quartered in Preston,
but these retired when we neared the town, and we entered without
opposition. Next day, which was, I remember, the 10th of November, the
Chevalier was proclaimed king, and some country gentlemen with their
tenants came in and joined us.

"I suppose it would have come to the same thing in the end, but never
were things so badly managed as they were by Mr. Forster.

"Preston was a strong natural position; an enemy coming from the south
could only reach it by crossing a narrow bridge over the river Ribble a
mile and a half away, and this could have been held by a company against
an army. From the bridge to the town the road was so narrow that in
several places two men could not ride abreast. It ran between two high
and steep banks, and it was here that Cromwell was nearly killed when he
attacked Charles's troops.

"Well, all these places, where we might certainly have defended
ourselves, were neglected, and we were all kept in the town, where we
formed four main posts. One was in the churchyard, and this was commanded
by Brigadier Mackintosh. In support of this was the volunteer horse under
Derwentwater and the three other lords. Lord Charles Murray was in
command at a barricade at a little distance from the churchyard. Colonel
Mackintosh had charge of a post at a windmill; and the fourth was in the
centre of the town.

"Lord Derwentwater was a poor general, but he was a brave man. He and his
two brothers, the Ratcliffs, rode about everywhere, setting an example of
coolness, animating the soldiers, and seeing to the work on the barriers.
Two days after we reached the town we heard that General Wilde was
approaching. Colonel Farquharson was sent forward with a portion of
Mackintosh's battalion to hold the bridge and the pass; but Mr. Forster,
who went out on horseback, no sooner saw the enemy approaching than he
gave orders to Farquharson and his men to retreat to the town. If I had
been in Farquharson's place I would have put a bullet through the
coward's head, and would have defended the bridge till the last.

"After that everything was confusion; the Highlanders came back into the
town furious and disheartened. The garrison prepared to receive the
enemy. Mr. Forster was seen no more, and in fact he went straight back to
the house where he was lodging and took his bed, where he remained till
all was over. The enemy came on slowly. They could not understand why
strong posts should be left undefended, and feared falling in an
ambuscade. I was at the post commanded by Brigadier Mackintosh. I had
joined a company commanded by Leslie of Glenlyon, who had brought with
him some twenty men, and had made up his company with men who, like
myself, came up without a leader. His company was attached to
Mackintosh's regiment.

"Presently the English came in sight, and as soon as they ascertained
that we were still there, which they had begun to doubt, they attacked
us. We beat them back handsomely, and Derwentwater with his cavalry
charged their dragoons so fiercely that he drove them out of the town. It
was late in the afternoon when the fight began, and all night the
struggle went on. At each of our posts we beat them back over and over
again. The town was on fire in half a dozen places, but luckily the night
was still and the flames did not spread. We knew that it was a hopeless
fight we were making; for, from some prisoners, we learned that three
regiments of dragoons were also coming up against us, and had already
arrived at Clitheroe. From some inhabitants, I suppose, the enemy learned
that the street leading to Wigan had nor been barricaded, and Lord
Forrester brought up Preston's regiment by this way, and suddenly fell on
the flank of our barrier. It was a tough fight, but we held our own till
the news came that Forster had agreed to capitulate.

"I don't say that our case wasn't hopeless. We were outnumbered and had
no leader; sooner or later we must have been overpowered. Still, no
capitulation should have been made except on the terms of mercy to all
concerned. But Forster no doubt felt safe about himself, and that was all
he cared for; and the end showed that he knew what he was about, for
while all the brave young noblemen, and numbers of others, were either
executed or punished in other ways, Forster, who had been the leading
spirit who had persuaded them to rise, and led them into this strait, was
after a short imprisonment suffered to go free. I tell you, brother
Andrew, if I were to meet him now, even if it were in a church, I would
drive my dagger into his heart.

"However, there we were. So furious were we that it was with difficulty
the officers could prevent us from sallying out sword in hand and trying
to cut our way through the enemy. As to Forster, if he had appeared in
the streets he would have been hewn to pieces. However, it was useless to
resist now; the English troops marched in and we laid down our arms, and
our battalions marched into a church and were guarded as prisoners. It
was not a great army they had taken, for there were but one thousand four
hundred and ninety captured, including noblemen, gentlemen, and officers.

"Many of us were wounded more or less. I had got a slice on the shoulder
from a dragoon's sword. This I gained when rushing out to rescue Leslie,
who had been knocked down, and would have been slain by three dragoons
had I not stood over him till some of our men rushed out and carried him
in. He was not badly hurt, the sword having turned as it cut through his
bonnet. My action won his regard, and from that time until a month since
we have never been separated. Under a strong escort of soldiers we were
marched south. In most places the country people mocked us as we passed;
but here and there we saw among the crowds who gathered in the streets of
the towns through which we passed, faces which we passed, faces which
expressed pity and sympathy

"We were not badly treated on the march by our guard, and had little to
complain of. When we reached Barnet we fell out as usual when the march
was over, and I went up to the door of a house and asked a woman, who
looked pityingly at us, for a drink of water. She brought me some, and
while I drank she said:

"'We are Catholics and well wishers of the Chevalier; if you can manage
to slip in here after it is dark we will furnish you with a disguise, and
will direct you to friends who will pass you on until you can escape.

"'Can you give me disguises for two?' I asked. `I will not go without my
captain.'

"'Yes,' she said, `for two, but no more.'

"`I will steal away after dark,' I said as I gave her back the jug.

"I told Leslie what had happened, and he agreed to join me in time to
escape, for there was no saying what fate might befall us in London; and,
indeed, the very next morning severities commenced, the whole of the
troops being obliged to suffer the indignity of having their arms tied
behind them, and so being marched into London.

"After it was dark Leslie and I managed to steal away from our guards,
who were not very watchful, for our uniform would at once have betrayed
us, and the country people would have seized and handed us over. The
woman was on the watch, and as soon as we neared the door she opened it.
Her husband was with her and received us kindly. He at once furnished us
with the attire of two countrymen, and, letting us out by a back way,
started with us across the country.

"After walking twenty miles he brought us to the house of another
adherent of the Chevalier, where we remained all day. So we were passed
on until we reached the coast, where we lay hid for some days until an
arrangement was made with the captain of a fishing boat to take us to
sea, and either to land us at Calais or to put us on board a French
fishing boat. So we got over without trouble.

"Long before that, as you know, the business had virtually come to an end
here. The Earl of Mar's army lay week after week at Perth, till at last
it met the enemy under Argyle at Sheriffmuir.

"You know how that went. The Highland clans in the right and centre
carried all before them, and drove the enemy from the field, but on the
left they beat us badly. So both parties claimed the victory. But,
victory or defeat, it was fatal to the cause of the Chevalier. Half the
Highland clans went off to their homes that night, and Mar had to fall
back to Perth.

"Well, that was really the end of it. The Chevalier landed, and for a
while our hopes rose. He did nothing, and our hopes fell. At last he took
ship and went away, and the affair was over, except for the hangings and
slaughterings.

"Leslie, like most of the Scottish gentlemen who succeeded in reaching
France, took service with the French king, and, of course, I did the
same. It would have done your heart good to see how the Scottish
regiments fought on many a field; the very best troops of France were
never before us, and many a tough field was decided by our charge. Leslie
was a cornet. He was about my age; and you know I was but twenty when
Sheriffmuir was fought. He rose to be a colonel, and would have given me
a pair of colours over and over again if I would have taken them; but I
felt more comfortable among our troopers than I should have done among
the officers, who were almost all men of good Highland family; so I
remained Leslie's right hand.

"A braver soldier never swung a leg over saddle; but he was always in
some love affair or another. Why he didn't marry I couldn't make out. I
suppose he could never stick long enough to one woman. However, some four
years ago he got into an affair more serious than any he had been in
before, and this time he stuck to it in right earnest. Of course she was
precisely one of the women he oughtn't to have fallen in love with,
though I for one couldn't blame him, for a prettier creature wasn't to be
found in France. Unfortunately she was the only daughter of the Marquis
de Recambours, one of the wealthiest and most powerful of French nobles,
and there was no more chance of his giving his consent to her throwing
herself away upon a Scottish soldier of fortune than to her going into a
nunnery; less, in fact. However, she was as much in love with Leslie as
he was with her, and so they got secretly married. Two years ago this
child was born, but she managed somehow to keep it from her father, who
was all this time urging her to marry the Duke de Chateaurouge.

"At last, as ill luck would have it, he shut her up in a convent just a
week before she had arranged to fly with Leslie to Germany, where he
intended to take service until her father came round. Leslie would have
got her out somehow; but his regiment was ordered to the frontier, and it
was eighteen months before we returned to Paris, where the child had been
in keeping with some people with whom he had placed it. The very evening
of his return I was cleaning his arms when he rushed into the room.

"'All is discovered,' he said; 'here is my signet ring, go at once and
get the child, and make your way with it to Scotland; take all the money
in the escritoire, quick!'

"I heard feet approaching, and dashed to the bureau, and transferred the
bag of louis there to my pocket. An official with two followers entered.

"'Colonel Leslie,' he said, 'it is my duty to arrest you by order of his
gracious majesty;' and he held out an order signed by the king.

"'I am unconscious of having done any wrong, sir, to his majesty, whom I
have served for the last sixteen years. However, it is not for me to
dispute his orders;' thereupon he unbuckled his sword and handed it to
the officers. 'You will look after the things till I return, Malcolm. As
I am sure I can clear myself of any charge that may be brought against
me, I trust to be speedily back again.

"'Your trooper need not trouble himself,' the officer said; `the official
with me will take charge of everything, and will at once affix my seal to
all your effects.'

"I went down stairs and saw the colonel enter a carriage with the two
officials, then I went straight to the major. 'Colonel Leslie has been
arrested, sir, on what charge I know not. He has intrusted a commission
to me. Therefore, if you find I am absent from parade in the morning you
will understand I am carrying out his orders.'

"The major was thunderstruck at the news, but told me to do as the
colonel had ordered me, whatever it might be. I mounted the colonel's
horse at once and rode to the house where the child was in keeping. The
people knew me well, as I had often been there with messages from the
colonel. When I showed them the signet ring, and told them that I had
orders to take the child to his father, they made no opposition. I said I
would return for him as soon as it was dusk. I then went and purchased a
suit of civilian clothes, and returning to the house attired myself in
these, and taking the child on the saddle before me, rode for the
frontier.

"Following unfrequented roads, travelling only at night, and passing a
day in a wood, I passed the frontier unmolested, and made my way to
Ostend, where I sold the horse and took passage in the first ship sailing
for Leith. I arrived there two days ago, and have walked here, with an
occasional lift in a cart; and here I am, brother Andrew, to ask you for
hospitality for a while for myself and Leslie's boy. I have a hundred
louis, but these, of course, belong to the child. As for myself, I
confess I have nothing; saving has never been in my line."

"You are heartily welcome, Malcolm, as long as you choose to stop; but I
trust that ere long you will hear of Colonel Leslie."

"I trust so," Malcolm said; "but if you knew the court of France as well
as I do you would not feel very sanguine about it. It is easier to get
into a prison than out of one."

"But the colonel has committed no crime!" the bailie said.

"His chance would be a great deal better if he had," Malcolm laughed. "A
colonel of one of his majesty's Scottish regiments can do a good deal in
the way of crime without much harm befalling him; but when it comes to
marrying the daughter of a nobleman who is a great personage at court,
without his consent, it is a different affair altogether, I can tell you.
Leslie has powerful friends, and his brother officers will do what they
can for him; but I can tell you services at the court of France go for
very little. Influence is everything, and as the nobleman the marquis
intended to be the husband of his daughter is also a great personage at
court and a friend of Louis's, there is no saying how serious a matter
they may make of it. Men have been kept prisoners for life for a far less
serious business than this."

"But supposing he is released, does he know where to communicate with
you?"

"I am afraid he doesn't," Malcolm said ruefully. "He knows that I come
from Glasgow, but that is all. Still, when he is freed, no doubt he will
come over himself to look for his son, and I am sure to hear of his being
here."

"You might do, and you might not," the bailie said. "Still, we must hope
for the best, Malcolm. At any rate I am in no haste for the colonel to
come. Now I have got you home again after all these years, I do not wish
to lose you again in a hurry."

Malcolm only remained for a few weeks at his brother's house. The
restraint of life at the bailie's was too much for him. Andrew's was a
well ordered household. The bailie was methodical and regular, a leading
figure in the kirk, far stricter than were most men of his time as to
undue consumption of liquor, strong in exhortation in season and out of
season. His wife was kindly but precise, and as outspoken as Andrew
himself. For the first day or two the real affection which Andrew had for
his younger brother, and the pleasure he felt at his return, shielded
Malcolm from comment or rebuke; but after the very first day the bailie's
wife had declared to herself that it was impossible that Malcolm could
long remain an inmate of the house. She was not inhospitable, and would
have made great sacrifices in some directions for the long missing
brother of her husband; but his conduct outraged all the best feelings of
a good Scotch housewife.

Even on that first day he did not come punctually to his meals. He was
away about the town looking up old acquaintance, came in at dinner and
again at supper after the meal had already begun, and dropped into his
place and began to eat without saying a word of grace. He stamped about
the house as if he had cavalry spurs still on his heels; talked in a
voice that could be heard from attic to basement; used French and Flemish
oaths which horrified the good lady, although she did not understand
them; smoked at all hours of the day, whereas Andrew always confined
himself to his after supper pipe, and, in spite of his assertions on the
previous evening, consumed an amount of liquor which horrified the good
woman.

At his meals he talked loudly, kept the two apprentices in a titter with
his stories of campaigning, spoke slightingly of the city authorities,
and joked the bailie with a freedom and roughness which scandalized her.
Andrew was slow to notice the incongruity of his brother's demeanour and
bearing with the atmosphere of the house, although he soon became dimly
conscious that there was a jarring element in the air. At the end of a
week Malcolm broached the subject to him.

"Andrew," he said, "you are a good fellow, though you are a bailie and an
elder of the kirk, and I thank you for the hearty welcome you have given
me, and for your invitation to stay for a long time with you; but it will
not do. Janet is a good woman and a kindly, but I can see that I keep her
perpetually on thorns. In good truth, fifteen years of campaigning are
but an indifferent preparation for a man as an inmate of a respectable
household. I did not quite know myself how thoroughly I had become a
devil may care trooper until I came back to my old life here. The ways of
your house would soon be as intolerable to me as my ways are to your good
wife, and therefore it is better by far that before any words have passed
between you and me, and while we are as good friends as on the evening
when I returned, I should get out of this. I met an old friend today, one
of the lads who went with me from Glasgow to join the Earl of Mar at
Perth. He is well to do now, and trades in cattle, taking them in droves
down into England. For the sake of old times he has offered me
employment, and methinks it will suit me as well as any other."

"But you cannot surely be going as a drover, Malcolm!"

"Why not? The life is as good as any other. I would not sit down, after
these years of roving, to an indoor life. I must either do that or cross
the water again and take service abroad. I am only six and thirty yet,
and am good for another fifteen years of soldiering, and right gladly
would I go back if Leslie were again at the head of his regiment, but I
have been spoiled by him. He ever treated me as a companion and as a
friend rather than as a trooper in his regiment, and I should miss him
sorely did I enter any other service. Then, too, I would fain be here to
be ready to join him again if he sends for me or comes, and I should wish
to keep an eye always on his boy. You will continue to take charge of
him, won't you, Andrew? He is still a little strange, but he takes to
Elspeth, and will give little trouble when he once learns the language."

"I don't like it at all, Malcolm," the bailie said.

"No, Andrew, but you must feel it is best. I doubt not that ere this your
wife has told you her troubles concerning me."

As the bailie on the preceding night had listened to a long string of
complaints and remonstrances on the part of his wife as to his brother's
general conduct he could not deny the truth of Malcolm's supposition.

"Just so, Andrew," Malcolm went on; "I knew that it must be so. Mistress
Janet has kept her lips closed firm to me, but I could see how difficult
it was for her sometimes to do so. It could not be otherwise. I am as
much out of place here as a wolf in a sheepfold. As to the droving, I
shall not mention to all I meet that I am brother to one of the bailies
of Glasgow. I shall like the life. The rough pony I shall ride will
differ in his paces from my old charger, but at least it will be life in
the saddle. I shall be earning an honest living; if I take more than is
good for me I may get a broken head and none be the wiser, whereas if I
remain here and fall foul of the city watch it would be grief and pain
for you."

The bailie was silenced. He had already begun to perceive that Malcolm's
ways and manners were incompatible with the peace and quiet of a
respectable household, and that Janet's complaints were not altogether
unreasonable. He had seen many of his acquaintances lift their eyebrows
in disapprobation at the roystering talk of his brother, and had foreseen
that it was probable trouble would come.

At the same rime he felt a repugnance to the thought that after so many
years of absence his brother should so soon quit his house. It seemed a
reflection alike on his affection and hospitality.

"You will take charge of the child, won't you?" Malcolm pleaded. "There
is a purse of a hundred louis, which will, I should say, pay for any
expense to which he may put you for some years."

"As if I would take the bairn's money!" Andrew exclaimed angrily. "What
do you take me for, Malcolm? Assuredly I will take the child. Janet and I
have no bairn of our own, and it's good for a house to have a child in
it. I look upon it as if it were yours, for it is like enough you will
never hear of its father again. It will have a hearty welcome. It is a
bright little fellow, and in time I doubt not that Janet will take
greatly to it. The charge of a child is a serious matter, and we cannot
hope that we shall not have trouble with it, but there is trouble in all
things. At any rate, Malcolm, we will do our best, and if at the end of a
year I find that Janet has not taken to it we will see about some other
arrangement. And, Malcolm, I do trust that you will stay with us for
another week or two. It would seem to me as if I had turned you out of my
house were you to leave me so soon."

So Malcolm made a three weeks' stay at his brother's, and then started
upon his new occupation of driving Highland cattle down into Lancashire.
Once every two or three months he came to Glasgow for a week or two
between his trips. In spite of Andrew's entreaties he refused on these
occasions to take up his abode with him, but took a lodging not far off,
coming in the evening for an hour to smoke a pipe with his brother, and
never failing of a morning to come in and take the child for a long walk
with him, carrying him upon his shoulder, and keeping up a steady talk
with him in his native French, which he was anxious that the boy should
nor forget, as at some time or other he might again return to France.

Some weeks after Malcolm's return to Scotland, he wrote to Colonel
Leslie, briefly giving his address at Glasgow; but making no allusion to
the child, as, if the colonel were still in prison, the letter would be
sure to be opened by the authorities. He also wrote to the major, giving
him his address, and begging him to communicate it to Colonel Leslie
whenever he should see him; that done, there was nothing for it but to
wait quietly. The post was so uncertain in those days that he had but
slight hope that either of his letters would ever reach their
destination. No answer came to either of his letters.

Four years later Malcolm went over to Paris, and cautiously made
inquiries; but no one had heard anything of Colonel Leslie from the day
he had been arrested. The regiment was away fighting in the Low
Countries, and the only thing Malcolm could do was to call upon the
people who had had charge of the child, to give them his address in case
the colonel should ever appear to inquire of them. He found, however, the
house tenanted by other people. He learned that the last occupants had
left years before. The neighbors remembered that one morning early some
officers of the law had come to the house, and the man had been seized
and carried away. He had been released some months later, only to find
that his wife had died of grief and anxiety, and he had then sold off his
goods and gone no one knew whither. Malcolm, therefore, returned to
Glasgow, with the feeling that he had gained nothing by his journey.



CHAPTER II: The Jacobite Agent.


So twelve years passed. Ronald Leslie grew up a sturdy lad, full of fun
and mischief in spite of the sober atmosphere of the bailie's house; and
neither flogging at school nor lecturing at home appeared to have the
slightest effect in reducing him to that state of sober tranquillity
which was in Mrs. Anderson's eyes the thing to be most desired in boys.
Andrew was less deeply shocked than his wife at the discovery of Ronald's
various delinquencies, but his sense of order and punctuality was
constantly outraged. He was, however, really fond of the lad; and even
Mrs. Anderson, greatly as the boy's ways constantly disturbed and ruffled
her, was at heart as fond of him as was her husband. She considered, and
not altogether wrongly, that his wilderness, as she called it, was in no
slight degree due to his association with her husband's brother.

Ronald looked forward to the periodical visits of the drover with intense
longing. He was sure of a sympathetic listener in Malcolm, who listened
with approval to the tales of the various scrapes into which he had got
since his last visit; of how, instead of going to school, he had played
truant and with another boy his own age had embarked in a fisherman's
boat and gone down the river and had not been able to get back until next
day; how he had played tricks upon his dominie, and had conquered in
single combat the son of Councillor Duff, the butcher, who had spoken
scoffing words at the Stuarts. Malcolm was, in fact, delighted to find,
that in spite of repression and lectures his young charge was growing up
a lad of spirit. He still hoped that some day Leslie might return, and he
knew how horrified he would be were he to find that his son was becoming
a smug and well conducted citizen. No small portion of his time on each
of his visits to Glasgow Malcolm spent in training the boy in the use of
arms.

"Your father was a gentleman," he would say to him, "and it is fitting
that you should know how to handle a gentleman's arms. Clubs are well
enough for citizens' apprentices, but I would have you handle rapier and
broadsword as well as any of the young lairds. When you get old enough,
Ronald, you and I will cross the seas, and together we will try and get
to the bottom of the mystery of your father's fate, and if we find that
the worst has come to the worst, we will seek our your mother. She will
most likely have married again. They will be sure to have forced her into
it; but even if she dare not acknowledge you as her son, her influence
may obtain for you a commission in one of the king's regiments, and even
if they think I'm too old for a trooper I will go as your follower. There
are plenty of occasions at the court of France when a sharp sword and a
stout arm, even if it be somewhat stiffened by age, can do good service."

The lessons began as soon as Ronald was old enough to hold a light blade,
and as between the pauses of exercise Malcolm was always ready to tell
stories of his adventures in the wars of France, the days were full of
delight to Ronald. When the latter reached the age of fourteen Malcolm
was not satisfied with the amount of proficiency which the lad was able
to gain during his occasional visits, and therefore took him for further
instruction to a comrade who had, like himself, served in France, and had
returned and settled down in Glasgow, where he opened a fencing school,
having been a maitre d'armes among the Scotch regiments.

The arrangement was, however, kept a profound secret from Andrew and his
wife; but on half holidays, and on any other days when he could manage to
slip away for an hour, Ronald went to his instructor and worked hard and
steadily with the rapier. Had Mrs. Anderson had an idea of the manner in
which he spent his time she would have been horrified, and would
certainly have spared her encomiums on his improved conduct and the
absence of the unsatisfactory reports which had before been so common.

The cloud of uncertainty which hung over his father's fate could not but
have an influence upon the boy's character, and the happy carelessness
and gaiety which were its natural characteristics were modified by the
thought that his father might be languishing in a dungeon. Sometimes he
would refuse to accompany his school fellows on their rambles or fishing
expeditions, and would sit for hours thinking over all sorts of wild
plans by which he might penetrate to him and aid him to escape. He was
never tired of questioning Malcolm Anderson as to the prisons in which,
if still alive, his father would be likely to be confined. He would ask
as to their appearance, the height of their walls, whether they were
moated or not, and whether other houses abutted closely upon them. One
day Malcolm asked him the reason of these questions, and he replied, "Of
course I want to see how it will be possible to get my father out." And
although Malcolm tried to impress upon him that it would be an almost
impossible task even to discover in which prison his father was kept, he
would not allow himself to be discouraged.

"There must be some way of finding out, Malcolm. You tell me that
prisoners are not even known by their name to the warders, but only under
a number. Still someone must know--there must be lists kept of those in
prison, and I shall trust to my mother to find out for me. A great lady
as she is must be able to get at people if she sets about it, and as
certainly she must have loved my father very very much, or she never
would have married him secretly, and got into such trouble for it. I am
sure she will do her best when she finds that you and I have come over to
get him out. When we know that, I think we ought to be able to manage.
You could get employment as a warder, or I could go disguised as a woman,
or as a priest, or somehow. I feel sure we shall succeed if we do but
find out that he is alive and where he is."

Malcolm knew too much about the strong and well guarded prisons of France
to share in the boy's sanguine hopes, but he did not try to discourage
him. He thought that with such an object in life before him the boy would
devote himself all the more eagerly to exercises which would strengthen
his arm, increase his skill with weapons, and render him a brave and
gallant officer, and in this he was right. As the time went on Ronald
became more and more serious. He took no part whatever in the school boy
games and frolics in which he had been once a leader. He worked hard at
his school tasks the sooner to be done with them, and above all devoted
himself to acquiring a mastery of the sword with a perseverance and
enthusiasm which quite surprised his instructor.

"I tell you, Malcolm, man," he said one day to his old comrade, after
Ronald had been for upwards of two years his pupil, "if I had known, when
you first asked me to teach the lad to handle a sword, how much of my
time he was going to occupy, I should have laughed in your face, for ten
times the sum you agreed to pay me would not have been enough; but,
having begun it for your sake, I have gone on for the lad's. It has been
a pleasure to teach him, so eager was he to learn--so ready to work
heart and soul to improve. The boy's wrist is as strong as mine and his
eye as quick. I have long since taught him all I know, and it is practice
now, and not teaching, that we have every day. I tell you I have work to
hold my own with him; he knows every trick and turn as well as I do, and
is quicker with his lunge and riposte. Were it not that I have my extra
length of arm in my favour I could not hold my own. As you know, I have
many of the officers of the garrison among my pupils, and some of them
have learned in good schools, but there is not one of them could defend
himself for a minute against that boy. If it were not that the matter has
to be kept secret I would set him in front of some of them, and you would
see what short work he would make of them. Have you heard the rumours,
Malcolm, that the young Chevalier is likely to follow the example of his
father, thirty years back, and to make a landing in Scotland?"

"I have heard some such rumours," Malcolm replied, "though whether there
be aught in them I know not. I hope that if he does so he will at any
rate follow the example of his father no further. As you know, I hold to
the Stuarts, but I must own they are but poor hands at fighting. Charles
the First ruined his cause; James the Second threw away the crown of
Ireland by galloping away from the battle of the Boyne; the Chevalier
showed here in `15 that he was no leader of men; and unless this lad is
made of very different stuff to his forefathers he had best stay in
France."

"But if he should come, Malcolm, I suppose you will join him? I am afraid
I shall be fool enough to do so, even with my fifty years on my head. And
you?"

"I suppose I shall be a fool too," Malcolm said. "The Stuarts are Scotch,
you see, and with all their faults I would rather a thousand times have a
Scottish king than these Germans who govern us from London. If the
English like them let them keep them, and let us have a king of our own.
However, nought may come of it; it may be but a rumour. It is a card
which Louis has threatened to play a score of times, whenever he wishes
to annoy England. It is more than likely that it will come to nought, as
it has so often done before."

"But they tell me that there are agents travelling about among the
Highland clans, and that this time something is really to be done."

"They have said so over and over again, and nothing has come of it. For
my part, I don't care which way it goes. After the muddle that was made
of it thirty years ago it does not seem to me more likely that we shall
get rid of the Hanoverians now. Besides, the hangings and slaughterings
then, would, I should think, make the nobles and the heads of clans think
twice ere they risked everything again."

"That is true, but when men's blood is up they do not count the cost;
besides, the Highland clans are always ready to fight. If Prince Charles
comes you will see there will not be much hanging back whatever the
consequences may be. Well, you and I have not much to lose, except our
lives."

"That is true enough, old friend; and I would rather die that way than
any other. Still, to tell you the truth, I would rather keep my head on
my shoulders for a few years if I can."

"Well, nothing may come of it; but if it does I shall strike a blow again
for the old cause."

At home Ronald heard nothing but expressions of loyalty to the crown. The
mere fact that the Highlanders espoused the cause of the Stuarts was
sufficient in itself to make the Lowlanders take the opposite side. The
religious feeling, which had always counted for so much in the Lowlands,
and had caused Scotland to side with the Parliament against King Charles,
had not lost its force. The leanings of the Stuarts were, it was known,
still strongly in favour of the Catholic religion, and although Prince
Charles Edward was reported to be more Protestant in feelings than the
rest of his race, this was not sufficient to counterbalance the effect of
the hereditary Catholic tendency. Otherwise there was no feeling of
active loyalty towards the reigning king in Scotland. The first and
second Georges had none of the attributes which attract loyal affection.
The first could with difficulty speak the language of the people over
whom he ruled. Their feelings and sympathies were Hanoverian rather than
English, and all court favours were bestowed as fast as possible upon
their countrymen. They had neither the bearing nor manner which men
associate with royalty, nor the graces and power of attraction which
distinguished the Stuarts. Commonplace and homely in manner, in figure,
and in bearing, they were not men whom their fellows could look up to or
respect; their very vices were coarse, and the Hanoverian men and women
they gathered round them were hated by the English people.

Thus neither in England nor Scotland was there any warm feeling of
loyalty for the reigning house; and though it was possible that but few
would adventure life and property in the cause of the Stuarts, it was
equally certain that outside the army there were still fewer who would
draw sword for the Hanoverian king. Among the people of the Lowland
cities of Scotland the loyalty which existed was religious rather than
civil, and rested upon the fact that their forefathers had fought against
the Stuarts, while the Highlanders had always supported their cause.
Thus, although in the household and in kirk Ronald had heard King George
prayed for regularly, he had heard no word concerning him calculated to
waken a boyish feeling of loyalty, still less of enthusiasm. Upon the
other hand he knew that his father had fought and suffered for the
Stuarts and was an exile in their cause, and that Hanoverians had handed
over the estate of which he himself would now be the heir to one of their
adherents.

"It is no use talking of these matters to Andrew," Malcolm impressed upon
him; "it would do no good. When he was a young man he took the side of
the Hanoverians, and he won't change now; while, did Mistress Janet guess
that your heart was with the Stuarts, she would say that I was ruining
you, and should bring you to a gallows. She is not fond of me now, though
she does her best to be civil to her husband's brother; but did she know
that you had become a Jacobite, like enough she would move Andrew to put
a stop to your being with me, and there would be all sorts of trouble."

"But they could nor prevent my being with you," Ronald said indignantly.
"My father gave me into your charge, not into theirs."

"That's true enough, laddie; but it is they who have cared for you and
brought you up. When you are a man you can no doubt go which way it
pleases you; but till then you owe your duty and respect to them, and not
to me, who have done nought for you but just carry you over here in my
cloak."

"I know they have done everything for me," Ronald said penitently. "They
have been very good and kind, and I love them both; but for all that it
is only natural that my father should be first, and that my heart should
be in the cause that he fought for."

"That is right enough, Ronald, and I would not have it otherwise, and I
have striven to do my best to make you as he would like to see you. Did
he never come back again I should be sorry indeed to see Colonel Leslie's
son growing up a Glasgow tradesman, as my brother no doubt intends you to
be, for I know he has long since given up any thought of hearing from
your father; but in that you and I will have a say when the time comes.
Until then you must treat Andrew as your natural guardian, and there is
no need to anger him by letting him know that your heart is with the king
over the water, any more than that you can wield a sword like a
gentleman. Let us have peace as long as we can. You are getting on for
sixteen now; another two years and we will think about going to Paris
together. I am off again tomorrow, Ronald; it will not be a long trip
this time, but maybe before I get back we shall have news from France
which will set the land on fire."

A short time after this conversation, as Ronald on his return from
college (for he was now entered at the university) passed through the
shop, the bailie was in conversation with one of the city magistrates,
and Ronald caught the words:

"He is somewhere in the city. He came down from the Highlands, where he
has been going to and fro, two days since. I have a warrant out against
him, and the constables are on the lookout. I hope to have him in jail
before tonight. These pestilent rogues are a curse to the land, though I
cannot think the clans would be fools enough to rise again, even though
Charles Stuart did come."

Ronald went straight up to his room, and for a few minutes sat in
thought. The man of whom they spoke was doubtless an emissary of Prince
Charles, and his arrest might have serious consequences, perhaps bring
ruin on all with whom he had been in communication. Who he was or what he
was like Ronald knew not; but he determined at any rate to endeavour to
defeat the intentions of the magistrate to lay hands on him. Accordingly
a few minutes later, while the magistrate was still talking with Andrew,
he again went out.

Ronald waited about outside the door till he left, and then followed him
at a short distance. The magistrate spoke to several acquaintances on the
way, and then went to the council chamber. Waiting outside, Ronald saw
two or three of the magistrates enter. An hour later the magistrate he
was watching came out; but he had gone but a few paces when a man
hurrying up approached him. They talked earnestly for a minute or two.
The magistrate then re-entered the building, remained there a few
minutes, and then joined the man who was waiting outside. Ronald had
stolen up and taken his stand close by.

"It is all arranged," the magistrate said; "as soon as night has fallen a
party will go down, surround the house, and arrest him. It is better not
to do it in daylight. I shall lead the party, which will come round to my
house, so if the men you have left on watch bring you news that he has
changed his hiding place, let me know at once.

The magistrate walked on. Ronald stood irresolute. He had obtained no
clue as to the residence of the person of whom they were in search, and
after a moment's thought he determined to keep an eye upon the constable,
who would most likely join his comrade on the watch. This, however, he
did not do immediately. He had probably been for some time at work, and
now took the opportunity of going home for a meal, for he at once made
his way to a quiet part of the city, and entered a small house.

It was half an hour before he came out again, and Ronald fidgeted with
impatience, for it was already growing dusk. When he issued out Ronald
saw that he was armed with a heavy cudgel. He walked quickly now, and
Ronald, following at a distance, passed nearly across the town, and down
a quiet street which terminated against the old wall running from the
Castle Port to a small tower. When he got near the bottom of the street a
man came out from an archway, and the two spoke together. From their
gestures Ronald felt sure that it was the last house on the left hand
side of the street that was being watched. He had not ventured to follow
far down the street, for as there was no thoroughfare he would at once be
regarded with suspicion. The question now was how to warn the man of his
danger. He knew several men were on the watch, and as only one was in the
street, doubtless the others were behind the house. If anything was to be
done there was no time to be lost, for the darkness was fast closing in.

After a minute's thought he went quickly up the street, and then started
at a run, and then came down upon a place where he could ascend the wall,
which was at many points in bad repair. With some difficulty he climbed
up, and found that he was exactly opposite the house he wished to reach.
It was dark now. Even in the principal streets the town was only lit by
oil lamps here and there, and there was no attempt at illumination in the
quiet quarters, persons who went abroad after nightfall always carrying a
lantern with them. There was still sufficient light to show Ronald that
the house stood at a distance of some fourteen feet from the wall. The
roof sloped too steeply for him to maintain his holding upon it; but
halfway along the house was a dormer window about three feet above the
gutter. It was unglazed, and doubtless gave light to a granary or store
room.

Ronald saw that his only chance was to alight on the roof close enough to
this window to be able to grasp the woodwork. At any other moment he
would have hesitated before attempting such a leap. The wall was only a
few feet wide, and he could therefore get but little run for a spring.
His blood was, however, up, and having taken his resolution he did not
hesitate. Drawing back as far as he could he took three steps, and then
sprang for the window. Its sill was some three feet higher than the edge
of the wall from which he sprang.

The leap was successful; his feet struck just upon the gutter, and the
impetus threw forward his body, and his hands grasped the woodwork of the
window. In a moment he had dragged himself inside. It was quite dark
within the room. He moved carefully, for the floor was piled with disused
furniture, boxes, sacking, and rubbish. He was some time finding the
door, but although he moved as carefully as he could he knocked over a
heavy chest which was placed on a rickety chair, the two falling with a
crash on the floor. At last he found the door and opened it. As he did so
a light met his eyes, and he saw ascending the staircase a man with a
drawn sword, and a woman holding a light above her head following
closely. The man uttered an exclamation on seeing Ronald appear.

"A thief!" he said. "Surrender, or I will run you through at once."

"I am no thief," Ronald replied. "My name is Ronald Leslie, and I am a
student at the university. I have come here to warn someone, whom I know
not, in this house that it is watched, and that in a few minutes at the
outside a band of the city watch will be here to capture him."

The man dropped the point of his sword, and taking the light from the
woman held it closer to Ronald's face.

"How came you here?" he asked. "How did you learn this news?"

"The house is watched both sides below," Ronald said, "and I leapt from
the wall through the dormer window. I heard a magistrate arranging with
one of the constables for a capture, and gathered that he of whom they
were in search was a Jacobite, and as I come of a stock which has always
been faithful to the Stuarts, I hastened to warn him."

The woman uttered a cry of alarm.

"I thank you with all my heart, young sir. I am he for whom they are in
search, and if I get free you will render a service indeed to our cause;
but there is no time to talk now, if what you tell me be true. You say
the house is watched from both sides?"

"Yes; there are two men in the lane below, one or more, I know not how
many, behind."

"There is no escape behind," the man said; "the walls are high, and other
houses abut upon them. I will sally out and fight through the men in
front."

"I can handle the sword," Ronald put in; "and if you will provide me with
a weapon I will do my best by your side."

"You are a brave lad," the man said, "and I accept your aid."

He led the way down stairs and entered a room, took down a sword from
over the fireplace, and gave it to Ronald.

As he took it in his hand there was a loud knocking at the door.

"Too late!" the man exclaimed. "Quick, the light, Mary! At any rate I
must burn my papers."

He drew some letters from his pocket, lit them at the lamp, and threw
them on the hearth; then opening a cabinet he drew forth a number of
other papers and crumpling them up added them to the blaze.

"Thank God that is safe!" he said; "the worst evil is averted."

"Can you not escape by the way by which I came hither?" Ronald said. "The
distance is too great to leap; but if you have got a plank, or can pull
up a board from the floor, you could put it across to the wall and make
your escape that way. I will try to hold the stairs till you are away."

"I will try at least," the man said. "Mary, bring the light, and aid me
while our brave friend does his best to give us time."

So saying he sprang upstairs, while Ronald made his way down to the door.

"Who is making such a noise at the door of a quiet house at this time of
night?" he shouted.

"Open in the king's name," was the reply; "we have a warrant to arrest
one who is concealed here."

"There is no one concealed here," Ronald replied, "and I doubt that you
are, as you say, officers of the peace; but if so, pass your warrant
through the grill, and if it be signed and in due form I will open to
you."

"I will show my warrant when need be," the voice answered. "Once more,
open the door or we will break it in."

"Do it at your peril," Ronald replied. "How can I tell you are not
thieves who seek to ransack the house, and that your warrant is a
pretence? I warn you that the first who enters I will run him through the
body."

The reply was a shower of blows on the door, and a similar attack was
begun by a party behind the house. The door was strong, and after a
minute or two the hammering ceased, and then there was a creaking,
straining noise, and Ronald knew they were applying a crowbar to force it
open. He retreated to a landing halfway up the stairs, placed a lamp
behind him so that it would show its light full on the faces of those
ascending the stairs, and waited. A minute later there was a crash; the
lock had yielded, but the bar still held the door in its place. Then the
blows redoubled, mingled with the crashing of wood; then there was the
sound of a heavy fall, and a body of men burst in.

There was a rush at the stairs, but the foremost halted at the sight of
Ronald with his drawn sword.

"Keep back," he shouted, "or beware! The watch will be here in a few
minutes, and then you will all be laid by the heels."

"Fools! We are the watch," one of the men exclaimed, and, dashing up the
stairs, aimed a blow at Ronald. He guarded it and ran the man through the
shoulder. He dropped his sword and fell back with a curse.

At this moment the woman ran down stairs from above and nodded to Ronald
to signify that the fugitive had escaped.

"You see I hold to my word," Ronald said in a loud voice. "If ye be the
watch, which I doubt, show me the warrant, or if ye have one in authority
with you let him proclaim himself."

"Here is the warrant, and here am I, James M'Whirtle, a magistrate of
this city."

"Why did you not say so before?" Ronald exclaimed, lowering his sword.
"If it be truly the worshipful Mr. M'Whirtle let him show himself, for
surely I know him well, having seen him often in the house of my
guardian, Bailie Anderson."

Mr. M'Whirtle, who had been keeping well in the rear, now came forward.

"It is himself." Ronald said. "Why did you not say you were here at once,
Mr. M'Whirtle, instead of setting your men to break down the door, as if
they were Highland caterans on a foray?"

"We bade you open in the king's name," the magistrate said, "and you
withstood us, and it will be hanging matter for you, for you have aided
the king's enemies."

"The king's enemies!" Ronald said in a tone of surprise. "How can there
be any enemies of the king here, seeing there are only myself and the
good woman up stairs? You will find no others."

"Search the house," the magistrate said furiously, "and take this
malapert lad into custody on the charge of assisting the king's enemies,
of impeding the course of justice, of withstanding by force of arms the
issue of a lawful writ, and with grievously wounding one of the city
watch."

Ronald laughed.

"It is a grievous list, worshipful sir; but mark you, as soon as you
showed your warrant and declared yourself I gave way to you. I only
resisted so long as it seemed to me you were evildoers breaking into a
peaceful house."

Two of the watch remained as guard over Ronald; one of the others
searched the house from top to bottom. No signs of the fugitive were
discovered.

"He must be here somewhere," the magistrate said, "since he was seen to
enter, and the house has been closely watched ever since. See, there are
a pile of ashes on the hearth as if papers had been recently burned.
Sound the floors and the walls."

The investigation was particularly sharp in the attic, for a board was
here found to be loose, and there were signs of its being recently
wrenched out of its place, but as the room below was unceiled this
discovery led to nothing. At last the magistrate was convinced that the
fugitive was not concealed in the house, and, after placing his seals on
the doors of all the rooms and leaving four men in charge, he left the
place, Ronald, under the charge of four men, accompanying him.

On the arrival at the city Tolbooth Ronald was thrust into a cell and
there left until morning. He was then brought before Mr. M'Whirtle and
two other of the city magistrates. Andrew Anderson was in attendance,
having been notified the night before of what had befallen Ronald. The
bailie and his wife had at first been unable to credit the news, and were
convinced that some mistake had been made. Andrew had tried to obtain his
release on his promise to bring him up in the morning, but Mr. M'Whirtle
and his colleagues, who had been hastily summoned together, would not
hear of it.

"It's a case of treason, man. Treason against his gracious majesty;
aiding and abetting one of the king's enemies, to say nought of brawling
and assaulting the city watch."

The woman found in the house had also been brought up, but no precise
charge was made against her. The court was crowded, for Andrew, in his
wrath at being unable to obtain Ronald's release, had not been backward
in publishing his grievance, and many of his neighbours were present to
hear this strange charge against Ronald Leslie.

The wounded constable and another first gave their evidence.

"I myself can confirm what has been said," Mr. M'Whirtle remarked,
"seeing that I was present with the watch to see the arrest of a person
against whom a warrant had been issued."

"Who is that person?" Ronald asked. "Seeing that I am charged with aiding
and abetting his escape it seems to me that I have a right to know who he
is."

The magistrates looked astounded at the effrontery of the question, but
after a moment's consultation together Mr. M'Whirtle said that in the
interest of justice it was unadvisable at the present moment to state the
name of the person concerned.

"What have you to say, prisoner, to the charge made against you? In
consideration of our good friend Bailie Anderson, known to be a worthy
citizen and loyal subject of his majesty, we would be glad to hear what
you have to say anent this charge."

"I have nothing to say," Ronald replied quietly. "Being in the house when
it was attacked, with as much noise as if a band of Border ruffians were
at the gate, I stood on the defence. I demanded to see what warrant they
had for forcing an entry, and as they would show me none, I did my best
to protect the house; but the moment Mr. M'Whirtle proclaimed who he was
I lowered my sword and gave them passage."

There was a smile in the court at the boy's coolness.

"But how came ye there, young sir? How came ye to be in the house at all,
if ye were there for a good motive?"

"That I decline to say," Ronald answered. "It seems to me that any one
may be in a house by the consent of its owners, without having to give
his reasons therefor."

"It will be the worse for you if you defy the court. I ask you again how
came you there?"

"I have no objection to tell you how I came there," Ronald said. "I was
walking on the old wall, which, as you know, runs close by the house,
when I saw an ill looking loon hiding himself as if watching the house,
looking behind I saw another ruffianly looking man there." Two gasps of
indignation were heard from the porch at the back of the court. "Thinking
that there was mischief on hand I leapt from the wall to the dormer
window to warn the people of the house that there were ill doers who had
designs upon the place, and then remained to see what came of it. That is
the simple fact."

There was an exclamation of incredulity from the magistrates.

"If you doubt me," Ronald said, "you can send a man to the wall. I felt
my feet loosen a tile and it slid down into the gutter."

One of the magistrates gave an order, and two of the watch left the
court.

"And who did you find in the house?"

"I found this good woman, and sorely frightened she was when I told her
what kind of folk were lurking outside."

"And was there anyone else there?"

"There was a man there," Ronald said quietly, "and he seemed alarmed
too."

"What became of him?"

"I cannot say for certain," Ronald replied; "but if you ask my opinion I
should say, that having no stomach for meeting people outside, he just
went out the way I came in, especially as I heard the worshipful
magistrate say that a board in the attic had been lifted."

The magistrates looked at each other in astonishment; the mode of escape
had not occurred to any, and the disappearance of the fugitive was now
explained.

"I never heard such a tale," one of the magistrates said after a pause.
"It passes belief that a lad, belonging to the family of a worthy and
respectable citizen, a bailie of the city and one who stands well with
his fellow townsmen, should take a desperate leap from the wall through a
window of a house where a traitor was in hiding, warn him that the house
was watched, and give him time to escape while he defended the stairs.
Such a tale, sure, was never told in a court. What say you, bailie?"

"I can say nought," Andrew said. "The boy is a good boy and a quiet one;
given to mischief like other boys of his age, doubtless, but always
amenable. What can have possessed him to behave in such a wild manner I
cannot conceive, but it seems to me that it was but a boy's freak."

"It was no freak when he ran his sword through Peter Muir's shoulder,"
Mr. M'Whirtle said. "Ye will allow that, neighbour Anderson."

"The man must have run against the sword," the bailie said, "seeing the
boy scarce knows one end of a weapon from another."

"You are wrong there, bailie," one of the constables said; "for I have
seen him many a time going into the school of James Macklewain, and I
have heard a comrade say, who knows James, that the lad can handle a
sword with the best of them."

"I will admit at once," Ronald said, "that I have gone to Macklewain's
school and learned fencing of him. My father, Colonel Leslie of Glenlyon,
was a gentleman, and it was right that I should wield a sword, and James
Macklewain, who had fought in the French wars and knew my father, was
good enough to teach me. I may say that my guardian knew nothing of
this."

"No, indeed," Andrew said. "I never so much as dreamt of it. If I had
done so he and I would have talked together to a purpose."

"Leslie of Glenlyon was concerned in the '15, was he not?" Mr. M'Whirtle
said; "and had to fly the country; and his son seems to be treading in
his steps, bailie. I doubt ye have been nourishing a viper in your
bosom."

At this moment the two constables returned, and reported that certainly a
tile was loose as the prisoner had described, and there were scratches as
if of the feet of someone entering the window, but the leap was one that
very few men would undertake.

"Your story is so far confirmed, prisoner; but it does not seem to us
that even had you seen two men watching a house it would be reasonable
that you would risk your neck in this way without cause. Clearly you have
aided and abetted a traitor to escape justice, and you will be remanded.
I hope, before you are brought before us again, you will make up your
mind to make a clean breast of it, and throw yourself on the king's
mercy."

Ronald was accordingly led back to the cell, the bailie being too much
overwhelmed with surprise at what he had heard to utter any remonstrance.



CHAPTER III: Free.


After Ronald had been removed from the court the woman was questioned.
She asserted that her master was away, and was, she believed, in France,
and that in his absence she often let lodgings to strangers. That two
days before, a man whom she knew not came and hired a room for a few
days. That on the evening before, hearing a noise in the attic, she went
up with him, and met Ronald coming down stairs. That when Ronald said
there were strange men outside the house, and when immediately afterwards
there was a great knocking at the door, the man drew his sword and
ordered her to come up stairs with him. That he then made her assist him
to pull up a plank, and thrust it from the attic to the wall, and ordered
her to replace it when he had gone. She supposed he was a thief flying
from justice, but was afraid to refuse to do his bidding.

"And why did you not tell us all this, woman, when we came in?" Mr.
M'Whirtle asked sternly. "Had ye told us we might have overtaken him."

"I was too much frightened," the woman answered. "There were swords out
and blood running, and men using words contrary both to the law and
Scripture. I was frighted enough before, and I just put my apron over my
head and sat down till the hubbub was over. And then as no one asked me
any questions, and I feared I might have done wrong in aiding a thief to
escape, I just held my tongue."

No cross questioning could elicit anything further from the woman, who
indeed seemed frightened almost out of her senses, and the magistrate at
last ordered her to return to the house and remain there under the
supervision of the constable until again sent for.

Andrew Anderson returned home sorely disturbed in his mind. Hitherto he
had told none, even of his intimates, that the boy living in his house
was the son of Colonel Leslie, but had spoken of him as the child of an
old acquaintance who had left him to his care. The open announcement of
Ronald that he was the son of one of the leaders in the last rebellion,
coming just as it did when the air was thick with rumours of another
rising, troubled him greatly; and there was the fact that the boy had,
unknown to him, been learning fencing; and lastly this interference,
which had enabled a notorious emissary of the Pretender to escape arrest.

"The boy's story may be true as far as it goes," he said to his wife when
relating to her the circumstances, "for I have never known him to tell a
lie; but I cannot think it was all the truth. A boy does not take such a
dreadful leap as that, and risk breaking his neck, simply because he sees
two men near the house. He must somehow have known that man was there,
and went to give him warning. Now I think of it, he passed through the
shop when Peter M'Whirtle was talking to me about it, though, indeed, he
did not know then where the loon was in hiding. The boy went out soon
afterwards, and must somehow have learned, if indeed he did not know
before. Janet, I fear that you and I have been like two blind owls with
regard to the boy, and I dread sorely that my brother Malcolm is at the
bottom of all this mischief."

This Mrs. Anderson was ready enough to credit, but she was too much
bewildered and horrified to do more than to shake her head and weep.

"Will they cut off his head, Andrew?" she asked at last.

"No, there's no fear of that; but they may imprison him for a bit, and
perhaps give him a good flogging--the young rascal. But there, don't
fret over it, Janet. I will do all I can for him. And in truth I think
Malcolm is more to blame than he is; and we have been to blame too for
letting the lad be so much with him, seeing that we might be sure he
would put all sorts of notions in the boy's head."

"But what is to be done, Andrew? We cannot let the poor lad remain in
prison."

"We have no choice in the matter, Janet. In prison he is, and in prison
he has to remain until he is let out, and I see no chance of that. If it
had only been a brawl with the watch it could have been got over easily
enough; but this is an affair of high treason--aiding and abetting the
king's enemies, and the rest of it. If it were in the old times they
would put the thumb screws on him to find out all he knew about it, for
they will never believe he risked his life in the plot; and the fact that
his father before him was in arms for the Chevalier tells that way. I
should not be surprised if an order comes for him to be sent to London to
be examined by the king's councillors; but I will go round now and ask
the justices what they think of the matter."

His tidings when he returned were not encouraging; the general opinion of
the magistrates being that Ronald was certainly mixed up in the Jacobite
plot, that the matter was altogether too serious to be disposed of by
them, being of the nature of high treason, and that nothing could be done
until instructions were received from London. No clue had been obtained
as to the whereabouts of the man who had escaped, and it was thought
probable that he had at once dropped beyond the walls and made for the
west.

Malcolm arrived ten days later from a journey in Lancashire, and there
was a serious quarrel between him and Andrew on his presenting himself at
the house.

"It is not only that you led the lad into mischief, Malcolm, but that you
taught him to do it behind my back."

"You may look at it in that way if you will, Andrew, and it's natural
enough from your point of view; but I take no blame to myself You treated
the boy as if he had been your son, and I thank you with all my heart for
your kindness to him; but I could not forget Leslie of Glenlyon, and I do
not blame myself that I have kept the same alive in his mind also. It was
my duty to see that the young eagle was not turned into a barn door fowl;
but I never thought he was going to use his beak and his claws so soon."

"A nice thing you will have to tell his father, that owing to your
teachings his son is a prisoner in the Tower, maybe for life. But
there--there's no fear of that. You will never have to render that account,
for there's no more chance of your ever hearing more of him than there is
of my becoming king of Scotland. It's bad enough that you have always
been a ne'er do well yourself without training that unfortunate boy to
his ruin."

"Well, well, Andrew, I will not argue with you, and I don't blame you at
being sore and angry over the matter; nor do I deny what you have said
about myself; it's true enough, and you might say worse things against me
without my quarreling with ye over it. However, the less said the better.
I will take myself off and think over what's to be done."

"You had better come up and have your supper with us," Andrew said,
mollified by his brother's humility.

"Not for twenty golden guineas, Andrew, would I face Mistress Janet. She
has borne with me well, though I know in her heart she disapproves of me
altogether; but after this scrape into which I have got the boy I daren't
face her. She might not say much, but to eat with her eye upon me would
choke me."

Malcolm proceeded at once to the establishment of his friend Macklewain.

"This is a nice kettle of fish, Malcolm, about young Leslie. I have had
the justices down here, asking me all sorts of questions, and they have
got into their minds that I taught him not only swordplay but treason,
and they have been threatening to put me in the stocks as a vagabond; but
I snapped my fingers in their faces, saying I earned my money as honestly
as they did, and that I concern myself in no way in politics, but teach
English officers and the sons of Glasgow tradesmen as well as those of
Highland gentlemen. They were nicely put out, I can tell you; but I
didn't care for that, for I knew I was in the right of it. But what on
earth made the young cock meddle in this matter? How came he to be mixed
up in a Jacobite plot? Have you got your finger in it?"

"Not I, James; and how it happens that he is concerned in it is more than
I can guess. I know, of course, his heart is with the king over the
water; but how he came to get his hand into the pie is altogether beyond
me."

"The people here are well nigh mad about it. I know not who the gallant
who has escaped is; but it is certain that his capture was considered a
very important one, and that the justices here expected to have gained no
small credit by his arrest, whereas now they will be regarded as fools
for letting him slip through their fingers."

"I cannot for the life of me make out how he came to be mixed up in such
a matter. No one but you and I could have known that he was a lad of
mettle, who might be trusted in such a business. It can hardly be that
they would have confided any secrets to him; still, the fact that he was
in the house with the man they are in search of, and that he drew and
risked his life and certain imprisonment to secure his escape, shows that
he must have been heart and soul in the plot."

"And what do you think of doing, Malcolm?"

"I shall get him out somehow. I can lay hands on a score or two or more
of our old comrades here in Glasgow, and I doubt not that they will all
strike a blow with me for Leslie's son, to say nothing of his being a
follower of the Stuarts."

"You are not thinking, man, of attacking the jail! That would be a
serious matter. The doors are strong, and you would have the soldiers, to
say nought of the town guard and the citizens, upon you before you had
reached him."

"No, no, James, I am thinking of no such foolishness. I guess that they
will not be trying him for withstanding the watch, that's but a small
matter; they will be sending him south for the king's ministers to get
out of him what he knows about the Jacobite plot and the names of all
concerned, and it's upon the road that we must get him out of their
hands. Like enough they will only send four troopers with him, and we can
easily master them somewhere in the dales."

"It's more like, Malcolm, they will send him by ship. They will know well
enough that if the lad knows aught there will be plenty whose interest it
is to get him out of their hands. I think they will take the safer way of
putting him on board ship."

"Like enough they will," Malcolm agreed, "and in that case it will be a
harder job than I deemed it. But at any rate I mean to try. Ronald's not
the lad to turn traitor; he will say nothing whatever they do to him, you
may be sure, and he may lie for years in an English prison if we do not
get him out of their hands before he gets there. At any rate what we have
got to do now is to mark every ship in the port sailing for London, and
to find out whether passages are taken for a prisoner and his guard in
any of them. I will make that my business, and between times get a score
of trusty fellows together in readiness to start if they should send him
by land; but I doubt not that you are right, and that he will be taken
off by ship."

The days of waiting passed slowly to Ronald, and Andrew Anderson once or
twice obtained permission to see him. The bailie wisely abstained from
any reproaches, and sought only to persuade him to make a clean breast of
the business, and to tell all he knew about a plot which could but end in
failure and ruin to all concerned. Although his belief in Ronald's
truthfulness was great he could not credit that the story which he had
told contained all the facts of the matter. To the bailie it seemed
incredible that merely from an abstract feeling in favour of the Stuarts
Ronald would have risked his life and liberty in aiding the escape of a
Jacobite agent, unless he was in some way deeply involved in the plot;
and he regarded Ronald's assurances to the contrary as the outcome of
what he considered an entirely mistaken sense of loyalty to the Stuart
cause.

"It's all very well, Ronald," he said, shaking his head sadly; "but when
they get you to London they will find means to make you open your mouth.
They have done away with the thumb screws and the rack, but there are
other ways of making a prisoner speak, and it would be far better for you
to make a clean breast of it at once. Janet is grieving for you as if you
were her own son, and I cannot myself attend to my business. Who would
have thought that so young a lad should have got himself mixed up in such
sair trouble!"

"I have really told you all, bailie, though you will not believe me, and
I am sorry indeed for the trouble I have brought upon you and my aunt"--for
Ronald had from the first been taught to address the bailie and his
wife as if Malcolm Anderson had been his real father; "anyhow I wish they
would settle it. I would rather know the worst than go on from day to day
expecting something that never happens."

"You have to wait, Ronald, till word comes from London. If they write
from there that your case can be dealt with merely for the assault upon
the watch I can promise you that a few weeks in jail are all that you are
like to have; but I fear that there is little chance of that. They are
sure to send for you to London, and whether you will ever come back alive
the gude Lord only knows. We know what came of treason thirty years ago,
and like enough they will be even more severe now, seeing that they will
hold that folks have all the less right to try and disturb matters so
long settled."

"Have you seen Malcolm?" Ronald asked, to change the conversation.

"Ay, lad, I have seen him, and the meeting was not altogether a pleasant
one for either of us."

"I hope you have not quarrelled with him on my account!" Ronald said
eagerly.

"We have not exactly quarrelled, but we have had words. I could not but
tell him my opinion as to his learning you to take such courses, but we
parted friends; but I doubt it will be long before Janet can see him with
patience."

The jailer, who was present at the interview, here notified that the
bailie's time was up.

"I shall see you again, Ronald, before they take you south. I would that
I could do more to help you besides just coming to see you."

"I know you cannot, uncle. I have got into the scrape and must take the
consequences; but if I were placed in the same position I should do it
again."

A few days afterwards, as he was eating his ration of prison bread,
Ronald found in it a small pellet of paper, and on opening it read the
words: "Keep up your courage, friends are at work for you. You will hear
more yet of M. A."

