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Title: Historical Tales and Legends of the Highlands
Author: Various
Language: English
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                           TALES AND LEGENDS
                                OF THE

                              COMPILED BY
                         ALEXANDER MACKENZIE,
                   EDITOR OF THE “CELTIC MAGAZINE,”
             THE “PROPHECIES OF THE BRAHAN SEER,” &c., &c.

                         “’S iomadh rud a chi
                     Am fear a bhitheas fada beo.”




These TALES AND LEGENDS were very favourably received by a
wide circle of readers, and by the Press generally, as they appeared
from month to month in the _Celtic Magazine_. They are now published
in a collected form at the request of many who have previously perused
them. I would like to present the public with the names of their
authors; but as one of them—the “Norman” and “Torquil” of the _Celtic
Magazine_—objects to have his name made public, although he has
written the greater number of them, I must content myself now by taking
advantage of this opportunity to thank him, “Mac Iain,” and the others
who supplied the Tales and Legends, the merits of which—especially
those for which I may be held personally responsible—I propose to
leave to the tender mercies of an indulgent public.

                                          ALEX. MACKENZIE.

             September 1878.


    Locality                                                1
    The Spell of Cadboll                                    7
    Prince Charlie and Mary Macleod                        17
    James Macpherson, the famous Musician and Freebooter   25
    The First Gauger in Skye                               32
    The Raid of Cilliechriost                              75
    Lachlan Og Mackinnon and the Skye Factor               83
    James Grant of Carron                                  88
    John Mackay of Farr                                    94
    The Cummings of Badenoch                              100
    Glengarry and his Favourite                           108
    Castle Urquhart and the Fugitive Lovers               114
    The Fairies and Donald Duaghal Mackay                 122
    Young Glengarry, the Black Raven                      128
    Cawdor Castle                                         132
    A Legend of Invershin                                 137
    The Bonnie Earl of Moray                              143
    The Rout of Moy                                       160
    A Legend of Loch-Maree                                165
    Allan Donn and Annie Campbell                         189
    Mary Macleod of Marrig                                199



We are in a West Coast village or township, cut off from all
communication with the outer world, without Steamers, Railways, even
Roads. We grow our own corn, produce our own beef, our mutton, our
butter, our cheese, and our wool. We do our own carding, our spinning,
and our weaving. We marry and are taken in marriage by, and among,
our own kith and kin. In short, we are almost entirely independent
of the more civilized and more favoured South. The few articles we
do not produce—tobacco and tea—our local merchant, the only one in
a district about forty square miles in extent, carries on his back,
once a month or so, from the Capital of the Highlands. We occasionally
indulge in a little whisky at Christmas and the New Year, at our
weddings and our balls. We make it, too, and we make it well. The
Salmon Fishery Acts are, as yet, not strictly enforced, and we can
occasionally shoot—sometimes even in our gardens—and carry home,
without fear of serious molestation, the monarch of the forest. We are
not overworked. We live plainly but well, on fresh fish, potatoes and
herring, porridge and milk, beef and mutton, eggs, butter, and cheese.
Modern pickles and spices are as unknown as they are unnecessary. True,
our houses are built not according to the most modern principles of
architecture. They are, in most cases, built of undressed stone and
moss (coinneach), thatched with turf or divots, generally covered over
with straw or ferns held on by a covering of old herring nets, straw,
and rope, or siaman.

The houses are usually divided into three apartments—one door in the
byre end leading to the whole. Immediately we enter, we find ourselves
among the cattle. A stone wall, or sometimes a partition of clay and
straw separates the byre from the kitchen. Another partition, usually
of a more elegant description, separates the latter from the “culaist,”
or sleeping apartment. In the centre of the kitchen a pavement of three
or four feet in diameter is laid, slightly raised towards the middle,
on which is placed the peat fire. The smoke, by a kind of instinct
peculiar to peat smoke, finds its way to a hole in the roof called
the “falas,” and makes its escape. The fire in the centre of the room
was almost a necessity of the good old Ceilidh days. When the people
congregated in the evening, the circle could be extended to the full
capacity of the room, and occasionally it became necessary to have
a circle within a circle. A few extra peats on the fire would, at
any time, by the additional heat produced, cause an extension of the
circle, and at the same time send its warming influences to the utmost
recesses of the apartment. The circle became extended by merely pushing
back the seats, and this arrangement became absolutely necessary in the
houses which were most celebrated as the great Ceilidh centres of the

The Ceilidh rendezvous is the house in which all the folk-lore of the
country, all the old “sgeulachdan,” or stories, the ancient poetry
known to the bards, or Seanachaidhean, the old riddles and proverbs
are recited from night to night by old and young. All who took an
interest in such questions congregated in the evening in these centres
of song and story. They were also great centres of local industry.
Net-making was the staple occupation, at which the younger members of
the circle had to take a spell in turn. Five or six nets were attached
in different corners of the apartment to a chair, a bedstead, or to a
post set up for the purpose, and an equal number of young gossippers
nimbly plied their fingers at the rate of a pound of yarn a-day. Thus,
a large number of nets were turned out during the winter months, the
proceeds of which, when the nets were not made for the members of the
household, went to pay for tobacco and other luxuries for the older and
most necessitous members of the circle.

We shall now introduce the reader to the most famous Ceilidh house
in the district. It is such as we have above described. The good-man
is bordering on five-score. He is a bard of no mean order, often
delighting his circle of admiring friends with his own compositions,
as well as with those of Ossian and other ancient bards. He holds a
responsible office in the church, is ground-officer for the laird as
well as family bard. He possesses the only Gaelic New Testament in the
district. He lives in the old house with three sons whose ages range
from 75 to 68, all full of Highland song and story, especially the
youngest two—John and Donald. When in the district, drovers from
Lochaber, Badenoch, and all parts of the Highlands find their way to
this noted Ceilidh house. Bards, itinerants of all sorts, traveling
tinkers, pipers, fiddlers, and mendicants, who loved to hear or
tell a good story, recite an old poem or compose a modern one, all
come and are well received among the regular visitors in the famous
establishment. In the following pages strangers and local celebrities
will recite their tales, those of their own districts, as also those
picked up in their wanderings throughout the various parts of the

It was a condition never deviated from, that every one in the house
took some part in the evening’s performance, with a story, a poem,
a riddle, or a proverb. This rule was not only wholesome, but one
which almost became a necessity to keep the company select, and the
house from becoming overcrowded. A large oak chair was placed in a
particular spot—“where the sun rose”—the occupant of which had to
commence the evening’s entertainment when the company assembled, the
consequence being that this seat, although one of the best in the
house, was usually the last occupied; and in some cases, when the house
was not overcrowded, it was never occupied at all. In the latter case,
the one who sat next to it on the left had to commence the evening’s

It was no uncommon thing to see one of the company obliged to coin
something for the occasion when otherwise unprepared. On one occasion
the bard’s grandson happened to find himself in the oak chair, and was
called upon to start the night’s entertainment. Being in his own house
he was not quite prepared for the unanimous and imperative demand made
upon him to carry out the usual rule, or leave the room. After some
hesitation, and a little private humming in an undertone, he commenced,
however, a rhythmical description of his grandfather’s house, which
is so faithful that, we think, we cannot do better than give it. The
picture was complete, and brought down the plaudits of the house upon
the “young bard” as he was henceforth designated.


    An cuala sibh riamh mu’n tigh aig I——r
    ’S ann air tha’n deanamh tha ciallach ceart,
    ’S iomadh bliadhna o’n chaidh a dheanamh,
    Ach ’s mor as fhiach e ged tha e sean;
    Se duine ciallach chuir ceanna-crioch air,
    ’S gur mor am pianadh a fhuair a phears,
    Le clachan mora ga’n cuir an ordugh,
    ’S Sament do choinntich ga’n cumail ceart.

    Tha dorus mor air ma choinneamh ’n-otraich,
    ’Us cloidhean oir air ga chumail glaist,
    Tha uinneag chinn air ma choinneamh ’n teintean,
    ’Us screen side oirre ’dh-fhodar glas;
    Tha’n ceann a bhan deth o bheul an fhalais
    A deanamh baithach air son a chruidh
    ’S gur cubhraidh am faladh a thig gu laidir
    O leid na batha ’sa ghamhuinn duibh.

    Tha catha’s culaist ga dheanamh dubailt,
    ’S gur mor an urnais tha anns an tigh,
    Tha seidhir-ghairdean do dharach laidir,
    ’Us siaman ban air ga chumail ceart,
    Tha lota lair ann, do ghrebhail cathair,
    ’S cha chaith’s cha chnamh e gu brath n’ am feasd,
    Tha carpad mor air do luath na moine,
    ’S upstairs ceo ann le cion na vent.

    Tha sparan suithe o thaobh gu taobh ann,
    ’Us ceangail luibte gan cumail ceart,
    Tha tuthain chaltuinn o cheann gu ceann deth,
    ’Us maide slabhraidh’s gur mor a neart,
    Tha lathais laidir o bheul an fhail air,
    Gu ruig am falas sgur mor am fad,
    Tha ropan siamain ’us pailteas lion air
    ’S mar eil e dionach cha ’n eil mi ceart.

On one occasion, on a dark and stormy winter’s night, the lightning
flashing through the heavens, the thunder clap loud and long, the wind
blowing furiously, and heavy dark ominous clouds gathering in
the north-west, the circle had already gathered, and almost every seat
was occupied. It was the evening of the day of one of the local cattle
markets. Three men came in, two of them well-known drovers or cattle
buyers who had visited the house on previous occasions, the other a
gentleman who had, some time previously, arrived and taken up his
quarters in the district. No one knew who he was, where he came from,
or what his name was. There were all sorts of rumours floating amongst
the inhabitants regarding him; that he had committed some crime, and
escaped from justice; that he was a gentleman of high estate, who had
fallen in love with a lowly maiden and run away to spite his family
for objecting to the alliance; and various other surmises. He was
discovered to be a gentleman and a scholar, and particularly frank
and free in his conversation with the people about everything except
his own history and antecedents, and was a walking encyclopædia of
all kinds of legendary lore connected with the southern parts of the
country. His appearance caused quite a flutter among the assembled
rustics. He was, however, heartily welcomed by the old bard and members
of the circle, and was offered a seat a little to the left of the oak
arm chair. It was soon found that he was a perfect master of Gaelic
as well as English. It was also found on further acquaintance, during
many subsequent visits, that he never told a story or legend without a
preliminary introduction of his own, told in such a manner as to add
immensely to the interest of the tale. Being called upon, he told the
“Spell of Cadboll.”

These remarks are taken from the introduction to the Highland Ceilidh
in the “Celtic Magazine,” at which the following Tales, the reader must
assume, have been told by the various characters who frequented the
Ceilidh house.


In olden days the east coast of Scotland was studded with fortresses,
which, like a crescent chain of sentinels, watched carefully for the
protection of their owners and their dependents. The ruins remain
and raise their hoary heads over valley and stream, by river bank
and sea shore, along which nobles, and knights, and followers “boden
in effeyre-weir” went gallantly to their fates; and where in the
Highlands many a weary drove followed from the foray, in which they
had been driven far from Lowland pastures or distant glens, with whose
inhabitants a feud existed. Could the bearded warriors, who once
thronged these halls, awake, they would witness many a wonderful change
since the half-forgotten days when they lived and loved, revelled
and fought, conquered or sustained defeat. Where the bearer of the
Crann-taraidh or fiery cross once rushed along on his hasty errand, the
lightning of heaven now flashes, by telegraphic wires, to the farthest
corners of the land. Through the craggy passes, and along the level
plains, marked centuries ago with scarce a bridle path, the mighty
steam horse now thunders over its iron road; and where seaward once
swam the skin curach, or the crazy fleets of diminutive war galleys,
and tiny merchant vessels with their fantastic prows and sterns, and
carved mast-heads, the huge hull of the steam propelled ship now
breasts the waves that dash against the rugged headlands, or floats
like a miniature volcano, with its attendant clouds of smoke obscuring
the horizon.

The parish of Fearn, in Easter Ross, contains several antiquities of
very distant date. One of these shattered relics, Castle Cadboll,
deserves notice on account of a singular tradition regarding it, once
implicitly credited by the people—namely, that although inhabited for
ages no person ever died within its walls. Its magical quality did not,
however, prevent its dwellers from the suffering of disease, or the
still more grievous evils attending on debility and old age. Hence many
of the denizens of the castle became weary of life, particularly the
Lady May, who lived there centuries ago, and who being long ailing, and
longing for death, requested to be carried out of the building to die.
Her importunity at length prevailed; and, according to the tradition,
no sooner did she leave it than she expired.

Castle Cadboll is situated on the sea-shore, looking over the broad
ocean towards Norway. From that country, in the early ages of Scottish
history, came many a powerful Jarl, or daring Viking, to the coasts,
which, in comparison with their own land, seemed fertile and wealthy.
There is a tradition of a Highland clan having sprung from one of those
adventurers, who with his brother agreed that whoever should first
touch the land would possess it by right.

The foremost was the ultimate ancestor of the tribe; his boat was
almost on shore, when the other, by a vigorous stroke, shot a-head
of him; but ere he could disembark, the disappointed competitor,
with an exclamation of rage, cut off his left hand with his hatchet,
and flinging the bloody trophy on the rocks, became, by thus “first
touching Scottish ground,” the owner of the country, and founder of the
clan. The perfect accuracy of this story cannot now be vouched for; but
it is an undeniable fact that the Clan Macleod have successfully traced
their origin to a Norwegian source; and there is a probability that
the claim is correct from the manifestly Norwegian names borne by the
founders of the Clan Tormod and Torquil, hence the Siol Tormod—the
race of Tormod—the Macleods of Harris; and the Siol Torquil, the race
of Torquil—Macleods of Lewis—of whom came the Macleods of Assynt, one
of whom betrayed Montrose in 1650, and from whom the estates passed
away in the end of the seventeenth century to the Mackenzies.

The Macleods of Cadboll are cadets of the house of Assynt, but to what
branch the Lady May of the legend belonged, it is difficult to decide,
so many changes having occurred among Highland proprietors.

The cliffs of this part of Ross-shire are wild and precipitous, sinking
with a sheer descent of two hundred feet to the ocean. The scenery is
more rugged than beautiful—little verdure and less foliage. Trees are
stunted by the bitter eastern blast, and the soil is poor. Alders are,
however, plentiful, and from them the parish has derived its name of
Fearn. There is a number of caves in the cliffs along the shore towards
Tarbat, where the promontory is bold, and crowned with a lighthouse,
whose flickering rays are now the only substitute for the wonderful
gem which was said of yore to sparkle on the brow of one of these
eastern cliffs—a bountiful provision of nature for the succour of the
wave-tossed mariner.

During the reign of one of the early Stuart kings—which, is of little
moment—Roderick Macleod ruled with a high and lordly hand within the
feudal stronghold of Cadboll. He was a stout and stern knight, whose
life had been spent amidst the turmoil of national warfare and clan

Many a battle had he fought, and many a wound received since first he
buckled on his father’s sword for deadly combat. Amid the conflicting
interests which actuated each neighbouring clan—disagreement on any
one of which rendered an immediate appeal to arms the readiest mode of
solving the difficulty—it is not to be wondered at that Cadboll, as a
matter of prudence, endeavoured to attach to himself, by every means
in his power, those who were most likely to be serviceable and true.
Macleod had married late in life, and his wife dying soon after, while
on a visit to her mother, left behind her an only daughter, who was
dear as the apple of his eye to the old warrior, but, at the same time,
he had no idea of any one connected with him having any freedom of
will or exercise of opinion, save what he allowed; nor did he believe
women’s hearts were less elastic than his own, which he could bend to
any needful expedient. About the period our story commences, the Lady
May was nearly eighteen years of age, a beautiful and gentle girl,
whose hand was sought by many a young chief of the neighbouring clans;
but all unsuccessfully, for the truth was she already loved, and was
beloved, in secret, by young Hugh Munro from the side of Ben-Wyvis.

The favoured of the daughter was not the choice of her father,
simply because he was desirous to secure the aid of the Macraes, a
tribe occupying Glenshiel, remarkable for great size and courage,
and known in history as “the wild Macraes.” The chief—Macrae of
Inverinate—readily fell in with the views of Macleod, and as the time
fixed for his marriage with the lovely Lady May drew nigh, gratified
triumph over his rival Munro, and hate intense as a being of such
fierce passions could feel, glowed like a gleaming light in his fierce
grey eyes.

“Once more,” he said, “I will to the mountains to find him before the
bridal. There shall be no chance of a leman crossing my married life,
and none to divide the love Inverinate shall possess entire. By my
father’s soul, but the boy shall rue the hour he dared to cross my
designs. Yes, rue it, for I swear to bring him bound to witness my
marriage, and then hang him like a skulking wild-cat on Inverinate

It was nightfall as he spoke thus. Little he knew that at the same
moment Hugh Munro was sitting beneath the dark shadows of the alder
trees, which grew under the window of the little chamber where May
Macleod was weeping bitterly over the sad fate from which she could
see no way of escape. As she sat thus the soft cry of the cushat fell
upon her ears. Intently she listened for a few moments, and when it was
repeated she stepped to the window and opened it cautiously, leaning
forth upon the sill. Again the sound stole from among the foliage,
and May peered down into the gloom, but nothing met her gaze save the
shadows of the waving branches upon the tower wall.

“It is his signal,” she whispered to herself as the sound was repeated
once more. “Ah me! I fear he will get himself into danger on account of
these visits, and yet I cannot, I cannot bid him stay away.”

She muffled herself in a dark plaid, moved towards the door, opened it
cautiously, and listening with dread, timidly ventured down to meet her

“I must and will beg him to-night to stay away in future,” continued
she, as she tripped cautiously down the narrow winding stair; “and yet
to stay away? Ah me! it is to leave me to my misery; but it must be
done, unkind as it may be, otherwise he will assuredly be captured and
slain, for I fear Macrae suspects our meetings are not confined to the
day and my father’s presence.”

After stealing through many dark passages, corridors, and staircases,
in out-of-the-way nooks, she emerged into the open air, through a
neglected postern shadowed by a large alder, opposite the spot from
which the sound proceeded.

Again she gazed into the shadow, and there leaning against a tree,
growing on the edge of the crag, she saw a tall slender figure. Well
she knew the outlines of that form, and fondly her heart throbbed at
the sound of the voice which now addressed her.

“Dearest,” said the young Munro in a low tone, “I thought thou wouldst
never come. I have been standing here like a statue against the trunk
of this tree for the last half-hour watching for one blink of light
from thy casement. But it seems that thou preferest darkness. Ah May,
dear May, cease to indulge in gloomy forebodings.”

“Would that I could, Hugh,” she answered sadly. “What thoughts but
gloomy ones can fill my mind when I am ever thinking of the danger you
incur by coming here so often, and thinking, too, of the woeful fate to
which we are both destined.”

“Think no more of it,” said her lover in a cheerful tone. “We have hope

“Alas, there is no hope. Even this day my father hath fixed the time
for, to me, this dreaded wedding! And now, Hugh, let this be our last
meeting—_Mar tha mi!_ our last in the world. Wert thou caught by
Inverinate, he so hates thee, he would have thy life by the foulest

“Fear not for that, dearest. And this bridal! Listen, May; before
that happen the eagle will swoop down and bear thee away to his free
mountains, amid their sunny glens and bosky wood, to love thee,
darling, as no other mortal, and certainly none of the Clan-’ic-Rath
mhearlaich has heart to do.”

“Ah me!” sighed May, “would that it could be so. I cannot leave my
father until all other hope is gone, and yet I fear if I do not we are
fated to be parted. Even this may be the last time we may meet. I warn
thee, Hugh, I am well watched, and I beg you will be careful. Hush!
was that a footfall in the grove below the crag?” and she pointed to a
clump of trees at some distance under where they were standing, and on
the path by which he would return.

“By my troth it may be so,” said he. “Better, dear May, retire to your
chamber, and I shall remain here till you bid me good night from your

Again they listened, and again the rustling met their ears distinctly.
It ceased, and the maiden, bidding her mountain lover a fond good
night, ascended to her chamber, while he, disdaining to be frightened
away by sound, moved to his former position below the alder tree.
Seating himself at its root, with his eyes fixed on the window, in a
voice low but distinct, he sang to one of the sweet sad lays of long
ago a ditty to his mistress, of which the following paraphrase will
convey an idea:—

   “O darling May, my promised bride,
      List to my love—come fly with me,
    Where down the dark Ben Wyvis side
      The torrent dashes wild and free.
    O’er sunny glen and forest brake;
      O’er meadow green and mountain grand;
    O’er rocky gorge and gleaming lake—
      Come,—reign, the lady of the land.

    “Come cheer my lonely mountain home,
      Where gleams the lake, where rills dance bright;
    Where flowers bloom fair—come, dearest, come,
      And light my dark and starless night.
    One witching gleam from thy bright eye
      Can change to halls of joy my home!
    One song, one softly-uttered sigh,
      Can cheer my lone heart—dearest, come.”

The moment the song ceased the fair form of May Macleod appeared at the
casement overhead, she waved a fond farewell to her mountain minstrel,
and closed the window; but the light, deprived of her fair face, had no
charm for him—he gazed once more at the pane through which it beamed
like a solitary star, amid the masses of foliage, and was turning away
when he found a heavy hand laid on his shoulder.

“Stay,” exclaimed the intruder in a deep stern voice, whose tone
the young chief knew but too well, “Thou hast a small reckoning to
discharge ere thou go, my good boy. I am Macrae.”

“And I,” answered the other, “am Hugh Munro, what seek’st thou from me?”

“That thou shalt soon know, thou skulking hill cat,” answered Macrae,
throwing his unbuckled sword, belt, and scabbard on the ground, and
advancing with extended weapon.

“Indeed! then beware of the wild-cat’s spring,” Munro promptly
replied, giving a sudden bound which placed him inside the guard of
his antagonist, whose waist he instantly encircled with his sinewy
arms with the design of hurling him over the crag on which they
stood. The struggle was momentary. Munro, struck to the heart with
Macrae’s dagger, fell with May’s loved name on his lips, while Macrae,
staggering over the height, in the act of falling so wounded himself by
his own weapon as to render his future life one of helpless manhood and
bitter mental regret.

Macleod was soon after slain in one of the many quarrels of the time,
while his daughter May, the sorrowing heiress of the broad lands of
Cadboll, lived on for fifty years one long unrelieved day of suffering.

Fifty years! alas for the mourner—spring succeeded winter, and summer
spring, but no change of season lightened May Macleod’s burden! Fifty
years! year by year passing away only brought changes to those who
lived under her gentle sway, and among the dependents of her home;
youth passed into age, young men and maidens filled the places of the
valued attendants of her girlhood; and the lady, solitary, still a
mourner, in her feudal tower grew old and bent, thin and wan, but still
in her heart the love of her youth bloomed fresh for her betrothed.

And then disease laid hold of her limbs—paralyzed, unable to move, she
would fain have died, but the spell of Cadboll was on her, death could
not enter within its walls.

Sickness and pain, care and grief, disappointment, trust betrayed,
treachery, and all the ills which life is heir to, all might and did
enter there. Death alone was barred without.

Sadly her maidens listened to her heart-breaking appeals to the spirit
of Munro, her unwed husband, the murdered bridegroom of her young life,
to come to her aid from the land of shadows and of silence. They knew
her story of the fifty years of long ago, and they pitied and grieved
with her, wondering at the constancy of her woman’s heart.

Still more sadly did they listen to her appeals to be carried out from
the castle to the edge of the precipice, where the power of the spell
ceased, there to look for, meet and welcome death; but they knew not
the story of the spell, and they deemed her mad with grief.

Terrified at last by her appeals to the dead, with whom she seemed
to hold continual conversation, and who seemed to be present in the
chamber with them, though unseen, and partly, at length, worn out
with her unceasing importunities, and partly to gratify the whim,
as they considered it, of the sufferer, tremblingly they agreed to
obey her requests and to carry her forth to the edge of the cliff. A
frightened band, they bore the Lady May, lying on her couch, smiling
with hope and blessing them for thus consenting. Over the threshold,
over the drawbridge, her eyes, fixed on the heavens, brightened as they
proceeded. Hope flushed with hectic glow upon her pale suffering face,
grateful thanks broke from her lips. Hastening their steps, they passed
through the gate, wound along the hill side, and as the broad expanse
of ocean, with the fresh wind curling it into wavelets, burst upon
the sight, a flash of rapture beamed on her countenance, a cry of joy
rushed from her pallid lips—their feeble burden grew heavier; a murmur
of welcoming delight was uttered to some glorious presence, unseen
by the maidens, and all became hushed eternally. The Lady May lay on
her couch a stiffening corpse. The spell of Cadboll had been broken
at last. A Macleod inhabited it no more, and decay and ruin seized on
the hoary pile of which now scarcely a vestige remains to tell of the
former extent and feudal strength of Castle Cadboll.



The fate of the Chevalier and his devoted Highlanders forms one of the
most romantic and darkest themes in the history of Scotland, so rich in
historical narrative, song, and tradition—

            Still freshly streaming
    When pride and pomp have passed away,
        To mossy tomb and turret grey,
            Like friendship clinging.

In the contemplation of their misfortunes, their faults and failings
are forgotten, and now that the unfortunate Chevalier’s name and memory
have become “such stuff as dreams are made of,” every heart throbs in
sympathy with the pathetic lyric “Oh! wae’s me for Prince Charlie.”

In the present day, when it is not accounted disloyal to speak kindly
of the Prince, or of those who espoused his cause—one cannot help
indulging in admiration of the courage and cheerfulness with which he
bore trials, dangers, and “hairbreadth ’scapes by flood and field,” nor
wonder at the devotedness of the poorer Highlanders; their affection
to his person; the care with which they watched over him in his
wanderings; and, above all, the incorruptible fidelity which scorned to
betray him, though tempted by what, in their poverty, must have seemed
inconceivable wealth.

The history of the rising, and particularly of what followed after
Culloden, relating to Prince Charlie, although generally minute, gives
but little idea of the wonderful dangers he incurred, and the escapes he
made. One should, in order to form a moderately correct idea of his
hardships, have listened to those who had been out with him, as they,
in the late evening of their days, talked of the past, and of the “lad
they looed sae dearly,” or heard their descendants, who were proud of
their forbears, having been out in the ’45, when—

    The story was told, as a legend old,
      And by withered dame and sire,
    When they sat secure from the winter’s cold,
      All around the evening fire.

His capabilities of enduring cold, hunger, and fatigue prove that his
constitution was of a very high order, and not what might have been
expected from the descendant of a hundred kings brought up in the
enervating atmosphere of courts. The magnanimity was surprising with
which he bore up under his adverse lot, and the very trying privations
to which he was subjected. The buoyancy of spirit with which he
encountered the toils that hemmed him round, seemed to gather fresh
energy from each recurring escape while wandering about, a hunted

His appearance when concealed in the cave of Achnacarry as described
by Dr Cameron, who was for a time a companion of his wanderings, is not suggestive
of much comfort, but rather of contentedly making the most of
circumstances. “He was then,” says Dr Cameron, “bare footed; he had an
old black kilt and coat on, a plaid, philabeg, and waistcoat, a dirty
shirt, and a long red beard, a gun in his hand, a pistol and dirk by
his side. He was very cheerful and in good health, and, in my opinion,
fatter than when he was at Inverness.” His courage and patience during
his wandering drew forth even the admiration of his enemies, while
his friends regretted that one capable of so much was so wanting in
decision of character when it was urgently required by his own affairs,
and the fortunes and lives of those who had perilled all for his sake.
His friends, rich and poor, “for a’ that had come and gane,” were
staunch in his favour to the very death; while his enemies, hounded on
by a scared and vindictive Government, and earnestly anxious to enrich
themselves by obtaining the reward offered for his capture, left no
means untried to secure his person.

Among the many who signalized themselves in these attempts was one
Ferguson, who, in command of a small squadron, cruised round the coast
in search of the Prince and his fugitive friends, but in reality
sparing none on whom it was possible or not dangerous to vent those
feelings of oppression and worse, which the cruel Cumberland had
made a fashion as regards Highlanders and the Highlands, and a sure
recommendation to the notice of Government.

Soon after Culloden, Ferguson appeared off the coast and dropped anchor
in Loch-Cunnard. A party landed there and proceeded up the strath as
far as the residence of Mackenzie of Langwell, who was married to a
near relation of Earl George of Cromartie. Mackenzie got out of the
way, but the lady was obliged to attend some of her children who were
confined by small-pox. The house was ransacked, a trunk containing
valuable papers, and among these a wadset of Langwell and Inchvennie
from the Earl of Cromartie, was burnt before her eyes, and about fifty
head of black cattle were mangled by their swords and driven away to
their ships.

Similar depredations were committed in the neighbourhood, without
discrimination of friends or enemies. So familiarized were the west
Highlanders and Islanders with Captain Ferguson, his cutter and crew,
that they were in the habit of jeering him and them by calling after
them—“Tha sinn eolach air a h-uile car a tha na t’eaman”—(We are
acquainted with every turn in your tail)—a source of great irritation
to the annoyed commander, who knew well the fugitives were hiding
on the West Coast of Inverness-shire, and consequently resolved to
adopt every species of decoy to entrap the Prince and his companions.
To deceive the inhabitants of this wild and extensive coast,
Ferguson pretended to give over the search and leave for Ireland.
The Highlanders, wondering what would be the next move, were not
deceived, nor did they relax their watchful precautions. The dwellers
at Samalaman, the most western point of Moidart, had been especially
harassed, as it was suspected they were in the confidence of Prince
Charles. The suspicion was correct, and therefore, although they went
about their usual employments they kept many an anxious look towards
the ocean—many a lonely watch and walk was taken for the protection of
the hunted wanderers.

To those who are not oppressed by anxiety the look-out from this
headland is of surpassing beauty. Few scenes are equal to that
presented in a midnight walk by moonlight along the sea beach, the
glossy sea sending from its surface a long stream of dancing and
dazzling light, no sound to be heard save the small ripple of the idle
wavelets or the scream of a sea bird watching the fry that swarms along
the shores! In the short nights of summer the melancholy song of the
throstle has scarcely ceased on the hillside when the merry carol of
the lark commences, and the snipe and the plover sound their shrill
pipe. Again, how glorious is the scene which presents itself from the
summits of the hills when the great ocean is seen glowing with the last
splendour of the setting sun, and the lofty hills of the farther isles
rear their giant heads amid the purple blaze on the extreme verge of
the horizon.

Nothing of all this, for they were sights and scenes of continual
recurrence, did Mary Macleod feel. Mary was a bold, spirited, handsome
girl, who, in company with her father and two brothers forming the
boat’s crew, knew well all ocean’s moods, and often braved the storms
so common on that coast, and so fatal to many toilers of the deep.

On the morning of the fifth day after the departure of Captain
Ferguson, Mary arose as usual to prepare the food for the family, and
in going outside for a basket of peat fuel was surprised to observe a
strange looking little vessel at anchor in a dark creek in the opposite
island of Shona which partly occupies the mouth of Loch-Moidart. Time
was when a circumstance, so apparently trivial, would have created
no wonder nor left in the mind any cause for suspicion; but now Mary
carefully scanned the low long dark hull of the craft, and her tanned
and patched sails, which ill agreed with the trimness about her, and
which at once spoke against her being a fishing craft or smuggler.
“Cuilean an t-seann mhadaidh” (cub of the old fox) sighed the girl
as she returned to the house to communicate the circumstance to the
rest of the family, each of whom on reconnoitring the vessel confirmed
her opinion. “Well then,” said Mary, “let us advise the neighbours to
betake themselves to their daily employment without seeming to suspect
the new comer, and above all let us warn the deer of the mountain that
the bloodhounds have appeared.”

As the Moidart men were about to go to sea they were visited by a
couple of miserable looking men from the suspected craft. One of them
who spoke in Irish made them understand that they had lately left the
coast of France laden with tobacco and spirits, some of which they
would gladly exchange for dried fish and other provisions of which they
were much in want, having been pursued for the last three days by an
armed cutter, from which they had escaped with difficulty, and from
which they intended to conceal themselves for some days longer in their
present secluded anchorage. The fishermen, pretending to commiserate
their condition, replied that they had no provisions to spare, and
left only more convinced that Mary’s suspicions were well founded.
Matters remained in this state for a few days, the craft lying quietly
at anchor, and her six hands, being, it was said, the full complement
of her crew, sneaking about in all directions, in pairs, on pretence
of searching for provisions. At last, after an unusually fine day the
sun sank suddenly behind a mountain mass of clouds which for some time
before had been collecting into dense columns, whose tall and fantastic
shapes threw an obscurity far over the western horizon.

The coming storm was so apparent that the fishermen of Samalaman
secured their boats upon the beach just as some heavy drops, bursting
from the region of the storm clouds, showed that the elemental war had

The Atlantic rolled its enormous billows upon the coast, dashing them
with inconceivable fury upon the headlands, and scouring the sands
and creeks, which, from the number of shoals and sunken rocks in
them, exhibited the magnificent spectacle of breakers white with foam
extending for miles. The blast howled among the grim and desolate
rocks. Still greater masses of black clouds advanced from the west,
pouring forth torrents of rain and hail. A sudden flash illuminated
the gloom, and was followed by the crash and roar of thunder which
gradually became fainter until the dash of the waves upon the shore
prevailed over it.

Far as the eye could reach the ocean boiled and heaved in one wide
extended field of foam, the spray from the summits of the waves
sweeping along its surface like drifting snow.