Ronald was glad to know that his old friend was thinking of him, but,
knowing how strong was the prison, he had little hopes that Malcolm would
be able to effect anything to help him. Still the note gave him comfort.

Three days later Andrew called again to bid him goodbye, telling him that
orders had been received from London that he was to be sent thither by
ship.

"I should like to have seen Malcolm before I went, if I could," Ronald
said.

"I have not seen him for several days," the bailie said. "I have sent
down several times to the house where he lodges, but he is always away;
but, whether or no, there would be no chance of your seeing him. I myself
had difficulty in getting leave to see you, though a bailie and known to
be a loyal citizen. But Malcolm knows that there would be no chance of
one with such a character as his getting to see you, and that it would
draw attention to him even to ask such a thing, which, if he has a hand
in this mad brain plot, he would not wish."

"Malcolm would not mind a straw whether they kept a watch on him or not,"
Ronald said. "Will you tell him, when you see him next, that I got his
message?"

"What message? I have given you no message that I know of."

"He will know what I mean. Tell him, whether aught comes of it or not I
thank him, and for all his kindness to me, as I do you and Aunt Janet."

At the same time with the order that Ronald should be sent to London the
authorities of Glasgow received an intimation that the ministers felt
great surprise at the lukewarmness which had been shown in allowing so
notorious and important an enemy of his majesty to escape, and that the
king himself had expressed marked displeasure at the conduct of the city
authorities in the matter. Greatly mortified at the upshot of an affair
from which they had hoped to obtain much credit from government, and
believing it certain that there were many greatly interested in getting
Ronald out of the hands of his captors, the authorities took every
precaution to prevent it. He was taken down to the river side under a
strong escort, and in addition to the four warders who were to be in
charge of the prisoner as far as London, they put on board twelve men of
the city guard. These were to remain with the ship until she was well out
at sea, and then to return in a boat which the vessel was to row behind
her.

Ronald could not but smile when he saw all these formidable preparations
for his safety. At the same time he felt that any hope he had entertained
that Malcolm might, as the message hinted, make an attempt at rescue were
blighted. The vessel dropped down with the tide. The orders of the
justices had been so strict and urgent that the whole of the men placed
on board kept a vigilant watch.

Just as they were abreast of Dumbarton the sound of oars was heard, and
presently a boat was seen approaching. As it got nearer two men were seen
to be rowing, and two others seated in the stern; but as the craft was a
large one there was room for others to be lying in the bottom. The
constable in charge shouted to the boat to keep them off.

"Stop rowing," he cried, "and come no nearer. If you do we fire, and as I
don't want to shed your blood I warn you that I have sixteen armed men
here."

As his words were emphasized by the row of men, who with levelled muskets
ranged themselves along at the side of the ship, the boat ceased rowing.

"What are you afraid of?" one of the men in the stern shouted. "Cannot a
fisherman's boat row out without being threatened with shooting? What are
you and your sixteen armed men doing on board? Are you expecting a French
fleet off the coast? And do you think you will beat them off if they
board you? How long have the Glasgow traders taken to man their ships
with fighting men?"

Ronald was in the cabin under the poop; it opened on to the waist, and
received its light from an opening in the door, at which two armed men
had stationed themselves when the boat was heard approaching. Had the
cabin possessed a porthole through which he could have squeezed himself
he would long before have jumped overboard and tried to make his escape
by swimming under cover of the darkness. He now strove to force the door
open, for he recognized Malcolm's voice, and doubted not that his friend
had spoken in order to let him know that he was there, that he might if
possible leap over and swim to the boat; but it was fastened strongly
without, and the guards outside shouted that they would fire unless he
remained quiet.

No reply was made to the taunts of the man in the boat, and slowly, for
the wind was but just filling her sails, the vessel dropped down the
river, and the boat was presently lost sight of.

In the morning the breeze freshened. It was not till the ship was eight
miles beyond the mouth of the river that the boat was pulled up
alongside, and the guard, taking their places on board, hoisted sail and
started on their return to Glasgow.

Once fairly at sea Ronald was allowed to leave his cabin. Now that he was
enjoying the fresh air his spirits soon recovered the tone which they had
lost somewhat during his three weeks' confinement in prison, and he
thoroughly enjoyed his voyage. The man who was in charge of the guard had
at first wished to place some restriction on his going about on board as
he chose; but the crew sided with the young prisoner, and threw such
ridicule on the idea that four warders and a head constable were afraid,
even for a moment, to lose sight of a boy on board a ship at sea, that he
gave way, and allowed Ronald free liberty of action, although he warned
his subordinates that they must nor relax their caution for a moment.

"The crew are all with him. They think it a shame that a lad like this
should be hauled to London as a prisoner charged with treasonable
practices; and sailors, when they once get an idea into their head, are
as obstinate as Highland cattle. I have told them that he drew a sword
and held the staircase against us all while a noted traitor made his
escape, and that he ran one of us through the shoulder, and they only
shouted with laughter, and said he was a brave young cock. Like as not,
if they had a chance, these men would aid him to escape, and then we
should have to answer for it, and heavily too; loss of place and
imprisonment would be the least of what we might expect; so though, while
at sea and in full daylight he can do as he pleases, we must be doubly
vigilant at night, or in port if the vessel should have to put in."

Accordingly, to the great disgust of the sailors the watch by turns stood
sentry outside Ronald's door at night, thereby defeating a plan which the
sailors had formed of lowering a boat the first night they passed near
land, and letting Ronald make his escape to shore.

The wind was favourable until the vessel rounded the Land's End. After
that it became baffling and fickle, and it was more than three weeks
after the date of her sailing from Glasgow that the vessel entered the
mouth of the Thames. By this time Ronald's boyish spirits had allayed all
suspicion on the part of his guards. He joked with the sailors, climbed
about the rigging like a cat, and was so little affected by his position
that the guards were convinced that he was free from the burden of any
state secret, and that no apprehension of any serious consequence to
himself was weighing upon him.

"Poor lad!" the head warder said; "he will need all his spirits. He will
have hard work to make the king's council believe that he interfered in
such a matter as this from pure love of adventure. He will have many a
weary month to pass in prison before they free him, I reckon. It goes
against my heart to hand over such a mere laddie as a prisoner; still it
is no matter of mine. I have my duty to do, and it's not for me to
question the orders I have received, or to argue whether a prisoner is
innocent or guilty."

As the vessel anchored off Gravesend to wait for the turn of the tide to
take her up, a boat rowed by a waterman, and with a man sitting in the
stern, passed close by the ship. The head warder had now redoubled his
vigilance, and one of the guards with loaded musket was standing on the
deck not far from Ronald, who was standing on the taffrail. As the boat
passed some twenty yards astern of the ship the man who was not rowing
turned round for a moment and looked up at Ronald. It was but a momentary
glance that the lad caught of his face, and he suppressed with difficulty
a cry of surprise, for he recognized Malcolm Anderson. The rower
continued steadily to ply his oars, and continued his course towards
another ship anchored lower down the river. Ronald stood watching the
boat, and saw that after making a wide sweep it was rowed back again to
Gravesend.

Ronald had no doubt that Malcolm had come south in hopes of effecting his
escape, and guessed that he had taken up his post at Gravesend with the
intention of examining every ship as she passed up until the one in which
he knew he had sailed made its appearance. What his next step would be he
could not tell; but he determined to keep a vigilant lookout, and to
avail himself instantly of any opportunity which might offer.

As the captain did nor care about proceeding up the river after dark it
was not until the tide turned, just as morning broke, that the anchor was
weighed. There was a light breeze which just sufficed to give the vessel
steerage way, and a mist hung on the water. Ronald took his favourite
seat on the taffrail, and kept a vigilant watch upon every craft which
seemed likely to come near the vessel.

Greenwich was passed, and the vessel presently approached the crowded
part of the Pool. It was near high tide now, and the captain was
congratulating himself that he should just reach a berth opposite the
Tower before it turned. Presently a boat with two rowers shot out from
behind a tier of vessels and passed close under the stern of the Glasgow
Lass. A man was steering whom Ronald instantly recognized.

"Jump!" he cried, and Ronald without a moment's hesitation leaped from
the taffrail.

He came up close to the boat, and was instantly hauled on board by
Malcolm. Just at that moment the guard, who had stood stupefied by
Ronald's sudden action, gave a shout of alarm and discharged his piece.
The ball struck the boat close to Ronald. It was already in motion; the
men bent to their oars, and the boat glided towards the Surrey side of
the river. Loud shouts arose from on board the vessel, and four bullets
cut the water round the boar; but before the muskets could be reloaded
Malcolm had steered the boat through a tier of vessels, whose crews,
attracted by the firing, cheered the fugitives lustily.

A minute later they had reached some landing steps. Malcolm tossed some
money to the rowers, and then sprang ashore with Ronald, and handed the
latter a long coat which would reach to his heels and conceal the
drenched state of his clothing from notice.

"We have tricked them nicely, dear boy," he said; "we are safe now. Long
before they can lower a boat and get here we shall be safe in shelter,
and our five Glasgow bodies will have something to do to look for us
here."

Moderating his pace so as to avoid attracting attention, Malcolm
proceeded along several streets and lanes, and presently stopped at the
door of a little shop.

"I am lodging here," he said, "and have told the people of the house that
I am expecting a nephew back from a cruise in the Mediterranean."

As he passed through the shop he said to the woman behind the counter:

"Here he is safe and sound. He's been some days longer than I expected,
but I was nor so very far wrong in my calculations. The young scamp has
had enough of the sea, and has agreed to go back again with me to his own
people."

"That's right," the woman said. "My own boy ran away two years ago, and I
hope he will have come to his senses by the time he gets back again."

When they were together in their room up stairs Malcolm threw his arms
round Ronald's neck.

"Thank God, my dear boy, I have got you our of the clutches of the law!
You do not know how I have been fretting since I heard you were caught,
and thought that if ill came to you it would be all my fault. And now
tell me how you got into this scrape, for it has been puzzling me ever
since I heard it. Surely when I saw you last you knew nothing about any
Jacobite goings on?"

Ronald related the whole particulars of his adventure, and said that even
now he was absolutely ignorant who was the man whom he had aided to
escape.

"I know no more than you do, Ronald, but they must have thought his
capture an important one by the fuss they made over his escape. And now,
to think that you have slipped out of their hands too!" and Malcolm broke
into a loud laugh. "I would give a month's earnings to see the faces of
the guard as they make their report that they have arrived empty handed.
I was right glad when I saw you. I was afraid you might have given them
the slip on the way, and then there would have been no saying when we
might have found each other again."

"The sailors would have lowered a boat at night and let me make for the
land," Ronald said, "but there was a good guard kept over me. The door
was locked and a sentry always on watch, and I had quite given up all
hope until I saw you at Gravesend. And now, what do you intend to do?
Make our way back to Scotland?"

"No, no, lad, that would never do. There will be a hue and cry after you,
and all the northern routes will be watched. No, I shall make a bargain
with some Dutch skipper to take us across the water, and then we will
make our way to Paris."

"But have you got money, Malcolm?"

"I have got your purse, lad. I went to Andrew and said that I wanted it
for you, but that he was to ask no questions, so that whatever came of it
he could say that he knew nothing. He gave it me at once, saying only:

"'Remember, Malcolm, you have done the boy some harm already with your
teaching, see that you do him no further harm. I guess you are bent on
some hare brained plan, but whatever it be I wish you success.'"



CHAPTER IV: In France.


The next day Malcolm went out alone, and on his return told Ronald that
there were placards on the walls offering a reward of a hundred pounds
for his apprehension.

"You don't think the people below have any suspicion, Malcolm?"

"Not they," Malcolm replied. "I was telling them last night after you had
gone to bed all about the places you have been voyaging to, and how
anxious your father, a snug farmer near Newcastle, was to have you back
again. I had spoken to them before so as to prepare them for your coming,
and the old woman takes quite an interest in you, because her son at sea
is a lad just about your age. I have brought you in a suit of sailor
clothes; we will go down and have a chat with them after the shop is
closed of a night. You will remember Newcastle and the farm, and can tell
them of your escape from Greek pirates, and how nearly you were taken by
a French frigate near the straits."

The consternation of the watch at Ronald's escape was extreme. The shot
which the man on guard had fired was their first intimation of the event,
and seizing their muskets they had hastily discharged them in the
direction of the fugitive, and had then shouted for a boat to be lowered.
But never was a boat longer getting into the water than was that of the
Glasgow Lass upon this occasion. The captain gave his orders in a
leisurely way, and the crew were even slower in executing them. Then
somehow the fall stuck and the boat wouldn't lower. When at last she was
in the water it was found that the thole pins were missing; these being
found she was rowed across the river, the five constables undergoing a
running fire of jokes and hilarity from the sailors of the ships they
passed near. In answer to their inquiries where the fugitives landed,
some of the sailors shouted that she had pulled up the river behind the
tier of vessels, others insisted that she had sunk with all hands close
by.

Completely bewildered, the chief of the party told the sailors to put
them ashore at the first landing. When the party gained the streets they
inquired eagerly of all they met whether they had seen aught of the
fugitives. Few of those they questioned understood the broad Scotch in
which the question was asked, others laughed in their faces and asked how
they were to know the man and boy they wanted from any others; and after
vainly looking about for some time they returned to the stairs, only to
find that the boat had returned to the ship.

A waterman's boat was now hired, and the rower, who had heard what had
happened, demanded a sum for putting them on board which horrified them;
but at last, after much bargaining, they were conveyed back to the ship.
An hour later the chief of the party went ashore, and repairing to the
Tower, where he had been ordered to conduct the prisoner, reported his
escape. He was at once taken into custody on the charge of permitting the
escape of his prisoner, and it was not until three days later, upon the
evidence of his men and of the captain and officers of the ship, that he
was released.

His four men were put on board a ship returning to Glasgow next day,
while he himself was kept to identify the fugitive should he be caught.

A week later Malcolm told Ronald that he had made arrangements with the
captain of a Dutch vessel to take them over to Holland.

"We are to go on board at Gravesend," he said, "for they are searching
all ships bound for foreign ports. It is not for you especially, but
there are supposed to be many Jacobites going to and fro, and they will
lay hands on anyone who cannot give a satisfactory account of himself. So
it is just as well for us to avoid questioning."

Accordingly the next day they walked down to Gravesend, and taking boat
there boarded the Dutch vessel when she came along on the following day.
The Dutch captain received them civilly; he had been told by Malcolm that
they wished to leave the country privately, and guessed that they were in
some way fugitives from the law, but as he was to be well paid this gave
him no concern. There were no other passengers, and a roomy cabin was
placed at their disposal. They passed down the river without impediment,
and anchored that night off Sheerness.

"These Dutch traders are but slow craft," Malcolm said as he walked
impatiently up and down the deck next morning, watching the slow progress
which they made past the shore. "I wish we could have got a passage
direct to France, but of course that is impossible now the two nations
are at war."

"What is the war about, Malcolm? I heard at home that they were fighting,
but yet that somehow the two countries were not at war."

"No, I don't know how that comes about," Malcolm said. "England has a
minister still at Paris; but for all that King George is at the head of a
number of British troops in Germany fighting against the French there."

"But what is it about, Malcolm?"

"Well, it is a matter which concerns Hanover more than England; in fact
England has no interest in the matter at all as far as I can see, except
that as France takes one side she takes the other, because she is afraid
of France getting too strong. However, it is a German business, and
England is mixed up in it only because her present king is a Hanoverian
and not an Englishman. This is the matter as far as I can make it out.
Charles VI., Emperor of Germany, died in October, 1740. It had been
arranged by a sort of general agreement called the Pragmatic Sanction--"

"What an extraordinary name, Malcolm! What does it mean?"

"I have not the least idea in the world, lad. However, that is what it is
called. It was signed by a lot of powers, of whom England was one, and by
it all parties agreed that Charles's daughter Maria Theresa was to become
Empress of Austria. However, when the emperor was dead the Elector of
Bavaria claimed to be emperor, and he was supported by France, by Spain,
and by Frederick of Prussia, and they marched to Vienna, enthroned the
elector as Duke of Austria, and drove Maria Theresa to take refuge in
Hungary, where she was warmly supported.

"The English parliament voted a large sum to enable the empress to carry
on the war, and last year sixteen thousand men under the Earl of Stair
crossed the seas to cooperate with the Dutch, who were warm supporters of
the empress, and were joined by six thousand Hessians and sixteen
thousand Hanoverians in British pay; but after all nothing was done last
year, for as in the last war the Dutch were not ready to begin, and the
English army were in consequence kept idle."

"Then it seems that everyone was against the empress except England and
these three little states."

"That is pretty nearly so," Malcolm said; "but at present the empress has
bought off the Prussians, whose king joined in the affair solely for his
own advantage, by giving him the province of Silesia, so that in fact at
present it is England and Hanover, which is all the same thing, with the
Dutch and Hessians, against France and Bavaria, for I don't think that at
present Spain has sent any troops."

"Well, it seems to me a downright shame," Ronald said indignantly; "and
though I have no great love for the English, and hate their Hanoverian
George and his people, I shouldn't like to fight with one of the Scotch
regiments in the French service in such a quarrel."

Malcolm laughed.

"My dear lad, if every soldier were to discuss the merits of the quarrel
in which he is ordered to fight there would be an end of all discipline."

"Yes, I see that," Ronald agreed; "if one is once a soldier he has only
to obey orders. But one need not become a soldier just at the time when
he would be called upon to fight for a cause which he considers unjust."

"That is so, Ronald, and it's fortunate, if your feelings are in favour
of Maria Theresa, that we are not thinking of enlisting just at present,
for you would be puzzled which side to take. If you fought for her you
would have to fight under the Hanoverian; if you fight against the
Hanoverian you are fighting against Maria Theresa."

"Well, we don't want to fight at all," Ronald said. "What we want to do
is to find out something about my father. I wish the voyage was at an
end, and that we had our faces towards Paris."

"It will not be so easy to cross from Holland into France," Malcolm said.
"I wish our voyage was at an end for another reason, for unless I mistake
there is a storm brewing up."

Malcolm's prediction as to the weather was speedily verified. The wind
rose rapidly, ragged clouds hurried across the sky, and the waves got up
fast, and by nightfall the sea had become really heavy, dashing in sheets
high in the air every time the bluff bowed craft plunged into it. Long
before this Ronald had gone below prostrate with seasickness.

"It's just like the obstinacy of these Dutchmen," Malcolm muttered to
himself as he held on by a shroud and watched the labouring ship. "It
must have been clear to anyone before we were well out of the river that
we were going to have a gale, and as the wind then was nearly due south,
we could have run back again and anchored in shelter till it was over.
Now it has backed round nearly into our teeth, with every sign of its
getting into the north, and then we shall have the French coast on our
lee. It's not very serious yet, but if the wind goes on rising as it has
done for the last four or five hours we shall have a gale to remember
before the morning."

Before the daylight, indeed, a tremendous sea was running, and the wind
was blowing with terrible force from the north. Although under but a rag
of canvas the brig was pressed down gunwale deep, and each wave as it
struck her broadside seemed to heave her bodily to leeward. Malcolm on
coming on deck made his way aft and glanced at the compass, and then took
a long look over the foaming water towards where he knew the French coast
must lie. The wind was two or three points east of north, and as the
clumsy craft would not sail within several points of the wind she was
heading nearly east.

"She is making a foot to leeward for every one she forges ahead," he said
to himself. "If she has been at this work all night we cannot be far from
the coast."

So the Dutch skipper appeared to think, for a few minutes afterwards he
gave orders to bring her about on the other tack. Three times they tried
and failed; each time the vessel slowly came up into the wind, but the
heavy waves forced her head off again before the headsails filled. Then
the skipper gave orders to wear her. Her head payed off to the wind until
she was nearly before it. Two or three great seas struck her stern and
buried her head deeply, but at last the boom swung over and her head came
up on the other tack. During the course of these manoeuvres she had made
fully two miles leeway, and when she was fairly under sail with her head
to the west Malcolm took another long look towards the south.

"Just as I thought," he said. "There is white water there and a dark line
behind it. That is the French coast, sure enough."

It would have been useless to speak, but he touched the arm of the
skipper and pointed to leeward. The skipper looked in this direction for
a minute and then gave the order for more sail to be put on the ship, to
endeavour to beat out in the teeth of the gale. But even when pressed to
the utmost it was evident to Malcolm that the force of the waves was
driving her faster towards the coast than she could make off it, and he
went below and told Ronald to come on deck.

"I would rather lie here," Ronald said.

"Nonsense, lad! The wind and spray will soon knock the sickness out of
you; and you will want all your wits about you, for it won't be many
hours before we are bumping on the sands, and stoutly built as the craft
is she won't hold together long in such a sea as this."

"Do you really mean it, Malcolm, or are you only trying to get me on
deck?"

"I mean it, lad. We are drifting fast upon the French coast, and there is
no hope of her clawing off in the teeth of such a gale as this."

The news aroused Ronald effectually. He had not suffered at all on the
voyage down from Glasgow, and he was already beginning to feel better
when Malcolm went down to call him. He was soon on deck holding on by the
bulwark.

"There it is, that long low black line; it looks a long way off because
the air is full of spray and the coast is low, but it's not more than
three or four miles; look at that broad belt of foam."

For some hours the Dutch skipper did his best to beat to windward, but in
vain, the vessel drove nearer and nearer towards the shore; the anchors
were got in readiness, and when within a quarter of a mile of the line of
breakers the vessel's head was brought up into the wind, and the lashings
of the two anchors cut simultaneously.

"Will they hold her, do you think?" Ronald asked.

"Not a chance of it, Ronald. Of course the captain is right to try; but
no cables were ever made would hold such a bluff bowed craft as this in
the teeth of such a wind and sea."

The cables ran out to the bitts. Just as they tightened a great sea
rolled in on the bow. Two dull reports were heard, and then her head
payed off. The jib was run up instantly to help her round, and under this
sail the brig was headed directly towards the shore. The sea was breaking
round them now; but the brig was almost flat bottomed and drew but little
water. All on board hung on to the shrouds and bulwarks, momentarily
expecting a crash, but she drove on through the surf until within a
hundred yards of the shore. Then as she went down in the trough of a wave
there was a mighty crash. The next wave swept her forward her own length.

Then there was another crash even more tremendous than the first, and her
masts simultaneously went over the side. The next wave moved her but a
few feet; the one which followed, finding her immovable, piled itself
higher over her, and swept in a cataract down her sloping deck. Her stern
had swung round after the first shot, and she now lay broadside to the
waves. The Dutch skipper and his crew behaved with the greatest calmness;
the ship lay over at such an angle that it was impossible to stand on the
deck; but the captain managed to get on the upper rail, and although
frequently almost washed off by the seas, contrived to cut the shrouds
and ropes that still attached the masts to the ship there. Then he joined
the crew, who were standing breast high in the water on the lee side, the
floating masts were pulled in until within a few yards of the vessel, and
such of the crew as could swim made towards them.

The skipper cut the last rope that bound them, and then plunged in and
joined his men. The distance was little over fifty yards to the shore,
and the wreck formed a partial shelter. A crowd of people were assembled
at the edge of the beach with ropes in readiness to give any assistance
in their power. Malcolm and Ronald were among those who had swum to the
masts, but when within a short distance of the shore the former shouted
in the latter's ear:

"Swim off, lad, the masts might crush us."

As soon as they neared the shore a number of ropes were thrown. Most of
the sailors, seeing the danger of being crushed, followed the example of
Malcolm, and left the masts. Malcolm and Ronald swam just outside the
point where the waves broke until a line fell in the water close to them.
They grasped it at once.

"Give it a twist round your arm," Malcolm shouted, "or the backwash will
tear you from it."

The sailors on shore watched their opportunity, and the instant a wave
passed beneath the two swimmers ran up the beach at full speed with the
rope. There was a crash. Ronald felt himself shot forward with great
rapidity, then as he touched the ground with his feet they were swept
from under him, and so great was the strain that he felt as if his arm
was being pulled from the socket. A few seconds later he was lying at
full length upon the sands, and before the next wave reached him a dozen
men had rushed down and seized him and Malcolm, and carried them beyond
its influence. For a minute or two Ronald felt too bruised and out of
breath to move. Then he heard Malcolm's voice:

"Are you hurt, Ronald?"

"No; I think not, Malcolm," he replied, making an effort to sit up. "Are
you?"

"No, lad; bruised a bit, but no worse."

One by one the sailors were brought ashore, one with both legs broken
from the force with which he was dashed down by the surf, and one man who
stuck to the mast was crushed to death as it was rolled over and over on
to the beach. The captain and three sailors were, like Malcolm and
Ronald, unhurt. There still remained four men on the wreck. Fortunately
she had struck just at high tide, and so stoutly was she built that she
held together in spite of the tremendous seas, and in an hour the four
sailors were able to wade breast high to the shore.

They found that the spot where the vessel had struck was half a mile west
of Gravelines. They were taken to the town, and were hospitably
entertained. A small body of soldiers were quartered there, and the
officer in command told the Dutch skipper, that as the two nations were
at war he and his crew must be detained until he received orders
respecting them. On learning from Malcolm that he and Ronald were
passengers, and were Scotsmen making their way from England to escape
imprisonment as friends of the Stuarts, and that he had for twelve years
served in one of the Scotch regiments of Louis, and was now bound for
Paris, the officer said that they were free to continue their journey at
once.

It was two or three days before they started, for they found the next
morning that they were both too severely bruised to set out at once on
the journey. As Malcolm had taken care to keep the purse containing
Ronald's money securely fastened to a belt under his clothes they had no
lack of funds; but as time was no object they started for Paris on foot.
Ronald greatly enjoyed the journey. Bright weather had set in after the
storm. It was now the middle of May, all nature was bright and cheerful,
the dresses of the peasantry, the style of architecture so different to
that to which he was accustomed in Scotland, and everything else were new
and strange to him. Malcolm spoke French as fluently as his own language,
and they had therefore no difficulty or trouble on the way.

They arrived at Paris without any adventure. Malcolm went to a cabaret
which had at the time when he was in the French service been much
frequented by Scotch soldiers, being kept by a countryman of their own,
an ex-sergeant in one of the Scottish regiments.

"Ah! Sandy Macgregor," Malcolm exclaimed as the proprietor of the place
approached to take their order. "So you are still in the flesh, man!
Right glad am I to see you again.

"I know your face," Sandy replied; "but I canna just say what your name
might be."

"Malcolm Anderson, of Leslie's Scotch regiment. It's fourteen years since
I left them now; but I was here again four years later, if you can
remember, when I came over to try and find out if aught had been heard of
the colonel."

"Ay, ay," Sandy said, grasping Malcolm's outstretched hand warmly. "It
all comes back to me now. Right glad am I to see you. And who is the lad
ye have brought with you? A Scot by his face and bearing, I will be
bound, but young yet for the service if that be what he is thinking of."

"He is the colonel's son, Sandy. You will remember I told you I had
carried him back to Scotland with me; but I need not tell ye that this is
betwixt ourselves, for those who have so badly treated his father might
well have a grudge against the son, and all the more that he is the
rightful heir to many a broad acre here in France."

"I give you a hearty welcome, young sir," Sandy said. "Many a time I have
seen your brave father riding at the head of his regiment, and have
spoken to him too, for he and his officers would drop in here and crack a
cup together in a room I keep upstairs for the quality. Well, well, and
to think that you are his son! But what Malcolm said is true, and it were
best that none knew who ye are, for they have an unco quick way here of
putting inconvenient people out of the way."

"Have you ever heard aught of my father since?" Ronald asked eagerly.

"Not a word," Sandy replied. "I have heard it talked over scores of times
by men who were in the regiment that was once his, and none doubted that
if he were still alive he was lying in the Bastille, or Vincennes, or one
of the other cages where they keep those whose presence the king or his
favourites find inconvenient. It's just a stroke of the pen, without
question or trial, and they are gone, and even their best friends darena
ask a question concerning them. In most cases none know why they have
been put away; but there is no doubt why Leslie was seized. Three or four
of his fellow officers were in the secret of his marriage, and when he
had disappeared these talked loudly about it, and there was sair grief
and anger among the Scottish regiment at Leslie's seizure. But what was
to be done? It was just the king's pleasure, and that is enough in
France. Leslie had committed the grave offence of thwarting the wishes of
two of the king's favourites, great nobles, too, with broad lands and
grand connections. What were the likings of a Scottish soldier of fortune
and a headstrong girl in comparison! In Scotland in the old times a
gallant who had carried off a daughter of a Douglas or one of our
powerful nobles would have made his wife a widow ere many weeks were
over, and it is the same thing here now. It wouldna have been an easy
thing for his enemies to kill Leslie with his regiment at his back, and
so they got an order from the king, and as surely got rid of him as if
they had taken his life."

"You have never heard whether my mother has married again?" Ronald asked.

"I have never heard her name mentioned. Her father is still at court, but
his daughter has never been seen since, or I should have heard of it; but
more than that I cannot say."

"That gives me hopes that my father is still alive," Ronald said. "Had he
been dead they might have forced her into some other marriage."

"They might so; but she was plainly a lassie who had a will of her own
and may have held out."

"But why did they not kill him instead of putting him in prison if he was
in their way?"

"They might, as I said, have done it at once; but once in prison he was
beyond their reach. The king may grant a lettre de cachet, as these
orders are called, to a favourite; but even in France men are not put to
death without some sort of trial, and even Chateaurouge and De Recambours
could not ask Louis to have a man murdered in prison to gratify their
private spite, especially when that man was a brave Scottish officer
whose fate had already excited much discontent among his compatriots in
the king's service. Then again much would depend upon who was the
governor of the prison. These men differ like others. Some of them are
honourable gentlemen, to whom even Louis himself would not venture to
hint that he wanted a prisoner put out of the way; but there are others
who, to gratify a powerful nobleman, would think nothing of telling a
jailer to forget a fortnight to give food to a prisoner. So you see we
cannot judge from this. And now what are you thinking of doing, Malcolm,
and why are you over here?"

"In the first place we are over here because young Leslie took after his
father and aided a Jacobite, whom George's men were in search of, to
escape, and drew his sword on a worshipful justice of Glasgow and the
city watch."

"He has begun early," Sandy said, laughing; "and how did he get away?"

"They brought him down a prisoner to London, to interrogate him as to the
plot. I had a boat in the Thames and he jumped over and swam for it; so
here we are. There are rumours in Scotland that King Louis is helping
Prince Charlie, and that an army is soon going to sail for Scotland."

"It is talked of here, but so far nothing is settled; but as King George
is interfering in Louis's affairs, and is fighting him in Germany, I
think it more than likely that King Louis is going to stir up a coil in
Scotland to give George something to do at home."

"Then if there's nothing to be done here I shall find out the old
regiment. There will be many officers in it still who have fought under
Leslie, and some of them may know more about him than you do, and will
surely be able to tell me what has become of the lad's mither."

"That may well be so; but keep a quiet tongue, Malcolm, as to Leslie's
son, save to those on whose discretion you can rely. I tell you, if it
were known that he is alive and in France his life would not be worth a
week's purchase. They would not take the trouble to get a lettre de
cachet for him as they did for his father; it would be just a pistol
bullet or a stab on a dark night or in a lonely place. There would be no
question asked about the fate of an unknown Scotch laddie."

"I will be careful, Sandy, and silent. The first thing is to find out
where the old regiment is lying."

"That I can tell you at once. It is on the frontier with the Duc de
Noailles, and they say that there is like to be a great battle with
English George and his army."

"Well, as we have nothing else to do we will set out and find them,"
Malcolm said; "but as time is not pressing we will stop a few days here
in Paris and I will show the lad the sights. I suppose you can put us
up."

"That can I. Times are dull at present. After '15 Paris swarmed with
Scotsmen who had fled to save their heads; but of late years but few have
come over, and the Scotch regiments have difficulty in keeping up their
numbers. Since the last of them marched for the frontier I have been
looking after empty benches, and it will be good news for me when I hear
that the war is over and they are on their way back."

For some days Malcolm and Ronald wandered about the narrow streets of
Paris. Ronald was somewhat disappointed in the city of which he had heard
so much. The streets were ill paved and worse lighted, and were narrow
and winding. In the neighbourhood of the Louvre there were signs of
wealth and opulence. The rich dresses of the nobles contrasted strongly
indeed with the sombre attire of the Glasgow citizens, and the appearance
and uniform of the royal guards filled him with admiration; but beyond
the fashionable quarter it did not appear to him that Paris possessed
many advantages over Glasgow, and the poorer class were squalid and
poverty stricken to a far greater degree than anything he had seen in
Scotland. But the chief points of attraction to him were the prisons. The
Bastille, the Chatelet, and the Temple were points to which he was
continually turning; the two former especially, since, if he were in
Paris, it was in one of these that his father was most probably lying.

The various plans he had so often thought over, by which, in some way or
other, he might communicate with his father and aid his escape, were
roughly shattered at the sight of these buildings. He had reckoned on
their resembling in some respect the prison in Glasgow, and at the sight
of these formidable fortresses with their lofty walls and flanking
towers, their moats and vigilant sentries, his hopes fell to zero. It
would, he saw at once, be absolutely impossible to open communication
with a prisoner of whose whereabouts he was wholly ignorant and of whose
very existence he was doubtful. The narrow slits which lighted the cell
in which he was confined might look into an inner court, or the cell
itself might be below the surface of the soil. The legend of the
troubadour who discovered King Richard of England's place of captivity by
singing without the walls had always been present in his mind, but no
such plan would be practicable here. He knew no song which his father,
and his father only, would recognize; and even did he know such a song,
the appearance of anyone loitering in the open space outside the moat
round the Bastille singing at intervals at different points would have
instantly attracted the attention of the sentries on the walls. Nor, even
did he discover that his father was lying a prisoner in one of the cells
facing outwards in the fortress, did he see any possibility of compassing
his escape. The slits were wide enough only for the passage of a ray of
light or the flight of an arrow. No human being could squeeze himself
through them, and even if he could do so he would need a long rope to
descend into the moat.

One day Ronald talked over his ideas with Malcolm, who declared at once
that they were impossible of execution.

"There is scarcely a case on record," he said, "of an escape from either
the Bastille or the Chatelet, and yet there have been scores of prisoners
confined in them with friends of great influence and abundant means. If
these have been unable, by bribing jailers or by other strategy, to free
their friends, how could a stranger, without either connection,
influence, or wealth, hope to effect the escape of a captive were he
certain that he was within the walls. Do not waste your thought on such
fancies, Ronald. If your father is still in prison it is by influence
only, and influence exerted upon the king and exceeding that of your
father's enemies, that his release can be obtained.

"Such influence there is no possibility of our exerting. Your father's
comrades and countrymen, his position and services, availed nothing when
he was first imprisoned; and in the time which has elapsed the number of
those who know him and would venture to risk the king's displeasure by
pleading his cause must have lessened considerably. The only possibility,
mind I say possibility, of success lies in your mother.

"So far it is clear that she has been powerless; but we know not under
what circumstances she has been placed. She may all this time have been
shut up a prisoner in a convent; she may be dead; but it is possible
that, if she is free, she may have powerful connections on her mother's
side, who might be induced to take up her cause and to plead with the
king for your father's liberty. She may have been told that your father
is dead. She is, no doubt, in ignorance of what has become of you, or
whether you are still alive. If she believes you are both dead she would
have had no motive for exerting any family influence she may have, and
may be living a broken hearted woman, firm only in the resolution to
accept no other husband."

"Yes, that is possible," Ronald agreed. "At any rate, Malcolm, let us
lose no further time, but set out tomorrow for the frontier and try to
find out from my father's old comrades what has become of my mother."



CHAPTER V: Dettingen.


After walking two or three miles Malcolm and Ronald came upon the rear of
a train of waggons which had set out from Paris an hour earlier. Entering
into conversation with one of the drivers they found that the convoy was
bound for the frontier with ammunition and supplies for the army.

"This is fortunate," Malcolm said; "for to tell you the truth, Ronald, I
have looked forward to our meeting with a good many difficulties by the
way. We have no passes or permits to travel, and should be suspected of
being either deserters or thieves. We came down from the north easy
enough; but there they are more accustomed to the passage of travellers
to or from the coast. Going east our appearance if alone would be sure to
incite comment and suspicion. It is hard if among the soldiers with the
convoy I do not know someone who has friends in the old regiment. At any
rate we can offer to make ourselves useful in case of any of the drivers
falling ill or deserting by the way."

As they walked along towards the head of the long line of waggons Malcolm
closely scrutinized the troopers who formed the escort, but most of them
were young soldiers, and he therefore went on without accosting them
until he reached the head of the column. Here two officers were riding
together, a captain and a young lieutenant. Malcolm saluted the former.

"I am an old soldier of the 2d Regiment of Scottish Calvary, and am going
with my young friend here, who has relations in the regiment, to join
them. Will you permit us, sir, to journey with your convoy? We are ready,
if needs be, to make ourselves useful in case any of your drivers are
missing, no uncommon thing, as I know, on a long journey."

The officer asked a few questions about his services, and said: "What
have you been doing since you left, as you say, fourteen years ago?"

"I have been in Scotland, sir. I took this lad, who was then an infant,
home to my people, having had enough of soldiering, while my brother, his
father, remained with the regiment. We do not know whether he is alive or
dead, but if the former the lad wants to join as a trumpeter, and when
old enough to fight in the ranks."

"Very well," the officer said. "You can march along with us, and if any
of these fellows desert you shall take their places, and of course draw
their pay."

It was a short time indeed before Malcolm's services were called into
requisition, for the very first night several of the drivers, who had
been pressed into the service, managed to elude the vigilance of the
guard and slipped away.

The next morning Malcolm, with Ronald as his assistant, took charge of
one of the heavy waggons, loaded with ammunition, and drawn by twelve
horses.

"This is better than walking after all, Ronald. In the first place it
saves the legs, and in the second one is partly out of the dust."

"But I think we should get on faster walking, Malcolm."

"Yes, if we had no stoppages. But then, you see, as we have no papers we
might be detained for weeks by some pig headed official in a little
country town; besides, we are sure to push on as fast as we can, for they
will want the ammunition before a battle is fought. And after all a few
days won't make much difference to us; the weather is fine, and the
journey will not be unpleasant."

In fact Ronald enjoyed the next three weeks greatly as the train of
waggons made its way across the plains of Champagne, and then on through
the valleys of Lorraine and Alsace until it reached Strasbourg. Malcolm
had speedily made friends with some of the soldiers of the escort, and of
an evening when the day's work was over he and Ronald sat with them by
the fires they made by the roadside, and Malcolm told tales of the
campaigns in which he had been engaged, and the soldiers sang songs and
chatted over the probabilities of the events of the war. None of them had
served before, having been but a few months taken from their homes in
various parts of France. But although, doubtless, many had at first
regretted bitterly being dragged away to the wars, they were now all
reconciled to their lot, and looked forward eagerly to joining their
regiment, which was at the front, when the duty of looking after the
convoy would be at an end.

Little was known in Paris as to the position of the contending armies
beyond the fact that Lord Stair, who commanded the English army, sixteen
thousand strong, which had for the last year been lying inactive in
Flanders, had marched down with his Hanoverian allies towards the Maine,
and that the Duc de Noailles with sixty thousand men was lying beyond the
Rhine. But at Strasbourg they learned that the French army had marched
north to give battle to Lord Stair, who had at present with him but
twenty-eight thousand men, and was waiting to be joined by twelve
thousand Hanoverians and Hessians who were on their way.

The convoy continued its journey, pushing forward with all speed, and on
the 26th of July joined the army of De Noailles. The French were on the
south side of the river, but having arrived on its banks before the
English they had possession of the bridges. As soon as the waggons had
joined the army, Malcolm obtained from the officer commanding the escort
a discharge, saying that he and Ronald had fulfilled their engagement as
drivers with the waggons to the front, and were now at liberty to return
to France.

"Now we are our own masters again, Ronald," Malcolm said. "I have taken
part in a good many battles, but have never yet had the opportunity of
looking on at one comfortably. De Noailles should lose no time in
attacking, so as to destroy the English before they receive their
reinforcements. As he holds the bridges he can bring on the battle when
he likes, and I think that tomorrow or next day the fight will take
place."

It was known in the camp that evening that the English had established
their chief magazines at Hanau, and were marching up the river towards
Aschaffenburg. In the early morning a portion of the French troops
crossed the river at that town, and took up a strong position there.
Ronald and Malcolm climbed a hill looking down upon the river from the
south side, and thence commanded the view of the ground across which the
English were marching. On the eastern side of the river spurs of the
Spessart Mountains came down close to its bank, inclosing a narrow flat
between Aschaffenburg and Dettingen. At the latter place the heights
approached so closely to the river as to render it difficult for an army
to pass between them. While posting a strong force at Aschaffenburg to
hold the passage across a stream running into the Maine there, De
Noailles marched his main force down the river; these movements were
hidden by the nature of the ground from the English, who were advancing
unconscious of their danger towards Dettingen.

"De Noailles will have them in a trap," Malcolm said, for from their
position on the hill they could see the whole ground on the further bank,
Hanau lying some seven miles beyond Dettingen, which was itself less than
seven miles from Aschaffenburg.

"I am afraid so," Ronald said.

"Afraid!" Malcolm repeated. "Why, you should rejoice, Ronald."

"I can't do that," Ronald replied. "I should like to see the Stuarts
instead of the Hanoverians reigning over us; but after all, Malcolm,
England and Scotland are one nation."

"But there are Scotch regiments with the French army, and a brigade of
Irish."

"That may be," Ronald said. "Scotchmen who have got into political
trouble at home may enter the service of France, and may fight heartily
against the Germans or the Flemings, or other enemies of France; but I
know that I should feel very reluctant to fight against the English army,
except, of course, at home for the Stuarts."

"It will benefit the Stuarts' cause if the English are defeated here,"
Malcolm said.

"That may be or it may not," Ronald replied. "You yourself told me that
Louis cared nothing for the Stuarts, and would only aid them in order to
cripple the English strength at home. Therefore, if he destroys the
English army here he will have less cause to fear England and so less
motive for helping the Chevalier."

"That is true enough," Malcolm agreed. "You are fast becoming a
politician, Ronald. Well, I will look on as a neutral then, because,
although the English are certainly more nearly my countrymen than are the
French, you must remember that for twelve years I fought under the French
flag. However, there can be no doubt what is going to take place. See,
the dark mass of the English army are passing through the defile of
Dettingen, and the French have begun to cross at Seligenstadt in their
rear. See, they are throwing three or four bridges across the river
there."

In utter ignorance of their danger the English marched on along the
narrow plain by the river bank towards Aschaffenburg.

"Look at their cavalry scouting ahead of them," Malcolm said. "There, the
French are opening fire!" And as he spoke puffs of musketry rose up from
the line of the stream held by the French.

The English cavalry galloped back, but the columns of infantry still
advanced until within half a mile of the French position, and were there
halted, while some guns from the French lines opened fire. The bridges at
Seligenstadt were now completed, and masses of troops could be seen
pouring over. King George and the Duke of Cumberland had joined the Earl
of Stair just as the army passed through Dettingen, and were riding at
the head of the column when the French fire opened. A short time was
spent in reconnoitring the position of the enemy in front. The English
believed that the entire French army was there opposed to them, and that
the advance of the army into Franconia, which was its main objective was
therefore barred. After a short consultation it was resolved to fall back
at once upon the magazines at Hanau, which, from their ignorance of the
near proximity of the French, had been left but weakly guarded. Believing
that as they fell back they would be hotly pursued by the French army,
the king took the command of the rear as the post of danger, and the
columns, facing about, marched towards Dettingen.

But the French had been beforehand with them. De Noailles had sent 23,000
men under his nephew the Duke de Grammont across the river to occupy
Dettingen. He himself with his main army remained on the south side, with
his artillery placed so as to fire across the river upon the flank of the
English as they approached Dettingen; while he could march up and cross
at Aschaffenburg should the English, after being beaten back at
Dettingen, try to retreat up the river.

De Grammont's position was a very strong one behind a swamp and a deep
ravine hollowed out by a stream from the hill. There seemed no
possibility of escape for the English army, who were as yet absolutely in
ignorance of the position of the French. As the head of the column
approached Dettingen, Grammont's artillery opened upon them in front,
while that of De Noailles smote them in flank. As soon as the king found
that his retreat was cut off he galloped from the rear of the column to
its head. His horse, alarmed by the fire of the artillery and whistling
of balls, ran away with him, and was with difficulty stopped just as he
reached the head of the column. He at once dismounted and announced his
intention of leading his troops on foot.

There was a hasty council held between him, Lord Stair, and the Duke of
Cumberland, and it was agreed that the only escape from entire
destruction was by fighting their way through the force now in front of
them. This would indeed have been impossible had De Grammont held his
position; but when that officer saw the English troops halt he believed
he had only the advanced guard in front of him, and resolving to
overwhelm these before their main body arrived, he abandoned his strong
position, led the troops across the swamp, and charged the English in
front.

De Noailles, from the opposite bank, seeing the error his nephew had
made, hurried his troops towards the bridges in order to cross the river
and render him assistance; but it was too late.

The English infantry, headed by the king in person, hurled themselves
upon the troops of De Grammont.

Every man felt that the only hope of escape from this trap into which
they had fallen lay in cutting their way through the enemy, and so
furiously did they fight that De Grammont's troops were utterly
overthrown, and were soon in full flight towards the bridges in the rear,
hotly pursued by the English. Before they could reach the bridges they
left behind them on the field six thousand killed and wounded. King
George, satisfied with his success, and knowing that the French army was
still greatly superior to his own, wisely determined to get out of his
dangerous position as soon as possible, and pushed on that night to
Hanau.

Although Malcolm and Ronald were too far off to witness the incidents of
the battle, they made out the tide of war rolling away from them, and saw
the black masses of troops pressing on through Dettingen in spite of the
French artillery which thundered from the opposite bank of the river.

"They have won!" Ronald said, throwing up his cap. "Hurrah, Malcolm!
Where is the utter destruction of the English now? See, the plain beyond
Dettingen is covered by a confused mass of flying men. The English have
broken out of the trap, and instead of being crushed have won a great
victory."

"It looks like it certainly," Malcolm said. "I would not have believed it
if I had not seen it; their destruction seemed certain. And now let us go
round to the camp again."

On their way down Malcolm said:

"I think, on the whole, Ronald, that you are perhaps right, and the
French defeat will do good rather than harm to the Stuart cause. Had they
conquered, Louis would have been too intent on pushing forward his own
schemes to care much for the Stuarts. He has no real interest in them,
and only uses them as cat's paws to injure England. If he had beaten the
English and Hanoverians he would not have needed their aid. As it is, it
seems likely enough that he will try to create a diversion, and keep the
English busy at home by aiding the Stuarts with men and money to make a
landing in Scotland."

"In that case, Malcolm, we need not grieve over the defeat today. You
know my sympathies are with the brave Empress of Austria rather than with
her enemies, and this defeat should go far towards seating her securely
on the throne. Now, what will you do, Malcolm? Shall we try and find my
father's friends at once?"

"Nor for another few days," Malcolm said. "Just after a defeat men are
not in the best mood to discuss bygone matters. Let us wait and see what
is done next."

The next morning a portion of the French army which had not been engaged
crossed the river and collected the French and English wounded, for the
latter had also been left behind. They were treated by the French with
the same care and kindness that was bestowed upon their own wounded. De
Noailles was about to advance against the English at Hanau, when he
received the news that the French army in Bavaria had been beaten back by
Prince Charles, and had crossed the Rhine into Alsace. As he would now be
exposed to the whole brunt of the attack of the allies he decided to
retreat at once.

The next day the retreat recommenced. Many of the drivers had fled at the
first news of the defeat, and Malcolm without question assumed the post
of driver of one of the abandoned teams. For another week the army
retired, and then crossing the Rhine near Worms were safe from pursuit.

"Now, Ronald, I will look up the old regiment, and we will see what is to
be done."

The 2d Scotch Dragoons were posted in a little village a mile distant
from the main camp which had now been formed. Malcolm did nor make any
formal transfer of the waggon to the authorities, thinking it by no means
improbable that they would insist upon his continuing his self adopted
avocation as driver; but after seeing to the horses, which were picketed
with a long line of transport animals, he and Ronald walked quietly away
without any ceremony of adieu.

"We must not come back again here," he said, "for some of the teamsters
would recognize me as having been driving lately, and I should have hard
work to prove that I was not a deserter; we must take to the old regiment
now as long as we are here."

On reaching the village they found the street full of troopers, who were
busy engaged in cleaning their arms, grooming their horses, and removing
all signs of weather and battle. Ronald felt a thrill of pleasure at
hearing his native language spoken. He had now so far improved the
knowledge of French as to be able to converse without difficulty, for
Malcolm had from his childhood tried to keep up his French, and had
lately always spoken in that language to him, unless it was necessary to
speak in English in order to make him understand.

These occasions had become more and more rare, and two months of constant
conversation with Malcolm and others had enabled Ronald by this time to
speak with some fluency in the French tongue. None of the soldiers paid
any attention to the newcomers, whose dress differed in no way from that
of Frenchmen, as after the shipwreck they had, of course, been obliged to
rig themselves out afresh. Malcolm stopped before an old sergeant who was
diligently polishing his sword hilt.

"And how fares it with you all these years, Angus Graeme?"

The sergeant almost dropped his sword in his surprise at being so
addressed in his own tongue by one whose appearance betokened him a
Frenchman.

"You don't know me, Angus," Malcolm went on with a smile; "and yet you
ought to, for if it hadn't been for me the sword of the German hussar who
carved that ugly scar across your cheek would have followed it up by
putting an end to your soldiering altogether."

"Heart alive, but it's Malcolm Anderson! Eh, man, but I am glad to see
you! I thought you were dead years ago, for I have heard nae mair of you
since the day when you disappeared from among us like a spook, the same
day that puir Colonel Leslie was hauled off to the Bastille. A sair day
was that for us a'! And where ha' ye been all the time?"

"Back at home, Angus, at least in body, for my heart's been with the old
regiment. And who, think you, is this? But you must keep a close mouth,
man, for it must nor be talked of. This is Leslie's son. By his father's
last order I took him off to Scotland with me to be out of reach of his
foes, and now I have brought him back again to try if between us we can
gain any news of his father."

"You don't say so, Malcolm! I never as much heard that the colonel had a
son, though there was some talk in the regiment that he had married a
great lady, and that it was for that that he had been hid away in prison.
And this is Leslie's boy! Only to think, now! Well, young sir, there
isn't a man in the regiment but wad do his best for your father's son,
for those who have joined us since, and in truth that's the great part of
us, have heard many a tale of Colonel Leslie, though they may not have
served under him, and not a tale but was to his honour, for a braver
officer nor a kinder one never stepped the earth. But come inside,
Malcolm. I have got a room to myself and a stoup of good wine; let's talk
over things fair and gentle, and when I know what it is that you want you
may be sure that I will do all I can, for the sake baith of the colonel
and of you, auld comrade."

The trio were soon seated in the cottage, and Malcolm then gave a short
sketch of all that had taken place since he had left the regiment.

"Well, well!" the sergeant said when he had ended; "and so the lad, young
as he is, has already drawn his sword for the Stuarts, and takes after
his father in loyalty as well as in looks, for now that I know who he is
I can see his father's face in his plain enough; and now for your plans,
Malcolm."

"Our plans must be left to chance, Angus. We came hither to see whether
any of the colonel's friends are still in the regiment, and to learn from
them whether they have any news whatever of him; and secondly, whether
they can tell us aught of his mother."

"Ay, there are six or eight officers still in the regiment who served
with him. Hume is our colonel now; you will remember him, Malcolm, well,
for he was captain of our troop; and Major Macpherson was a captain too.
Then there are Oliphant, and Munroe, and Campbell, and Graham, all of
whom were young lieutenants in your time, and are now old captains of
troops."

"I will see the colonel and Macpherson," Malcolm said; "if they do not
know, the younger men are not likely to. Will you go along with us,
Angus, and introduce me, though Hume is like enough to remember me,
seeing that I was so much with Leslie?"

"They will be dining in half an hour," the sergeant said; "we'll go after
they have done the meal. It's always a good time to talk with men when
they are full, and the colonel will have no business to disturb him then.
Our own dinner will be ready directly; I can smell a goose that I picked
up, as it might be by accident, at the place where we halted last night.
There are four or five of us old soldiers who always mess together when
we are not on duty with our troops, and if I mistake not, you will know
every one of them, and right glad they will be to see you; but of course
I shall say no word as to who the lad is, save that he is a friend of
yours."

A few minutes later four other sergeants dropped in, and there was a
joyful greeting between them and Malcolm as soon as they recognized his
identity. The meal was a jovial one, as old jokes and old reminiscences
were recalled. After an hour's sitting Angus said:

"Pass round the wine, lads, till we come back again. I am taking Anderson
to the colonel, who was captain of his troop. We are not likely to be
long, and when we come back we will make a night of it in honour of old
times, or I am mistaken."

On leaving the cottage they waited for a while until they saw the colonel
and major rise from beside the fire round which, with the other officers,
they had been taking their meal, and walk to the cottage which they
shared between them. Angus went up and saluted.

"What is it, Graeme?" the colonel asked.

"There's one here who would fain have a talk with you. It is Malcolm
Anderson, whom you may remember as puir Colonel Leslie's servant, and as
being in your own troop, and he has brought one with him concerning whom
he will speak to you himself."

"Of course I remember Anderson," the colonel said. "He was devoted to
Leslie. Bring him in at once. What can have brought him out here again
after so many years? Been getting into some trouble at home, I suppose?
He was always in some scrape or other when he was in the regiment, for,
though he was a good soldier, he was as wild and reckless a blade as any
in the regiment. You remember him, Macpherson?"

"Yes, I remember him well," the major said. "The colonel was very fond of
him, and regarded him almost as a brother."

A minute later Angus ushered Malcolm and Ronald into the presence of the
two officers, who had now taken seats in the room which served as kitchen
and sitting room to the cottage, which was much the largest in the
village.

"Well, Anderson, I am glad to see you again," Colonel Hume said, rising
and holding out his hand. "We have often spoken of you since the day you
disappeared, saying that you were going on a mission for the colonel, and
have wondered what the mission was, and how it was that we never heard of
you again."

"I came over to Paris four years later, colonel, but the regiment was
away in Flanders, and as I found out from others what I had come to
learn, there was no use in my following you. As to the colonel's mission,
it was this;" and he put his hand on Ronald's shoulder.

"What do you mean, Anderson?" the colonel asked in surprise.

"This is Colonel Leslie's son, sir. He bade me fetch him straight away
from the folk with whom he was living and take him off to Scotland so as
to be out of reach of his foes, who would doubtless have made even
shorter work with him than they did with the colonel."

"Good heavens!" the colonel exclaimed; "this is news indeed. So poor
Leslie left a child and this is he! My lad," he said, taking Ronald's
hand, "believe me that anything that I can do for you, whatever it be,
shall be done, for the sake of your dear father, whom I loved as an elder
brother."

"And I too," the major said. "There was not one of us but would have
fought to the death for Leslie. And now sit down, my lad, while Anderson
tells us your story."

Malcolm began at the account of the charge which Colonel Leslie had
committed to him, and the manner in which he had fulfilled it. He told
them how he had placed the child in the care of his brother, he himself
having no fixed home of his own, and how the lad had received a solid
education, while he had seen to his learning the use of his sword, so
that he might be able to follow his father's career. He then told them
the episode of the Jacobite agent, and the escape which had been effected
in the Thames.

"You have done well, Anderson," the colonel said when he had concluded;
"and if ever Leslie should come to see his son he will have cause to
thank you, indeed, for the way in which you have carried out the charge
he committed to you, and he may well be pleased at seeing him grown up
such a manly young fellow. As to Leslie himself, we know not whether he
be alive or dead. Every interest was made at the time to assuage his
majesty's hostility, but the influence of the Marquis of Recambours was
too strong, and the king at last peremptorily forbade Leslie's name being
mentioned before him. You see, although the girl's father was, of course,
at liberty to bestow her hand on whomsoever he pleased, he had, with the
toadyism of a courtier, asked the king's approval of the match with
Chateaurouge, which, as a matter of course, he received. His majesty,
therefore, chose to consider it as a personal offence against himself
that this Scottish soldier of fortune should carry off one of the richest
heiresses of France, whose hand he had himself granted to one of his
peers. At the same rime I cannot but think that Leslie still lives, for
had he been dead we should assuredly have heard of the marriage of his
widow with some one else. The duke has, of course, long since married,
and report says that the pair are ill-matched; but another husband would
speedily have been found for the widow."

"Since the duke has married," Ronald said, "he should no longer be so
bitter against my father, and perhaps after so long an imprisonment the
king might be moved to grant his release."

"As the duke's marriage is an unhappy one, I fear that you cannot count
upon his hostility to your father being in any way lessened, as he would
all the more regret the interference with his former plans."

"Have you any idea where my mother is, sir?"

"None," the colonel said. "But that I might find out for you. I will give
you a letter to the Count de Noyes, who is on intimate terms with the
Archbishop of Paris, who would, no doubt, be able to tell him in which
convent the lady is residing. You must not be too sanguine, my poor boy,
of seeing her, for it is possible that she has already taken the veil.
Indeed, if your father has died, and she has still refused to accept any
suitor whom the marquis may have found for her, you may be sure that she
has been compelled to take the veil, as her estates would then revert to
the nearest kinsman. This may, for aught we know, have happened years
ago, without a word of it being bruited abroad, and the affair only known
to those most concerned. However, we must look at the best side. We shall
be able, doubtless, to learn through the archbishop whether she is still
merely detained in the convent or has taken the veil, and you can then
judge accordingly whether your father is likely to be alive or dead. But
as to your obtaining an interview with your mother, I regard it as
impossible in the one case as the other.

"At any rate it is of the highest importance that it should not be known
that you are in France. If it is proved that your father is dead and your
mother is secluded for life, we must then introduce you to her family,
and try and get them to bring all their influence to bear to have you
acknowledged openly as the legitimate heir of the marquis, and to obtain
for you the succession to at least a portion of his estates--say to
that of those which she brought him as her dowry. In this you may be sure
that I and every Scottish gentleman in the army will give you all the aid
and influence we can bring to bear."

Ronald warmly thanked Colonel Hume for his kindness, and the next day,
having received the letter to the Count de Noyes, set out for Paris with
Malcolm. On his arrival there he lost no time in calling upon the count,
and presenting his letter of introduction.

The count read it through twice without speaking.

"My friend Colonel Hume," he said at last, "tells me that you are the
son, born in lawful wedlock, of Colonel Leslie and Amelie de Recambours.
I am aware of the circumstances of the case, being distantly related to
the lady's family, and will do that which Colonel Hume asks me, namely,
discover the convent in which she is living. But I warn you, young man,
that your position here is a dangerous one, and that were it known that
Colonel Leslie's son is alive and in France, I consider your life would
not be worth a day's purchase. When powerful people are interested in the
removal of anyone not favoured with powerful protection the matter is
easily arranged. There are hundreds of knives in Paris whose use can be
purchased for a few crowns, of if seclusion be deemed better than
removal, a king's favourite can always obtain a lettre-de-cachet, and a
man may linger a lifetime in prison without a soul outside the walls
knowing of his existence there.

"You are an obstacle to the plans of a great noble, and that is in France
a fatal offence. Your wisest course, young man, would be to efface
yourself, to get your friend Colonel Hume to obtain for you a commission
in his regiment, and to forget for ever that you are the son of Colonel
Leslie and Amelie de Recambours. However, in that you will doubtless
choose for yourself; but believe me my advice is good. At any rate I will
do what my friend Colonel Hume asks me, and will obtain for you the name
of the convent where your mother is living. I do not see that you will be
any the better off when you have it, for assuredly you will nor be able
to obtain permission to see her. However, that again is your affair. If
you will give me the address where you are staying in Paris I will write
to you as soon as I obtain the information. Do not be impatient, the
archbishop himself may be in ignorance on the point; but I doubt not,
that to oblige me, he will obtain the information from the right quarter.

A week later, Ronald, on returning one day to Le Soldat Ecossais, found a
note awaiting him. It contained only the words:

"She has not taken the veil; she is at the convent of Our Lady at Tours."

The next morning Ronald and Malcolm set out on their journey to Tours.



CHAPTER VI: The Convent of Our Lady.


Arrived at Tours, Malcolm took a quiet lodging in a retired street.
Colonel Hume had furnished him with a regular discharge, testifying that
the bearer, Malcolm Anderson, had served his time in the 2d Scotch
Dragoons, and was now discharged as being past service, and that he
recommended him as a steady man for any employment for which he might be
suited. Malcolm showed this document to his landlord in order that the
latter might, as required by law, duly give notice to the police of the
name and occupation of his lodger, and at the same time mentioned that
the relations of his wife lived near Tours, and that he hoped through
them to be able to obtain some sort of employment.

As soon as they were settled in their lodgings they went out, and after a
few inquiries found themselves in front of the convent of Our Lady. It
was a massive building, in a narrow street near the river, to which its
grounds, surrounded by a high wall, extended. None of the windows of the
building looked towards the street, upon which the massive gate, with a
small wicket entrance, opened.

"What building is this?" Malcolm, in a careless tone, asked a woman who
was sitting knitting at her door nearly opposite the entrance. "I am a
stranger in Tours."

"That needs no telling," the woman replied, "or you would have known that
that is the convent of Our Lady, one of the richest in Touraine, and they
say in all France. Though what they do with their riches is more than I
can tell, seeing that the rules are of the strictest, and that no one
ever comes beyond the gates. They have their own grounds down to the
river, and there is a walk along the wall there where they take the air
of an evening when the weather is fine. Poor things, I pity them from my
soul."

"But I suppose they all came willingly," Malcolm said; "so there is no
need for pity."

"I don't know about willingly," the woman said. "I expect most of them
took the veil rather than marry the men their fathers provided for them,
or because they were in the way of someone who wanted their lands, or
because their lovers had been killed in the war, just as if grief for a
lover was going to last one's life. Besides, they are not all sisters.
They say there's many a lady of good family shut up there till she will
do her father's will. 'Well, well,' I often says to myself, 'they may
have all the riches of France inside those walls, but I would rather sit
knitting at my door here than have a share of them.'"

"You are a wise woman," Malcolm said. "There is nothing like freedom.
Give me a crust, and a sod for my pillow, rather than gold plates inside
a prison. I have been a soldier all my life, and have had my share of
hard knocks; but I never grumbled so long as I was on a campaign, though
I often found it dull work enough when in garrison."

"Oh, you have been a soldier! I have a brother in the regiment of
Touraine. Perhaps you know him?"

"I know the regiment of Touraine," Malcolm said; "and there are no braver
set of men in the king's service. What is his name?"

"Pierre Pitou. I have not heard of him for the last two years. He is a
tall man, and broad, with a scar over the left eye."

"To be sure, to be sure!" Malcolm said. "Of course, Pierre Pitou is one
of my best friends; and now I think of it, madam, I ought to know without
asking, so great is his resemblance to you. Why, his last words to me
were, 'If you go to Tours, seek out my sister, who lives in a house
nearly opposite the entrance to the convent of Our Lady;' and to think I
should have forgotten all about it till I saw you!"

Malcolm remained for a quarter of an hour chatting with the woman about
her brother, and then, promising to call again the next day in the
evening to be introduced to her husband, he rejoined Ronald, who had been
waiting at the corner of the lane, and had been fidgeting with impatience
at the long interview between Malcolm and the woman.

"What have you been talking about all this time, Malcolm, and what could
you have to say to a stranger?"

"I have been telling her all about her brother, Pierre Pitou of the
Touraine regiment, and how he distinguished himself at Dettingen, and
will surely be made a sergeant, with a hope some day of getting to be a
captain. I have quite won her heart."

"But who is Pierre Pitou, and when did you know him?" Ronald asked
surprised.

"He is a tall man with broad shoulders and a scar over his left eye,"
Malcolm said laughing, and he then related the whole conversation.

"But why did you pretend to this poor woman that you knew her brother?"

"Because she may be very useful to us, Ronald; and if you can't find a
friend in court, it's just as well to have one near court. She is a
gossiping woman, and like enough she may know some of the lay sisters,
who are, in fact, the servants of the convent, and come out to buy
supplies of food and other things, and who distribute the alms among the
poor. I don't know what advantage will come of it yet, Ronald; but I can
see I have done a great stroke of business, and feel quite an affection
for my friend Pierre Pitou."

Malcolm followed up the acquaintance he had made, and soon established
himself as a friend of the family. Ronald did not accompany him on any of
his visits, for as the plan of proceeding was still undecided, he and
Malcolm agreed that it was better that he should not show himself until
some favourable opportunity offered.

Sometimes towards evening he and Malcolm would take a boat and float down
the stream past the convent walls, and Ronald would wonder which of the
figures whose heads he could perceive as they walked upon the terrace,
was that of his mother. It was not until Malcolm had become quite at home
with Madame Vipon that he again turned the conversation towards the
convent. He learned that she had often been inside the walls, for before
her marriage she had worked at a farm whence the convent drew a portion
of its supplies; milk, butter, and eggs, and she had often carried
baskets to the convent.

"Of course I never went beyond the outer court," she said; "but Farmer
Miron's daughter--it was he owned the farm--is a lay sister there.
She was crossed in love, poor girl. She liked Andre, the son of a
neighbouring farmer, but it was but a small place by the side of that of
Miron, and her father would not hear of it, but wanted her to marry
Jacques Dubois, the rich miller, who was old enough to be her father.
Andre went to the wars and was killed; and instead of changing when the
news came, as her father expected, and taking up with the miller, she
hated him worse than ever, and said that he was the cause of Andre's
death; so the long and short of it was, she came as a lay sister to the
convent here. Of course she never thought of taking the vows, for to do
that here one must be noble and be able to pay a heavy dowry to the
convent.

"So she is just a lay sister, a sort of servant, you know, but she is a
favourite and often goes to market for them, and when she does she
generally drops in here for a few minutes for a talk; for though she was
only a child when I was at the farm we were great friends, and she hears
from me how all the people she used to know are getting on."

"I suppose she knows all the ladies who reside in the convent as well as
the sisters?"

"Oh, yes, and much better than the sisters! It is on them she waits. She
does not see much of the sisters, who keep to their own side of the
house, and have very little to do with the visitors, or as one might call
them the prisoners, for that is what most of them really are."

"Now I think of it," Malcolm said, "one of the officers I served under
had a relation, a lady, whom I have heard him say, when he was talking to
another officer, is shut up here, either because she wouldn't marry some
one her father didn't want her to, I forget exactly what it was now. Let
me see, what was her name. Elise--no, that wasn't it. Amelie--Amelie
de Recambours--yes, that was it."

"Oh, yes, I know the name! I have heard Jeanne speak of her. Jeanne said
it was whispered among them that she had really married somebody against
her father's will. At any rate she has been there ever so many years, and
they have not made her take the veil, as they do most of them if they are
obstinate and won't give way. Poor thing! Jeanne says she is very pretty
still, though she must be nearly forty now."

"That is very interesting," Malcolm said; "and if you will not mind,
Madam Vipon, I will write to the officer of whom I spoke and tell him his
cousin is alive and well. I was his servant in the regiment, and I know,
from what I have heard him say, he was very much attached to her. There
can be no harm in that, you know," he said, as Madam Vipon looked
doubtful; "but if you would prefer it, of course I will not say how I
have heard."

"Yes, that will be better," she agreed. "There is never any saying how
things come round; and though there's no harm in what I have told you,
still it's ill gossiping about what takes place inside convent walls."

"I quite agree with you, my dear Madam Vipon, and admire your discretion.
It is singular how you take after your brother. Pierre Pitou had the
reputation of being the most discreet man in the regiment of Touraine."

Ronald was very excited when he heard from Malcolm that he had actually
obtained news at second hand as to his mother, and it was with difficulty
that his friend persuaded him to allow matters to go on as he proposed.

"It will never do to hurry things now, Ronald; everything is turning out
beyond our expectations. A fortnight ago it seemed absolutely hopeless
that you should communicate with your mother; now things are in a good
train for it."

Accordingly Malcolm made no further allusion to the subject to Madame
Vipon until a fortnight had passed; then he said, on calling on her one
day:

"Do you know, my dear Madam Vipon, I have had a letter from the gentleman
of whom I was speaking to you. He is full of gratitude at the news I sent
him. I did not tell him from whom I had heard the news, save that it was
from one of the kindest of women, the sister of an old comrade of mine.
He has sent me this"--and he took out a small box which he opened, and
showed a pretty gold broach, with earrings to match--"and bid me to
give it in his name to the person who had sent him this good news."

"That is beautiful," Madam Vipon said, clapping her hands; "and I have so
often wished for a real gold broach! Won't my husband open his eyes when
he sees them!"

"I think, if I might advise, my dear madam," Malcolm said, "I should not
give him the exact history of them. He might take it into his head that
you had been gossiping, although there is no woman in the world less
given to gossiping than you are. Still, you know what husbands are.
Therefore, if I were you I would tell him that your brother Pierre had
sent them to you through me, knowing, you see, that you could not have
read a letter even if he could have written one."

"Yes, perhaps that would be the best," Madam Vipon said; "but you had
better write to Pierre and tell him. Otherwise when he comes home, and my
husband thanks him for them, he might say he had never sent them, and
there would be a nice affair."

"I will do so," Malcolm said; "but in any case I am sure your wit would
have come to the rescue, and you would have said that you had in fact
bought them from your savings; but that thinking your husband might
grumble at your little economies you had thought it best to say that they
came from your brother."

"Oh, fie, monsieur; I am afraid you are teaching me to tell stories."

"That is a very hard word, my dear madam. You know as well as I do that
without a little management on both sides husbands and wives would never
get on well together; but now I want to tell you more. Not only does my
old master write to say how glad he is to hear of his cousin's welfare,
but he has told me a great deal more about the poor lady, and knowing
your kindness of heart I do not hesitate to communicate the contents of
his letter to you. The Countess Amelie de Recambours was secretly married
to a young officer, a great friend of my late master, and her father did
not discover it until after the birth of a child--a boy. Then she was
shut up here. The father got the boy safely away to Scotland, but he has
now come back to France. I do not suppose the poor lady has ever heard of
her little son since, and it would be an act of kindness and mercy to let
her know that he is alive and well."

"Yes, indeed, poor creature," Madame Vipon said sympathetically. "Only to
think of being separated from your husband, and never hearing of your
child for all these years!"

"I knew your tender heart would sympathize with her," Malcolm said; "she
is indeed to be pitied."

"And what became of her husband?"

"I fancy he died years ago; but my master says nothing about him. He only
writes of the boy, who it seems is so delighted with the news about his
mother that he is coming here to see if it is possible to have an
interview with her."

"But it is not possible," Madam Vipon exclaimed. "How can he see her,
shut up as she is in that convent?"

"Yes, it is difficult," Malcolm agreed; "but nothing is impossible, my
dear madam, when a woman of heart like yourself takes a matter in hand;
and I rely, I can tell you, greatly on your counsel; as to your goodwill,
I am assured of that beforehand."

"But it is quite, quite, quite impossible, I assure you, my good Monsieur
Anderson."

"Well, let us see. Now I know that you would suggest that the first
measure to be taken is to open communication between mother and son, and
there I heartily agree with you."

"That would be the first thing of course, monsieur; but how is that to be
done?"

"Now that is where I look to you, madam. Your friend Jeanne waits upon
her, you see, and I know your quick wit will already have perceived that
Jeanne might deliver a message. I am sure that she would never be your
friend had she not a warm heart like your own, and it will need very
little persuasion on your part, when you have told her this sad story, to
induce her to bring gladness to this unfortunate lady."

"Yes; but think of the consequences, Monsieur Anderson: think what would
happen if it were found out."

"Yes, if there were any talk of the countess running away from the
convent I would not on any condition ask you to assist in such a matter;
but what is this--merely to give a message, a few harmless words."

"But you said an interview, Monsieur Anderson."

"An interview only if it is possible, my dear madam, that is quite
another matter, and you know you said that it was quite impossible. All
that we want now is just a little message, a message by word of mouth
which not even the keenest eye can discover or prevent; there can be no
harm in that."

"No, I don't think there can be much harm in that," Madam Vipon agreed;
"at any rate I will talk to Jeanne. It will be her day for going to
market tomorrow; I will tell her the story of the poor lady, and I think
I can answer beforehand that she will do everything she can."

The following afternoon Malcolm again saw Madam Vipon, who told him that
although she had not actually promised she had no doubt Jeanne would
deliver the message.

"She will be out again on Saturday, monsieur, at nine in the morning, and
if you will be here with the boy, if he has arrived by that time, you
shall speak to her."

At the time appointed Malcolm, with Ronald, attired now as a young French
gentleman, arrived at the house of Madam Vipon, who was warmly thanked by
Ronald for the interest she had taken in him.

"My friend here has spoken to me in the highest terms of you, Madam
Vipon, and I am sure that all that he has said is no more than the
truth."

"I am sure I will do all I can," replied Madam Vipon, who was greatly
taken by Ronald's appearance and manner; "it's a cruel thing separating a
mother from a son so many years, and after all what I am doing is no
hanging matter anyway."

A few minutes later Jeanne entered; she was a pleasant looking woman of
five or six and twenty, and even her sombre attire as a lay sister failed
to give a formal look to her merry face.

"So these are the gentlemen who want me to become a conspirator," she
said, "and to run the risk of all sorts of punishment and penalties for
meddling in their business?"

"Not so much my business as the business of my mother," Ronald said. "You
who have such true heart of your own, for madam has told us something of
your story, will, I am sure, feel for that poor lady shut up for fifteen
years, and knowing not whether her child is dead or alive. If we could
but see each other for five minutes, think what joy it would be to her,
what courage her poor heart would take."

"See each other!" Jeanne repeated surprised. "You said nothing about
that, Francoise; you only said take a message. How can they possibly see
each other? That's a different thing altogether."

"I want you to take a message first," Ronald said. "If nothing more can
be done that will be very much; but I cannot think but that you and my
mother between you will be able to hit upon some plan by which we might
meet."

"But how," Jeanne asked in perplexity, "how could it possibly be?"

"For example," Ronald suggested; "could I not come in as a lay sister? I
am not much taller than you, and could pass very well as a girl."

Jeanne burst our laughing.

"You do not know what you are saying, monsieur; it would be altogether
impossible. People do not get taken on as lay sisters in the convent of
Our Lady unless they are known; besides, in other ways it would be
altogether impossible, and even if it were not it might be years before
you could get to speak to the countess, for there are only two or three
of us who ever enter the visitors' rooms; and lastly, if you were found
out I don't know what would be done to both of us. No, that would never
do at all."

"Well, in the next place, I could climb on to the river terrace at night,
and perhaps she could come and speak to me there."

"That is more possible," Jeanne said thoughtfully; "but all the doors are
locked up at night."

"But she might get out of a window," Ronald urged; "with a rope ladder
she could get down, and then return again, and none be the wiser."

Jeanne sat silent for a minute, and then she asked suddenly:

"Are you telling me all, monsieur, or are you intending that the countess
shall escape with you?"

"No, indeed, on my honour!" Ronald exclaimed. "I have nowhere where I
could take my mother. She would be pursued and brought back, and her
position would be far worse than it is now. No; I swear to you that I
only want to see her and to speak to her, and I have nothing else
whatever in my mind."

"I believe you, monsieur," Jeanne said gravely. "Had it been otherwise I
dare not have helped, for my punishment if I was discovered to have aided
in an escape from the convent would be terrible--terrible!" she
repeated with a shudder. "As to the other, I will risk it; for a gentler
and kinder lady I have never met. And yet I am sure she must be very,
very brave to have remained firm for so many years. At any rate I will
give her your message."

Ronald took from a small leather bag, which he wore round his neck, a
tiny gold chain with a little cross.

"I had this round my neck when I was taken away as a child to Scotland.
No doubt she put it there, and will recognize it. Say to her only: 'He
whom you have not seen since he was an infant is in Tours, longing above
all things to speak to you;' that is all my message. Afterwards, if you
will, you can tell her what we have said, and how I long to see her. How
high is her room from the ground? Because if it is high it will be better
that I should climb to her window, than that she should descend and
ascend again."

Jeanne shook her head.

"That could not be," she said. "The visitors have all separate cells, but
the partitions do not go up to the ceiling; and even if you entered, not
a word could be spoken without being overheard. But fortunately she is on
the first floor, and I am sure she is not one to shrink from so little a
matter as the descent of a ladder in order to have an interview with her
son."

That same afternoon as Amelie de Recambours was proceeding from the
refectory to her cell, following several of her fellow captives, her
attendant Jeanne came out from one of the cells. Glancing behind to see
that no one was following, she put her finger on her lips and then
whispered: "Make some excuse not to go into the garden with the others
this evening. It is most important." Then she glided back into the room
from which she had come.

The countess followed the others in a state of almost bewilderment. For
sixteen years nothing had occurred to break the monotony of her
existence. At first occasional angry messages reached her from her
father, with orders to join an application to the pope for a divorce; but
when it had been found impossible to overcome her steady refusals the
messages had at last ceased, and for years no word from the outer world
had reached her, although she had learned from those who from time to
time came to share her captivity what was passing outside. Whether her
husband was alive or dead she knew not. They had told her over and over
again that he was dead; but the fact that she had never had the option
given her of accepting another husband or taking the final vows kept hope
alive. For she was convinced that if he was really dead, efforts would be
made to compel her to marry again.

What, then, she wondered to herself, could this communication so secretly
given mean? She regarded the lay sister who attended upon her as a happy
looking young woman whose face was in strong contrast to most of those
within the walls of the convent; but she had exchanged but few words with
her, knowing that she would be but a short time about her. For the policy
of the abbess was to change the attendants upon the ladies in their
charge frequently, in order to prevent them from being tampered with, or
persuaded into conveying communications without the walls.

"You look pale, Amelie," one of the other ladies said as they gathered in
a group for a moment before proceeding to their respective apartments,
where they were supposed to pass the afternoon in working, reading, and
meditation.

"It is the heat," the countess said. "I have a headache."

"You look it," the latter said. "It is not often that you have anything
the matter with you. You know we all say that you must have a
constitution of iron and the courage of a Roland to be sixteen years here
and yet to have no wrinkle on your forehead, no marks of weeping round
your eyes."

The countess smiled sadly.

"I wept the first six months almost without ceasing, and then I told
myself that if I would be strong and resist I must weep no more. If a
bird in a cage once takes to pining he is sure not to live long. There
are few of us here the news of whose death would not give pleasure to
those who shut us up, and I for one resolved that I would live in spite
of all."

"Well, you must not get ill now, Amelie. We should miss you terribly in
the one hour of the day when we really live, the hour when we walk and
talk, and laugh if we can, on the river terrace.

"I don't think I shall be able to come this evening," the countess said.
"I shall lie down and keep myself quiet. Tomorrow I hope to be myself
again. It is a mere passing indisposition."

The hours passed slowly as Amelie lay on her couch and wondered over the
coming interview. There were so many things which she might hear--that
her father was dead; that her family had hopes at last of obtaining her
restoration to the world. That it could be a message from her husband she
had no hope, for so long as her father lived she was sure that his
release would never be granted. As to the child, she scarce gave it a
thought. That it had somehow been removed and had escaped the search that
had been made for it she was aware; for attempts had been made to obtain
from her some clue as to where it would most likely have been taken. She
was convinced that it had never been found, for if it had she would have
heard of it. It would have been used as a lever to work upon her.

At last the hour when she was accustomed to go into the garden arrived,
and as the convent bell struck seven she heard the doors of the other
cells open, the sound of feet in the corridor, and then all became still.
In a few minutes a step approached, and one of the sisters entered to
inquire why she was not in the garden with the others.

She repeated that her head ached.

"You look pale," the sister said, "and your hand is hot and feverish. I
will send you up some tisane. It is the heat, no doubt. I think that we
are going to have thunder."

In a few minutes a step was again heard approaching, and Jeanne entered
with the medicament. As she closed the door the countess started into a
sitting position.

"What is it, Jeanne? What is it that you have to say to me?"

"Calm yourself, I pray you, countess," Jeanne said. "For both our sakes I
pray you to hear what I have to say calmly. I expect Sister Felicia will
be here directly. When she heard you were unwell she said she would come
up and see what you needed. And now, I will begin my message. In the
first place I was to hand you this." And she placed in Amelie's hand the
little necklet and cross.

For a moment the countess looked at them wonderingly, and then there
flashed across her memory a sturdy child in its nurse's arms, and a tall
man looking on with a loving smile as she fastened a tiny gold chain
round the child's neck. A low cry burst from her lips as she started to
her feet.

"Hush, lady, hush!" Jeanne exclaimed. "This is my message: 'He whom you
have not seen since he was an infant is in Tours, longing above all
things to speak to you.'"

"My child! my child!" the countess cried. "Alive and here! My God, I
thank thee that thou hast remembered a friendless mother at last. Have
you seen him, Jeanne? What is he like? Oh, tell me everything!"

"He is a right proper young gentleman, madam. Straight and comely and
tall, with brown waving hair and a bright pleasant face. A son such as
any mother might be proud of."

The countess suddenly threw her arms around Jeanne's neck and burst into
tears.

"You have made me so happy, Jeanne; happy as I never thought to be again.
How can I thank you?"

"The best way at present, madam," Jeanne said with a smile, "will be by
drinking up that tisane, and lying down quietly. Sister Felicia moves
about as noiselessly as a cat, and she may pop in at any moment. Do you
lie down again, and I will stand a little way off talking. Then if she
comes upon us suddenly she will suspect nothing."

The countess seized the bowl of tisane and drank it off, and then threw
herself on the couch.

"Go on, Jeanne, go on. Have pity on my impatience. Think how I am longing
to hear of him. Did the message say he was longing to see me? But that is
not possible."

"It is not quite impossible, madam; though it would be dangerous, very
dangerous. Still it is not quite impossible."

"How then could it be done, Jeanne? You know what our life is here. How
can I possibly see my boy?"

"What he proposes, madam, is this: that he should some night scale the
river wall, and await you on the terrace, and that you should descend
from your window by a rope ladder, and so return after seeing him."

"Oh, yes, that is possible!" the countess exclaimed; "I could knot my bed
clothes and slide down. It matters not about getting back again, since we
have no ladder."

"I can manage to bring in two light ropes," Jeanne said. "It would not do
for you to be found in the garden, for it would excite suspicion, and you
would never have a chance of doing it again. But it is not an easy thing
to climb up a rope ladder with no one to help you, and you know I shall
be at the other end of the house."

"That is nothing," the countess said. "Had I to climb ten times the
height, do you think I should hesitate for a moment when it was to see my
son? Oh, Jeanne, how good you are! And when will it be?"

"I will bring in the ropes next time I go out. Mind and place them in
your bed. You will know that that night at eleven o'clock your son will
be on the terrace awaiting you.

As Jeanne finished speaking she placed her finger on her lips, for she
thought she heard a slight noise without. The countess closed her eyes
and then lay down on her pillow, while Jeanne stood as if watching her.
The next instant the door opened noiselessly and Sister Felicia entered.
She moved with a noiseless step up to Jeanne.

"Is she asleep?" she whispered.

"Oh no!" Jeanne answered in a louder voice, guessing that the sister
would have heard the murmur of voices. "She has only just closed her
eyes."

The countess looked up.

"Ah! is it you, sister? I have taken the tisane Sister Angela sent up,
but my hands are burning and my head aches. The heat in chapel was so
great I thought I should have fainted."

"Your hands are indeed burning," the sister said, convinced, as soon as
she touched them, that the countess was really indisposed. "Yes; and your
pulse is beating quicker than I can count. Yes, you have a touch of
fever. I will mix you a draught and bring it up to you at once. Hark!
that is the first peal of thunder; we are going to have a storm. It will
clear the air, and do you even more good than my medicine. I will leave
you here for tonight; if you are not better tomorrow we will move you
into the infirmary."

The next morning Sister Felicia found her patient much better, though she
still seemed languid and weak, and was ordered to remain quietly in her
apartment for a day or so, which was just what she desired, for she was
so filled with her new born happiness that she feared that if she went
about her daily tasks as usual she should not be able to conceal from the
sharp eyes of the sisters the joyousness which was brimming over in her,
while had she laughed she would have astonished the inmates of the gloomy
convent.



CHAPTER VII: Mother!


When Jeanne, after accomplishing her errands the next time she went out,
entered Madam Vipon's, she found Ronald and Malcolm awaiting her.

"You have told my mother?" the former asked eagerly as she entered.

"Yes, I have told her, and if I had been an angel from heaven, with a
special message to her, the poor lady could not have looked more happy."

"And you have been like an angel to us!" Ronald exclaimed, taking her
hand. "How can I thank you for your goodness?"

"For shame, sir!" Jeanne said, smiling and colouring as Ronald, in his
delight, threw his arms round her and kissed her. "Remember I am a lay
sister."

"I could not have helped it," Ronald said, "if you had been the lady
superior. And now," he went on eagerly, "is all arranged? See, I have
brought a ladder of silk rope, light and thin, but quite strong enough to
bear her."

"You take all for granted then, sir. You know I said I would take your
message, but that I would not engage to meddle further in it."

"I know you said so; but I was sure that having gone so far you would do
the rest. You will, won't you, Jeanne?"

"I suppose I must," Jeanne said; "for what with the countess on one side
and you on the other, I should get no peace if I said no. Well, then, it
is all arranged. At eleven o'clock tonight you are to be on the terrace,
and you can expect her there. If she does not come you will know that
something has occurred to prevent her, and she will come the following
night at the same hour."

Jeanne took the silken cords and wound them round her, under her lay
sister's robe, and then, with a kindly nod at Ronald, and an injunction
to be as noiseless as a mouse in climbing up the terrace, and above all
not to raise his voice in speaking to his mother, she tripped away across
the street to the convent.

Malcolm and Ronald sallied out from Tours before the city gates were
closed at sunset, and sat down on the slope which rises from the other
side of the river and waited till it was time to carry the plan into
operation. Gradually the lights disappeared from the various windows and
the sounds which came across the water ceased, and by ten o'clock
everything was profoundly still. They had, in the course of the
afternoon, hired a boat, saying they were going out for a night's
fishing. This they had moored a short distance below the town, on the
side of the river where they now were. They now made their way to it and
rowed quietly across the stream; then they left it and waded through the
water, which flowed knee deep at the foot of the walls.

Although Tours was still a walled town the habit of keeping sentry in
time of peace had long since died out, and they had no fear, at that
hour, of discovery. There was no moon, but the night was bright and
clear, and they had no difficulty in finding that part of the wall which
now formed the terrace of the convent.

They were provided with a rope knotted at every foot, and with a grapnel
attached to one end. At the second attempt this caught on the parapet of
the wall, and Ronald at once climbed it and stood on the terrace, where,
a minute later, he was joined by Malcolm. The convent itself could not be
seen, for a screen of trees at the foot of the wall shut it off from the
view of people on the opposite bank of the river. They waited quietly
until a sudden peal of the bells of the numerous churches announced that
it was the hour. Then they moved towards the steps leading down into the
garden. A minute later a figure was seen approaching. Malcolm fell back,
and Ronald advanced towards it. As the countess approached she held our
her arms, exclaiming:

"My boy, my boy!" and with a cry of "Mother!" Ronald sprang forward into
her embrace.

For a short time not a word was spoken, and then the countess murmured:

"My God, I thank thee for this great happiness. And now, my son," she
said, recovering herself, "tell me everything. First, have you news of
your father?"

"Alas, no!" Ronald said. "Nothing has been heard of him since the fatal
day when he was seized; but I am convinced that he is still alive, and
since I have found you, surely I shall be able to find him."

"Who is that with you, Ronald?"

"That is Malcolm Anderson; it is to him I owe everything. He carried me
off and took me away with him to Scotland the day my father was arrested.
He has been my best friend ever since, and it is he who brought me here
to you."

The countess advanced to Malcolm.

"My son has told me that we owe everything to you, my brave Malcolm!" she
said, holding out her hand. "I guessed that it was to you that my husband
had confided the care of the child when I learned that it had
disappeared. I remember what confidence he had in your devotion, and how
he confided everything to you."

"He was like a brother to me, madam," Malcolm replied; "and glad indeed
am I that I have been able to befriend his son and to bring him back to
you a gentleman who will be an honour even to his father's name and
yours."

"And now let us sit down here," the countess said, taking a seat upon a
bench. "It gets light very early, and you must not stay after two
o'clock, and there is so much for me to hear."

For the next two hours Ronald sat holding his mother's hand, while he
told her the story of his life. "And now, mother," he said, when he had
concluded, "we have but an hour left, for it has just struck one, and we
have not said a word yet about the principal thing of all. How are we to
obtain your freedom? Cannot you arrange to escape with us? I do not, of
course, mean tonight, for we have nothing prepared, and, moreover, I
promised Jeanne that there should be no attempt at escape; but we can
come again when everything is ready. We shall, of course, need a disguise
for you, for there will be a hot pursuit when your escape is known. But
we might manage to reach the coast and cross over to England, and so make
our way north."

"No, my son," the countess said. "I have thought it over in every way
since I knew you were here, and I am resolved to remain here. Were I to
fly, the last hope that your father might be freed would be lost. My
father would be more than ever incensed against him and me; and,
moreover, although that is but a minor consideration, there would be no
hope whatever of your ever recovering the rank and estate to which you
are entitled. No, I am resolved to wait here, at any rate so long as my
father lives. At his death doubtless there will be some change, for as
heiress to his estates my existence must be in some way recognized, and
my family may be enabled to obtain my release when his powerful
opposition is removed; if not, it will be time to take the idea of flight
into consideration; till then I remain here. Now that I have seen you,
now that I know you as you are, for I can just make out your face by the
light of the stars, I shall be as near contentment and happiness as I can
be till I meet your father again. In the meantime your good friend here
can advise you far better than I can as to what your course had better
be. If you can obtain any high influence, use it for obtaining your
father's release. If it be accompanied by a sentence of exile from France
it matters not, so that he is freed. You can then return here, and I will
gladly fly with you to join him in Scotland."

Malcolm now rose from his seat and left mother and son half an hour
together. When two o'clock struck he returned to them.

"There is the signal," the countess said, rising, "and now we must part."
She had already refused to accede to Ronald's entreaty that she would
meet him there again.

"No, my son, we have been permitted to meet this once, but we must not
tempt fortune again. Sooner or later something would be sure to occur
which would lead to discovery, and bring ruin upon all our plans. It is
hard to say no, and to refuse the chance of seeing you again now that we
have come together, but I am fully resolved that I will not risk it."

"We will see you safe up the ladder, mother," Ronald said. "It is no easy
matter to climb up a rope ladder swinging loosely."

"No, I discovered that in descending," the countess said; "but if you
come with me you must take off your boots--the print of a man's
footstep in the garden would ruin us all; and mind, not a word must be
spoken when we have once left the terrace."

Taking off their boots they accompanied her through the garden. There was
a last passionate embrace at the foot of the ladder, then the countess
mounted it while they held it steady. Directly she entered the window she
undid the fastening of the rope inside and let the ladder drop down to
them. Five minutes later Ronald descended the rope into the river.
Malcolm shifted the grapnel so that it caught only on the edge of the
parapet and could be shaken off from below when the strain on the rope
was removed, then he slid down to Ronald's side. A sharp jerk brought
down the grapnel, and they returned along the edge of the river as they
had come, crossed in the boat, and waited for morning.

They waited two days longer in Tours in order that they might receive,
through Jeanne from the countess, a list of the noble families to which
she was related, with notes as to those persons of whom she had seen most
before her marriage, and who she believed would be most disposed to exert
their influence on her behalf.

"Jeanne," Ronald said, "I am troubled that I do not know what I can do to
show you how grateful I am. I should so like to give you some souvenir,
but what can I do--you could not wear brooches, or earrings, or
trinkets."

"That I could not, monsieur," Jeanne broke in with a smile; "and if I
could I would not accept them from you. I have done what I have done
because I pitied your mother and you, and I am content that if I have
broken the rules I have done it with a good purpose."

"Well, Jeanne," Ronald said, "you may not be a lay sister all your life;
you have taken no vows that will bind you for ever, and I have no doubt
that the lady superior can absolve you from your engagements should you
at any time wish to go back to the world; if so, and if I am still in
France, I will come to dance at your wedding, and will promise you as
pretty a necklace and earrings as are to be found in Touraine."

"Very well, that is a bargain," Jeanne said laughing; "and it is not
impossible, young sir, that some day I may hold you to your promise, for
only last market day I met my father, and he spoke more kindly to me than
he used to, and even said that he missed me; and I hear that the miller
has found someone who will put up with him for the sake of his money. I
shouldn't be surprised if, when that comes off, father wants me home
again; but I sha'n't go directly he asks me, you may be sure, but shall
bargain that if there be again any question of a husband it will be for
me to decide and not him."

The next day Ronald and his companion started for Paris. They were highly
gratified with the success which had attended them, and Ronald felt his
whole life brightened now that he had found the mother who had been so
long lost to him. On arriving at Paris they found that Colonel Hume's
regiment had returned to the capital. It was not expected that there
would at present be any further fighting on the frontier, and two or
three of the Scotch regiments had been brought back. Ronald at once
called on Colonel Hume and related to him the success which had attended
the first portion of his undertaking.

"I congratulate you indeed," Colonel Hume said. "I own that I thought
your enterprise was a hopeless one, for it seemed to me impossible that
you should be able to obtain an interview with a lady closely imprisoned
in a convent. Why, Anderson, it is plain now that your talents have been
lost, and that you ought to have been a diplomatist instead of wasting
your time as a soldier. The way you carried out your plan was indeed
admirable, and I shall really begin to think that Ronald will yet
succeed; and now, my young friend, what do you mean to do next?"

"Would it be possible, sir, to ascertain where my father is confined?"

"I think not, my lad," the colonel said gravely. "In addition to the four
or five prisons in Paris there are a score of others in different parts
of France. The names of the prisoners in each are known only to the
governors; to all others within the walls they exist as numbers only. The
governors themselves are sworn to secrecy, and even if we could get at
one or two of them, which would be difficult enough, we could hope for no
more. Nor would it be much satisfaction to you merely to know in which
prison your father is lying, for it is a very different matter to
communicate with a prisoner in one of the royal fortresses to passing a
message to a lady detained in a convent. I can see nothing for you but to
follow the example of your mother and to practise patience, so conducting
yourself as to gain friends and make a name and influence, so that at
your grandfather's death we may bring as strong a pressure as possible to
bear upon the king."

"How old is my grandfather?" Ronald asked.

"He is a man about sixty."

"Why, he may live twenty years yet!" Ronald exclaimed bitterly.

"Do not look at the worst side of the question," Colonel Hume replied
with a smile. "But he may live some years," he went on more gravely, "and
in the meantime you must think what you had better do. I will tell you as
a great secret, that it has been finally resolved that an expedition
shall sail this winter for Scotland, and fifteen thousand troops will
assemble at Dunkirk under Marshal Saxe. Nothing could be more opportune.
We are to form part of the expedition, with several other Scottish
regiments. You are too young as yet for me to ask for a commission for
you, but if you like I will enroll you as a gentleman volunteer; in this
way you may have an opportunity of distinguishing yourself. I will
introduce you to the Chevalier, and it may be that if he succeeds in
gaining the crown of Scotland, if not of England, he will himself ask
King Louis as a personal favour to release and restore to him Colonel
Leslie of Glenlyon, who fought bravely with him in '15. If the expedition
fails, and we get back alive to France, I will then obtain for you a
commission in the regiment, and we can carry out our plan as we arranged.
What do you say to that?"

"I thank you greatly, sir, and accept your offer most gratefully. I see
that I am powerless to do anything for my father now, and your plan gives
at least a prospect of success. In any case nothing will give me so much
delight as to serve with the regiment he formerly commanded, and under so
kind a friend as yourself."

"That is settled then," Colonel Hume said; "and now about outfit. A
gentleman volunteer wears the uniform of the officers of the regiment,
and indeed is one in all respects except that he draws no pay. My purse
will be at your disposal. Do not show any false modesty, my lad, about
accepting help from me. Your father would have shared his last penny with
me had I needed it."

"I thank you heartily, colonel, for your offer, and should it be
necessary I will avail myself of it, but at present I have ample funds.
Malcolm carried off with me a bag with a hundred louis, and up to the day
when I landed in France these had never been touched. I have eighty of
them still remaining, which will provide my outfit and my maintenance for
a long time to come."

"There is another advantage in your being a volunteer, rather than on the
list of officers, Ronald; in that if it is necessary at any time, you
can, after a word with me, lay aside your uniform and go about your
affairs as long as you choose without question, which would be hard to do
if you belonged regularly to the regiment."

At the end of a week Ronald had procured his uniform, and was presented
by the colonel to the officers of the regiment as Ronald Leslie, the son
of an old friend of his, who was joining the regiment as a gentleman
volunteer. Malcolm joined only in the capacity of Ronald's servant. It
was painful to the lad that his old friend and protector should assume
such a relation towards him, but Malcolm laughed at his scruples.

"My dear Ronald," he said, "I was your father's servant, and yet his
friend. Why should I not act in the same capacity to you? As to the
duties, they are so light that, now I do not belong to the regiment, my
only difficulty will be to kill time. There is nothing to do save to
polish up your arms and your equipment. Your horse will be looked after
by a trooper so long as you are with the regiment. I shall call you in
the morning, get your cup of chocolate, and prepare your dinner when you
do not dine abroad, carry your messages when you have any messages to
send, and escort you when you go about any business in which it is
possible that a second sword would be of use to you. As I have said, the
only trouble will be to know what to do with myself when you do not want
me."

It was now the end of August, and for the next four months Ronald worked
hard at drill. He soon became a general favourite with the officers. The
fact that his name was Leslie, and that he was accompanied by Malcolm,
who was known to many of the old soldiers as being devoted to their
former colonel and as having in some strange way disappeared from the
regiment at the same time, gave ground to a general surmise that Leslie
was the colonel's son.

Malcolm himself, when questioned, neither denied nor acknowledged the
fact, but turned it off with a joke and a laugh. He was soon as much at
home in his old regiment as if he formed a part in it, and when not
required by Ronald passed the greater part of his time with his former
comrades. As was natural, the opinion entertained by the men as to
Leslie's identity was shared by the officers. The avoidance by Ronald of
any allusion to his family, his declining when he first came among them
to say to which branch of the Leslies he belonged, and the decided manner
in which Colonel Hume, the first time the question was broached in his
hearing in Ronald's absence, said that he begged no inquiries would be
made on that score; all he could assure them was that Leslie's father was
a gentleman of good family, and a personal friend of his own--put a
stop to all further questioning, but strengthened the idea that had got
abroad that the young volunteer was the son of Colonel Leslie.

Early in January the 2d Scottish Dragoons marched for Dunkirk, where
twenty thousand men assembled, while a large number of men of war and
transports were gathered in the port. One day, when Ronald was walking in
the street with Malcolm at his heels, the latter stepped up to him and
touched him.

"Do you see that officer in the uniform of a colonel of the Black
Musketeers, in that group at the opposite corner; look at him well, for
he is your father's greatest enemy, and would be yours if he knew who you
are; that is the Duke de Chateaurouge."

Ronald gazed at the man who had exercised so evil an influence upon the
fate of his parents. He was a tall dark man with a pointed moustache, and
of from forty to forty-five years of age. His features were regular and
handsome; but in his thin straight eyebrows, the curl of his lips, and a
certain supercilious drooping of the eyelids, Ronald read the evil
passions which rendered him so dangerous and implacable an enemy.

"So that is the duke!" Ronald said when he had passed on. "I did not know
he was a soldier."

"He is an honorary colonel of the regiment, and only does duty when it is
called on active service; but he served in it for some years as a young
man, and had the reputation of being a good soldier, though I know that
he was considered a harsh and unfeeling officer by the men who served
under him. That is the man, Ronald, and if you could get six inches of
your sword between his ribs it would go a good long way towards obtaining
your father's release; but I warn you he is said to be one of the best
swordsmen in France."

"I care not how good a swordsmen he is," Ronald said hotly, "if I do but
get a fair chance."

"Don't do anything rash, Ronald; I have no fear about your swordsmanship,
for I know in the last four months you have practised hard, and that
Francois says that young as you are you could give a point to any officer
in the regiment. But at present it were madness to quarrel with the duke;
you have everything to lose and nothing to gain. If he killed you there
would be an end of you and your plans; if you killed him you would have
to fly the country, for a court favourite is not to be slain with as much
impunity as a bourgeois, and equally would there be an end of all hope of
obtaining your father's release.

"No, for the present you must be content to bide your time. Still it is
as well for you to know your foe when you see him, and in the meantime go
on frequenting the various schools of arms and learn every trick of the
sword that is to be taught. Look!" he went on, as a group of mounted
officers rode down the street; "that is Marshal Saxe, one of the best
soldiers in France, if not the best, and just as wild and reckless in
private life as he is calm and prudent as a general."

Ronald looked with some surprise at the great general. He had expected to
see a dashing soldier. He saw a man who looked worn and bent with
disease, and as if scarce strong enough to sit on his horse; but there
was still a fire in his eye, and as he uttered a joke to an officer
riding next to him and joined merrily in the laugh, it was evident that
his spirit was untouched by the disease which had made a wreck of his
body.

A few days later a messenger arrived with the news that the French fleet
from Brest had sailed, and had met the English fleet which had gone off
in pursuit of it, and the coast of Kent was in consequence unguarded.
Orders were instantly given that the troops should embark on board the
transports, and as fast as these were filled they set sail. The
embarkation of the cavalry naturally took longer time than that of the
infantry, and before the Scottish Dragoons had got their horses on board
a portion of the fleet was already out of sight.

"Was there ever such luck!" Malcolm exclaimed, after assisting in getting
the horses on board, a by no means easy task, as the vessel was rolling
heavily at her mooring. "The wind is rising every moment, and blowing
straight into the harbour; unless I mistake not, there will be no sailing
tonight."

This was soon evident to all. Signals were made from ship to ship, fresh
anchors were let down, and the topmast housed. By midnight it was blowing
a tremendous gale, which continued for three days. Several of the
transports dragged their anchors and were washed ashore, and messages
arrived from different parts of the coast telling of the wreck of many of
those which had sailed before the storm set in.

The portion of the fleet which had sailed had indeed been utterly
dispersed by the gale. Many ships were lost, and the rest, shattered and
dismantled, arrived at intervals at the various French ports. The blow
was too heavy to be repaired. The English fleet had again returned to the
coast, and were on the lookout to intercept the expedition, and as this
was now reduced to a little more than half of its original strength no
surprise was felt when the plan was abandoned altogether.

Marshal Saxe with a portion of the troops marched to join the army in
Flanders, and the Scotch Dragoons were ordered to return to Paris for the
present.

For a year Ronald remained with the regiment in Paris. He had during that
time been introduced by Colonel Hume to several members of his mother's
family. By some of these who had known her before her marriage he was
kindly received; but all told him that it would be hopeless to make any
efforts for the release of his father as long as the Marquis de
Recambours remained alive and high in favour at court, and that any
movement in that direction would be likely to do harm rather than good.
Some of the others clearly intimated to him that they considered that the
countess had, by making a secret marriage and defying her father's
authority, forfeited all right to the assistance or sympathy of her
mother's family.

Twice Ronald travelled to Tours and sent messages to his mother through
Jeanne, and received answers from the countess. She had, however, refused
to meet him again on the terrace, saying that in spite of the love she
had for him, and her desire to see him again, she was firmly resolved not
to run the risk of danger to him and the failure of all their hopes, by
any rash step.

At the end of the summer campaign in Flanders Marshal Saxe returned to
Paris, and Colonel Hume one day took Ronald and introduced him to him,
having previously interested the marshal by relating his history to him.
The marshal asked Ronald many questions, and was much pleased with his
frank manner and bearing.

"You shall have any protection I can give you," the marshal said. "No man
has loved adventures more than I, nor had a fairer share of them, and my
sympathies are altogether with you; besides, I remember your father well,
and many a carouse have we had together in Flanders. But I am a soldier,
you know, and though the king is glad enough to employ our swords in
fighting his enemies, we have but little influence at court. I promise
you, however, that after the first great victory I win I will ask the
release of your father as a personal favour from the king, on the ground
that he was an old comrade of mine. I can only hope, for your sake, that
the marquis, your grandfather, may have departed this world before that
takes place, for he is one of the king's prime favourites, and even the
request of a victorious general would go for little as opposed to his
influence the other way. And now, if you like, I will give you a
commission in Colonel Hume's regiment. You have served for a year as a
volunteer now, and younger men than you have received commissions."

Ronald thanked the marshal most heartily for his kind promise, but said
that at present he would rather remain as a volunteer, because it gave
him greater freedom of action.

"Perhaps you are right," the marshal said. "But at any rate you had
better abstain from attempting any steps such as Colonel Hume tells me
you once thought of for obtaining the release of your father. Success
will be all but impossible, and a failure would destroy altogether any
hopes you may have of obtaining his release from the king."

It seemed that some of his mother's family with whom he had communicated
must have desired to gain the favour of the favourite of the king by
relating the circumstances to him, for a short time after Ronald's
interview with the marshal the marquis came up to Colonel Hume when he
was on duty in the king's antechamber, and, in the presence of a number
of courtiers, said to him:

"So, Colonel Hume, I find that I have to thank you for harbouring in your
regiment an imposter, who claims to be my grandson. I shall know, sir,
how to repay the obligation."

"The gentleman in question is no imposter, marquis, as I have taken the
pains to inform myself. And I am not aware of any reason why I should not
admit the son of a Scottish gentleman into my regiment, even though he
happen to be a grandson of yours. As to your threat, sir, as long as I do
my duty to his majesty I fear the displeasure of no man."

Two nights later, as Ronald was returning from dining with Colonel Hume
and some of his officers, he was suddenly attacked in a narrow street by
six men. Malcolm was with him, for Colonel Hume had at once related to
him the conversation he had had with the marquis, and had warned him to
take the greatest precautions.

"He is perfectly capable of having you suddenly put out of his way by a
stab in the back, Ronald. And if there were anywhere for you to go I
should advise you to leave Paris at once; but nowhere in France would you
be safe from him, and it would upset all your plans to return to Scotland
at present. However, you cannot be too careful."

Ronald had related what had passed to Malcolm, who determined to watch
more carefully than ever over his safety, and never left his side when he
was outside the barracks.

The instant the six men rushed out from a lane, at whose entrance a
lantern was dimly burning, Malcolm's sword was out, and before the
assailants had time to strike a blow he had run the foremost through the
body.

Ronald instantly recovered from his surprise and also drew. He was now
nearly eighteen, and although he had not yet gained his full height he
was a match for most men in strength, while his constant exercise in the
school of arms had strengthened the muscle of his sword arm, until in
strength as well as in skill he could hold his own against the best
swordsman in the regiment. The men were for a moment checked by the fall
of their leader; but then seeing that they had opposed to them only one
man, and another whom they regarded as a lad, scarcely to be taken into
consideration, they rushed upon them. They were quickly undeceived.
Ronald parried the first blow aimed at him, and with his riposte
stretched his opponent on the pavement, and then springing forward, after
a few rapid thrusts and parries ran the next through the shoulder almost
at the same moment that Malcolm stretched another opponent on the ground.

Terrified at the downfall of three of their number, while a fourth leaned
against a door post disabled, the two remaining ruffians took to their
heels and fled at the top of their speed, the whole affair having lasted
scarce a minute.

"Tell your employer," Ronald said to the wounded man, "that I am not to
be disposed of so easily as he imagined. I should be only giving you what
you deserve if I were to pass my sword through your body; but I disdain
to kill such pitiful assassins except in self defence."

The next morning Ronald communicated to Colonel Hume what had happened.

"It's just as well, my young friend, that you are going to leave Paris. I
received orders half an hour ago for the regiment to march to the
frontier at once. That is the marquis's doing, no doubt. He thought to
get rid of you last night and to punish me this morning; but he has
failed both ways. You have defeated his cutthroats; I shall be heartily
glad to be at the front again, for I am sick of this idle life in Paris."



CHAPTER VIII: Hidden Foes.


"I am heartily glad to be out of Paris," Ronald said to Malcolm on their
first halt after leaving the capital. "It is not pleasant to regard every
man one meets after dark as a possible enemy, and although I escaped scot
free from the gang who attacked us the other night, one cannot always
expect such good fortune as that. It was a constant weight on one's mind,
and I feel like a new man now that we are beyond the city walls."

"Nevertheless, Ronald, we must not omit any precautions. Your enemy has a
long purse, and can reach right across France. That last affair is proof
of his bitterness against you, and it would be rash indeed were we to act
as if, having made one attempt and failed, he would abandon his plans
altogether. He is clearly a man who nourishes a grudge for years, and his
first failure is only likely to add to his vindictive feeling. I do not
say that your danger is as great as it was in Paris, but that is simply
because the opportunities of attacking you are fewer. I should advise you
to be as careful as before, and to be on your guard against ambushes and
surprises."

"Well, it may be so, Malcolm, and of course I will be careful; but till I
have proof to the contrary I shall prefer to think that the marquis will
trust to my being knocked on the head during the war, and will make no
further move against me until the regiment returns to Paris."

"Think what you like, lad," Malcolm said, "so that you are cautious and
guarded. I shall sleep with one eye open, I can tell you, till we are
fairly beyond the frontier."

Two days later the regiment encamped outside the town of St. Quentin.
They were usually quartered on the inhabitants; but the town was already
filled with troops, and as the weather was fine Colonel Hume ordered his
men to bivouac a short distance outside the walls. Ronald was seeing that
his troop got their breakfast next morning, when a sergeant came up with
two men with a horse.

"This is Monsieur Leslie," he said to them. "These men were asking for
you, sir."

"What do you want with me?" Ronald said surprised.

"We heard, sir," one of the peasants said, "that you wanted to buy a
horse. We have a fine animal here, and cheap."

"But I do not want to buy one," Ronald replied. "I am very well supplied
with horses. What made you think I wanted one?"

"We asked one of the officers, sir, if anyone in the regiment would be
likely to buy, and he said that Monsieur Leslie wanted one, he believed."

"No," Ronald said decidedly. "Whoever told you was mistaken. I have my
full complement, and though your horse looks a nice animal I could not
take him if you offered him to me for nothing. I don't think you will get
anyone to buy him in the regiment. I believe that every officer has his
full complement of chargers."

In the evening Ronald happened to mention to Malcolm the offer he had had
in the morning.

"It was a nice looking beast," he said, "and I had half a mind to ask
them what they would take to exchange him with my roan, but I did not
want to dip further into my purse."

"I wish I had been beside you at the time," Malcolm said earnestly;
"those two fellows wouldn't have gone out of the camp so easily."

"Why, what do you mean, Malcolm?"

"Mean!" Malcolm repeated in a vexed tone. "This is what comes of your
being watchful and cautious, Ronald. Why, the matter is clear enough. The
marquis has set men on your track, but of course they could do nothing
until some of them knew you by sight, so two of them are sent into camp
with this cock and bull story about a horse, and they come and have a
good look at you and go quietly off. It is too provoking. Had I been
there I would have given them in charge of a file of men at once. Then we
would have asked every officer in the regiment if he had sent them to
you, and when we found, as we certainly should have found, that none of
them had done so, we should have marched the men off to Colonel Hume, and
I am sure, when he heard the circumstances of the case, they would have
been lashed up and flogged till he had got the truth of the matter out of
them. My great hope has been that they could not very well attempt your
life, because none of the men who might be engaged on the job would be
likely to know your face, and they would therefore have no means of
singling you out for attack; and now two of the ruffians will be able to
follow you and watch their opportunity."

"Oh, nonsense, Malcolm, you are too suspicious altogether! I have no
doubt the affair was just as they stated it to be. What was more
natural?"

"Well, Ronald, you will meet all the other officers at supper in half an
hour. Just ask if any of them sent two men wanting to sell a horse to you
this morning; if any of them say that they did so, I will acknowledge I
am wrong.

Accordingly Ronald, at supper, put the question, but none of the officers
admitted they knew anything about the matter.

"You have two very good horses, Leslie; why should anyone suppose that
you wanted another?" the colonel asked.

"I don't know," Ronald said. "I only know that two men did come up with a
horse to me this morning, and said that one of the officers had told them
that I wanted to buy one."

"It must have been one of the men," the colonel said carelessly, "though
I don't know why anyone should suppose that you wanted another charger.
Still, someone, knowing that you are the last joined officer, might think
you had need for a second horse."

The subject dropped, and Malcolm shook his head ominously when Ronald
acknowledged to him that his suspicions were so far right that none of
the officers had sent the men to him. The next day, as the regiment was
passing through a thick wood, and Ronald was riding with Captain Campbell
behind his troop, which happened to be in the rear in the regiment, two
shots were fired from among the trees. The first struck Ronald's horse in
the neck, causing him to swerve sharply round, a movement which saved his
rider's life, for the second shot, which was fired almost instantly after
the first, grazed his body and passed between him and Captain Campbell.

"Are you hit, Leslie?" the latter exclaimed, for the sudden movement of
his horse had almost unseated Ronald.

"Nothing serious, I think. The bullet has cut my coat and grazed my skin,
I think, but nothing more."

The captain shouted orders to his men, and with a score of troopers
dashed into the wood. The trees grew thickly and there was a dense
undergrowth, and they had difficulty in making their way through them.
For half an hour they continued their search without success, and then
rejoined the regiment on its march.

"This is a curious affair," Colonel Hume said when Captain Campbell
reported, at the next halt, that an attempt at assassination had taken
place.

"It looks like a premeditated attempt upon one or other of you. You
haven't been getting into any scrape, have you?" he asked with a smile;
"kissing some peasant's wife or offering to run away with his daughter?
But seriously this is a strange affair. Why should two men lie in wait
for the regiment and fire at two of its officers? The men have been
behaving well, as far as I have heard, on the line of march, and nothing
has occurred which could explain such an outrage as this."

"It may be fancy on my part, colonel," Ronald said, "but I cannot help
thinking that it is a sequence of that affair I told you about in Paris,
just before we started. The first shot struck my horse and the second
would certainly have killed me had it not been for the horse's sudden
swerve, therefore it looks as if the shots were aimed at me. I have some
reason, too, for supposing that I have been followed. If you remember my
question last night at supper about the men who wanted to sell me a
horse. Malcolm Anderson is convinced that the whole thing was only a ruse
to enable them to become acquainted with my face. They wanted to be able
to recognize me, and so got up this story in order to have me pointed out
to them, and to have a talk with me. None of the officers did send them
to me, as they said, and they could hardly have hit upon a better excuse
for speaking to me."

"It certainly looks like it," Colonel Hume said gravely. "I would give a
good deal if we had caught those two men in the wood. If we had I would
have given them the choice of being hung at once or telling me what was
their motive in firing at you and who paid them to do it. This is
monstrous. If we could get but a shadow of proof against your enemies I
would lay a formal complaint before the king. Marquis or no marquis, I am
not going to have my officers assassinated with impunity. However, till
we have something definite to go upon, we can do nothing, and until then,
Leslie, you had best keep your suspicion to yourself. It were best to say
nothing of what you think; in this country it is dangerous even to
whisper against a king's favourite. Let it be supposed that this attack
in the woods was only the work of some malicious scoundrels who must have
fired out of pure hatred of the king's troops."

Captain Campbell and Ronald quite agreed with the view taken by the
colonel, and answered all questions as to the affair, that they had not
the least idea who were the men who fired on them, and that no one
obtained as much as a glimpse of them.

With most of the officers of the regiment, indeed with all except one,
Ronald was on excellent terms. The exception was a lieutenant named
Crawford; he was first on the list of his company, and had, indeed, been
twice passed over in consequence of his quarrelsome and domineering
disposition. He was a man of seven or eight and twenty; he stood about
the same height as Ronald and was of much the same figure, indeed the
general resemblance between them had often been remarked.

His dislike to Ronald had arisen from the fact that previous to the
latter joining the regiment Crawford had been considered the best
swordsman among the officers, and Ronald's superiority, which had been
proved over and over again in the fencing room, had annoyed him greatly.
Knowing that he would have no chance whatever with Ronald in a duel, he
had carefully abstained from open war, showing his dislike only by
sneering remarks and sarcastic comments which frequently tried Ronald's
patience to the utmost, and more than once called down a sharp rebuke
from Colonel Hume or one or other of the majors. He did not lose the
opportunity afforded by the shots fired in the wood, and was continually
suggesting all sorts of motives which might have inspired the would be
assassins.

Ronald, who was the reverse of quarrelsome by disposition, laughed good
temperedly at the various suggestions; but one or two of the senior
officers remonstrated sharply with Crawford as to the extent to which he
carried his gibes.

"You are presuming too much on Leslie's good nature, Crawford," Captain
Campbell said one day. "If he were not one of the best tempered young
fellows going he would resent your constant attacks upon him; and you
know well that, good swordsman as you are, you would have no chances
whatever if he did so."

"I am quite capable of managing my own affairs," Crawford said sullenly,
"and I do not want any advice from you or any other man."