Seaward no sign of life was to be seen, save when a gull, labouring
hard to bear itself against the breeze, hovered overhead, or shot
across the gloom like a meteor. Long ranges of giant waves rushed in
succession to the shore, chasing each other like monsters at play.
The thunder of their shock echoed among the crevices and caves, the
spray mounted along the face of the cliffs in columns, the rocks shook
as if in terror, and the baffled wave returned to meet its advancing

By-and-bye there came a pause like the sudden closing of a blast
furnace, or as if the storm had retired within itself; but now and
then, in fitful bursts, proclaiming that its power was but partially
smothered. During the conflict of the elements Mary Macleod seemed to
suffer the most acute agonies of mind; and no sooner did it abate than,
wrapping herself in her plaid, she sallied out and proceeded towards
the sea shore. There, straining her eyes over the dark and fearful
deep, she thought she saw, by a broad flash of lightning, a small speck
on the wild waters, pitching as if in dark uncertainty, about the mouth
of Loch-Moidart. With the speed of frenzy away flew the maiden to the
nearest cottage, and grasping a burning peat and a lapful of dried
brushwood, she, with equal speed, retraced her steps to the shore. In
an instant the beacon threw its crackling flame far over the loch,
and in an instant more the small black craft at Shona had cut from
her moorings and stood out to the entrance of the bay. Now rose the
struggle in Mary’s mind. There stood the maid of Moidart in the shade
of the lurid beacon, listening to the fitful blast, like the angel of
pity. Something was passing on in the troubled bosom of that dark loch
over which she often looked, that drew forth all the energies of her
soul; but what that something was, was as hidden to her as futurity.
She was startled from this state of intense feeling by a momentary
flash on the water, instantaneously followed by a crash among the rocks
at her side, and then came booming on her ear a sound as if the island
of Shona had burst from its centre. “A Dhia nan dùl bi maile ris” (God
of the elements be with him) ejaculated Mary as she bent her trembling
knees on the wet sand, and then, like a spring from life to death, a
boat rushed ashore, grounding on the shingle at her feet. A band of
armed men immediately sprung on land, one of whom, gently clasping the
girl, pressed her to his heart. “Failte ’Phrions” faltered Mary, giving
a momentary scope to the woman in her bosom, but instantly recollecting
herself, she whispered, “Guide him some of you to the hut of Marsaly
Buie in the copse of Cul-a-chnaud, and I shall meet you there when the
sun of the morning shall show me the fate of the pursuer.” By this time
the intrepid girl was joined by the villagers, who extinguished all
traces of the late fire, and carried the stranger’s boat where none but
a friend could find it. The storm had again broken from its restless
slumber, and the rain and sickly sun of the following day showed the
pretended smuggler scattered on the beach. She appeared to have been
well armed, and the easily recognised body of Captain Ferguson’s first
mate was one of the twelve who were washed ashore.



The story of James Macpherson is one which has induced much curiosity
and inquiry, and, short as the time is since he was done to death,
shows how soon facts may become garbled and altered in complexion. Sir
Walter Scott, for instance, makes Inverness the closing scene of the
proceedings. That he was wrong is clearly shown by the records of the
Sheriff Court of Banff.

James Macpherson was the illegitimate son of Macpherson of Invereshie,
by a beautiful gipsy girl who attracted his notice at a wedding.

He acknowledged the child, and reared him in his own house until he
lost his life in pursuing a hostile clan to recover a spreach of cattle
taken from Badenoch.

Macpherson, who had grown in beauty, strength, and stature rarely
equalled, then took his place in the clan, with the chief’s blood
flowing in his veins, as a young Highland freebooter, who, in
descending from the mountains with his followers, believed he was
only asserting the independence of his tribe, and when they harried
the Lowlands was only taking a lawful prey. Such acts were not, in
the opinion of the “pretty men” of those times, to be confounded with
pitiful thieving and stealing, but considered as deeds of spirit and
boldness calculated to make a man famous in his country side and among
his fellows.

Macpherson excelled in love as in war, and was the best fiddle player
and the best swordsman of his name. Tradition asserts that, if it must
be owned that his prowess was debased by the exploits of a freebooter,
no act of cruelty, no robbery of the widow, the fatherless, or the
distressed, and no murder were ever perpetrated under his command or by
his knowledge.

His sword and shield are still preserved at Duff House, a residence of
the Earl of Fife. The sword is one which none but a man of uncommon
strength could wield. It is two-handed, six feet in length, and the
blade nearly as broad as a common scythe. The shield is of wood,
covered with bull’s hide, and studded with brass nails, and is both
hacked and perforated in many places, telling a tale of many a hard
fought fight. Tradition also asserts that he often gave the spoils of
the rich to relieve the poor, and that his followers were restrained
from many atrocities of rapine by the awe of his mighty arm. Indeed, it
is said that a dispute with a foiled and savage member of his tribe,
who wished to rob a gentleman’s house while his wife and two children
lay on the bier for interment, was the cause of his first being
betrayed within the power of the law. From this toil he escaped, to
the vexation of the magistrates of Aberdeen, who bribed a girl of that
city, of whom Macpherson was very fond, to allure and deliver him again
into their hands, under pretence of hearing his wonderful performances
on the violin. No sooner did the frantic girl understand the true state
of the case than she made known, through a tribe of gipsies, the chief
of whom was Peter Brown, a notorious vagrant, the capture of Macpherson
to his comrades, when his cousin, Donald Macpherson, a gentleman of
herculean powers, came from Badenoch in order to join the gipsy, Brown,
in liberating the prisoner. On a market day they brought several
assistants, and swift horses were stationed at convenient distances.
There was a platform before the jail covering the door below. Donald
Macpherson and Peter Brown forced the jail, and while Peter Brown went
to help the heavily fettered prisoner, James Macpherson, in moving
away, Donald Macpherson guarded the jail door with a drawn sword. Many
persons assembled at the market had experienced James Macpherson’s
humanity or shared his bounty in the past, and they crowded round the
jail as if in mere curiosity, but, in fact, to obstruct the civil
authorities in their attempt to prevent a rescue. A butcher, however,
was resolved to detain Macpherson, expecting a large recompense from
the magistrates. He sprung up the stairs, and leaped from the platform
upon Donald Macpherson, whom he dashed to the ground by the force
and weight of his body. Donald soon resolved to make a desperate
resistance, and the combatants in their struggle tore off each other’s
clothes. The butcher got a glimpse of his dog upon the platform, and
called him to his aid, but Macpherson with admirable presence of mind
snatched up his own plaid, which lay near, and threw it over the
butcher, thus misleading the instinct of his canine adversary. The dog
darted with fury upon the plaid and terribly lacerated his master’s
thigh. In the meantime, James Macpherson had been carried out by Peter
Brown, and was soon joined by Donald Macpherson, who was quickly
covered by some friendly spectators with a bonnet and greatcoat.
The magistrates ordered webs from the shops to be drawn across the
Gallowgate, but Donald cut them with his sword, and James, the late
prisoner, got off on horseback. Some time after he was brought into
fatal companionship with gipsies, by the same power which led the old Grecian
hero to change his club for a distaff. The Highlander fell in love with
a gipsy girl, and with one companion, James Gordon, who eventually
paid the penalty with him, he entered for a time into the roving
company of the gipsy band. The Banffshire gentlemen, whom Macpherson
had plundered of old, heard with delight that the most dreaded of their
enemies had come almost unprotected into their boundaries. According
to the evidence on the trial, he seems to have joined the gipsies on a
rioting rather than on a plundering excursion in Keith market, when he
fell into the hands of his watchful foes, the chief of whom was Duff
of Braco. He was immediately thrown into prison, and brought to trial
with three persons, Peter Brown, Donald Brown, and James Gordon, his
companions, indited by the Procurator-Fiscal as “Egyptians or gipsies,
and vagabonds; and sorners, and robbers, and known habit and repute
guilty of theft, masterful bangstree, riot, and oppression.” When
brought into Court at Banff the Laird of Grant attempted to rescue them
from the claims of the law, by asserting his right to try them as being
dwellers within the regality of Grant, over which he had the power of
pit and gallows. The Sheriff, Nicholas Dunbar of Castlefield, however,
over-ruled the claim, and sustaining himself as judge, ordered a jury
to try the prisoners on the next day. This was accordingly done, when
they were found guilty and condemned, more apparently from a bad name,
than from any immediate crimes of which they had been guilty. The
Sheriff passing over the two Browns, the captain of the gipsy band and
his brother, sentenced Macpherson and Gordon to death, causing them to
be taken from the Court to the Tolbooth of Banff, from which eight days
afterwards they were to be conveyed to the gallows hill of Banff, and
hanged by the neck to the death on gibbets erected there. This hurried
sentence shows the influence which the fear of Macpherson, or private
enmity, exercised over the minds of Dunbar, the Sheriff, and the
jury, and hints at the influence exercised by Braco Duff upon Sheriff,
jury, and magistrates, especially as the Browns, his companions, were
not sentenced; in fact, they lay in jail for a year, and afterwards
made their escape from prison. Macpherson was an admirable performer
on the violin, and the ardent love for music was a fit ingredient in
the character of one who could so idly risk his life in the pursuit of
romantic love. His musical talent was evinced long before his capture
in the composition of a pibroch that goes by his name; and he is said
also to have composed the words and music, which, in his last moments,
he gave to the world under the name of “Macpherson’s Farewell”—

    My father was a gentleman
      Of fame and lineage high,
    Oh! mother, would you ne’er had born
      A wretch so doomed to die!
          But dantonly and wantonly
            And rantonly I’ll gae,
          I’ll play a tune and dance it roun’
            Below the gallows tree.

    The Laird o’ Grant with power aboon
      The royal majesty,
    He pled fu’ well for Peter Brown
      But let Macpherson die.
          But dantonly, &c.

    But Braco Duff, in rage enough,
      He first laid hands on me;
    If death did not arrest my course,
      Avenged I should be.
          But dantonly, &c.

    I’ve led a life o’ meikle strife,
      Sweet peace ne’er smiled on me,
    It grieves me sair that I maun gae
      An’ na avenged be.
          But dantonly, &c.

 The verses of the song above given represent him as a musician, and as
 determined to display, which he certainly did, a mood of recklessness
 such as the boldest felon seldom evinces when below the fatal tree.
 Burns on his tour through the Highlands, it is very probable learned
 both the air and the tradition connected with it, and it may be
 that while composing, what Lockhart calls a grand lyric, he had
 Macpherson’s words in his mind. Burns has written—

    Sae rantonly, sae wantonly,
      Sae dauntingly gaed he,
    He played a spring and danced it round
      Below the gallows tree.

    I’ve lived a life of sturt and strife
      I die by treacherie,
    It burns my heart I must depart
      And not avenged be.

    Now farewell light thou sunshine bright,
      And all beneath the sky,
    May coward shame disdain his name
      The wretch that dares not die.

    Sae rantingly, sae wantonly,
      Sae dauntingly gaed he,
    He played a spring and danced it round
      Below the gallows tree.

On the eighth day after his trial he was brought with his companion,
Gordon, to the foot of the fatal tree, several hours before the time
specified in the sentence for his execution.

It is said that his death was hurried on by the Magistrates, and that
they also caused the messenger intrusted with a reprieve to be stopped
by the way, in consequence of which acts of injustice it is alleged
the town of Banff was deprived of the power of trying and executing
malefactors. When the freebooter came to the foot of the gallows tree
in presence of the spectators who had come to witness his untimely end,
he played with the utmost pathos the fine tune, “Macpherson’s
Farewell,” which he had previously composed. When he had finished he
asked if he had any friend in the crowd to whom a last gift of his
violin would be acceptable on condition of his playing the same tune
over his body at his lyke wake. No one had the hardihood to claim
friendship with one in whose crimes the acknowledgment might imply
a participation, and the freebooter saying that the instrument had
been his solace in many a gloomy hour, and that it should now perish
with him, broke it over his knee, and, scattering the fragments among
the crowd, immediately flung himself off the ladder. Thus died James
Macpherson, who, if he was a freebooter, possessed the heart of an
errant knight. Donald Macpherson, his relative and friend, picked up
the neck of the violin which is still preserved in the family of Cluny,
Chief of the Macphersons. One thing is certain amid all the traditions
which have come down regarding this bold and singular robber; his
strength and stature far exceeded those of common men; and this was
proved, when his grave was opened some years ago, by the examination of
his bones.



About one hundred and fifty years ago, there lived in Dumfries a
worthy man of the name of Gillespie, who followed the honest, though
highly unpopular, occupation of excise officer or gauger. At the time
my tale begins, he had just been appointed to a new district in the
Highlands, and it is while on his journey there that I first make his
acquaintance. Behold him then, a tall, thin, ungainly figure, with a
consequential, self-important air, dressed in a coat of bottle-green
cloth, with large silver-gilt buttons, a striped yellow waistcoat,
corduroy breeches, and top boots. A tall peaked hat, with narrow brim,
a large drab overcoat, and a sword-stick, completed his costume. He was
mounted on a small shaggy pony or “gearran,” with neither shoes, bit,
nor saddle, whose head was secured by the taod, or Highland bridle,
made of horse hair, and in lieu of a saddle was a housing of straw
mat, on which was placed a wooden pack-saddle, called a “strathair,”
having two projections like horns, on which was hung the luggage of
the rider. This “strathair” was kept in position by girths of straw
rope, and was prevented from going too far forward by an antique kind
of crupper, consisting of a stick passing under the animal’s tail,
and braced at each end to the “strathair.” Having jogged along for a
considerable time through a lonely moor, without meeting any sign of
human habitations, it occurred to Mr Gillespie that he had lost his
way. While staring about for something to guide him, he was nearly
dismounted by the sudden starting of his pony, and on pulling up, he
discovered that he had almost ridden over a young red-headed Highlander,
who was lying among the heather, indolently supporting his head on
one hand, while with the other he leisurely picked the blaeberries
that grew so plentifully around him. On seeing what he considered a
duine-uasal, the lad started to his feet, and grasping a forelock of
his curly hair, made a profound bow.

The equestrian stared a moment at the bare-legged, bare-footed,
bare-headed figure who had so suddenly appeared, and after stiffly
returning his curtsy, inquired how far it was to Dunvegan? The other,
shaking his head, replied, ‘Chan ’eil Beurla agam’ (I have no English).

Now this was certainly very awkward, as the stranger did not know
Gaelic, but it is surprising what people will do in desperate
circumstances, so with the aid of nods and signs, and a little English
that Eachainn had managed to pick up while at school, they made shift
to understand one another.

‘Is it to Dunvegan, then, you’ll want to be going, sir?’ inquired

‘Yes, and I am afraid that I shall not be able to find my way there
without your assistance,’ responded Gillespie.

‘And may be you’ll be stopping there for some time?’ proposed the lad,
scratching one bare knee with his sharp uncut nails as he spoke.

‘What does it matter to you, my lad, whether my stay there will be long
or short? All I want just now is to get there.’

‘Is it far you’ll be coming the day, sir?’ inquired the other, with an
air of respectful deference, strangely inconsistent with the apparent
bluntness of the question.

‘What business is that of yours? Is it necessary for your showing me
the road that I should tell you all my history?’

‘May be you’ll be coming from the change-house of Loch-Easkin?’ pursued
Eachainn, without appearing to notice the rebuke of the stranger’s

‘May be I did,’ rejoined the gauger dryly, giving a hard blow to the
poor gearran.

‘Beannachd-leibh’ (Good-bye to you), said the young man, pulling his
forelock and bowing as before.

‘Why are you in such a hurry to be off all at once, before you have
shown me the way?’

‘I’m no in a hurry, sir; I shust be doing my work, minding my mother’s
cow and calf,’ answered the lad, lying down again, and commencing to
pick more blaeberries. ‘But,’ he added, ‘it was no to offend you I was

‘Offend me, man! for what? I am sure I have taken no offence.’

‘Haven’t you, sir,’ exclaimed the other, jumping up; ‘I thocht you had,
for you didn’t seem pleased when I was asking what could I be doing for

‘My good lad,’ answered Gillespie, ‘I see customs differ, and what
may be considered ill manners on the streets of Dumfries is perhaps a
different thing on a Highland moor, and I shall be very glad of your
company and assistance.’

‘Then you must tell me where is it you’ll be wanting to go to.’

‘Man alive! Have I not told you already that I want to reach Dunvegan?’

‘But I’m no sure if you’re fit to do it before night, if you don’t tell
me where you came from the day.’

‘There is some reason in that,’ said the gauger; ‘and yet,’ he
muttered, ‘it is a sly way of demonstrating the necessity of his
endless questions.’

After going some distance in silence, Eachainn, thinking himself bound
to say something, began with, ‘You’ll be a stranger to this country,

‘You may say that, man; but what sort of a place is this Dunvegan?’

‘It’s a bonny place eneuch, and no want of what’s right, and the
uisge-beatha is plenty, and she’s rail goot; but I doubt it’ll no be so
goot and so plenty now, for they say that a sgimilear of a gauger is
coming to live among us; I hope he may break his neck on the way.’

Here Mr Gillespie appeared suddenly to have seen something amiss with
the bridle, which necessitated his bending down for a moment or two,
and no doubt this accounted for his face being slightly flushed when
he raised his head, and, giving the unconscious Eachainn an indignant
look, said, ‘Hem, ahem! what right has a mere lad like you to speak so
disrespectfully of one you never saw, and who never harmed you.’

‘May his gallows be high and his halter tight!’ was the laconic but
emphatic reply.

‘You young heathen, how dare you say so of a stranger, and without any
reason either.’

‘Reason in plenty. Is he not coming to stop us from making our whusky?
And there is my uncle Donald has a still in Craig-bheatha, and my
mother helps him to make the malt, and gets a piggie (jar) for herself
at the New-Year; and there’s Somhairle Dubh, at the change house, has a
still in his barnyard near the——’

‘Hush, friend!’ interrupted Gillespie, clapping his hand on the
Highlander’s mouth, ‘Dinna betray secrets so.’ He then added with great
dignity, ‘Young man, you have abused me, and called me vile names to
my face, but for that I forgive you, as it was done in ignorance, but
you should be more respectful in referring to His Majesty’s revenue
service, for I am that very excise officer, or gauger, as you call me,
who am appointed by my king and country to watch over the interests of
the revenue in this most outlandish corner of his dominions. Heaven
help me withal! Now friend, understand me, I will do my duty without
fear, favour, or affection; yes,’ he continued, rising into energy
as he spoke, and, to Eachainn’s consternation, drawing his sword and
flourishing it over his head, ‘yes, I will do so even unto death; but,’
he added after a pause, ‘I am no hunter after unguarded information,
and God forbid the poor should want their New-Year whisky because I am
in the parish. But be more discreet in future, for assuredly I must
do my duty, and grasp, seize, capture, and retain unlawful liquor and
implements of its manufacture, whenever I find them, for I am sworn to
do this; but,’ he concluded, with a bow to his pack-saddle, ‘I will
always strive to do my duty like a gentleman.’

Eachainn’s emotions during this oration were of a mingled character.
At first pure shame was uppermost, for having, as he unwittingly
discovered he had done, insulted a duine-uasal. Accordingly an honest
blush spread over his sun-freckled face, and he hung down his head.
Then came concern for having, as he apprehended, betrayed the private
affairs of his uncle and Somhairle Dubh to the hands of the spoiler.
When the gauger flourished his sword, Eachainn thought it was all over
with him; but when he heard the conclusion of the speech, which he
tried hard to comprehend, it was with a feeling of great respect he
replied, repeating his bow, ‘I thocht you was a duine-uasal from the
first, sir; and I beg your pardon a thousand times for foolish words
spoke without thinkin’, and I could cut my tongue off for having spoke.’

‘Friend, that would not be right; no man has a right to maim himself,’
said the gauger, as he pulled out of an enormous pocket of his
greatcoat a box that looked like a large flute case, which he opened,
and, to the admiration of Eachainn, took out of it, first the stock
and then the tube of a short single-barrelled fowling-piece, which,
after duly joining together, he went through the process of priming
and loading. These preparations were apparently caused by a curlew
alighting at a little distance, but which, as if aware that evil was
not far away, resumed its flight, and soon disappeared.

‘She’s a very pretty gun, indeed, sir,’ began Eachainn, anxious to
renew the conversation on a more agreeable topic than the last. ‘By
your leave, may I ask where you got her?’

‘Got _her_,’ said the other, ‘why, I made _it_, man. In my country
we think nothing of making a gun before breakfast.’ As this was said
with the utmost gravity, Eachainn was considerably staggered by it,
for the Highlander, naturally credulous, intending none, he suspected
no deception; but if a hoax was being played upon him, and he found
it out, he was sure to repay it with interest, and the biter would be
keenly bit.

‘One before breakfast, sir! a gun like _her_ made before breakfast!’ he
repeated, looking anxiously into the other’s face, ‘surely the thing is
just impossible?’

‘No, friend,’ replied the other, internally chuckling at finding the
youth so ductile, ‘I tell you, I frequently make one of a morning.’

‘Then,’ said the guide, ‘I suppose, sir, you’ll be come to the
Highlands to make a big pusness with them!’

‘May be, may be, friend. I daresay there are not many such in this
country; but what would still more surprise you is to hear by whom I
was taught the art of making them.’

‘Who she’ll be, sir?’

‘Why, Luno, the son of Leven, who made Fingal’s famous sword, which
went by his name, and every stroke of which was mortal.’

‘Och! yes, sir,’ exclaimed Eachainn, his eyes sparkling, ‘ye mean
Mac-an-Luinn,’ and in his excitement he forgot the little English he
had, and continued in his own expressive vernacular, ‘that was the
sword of swords, and they say that the sound of his anvils is still
heard in the silence of midnight by the wanderer of Lochlin; and his
well-known giant form is at times seen crossing the heath, clad in
its dark mantle of hide, with apron of the same, and the face of the
apparition as dark as the mantle, and frowning fiercely, while, with
staff in hand, he bounds along on one leg, with the fleetness of a roe,
his black mantle flap, flapping for an instant, and then vanishing, as,
with a few bounds, black Luno enters his unapproachable cave.’

‘But are there any hereabouts who know how to use such a thing as
this?’ asked the gauger, putting the piece to his eye.

‘Och! aye, sir; there’s Duncan Sealgair can hit a fox, an otter, or a
seal, at a hunderd yards, easy.’

‘I am not speaking,’ said the gauger, with an air of sovereign
contempt, ‘of otters, and foxes, and such low vermin; I ask you, man,
as to shooting of game!’

‘Aye, sir, a goot lot of that too. There’s old Kenneth Matheson, she’ll
be very goot at killing a buck.’

‘Pshaw! man, cannot you get your ideas above coarse four-footed beasts,
great sprawling objects that there is no merit in killing.’

Eachainn scratched his head, at a loss what to answer next; but at
length, with the air of a man who thinks he has made a discovery,
exclaimed, ‘You’ll be meaning the wild goose, sir!’

‘You’re a wild goose yourself; I mean no such thing; I am asking ye,
man, about grouse, red grouse.’

The guide was as puzzled as if he had heard Hebrew; but just then, as
if to relieve his embarrassment, there arose a ‘Ca-ca!’ kind of sound
among the heather. ‘She’ll shust be the muir-hens, sir, perhaps you’ll
like to have shoot at them.’

‘Moor-hens! what’s that, lad?’ but further explanation was unnecessary,
for the eye of the traveller caught the very red grouse he had appeared
so anxious to find. The sight seemed to have a very agitating effect
upon him, for he instantly stopped, dismounted, and gave his nag to
the keeping of his companion; he then crept forward a few paces, his
heart beating with the greatness of the occasion. At length, getting
closer to the birds than most sportsmen would deem quite necessary,
he knelt on one knee, and took a most deliberate, rifleman-like aim.
On placing his finger on the trigger, his face was turned a little to
one side—perhaps to avoid the expected smoke. He at length pulled
the trigger, but, instead of a report, there was merely a snap in the
pan. At this, the eldest, apparently, of the birds gave a ‘Ca-ca!’ and
peered about to see what was the matter; and, to avoid being seen, the
sportsman sunk down among the heather. Tying the gearran to a juniper
root, Eachainn now cautiously crept up, and inquired in a whisper, ‘Has
she refused, sir?’

‘Hush!’ said the other, shaking his hand for silence; ‘has who refused?’

‘I mean, sir,’ again whispered his guide, ‘has the musket refused?’

‘Which, I suppose,’ responded the other, ‘is as much as to say, has it
missed fire? Yes, certainly it has; did you not hear the snap in the

‘Yes, sir, but there was no fire; may be ’twas the fault of the flint.’

‘Pish, no; there is not a better flint on this side of the Grampians.’

‘But the pooder, sir?’

‘No better powder in the world, unless it has been damped by your
horrid Highland mist.’

‘There’s no a mist at all the day, sir,’ answered Eachainn, looking
quietly down at the gun lock, and discovering, for the first time,
that there was no flint at all. He smiled aside, and then turning to
the would-be sportsman, who was kneeling for another attempt, pointed
out the circumstance to him. The latter, on seeing it, stared, and
then added, apparently recollecting himself, ‘Dash it, neither there
is! I recollect now, here it is, I put it in my waistcoat pocket this
morning, while cleaning my gun, and forgot to fix it again.’ So saying,
he screwed it tight into its proper place and kneeling as before, gave
a second snap in the pan.

‘The primin’ fell oot when she first refused, sir, and you forgot to
put in another.’

‘And ye gowk, couldn’t you tell me that before?’ said the wrathful
gauger, as he recovered his arms for another attempt. This time,
however, he was successful, for his volley levelled the cock leader and
two of his family, while the remainder took flight.

‘I dare say, friend bare-legs, you do not often see such shots as that
in these quarters?’

‘’Deed, sir, I’ll no say I do,’ returned the other with a look and
manner somewhat equivocal.

‘In sooth, I suppose no one hereabouts knows anything of grouse
shooting; but for myself, as I have already said, give me but the birds
within tolerable reach, and I am sure to hit them.’

‘Na doot, sir, especially if ye always make it a fashion to shoot them

‘And have you any hereabouts that can shoot them any other gait,

‘May be, sir, the young laird, and the minister’s son, and the major,

‘Weel, sir, and pray how does the young laird find out the game? Has he
any pointers?’

‘Pinters, sir, what’s that?’ inquired his companion, affecting

‘You fool, and do you not know what a pointer is? Precious country I am
come to, and perhaps to lay my bones in—not to know what a pointer is?’

‘And d’ye ken, sir, what a bochan is?’

‘Not I, friend bare-legs, nor do I care.’

‘My name, sir, is Eachainn, and you see there’ll be some things that
folks who are very clever don’t know. A bochan, sir, is what you call
in Beurla a hobgobolin.’

‘I see your drift, man, I see your drift, and care not what a bochan
or a fiddlestick means; but a pointer is a dog of right Spanish breed,
which has such instinct that he smells out the birds without seeing
them, so that when he has got one in a covey within reach of his nose,
he holds up his leg, and stands stock still, until his master comes up
and bleezes away at them.’

‘Sitting, sir?’ asked Eachainn, with a roguish look.

‘Aye, man, sitting or standing, ’tis all the same.’

‘You’ll maybe be wanting such dogs in the low country, but they’ll no
be wanted in the Highlands. Here, sir,’ continued he, remembering the
hoax about Luno and gunmaking; ‘here, sir, the people can smell the
game as good as your dogs.’

‘What’s that you say man? D’ye think of clishmaclavering me with any
of your big Hielan’ lees?’

‘Would you like me to smell out some muir-hens for you, sir?’

‘You smell out game! smell out your grandmother! D’ye think to deceive
me with such havers?’

‘Do you s’pose you could hit the poor craters—sittin’ too—if I
hadn’t smelt them out for you, sir?’

‘Faith, friend you’re no blate—smell out indeed! And pray, callant,
can you smell out any more of them?’

‘I begin to think it’s no a very thankful job.’

‘And do you often amuse yourself with nosing it in this way over these
vile moors, through which I am so heartily tired of trudging?’

‘Whenever the laird, sir, goes out after the muir-hens, I go with him
to smell them out.’

‘Weel man, convince me of the bare fact—smell out another covey, and
then I’ll no gainsay your gift.’

Eachainn, shrugging up his shoulders, scratching his head, and
affecting to make some difficulty, said the wind had gone down, and
that the scent was dull. The sly rascal, however, having an exceedingly
acute ear, continued walking over bog and heather with long strides,
until at length, at a considerable distance, and a little to one side
of the track, he thought he heard the ‘ca-ca’ of a bird. He then turned
to his companion and said, ‘If I’ll be smelling out a prasgan for ye,
sir, will ye let me have a shoot at them?’

‘Give you a shot! weel but that passes a’. I dinna ken what you might
make with a claymore, as ye ca’ a braidsword; but a gun is another sort
of thing altogether. What! Donald, could you hit a peat stack, man?’

‘My name’s Eachainn, sir; and as to shooting a peatstack, I don’t know,
but if ye like I’ll try.’

‘Weel, Donald or Eachainn, or whatever your name is, I don’t care if I
indulge you, so there’s the gun; but mind, when you aim, you turn
the barrel away, and the stock to yourself. Now you may bleeze awa’
at anything but me and the pony.’ The guide, having by this time a
shrewd guess where the birds were to be found, went on several paces
cautiously, and pretending to scent something. At length he made a
stand, cocking one leg, while he beckoned to the stranger, who was some
little distance in the rear, to dismount and come up.

The latter accordingly did so, and there were the birds sure enough.
The stranger, whose less practised eye and ear were not aware of the
trick, now not doubting the truth of the Highlander’s gift, uttered his
admiration in whispers, ‘Weel, but yon’s quite extraordinar’; all real
birds too, and no glamour; I doot it’s nae canny.’

The Gael, not being such a desperate pot-hunter as his comrade, gave
a ‘Hurrah!’ which raised the birds at once, then taking a good aim,
brought down two, and wounded one or two more, which flew, quaking,

The Highlander, anxious to secure the wounded birds, went bounding in
the direction in which they had flown. As he hastily stepped forward he
did not perceive that a viper was directly in his path, and, before he
was aware of its being near him, the reptile had bitten his bare foot.
Striking it off with the point of the barrel, he uttered not a word,
but giving one glance round, as if looking for something, he took to
his heels with a swiftness not unworthy of Luno himself.

The gauger, seeing his fowling-piece in Eachainn’s possession, who was
running as if a lion were at his heels, naturally concluded that he had
run off with it.

‘Stop, thief!’ shouted he, at the top of his voice, ‘stop, ye
confounded Hielan’ cateran! How fast the vagabond runs; gude’s me, he
is already out of sight. Haud there, ye scamp, ye traitorous reever,

Out of breath with his own indignant exertions, Gillespie turned to
mount his gearran. That sagacious beast, however, considered the whole
thing as an arrangement for his own especial benefit, and whenever
his would-be rider approached to mount, would edge off, and trot to a
little distance, and then quietly graze, until poor Gillespie would
again get close to him, when the same little performance would be
repeated. All this was naturally very provoking, and added intense
bitterness to the gauger’s other reflections.

He now eagerly followed Eachainn on foot, but in such a chase he was no
match for the fleet-footed Highlander.

The day was hot, the moor boggy, and his greatcoat, which he still
clung to, as if it were a part of his nature, was very heavy. ‘The
scoundrel!’ he muttered, as he plodded wearily along, ‘the bare-legged
rascal, to rob me of my gun in open day on the King’s highway; but I’ll
have him by the heels for it, as sure as there’s letters of horning and
caption to be had in Scotland; aye, he shall hang as high as Haman, if
there’s a tree in all the island—but I doot there’s nane. It’s ower
vile for even a tree to make a gallows of to grow in it. Then I doot
after a’ if the law can make much of the case, seeing that this canna
be said to be the highway. The rascal has not absolutely put me in
bodily fear either, except fear of losing my gun. No, I doot I canna
hang him, and to transport him from such a slough of despond, would
only be conferring an acceptable obligation on the young thief.’

Thus he hurried on, lamenting his loss, until his further progress was
interrupted by a stream or burn, that ran gurgling between mossy banks,
fringed with junipers and dwarf rowans. There the worthy man stood
panting and blowing for about a minute, when some yards below him, at a
shallower part of the burn, kneeling at the water’s edge, and gulping
in the pure element, he beheld the runaway Highlander.

The gauger’s anger was, however, considerably mollified on seeing no
effort on the part of Eachainn to continue his flight, and also by
seeing his gun lying safely on a dried part of the bank. ‘Ye villain,’
he exclaimed, clutching his fowling-piece, ‘and have I caught you at

The Highlander, without answering, took another copious draught of the
limpid stream, then washed his wounded foot, on which was distinctly
visible the marks of the viper’s fangs.

Gillespie, too, observed that notwithstanding his warm race, the lad
looked deadly pale. The latter, now slowly rising, expressed with
rueful tone and looks his hope ‘that he had got to the water before

‘Before me! faith that ye did; and ye deserve to be hanged for it too,
ye thieving loon. Why did you run awa’ that gait?’

‘Och, sir!’ groaned the other, ‘can you be telling me where the baiste

‘Beast! what beast, idiot? I ken only one on the moor besides yon brute
now feeding up there. I shouldn’t wonder if he took it into his head to
run off with the rest of my property.’

‘No, no, sir; the nathair! the nathair! we’ll shust be going back to be
look for her.’

‘Gude’s me, but I begin to think after a’ that the puir chiel’s
demented,’ observed the other with a look of pity.

At length, with an appearance of great anxiety, the lad, accompanied by
the exciseman, returned to the spot from which they started, where
writhing in the agonies of death, from the blow the former had
instinctively, but almost unconsciously, given it, lay the snake or
nathair. It was only now that the gauger began to comprehend what had
happened to his guide. When Eachainn saw the snake on the spot where he
had left it, now quite dead, his joy became as great as previously had
been his dejection.

‘Ah, sir!’ he said, turning to the other, ‘it’s all right, and I’m
shust quite safe.’

‘Pray how is that?’ returned the stranger, ‘I should like to know by
what process of reasoning ye make that out?’

‘I’ll shust be telling you, sir. You see if a body will be stung by a
nathair, and if they’ll be clever to the water, and drink of it before
the nathair (and she’ll be very clever at running herself, too), the
mans will be quite better, and the nathair will die and burst; but if
the nathair will be get to the water first, then the mans will die and

‘And do you believe all this nonsense?’

‘It’s shust quite true, sir; and I’ll be always believing it; and maybe
I’ll be forgiven, I hope ’twas not for joking you about my smelling oot
the birds, that this judgment was coming on me; but as you was mocking
me about making the guns, I thocht it was no harm to mock you too.’

‘And so it was all a sham, about you pointing the birds, was it?’

‘Yes, sir,’ said Eachainn, with an abashed look.

‘But ye dinna think I was such a fule as to believe you, eh?’

‘I cannot tell that, sir,’ replied the other, a smile stealing over his
lips, though he tried to prevent it.

‘Hout, man!’ said the gauger, but not without a _leetle_ twinge of
conscience, ‘I saw through the trick the whole time, but I had a mind
to humour you, just to see how far you would go. But, friend, was it
your belief in havers about vipers bursting, and a’ that sort of stuff,
that sent you scouring awa’ to the burn’s side in sic haste?’