"I am speaking to you as the captain of Leslie's troop," Captain Campbell
said sharply, "and I do not mean to quarrel with you. You have had more
quarrels than enough in the regiment already, and you know Colonel Hume
said on the last occasion that your next quarrel should be your last in
the regiment. I tell you frankly, that if you continue your course of
annoyance to young Leslie I shall report the matter to the colonel. I
have noticed that you have the good sense to abstain from your remarks
when he is present."

Three days later the regiment joined the army before Namur.

That evening, having drunk more deeply than usual, Lieutenant Crawford,
after the colonel had retired from the circle round the fire and to his
tent, recommenced his provocation to Ronald, and pushed matters so far
that the latter felt that he could no longer treat it as a jest.

"Mr. Crawford," he said, "I warn you that you are pushing your remarks
too far. On many previous occasions you have chosen to make observations
which I could, if I had chosen, have resented as insulting. I did not
choose, for I hate brawling, and consider that for me, who have but
lately joined the regiment, to be engaged in a quarrel with an officer
senior to myself would be in the highest degree unbecoming; but I am sure
that my fellow officers will bear me out in saying that I have shown
fully as much patience as is becoming. I, therefore, have to tell you
that I will no longer be your butt, and that I shall treat any further
remark of the nature of those you have just made as a deliberate insult,
and shall take measures accordingly."

A murmur of approval rose among the officers sitting round, and those
sitting near Crawford endeavoured to quiet him. The wine which he had
taken had, however, excited his quarrelsome instinct too far for either
counsel or prudence to prevail.

"I shall say what I choose," he said, rising to his feet. "I am not going
to be dictated to by anyone, much less a boy who has just joined the
regiment, and who calls himself Leslie, though no one knows whether he
has any right to the name."

"Very well, sir," Leslie said in a quiet tone, which was, however, heard
distinctly throughout the circle, for at this last outburst on the part
of Crawford a dead silence had fallen on the circle, for only one
termination could follow such an insult. "Captain Campbell will, I hope,
act for me?"

"Certainly," Captain Campbell said in a loud voice; "and will call upon
any friend Lieutenant Crawford may name and make arrangements to settle
this matter in the morning."

"Macleod, will you act for me?" Crawford said to a lieutenant sitting
next to him.

"I will act," the young officer said coldly, "as your second in the
matter; but all here will understand that I do solely because it is
necessary that some one should do so, and that I disapprove absolutely
and wholly of your conduct."

"Well, make what arrangements you like," Crawford said with an oath, and
rising he left the circle and walked away.

When he had left there was an immediate discussion. Several of the
officers were of opinion that the duel should not be allowed to proceed,
but that Crawford's conduct should be reported to the colonel.

"I am entirely in your hands, gentlemen," Ronald said. "I have no desire
whatever to fight. This affair has been forced upon me, and I have no
alternative but to take it up. I am not boasting when I say that I am a
far better swordsman than he, and I have no need to shrink from meeting
him; but I have certainly no desire whatever to take his life. He has
drunk more than he ought to do, and if this matter can be arranged, and
he can be persuaded in the morning to express his regret for what he has
said, I shall be very glad to accept his apology. If it can be settled in
this way without either fighting or reporting his conduct to the colonel,
which would probably result in his having to leave the regiment, I should
be truly glad--What is that?" he broke off, as a loud cry rang through
the air.

The whole party sprang to their feet, and snatching up their swords ran
in the direction from which the cry had come. The tents were at some
little distance, and just as they reached them they saw a man lying on
the ground.

"Good heavens, it is Crawford!" Captain Campbell said, stooping over him.
"See, he has been stabbed in the back. It is all over with him. Who can
have done it?"

He questioned several of the soldiers, who had now gathered round,
attracted like the officers by the cry. None of them had seen the act or
had noticed anyone running away; but in so large a camp there were so
many people about that an assassin could well have walked quietly away
without attracting any attention.

The colonel was speedily on the spot, and instituted a rigid inquiry, but
entirely without success. The attack had evidently been sudden and
entirely unsuspected, for Crawford had not drawn his sword.

"It is singular," he said, as with the officers he walked slowly back to
the fire. "Crawford was not a popular man, but I cannot guess at any
reason for this murder. Strange that this should be the second attack
made on my officers since we left Paris."

Captain Campbell now related what had taken place after he had left the
circle.

"The matter should have been reported to me at once," he said; "although,
as it has turned out, it would have made no difference. Perhaps, after
all, it is best as it is, for a duel between two officers of the regiment
would have done us no good, and the man was no credit to the regiment.
But it is a very serious matter that we should be dogged by assassins.
Leslie, come up with me to my tent. I am not going to blame you, lad," he
said when they were together, "for you could not have acted otherwise
than you have done. Indeed, I have myself noticed several times that
Crawford's bearing towards you was the reverse of courteous. Have you any
idea as to how he came by his death?"

"I, sir!" Ronald said in surprise. "No, I know no more than the others."

"It strikes me, Leslie, that this is only the sequel of that attack in
the wood, and that your enemies have unwittingly done you a service.
Crawford was very much your height and build, and might easily have been
mistaken for you in the dark. I fancy that blow was meant for you."

"It is possible, sir," Ronald said after a pause. "I had not thought of
it; but the likeness between him and myself has been frequently noticed.
It is quite possible that that blow was meant for me."

"I have very little doubt of it, my lad. If any of these men were hanging
about and saw you as they believed coming away from the circle alone,
they may well have taken the opportunity. Let it be a lesson to you to be
careful henceforth. It is unlikely that the attempt will be repeated at
present. The men who did it will think that they have earned their money,
and by this time are probably on the way to Paris to carry the news and
claim their reward. So that, for a time at least, it is not probable that
there will be any repetition of the attempt. After that you will have to
be on your guard night and day.

"I wish to heaven we could obtain some clue that would enable me to take
steps in the matter; but at present we have nothing but our suspicions,
and I cannot go to the king and say three attempts have been made on the
life of one of my officers, and that I suspect his grandfather, the
Marquis de Recambours, has been the author of them."

When Malcolm heard the events of the evening his opinion was exactly the
same as that of the colonel, and he expressed himself as convinced that
Crawford had fallen by a blow intended for Ronald. He agreed that for a
while there was no fear of a renewal of the attempt.

"The fellows will take the news straight to Paris that you have been put
out of the way, and some time will elapse before the employers know that
a mistake has been made. Then, as likely as not, they will decide to wait
until the campaign is over."

The camp before Namur was a large and brilliant one. The king and dauphin
had already arrived with the army. All the household troops were there,
and a large contingent of the nobles of the court. The English army was
known to be approaching, and was expected to fight a battle to relieve
Namur, which the French were besieging vigorously. The French confidently
hoped that in the approaching battle they would wipe our the reverse
which had befallen them at Dettingen.



CHAPTER IX: Fontenoy.


A fortnight after the Scottish Dragoons joined the army the king was
present at an inspection of their regiment. As the brilliant cortege
passed along the line Ronald saw among the gaily dressed throng of
officers riding behind the king and Marshal Saxe the Marquis de
Recambours and the Duke de Chateaurouge side by side. Ronald with two
other gentlemen volunteers were in their places in the rear of the
regiment. It was drawn up in double line, and as the royal party rode
along for the second time, Ronald saw that the two noblemen were looking
scrutinizingly through the line of troopers at himself and his two
companions.

That evening Colonel Hume on his return from a visit to Marshal Saxe told
Ronald that the general had inquired after him, and had sent him word
that if he won the battle he would not forget the promise he had made
him. He had requested Colonel Hume to place Ronald at his disposal on the
day of the battle.

"'I shall want active officers to carry my messages,' he said, 'and your
young friend may have a greater opportunity of distinguishing himself
than he would with the regiment. I should in that case find it all the
easier to bring his business before the king.'

"The marshal is terribly ill," Colonel Hume said as he reported the
conversation to Ronald, "so ill that he can only occasionally sit on his
horse. Nothing but his indomitable courage sustains him. He is drawn
about in a light carriage made of basketwork, and this serves him also
for his bed."

On the 7th of May the enemy were known to be close at hand, and the
French selected the position on which they would fight. The village of
Fontenoy had already been occupied by a strong body of troops under
Marshal Noailles, and the rest of the army now moved forward to the posts
allotted to them. The English army were close at hand, and it was certain
that the battle would be fought on the morrow. In the evening the king
held a grand reception at which all the officers of rank were present.
When Colonel Hume returned to his camp his officers were still sitting
round the fire.

"Have you any news for us, sir?"

"No; I believe everything stands as was arranged. The king is in the
highest spirits, though I must say his majesty did not choose
reminiscences of a nature to encourage those who heard him. He remarked,
for instance, that since the days of St. Louis the French had never
gained a decisive success over the English, and a few minutes later he
observed that the last time a king of France with his son had fought at
the head of the French army was at the battle of Poictiers."

There was a general laugh.

"Certainly the king was not happy with his reminiscences," Major Munro
remarked; "but I think this time the tables are going to be turned. In
the first place we considerably outnumbered the enemy, even after leaving
15,000 men to continue the siege. In the second place, the position we
have chosen is almost impregnable. The Scheldt covers our right, with the
fortified bridge securing our communication, and the village of Antoin
resting on the river. Along our front from Antoin to Fontenoy is a narrow
and difficult valley. Our left is covered by the wood of Barre, where a
strong redoubt has been constructed; and the whole of the position is
fortified with breastworks and abattis as far as Fontenoy. Between that
village and Barre the natural difficulties are so great that field works
are unnecessary. I cannot believe myself that they will attack us in such
a position, especially as nearly half their army are Dutch, who will
count for little. The English are the only troops which we shall find
formidable."

Before daybreak the camp was astir, and the troops took the positions
assigned to them. Even now it was hardly believed that an attack would be
made by the enemy so long as the French remained in their all but
impregnable position; but presently the columns of the enemy were seen
advancing. Ronald had ridden up to the litter on which Marshal Saxe was
placed, and after saluting, had taken up his position with a number of
other officers, in readiness to carry orders to different parts of the
field.

At a short distance from the marshal the King of France with the dauphin
and the brilliant cortege of nobles had taken up his post. From the
position in which the marshal had caused himself to be placed a complete
view of the enemy's approaching ranks was obtained. It could soon be seen
that the Dutch troops, who on the English right were advancing to the
attack, were moving against the villages of Antoin and Fontenoy. A strong
force, headed, as was known afterwards, by General Ingoldsby, moved
towards the wood of Barre; while a solid column of English and
Hanoverians, 10,000 strong, marched forward to the attack across the
broken ground between Fontenoy and the wood of Barre.

It was as yet but five o'clock in the morning when the cannon broke out
into a roar on both sides. The Dutch, who were commanded by the Prince of
Waldeck, soon hesitated, and in a short time fell back out of range of
fire. On the English right General Ingoldsby penetrated some distance
into the wood of Barre, and then fell back again as the Dutch had done.
In an hour after the fighting had commenced the right and left of the
allied army had ceased their attack. There remained only the centre, but
this was advancing.

Under the command of the Duke of Cumberland the column crossed the ravine
in front of Fontenoy. The ground was so broken that the troops were
unable to deploy, but moved forward in a solid mass with a front of only
forty men.

The French batteries from the right and left mowed them down in lines,
but as steadily as if on parade the places were filled up, and unshaken
and calm the great column moved forward. The cannon which they dragged
along by hand opened against Fontenoy and the redoubts, and as, in spite
of the hail of fire, they pressed steadily on, the French gunners were
obliged to abandon their cannon and fly.

The regiment of French guards, officered almost entirely by the highest
nobles, met the English guards, who composed the front lines of the
column. A tremendous volley flashed along the English line, shattering
the ranks of the French guard. There was a moment's fierce fighting, and
then the English column swept from before it the remains of the French
guard, and cleared the ravine which defended Fontenoy.

Ronald felt his heart beat with excitement and a feeling of pride and
admiration as he saw the English advancing unmoved through the storm of
fire. They advanced in the most perfect order. The sergeants calmly
raised or depressed the soldiers' muskets to direct the fire; each vacant
place was filled quietly and regularly without hesitation or hurry; and
exclamations of surprise and admiration broke even from the French
officers.

Regiment after regiment was brought up and hurled against the head of the
column, but with no more effect than waves against a rock, each being
dashed aside shattered and broken by the steady volleys and regular lines
of bayonets. Ronald and other officers were sent off to bring up the
cavalry, but in vain did these strive to break the serried column. One
regiment after another charged down upon it, but the English, retaining
their fire until they were within a few yards of their muzzles, received
them with such tremendous volleys that they recoiled in disorder.

The French regiment of Vaisseaux next advanced to the attack, and fought
with greater gallantry than any which had preceded it; but at last, when
almost annihilated, its survivors fell back. And now it seemed as if this
10,000 men were to be victorious over the whole French army. Marshal Saxe
begged the king to retire with the dauphin across the bridge of Calonne
while he did what he could to retrieve the battle, but the king refused
to leave the field. There was a hurried council held round Louis, and it
was agreed to make a great effort by calling up the whole of the troops
between Fontenoy and Antoin, as the positions they held were no longer
threatened by the Dutch.

Had the latter now advanced nothing could have saved the French army from
utter defeat; but they remained immovable at a distance from the field of
battle. The English now won the crown of the position, had cut through
the French centre, and were moving forward towards the bridge of Calonne,
when the whole of the French artillery, which had, by the advice of the
Duke of Richelieu, been brought up, opened fire on the English column. At
the same moment the French regiments from Antoin fell upon it; while
Marshal Saxe, who had, when the danger became imminent, mounted his
horse, himself brought up the Irish Brigade, who, with a wild yell of
hatred, flung itself furiously upon the flank of the English.

Attacked thus on all sides, mown down by a heavy fire of artillery,
unsupported amid an army of foes, the column could do no more. Ten
thousand men could not withstand fifty thousand. Their ranks were twice
broken by the Irish, but twice their officers rallied them; until at
last, when it became evident that no more could be done, the column fell
slowly back in an order as perfect and regular as that in which it had
advanced.

French historians have done ample justice to the extraordinary valour
shown by the English troops on this occasion, a valour never surpassed in
the long annals of the British army. Had they received the slightest
assistance from their cowardly allies the victory must have been theirs.
As it was, although unsuccessful, the glory and honour of the day rested
with them, rather than with the victorious army of France. More than half
the column had fallen in the desperate engagement, but the loss of the
victors was even greater, and comprised many belonging to the noblest
families of France.

Ronald had won the warm approval of Marshal Saxe for the manner in which
he carried his orders across ground swept by a heavy fire, and brought up
the regiments to within close quarters of the English; and after the
battle was over Marshal Saxe presented to the king several of his staff
who had most distinguished themselves, and calling up Ronald, who was
standing near, for his horse had been shot under him as he rode by the
side of the marshal with the Irish Brigade to the attack, the marshal
said:

"Allow me to present to your majesty Ronald Leslie, a young Scottish
gentleman of good family, who is a volunteer in the Scottish Dragoons,
and has rendered great service today by the manner in which he has borne
my orders through the thickest of the fire."

"I will bear you in mind, young gentleman," the king said graciously,
"and I charge the marshal to bring your name before me on a future day."

His duty as aide de camp over, Ronald rejoined his regiment. They had
lost nearly a third of their number in their charges upon the English
column. Major Munro had been killed, the colonel severely wounded, and a
number of officers had fallen. Ronald went about among the men assisting
to bind up wounds, and supplying those who needed it with wine and other
refreshments. Presently he was joined by Malcolm.

"Thank God you are safe, Ronald. I tell you, you have given me many a
fright today as I watched you galloping along through the line of the
English fire."

"Where were you, Malcolm? I did not see you."

"I had nothing to do," Malcolm said, "and I climbed a tree not fifty
yards from the marshal's litter, and keeping the trunk in front of me to
protect me from a stray bullet I had a good view of the whole
proceedings. At one time I was on the point of slipping down and making a
bolt for it, for I thought it was all over with us. How that column did
fight! I have been in many a battle, but I never saw anything like it, it
was grand; and if it hadn't been for the Irish Brigade, I think that they
would have beaten the whole French army. But if you go into a battle
again I sha'n't come to see you. I have done my share of fighting, and
can take hard knocks as well as another; but I would not go through the
anxiety I have suffered today about you on any condition. However, this
has been a great day for you."

"You mean about the marshal presenting me to the king? Yes, that ought to
help us."

"No, I didn't mean that, for I had not heard of it. I mean about that old
rascal your grandfather, the Marquis de Recambours."

"What about him? I have not heard."

"No!" Malcolm exclaimed; "then I have good news for you. A ball from one
of the English field pieces struck him full in the chest, and of course
slew him instantly. He was not thirty yards from the tree when I saw him
knocked over. He is quite dead, I can assure you, for when the others
moved off I took the trouble to clamber down to assure myself. So now the
greatest obstacle to the release of your father and mother is out of the
way."

"Thank God for that!" Ronald said. "I have no reason for feeling one
spark of regret at what has befallen him. He was the cruel persecutor of
my parents, and did his best to get me removed. There is but one obstacle
now to obtaining my father's release, and as he is neither a relation nor
an old man I shall be able to deal with him myself."

"Yes, but you must be careful, Ronald; remember the decree against
duelling. We must not make a false step now, when fortune is at last
favouring us. There will be no more fighting, I fancy. The English will
certainly not attack us again, and Tournay must fall, and I don't think
that on our part there will be any desire whatever to go out of our way
to seek another engagement with them. The king is sure to go back to
Paris at once, where he will be received with enthusiasm. Marshal Saxe
will probably follow as soon as Tournay has fallen. I should advise you,
therefore, to get leave from the colonel to be absent from the regiment
for a time, and we will make our way down to Tours and let your mother
know the marquis is dead, and get her to write a memorial to the king
requesting permission to leave the convent, and then when the marshall
arrives in Paris we will get him to present it."

Ronald agreed to Malcolm's proposal, and the next morning, having
obtained leave of absence from the colonel, he and Malcolm mounted and
rode for Tours.

The message was duly conveyed to the countess by Jeanne, together with
Ronald's earnest request that his mother would again meet him. She sent
back by Jeanne the memorial he had asked her to write to the king,
begging that she might be allowed to leave the convent; but she refused
to agree to his wishes to meet her, bidding Jeanne say that now it seemed
there was really a hope of her release shortly, she would less than ever
risk any step which if discovered might prejudice their plans.

Although disappointed, Ronald could not deny that her decision was a wise
one, and therefore contented himself by sending word that he had obtained
one very powerful friend, and that he hoped that she would ere long
receive good tidings. After a short stay at Tours, Ronald and Malcolm
returned to Paris, where a series of brilliant fetes in honour of the
victory of Fontenoy were in preparation. Tournay had surrendered a few
days after the battle, the governor of that town having accepted a heavy
bribe to open the gates, for the place could have resisted for months,
and the allied army were ready to recommence hostilities in order to
relieve it.

After its surrender they fell back and resumed a defensive attitude. The
king therefore returned at once to Paris, and Marshal Saxe, handing over
the command of the army to Marshal de Noailles, followed him by easy
stages. Delighted above all things at a success gained over the English,
who had for centuries been victorious in every battle in which England
and France had met as enemies, the citizens of Paris organized a
succession of brilliant fetes, which were responded to by entertainments
of all kinds at Versailles. The Scottish Dragoons were still at the
front; but Colonel Hume had been brought to Paris, as it would be some
time ere he would be able again to take the command of the regiment.
Ronald called at the house where the colonel lodged, upon the day after
his return from Tours, and found that he had arrived upon the previous
day. Ronald was at once shown up on sending in his name. The colonel was
lying on the couch when he entered.

"How are you, colonel?"

"I am going on as well as possible, Ronald; they found the ball and got
it out the day before I left the regiment, and I shall do well now. I
have been carried on a litter all the way by eight of our troopers, and
the good fellows were as gentle with me as if I had been a child, and I
scarce felt a jar the whole distance. What I have got to do now is to lie
quiet, and the doctor promises me that in six weeks' time I shall be fit
to mount a horse again. Marshal Saxe sent yesterday evening to inquire
after me, and I will send you to him to thank him for so sending, and to
inquire on my part how he himself is going on. My message will be a good
excuse for your presenting yourself."

Ronald found the antechamber of the marshal crowded with nobles and
officers who had come to pay their respects to the victorious general,
who was, next to the king himself, at that moment the most popular man in
France. Hitherto, as a Protestant and a foreigner, Maurice of Saxony had
been regarded by many with jealousy and dislike; but the victory which he
had won for the French arms had for the first time obliterated every
feeling save admiration and gratitude.

Presently the marshal came out from the inner room with the dauphin, who
had called on the part of the king to inquire after his health. He was
now able to walk, the excitement of the battle and the satisfaction of
the victory having enabled him partially to shake off the disease which
afflicted him. After the dauphin had left, the marshal made the tour of
the apartment, exchanging a few words with all present.

"Ah! you are there, my young Leslie," he said familiarly when he came to
Ronald. "Where have you been? I have not seen you since the day when you
galloped about with my messages through the English fire as if you had a
charmed life."

"Colonel Hume gave me leave, sir, to travel on private business. I am now
the bearer of a message from him, thanking you for the kind inquiries as
to his wound; he bids me say that he trusts that your own health is
rapidly recovering."

"As you see, Leslie, Fontenoy has done wonders for me as well as for
France; but wait here, I will speak with you again."

In half an hour most of the callers took their departure, then the
marshal called Ronald into an inner room.

"Tomorrow," he said, "I am going to pay my respects to the king at
Versailles. I will take you with me. Have you your mother's memorial?
That is right. As her father was killed at Fontenoy there will, I hope,
be the less difficulty over the matter; but we must not be too sanguine,
for there will be a host of hungry competitors for the estates of the
marquis, and all these will unite against you. However, I do not think
the king will be able to refuse my first request, and when your mother is
out we must put our heads together and see about getting your father's
release."

Ronald expressed his deep gratitude at the marshal's kindness.

"Say nothing about it, my lad. Fortunately I want nothing for myself, and
it is no use being a victorious general if one cannot utilize it in some
way; so I am quite glad to have something to ask the king."

The next day Ronald presented himself at the hotel of Marshal Saxe and
rode by the side of his carriage out to Versailles. The king, surrounded
by a brilliant train of courtiers, received the marshal with the greatest
warmth, and after talking to him for some time retired with him into his
private closet. A few minutes later one of the royal pages came out into
the audience chamber and said in a loud voice that the king desired the
presence of Monsieur Ronald Leslie.

Greatly embarrassed at finding himself the centre of observation not
unmingled with envy at the summons, Ronald followed the page into the
presence of the king, who was alone with Marshal Saxe. Louis, who was in
high good humour, gave Ronald his hand to kiss, saying:

"I told the marshal to recall your name to me, and he has done so now. He
says that you have a boon to ask of me."

"Yes, sire," the marshal said; "and please consider graciously that it is
I who ask it as well as he. Your majesty has always been gracious to me,
and if you think me deserving of any mark of your favour after this
success which your majesty and I have gained together, I would now crave
that you grant it."

"It is granted before you name it, marshal," the king said. "I give you
my royal word that whatever be your boon, provided that it be within the
bounds of possibility, it is yours."

"Then, sire, I ask that an old comrade and fellow soldier of mine, who
fought bravely for your majesty, but who fell under your majesty's
displeasure many years ago on account of a marriage which he made
contrary to your pleasure, may be released. He has now been over sixteen
years in prison, and has therefore paid dearly for thwarting your will,
and his wife has all this time been confined in a convent. They are the
father and mother of this brave lad--Colonel Leslie, who commanded your
majesty's regiment of Scotch Dragoons, and his wife, the Countess Amelie
of Recambours. I ask your majesty, as my boon, that you will order this
officer to be released and the lady to be allowed to leave the convent."

"Peste, marshal!" the king said good temperedly; "your request is one of
which will get me into hot water with a score of people. From the day the
marquis was killed at Fontenoy I have heard nothing but questions about
his estates, and I believe that no small portion of them have been
already promised."

"I say nothing about the estates," the marshal replied; "as to that, your
majesty's sense of justice is too well known for it to be necessary for
me to say a single word. The countess has estates of her own, which she
inherited from her mother, but even as to these I say nothing. It is her
liberty and that of her husband which I and this brave lad ask of your
majesty."

"It is granted, marshal, and had your boon been a great one instead of a
small one I would have granted it as freely;" and the king again held out
his hand to Ronald, who bent on one knee to kiss it, tears of joy flowing
down his cheeks and preventing the utterance of any audible thanks for
the boon, which far surpassed his expectations; for the marshal had said
nothing as to his intention of asking his father's freedom, which indeed
he only decided to do upon seeing in how favourable a disposition he had
found the king.

"You see, marshal," Louis went on, "marriages like this must be sternly
discouraged, or all order in our kingdom would be done away with. Wilful
girls and headstrong soldiers cannot be permitted to arrange their
affairs without reference to the plans of their parents, and in this
instance it happened that the father's plans had received our approval.
The great estates of France cannot be handed over to the first comer, who
may perhaps be utterly unworthy of them. I do not say that in the present
case Colonel Leslie was in any way personally unworthy; but the disposal
of the hands of the great heiresses of France is in the king's gift, and
those who cross him are against his authority."

The king touched a bell and bade the page who entered to order his
secretary to attend at once.

"Search the register of the state prisons," he said, "and tell me where
Colonel Leslie, who was arrested by our orders sixteen years ago, is
confined, and then make out an order to the governor of his prison for
his release; also draw up an order upon the lady superior of--," and he
paused.

"The convent of Our Lady at Tours," Ronald ventured to put in.

"Oh! you have discovered that, eh?" the king said with a smile; and then
turned again to the secretary--"bidding her suffer the Countess Amelie
de Recambours to leave the convent and to proceed where she will."

The secretary bowed and retired. Ronald, seeing that his own presence was
no longer required, said a few words of deep gratitude to the king and
retired to the audience room, where he remained until, ten minutes later,
the door of the king's closet opened, and the king and Marshal Saxe again
appeared. The audience lasted for another half hour, and then the
marshal, accompanied by many of the nobles, made his way down to his
carriage. Ronald again mounted, and as soon as the carriage had left the
great courtyard of the palace, rode up alongside and poured out his
gratitude to the marshal.

"It has been another Fontenoy," the marshal said smiling. "Here are the
two orders, the one for Tours, the other for the governor of the royal
castle at Blois. The king made light of it; but I know his manner so well
that I could see he would rather that I had asked for a dukedom for you.
It is not often that kings are thwarted, and he regards your parents as
being rebels against his authority. However, he was bound by his promise,
and there are the papers. Now, only one word, Leslie. Do not indulge in
any hopes that you will see your father more than a shadow of the
stalwart soldier that he was sixteen years ago. There are few men,
indeed, whose constitution enable them to live through sixteen years'
confinement in a state prison. Therefore prepare yourself to find him a
mere wreck. I trust that freedom and your mother's care may do much for
him, but don't expect too much at first. If you take my advice you will
go first and fetch your mother, in order that she may be at hand to
receive your father when he leaves the fortress. By the way, I thought it
just as well not to produce your mother's memorial, as it seemed that we
should be able to do without it, for it might have struck the king to ask
how you obtained it, and he would probably have considered that your
communication with your mother was a fresh act of defiance against his
authority."

Malcolm was wild with joy when Ronald returned with the account of his
interview with the king and its successful result, and had his not been a
seasoned head, the number of bumpers which he drank that night in honour
of Marshal Saxe would have rendered him unfit for travel in the morning.
Ronald had, after acquainting him with the news, gone to Colonel Hume,
whose pleasure at hearing that his former colonel and comrade was to
regain his freedom was unbounded. Every preparation was made for an early
start.

"Be sure you look well to the priming of your pistols before you put them
in your holsters tomorrow," Malcolm said.

"Do you think it will be necessary?"

"I am sure of it, Ronald. News travels fast; and you may be sure that by
this time the fact that the king has granted an order for the release of
your father and mother is known to the Duke of Chateaurouge. If he did
not hear it from the king himself, which he would be most likely to do,
as Louis would probably lose no time in explaining to him that he had
only gone against his wishes because under the circumstances it was
impossible for him to refuse the marshal's request, the secretary who
drew out the document would, no doubt, let the duke know of it. There are
no secrets at court."

"But now that the orders for release have been granted," Ronald said,
"the duke can have no motive in preventing them being delivered, for
fresh ones could, of course, be obtained."

"In the first place, Ronald, the duke will be so furious at your success
that he will stick at nothing to have his revenge; in the second place,
he and the others, for there are many interested in preventing your
mother from coming into her father's possessions, will consider that the
gain of time goes for a good deal. You are the mover in the matter. Were
you out of the way, and the documents destroyed, the matter might rest as
it is for a long time. The marshal is busy from morning till night, and
would be long before he missed you, and would naturally suppose that you
had, after obtaining the release of your parents, retired with them to
some country retreat, or even left the kingdom.

"This would give ample time for working upon Louis. Besides, the king
might never inquire whether the prisoners had been released. Then the
marshal might die or be sent away to the frontier. Therefore, as you see,
time is everything. I tell you, Ronald, I consider the journey you are
going to undertake tomorrow an affair of greater danger than going into a
pitched battle. You will have to doubt everyone you meet on the road, the
people at the inns you stop at--you may be attacked anywhere and
everywhere. As to our travelling by the direct road, I look upon it as
impossible. Our only chance is to throw them off the scent, and as they
know our destination that will be no easy matter."

They were astir by daylight, and Malcolm soon brought the horses round to
the door.

"It's a comfort to know," he said, "that the horses have passed the night
in the barracks, and that therefore they have not been tampered with.
Look well to the buckles of your girths, Ronald. See that everything is
strong and in good order."

"That is not your own horse, Malcolm, is it?"

"No, it is one of the troopers'. It is one of the best in the regiment,
and I persuaded the man to change with me for a week. No one is likely to
notice the difference, as they are as nearly as possible the same colour.
Your horse is good enough for anything; but if I could not keep up with
you its speed would be useless. Now, I think, we can keep together if we
have to ride for it.

"What have you got in that valise, Malcolm? One would think that you were
going upon a campaign."

"I have got four bottles of good wine, and bread and meat enough to last
us for two days. I do not mean, if I can help it, to enter a shop or stop
at an inn till we arrive at Tours. We can make a shift to sleep for
tonight in a wood. It would be safer a thousand times than an inn, for I
will bet fifty to one that if we ventured to enter one we should find one
or both of our horses lame on starting again."

"Oh come, Malcolm, that's too much! The Duke of Chateaurouge is not
ubiquitous. He has not an army to scatter over all France."

"No, he has not," Malcolm agreed; "but from what I know of him I doubt
not that he can lay his hands on a number of men who will stick at
nothing to carry out his orders and earn his money. Paris swarms with
discharged soldiers and ruffians of all kinds, and with plenty of gold to
set the machine in motion there is no limit to the number of men who
might be hired for any desperate deed."

As they were talking they were making their way towards one of the
southern gates. They arrived there before it opened, and had to wait a
few minutes. Several other passengers on horseback and foot were gathered
there.

"I could bet a crown piece," Malcolm said, "that some one among this
crowd is on the watch for us, and that before another half hour the Duke
of Chateaurouge will know that we have started."



CHAPTER X: A Perilous Journey.


A number of peasants with market carts were waiting outside the gates,
and for the first few miles of their ride the road was dotted with people
making their way to the city. As they rode, Malcolm discussed the
question of the best road to be taken. Ronald himself was still in favour
of pushing straight forward, for he was not so convinced as his follower
that a serious attempt would be made to interrupt their journey. He
pointed out that the road, as far as Orleans at least, was one of the
most frequented in France, and that in that city even the most reckless
would hardly venture to assault them.

"I agree with you, Ronald, that the road offers less opportunities for
ambushes than most others, for the country is flat and well cultivated;
but after all a dozen men with muskets could lie in ambush in a cornfield
as well as a wood, and the fact that people are going along the road
counts for little one way or the other, for not one in fifty would
venture to interfere if they saw a fray going on. But granting that so
far as Orleans the country is open and cultivated, beyond that it is for
the most part forest; but above all--although they may regard it as
possible that we may be on our guard, and may travel by other roads--it
is upon this direct line that they are sure to make the most preparations
for us. Beyond that it can only be chance work. We may go by one road or
by another. There may be one trap set on each road; but once past that
and we are safe."

After riding for upwards of an hour they came, at the turn of the road,
upon two carts. One had apparently broken down, and the other had stopped
that those with it might give assistance in repairing it. One cart was
turned across the road, and the other filled the rest of the space.

"Stop!" Malcolm exclaimed, checking his horse suddenly.

"What is it?" Ronald asked in surprise.

"Turn back!" Malcolm said sharply as he wheeled his horse round.

Ronald, without a word, did the same, and they galloped a hundred yards
down the road.

"We were nearly caught there," Malcolm said.

"Why, how do you mean?"

"Never mind now, Ronald. Turn sharp to the right here, and make a detour
through the fields. You will soon see whether I was right."

"It is a shame riding through this ripe corn," Ronald said, as without
any further comment he leaped his horse over the bank and dashed off
among the golden grain, which stretched far and wide on both sides of the
road.

They had not gone fifty yards before they heard loud shouts, and as they
came abreast of where the carts were standing several shots were fired,
and ten or twelve men were seen running through the corn as if to cut
them off. But although they heard the whiz of the bullets they were too
far off to be in much danger, and the men on foot had no chance of
cutting them off, a fact which they speedily perceived, as one by one
they halted and fired. A few hundred yards farther the two horsemen came
round into the road again and pursued their journey.

"Well, what do you think of that, Ronald?"

"It was an ambush, no doubt, Malcolm; but what on earth made you suspect
it? I saw nothing suspicious. Merely two carts in the road, with three or
four men doing something to one of the wheels."

"I am in a suspicious humour this morning, Ronald, and it is lucky I am.
The sight of the two carts completely blocking the road brought me to a
halt at once, and as I checked my horse I saw a movement among the bushes
on the right of the road, and felt sure that it was an ambush. It was a
well laid one, too, and had we ridden on we should have been riddled with
bullets. No doubt there were men lying in the carts. They would have
jumped up as we came up to them, and the fellows in the bushes would have
taken us in the rear; between their two fires our chances would have been
small indeed. No doubt they had a man on watch, and directly they saw us
coming they got their carts across the road, and took up their positions.
It was a well contrived scheme, and we have had a narrow escape."

"Thanks to your quickness and watchfulness, Malcolm, which has saved our
lives. I admit that you are right and I was wrong, for I own that I did
not share your apprehensions as to the dangers of our journey. Henceforth
I will be as much on the lookout as you are, and will look with suspicion
at every beggar woman that may pass."

"And you will be right to do so," Malcolm said seriously; "but for the
present I think that we are safe. This, no doubt, was their main ambush,
and they may reasonably have felt certain of success. However, we may be
sure that they did not rely solely upon it. This, no doubt, is the
unmounted portion of their gang. They were to try and put a stop to our
journey at its outset; but mounted men will have ridden on ahead,
especially as they couldn't have been sure that we should follow this
road. We might have gone out by one of the other gates at the south side
of the town, and they will have watched all the roads. Now I propose that
we take the next lane which branches off to the right, and travel by
byroads in future. Do not press your horse too fast. We have a long
journey before us, and must always have something in hand in case it is
necessary to press them to full speed."

Two miles further a road branched to the right. As they approached it
Ronald was about to touch his horse's rein, when Malcolm said shortly,
"Ride straight on."

Although surprised at this sudden change of plan, Ronald obeyed without
question.

"What was that for?" he asked when he had passed the turning.

"Did you not see that man lying down by the heap of stones at the
corner?"

"Yes, I saw him; but what of that?"

"I have no doubt he was on the lookout for us. Yes, I thought so," he
went on, as he stood up in his stirrups and looked back; "there, do you
see that horse's head in that little thicket, just this side of where the
road separates? I expected as much. If we had turned off, in another two
minutes that fellow would have been galloping along this road to take the
news to those ahead, and they would have ridden to cut us off further
along. I have no doubt we shall find someone on watch at every turning
between this and Orleans."

"But this is a regular campaign, Malcolm."

"It is a campaign, Ronald. The ruffians and thieves of Paris form a sort
of army. They have heads whom they implicitly obey, and those who have
money enough to set this machine in motion can command the services of
any number of men. Sharp fellows, too, many of them are, and when they
received orders to arrest our journey to Tours at any cost, they would
not omit a single precaution which could ensure success. Their former
attack upon you, and its result, will have showed them that we are not
children, and that the enterprise was one which demanded all their
efforts."

"What is our next move now, Malcolm?"

"We will turn off before we get to the next road. They can see a long way
across these level plains; so we will dismount and lead our horses. The
corn is well nigh shoulder deep, and if we choose a spot where the ground
lies rather low, neither that scoundrel behind nor the one at the next
road is likely to see us."

Half a mile further there was a slight dip in the ground.

"This is a good spot," Malcolm said. "This depression extends far away on
our right, and although it is very slight, and would not conceal us if
the ground were bare, it will do so now, so let us take advantage of it."

So saying he dismounted, and leading his horse, turned into the
cornfield. Ronald followed him, and for two miles they kept straight on
through the corn; then they came upon a narrow road connecting two
villages. They mounted and turned their horses' heads to the south.

"It is as well that none of the peasants saw us making through their
corn," Ronald said, "or we should have had them upon us with stone and
flail like a swarm of angry bees."

"It could not be helped," Malcolm replied, "and we could easily have
ridden away from them. However, it is just as well that we have had no
bother with them. Now we will quicken our pace. We are fairly between two
of the main roads south, and if we can contrive to make our way by these
village tracks we shall at any rate for some time be free from all risk
of molestation."

"I should think we should be free altogether," Ronald said. "When they
find we do not come along the road they will suppose we have been killed
at the first ambush."

Malcolm shook his head.

"Do not build upon that, Ronald. No doubt as soon as we had passed, some
of those fellows mounted the horses we saw in the carts, and rode off in
accordance with an agreed plan to give notice that we had passed them
safely, and were proceeding by that road. In the next place the fellow we
saw on watch would most likely after a time mount and follow us, and when
he got to the watcher at the next crossroad and found that we had not
come along there would know that we must have turned off either to the
right or left. One of them is doubtless before this on his way to the
next party with the news, while the other has set to work to find out
where we turned off, which will be easy enough to discover. Still, we
have gained something, and may fairly reckon that if we ride briskly
there is no fear of those who were posted along the road we have left
cutting us off."

They rode all day at a steady pace, stopping occasionally for a short
time to allow the horses a rest and a feed. The people in the quiet
little villages looked in surprise at the young officer and his follower
as they rode through their street or stopped for a quarter of an hour
while the horses were fed, for even Malcolm agreed that such pauses were
unattended by danger. It was rarely, indeed, that a stranger passed along
these bypaths, and the peasants wondered among themselves what could
induce them to travel by country byways instead of following the main
roads.

As they left the rich plains of the Beauce, the country was less
carefully cultivated. The fields of corn were no longer continuous, and
presently they came to tracts of uncultivated land with patches of wood.
They now left the little road they had been following, and rode straight
across country, avoiding all villages. They crossed several hills, and
late in the afternoon drew rein in a wide spreading forest. They were,
Malcolm thought, quite as far south as Orleans, and by starting at
daylight would arrive at Tours by midday.

"Here at least we are perfectly safe," he said; "when we approach Tours
our perils will begin again. When once they find that we have given them
the slip they are not likely to try to intercept us anywhere along the
route till we near the town, for they will know that the chances are
enormous against their doing so, and the parties along the various roads
will push on so as to meet us somewhere near that city. The river can
only be crossed at certain points, and they will feel sure we shall go by
one or other of them."

"And I suppose we shall," Ronald said.

"No, Ronald; my idea is that we turn west and ride to Le Mans, then take
a wide detour and enter Tours from the south side. It will take us a day
longer, but that is of little consequence, and I think that we shall in
that way entirely outwit them. The only precaution we shall have to take
is to cross the main road on our right at some point remote from any town
or village."

"I think that is a capital plan. I do not mind a share of fair fighting;
but to be shot down suddenly in an ambush like that of this morning, I
own I have little fancy for it."

Hobbling their horses, they turned them loose to pick up what they could
in the forest, and then sat down to enjoy a good meal from the ample
supply Malcolm had brought with him. When night fell they unstrapped
their cloaks from their saddles and rolled themselves in them, and lay
down to sleep. An hour later they were roughly awakened, each being
seized by three men, who, before they could attempt to offer resistance,
bound their arms to their sides, and then hurried them along through the
forest.

"I have been a fool, Ronald," Malcolm said bitterly; "I ought to have
kept watch."

"It was not your fault, Malcolm. One could never have guessed that they
would have found us in this forest. Somebody must have followed us at a
distance and marked us down, and brought the rest upon us; but even had
you kept watch it would have been no good, for they would have shot us
down before we could make any resistance."

"I wonder they didn't cut our throats at once," Malcolm said. "I don't
know what they are troubling to make us prisoners for."

Presently they saw a light in the forest ahead of them, and soon arrived
at a spot where a number of men were sitting round a fire.

"You had no trouble with them, Pierre, I suppose?"

"No, captain, they slept as soundly as moles. They have been speaking
some strange language as we came along."

"Thank God!" Malcolm exclaimed fervently. "I think, after all, Ronald, we
have only fallen in with a band of robbers, and not with our enemies."

"Unbind their hands," the captain of the band said, "but first take away
their swords and pistols. Gentlemen, may I ask you to be seated; and
then, perhaps, you will inform us what you, an officer in the Scotch
dragoons, as I perceive by your uniform, are doing here in the forest?"

Ronald, to whom the question was principally addressed, replied frankly:

"We took to this forest, I fancy, for the same reason for which you use
it, namely, for safety. We are on our way to Tours, and there are some
people who have interest in preventing our arriving there. They made one
attempt to stop us near Paris; fortunately that failed, or we should not
be now enjoying your society; but as it was likely that another attempt
would be made upon the road, we thought it better to leave it altogether
and take to the forest for the night."

"What interest could anyone have in preventing an officer of the king
from arriving at Tours?" the man asked doubtfully.

"It is rather a long story," Ronald said, "but if it is of interest to
you I shall be happy to relate it; and I may mention that there are three
bottles of good wine in the valise of one of the saddles, and a story is
none the worse for such an accompaniment."

A laugh went round the circle at Ronald's coolness, and a man stepped
forward with the two saddles which he had carried from the spot when the
captives had been seized. The wine was taken out and opened.

"Yes," the captain of the band said, after tasting it, "the wine is good;
now let us have your story."

Ronald gave them an outline of his history, told them how his father and
mother had been for many years imprisoned for marrying contrary to the
king's pleasure, and how he had at last obtained the royal order for
their release, and how the enemies of his parents were now trying to
prevent him from having those orders carried out. "There are the orders,"
Ronald said as he concluded, taking them from the inner pocket where he
carried them. "You see they are addressed to the abbess of the convent of
Our Lady at Tours, and to the governor of Blois."

"The story you tell us is a singular one," the captain replied, "and I
doubt not its truth. What was the name of your father?"

"He was Colonel Leslie, and commanded the same regiment to which I
belong."

"I remember him," one of the band said. "Our regiments were quartered
together, nigh twenty years ago, at Flanders, and I was in Paris at the
time when he was imprisoned. We were in the next barracks to the
Scotchmen, and I remember what a stir it made. The regiment was very nigh
mutinying."

"And I remember you too, though I cannot recall your name," Malcolm said,
rising and looking hard at the speaker; "and if I mistake not we have
cracked many a flask together, and made many a raid on the hen roosts of
the Flemish farmers. My name is Malcolm Anderson."

"I remember you well," the other said, rising and giving him his hand.
"Of course I met you scores of times, for the regiments were generally
brigaded together."

"That confirms your story altogether, monsieur," the captain of the band
said. "From this moment do not consider yourself a prisoner any longer. I
may say that we had no expectation of booty in your case, and you were
captured rather from curiosity than from any other reason. One of my men,
this afternoon, happened to see you ride into the wood and then dismount
and make preparations for passing the night there. He reported the matter
to me. I know that gentlemen of your cloth--I may say of mine, for I
was once an officer of his majesty, though I left the service somewhat
hastily," and he smiled, "on account of an unfortunate deficiency in the
funds of the regiment in which I happened, at the time, to be acting as
paymaster--are seldom burdened with spare cash, but the incident seemed
so strange that I determined to capture and question you. If you happen
to have more cash on you than you care about carrying we shall be glad to
purchase a few bottles of wine equal to that which you have given us. If
not, I can assure you that I do not press the matter.".

"I am obliged to you for your courtesy," Ronald said; "and as at present
I really happen to be somewhat flush of cash I am happy to contribute ten
louis for the laudable purpose you mention."

So saying he took out his purse, counted out ten pieces, and handed them
to the captain.

The action was received with a round of applause, for the robbers had
not, from the first, anticipated obtaining any booty worth speaking of,
and the turn affairs had taken had altogether driven any idea of gain
from their minds.

"I thank you warmly, sir," the captain said, "and promise you that I will
tomorrow despatch a messenger to Orleans, which is but ten miles away,
and will lay out the money in liquor, with which we will, tomorrow night,
drink your health and success in the enterprise. Nay, more, if you like,
a dozen of my men shall accompany you on your road to Tours. They have,
for various reasons, which I need not enter into, a marked objection to
passing through towns, but as far as Blois they are at your service."

"I thank you for your offer," Ronald replied, "but will not accept it, as
we intend to ride tomorrow morning to Le Mans, and then to enter Tours
from the south side, by which we shall throw our enemies completely off
the scent."

"But why do you not go to Blois first?" the man asked. "It is on your way
to Tours."

"I wish my mother to be present at the release of my father. So long a
confinement may well have broken him down. Now that I see how obstinately
bent our enemies are upon our destruction I will take with me two or
three stout fellows from Tours, to act as an escort."

"What day will you be leaving there?" the man asked.

"Today is Tuesday," Ronald said; "on Thursday we shall be at Tours, on
Friday morning we shall leave."

"Very well," the man replied, "we will be on the road. It is no
difference to us where we are, and as well there as here. I will have men
scattered all along in the forest between Blois and Amboise, and if I
find that there are any suspicious parties along the road we will catch
them, and if you are attacked you will find that we are close at hand to
help you. You are a generous fellow, and your story has interested me. We
gentlemen of the woods are obliged to live, whatever the law says; but if
we can do a good action to anybody it pleases us as well as others."

"I am greatly obliged to you," Ronald said, "and can promise you, anyhow,
that your time shall be not altogether thrown away."

Soon afterwards the whole band lay down round the fire and were sound
asleep. In the morning Malcolm saddled the two horses, and after a hearty
adieu from the captain and his followers--all of whom were discharged
soldiers who had been driven to take up this life from an inability to
support themselves in any other way--they started for Le Mans, which
town they reached late in the afternoon, without adventure.

Deeming it in the highest degree improbable that any watch would be set
for them at a place so far from their line of travel, they put up for the
night at the principal inn. In the morning they again started, and after
riding for some distance to the south, made a wide sweep, and crossing
the river, entered Tours from the south, late in the evening. They again
put up at the principal inn, for although they doubted not that their
arrival would be noticed by the emissaries of the enemy, they had no fear
of molestation in a town like Tours. And on the following morning Ronald
presented himself at the entrance to the convent.

"I wish to see the lady superior," he said to the lay sister at the
wicket. "I am the bearer of a communication to her from the king."

He was left waiting for a few minutes outside the gate, then the wicket
door opened, and the sister requested him to follow her. Not a soul was
to be seen as he traversed the gloomy courts and passed through several
corridors to the room where the abbess was waiting him. In silence he
handed to her the king's order. The abbess opened and read it.

"His majesty's commands shall be obeyed," she said; "in an hour the
countess will be in readiness to depart."

"A carriage shall be in waiting at the gate to receive her," Ronald said,
bowing, and then, without another word, retired.

Malcolm was awaiting him outside, and they at once went to the officer of
the royal post and engaged a carriage and post horses to take them to
Blois.

The carriage was at the door at the appointed time, and a few minutes
later the gate opened, and the countess, in travelling attire, issued
out, and in a moment was clasped in her son's arms. He at once handed her
into the carriage and took his place beside her. Malcolm closed the door
and leapt up on the box, the postilion cracked his whip, and the carriage
moved off.

"Can it be true, Ronald, or am I dreaming? It is but a week since you
were here last, and the news of my release came upon me with such a
surprise that, do you know, I fainted. Am I really free? Is it possible
that I have seen the last of those hateful walls? It seems like a dream.
Where are we going?"

"We are going to Blois."

"To a prison?" the countess exclaimed. "But no, there are no guards or
escorts. Are we going, oh, Ronald, are we going to see my husband?"

"Yes, mother, we are going, not only to see him but to release him. I
have the king's order in my pocket."

For some time the countess was unable to speak, her joy was too great for
words. Then tears came to her relief, and she sobbed out exclamations of
joy and gratitude. Ronald said nothing until she had somewhat recovered
her calmness, and then he told her the manner in which Marshal Saxe had
obtained the two orders of release.

"I will pray for him night and morning to the last day of my life," the
countess said. "God is indeed good to me. I had hoped, from what you
said, that my term of imprisonment was drawing to an end; but I had
looked forward to a long struggle, to endless efforts and petitions
before I could obtain your father's release, with, perhaps, failure in
the end. Not for one moment did I dream that such happiness as this
awaited me."

Ronald now thought it wise to repeat the warning which the marshal had
given him.

"Mother, dear," he said "you must be prepared to find that a total change
will have taken place in my father. His imprisonment has been a very
different one to yours. You have had companions and a certain amount of
freedom and comfort. You have had people to speak to, and have known what
is going on in the world. He has been cut off altogether from mankind. He
cannot even know whether you are alive, or whether you may not have
yielded to the pressure that would be sure to be brought upon you, and
acquiesced in a divorce being obtained. He has, doubtless, been kept in a
narrow cell, deprived almost of the air and light of heaven. He will be
greatly changed, mother. He will not be like you; for it does not seem to
me that you have changed much from what you were. I could not see you
much that night on the terrace; but now I see you I can hardly believe
that you are my mother, so young do you look."

"I am nearly forty," the countess said smiling. "I was past twenty-one
when I married. Had I not been of age they could have pronounced the
marriage null and void. But you are right, Ronald, and I will prepare
myself to find your father greatly changed. It cannot be otherwise after
all he has gone through; but so that I have him again it is enough for
me, no matter how great the change that may have taken place in him. But
who are these men?" the countess exclaimed, as, a quarter of a mile
outside the town, four men on horseback took up their places, two on each
side of the carriage.

"Do not be alarmed, mother, they are our escort. Malcolm hired them at Le
Mans. They are all old soldiers, and can be relied on in case of
necessity."

"But what need can there be for them, Ronald? I have heard that bands of
discharged soldiers and others make travelling insecure; but I had no
idea that it was necessary to have an armed escort."

"Not absolutely necessary, mother, but a useful measure of precaution. We
heard of them as we came through from Paris, and Malcolm and I agreed,
that as you would have with you any jewels and valuables that you took to
the convent, it would be just as well to be in a position to beat off any
who might be disposed to trouble us. As you see, they have brought with
them Malcolm's horse and mine, and we shall now mount. The less weight
the horses have to draw the better. I will get in and have a talk from
time to time where the road happens to be good; but, to tell you the
truth, the jolting and shaking are neither pleasant nor good for
talking."

"You are expecting to be attacked, Ronald," the countess said. "I am sure
you would not be wanting to get out and leave me so soon after we have
met did you not anticipate some danger."

"Frankly, mother, then, I do think it is probable that an attempt may be
made to stop us, and that not by regular robbers, but by your enemies.
They did their best to prevent me from reaching Tours, and will now most
likely try to prevent our arriving at Blois. I will tell you all about it
when we get there tonight. Here is the order for my father's release.
Will you hide it in your dress? I had rather not have it about me. And,
mother, if we should be attacked, do not be alarmed, for I have reason to
believe that if we should be outnumbered and hard pressed, help will
speedily be forthcoming."

"I am not in the least afraid for myself," the countess said; "but be
careful, Ronald. Remember I have only just found you, and for my sake do
not expose yourself unnecessarily."

"I will take care of myself, mother," he said. "You know I have always
had to do so."

Malcolm had already mounted his horse, and Ronald was really glad when he
took his place beside him a few yards ahead of the carriage. The art both
of road making and carriage building was still in its infancy. When the
weather was fine and the ground hard a fair rate of progress could be
maintained; but in wet weather the vehicles often sank almost up to their
axles in mud holes and quagmires, and the bumping and jolting were
terrible.

"Now we take up our work of looking out for ambushes again, Malcolm."

"It will not be quite the same thing now," Malcolm said. "Before, two or
three men with guns behind a wall might do the business, now they will
have to make a regular attack. I have no doubt that we were watched from
the time we entered the town, and that the news that we are travelling
with the countess in a carriage, and with an escort of four armed men,
has been carried on ahead already. It is by horsemen that we shall be
attacked today if we are attacked at all, and they will probably fall
upon us in the forest beyond Amboise. They will know that with a vehicle
we must keep the road, and that as we cannot travel more than six miles
an hour at the outside, we cannot attempt to escape by our speed."

"Do you think we had better wait at Amboise for the night and go on to
Orleans tomorrow?"

"No, I think we had better push straight on, especially as we told our
friends in the forest that we should come today, and I feel sure they
will keep their promise to be on the lookout to aid us. If it were not
for that I should have said let us stay at Tours for the present, for we
may expect to be attacked by a force much superior to our own."

"Why, they would not have sent down more than six men to attack us two,
Malcolm?"

"No, if they had been sure which road we should travel; but as they
didn't know that, they may have had small parties at half a dozen spots,
and these will now be united. Probably there may be a score of them.
However, I rely on the robbers. The captain meant what he said, and you
won the goodwill of all the men. If there are a dozen horsemen anywhere
along the road they are sure to know of it, and will, I have no doubt,
post themselves close at hand so as to be ready to join in the fray as
soon as it commences."

Amboise was reached without adventure. Here the horses in the carriage
were changed, and the party proceeded on their way. Four miles further
they entered a great forest. Ronald now ordered two of the men to ride a
few yards in front of the horses' heads. He and Malcolm rode on each side
of the coach, the other two followed close behind. He ordered the driver,
in case they were attacked, to jump off instantly and run to the horses'
heads, and keep them quiet during the fray.

A vigilant lookout was kept. Suddenly, when they were in the thickest
part of the wood, a number of mounted men dashed out from either side. In
obedience to the orders Ronald had given, the men in front and behind at
once closed in, so that there were three on either side of the carriage.
The assailants fired their pistols as they dashed down, but the bullets
flew harmlessly by, while the fire of the defenders, sitting quietly on
their horses, was more accurate, two of the assailants falling dead,
while another was severely wounded.

A moment later swords were drawn, and a furious combat ensued. Ronald had
told his men to keep close to the carriage, so that they could not be
attacked in the rear, keeping just far enough out on either side of him
to be able to use their swords. For a short time the defenders of the
coach maintained their position, the number of their assailants giving
them but slight advantage, as they were unable to utilize their force.

Ronald ran the first man who attacked him through the body, and laid open
the face of the next with a sweeping blow from left to right. The men
they had hired fought stoutly; but they were being pressed together as
the assailants urged forward their horses, when suddenly a volley of
firearms was heard.

Several of the assailants fell dead, and with a loud shout a number of
men rushed out from the wood and fell upon them in rear. The assailants
turned to fly, and it was now the turn of the defenders of the coach to
attack, which they did furiously.

In two or three minutes all was over. Five or six only of the assailants
cut their way through the footmen who had attacked them in rear, while
twelve lay dead or dying on the ground. Ronald's first impulse was to
ride up to the carriage to assure his mother of his safety, his next to
leap off his horse and grasp the hand of the chief of the robbers.

"You have kept your promise nobly," he said, "and arrived at the very
nick of time. They were beginning to press us hotly; and though I fancy
we should have rendered an account of a good many more, we must have been
beaten in the end."

"I was farther behind than I intended to be," the man said; "but we were
obliged to keep in hiding some little distance behind them. There were
four parties of them. We kept them in sight all yesterday, and last night
they assembled a mile or two away. I had men watching them all night, and
this morning we followed them here, and saw them take up their position
on both sides of the road. We crept up as closely as we dared without
being observed, but you had for a couple of minutes to bear the brunt of
it alone."

"I thank you most heartily," Ronald said. "My mother will thank you
herself." So saying, he led them to the door of the carriage, which he
opened.

"Mother, I told you that if we were attacked I relied upon help being
near at hand. We owe our lives, for I have no doubt that yours as well as
mine would have been taken, to this brave man and his followers."

"I thank you most sincerely, sir," the countess said. "At present I feel
like one in a dream; for I have been so long out of the world that such a
scene as this has well nigh bewildered me."

"I am only too glad to have been of service," the man said as he stood
bareheaded. "I am not a good man, madame. I am one of those whom the
necessities of the times have driven to earn their living as they can
without much regard to the law; but I trust that I have not quite lost my
instincts as a gentleman, and I am only too glad to have been able to be
of some slight assistance to a persecuted lady; for your son, the other
night, related to us something of the treatment which you have had to
endure."

With a bow he now stepped back. His followers were engaged in searching
the pockets of the fallen, and found in them a store of money which spoke
well for the liberality of their employer, and well satisfied the robbers
for the work they had undertaken. After a few words with her son the
countess opened a small bag she carried with her, and taking from it a
valuable diamond brooch, called the leader of the band up and presented
it to him.

Ronald and his party then remounted their horses--the robbers had
already overtaken and caught those of the fallen assailants--the driver
mounted the box, and after a cordial farewell to their rescuers the party
proceeded on their way to Blois.



CHAPTER XI: Free.


It was late at night before Blois was reached, and having alighted at the
Aigle d'Or they engaged a private room.

"Even the Duke of Chateaurouge will be satisfied," Ronald said, "that his
schemes have failed, and that no more can be done just at present. It
will be a bitter blow to him when those scoundrels, on their return to
Paris, report their utter failure, for he must have considered it
impossible that we could escape from the toils he had laid for us. I only
wish that we had clear evidence that he is the author of these attempts.
If so, I would go straight with Marshal Saxe and lay an accusation
against him before the king; but however certain we may feel about it, we
have really nothing to connect him with the affair, and it would be
madness to accuse a king's favourite unless one could prove absolutely
the truth of what one says. However, I hope some day that I shall get
even with him. It will not be my fault if I do not."

That night Ronald and his mother debated what would be the best way to
proceed in the morning, and finally they agreed that Malcolm should
present himself at the prison with the order of release, and that they
should remain at the hotel, to which Malcolm should bring Colonel Leslie,
after breaking to him the news that his wife and son were both awaiting
him. The shock, in any case, of sudden liberty, would be a severe one,
and the meeting with his attached comrade would act as a preparation for
that with his wife.

Mother and son sat hand in hand after hearing the carriage drive off with
Malcolm next morning. In the hours they had spent together they had come
to know each other, and the relationship had become a real one. They had
scarce been able to make out each other's features at their midnight
meeting on the terrace, and at that meeting, rejoiced as they both were,
there was still a feeling of strangeness between them. Now they knew each
other as they were, and both were well satisfied. The countess was less
strange to Ronald than he was to her. Malcolm had already described her
to him as he knew her eighteen years before, and the reality agreed
closely with the ideal that Ronald had pictured to himself, except that
she was younger and brighter. For in thinking of her he had told himself
over and over again that she would have grown much older, that her hair
might have turned gray with grief and trouble, and her spirit been
altogether broken.

She on her part had been able to form no idea as to what the infant she
had last seen would have grown up, and was not even sure that he was in
existence. She had hoped that if he had lived he would have grown up like
his father, and although she now saw but slight resemblance between them,
she was indeed well satisfied with her son.

He was not, she thought, as handsome as his father, but he bade fair to
surpass him in strength and stature. She was delighted with his manly
bearing; and when he laughed he reminded her of her husband, and she
thought that she read in his gray eye and firm mouth a steadfastness and
depth of character equal to his. They spoke but little now. Both were too
anxious, Ronald for his mother's sake rather than his own. He was
prepared to find this unknown father a man broken down by his years of
captivity; but although his mother said that she too was prepared for
great changes, he could not but think that the reality would be a sad
shock to her. In little over an hour the carriage drove into the
courtyard.

"Be brave, mother," Ronald said, as he felt the hand he held in his own
tremble violently. "You must be calm for his sake."

Steps were heard approaching. The door opened, and Malcolm entered with a
man leaning on his arm. The countess with a cry of joy sprang forward,
and the next moment was clasped in her husband's arms.

"At last, my love, at last!" she said.

Ronald drew aside to the window to leave his father and mother to enjoy
the first rapture of their meeting undisturbed, while Malcolm slipped
quietly from the room again.

"Why, Amelie," Leslie said at last, holding her at arms' length that he
might look the better at her, "you are scarce changed. It does not seem
to me that you are five years older than when I saw you last, and yet
Malcolm tells me that you too have been a prisoner. How much my love has
cost you, dear! No, you are scarce changed, while I have become an old
man--my hair is as white as snow, and I am so crippled with rheumatism
I can scarce move my limbs."

"You are not so much changed, Angus. Your hair is white and your face is
very pale; but you are not so much changed. If I have suffered for your
love, dear, what have you suffered for mine! I have been a prisoner in a
way, but I had a certain amount of freedom in my cage, while you--" And
she stopped.

"Yes, it has been hard," he said; "but I kept up my spirits, Amelie. I
never lost the hope that some day we should be reunited."

"And now, Angus, here is our boy, to whom we owe our liberty and the joy
of this meeting. You may well be proud of such a son."

"I am proud," Leslie said as Ronald advanced, and he took him in his
arms. "God bless you, my boy. You have performed well nigh a miracle.
Malcolm has been telling me of you. Call him in again. It is right that
he to whom you owe so much should share in our happiness."

Ronald at once fetched Malcolm, and until late at night they talked of
all that had happened during so many years. Colonel Leslie had passed the
first three years of his confinement in the Chatelet. "It was well it was
no longer," he said; "for even I, hard as I was with years of soldiering,
could not have stood that much longer. My cell there was below the level
of the river. The walls were damp, and it was there I got the rheumatism
which has crippled me ever since. Then they moved me to Blois, and there
my cell was in one of the turrets, and the sun shone in through the
window slit for half an hour a day; besides for an hour once a week I was
allowed to take what they called exercise on the wall between my turret
and the next. The governor was not a bad fellow, and did not try to
pocket the best part of the money allowed for the keep of the prisoners.
Fortunately I never lost hope. Had I done so I would have thrown myself
over the parapet and ended it at once. I felt sure that you too were shut
up, Amelie, and I pictured to myself how they would try to make you give
me up; but I never thought they would succeed, dear. I knew you too well
for that. Sometimes for months I lay as if paralysed by rheumatism, and I
think I should have died if I had not known how my enemies would have
rejoiced at the news of my death. So I held on stoutly, and I have got my
reward."

But the hardships had told their tale. Although but the same age as
Malcolm Anderson, Colonel Leslie looked fully ten years older. His long
confinement had taken every tinge of colour out of his face, and left it
almost ghastly in its whiteness. He could with difficulty lift his hands
to his head, and he walked as stiffly as if his legs had been jointless.
His voice only had not lost the cheery ring his wife remembered.

"No, Amelie," he said when she remarked this. "I kept my tongue in
practice; it was the one member that was free. After I had been confined
a few months it struck me that I was rapidly losing the power of speech,
and I determined that if I could not talk for want of someone to answer
me, I could at least sing, and having a good store of songs, Scottish and
French, I sang for hours together, at first somewhat to the uneasiness of
the prison authorities, who thought that I could not be so merry unless I
had some communication from without, or was planning an escape; but at
last they grew accustomed to it, and as my voice could not travel through
the thick walls of my cells, it annoyed no one."

"And did you never think of escaping, father?"

"The first few years of my confinement I was always thinking of it,
Ronald, but nothing ever came of my thought. I had no tools to burrow
through a four foot wall, and if I could have done so I should have tried
if it had only been to give me something to do, had it not been that I
hoped some day to obtain my release, and that any attempt at escape
would, if discovered, as it was almost certain to be, decrease my
chances."

Not a word was said that evening as to their future plans, all their
thoughts being in the past; but the next morning Colonel Leslie said at
breakfast:

"And now what are we going to do next? How do we stand?"

"I know no more than you do, Angus. I do not know whether the king has
gifted my mother's estate to others, as assuredly he has done my father's
lands. If he has, I have been thinking that the best plan will be to ask
the king's permission to leave the kingdom and return to your native
Scotland."

"I am very fond of Scotland, Amelie; but I have also a fondness for
living, and how I should live in Scotland I have not the most remote
idea. My estate there was but a small one, and was forfeited thirty years
ago; so unless I become a gaberlunzie and sit on the steps of St. Andrews
asking for alms, I don't see how we should get porridge, to say nothing
of anything else. No, Amelie, it seems to me that we must stop in France.
For very shame they cannot let the daughter of the Marquis de Recambours
starve, and they must at least restore you a corner of your parents
estates, if it be but a farm. How are we off for funds at present?" he
asked with a laugh. "I hope at least we have enough to pay our hotel
bill."

"We have forty louis in cash, father; the remains of the hundred you
committed to Malcolm with me."

"Is that so?" he exclaimed. "All I can say is that that money has lasted
longer than any that ever passed through my fingers before."

"We have plenty of money," the countess said quietly. "I have all the
jewels which came to me from my mother, and their sale will keep us for
years, either in Scotland or France."

"That is good indeed," the colonel said cheerily.

"Yes; I took them all with me when I was sent to the convent, and have
parted with none save the diamond necklet which I gave to the girl who
brought Ronald and me together, as a parting keepsake, and a brooch with
which I rewarded the men who aided us in the forest; but seriously,
Angus, we must settle upon something."

"I quite agree with you, Amelie; but what is that something to be?"

"I should think, Angus, that the proper thing would be for me to write to
the king thanking him for our release, asking his commands, and
petitioning him that my mother's estates may be restored to me. I will
also ask permission to retire to some southern town where there are
waters which may do good to your rheumatism."

Colonel Leslie frowned.

"I suppose that is the right thing to do, Amelie; though, for my part, I
cannot thank a sovereign whom I have served well after such treatment as
I have received. I would rather beg my bread from door to door."

"No, I would not ask you, Angus, and of course you are differently
placed; but I have my rights as a peeress of France; besides I have on my
own account no complaint against the king. It was my father who shut me
up in the convent, not the king."

"By the way, Amelie," her husband said, "you are not yet in mourning."

"Nor do I intend to be," she said firmly; "unless I have to go to court
no thread of mourning do I put on. My father behaved like a tyrant to me,
and I will not feign a grief at an event which has brought us happiness.
Well, Ronald, what do you think had best be done? You and Malcolm have
managed so well that we had best leave it for you to decide."

"I think what you propose, mother, is best. I think you had better travel
down to some place near where your mother's estates lay, and then write
your petition to the king. I will leave you there and return with it to
Paris, and will there consult Colonel Hume and Marshal Saxe as to how it
should be delivered to the king."

This plan was carried out. The party journeyed together to Poitiers, and
there having seen his parents comfortably settled in a small house near
the town, and remained with them a few days, Ronald with Malcolm returned
to Paris, bearing with him his mother's memorial to the king.

Ronald was glad to find that Colonel Hume was now recovered from his
wound. Marshal Saxe too was better; the latter at once took charge of the
petition, and said that he would hand it to the king on the first
opportunity. Ronald accompanied the marquis several times to Versailles,
but the latter had no private audience with the king, and thought it
better not to present the memorial in public. One day, however, he was
called into the king's closet.

When he emerged with the king, Ronald thought from his expression of
countenance that things had not gone well. On leaving the palace he
mounted his horse--for he was now well enough to ride--and as he set
out he called Ronald, who with other gentlemen had accompanied him to
ride beside him.

"Things have not gone well," he said. "Your father's enemies have
evidently been at work, and have been poisoning the king's mind. He read
the memorial, and then said harshly, 'The Countess of Recambours has
forfeited all rights to her mother's estates by marrying an alien. The
lands of France are for the King of France's subjects, not for soldiers
of fortune.' This touched me, and I said, 'Your majesty may recollect
that I am an alien and a soldier of fortune, and methinks that in time of
war the swords of our soldiers of fortune have done such things for
France that they have earned some right to gratitude. In a hundred
battles our Scottish troops have fought in the front ranks, and had it
not been for the Irish Brigade we should not have had to write Fontenoy
down among the list of French victories."

"You are bold, marshal," the king said angrily.

"I am bold, sire," I replied, "because I am in the right: and I humbly
submit that a brave soldier like Colonel Leslie deserves better treatment
than he has received at the hands of France."

The king rose at once.

"An answer to the petition will be sent to you tomorrow, marshal."

"I bowed, and without another word the king left his closet and entered
the room of audience. However, lad, you must not look so downcast. We
could perhaps expect no more the first time. Of course every man who has
a hope, or who has a relation who has a hope, of obtaining the grant of
your mother's estates is interested in exciting the king's displeasure
against her; besides which there is, as you have told me, the Duc de
Chateaurouge, who may be regarded as a personal enemy of your father, and
who has the king's ear as much as anyone about him. However, we must have
courage. I consider my personal honour is touched in the matter now, and
I will not let the matter drop till justice is done."

At the appointed time Ronald again called at Marshal Saxe's hotel, and
watched the gay crowd of officers and nobles who were gathered in his
reception rooms. An hour later a royal attendant entered and handed a
document to the marshal. The latter glanced at it and looked around. As
soon as his eye fell upon Ronald he nodded to him.

"Here is the judgement," he said in a low tone, as he handed him the
paper. "You see it is directed to the countess, to my care. I suppose you
will start with it at once."

"Yes, marshal; the horses are saddled and we shall leave immediately."

"Don't hurry your horses," the marshal said with a slight smile; "from
the king's manner I think that the contents are such that a few hours'
delay in the delivery will cause the countess no pain. However, I do not
anticipate anything very harsh. In the first place, although the king is
swayed by favourites who work on his prejudices, his intention is always
to be just; and in the second place, after granting the release of your
parents as a boon to me he can scarcely annul the boon by any severe
sentence. Will you tell the countess from me that I am wholly at her
service, and that, should any opportunity offer, she may be sure that I
will do what I can to incline the king favourably towards her. Lastly,
Leslie, take care of yourself. The change in the king's manner shows that
you have powerful enemies, and now that you have succeeded in obtaining
your parents' freedom you have become dangerous. Remember the attack that
was made upon you before, when there seemed but little chance that you
would ever succeed in obtaining their release or in seriously threatening
the interests of those who were looking forward to the reversion of the
family estates. Their enmity now, when it only needs a change in the
king's mood to do justice to your parents, will be far greater than
before.

"Bid your father, too, to have a care for himself and your mother.
Remember that violence is common enough, and there are few inquiries
made. An attack upon a lonely house and the murder of those within it is
naturally put down as the act of some party of discharged soldiers or
other ruffians. Tell him therefore he had best get a few trusty men
around him, and be on guard night and day against a treacherous attack.
Those who stand in the way of powerful men in France seldom live long, so
he cannot be too careful."

A quarter of an hour later Ronald was on horseback. He had already
provided himself with a pass to leave the city after the usual hour of
closing the gates, and he and Malcolm were soon in the open country. As
they rode along Ronald repeated the warning that the marshal had given
him.

"He is quite right, Ronald, and you cannot be too careful. We have
against us, first, this vindictive Duc de Chateaurouge, who, no doubt,
has poisoned the king's mind. In all France there is no one whom I would
not rather have as a foe. He is powerful, unscrupulous, and vindictive;
he would hesitate at nothing to carry out anything on which he had set
his mind, and would think no more of obtaining the removal of one whom he
considered to stand in his way than of crushing a worm. Even as a young
man he had a villainous reputation, and was regarded as one of the most
dangerous men about the court. To do him justice, he is brave and a fine
swordsman, and for choice he would rather slay with his own hands those
who offend him than by other means. Though he was but three-and-twenty at
the time I first left France he had fought half a dozen duels and killed
as many men, and several others who were known to have offended him died
suddenly. Some were killed in street brawls, returning home at night, one
or two were suspected of having been poisoned. Altogether the man was
feared and hated in those days, although, of course, none spoke their
suspicions openly.

"From what I have heard those suspicions have stuck to him ever since. He
has not been engaged in many duels, because in the first place edicts
against duelling are very strict, and in the second because his
reputation as a swordsman is so great that few would risk their lives
against him. Still all who stood in his way have somehow or other come to
a sudden end. We must therefore be on our guard night and day. He is, of
course, your most dangerous foe; but besides him must be numbered all
those who hope to obtain your mother's estates. The heirs of the marquis
doubtless feel perfectly safe from interference. There is no chance
whatever of the king dispossessing them in favour of a foreigner, so we
need not count them among your foes.

"It is just as well, Ronald, that we started tonight instead of waiting
till tomorrow. The duke is pretty certain to learn that the king's answer
will be sent this evening, and may possibly have made preparations for
you on the road; but he will hardly expect that you will start before the
morning. However, in order to be on the safe side I propose that we shall
presently turn off from the main road and avoid all large towns on our
way down to Poitiers."

"Do you think the danger is as great as that, Malcolm?"

"I do not think there is much danger, Ronald, just at present, though I
do in the future."

Travelling by byways Ronald and Malcolm arrived at Poitiers without
adventure.

"I have brought you the king's answer, mother," Ronald said as he
alighted; "but before you open it I may tell you that it is unfavourable,
though I am ignorant of the precise nature of its contents. But you must
not be disappointed. Marshal Saxe bade me tell you that he considers his
honour engaged in seeing you righted, and that whenever an opportunity
occurs he will endeavour to move the king's mind in your favour. How is
my father?"

"He suffers grievously from rheumatism, Ronald, and can scarce move from
his couch."

As soon as they joined the colonel the countess opened the king's letter.
It was brief. "The Countess Amelie de Recambours is hereby ordered to
withdraw at once to her estate of La Grenouille and there to await the
king's pleasure concerning her."

The king's signature was affixed.

"Well, that is not so very bad," the countess said. "At any rate my right
to one of my mother's estates is recognized. La Grenouille is the
smallest of them, and contains but three or four farms. Still that will
suffice for our wants, and as it lies but twenty miles from Bordeaux the
air will be warm and soft for you, Angus."

"Is there a chateau on it, mother?"

"Yes, there is a small chateau. I was there once as a girl. It has never
been modernized, but is still a castle such as it was two hundred years
ago."

"All the better," Ronald said; and he then gave Malcolm's reasons for
their being on the watch against any sudden attack.

"He is quite right, Ronald," Colonel Leslie said. "The duke is capable of
anything. However, we will be on our guard, and if, as your mother says,
it is a fortified house, we need have no fear of any sudden attack."

"I would suggest, colonel, that I should ride to Tours," Malcolm said,
"and hire two of the men who escorted madame's carriage. They have served
in the wars and can be relied upon. They would not need high wages, for
most of the discharged soldiers have trouble enough to keep body and soul
together. With a couple of men of this kind, and two or three of the men
on the estate, I think, colonel, you need fear no sudden attack."

The colonel approved of the suggestion, and a week later, Malcolm having
returned with the two men, a carriage was hired to convey the colonel and
his wife, and so they journeyed quietly down to La Grenouille. On
arriving there they found that they were expected, the old steward in
charge having received a letter from the royal chancellor, saying that he
was to receive the countess as the owner of the estate.

The old man, who had known her mother well and remembered her visits as a
child, received the countess with respectful joy. The chateau was, as
Amelie had said, really a castle. It was surrounded by a moat filled with
water, from which the walls rose abruptly, with no windows in the lower
stories and only small loopholes in those above. Although the steward was
ignorant when his mistress might be expected, he had already caused great
fires to be lighted in all the rooms and had temporarily engaged two of
the farmer's daughters to wait upon the countess, and three stout men as
servitors.

"What are the revenues of the estate?" the countess asked the steward
that evening. "My mother's other estates have not been restored to me as
yet, and I have only this to depend upon, and I do not know what
establishment I can afford to keep up."

"The revenue amounts to twelve thousand francs," he said. "There are
three large farms and four small ones. Twelve thousand francs are not
much, countess, for your mother's daughter; but they go a long way here,
where one can live for next to nothing. We have a garden which will
provide all the fruit and vegetables you require, and your poultry will
cost you nothing. The vineyard attached to the chateau furnishes more
than enough wine, and the cellars are well filled, for every year I have
put aside a few barrels, so that in fact it will be only meat you have to
buy."

"So that you think I can keep the two men I have brought with me and the
servants you have engaged?"

"Easily, madam, and more if you wished it."

"Do you think five men will be sufficient?" the countess said. "I ask
because I have powerful enemies, and in these lawless times an attack
upon a lonely house might well be carried out."

"With the drawbridge drawn up, madam, five men could hold the chateau
against a score, and the sound of the alarm bell would bring all the
tenants and their men down to your assistance. I will answer for them
all. There were great rejoicings last week when I sent round the news
that you were expected. The memory of your mother, who once resided here
for a year, is very dear to all of us, and there is not a man on the
estate but would take up arms in your defence. The sound of the alarm
bell would bring thirty stout fellows, at least, to your aid."

"Then we need not trouble on that score, Amelie," the colonel said
cheerfully. "Malcolm will see to the drawbridge tomorrow; probably it has
not been raised for years."

"I have already been examining it," Malcolm--who had just entered the
room--said. "It only needs a little oil and a bolt or two. I will have
it raised tonight. Things look better than I expected, colonel, and I
shall be able to return to Paris without having any anxiety upon your
score."

"But you are not thinking of going back, Ronald?" the countess asked
anxiously. "If there is danger here for us, there must be surely danger
for you in Paris. And I want you here with us."

"I will stop for a few days, mother, and then Malcolm and I will be off.
As I have Marshal Saxe's protection I need fear no open enmity from
anyone, and as I shall be with the regiment I shall be safe from the
secret attacks; besides, my sword can guard my head."

"You have taught him to defend himself--eh, Malcolm?" Colonel Leslie
said.

"I," Malcolm repeated--"I can use my sword in a melee, colonel, as you
know, and hold my own against Dutchman or German when I meet them on the
field; but Ronald is a different blade altogether. He was well taught in
Glasgow, and has practised under the best maitres d'armes in Paris since,
and I am proud to say that I do not think there are ten men in France
against whom he could not hold his own."

"That is good, that is good, indeed," the colonel said, delighted.
"Malcolm, I feel my obligations to you more and more every day. Truly I
had never even hoped that if my son were ever to be restored to me, I
should have such cause to be proud of him."

"But why do you think you had better return to Paris, Ronald?" his mother
inquired.

"Because, mother, it will not do to let your enemies have entirely their
own way now that you have been so far restored. Doubtless your family
will be the more inclined to aid you with their influence, but there must
be somebody to urge them to do so."

"Besides, Amelie," the colonel put in, "we must not cage the lad here at
your apron strings. He has already won Saxe's regard and protection by
his conduct in the field, and can now accept a commission in the old
regiment. He has begun well, and may yet live to command it. No, no, my
love. I should like to keep him here as much as you would, but in every
way it is better that he should go out and take his place in the world.
To you and me, after our long imprisonment, this place is life, freedom,
and happiness, and we are together; but for him it is a dreary little
country chateau, and he would soon long for a life among men."

And so, after three weeks' stay at the chateau, Ronald and Malcolm rode
back to Paris, and the former received a week later a commission through
Marshal Saxe in the Scottish Dragoons. That regiment had returned from
the frontier, and Ronald at once took his place in its ranks, and was
heartily received by all the officers, to whom he was formally introduced
by Colonel Hume as the son of their former commanding officer.

A short time afterwards it became the turn of duty of the Scottish
Dragoons to furnish guards for a week at Versailles, and Colonel Hume
took down two troops for that purpose. That to which Ronald belonged was
one of them. Ronald, knowing that for the present he was not in favour
with the king, begged the colonel to put him on duty as often as
possible, so that he might avoid the necessity of being present at the
king's audiences with the other officers.

He was one day walking with the colonel and several other officers in the
grounds at a distance from the palace, when they came, at the turn of the
walk, upon the Duc de Chateaurouge and three other gentlemen of the
court. The former stopped abruptly before Colonel Hume.

"I had the honour, Colonel Hume, to speak to you some time since of a
volunteer in your regiment who chose to call himself the name of Leslie.
I understand he is now an officer. I see by the lists in the courtyard
that a Cornet Leslie is now on duty here. Where does he hide himself, for
I have been seeking in vain to meet him?"

"Cornet Leslie is not one to balk any man's desire that way," Colonel
Hume said gravely. "This is Cornet Leslie."

Ronald stepped forward and looked the duke calmly in the face.

"So this is the young cockerel," the duke said contemptuously. "A worthy
son of a worthy father, I doubt not."

"At any rate, my lord duke," Ronald said quietly, "I do not rid myself of
my foes by getting those I am afraid to meet as man to man thrown into
prison, nor by setting midnight assassins upon them. Nor do I rely upon
my skill as a swordsman to be a bully and a coward."

The duke started as if struck.

"I had made up my mind to kill you, young sir," he said, "sooner or
later; but you have brought it on yourself now. Draw, sir!" And the duke
drew his sword.

Colonel Hume and several others threw themselves before Ronald.

"Put up your sword, sir. Duelling is forbidden, and you know the
consequence of drawing within the precincts of the palace."

"What care I for ordinances!" the duke said furiously. "Stand aside,
gentlemen, lest I do you harm!"

"Harm or no harm," Colonel Hume said sternly, "my young friend shall not
fight in the palace grounds. I protest against his being forced into a
duel at all; but at any rate he shall not fight here."

The duke looked for a moment as if he was about to spring upon Colonel
Hume, but he saw by their faces that his companions also were against
him. For the consequences of drawing a sword within the precincts of a
palace were so serious, that even the most powerful nobles shrank from
braving them.

"Very well," he said at last, thrusting his sword back into its scabbard.
"It is but ten minutes' walk to the boundary wall, I will let him live
till then."

So saying he started off with rapid strides down the walk, followed at a
slower pace by the rest.



CHAPTER XII: The End of the Quarrel.


"This is a serious business, Leslie," the colonel said in a low voice.
"If it had been anyone but you I should have ordered him to the barracks
at once under pain of arrest, and have laid the matter before the king,
for it would have been nothing short of murder. But I can trust you to
hold your own even against the Duke of Chateaurouge. And, in truth, after
what has been said, I do not see that you can do other but meet him."

"I would not avoid it if I could," Ronald said. "His insults to me do not
disturb me; but I have my father's wrongs to avenge."

"Forbes," the colonel said to one of the other officers, "do you go
straight to the barracks, bid Leslie's man saddle his own horse and his
master's instantly, and bring them round outside the wall of the park. If
Leslie wounds or kills his man he will have to ride for it."

The officer at once hurried away.

"Ronald, I will tell you a piece of news I heard this morning. The young
Chevalier left Paris secretly five days ago, and I have received certain
private information this morning that he has gone to Nantes, and that he
is on the point of sailing for Scotland on his own account. I am told
that this plan of his is known to but five or six persons. If you get
safely through this business mount and ride thither at all speed. They
are more likely to pursue you towards the frontier or the northern ports,
and will not think you have made for Nantes. If you get there before the
prince has sailed, present yourself to him and join his expedition. The
king will be furious at first, both at the loss of his favourite and the
breaking of the edicts; but he must come round. The gentlemen here with
the duke are all honourable men, and were, I could see, shocked at the
insult which the duke passed on you. Therefore I can rely upon them to
join me in representing the matter in its true light to the king. Before
you return, the matter will have blown over, and it may be that the
removal of your father's most powerful enemy may facilitate an
arrangement. In any case, my dear boy, you can rely upon the marshal and
myself to look after your interests."

They had now reached a wicket gate in the wall of the park. The duke was
standing a few paces distant, having already removed his coat and turned
up the shirt sleeve of the sword arm.

"You will act as second, marquis?" he said to one of the gentlemen.

The latter bowed coldly.

"I act as second to my friend Leslie," Colonel Hume said. "And I call
upon you all, gentlemen, to bear witness in the future, that this
encounter has been wantonly forced upon him by the Duc de Chateaurouge,
and that Cornet Leslie, as a man of honour, has no alternative whatever
but to accept the challenge forced upon him."

Ronald had by this time stripped to his shirt sleeves. The seconds took
the two swords and compared their length. They were found to be as nearly
as possible the same. They were then returned to their owners. A piece of
even turf was selected, and a position chosen in which the light was
equally favourable to both parties. Then both fell into position on
guard, and as the rapiers crossed Colonel Hume said solemnly:

"May God defend the right!"

An instant later they were engaged in deadly conflict. It lasted but a
few seconds. The duke, conscious of his own skill, and believing that he
had but a lad to deal with, at once attacked eagerly, desirous of
bringing the contest to a termination before there was any chance of
interruption. He attacked, then, carelessly and eagerly, and made a
furious lunge which he thought would terminate the encounter at once; but
Ronald did not give way an inch, but parrying in carte, slipped his blade
round that of the duke, feinted in tierce, and then rapidly disengaging,
lunged in carte as before. The blade passed through the body of his
adversary, and the lunge was given with such force that the pommel of his
sword struck against the ribs. The duke fell an inert mass upon the
ground as Ronald withdrew the rapier.

An exclamation of surprise and alarm broke from the three gentlemen who
had accompanied the duke, while Colonel Hume said gravely:

"God has protected the right. Ah! here come the horses! Mount and ride,
Leslie, and do not spare the spurs. I should advise you," he said,
drawing him aside, "to take the northern route for a few miles, so as to
throw them off the scent. When you get to Nantes search the inns till you
find the Duke of Athole, he is an intimate friend of mine, and it was
from him I learned in strict secrecy of the prince's intentions. Show him
this ring, he knows it well, and tell him I sent you to join him; say
nothing at first as to this business here. Your own name and my name will
be enough. He will introduce you to Prince Charlie, who will be with him
under a disguised name. May God bless you, my lad! We will do our best
for you here."

At this moment Malcolm arrived with the two horses.

"Thank God you are safe, Ronald!" he exclaimed as Ronald leapt into his
saddle, and with a word of thanks and adieu to the colonel dashed off at
full speed.

Colonel Hume then rejoined the group gathered round the duke. The
Scottish officers were looking very grave, the courtiers even more so.
They had from the first recognized fully that the duel had been provoked
by the duke, and had accompanied him reluctantly, for they regarded the
approaching conflict as so unfair that it would excite a strong amount of
feeling against all who had a hand in the matter. As to the edict against
duelling, it had not concerned them greatly, as they felt sure that with
the duke's influence the breach of the law would be passed over with only
a show of displeasure on the part of the king, and an order to absent
themselves for a short time from court. The contingency that this young
Scottish officer, who had scarcely yet attained the age of manhood,
should kill one of the best swordsmen in France had not occurred to them;
but this had happened, and there could be no doubt that the king's anger,
alike at the loss of his favourite and at the breach of the law, would
fall heavily on all concerned, and that a prolonged exile from court was
the least evil they could expect. Not a word had been spoken after they
had, on stooping over the duke, found that death had been instantaneous,
until Colonel Hume joined them.

"Well, gentlemen," he said; "this is a bad business, and means trouble
for us all. His majesty will be vastly angry. However, the duke brought
it upon himself, and is the only person to blame. His character is pretty
well known, and it will be manifest that if he had made up his mind to
fight no remonstrance on your part would have availed to induce him to
abstain from doing so. At the same time the king will not, in the first
burst of his anger, take that into consideration, and for awhile we shall
no doubt all of us suffer from his displeasure; but I do not think that
it will be lasting. The duke forced on the duel, and would have fought
within the royal park had we not interfered, and we were in a way forced
to be present. I propose that we return to the palace and give notice of
what has occurred. Captain Forbes, as you were not present at the affair,
and will not therefore be called upon to give any account of it, will you
remain here until they send down to fetch the body?

"We will, if you please, gentlemen, walk slowly, for every mile that
Leslie can put between him and Versailles is very important. The news
will reach the king's ears very shortly after we have made it public. You
and I, marquis, as the seconds in the affair, are sure to be sent for
first. As, fortunately, we were both present at the quarrel we are both
in a position to testify that the duke brought his fate upon himself,
that there was no preventing the duel, and that had we refused to act he
was in a frame of mind which would have driven him to fight without
seconds if none had been forthcoming; lastly, we can testify that the
combat was a fair one, and that the duke fell in consequence of the
rashness of his attack and his contempt for his adversary, although in
point of fact I can tell you that young Leslie is so good a swordsman
that I am confident the result would in any case have been the same."

"I suppose there's nothing else for it," the marquis grumbled. "I must
prepare myself for a prolonged visit to my country estates."

"And I shall no doubt be placed under arrest for some time," Colonel Hume
said; "and the regiment will probably be packed off to the frontier
again. However, these things don't make much difference in the long run.
What I am most anxious about, marquis, is that his majesty should
thoroughly comprehend that Leslie was not to blame, and that this affair
was so forced upon him that it was impossible for him to avoid it. There
is much more than the lad's own safety dependent on this."

"You may be sure, colonel, that I will do him justice."

At a slow pace the party proceeded until they neared the palace, when
they quickened their steps. The marquis proceeded immediately to the
apartments occupied by the duke, and told his domestics that their master
had been killed in a duel, and directed them to obtain assistance and
proceed at once to the spot where his body would be found. The colonel
went to the king's surgeon, and told him of what had taken place.

"His death was instantaneous," he said; "the sword passed right through
him, and I believe touched the heart. However, it will be as well that
you should go and see the body, as the king will be sure to ask
particulars as to the wound."

The rest of the party joined their acquaintances, and told them what had
happened, and the news spread quickly through the palace. It created a
great sensation. Breaches of the edict were not unfrequent; but the death
of so powerful a noble, a chief favourite, too, of the king, took it
altogether out of the ordinary category of such events. The more so since
the duke's reputation as a swordsman and a duellist was so great that men
could scarce believe that he had been killed by a young officer who had
but just joined the regiment. It seemed like the story of David and
Goliath over again. A quarter of an hour later a court official
approached Colonel Hume and the Marquis de Vallecourt, who were standing
together surrounded by a number of courtiers and officers.

"Monsieur le Marquis and Colonel Hume," he said, saluting them; "I regret
to say that I am the bearer of the orders of his majesty that you shall
deliver me your swords, and that you will then accompany me to the king's
presence."

The two gentlemen handed over their swords to the official, and followed
him to the king's presence. Louis was pacing angrily up and down his
apartment.

"What is this I hear, gentlemen?" he exclaimed as they entered. "A breach
of the edicts here at Versailles, almost in the boundaries of the park;
and that the Duc de Chateaurouge, one of my most valued officers and
friends has been killed; they tell me that you acted as seconds in the
affair."

"They have told your majesty the truth," the marquis said; "but I think
that, much as we regret what has happened, we could scarcely have acted
otherwise than we did. The duke drew in the first place within the limits
of the park, and would have fought out his quarrel there had we not, I
may almost say forcibly, intervened. Then he strode away towards the
boundary of the park, calling upon his antagonist to follow him; and had
we not gone the encounter would have taken place without seconds or
witnesses, and might then have been called a murder instead of a duel."

"You should have arrested him, sir," the king exclaimed, "for drawing in
the park."

"Perhaps we should have done so, sire; but you must please to remember
that the Duke of Chateaurouge was of a temper not to be crossed, and I
believe that bloodshed would have taken place had we endeavoured to
thwart him. He enjoyed your majesty's favour, and a forcible arrest, with
perhaps the shedding of blood, in the royal demesne would have been a
scandal as grave as that of this duel."

"How did it come about?" the king asked abruptly.

"The duke was walking with De Lisle, St. Aignan, and myself, when we
suddenly came upon Colonel Hume with three of the officers of his
regiment. The duke at once walked up to them and addressed Colonel Hume,
and finding which of his companions was Monsieur Leslie, addressed him in
terms of so insulting a nature that they showed that he had been waiting
for the meeting to provoke a quarrel. The young officer replied perfectly
calmly, but with what I must call admirable spirit and courage, which so
infuriated the duke, that, as I have already had the honour of telling
your majesty, he drew at once, and when we interfered he called upon him
to proceed forthwith outside the park, and there settle the quarrel. We
most reluctantly accompanied him, and determined to interfere at the
first blood drawn; but the affair scarcely lasted for a second. The duke
threw himself furiously and rashly upon the lad, for as your majesty is
aware, he is but little more. The latter, standing firm, parried with
admirable coolness, and in an instant ran the duke right through the
body."

"But I have always heard," the king said, "that the duke was one of the
best swordsmen in the army."

"Your majesty has heard correctly," Colonel Hume replied; "but young
Leslie is one of the best swordsmen in France. The duke's passion and
rashness led to the speedy termination of the duel; but had he fought
with his accustomed coolness I believe that Leslie would have turned out
his conqueror."

"But what was the cause of the quarrel? Why should the Duc de
Chateaurouge fix a dispute, as you tell me he did, upon this officer of
yours?"

"I believe, sire, that it was a long standing quarrel. The duke's words
showed that he bore an enmity against the lad's father, and that it was
on this account that he insulted the son."

"Leslie!" the king exclaimed, with a sudden recollection. "Is that the
youth whom Marshal Saxe presented to me?"

"The same, sire; the lad who distinguished himself at Fontenoy, and whom
the Marshal afterwards appointed to a commission in my regiment, in which
he had served as a gentleman volunteer for nearly a year."

"These Leslies are always causing trouble," the king said angrily. "I
have already given orders that he shall be arrested wherever he is found,
and he shall be punished as he deserves."

"In punishing him," Colonel Hume said with grave deference, "I am sure
that your majesty will not forget that this quarrel was forced upon him,
and that, had he accepted the insults of the Duke of Chateaurouge, he
would have been unworthy to remain an officer of your majesty."

"Silence, sir!" the king said angrily. "You will return immediately to
Paris, under arrest, until my pleasure in your case is notified to you. I
shall at once give orders that your troops here are replaced by those of
a regiment whose officers will abstain from brawling and breaking the
edicts in our very palace. Marquis, you will retire at once to your
estates." The two gentlemen bowed and left the royal presence.

"Not worse than I expected," the marquis said, after the door had closed
behind them. "Now he will send for St. Aignan and De Lisle, and will hear
their account, and as it cannot but tally with ours the king must see
that the duke brought his fate upon himself. Louis is not unjust when his
temper cools down, and in a few weeks we shall meet again here."

"I expect to be on the frontier with my regiment before that," Colonel
Hume replied; "but as I would rather be there than in Paris that will be
no hardship."

Colonel Hume at once mounted and rode back to Paris and proceeded
straight to the hotel of Marshal Saxe, to whom he communicated what had
occurred.

"If Leslie gets safely away it will, perhaps, all turn out for the best,"
the marshal said. "As soon as the king's anger dies out I will begin to
plead the cause of the boy's parents; and now that the influence of
Chateaurouge the other way is withdrawn, I may hope for a more favourable
hearing. As to the lad himself, we will make his peace in a few months.
The king is brave himself, as he showed when under fire at Fontenoy, and
he admires bravery in others, and when he has once got over the loss of
Chateaurouge he will appreciate the skill and courage which the lad
showed in an encounter with one of the most noted duellists in France.
Now, too, that the duke has gone, some of the stories to his
disadvantage, of which there are so many current, are likely to meet the
king's ears. Hitherto no one has ventured to speak a word against so
powerful a favourite; but the king's eyes will soon be open now, and he
will become ashamed of so long having given his countenance to a man who
is generally regarded as having not only killed half-a-dozen men in
duels, but as having procured the removal, by unfair means, of a score of
others. When he knows the truth the king is likely to do justice, not
only to young Leslie, but to his parents. I only hope that they will not
manage to overtake the lad before he reaches the frontier, for although I
can rely on the king's justice when he is cool I would not answer for it
just at present."

As Ronald rode off at full speed with Malcolm he related to him the whole
circumstances of the quarrel and subsequent duel.

"It was well done, Ronald. I made sure that sooner or later you and the
duke would get to blows, that is if he did not adopt other means to get
you removed from his path; anyhow I am heartily glad it's over, and that
the most dangerous enemy of your father and yourself is out of the way.
And now we must hope that we sha'nt be overtaken before we get to the
frontier. The danger is that orders for your arrest will be passed by
signal."

"We are not going to the frontier, Malcolm; I am only riding this way to
throw them off the scent. We are going to Nantes."

"Well, that's not a bad plan," Malcolm said. "They are not so likely to
send orders there as to the northern ports. But it will not be easy to
get a vessel to cross, for you see, now that we are at war with England,
there is little communication. However, we shall no doubt be able to
arrange with a smuggler to take us across."

"We are not going to England, Malcolm; we are going direct to Scotland.
Colonel Hume has told me a secret: Prince Charles has gone down to Nantes
and is going to cross at once to Scotland."

"What! Alone and without an army!" Malcolm exclaimed in astonishment.

"I suppose he despairs of getting assistance from Louis. Now that
Fontenoy has put an end to danger on the frontier the King of France is
no longer interested in raising trouble for George at home."

"But it is a mad scheme of the prince's," Malcolm said gravely. "If his
father did not succeed in '15 how can he expect to succeed now?"

"The country has had all the longer time to get sick of the Hanoverians,
and the gallantry of the enterprise will appeal to the people. Besides,
Malcolm, I am not so sure that he will not do better coming alone than if
he brought the fifteen thousand men he had at Dunkirk last year with him.
Fifteen thousand men would not win him a kingdom, and many who would join
him if he came alone would not do so if he came backed by an army of
foreigners. It was the French, you will remember, who ruined his
grandfather's cause in Ireland. Their arrogance and interference
disgusted the Irish, and their troops never did any fighting to speak of.
For myself, I would a thousand times rather follow Prince Charles
fighting with an army of Scotsmen for the crown of Scotland than fight
for him with a French army against Englishmen."

"Well, perhaps you are right, Ronald; it went against the grain at
Fontenoy; for after all, as you said, we are closely akin in blood and
language to the English, and although Scotland and France have always
been allies it is very little good France has ever done us. She has
always been glad enough to get our kings to make war on England whenever
she wanted a diversion made, but she has never put herself out of the way
to return the favour. It has been a one sided alliance all along.
Scotland has for centuries been sending some of her best blood to fight
as soldiers in France, but with a few exceptions no Frenchman has ever
drawn his sword for Scotland.

"No, I am inclined to think you are right, Ronald, and especially after
what we saw at Fontenoy I have no wish ever to draw sword again against
the English, and am willing to be the best friends in the world with them
if they will but let us Scots have our own king and go away peacefully. I
don't want to force Prince Charles upon them if they will but let us have
him for ourselves. If they won't, you know, it is they who are
responsible for the quarrel, not us."

"That is one way of putting it, certainly," Ronald laughed. "I am afraid
after having been one kingdom since King James went to London, they won't
let us go our own way without making an effort to keep us; but here is a
crossroad, we will strike off here and make for the west."

They avoided the towns on their routes, for although they felt certain
that they were ahead of any messengers who might be sent out with orders
for their arrest, they knew that they might be detained for some little
time at Nantes, and were therefore anxious to leave no clue of their
passage in that direction. On the evening of the third day after starting
they approached their destination.

On the first morning after leaving Versailles they had halted in wood a
short distance from Chartres, and Malcolm had ridden in alone and had
purchased a suit of citizen's clothes for Ronald, as the latter's uniform
as an officer of the Scotch Dragoons would at once have attracted notice.
Henceforward, whenever they stopped, Malcolm had taken an opportunity to
mention to the stable boy that he was accompanying his master, the son of
an advocate of Paris, on a visit to some relatives in La Vendee. This
story he repeated at the inn where they put up at Nantes.

The next morning Malcolm went round to all the inns in the town, but
could hear nothing of the Duke of Athole, so he returned at noon with the
news of his want of success.

"They may have hired a private lodging to avoid observation," Ronald
said, "or, not improbably, may have taken another name. The best thing we
can do is to go down to the river side, inquire what vessels are likely
to leave port soon, and then, if we see anyone going off to them, to
accost them. We may hear of them in that way."

Accordingly they made their way down to the river. There were several
vessels lying in the stream, in readiness to sail when the wind served,
and the mouth of the river was reported to be clear of any English
cruisers. They made inquiries as to the destination of the vessels. All
the large ones were sailing for Bordeaux or the Mediterranean ports of
France.

"What is that little vessel lying apart from the rest?" Malcolm asked.
"She looks a saucy little craft."

"That is the privateer La Doutelle, one of the fastest little vessels on
the coast. She has brought in more than one English merchantman as a
prize."

As they were speaking a boat was seen to leave her side and make for the
shore. With a glance at Malcolm to break off his conversation with the
sailor and follow him, Ronald strode along the bank towards the spot
where the boat would land. Two gentlemen got out and advanced along the
quay. As they passed Ronald said to Malcolm:

"I know one of those men's faces."

"Do you, Ronald? I cannot recall having seen them."

Ronald stood for a moment in thought.

"I know now!" he exclaimed. "And he is one of our men, sure enough."

"I think, sir," he said as he came up to them, "that I have had the
honour of meeting you before."

A look of displeasure came across the gentleman's face.

"I think you are mistaken, sir," he said coldly. "You must take me for
some one else. My name is Verbois--Monsieur Verbois of Le Mans."

"I have not the pleasure of knowing Monsieur Verbois," Ronald said with a
slight smile; "but I hardly think, sir, that that is the name that you
went by when I had the honour of meeting you in Glasgow more than two
years ago?"

"In Glasgow!" the gentleman said, looking earnestly at Ronald. "In
Glasgow! I do not remember you."

"I had the pleasure of doing you some slight service, nevertheless,"
Ronald said quietly, "when I brought you news that your enemies were upon
you, and managed to detain them while you made your escape through the
attic window."

"A thousand pardons!" the gentleman exclaimed, speaking in English. "How
could I have forgotten you? But I saw you for such a short time, and two
years have changed you greatly. This is the young gentleman, marquis, to
whom I am indebted for my escape when I was so nearly captured at
Glasgow, as you have heard me say. It was to his kindly warning in the
first place, and to his courage in the second, that I owed my liberty. It
is wonderful that you should remember me."

"Two years have not changed you as much as they have changed me," Ronald
said; "besides, you were busy in destroying papers, while I had nothing
to do but to watch you."

"That is so," the gentleman agreed. "At any rate I am heartily glad of
the happy chance which has thrown us together, and has given me an
opportunity of expressing to you the deep gratitude which I have felt for
your warning and assistance. Had it not been for that, not only should I
myself have been taken, but they would have got possession of those
papers, which might have brought the heads of a score of the best blood
of Scotland to the scaffold. I took a boat that was lying in readiness,
and making down the river got on board a ship which was cruising there
awaiting me, and got off. It has always been a matter of bitter regret to
me that I never learned so much as the name of the brave young gentleman
to whom I owed so much, or what had happened to him for his share in that
night's work."

"My name is Ronald Leslie, sir. I am the son of Leslie of Glenlyon, who
fought with the Chevalier in '15, and afterwards entered the service of
the King of France, and was colonel of the 2nd Scorch Dragoons."

"Of course I knew him well," the gentleman said, "and with others
endeavoured to obtain his pardon when he fell under the king's
displeasure some fifteen years ago, although I regret to say without
success. Believe me, if Prince Charles--" He stopped suddenly as his
companion touched him.

"You would say, sir," Ronald said with a smile, "If Prince Charles
succeeds in his present enterprise, and regains his throne, you will get
him to exert his influence to obtain my father's release."

The two gentlemen gave an exclamation of astonishment.

"How do you know of any enterprise that is meditated?"

"I was told of it as a secret by a Scotch officer in Paris, and am the
bearer of a message from him to the Duke of Athole, to ask him to allow
me to join the prince."

"I am the duke," the other gentleman said.

"Since it is you, sir, I may tell you that the officer I spoke of is
Colonel Hume, and that he bade me show you this ring, which he said you
would know, as a token that my story was a correct one."

"Hume is my greatest friend," the duke exclaimed, "and his introduction
would be sufficient, even if you had not already proved your devotion to
the cause of the Stuarts. I will take you at once to the prince. But," he
said, "before I do so, I must tell you that the enterprise upon which we
are about to embark is a desperate one. The prince has but five
companions with him, and we embark on board that little privateer lying
in the stream. It is true that we shall be escorted by a man of war,
which will convey the arms which Prince Charles has purchased for the
enterprise; but not a man goes with us, and the prince is about to trust
wholly to the loyalty of Scotland."

"I shall be ready to accompany him in any case, sir," Ronald said, "and I
beg to introduce to you a faithful friend of my father and myself. His
name is Malcolm Anderson. He fought for the Chevalier in '15, and
accompanied my father in his flight to France, and served under him in
the French service. Upon the occasion of my father's arrest he carried me
to Scotland, and has been my faithful friend ever since."

So saying he called Malcolm up and presented him to the duke, and the
party then proceeded to the lodging where Prince Charles was staying.

"I have the misfortune to be still ignorant of your name, sir," Ronald
said to his acquaintance of Glasgow.

"What!" the gentleman said in surprise. "You do not know my name, after
doing so much for me! I thought, as a matter of course, that when you
were captured for aiding my escape you would have heard it, hence my
remissness in not introducing myself. I am Colonel Macdonald. When you
met me I was engaged in a tour through the Highland clans, sounding the
chiefs and obtaining additions to the seven who had signed a declaration
in favour of the prince three years before. The English government had
obtained, through one of their spies about the person of the Chevalier,
news of my mission, and had set a vigilant watch for me."

"But is it possible that there can be spies among those near the
Chevalier!" Ronald exclaimed in astonishment.

"Aye, there are spies everywhere," Macdonald said bitterly. "All sorts of
people come and go round the Chevalier and round Prince Charles. Every
Scotch or Irish vagabond who has made his native country too hot to hold
him, come to them and pretend that they are martyrs to their loyalty to
the Stuarts; and the worst of it is their story is believed. They flatter
and fawn, they say just what they are wanted to say, and have no opinion
of their own, and the consequence is that the Chevalier looks upon these
fellows as his friends, and often turns his back upon Scottish gentlemen
who have risked and lost all in his service, but who are too honest to
flatter him or to descend to the arts of courtiers. Look at the men who
are here with the prince now."

"Macdonald! Macdonald!" the duke said warmly.

"Well, well," the other broke off impatiently; "no doubt it is better to
hold one's tongue. But it is monstrous, that when there are a score, ay,
a hundred of Scottish gentlemen of family, many of them officers with a
high knowledge of war, who would gladly have accompanied him at the first
whisper of his intentions, the prince should be starting on such a
venture as this with yourself only, duke, as a representative of the
Scottish nobles and chiefs, and six or eight mongrels--Irish, English,
and Scotch--the sort of men who haunt the pot houses of Flanders, and
spend their time in telling what they have suffered in the Stuart cause
to any who will pay for their liquor."

"Not quite so bad as that, Macdonald," the duke said. "Still I admit that
I could have wished that Prince Charles should have landed in Scotland
surrounded by men with names known and honoured there, rather than by
those he has selected to accompany him."

"But you are going, are you not, sir?" Ronald asked Colonel Macdonald.

"No, I do not accompany the prince; but I hope to follow shortly. As soon
as the prince has sailed it is my mission to see all his friends and
followers in France, and urge them to join him in Scotland; while we
bring all the influence we have to bear upon Louis, to induce him to
furnish arms and assistance for the expedition."



CHAPTER XIII: Prince Charles.


Upon arriving at the prince's lodgings Macdonald remained without, the
Duke of Athole entering, accompanied only by Ronald.

"The prince is in disguise," he said, "and but one or two of us visit him
here in order that no suspicion may be incited among the people of the
house that he is anything beyond what he appears to be--a young student
of the Scotch college at Paris."

They ascended the stairs to the upper story, and on the marquis knocking,
a door was opened. The duke entered, followed by Ronald.

"Well, duke, what is the news?"

The question was asked by a young man, who was pacing restlessly up and
down the room, of which he was, with the exception of his valet de
chambre, an Italian named Michel, the person who had opened the door, the
only occupant.

"Ah! whom have you here?"

"Allow me to present to your royal highness Lieutenant Leslie. He is the
son of Leslie of Glenlyon, who fought by my side in your father's cause
in '15, and has, like myself, been an exile ever since. This is the young
gentleman who, two years since, saved Macdonald from arrest in Glasgow."

"Ah! I remember the adventure," the prince said courteously, "and right
gallant action it was; but how did you hear that I was here, sir?"

"I was told by my good friend and commanding officer, Colonel Hume of the
2nd Scottish Dragoons, your royal highness."

"I revealed it to Hume before leaving Paris," the duke said, "he being a
great friend of mine and as staunch as steel, and I knew that he could be
trusted to keep a secret."

"It seems that in the last particular you were wrong," the prince
remarked with a slight smile.

"Colonel Hume only revealed it to me, sir," Ronald said, anxious to save
his friend from the suspicion of having betrayed a secret confided to
him, "for very special reasons. I had the misfortune to kill in a duel
the Duke of Chateaurouge, and as we fought just outside the park of
Versailles, and the duke was a favourite of the king's, I had to ride for
it; then Colonel Hume, knowing my devotion to the cause of your highness,
whispered to me the secret of your intention, and gave me a message to
his friend the Duke of Athole."

"Do you say that you have killed the Duke of Chateaurouge in a duel?" the
duke exclaimed in astonishment. "Why, he has the reputation of being one
of the best swordsmen in France, and has a most evil name as a dangerous
and unscrupulous man. I met him constantly at court, and his arrogance
and haughtiness were well nigh insufferable. And you have killed him?"

"I knew him well too," the prince said, "and his reputation. We do not
doubt what you say, young gentleman," he added quickly, seeing a flush
mount into Ronald's face; "but in truth it seems strange that such should
have been the case."

"Colonel Hume did me the honour to be my second," Ronald said quietly,
"and the Marquis de Vallecourt was second to the duke; some other
officers of the Scottish regiment were present, as were two other French
noblemen, De Lisle and St. Aignan."

"We doubt you not, sir," the duke said warmly. "You will understand that
it cannot but seem strange that you at your age--for it seems to me
that you cannot be more than nineteen--should have been able to stand
for a moment against one of the best swordsmen in France, to say nothing
of having slain him."

"Colonel Hume would scarcely have consented to act as my second had he
thought that the contest was a wholly unequal one," Ronald said with a
slight smile; "indeed I may say that he regarded it as almost certain
that I should have the best of the fray."

"Why, you must be a very Paladin," the prince said admiringly; "but sit
down and tell us all about it. Upon my word I am so sick of being cooped
up for four days in this wretched den that I regard your coming as a
godsend. Now tell me how it was that the Duc de Chateaurouge condescended
to quarrel with a young officer in the Scottish Horse."

"It was a family quarrel, sir, which I had inherited from my father."

"Yes, yes, I remember now," the Duke of Athole broke in. "It is an old
story now; but I heard all about it at the time, and did what I could, as
did all Leslie's friends, to set the matter right, but in vain. Leslie of
Glenlyon, prince, was colonel of the Scottish Dragoons, and as gallant
and dashing a soldier as ever was in the service of the King of France,
and as good looking a one too; and the result was, the daughter of the
Marquis de Recambours, one of the richest heiresses in France, whom her
father and the king destined as the bride of this Duke of Chateaurouge,
who was then quite a young man, fell in love with Leslie, and a secret
marriage took place between them. For three years no one suspected it;
but the young lady's obstinacy in refusing to obey her father's orders
caused her to be shut up in a convent. Somehow the truth came out. Leslie
was arrested and thrown into the Bastille, and he has never been heard of
since. What became of the child which was said to have been born no one
ever heard; but it was generally supposed that it had been put out of the
way. We in vain endeavoured to soften the king's anger against Leslie,
but the influence of Recambours and Chateaurouge was too great for us.
Hume told me some time since that Leslie's son had been carried off to
Scotland by one of his troopers, and had returned, and was riding as a
gentleman volunteer in his regiment; but we have had no further talk on
the subject."

"You will be glad to hear, sir," Ronald said, "that my father and mother
have within the last few weeks been released, and are now living on a
small estate of my mother's in the south. They were ordered to retire
there by the king."

"I am glad, indeed," the duke said cordially; "and how is your father?"

"He is sadly crippled by rheumatism, and can scarce walk," Ronald said,
"and I fear that his health is altogether shaken with what he had to go
through."

"How did you obtain their release, Leslie?" the prince asked.

"Marshal Saxe obtained it for me," Ronald answered. "Colonel Hume first
introduced me to him, and as he too had known my father he promised that
should he obtain a victory he would ask as a boon from the king the
release of my father, and he did so after Fontenoy, where the Marquis de
Recambours was killed, and the king thereby freed from his influence. The
Duke of Chateaurouge, whose hostility against my father had always been
bitter, was doubtless greatly irritated at his release, and took the
first opportunity, on meeting me, of grossly insulting me. On my replying
in terms in accordance with the insult, he drew, and would have fought me
in the palace grounds had not Colonel Hume and his friends interfered;
then we adjourned outside the park. The duke doubtless thought that he
would kill me without difficulty, and so rushed in so carelessly that at
the very first thrust I ran him through."

"And served him right," the prince said heartily. "Now since both your
father's enemies are gone, it may be hoped that his troubles are over,
and that your mother will recover the estates to which she is entitled.
And now, duke, what is your news? When are we going to sail?"

"The Doutelle is already by this time on her way down the river, and it
is proposed that we shall start this evening and board her there. The
stores and arms are all safely on board the Elizabeth, and she is lying
off Belleisle; so far as Mr. Walsh has heard, no suspicion has been
excited as to their purpose or destination, so that we may hope in
twenty-four hours to be fairly on board."

"That is the best news I have heard for months," the prince said; "thank
goodness the time for action is at last at hand!"

"I have, I trust, your royal highness' permission to accompany you,"
Ronald said; "together with my follower, Anderson. He is the trooper who
carried me over to Scotland as a child, and has been my faithful friend
ever since."

"Certainly, Leslie. I shall be glad indeed to have a member of a family
who have proved so faithful to my father's cause with me in the adventure
upon which I am embarking."

Ronald with a few words of thanks bowed and took his leave, after
receiving instructions from the duke to start shortly and to ride down
the river towards Lorient.

"You can halt for a few hours on the road, and then ride on again; we
shall overtake you before you reach the port. We shall all leave singly
or in pairs, to avoid attracting any attention."

Ronald left, delighted with the kindness of the prince's manner. Prince
Charles was indeed possessed of all the attributes which win men's hearts
and devotion. In figure he was tall and well formed, and endowed both
with strength and activity. He excelled in all manly exercises, and was
an excellent walker, having applied himself ardently to field sports
during his residence in Italy.

He was strikingly handsome, his face was of a perfect oval, his features
high and noble, his complexion was fair, his eyes light blue, and,
contrary to the custom of the time, when wigs were almost universally
worn, he allowed his hair to fall in long ringlets on his neck. His
manner was graceful, and although he always bore himself with a sort of
royal dignity he had the peculiar talent of pleasing and attracting all
with whom he came in contact, and had the art of adapting his
conversation to the taste or station of those whom he addressed.

His education had been intrusted to Sir Thomas Sheridan, an Irish Roman
Catholic, who had grossly neglected his duties, and who indeed has been
more than suspected of acting as an agent in the pay of the British
government. The weakness in the prince's character was that he was a bad
judge of men, and inclined on all occasions to take the advice of
designing knaves who flattered and paid deference to him, rather than
that of the Scottish nobles who were risking their lives for his cause,
but who at times gave their advice with a bluntness and warmth which were
displeasing to him. It was this weakness which brought an enterprise,
which at one time had the fairest prospect of success, to destruction and
ruin.

On leaving the house Ronald was joined by Malcolm, and half an hour later
they mounted their horses and rode for the mouth of the Loire. The whole
party arrived on the following day at St. Nazaire, embarking separately
on board the Doutelle, where Prince Charles, who had come down from
Nantes in a fishing boat, was received by Mr. Walsh, the owner of the
vessel. Ronald now saw gathered together the various persons who were to
accompany Prince Charles on this adventurous expedition. These were
Sheridan, the former tutor of the prince; Kelly, a non-juring clergyman,
and Sullivan--both, like Sheridan, Irishmen; Strickland, a personage so
unimportant that while some writers call him an Englishman, others assert
that he was Irish; Aeneas Macdonald, a Scotchman; Sir John Macdonald, an
officer in the Spanish service; the prince's valet, Michel; and the Duke
of Athole, or, as he is more generally called, the Marquis of
Tullibardine, the last named being the only man of high standing or
reputation. Never did a prince start to fight for a kingdom with such a
following.

The Doutelle weighed anchor as soon as the last of the party arrived on
deck, and under easy sail proceeded to Belleisle. Here she lay for some
days awaiting the arrival of the Elizabeth. Mr. Rutledge, a merchant at
Nantes, had obtained an order from the French court that this man of war
should proceed to cruise on the coast of Scotland, and had then arranged
with the captain of the ship to take on board the arms that had been
purchased by the prince with the proceeds of the sale of some of the
family jewels.