‘Surely, sir; I’ll be running for my life when the baiste will stung

‘Hoot, toot, man, but you need not have taken my gun with you; that
hadna been stung, and wouldna have bursted had the beast, as you call
it, drank all the water in Coruisg.’

‘Och! sir, I was shust forgot the gun, I’ll be so frightened, but the
running saved my life, for the nathair is shust quite dead.’

‘Yes, man, but it is not bursted.’

‘But she’ll burst by and bye, and she’ll be making a noise as big as
your gun, so people say, but I’ll never was hearing her myself.’

‘Weel, weel, friend, I’ll believe a’ the rest of your story when the
reptile bursts, but not till then. As for the creature’s death, I daur
to say you gave it a good clout over the head with the gun, which you
had in your hand, for it does not take much, I believe, to kill them.’

‘I’ll not be doing that at all, that I know of,’ said Eachainn, ‘and
may be if I had, it’ll be the worst for me and for you as well.’

‘How so, man?’

‘’Cause I might shust struck her on the tail instead of her head, and
then she’d jump up ever so high, and then she’ll be come down, more
deadly than she’ll be before. Ye need not be shaking your head, sir;
it’s shust quite true; but we must be clever, for we’ll be having a
long way to go before we’ll come to Dunvegan. I must do shust one thing
first, if you please,’

So saying, Eachainn pulled out his core or dirk, and proceeded with
great deliberation to cut off the head of the viper, and then he
divided the body into five equal parts.

‘I doot,’ muttered the gauger, with a look of disgust, ‘I doot he is
going to cook it! Ugh, it’s quite awfu’.’

The honest man’s apprehensions were, however, somewhat premature, for
after hewing the reptile to pieces, as described, Eachainn cut with
his knife six holes in the turf, into each of which he placed a bit of
the snake, and filling up the holes again, stamped down these viperine
graves with his heel.

‘Indeed, friend, I think you have taken a good deal of unnecessary
trouble in giving that reptile Christian burial.’

‘No, no,’ answered Eachainn, ‘I’ll be thinking of the lives of other
peoples, and their hells too.’

‘And what can your hacking away at yon reptile have to do with the
health or lives of others, friend Donald?’

‘I tell you again, sir, my name is Eachainn, and no Donald, and I’ll
no be wondering that you don’t know about this, for the Southern
duine-uasal, she’ll often not be knowing the things that the poor
Highlander herself’ll be knowing all aboot.’

‘And prythee what good is there in your wasting twenty minutes in
cutting up and burying a snake?’

‘As you’ll be a stranger, sir,’ said Eachainn, after he had succeeded
in catching the traveller’s nag for him, which the other mounted, and
trotted on in the path pointed out to him, ‘as you’ll be a stranger,
sir, I must be of good manners, and shust be telling you the things
you’ll not know yourself. I may tell you that if you’ll not be cutting
a nathair in five pieces, besides her head, she’ll be sure to come
alive again, and bigger and more stronger than she’ll was before,
and if you’ll be leaving the pieces on the ground, they’ll shust be
creeping together again and join. Sometimes her head will join where
her tail was before, and her tail in the place where her head was
before, and then she’ll be shust awful, worst than she’ll be before
twenty times. But that’ll not be all we’ll be burying them for. If
the bits of the nathair will be left on the ground, in the sun and in
the moonlight, they’ll turn into awful bad and great big flies, dark
green and yellow, with spots like the nathair herself, and they’ll be
so poison that when they touch a mans or a baiste, there will come a
cancer, which no doctor can cure.’

While thus speaking, Eachainn began to grow very pale, his voice
trembled, and at last, sitting down on the heather, he groaned aloud.

‘Why, my poor fellow, what’s the matter with you?’ kindly inquired the

‘I doot, sir,’ said Eachainn in a feeble tone, ‘I doot, sir, the sting
of the nathair has been stronger on me than I’ll be thinking, I’m shust
crippled, sir, and my leg is stiff and sore like, and I’m sick, sick at
my heart.’ Poor Eachainn, in finishing these words, attempted to rise,
but immediately staggered, and fell down insensible.

The gauger, greatly disconcerted, threw himself from his steed with
such alacrity that he almost overturned the gearran, as well as
himself. ‘What?’ he exclaimed: ‘Hoot, toot, man, never give way;
’tis but a dwam, puir fellow! His jaw drops just like Fraser, the
supervisor, when Red Chisholm, the smuggler, stuck his dirk into his
doup. If the lad should die here, and no one but me with him, why, what
would folk say? Gude save us! how swelled his leg is, and all black and
green; ’tis fearsome; would to heaven I were weel out o’ the scrape,
or had never entered the vile country!’ Here, however, a bright idea
struck the alarmed traveller, and hastily going to the bundle suspended
from the right horn of the strathair, he hurriedly turned over its
miscellaneous contents, until he found his whisky flask, which he
uncorked, and poured with a trembling hand, for fear of the remedy
being too late, a good portion of the liquor down the throat of the
unconscious Highlander. The stimulus was powerful. The fainting lad,
in spite of himself, gave a desperate gulp, which caused some of
the spirit to enter his windpipe, consequently the first symptoms
of returning animation on the part of Eachainn was a succession of
hideous gaspings. For fully two minutes he choked and coughed, until
the bewildered gauger feared he had done for him in earnest. At length,
to his unspeakable relief, Eachainn opened his eyes, and getting the
use of his tongue once more, he most zealously and piously recommended
the Southron to the good offices of his majesty, Domhnull Dubh. As he,
however, spoke in his native tongue, Gillespie could not appreciate the
extent of the kindness intended for him. The first use Eachainn made
of his hands was, with the left to gently scratch the bitten foot, and
with the right he took the flask from the still confused gauger, and
taking a good pull at the contents, again attempted to rise, but found
he was unable to walk. On perceiving this, the gauger insisted on his
mounting behind him. The gearran, however, apparently resenting that
his consent had not been asked to the new arrangement, gave a sharp
smarting neigh, and commenced to back. These hostile demonstrations
on the part of the pony were not at all displeasing to Eachainn, who
thought that if the gearran continued restive, he might have him all to
himself. He accordingly kept giving sly kicks with his uninjured foot
in the animal’s groin. The consequence was that every moment the pony
became more indignant and unmanageable; but the gauger, recollecting
that he was in his Majesty’s service, strove to maintain his position
with the dignity due to that office. He pulled hard at the taod, but
finding that of no use, he followed the example of honest John Gilpin,
and grasped the animal’s mane with both hands, receiving, through every
kick-up of the pony, sore thumps from the strathair, which caused him
much uneasiness. Eachainn, holding on ‘like grim death,’ continued
teasing the gearran, at the same time pretending to coax him by saying
‘Sheo! sheo!’ The pony heeded neither that, nor the ‘Huish! huish!’ of
the exciseman, but kept kicking, prancing, and rearing with a zeal and
energy worthy of a better cause. The commotion at length ended by the
gauger tumbling over the animal’s head.

Eachainn, beginning to think that he had carried the joke too far,
dismounted, and seeing the discomfited Southron lying at full length
without signs of life, in his turn became frightened. At this trying
moment he bethought him of the specific, which had proved so useful
in his own case. He had no difficulty in finding the flask, and was
about to administer a dose, when the gauger, who had been only a little
confused at his sudden fall, got on his feet; but nothing would induce
him to remount, so Eachainn rode at his ease, while the annoyed gauger
stalked along with heavy strides, cordially abusing the country, its
moors, its gearrans, and its whisky. The shades of evening began to
lengthen, the scene gradually changed, our travellers began to leave
the heathery moor behind, and enter on arable land, with patches here
and there under cultivation, chiefly oats and potatoes, while an
occasional cow grazing, or a horse tethered, showed them that they were
approaching their journey’s end.

All at once they heard the peculiar note of the


OR TRIAN-RI-TRIAN, as it is called in Gaelic.

The gauger, always anxious to show off his skill as a marksman,
began to handle his fowling-piece. Eachainn looked on with evident
uneasiness, and at last said, ‘Surely, surely, sir, you’ll not be going
to shoot _her_?’

‘And why not, my friend?’

‘What, sir! shoot a trian-ri-trian! it’s shust awful to think on.’

‘And what is the great harm of shooting such a blethering, craiking
thing as that?’

‘The harm, sir! why, she’ll be a sacred bird; I’d as soon think of
shooting a cuckoo herself, as to be doing the trian-ri-trian any hurt!
She’ll be different to any other bird, and when she’ll cry, she’ll be
lying on her back, with her feets lifted up to the sky, and the sky
would fall down if she’ll not be doing that.’

‘Well, I must have a shot at him, even if the firmament were to come
about our ears in consequence,’ and so saying, our sportsman took his
usual kneeling shot, and getting a good and near level, fired, when a
handful of flying feathers evinced the success of the shot.

The gauger ran to the spot, and Eachainn on the pony trotted after him,
but on coming up they could see no bird, or no evidence of the shot
having taken effect. Eachainn looked suddenly aghast.

‘What can the gommeril be staring at now?’ exclaimed the disappointed

‘Och! sir,’ groaned Eachainn, in great agitation, ‘the tàsg! the tàsg!’

‘The what? you confounded idiot!’

‘I’ll tell you, sir,’ replied the Highlander, with great solemnity,
‘the tàsg, she’ll shust be a death bird, and the warning’ll never fail
to come true—’tis awful, ’tis shust awful!’

‘Weel, confound me,’ said Gillespie, who was now tired and heated, and
panting with his exercise, ‘confound me if I can make out the creature.
He’s no wanting in gumption either, but what havers are these he has
got in his noddle?’ Then addressing his companion, he said, ‘Weel,
now, I have listened to all your nonsense, and now you must tell me
in plain words what you mean by all this blether and talk about your
trian-ri-trian and your tàsg.’

To this appeal Eachainn did not reply for some minutes, but
dismounting, he hobbled up the best way he could to the very spot where
the bird had stood when shot at, and picking up the few feathers which
had been started, stood looking at them with an anxious expression,
amounting almost to horror. Then turning to the gauger, he replied, in
a voice broken with agitation—‘I thocht, sir, that everybody know that
the tàsg is a spirit bird, and she’ll always be coming to the mans when
they’ll be going to die. She’ll come different to different peoples.
Old Murdo Urquhart, the fisherman, saw her shust like a grey gull, and
that very night he took ill, and died in two or three days. And Barabal
N’ic’Ivor, she’ll be the bonniest lassie in the place, saw the tàsg
shust like a beautiful white dove, and surely poor Barabal she’ll knew
she’ll be going to die, so she made her death shift, and indeed it
was very soon she was wearing it. The tàsg’ll always be coming in the
gloamin’, she’ll fly low and slow like, and she’ll no make any noise
with her wings, but if you’ll shoot at her, you’ll shust get nothing
but a small handful of feathers.’ Here the guide paused a moment, and
looking first at the feathers he held in his hand, and then in the face
of the gauger, he continued, ‘I’ll be thinking, sir, that you’ll no be
living very long. I am shust afraid the tàsg will be coming to you like
a trian-ri-trian. Och, sir! indeed I’ll be very sorry for you, surely,

‘Look to yourself, man. You say it is my tàsg, but I don’t see how you
make that out; why shouldn’t it be your own tàsg as well as mine?’

‘Mine, sir?’ exclaimed Eachainn. ‘No, no; I did not shoot her. If
you’ll shoot her, she’ll be your own tàsg surely, and nobody’s else,
and she’ll be shust like a duine-uasal’s tàsg, a long-legged bird, and
she’ll shust come like the Southron, at certain times, and then she’ll
shust speak a craik, craik kind of talk, and that’ll not be Gaelic;
it’ll be the Gaelic that the mavis and the blackbird will be speaking.
A lad like me will no get a gran’ tàsg like her. Oh! no, a crow, or a
duck, or a sgarbh, is more like what I’ll be getting.’

The gauger, seeing the anxiety of Eachainn to decline the honour of the
tàsg, was commencing to rally him about it, but in the earnestness of
their conversation, they had not observed the change in the appearance
of the weather which had been gradually taking place; their attention
was now, however, called to it by feeling some heavy drops of rain, and
they soon saw that a severe storm was looming. They ceased talking, and
used their breath and energies to better purpose, by hurrying forward
as fast as they could. In spite of their utmost exertions, the storm
soon overtook them, and in half-an-hour they were both drenched to the
skin. Eachainn took it very philosophically, for to the well-developed,
hardy ‘son of the mist,’ an occasional shower-bath was no hardship. He
was too well acquainted with Nature in all her changing moods to care
much when she frowned. But the poor, town-bred gauger was in a pitiable
plight, as he plodded along in a most unenviable state of body and
mind, vowing he should catch his death of cold. In about an hour and
a-half they arrived, to the intense relief of Gillespie, at the hamlet
of Dunvegan, and gladly availed themselves of the hospitality of
Somhairle Dubh, at the hostelrie, or change house of the village.

The worthy hostess of the


met the gauger at the door, and dropping a curtsy, gave him a hearty
welcome, while Somhairle Dubh told Eachainn to lead the pony to the
stable; but seeing the poor lad hardly able to stand, and having
been told the reason, he immediately helped him into the kitchen,
and seating him by the fire, called for the whisky bottle—the usual
panacea in those days for all evils in the Highlands—and giving
Eachainn a good dram, he applied the same remedy to the wounded limb,
rubbing it in before the fire, while a messenger was dispatched for his
mother, who was noted for her skill in the use of herbs.

In the meantime Mr Gillespie had been shown to his bedroom, to change
his wet clothes, while his dinner was preparing. Before he began his
meal, the landlord brought out his own peculiar bottle—a mixture of
whisky, camomile flowers, and coriander seeds—and offered his guest a
glass as an appetiser, which was gladly accepted, for he was feeling
far from well. He ate but little of the good plain dinner provided for
him, and soon after went to his bed. Before doing so, however, he asked
for Eachainn, wishing to give him a trifle for his guidance, but on
being told that the lad had gone home with his mother, he gave
Somhairle Dubh a shilling to give to him.

Although Gillespie was very tired, he could not sleep. He tossed and
turned, and only as the day was breaking did he fall asleep, but it
did not refresh him, for the incidents of his journey haunted him in
his sleep. He was again riding the pony, going at a furious rate,
while Eachainn sat at his back holding him in a grasp of iron. There
arose before him the figure of a snake of gigantic proportions, which,
writhing round his neck, was nearly strangling him, but instead of
hissing, it uttered the ‘craik,’ ‘craik,’ of the trian-ri-trian. With
an effort he awoke, and found himself stiff and feverish, and his
throat very sore. In a word, the honest man was in for a bad attack of
quinsey or inflammation of the throat. After a few days had elapsed,
he expressed his surprise that Eachainn had not called to inquire
for him; but he was told the lad had gone to a village ten miles off
to spend his shilling. Somhairle Dubh and his goodwife became very
concerned about their guest, and nothing could exceed their kindness
and attention to him. They sent for the doctor, but he was away some
distance and could not come at once. On the fourth day of Gillespie’s
illness, Somhairle Dubh, seating himself by the sick man, with great
solemnity of manner, said, ‘Sir, we must all die. Now, sir, I am come
to do to you as I would like to be done by; for sore, sore would it
be to me to think that my body should not be put in the grave of my
fathers in Kilmuir. So, sir, by your leave, where would you choose to
be buried?’

‘Buried!’ exclaimed the gauger, aghast, sitting up in his bed, and
staring at his host. ‘Buried! surely I am not so bad as that?’

Without noticing his emotion, the worthy man continued, ‘Folk have
different ways in different countries; but you may depend upon it, sir,
it’s no my father’s son that would suffer the corpse of a duine-uasal
not to be treated in every way most honourably. You shall be properly
washed and stretched, that you may be sure of; and you shall not want
for the dead shirt, for by my faith, and I’ll do as I promise, sir, you
shall have my own dead shirt, that my wife made with her own hands, of
real good linen, and beautifully sewed too. And we’ll keep you, sir,
for seven days and seven nights, and I’ll get Ian Saor to make as good
a chest for you as ever he made, with brass-headed nails all round it,
and with shining handles like silver, and you shall lie in your chest
like a duine-uasal should, with two large candles at your head, and two
at your feet, and a plateful of salt on your breast.’

Here poor Gillespie could contain himself no longer, but groaned aloud
at this dismal recital of what was to be done to his corpse.

‘What, sir? you’re may be thinking the alaire, or death feast, will not
be good enough; but ye need not trouble yourself for that, there shall
be plenty whisky and plenty meat, and my wife shall make good bannocks.’

‘Yes, indeed, I will,’ said the good woman, wiping her eyes with her
apron as she sobbed out. ‘Ochan, ochan! little does his mother know how
her son is the night.’

‘But,’ continued her husband, ‘think what a comfort it’ll be to her to
hear of his being buried so decent like; for, sir, you shall be put in
my own grandfather’s grave, and that’s what I’d not do to many, but
I’ll do it to you, for though you are a gauger you’re a stranger far
from your own people, and I’d like to show kindness to you.’

Indeed the worthy man never doubted but he had afforded Gillespie the
greatest comfort in thus having settled all the particulars of his
funeral; for an intense anxiety about the proper disposal of his
remains, and the complete fulfilling of all the customary ceremonies of
death, is a characteristic trait of the Highlander.

It was the seventh day of Mr Gillespie’s illness when Eachainn
returned, and he immediately went to see the sick man, who by this time
could scarcely speak. He lay pale and languid, with his eyes closed,
and apparently the dews of death on his brow. The lad was greatly
shocked. He expected to find him ill, but not so bad as this—not for
death. ‘Ochan, ochan!’ he exclaimed, and covering his face with his
hands, he burst into tears. The gauger on opening his eyes and seeing
his visitor, smiled faintly and said, ‘It’s all over with me, Eachainn.’

‘Oh no, no, sir; don’t say that, I hope you’ll be better soon. And
don’t you be thinking of the tàsg, sir, for she’ll not be for you at
all, sir, but for the minister’s goodmother, who died last night with
the fever, and his children have got it, too, for it’s very smitting;
but I’ll no be caring. I’ll just be going up to the manse, and tell the
doctor to come to you.’

‘Stop,’ said the gauger with difficulty, and then pointing to his
fowling-piece, which stood in a corner, he continued with a faltering
voice, ‘Keep it for my sake, for I shall never use it again.’

‘Oh no, sir,’ replied Eachainn in a broken voice. ‘I’ll be hoping to
see you use her many’s the time yet. We’ll be shooting the muir-hens
together some day, but I must be going for the doctor quick.’ So
saying, the lad hurried out of the room, for fear he should again break

In about three hours the tramping of a horse announced the arrival of
the doctor, who had galloped in from the manse, while Eachainn ran and
panted all the way at his horse’s side. And while the doctor was
making for the inn, Eachainn ran to his mother’s, and told her to get
her herbs ready, for perhaps she would be able to do more good than
the doctor, after all their hastening back. He was in the sick-room
as soon as the doctor, who, having examined his patient in silence
for a few minutes, began the following harangue with a pompous voice
and manner—‘You see, sir, you are labouring under what is commonly
called a quinsey, but which, professionally, we denominate _Cynanche_,
to which may be added in your case the adjective noun _maligna_. I
regret to say that your case is exceedingly desperate. Had I been able
to have seen you earlier, I should have followed Celsus’ excellent
advice in these cases, but I am sorry to say that the Celsian treatment
is now entirely out of the question. There can be no doubt that the
opening into the trachea is very nearly closed up by the phlegmon or
inflammation, when death by asphyxia must ensue. There is here, then,
but one course. Here,’ taking a small case of instruments out of his
pocket, ‘here, you see, is a fine sharp-pointed knife or scalpel,
with which an incision being made into your trachea, I shall insert a
small tube so as to keep up the communication between the atmosphere
and the lungs, to obviate what would otherwise be the fatal closing
of the glottis.’ With that the doctor arranged his instruments at the
bedside, and was preparing to operate at once, when a dim sense of his
intentions began to break in upon the minds of the spectators.

‘And where do you mean to cut, sir?’ asked Somhairle Dubh, first
breaking silence.

‘Here, exactly here,’ replied the doctor, placing his finger on Mr
Gillespie’s throat a little below the chin.

‘And have you no other cure but that, doctor?’

‘None whatever,’ answered he, shaking his head, and taking up the
scalpel, at the sight of which the sick man shrank to the other side of
the bed with a look of pitiable despair.

‘No other cure than to cut the duine-uasal’s throat,’ screamed
Eachainn, coming forward, with a face blanched with horror; ‘No, no,
sir,’ he continued, ‘you’ll shust have to cut my throat first. If
you’ll no be doing better than that, I could be doing as good myself
with the corran yonder, and not to trouble you to be coming with them
awful knives, shust enough to frighten a body.’

On hearing this, the poor gauger smiled gratefully on Eachainn, and
pressed his hand between both his own.

‘Sir!’ exclaimed the doctor, hoarse with passion, ‘what is the meaning
of this? Am I to perform the operation or not?’

‘No, sir,’ replied the sick man in a scarcely articulate voice. ‘I
throw myself upon the mercy of God. I can but die.’

‘Then die, sir,’ said the enraged doctor, ‘and your blood be upon your
own head;’ and hastily packing up his instruments, he turned to leave
the room just as Eachainn’s mother (a descendant of Fearchair Lighiche)
entered. She gave him a respectful greeting, which, however, was very
ungraciously received, and soon the sound of his horse’s hoofs was
heard as he galloped away, Eachainn muttering something to himself
about the Diabhul going along with him.

Eachainn’s mother now took up the case, and having tenderly examined
the throat, called for a pot and boiling water, into which she cast
some herbs and boiled them over the fire. This decoction she ordered to
be applied on flannels, as hot as he could bear it, to the sick man’s
throat, while he inhaled the hot steam of the same from the spout of a
kettle. The good woman then called for a skellet, into which she
measured two or three cups of water; she then threw into the water some
dried herbs and fresh roots. When the mixture was hot it threw up a
green scum, which she skimmed off. She then poured some of the potion
into a tumbler, and approaching the patient, said in Gaelic, ‘Try, my
dear, and swallow this; I know it is very painful for you to do it, but
life is precious, and for your mother’s sake, if you have one, make the

On her wishes being explained to Gillespie, he grasped the tumbler,
and with a great effort slowly but painfully drained it. In about
half-an-hour after he had taken it, his face became of a ghastly green
shade; he stretched himself out at full length; his pulse seemed to
fail; he heaved deep sighs; and at length began to retch violently. It
now appeared as if a struggle between life and death, but at length
the imposthume burst, and the poor man swooned away. The spectators
now thought all was over with the poor gauger, but Eachainn’s mother
knew better. She held his head with one hand, while with the other
she chafed his temples, calling to her son to throw some water in the
patient’s face, and telling the landlord to bring some red wine, if he
had any in the house. Her orders being promptly carried out, the sick
man soon opened his eyes, and in a little while was able to speak,
expressing his gratitude to the worthy woman for the great relief she
had afforded him.

From this time Gillespie mended fast, but was necessarily obliged to
keep his bed for several days, and, finding the time hanging heavy,
he would keep Eachainn by him for hours together, as he had taken a
great liking to the lad, besides being under such an obligation to his
mother, of whose skill and the wonderful cures she had effected, her
son was never tired of talking about.

‘But how did your mother gain all this knowledge?’ asked the gauger.

‘Well, sir, you must know my mother is descended from the famous man,
Fearchair Lighiche.’

‘And who may he be?’ inquired Gillespie.

‘Ah, sir, it was him that was the clever man. He could cure every
disease in the shutting of a taibhshear’s eye, and knew every herb and
plant, every tree and root, every bird and beast. And there’s something
more wonderful yet,’ continued Eachainn in an awe-struck tone.

‘And what is that?’ asked Gillespie.

‘Well, sir, maybe you’ll no be believing it, but it’s true all the
same, that Fearchair Lighiche had the gift to know what the birds would
be saying to each other.’

The gauger threw a quick glance at his companion, thinking he was
trying to gull him, but seeing that Eachainn spoke in all sincerity,
and even with a certain amount of awe in his manner, Gillespie did not
interrupt him, merely remarking, ‘That was a gift indeed, if he made
good use of it.’

‘That he did, sir, for he was a real good man, and a blessing was on
all he did.’

‘Well,’ said the gauger, with an air of incredulity, ‘tell me now of
some instance where this gift was shown by your wonderful relative,
Farquhar Lick, or whatever his name was?’

‘By your leave, sir, his name is not Lick, but Lighiche, and that means
“Healer.” The people will be calling him that because of the cures he
did. But his own right name was Beaton, and I could be telling you lots
of stories about him. One time, on a beautiful summer morning, he was
walking by the sea-side, and he met old Colin Macrae and his two sons
going to their boat to go to Skerry-Rona to cut sea-ware, when they
spoke to the seer. He looked to the north and to the south, with a face
full of trouble, and shust then a raven flew over their heads, and gave
a hollow croaking kind of sound.’

‘So do all ravens, man,’ interrupted the gauger.

Without noticing the interruption, Eachainn continued, ‘And then, sir,
when Fearchair Lighiche heard the raven, he turned to the old man and
commanded him and his sons not to enter the boat or put to sea that
day, for, said he, “I have it from them that never deceive that evil
will come to a boat from Harlosh coast this day.”’

‘And did they take notice of the warning?’

‘The old man, sir, was minded to stay, but the young lads laughed,
and said they did not care for all the ravens between the Point of
Uishinish and the Coolin Hills, so they set off. But the wise man stood
looking after them with a sad face, and then the raven flew past again;
and when Fearchair heard the croak of the bird, he clasped his hands,
and looking up he cried out, “Lost! lost! lost!”’

‘And what became of the men?’ inquired Gillespie, interested, in spite
of his unbelief.

‘I’ll shust tell you, sir. About the middle of the day there was a
thick fog, which covered the sea and the land, and when the night came
on there was a dreadful storm, so that no boat could live. The people
will be blaming old Meg Mackintosh, the witch of Glen Dubh, for it, for
she met the men that very morning, shust after they’ll be finding a
dead door-mouse, and that is shust always a sign of death. Well, when
the night was come, the house of John Mac John Mac Kenneth was all
cheerless and dark, for they that went out in the morning never come
back; and the poor wife sat all her lone, on a three-legged stool, by
the side of the fire, crying bitterly for her man and her sons, whose
three stools stood empty opposite her on the other side. Her dog
lied at her feet, and the poor brute kept licking her hand, for he
knew she was in trouble; and when her sobs became more convulsively
audible, he would raise a low whine in sympathy. Well, sir, it’ll
shust be about the middle of the night, when in a distracted state
the woman exclaimed, “Oh, this fearful suspense! it is worse than
the worst reality. Would to heaven I were certain whether they are
dead or alive.” She had scarcely left off speaking, when she’ll hear
a queer-like sound, and the dog she’ll hear it too, for she’ll growl
and go close to the wife’s side, and then she’ll see three shivering
figures sitting before her on the stools that were empty before, all
wet, pale, and with the death-look on them. You may be sure she was
awful frightened. She daren’t speak; but she shust held out her arms to
embrace them, but she could not lay hold of them, for with a soundless
tread they glided away and vanished, while she heard pronounced these
words, “Cha till, cha till, cha till sinn tuille” (We return, return,
return no more). Then she gave a great skirl and fell down, and she was
found in the morning shust quite senseless, with the poor beastie of a
dog watching her.’

‘That is certainly a very strange story, Eachainn.’

‘Yes, sir; and there’s plenty more I could be telling, if you like.
Once the laird was taken ill all of a sudden with a bad pain in his
chest, when he was walking near some rocks where the fairies lived.
Some say he was struck by an elf-bolt, as one was picked up near the
spot the next day. So he sent to Fearchair Lighiche to come to heal
him. It was a long way to go, and when Fearchair and the man that
was fetching him got to about five miles from the laird’s house a
gobhar-athair flew over them, and when Fearchair heard the cry of the
bird he stopped, and told the man it was no use to go any further, for
his master was dead, and so he turned back. When the man got home, he
found that his master had died just at the very time they heard the
gobhar-athair. Sometimes he would fall into a trance, when he would be
seeing most beautiful things. One day he was travelling with his nephew
and his foster-brother, who always carried his herb-box and his Hebrew
Bible, and they came to a place where a great battle was fought long
ago. And there’s a big cairn there over the bones of the men who were
killed, and people will be seeing the spirits of them if they go that
way at night. Fearchair said to his nephew that he was going to lie
down and sleep, and that they were to be sure not to wake him, nor even
touch him. Well, sir, he went to sleep, and at first he was breathing
very hard, and his face was full of trouble, but after a little he did
not breathe at all, and his face got as white as snow, and he looked
shust as if he was dead. His nephew got so frightened when he saw
him, that he jumped up to wake him, but the other held him back and
whispered, “For your life, move not, speak not, touch not;” and they
then saw coming out of the mouth of the sleeping man a tiny, tiny, wee
thing like a beautiful butterfly. When the nephew saw it, he made as if
he would catch it, but the other man called out, “For any sake, don’t
touch it, for there’s something awful in it,” so they looked and saw it
go into the cairn. The night had well nigh fallen before they saw the
beautiful wee creature coming out of the cairn and going back into the
mouth of Fearchair. Then he woke up and sneezed three times, and said,
“’Tis well; let’s on, let’s on.” He didn’t speak again for a long time,
but once they heard him say, like to himself, in Gaelic, “Eternal!
eternal! eternal!”’

‘And what did the people think of all this?’ asked Gillespie.

‘Oh, sir, they say that when he’ll be in a trance his spirit would come
from his body, and go to the spiritual worlds, or anywhere he liked.
There was only three men on earth to whom he told what it was that
he’ll be seeing at such times, and they dared only each tell it to
one another, their nearest relatives when they arrived at the age of

When Eachainn had finished the last story, he left Gillespie to
himself, who was now fast recovering under the kind treatment of
Somhairle Dubh and his excellent wife. The host was in the gauger’s
room as often as he could, relating such stories as he knew; and thus
enabled the patient to pass away the time more agreeably. I heard
several of them, but the one about the


is the only one I can at present remember. Somhairle Dubh related it

When I was a little boy, I would sit for hours by the kitchen fire,
listening to my grandfather, who used to while away the long winter
evenings by telling us stories about witches and warlocks, ghosts and
fairies, of which he had an inexhaustible stock. A very favourite one
with me was the tale of the each uisg, or the water horse, a fearful
demon in the likeness of a big, black horse, who inhabited Loch-Dorch,
and woe to any one who ventured near the loch after nightfall; for the
each uisg was always on the watch, and would rise out of the water,
seize any intruders, and drag them to the bottom, to be devoured by him
at his leisure. Sometimes he would assume other shapes, and try to lure
people away to the water. One Hallowe’en night there was a party of
young people gathered round the fire in the house of Duncan the weaver,
burning nuts and ducking for apples, when Duncan’s daughter, bonnie
Catriana, proposed to go and dip her sleeve in the burn, to try if her
sweetheart was true. None of her companions would go, for fear of the
each uisg, and tried in vain to dissuade Catriana from her venturesome
purpose, but laughing at their fears, she threw her plaid over her
head, and ran off to the burn.

In a little they were startled by hearing a loud wailing shriek, and
fearing some accident had happened to their favourite Catriana, rushed
out of the house to look after her, but no trace could they find of the
poor, wilful lassie. Her father and the lads were searching the whole
night, and at the dawn of day they found her plaid at the side of the
dreaded Loch-Dorch, and near it, in the clay, the mark of an unearthly
hoof, which proved, beyond doubt, that she had fallen a victim to the
monster water-horse.

Then there was young Allan Mac Sheumais, who, coming home in the dusk,
after spending the day hunting the deer, heard a tramping sound which
he soon found to proceed from the water-horse, which he could see
rapidly galloping up to him. Poor Allan, though in a dreadful fright,
did not lose his presence of mind, and knowing full well that ordinary
shot would have no effect upon the demon, he rapidly loaded his gun
with a small, crooked silver sixpence—the blessed metal from a cup of
which the Saviour drank his last draught on earth—and exclaiming, “The
cross be betwixt me and thee,” fired with a steady aim, while the cold
sweat stood on his brow.

The each uisg gave one yelling neigh, so shrill, so dismal, and
unearthly, that the cattle which had lain down to rest on the heath
started up in terror; the dogs of the hamlet heard it, and, ceasing
their gambols, ran cowering and trembling to the fireside; the roosted
cock heard it, and essayed to crow, but could only scream. Never will
those who heard that terrific cry forget it; but it had scarcely ceased
ere the demon steed had sprung into the midst of Loch-Dorch, and as the
water closed over him, a sound, as of a sarcastic, unearthly laugh, was
heard from the middle of the loch, and then all was silent.

Yet notwithstanding all this, Lachlan Buachaille, the cow-herd, who was
a wild, reckless fellow, would never believe the stories he heard about
this dreadful being, and laughingly suggested that Allan had only been
frightened by Rorie Mor’s gearran broken loose from his tether; and
bragged that _he_ had never seen the each uisg, although he had lived
for some years near the Raven’s Peak, close to the haunted loch.

‘And would ye wish to see him?’ asked old Janet, as he sat by her
fireside one evening; ‘would ye really wish to see that fearsome thing,

‘May I never taste oatcake or whisky again!’ said Lachlan impetuously,
‘but I wish to see the beast, if there’s one in it, and the sooner the

It was a gusty, rainy autumn night. Lachlan sat alone in his bothie,
busily employed in twisting his oat straw siaman, humming to himself,
and listening to the sound of the torrent as it dashed over the rocks,
the pattering of the heavy rain, and the sheughs of the north-west
wind, moaning as it passed along, all of which only served to increase
his sense of comfort as he drew his three-legged stool nearer to the
bright peat fire.