These consisted of fifteen hundred muskets, eighteen hundred broadswords,
twenty small field pieces, and some ammunition. The captain had also
agreed that the Doutelle, which only mounted eighteen small guns, should
sail in company with the Elizabeth to Scotland. As soon as the Elizabeth
was seen the Doutelle spread her sails, and keeping a short distance from
each other, the two vessels sailed north. So great was the necessity for
prudence that the prince still maintained his disguise as a Scottish
student, and, with the exception of Mr. Walsh, none of the officers and
crew of the Doutelle were acquainted with his real rank, and the various
members of his party treated him and each other as strangers.

Four days after leaving Belleisle a British man of war of fifty-eight
guns hove in sight, and crowding on all sail rapidly came up. The
Elizabeth at once prepared to engage her, signalling to the Doutelle to
do the same. The prince urged Mr. Walsh to aid the Elizabeth, but the
latter steadily refused.

He had undertaken, he said, to carry the prince to Scotland, and would do
nothing to endanger the success of the enterprise. The two vessels were
well matched, and he would not allow the Doutelle to engage in the
affair. The prince continued to urge the point, until at last Mr. Walsh
said "that unless he abstained from interference he should be forced to
order him below."

The Doutelle, therefore, stood aloof from the engagement, which lasted
for five or six hours, and sailed quietly on her course, in order to be
beyond the risk of capture should the English ship prove victorious;
neither of the vessels, however, obtained any decided advantage. Both
were so crippled in the encounter that the Elizabeth returned to France,
the Lion to Plymouth to refit. Thus the small supply of arms and
artillery which the prince had with such great trouble got together was
lost.

"Well, Ronald," Malcolm said that evening as they leant over the taffrail
together, "I do think that such a mad headed expedition as this was never
undertaken. An exiled prince, an outlawed duke, six adventurers, a valet,
and our two selves. One could laugh if one was not almost ready to cry at
the folly of invading a country like England in such a fashion."

"That is only one way of looking at it, Malcolm. We are not an army of
invasion. The prince is simply travelling with a few personal followers
to put himself at the head of an army. The affair depends, not upon us,
but upon the country. If the clans turn out to support him as they did in
'15 he will soon be at the head of some twenty thousand men. Not enough,
I grant you, to conquer England, but enough for a nucleus round which the
Lowland and English Jacobites can gather."

"Yes, it depends upon the ifs, Ronald. If all the Highland clans join,
and if there are sufficient Jacobites in the Lowlands and England to make
a large army, we may do. I have some hopes of the clans, but after what
we saw of the apathy of the English Jacobites in '15 I have no shadow of
faith in them. However, I fought for the Chevalier in '15, and I am ready
to fight for Prince Charles now as long as there is any fighting to be
done, and when that is over I shall be as ready to make for France as I
was before."

Ronald laughed.

"You are certainly not enthusiastic about it, Malcolm."

"When one gets to my age, Ronald, common sense takes the place of
enthusiasm, and I have seen enough of wars to know that for business a
well appointed and well disciplined army is required. If Prince Charles
does get what you call an army, but which I should call an armed mob,
together, there will be the same dissensions, the same bickerings, the
same want of plan that there was before; and unless something like a
miracle happens it will end as the last did at Preston, in defeat and
ruin. However, lad, here we are, and we will go through with it to the
end. By the time we get back to France we must hope that King Louis will
have got over the killing of his favourite. However, I tell you frankly
that my hope is that when the Highland chiefs see that the prince has
come without arms, without men, and without even promises of support by
France, they will refuse to risk liberty and life and to bring ruin upon
their people by joining in such a mad brained adventure."

"I hope not, Malcolm," Ronald said, as he looked at the prince as he was
pacing up and down the deck with the Duke of Athole, talking rapidly, his
face flushed with enthusiasm, his clustering hair blown backward by the
wind. "He is a noble young prince. He is fighting for his own. He has
justice and right on his side, and God grant that he may succeed!"

"Amen to that, Ronald, with all my heart! But so far as my experience
goes, strength and discipline and generalship and resources go a great
deal further than right in deciding the issue of a war."

Two days later another English man of war came in sight and gave chase to
the Doutelle, but the latter was a fast sailer and soon left her pursuer
behind, and without further adventure arrived among the Western Isles,
and dropped anchor near the little islet of Erisca, between Barra and
South Uist. As they approached the island an eagle sailed out from the
rocky shore and hovered over the vessel, and the Duke of Athole pointed
it out as a favourable augury to the prince.

Charles and his companions landed at Erisca and passed the night on
shore. They found on inquiry that this cluster of islands belonged to
Macdonald of Clanranald, a young chief who was known to be attached to
the Jacobite cause. He was at present absent on the mainland, but his
uncle and principal adviser, Macdonald of Boisdale, was in South Uist.
The prince sent off one of his followers in a boat to summon him, and he
came aboard the Doutelle the next morning; but when he heard from the
prince that he had come alone and unattended he refused to have anything
to do with the enterprise, which he asserted was rash to the point of
insanity, and would bring ruin and destruction on all who took part in
it.

The prince employed all his efforts to persuade the old chief, but in
vain, and the latter returned to his isle in a boat, while the Doutelle
pursued her voyage to the mainland and entered the Bay of Lochnanuagh, in
Inverness shire, and immediately sent a messenger to Clanranald, who came
on board shortly with Macdonald of Kinloch Moidart, and several other
Macdonalds.

They received the prince with the greatest respect, but, like Macdonald
of Boisdale, the two chiefs refused to take up arms in an enterprise
which they believed to be absolutely hopeless. In vain Prince Charles
argued and implored. The two chiefs remained firm, until the prince
suddenly turned to a younger brother of Moidart, who stood listening to
the conversation, and with his fingers clutching the hilt of his
broadsword as he heard the young prince, whom he regarded as his future
king, in vain imploring the assistance of his brother and kinsmen.

"Will you at least not assist me?" the prince exclaimed.

"I will, I will!" Ranald Macdonald exclaimed. "Though no other man in the
Highlands shall draw a sword, I am ready to die for you."

The enthusiasm of the young man was catching, and throwing to the winds
their own convictions and forebodings, the two Macdonalds declared that
they also would join, and use every exertion to engage their countrymen.
The clansmen who had come on board the ship without knowing the object of
the visit were now told who the prince was, and they expressed their
readiness to follow to the death. Two or three days later, on the 25th of
July, Prince Charles landed and was conducted to Borodale, a farmhouse
belonging to Clanranald.

Charles at once sent off letters to the Highland chiefs whom he knew to
be favourable to the Stuart cause. Among these the principal were Cameron
of Locheil, Sir Alexander Macdonald, and Macleod. Locheil immediately
obeyed the summons, but being convinced of the madness of the enterprise
he came, not to join the prince, but to dissuade him from embarking in
it. On his way he called upon his brother, Cameron of Fassefern, who
agreed with his opinion as to the hopelessness of success, and urged him
to write to the prince instead of going to see him.

"I know you better than you know yourself," he said. "If the prince once
sets eyes upon you, he will make you do whatever he pleases."

Locheil, however, persisted in going, convinced that the prince would, on
his representation, abandon the design. For a long time he stood firm,
until the prince exclaimed:

"I am resolved to put all to the hazard. In a few days I will erect the
royal standard and proclaim to the people of Britain that Charles Stuart
is come over to claim the crown of his ancestors or perish in the
attempt. Locheil, who my father has often told me was our firmest friend,
may stay at home and learn from the newspapers the fate of his prince."

Locheil's resolution melted at once at these words, and he said:

"Not so. I will share the fate of my prince whatsoever it be, and so
shall every man over whom nature or fortune hath given me power."

The conversion of Locheil was the turning point of the enterprise. Upon
the news of the prince's landing spreading, most of the other chiefs had
agreed that if Locheil stood aloof they would not move; and had he
remained firm not a man would have joined the prince's standard, and he
would have been forced to abandon the enterprise. Sir Alexander Macdonald
and Macleod, instead of going to see the prince, had gone off together,
on the receipt of his letter, to the Isle of Skye, so as to avoid an
interview. Clanranald was despatched by Prince Charles to see them, but
they declined to join, urging with the truth that the promises which they
had given to join in a rising were contingent upon the prince arriving at
the head of a strong French force with arms and supplies. They therefore
refused at present to move. Others, however, were not so cautious. Fired
by the example of Locheil, and by their own traditions of loyalty to the
Stuarts' cause, many of the lesser chiefs at once summoned their
followers to the field. With the majority the absence of French troops
had the exactly opposite effect that it had had with Sir Alexander
Macdonald and Macleod. Had the prince landed with a French army they
might have stood aloof and suffered him to fight out his quarrel unaided;
but his arrival alone and unattended, trusting solely and wholly to the
loyalty of the Scottish people, made an irresistible appeal to their
generous feelings, and although there were probably but few who did not
foresee that failure, ruin, and death would be the result of the
enterprise, they embarked in the cause with as much ardour as if their
success had been certain.

From Borodale, after disembarking the scanty treasure of four thousand
louis d'or which he had brought with him and a few stands of arms from
the Doutelle, Charles proceeded by water to Kinloch Moidart.

Mr. Walsh sailed in the Doutelle, after receiving the prince's warmest
thanks, and a letter to his father in Rome begging him to grant Mr. Walsh
an Irish earldom as a reward for the services he had rendered, a
recommendation which was complied with.

The chiefs soon began to assemble at Moidart, and the house became the
centre of a picturesque gathering.

Ronald had now put aside the remembrance of Malcolm's forebodings, and
entered heart and soul into the enterprise. He had in Glasgow frequently
seen Highlanders in their native dress, but he had not before witnessed
any large gathering, and he was delighted with the aspect of the sturdy
mountaineers in their picturesque garb.

The prince had at once laid aside the attire in which he had landed and
had assumed Highland costume, and by the charm and geniality of his
manner he completely won the hearts of all who came in contact with him.
Among those who joined him at Moidart was Murray of Broughton, a man who
was destined to exercise as destructive an influence on the prince's
fortune as had Mr. Forster over that of his father. Murray had hurried
from his seat in the south, having first had a large number of
manifestoes for future distribution printed. He was at once appointed by
Charles his secretary of state.

While the gathering at Moidart was daily growing, the English remained in
ignorance of the storm which was preparing. It was not until the 30th of
July that the fact that the prince had sailed from Nantes was known in
London, and as late as the 8th of August, nearly three weeks after
Charles first appeared on the coast, the fact of his landing was unknown
to the authorities in Edinburgh.

On the 16th of August the English governor at Fort Augustus, alarmed at
the vague reports which reached him, and the sudden news that bodies of
armed Highlanders were hurrying west, sent a detachment of two companies
under Captain Scott to reinforce the advance post of Fort William.

After marching twenty miles the troops entered the narrow ravine of Spean
Bridge, when they were suddenly attacked by a party of Keppoch's clansmen
who were on their way to join the prince when they saw the English troops
on their march. They were joined by some of Locheil's clansmen, and so
heavy a fire was kept up from the heights that the English, after having
five or six men killed and many more wounded, among them their commanding
officer, were forced to lay down their arms.

They were treated with great humanity by their captors, and the wounded
were well cared for. The news of this success reached the prince on the
day before that fixed for the raising of his standard, the 19th of
August, and added to the enthusiasm which prevailed among the little
force gathered in Glenfinnan, where the ceremony took place. The glen lay
about halfway between Borodale and Fort William, both being about fifteen
miles distant. The gathering consisted principally of the Camerons of
Locheil, some six hundred strong, and they brought with them two English
companies captured on the 16th, disarmed and prisoners.

The Duke of Athole performed the ceremony of unfurling the banner. He was
the heir to the dukedom of Athole, but had been exiled for taking part in
the rising of '15 and the dukedom bestowed by the English government upon
his brother; thus among the English he was still spoken of as the Marquis
of Tullibardine, while at the French court and among the followers of the
Stuarts he was regarded as the rightful Duke of Athole.

The unfurling of the standard was greeted with loud shouts, and the
clansmen threw their bonnets high in the air. The duke then read the
manifesto of the Chevalier, and the commission of regency granted by him
to Prince Charles. After this the prince himself made an inspiring
speech, and declared that at the head of his faithful Highlanders he was
resolved to conquer or to perish.

Among the spectators of the ceremony was Captain Swetenham, an English
officer taken prisoner a few days before while on his way to assume the
command of Fort William. He had been treated with great courtesy and
kindness by the prince, who, after the ceremony, dismissed him with the
words, "You may now return to your general; tell him what you have seen,
and add that I am about to give him battle."

Soon after the conclusion of the ceremony Keppoch marched in with three
hundred of his clan, and some smaller parties also arrived. The next
morning the force marched to Locheil's house at Auchnacarrie, where the
prince was joined by the Macdonalds of Glencoe, a hundred and fifty
strong, two hundred Stuarts of Appin under their chief, and by the
younger Glengarry with two hundred more, so that the force had now
swelled to sixteen hundred men.

"We begin to look like an army," Ronald said to Malcolm.

"Well, yes," the latter replied drily, "we are rather stronger than one
regiment and not quite so strong as two; still, if things go on like this
we shall ere very long have mounted up to the strength of a brigade; but
even a brigade, Ronald, does nor go very far towards the conquest of a
kingdom, especially when only about one man in three has got a musket,
and so far there are neither cavalry nor artillery. Still, you know,
these things may come."

Ronald laughed gaily at his companion's want of faith. He himself had now
caught the enthusiasm which pervaded all around. It was true that as yet
the prince's adherents were but a handful, but it was not to be expected
that an army would spring from the ground. Promises of assistance had
come from all quarters, and if the army was a small one the English army
in Scotland was but little larger, and if a first success could be
achieved, all Scotland might be expected to rise, and the news would
surely influence the Jacobites of England to declare for the prince.

Sir John Cope, the English officer commanding the English forces in
Scotland, at the first rumour of troubles had ordered his troops to
assemble at Stirling. He had with him two regiments of dragoons,
Gardiner's and Hamilton's, both young regiments, and the whole force at
his disposal, exclusive of troops in garrison, did not exceed three
thousand men. With these he proposed to march at once to the west, and
crush the rebellion before it gained strength. The English government
approved of his proposal, and sent him a proclamation offering a reward
of thirty thousand pounds to any person who should seize and secure the
pretended Prince of Wales.

On the day of the raising of the standard Cope set out from Edinburgh for
Stirling and the next day commenced his march at the head of fifteen
hundred infantry, leaving the dragoons behind him, as these could be of
but little service among the mountains, where they would have found it
next to impossible to obtain forage for their horses. He took with him a
large quantity of baggage, a drove of black cattle for food, and a
thousand stand of arms to distribute among the volunteers who he expected
would join him. As, however, none of these came in, he sent back seven
hundred muskets to Crieff.

The first object of the march was Fort Augustus, which he intended to
make his central post. As he advanced he was met by Captain Swetenham,
who informed him of the raising of the standard and the gathering he had
witnessed. As, however, only Locheil's clansmen had arrived before
Swetenham left, Cope considered his force ample for the purpose, and
continued his march. In order to reach Fort Augustus, however, he had to
pass over Corry Arrack, a lofty and precipitous mountain which was
ascended by a military road with fifteen zigzags, known to the country as
the devil's staircase.

Prince Charles, who had received early news of the advance from Stirling,
had recognized the importance of the position, and having burned and
destroyed all baggage that would impede his progress, made a forced march
and reached Corry Arrack on the 27th, before Sir John Cope had commenced
his ascent. As Sir John saw that the formidable position was in the hands
of the enemy he felt that it would be in vain to endeavour to force it.
Each zigzag would have to be carried in turn, and the enterprise would be
a desperate one. Success would be of no great advantage, as the
Highlanders, lightly clad and active, would make off and defy pursuit;
defeat would be disastrous. He, therefore, called a council of war and
asked his officers to decide whether it would be best to remain at
Dalwhinnie at the foot of the mountain, to return to Sterling, or to
march to Inverness, where they would be joined by the well affected
clans. He himself strongly urged the last course, believing that the
prince would not venture to descend into the Lowlands while he remained
in his rear. The council of war adopted his opinion. No officer advocated
remaining inactive at Dalwhinnie, one only supported the alternative of
the retreat to Stirling, the rest agreed upon an advance to Inverness.

When it was found that Cope's army had moved away without fighting, the
exultation of the Highlanders was great. Most of the chiefs wished to
follow at once and give battle, urging that it would be hazardous to
advance south and leave the enemy to cut off their retreat; but the
prince himself saw the supreme importance of a descent into the Lowlands,
and that plan of action was decided upon.



CHAPTER XIV: Prestonpans.


Advancing in high spirits through the mountains of Badenoch, Prince
Charles with his army came down into the vale of Athole, and visited,
with Tullibardine, the castle of Blair Athole, the noble property of
which the marquis had so long been deprived, owing to his constancy to
the cause of the Stuarts, but which would again be his own were this
great enterprise successful.

From Blair Athole the little army moved on to Perth. Here they were
joined by powerful friends, of whom the principal were the young Duke of
Perth, Lord Nairn, and Lord George Murray, the younger brother of the
Marquis of Tullibardine. Lord George Murray was but ten years of age when
the events of 1715 had taken place, but four years later he came over
with the marquis with a handful of Spaniards and was wounded at the
battle of Glenshiels. The influence of the family obtained his pardon on
the plea of his extreme youth, but he remained at heart a Jacobite, and,
going to the Continent, entered the service of Sardinia, then a portion
of the possessions of the Duke of Savoy. For many years he served abroad,
and acquired a considerable reputation as an excellent officer and a most
gallant soldier.

He had, indeed, a natural genius for military operations, and had he not
been thwarted at every turn by the jealousy of Murray of Broughton, it is
by no means improbable that he would have brought the enterprise to a
successful termination and seated the Stuarts upon the throne of England.
The accession of such an officer was of the highest value to the prince.

Hitherto the army had consisted merely of wild clansmen, full of valour
and devotion but wholly undisciplined; while among those who accompanied
him, or who had joined him in Scotland, there was not a single officer of
any experience in war or any military capacity whatever. Lord George
Murray and the Duke of Perth were at once named generals in the prince's
army; but the command in reality remained entirely in the hands of
Murray, for Lord Perth, though an estimable young nobleman possessed of
considerable ability, had no military experience and was of a quiet and
retiring disposition.

Lord George Murray at once set about raising the tenantry of his brother
the Hanoverian Duke of Athole, who was absent in England, and as these
had always remained attached to the Stuart cause, and still regarded the
Marquis of Tullibardine as their rightful head, they willingly took up
arms upon Lord George Murray's bidding. Lord George decided at once that
it would be useless to attempt to drill the Highlanders into regular
soldiers, but that they must be allowed to use their national style of
fighting and trust to their desperate charge with broadsword and target
to break the enemy's ranks.

Unfortunately dissensions commenced among the leaders from the very
first. Secretary Murray, who desired to be all powerful with the prince,
saw that he should not succeed in gaining any influence over so firm and
energetic a character as Lord George Murray, while it would be easy for
him to sway the young Duke of Perth, and he was not long in poisoning the
ear of the latter against his companion in arms by representing to him
that Lord George treated him as a mere cipher, although of equal rank in
the army. The secretary's purpose was even more easily carried out with
Prince Charles. The latter was no judge of character, and fell readily
under the influence of the wily and unscrupulous Murray, who flattered
his weaknesses and assumed an air of deference to his opinions. Lord
George Murray, on the other hand, was but too prone to give offence. He
was haughty and overbearing in manner, expressed his opinions with a
directness and bluntness which were very displeasing to the prince, and,
conscious of his own military genius and experience, put aside with open
contempt the suggestions of those who were in truth ignorant of military
matters. Loyal, straightforward, and upright, he scorned to descend to
the arts of the courtier, and while devoting his whole time to his
military work, suffered his enemies to obtain the entire command of the
ear of the prince.

Ronald was introduced to him as soon as he joined at Perth, and finding
that young Leslie had had some military experience, Lord George at once
appointed him one of his aides de camp, and soon took a warm liking to
the active and energetic young officer, whose whole soul was in his work,
and who cared nothing for the courtly gatherings around the person of the
prince.

Malcolm rode as Ronald's orderly, and during the few days of their stay
in Perth, Ronald was at work from morning till night riding through the
country with messages from Lord George, and in the intervals of such duty
in trying to inculcate some idea of discipline into the wild Highland
levies. At this time Charles was using all his efforts to persuade Lord
Lovat, one of the most powerful of the northern noblemen, to join him,
offering him his patent as Duke of Fraser and the lord lieutenancy of the
northern counties.

Lovat, however, an utterly unscrupulous man, refused openly to join,
although he sent repeatedly assurances of his devotion. Throughout the
struggle he continued to act a double part, trying to keep friends with
both parties, but declaring for the prince at the moment when his
fortunes were at their highest. The result was that while he afforded the
prince but little real assistance, his conduct cost him his head.

Sir John Cope, finding that his march to Inverness had failed to draw the
prince after him, and had left the Lowlands and the capital open to the
insurgents, directed his march to Aberdeen, and sent to Edinburgh for
transports to bring down his army to cover that city. But Prince Charles
determined to forestall him, and on the 11th of September commenced his
march south. The age and infirmities of the Marquis of Tullibardine
prevented his accompanying Prince Charles during active operations.

It was impossible for the army to march direct against Edinburgh, as the
magistrates of that town had taken the precaution to withdraw every ship
and boat from the northern side of the Forth, and the prince was
consequently obliged to make a detour and to cross the river at the fords
eight miles above Stirling, and then marching rapidly towards Edinburgh,
arrived on the evening of the 16th within three miles of that town.

So long as the coming of the prince was doubtful the citizens of
Edinburgh had declared their willingness to defend the town to the last.
Volunteer regiments had been formed and guns placed on the walls; but
when the volunteers were ordered to march out with Hamilton's regiment of
dragoons, to oppose the advance of the insurgents, the men quitted their
ranks and stole away to their houses, leaving the dragoons to march out
alone. The latter, however, showed no greater courage than that of their
citizen allies, when on the following day they came in contact with a
party of mounted gentlemen from the prince's army, who fired their
pistols at their pickets. These rode off in haste, their panic was
communicated to the main body, whose officers in vain endeavoured to
check them, and the whole regiment galloped away in wild confusion, and
passing close under the walls of Edinburgh continued their flight,
without halting, to Preston. There they halted for the night; but one of
the troopers happening in the dark to fall into a disused well, his
shouts for assistance caused an alarm that they were attacked, and
mounting their horses the regiment continued their flight to Dunbar,
where they joined General Cope's army, which had just landed there.

This disgraceful panic added to the terror of the citizens of Edinburgh,
and when, late in the afternoon, a summons to surrender came in from
Prince Charles, the council could arrive at no decision, but sent a
deputation to the prince asking for delay, hoping thereby that Cope's
army would arrive in time to save them. But the prince was also well
aware of the importance of time, and that night he sent forward Lochiel
with five hundred Camerons to lie in ambush near the Netherbow Gate. They
took with them a barrel of powder to blow it in if necessary; but in the
morning the gate was opened to admit a carriage, and the Highlanders at
once rushed in and overpowered the guard, and sending parties through the
streets they secured these also without disturbance or bloodshed, and
when the citizens awoke in the morning they found, to their surprise,
that Prince Charles was master of the city.

The Jacobite portion of the population turned out with delight to greet
the prince, while the rest thought it politic to imitate their
enthusiasm. The Highlanders behaved with perfect order and discipline,
and although the town had, as it were, been taken by storm, no single
article of property was touched. An hour later Prince Charles, at the
head of his troops, entered the royal palace of Holyrod, being met by a
crowd of enthusiastic supporters from the city, who received him with
royal shouts and tears of joy.

In the evening a grand ball was held in the palace, in spite of the fact
that it was within range of the guns of Edinburgh Castle, which still
held out. But one day was spent in Edinburgh. This was occupied in
serving out about a thousand muskets found in the magazines to the
Highlanders, and in obtaining tents, shoes, and cooking vessels, which
the town was ordered to supply. They were joined during the day by many
gentlemen, and on the night of the 19th the army, two thousand five
hundred strong, of whom only fifty were mounted, moved out to the village
of Duddingston. There the prince that evening called a council of war,
and proposed to march next morning to meet the enemy halfway, and
declared that he would himself lead his troops and charge in the first
ranks.

The chiefs, however, exclaimed against this, urging that if any accident
happened to him ruin must fall upon the whole, whether they gained or
lost the battle; and upon the prince persisting they declared that they
would return home and make the best terms they could for themselves. He
was therefore obliged to give way, declaring, however, that he would lead
the second line. The next morning the army commenced its march. They had
with them only one cannon, so old that it was quite useless, and it was
only taken forward as an encouragement to the Highlanders, who had the
greatest respect for artillery.

Sir John Cope, who had received intelligence of all that had happened at
Edinburgh, had also moved forward on the 19th, and on the 20th the two
armies came in sight of each other. The Highlanders, after passing the
bridge of Musselburgh, left the road, and turning to the right took up
their position on the brow of Carberry Hill, and there waited the attack.
The English forces were marching forward with high spirit, and believed
that the Highlanders would not even wait their assault. Cope had with him
two thousand two hundred men, including the six hundred runaway dragoons.
The numbers, therefore, were nearly equal; but as the English were well
armed, disciplined, and equipped, while only about half the Highlanders
had muskets, and as they had, moreover, six pieces of artillery against
the one unserviceable gun of Prince Charles, they had every reason to
consider the victory to be certain.

On seeing the Highland array Cope drew up his troops in order of
battle--his infantry in the centre, with a regiment of dragoons and three
pieces of artillery on each flank. His right was covered by a park wall
and by the village of Preston. On his left stood Seaton House, and in his
rear lay the sea, with the villages of Prestonpans and Cockenzie. Their
front was covered by a deep and difficult morass.

It was now about three o'clock in the afternoon, and the Highlanders,
seeing that the English did not advance against them, clamoured to be led
to the attack. Prince Charles was himself eager to fight, but his
generals persuaded him to abstain from attacking the English in such a
formidable position. The Highlanders, however, fearing that the English
would again avoid a battle, were not satisfied until Lord Nairn with five
hundred men was detached to the westward to prevent the English from
marching off towards Edinburgh.

During the night the two armies lay upon the ground. Cope retired to
sleep at Cockenzie, the prince lay down in the middle of his soldiers.
Before doing so, however, he held a council, and determined to attack
next morning in spite of the difficulty of the morass. But in the course
of the night Anderson of Whitburg, a gentleman well acquainted with the
country, bethought himself of a path from the height towards their right
by the farm of Ruigan Head, which in a great measure avoided the morass.
This important fact he imparted to Lord George Murray, who at once awoke
the prince.

Locheil and some other chiefs were sent for, and it was determined to
undertake the enterprise at once. An aide de camp was sent to recall Lord
Nairn and his detachment, and under the guidance of Anderson the troops
made their way across the morass. This was not, however, accomplished
without great difficulty, as in some places they sank knee deep. The
march was unopposed, and covered by the darkness they made their way
across to firm ground just as the day was breaking dull and foggy. As
they did so, however, the dragoon outposts heard the sound of their
march, and firing their pistols galloped off to give the alarm. Sir John
Cope lost no time facing his troops about, and forming them in order of
battle. He was undisturbed while doing so, for the Highlanders were
similarly occupied.

As the sun rose the mist cleared away, and the two armies stood face to
face. The Macdonalds had been granted the post of honour on the Highland
right, the line being completed by the Camerons and Stuarts, Prince
Charles with the second line being close behind. The Highlanders
uncovered their heads, uttered a short prayer, and then as the pipers
blew the signal they rushed forward, each clan in a separate mass, and
raising their war cry, the Camerons and Stuarts rushed straight at the
cannon on the left.

These guns were served, not by Royal Artillerymen, but by some seamen
brought by Cope from the fleet. They, panic struck by the wild rush of
the Highlanders, deserted their guns and fled in all directions. Colonel
Gardiner called upon his dragoons to follow him, and with his officers
led them to the charge. But the Stuarts and Camerons, pouring in a volley
from their muskets, charged them with their broadswords, and the
dragoons, panic stricken, turned their horses and galloped off.

The Macdonalds on the right had similarly captured three guns, and
charging with similar fury upon Hamilton's regiment of dragoons, drove
them off the field; Macgregor's company, who, for want of other weapons
were armed with scythes, doing terrible execution among the horses and
their riders. The English infantry, deserted by their cavalry, and with
their guns lost, still stood firm, and poured a heavy fire into the
Highlanders; but these, as soon as they had defeated the cavalry, faced
round and charged with fury upon both flanks of the infantry. Their
onslaught was irresistible. The heavy masses of the clans broke right
through the long line of the English infantry, and drove the latter
backward in utter confusion. But the retreat was impeded by the inclosure
and park wall of Preston, and the Highlanders pressing on, the greater
portion of the English infantry were killed or taken prisoners.

A hundred and seventy of the infantry alone succeeded in making their
escape, four hundred were killed, and the rest captured. Colonel Gardiner
and many of his officers were killed fighting bravely, but the loss of
the dragoons was small. Only thirty of the Highlanders were killed, and
seventy wounded. The battle lasted but six minutes, and the moment it had
terminated Prince Charles exerted himself to the utmost to obtain mercy
for the vanquished.

He treated the prisoners with the greatest kindness and consideration,
and the wounded were relieved without any distinction of friend or foe.
The dragoons fled to Edinburgh, and dashed up the hill to the castle; but
the governor refused to admit them, and threatened to open his guns upon
them as cowards who had deserted their colours. Later on in the day the
greater portion were rallied by Sir John Cope and the Earls of Loudon and
Home; but being seized with a fresh panic they galloped on again at full
speed as far as Coldstream, and the next morning continued their flight
in a state of disgraceful disorder as far as Berwick. The contents of the
treasure chest, consisting of two thousand five hundred pounds, with the
standards and other trophies, were brought to Prince Charles. The rest of
the spoil was divided among the Highlanders, of whom a great number
immediately set off towards their homes to place the articles they had
gathered in safety.

So greatly was the Highland army weakened by the number of men who thus
left the ranks that the prince was unable to carry out his wish for an
instant advance into England. His advisers, indeed, were opposed to this
measure, urging that in a short time his force would be swelled by
thousands from all parts of Scotland; but unquestionably his own view was
the correct one, and had he marched south he would probably have met with
no resistance whatever on his march to London. There were but few troops
in England. A requisition had been sent to the Dutch by King George for
the six thousand auxiliaries they were bound to furnish, and a resolution
was taken to recall ten English regiments home from Flanders.

Marshal Wade was directed to collect as many troops as he could at
Newcastle, and the militia of several counties was called out; but the
people in no degree responded to the efforts of the government. They
looked on coldly, not indeed apparently favouring the rebellion, but as
little disposed to take part against it. The state of public feeling was
described at the time by a member of the administration, Henry Fox, in a
private letter.

"England, Wade says, and I believe, is for the first comer, and if you
can tell me whether these six thousand Dutch and the ten battalions of
England, or five thousand French or Spaniards, will be here first, you
know our fate. The French are not come, God be thanked; but had five
thousand landed in any part of this island a week ago, I verily believe
the entire conquest would not have cost a battle."

The prince indeed was doing his best to obtain assistance from France,
conscious how much his final success depended upon French succour.

King Louis for a time appeared favourable. The prince's brother, Henry of
York, had arrived from Rome, and the king proposed to place him at the
head of the Irish regiments in the king's service and several others to
enable him to effect a landing in England; but with his usual insincerity
the French king continued to raise difficulties and cause delays until it
was too late, and he thus lost for ever the chance of placing the family
who had always been warm friends of France, and who would in the event of
success have been his natural friends and allies, on the throne of
England.

In the meantime Prince Charles had taken up his abode in Edinburgh, where
he was joined by most of the gentry of Scotland. He was proclaimed king
in almost every town of the Tweed, and was master of all Scotland, save
some districts beyond Inverness, the Highland forts, and the castles of
Edinburgh and Stirling.. Prince Charles behaved with the greatest
moderation. He forbade all public rejoicing for victory, saying that he
could not rejoice over the loss which his father's misguided subjects had
sustained. He abstained from any attempt to capture Edinburgh Castle, or
even to cut off its supplies, because the general of the castle
threatened that unless he were allowed to obtain provisions he would fire
upon the city and lay it in ruins, and he even refused to interfere with
a Scotch minister who continued from his pulpit to pray for King George.

In one respect he carried his generosity so far as to excite discontent
among his followers. It was proposed to send one of the prisoners taken
at Preston to London with a demand for the exchange of prisoners taken or
to be taken in the war, and with the declaration that if this were
refused, and if the prince's friends who fell into the enemy's hands were
put to death as rebels, the prince would be compelled to treat his
captives in the same way. It was evident that this step would be of great
utility, as many of the prince's adherents hesitated to take up arms, not
from fear of death in battle, but of execution if taken prisoners.

The prince, however, steadily refused, saying, "It is beneath me to make
empty threats, and I will never put such as this into execution. I cannot
in cold blood take away lives which I have saved in the heat of action."

Six weeks after the victory the prince's army mustered nearly six
thousand men; but Macleod, Macdonald, and Lovat, who could have brought a
further force of four thousand men, still held aloof. Had these three
powerful chiefs joined at once after the battle of Prestonpans, Prince
Charles could have marched to London, and would probably have succeeded
in placing his father on the throne, without having occasion to strike
another blow; but they came not, and the delay caused during the
fruitless negotiations enabled the English troops to be brought over from
Flanders, while Prince Charles on his side only received a few small
consignments of arms and money from France.

But in the meantime Edinburgh was as gay as if the Stuart cause had been
already won. Receptions and balls followed each other in close
succession, and Prince Charles won the hearts of all alike by his
courtesy and kindness, and by the care which he showed for the comfort of
his troops.

At the commencement of the campaign Lord George Murray had but one aide
de camp besides Ronald. This was an officer known as the Chevalier de
Johnstone, who afterwards wrote a history of the campaign. After the
battle of Prestonpans he received a captain's commission, and immediately
raised a company, with which he joined the Duke of Perth's regiment. Two
other gentlemen of family were then appointed aides de camp, and this
afforded some relief to Ronald, whose duties had been extremely heavy.

A week after the battle Lord George said to Ronald:

"As there is now no chance of a movement at present, and I know that you
care nothing for the court festivities here, I propose sending you with
the officers who are riding into Glasgow tomorrow, with the orders of the
council that the city shall pay a subsidy of five thousand pounds towards
the necessities of the state. The citizens are Hanoverians to a man, and
may think themselves well off that no heavier charge is levied upon them.
Do you take an account of what warlike stores there are in the magazines
there, and see that all muskets and ammunition are packed up and
forwarded."

The next morning Ronald started at daybreak with several other mounted
gentlemen and an escort of a hundred of Clanranald's men, under the
command of the eldest son of that chief, for Glasgow, and late the same
evening entered that city. They were received with acclamation by a part
of the population; but the larger portion of the citizens gazed at them
from their doorways as they passed in sullen hostility. They marched
direct to the barracks lately occupied by the English troops, the
gentlemen taking the quarters occupied by the officers. A notification
was at once sent to the provost to assemble the city council at nine
o'clock in the morning, to hear a communication from the royal council.

As soon as Malcolm had put up Ronald's horse and his own in the stables,
and seen to their comfort, he and Ronald sallied out. It was now dark,
but they wrapped themselves up in their cloaks so as not to be noticed,
as in the hostile state of the town they might have been insulted and a
quarrel forced upon them, had they been recognized as two of the new
arrivals. The night, however, was dark, and they passed without
recognition through the ill lighted streets to the house of Andrew
Anderson. They rang at the bell. A minute later the grille was opened,
and a voice, which they recognized as that of Elspeth, asked who was
there, and what was their business.

"We come to arrest one Elspeth Dow, as one who troubles the state and is
a traitor to his majesty."

There was an exclamation from within and the door suddenly opened.

"I know your voice, bairn. The Lord be praised that you have come back
home again!" and she was about to run forward, when she checked herself.
"Is it yourself, Ronald?"

"It is no one else, Elspeth," he replied, giving the old woman a hearty
kiss.

"And such a man as you have grown!" she exclaimed in surprise. For the
two years had added several inches to Ronald's stature, and he now stood
over six feet in height.

"And have you no welcome for me, Elspeth?" Malcolm asked, coming forward.

"The Lord preserve us!" Elspeth exclaimed. "Why, it's my boy Malcolm!"

"Turned up again like a bad penny, you see, Elspeth."

"What is it, Elspeth?" Andrew's voice called from above. "Who are these
men you are talking to, and what do they want at this time of night?"

"They want some supper, Andrew," Malcolm called back, "and that badly."

In a moment Andrew ran down and clasped his brother's hand. In the
darkness he did not notice Malcolm's companion, and after the first
greeting with his brother led the way up stairs.

"It is my brother Malcolm," he said to his wife as he entered the room.

Ronald followed Malcolm forward. As the light fell on his face Andrew
started, and, as Ronald smiled, ran forward and clasped him in his arms.

"It is Ronald, wife! Ah, my boy, have you come back to us again?"

Mrs. Anderson received Ronald with motherly kindness.

"We had heard of your escape before your letter came to us from Paris.
Our city constables brought back the news of how you had jumped
overboard, and had been pulled into a boat and disappeared. And finely
they were laughed at when they told their tale. Then came your letter
saying that it was Malcolm who had met you with the boat, and how you had
sailed away and been wrecked on the coast of France; but since then we
have heard nothing."

"I wrote twice," Ronald said; "but owing to the war there have been no
regular communications, and I suppose my letters got lost."

"And I suppose you have both come over to have a hand in this mad
enterprise?"

"I don't know whether it is mad or not, Andrew; but we have certainly
come over to have a hand in it," Malcolm said. "And now, before we have a
regular talk, let me tell you that we are famishing. I know your supper
is long since over, but doubtless Elspeth has still something to eat in
her cupboard. Oh, here she comes!"

Elspeth soon placed a joint of cold meat upon the table, and Ronald and
Malcolm set to at once to satisfy their hunger. Then a jar of whiskey and
glasses were set upon the table, and pipes lighted, and Ronald began a
detailed narration of all that had taken place since they had last met.

"Had my father and mother known that I was coming to Scotland, and should
have an opportunity of seeing you both, they would have sent you their
warmest thanks and gratitude for your kindness to me," he concluded. "For
over and over again have I heard them say how deeply they felt indebted
to you for your care of me during so many years, and how they wished that
they could see you and thank you in person."

"What we did was done, in the first place, for my brother Malcolm, and
afterwards for love of you, Ronald; and right glad I am to hear that you
obtained the freedom of your parents and a commission as an officer in
the service of the King of France. I would be glad that you had come over
here on any other errand than that which brings you. Things have gone on
well with you so far; but how will they end? I hear that the Jacobites of
England are not stirring, and you do not think that with a few thousand
Highland clansmen you are going to conquer the English army that beat the
French at Dettingen, and well nigh overcame them at Fontenoy. Ah, lad, it
will prove a sore day for Scotland when Charles Stuart set foot on our
soil!"

"We won't talk about that now, Andrew," Malcolm said good temperedly.
"The matter has got to be fought out with the sword, and if our tongues
were to wag all night they could make no difference one way or another.
So let us not touch upon politics. But I must say, that as far as Ronald
and I are concerned, we did not embark on this expedition because we had
at the moment any great intention of turning Hanoverian George off his
throne; but simply because Ronald had made France too hot to hold him,
and this was the simplest way that presented itself of getting out of the
country. As long as there are blows to be struck we shall do our best.
When there is no more fighting to be done, either because King James is
seated on his throne in London, or because the clans are scattered and
broken, we shall make for France again, where by that time I hope the
king will have got over the breach of his edict and the killing of his
favourite, and where Ronald's father and mother will be longing for his
presence."

"Eh, but it's awful, sirs," Elspeth, who as an old and favourite servant
had remained in the room after laying the supper and listened to the
conversation, put in, "to think that a young gallant like our Ronald
should have slain a man! He who ought not yet to have done with his
learning, to be going about into wars and battles, and to have stood up
against a great French noble and slain him. Eh, but it's awful to think
of!"

"It would be much more awful, Elspeth, if the French noble had killed me,
at least from the light in which I look at it."

"That's true enough," Elspeth said. "And if he wanted to kill you, and it
does seem from what you say that he did want, of course I cannot blame
you for killing him; but to us quiet bodies here in Glasgow it seems an
awful affair; though, after you got in a broil here and drew on the city
watch, I ought not to be surprised at anything."

"And now we must go," Ronald said, rising. "It is well nigh midnight, and
time for all decent people to be in bed."



CHAPTER XV: A Mission.


The next morning early Ronald proceeded to take an inventory of the arms
and ammunition left behind by the troops when they had marched to join
Sir John Cope at Stirling. Having done this he saw that they were all
packed up in readiness to be sent off the next day under the escort, who
were also to convey the money which the city was required to pay. For the
provost and council, knowing that it was useless to resist the order, and
perhaps anxious in the present doubtful state of affairs to stand well
with Prince Charles, had arranged that the money should be forthcoming of
the following morning. After his work was over Ronald again spent the
evening at Andrew Anderson's.

The next morning he returned to Edinburgh with the arms and escort. It
was late when he arrived; but as he knew that Lord George Murray would be
at work in his tent, he repaired there at once.

"We have brought back the money and arms, Lord George. I have handed over
the arms and ammunition at the magazine tent, and those in charge of the
money have gone into the town with a part of the escort to give it over
to the treasurer."

"How many arms did you get?"

"Two hundred and twenty-three muskets and eighty pistols, fourteen kegs
of gunpowder, and well nigh a ton of lead."

"That is more than I had expected. And now, Leslie, I have an important
mission for you. The prince this morning asked me whom I could recommend,
as a sure and careful person likely to do the business well, to go down
into Lancashire to visit the leading Jacobites there, and urge them to
take up arms. I said that I knew of none who would be more likely to
succeed than yourself. Your residence of two years in France has rubbed
off any Scotch dialect you may have had, and at any rate you could pass
for a northern Englishman. In the next place, your youth would enable you
to pass unsuspected where an older man might be questioned. The prince
agreed at once, and took shame to himself that he had not before given
promotion to one who was his companion on his voyage to Scotland, the
more so as he had made Johnstone a captain. Your claims are far greater
than his, and moreover you have served as an officer in the French army.
But, in truth, the fault is in some degree your own, for you spend all
your time in carrying out your duties, and do not show yourself at any of
the levees or festivities. And you know, with princes, as with other
people, out of sight is out of mind. However, the prince at once took
steps to repair the omission, and has signed your commission as captain.
Here it is. You will understand, of course, that it is for past services,
and that you are perfectly free to decline this mission to the south if
you would rather not undertake it. It is unquestionably a dangerous one."

"I will undertake it readily, sir," Ronald said, "and I thank you
sincerely for bringing my name before the prince, and the prince himself
for his kindness in granting me his commission, which so far I have done
but little to win. I shall be able, I trust, to carry out this mission to
his satisfaction; and although I am ignorant of the country I shall have
the advantage of taking with me my brave follower, Malcolm Anderson, who
for years was in the habit of going with droves of cattle down into
Lancashire, and will not only know the country but have acquaintances
there, and being known as a drover would pass without suspicion of his
being engaged with politics."

"That will do well," Lord George said. "I will get the list of persons on
whom you should call prepared tomorrow. You had best go to Sir Thomas
Sheridan and Francis Strickland, who came over with you, and get them to
present you to Secretary Murray and recommend you to him. If he hears
that your mission is of my recommendation he will do all he can to set
the prince against you. Everything that I do is wrong in his eyes, and I
do believe that he would ruin the cause in order to injure me, did he see
no other way to accomplish that end. Therefore, if he mentions my name,
as he is like to do, knowing that you have been my aide de camp, be sure
that you say nought in my favour, or it will ruin you with him. You will,
of course, attend the prince's levee tomorrow, and had best make
preparation to start at nightfall."

The next day, accordingly, Ronald called upon Sir Thomas Sheridan and
Strickland, and telling them that the prince had determined to send him
on a mission into Lancashire, asked them to present him to Secretary
Murray, from whom he would receive orders for his guidance and
instruction as to the persons whom he was to visit. The two gentlemen
proceeded with him to the house in which Secretary Murray had taken up
his abode, and introduced him, with much warmth, as a fellow passenger on
board the Doutelle.

"You have been serving since as Lord Murray's aide de camp?"

"Yes, sir, the prince recommended me to him at Perth, and I have since
had the honour to carry his orders."

"Captain Leslie, for so the prince has granted him a commission," Sir
Thomas said, "has served two years in the French army, and was present at
Dettingen and Fontenoy. He mentioned to me on the voyage that he had the
honour of being presented by Marshal Saxe to the King of France, and that
he received his commission from the marshal, to whom he had acted as aide
de camp at Fontenoy."

"You have begun well, indeed, young sir," Murray said, "to have received
at your age, for I judge that you are not yet twenty, commissions in the
French army and ours."

Ronald bowed.

"He has another claim upon all you Scottish gentlemen," Sir Thomas said,
"for Colonel Macdonald told us, when he introduced him to us at Nantes,
that it was through his interference and aid alone that he escaped safely
from Glasgow, and that all his papers, with the names of the king's
friends in Scotland, did not fall into George's hands. He was taken
prisoner for his share in that affair, but escaped from the ship in the
Thames, and succeeded in crossing to France. So you see, young as he is,
he has rendered good service to the cause."

The expression of the secretary's face, which had before been cold and
distant, changed at once. He had been aware that Ronald had been chosen
for this business on the recommendation of Lord George Murray, and his
jealousy of that nobleman had at once set him against Ronald, of whose
antecedents he was entirely ignorant; but what he now heard entirely
altered the case, and disposed him most favourably towards him,
especially as his own name would have been one of the most prominent in
the list, he having been in constant communication with Colonel Macdonald
during the stay of the latter in Scotland.

"I had no idea it was to you that we are all so indebted," he said
warmly. "I heard from Colonel Macdonald, after his return from France,
that he owed his escape entirely to the quickness and bravery of a young
gentleman of whose name he was ignorant, but who, he feared, would suffer
for his interference on his behalf, and prayed me and all other loyal
gentlemen of Scotland to befriend you should they ever discover your
name, for that we assuredly owed it to you that we escaped imprisonment,
if not worse. I am truly glad to meet you and thank you in person. And so
you are going on this mission?"

"I have undertaken to do my best, sir. Fortunately I have a faithful
follower who fought beside my father in '15, followed him to France and
fought by his side in the Scottish Dragoons for fifteen years, and who
has since been my best friend. He worked for years, when I was a child,
as a drover of cattle from the Highlands into England. He knows
Cumberland and Lancashire well, and would be known at every wayside inn.
He will accompany me, and I shall pass as his nephew, therefore no
suspicion will be likely to light upon me."

"And you set out tonight?"

"Yes, sir, if my orders and letters are ready."

"There will not be many letters," the secretary said. "It would not do
for you to have documents upon you which might betray you and our friends
there should you be arrested. I will give you a list of the gentlemen on
whom you have to call, which you had best learn by heart and destroy
before you cross the frontier. You shall have one paper only, and that
written so small that it can be carried in a quill. This you can show to
one after the other. If you find you are in danger of arrest you can
destroy or swallow it. I will give them to you at the prince's levee this
afternoon, and will send to your tent a purse of gold for your expenses."

"I shall need but little for that, sir," Ronald said smiling.

"For your expenses, no," the secretary said; "but one never can say what
money may be required for. You may have to buy fresh horses, you may want
it to bribe someone to conceal you. Money is always useful, my young
friend. By the way, what family of Leslies do you belong to? I heard that
one of your name had accompanied the prince, but no more."

"My father was Leslie of Glenlyon."

"Indeed!" the secretary exclaimed. "Of course, I know the name well. The
lands were confiscated; but we shall soon set that right, and I will see
that they are added to when the time comes to reward the king's friends
and punish his foes."

Ronald now took his leave and returned to Malcolm, who was making
preparation for the enterprise. He had already purchased two suits of
clothes, such as would be worn by Lowland drovers, and was in high
spirits, being more elated than was Ronald himself at the latter's
promotion. In the course of the day he bought two rough ponies, as being
more suitable for the position they were to assume than the horses with
which they had been furnished at Perth. Ronald attended the levee, and
thanked the prince for the favour which he bestowed upon him.

"You are a young gentleman after my own heart," Prince Charles said, "and
I promised myself on shipboard that we should be great friends; but I
have been so busy since I landed, and you have been so occupied in my
service, that I have seen but little of you. On your return I hope that I
shall be able to have you near my person. I am half jealous of you, for
while you are younger than I am you have seen good service and taken part
in great battles, but hitherto I have led a life almost of idleness."

Ronald bowed deeply at the prince's gracious speech. On his return to his
tent he found a messenger from the secretary with a purse which, on
counting its contents, they found to amount to a hundred guineas.

They started immediately, and travelled twenty miles before stopping for
the night at a small wayside inn.

"This seems like old times to me," Malcolm said as, after eating supper,
they sat by a turf fire, "except that on my way down I had the herd to
look after. There is no fear of our being questioned or suspected till we
reach the border, for there is not an English soldier between the Forth
and the Tweed; nor is it likely that we shall meet with any difficulty
whatever till we get to Carlisle. Cope's forces, or what remain of them,
are at Newcastle, and it will be there that the English will gather, and
the western road is likely to be open until, at any rate, Prince Charles
moves south. George's troops have plenty to think about without
interfering with the Lowlands drovers. At the same time, after we have
once crossed the Tweed, we may as well leave the high road. I know every
bypath over the fells."

On the third day after starting they crossed the border and were among
the hills of Cumberland. They found that among the villages great
apprehension existed. The tales of the rapine and destruction wrought in
the old times by the Scottish forays had been handed down from father to
son, and nothing less than the destruction of their homes and the loss of
their flocks and herds was looked for. Malcolm was welcomed warmly at the
little village inn where they put up for the night.

"Why, it's well nigh three years since I saw you last," the host said,
"and before that it was seldom two months without our seeing you. What
have you been doing with yourself?"

"I have been gathering the herds in the Highlands," Malcolm said, "while
others have driven them down for sale; but at present my occupation is
gone. The Highlanders are swarming like angry bees whose hive has been
disturbed, and even if we could collect a herd it would not be safe to
drive it south; it would be seized and despatched to Edinburgh for the
use of the clans there."

"Is it true that there are fifty thousand of them, and that they have
sworn to kill every English man, woman, and child?"

"No, they are not so strong as that," Malcolm said. "From what I hear I
should say they were not more than half; and I do not think there is any
occasion for peaceful people to be afraid, for they say that the prince
has treated all the prisoners who fell into his hands in the kindest
manner, and that he said that the English are his father's subjects as
well as the Scots, and that he will see that harm is done to no man."

"I am right glad to hear it," the innkeeper said. "I don't know that I am
much afraid myself; but my wife and daughter are in a terrible fright,
and wanted me to quit the house and go south till it is all over."

"There is no occasion for that, man," Malcolm said; "you will have no
reason for fear were the whole of the clans to march through your
village, unless you took it into your head to stand at the door and
shout, `God bless King George.'"

"I care not a fig about King George or King James," the man said. "It's
nought to me who is king at London, and as far as I know that's the way
with all here. Let them fight it out together, and leave us hard working
folks to ourselves."

"I don't suppose either James or George would care for that," Malcolm
said laughing; "but from what I have heard of Prince Charles I should say
that there is nothing in the world that he would like better than to
stand with broadsword or dagger against the Duke of Cumberland, and so
settle the dispute."

"That would be the most sensible thing to my mind," the innkeeper said;
"but what brings you here, Anderson, since you have no herd with you?"

"I am just getting out of it all," Malcolm said. "I have had my share of
hard knocks, and want no more of them. I don't want to quarrel with
Highlanders or Lowlanders, and as trade is at a standstill at present,
and there's nothing for me to do in the Highlands, I thought I would come
south till it was all over. There is money to collect and things to look
after, and I have to notify to our regular customers that the herds will
come down again as soon as the tempest is over; and between ourselves,"
he said in a lower voice, "I wanted to get my nephew out of harm's way.
He has a hankering to join the prince's army, and I don't want to let him
get his brains knocked out in a quarrel which isn't his, so I have
brought him along with me."

"He is a good looking young fellow, I can see, and a strong one. I don't
wonder that he wanted to mount the white cockade; lads are always wanting
to run their heads into danger. You have had your share of it, as you
say; still you are wise to keep the lad out of it. I don't hold with
soldiering, or fighting in quarrels that don't concern you.

Malcolm and Ronald travelled through Cumberland and Westmoreland, calling
upon many of the gentlemen to whom the latter had been charged to deliver
Prince Charles's messages. They could not, however, flatter themselves
that their mission was a success, for from few of those on whom they
called did they receive assurances that they were prepared to take
action; all the gentlemen professed affection for the Stuarts, but
deprecated a descent into England unless the prince were accompanied by a
strong body of French troops.

The rising of '15 had been disastrous for the Jacobites of the North of
England, and though all declared that they were ready again to take up
arms and risk all for the cause of the Stuarts, if the prince was at the
head of a force which rendered success probable, they were unanimously of
opinion that it would be nothing short of madness to rise until at any
rate the prince had marched into England at the head of a strong army.

The principal personage upon whom they called was Mr. Ratcliff, a brother
of the Earl of Derwentwater, who had been executed after the rising of
'15. That gentleman assured them that he himself was ready to join the
prince as soon as he came south, but that he wished the prince to know
that in his opinion no large number of English would join.

"The memory of '15 is still too fresh," he said; "while the Stuarts have
been absent so long that, although there are great numbers who would
prefer them to the Hanoverians, I do not believe that men have the cause
sufficiently at heart to risk life and property for it. Many will give
their good wishes, but few will draw their swords. That is what I wish
you to say to Prince Charles. Among gentlemen like myself the feeling of
respect and loyalty to his father's house is as strong as ever, and we
shall join him, however desperate, in our opinion, the chances of success
may be; but he will see that the common people will stand aloof, and
leave the battle to be fought out by the clansmen on our side and
George's troops on the other."

Some weeks were passed in traversing the country to and fro, for the
desired interviews were often only obtained after considerable loss of
time. They could not ride up as two Highland drovers to a gentleman's
house, and had to wait their chances of meeting those they wished to see
on the high road, or of sending notes requesting an interview, couched in
such terms that while they would be understood by those to whom they were
addressed they would compromise no one if they fell into other hands.
There was indeed the greatest necessity for caution, for the authorities
in all the towns and villages had received orders from the government to
be on the lookout for emissaries from the north, and they were frequently
exposed to sharp examination and questioning. Indeed it was only
Malcolm's familiarity with the country, and the fact that he had so many
acquaintances ready to testify that he was, as he said, a Scotch drover,
in the habit for many years of journeying down from the north with
cattle, that enabled them to escape arrest.

After much thought they had decided upon a place of concealment for the
quill containing Ronald's credentials, which would, they thought, defy
the strictest scrutiny. A hole had been bored from the back into the heel
of Ronald's boot deep enough to contain the quill, and after this was
inserted in the hiding place the hole was filled up with cobbler's wax,
so that it would need a close examination indeed to discover its
existence. Thus, although they were several times closely searched, no
document of a suspicious nature was found upon them.

Their money was the greatest trouble, as the mere fact of so large a sum
being carried by two drovers would in itself have given rise to
suspicions, although had they been on their return towards Scotland the
possession of such an amount would have been easily explained as the
proceeds of the sale of the cattle they had brought down. They had
therefore left the greater part of it with a butcher in Carlisle, with
whom Malcolm had often had dealings, retaining only ten pounds for their
necessary expenses.

The day after they reached Manchester four constables came to the little
inn where they were stopping and told them that they were to accompany
them before the magistrates.

"I should like to know what offence we are charged with," Malcolm said
angrily. "Things have come to a pretty pass, indeed, when quiet drovers
are to be hauled before magistrates without rhyme or reason."

"You will hear the charge quickly enough when you are before their
worships," the constable said; "but that is no affair of mine--my
orders are simply to take you there."

"Well, of course we must go," Malcolm said grumblingly; "but here we have
been well nigh twenty years travelling to and fro between England and
Scotland, as my host here can testify, without such a thing happening
before. I suppose somebody has been robbed on the highway, and so you
sharp sighted gentlemen clap hands on the first people you come across."

Three magistrates were sitting when Ronald and Malcolm were brought into
the courthouse. They were first asked the usual questions as to their
names and business, and then one of the magistrates said:

"Your story is a very plausible one; but it happens that I have here
before me the reports, sent in from a score of different places, for in
times like these it is needful to know what kinds of persons are
travelling through the country, and two men answering to your description
are reported to have visited almost every one of these places. It is
stated in nearly every report that you are drovers ordinarily engaged in
bringing down herds of Highland cattle, and it is added that in every
case this account was verified by persons who have previously known you.
All this would seem natural enough, but you seem to have journeyed hither
and thither without any fixed object. Sometimes you have stopped for two
days at little villages, where you could have had no business, and, in
short, you seem for upwards of a month to have been engaged in wandering
to and fro in such a way as is wholly incompatible with the affairs upon
which you say you were engaged."

"But you will observe, sir," Malcolm said quietly, "that I have not said
I am engaged upon any affairs whatever. I am not come to England on
business, but solely to escape from the troubles which have put a stop to
my trade in the Highlands, and as for fifteen years I was engaged in
journeying backwards and forwards, and had many friends and
acquaintances, I came down partly, as I have said, to avoid being mixed
up in the trouble, partly to call upon old acquaintances, and partly to
introduce to them my nephew, who is new to the work, and will shortly be
engaged in bringing down cattle here. I thought the present was a good
opportunity to show him all the roads and halting places in order that he
might the better carry out the business."

"Your story has been well got up," one of the magistrates said, "though I
doubt whether there be a single word of truth in it. However, you will be
at present searched, and detained until we get to the bottom of the
matter. This is not a time when men can travel to and fro through the
country without exciting a suspicion that they are engaged upon other
than lawful business. At present I tell you that in our eyes your conduct
appears to be extremely suspicious."

The prisoners were then taken to a cell and searched with the utmost
rigour. Their clothes were examined with scrupulous care, many of the
seams being cut open and the linings slit, to see if any documents were
concealed there. Their shoes were also carefully examined; but the mud
had dried over the opening where the quill was concealed, and the
officials failed to discover it. Even their sticks were carefully
examined to see if they contained any hollow place; but at last,
convinced that had they been the bearers of any documents these must have
been discovered, the officials permitted them to resume their clothes,
and then paying no heed to the angry complaints of Malcolm at the state
to which the garments had been reduced, they left the prisoners to
themselves.