He was just thinking of retiring for the night, when he heard a gentle
knocking at the door, ‘Who is there at this time of night?’ asked he,
to which a feeble voice replied, ‘I am a poor old woman who lost my
way this wild night; pray let me in, or I shall perish with cold and
fatigue.’ Lachlan muttered anything but blessings on the old body’s
head for thus disturbing him, for he had a particular objection to old
women. ‘Bad luck to her; were it a young one, or even an old man, I
should not care,’ he grumbled; ‘but an old hag to come sorning on me,
as I was about to step into my quiet bed.’ Then raising his voice, he
said, ‘Wait, wait, carlin, I’ll be with you directly, let me wind up
my siaman first; the diabhul take you, have more patience, and don’t
keep croaking there with your ill-omened voice;’ and, unfastening the
latch, he continued, ‘There, enter now, and curses on you.’ However,
with all his roughness, Lachlan was not a bad-natured fellow, and
regretted his inhospitality, when he saw stepping in a poor, wretched,
little, old woman, bent double with age and misery. She wore a dun
cloak drawn tightly round her figure, with a kind of red hood attached
to it, marked with strange characters, which quite covered her head,
and shaded her face. She gave no salutation, good or bad, and as she
crawled rather than walked up to the fire, it emitted a vivid spark,
which hissed as it fell on the dripping clothes of the old hag; a hen
on the roost crowed discordantly, and a little mouse poked its head
out of a hole and squeaked loudly. The old woman, noticing this, gave
a queer kind of laugh, so grating in its sound that Lachlan turned
quickly round and stared at her; but she met his gaze sharply, and with
a peculiarity of expression which Lachlan felt, without knowing why, to
be very unpleasant.

‘Old grannie,’ said he, ‘will you take something?’

‘No,’ she gruffly replied.

‘There’s a little left of the bread and fish I had for supper,’ said

‘I always have plenty of fish,’ answered she, sharply.

‘Perhaps you like flesh better, then?’

‘Yes,’ she replied, in the same uncivil manner, while a strange,
sneering smile flickered round her lips.

‘Will you have anything to drink, then?’ continued Lachlan.

‘No,’ abruptly answered the carlin.

‘What! woman; nothing to eat or drink! Then I suppose you have had your
supper; but it must have been with the fairies, for I warrant you could
have got none elsewhere between this and Beinnard, and that is a good
many miles off.’

‘Perhaps,’ muttered the old hag.

‘Perhaps what, cailleach?’ questioned Lachlan; and, after a pause,
finding she gave no answer, ‘Perhaps! I am afraid, you will catch
cold, unless you throw off those wet clothes; and though I have no
woman’s gear, you can have my greatcoat, and I can spare you a blanket

‘I need none of your coats or blankets,’ answered the crone, in the
same ungracious tones as before, ‘for water can never hurt me.’

‘Leeze me on the hag,’ muttered Lachlan to himself, ‘but she is easily
maintained at any rate, and yet I would rather have a more expensive
and social guest.’

The fire burned down, and Lachlan, as he occasionally glanced at the
old cailleach, sitting on the opposite side of the hearth, could not
help thinking that there was something altogether repulsive, if not
uncanny, about her. There was a strange restlessness in her manner; her
hard, dark eyes seemed to look everywhere and nowhere at the same time;
while she sat rocking backwards and forwards over the ashes, and her
long, crooked fingers twitched about her dun cloak in an odd and
unpleasant manner. Lachlan threw another peat on the fire, and, by the
reviving light, he thought the carlin’s eye had acquired a wilder and
sterner expression, while a grim smile played round the corners of her
ugly mouth. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, she seemed to have
really grown larger in stature and more erect since he first saw her.
Rousing himself, he kicked off his boots, lay down on his bed, which
was only a few steps from the fire, and settled himself down to repose
for the night.

Lachlan, however, could not sleep, and turned from one side to another,
courting in vain the drowsy god. Glancing at his unwelcome visitor,
he saw, with a feeling akin to dread, the old creature sitting more
and more erect; and, rubbing his eyes, as if he felt that he was under
the influence of a dream, he was exceedingly startled to find that it
was no delusion, but that she was really growing, as it were, rapidly
larger and sterner, under his very eyes. ‘Hout! carlin,’ he exclaimed,
raising himself on his elbow, ‘you are waxing large.’

To which she replied in a hollow voice, ‘Umph, umph; omhagraich, ’s mi
’g eiridh ris a bhlath’s (Itomies and atomies—expanding to the warmth!)

Getting very drowsy, Lachlan again lay down to sleep, but presently
was disturbed by a mouse coming out of a hole in the wall, and running
squeaking into and across his bed, almost touching his chin. He again
raised himself on his elbow, was struck with the increased proportions
of the strange hag, and again exclaimed, ‘Hout, carlin! you are getting

She again replied, but in a louder and harsher tone than before,
‘Umph, umph; omhagraich, ’s mi ’g eiridh ris a bhlath’s (Itomies and
atomies—expanding to the warmth!)

The fire was now nearly out, the light growing gradually less, and
Lachlan became more and more sleepy. At length he began to snore
gently, when all at once a spark flew out of the fire and alighted
smartingly on his face. Irritated by the stinging sensation, he
started, opened his eyes, and became thoroughly roused by again hearing
the old hen on the cross beam above him giving a most discordant
crow, though the cock uttered not a sound. He sat upright in his bed,
and, in the gloom, dimly saw the strange figure extended to fearfully
gigantic proportions, while her eyes no longer retained a trace of
human expression, but glared upon him with preternatural brilliance and

It was now with a feeling as if his blood were ice, as if his flesh
had been turned into creeping and crawling things, and as if his hair
all stood on end, that Lachlan, in a tone which fear rendered nearly
inaudible, said for the third time, ‘Indeed and indeed, carlin, but you
have waxed very large!’

‘Umph, umph; omhagraich, ’s mi ’g eiridh ris a bhlath’s (Itomies and
atomies—expanding to the warmth!) shrieked the demon in a voice
so terrible that it actually frightened the very ravens in the
neighbouring rocks, who flew croaking away. ‘Umph, umph; omhagraich ’s
mi ’g eiridh ris a bhlath’s’ (Itomies and atomies—expanding to the
warmth); and the fearful creature stood erect. She gave a horrible
laugh, a snort, and a neigh of terrific sound, while her features
underwent a still more appalling change. The dark-grey locks that had
peeped from under her red hood, now waved a snaky mane. On the forehead
of the monster was a star-like mark of bright scarlet, quivering like
burning fire; the nostrils breathed, as it were, flame, whilst the eyes
flashed on poor Lachlan like lightning.

His knees smote together with terror, he saw that his hour was come,
and that the fearful creature, the idea of whose existence he had
laughed to scorn, now stood before him. He felt that at last he did
indeed behold the each uisg.

Quicker than thought Lachlan had found himself snatched up in the jaws
of the monster. The door flew open of itself, and at one bound the
steed of Ifrinn was on the top of the dizzy precipice—the Raven’s
Peak. At another he dashed down the torrent fall of Rowan Linn. The
cold spray of the cascade falling on his face, now for the first
time recalled Lachlan to consciousness; and as the demon gave one
gigantic rear, previous to that spring which would have engulphed
him and his victim in the unfathomable depths of Loch-Dorch, Lachlan
remembered and pronounced aloud the Name of names that was engraved
on the breast-plate of the High Priest of Israel. The shrill clarion
of the cock was now heard, the demon lost all further power over his
victim, and letting him drop with a mighty shudder and a neighing yell,
instantly plunged into the loch, the waters of which, for a long time
after, boiled and bubbled as if it were a gigantic huntsman’s kettle of
the kind in which he dresseth the haunch of the red-deer in the corrie.

Some people passing that way early in the morning, found Lachlan,
bruised and insensible, on a shelf of the rock, at the bottom of the
Raven’s Peak, at the very edge of the water. They tried to rouse him,
and after a short time he opened his eyes, sat up, and said, ‘Where am
I?’ and recollecting everything that had passed, he at once exclaimed,
in broken accents, ‘Blessed be _His_ name, safe, safe!’

They carried him to Clachan-nan-cno, where he lived for many years, a
wiser and a better man, but he never again heard the each uisg mentioned
without devoutly expressing the Name that saved him, and no wonder that
neither he, nor any one else, has ventured ever since to sleep a night
in the cottage near Rowan Linn.

The gauger, in his weakly state, heard the story throughout without
expressing any doubt as to its truthfulness, and felt much relieved
to find that poor Lachlan had escaped from the fearful each uisg. In
spite of himself, he began to be less sceptical. Indeed, the simple
manner in which the stories were related to him, the genuine warmth of
heart and kind treatment bestowed upon him by the simple Highlanders,
who themselves thoroughly believed in them, induced him to think that
there must be some foundation after all for these extraordinary things.
The continued attentions of Somhairle Dubh and his kind wife brought
the gauger rapidly round. We soon find him attending to his duties,
but making no great attempts to discover the local still that supplied
his kind host with the excellent Mac-na-Braiche which helped not a
little to invigorate and bring Gillespie himself additional strength
and vigour during the latter weeks of his illness. Somhairle Dubh,
the gauger, and Hector became fast friends, nor was there ever any of
his cloth who was less capable of doing a mean thing in procuring a
conviction against his neighbours. He did his duty to his King, without
being unnecessarily harsh with those against whom he was obliged to
enforce the law. Beannachd leis.



The ancient Chapel of Cilliechriost, in the parish of Urray, in
Ross-shire, was the scene of one of the bloodiest acts of ferocity and
revenge that history has recorded. The original building has long since
disappeared, but the lonely and beautifully situated burying-ground is
still in use. The tragedy originated in the many quarrels which arose
between two great chiefs of the North Highlands—Mackenzie of Kintail
and Macdonell of Glengarry. As usual, the dispute was regarding land,
but it is difficult to arrive at the degree of blame to which each
party was entitled; enough that there was bad blood between these
two paladins of the North. Of course, the quarrel was not allowed
to go to sleep for lack of action on the part of their friends and
clansmen. The Macdonells having made several raids on the Mackenzie
country, the Mackenzies retaliated by the spoiling of Morar with a
large, overwhelming force. The Macdonells, taking advantage of Kenneth
Mackenzie’s visit to Mull with the view to influence Maclean to induce
the former to peace, once more committed great devastation in the
Mackenzie country, under the leadership of Glengarry’s son, Angus. From
Kintail and Lochalsh the clan Mackenzie gathered fast, but too late to
prevent Macdonell from escaping to sea with his boats loaded with the
foray. A portion of the Mackenzies ran to Eileandonan, while another
portion sped to the narrow strait of the Kyle between Skye and the
mainland, through which the Macdonells, on their return, of necessity
must pass. At Eileandonan Lady Mackenzie furnished them with two boats,
one ten-oared and one four-oared, also with arrows and ammunition.
Though without their chief, the MacKenzies sallied forth, and rowing
towards Kyleakin, lay in wait for the approach of the Macdonells. The
first of the Glengarry boats they allowed to pass unchallenged, but
the second, which was the thirty-two-oared galley of the chief, was
furiously attacked. The unprepared Macdonells, rushing to the side of
the heavily loaded boat, swamped the craft, and were all thrown into
the sea, where they were dispatched in large numbers, and those who
escaped to the land were destroyed “by the Kintail men, who killed them
like sealchies.”

Time passed on, Donald Gruamach, the old chief, died ere he could
mature matters for adequate retaliation of the Kyle tragedy and the
loss of his son Angus. The chief of the clan was an infant in whom the
feelings of revenge could not be worked out by action; but there was
one, his cousin, who was the captain or leader, in whom the bitterest
thoughts exercised their fullest sway. It seems now impossible that
such acts could have occurred, and it gives one a startling idea of
the state of the country, when such a terrible instance of private
vengeance could have been carried out so recently as the beginning
of the seventeenth century, without any notice being taken of it,
even in those days of general blood and rapine. Notwithstanding the
hideousness of sacrilege and murder, which in magnitude of atrocity was
scarcely ever equalled, there are many living, even in the immediate
neighbourhood, who are ignorant of the cause of the act

Macranuil of Lundi, captain of the clan, whose personal prowess was
only equalled by his intense ferocity, made many incursions into the
Mackenzie country, sweeping away their cattle and otherwise doing them
serious injury; but these were but preludes to that sanguinary act on
which his soul gloated, and by which he hoped effectually to avenge
the loss of influence and property of which his clan was deprived by
the Mackenzies, and more particularly to wash out the records of the
death of his chief and clansman at Kyleakin. In order to form his plans
more effectually, he wandered for some time as a mendicant among the
Mackenzies, in order the more successfully to fix on the best means and
place for his revenge. A solitary life offered up to expiate the manes
of his relatives was not sufficient in his estimation, but the life’s
blood of such a number of his bitterest foemen, and an act at which the
country should stand aghast was absolutely necessary.

Returning home, he gathered together a number of the most desperate of
his clan, and by a forced march across the hills arrived at the Church
of Cilliechriost on a Sunday forenoon, when it was filled by a crowd of
worshippers of the clan Mackenzie. Without a moment’s delay, without a
single pang of remorse, and while the song of praise ascended to heaven
from fathers, mothers, and children, he surrounded the church with his
band, and with lighted torches set fire to the roof. The building was
thatched, and while a gentle breeze from the east fanned the fire,
the song of praise mingled with the crackling of the flames, until
the imprisoned congregation, becoming conscious of their situation,
rushed to the doors and windows, where they were met by a double row
of bristling swords. Now, indeed, arose the wild wail of despair,
the shrieks of women, the infuriated cries of men, and the helpless
screaming of children; these mingled with the roaring of the flames
appalled even the Macdonells, but not so Allan Dubh. ‘Thrust them back
into the flames,’ cried he, ‘for he that suffers aught to escape alive
from Cilliechriost shall be branded as a traitor to his clan;’ and they
were thrust back or mercilessly hewn down within the narrow porch,
until the dead bodies, piled upon each other, opposed an unsurmountable
barrier to the living. Anxious for the preservation of their young
children, the scorching mothers threw them from the windows in the
vain hope that the feelings of parents awakened in the breasts of the
Macdonells would induce them to spare them, but not so. At the command
of Allan of Lundi they were received on the points of the broadswords
of men in whose breasts mercy had no place. It was a wild and fearful
sight, only witnessed by a wild and fearful race. During the tragedy
they listened with delight to the piper of the band, who, marching
round the burning pile, played, to drown the screams of the victims, an
extempore pibroch, which has ever since been distinguished as the war
tune of Glengarry, under the title of ‘Cilliechriost.’ The flaming roof
fell upon the burning victims; soon the screams ceased to be heard, a
column of smoke and flame leapt into the air, the pibroch ceased, the
last smothering groan of existence ascended into the still sky of that
Sabbath morning, whispering as it died away that the agonies of the
congregation were over.

East, west, north, and south looked Allan Dubh Macranuil. Not a living
soul met his eye. The fire he kindled had destroyed, like the spirit
of desolation. Not a sound met his ear, and his own tiger soul sunk
within him in dismay. The parish of Cilliechriost seemed swept of every
living thing. The fearful silence that prevailed, in a quarter lately
so thickly peopled, struck his followers with dread: for they had given
in one hour the inhabitants of a whole parish one terrible grave. The
desert which they had created filled them with dismay, heightened into
terror by the howls of the masterless sheep dogs, and they turned to
fly. Worn out with the suddenness of their long march from Glengarry,
and with their late fiendish exertions, on their return they sat down
to rest on the green face of Glenconvinth, which route they took in
order to reach Lundi through the centre of Glenmoriston by Urquhart.
Before they fled from Cilliechriost, Allan divided his party into two,
one passing by Inverness and the other as already mentioned.

The Macdonells, however, were not allowed to escape, for the terrible
deed had roused the Mackenzies as effectually as if the fiery cross
had been sent through their territories. A youthful leader, a cadet
of the family of Seaforth, in an incredibly short time, found himself
surrounded by a determined band of Mackenzies eager for the fray; these
were also divided into two bodies, one commanded by Murdoch Mackenzie
of Redcastle, proceeded by Inverness, to follow the pursuit along the
southern side of Loch-Ness. Another, headed by Alexander Mackenzie of
Coul, struck across the country from Beauly, to follow the party of the
Macdonells who fled along the northern side of Loch-Ness under their
leader Allan Dubh Macranuil.

The party that fled by Inverness were surprised by Redcastle in a
public-house at Torbreck, three miles to the west of the town, where
they stopped to refresh themselves. The house was set on fire, and they
all—thirty-seven in number—suffered the death which, in the earlier
part of the day, they had so wantonly inflicted.

The Mackenzies, under Coul, after a few hours hard running, came up
with the Macdonells as they sought a brief repose on the hills towards
the burn of Aultsigh. There the Macdonells maintained an unequal
conflict; but as guilt only brings faint hearts to its unfortunate
votaries, they turned and again fled precipitately to the burn. Many,
however, missed the ford, and the channel being rough and rocky several
fell under the swords of the victorious Mackenzies. The remainder, with
all the speed they could make, held on for miles, lighted by a splendid
and cloudless moon, and when the rays of the morning burst upon them,
Allan Dubh Macranuil and his party were seen ascending the southern
ridge of Glen-Urquhart, with the Mackenzies close in their rear. Allan,
casting an eye behind him and observing the superior numbers and
determination of his pursuers, called upon his band to disperse, in
order to confuse his pursuers, and so divert the chase from himself.
This being done, he again set forward at the height of his speed, and
after a long run, drew breath to reconnoitre, when, to his dismay,
he found that the avenging Mackenzies were still on his track in one
unbroken mass. Again he divided his men and bent his flight towards the
shore of Loch-Ness, but still he saw the foe bearing down upon him with
redoubled vigour. Becoming fearfully alive to his position, he cried
to his few remaining companions again to disperse, until they left
him, one by one, and he was alone. Allan, who as a mark of superiority
and as Captain of the Glengarry Macdonells, always wore a red jacket,
was thus easily distinguished from the rest of his clansmen, and the
Mackenzies, being anxious for his capture, easily singled him out as
the object of their joint and undivided pursuit. Perceiving the sword
of vengeance ready to descend on his head, he took a resolution as
desperate in its conception as it was unequalled in its accomplishment.
Taking a short course towards the fearful ravine of Aultsigh, he
divested himself of his plaid and buckler, and turning to the leader of
the Mackenzies, who had nearly come up to him, beckoned him to follow,
then, with a few yards of a run, he sprang over the yawning chasm,
never before contemplated without a shudder. The agitation of his mind
at the moment completely overshadowed the danger of the attempt, and
being of an athletic frame, he succeeded in clearing the desperate
leap. The young and reckless Mackenzie, full of ardour and determined
at all hazards to capture the murderer, followed; but, being a stranger
to the real width of the chasm, perhaps of less nerve than his
adversary, and certainly not stimulated with the same feelings, he only
touched the opposite brink with his toes, and slipping downwards, he
clung by a slender shoot of hazel which grew over the tremendous abyss.
Allan Dubh, looking round on his pursuer and observing the agitation of
the hazel bush, immediately guessed the cause, and returning with the
ferocity of a demon who had succeeded in getting his victim into his
fangs, hoarsely whispered, ‘I have given much to your race this day, I
shall give them this also; surely now the debt is paid;’ then cutting
the hazel twig with his sword, the intrepid youth was dashed from crag
to crag until he reached the stream below, a bloody and misshapen mass.

Macranuil again commenced his flight, but one of the Mackenzies, who
by this time had come up, sent a musket shot after him, by which he
was wounded, and obliged to slacken his pace. None of his pursuers,
however, on coming up to Aultsigh, dared or dreamt of taking a leap
which had been so fatal to their youthful leader, and were therefore
under the necessity of taking a circuitous route to gain the other
side. This circumstance enabled Macranuil to increase the distance
between him and his pursuers, but the loss of blood, occasioned by
his wound, so weakened him that very soon he found his determined
enemies were fast gaining on him. Like an infuriated wolf he hesitated
whether to await the undivided attack of the Mackenzies or plunge into
Loch-Ness and attempt to swim across its waters. The shouts of his
approaching enemies soon decided him, and he sprung into its deep and
dark wave. Refreshed by its invigorating coolness he soon swam beyond
the reach of their muskets; but in his weak and wounded state it is
more than probable he would have sunk ere he had crossed half the
breadth had not the firing and the shouts of his enemies proved the
means of saving his life. Fraser of Foyers seeing a numerous band of
armed men standing on the opposite bank of Loch-Ness, and observing
a single swimmer struggling in the water, ordered his boat to be
launched, and pulling hard to the individual, discovered him to be his
friend Allan Dubh, with whose family Fraser was on terms of friendship.
Macranuil, thus rescued, remained at the house of Foyers until he
was cured of his wound. The influence and the Clan of the Macdonells
subsequently declined, while that of the Mackenzies surely and steadily

The heavy ridge between the vale of Urquhart and Aultsigh, where
Allan Dubh Macranuil so often divided his men, is to this day called
Monadh-an-leumanaich, or ‘the Moor of the Leaper.’



It is happy for the present age that the ancient manners and customs,
which were practised in the Highlands and Islands under the feudal
system, have long since fallen into oblivion. It would fill volumes
to relate the numerous practices which were then resorted to by the
feudal lords, many of which were cruel in themselves, and entailed
great hardships on their submissive vassals, who were bound to obey. As
the chiefs had full power over the life and death of their retainers,
such of them as betrayed any disobedience or opposition to the stern
demands of their superiors, rendered themselves liable to the severest
punishment, and frequently to nothing less than the penalty of death.
The national laws of Kings and Queens had then but little influence in
checking or counteracting the peremptory enactments of feudalism.

The following striking instance of the remarkable practices alluded to
will furnish a specimen to the reader of what took place in Skye, not
much more than a century and a-half ago.

No sooner did the death of a tenant take place than the event
was announced to the laird of the soil. The land-steward, or
ground-officer, incurred the displeasure of his master unless that
announcement were made no later than three days after it had occurred.
Immediately after the deceased farmer had been consigned to the grave,
the disconsolate widow, if he had left one, was waited upon by a
messenger from the landlord, to deliver up to him the best horse on
the farm, such being reckoned then the legal property of the owner
of the soil. This rule was as unalterable as the laws of the Medes
and Persians. On large and extensive farms the demand was submitted
to without much complaint, by the widow, children, or heirs of the
deceased, but it pressed hard upon the occupiers of small tenements of
land, and particularly so on helpless widows. But whoever refused, or
attempted to evade this heartless enactment, forfeited every right to
their farms in future, and became liable to have all their goods and
chattels confiscated to the laird. It frequently happened that a poor
farmer had but one horse, yet even this circumstance did not mitigate
the cruelty of the practice; for the solitary animal was taken away,
and frequently so to the great distress of the younger branches of the
orphan family, who mourned bitterly, and often shed tears for the loss
of their favourite animal.

A circumstance took place in the parish of Strath, which was, it is
said, the means of abolishing this abominable rule. About the beginning
of the seventeenth century a farmer of the name of Mackinnon was
gathered to his fathers in the parish, and after his interment the
laird’s messenger visited the afflicted widow, and, as usual, demanded
the best horse on her little farm. Her husband having been a kinsman
of the laird, and expecting, in her distress, to receive some sympathy
from her chief, and at all events some relaxation of that rule which
had been all along so resistlessly put in force, she showed much
reluctance to part with the animal. Seeing this, the officer became
more and more determined to have it. The widow, in the same manner,
became more and more determined in her refusal, and appealed to him in
vain to submit the case to the decision of her chief. The officer was
inexorable, and becoming incensed at the woman’s pertinacity he turned
from words to blows, and inflicted some severe wounds on the helpless
female to the effusion of blood. She, however, retaliated, and through
desperation, assuming more courage, addressed her little son, a boy
of four, that stood weeping by her side, and said to him in her own
emphatic vernacular:—

   “Cha mhac mar an t-athair thu, a’ Lachlainn Oig,
    Mar diol thu le fuil droch caithreamh do mhàthar;
    ’S mar smàil thu gu bàs, le diòghaltas air chòir,
    Am borb-fhear fiadhaich so, am mòrtair gu’n nàr!”

             _Literally translated_:—

   “Thou art not a son like the father, my young Lachlan,
    Unless thou requite with blood the ill-treatment of thy mother;
    And unless thou dash to death, with due revenge,
    This fierce and savage fellow—this barefaced murderer!”

The mother’s charge to her boy cannot be said to be tempered with much
Christian feeling or principle, yet it was according to the generally
cherished practices of the system under which she lived. Then it
was that might was right, and revenge bravery. But to return to the
subject—the widow’s cries and tears, excitement and eloquence, were
all in vain. The officer made off with the horse, and delivered it to
his chief.

Matters went on in this way, in various quarters, for a considerable
time, until at length, and about twenty years thereafter, the same
officer appeared on the same errand at a neighbouring widow’s door, and
deprived her as usual of her best horse. The circumstance was brought
under the notice of Lachlan Og, and having been, no doubt, frequently
reminded of the cruelty inflicted by that official on his mother, he
determined to embrace the present befitting occasion for displaying
his dire revenge. It may be stated that young Lachlan was noted in the
district for his great agility and muscular strength. He made no delay
in pursuing the officer, and having come up to him at a distance of
some miles, he seized him by the neck and sternly demanded the widow’s
horse, reminding him, at the same time, of the treatment inflicted by
him on his mother twenty years before. The officer stood petrified with
fear, seeing fierceness and revenge depicted so very unmistakably in
young Mackinnon’s face. Yet still he grasped the animal by the halter,
and would not permit his youthful assailant to intermeddle with it.
The strife commenced, and that in right earnest, but in a few moments
the officer fell lifeless on the ground. Mackinnon, seizing his dirk,
dissevered the head from the body, and washed it in a fountain by the
wayside, which is still pointed out to the traveller as ‘Tobar a’
chinn,’ or ‘The Well of the Head.’ He then, at once, mounted the horse,
and galloped off to the residence of his chief, carrying the bloody
head in his left hand on the point of his dirk. His appearance at the
main entrance, with the ghastly trophy still bleeding in his hand,
greatly alarmed the menials of the mansion. Without dismounting, he
inquired if Mackinnon was at home, and being told that he was, he said,
‘Go and tell my chief that I have arrived to present him with the head
of his officer “Donnachadh Mor,” in case that he might wish to embalm
it and hang it up in his baronial hall as a trophy of heartlessness and
cruelty.’ The message was instantly delivered to the laird, who could
not believe that such a diabolical deed could be perpetrated by any of
his clan, but still he came out to see. On his appearance in the court,
Lachlan Og dismounted, did obeisance to his chief, and prominently
exhibited the dripping head by lifting it up on his dirk. ‘What is
this, Lachlan; what murder is this?’ asked the excited chief. Lachlan
explained the whole in full detail, and related the circumstances of
the present transaction, as well as of the inhuman treatment which
his mother had received when he was a child. The chieftain pondered,
paused, and declared that these cruelties had been practised unknown to
him. He granted a free pardon to Lachlan Og, appointed him his officer
in room of Donnachadh Mor, and issued an edict over all his estate that
thereafter neither widow nor orphan, heir, nor kindred, would ever be
deprived by him of their horse, or of any other part of their property.



Seumas-an-Tuim, _alias_ James Grant of Carron, in Strathspey, is one of
those Highland notabilities who have made themselves famous for deeds
of lawlessness and rapine. Seumas is the subject of the well-known

    A mhnathan a ghlinne,       │ Ye women of the glen,
    A mhnathan a ghlinne,       │ Ye women of the glen,
    A mhnathan a ghlinne,       │ Ye women of the glen,
    Nach mithich dhuibh eiridh, │ Is it not time for you to rise,
    ’Seumas-an-Tuim ’ag iomain  │ And James-an-Tuim driving
              na spréidhe,      │       away your cattle.

The melody of this song is a beautiful one, and has been adapted to
the great Highland bagpipe, in the shape of a well-known pibroch—‘The
Breadalbane Gathering,’ or ‘Bodaich na’m briogais,’ and associated with
a victory, which John Glas, first Earl of Breadalbane, gained over the
Sinclairs of Caithness, at Allt-nam-mearlach. This was towards the
close of the seventeenth century. But the air belongs to an earlier
period. Seumas-an-Tuim flourished at the beginning of that century.

The wild career of this man seems to have originated in accident.
Unintentionally he slew his cousin, one of the Ballindalloch family.
The consequence was a fierce feud between the Grants of Ballindalloch
and the Grants of Carron, and James, finding his enemies implacable,
became lawless and desperate. In retaliation for his deeds of
spoliation, Ballindalloch, hearing that John Grant of Carron, James’s
brother, with a party of his men, was cutting timber in the forest
of Abernethy, set upon them and slew the Laird of Carron, on the
presumption that he aided the outlaw. The Earl of Murray, then Lord
Lieutenant of the county, interposing to protect Ballindalloch,
Seumas-an-Tuim vowed that he would avenge himself by his own hand.
On the 3rd of December 1630, he came with a number of followers
to Pitchas, the residence of Ballindalloch, burned his corn-yard,
his barns, byres, and stables, with the cattle, horses, and sheep,
driving away such as escaped the flames. Then he went with his men
to Tulchin, the residence of old Ballindalloch, where he did in like
manner, driving away as many of his cattle and horses as escaped the
conflagration. Notwithstanding all this, he succeeded in eluding
every attempt on the part of the Earl of Murray to capture him; who
having failed in every effort to do so by force, had recourse to
stratagem. Acting in accordance with the proverb of ‘setting a thief
to catch a thief,’ he employed three ‘broken men,’ with whom he made
a compact, offering handsome rewards should they succeed in bringing
Seumas-an-Tuim into his hands dead or alive. The principal man of the
three—a curious comment on the social condition of those times—was
a brother of the Chief of the Clan Mackintosh. For a time they were
unable to effect their purpose either by force or by stealth; such
was the prowess, as well as the vigilance of Grant and his men. At
length they managed to surprise him in a house at Achnakill, in
Strathaven, where he happened to be, along with a party of ten men.
Not expecting danger, and unprepared for resistance, James and his men
betook themselves to flight. Mackintosh pursued him, slew four of his
followers, and wounded James himself with arrows, inflicting eleven
wounds. He was captured along with six of his men. The men were hanged.
And as soon as his own wounds were cured he was conducted under safe
guard to the Castle of Edinburgh; being, says Spalding in his quaint
style, “admired and looked upon as a man of great vassalage.”

Here James remained a prisoner for a period of two years. It is related
that an old neighbour of his, Grant of Tomavoulin, happened to pass
one day under his prison window. James saw him, and asked, “What news
from Speyside?” “None very particular,” was the answer; “the best news
I have is, that the country is rid of you.” “Perhaps,” said James,
“we shall meet again.” During his imprisonment he was permitted to
see friends occasionally, who supplied him with something better than
ordinary prison fare; and in a small cask, covered over with butter,
his wife succeeded, on one of these occasions, in furnishing him
with cord sufficient to enable him to effect his escape through his
prison window. This was in October 1632. His son waited for him, and
accompanied him in his flight; but for which he would have died by the
way. In consequence of his confinement and other hardships, he lay for
nine days in a wood near Denny, and thence made his way to his old
haunts, where he lay concealed and inactive for a year. Meantime the
Privy Council was greatly exasperated at his escape, and offered large
rewards for his apprehension.

But the restless and daring man could not be idle; and now that his
health was recovered and the vigilance of his enemies allayed, he again
betook himself to his old schemes of revenge and depredation—‘partly
travelling through the country, sometimes on Speyside, sometimes here,
sometimes there, without fear or dread,’ but always having a sharp eye
on his old enemy Ballindalloch. Ballindalloch, in self-defence, was
obliged once more to attempt to set bounds to the attacks of James; and
accordingly he hired a band of the outlawed Macgregors to do this job
for him. These men were under the leadership of Patrick Dubh Gearr, a
man little less famous for his exploits than Seumas-an-Tuim himself.
James being at Carron one night with his son and an only servant, the
Macgregors surrounded the house, while some of the party ascended the
roof to uncover it and get at their victim. Grant hearing the noise,
and finding himself beset by his enemies, resolved to defend the door,
aided by his son and servant; and meantime made such good use of his
arrows through the windows that the Macgregors were kept at bay.
Patrick Gearr, bolder than his followers, venturing forward to force
the door, Grant took aim at him with his gun and shot him through both
legs, and in the confusion which followed the fall of their leader,
James escaped through the roof and was once more beyond the reach of
his pursuers. Gearr, it appears, died of his wounds, and Grant was
lauded as a public benefactor. ‘Patrick Gearr was a notable thief,
robber, and briganer, oppressing the people wherever he came,’ and
therefore they rejoiced at his death.

Seumas-an-Tuim now resolved to fight Ballindalloch single-handed with
his own weapons. Accordingly, while the latter was sitting quietly
and unsuspiciously in his own house, on a dark December night, a
messenger came to the door and told his servant that a well-known
friend was waiting outside to speak to him. Ballindalloch at once
responded and sallied forth to meet his friend (?). But no sooner was
he outside than he was suddenly smothered in plaids by a party of
unknown men—Seumas-an-Tuim and his followers—and hurried away in this
helpless condition, over moss and moor, he knew not whither. They
carried him in this miserable plight, all the way to the neighbourhood
of Elgin, where they confined him in an old kiln, for three weeks,
almost in a state of starvation. Eventually, and with great difficulty,
Ballindalloch made his escape by the aid of one of his guards, whom
he bribed to effect his release. Meantime, the Macgregors desolated
the country with fire and sword in revenge for the death of their
redoubtable leader Patrick Gearr. It was at this time that the famous
outlaw Gilderoy, the well-known hero of tradition and song, came to the
front. He succeeded to the leadership which became vacant by the death
of Patrick.

The man who taunted Seumas-an-Tuim when imprisoned in Edinburgh
Castle, was one Thomas Grant, a Speyside man. Nothing daunted by
previous failures to capture James, he volunteered, at the request of
Ballindalloch, to bring him dead or alive into his hands. This came to
the ear of James. He went to Grant’s house at once, and not finding
him, he gratified his revenge by killing sixteen of his cattle. Finding
him shortly thereafter at the house of a friend, and in bed, he dragged
him naked out of the house and dispatched him with many wounds, and so
fulfilled his own prison vaticinations—“Perhaps we shall meet again.”

Notwithstanding the wild and lawless career of this man, living as he
did in open defiance of law and order, and in the commission of all
kinds of atrocities, he managed somehow to elude every effort made to
bring him to justice. He even succeeded in obtaining a public remission
of his crimes, and survived to take an active part in the troubles
in which the country was involved during the Commonwealth. James,
we suppose more from policy than principle, attached himself to the
winning side, and had his services rewarded by receiving immunity for
all his misdeeds.

What a contrast those times are to the times in which we live? It
seems hardly credible that such lawless and atrocious deeds could be
performed in the face of day, within so comparatively recent a period
and amid scenes where peace and prosperity now reign paramount. Yet so
it is; and with blood upon his hands, enough to have hanged scores of
other men, Seumas-an-Tuim lived to a green old age, and died peaceably
and quietly in his bed—the theme of story and song.



Donald Mackay of Farr, a firm ally of, and related to, the Gordons,
Earls of Sutherland, was through them brought under the notice of, and
knighted by, James VI. in 1616. Afterwards, having raised, by licence
of the King, a regiment of 3000 men, who left Cromarty in 1624, to
assist Count Mansfield in his campaign in Germany, he was created a

Next year he was raised to the peerage, under the title of Lord Reay,
when, with a number of other gentlemen from Ross, Sutherland, and
Caithness, he served under Gustavus Adolphus in his campaigns for
Protestantism. Lord Reay afterwards showed his attachment to royalty
by taking up arms in defence of Charles I., for whose cause he brought
from Denmark arms, ships, and a large sum of money.

Taken prisoner at Newcastle, he was confined in Edinburgh until after
the battle of Kilsyth, when he was released, and shortly after he
embarked from Thurso for Denmark, where he died.

He was succeeded by his second son John, who was married to a
daughter of Scourie, said to have been a woman of great beauty, and
of singularly fascinating manners. Brought up in the principles and
opinions of his Royalist father, it was little to be wondered at that
Lord Reay joined Glencairn in his rising for the King in 1654. When the
Earl of Middleton took the command at Dornoch of the Royalist
troops, by virtue of a commission from Charles II., thus superseding
Glencairn, Lord Reay continued to serve under the new General till he
was taken prisoner at Balveny, and conveyed to Edinburgh Tolbooth,
where he remained during a lengthened period of the troubles of the
Commonwealth, but at length effected his escape in the following

       *       *       *       *       *

One autumn afternoon might be seen emerging from the gloomy doors
of the Heart of Mid-Lothian—as the Tolbooth of Edinburgh was
designated—two very remarkable forms. A lady, young and of wondrous
beauty, her hair of that shade of which the poets of our land have so
loved to sing—“a gowden yellow”—as seen by a few stray ringlets from
beneath the plaid drawn over her head; her eyes, brilliantly blue,
flashed in their glances of anxiety; her figure, straight and lithe as
the lily stalk, and as she walked seemed to exhibit the very poetry of
motion. Her attendant, a man of gigantic size, and stout in proportion,
of fierce aspect, save when his glance fell upon his mistress, bore
the Lochaber-axe, dirk, and sgian dubh—his arms, which he had just
received back from the sentries or guards as he stepped into the
street, and which he had left outside in order that he might be
admitted to the prison. The contrast between the two was most marked,
as was also the conversation. The lady was the wife of the Lord John
Reay, the prisoner in the jail from which they had just stepped forth.
The man was their trusty henchman, John Mackay, the favourite of his
noble master and mistress, as much for his courage as for his fidelity
and gentleness, and their pride in him as a clansman of enormous size
and strength.

If Lady Reay was anxious, John was equally so—his eyes seemed to
follow every glance of hers, like an attached hound seeking to
anticipate the owner’s wish.

Looking round to John, who followed a few steps behind, while she
seemed to hesitate in her progress, she said, as if half communing with
herself, ‘I will go, and God be with me.’ ‘Surely, my lady, but where
to?’ ‘I will see Cromwell—will entreat him, he may listen to me.’
‘Surely, my lady, and what for no?’

And away went Lady Reay to endeavour to obtain an interview with Oliver
Cromwell, then in Edinburgh at the head of the Parliamentary troops.

Access to Cromwell was a difficult matter, but Lady Reay was fortunate
in obtaining an introduction through an intimate friend. As she was
presented, Cromwell, in his usual abrupt manner, was in the act of
turning away, when her ladyship fell on her knees at his feet, and,
catching the skirts of his coat, poured forth in heart-breaking,
agonised supplications her entreaties for her husband’s release.
Struck by her deportment, her beauty, and her language, he listened,
and finally, overcome by her supplication, said he would willingly do
all in his power to serve her, and restore her husband to her; but as
Lord Reay was a State prisoner, the Committee of Estates could alone
discharge him from custody.

On hearing his decision, she became so affected that Cromwell at
last declared to her that if she could by any means get her husband
out of ward, he would grant him a protection to prevent his further
molestation. This protection he wrote and handed to her ladyship, who
retired with heightened hopes, springing she knew not what from.

When she left the lodgings of Cromwell, she glanced hastily round for
her henchman, who in an instant was by her side. ‘Aweel, my lady,’ said
John, ‘what will the bodach do?’ ‘He will do nothing, John; but he has
given me this pass, which would be all that would be required if we
only could get his lordship outside the prison walls, and that, I fear,
is impossible.’

‘Prut, my lady, ilka thing is possible.’

‘But how will it be done, John?’

‘Ah, it’s easy durkin’ the turnkey body inside, and the twa sentries at
the door.’

‘Ah, John, John, we must have no blood, and still less murder, whatever
happen; besides, you yourself would suffer death.’

‘Aweel, that’s little for Mackay’s sake.’

‘Promise me, John, that not a hair of these men’s heads shall be hurt,
whatever we attempt; remember they are only doing their duty. Promise
me.’ And John promised.

Lady Reay and her servant had free access to his lordship at all times.
Outside the prison door was a wicket, guarded within by a turnkey, who
generally lolled against it, or rested himself upon a form beside.

Outside the main door were two sentries placed as guards, who either
crossed each other in their steady walk, or stood at ease, one on each
side of the doorway. As Lady Reay was a favourite with the turnkey,
on account of the politeness which she daily showed him, he did not
think it necessary to lock his lordship’s cell during the time of
her ladyship’s visit, and at last got into the habit of allowing his
lordship to accompany Lady Reay till she passed through the wicket, on
her leaving for the night.

On the day following her visit to Cromwell, Lord Reay, as usual,
accompanied her ladyship, and while she was stepping beyond the wicket,
he suddenly laid hold of the turnkey, and, laying him down in the
passage, placed the form above him, seized his keys, and passing
through the wicket locked him in. The lady having effected her part so
far, of which John was perfectly aware by sound, though he could not
turn round to see, he at once seized the sentries, one in each hand,
and laying one down, placed the other above him, kicking their arms
to a distance, while Lord Reay sprang over them and rushed down the
street. Addressing the soldiers, who had ceased to struggle in the grip
of their powerful opponent, he said—‘Now, lads, you will just be good
and be quiet, or if you no be quiet, I will just have to shake your
pickle brains out of their pans, and so you’ll see what you shall see;
but if you are good, I’ll give myself quietly up to be put into the
jail instead of his lordship.’

John accordingly surrendered himself, and, loaded with irons, was
lodged in the Tolbooth.

In due time he was brought to trial for aiding the escape of a State
prisoner, and Cromwell was present as President. Said he—‘There is no
doubt that the servant has duly forfeited his life, but his conduct
and fidelity, which went to release his master, and perhaps have saved
his life, were of so high a character, and so heroic, that if this man
were put to death for qualities so valuable and so commendable, and
particularly seeing that nothing hurtful resulted to the State from his
doings, it would discourage every faithful servant from doing his duty.
I therefore propose that, for the sake of justice, John Mackay, the
prisoner at the bar, shall be condemned to death; but that, under the
circumstances of the case, the punishment shall be remitted, and Mackay
shall leave the bar a free man.’

During the time that John Mackay was digesting the speech of Cromwell,
the latter was taking a steady look of the former, when he exclaimed to
those around him, while he remarked Mackay’s fierce aspect and athletic
form—‘May I ever be kept from the devil’s and that man’s grasp.’ On
the other hand, John’s remark on Cromwell, whom he had as carefully
noticed, was—‘The deil’s no sae doure as he’s ca’ed.’



The Cummings were always a turbulent and haughty race, who for many
generations inhabited the wilds of Strathspey and Badenoch. One of them
upon a time claimed the throne of Scotland; and the deceitful wretch,
who, after having entered into a mutual bond with Robert the Bruce
(the great deliverer of Scotland from English oppression and tyranny,
and who for ever established the independence of his country), for the
deliverance of their common country, betrayed him to Edward. Bruce,
however, managed to get away from the English court, and meeting the
deceitful Cumming in the church of the Grey Friars in Dumfries, on the
10th of February 1305, a warm altercation took place, in the course
of which Bruce charged the Comyn, as he was called, with treachery to
himself and his country. The Comyn returned an insulting answer, when
Bruce instantly stabbed him with his dagger on the steps of the high
altar. The Cummings and the Shaws were always at feud with each other,
the latter, being the weaker, at least in point of numbers, always
getting the worst of it; and on one occasion their chief was murdered
by their inveterate enemies and oppressors, the Cummings. A general
slaughter took place at this particular period; but Shaw’s only child,
a boy of only a few months old, escaped, he having fallen into the
hands of a devoted female dependent of the family, who, to secure him
from danger and to avoid the general carnage, made off across hills
and mountains, through moors and forests, to the residence of the
laird of Strathardale in the Highlands of Perthshire, whom she knew as
an old and trusted friend of her late chief. She arrived, after much
fatigue and many hardships, at the ‘Baron’s’ residence; informed him
of the cruel fate of her late master, and the flower of his clan; how
she escaped with her precious charge, and entreated Strathardale, for
the love he bore the late Rothiemurchus, and the long and intimate
friendship which had existed between them, to take charge of his
youthful son, and save him from the savage clutches of the Cummings.
Matters were soon arranged to the satisfaction of both parties, and
the faithful woman went home quite satisfied that the youth would be
well attended to, and brought up among Strathardale’s own children, as
befitted the rightful and youthful heir of Rothiemurchus.

She returned to her own country in due time, found all her old
acquaintances and friends slaughtered or trampled upon, and scourged by
the blood-thirsty and cruel Cummings; all the ancient possessions of the
Shaws ruled by and, apparently, in the everlasting possession of the
inveterate enemies of her kith and kin. Years and days passed away, and
those days and years added growth and vigour to the young heir, who,
until he attained to years of discretion, was carefully kept in the
dark as to the real and true nature of his birthright. When at last it
was revealed to him, his whole soul seemed to have been roused, and he
determined to spend his whole time and all the energies of his body and
mind to prepare and carry out a scheme for the recovery of his ancient
patrimony, to contest his claim with the proud and haughty house of
Cumming, and avenge the cruel murder of his father and kinsmen.

In due time young Shaw decided upon paying a visit to his native
district to ascertain the real state of matters, and if possible to
wrench from his enemies the heritage which they had so long and so
unjustly possessed. Arriving at Rothiemurchus, after a most perilous
journey and escorted by a strong body of followers, he lost no time in
calling upon his benefactor, Janet Shaw, whose history, antecedents,
and devoted conduct to himself in his early days he had learnt from his
Perthshire protector. He was directed to her lonely cottage, the door
of which he found strongly bolted from the inside. He at once announced
himself and begged to be admitted, but his voice was quite strange
to Janet’s ear. No amount of entreaty or persuasion would induce her
to unbolt the door until she had satisfactory proof that she was not
being deceived; for poor Janet had good reason to have little faith in
her surroundings. She could not bring herself to believe that her old
protégé could be so foolhardy as to appear in the district among the
sworn enemies of his race. Shaw, however, continued to insist upon his
individuality, and at last Janet told him to exhale his breath through
the keyhole and she would thus soon satisfy herself as to his identity.
Doubting this singular and delicate mode of recognition on the part of
Janet, Shaw requested one of his attendants to supply his place in the
first experiment. This done Janet at once firmly and sternly resented
the attempt made to deceive her by one who, she said, must be an
enemy trying to secure an entrance to her place of abode with no good
intention, and told him ‘Bi falbh, bi falbh, a chealgaire, cha’n eil
gaoth t’ainealach ach fuaraidh an aite anail mhilis, bhlasda leanaban
mo ghaoil’ (Be off, be off, deceitful wretch, the odour of your breath
is but cold in comparison with the sweet and savoury breath of my own
beloved child). Shaw could no longer trifle with the feelings of one
whom he discovered had still continued to take such an interest in him,
and he felt vexed that he had acted in, what might be construed by
Janet, such a heartless manner. He asked her to give him another chance
to meet her in her own way, explained the hoax to her, breathed through
the keyhole himself, satisfied the devoted Janet that he was really
‘her own beloved child,’ when, with an exclamation of joy, she unbolted
and threw open the door, warmly saluted and received him in her arms,
and bedewed him with tears of affection. For the moment his manhood
failed him, and the two wept—it is difficult to decide whether most
in consequence of the vivid recollections brought up of misfortune and
misery in the past, or from a spontaneous outburst of joy in meeting
one another in such peculiar circumstances, after such a long, and as
Janet believed, permanent separation.

Young Shaw, however, soon recovered himself, and after mutual
congratulations and various references and inquiries as to the past
lives and adventures of each other, he learnt from Janet that all the
male Cummings were away on a foraging expedition in the south, and that
they were expected to return with the creach on the following day. This
was considered a most favourable and opportune circumstance, and one
which must be taken advantage of without hesitation or delay. Shaw at
once decided to intercept them on their way home and extinguish them
root and branch or perish in the attempt. He and his trusted followers
passed a sleepless night in Janet’s cottage. To satisfy their hunger
she insisted upon having her only cow slaughtered at once. This was
done, and it was soon roasted before a blazing fire of peat and moss
fir. No effort was spared on Janet’s part to make them as comfortable
as possible, no doubt naturally feeling that if her favourite was
successful in his desperate enterprise she would be well provided for
during the remainder of her days.

The rest of the night was spent by Shaw and his plucky companions
sorting their arms and arranging their dispositions for the following
morning. They started before the break of day, and took a secluded
position on the Callort Hill, at the eastern extremity of Rothiemurchus,
situated between two roads leading from Strathspey. They exultingly
felt that they had the Cummings in the immediate grasp of their
inveterate vengeance, and sure of their ability to complete their utter
destruction and annihilation. Old Janet, who accompanied Shaw and his
friends, recommended this as the best and most convenient spot from
which to attack the enemy, as they were sure to return by that route,
and she was determined to take a part in the fortunes of war herself;
for, she said, if the day went against them, it was certain death for
her, whether she followed them and shared their danger or stopped at
home in her lonely cottage. She then ascended a neighbouring hill,
which commanded a good view of the two roads, by one of which the
Cummings must return. Janet was soon on the top, and after a period
of watchful suspense, descried the enemy slowly advancing straight
upon the very spot where Shaw and his followers lay in ambush. She
immediately gave the alarm by a pre-arranged signal, the watchword
being—‘Tha na gobhair anns a Challort’ (The goats are in the Callort).
Shaw and his companions immediately prepared for the mortal combat,
in which he was to secure the patrimony of his race or die in the
attempt. Like a horde of hungry wolves falling on their innocent and
defenceless prey, Shaw and his companions fell on the first batch of
their astonished and unprepared victims, and felled them to the ground
like mown grass. They were travelling in detached companies, each party
driving a separate lot of cattle lifted from the Southron, and as each
party came up, ignorant of the fate of the preceding one, they were
soon dispatched by the infuriated and successful Shaws; not a Cumming
was allowed to escape. They were all buried on the spot, which is to
this day called Lag-nan-Cuimeanach, or the Hollow of the Cummings.
‘The green grassy mounds which, after the lapse of centuries, overtop
the heather at this scene of blood-thirsty vengeance, mark the resting
place and commemorate the overthrow of one of the most savage races
that ever existed in the Highlands of Scotland.’

After this desperate and successful encounter with the Cummings
no serious difficulties presented themselves against Shaw taking
possession of the estate and property of his predecessors. His kinsmen
and friends, who so long writhed under the oppressive yoke of the
hated enemy, now rallied round their young and rightful chief with
alacrity and unmistakable signs of delight. It was not long, however,
before matters took another and an ugly turn. Shaw’s mother survived
the general massacre and ruin of the clan when the Cummings took
possession, and matters had so far prospered with her, still residing
in the district, that during the minority and absence of her son she
again entered the matrimonial state with a “Southron,” whose name was
Dallas. Young Shaw had so far condoned this step on his mother’s part,
considering the straitened circumstances in which she was left, that
he not only forgave her, but invited herself and her husband to reside
with him in his mansion of Doune. Matters continued pleasantly and
smoothly for a time, but, as usual in such cases, after a while some
disagreeable and discordant elements began to manifest themselves, and
the youth was too proud and haughty in spirit to conceal his increasing
ill-will and animosity towards his stepfather. On a certain occasion,
among a large company of their friends, this disagreeable feeling
found vent, when unpleasant remarks were given expression to on both
sides. Shaw looked daggers, but held his hand until on his way home,
at a lonely and secluded spot, he suddenly drew forth his dagger, and
with little or no preliminary ceremonial dispatched his stepfather
by stabbing him to the heart. The place is known to this day as
Lag-an-Dalaisich. Not satisfied with this brutal and murderous deed, he
severed the head from the body, and carrying the bloody trophy to his
mother, stuck on the point of his dagger, on arriving at home, he threw
it at her, tauntingly exclaiming, “There it is for you, take it, the
head of your blackguard and detested husband.”

The state of the poor woman’s feelings at the sight of such a horrid
spectacle, brought about by the hand of her own offspring, cannot be
described. She cursed him loudly for the unnatural part he had acted.
The keenest resentment was aroused in her breast, and she determined
to use every means in her power to have him punished for his cruel and
detestable conduct. She urged upon every one whom she could influence,
and who had any influence in the district, to stir up and rouse the
vigilance of the law, feeble as it then was in such an out-of-the-way
place. She unceasingly impressed upon everyone the detestable nature
and enormity of the crime her son had been guilty of, and the great
injustice he had inflicted upon herself. The result was that young Shaw
was soon proclaimed an outlaw, and his whole property, rights, and
possessions reverted to the Crown. He soon after died broken-hearted,
despised by friends and foes alike; and his heritage has continued
since to be the property of the ‘Lairds of Grant,’ who, for a mere
nominal sum, bought the forfeiture from the Crown.



Many ages ago, when a powerful but capricious chief of Glengarry was
erecting the venerable and stern mansion, whose ruins still arrest
the stranger’s eye, he very injudiciously chose his companion and
favourite from the humblest class of his retainers; and this one, like
the generality of favourites once corrupted by a superior’s improper
familiarity, soon forgot prudence and propriety. One day, when the
castle’s infant walls had just upreared their massy front over their
foundation, and while their warlike founder, in company with another
chief, was superintending and admiring the progress of the building,
up came the favourite with the greatest air of confidence, and without
even saluting, as was then customary, his lord and chief, the dread
possessor of unlimited feudal power, accosted him thus, in the presence
of a recently conciliated rival—‘Alas! poor chief, know ye what the
M’Bhethains say? They call you miser, and inquire, how comes it that
you could not spare a little silver and gold to be placed in thy
castle’s foundation, as is customary with other chiefs? Your present
companion, they say,’ alluding to the chief already noticed, ‘has as
much silver in the foundation of his castle as would buy yours.’ At
this the stranger sneered with fiendish pleasure, seeing him whose
friendship fear, not love, prompted him to court, but whom he fervently
hated at heart, so much insulted by his own vassal. The chief himself
was too severely stung—his rage was too gigantic—to stoop to
instantaneous revenge: besides, it was derogatory for a chief to
inflict personal chastisement on a vassal, and impracticable to do so
in presence of another chief; but his brow was clouded, and his face
was darkened as he spoke, until, recollecting himself, he smothered up
his rage, and, endeavouring to assume an appearance of cheerfulness,
he exclaimed—‘You are right Raonuil, I have quite omitted to do what
you remind me of, I therefore thank you for the hint, and, believe
me, I allow you more merit, from a conviction that I am not directly
or indirectly beholden to those you mention for the suggestion, as it
is not their own custom to do the like; however, it should be done,
and, with your assistance, we will correct the omission to-night.’
The vassal retired chuckling, at what he considered the effect of his
influence. It is impossible to discover the cause which had prompted
him to talk so insultingly to his lord and master: some attribute
it to the disappointment of dishonest expectations, supposing that
he intended to abstract any jewellery which might be deposited as a
memento in the foundation; while others imagine that his chief must
have previously offended him, and that the insult was intended; but
more probably his main object was to ingratiate himself with the

M’Raonuil lived in a small solitary cottage, a considerable distance
from the residence of his chief, and, late on the night in question, he
was startled in his slumbers by a loud knocking at his door; he arose
trembling, with a secret dread of something unknown, and shuddered
involuntarily as he opened his door to discover the cause of this
disturbance. He opened it, and lo! there stood his chief, alone, with
a naked dagger in one hand, and a dark lantern in the other, frowning
like a spirit of vengeance. The frightened vassal at this terrific
sight quickly sank on his bended knee to implore his chieftain’s grace
and mercy, his heart bursting with remorse and sorrow, but the ear of
vengeance would not listen to the importunities of remorse, nor to the
supplicating sighs of fear. ‘Come,’ said the stern and angry chief,
‘arise, shake off that ague fit and follow me, for I require your
service!’ To disobey the chief was a crime unknown and unheard of in
those days, and his peremptory command and determined appearance showed
the vassal that remonstrance or question was vain and futile; so with
a tremulous hand he arrayed himself in his best apparel, and with a
bursting and yearning heart—

    He bade his wife and children dear,
    A long, a last adieu,

and mournfully prepared to follow his chief. They sallied forth in
silence and in gloom, the doomed man (for he knew his fate was sealed),
marched sullenly behind. Neither seemed inclined to disturb the drowsy
stillness which reigned around them; and as they marched along, the
owl’s screech voice assailed the vassal’s ear, proclaiming the ominous
words, ‘man prepare to die,’ and ever and anon, when the glare of the
chief’s dim lantern gleamed upon him, it exhibited to the unhappy
victim the diabolical smile which grinned on his chief’s countenance
at the proximity of such a feast of vengeance. At length they reached
the castle, in the deep silence of midnight! where the chief, pointing
to a gloomy excavation which he had caused that night to be made in
its foundation, desired his vassal to enter, which, without the least
hesitation, he did, mourning as he went, and wringing his hands in
utter grief. As soon as he entered he saw the muscular chief with great
difficulty roll a ponderous stone over the mouth of his dim and
dreary sepulchre, and heard him chanting to himself, as in mockery,
the M’Raonuil’s dirge; but these cheerless sounds soon grew faint and
ultimately died away.

The chief now quitted the castle, intending to drown all thoughts of
its forlorn captive, amidst the riot and luxurious turbulence which
a chieftain’s life afforded, but he found himself mistaken. The foul
deed he had that night performed made a deep and indelible impression
on his mind, and go where he would he wandered like a forlorn outcast,
changed, dejected, and thoughtful.

Wherever he roamed his weeping captive came trembling to his mind. If
awake, it was of him, and him only, that he thought, and if asleep,
he dreamed only of him, and, often in the deep stillness of night,
a sullen voice whispered in his ear—‘the heavy punishment you have
inflicted on your clansman is too severe for the venal crime he
committed, therefore you cannot expect to fight victoriously under such
a load of guilt.’

It happened that at this time the chief was about to enter into a
struggle with an aggressive and powerful neighbour, and on the result
of this combat depended his own and clansmen’s lives. Their antagonists
were far superior in point of number, and were warriors renowned for
their wonderful exploits—for fearlessness, daring, and courage; but
they were a ruthless and relentless enemy, and whatever they vanquished
they utterly destroyed. They seemed to fight not for any chivalrous
honour, but rather from the devilish pleasure they had in reducing to
ashes that which other men took months and years to build. In short,
these spoilers took great umbrage at the chief of Glengarry, which
meant certain destruction, unless he could defeat them in arms, and so
he, in desperation, determined, as his only chance of safety, to hazard
a battle. Yes! he would have a struggle, a fierce and furious struggle,
ere he sank beneath the iron hand of a despotic rival: and if he did
fall, he, like the dying lion, would wound the earth in his throes. He
would not bleed like the bleating lamb, nor would he imitate the timid
hind, and seek safety by flight! No! he had fangs like the wolf, and
with these he would tear the flesh from the bones of his oppressor.

On the tenth day after the captivity of his late favourite, he had
his clan marshalled and under arms, awaiting the approach of the foe
whom he had challenged to meet him there, to settle their dispute by
open combat. His warriors were all burning for distinction in the
field, but none more ardently than himself, and as he glanced proudly
along their line he smiled on hearing them curse the lazy foe, who
lagged so tardily on their way to meet him. This was in the vicinity
of the rising castle, and as he wished to enter the fight as guiltless
as possible, it struck him that he had better relieve himself, if
possible, from the guilt of his prisoner’s undeserved misery, and to
effect this purpose, he stole unperceived to the vault, and with the
assistance of a common plank, used as a lever, he soon raised up the
huge stone, and having placed a sufficient counterpoise to preserve the
entrance, he entered, but scarcely had he done so when snap went the
lever, and down came the stone with a tremendous force. In an instant
he perceived the fearful calamity which had befallen him. He knew that
all was now over, for it was impossible to remove the stone, from the
interior of the vault; and, in terrible despair, he sat, or threw
himself down, writhing with extreme mental agony. To make his misery
greater he heard (or thought he heard) his trusty clansmen expressing
their amazement at his unexpected and cowardly desertion, and heard (or
thought he heard) the sentinels, whom he himself had placed, proclaim
with extended lungs—‘The foe! they come! they come!’ Then he heard the
din of war on the heath, and the shock of battle sound, ‘like a crash
of echoing thunder,’ and then the shout triumphant of his foes—and oh!
he would have given his very soul’s redemption for power to arise from
that murky dungeon and stalk to the midst of the combat like an angel
of death—

    And perish if it must be so,
    At bay destroying many a foe.

When the sounds of strife and every hope had died away, the shout
triumphant, and the dying yells, he thought on the lone sharer of his
captivity, whom he could discover was still alive, and he wondered
that the soul, ever eager as an iron bound prisoner to escape, should
be enticed by such misery to linger—for his part he would rather
flutter like the butterfly through its sweet though short career, than
live, like the toad, a thousand years prisoner to a marble block. As
he mused thus in painful silence his deliverers arrived. They were
his victorious foes—and those of his own clan who had survived the
field of battle—the little remnant who had but now given his little
band like chaff to the four warring winds of the earth. They came in
quest of riches, which they supposed had been deposited in the vault.
The stone was rolled away, and one by one they dropped into the vault,
but each as he entered, fell a victim to the fury of its angry and
exasperated inmate, who shortly afterwards, with the aid of his old
favourite vassal, quitted its gloomy precincts, leaving his enemy and
his laurels there to wither and to die.


Glen-Urquhart, where Castle Urquhart is situated, is one of the
most beautiful of our Highland valleys, distant from Inverness some
fourteen miles, and expands first from the waters of Loch-Ness into a
semi-circular plain, divided into fields by hedgerows, and having its
hill-sides beautifully diversified by woods and cultivated grounds.
The valley then runs upwards some ten miles to Corriemonie, through
a tract of haugh-land beautifully cultivated, and leading to a rocky
pass or gorge half-way upwards or thereabouts, which, on turning, an
inland valley, as it were, is attained, almost circular, and containing
Loch-Meiglie, a beautiful small sheet of water, the edges of which
are studded with houses, green lawns, and cultivated grounds. Over a
heathy ridge beyond these, two or three miles, we reach the flat of
Corriemonie, adorned by some very large ash and beech trees, where the
land is highly cultivated, at an elevation of eight or nine hundred
feet above, and twenty-five miles distant from, the sea. At the base
of Mealfourvonie, a small circular lake, of a few acres in extent,
exists, which was once thought to be unfathomable, and to have a
subterranean communication with Loch-Ness. From it flows the Aultsigh
Burn, a streamlet which, tumbling down a rocky channel, at the base
of one of the grandest frontlets of rock in the Highlands, nearly
fifteen hundred feet high, empties itself into Loch-Ness within three
miles of Glenmoriston. Besides the magnificent and rocky scenery to
be seen in the course of this burn, it displays, at its mouth, an
unusually beautiful waterfall, and another about two miles further up,
shaded with foliage of the richest colour. A tributary of the Coiltie,
called the Dhivach, amid beautiful and dense groves of birch, displays
a waterfall as high and picturesque as that of Foyers; and near the
source of the Enneric River, which flows from Corriemonie into the
still waters of Loch-Meiglie, another small, though highly picturesque
cascade, called the Fall of Moral, is to be seen. Near it is a cave
large enough to receive sixteen or twenty persons. Several of the
principal gentlemen of the district concealed themselves here from the
Hanoverian troops during the troubles of the ’45.

On the southern promontory of Urquhart Bay are the ruins of the Castle,
rising over the dark waters of the Loch, which, off this point, is
125 fathoms in depth. The castle has the appearance of having been a
strong and extensive building. The mouldings of the corbel table which
remain are as sharp as on the day they were first carved, and indicate
a date about the beginning of the 14th century. The antiquary will
notice a peculiar arrangement in the windows, for pouring molten lead
on the heads of the assailants. It overhangs the lake, and is built on
a detached rock separated from the adjoining hill, at the base of which
it lies, by a moat of about twenty-five feet deep and sixteen feet
broad. The rock is crowned by the remains of a high wall or curtain,
surrounding the building, the principal part of which, a strong square
keep of three storeys, is still standing, surmounted by four square
hanging turrets. This outward wall encloses a spacious yard, and is in
some places terraced. In the angles were platforms for the convenience
of the defending soldiery. The entrance was by a spacious gateway
between two guard rooms, projected beyond the general line of the
walls, and was guarded by more than one massive portal and huge
portcullis to make security doubly sure. These entrance towers were
much in the style of architecture peculiar to the Castles of Edward
I. of England, and in front of them lay the drawbridge across the
outer moat. The whole works were extensive and strong, and the masonry
was better finished than is common in the generality of Scottish

The first siege Urquhart Castle is known to have sustained was in the
year 1303, when it was taken by the officers of Edward I. who were sent
forward by him, to subdue the country, from Kildrummie, near Nairn,
beyond which he did not advance in person, and of all the strongholds
in the North, it was that which longest resisted his arms.

Alexander de Bois, the brave governor, and his garrison, were put to
the sword. Sir Robert Lauder of Quarrelwood, in Morayshire, governor
of the Castle in A.D. 1332, maintained it against the Baliol
faction. His daughter, marrying the Earl of Strathglass, the offspring
of their union, Sir Robert Chisholm of that Ilk, became Laird of
Quarrelwood in right of his grandfather. After this period it is known
to have been a Royal fort or garrison; but it is very likely it was so
also at the commencement of the 14th century, and existed as such in
the reigns of the Alexanders and other Scottish sovereigns, and formed
one of a chain of fortresses erected for national defence, and for
insuring internal peace. In 1359 the barony and the Castle of Urquhart
were disponed by David II. to William, Earl of Sutherland, and his son
John. In 1509 it fell into the hands of the chief of the Clan Grant,
and in that family’s possession it has continued to this day.

How it came into the possession of John Grant, the 10th Laird, surnamed
the ‘Bard,’ is not known; but it was not won by the broadsword, from
Huntly, the Lieutenant-General of the King. It has been the boast
of the chiefs of the Clan Grant that no dark deeds of rapine and
blood have been transmitted to posterity by any of their race. Their
history is unique among Highland clans, in that, down to the period
of the disarming after Culloden, the broadswords of the Grants were
as spotless as a lady’s bodkin. True it is, there were some dark
deeds enacted between the Grants of Carron and Ballindalloch, and at
the battles of Cromdale and Culloden the Grants of Glenmoriston were
present; but far otherwise was the boast of the Grants of Strathspey—a
gifted ancestry seemed to transmit hereditary virtues, and each
successive scion of the house seemed to emulate the peaceful habits of
his predecessor. That this amiable life did not conceal craven hearts
is abundantly evident from the history of our country. There is a
continual record of gallant deeds and noble bearing in their records
down to the present time, and there are few families whose names,
like the Napiers and the Grants, are more conspicuous in our military
annals. But their rise into a powerful clan was due to the more
peaceful gifts, of ‘fortunate alliances’ and ‘royal bounties.’

It is much to be regretted that so little has been transmitted to
posterity of the history of this splendid ruin of Castle Urquhart.

The probability is that it is connected with many a dark event over
which the turbulence of the intervening period and the obscurity of its
situation have cast a shade of oblivion.