"Be careful what you say," Malcolm whispered to Ronald. "Many of these
places have cracks or peepholes, so that the prisoners can be watched and
their conversation overheard."

Having said this Malcolm indulged in a long and violent tirade on the
hardship of peaceful men being arrested and maltreated in this way, and
at the gross stupidity of magistrates in taking an honest drover known to
half the countryside for a Jacobite spy. Ronald replied in similar
strains, and any listeners there might have been would certainly have
gained nothing from the conversation they overheard.

"I should not be surprised," Malcolm said in low tones when night had
come and all was quiet, "if some of our friends outside try to help us.
The news will speedily spread that two men of the appearance of drovers
have been taken on suspicion of being emissaries from Scotland, and it
will cause no little uneasiness among all those on whom we have called.
They cannot tell whether any papers have been found upon us, nor what we
may reveal to save ourselves, so they will have a strong interest in
getting us free if possible."

"If we do get free, Malcolm, the sooner we return to Scotland the better.
We have seen almost all those whom we are charged to call upon, and we
are certainly in a position to assure the prince that he need hope for no
rising in his favour here before he comes, and that it is very doubtful
that any numbers will join him if he marches south."

The next morning they were removed from the cell in which they had been
placed to the city jail, and on the following day were again brought
before the magistrates.

"You say that you have been calling on people who know you," one of the
magistrates began; "and as I told you the other day we know that you have
been wandering about the country in a strange way, I now requite that you
shall tell us the names of all the persons with whom you have had
communication."

The question was addressed to Malcolm as the oldest of the prisoners.
Ronald looked round the court, which was crowded with people, and thought
that in several places he could detect an expression of anxiety rather
than curiosity.

"It will be a long story," Malcolm said in a drawling voice, "and I would
not say for sure but that I may forget one or two, seeing that I have
spoken with so many. We came across the hills, and the first person we
spoke to was Master Fenwick, who keeps the Collie Dog at Appleswade. I
don't know whether your worship knows the village. I greeted him as
usual, and asked him how the wife and children had been faring since I
saw him last. He said they were doing brawly, save that the eldest boy
had twisted his ankle sorely among the fells."

"We don't want to hear all this nonsense," the magistrate said angrily.
"We want a list of persons, not what you said to them."

"It will be a hard task," Malcolm said simply; "but I will do the best I
can, your worship, and I can do no more. Let me think, there was Joseph
Repton and Nat Somner--at least I think it was Nat, but I won't be sure
to his Christian name--and John Dykes, and a chap they called Pitman,
but I don't know his right name."

"Who were all these people?" the magistrate asked.

"Joe Repton, he is a wheelwright by trade, and Nat Somner he keeps the
village shop. I think the others are both labouring men. Anyhow they were
all sitting at the tap of the Collie Dog when I went in."

"But what have we to do with these fellows?" the magistrate exclaimed
angrily.

"I don't know no more than a child," Malcolm said; "but your worship
ordered me to tell you just the names of the persons I met, and I am
doing so to the best of my ability."

"Take care, prisoner," the magistrate said sternly; "you are trifling
with the court. You know what I want you to tell me. You have been to
these villages," and he read out some fifteen names. "What did you go
there for, and whom did you see?"

"That is just what I was trying to tell your worship in regular order,
but directly I begin you stop me. I have been going through this district
for fifteen years, and I am known in pretty well every village in
Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire. Having been away for three
years, and my trade being stopped by the war, as your worship well knows,
I have been going round having a crack with the people I know. Such as
were butchers I promised some fine animals next time I came south; such
as were innkeepers I stayed a night with and talked of old times. If your
worship will have patience with me I can tell you all the names and what
I said to each of them, and what they said to me, and all about it."

"I don't want to know about these things. I am asking you whether you
have not been calling on some of the gentry."

"Indeed, now," Malcolm said with an air of astonishment, "and this is the
first time that I have heard a word about the gentry since I came into
the court. Well, let me think now, I did meet Squire Ringwood, and he
stopped his horse and said to me: 'Is that you, Malcolm Anderson, you
rascal;' and I said, 'It's me, sure enough, squire;' and he said, 'You
rascal, that last score of beasts I bought of you--'"

"Silence!" shouted the magistrate as a titter ran through the court. "All
this fooling will do you no good, I can tell you. We believe that you are
a traitor to the king and an emissary of the Pretender. If you make a
clean breast of it, and tell me the names of those with whom you have
been having dealings, there may be a hope of mercy for you; but if not,
we shall get at the truth other ways, and then your meanness of condition
will not save you from punishment."

"Your worship must do as you like," Malcolm said doggedly. "I have done
my best to answer your questions, and you jump down my throat as soon as
I open my mouth. What should a man of my condition have to do with kings
or pretenders? They have ruined my trade between them, and I care not
whether King George or King James get the best of it, so that they do but
make an end of it as soon as possible, and let me bring down my herds
again. There's half a dozen butchers in the town who know me, and can
speak for me. I have sold thousands of beasts to Master Tregold; but if
this is the treatment an honest man meets with I ain't likely to sell
them any more, for as soon as I am let free and get the money the
constables have taken from me I am off to Glasgow and if I ever come
south of the border again, may I be hung and quartered."

Finding that nothing was to be made out of the prisoners, the magistrate
ordered them to be taken back to jail.



CHAPTER XVI: The March to Derby.


Two days later when the jailer brought in breakfast to their cell he
dropped on the table by the side of the loaf a tiny ball of paper, and
then without a word went out and locked the back door. Malcolm put his
finger to his lips as Ronald was about to utter an exclamation of joy.

"One's appetite is not as good here as it was when we were tramping the
hills, Ronald; but one looks forward to one's meals; they form a break in
the time."

So saying, he took up one of the lumps of bread and began to ear,
securing at the same time the pellet of paper. "We can't be too careful,"
he said in a whisper. "It is quite possible that they may be able to
overhear us."

"I don't see how," Ronald replied in the same tone; "I see no crack or
crevice through which sound could pass."

"You may not see one," Malcolm said, "but it may exist for all that. One
of the boards of the ceiling may be as thin as paper, and anyone
listening through could hear every word we say when we speak in our
natural voices. The magistrates evidently believe that they have made a
valuable capture, and would give anything to prove that their suspicions
are correct. Now, I will go and stand at that grated opening and look at
this paper, if they are watching us they will see nothing then."

The little piece of paper when unfolded contained but a few words: "Keep
up your courage. You have friends without working for you. Destroy this."

Malcolm at once again rolled up the pellet, put it into his mouth and
swallowed it, and then whispered to Ronald what he had just read.

"I thought," he whispered, "that we should soon get a message of some
sort. The news of our arrest will have set the hearts of a score of
people quaking, and they would do anything now to get us out from this
prison. They have already, you see, succeeded in bribing our warder."

At his evening visit the warder passed into Ronald's hand a small parcel,
and then, as before, went out without speaking.

"I am confirmed in the belief that we can be overheard," Malcolm said.
"Had the man not been afraid of listeners he would have spoken to us. Now
let us see what he has brought us this time."

The parcel contained a small file, a saw made of watch spring, and a tiny
phial of oil.

"So far so good," Malcolm said quietly. "Our way through these bars is
clear enough now. But that is only the beginning of our difficulties.
This window looks into the prison yard, and there is a drop of some forty
feet to begin with. However, I have no doubt our friends will send us the
means of overcoming these difficulties in due course. All we have to
concern ourselves about now is the sawing through of these bars."

As soon as it was dark they began the work, relieving each other in
turns. The oil prevented much sound being made, but to deaden it still
further they wrapped a handkerchief over the file. The bars had been but
a short time in position and the iron was new and strong. It was
consequently some hours before they completed their work. When they had
done, the grating was left in the position it before occupied, the cuts
being concealed from any but close observation by kneading up small
pieces of bread and pressing them into them, and then rubbing the edges
with iron filings.

"That will do for tonight," Malcolm said. "No one is likely to pay us a
visit; but if they did, they would not notice the bars unless they went
up and shook them. Tomorrow morning we can put a finishing touch to the
work."

As soon as it was daylight they were upon their feet.

"It does very well as it is," Malcolm said, examining the grating. "It is
good enough to pass, and we need not trouble further about it. Now
collect every grain of those iron filings. No, don't do that on any
account," he broke in, as Ronald was preparing to blow some of it from
the lower stonework through the opening. "Were you to do that, it would
be quite possible that one of the prisoners walking in the yard might see
it, and would as likely as not report the circumstance to one of the
warders in order to curry favour and perhaps obtain a remission of his
sentence. Scrape it inside and pour every atom down the crevices in the
floor. That done, we are safe unless anyone touches the grating."

They watched their warder attentively when he next came into the cell,
but this time he had no message for them. "We must not be impatient,"
Malcolm said; "our friends have a good many arrangements to make, for
they will have to provide for our getting away when we are once out;
besides, they will probably have to bribe other warders, and that kind of
thing can't be done in a hurry."

It was not for another two days that the warder made any fresh sign.
Then, as on the first occasion, he placed a pellet of paper on the table
with their bread.

"This is a good deal larger than the last," Ronald whispered.

It was not until some little time after they had finished their meal that
Ronald moved to the grating and unrolled the little ball of paper; it
contained only the words:

"You will receive a rope this evening. With this lower yourselves from
your window into the courtyard. Start when you hear the church bells
strike midnight, cross the court and stand against the wall near the
right hand corner of the opposite side. The third window on the second
floor will be opened, and a rope lowered to you. Attach yourselves to
this, and you will be pulled up from above."

After reading the note Ronald passed it on to Malcolm, who, as before,
swallowed it, but had this time to tear it into several pieces before
doing so. The warder was later bringing their supper than usual that
evening, and it was dark when he came in. As he entered the room he let
the lamp fall which he carried.

"Confound the thing!" he said roughly. "Here, take hold of this bread,
and let me feel for the lamp. I can't be bothered with going down to get
another light. You can eat your supper in the dark just as well, I have
no doubt."

As he handed Ronald the bread he also pushed into his hand the end of the
rope, and while he pretended to search for the lamp he turned round and
round rapidly, and so unwound the rope, which was twisted many times
round his body. As soon as this was done he picked up the lamp, and with
a rough "Goodnight," left them.

"It is just as I suspected," Malcolm said in Ronald's ear. "There is a
peephole somewhere, otherwise there could be no occasion for him to have
dropped the lamp. It is well that we have always been on our guard."

They ate their bread in silence, and then after a short talk on the
stupidity of the English in taking two drovers for messengers of Prince
Charles, they lay down on their rough pallets to pass with what patience
they could the long hours before midnight, for it was late in October,
and it was little after five o'clock when the warder visited them. They
felt but slight anxiety as to the success of the enterprise, for they had
no doubt that every detail had been carefully arranged by their friends
without, although certainly it seemed a strange method of escape that
after lowering themselves from a third floor window they should
afterwards be hauled up into a second. At last, after what seemed almost
an endless watch, they heard the church clocks strike twelve, and
simultaneously rose to their feet. Not a word was spoken, for although it
was improbable in the extreme that any watcher would be listening at that
hour of the night, it was well to take every precaution. The grating was
lifted out and laid down on one of the couches so that all noise should
be avoided. The rope was then strongly fastened to the stump of one of
the iron bars.

"Now, Malcolm, I will give you a leg up; I am younger and more active
than you are, so you had better go first."

Without debating the question, Malcolm put his foot on Ronald's hand, and
in a moment was seated in the opening of the window. Grasping the rope he
let himself quietly out, and lowered himself to the ground, reaching it
so noiselessly that Ronald, who was listening, did nor hear a sound.
After waiting a minute, however, he sprang up on to the sill, and feeling
that the rope was slack, was soon by Malcolm's side below. Then both
removed their shoes and hung them round their necks, and walking
noiselessly across the court they took up their post under the window
indicated in the note. In less than a minute the end of a rope was
dropped upon their heads.

"You go first this time, Ronald," Malcolm said, and fastened it beneath
Ronald's arms. Then he gave a pull at the rope to show that they were
ready. The rope tightened, and Ronald found himself swinging in the air.
He kept himself from scraping against the walls by his hands and feet,
and was especially careful as he passed the window on the first floor. In
a minute he was pulled into the room on the second floor by the men who
had hoisted him up. A low "Hush!" warned him that there was still a
necessity for silence. The rope was lowered again, and Ronald lent his
aid to hoist Malcolm up to the window. As soon as he was in, it was as
slowly and carefully closed.

"You are mighty heavy, both of you," a voice whispered. "I should not
have thought it would have been such hard work to lift a man up this
height. Now, follow us, and be sure you make no noise."

Two flights of stairs were descended, and then they stood before a small
but heavy door; some bolts were drawn and a key turned in the lock, this
being done so noiselessly that Ronald was sure they must have been
carefully oiled. The two men passed through with them, locking the door
behind them.

"Thank God we are out!" Malcolm said fervently. "I have been in a watch
house more than once in my young days, but I can't say I like it better
as I grow older." They walked for some minutes, and then their guides
opened a door and they entered a small house.

"Stir up those peats, Jack," one of the men said, "and blow them a bit,
while I feel for a candle."

In a minute or two a light was obtained.

"That's very neatly done, I think, gentlemen," laughed the man addressed
as Jack, and who they now saw was the warder who had attended upon them.
"We had rare trouble in hitting upon that plan. The cell you were in
opened upon a corridor, the doors to which are always locked by the chief
constable himself; and even if we could have got at his key, and opened
one of them, we should have been no nearer escape, for two of the warders
sleep in the lodge, and there would be no getting out without waking
them, and they could not be got at. They are both of them married men,
with families, and that sort of man does not care about running risks,
unless he happens to be tired of his wife and wanting a change. Nat here
and I have no incumbrances, and weren't sorry of a chance to shift.
Anyhow, there was no way, as far as we could see, of passing you out
through that part of the prison, and at last the idea struck us of
getting you out the way we did. That wing of the jail is only used for
debtors, and they are nothing like so strict on that side as they are on
the other. Some of the warders sleep there, so there was no difficulty in
getting hold of the key for an hour and having a duplicate made. Till
yesterday all the cells were full, and we had to wait till a man, whose
time was just up, moved out. After that it was clear sailing."

"Well, we are immensely obliged to you," Ronald said.

"Oh, you needn't be obliged to us," the warder replied; "we are well paid
for the job, and have a promise of good berths if Prince Charles gets the
best of it. Anyhow, we shall both make for London, where we have
acquaintances. Now we are going to dress up; there's no time to be lost
talking. There is a light cart waiting for us and horses for you half a
mile outside the town."

He opened a cupboard and took our two long smock frocks, which he and his
companion put on.

"Now, gentlemen, will you put on these two suits of soldiers' clothes. I
think they will about fit you."

Ronald and Malcolm were soon attired as dragoons.

"There's a regiment of them here," the man said, "so there was no
difficulty in buying a cast off suit and getting these made from it. As
to the helmets, I guess there will be a stir about them in the morning.
We got hold of a soldier today and told him we wanted a couple of helmets
for a lark, and he said, for a bottle of brandy he would drop them out of
a barrack window at ten o'clock tonight; and he kept his word. Two of
them will be surprised in the morning when they find that their helmets
have disappeared; as to the swords and belts, I don't know that they are
quite right; they were bought at an old shop, and I believe they are
yeomanry swords, but I expect they are neat enough. I was to give you
this letter to take with you; it is, as you see, directed to General Wade
at Newcastle, and purports to come from the colonel of your regiment
here, so that if by any chance you are questioned on the way, that will
serve as a reason for your journeying north. Here is a purse of twenty
guineas; I think that's about all."

"But are we not to see those who have done us such service," Ronald
asked, "in order that we may thank them in person?"

"I don't know who it is any more than the man in the moon," the warder
replied. "It was a woman dressed as a serving wench, though I doubt it
was only a disguise, who came to me. She met me in the street and asked
me if I should like to earn fifty pounds. I said I had no objection, and
then after a good deal of beating about the bush it came out that what
was wanted was that I should aid in your escape. I didn't see my way to
working it alone, and I told her so. She said she was authorized to offer
the same sum to another, so I said I would talk it over with Nat. He
agreed to stand in, and between us we thought about the arrangements; but
I never got to know any more about her. It was nothing to me whom the
money came from, as long as it was all right. We have had half down, and
are to have the other half when we get to the cart with you. And now if
you are ready we will be starting. The further we get away from here
before morning the better."

They made their way quietly along the streets. The town was in total
darkness, and they did not meet a single person abroad, and in a quarter
of an hour they were in the open country. Another ten minutes and they
came upon the cart and horses. Three men were standing beside them, and
the impatient stamp of a horse's hoof showed that the horses were tied up
closely. A lantern was held up as the party came up.

"All safe?"

"All safe," Ronald replied. "Thanks, many thanks to you for our freedom."

The man holding the lantern was masked, so they could not see his face.
He first turned to the two warders, and placed a bag of money in their
hand.

"You have done your work well," he said; "the cart will take you thirty
miles on your road, and then drop you. I wish you a safe journey. You had
best hide your money in your boots, unless you wish it to fall into the
hands of highwaymen. The London road is infested with them."

With a word of farewell to Ronald and Malcolm, the two warders climbed
into the cart, one of them mounted beside them and took the reins, and in
another minute the cart drove away in the darkness. As soon as it had
started the man with the lantern removed his mask.

"Mr. Ratcliff!" Ronald exclaimed in surprise.

"Yes, it is myself. There are half a dozen of us engaged in the matter.
As soon as we heard of your arrest we determined to get you out. I was
only afraid you would have been taken up to London before we could get
all our plans arranged, for I knew they had sent up for instructions. It
was well that we were ready to act tonight, for orders were received this
afternoon that you should be sent up under an escort tomorrow. You
puzzled them rarely at your examination, and they could make nothing of
you. Our greatest fear was that you might betray yourselves in the prison
when you fancied you were alone, for we learned from the men who have
just left us that you were placed in a special cell where all that you
said could be overheard, and your movements to some extent watched
through a tiny hole in the wall communicating with the cell next to it.
It widens out on that side so that a man can get his ear or his eye to
the hole, which is high up upon the wall, and but a quarter of an inch
across, so that it could scarcely be observed unless by one who knew of
its existence. The warder said that they could hear plainly enough
through this hole, but could see very little. However, they do not seem
to have gathered much that way."

"We were on guard, sir; my friend Malcolm thought it possible that there
might be some such contrivance."

"And now, my young friend," Mr. Ratcliff said, "you had best mount at
once; follow this road for half a mile, and then take the broad road to
the left; you cannot mistake it. It goes straight to Penrith. You have
got the letter to General Wade?"

"Yes, sir, and the money; we are indeed in every way greatly indebted to
you."

"Say nothing about it," Mr. Ratcliff said. "I am risking my life as well
as my fortune in the cause of Prince Charles, and this money is on his
service. I hear he is already on the march south. Repeat to him when you
join him what I have already told you, namely, that I and other gentlemen
will assuredly join him; but that I am convinced there will be no general
rising in his favour unless a French army arrive to his assistance. The
delay which has taken place has, in my opinion, entirely destroyed his
chances, unless he receives foreign assistance. Wade has ten thousand men
at Newcastle, the Duke of Cumberland has gathered eight thousand in the
Midlands, and there is a third army forming to cover London. Already many
of the best regiments have returned from Holland, and each day adds to
their number. Do all you can to dissuade him from advancing until French
aid arrives; but tell him also that if he comes with but half a dozen
followers, Charles Ratcliff will join him and share his fate, whatever it
be."

With a hearty shake of the hand he leapt on his horse, and, followed by
his servant, galloped off in one direction, while Ronald and Malcolm set
out in the other.

"This is a grand disguise," Ronald said. "We might ride straight into
Wade's camp at Newcastle without being suspected."

"I have no doubt we could," Malcolm agreed. "Still, it will be wiser to
keep away from the neighbourhood of any English troops. Awkward questions
might be asked, and although the letter you have for the general may do
very well to impress any officers of militia or newly raised troops we
may meet on the road, and would certainly pass us as two orderlies
conveying despatches, it would be just as well not to have to appear
before the general himself. Our swords and belts would probably be
noticed at once by any cavalry officers. I know nothing about the English
army, and do not know how much the yeomanry swords and belts may differ
from those of the line. However, it is certain the less observation we
attract from the soldiers the better; but as to civilians we can ride
straight on through towns and villages with light hearts."

"We may as well breathe our horses a bit, Malcolm, now there is no
occasion for haste, and we can jog along at our own pace. There is no
probability of pursuit, for when they find that we and the warders are
missing and see the rope from our window they will be sure that we shall
have started early and are far away by the time they find out we are
gone."

Accordingly they travelled quietly north, boldly riding through small
towns and villages, putting up at little inns, and chatting freely with
the villagers who came in to talk over the news, for the north was all
excitement. Orders had been issued for all the militia to turn out, but
there was little response, for although few had any desire to risk their
lives in the cause of the Stuarts, fewer still had any intention of
fighting for the Hanoverians.

When they arrived within a few miles of Newcastle they left the main road
and struck across country, their object being to come down upon the road
running north from Carlisle, for they thought it likely that parties of
General Wade's troops would be scattered far over the country north of
Newcastle. At a farm house they succeeded in buying some civilian
clothes, giving out that they were deserters, and as they were willing to
pay well, the farmer, who had no goodwill towards the Hanoverians, had no
difficulty in parting with two of his best suits.

They were now in a country perfectly well known to Malcolm, and
travelling by byways across the hills they crossed the Cheviots a few
miles south of Carter Fell, and then rode down the wild valleys to
Castletown and thence to Canobie of the Esk. As they entered the little
town they found the wildest excitement prevailing. An officer with two
orderlies had just ridden in to say that quarters were to be prepared for
Prince Charles, and a quantity of bullocks and meal got in readiness for
the use of the army, which would arrive late that evening. Ronald soon
found the officer who had brought the order and recognized him as one of
Lord Perth's aides de camp. He did not know Ronald in his present dress,
but greeted him heartily as soon as he discovered who he was.

"How is it the troops are coming this way?" Ronald asked.

"They are marching through Liddesdale from Kelso. We halted there for two
days, and orders were sent forward to Wooler to prepare quarters. This
was to throw Wade off the scent and induce him to march north from
Newcastle to oppose us on that road, while, as you see, we have turned
west and shall cross into Cumberland and make a dash at Carlisle."

A few hours later the prince arrived with his army, and as soon as he
entered the quarters prepared for him Ronald proceeded there and made his
report.

"I could wish it had been better, Captain Leslie," the prince said; "but
the die is cast now, and I cannot think that our friends in the north,
who proved so loyal to our cause in '15, will hang back when we are among
them. When they see that Charles Ratcliff and other gentlemen whom you
have visited range themselves under our banner I believe the common
people will join us also. Now give me a full account of your mission."

Ronald gave the list of the gentry he had visited, and described his
arrest and imprisonment in Manchester and the manner in which Mr.
Ratcliff had contrived his escape.

"You have done all that is possible, sir," the prince said, "and at an
early opportunity I will show you I appreciate your services."

On the next day, the 8th of November, the corps crossed the border; on
the 9th they were joined by another column, which had marched from
Edinburgh by the western road, and the united force marched to Carlisle
and sat down before it. The walls of the city were old and in bad
condition, the garrison was ill prepared for a siege. It consisted of a
company of invalids in the castle, under the command of Colonel Durand,
and a considerable body of Cumberland Militia. The walls, however, old as
they were, could for some time have resisted the battery of four pounder
guns which formed the prince's sole artillery.

The mayor returned no answer to the prince's summons and orders were
issued to begin to throw up trench works, but scarcely had the operations
begun when news arrived that Marshal Wade was marching from Newcastle to
relieve the city. The siege was at once abandoned, and the prince marched
out with the army to Brampton and took up a favourable position there to
give battle. The news proved incorrect, and the Duke of Perth with
several regiments were sent back to resume the siege.

On the 13th the duke began to raise a battery on the east side of the
town, but after a few shots had been fired from the walls the courage of
the besieged failed them. The white flag was hung out, and the town and
castle surrendered on the condition that the soldiers and militia might
march away, leaving their arms and horses behind and engaging not to
serve again for a year. On the 17th the prince made a triumphal entry
into the place, but was received with but little show of warmth on the
part of the inhabitants.

A halt was made at Carlisle and a council was held to determine upon the
next step to be taken. The news which had been received from Scotland was
very unfavourable. Lord Strathallan, who had been appointed by the prince
as commander in chief, and directed to raise as many troops as possible,
had collected between two and three thousand men at Perth, and Lord Lewis
Gordon had raised three battalions in Aberdeenshire; but on the other
hand a considerable force had been collected at Inverness for King
George. The towns of Glasgow, Paisley, and Dumfries had turned out their
militia for the house of Hanover. The officers of the crown had
re-entered Edinburgh and two regiments of cavalry had been sent forward
by Marshal Wade to their support.

While even Scotland was thus wavering it seemed almost madness for the
little army to advance into England. The greater portion of the
Highlanders had from the first objected strongly to leave their country,
and upwards of a thousand had deserted and gone home on the march down
from Edinburgh. They had started less than six thousand strong, and after
leaving a garrison of two hundred men in Carlisle, but four thousand five
hundred were available for the advance south, while Wade, with his ten
thousand men, would be in their rear and two English armies of nearly
equal strength be waiting to receive them. At the council the opinions of
the leaders were almost unanimous against an advance, but upon Lord
George Murray saying that if Prince Charles decided upon advancing the
army would follow him, he determined upon pressing forward.

The army began its advance on the 20th of November, and halted a day at
Penrith, upon the news that Marshal Wade was moving to attack them; but
the English general had not made any move, and the Scotch again pushed on
through Shap, Kendal, and Lancaster, to Preston. During the march Prince
Charles marched with his troops clad in Highland garb, and with his
target thrown across his shoulder. He seldom stopped for dinner, but ate
his food as he walked, chatting gaily with the Highlanders, and by his
cheerfulness and example kept up their spirits. The strictest discipline
was enforced, and everything required by the troops was paid for. At
Preston the prince on his entry was cheered by the mob, and a few men
enlisted.

From Preston the army marched to Wigan, and thence to Manchester. The
road was thronged with people, who expressed the warmest wishes for the
prince's success; but when asked to enlist, they all hung back, saying
they knew nothing about fighting. Still the feeling in favour of the
prince's cause became stronger as he advanced south, and at Manchester he
was received with the acclamations of the inhabitants, the ringing of the
bells, and an illumination of the city in the evening. The people mounted
white cockades, and the next day about two hundred men enlisted and were
enrolled under the name of the Manchester Regiment, the command of which
was given to Mr. Francis Townley, a Roman Catholic belonging to an old
Lancashire family, who, with Mr. Ratcliff and a few other gentlemen, had
joined the army on the advance.

The leaders, however, of the prince's army were bitterly disappointed at
the general apathy of the people. Lancashire had in '15 been the
stronghold of the Jacobites, and the mere accession of two or three
hundred men was evident that nothing like a popular rising was to be
looked for, and they had but themselves to rely upon in the struggle
against the whole strength of England. Marshal Wade was in full march
behind them. The Duke of Cumberland lay at Lichfield in their front with
a force of eight thousand veteran troops; while a third army, of which
the Royal Guards were the nucleus, was being formed at Finchley. Large
bodies of militia had been raised in several districts. Liverpool had
declared against them; Chester was in the hands of the Earl of
Cholmondeley; the bridges of the Mersey had been broken down;
difficulties and dangers multiplied on all sides.

Prince Charles, ever sanguine, was confident that he should be joined by
large numbers as he advanced south; but his officers were now thoroughly
alarmed, and the leaders in a body remonstrated with Lord George Murray
against any further advance. He advised them, however, to offer no
further opposition to the prince's wishes until they came to Derby,
promising that, unless by that time they were joined by the Jacobites in
considerable numbers, he would himself, as general, propose and insist
upon a retreat. Ronald utilized the short halt at Manchester to obtain
new uniforms for himself and Malcolm, which he was glad to exchange for
the farmer's garb, which had been the occasion of a good deal of joking
and mirth among his fellow officers on the downward march.

On the first of December, Prince Charles, at the head of one division,
forded the Mersey near Stockport, where the water was waist deep. The
other division, with the baggage and artillery, crossed lower down, at
Cheadle, on a hastily constructed bridge, and the two columns joined that
evening at Macclesfield. Here Lord George Murray succeeded in misleading
the Duke of Cumberland as to his intentions by a dexterous manoeuvre.
Advancing with a portion of his force he dislodged and drove before him
the Duke of Kingston and a small party of English horse posted at
Congleton, and pursued them some distance along the road towards
Newcastle under Tyne.

The Duke of Cumberland, supposing that the prince's army were on their
march either to give him battle or to make their way into Wales, where
the Jacobite party were extremely strong, pushed forward with his main
body to Stone. Lord George Murray, however, having gained his object,
turned sharp off to the left, and after a long march arrived at Ashborne,
where the prince, with the other division of the army, had marched
direct. The next afternoon they arrived at Derby, having thus altogether
evaded the Duke of Cumberland, and being nearly three days' march nearer
London than was his army.

The prince that night was in high spirits at the fact that he was now
within a hundred and thirty miles of London, and that neither Wade's nor
Cumberland's forces interposed between him and the capital. But his
delight was by no means shared by his followers, and early next morning
he was waited upon by Lord George Murray and all the commanders of
battalions and squadrons, and a council being held, they laid before the
prince their earnest and unanimous opinion that an immediate retreat to
Scotland was necessary.

They had marched, they said, so far on the promise either of an English
rising or a French descent upon England. Neither had yet occurred. Their
five thousand fighting men were insufficient to give battle to even one
of the three armies that surrounded them--scarcely adequate, indeed, to
take possession of London were there no army at Finchley to protect it.
Even did they gain London, how could they hold it against the united
armies of Wade and Cumberland? Defeat so far from home would mean
destruction, and not a man would ever regain Scotland.

In vain the prince replied to their arguments, in vain expostulated, and
even implored them to yield to his wishes. After several hours of stormy
debate the council broke up without having arrived at any decision. The
prince at one time thought of calling upon the soldiers to follow him
without regard to their officers; for the Highlanders, reluctant as they
had been to march into England, were now burning for a fight, and were
longing for nothing so much as to meet one or other of the hostile armies
opposed to them. The prince's private advisers, however, Sheridan and
Secretary Murray, urged him to yield to the opinion of his officers,
since they were sure that the clansmen would never fight well if they
knew that their chiefs were unanimously opposed to their giving battle.
Accordingly the prince, heartbroken at the destruction of his hopes,
agreed to yield to the wishes of his officers, and at a council in the
evening gave his formal consent to a retreat.



CHAPTER XVII: A Baffled Plot.


Utterly disheartened and dispirited the army commenced its march north.
The prince himself was even more disappointed than his soldiers, and
showed by his manner how bitterly he resented the decision at which his
officers had arrived. It had seemed to him that success was within his
grasp, and that he had but to march to London to overthrow the Hanoverian
dynasty. And it is by no means improbable that his instincts were more
correct than the calculations of his advisers. The news of his rapid
march south had sent a thrill through the country; and although so far
the number of those who had joined him was exceedingly small, at that
moment numbers of gentlemen in Wales and other parts of the country were
arming their tenants, and preparing to take the field.

There was no hostile force between himself and London, for the force at
Finchley was not yet organized, and could have offered no effectual
opposition. A panic reigned in the metropolis, and the king was preparing
to take ship and leave the country. Had the little army marched forward
there is small doubt that James would have been proclaimed king in
London. But it may be doubted whether Prince Charles could have
maintained the advantage he had gained. Two armies, both superior to his
own, were pressing on his rear, and would have arrived in London but a
few days after himself; and although the Londoners might have accepted
him, they would hardly have risen in arms to aid him against Cumberland's
army. Had this halted at a distance, the reinforcements which might have
joined the prince would have been more than counterbalanced by the
regiments of English and Hanoverian troops which the king could have sent
over, and although the strife might have been lengthened the result would
in all probability have been the same.

Prince Charles had no ability in governing. His notions of the absolute
power of kings were as strong as those of his ancestors, and, surrounded
as he was by hotheaded Highlanders, he would speedily have caused
discontent and disgust even among those most favourably inclined by
hereditary tradition to the cause of the Stuarts. But of all this he was
ignorant, and in the retreat from Derby he saw the destruction of his
hopes.

Hitherto he had marched on foot with the Highlanders, chatting gaily as
he went. Now he rode in rear of the column, and scarce exchanged a word
with even his most intimate advisers. The Highlanders no longer preserved
the discipline which had characterized their southward march. Villages
were plundered and in some cases burned, and in retaliation the peasantry
killed or took prisoners stragglers and those left behind. Even at
Manchester, where the reception of the army had been so warm a few days
before, its passage was opposed by a violent mob, and the prince was so
offended at the conduct of the townspeople that he imposed a fine of five
thousand pounds upon the city.

The next morning the march was continued. The Highlanders laid hands on
every horse they could find, and so all pressed on at the top of their
speed for the border. The Duke of Cumberland, who had fallen back in all
haste for the protection of London, was close to Coventry when he heard
that the Scotch had retreated northward. With all his cavalry, and a
thousand foot whom he mounted on horses supplied by the neighbouring
gentry, he set out in pursuit. At Preston he was joined by another body
of horse, sent across the country from the army of Marshal Wade; but it
was not until he entered Westmoreland that he came up with the rear guard
of the insurgents, which was commanded by Lord George Murray.

Defeating some local volunteers who molested him, Lord George learned
from the prisoners that the duke with four thousand men was close at
hand, and he sent on the news to the prince, who despatched two
regiments, the Stuarts of Appin and the Macphersons of Cluny, to
reinforce him. It was nearly dark when by the light of the moon Lord
George saw the English infantry, who had now dismounted, advancing. He at
once charged them at the head of the Macphersons and Stuarts, and in a
few minutes the English were completely defeated, their commander,
Colonel Honeywood, being left severely wounded on the field, with a
hundred killed or disabled men, while the loss of the Scotch was but
twelve.

It was with great difficulty that the Highlanders could be recalled from
the pursuit, and Lord George himself sent an urgent message to the prince
begging for a further reinforcement, in order that he might maintain his
ground and defeat the whole force of the duke. As usual his wishes were
disregarded, and he was ordered to fall back and join the main body at
Penrith. The check, however, was so effective that the duke made no
further attempt to harass the retreat of the Highlanders.

Passing through Carlisle, some men of a Lowland regiment, and Colonel
Twonley with his regiment raised at Manchester, were left there as a
garrison, so that the road should be kept open for another and, as the
prince hoped, not far distant invasion. The step was, however, a cruel
one, for the Duke of Cumberland at once laid siege to the place, battered
a breach in its ancient wall, and the garrison were forced to surrender.
Many of them were afterwards executed and imprisoned, and ruin fell upon
all.

Charles with his army marched north to Glasgow, where they remained eight
days, requisitioning supplies from the town. During their stay Ronald and
Malcolm put up at the house of Andrew Anderson.

"What think you of the chances now, Malcolm?" Andrew asked his brother,
after hearing what had taken place since he had last seen him.

"I think no better and no worse of it than I did before, brother. They
have had more success than I looked for. I did not think they would ever
have got as far south as Derby. Who would have thought that a few
thousand Highlanders could have marched half through England? But I see
no prospect of success. The prince is badly advised. He has but one
really good soldier with him, and he is set against him by the intrigues
and spite of Secretary Murray and his friends, and partly, it may be, by
Lord George's own frankness of speech. He has at his back but half the
Highlands, for the other portion stand aloof from him. In the Lowlands he
has found scarce an adherent, and but a handful in England. The
Highlanders are brave; but it is surely beyond human expectation that
five or six thousand Highlanders can vanquish a kingdom with a brave and
well trained army with abundant artillery. Ronald and I mean to fight it
out to the end; but I do not think the end will be very far off."

"I am sorry for the young prince," Andrew said. "He is a fine fellow,
certainly--handsome and brave and courteous, and assuredly clement. For
three times his life has been attempted, and each time he has released
those who did it without punishment. I could not but think, as I saw him
ride down the street today, that it was sad that so fine a young man
should be doomed either to the block or to a lifelong imprisonment, and
that for fighting for what he has been doubtless taught to consider his
right. There are many here who are bitter against him; but I am not one
of them, and I am sorry for him, sorry for all these brave gentlemen and
clansmen, for I fear that there will be a terrible vengeance for all that
has been done. They have frightened the English king and his ministers
too sorely to be ever forgiven, and we shall have sad times in Scotland
when this is all over."

Two evenings later Ronald noticed that Andrew, who had been absent for
some time, and had only returned just in time for supper, looked worried
and abstracted, and replied almost at random to any questions put to him.

"It is of no use," he said suddenly when his wife had left the room after
the conclusion of the meal. "I am a loyal subject of King George, and I
wish him every success in battle, and am confident that he will crush out
this rebellion without difficulty, but I cannot go as far as some. I
cannot stand by and see murder done on a poor lad who, whatever his
faults, is merciful and generous to his enemies. Malcolm, I will tell you
all I know, only bidding you keep secret as to how you got the news, for
it would cost me my life were it known that the matter had leaked out
through me."

"This evening five of the council, knowing that I am a staunch king's
man, took me aside after the meeting was over, and told me that there was
a plan on foot to put an end to all the trouble by the carrying off or
slaying of Prince Charles. I was about to protest against it, when I saw
that by so doing I should, in the first place, do no good; in the
second, be looked upon as a Jacobite; and in the third, be unable to
learn the details of what they were proposing. So I said that doubtless
it was a good thing to lay by the heels the author of all these troubles,
and that the life of one man was as nought in the balance compared to the
prosperity of the whole country. Whereupon they revealed to me their
plan, asking me for a subscription of a hundred pounds to carry it out,
and saying truly that I should get back the money and great honour from
the king when he learned I had done him such service. After some
bargaining I agreed for fifty pounds."

"But what is the plot, Andrew?" Malcolm said anxiously.

"It is just this. The prince, as you know, goes about with scant
attendance, and though there are guards in front of his house, there are
but two or three beside himself who sleep there. There is a back entrance
to which no attention is paid, and it will be easy for those who know the
house to enter by that door, to make their way silently to his chamber,
and either to kill or carry him off. I threw my voice in against killing,
pointing out that the king would rather have him alive than dead, so that
he might be tried and executed in due form. This was also their opinion,
for they had already hired a vessel which is lying in the stream. The
plan is to seize and gag him and tie his arms. There will be no
difficulty in getting him along through the streets. There are few folks
abroad after ten o'clock, and should they meet anyone he will conclude
that it is but a drunken Highlander being carried home. You see, Malcolm,
there is not only honour to be gained from the king, but the thirty
thousand pounds offered for the prince's person. I pretended to fall in
with the plan, and gave them the fifty pounds which they lacked for the
hire of the vessel, the captain refusing to let them have it save for
money paid down. Now, Malcolm, I have told you and Ronald all I know
about the matter, and it is for you to see how a stop may be put to it."

"The scoundrels!" Malcolm said. "Their loyalty to the king is but a veil
to hide their covetousness for the reward. When is it to take place, and
how many men are likely to be engaged in it?"

"Six trusty men of the city watch and their five selves. I said I would
subscribe the money, but would have no active share in the business. They
might have all the honour, I would be content with my share of the reward
offered. Two of them with four of the guards will enter the house and
carry off the prince. The rest will wait outside and follow closely on
the way down to the port ready to give aid if the others should meet with
any obstruction. The whole will embark and sail to London with him."

"And when is this plot to be carried out?" Malcolm asked.

"Tomorrow at midnight. Tide will be high half an hour later; they will
drop down the river as soon as it turns, and will be well out to sea by
the morning. And now I have told you all, I will only ask you to act so
that as little trouble as possible may arise. Do not bring my name into
the matter if you can avoid doing so; but in any case I would rather run
the risk of the ruin and death which would alight upon me when this
rebellion is over than have such a foul deed of treachery carried out.
There is not a Scotchman but to this day curses the name of the traitor
Menteith, who betrayed Wallace. My name is a humble one, but I would not
have it go down to all ages as that of a man who betrayed Charles Stuart
for English gold."

"Make yourself easy, brother; Ronald and I will see to that. When once
treachery is known it is easy to defeat, and Ronald and I will see that
your name does not appear in the matter."

"Thank God that is off my mind!" Andrew said. "And I will off to bed, or
Janet will wonder what I am talking about so long. I will leave you two
to settle how you can best manage the affair, which you can do without my
help, for matters of this kind are far more in your way than in mine."

"This is a villainous business, Ronald," Malcolm said when they were
alone; "and yet I am not surprised. Thirty thousand pounds would not
tempt a Highlander who has naught in the world save the plaid in which he
stands up; but these money grubbing citizens of Glasgow would sell their
souls for gain. And now what do you think had best be done in the matter,
so that the plot may be put a stop to, and that without suspicion falling
upon Andrew? It would be easy to have a dozen men hiding in the yard
behind the house and cut down the fellows as they enter."

"I do not think that would do, Malcolm; it would cause a tumult, and the
fact could not be hidden. And besides, you know what these Highlanders
are; they already loathe and despise the citizens of Glasgow, and did
they know that there had been a plot on foot to capture and slay the
prince, nothing could prevent their laying the town in ashes."

"That is true enough. What do you propose then, Ronald?"

"I think it best that if there should be any fighting it should be on
board the ship, but possibly we may avoid even that. I should say that
with eight or ten men we can easily seize the vessel, and then when the
boat comes alongside capture the fellows as they step on to the deck
without trouble, and leave it to the prince to settle what is to be done
with them."

"That is certainly the best plan, Ronald. I will get together tomorrow
half a dozen trusty lads who will ask no questions as to what I want them
to do, and will be silent about the matter afterwards. We must get from
Andrew tomorrow morning the name of the vessel, and see where she is
lying in the stream, and where the boat will be waiting for the prince."

The next night Ronald and Malcolm with six men made their way one by one
through the streets so as not to attract the attention of the watch, and
assembled near the strand. Not until the clock struck twelve did they
approach the stairs at the foot of which the boat was lying. There were
two men in it.

"You are earlier than we expected," one said as they descended the steps.
"The captain said a quarter past twelve."

"Yes, we are a little early," Malcolm replied as he stepped into the
boat; "we are ready earlier than we expected."

A moment later Malcolm suddenly seized one of the sailors by the throat
and dragged him down to the bottom of the boat, a handkerchief was
stuffed into his mouth, and his hands and feet tied. The other was at the
same time similarly secured.

So suddenly and unexpected had been the attack that the sailors had had
no time to cry out or to offer any resistance, and their capture was
effected without the slightest sound being heard. The oars were at once
got out and the boat was rowed out towards the vessel lying out in the
middle of the stream with a light burning at her peak. As they approached
the side the captain appeared at the gangway.

"All is well, I hope?" he asked.

"Could not be better," Malcolm replied as he seized the rope and mounted
the gangway, the others closely following him. As he sprang upon the deck
he presented a pistol at the captain's head.

"Speak a word and you die," he said sternly.

Taken by surprise, the captain offered no resistance, but suffered
himself to be bound. Two or three sailors on deck were similarly seized
and secured, the hatchway was fastened to prevent the rest of the crew
from coming on deck, and the ship being thus in their possession two of
the men at once took their places in the boat and rowed back to the
stairs.

A quarter of an hour later those on board heard a murmur of voices on
shore, and two or three minutes later the splash of oars as the boat
rowed back to the ship. Ronald put on the captain's cap and stood at the
gangway with a lantern.

"All right, I hope?" he asked as the boat came alongside.

"All right, captain! You can get up your anchor as soon as you like."

Two men mounted on to the deck, and then four others carried up a figure
and were followed by the rest. As the last one touched the deck Ronald
lifted the lantern above his head, and, to the astonishment of the
newcomers, they saw themselves confronted by eight armed men.

The six men of the watch, furious at the prospect of losing the reward
upon which they had reckoned, drew their swords and rushed forward; but
they were struck down with handspikes and swords, for Ronald had
impressed upon his men the importance of not using their pistols, save in
the last extremity. In two minutes the fight was over. The five citizens
had taken little part in it, save as the recipients of blows; for
Malcolm, furious at their treachery, had bade the men make no distinction
between them and the watch, and had himself dealt them one or two heavy
blows with his handspike after he had seen that the guard was
overpowered.

The whole of them were then bound, and warned that their throats would be
cut if they made the least noise. The prince was released from his bonds,
and he was at once conducted by Malcolm and Ronald to the cabin, where a
light was burning.

The prince was so much bewildered by the events that had occurred that he
did not yet understand the state of the case. He had been awoke by a gag
being roughly forced into his mouth, while at the same moment his hands
were tightly bound. Then he was lifted from his bed, some clothes were
thrown on to him, a man took his place on either side, and, thrusting
their arms into his, threatened him with instant death if he did not come
along with them without resistance. Then he had been hurried down stairs
and along the streets, two men keeping a little ahead and others
following behind. He had been forced into a boat and rowed up to a ship,
and on reaching the deck a desperate combat had suddenly commenced all
round him. Then the gag had been removed and the bonds cut. Bewildered
and amazed he gazed at the two men who had accompanied him to the cabin.

"Why, Captain Leslie!" he exclaimed. "Is it you? What means all this
scene through which I have passed?"

"It means, your royal highness," Ronald said respectfully, "that I and my
friend Malcolm obtained information of a plot on the part of some of the
citizens to carry you off and sell you to the English. We could have
stopped it by attacking them as they entered the house to seize you; but
had we done so an alarm must have been raised, and we feared that the
Highlanders, when they knew of the treachery that had been attempted
against you, might have fallen upon the citizens, and that a terrible
uproar would have taken place. Therefore we carried out another plan. We
first of all obtained possession of the ship in which you were to have
been taken away, and then overcame your captors as they brought you on
board. All this has been done without any alarm having been given, and it
now rests with you to determine what shall be done with these wretches."

"You have done well, indeed, Captain Leslie, and I thank you and your
friend not only for the great service you have rendered me, but for the
manner in which you have done it. I ought to have foreseen this. Did not
the Lowlanders sell King Charles to the English? I might have expected
that some at least would be tempted by the reward offered me. As for
punishment for these men, they are beneath me. And, moreover, if I can
trust my eyes and my ears, the knocks which you gave them will be
punishment enough even did I wish to punish them, which I do not. I could
not do so without the story of the attempt being known, and in that case
there would be no keeping my Highlanders within bounds. As it is they are
continually reproaching me with what they call my mistaken clemency, and
there would be no restraining them did they know of this. No, we had best
leave them to themselves. We will order the captain to put to sea with
them at once, and tell him he had best not return to Glasgow until I have
left it. They will have time to reflect there at leisure, and as,
doubtless, they have each of them given reasons at home for an absence of
some duration there will be no anxiety respecting them. And now,
gentlemen, will you fetch in those who have aided in my rescue. I would
thank every one of them for the service they have rendered, and impress
upon them my urgent desire that they should say nothing to anyone of this
night's work."

While the prince was speaking to the men, Malcolm went out, and having
unbound the captain, ordered him to deliver up the sum which he had
received for the conveyance of the prince and his captors to England.

The captain did as he was ordered.

"How much is there here?" Malcolm asked.

"Three hundred pounds."

Malcolm counted out fifty of it and placed them in his pocket, saying to
Ronald:

"There is no reason Andrew should be a loser by the transaction. That
will leave two hundred and fifty, which I will divide among our men when
we get ashore."

Malcolm then gave the prince's orders to the captain; that he must,
immediately they left the ship, get up his anchor as before intended, and
make out to sea; and that under pain of being tried and executed for his
share in this treacherous business, he was not to return to Glasgow with
his eleven passengers for the space of a week.

The prince and his rescuers then entered the boats and rowed to shore,
and the prince regained his apartment without anyone in the house being
aware that he had been absent from it. The next day the prince sent for
Ronald and Malcolm, and in a private interview again expressed to them
his gratitude for his rescue from the hands of his enemies.

"I have none but empty honour to bestow now," he said; "but believe me,
if I ever mount the throne of England you shall see that Charles Edward
Stuart is not ungrateful."

The incident was kept a close secret, only two or three of the prince's
most intimate advisers ever informed of it. These were unanimous in
urging that an absolute silence should be maintained on the subject, for
the fact that the attempt would have certainly been crowned with success
had it not been for the measures Ronald had taken, might encourage others
to attempt a repetition of it.

Having rested his army by a stay of eight days at Glasgow, Prince Charles
set out on the 3rd of January, 1746, for Stirling, where he was joined by
Lords John Drummond, Lewis Gordon, and Strathallan, the first named of
whom had brought some battering guns and engineers from France. Their
following raised the force to nearly nine thousand men--the largest
army that Charles mustered during the course of the campaign. The siege
of Stirling was at once commenced; but the castle was strong and well
defended, and the siege made but little progress.

In the meantime the Duke of Cumberland had been recalled with the greater
part of his force to guard the southern coasts of England, which were
threatened by an invasion by a French force now assembled at Dunkirk, and
which, had it sailed before the Highlanders commenced their retreat from
Derby, might have altogether altered the situation of affairs. The
command of the English army in the north was handed by the duke to
General Hawley, a man after his own heart, violent in temper, brutal and
cruel in conduct.

He collected at Edinburgh an army of nearly the same strength as that of
Prince Charles, and with these he matched out as far as Falkirk to raise
the siege of Stirling, and, as he confidently boasted, to drive the
rebels before him. Prince Charles, leaving a few hundred men to continue
the siege, matched out to Bannockburn. The English did not move out from
Falkirk, and the prince, after waiting for a day, determined to take the
initiative.

Hawley himself was stopping at Callendar House at some distance from his
army and General Huske remained in command of the camp. To occupy his
attention the prince despatched Lord John Drummond, with all the cavalry,
by the straight road by Stirling to Falkirk, which ran north of the
English camp. They displayed, as they marched, the royal standard and
other colours, which had the desired effect of impressing Huske with the
idea that the prince with all his army was moving that way. In the
meantime Charles with his main force had crossed the river Carron to the
south and was only separated from the English by Falkirk Muir, a rugged
and rigid upland covered with heath.

Just as the English were about to take their dinner some country people
brought in the news of the approach of the Highlanders. Huske at once got
his men under arms, but he had no authority, in the absence of Hawley, to
set them in motion. Messengers, however, were sent off on horseback at
once to Callendar House, and the general presently galloped up in
breathless haste, and putting himself at the head of his three regiments
of dragoons, started for Falkirk Muir, which he hoped to gain before the
Highlanders could take possession of it. He ordered the infantry to
follow as fast as possible. A storm of wind and rain beat in the face of
the soldiers, and before they could gain the crest of the muir the
Highlanders had obtained possession. The English then halted and drew up
on somewhat lower ground.

Between them was a ravine which formed but a small depression opposite
the centre of the English line, but deepened towards the plain on their
right. The English artillery, in the hurry of their advance, had stuck
fast in a morass, but as the Highlanders had brought no guns with them
the forces were equal in this respect. Lord John Drummond had from a
distance been watching the movements of the English, and as soon as he
saw that they had taken the alarm and were advancing against the prince,
he made a detour, and, riding round the English, joined the Highland
infantry. The prince's army was divided into two lines: its right was
commanded by Lord George Murray, the left by Lord John Drummond; the
prince, as at Preston, took up his station in the centre of the second
line on a conspicuous mound, still known by the name of Charlie's Hill.

The English infantry were also drawn up in two lines, with the Argyle
militia and the Glasgow regiment in reserve behind the second line. The
cavalry were in front under Colonel Ligonier, who, at the death of
Colonel Gardiner, had succeeded to the command of his regiment. General
Hawley commanded the centre and General Huske the right.

The battle commenced by a charge of Ligonier with his cavalry upon the
Highland right. Here the Macdonald clansmen were posted, and these, at
Lord George Murray's order, reserved their fire until the dragoons were
within ten yards, and then poured in a scathing volley, under which
numbers of the horsemen went down. The two dragoon regiments, which had
fled so shamefully at Preston and Coltbridge, turned and galloped at once
from the field; but Cobham's regiment fought well, and when compelled to
retreat rallied behind the right of the line.

Lord George Murray endeavoured to get the victorious Macdonalds into line
again; but these were beyond control and rushing forward fell upon the
flank of Hawley's two lines of foot, which were at the same moment
furiously assailed in front; the Highlanders, after pouring in their
fire, dropped their muskets and charged broadsword in hand.

The English, nearly blinded by the wind and rain, were unable to
withstand this combined assault. General Hawley, who at least possessed
the virtue of courage, rode hither and thither in their front, trying to
encourage them, but in vain, the whole centre gave way and fled in
confusion. On the right, however, the English were defending themselves
successfully. The three regiments placed there, on the edge of the
ravine, maintained so steady a fire that the Highlanders were unable to
cross it, and Cobham's dragoons charged down upon the scattered and
victorious Highlanders in the centre and effectually checked their
pursuit. Prince Charles, seeing the danger, put himself at the head of
the second line and advanced against the three English regiments who
still stood firm.

Unable to withstand so overwhelming a force these fell back from the
ground they had held, but did so in steady order, their drums beating,
and covering, in their retreat, the mingled mass of fugitives. Had the
Highlanders, at this critical moment, flung themselves with their whole
force upon these regiments the English army would have been wholly
destroyed; but night was already setting in, and the Scottish leaders
were ignorant how complete was their victory, and feared an ambuscade.
Lord John Drummond, a general officer in the French service, especially
opposed the pursuit, saying, "These men behaved admirably at Fontenoy;
surely this must be a feint."

The Highlanders remained stationary on the field until some detachments,
sent forward by the prince, brought back word that the English had
already retreated from Falkirk. They left behind them on the field four
hundred dead or dying, with a large portion of officers, and a hundred
prisoners; all their artillery, ammunition, and baggage fell into the
hands of the Highlanders, whose total loss was only about a hundred. The
English, on their retreat, burned to the ground the royal palace at
Linlithgow.



CHAPTER XVIII: Culloden.


The victory of Falkirk brought but little advantage to Prince Charles,
and dissensions arose among the officers; Lord George Murray being
furious with Lord John Drummond for preventing the complete destruction
of the English army, while Lord John Drummond severely criticised Lord
George for the confusion which had taken place among his troops after
their success.

Great numbers of the Highlanders, who had spent the night after the
battle in plundering the English camp and stripping the slain, made off
with their booty to the mountains, and the number of desertions was
increased by the withdrawal of the greater part of Glengarry's clansmen.
On the day after the battle the musket of one of the Clanranald clansmen
went off by accident and killed the son of Glengarry. His clansmen loudly
demanded life for life, and Clanranald having reluctantly consented to
surrender his follower, the poor fellow was immediately led out and shot;
but even this savage act of vengeance was insufficient to satisfy the
Glengarry men, the greater part of whom at once left the army and
returned to their homes.

After the battle the siege of Stirling was renewed; but owing to the
gross incompetence of a French engineer, who had come over with Lord
Drummond, the batteries were so badly placed that their fire was easily
silenced by that of the castle guns. The prince, in spite of the advice
of Lord George Murray and the other competent authorities, and listening
only to his favourite councillors, Secretary Murray and Sir Thomas
Sheridan, continued the siege, although on the 30th of January the Duke
of Cumberland arrived in Edinburgh and took the command of the army.

Never had Scotland a more bitter enemy. Relentless and savage as General
Hawley had been, his deeds were more than rivalled by those of the Duke
of Cumberland, who was justly branded by contemporary historians with the
name of "the butcher." He was, however, an able general, of great
activity and high personal courage.

After halting but one night in Edinburgh he set out at the head of his
army to meet the enemy; but these did not repeat their tactics at
Falkirk. Disgusted at the conduct of the prince in slighting their advice
and listening only to his unworthy counsellors, Lord George Murray with
all the principal military leaders held a consultation, and presented a
memorial to the prince. In this they stated that, seeing the great
numbers of Highlanders who had gone home, they were of opinion that
another battle could not be fought with a chance of success, and
therefore recommended that the army should at once retire to the
Highlands, where a sufficient number of men could be kept together to
defy the efforts of the enemy at such a season of the year, and that in
the spring ten thousand Highlanders could be got together to go
wheresoever the prince might lead them. Prince Charles was struck with
grief and dismay at this decision, but as all the military leaders had
signed it he was forced to give way.

The army at once blew up its magazines, spiked its guns, and marched for
the north in two divisions with much confusion and loss of order. The
Duke of Cumberland pursued, but was unable to come up to them, and halted
at Perth.

Ronald, who had, from the time he returned to the army, again taken up
his former appointment of aide de camp to Lord George Murray, had during
this time tried his best to reconcile the differences which were
constantly breaking out between that general, the prince, and the clique
who surrounded him. It was a difficult task, for Lord George's
impetuosity and outspoken brusqueness, and his unconcealed contempt for
Secretary Murray and Sheridan, reopened the breach as fast as it was
closed.

Since the day when he had saved the prince from being carried off at
Glasgow the latter had shown a marked partiality for Ronald's society,
and the latter had therefore many opportunities of intervening to prevent
open quarrels from breaking out. The prince himself was frequently
greatly depressed in spirits, and the light hearted gaiety which had
distinguished him on the first landing was now fitful and short lived.
His disappointment at the failure of a campaign in which he had won every
battle was deep and bitter. He had relied upon the aid of France, but no
aid had come. He had been grossly misinformed as to the willingness of
the Jacobites of England to take up arms in his favour; and although a
portion of the Highlanders of Scotland had warmly embraced his cause, yet
many on whom he had relied stood aloof or were in arms against him, while
in the Lowlands he had found but few adherents.

So far from gaining ground, he was losing it. Numbers of the Highlanders
had gone off to their homes. The retreat from Derby had completely
chilled the enthusiasm of his adherents, while the waverers and time
servers had been induced thereby to declare against him. The Duke of
Cumberland's army steadily increased, and even had the advice of the
Highland chiefs been followed and the army dispersed to reassemble in the
spring, the chances of success would have been no more favourable than at
present, for now that the first surprise and panic were past England
would put forth her whole strength, and would by the spring have an army
assembled in Scotland against which the Highland clans, even if
unanimous, could not hope to cope.

Ronald was perfectly alive to the hopelessness of final success. He had
seen the British infantry at Dettingen and Fontenoy, and felt sure that
although the wild Highland rush had at first proved irresistible, this
could nor continue, and that discipline and training must eventually
triumph over mere valour. When he and Malcolm talked the matter over
together they agreed that there could be but one issue to the struggle,
and that ruin and disaster must fall upon all who had taken part in the
enterprise.