The most prominent part of the present mass, the fine square tower
at the north-eastern extremity of the building, is supposed to have
been the keep, and is still pretty entire. From this point, the view
is superb. It commands Loch-Ness from one end to the other, and is an
object on which the traveller fixes an admiring gaze as the steamer
paddles her merry way along the mountain-shadowed water. On a calm day
the dashing echo of the Fall of Foyers bursts fitfully across the Loch,
and when the meridian sun lights up the green earth after a midsummer
shower, a glimpse of the distant cataract may be occasionally caught,
slipping like a gloriously spangled avalanche to the dark depths below.
The story in which the castle was the principal scene of action is
quite characteristic of the times referred to. A gentleman of rank, who
had been out with the Prince and had been wounded at Culloden, found
himself on the evening of that disastrous day on the banks of the River
Farigaig, opposite Urquhart Castle. He had been helped so far by two
faithful retainers, one of whom, a fox-hunter, was a native of the vale
of Urquhart. This man, perceiving the gentleman was unable to proceed
further, and seeing a boat moored to the shore, proposed that they
should cross to the old Castle, in a vault of which, known only to a
few of the country people, they might remain secure from all pursuit.
The hint was readily complied with, and in less than a couple of hours
they found themselves entombed in the ruins of Urquhart Castle, where
sleep shortly over-powered them, and the sun was high in the heavens
next day ere any of them awoke. The gentleman’s wound having been
partially dressed, the fox-hunter’s comrade yawningly observed ‘that a
bit of something to eat would be a Godsend.’ ‘By my troth it would,’
said the fox-hunter, ‘and if my little Mary knew aught of poor Eoghainn
Brocair’s (Ewan the fox-hunter) plight, she would endeavour to relieve
him though Sassenach bullets were flying about her ears.’ ‘By heaven!
our lurking-place is discovered!’ whispered the gentleman, ‘do you
not observe a shadow hovering about the entrance.’ ’Tis the shadow
of a friend,’ replied the Brocair; and in an instant a long-bodied,
short-legged Highland terrier sprung into the vault. ‘Craicean, a
dhuine bhochd,’ said the overjoyed fox-hunter, hugging the faithful
animal to his bosom, ‘this is the kindest visit you ever paid me.’ As
soon as the shades of evening had darkened their retreat, Eoghainn
untied his garter, and binding it round the dog’s neck, caressed him,
and pointing up the Glen, bade him go and bring the Brocair some food.
The poor terrier looked wistfully in his face, and with a shake of
his tail, quietly took his departure. In about four hours ‘Craicean’
reappeared, and endeavoured by every imaginable sign to make Eoghainn
follow him outside. With this the Brocair complied, but in a few
seconds he re-entered, accompanied by another person. Eoghainn having
covered the only entrance to the cave with their plaids, struck a light
and introduced to his astonished friends his betrothed, young Mary
Maclauchlan. The poor girl had understood by the garter which bound
the terrier’s neck, and which she herself had woven, that her Eoghainn
was in the neighbourhood, and hastened to his relief with all the
ready provisions she could procure; and not least, in the estimation
of at least two of the fugitives, the feeling maiden had brought them
a sip of unblemished whisky. In this manner they had been supplied
with aliment for some time, when one night their fair visitor failed
to come as usual. This, though it created no immediate alarm, somewhat
astonished them; but when the second night came and neither Mary nor
her shaggy companion appeared, Eoghainn’s uneasiness on Mary’s account
overcame every other feeling, and, in spite of all remonstrance, he
ventured forth to ascertain the cause of her delay. The night was dark
and squally, and Eoghainn was proceeding up his native glen like one
who felt that the very sound of his tread might betray him to death.
With a beating heart he had walked upwards of two miles, when his ears
were saluted with the distant report of a musket. Springing aside,
he concealed himself in a thicket which overhung the river. Here he
remained but a very short time when he was joined by the Craicean
dragging after him a cord several yards in length. This circumstance
brought the cold sweat from the brow of the Brocair. He knew that their
enemies were in pursuit of them, that the cord had been affixed to the
dog’s neck in order that he might lead to their place of concealment;
and alas! Eoghainn feared much that his betrothed was at the mercy of
his pursuers. What was to be done? The moment was big with fate, but he
was determined to meet it like a man. Cutting the cord and whispering
to the terrier, “cul mo chois” (back of my heel) he again ventured to
the road and moved warily onward. On arriving at an old wicker-wrought
barn, he saw a light streaming from it, when creeping towards it, he
observed a party of the enemy surrounding poor Mary Maclauchlan, who
was, at the moment, undergoing a close examination by their officer.
‘Come girl,’ said he ‘though that blind rascal has let your dog, who
would certainly have introduced us to the rebels, escape, you will
surely consult your own safety by guiding me to the spot; nay, I know
you will, here is my purse in token of my future friendship, and in
order to conceal your share in the transaction you and I shall walk
together to a place where you may point me out the lurking place of
these fellows, and leave the rest to me; and do you,’ continued he,
turning to his party, ‘remain all ready until you hear a whistle,
when instantly make for the spot.’ The Brocair crouched, as many a
time he did, but never before did his heart beat at such a rate. As
the officer and his passive guide took the road to the old Castle,
Eoghainn followed close in their wake, and, when they had proceeded
about a mile from the barn, they came upon the old hill road when Mary
made a dead halt, as if quite at a loss how to act. ‘Proceed, girl,’
thundered the officer, ‘I care not one farthing for my own life, and if
you do not instantly conduct me to the spot where the bloody rebels are
concealed, this weapon,’ drawing his sword, ‘shall within two minutes
penetrate your cunning heart.’ The poor girl trembled and staggered as
the officer pointed the sword at her bosom, when the voice of Eoghainn
fell on his ear like the knell of death, ‘Turn your weapon this way,
brave sir’, said the Brocair, ‘Turn it this way,’ and in a moment the
officer and his shivered sword lay at his feet. ‘Oh, for heaven’s
sake,’ screamed the fainting girl, ‘meddle not with his life.’ ‘No,
no, Mary; I shall not dirty my hands in his blood. I have only given
him the weight of my oak sapling, so that he may sleep soundly till
we are safe from the fangs of his bloodhounds.’ That very night the
fugitives left Urquhart Castle and got safe to the forests of Badenoch,
where they skulked about with Lochiel and his few followers until the
gentleman escaped to France, when Eoghainn Brocair and his companion
ventured once more, as they themselves expressed it, ‘to the communion
of Christians.’ The offspring of the Brocair and Mary Maclauchlan are
still in Lochaber.


Mankind in all ages have been prone to superstitious beliefs and
hero-worship. The most enlightened nations of ancient or modern times
have not been more exempt from them than the most ignorant. The ancient
Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Egyptians were grossly superstitious,
believing in magic, omens, and dreams. The Jews possessing intimate
knowledge of a Supreme Being, universally ruling, were not free from
similar practices acquired during their four hundred years contact with
the Egyptians while sojourning on the banks of the Nile. The Greeks and
Romans were not a whit better; they deified their heroes, put faith in
oracles, divinations and dreams. They imagined that bees, ants, and
various birds, beasts, and reptiles had the power of giving omens of
good or bad fortune. They had gods celestial and gods terrestrial, and
subterranean gods. The appearance of eclipses and comets were to them
ominous of public disasters. The Scandinavians had their own fanciful
mythology, their Odens, their Thors, their Balders, their Niords,
their Triggas, and their Treyas, and a vast dread of the Elfin, Dwarf,
and Great tribes. The Anglo-Saxon, in common with the Scandinavian,
believed in these deities, and in others peculiar to the Goths. They
had idols emblematical of the sun, moon, earth, and the various
seasons. The Easter festivals of the Christian Church are supposed to
have been derived from the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eastre, to
whom they made sacrifices in the month of April. The burning of the
log of wood in December was a sacrifice to the sun, as an emblem of
returning light, the days then beginning to lengthen; and from this
ancient practice may be traced the custom of burning the yule log at
Christmas, a practice still common, I believe, in parts of England.
They had also their beliefs in giants, elfs, and dwarfs, which haunted
the fields, woods, mountains, rivers, and lakes, alike in character
to the demi-gods and other imaginary spirits of the Grecian and Roman
superstitions; but worse still, to the Anglo-Saxon is ascribed the
introduction to England and Scotland of the more dangerous doctrine of
witchcraft and divinations, before which the reasoning power of the
people quailed, and all intellectual advancement was impeded.

The Celts are credited with originating the fairy superstition, though
it is unknown from what cause. In Scotland and other countries in
which Celtic traditions predominate, the fairies were regarded on the
whole as little given to malevolence; on the contrary, ready to help
mankind at times, though when offended they exhibited an admixture of
the malignant spirit of the elf and the dwarf of the Scandinavian,
who introduced the belief in them to the Celts. Most spirits were
supposed to have the attribute of enlarging or contracting their bulk
at will; the fairy alone was regarded as essentially diminutive in
size, the miniature of a human being, perfect in form, clad in pure
green, brilliant and rich beyond conception, inhabiting subterranean
palaces of indescribable splendour, and innumerable in numbers. They
were represented as continually feasting, dancing, and making merry, or
moving in procession amongst the shady green grass and verdant lawns of
earth, entertained with the most harmonious and melodious music that
mortal ear ever listened to, observant of the doings of mankind, and
not unwilling to help them to overcome such unusual or extraordinary
difficulties, if called upon, as my story tells.

Donald Duaghal having returned from the wars in Germany to his own
country, where his fame preceded him, was a great hero, in the
estimation of his retainers. His extraordinary valour, his feats of
daring, his fearless conduct, his escaping comparatively scathless of
wounds out of all the skirmishes, sieges, and battles in which he took
a leading share; all this, magnified by the stories related of him by
the few retainers who survived and returned home with him into the
Reay country, threw around the man a halo of romance that gave rise
to the belief that he must have had a charmed life, and, it might be,
some occult relations with the ‘Droch Spiorad’ and the ‘Black art’ in
his travels abroad. ‘Nach robh e san Edailt for an d’iunnsaich e an
sgoil dubh?’—Italy being the country above all others in which the
‘black art’ was to be acquired. But Donald was never in Italy. It did
not matter to Clann Mhic Aoidh. They did not trouble themselves much
about correct geography; their chief was abroad; he might have been in
Italy; and that was sufficient for the unsophisticated and unlettered
people surrounding their beloved chief who had seen much in his travels
and campaigns in Norway, Sweden, Germany, and Poland. He had crossed
rivers and estuaries, and transported his soldiers over them by bridges
of boats constructed by Swedish and Danish military engineers in very
little time, even while his soldiers were taking a hasty meal, Donald
himself urging on the work and lending a hand—all this was related in
Tongue, much to the astonishment of the natives around, who could not
believe it. They could not understand how an estuary like the Kyle of
Tongue could be bridged in half-an-hour. The feat was too marvellous
to be true, and if true there must have been some supernatural
assistance. But could he not do anything? Did he not learn the ‘black
art’ in Italy? Rumour went and was magnified, till in the long run it
was believed that nothing was impossible to Donald. It was rumoured
that he intended to throw a bridge over the estuary from Tongue to
Melness. This report got wings and was believed. The knowing ones were
incredulous, but the credulous had no doubt he could and would do it.
Has he not the ‘black art?’ besides, can he not send to the ‘Cailleach
Mhor’ in Dornoch? get her to send him the fairies, and the bridge will
be built before morning. This was so much talked about that it became
a received opinion that Donald Duaghal was supposed to have actually
attempted the feat. He sent his Gille to Dornoch to the Cailleach
requesting her as a special favour to send him fairies to construct
a bridge across the Kyle of Tongue. The Cailleach Mhor consulted the
fairy queen, and she, willing to do anything for so brave a man as
Donald Duaghal, gave the Cailleach a box to be conveyed to Donald.
The Cailleach gave the box to the Gille with strict and peremptory
injunctions not to open it till he had delivered it into his master’s
hands. Alas! for weak humanity, always prying into secrets, always
doing the forbidden—the greater the restriction, the greater the
temptation to disobey. In an unlucky moment, going over the Crask, he
opened the box, when lo! in an instant, around him and about him on all
sides were myriads of tiny creatures, hammer in hand, shrilly
clamouring ‘Obair, obair, obair’ (Work, work, work). Nonplused with
the extraordinary sight, confounded for a moment with the effect of
his disobedience of orders, Mackay’s man was equal to the occasion.
Rapidly recovering his presence of mind and appreciating his position,
he ordered his importunate companions to set to work and pluck up the
heather off the whole hillside upon which they were. No sooner ordered
than it was done, and the same clamour was resumed of ‘Obair, obair,
obair.’ Driven by this almost to desperation he ordered his little
companions to fly away to Dornoch Firth opposite Tain, and there build
a bridge for the accommodation of the lieges of Dornoch and Baile
Dhuthaich. Instantly they went, and commenced operations, throwing up
the sand in clouds to form an embankment, but as ill-luck would have
it, some person passing the way about cock-crowing time, hearing the
noise and uproar exclaimed ‘Dhia beannaich mis, ciod e an obair tha’n
so’(God bless me, what work is this). Work was instantly suspended
never to be resumed, in consequence of God’s name being mentioned,
and a blessing asked on the work; and well would it have been, had it
never been commenced, for the sand accumulated by the fairies in that
night’s work forms the dangerous shoals between Dornoch and Tain to
this day, the sea roaring over them at every tide, and the noise of the
waves heard at the distance of many a mile, portends to the natives the
advent of foul weather. To this day the place is called Drochaid na
h’Aogh, or the Elfin Bridge.

It is lamentable to contemplate how such vain imaginations as these
should have so long weighed upon the intelligence and perception of the
people; but it may be asked, were they not fostered in a great measure
after the introduction of Christianity? when, through persecution,
religion assumed the garb of gloom and fanaticism, when belief in the
personal appearance of the devil was universal, and continued till
within recent years in the vulgar mind?

Ignorance is justly termed the mother of superstition. Wherever mankind
are least accustomed to trace events to natural causes superstitious
notions flourish most luxuriantly. When the mind once allows that
matters of ordinary and natural occurrence may take place by the
interference of the supernatural, there is obviously no limit to the
actions they are supposed to perform. In the present age of comparative
intelligence it is difficult to comprehend how human beings could be
so deplorably ignorant of natural causes and effects as to entertain
for a moment such gross notions of the supernatural, and yet, in
this nineteenth century, we can observe similar forces at work even
in the most respectable ranks of society—Mormonism, Southcotism,
spirit-rapping, table-turning. The Saxon of modern days has more
superstitious notions in his composition than the Celt, notwithstanding
his boastful superiority and pride in being more enlightened and freer
from prejudice than any other. He calls his superstitions ‘customs,’
and so reconciles himself to them. Does he like to sit down the
thirteenth person at the table or festive board? Does he believe in
lucky and unlucky days? Does he believe in the appearance, as a good
or evil omen, of two or three magpies when setting out upon a journey?
Does he like a hare to cross his path? or the upsetting of salt on the
table? the howling of dogs, the cracking of furniture, the tickling
noise of an insect in old furniture, the putting on the left shoe
first? When he relinquishes these he may hurl his stone of scorn at the
Celt for his belief in the Sithichean.


Once upon a time Old Glengarry was very unpopular with all the
northern chiefs, in consequence of his many raids and creachs among
the surrounding tribes, but although he was now advanced in years and
unable to lead his clan in person, none of the neighbouring chiefs
could muster courage to beard him in his den single-handed. There was
never much love lost between him and the chief of the Mackenzies, and
about this time some special offence was given to the latter by the
Macdonells, which the chief of Eileandonan swore would have to be
revenged; and the insult must be wiped out at whatever cost. His clan
was at that time very much subdivided, and he felt himself quite unable
to cope with Glengarry in arms. Mackenzie, however, far excelled his
enemy in ready invention, and possessed a degree of subtlety which
usually more than made up for his enemy’s superior physical power.

‘Kintail’ managed to impress his neighbouring chiefs with the belief
that Glengarry proposed, and was making arrangements, to take them
all by surprise and annihilate them by one fell swoop, and that in
these circumstances it was imperative, for their mutual safety, to
make arrangements forthwith by which the danger would be obviated and
the hateful author of such a diabolical scheme extinguished root and
branch. By this means he managed to produce the most bitter prejudice
against Glengarry and his clan; but all of them being convinced of the
folly and futility of meeting the ‘Black Raven,’ as he was called,
man to man and clan to clan, Mackenzie invited them to meet him at a
great council in Eileandonan Castle, the following week, to discuss
the best means of protecting their mutual interests, and to enter into
a solemn league, and swear on the ‘raven’s cross’ to exterminate the
hated Glengarry and his race, and to raze, burn, and plunder everything
belonging to them.

Old Glengarry, whom the ravages of war had already reduced to one
son out of several, and he only a youth of immature years, heard of
the confederacy formed against him with great and serious concern.
He well knew the impossibility of holding out against the combined
influence and power of the Western Chiefs. His whole affections were
concentrated on his only surviving son, and on realizing the common
danger, he bedewed him with tears, and strongly urged upon him the
dire necessity of fleeing from the land of his fathers to some foreign
land until the danger had passed away. He, at the same time, called
his clan together, absolved them from their allegiance, and implored
them also to save themselves by flight; and to their honour be it
said, one and all spurned the idea of leaving their chief in his old
age alone to his fate, exclaiming—‘that death itself was preferable
to shame and dishonour.’ To the surprise of all, however, the son,
dressed in his best garb, and armed to the teeth, after taking a formal
and affectionate farewell of his father, took to the hills amidst the
contemptuous sneers of his brave retainers. But he was no sooner out of
sight than he directed his course to Lochduich, determined to attend
the great council at Eileandonan Castle, at which his father’s fate
was to be sealed. He arrived in the district on the appointed day,
and carefully habilitating himself in a fine Mackenzie tartan plaid,
with which he had provided himself, he made for the stronghold and
passed the outer gate with the usual salutation—‘Who is welcome here?’
and passed by unheeded, the guard replying in the most unsuspicious
manner—‘Any, any but a Macdonell.’ On being admitted to the great
hall he carefully scanned the brilliant assembly. The Mackenzie plaid
had put the company completely off their guard; for in those days no
one would ever dream of wearing the tartan of any but that of his own
leader. The chiefs had already, as they entered the great hall, drawn
their dirks and stuck them in the tables before them as an earnest of
their unswerving resolution to rid the world of their hated enemy. The
brave and intrepid stranger coolly walked up to the head of the table,
where the Chief of Kintail presided over the great council, threw off
his disguise, seized Mackenzie by the throat, drew out his glittering
dagger, held it against his enemy’s heart, and exclaimed with a voice
and a determination which struck terror into every breast—‘Mackenzie,
if you or any of your assembled guests make the slightest movement,
as I live, by the great Creator of the universe, I will instantly
pierce you to the heart.’ Mackenzie well knew by the appearance of the
youth, and the commanding tone of his voice, that the threat would
be instantly executed if any movement was made, and he tremulously
exclaimed—‘My friends, for the love of God, stir not, lest I perish at
the hands of my inveterate foe at my own table.’ The appeal was hardly
necessary, for all were terror-stricken and confused, sitting with open
mouths, gazing vacantly, at each other. ‘Now,’ said the young hero,
‘lift up your hands to heaven and swear by the Long, am Bradan, agus
an Lamh Dhearg (the ship, the salmon, and the bloody hand), that you
will never again molest my father or any of his clan.’ ‘I do now swear
as you request’ answered the confused chief. ‘Swear now,’ continued
the dauntless youth, ‘you, and all ye round this table, that I will
depart from here and be permitted to go home unmolested by you or any
of your retainers.’ All, with uplifted hands, repeated the oath. Young
Glengarry released his hold on Mackenzie’s throat sheathed his dirk and
prepared to take his departure, but was, curious to relate, prevailed
upon to remain at the feast and spend the night with the sworn enemies
of his race and kindred, and the following morning they parted the
best of friends. And thus, by the daring of a stripling, was Glengarry
saved the fearful doom that awaited him. The youth ultimately became
famous as one of the most courageous warriors of his race. He fought
many a single combat with powerful combatants, and invariably came
off victorious. He invaded and laid waste Glenmoriston, Urquhart, and
Caithness. His life had been one scene of varied havoc, victory, ruin,
and bloodshed. He entered into a fierce encounter with one of the
Munros of Fowlis, but ultimately met the same fate at the hands of the
‘grim tyrant’ as the greatest coward in the land, and his body lies
buried in the churchyard of Tuiteam-tarbhach.



On the banks of a Highland burn, which falls into the River Nairn
some five miles from the town of Nairn, and fifteen from Inverness,
stands Castle Cawdor, perhaps the best specimen extant of the baronial
castle of the olden time. Its central tower is the oldest portion of
the structure. On its east side, commanded by loop holes, is a small
court, through which the visitor is ushered by an old drawbridge across
a moat. The drawbridge, raised by chains attached to beams resting
on the court wall, gives ingress through gateways secured by wooden
bars. The staircase, the iron gate—brought from Lochindorb—the great
baronial kitchen, partly hewn out of the rock, the massive tower walls,
the ample stone mantlepieces, carved with quaint devices, the old
furniture, and particularly the old mirrors and tapestry, carry one
back many a long year into the social life of the past. Of the building
of the castle there is a traditionary tale. In the dungeon of the
castle there is the stem of a hawthorn tree, and tradition says that
the noble builder was decided as to the position of his intended home
by turning adrift an ass loaded with a chest full of gold, and noting
the spot on which the animal rested, which was the third hawthorn tree
from which he started. That tree is still in the dungeon, the chest
itself is a part of the castle relics, and when friends wish prosperity
to the family, they do so in the words ‘Freshness to the hawthorn tree
of Cawdor.’ The tapestry on the walls was purchased in Arras in 1682,
and brought by ship from Bruges to Dysart and Leith, and thence to
Findhorn. It is curious to note that one of the grotesque figures on
the mantlepiece, dated 1510, is that of a fox smoking, and that, too, a
veritable cutty pipe, while the introduction of tobacco by Sir Walter
Raleigh did not occur till 1585. After the battle of Culloden, the
famous Lord Lovat was concealed in the roof of the castle, but finding
his enemies becoming too numerous within the building, he let himself
down over the wall by a rope, when he escaped, only to be taken in a
hollow tree in an island (in Loch-Morar), was thereafter carried to
London, tried, condemned, and beheaded on Tower Hill, on the 9th of
April 1747, in the 80th year of his age.

Shakspeare’s imperishable tragedy of Macbeth, founded upon a fictitious
narrative which Hollinshed copied from Boece, has immortalized the name
of Cawdor. Local tradition insisted on showing, until lately, the room
in which the grooms were laid—

   “Those of his chamber, as it seem’d had done’t
    Their hands and faces were all badged with blood,
    So were their daggers, which unwiped we found
    Upon their pillows.”

The very blood-marks upon the woodwork were also shown as evidence of
Duncan’s assassination by Macbeth, and this, too, in the face of the
fact that the licence was granted by James II. to erect the tower in
which the tragedy was supposed to have taken place.

The myth has now disappeared locally, a fire having taken place a few
years ago, which destroyed the woodwork.

It is now an accredited piece of history that neither in Cawdor nor
in Macbeth’s Castle of Inverness, which once stood on the height
called the Crown, but at Bothgowanan, near Elgin, the tragedy was
accomplished. Macbeth by birth was Maormor of Ross, and—through his
marriage with Lady Gruoch, grand-daughter of Kenneth—the fourth Thane
of Cawdor. Her grandfather had been dethroned by Malcolm the Second,
who also burned her first husband, murdered her brother, and slew
the father of Macbeth. All these wrongs were avenged on Duncan, the
grandson of Malcolm, whose presence in this part of the country was in
order to compel his cousin, who had revolted, to pay tribute.

The castle was built by William, Thane of Cawdor, whose son, John,
married Isabel Rose, the daughter of Hugh Rose of Kilravock. This John
was a second son, and on him and his heirs was entailed the estate,
because his elder brother, William, was lame, and inclined to enter the
Church. John died in 1498, leaving two daughters, Janet and Muriel,
born after his death. Janet died while an infant, and Muriel succeeded
to the estate in virtue of the above-mentioned entail. The Laird of
Kilravock designed the heiress for her own cousin, his grandson, but
having joined with Mackintosh in a foray in the lands of Urquhart of
Cromarty, he was pursued in a criminal process for robbery. Argyle, the
then Justice General and Second Earl, had also his intentions regarding
Muriel, and having made matters easy for Kilravock, in the matter of
the law proceedings, induced the King, with her grandfather’s consent,
to award her in marriage to whomsoever he pleased.

Under pretence of sending the child to school, Campbell of Inverliver,
in 1499, was sent with a party of sixty men to Kilravock to convey the
child to Inveraray to be educated there in the family of Argyle.

The old lady of Kilravock, who did not quite approve of this mode
of disposing of the hand of her grandchild, to which the pretended
education tended, took good care to prevent the child being changed,
a common trick of the times, by marking her on the hip with the key
of her coffer, made red hot. That there was a necessity for this, may
be imagined from the reply of Campbell of Auchinbeck, who, when asked
what was to be done should the child die before she was marriageable.
‘She can never die,’ said he, ‘as long as a red-haired lassie can be
found on either side of Loch-Awe.’ The child was, however, delivered to
Campbell of Inverliver and his escort, but on arriving at Daltulich, in
Strathnairn, he became aware that he was pursued by Alexander and Hugh
Calder, the uncles of Muriel, who by no means agreed to the proceeding.

Inverliver faced about, with the largest portion of his party, to
receive the Calders, and, to deceive them, kept one of his men in the
rear, having a sheaf of oats wrapped in a plaid, as if it were the
child, who, however, had been previously sent off with a smaller escort
under charge of one of his sons, with strict instructions to proceed to
Argyle’s castle with all speed.

The conflict was a severe one, and many fell on both sides. It is said
that in the heat of the skirmish, in his extremity, Inverliver gave
utterance to the saying which has since passed into a proverb, ‘’S fada
glaodh o Loch-Ou, ’s fada cabhair o’ Clann Dhuine’ (’Tis a far cry
to Loch-Awe, and a distant help to Clan Duine), signifying immediate
danger and distant relief. When Macliver imagined she was safe, and at
a considerable distance, he retreated, and, following her, conducted
her to Inveraray, where she was educated, and, in 1510, married to Sir
John Campbell, the third son of the Earl of Argyle. For his conduct in
the affair, Macliver was rewarded by a gift of the twenty pound land of

It was a sister of this Sir John Campbell who married Maclean of
Duart, and who was exposed on a low rock between the islands of Mull
and Lismore, that she might be drowned by the rising tide. The rock
is still known by the name of the Lady’s Rock. From this perilous
situation she was rescued by a boat accidentally passing, and conveyed
to her brother’s house. Her relations, although much exasperated,
smothered their resentment for a time, but only to break out afterwards
with greater violence. Maclean of Duart, happening to be in Edinburgh,
was surprised when in bed, and assassinated by Muriel’s husband. Sir
John Campbell died in 1546, but Muriel survived him until 1575.



Long ages ago there stood in the vicinity of Invershin a strong massive
castle, built and inhabited by a foreign knight—a stern, haughty
man—of whose antecedents nothing could be learned with certainty,
although there were plenty of rumours concerning him; the most
generally received one being that he had fled from his own country on
account of treason, or some other crime. Be that as it may, he had
plenty of wealth, built a splendid castle, and kept a great number of
retainers. He was extremely fond of fishing, and spent the greater part
of his time in the pursuit of the gentle craft. He invented a peculiar
kind of cruive, so ingeniously constructed that the salmon on entering
it set in motion some springs to which bells were attached: thus they
literally tolled their own funeral knell. He was accompanied in his
exile by his daughter Bona, and his niece Oykel, both alike beautiful
in face and figure, but very dissimilar in disposition. Bona was a
fair, gentle being, who seemed formed to love and be loved. Oykel was a
dark beauty, handsome, proud, and vindictive.

Among their numerous household there was one who, without being a
relative, seemed on terms of intimacy and equality. He was called
Prince Shin of Norway, and was supposed to have retired to this
northern part of the kingdom for the same reason as his host. He was
young, handsome, and brave, and, as a matter of course, the two young
ladies fell violently in love with him. For a while he wavered between
the two, but at last he fixed his affections upon the gentle Bona, and
sought her hand in marriage. The old knight gave his consent, and the
future looked bright and full of happiness for the young lovers.

The proud Oykel was deeply mortified at the prince for choosing her
cousin in preference to herself, and the daily sight of their mutual
attachment drove her into a perfect frenzy of jealousy and wounded
pride, until at length nothing would satisfy her but the death of her
rival. She accordingly bribed one of her uncle’s unscrupulous retainers
to murder her cousin Bona, vainly hoping that in time the prince would
transfer his love to herself. The ruffian carried out his cruel order,
and concealed the body in a disused dungeon of the castle.

Great was the consternation and dismay caused by the sudden and
mysterious disappearance of the lovely Bona; hill and dale, mountain
and strath, corrie and burn, were searched in vain; river and loch
were dragged to no purpose. Prince Shin was inconsolable; he exerted
himself to the utmost in the fruitless search, then, wearied in mind
and body, he wandered listless and sad through the flowery fields
of Inveran until he reached the birchen groves of Achany, the quiet
solitude of which suited better his desolate state. Here, with no
prying eyes to see his misery, nor babbling tongues to repeat his sighs
and exclamations, he gave himself up for a while to the luxury of
grief. Then arose in the breast of the father the agonizing suspicion
of foul play; but upon whom could his suspicions fall? Who could have
the slightest reason or incentive to injure the kind and gentle Bona?
He pondered and mused in gloomy solitude until the terrible idea grew
in his mind that it must have been her lover and affianced husband who
had thus so cruelly betrayed her trustful love. ‘Yes,’ he muttered,
‘it must be Prince Shin who has committed this diabolical crime;
he has tired of her, and took this way to release himself from his
solemn contract with her and me, but the villain shall not escape; his
punishment shall be as sudden and as great as his crime.’

Having thus settled his conviction of the Prince’s guilt, he caused
him to be seized during the night, and thrown into the same dungeon in
which, unknown to him, lay the body of his beloved daughter.

The accusation and his seizure was so sudden and unexpected, that
for a time Shin lay in his dungeon totally overwhelmed with grief
and indignation—grief at the loss of his bride, and indignation at
the suspicion and treatment of himself. He was at length aroused and
startled by hearing a faint moan somewhere near him, as if from some
one in great pain. He strained his eyes to pierce the gloomy darkness
that surrounded him; at last, guided by the sound being repeated, he
discovered at the other end of the dungeon a recumbent figure, so
still and motionless, that it might have been lifeless, but for the
occasional faint, unconscious moan. ‘Alas!’ exclaimed he, ‘this is
another victim of treachery and cruelty, who is even worse off than
I, but who can it be? I have missed no one from the castle, except
my adored and lamented Bona.’ While thus speaking, he knelt down to
examine the figure more closely, and as he began to get used to the
gloom, he could see a little better, when to his inexpressible horror,
dismay, and astonishment, he discovered it to be no other than his lost
bride, whose young life was fast ebbing away through a frightful stab
in her snow-white bosom.

Nearly frantic with grief, he strove with trembling hand to staunch
the blood and bind up the wound, at the same time calling her by every
endearing name that love could suggest. Again and again he kissed her
cold lips, and pressed her tenderly to his heart, trying in vain to
infuse life and warmth to the inanimate form of her he loved so well.
He was interrupted in his melancholy task by the heavy door of the
dungeon creaking on its rusty hinges, as it slowly opened to admit a
man-at-arms, whom Shin recognised as one of the foreign retainers of
the old knight.

‘Ah! Randolph, is it thou they have sent to murder me? Well, do thy
work quickly, death has lost its terrors for me, now that it has seized
on my Bona; but yet I would that another hand than thine should strike
the fatal blow, for I remember, tho’ perhaps thou forgettest, the day
when stricken down in the battle-field thou wert a dead man, had not
I interposed my shield, and saved thy life at the risk of my own.’ So
saying, he looked the man calmly but sadly in the face.

Randolph had, on first entering, seemed thunder-struck at seeing the
prince, and looked, during the delivery of his speech, more like a
victim than an executioner; he changed colour, trembled, and finally,
throwing himself at the feet of the prince, faltered out with broken
voice, ‘Oh! my lord; indeed, indeed, you do me wrong. I knew not that
you were here; never would I raise an arm to injure you, my benefactor,
my preserver? No, I came to—to——.’ Then glancing from the prince to
the lady Bona, he hid his face in his hands and groaned out, ‘I knew
not you loved her, or I would rather have died than——.’

A sudden light broke in on the mind of Shin, he sprang like a tiger at
the trembling man, and seizing him by the throat, thundered out,
‘Accursed villain, is it thou who hast done this foul deed? thy life
shall be the forfeit.’ Then changing his mind, he loosened his deadly
grasp, and flinging the man from him as though he were a dog, muttered
between his close-set-teeth, ‘I will not soil my hands with the blood
of such a dastard, he is only the base tool of another.’ Then raising
his voice, he continued, ‘Tell me, thou double-dyed traitor, who set
thee on to do this most horrible deed? and for what reason? See that
thou tellest me the truth, villain, or by the bones of my father, I
will dash thy brains out on the stones beneath our feet.’

The trembling Randolph then explained how he, being absent from the
castle on a foraging expedition, knew nothing of the betrothal of
Prince Shin and the lady Bona, that on his return he was sent for by
Oykel, who, in a private interview, told him she was engaged to the
prince, and that Bona, through jealousy, was trying all she could to
set the old knight against Shin, and had even laid a plot to poison
both her and the prince, and that he (Randolph), believing this
specious story, and being greatly attached to the prince, was easily
prevailed upon by Oykel to murder her cousin; that he had temporarily
hidden her body in the dungeon, and was now come to remove it, and was
astonished and horrified to find she was still alive. He then went on
to say, that he thought he saw a way to undo some of the mischief he
had been the means of doing, and that was to assist Shin to escape,
and to carry the lady Bona to a place of safety, until it was seen
whether she would recover, and what turn affairs might take at the
castle. The prince gladly availed himself of his assistance. They made
their escape, and remained in concealment for some time until Bona had
somewhat recovered her strength.

In the meantime Oykel, driven to distraction at the disappearance of
Shin, seeing the utter fruitlessness of her crime, stung by remorse,
and rendered reckless by the pangs of unrequited love, threw herself
into the river, which has ever since been called by her name, and
which, it is said, is still haunted by her restless, weary spirit. Bona
is commemorated in Bonar.

Prince Shin and Bona now came from their concealment, and being fully
reconciled to the old knight, were married with great pomp, and shortly
afterwards sailed away to Norway, where they lived long and died happy.



The Monadh-liath mountains are an elongated group of lofty and rugged
heights, running in a line parallel to Gleann Mor na h-Albainn, in the
centre of the southern division of Inverness-shire.

They rest on a dreary heathy moor, are comparatively flowing in their
outlines, unbroken in their declivities, and free from very rugged and
jagged precipices. They embosom extensive glens, the feeding places
for shaggy cattle; there are great slopes on which flocks of sheep
pasture, and they contain dreary solitudes where only the grouse and
the ptarmigan, the roe and the red deer, are to be found.

Far, far and high upon those mountains, on the side of one of its vast
slopes, in a hollow more green than brown, a little burnie commences
its existence in a spongy bit of brown ground, covered over with plants
bearing white flowers—the Cannach of similar scenes. At first, says
one of the best of word painters of his day, you can see nothing of a
rill—it is only a slyke. But a little way onward the slyke begins to
assume the form and movements of a rill, and you may see it stealing
along under the covering grass, in a thread so slender that the fairies
might step over it at night and never know it was there.

It is indeed a wild solitude, and few signs of living things are to be
seen therein, save perhaps a hoody crow or two that come here now and
then to have a little quiet conversation with their neighbours on the
subject-matter of braxy, dead lambs, and such-like windfalls. A very
infant is the burnie as yet, and very much more like a sleeping than a
waking infant; you might lay your ear down to it without hearing sounds
greater than the murmurings through the roots of the grass, like the
breathings of a baby in the cradle, and, like the baby, also giving an
occasional flashing glance at the sun-ray which steals down to see how
it is getting on.

By-and-bye, however, it begins to grow, and first crows in audible
murmurs, then becomes more noisy and more active, and leaps over the
little pebbles that lie in its way, as if it had acquired a taste for
fun, and was determined to indulge it.

As it increases in strength, it increases its antics, but all this time
it is enjoying itself its ’leefie lane,’ like many other baby born
and brought up in the wee cot house of its shepherd parents, under
the shadow of some great mountain, or on the banks of some lonely
lake—far, far away from human ken. There is not a soul at hand to
witness its pranks; the very rushes that grow by the little stream get
leave to grow as long as they will, nor are they tortured and plaited
into rashen whips, and caps, and buckies—there is not a bairn within
ten miles to pull them.

Our burnie flows on in solitude till it has formed its little stream
path and has reached the base of a knoll on which was once a herd’s
house—a green and sheltered spot. People lived in it for years, and
were well acquainted with our burnie at this stage of its course; but
they have long since left the place, some of them and their descendants
crossed the ocean, and have made a home for themselves in other lands,
and the seniors lie in the green graveyard far down the valley.

Regardless of these changes, the burnie goes on in many windings and
turnings among the hills, quite happy in its companionless journey,
hopping and jumping as it goes, and occasionally breaking out into
a little song, though there is not a single bird to reply by an
answering carrol—for we are yet far above the regions of birds and
bushes—shining bright in the sunshine; there is not a single speck to
dim its purity—the very pebbles are purely clean along its margin.
How well happiness and purity go together. Such is the infancy of our

But infancy is but a passing stage with burnies as well as bairns, and
our burnie must leave these Alpine solitudes and come into society,
although at the expense of its purity and innocence. Bushes begin to
appear along its banks, and one of the first is an old thorn, with the
earth worn away from its roots by the sheep rubbing themselves against
its bark. The ferns grow more luxuriantly round the little green
haughs, and where the braes are rather steep for the sheep to feed and
lie upon, the primroses star the spots with bright bunches, and the
little green meadows are spangled with gowans.

Turning the corner, behold a herd’s house. It is the eldest hope of the
family who is laving the waters of the burnie upon the clothes that
are bleaching on the grass, and thus putting a portion of its watery
treasure to their first economic use; two younger children, a little
further down, have cut a side channel through which flows a tiny rill,
on which they are busy erecting a toy mill wheel.

The house—a wee, wee cot house—has one little window in the end
directed to the burn, and therein sits a cat, winking with listless
satisfaction under the glow of the summer scene. There, too, sits a
curched grandame working her stocking, rejoicing in the genial warmth
which seldom comes so far up the glen, thinking, it may be, of the days
when she was full of young life, or of the trials she has undergone
since then, or the sad memories of family years which she has since
then laid in the auld kirk-yard.

Whisking blithely past this outpost of civilisation, the burnie
suddenly falls into a deep ravine, where it gets into a dreadful
passion at finding itself confined between steep banks. It kicks, and
flings, and fumes, and splutters, and gets into a dreadful fury, first
dashing up one side with a splash, and then on the other with a whish,
then hits some big stone with a hiss and then another, jumps madly over
the heads of some, and goes poking under the ribs of others that are
too big to be so dealt with. In fact, it is like many another scene of
youthful violence, while it lasts, which fortunately is not very long;
for, by-and-bye, it steals calmly out in an open rivulet between green
banks, as gently as if nothing had happened, and were rather ashamed
of its pranks. It has now come to the place where farm steadings and
plantations begin looking onward in its course. Thatched roofs are seen
at different points in the surrounding landscape; old-fashioned country
wives begin to put it to use in bleaching their clothes on its banks,
and there are some nice haughs on which, dotting them, are numerous
cocks of meadow hay, and now and then, skipping the stream, a follower
of Isaac Walton, when our burnie is now not merely a burn, but is known
as the ‘Findhorn’ river, with a very bad character for rising in great
floods occasionally, carrying off haycocks, bleachings, and whatever
other trifle it can lay hold of. It has begun to show symptoms
of earning for itself, by capricious changes of its channel, the
character, which it afterwards fully bears out, of being a river not to
be trusted to, and being a great friend to the lawyers, by shifting the
boundaries of litigious lairds—lairds who have more money than brains,
or at least not as many brains as would make them understand to give
and take peacefully.

In its journey to the lower country, it runs to a considerable extent
parallel with the river and strath of Nairn. Struggling on through many
opposing barriers of granite rock, it rushes through narrow gorges with
boiling and tumultuous currents, now reposing its still waters in some
round sweeping dark pool, and anon patiently, but assiduously, wearing
its way through the dark red sandstone cliffs which jut out from its
channel, or range in layer above layer, forming high barriers on its
banks, while plants and shrubs, and lofty trees, crown and encompass
the steep heights, and finely contrast their variegated green with the
deep red of the cliffs on which they grow. Here, in some overshadowed
dells, the sun with difficulty penetrates and finds the solitary eyries
of the eagle, or the falcon, with the dwellings of the congregated
heron, thickly perched among the trees, while the ascending salmon rest
by dozens during the summer’s noon-day heat in the deep dark pools
beneath. As the stream winds towards the sea, its course becomes less
interrupted and boisterous. It now sweeps along fertile meadows and
wooded copses, till at last, all opposition giving way, it flows out
into a broad, still, placid sheet of water, meeting the tides of the
ocean half way up the smooth and sandy bay of ‘Findhorn.’

On its romantic banks are situated a succession of gentlemen’s seats,
among many others, Altyre, Logie, Relugas, Dunphail, Kincorth,
Tannachy, and Darnaway, or Tarnaway, the ancient sylvan retreat and
hunting hall of the famous Randolph, Earl of Moray, and now the
northern seat of his noble descendants. South of the Brodie station
on the Highland Railway, in the lower fringe of the Darnaway oak and
pine forest, which extends for many miles inland, and is the remains
of the old Caledonian forest, concealed from view, though not two
miles distant, is the Castle of Darnaway, famous in the history of the
country and in the traditions of the neighbourhood as the home of a
family, almost the kings of the district of Moray, and occupying at
one time a most important position in the historical records of the
country. Had it fortuned to an Englishman, twenty-five or thirty years
ago, to visit the county of Elgin, he could not have failed to hear of
the Earl of Moray’s forest of Tarnaway, which then stretched for miles
along the banks of this grand Highland stream—the Findhorn—in all
the untrimmed luxuriance which he could have expected in going to wait
on the Duke of Arden. He would have been further surprised to hear of
two brothers entirely realizing the old ballad ideas of gallant young
huntsmen—superb figures attired in the ancient dress of the country,
and full of chivalric feeling—who, giving up the common pursuits of
the world, spent most of their days in following the deer through this
pathless wild. Men of an old time they seemed to be; of frames more
robust than what belongs to men now-a-days, and with a hardihood which
appeared to make them superior to all personal exposure and fatigue. At
the same time they possessed cultivated minds, and no small skill in
many of the most elegant accomplishments. This is their description of
the locality:—

‘Few knew what Tarnaway was in those days—almost untrodden, except by
the deer, the roe, the fox, and the pine-martin. Its green dells filled
with lilies of the valley, its banks covered with wild hyacinths,
primroses, and pyrolas, and its deep thickets clothed with every
species of woodland luxuriance, in blossoms, grass, moss, and timber of
every kind, growing with the magnificence and solitude of an aboriginal
wilderness, a world of unknown beauty and silent loneliness, broken
only by the sough of the pines, the hum of the water, the hoarse bell
of the buck, the long wild cry of the fox, the shriek of the heron,
or the strange, mysterious tap of the northern wood-pecker. For ten
years we knew every dell, and bank, and thicket, and, excepting the
foresters and keepers, during the early part of that time, we can only
remember to have met two or three old wives, who came to crack sticks
or shear grass, and one old man to cut hazels for making baskets. If a
new forester ventured in to the deep bosom of the wood alone, it was
a chance that, like one of King Arthur’s errant-knights, he took a
tree as his host for that night, unless he might hear the roar of the
Findhorn, and, on reaching the banks, could follow its course out of
the woods before the fail of light. One old wife, who had wandered for
a day and night, we discovered at the foot of a tree, where at last she
had sat down in despair, like poor old Jenny Mackintosh, who, venturing
into the forest of Rothiemurchus to gather pine cones, never came out
again. Three years afterwards she was found sitting at the foot of a
great pine, on the skirt of the Braeriach, her wasted hands resting on
her knees, and her head bent down on her withered fingers. The tatters
of her dress still clung to the dry bones, like the lichen upon the old
trees, except some shreds of her plaid, which were in the raven’s nest
on Craigdhubh, and a lock of her grey hair that was under the young
eagles in the eyrie of Loch-an-Eilean.’

The grounds themselves are well worthy of examination, but the castle
hall, 90 feet in length, and 35 feet broad, is inferior to none in
Scotland, and resembles much the Parliament House of Edinburgh; the
walls rise to a height of 35 feet, and a carved roof of solid black
oak, divided by compartments, forms the arched ceiling; a suitable
fire-place, that would roast a stalled ox; an enormous table, and some
carved chairs, still garnish this hall, though the modern apartments
in front of it ill correspond with its Gothic character. Here Mary,
Queen of Scots, held her court in 1564. Among the pictures is one
of the Bonnie Earl of Moray, and also a portrait of Queen Mary,
disguised, by way of a frolic, in boy’s clothes, in long scarlet
stockings, black velvet coat, black kilt, white sleeves, and a high
ruff. The present hall was preceded by a hunting lodge, erected in
the fourteenth century, by Randolph, first Earl of Moray, the nephew,
friend, and companion of Robert the Bruce, and Regent of Scotland
during the minority of David II., but it was not the Earl’s chief
country residence, as in the charter of erection of the earldom, the
Castle of Elgin, ‘Manerium de Elgyn,’ is appointed ‘pro capitali
mansione comitatus Moraviœ.’ It appears from the charter of Robert
III. to Thomas le Graunt, son of Jno. le Graunt, dated 1390 (Regist.
No. 22, p. 473), that there was an older royal Castle of Tarnaway,
which was previously in the keeping of the Cummings, and afterwards
of the Grants, and, in fact, the Cumming family—Earls of March—seem
to have been introduced from Forfarshire as the great instrument for
exterminating, or at least suppressing, the early insurrections of
the Clan Chattan, who were thus in all probability the aboriginal
inhabitants of Moray. The lately published work on the ‘Name of Cawdor’
shows likewise that the present magnificent hall was erected under the
auspices, if not at the cost, of King James II. of Scotland. After the
suppression of the Douglas rebellion, the King turned his attention
to establishing order and authority in the North, especially in the
Earldom of Moray. He took up his residence sometimes at Inverness,
sometimes at Elgin, held Justice Courts, and transacted state business.
He felt also the fascination of the country, and took means to enjoy
it. Mr Innes, the editor of the ‘Cawdor Annual,’ says ‘The Castle of
Lochindorbh, a formidable Norman fortress, in a woodland loch, which
had been fortified against his authority by Douglas, King James doomed
to destruction, and employed the Thane of Cawdor to demolish it. But
he chose Darnaway for his own hunting seat, as old Thomas Randolph had
done a century before, and completed the extensive repairs and new
erections which the Earl had begun. The massive beams of oak and solid
structure of the roof described in those accounts are still in part
recognisable in the great hall of Darnaway, which popular tradition,
ever leaning towards a fabulous antiquity, ascribes to Earl Randolph,
but which is certainly of this period. Here, for two years, the King
enjoyed the sports of the chase; great territories, on both sides of
the river, were thrown out of cultivation for the sport, and tenants
sat free of rent while their lands were waste. What was the manner of
the hunting we are not informed. The sport of hawking, indeed, might
well be enjoyed on the river bank at Darnaway, but hawking could not
require a whole district to be laid waste. The fox was not of old
esteemed a beast of chase in Scotland, nor perhaps, so early, in
England. There is no doubt the King’s chief game was the red-deer, the
natives of those hills, and it is probable that the hart was shot with
arrows, and hunted down with the old rough greyhound, still known among
us as the deerhound, and until lately in Ireland as the wolf dog, with
such help of slower dogs of surer scent, as the country could afford,
for the English hound was hardly known in old Scotland. But riding up
to hounds, or riding at all, must have been very partially used among
the peat mosses and rocks of the upper valley of the Findhorn.’

The Earldom of Moray was conferred by King Robert the Bruce upon Sir
Thomas Randolph, son of Lady Isabel Bruce, the eldest daughter of
Robert, Earl of Carrick, by Thomas Randolph, Lord of Strathnith. This
Earldom, along with many goodly heritages, lands, and baronies, was
the guerdon of the services so gallantly performed by Randolph in the
service of his uncle, King Robert the Bruce, and it remained in the
Randolph family until 1455, when the then Earl of Moray was attainted
‘for fortifying the Castles of Lochindore and Tarnau (Lochindorbh and
Tarnaway) against the King, and for other acts of treason, by which
attainder the Earldom of Moray became vested in the Crown.’

The next possessor of the Earldom was James Stewart, natural son of
King James IV., by Janet, daughter of John, Lord Kennedy. It was
conferred upon him when he was but two years old, by charter dated the
15th June 1501, and his son dying without issue male, 14th June 1544,
the Earldom reverted to the Crown, and was conferred on George, the
fourth Earl of Huntly, 15th February 1549, but the grant was recalled
in 1554. The Earldom was next bestowed in 1562 by Queen Mary upon her
half-brother, Lord James Stuart, natural son of King James V., and
afterwards Regent of Scotland. From real or imaginary contradictions
in his titles, great perplexity was occasioned respecting their
inheritance, and several charters were granted to the Regent more or
less confusing each other. He married Lady Anne Keith, daughter of the
fourth Earl Marshal, afterwards Countess of Argyll, and by her he had
two daughters—Elizabeth, Countess of Moray, and Margaret, afterwards
Countess of Errol. In 1580, the youngest son of Lord Doune James Stuart
(as the name was generally spelt after Queen Mary’s return) received
from James VI. the ward and marriage of the two daughters of the Regent
Moray, and a few days thereafter he married the elder, Lady Elizabeth,
and assumed the title of the Earl of Moray. As this claim to the
Earldom was doubtful, a charter was given to him in 1592, by James VI.,
and the Scottish estates ratifying to him and to his son all that had
been granted to the Regent and the Lady Elizabeth, and since then the
Earldom has remained in the uninterrupted possession of his descendants.

The Earl of Moray, whose personal appearance and high accomplishments
in the learning and manners of the day acquired for him the title of
the ‘Bonnie Earl;’ and as son-in-law of the good Regent Moray, and
the inheritor of his estates, he naturally possessed a high degree of
consideration in the State, particularly with the Presbyterian party,
of which the Regent had been so long one of the chief supporters and
the acknowledged leader. The Earl’s character, independent of his
possessions, was such as to win him universal esteem. To the attractive
beauty of his countenance and form he added a most amiable disposition,
and perfect skill in all the chivalric accomplishments of the age. It
is, therefore, scarcely to be wondered at that he should have been one
of the most popular noblemen of the day, especially as the nation
in general had by that time attached itself to the religious party
of which he was a leading member. To this party also King James VI.
belonged, though he was under the necessity of holding the balance
equally between the Presbyterians and that still numerous party of
Catholics to which many of his most powerful noblemen belonged, and
were active adherents. Among the Catholic peers, the Earl of Huntly
was the chief—a man of determination, and at heart ambitious and
vindictive, and who for years had nursed a feud between his own family
and that of the Earl of Moray. The real grounds of the feud consisted
in the claims of the Gordon family to the possessions and Earldom of
Moray, of which they had been deprived when it was bestowed by Queen
Mary upon her illegitimate brother the Regent. This deep-seated cause
of animosity had been long gathering strength from many and various
disagreements arising out of it, and was particularly aggravated by
an act of the Earl of Moray against the legal power of Huntly. In his
capacity as the King’s Justiciary, the Earl of Huntly endeavoured
to bring to justice persons against whom he had obtained a Royal
Commission, and who having fled to the Earl of Moray, were protected by
him against the Earl of Huntly, on some grounds or for some reason not
known. Huntly, thus defied, was highly displeased against Moray, and
proceeded with a large party, principally of his clansmen, to Darnaway
Castle, for the purpose of getting possession of the felons’ persons.
The expedition unfortunately terminated in widening the breach between
the noblemen, for in the attempt to enter the castle, John Gordon, a
brother of Gordon of Cluny, who was in the expedition in attendance on
the Earl of Huntly, was killed by a shot from the castle. Whether
the shot was fired by the Earl of Moray or not was not known, but
from that hour the hostility between the families became of a more
decided character, was participated in by almost every member of the
Gordon clan, and revenge became a study in Huntly’s mind. This event
took place a short time previous to the year 1591, but it was not
immediately followed by any decided act of retaliation.

In the meantime, Campbell of Cawdor, a friend of Moray, became an
object of hostility to many of the principal men of the Clan Campbell
because he had been appointed tutor to the young Earl of Argyll.

Uniting with these men, Huntly formed a concerted scheme, in which,
strange to say, the Chancellor of the Kingdom, Lord Thirlstan,
concurred, for taking off Moray and Campbell by one act of vengeance.
In order to give a colour to their deeds, they persuaded the King that
Moray had been concerned in the conspiracy of the turbulent Earl of
Bothwell, his cousin, and Huntly obtained a commission to apprehend
Moray, and bring him to Edinburgh for trial.

On the afternoon of the 8th of February 1592, Huntly, attended by
a strong body of horse, set out from the house of the Provost of
Edinburgh where the King then lodged for security. The object of his
journey Huntly gave out to be to attend a horserace at Leith, instead
of which he directed his course across the Queen’s Ferry to Donibristle
House, where the Earl of Moray had taken up his residence for a time
with his mother. About midnight, Huntly reached his destination,
surrounded the house with his men, and summoned Moray to surrender.
Even if this had been complied with immediately, the same consequences,
it is clear, would have ensued, Huntly’s determination being fixed.
Moray’s enemies and that of his house knocking at his gates at the dead
of night, encompassing the walls with vindictive retainers, was not an
event from which the young Earl would expect moderation or justice to
follow. He therefore resolved to defend the house to the death. A gun
fired from within severely wounded one of the Gordons, and excited the
passions of the assailants and their leaders to the highest pitch. To
force an entrance they set fire to the doors, and the house seemed on
the point of being enveloped in flames. In this emergency Moray took
council with his friend Dunbar, Sheriff of the county, who chanced to
be with him that night. ‘Let us not stay,’ said Dunbar, ‘to be buried
in the flaming house. I will go out first, and the Gordons, taking
me for your Lordship, will kill me, while you will escape in the
confusion.’ After giving utterance to this noble offer, the generous
Dunbar did not hesitate an instant, but threw himself among the
assailants, and fell immediately, as he had anticipated, beneath their
swords. At first this act of heroic devotion seemed as if it would have
accomplished its purpose. The young Earl had passed out immediately
after his friend, and had the fortune to escape through the ranks of
the Gordons. He directed his flight to the rocks of the neighbouring
beach, and most probably would have got off in the darkness had not his
path been pointed out to his foes by the silken tassels of his helmet,
which had caught fire as he passed through the flames of the house. A
revengeful cadet of the Huntly family, Gordon of Buckie, was the first
who overtook the flying Earl, and wounded him mortally. While Moray lay
in the throes of death at the feet of his ruthless murderer, Huntly
himself came up to the spot, when Buckie exclaiming, ‘By Heaven, my
Lord, you shall be as deep as I,’ forced his chief to strike the
dying man. Huntly, with a wavering hand, struck the expiring Earl in
the face, who, mindful of his superior beauty even at that moment of
parting life, stammered out the dying words ‘You have spoiled a better
face than your own.’

The perpetrators of this barbarous act hurried from the scene, leaving
the corpse of the Earl lying on the beach, and the house of Donibristle
in flames. Huntly did not choose to go to Edinburgh, and so be the
narrator of what had occurred, but he chose, strange to say, as the
messenger for this purpose the most guilty of the assassins, Gordon of
Buckie. This bold man hesitated not to fulfil his Chief’s commands. He
rode post to the King’s presence, and informed his Majesty of all that
had occurred. Finding, however, that the night work was not likely to
acquire for its doers any great credit, he hurriedly left the city. By
some it is supposed that he never saw the King, for James, apparently
unconscious of what had occurred, followed his sport for several hours
in the early part of the day. On his return to the city, his Majesty
found the streets filled with lamentations for the murder of Moray, and
strong suspicions entertained that he himself had authorised Huntly to
perpetrate the deed. Donibristle House being visible from the grounds
of Inverleith and Wardie, where the King was hunting, it was alleged
he must have seen the smoking ruins; nay, that he had chosen that
quarter on that day for his sport in order to gratify his eye with the
spectacle. The popularity of the late Earl, on account of his personal
qualities and as a leading Presbyterian, rendered the people very
severe against James, although they had but little known cause for
supposing him accessory to the guilt of the Gordons. There is, however,
one circumstance narrated in traditionary ballad lore which says that
‘Moray was the Queen’s luve.’ A traditional anecdote is the only
support which the ballad receives for a circumstance utterly
discredited by history. James, says the story, found the Earl of Moray
sleeping in an arbour one day with a ribbon about his neck which his
Majesty had given to the Queen. On seeking her Majesty’s presence, the
King found the ribbon round her neck, and was convinced he had mistaken
one ribbon for another; but, continues the story, the ribbon worn by
Moray was indeed the Queen’s, and had only been restored to her in time
to blind his Majesty by the agency of a friend of the Queen’s who had
witnessed the King’s jealous observation of Moray asleep.

To return, however, from tradition to history, the ferment caused in
Edinburgh by the news of Moray’s death was aggravated ten-fold when
on the same day Lady Doune, mother of the ill-fated nobleman, arrived
at Leith in a boat, carrying with her the bodies of her son and his
devoted friend Dunbar. The mournful lady took this step in order to
stimulate the vengeance of the laws against the murderers. When the
news reached the King that Lady Doune was about to expose the mangled
bodies to the public gaze, he forbade them to be brought into the city,
conceiving justly that the spectacle was an unseemly one, and that the
populace were excited enough already. Defeated in her first wish, Lady
Doune caused a picture to be drawn of her son’s remains, and enclosing
it in a lawn cloth, brought it to the King, uncovered it before him,
and with vehement lamentations cried for justice on the slayers. She
then took out three bullets, found in Moray’s body while being prepared
for embalming, one of which she gave to the King, another to one of his
nobles, and the third she reserved to herself ‘to be bestowed on him
who should hinder justice’ (Annals, p. 232, vol. 1, Captain John
Gordon, one of the King’s friends). The Earl himself had fled to the
north, where he was much more powerful than James, King of Scotland
though he was. After some time, however, to recover the royal favour,
which James withheld until some atonement was made, Huntly surrendered
himself, and was confined for a time in Blackness Castle. He was never
brought to trial, and was liberated on bail. Gordon of Buckie, the true
murderer, lived for nearly fifty years after Moray’s death, and in his
latter days expressed great contrition for the act of which he had been
guilty. From punishment at the hands of man, the power of his family,
the unsettled state of society, and the laws succeeded in screening
him. The melancholy fate of the Earl of Moray, which we have just been
relating, has been embalmed in his country’s verse in a ballad deeply
affecting in its pathos:—

    Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
      Oh, where have ye been?
    They hae slain the Earl of Moray,
      And laid him on the green.

    Now wae be to you, Huntly,
      And wherefore did ye say,
    I bad you bring him wi’ you,
      But forbade you him to slay.

    He was a braw gallant,
      And he rode at the ring,
    And the bonnie Earl of Moray,
      Oh, he micht hae been a king.

    He was a braw gallant,
      And he rode at the gluve,
    And the bonnie Earl of Moray,
      Oh! he was the Queen’s luve.

    Oh, lang will his lady
      Look o’er the Castle Doune,
    E’er she see the Earl of Moray
      Come sounding through the toun.


The River Findhorn, which rises in the Monadh-liath Mountains, flows
through the glen of Strathdearn. Its scenery passes from Alpine to
Lowland, exhibits almost every variety of the picturesque, strikes the
eye with force or delight all the way from the source to the sea, and
is not excelled in aggregate richness by the scenery of any river or
stream north of the Tay.

The river is remarkable for the rapidity with which it rises and
falls, and for its swift torrent, which, when in flood, often takes a
straight course at the cost of much injury to life and property. In
1829 Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, with powerful dramatic effect, told the
story of the floods which then ravaged Morayshire along the courses of
the rivers descending from the Monadh-liath and Cairngorm Mountains,
notably the Findhorn and Spey, both of which rose to an unexampled
height, in some parts of their course to fifty feet above their natural

The valley of Strathdearn will amply repay a visit. The Findhorn begins
at the very head of the valley, and first issues forth through a
remarkable rent in the rock called Clach Sgoilte, or the cloven stone.
As it passes onwards it is joined by various small streams, proceeding
from minor glens called shealings, into which the Highlanders were in
the habit of driving their cattle to feed on abundance of the richest
natural grass, sheltered from the scorching heat of the summer sun.
There are, indeed, many lovely spots along the course of the river,
and by the little rills among the hills, unknown now, save to the
shepherd and the gamekeeper, servants of the sportsman who rents the
district. There are the natural wood trees, ‘the oak and the ash, and
the bonnie elm tree,’ the alder and the birch, the lady of the wood,
and then the rivulets which drop from pool to pool, and anon hiding
themselves among sandstone ledges deeply bedded in dark sedge and
broad, bright burdoch leaves, and tall angelica, and tufts of king and
crown and lady fern. Up the glens there are bits of boggy moor, all
fragrant with the gold-tipped gale, and the turf is enamelled with the
hectic marsh violet and the pink pimpernel, and the pale yellow-leaf
stars of the butterwort, and the blue bells and green threads of the
ivy-leaved campanula. And then to stop a few minutes and look around
on the earth, like one great emerald, set round with heathery amethyst
roofed with sapphire, in the distance the blue sea and blue mountains,
and covering all the bright blue sky overhead; and under foot the
wayside fringed with the purple vetch, the golden bed-straw, and the
fragrant meadow-queen, while at intervals the wild rasp bushes, adorned
with their crimson berries, offer a tempting refreshment to the passing
bird, and the bare footed boy and girl ramblers. The time of the wild
rose is past, but the hips and haws will soon put on their red, red
coats, the coral beads are even now in cluster on the rowan tree, while
the bramble trails over every ditch with its delicious load of juicy,
purpling fruit. ‘Eheu fugaces labuntur anni!’ Well does the schoolboy
love the rough skinned bramble, and often in the sunny days of boyhood
do his fingers and lips know the stains of its luscious blobs:—

    ‘The bramble berries were our food,
      The water was our wine,
    And the linnet in the self same bush,
      Came after us to dine.
    And grow it in the woods sae green,
      Or grow it on the brae,
    We like to meet the bramble bush,
      Where’er our footsteps gae.’

As the ramble proceeds, the surrounding country becomes highly
picturesque. Now we have a crag robed in lichen cropping upwards, and
crowned with heather and tangled foliage; now we have a little runlet
jinking among the seggans, and singing a sweet undersong as it steals
down its tiny glen; and now a landscape all yellow with ‘golden shields
flung down from the sun,’ in the foreground, and the glorious hills
backing all behind. Verily, Strathdearn is a lovely glen.

About a mile from the church of Moy there is a singular hollow, called
‘Ciste craig an eoin,’ (the Chest of the craig of the bird), surrounded
by high rocks, and accessible only through one narrow entrance.
Situated close to the Pass called ‘Starsach nan Gael’—the Doorstep
of the Highlanders—it was used as a place of concealment for their
wives and children by the Highlanders during their absence on predatory
excursions into the low country. This is the scene of one of those
romantic achievements which so marked the rebellion of ’45.

Previous to the battle of Culloden, Prince Charlie was for some days at
Moyhall, the guest of Colonel Ann, as Lady Mackintosh was called. The
Chief himself, with a prudence to be commended, took the Royalist side,
leaving what in this case was hardly the weaker vessel to espouse the
cause of the Prince, for whom the distant clans were arming. Mackintosh
himself was absent in Ross-shire, in the King’s service, but his wife,
who was a daughter of Farquharson of Invercauld, entertained the
Prince, and was so enthusiastic in his cause that she afterwards raised
a regiment of 400 of her husband’s clan and followers to support him.

With these she joined Lord Strathallan, who had been left by
Prince Charles at Perth, to collect troops and military stores,
and these Mackintoshes afterwards fought at Culloden. Her ladyship
was no favourer of half measures. At times she rode at the head
of her regiment, with a man’s hat on her head and pistols at her
saddle-bow—hence her soubriquet of Colonel Ann.

That Prince Charles was at Moyhall, the guest of Lady Mackintosh, was
well known to the Earl of Loudon, whose detachment of Royalist troops
then occupied Inverness, about twelve miles distant. At breakfast
his lordship, discussing his information with his officers, suddenly
formed the decision to move on Moyhall in order to surprise the young
Chevalier, gain the offered reward, and save the country from further
bloodshed. A Highland lassie who waited at table in the ‘Horns’
overheard their plans, and at once, bare-footed and bare-headed, ran on
to Moyhall to tell of the danger.

The tidings produced consternation and confusion, for there were no
troops to defend the House of Moy, nor meet the coming foe. But Colonel
Ann and the council of war she assembled were equal to the occasion.
Donald Fraser, the Chief’s blacksmith, afterwards known as ‘Caiptin nan
Cuignear,’ the Captain of the Five, at once left his forge, and taking
along with him five men whom she named, hurried off with sword and
musket to repel the 1500 invading troops.

It was in the dusk of the evening when they reached the narrow pass of
Craig an Eoin, two miles from the Hall, and there they waited the
approach of the foe. There was a quantity of turf divots and peats set
up to dry in small hillocks or stacks, and Donald and his men, in order
the better to watch the motions of the troops, placed themselves a few
hundred yards asunder among these heaps, concealed by the shadows of
the hills rising on either side.

They were hardly in ambush when they became aware of the approach
of the soldiers. It was the dusk of the evening. Now was the time
for action. Fraser waited until the army was within 100 yards, when,
starting up, the command was passed from Donald, and then from man
to man, in a loud voice, along a distance of nearly a quarter of a
mile—‘The Mackintoshes, the Macgillivrays, the Macbeans to form
instantly the centre; the Macdonalds on the right, and the Frasers on
the left.’ All this in the hearing of the commander-in-chief of the
Royal army, accompanied by the firing of the muskets of the concealed
party. Macrimmon, the piper in the advanced guard of the Macleods,
fell, and this, coupled with the fear that masses of Highlanders were
ready to surround them, and cut them to pieces, caused the troops
to flee back precipitately to Inverness, where Lord Loudon, not
considering himself safe, continued his route to Sutherlandshire, a
distance of seventy miles, where he took up his quarters.

Fraser returned quietly with the dirk of the fallen piper, and was
locally promoted to the rank of captain. He fought afterwards bravely
at Culloden, and his sword is still kept, with many another piece of
rusty armour, at Tomatin House.

Thus ended what has been humorously called the Rout of Moy.


Of all the many beautiful places in Scotland, none can surpass
Loch-Maree (Loch-ma-righ, or the King’s Loch), so called from the
incidents related in the following legend:—Some centuries ago there
lived near the loch an old woman and her son. Her husband and three
elder sons had been slain, their humble home burnt, and their cattle
driven off, during one of the fierce clan feuds which were only too
common in those days. The poor woman had fled with her youngest son to
this lonely secluded spot, where they found shelter, and after a while
lived comfortably enough; for Kenneth grew a fine active lad and keen
sportsman, and with his bow and arrow and fishing-rod supplied plenty
food. They also possessed a small herd of goats, which rambled at will
among the mountains surrounding the loch, returning to the widow’s
cottage at milking-time. Among them was a very beautiful dun coloured
one, which gave more milk than any of the others. This, together with
her docile habits, made her a great favourite with the widow. One
evening Kenneth, returning home laden with the spoils of the chase, met
his mother at the cottage door. The good woman was carrying the milk
she had just taken from the goats, wearing a very dissatisfied look on
her usually placid countenance. On her son asking what was the matter,
she replied tartly, ‘Matter enough; see the small quantity of milk I
have got to-night; the dun goat, who used to give more than any of the
others, hardly gave a spoonful, and it has been the same the last two
nights. I can’t make out what ails the creature.’ Kenneth, tired after
a long day’s sport, answered lightly, that perhaps the goat was ill,
or that she had not received food enough. His mother made no reply;
she, however, gave the goat a double allowance of food that night, and
saw that she took it well; but the next evening not a drop of milk did
she give—indeed, it was evident she had been newly milked. The old
woman was at her wits end; and directly her son came in, she began to
complain loudly. ‘We must do something about that dun goat, Kenneth;
not a drop of milk did she give again to-night; I am sure the fairies
suck her, and if we don’t stop it, I shant be able to make a single
cheese to put by for the winter. You really must help me to find out
all about it. Kenneth, who began to miss his usual allowance of milk
at supper-time, professed his willingness to assist his mother. ‘But,’
said he, ‘What can I do to prevent it? Would it not be better to tie
the goat up?’ ‘No, no, that would never do,’ replied his mother, ‘she
has never been tethered, and would not stand it. The best thing for
you to do will be to follow her to-morrow, and see where she goes.’ To
this proposal Kenneth agreed, and early next morning started off after
the dun goat, who soon separated herself from the rest of the herd,
and made straight for a pass between two high rocks, bleating as she
went. ‘Oh, oh!’ said Kenneth to himself, ‘I shouldn’t wonder if she has
picked up some motherless fawn, which she suckles, for I have heard
of such things before, and that is more likely than the fairies that
mother talks about.’ He found it, however, no easy matter to keep the
goat in sight, and her colour being so peculiar, it was nearly
impossible to see her at a little distance. Kenneth persevered
manfully, springing from rock to rock almost as nimbly as the goat
herself; but at last a sudden turn hid her for a minute from his sight,
and try as he would, he could not again catch sight of her. So he had
to own himself beaten; but he determined to wait until the usual time
for milking, thinking he would be sure to see where she came from, so
he waited patiently, but to no purpose. Not a glimpse did he get of
her until he arrived at home, and saw her taking her food among the
rest. His mother was anything but pleased at his non-success, more
especially as she again did not get a single spoonful of milk from
her. Terribly chagrined, Kenneth vowed he would solve the mystery if
it took him a week to do so. Rising with the sun next morning, and
taking some provisions and his bow and arrows with him, he started off
in the same direction the goat had led him the day before. When he
came to the place at which he lost sight of her, he concealed himself
and waited. Before long he saw her pass, and immediately followed her,
but the sagacious animal seemed to know that she was being traced, and
redoubled her speed; so, in spite of Kenneth’s utmost exertions, he
again lost sight of her.