"I feel thankful indeed," Ronald said one day, "that I am here only as a
private gentleman risking my own life. I do not know what my feelings
would be, if, like these Highland chiefs, I had brought all my kinsmen
and followers with me into the field. The thought of the ruin and misery
which would fall upon them would be dreadful. I fear that the vengeance
which will be taken after this is over will be far greater and more
widespread than that which followed '15. All say that the Duke of
Cumberland is brutal and pitiless, and the fact that we were nearly
successful will naturally add to the severity with which the English
government will treat us if we fall into their power. Had the enterprise
been defeated at its commencement they could have afforded to be lenient.
As it is, I fear that they will determine to teach the Highlands such a
lesson as will ensure their never again venturing to rise in arms against
the house of Hanover."

"And I don't know that they are altogether to be blamed," Malcolm said.
"I am not so young as I was, Ronald, and I see now that I was wrong in
teaching you to be a Jacobite. It is all very well for men like
Tullibardine, who knew the Stuarts on the throne, to fight to put them
back again; but to your generation, Ronald, the Stuarts are after all
only a tradition, and it is a sort of generous madness for you to risk
your life to set them again on the throne of England. It cannot matter a
brass pin to you whether James or George rules at St. James's. It is not,
as in the case of the Royalists in England in Charles's time or of the
Covenanters of Scotland, that a great principle is involved--a
principle for which men may well risk their lives and all they hold dear.
It is a question of persons only, and although I may hold that by right
of descent Charles Edward is Prince of Wales and rightful heir to the
throne of England, that is no reason why I should risk my life to place
him there; and after all it seems to me that if the majority in these
islands determine that they will be ruled by the house of Hanover instead
of the house of Stuart they have some right to make their own choice."

"You argue like a philosopher, Malcolm," Ronald said laughing, "and do
not remind me in the slightest degree of the Malcolm who used to chat
with me in Glasgow."

"You are right there, lad. You see I was brought up a Jacobite, and I
have been a soldier all my life, accustomed to charge when I was told to
charge and to kill those I was told to kill; but I own that since I have
been out now I have got to look at matters differently. The sight of all
these poor Highland bodies blindly following their chiefs and risking
life and all for a cause in which they have no shadow of interest has
made me think. A soldier is a soldier, and if he were to sit down to
argue about the justice of every cause in which he is ordered to fight
there would be an end to all discipline. But these poor fellows are not
soldiers, and so I say to myself, What concern have they in this matter?
Their chiefs would gain honours and rewards, patents of high nobility,
and additions to their estates if the Stuarts conquered, but their
followers would gain nothing whatever. No, lad, if we get over this
scrape I have done with fighting; and I hope that no Stuart will ever
again succeed in getting Scotland to take up his cause. I shall go on
fighting for Prince Charles as long as there is a man left with him; but
after that there is an end of it as far as I am concerned, and I hope as
far as Scotland is concerned."

"I hope so too, Malcolm. When Scotland is herself divided, Ireland
passive, and all England hostile, success is hopeless. The Stuarts will
never get such another chance again as they had on the day when we turned
our backs on London at Derby, and I hope that they will not again make
the attempt, especially as it is manifest now that France has only used
them as tools against England, and has no idea of giving them any
effectual aid."

Charles on approaching Inverness found it toughly fortified and held by
Lord Loudon with a force of two thousand men. The prince halted ten miles
from the town at Moy Castle, where he was entertained by Lady M'Intosh,
whose husband was serving with Lord Loudon, but who had raised the clan
for Prince Charles. The prince had but a few personal attendants with
him, the army having been halted at some distance from the castle.

One evening Ronald had ridden over to Moy Castle with some despatches
from Lord George Murray to the prince, and had remained there to dine
with him. It was late before he mounted his horse. He was, as usual,
accompanied by Malcolm. They had ridden but a short distance through the
wood which surrounded the castle when a shot was fired, and almost
immediately afterwards four or five men came running through the trees.

"What is the matter?" Malcolm shouted.

"The English army are upon us!" one of the M'Intoshes--for they were
clansmen who had been sleeping in the wood--answered.

"They must intend to seize the prince," Ronald said, "and will already
have sent round a body of horse to cut off his retreat. Scatter through
the wood, men, and do each of you raise the war cry of one of the clans
as if the whole army were here. This may cause a delay and enable the
prince to ride off. Malcolm, do you ride back with all speed to the
castle and warn the prince of Loudon's approach."

The Highlanders at once obeyed Ronald's orders, and in a minute or two
the war cries of half a dozen of the principal clans in Prince Charles's
army rang through the woods, while at the same time the Highlanders
discharged their muskets. Ronald also shouted orders, as to a large body
of men.

The English, who had made sure of effecting a successful surprise,
hesitated as they heard the war cries of the clans ringing through the
woods, and believing that the whole of Prince Charles's army were at hand
and they were about to be attacked in overwhelming numbers, they
retreated hastily to Inverness. No sooner had Ronald discovered that they
had fallen back than he rode off to inform the prince that the danger was
over.

He found Prince Charles mounted, with Lady M'Intosh on horseback by his
side, and the retainers in the castle gathered round, broadsword in hand,
in readiness to cut their way through any body of the enemy's horse who
might intercept their retreat. Charles laughed heartily when he heard of
the strategy which Ronald had employed to arrest the advance of the
enemy, and thanked him for again having saved him from falling into the
hands of the enemy.

The English made their retreat to Inverness in such confusion and dismay
that the affair became known in history as the "rout of Moy."

The next morning, the 17th of February, the prince called up his army,
and the next day advanced against Inverness. Lord Loudon did not await
his coming. The panic of his soldiers two days before showed him that no
reliance could be placed upon them, and embarking with them in boats he
crossed the Moray Frith to Cromarty, where the troops shortly afterwards
disbanded upon hearing that the Earl of Cromarty was marching against
them with some Highland regiments.

The town of Inverness was occupied at once, and the citadel surrendered
in a few days. The army, now in a barren and mountainous region, were
deprived of all resources. Many ships with supplies were sent off from
France, but few of them reached their destination; several being captured
by British cruisers, and others compelled to go back to French ports.

The supply of money in the treasury was reduced to the lowest ebb, and
Charles was obliged to pay his troops in meal, and even this was
frequently deficient, and the men suffered severely from hunger. Many
deserted, and others scattered over the country in search of subsistence.

In the meantime the Duke of Cumberland's army was receiving powerful
reinforcements. In February Prince Frederick of Hesse Cassel, with five
thousand of his troops, who had been hired by the British government,
landed at Leith. These troops were placed in garrison in all the towns in
the south of Scotland, thus enabling the Duke of Cumberland to draw
together the whole of the English forces for his advance into the
Highlands.

On the 8th of April he set out from Aberdeen with eight thousand foot and
nine hundred horse. He marched along the coast accompanied by the fleet,
which landed supplies as needed. At the Spey, Lord John Drummond had
prepared to defend the fords, and some works had been thrown up to
protect them; but the English cannon were brought up in such numbers that
Lord John, considering the position untenable, retired to Inverness,
while the English army forded the Spey, and on the 14th entered Nairn,
where some skirmishing took place between their advance guard and the
Highland rear.

Prince Charles and his principal officers rested that night at Culloden
House and the troops lay upon the adjacent moor. On the morning of the
15th they drew up in order of battle. The English, however, rested for
the day at Nairn, and there celebrated the Duke of Cumberland's birthday
with much feasting, abundant supplies being landed from the fleet.

The Highlanders, on the other hand, fasted, only one biscuit per man
being issued during the day. Consequently many straggled away to
Inverness and other places in search of food. Lord Cromarty, with the
regiments under his command, were absent, so that barely five thousand
men were mustered in the ranks. At a council of war Lord George Murray
suggested that a night surprise should be made on the duke's camp at
Nairn, and as this was the prince's own plan it was unanimously agreed
to.

Before, however, the straggling troops could be collected it was eight
o'clock at night. Nairn was twelve miles distant, and the men, weakened
by privation and hunger, marched so slowly across the marshy ground that
it was two o'clock in the morning before the head of the columns arrived
within four miles of the British camp, while the rear was still far away,
and many had dropped out of the ranks from fatigue.

It was now too late to hope that a surprise could be effected before
daylight, and the army retraced its steps to Culloden Moor. Worn out and
exhausted as they were, and wholly without supplies of provisions, Lord
George Murray and the other military officers felt that the troops could
not hope to contend successfully against a vastly superior army, fresh,
well fed, and supported by a strong force of artillery, on the open
ground, and he proposed that the army should retire beyond the river
Bairn, and take up a position there on broken ground inaccessible to
cavalry.

The prince, however, supported by Sir Thomas Sheridan and his other evil
advisers, overruled the opinion of the military leaders, and decided to
fight on level ground. The Highlanders were now drawn up in order of
battle in two lines. On the right were the Athole brigade, the Camerons,
the Stuarts, and some other clans under Lord George Murray; on the left
the Macdonald regiments under Lord John Drummond. This arrangement,
unfortunately, caused great discontent among the Macdonalds, just as
their being given the post of honour at Falkirk had given umbrage to the
other clans.

At eleven o'clock the English army was seen approaching. It was formed in
three lines, with cavalry on each wing, and two pieces of cannon between
every two regiments of the first line. The battle began with an artillery
duel, but in this the advantage was all on the side of the English, the
number of their pieces and the skill of their gunners being greatly
superior.

Prince Charles rode along the front line to animate his men, and as he
did so several of his escort were killed by the English cannonade. A
storm of snow and hail had set in, blowing full in the face of the
Highlanders. At length Lord George Murray, finding that he was suffering
heavily from the enemy's artillery fire, while his own guns inflicted but
little damage upon them, sent to Prince Charles for permission to charge.

On receiving it he placed himself at the head of his men, and with the
whole of the right wing and centre charged the enemy. They were received
with a tremendous musketry fire, while the English artillery swept the
ranks with grape; but so furious was their onslaught that they broke
through Munro and Burrel's regiments in the first line and captured two
pieces of cannon. But behind were the second line drawn up three deep,
with the front rank kneeling, and these, reserving their fire until the
Highlanders were close at hand, opened a rolling fire so sustained and
heavy that the Highlanders were thrown into complete disorder.

Before they could recover themselves they were charged by horse and foot
on both flanks, and driven together till they became a confused mass. In
vain did their chiefs attempt to rally them. Exhausted and weakened in
body, swept by the continuous fire of the English, they could do no more,
and at last broke and fled. In the meantime the Macdonalds on the left
remained inactive. In vain Lord John Drummond and the Duke of Perth
called upon them to charge, in vain their chief, Keppoch, rushed forward
with a few of his clansmen and died in front of them. Nothing would
induce them to fight, and when the right and centre were defeated they
fell back in good order, and, joining the remnants of the second line,
retired from the field unbroken.

Charles, from the heights on which he stood with a squadron of horse,
could scarce believe the evidence of his eyes when he saw the hitherto
victorious Highlanders broken and defeated, and would have ridden down
himself to share their fate had not O'Sullivan and Sheridan seized his
horse by the bridle and forced him from the field. Being pressed by the
English, the retreating force broke into two divisions. The smaller
retreated to Inverness, where they next day laid down their arms to the
Duke of Cumberland; the other, still preserving some sort of order,
marched by way of Ruthven to Badenoch.

Fourteen colours, two thousand three hundred muskets, and all their
cannon fell into the hands of the English. The loss of the victors in
killed and wounded amounted to three hundred and ten men, that of the
Highlanders to a thousand. No quarter was given to the stragglers and
fugitives who fell into the hands of the English. Their wounded were left
on the ground till the following day without care or food, and the
greater portion of them were then put to death in cold blood, with a
cruelty such as never before or since disgraced an English army.

Some were beaten to death by the soldiers with the stocks of their
muskets, some were dragged out from the thicket or caverns to which they
had crawled and shot, while one farm building, in which some twenty
wounded men had taken refuge, was deliberately set on fire and burned
with them to the ground. In any case such conduct as this would have
inflicted eternal discredit upon those who perpetrated it; but it was all
the more unjustifiable and abominable after the extreme clemency and
kindness with which Prince Charles had, throughout the campaign, treated
all prisoners who fell into his hands.

Ronald had ridden close beside Lord George Murray as he led the
Highlanders to the charge; but he had, as they approached the first
English line, received a ball in the shoulder, while almost at the same
instant Malcolm's horse was shot under him. Ronald reeled in the saddle,
and would have fallen had not Malcolm extricated himself from his fallen
horse and run up to him.

"Where are you hit, lad?" he asked in extreme anxiety.

"In the shoulder, Malcolm. Help me off my horse, and do you take it and
go on with the troops."

"I shall do nothing of the kind," Malcolm said. "One man will make no
difference to them, and I am going to look after you."

So saying he sprang up behind Ronald, and placing one arm round him to
support him, took the reins in the other and rode to the rear. He halted
on rising ground, and for a short time watched the conflict.

"The battle is lost," he said at last. "Lord George's troops are in utter
confusion. The Macdonalds show no signs of moving, though I can see their
officers are urging them to charge. Now, Ronald, the first thing is to
get you out of this, and beyond the reach of pursuit."

So saying he turned the horse and rode away from the field of battle.

"Does your shoulder hurt much?" he asked after they had gone a short
distance.

"It does hurt abominably," Ronald said faintly, for he was feeling almost
sick from the agony he was suffering from the motion of the horse.

"I am a fool," Malcolm said, "not to have seen to it before we started. I
can't do much now; but at least I can fasten it so as to hurt you as
little as possible."

He took off his scarf, and, telling Ronald to place his arm in the
position which was most comfortable to him, he bound it tightly against
his body.

"That is better, is it not?" he asked as he again set the horse in
motion.

"Much better, Malcolm. I feel that I can go on now, whereas before I
could not have gone much further if all Cumberland's cavalry had been
close behind. How far are you thinking of going? I don't think my horse
can carry double much further. Poor beast, he has had as short rations as
his master, and was on the move all last night."

"No. But we shall not have to make a very long journey. The English
marched twelve miles before they attacked us, and I do not think they are
likely to closely pursue far tonight; besides, I have no intention of
riding now that there is no fear of immediate pursuit. I think that in
another two miles we shall be safe from any fear of the English cavalry
overtaking us, for we shall then reach a forest. Once in that we shall be
safe from pursuit, and shall soon be in the heart of the hills."

On reaching the forest Malcolm dismounted, and leading the horse turned
off from the road. Following a little trodden path they were soon in the
heart of the forest, and after keeping on for two hours, and crossing
several hills, he stopped by the side of a stream.

"We are perfectly safe here," he said, "and can sleep as securely as if
we were in a palace."

The saddle was taken off and the horse turned loose to graze. Malcolm
then removed Ronald's coat and shirt, bathed the wound for some time with
water, cut some pieces of wood to act as splints, and tearing some strips
off his sash bound these tightly.

"The ball has regularly smashed the bone, Ronald, and we must be careful
to keep the shoulder in its proper position or you will never look square
again."

"That does not seem very important to me just at present, Malcolm."

"No. Just at present the most important question is that of getting
something to eat. We have had nothing today and not much yesterday, and
now that we are no longer in danger of pursuit one begins to feel one is
hungry. You stay here while I go and forage. There ought to be a village
somewhere among the hills nor far away."

"Do you know the country, Malcolm?"

"I never came by this path, lad; but I have travelled pretty well all
over the Highlands, and, just as you found to be the case in Lancashire,
there are few villages I do not know. I will first pull you a couch of
this dead bracken, and then be off; an hour's sleep will do you almost as
much good as a meal."

Ronald lay down on the soft couch Malcolm prepared for him, and before he
had been alone for a minute he was fast asleep.

The sun was setting when he awoke. Malcolm stood beside him.

"Here is supper, lad. Not a very grand one, but there's enough of it,
which is more than has been the case for some weeks."

So saying he laid down by Ronald's side a large loaf of black bread, a
cheese made of sheep's milk, and a bottle of spirits.

"The village is five miles away, which is farther than I expected.
However, I came back quicker than I went, for I had had a bowl of milk
and as much bread as I could eat. I found the place in a state of wild
excitement, for two or three of the men had just come in from the
battlefield, and brought the news with them. They are all for the Stuarts
there, and you would be well entertained, but there is sure to be a
search high and low, and you would not be safe in any village. However, a
lad has promised to be here in the morning, and he will guide us to a
lonely hut in the heart of the hills, used by the shepherds in summer.
You will be perfectly safe there."

"It is about three miles from the village, he said. So I can go down two
or three times a week and get food, and learn how things are going on.
The Highlanders may rally again and make another fight of it; but I
hardly expect they will. They are not like regular troops, whose home is
naturally with their colours, and who, after the first rout, try to
rejoin their regiments. There is no discipline among these Highlanders.
Each man does as he likes, and their first impulse after a battle is to
make for their homes--if it is a victory, to carry home their spoil; if
they are defeated, for rest and shelter. At any rate, whether they gather
again or not, you will have to keep perfectly quiet for a time. When your
shoulder is perfectly healed we can act according to circumstances, and
make for the army if there be an army, or for the seacoast if there is
not."

Although he had eaten but a short time before, Malcolm was quite ready
for another meal, and sitting down beside Ronald he joined him in his
assault upon the black bread and cheese. Then he collected some more of
the bracken, mixed himself a strong horn of whiskey and water, and a much
weaker one for Ronald, after which the two lay down and were fast asleep.

They were awake at sunrise, and shortly afterwards the lad whom Malcolm
had engaged to act as guide made his appearance. The horse was saddled,
Ronald mounted, and they started at once for their destination among the
hills. They followed the path which Malcolm had taken the afternoon
before for some three miles, and then struck off to the left. Half an
hour took them out of the forest, and they journeyed for an hour along
the bare hillsides, until, lying in a sheltered hollow, they saw the hut
which was their destination.

"They are not likely to find us here," Malcolm said cheerfully, "even
were they to scour the mountains. They might ride within fifty yards of
this hollow without suspecting its existence. Where are we to get water?"
he asked the lad in Gaelic.

"A quarter of a mile away over that brow is the head of a stream," the
lad replied. "You cannot well miss it."

"That is all right," Malcolm said. "I don't mind carrying up provisions
or a bottle of spirits now and then; but to drag all the water we want
three miles would be serious."

The door of the hut was only fastened by a latch, and they entered
without ceremony. It consisted of but a single room. There were two or
three rough wooden stools, and a heap of bracken in one corner. Nor a
large amount of furniture, but, in the opinion of a Highlander, amply
sufficient.

"We shall do here capitally," Malcolm said. "Now, what do you think about
the horse, Ronald?"

"Of course he might be useful if we were obliged to move suddenly; but we
have no food to give him, and if we let him shift for himself he will
wander about, and might easily be seen by anyone crossing these hills. A
horse is always a prize, and it might bring troops out into our
neighbourhood who would otherwise not have a thought about coming in this
direction."

"I quite agree with you, Ronald. The lad had better take him down to the
village, and give him to the head man there. He can sell him, or keep
him, or get rid of him as he likes. At any rate he will be off our
hands."



CHAPTER XIX: Fugitives.


For three weeks Ronald and Malcolm remained in hiding in the hut among
the hills. Every two or three days Malcolm went down to the village and
brought back food. He learned that the remains of the army at Ruthven had
entirely dispersed, the prince himself seeing the hopelessness of any
longer continuing the struggle. Terrible tales of slaughter and
devastation by Cumberland's troops circulated through the hills. The duke
had fixed his headquarters at Fort Augustus, and thence his troops
ravaged the whole country of the clans lately in insurrection. Villages
were burned, cattle slaughtered, women subjected to the grossest insult
and ill treatment, and often wantonly slain, and the fugitives among the
mountains hunted like wild beasts, and slain as pitilessly whenever
overtaken.

Ronald's arm was healing fast. Youth and a good constitution, and the
care and attention of Malcolm, aided perhaps by the pure mountain air,
did wonders for him. The splints had proved efficacious, and although
they had not yet been taken off, Malcolm was confident that the injury
would be completely repaired. One morning Malcolm had left but half an
hour for the village when he returned.

"The enemy are in the village," he said. "I can see clouds of smoke
rising in that direction. We had better be off at once. They will be
scouring all the hills here, as they have done elsewhere, and we had
better get out of the neighbourhood."

There was no packing to be done, and taking with them what remained of
the food Malcolm had last brought, they started on their way. They made
first for the spring from which they had drawn their water, and then
followed the little stream on its way down the hill, as it flowed in the
opposite direction to the village. An hour's walking took them into the
forest.

"Before we go further let us have a consultation," Malcolm said. "We are
safe now from pursuit, and had better settle upon what course we intend
to adopt. Shall we make for Glasgow, and lie hid there until things blow
over a little; or make for the isles, and stay there until we get a
chance of being taken off by some French ship? That is what they say the
prince has done; and indeed as there would be no chance of his getting a
ship on the east coast, and all the Lowlands are against them, he is
certain to have made for the isles. The Clanranalds and most of the other
islemen are loyal to him, and would receive and shelter him. Skye is
hostile, but elsewhere he will be safe, and would move from island to
island or get across to the mainland by night if the pursuit became too
hot. What do you say, Ronald?"

"I would not try Glasgow unless as a last resource, Malcolm; you are
known to many there, and as I was there as one of the prince's officers
on two occasions I might easily be recognized. You may be sure that there
is a very strict lookout for fugitives, and every stranger who enters a
town will be closely examined. After some time, when Prince Charles and
the principal chiefs and the leaders will either have escaped across the
water or been hunted down, things will calm down; but at present we must
not try to pass through the Lowlands."

"At any rate we cannot try to do so till your shoulder is completely
healed, and you can use your arm naturally; but I do not think that we
had better try and cross to the isles just at present. If Prince Charles
is there, or is believed by the English to be there, the search will be
so keen that every stranger would be hunted down; and although the
Highlanders might risk imprisonment and death for the prince himself,
they could not be expected to run the same risk for anyone else. If the
prince escapes it will be because the whole population are with him, and
every man, woman, and child is trying to throw the pursuers off the
scent. No, I think we should be safer in Edinburgh itself than in the
isles. We will make a shift to live as we can for a month or so; by that
time I hope you will be able to use one arm as well as the other, and we
will then boldly go down into the Lowlands in our old characters as two
drovers."

"That will be the best plan, no doubt," Ronald agreed; "the difficulty
will be the getting over the next month."

"We shall manage that," Malcolm said; "fortunately you have still got
some money left."

"Yes, I have over fifty pounds; it was lucky I was able to draw it, as we
returned north, from the man I left it with at Carlisle."

"Yes, and you wanted to give it back to the treasury," Malcolm said, "and
would have done it if I had not almost quarrelled with you about it,
saying that it had been given you for a certain purpose, that you had
carried out that purpose, and had, therefore, a right to it, and that you
would be only looked upon as a fool if you offered to pay it back.
However, there it is now, and lucky it is you have got it. However hard
the times, however great the danger, a man will hardly starve in Scotland
with fifty pounds in his pocket; so now we will turn our faces west, and
make for the head of one of the lochs; there are plenty of fish to be had
for catching, and with them and a little oatmeal and a bottle or two of
whiskey we can live like lords."

They walked for some hours, and stopped for the night in the hut of a
shepherd, who received them hospitably, but could give them but little
food, his scanty supplies being almost exhausted, for, as he told them,
"the hills are full of fugitives, and those who come all cry for meal; as
for meat, there is no want of it. Men won't starve as long as there are
sheep and cattle to be had for lifting them, and at present there are
more of these than usual in the hills, for they have all been driven up
from the villages lest they should fall into the hands of the troopers;
but meal is scarce, for men dare not go down to the villages to buy, and
we only get it when the women bring it up as they have a chance."

In the morning the shepherd gave them directions as to the way they
should take, and a few hours later they came down upon the head of one of
the many deep inlets on the western coast. A small fishing boat stood on
the shore, but they dared not descend into this, but made their way to
the point where, as the shepherd had told them, a stream which flowed
from a mountain tarn some miles inland made its way down into the sea.

The banks were thickly wooded for some two miles from its outlet; beyond
that was a moorland covered with heather. They determined to encamp near
the upper edge of the wood, and at once set to with their swords to cut
down branches and construct a hut. This was completed before dusk, and
Malcolm then started for the village on the seashore. Ronald besought him
to be most careful.

"There is likely," he said, "to be a party of soldiers in every village
round the coast, for they will know that all the chiefs and officers
would be making for the sea. The clansmen have only to remain in the
hills until this persecution dies out, and then go quietly home again;
but for the leaders the only hope is escape by sea."

"I will be careful, lad," Malcolm said. "I shall not enter the village,
but will hang about in its outskirts until I come across someone, and
with plenty of money in my pocket it is hard if I cannot manage to get a
bag of meal and a net, even if the place is full of English soldiers."

Three hours later Malcolm returned laden with a sack containing forty
pounds of meal, a jar with two gallons of whiskey, and a net.

"There," he said as he entered; "we can do for a month now, if needs be.
There is a party of militia in the village, and I hear the whole coast is
closely watched, and there are a number of English cruisers among the
islands."

"How did you get the things?"

"I waited till a woman came down with a bundle of faggots, and told her
what I wanted. She said at first it was impossible; but when I said I was
prepared to pay well she altered her tone, and said she would send her
husband out to me. He soon came, and after some bargaining he agreed to
bring me out the things I wanted for three pounds, and here they are. I
see you have got a fire alight, so we will make some cakes at once. I
have brought a griddle and two horns with me."

The next morning they set to work to fish. The net was stretched across
the lower end of a pool, and they then stripped and waded in, splashing
and throwing stones as they went. It was just up to their necks in the
deepest parts, shallowing to two feet below. When they reached the net
they found two fine salmon caught there, and carrying these ashore they
split one and placed it above the fire. The net was then removed, and in
half an hour they were sitting down to a breakfast of grilled salmon and
hot oatmeal cakes, which Ronald thought the most delicious repast he had
ever tasted.

For three weeks they remained at this spot. They were not always alone,
being sometimes joined for a day or two by other fugitives, who, like
themselves, were wandering near the sea coast seeking escape. These
seldom stayed long, for it was felt unsafe to keep in parties of more
than two or three at the utmost. Some of the fugitives were in wretched
condition, having been wandering among the moors and forests for weeks,
and as the fishing was very successful, Ronald and Malcolm were able to
give them at parting a good supply of smoked salmon, and a portion of
meal, of which Malcolm from time to time brought a fresh supply up from
the village.

The people there knew little of what was passing in the outer world; but
from the conversation of the soldiers they were sure that Prince Charles
had so far escaped capture, and an opinion began to prevail that he had
succeeded in making his escape by sea, in spite of the vigilance of the
English cruisers.

By the end of the three weeks even Malcolm admitted that Ronald's wound
was completely cured. Two large blue scars showed where the bullet had
passed through, and beneath this could be felt a lump where the broken
bone had knitted together, and this would in time become as strong as the
rest of the shoulder. Malcolm's splints had done their duty, and the eye
could detect no difference between the level or width of the two
shoulders. Ronald could move his arm freely in all directions, and,
except that he could not at present venture to put any strain upon the
arm, he might be considered as perfectly cured. They determined,
therefore, to continue their way. In the first place, however, it was
necessary to procure other clothes, for Ronald was still in uniform, and
although Malcolm's attire was not wholly military, it yet differed
materially from that of a countryman.

"We shall have to get other clothes when we get south," Malcolm said;
"for a Highlander's dress would be looked upon with as much suspicion in
Glasgow as would that uniform of yours. But until we get down to the
Lowlands the native garb will be the best."

Accordingly he paid another visit to the village, and with the utmost
difficulty persuaded the man he had before dealt with to bring him two
suits of clothes, such as were worn by the fishermen there. In these,
although Malcolm's small stock of Gaelic would betray them at once for
other than they seemed to the first clansman who might address them, they
could pass muster with any body of English troops they might meet by the
way.

Before starting they caught and smoked as many salmon as they could
carry, as the fishermen of the coast were in the habit of exchanging fish
for sheep with their inland neighbours. They cut each a short pole, and
slung some fish at each end, and then placing it on their shoulder,
started on their way. They kept along the hillside until they struck the
track--for it could scarcely be called a road--leading from the
village into the interior, and then boldly followed this; for the
difficulty of travelling across the hilly and broken country was so great
that they preferred to run the slight extra risk of keeping to the road,
feeling certain that for the first day's march at least their appearance
and the fish they carried would answer for themselves with any body of
troops they might meet.

Of this, however, they did not think there was much chance. The
authorities would have long since learned the futility of hunting the
fugitives among the hills, and would be confining their efforts to the
sea coast. They were now at a considerable distance from the scene of the
bloody persecutions of Cumberland and Hawley, and although in other parts
of Scotland severe measures might be adopted against known adherents of
the Stuarts, it was among the Highland clans only that savage and
wholesale massacres were being carried into effect.

Occasionally in the course of the day's walk they met with clansmen
passing along the road. These generally passed with a brief word of
greeting in Gaelic. One or two who stopped to speak recognized at once by
Malcolm's accent that the wayfarers were not what they pretended to be;
but they asked no questions, and with a significant smile and an
expression of good wishes went on their way.

At the village where they stopped, after a long day's journey, the same
line of conduct was observed towards them. The inhabitants guessed at
once that they were in disguise; but the edicts against those who
assisted fugitive insurgents were so severe that none made any open sign
of their recognition. They paid for their night's lodging and food with a
portion of their fish, which they were indeed glad to get rid of.

The next day they resumed their journey, and towards sunset arrived at a
village where they saw a party of English cavalry, who had apparently but
just arrived. The men were cleaning their horses, and an officer was
sitting on a bench in front of the principal house in the village; for he
had already made a close inspection of every house in the village, and
the angry faces of the women and the sullen looks of a few men there were
about showed how they resented the disturbance of their households.

It was too late to retreat, and Malcolm and Ronald walked boldly to the
public house in the centre of the village. The officer at once rose and
walked across to him.

"Who are you?" he asked; "and where do you come from?"

Malcolm shook his head and said in Gaelic:

"I do not understand English."

"What fools these people are!" the officer exclaimed. "Ho, within there!"

The landlady came to the door.

"Do you speak English?"

"I speak a little," the woman said.

"Just ask these men who they are and where they come from."

The woman asked the question in Gaelic, and Malcolm replied:

"We are, as you see, fishermen, and we come from Huish."

As he spoke there was a slight change in the woman's face; but it passed
away, and she translated Malcolm's answer to the officer.

"But that is forty miles away," the officer said. "What do they do with
their fish at this distance from their home?"

The question being put in Gaelic by the woman, Malcolm replied that owing
to the boats being seized by the soldiers, and trade being at a
standstill, they could no longer make a living at home, and were
therefore on their way to Glasgow to ship as sailors. They were carrying
their fish with them to pay for their food and lodging on the way.

The story was probable enough, and the officer's suspicion was allayed.

"They are fine looking fellows, both of them," he said to himself as he
returned to his bench. "Father and son, I suppose. The young one would
make a strapping soldier. Like enough he was at Culloden. However, thank
goodness, I have no grounds for suspecting or detaining them. I am sick
of this brutal business of fugitive hunting. We are officers and not
butchers, and this slaying of brave men who have met us fairly in battle
is a disgrace to the British name."

Ronald and Malcolm followed the woman into the house.

"I am ready to buy some of your fish," she said in a loud tone of voice
in Gaelic, "for there will be many to feed this evening; as my house is
full of soldiers I cannot take you in, but if you like you can sleep in
that shed over there. I can cook one of your fish for you, and let you
have some black bread; but that is all I can do. Now, how much do you
want for the fish?"

Malcolm named a low price, and the woman took three or four of the
largest. For these she offered him the price he had asked. He glanced
round, and seeing that they were not overlooked, he shook his head.

"We don't want money," he said. "We are well provided. Many thanks for
keeping our secret."

The woman nodded, and without another word the two went out and sat down
on a stone bench outside until the landlady brought out a platter with a
fish and some black bread. This they ate where they sat. Malcolm then
went in to get some tobacco, and returned with his pipe alight, and sat
with Ronald watching with apparent interest the operations of the
soldiers until night closed in. Then they retired to the shed the
landlady had pointed out, and found that a large bundle of freshly
gathered rushes had been shaken out to form a bed. Carrying in their
poles with their now diminished load of fish, they closed the door and
threw themselves down upon the rushes.

"That has passed off well," Malcolm said. "Tomorrow we will only go a
mile or so out of the village, and stop in the first wood we come to, and
go on at night. Thirty miles will take us close down to Dumbarton, and
there we must manage to get some fresh clothes."

"We shall be able to leave our poles behind us," Ronald said, "and that
will be a comfort. Although my load of fish was not nearly as heavy as
yours, still carrying it on one shoulder was no joke, and I shall be
heartily glad to get rid of it."

"I shall not be sorry myself," Malcolm said; "but there will be no
occasion to waste the fish. We shall be up and away long before the
soldiers are stirring, and we may as well hand them over as a present to
the landlady."

This was done, and at an early hour in the morning they were upon the
road again. After an hour's walking they stopped in a wood till evening
and then continued on their way until they reached Dumbarton, where they
threw themselves down beside some boats drawn up upon the shore, and
slept till the morning.

They then boldly entered the town, and as their garb was similar to that
of the men who brought down the fish caught at the villages on the coast,
no attention whatever was paid to them. They had no difficulty in
purchasing the clothes they required, and carrying them out of the town
they changed in the first retired spot they reached, and, as two Lowland
drovers, tramped on to Glasgow. With their bonnets pulled well down over
their eyes they entered the town. They had little fear of discovery, for
none would be likely to recognize in Ronald the gaily dressed young
officer of Prince Charles.

As to Malcolm, he felt safe from molestation. He was, of course, known to
many drovers and others, but they would not concern themselves with what
he had been doing since they last saw him, and even had they noticed him
when he was there with Ronald, would not denounce an old comrade. He
went, therefore, boldly to the little inn where he had been in the habit
of staying when in the city.

"Ah, Malcolm, is that you, man?" the landlord said as he entered. "I
didna think o' seeing you again. I thought it likely ye were laying stiff
and stark somewhere out on the muirs. Eh, man, you are a foolish fellow
to be mixing yourself up in the affairs of ithers."

"I have done with it now, Jock, for good and all," Malcolm said, "and am
going back to my old trade again."

"I think you are a fule to come back here so soon. There's mony a one
marked ye as ye rode in behind that young officer of the prince's, and if
they denounce you now they would soon clap you in between four walls."

"Hoots, man!" Malcolm laughed; "who would trouble themselves about a body
like me!"

"There are bleudy doings up i' the Highlands," the landlord said gravely,
"if a' they say is true."

"It is true, Jock, more shame to them; but they wouldn't do in Glasgow
what they are doing there. They are hunting down the clansmen like wild
beasts; but here in the Lowlands they will not trouble themselves to ask
who was for King George and who was against him, except among those who
have got estates they can confiscate."

"May be no," the landlord replied. "Still, Malcolm, if you will take my
advice you won't show yourself much in the streets, nor your friend
either," he added significantly. "You may be safe, but the citizens are
smarting yet over the requisitions that were made upon them, and your
friend had best keep in his room as long as ye stay here."

Malcolm nodded.

"He will be careful, Jock, never fear. We shall be off again as soon as
we get a chance. I will leave him here while I go down the town and find
whether there is a herd starting for England. If there is we will go with
it; if not, I shall try and get a passage by sea."

Malcolm could not hear of any drove of cattle going south. The troubles
had, for the time, entirely put a stop to the trade. After it was dark he
went to Andrew's. His brother's face expressed both pleasure and dismay
at seeing him.

"Right glad I am to see you have got safely through it all, Malcolm, but
you must be mad to show yourself here again at present. But how is the
boy? We have troubled sorely over him. I trust that he too has come
safely through it?"

"Safe and sound, Andrew, save that he had a bullet through his shoulder
at Culloden; but he is tight enough again now."

"And what have you been doing ever since?"

"Curing his shoulder and fishing;" Malcolm briefly related their
adventures since Culloden.

"And is he with you here in Glasgow, Malcolm? Surely you are not mad
enough to bring him here, where he is known to scores of people as one of
the rebel officers!"

"He is here, sure enough," Malcolm said, "and safer than he has been for
some time. It is nearly two months since Culloden, and people are
beginning to think of other things, except in the Highlands, where those
fiends Cumberland and Hawley are burning and slaying. Ronald is dressed
like a drover, and no one is likely to recognize him. However, he will
remain within doors. And now, brother, I want you to take us a passage in
the next vessel sailing for London. If I go to a shipper he may ask
questions, and like enough it may be necessary to get passes signed
before we can go on board."

"Certainly it is," Andrew said. "A strict lookout is kept to prevent the
rebel leaders from escaping, and no captain of a ship is permitted to
take a passenger unless he is provided with a pass, signed by a
magistrate, saying that he is a peaceable and well known person."

"But just at present we are both peaceable persons, Andrew, and we can
certainly claim to be well known citizens."

"It is no joking matter, Malcolm, I can tell you," Andrew said irritably;
"but of course I will see what I can do. And now I will put on my bonnet
and come with you and have a chat with Ronald. It will not do to bring
him here tonight, but we must arrange for him to come and see Janet
before he sails. I shall not tell her anything about it till he is ready
to start, for you know she is very particular, and I am afraid I shall
have to say what is not quite true to get the order. I can sign it
myself, but it must have the signature of the provost too."

So saying he took his cap and accompanied Malcolm to the lodging.

"Stay here a moment, Andrew," Malcolm said when he arrived within a few
yards of the little inn. "I will see that there is no one drinking
within. It wouldna look well to see a decent bailie of the city going
into a liquor shop after dark. It will be best for me to fetch him out
here, for I doubt there's any room where you could talk without fear of
being overheard."

Ronald, who was sitting with his cap pulled down over his eyes as if
asleep, in a corner of the room, where three or four drovers were smoking
and talking, was called out by Malcolm.

"I am right glad to see you again," Andrew Anderson said heartily. "Janet
and I have passed an ill time since the battle was fought. Elspeth has
kept up our hopes all along. She said she was sure that you were alive,
quite downright sure; and though neither Janet nor I have much faith in
superstitions, the old woman's assertions that she should assuredly know
it if you were dead did somehow keep up our spirits. Besides, I had faith
in Malcolm's knowledge of the country, and knew you were both famous for
getting into scrapes and out of them, so I thought that if neither bullet
nor sabre had stretched you on the moor of Culloden you would manage to
win your way out of the trouble somehow. However, I think you are pretty
safe here. The bloody doings of Cumberland have shocked every Scotchman,
and even those who were strongest against the Stuarts now cry shame, and
so strong is the feeling that were the prince to appear now with a
handful of followers I believe the whole country would rise in his
favour. So deep is the wrath and grief at the red slaughter among the
Highlands there would not be many Scotchmen found who would betray a
fellow Scot into the hands of these butchers. I will make inquiry
tomorrow as to what ships are sailing, and will get you a passage in the
first. There may be some difficulty about the permit; but if I can't get
over it we must smuggle you on board as sailors. However, I don't think
the provost will ask me any questions when I lay the permit before him
for his signature. He is heart and soul for the king, but, like us all,
he is sick at heart at the news from the North, and would, I think, shut
an eye if he saw a Jacobite making his escape. And now, lad, I must be
going back, for the hour is getting late and Janet does not know why I am
away. Come to us tomorrow evening as soon as the shop closes. Janet and
Elspeth will be delighted to see you, and we will have a long talk over
all that you have gone through."

On the following evening Ronald and Malcolm presented themselves at
Andrew's and were received with delight by Elspeth and Mrs. Anderson. The
latter had, while the rebellion appeared to have a chance of success,
been its bitter opponent, and had spoken often and wrathfully against her
husband's brother and Ronald embarking in such an enterprise; but with
its overthrow all her enmity had expired, and she would have been ready
to give assistance not only to them, but to any other fugitive trying to
escape.

"I have good news for you," Andrew said, when the first greetings were
over. "A vessel sails in the morning, and I have taken passages for you
in it; and what is more, have brought your permits. I went to the provost
and said to him, 'Provost, I want you to sign these permits for two
friends of mine who are wanting to go up to London.'

"'Who are they?' said he.

"'They are just two drover bodies,' I said. He looked at me hard.

"'One question, Andrew. I know how you feel just at present. You are a
loyal man like myself, but we all feel the same. I will sign your permit
for any save one. Give me your word that neither of these men is Charles
Stuart. I care not who they may be beside, but as a loyal subject of King
George I cannot aid his arch enemy to escape.'

"'I give you my word, provost,' I said. 'One is--'

"'I don't want to know who they are,' he interrupted. 'I had rather not
know. It is enough for me that you give me your word that neither of them
is Charles Stuart,' and he took the pen and signed the permit. 'Between
ourselves,' he went on, 'I shall be glad to hear that the misguided young
man is safe across the water, but as Provost of Glasgow I could lend him
no help to go.'

"'They say he has got safe away already,' I said.

"'I think not, Andrew; the coast has been too closely watched for that.
The young man is hiding somewhere among the isles, among the Clanranalds
or Macdonalds. I fear they will have him yet. I dread every day to get
the news; but I hope beyond all things, that if they do lay hands on him
it will be through the treachery of no Scot.'

"'I hope not, provost,' I said. 'They haven't got over throwing it in our
teeth that we sold King Charles to Cromwell.' So we just shook hands and
said goodbye, and here is the permit."

They spent a long evening talking over the past.

"I wonder if I shall ever see you again, Ronald!" Mrs. Anderson said,
with tears in her eyes, as they rose to say goodbye.

"You need nor fear about that, Janet, woman," her husband said. "Ronald
and Malcolm aye fall on their legs, and we shall see them back again like
two bad pennies. Besides," he went on more seriously, "there will be an
end of these savage doings in the north before long. Loyal men in
Scotland are crying out everywhere against them, and the feeling in
England will be just as strong when the truth is known there, and you
will see that before long there will be a general pardon granted to all
except the leaders. Fortunately Ronald and Malcolm are not likely to be
in the list of exceptions, and before a year is up they will be able to
come back if they will without fear of being tapped on the shoulder by a
king's officer."

"I shall come back again if I can, you may be sure," Ronald said. "Of
course I do not know yet what my father and mother's plans may be; but
for myself I shall always look upon Scotland as my home, and come back to
it as soon as I have an opportunity."

"You do not intend to stay in the French army?"

"Certainly not. After the treatment my father has received I have no
inclination to serve France. The chief reason why Scotchmen have entered
her service has been that they were driven from home, and that they
looked to France for aid to place the Stuarts on the throne again. Now
that the time has come, France has done nothing to aid, and has seen the
Stuart cause go down without striking a blow to assist it. I consider
that cause is lost for ever, and shall never again draw my sword against
the House of Hanover. Nor have I had any reason for loving France. After
living in a free country like Scotland, who could wish to live in a
country where one man's will is all powerful--where the people are
still no better than serfs--where the nobles treat the law as made only
for them--where, as in my father's case, a man may not even marry
according to his own will without incurring the risk of a life's
imprisonment? No, I have had enough of France; and if ever I get the
opportunity I shall return to Scotland to live."

The next morning early Ronald and Malcolm embarked on board a ship. Their
permits were closely scrutinized before the vessel started, and a
thorough search was made before she was allowed to sail. When the
officers were satisfied that no fugitives were concealed on board they
returned to shore, and the vessel started on her voyage for London.



CHAPTER XX: Happy Days.


On arriving in London, after ten days' voyage, Ronald and Malcolm
obtained garments of the ordinary cut. The one attired himself as an
English gentleman, the other in a garb suitable to a confidential
attendant or steward, and after a stay of two or three days they made
their way by coach down to Southampton.

Here they remained for a week, and then effected a bargain with the
captain of a fishing lugger to set them on shore in France. As the two
countries were at war this could only be done by landing them at night at
some quiet spot on the French coast. The lugger cruised about a couple of
days, and then, choosing a quiet night when there was a mist on the
water, she ran in as closely as she dared, then the boat was lowered, and
Malcolm and Ronald were rowed to shore and landed a few miles south of
Boulogne.

When it was light they made their way to a village; here but few
questions were asked them, for many refugees from Scotland and England
were crossing to France. As they had been well provided with funds by
Andrew they posted to Paris, and on arriving there put up at the inn
where they had stopped on the occasion of their first visit.

"We must be careful," Malcolm said, "how we stir out until we know how
things stand. The first thing to do is to find out whether the regiment
is still in Paris."

This they were not long in doing, as their host was able to inform them
at once that it had left the capital several months before, and on
comparing dates they found that its departure had followed within a day
or two that of their own flight from Paris.

"It was no doubt meant as a punishment," Ronald said, "on Colonel Hume
for acting as my second in that affair with the duke. I hope that no
further ill befell him."

His mind was set easy on this score by the news that Colonel Hume had
accompanied his regiment. On asking after Marshal Saxe they learned that
he was away on the frontier, where he had been carrying on the war with
great success, Antwerp, Mons, Namur, and Charleroi all having been
captured.

The king was in person with the army. This being the case Ronald saw that
it was of no use remaining in Paris, as he was without friend or
protector there, and he dared not rejoin his regiment until he learned
whether the king's anger was as hot as ever. He therefore started at once
with Malcolm and travelled down to La Grenouille.

It was a joyful meeting between him and his parents, who were in the
greatest anxiety respecting him, for although he had written several
times, communication was uncertain owing to the war, the only chance of
sending letters being by such French vessels as arrived at Scottish ports
after running the gauntlet with English cruisers. Some of these had been
captured on the way back, and only two of Ronald's letters had arrived
safely. The last of these had been written a few days after the battle of
Falkirk, and Ronald had then stated that he no longer had any hope of the
final success of the expedition. They had received the news of the defeat
at Culloden, and had since passed nearly three months of painful
suspense, relieved only by the arrival of Ronald himself. He found his
mother looking well and happy; his father had somewhat recovered from his
rheumatism, and looked a younger man by some years than when he saw him
last.

"He will recover fast now," the countess said; "but he has worried about
you night and day, Ronald. I hope that you will stay with us for a time.
We have seen so little of you yet."

Ronald learned that a few days after his flight an officer had appeared
at the chateau with the royal order for his arrest, and it was from him
that his parents had first learned the news of his duel with the Duke of
Chateaurouge and its result.

"I could hardly believe my ears, Ronald," his father said; "to think that
my son, scarce a man yet, should have killed in fair fight one of the
first duellists in France. It seemed almost incredible. Malcolm told me
that you were a first rate swordsman, but this seemed extraordinary
indeed. The officer remained here for three days, and then, convinced
that you had not made in this direction, left us. A day or two afterwards
we received the letter you wrote us from Nantes, saying that you were
starting for Scotland with the prince. I grumbled sorely over my
rheumatism, I can tell you, which prevented my drawing my sword once more
for the Stuarts; but it was no use my thinking of it."

"No, indeed," the countess said; "and I can tell you, Ronald, that had he
been ever so well I should not have let him go. After being separated
from one's husband for sixteen years one is not going to let him run off
to figure as a knight errant at his pleasure."

"Your friend Colonel Hume wrote to us," the colonel said with a smile at
his wife's word, "giving us details of the duel, and speaking of your
conduct in the highest terms. He said that at present the king was
furious; but that he hoped in time he would get over it. Colonel Hume had
seen Marshal Saxe, who had promised on the first opportunity to speak to
the king, and to open his eyes to the character of his late favourite,
and to tell him of the attempts which the duke had made to prevent the
royal orders for our release being carried out, and to remove you by
assassination. Two months ago he wrote again to us from Antwerp, which
had just fallen, saying that Marshal Saxe had bid him tell us that the
king was in a much more favourable disposition, and that he had taken the
opportunity when his majesty was in a good humour to tell him the whole
circumstances of your journey with the orders for our release, and that
in consequence the king had made other inquiries respecting the late
duke, and had acknowledged that he had been greatly deceived as to his
character. At the same time, as your name had been by the king's order
removed from the list of officers of the Scottish Dragoons immediately
after the duel, he recommended that should you return to France you
should not put yourself in the king's way or appear at all in public for
the present.

"'The marshal,' Colonel Hume wrote, 'has made your affair a personal
matter, and he, as is his habit in war, will persevere until he succeeds.
His reputation and influence are higher than ever, and are daily rising;
be assured that when the campaign is over, and he reaps all the honours
to which he is entitled, he will push your claim as before.'"

In the first week in October the suspense from which they had suffered as
to the fate of Prince Charles was relieved by the news that on the 29th
of September he had safely landed at the little port of Roscoff near
Morlaix. He made his way to Paris, and Ronald, accompanied by Malcolm,
took horse at once and rode there to pay his respects to the prince, and
congratulate him on his escape. The prince received him with great warmth
and cordiality, and from his own lips Ronald learned the story of his
adventures.

He had, eight days after Culloden, embarked for the cluster of islets to
which the common name of Long Island is applied. After wandering from
place to place and suffering greatly from hunger, he gained South Uist,
where his wants were relieved by Clanranald. The English, suspecting or
learning that he was there, landed two thousand men on the island, and
commenced an active search for him. He must have been detected had not
Flora Macdonald--stepdaughter of a captain in a militia regiment which
formed part of the troops who had landed--upon being appealed to by
Lady Clanranald, nobly undertaken to save him.

She obtained from her stepfather a passport to proceed to Skye with a
manservant and a maid. Charles was dressed in female clothes, and passed
as Betty Bourk, while a faithful Highlander, Neil M'Eachan, acted as her
servant. They started at night in an open boat, and disembarked in Skye.
Skye was ever a hostile country, as its chief, Sir Alexander Macdonald,
who had at first wavered, was now a warm supporter of the Hanoverians,
and was with the Duke of Cumberland. Nevertheless Flora appealed to his
wife, Lady Margaret, a daughter of the Earl of Eglinton, and informed her
that her attendant was Prince Charles in disguise. Lady Margaret nobly
responded to her appeal. Her own house was full of militia officers, and
she intrusted Charles to the charge of Macdonald of Kingsburgh, her
husband's kinsman and factor, who took the party to his house.

The next day Charles took leave of Flora Macdonald with warm expressions
of gratitude, and passed over to the Isle of Rasay, in the disguise of a
male servant. Thence he made his way to the mainland, where on landing he
was compelled to lie in concealment for two days cooped up within a line
of sentries. After many dangers he took refuge in a mountain cave
inhabited by seven robbers, who treated him with the greatest kindness,
and supplied his wants for the three weeks he remained with them. After
many other adventures he joined his faithful adherents Cluny and Locheil,
who were in hiding in a retreat on the side of Mount Benalder, and here
he lived in comparative comfort until he heard that two French vessels
under the direction of Colonel Warren of Dillon's regiment had anchored
in Lochnanuagh.

Travelling by night he made his way to that place, and embarked on the
20th of September, attended by Locheil, Colonel Roy Stuart, and about a
hundred other fugitives who had learned of the arrival of the French
vessels. It was almost precisely the spot at which he had disembarked
fourteen months before. A fog concealed the vessel as she passed through
the British fleet lying to intercept her, and they reached Roscoff after
a nine days' voyage.

Such was the tale which Prince Charles told to Ronald. He had after
Culloden entirely recovered his high spirits, and had borne all his
fatigues and hardships with the greatest cheerfulness and good humour,
making light of hunger, fatigue, and danger. Ronald only remained two
days in Paris, and then returned home.

In October the campaign of Flanders ended with the complete defeat of
Prince Charles of Lorraine at Rancaux, and Marshal Saxe returned to
Paris, where he was received with enthusiasm by the population. The royal
residence of Chambord was granted him for life, and he was proclaimed
marshal general of the king's armies. A fortnight later Colonel Leslie
received a letter from him, saying that he had received his majesty's
command that he with the countess and his son should present themselves
in Paris, and that he was happy to say that the king's disposition was
most favourable. They set off at once. On their arrival there they called
upon Marshal Saxe, who greeted the colonel as an old friend, and refused
to listen to the warm expression of gratitude of Leslie and the countess.

"Say nothing about it, madam," he exclaimed. "Your son won my heart, and
I was only too glad to be of service to him and my old comrade here. What
is the use of a man winning victories if he cannot lend a helping hand to
his friends!"

The next day they went down to Versailles, where Marshal Saxe presented
them to the king in a private audience. Louis received them graciously.

"I fear, countess, that you and your husband have been treated with some
harshness; but our royal ear was deceived by one in whom we had
confidence. Your husband and yourself were wrong in marrying without the
consent and against the will of your father, and such marriages cannot be
permitted; but at the request of Marshal Saxe, who has done so much for
France that I cannot refuse anything he asks, I have now consented to
pardon and overlook the past, and have ordered my chancellor to prepare
an order reinstating you in all the possessions and estates of the
countess, your mother. I hope that I shall often see you together with
your husband and son, both of whom have done good service as soldiers of
France, at my court; and now that I see you," he said with a gracious
smile, "I cannot but feel how great a loss our court has suffered by your
long absence from it."

Upon leaving the king's private chamber and entering the great audience
hall Colonel Hume came up and grasped the hand of his old friend, and was
introduced by him to his wife; while many of the courtiers, who were
either connections or friends of the family of the countess, also
gathered round them, for the news that she was restored to royal favour
had spread quickly. The countess knew how small was the real value of
such advances, but she felt that it was best for her husband and son's
sake to receive them amicably. For a few weeks they remained in Paris,
taking part in the brilliant fetes which celebrated the success of the
French arms, and they then retired to the handsome chateau which was now
the property of the countess.

Here they lived quietly for two years, making occasional visits to Paris.
At the end of that time Ronald received a letter from Andrew Anderson, to
whom he had written several times since his return to France. He told him
that he had just heard that Glenlyon and the rest of the property which
had been confiscated after the rising of 1715 was for sale. It had been
bestowed upon a neighbouring chief, who had been active in the Hanoverian
cause. He was now dead without leaving issue, and his wife, an English
lady, was anxious to dispose of the property and return to England.

"I do not know whether your father is disposed to buy back his estates,"
Andrew wrote, "but I hear that a general amnesty will very shortly be
issued to all who took part in the insurrection, saving only certain
notorious persons. The public are sick of bloodshed. There have been
upwards of eighty trials and executions, besides the hundreds who were
slaughtered in the Highlands. Besides this, thousands have been
transported. But public opinion is now so strong, and persons of all
shades of politics are so disgusted with the brutal ferocity which has
been shown, that it is certain government will ere long be compelled to
pass an act of amnesty. In the meantime, if it should be your father's
wish to purchase the property, I can buy it in my name. The priced asked
is very low. The income arising from it is stated to be about four
hundred a year, and four thousand pounds will be accepted for it. I
understand that as the late owner took no part in the insurrection, and
joined the Duke of Cumberland when he came north, the property is in good
condition and the clansmen have escaped the harrying which befell all
those who sided with Charles Stuart."

Ronald at once laid the letter before his father, who, after reading it
through, passed it, without a word, to the countess.

"You would like to return to Scotland?" she asked quietly, when she read
it. "Do not hesitate to tell me, dear, if you would. It is no matter to
me whether we live there or here, so long as I have you and Ronald with
me."

Colonel Leslie was silent.

"For Ronald's sake," she went on, "perhaps it would be better so. You are
both of opinion that the cause of the Stuarts is lost for ever, and he is
determined that he will never again take part in any rising. He does not
care again to enter the French army, nor, indeed, is there any reason why
Scotchmen should do so, now that they no longer look for the aid of the
King of France to set the Stuarts on the English throne. I myself have no
ties here. My fifteen years of seclusion have separated me altogether
from my family, and although they are willing enough to be civil now, I
cannot forget that all those years they did nothing towards procuring our
liberty. The king has so far given way that he has restored me my
mother's estates, but it was only because he could not refuse Marshal
Saxe, and he does not like French lands to be held by strangers;
therefore I feel sure, that were I to ask his permission to sell my
estates and to retire with you to Scotland he would at once grant my
request."

"No, Amelie, it would not be fair to accept your generous offer."

"But it would be no sacrifice," she urged. "I have little reason to love
France, and I can assure you I should be just as happy in your country as
in my own."

"But it would be exile," the colonel said.

"No more exile than you and Ronald are suffering here. Besides, I suppose
we should get as many comforts in Scotland as here in France. Of course
our estates here will fetch a sum many times larger than that which would
purchase Glenlyon, and we need not live all our time among the mountains
you tell me of, but can go sometimes to Edinburgh or even to London. Even
if you did not wish it, I should say it would be far better to do so for
Ronald's sake. You have lived so long in France that you may have become
a Frenchman; but it is not so with Ronald."

It was not until two or three days later that the discussion came to an
end and the countess had her way. Colonel Leslie had resisted stoutly,
but his heart beat at the thought of returning to the home of his youth
and ending his days among the clansmen who had followed him and his
fathers before him. Ronald had taken no part whatever in the debate, but
his mother read in his eyes the delight which the thought of returning to
Scotland occasioned him. As soon as this was settled they went to Paris,
and as the countess had foreseen, the king was pleased at once to give
his consent to her disposing of her lands on his approval of the
purchaser.

No difficulty was experienced on this score, as a noble whose lands
adjoined her own offered at once to purchase them. As soon as this was
arranged instructions were sent to Andrew to purchase not only the
Glenlyon property, but the other estates of its late owner.

In due time a letter was received from Andrew saying that he had arranged
for the purchase of the whole for the sum of thirteen thousand pounds,
and the money was at once sent over through a Dutch banking house. Very
shortly afterwards, at the end of 1747, the act of general amnesty was
passed, and as Ronald's name was not among those excluded from its
benefits they at once prepared to return to Scotland. The journey was
facilitated by the fact that shortly after the passing of the act, peace
was concluded between England and France.

Accompanied by Malcolm, Colonel Leslie, the countess, and Ronald sailed
for Scotland. The colonel and his wife remained in Edinburgh while Ronald
and Malcolm went to Glasgow, where Andrew had in readiness all the papers
transferring the estates purchased in his name to Colonel Leslie, who
shortly afterwards journeyed north with his wife and son and took
possession of his ancestral home amid the enthusiastic delight of the
clansmen, who had never ceased to regret the absence of him whom they
considered as their rightful chief.

There is little more to tell. Colonel Leslie lived but a few years after
returning home, and Ronald then succeeded him as Leslie of Glenlyon. He
had before this married the daughter of a neighbouring gentleman, and
passed his time between Glenlyon and Edinburgh, varied by an occasional
visit to London.

The countess never regretted her native land, but, happy in the affection
of her son and daughter in law and their children, lived happily with
them until nearly the end of the century. Malcolm remained the faithful
and trusty friend of the family; and his brother and his wife were
occasionally persuaded to pay a visit to Glenlyon, where their kindness
to Ronald as a child was never forgotten. Happily the rising of '45 was
the last effort on behalf of the Stuarts. Scotland accepted the decision
as final, and the union between the two countries became close and
complete. Henceforth Scotchmen went no longer to fight in the armies of
France, but took service in that of their own country, and more than one
of Ronald's grandsons fought stoutly in Spain under Wellington.





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