Heated and vexed, he threw himself on the ground, and exclaimed,
‘Confound the beast, I believe mother is right after all in saying the
fairies have something to do with her. I’ll give her up for this day.’
Having rested a while and taken some food, he strung his bow, for, said
he, ‘’Twill never do to go home empty handed a second day.’ He spent
the day among the hills with fair success, and was turning towards
home, when endeavouring to recover a bird he had shot, he scrambled on
to a small grass-covered platform in front of a natural cave in the
rock, and much was his astonishment to see his lost goat standing at
the entrance of the cave. He called her, and held out his hand, but
instead of running to him and licking his hand as usual, she stamped
with her feet, and, lowering her head, stood in a state of defence.
Convinced there was something in the cave, Kenneth tried to enter,
but the goat stood firm, giving him some hard knocks with her horns.
Finding she was so resolute, and not wishing to hurt her, he desisted
for the present, marking the place well so as to find it easily again.
The goat was again home before him, but not a drop of milk did she
give. His mother was pleased he had discovered so much, and said,
‘To-morrow I will go with you, and surely between us we shall manage
to get a sight of the inside of the cave.’ Next morning the old woman
and her son started, taking a rope with them to secure the goat if she
should prove unmanageable. When they arrived at the cave, the goat was
standing at the entrance, evidently angry, and determined to oppose
them. In vain the widow called her pet names, and held out sweet herbs;
the stubborn animal would not budge an inch for all their entreaties
or threats. ‘Well,’ said Kenneth, ‘its no use standing here all day;
I’ll throw the rope over her, and drag her from the cave, and you shall
go in mother, and see what she is hiding inside.’ No sooner said than
done, and the poor goat was struggling on the ground, bleating loudly.
As if in answer to her piteous cries, there issued from the cave,
crawling on all fours, a beautiful boy about a year old, who scrambled
at once to the goat, and putting his little arms round the animal’s
neck, laid his face against its shaggy coat. She appeared delighted at
the caress, and licked the hands and face of the child with evident

At this unexpected sight, Kenneth and his mother were lost in
astonishment and admiration. He at once satisfied himself, from the
fairness and beauty of the child, and its being dressed in green, that
it was indeed a veritable fairy, and his admiration for the goat was
somewhat damped by a feeling of superstitious awe at being brought
in such close proximity to one of ‘the good people.’ But the warm,
motherly heart of the widow at once opened to the helpless infant,
and, forgetting her natural fear of the supernatural, as well as her
annoyance at the loss of her milk supply, she rushed forward, and
catching the child in her arms, covered it with kisses, mingled with
blessings on its beauty, and pity for its forlorn condition, vowing she
would take it home, and cherish it as her own child.

Kenneth did not altogether approve of this proceeding, and exclaimed
with some heat, ‘Mother! mother! what are you saying; don’t you
see it is a fairy? Put it down, put it down, or perhaps you will
get bewitched, and changed into some animal or other. How could a
child like that, unless it was a fairy, live alone among these wild
mountains, with no one to see after it? and where did it come from?
No, no! mother; it is nothing but a fairy, and we had better leave it
alone, and the goat too, for she is also, no doubt, bewitched, and we
shall only get ourselves into mischief by meddling with her; or, if you
must needs have the goat, just hold the rope while I throw the fairy
creature down the face of the rock, out of the animal’s sight.’

Before, however, Kenneth could lay hold of the child, he was arrested,
and startled, by hearing a voice from the interior of the cave
exclaiming, ‘Touch him if you dare! he is no fairy, but far better
flesh and blood than you are.’ The next instant there rushed from the
cave a young woman, scarcely out of her girlhood; fair enough, but with
privation written in every feature of her face, while her torn dress
and dishevelled hair told a tale of want and exposure. Withal, there
was a certain dignity about her that made Kenneth and his mother give
way when she approached to take possession of the child, who clung to
her with every mark of affection.

With an air of respect, mingled with astonishment, the widow asked who
she was? and how she came there?

The stranger explained how she had been menaced with great danger in
her own country, and had fled with her child for concealment to this
secluded spot, and should have perished from absolute want if it had
not been for the good-natured goat, whom she had enticed to the cave,
and on whose milk she and the child had subsisted for several days.

The kind-hearted widow at once offered them shelter and protection at
her cottage, adding that she knew from sad experience what it was to be
hunted from her own country like a wild animal.

Strange to say, Kenneth offered not the slightest objection to his
mother’s kind invitation. His dread of, and dislike to the fairies
seemed to evaporate at the sight of a good-looking young girl. He
offered no objection this time to the exercise of his mother’s
hospitality, which Flora gladly accepted, and they all wended their way
to the widow’s cottage, followed by the sagacious goat, who seemed to
perfectly understand how matters stood.

Thus they for a time lived happily and safely, and the widow found her
visitors no encumbrance; for Kenneth exerted himself with such good
will in hunting and fishing that he supplied more than sufficient for
them all. The boy grew a strong, sturdy fellow; and Flora, by good
nourishment and mind at ease as to the safety of herself and charge,
expanded into a most lovely woman, as amiable as she was beautiful, and
assisted the widow in all her household duties, although it was very
evident she belonged to a far higher class than that of her protectors.

Kenneth was the only one of the small circle who was not perfectly
at ease. He who used to be one of the most happy and careless of
mortals, with no higher ambition than to be a good sportsman, now
became dissatisfied with himself and discontented with his lot in life.
When out on the hills alone he would fall into moods of abstraction,
building castles in the air, wishing he were a soldier—ah! if so,
what wonderful feats of valour would he not perform; he would surpass
all comrades in courage and dexterity; he would be rewarded with
knighthood; and then he would have the right to mingle with the best
and noblest of the land; and then—then there would flash across his
mind a vision of a brave knight fighting to assert the lawful claims of
a fair lady, of his being successful, of his being rewarded by the hand
and heart of the beautiful heroine; and then—then poor Kenneth would
find his fine castle crumbling away, and standing alone with empty
game-bag. So, with a sigh, he would wake to the commonplace world, and
hasten to redeem the idle time already wasted; and besides, did not
Flora prefer one sort of game, which he must get, and did she not also
admire a wild flower he had taken home yesterday, and he must scale the
highest rocks to find more for her to-day. On his return home he would
present the flowers shyly, blushing and stammering at the graceful
thanks he received for them. He would scarcely taste his food, but sit
quietly, following with his eyes every movement of the bewitching
Flora, until little MacGabhar—for so they named the boy—would come
and challenge him to a game of romps.

One day, when alone with his mother, Kenneth suddenly asked her ‘if
she thought Flora was really the mother of the boy?’ ‘Foolish boy,’
answered she, ‘do you think I have lived all these years and not know a
maid from a wife? No, no; Flora is no more his mother than I am. And,
son Kenneth, I wish to give you some advice: don’t you go and fall
in love with Flora—you might as well fall in love with the moon or
the stars. Don’t you see she is some great lady, perhaps a princess,
although now obliged to live in concealment. I expect little MacGabhar
is her brother, and heir to some great lord. What we must do is to
treat her with respect and kindness, and perhaps some day, if she gets
her rights, you may be her servant, if she will accept your services.
Though she never told me who she was, she showed me a very handsome
sword and a beautiful scarlet velvet mantle trimmed with fur, which she
said belonged to the boy’s father, and she was keeping them to prove
his birth some day.’

This sensible, though unpalatable, advice fell like lead upon Kenneth’s
heart, but still, thought he, ‘it will be something to be even her
servant. I shall at least see her, and hear her voice.’

Matters went on thus at the cottage for some time, until one day
Kenneth came home hastily with the news that the Lord of Castle Donain,
the chief of that part of the country, was come on a grand hunting
expedition to the neighbourhood, and would probably call at the
cottage, as he had done on former occasions. For themselves Kenneth had
no fear, for although they did not belong to the chief’s clan, he knew
of their living on his estate, and had never offered any objection. It
was only on Flora’s account that he had hastened with the news. She,
poor girl, seemed dreadfully agitated, and said, ‘that Lord Castle
Donain was one of the last men she wished to know of her whereabouts,’
and suggested that she and MacGabhar should again take refuge in the
cave until the danger was past; but, alas, it was too late. Already
some of the foremost clansmen were in sight. In another minute the
chief himself appeared, calling out to Kenneth to come as their guide,
as he knew the ground so well. Kenneth hurried out, closing the door of
the cottage after him. This, Lord Castle Donain noticed, as also the
uneasiness of the young man’s manner. ‘How now, Kenneth,’ he exclaimed,
eyeing him suspiciously, ‘what have you in hiding there? where is your
mother? and why do you not ask me in to take a drink of milk as you
used to do?’ Kenneth confusedly muttered something about his mother not
being well, and offered to fetch some milk for his lordship. The chief
was now convinced that there was a secret, and determined to find it
out. He entered the cottage without ceremony, exclaiming angrily, ‘What
is the meaning of this, old dame? Do you not know you are only living
on my estate on sufferance, and if you don’t render me proper respect
as your chief, I will soon pack you and your son off again.’ Then
perceiving Flora, and being struck with her exceeding loveliness, he
involuntarily altered his tone, and continued in a more gentle voice,
‘Ah! I now see the cause; you have a stranger with you. Who is she,

Now this was a very puzzling question for poor Kenneth to answer, as he
did not know himself, and being fearful of saying anything that might
injure Flora. However, he answered as boldly as he could that she was
his wife. ‘Your wife, Kenneth?’ said the Chief, ‘impossible, where did
you get her from? I am sure she does not belong to this part of the
country, or I should have noticed her before; however, I must claim the
privileges of a chief, and give her a salute.’ But when he approached
Flora, she waved him off with conscious dignity, saying ‘he must excuse
her, as it was not the custom in her country to kiss strangers.’ Her
voice and manner, so different to what he expected from one in her
seeming position, more than ever convinced the chief there was a
mystery in the case, and when in answer to his inquiries she told him
her name was Flora, he exclaimed, ‘Kenneth, I am sure you are deceiving
me, she is not your wife; her voice, her manner, and, above all, her
name, convince me that she is of high birth, and most probably of some
hostile clan, consequently she must return with me to Castle Donain
until I fathom the mystery surrounding her, and you may think yourself
lucky that I do not order you to be strung up on the nearest tree for a

This speech threw them all into the greatest consternation. In vain
Flora pleaded to be left alone with her husband and child; in vain
the widow and Kenneth asserted their innocence of wishing harm to the
chief; he remained inexorable. To Castle Donain she must and should go.
The widow, in the extremity of her grief, caught up the child, to whom
she was greatly attached, and exclaimed, ‘Oh! little MacGabhar, what
will become of you?’

On hearing this, Lord Castle Donain started as if an adder had stung
him, and with agitated voice cried out, “MacGabhar! whence got he that
name, for it is a fatal one to my family. Hundreds of years ago it was
prophesied that—

  “The son of the goat shall triumphantly bear
    The mountain in flame; and the horns of the deer—
    From forest of Loyne to the hill of Ben-Croshen—
    From mountain to vale, and from ocean to ocean.”

So, little blue-eyed MacGabhar, you must come with me too, for I am
sure you are a prize worth having.’

Again poor Flora pleaded hard to be allowed to remain in her humble
home; urging, what a disgrace it would be for him to tear her and her
child away from her husband and home; but all vain. The chief refused
to believe the story of her being the wife of Kenneth, and insisted in
no very measured terms on her at once accompanying him to the Castle of

Finding all her appeals and supplications of no avail, Flora began to
grow desperate. Drawing the child to her, she faced the chief with a
look as haughty as his own, and producing a small, richly ornamented
dirk, which she had concealed about her dress, vowed she would rather
kill herself and the boy, too, than that they should be taken prisoners.

This bold mien and determined speech of Flora somewhat confused the
chief, as he was far from wishing to offer any violence to one whom he
was convinced was of high birth. It was consequently with a gentler
voice and more respectful manner that he now addressed her, saying,
‘I do not wish to use any force towards you, and will therefore
waive the question of you leaving your seclusion at present, but as
I am thoroughly convinced there is a mystery about you, I will, as
a precaution for my own safety, require to know more of your future
movements.’ He accordingly directed one of his clansmen, Hector Dubh
Mackenzie, to remain meantime as her guard; and then, to the great
relief of the whole of the inmates, he retired from the cottage.

Though left unmolested for a time, poor Flora knew well that she was in
the power of the Lord of Castle Donain, and her distress and perplexity
of mind was extreme. She had the wit, however, to hide it from Hector,
who was now a constant and unwelcome visitor at the cottage,—and
chatted and laughed with him and Kenneth, when they came home in the
evening, as though she was quite careless and contented. Hers was not
a nature to sit down quietly under danger. No, the greater the danger,
the higher her courage seemed to rise, and she determined to effect
her escape. She arranged with the widow that they should pack up a few
necessaries, take the boy and the goat, and again have recourse to
the cave for a present refuge. Unfortunately, however, she could find
no opportunity to confide her plans to Kenneth, for the vigilance of
Hector was so great that neither she nor his mother ever had a chance
of speaking to him alone even for a moment. She was anxious to give
him a clue, however slight, to their intended movements, so on the
morning of the day they had fixed upon for the attempt, before the men
went out, she carelessly said to him, ‘Oh Kenneth, I wish you would
try to get me some more of these flowers, they are so beautiful,’ at
the same time exhibiting a bit of a plant which Kenneth and herself
well knew grew only in the neighbourhood of the cave, ‘but,’ she
continued, ‘you need not trouble about it to-day, as you are going
fishing; to-morrow, when you go to the hills, will be quite soon
enough.’ These simple words, so frankly spoken, caused no suspicion
to cross the mind of Hector, but to Kenneth, accompanied as they were
with a quick expressive glance of her beautiful eyes, they were fraught
with meaning, and he felt assured that she wished him to go to the
neighbourhood of the cave on the morrow, though for what reason he
could not surmise. As he promised to endeavour to procure the flowers,
he gave her a look, intelligent as her own, which at once convinced her
that he understood some plot was hatching.

That evening, when Kenneth and Hector returned from their day’s
fishing, they found no fire on the hearth, no supper ready, no voice
to welcome them. Kenneth, from the hint he had received, was somewhat
prepared for this unusual state of matters, but at the same time he
echoed his companion’s exclamations of astonishment; he tried to
account for it to the satisfaction of his companion by suggesting that
the women were out milking the goats, but, as if to contradict him,
they heard a bleating outside the cottage, and, going out to ascertain
the cause, they found the goats, tired of waiting, had actually come
to the door themselves to be relieved of their milky treasure. Kenneth
said nothing, but his quick eye at once detected the absence of the
dun-coloured favourite which had nursed the boy. Hector, terribly
chagrined and annoyed at finding himself thus outwitted, questioned
and cross-questioned poor Kenneth until they both lost their temper,
but failed to obtain any satisfactory information. They both passed
a sleepless night, and at dawn of day Hector started, accompanied by
Kenneth, in pursuit of the fugitives, feeling sure they could not have
gone far in such a wild and rocky country. He kept a strict watch on
Kenneth, who, notwithstanding, managed in the course of the day to
get near the cave, and unseen by his companion gave a signal, which
he was delighted to see answered. He now knew that his friends were
safely lodged, and had no fear of their discovery by Hector, but how to
communicate with them he could not imagine, for Hector kept the most
jealous eye on his slightest movements.

The day was nearly spent; the men, fagged and wearied with their long
and toilsome search among the mountains, lay down on the heather.
Hector, sulky, and deeply mortified at the trick played upon him,
lay thinking of what excuse he could make to his chief, and how that
high-spirited gentleman was likely to receive the news of Flora’s
escape. One thing was certain, he must at once acquaint his lord with
the circumstances, whatever the consequences might be to himself; but
the difficulty was, how to do so. He first thought of securing Kenneth,
and taking him a prisoner along with him, but glancing at the well-knit
hardy figure and determined eyes of the young Highlander, he concluded
it would be no easy task to secure him single-handed; and Hector, who,
though brave, was also very prudent, saw no benefit likely to accrue
from a combat between himself and Kenneth, which would probably end
in the death of one, perhaps of both of them. At last he decided that
the best plan for him would be to go off quickly and quietly, give
information to his chief, and return with a sufficient number to trace
and secure Kenneth and the runaways. The idea was no sooner conceived
than executed. Seeing that Kenneth lay with his face covered, buried in
thought, Hector rose and ran through the hills with the fleetness of a

Kenneth lay for some time, revolving scheme after scheme, when,
wondering at his companion’s unwonted silence, he raised his head,
and was astonished to find him gone. He jumped to his feet and looked
eagerly around; at last he espied him at a distance, running as if for
his life. This conduct somewhat puzzled him, and for a moment he was
tempted to send an arrow after him, but recollecting he was now too far
away, he dismissed the idea from his mind, and began to reflect how
best to turn Hector’s absence to his own benefit. The first thing he
did was to hasten to the cave to inform its inmates of the strange and
abrupt departure. Flora, with her usual intelligence, soon defined the
reason, and a consultation was at once held as to what they had better
do in the perplexing situation in which they now found themselves.

They could not stay in the cave for any length of time for want of
provisions; the small stock they had brought with them would soon be
exhausted; the goat’s milk would not even be sufficient for little
MacGabhar himself, and it would be unsafe for Kenneth to venture out
to procure food for fear of their retreat being discovered, and they
dreaded this might be the case even as it was, for if their enemies
brought their slot hounds they would soon be tracked. Under all these
circumstances, in about a week they concluded upon going down to the
sea-shore, trusting fortune might favour them by sending a boat or
vessel that way, in which they might make good their escape. This they
did, taking the goat (which would not part from the boy) and their
baggage along with them. As if in answer to their wishes, they no
sooner arrived at the shore than they saw a large ship sailing towards
them, and casting anchor at Poolewe. Shortly after they saw one of the
ship’s boats, with five or six men, rowing in their direction. Kenneth
and Flora hastened forward to hail it, and see if the men would take
them on board. In their eagerness, they were nearly at the water’s edge
before they discovered that the principal figure in the boat was none
other than Hector Dubh himself. With a scream of terror the affrighted
Flora turned and fled, followed by Kenneth, back towards the child, for
whose safety she had undergone so many hardships; but, alas, she was
destined never to reach him, for in her haste she stumbled and fell.
Kenneth stopped to raise her, the next moment they were surrounded,
taken prisoners, and hurried to the boat.

Flora’s anguish of mind at being thus cruelly separated from the boy
was painful to witness. She prayed and entreated the men to return for
him, promising that she would go quietly along with them if she only
had the child. But all in vain, the men turned a deaf ear to her most
vehement and impressive appeals, Hector saying, ‘No, no, my pretty
madam, you have cheated me once already; I’ll take care you shan’t do
it a second time. We can easily return for the boy if our lord desires
us to do so, but we will make sure of you and Kenneth at any rate.’ So,
in spite of Flora’s tears and sobs, and the more violent expressions of
Kenneth’s anger (who was deeply grieved at leaving his mother in such
a critical situation), the boat speedily bore them from the shore, and
shortly after Hector had the satisfaction of handing them over to the
custody of his chief.

The Lord of Castle Donain was very much put out at losing the boy,
whose fate he felt was strangely interwoven with his own, and in
proportion to his dread of what that fate might be was his anxiety
to gain possession of MacGabhar. Many a long and fruitless search
he caused to be made for him, many a sleepless night he passed in
endeavouring to unravel the mystic meaning of the prophecy, and many an
hour he spent in consulting his aged bard, who possessed the gift of
second sight; but they could arrive at no satisfactory conclusion, save
that MacGabhar should surely in the end become the possessor of the
vast estates of Castle Donain, but whether it would be accomplished by
victory in war, or by more peaceful means, whether in the lifetime of
the present lord, or in that of his successors, was at present hidden
from their vision.

Flora, who was kept in a kind of honourable captivity, would not afford
him the slightest clue to her own identity, or the parentage of the
boy, for whose loss she never ceased to grieve. On being perfectly
satisfied that Kenneth was as ignorant as himself regarding Flora’s
antecedents, and being assured by her of Kenneth’s absolute innocence
of any design against him, the chief allowed the young man to go free.

Kenneth, however, was too devoted to the fair Flora to leave the place,
while she was unwillingly detained there. He accordingly lingered
about at a safe distance until a favourable opportunity occurred which
enabled him to effect her escape, and of safely conducting her to
another part of the country, out of the reach of the Lord of Castle
Donain. Flora, finding herself alone and desolate, afraid of returning
to her own country, and being deeply touched by Kenneth’s unfailing
devotion, at length consented to become his wife, a decision she never
had cause to rue, but realized more every day the fact that

    The rank is but the guinea stamp,
    The man’s the gold for a’ that.

After this they wandered about in many places, where it is unnecessary
to follow them, searching for the widow and the boy; but at length
gave up their efforts as useless. They then went south, and Kenneth
joined the army of the king, in which he speedily found favour, rose
step by step, until the summit of his youthful ambition was attained,
being knighted by the king for his distinguished gallantry on the

When the poor widow saw her son and Flora so suddenly torn from her
side, and herself and the child left desolate on the shore, she knew
not what to do, nor where to turn for shelter. It was no use returning
to the cave, for how could they subsist there? her cottage was not
better now that Kenneth was gone. She, alone, would be totally unable
to provide a livelihood. She had now only the one supreme idea of
discovering and, if possible, rejoining her beloved and only son.

The kind and hospitable people of Poolewe supported her and her charge
for several days, till at last they secured a passage for her on board
a ship, the crew of which promised to take her to Castle Donain. The
widow, like most old women, was rather garrulous; she told the captain
all her troubles, and the strange story of the boy she found among
the rocks of Loch-Maree sucking her favourite goat, showing him at
the same time the velvet mantle and sword of state which belonged to
little MacGabhar’s father, to corroborate her statements. The captain,
interested in the touching narrative, listened patiently, and condoled
with the poor woman in her misfortunes; but, at the same time, feeling
sure that the boy belonged to some family of note, he determined,
instead of carrying them to the desired destination, taking his
passengers to his own chief, Colin Gillespick, or Colin More, as he was
generally called, a noted, brave, though rather unscrupulous chieftain.

Gillespick, on their arrival, was very glad to obtain possession of the
boy, and on hearing the whole story, he decided on taking MacGabhar
into his own family and bringing him up as one of his own sons. He
also provided the widow with a small cottage near his castle, and
allowed her enough to live upon very comfortably. She had liberty to
see MacGabhar as often as she wished, and as she was very much attached
to him, she would have been quite happy but for her grief at the loss
of her son, which almost obliterated every other feeling. The boy was
never tired of listening to her while she told and retold him all the
incidents of his discovery in the cave with Flora, of their subsequent
happy days at the cottage, and of their sad and sudden termination.
As MacGabhar grew up, he became intensely anxious respecting his
parentage, and many a pleasant converse he had with the old widow,
who always maintained and taught him to believe that he came of noble
blood. He would gaze on the mantle and sword by the hour together,
trying to imagine what his father had been. The time thus spent was
not altogether wasted, for these reveries made him feel that, if he
was well born, it was necessary for him to conduct himself like a
nobleman, which he accordingly strove to do, and soon excelled all his
companions, as much by his skill and dexterity in the warlike games and
manly accomplishments of the times, as in his fine athletic figure,
handsome features, and dignified bearing.

When MacGabhar was about eighteen, his adopted father told him that
he would now give him an opportunity of showing his prowess on the
battle-field, as he had resolved to gather all his clan and retainers,
and make a grand raid into a neighbouring territory, of which the
people were at the time in a state of anarchy and confusion, which
circumstance he had no doubt would greatly aid him in his intended
project of subjugation. This was welcome news to the fiery youth,
longing ‘to flesh his maiden sword,’ and he exerted himself with right
good will in making the necessary preparations for the forthcoming

When Flora married Kenneth, she, like a true wife, concealed no secret
from him, but told him all her history—a strange and romantic one. She
was of high birth, but, being an orphan, lived with her only sister,
who had married and become the queen of the chief or king of a powerful
neighbouring kingdom. They had an only child, a boy, named Ewen, to
whom Flora was devotedly attached, being his companion and nurse by day
and by night. When the child was about a year old, a revolt broke out
in his domains, led by a natural brother of the king, who, being the
elder, thought he had a better right. The rebels seized and murdered
Ewen’s father, their lawful sovereign, and took the queen prisoner.

Kenneth’s blood ran cold as his wife continued, in graphic terms, to
relate the horrors of that period; how the rebels, not satisfied with
the death of their king, plotted to murder herself and the young heir
during the night. Even in this trying emergency she did not lose her
presence of mind, but courageously determined to defeat their wicked
purpose by a counter-plot. She accordingly concealed her agitation
during the day, and on some pretext persuaded the wife and child of one
of the conspirators to change bedrooms with her; the latter were slain,
while she made good her escape with her darling Ewen, but in such haste
that she could make no preparations for her flight beyond carrying
away the sword and mantle of the murdered king, as evidence, if ever
opportunity occurred, to prove Ewen’s high lineage and birth. After
days of painful travel, she at last reached Loch-Maree, where she was
happily found in the cave, succoured by the goat, by Kenneth and his
devoted mother.

After Kenneth had been made a knight, and stood high in favour at
court, his wife accidentally heard from a wandering minstrel that
great changes had taken place in her native country. The usurper was
dead, leaving no successor, and the people were divided and in a state
of discord, some wishing to have the queen of the late rightful king
restored, while others wished for a male ruler. Flora, on hearing this,
at once expressed her desire once more to visit her sister, of whom she
had heard nothing for so many years, and suggested to her husband that
he might possibly help the queen to resume her rightful position. Sir
Kenneth, ever ready for adventure, consented, provided he could get the
king’s consent for a time to withdraw from his service.

The kingdom being now at peace, the king readily granted him leave of
absence, and also permission to take his immediate retainers along with
him. They all started in high spirits, and arrived at their journey’s
end in safety, when Flora was overjoyed to find her sister alive and
well. The queen, on meeting her, was no less delighted to find her long
lost sister, and to hear of the wonderful preservation of her beloved
son, though their joy was damped by the uncertainty of his fate since
Flora was separated from him. With the valuable assistance of Sir
Kenneth and his brave men-at-arms, the queen was soon reinstated in
her proper position. But no sooner was this accomplished than she was
threatened with an immediate attack from the formidable and dreaded
Colin More. Her subjects, however, rallied round her, and, forgetting
their mutual quarrels, stood well together, and led on by the brave
Sir Kenneth, they rushed to meet the advancing foe with irresistible
force, and gained a complete victory over him, taking several important
prisoners, among whom were three of Gillespick’s sons, and his adopted
son Ewen MacGabhar.

Colin More’s raid being so unjust, for there was no reason for it but
the desire for plunder, it was decided that his punishment should be
severe, consequently all the prisoners of any pretension to rank were
ordered the morning after the battle to be publicly executed, beginning
with the youngest. This happened to be Ewen MacGabhar, who determined
to meet his fate without flinching, and as befitted his birth, which he
always felt was of noble origin. He accordingly dressed himself with
care, and threw over all the scarlet velvet mantle he had preserved for
so many years, and girded on the sword, with a sigh to think that he
should never know the secret of his birth.

At the time appointed, the prisoners were brought out for execution
before the queen and her court, according to the barbarous custom of
the time. MacGabhar walked at their head with a stately step, his fine
figure as erect, his fair head held as lofty, and his bright blue
eye as fearless, as if he were a conqueror and not a captive. As he
approached nearer where the queen sat, surrounded by her ladies, her
sister Flora started violently, and seizing her husband by the arm,
exclaimed, ‘Oh Kenneth, see! see! that mantle, that sword; look at
his fair hair, his blue eyes—it must, it must be he.’ Then rushing
toward Ewen, she cried out, ‘Your name, your name, young man; where
did you get that sword and mantle? Speak, speak—I adjure you by all
you hold sacred to tell the truth.’ Young Ewen, considerably surprised
by this impassioned appeal, drew himself up, and answered firmly and
respectfully, ‘Madam, these articles belong to my father, whom I never
knew, and the name I am known by is Ewen MacGabhar, but I know not
whether it is my right name or not.’ This answer, far from allaying the
lady’s agitation, only served to increase it, and, with an hysterical
laugh, she screamed out, ‘MacGabhar! yes, yes, I was sure of it.
Sister! husband! see, see, our lost darling—my own dear MacGabhar.’
Then, in the excess of her emotion, she threw her arms around him, and
swooned away.

All was now confusion and perplexity. Sir Kenneth hastened to his
wife’s assistance. The queen rose and stood with an agitated face and
out-stretched hands, looking earnestly at Ewen. The older chieftains
who remembered his father, began to remark the extraordinary likeness
Ewen bore to the late king; clansmen caught up the excitement and began
to shout ‘A MacCoinnich Mòr! A MacCoinnich Mòr!’

After a while, when the Lady Flora had regained consciousness, and
some degree of order was restored, the queen began to closely question
her sister as to the identity of Ewen; ‘For,’ she sagely remarked,
‘although that mantle and sword did indeed belong to my husband, that
does not prove its present possessor to be his heir, and further,
though I admit I perceive a great resemblance in that young man to
the late king, yet he might be his son without being mine, and until
I am persuaded that he is indeed my own lawful son, I will not yield
up this honoured seat to him.’ This spirited speech was received with
approval by the nobles, but still the common people kept up the cry of
‘A MacCoinnich Mòr! A MacCoinnich Mòr!’

‘Stay, stay,’ exclaimed Kenneth, ‘I think I shall be able to decide if
he is indeed MacGabhar; do you remember, Flora, the day when little
Ewen was playing with my hunting knife and inflicted a severe cut on
his arm? Now, if this young man has the mark of that wound, it will be
conclusive. Approach then, and bare your left arm, MacGabhar.’

Ewen stood forward, and amid the anxious, breathless attention of all,
bared his muscular arm, when there plainly appeared a large cicatrice,
evidently of many years standing.

All doubt was now removed; the queen embraced him and owned him her
son. The chieftains crowded round to offer their congratulations, and
the clansmen shouted loud and long.

MacGabhar bore himself throughout this strange and exciting scene with
a dignity and composure of manner which greatly raised him in the
estimation of his new found friends. His first act was to beg the
lives and liberty of his late fellow-prisoners, which was readily
granted; and when he had explained to his mother how indebted he was
to Gillespick for his kindness in bringing him up, and had also told
Sir Kenneth how well treated his mother had been, their indignant
feelings towards Gillespick gave way to more kindly emotions, and a
firm and lasting peace was concluded between the two clans. Sir Kenneth
hastened to fetch his mother, whose joy at being thus re-united to her
beloved son, after so many years of separation and anxiety, was almost
overpowering to the now aged woman. Sir Kenneth took up his abode
in his wife’s native country, and by his wise and sagacious council
greatly assisted Ewen in the management of his kingdom, the queen,
his mother, resigning all her authority in his favour. He ruled his
people firmly and well, and by his courage in the field and wisdom in
the council, he so raised the strength and increased the dimensions
of his kingdom that it became the most prosperous and powerful in the
Highlands. He married the only daughter of the Lord of Castle Donain,
and by her inherited all that vast estate, in this way fulfilling the
old prophecy which had caused so much uneasiness for years to his
future father-in-law.



Donald Campbell of Scalpay, Harris—whose name is on record in
connection with Prince Charles, when a refugee in the Western Isles
after his defeat at Culloden—had a very beautiful daughter, who
was so modest, pleasant, and affectionate, that she had few equals
in the Isles. The charming Annie was for some considerable time,
previous to the year 1768, loved by Allan Morrison, son of Roderick
Morrison, of Stornoway, a ship captain. Being a gallant, and withal a
comely young man, his affection was reciprocated by the fair Annie.
Captain Allan—he was seldom called Morrison—traded with his vessel
principally between Stornoway and the Isle of Man, but he frequently
went to Spain. Like many other lovers, Captain Allan, when he returned
from abroad, presented the object of his affections with small presents
of silk and linen—rare articles in the Highlands in those days. The
more Allan saw of his Annie, the more he loved her, and he ardently
longed for the day when they should be united in wedlock. This day was
at length fixed; but before the happy event could take place, a voyage
to the Isle of Man and back had to be accomplished. It was arranged,
however, that the preliminary ceremony—the ‘contract’—should be gone
through prior to setting out on the voyage, on the evening before
setting sail. For this purpose, one afternoon in the spring of 1768,
Captain Allan left Stornoway for Scalpay with his vessel. Besides
having a select number of relatives on board, who were to be present
at the ceremony, he was accompanied by another ship, commanded by his
brother, Captain Roderick. It was a fine day, with a nice breeze of
fair wind, when they set sail. They did not proceed far, however, when
the wind, which veered round to the south, rose suddenly to a perfect
hurricane. To make matters worse, a blinding sleet shortly afterwards
set in. Nobly, but in vain, did both the ships strive to bear up
against the furious onsets of the rolling Minch; but notwithstanding
their brave efforts to reach Scalpay before nightfall, they had barely
got as far as the Shiant Isles when it was pitch dark, and thus their
already dangerous situation became more perilous still. That each
vessel might know the position of the other, a red light, in addition
to the usual white one, was exhibited on the masts of both, and the
brothers, being determined to arrive at their destination that night,
if possible, continued to battle against the mighty billows, which now
dashed themselves with fearful force against the creaking planks of
the vessels, and anon broke over them with a deafening noise. This did
not continue long when it became apparent that they could not possibly
hold out much longer together. This was at least part of Captain
Roderick’s surmises, when he suddenly heard loud cries proceeding from
his brother’s ship. Being slightly in advance of Captain Allan at the
time, and supposing that the shouts were intended as a sign for him to
keep up his courage, he paid very little attention to the matter, for
under the circumstances there was no possibility of rendering the least
aid, should such be required. Above the sound of the raging tempest,
the shouts from Allan’s ship continued to be distinctly heard for a
few seconds, when lo! all of a sudden, the screaming ceased, and the
lights on the mast suddenly disappeared. It was then, and only then,
that Captain Roderick understood the real meaning of the shouts which
came from his brother’s crew, whose ship had been sinking, and had now
evidently gone to the bottom. Although there was but little hope of his
being able much longer to keep his own ship afloat, Captain Roderick,
like a brave sailor and an affectionate brother, directly made for the
spot where the lights of his brother’s ship were last observed, but
nothing, alas! was seen or heard of the ship or crew. The deep wail
which now rose from Captain Roderick’s crew was truly heart-rending.
From that day till now nothing has been seen of Captain Allan’s crew or
his ship.

Soon after the foundering of the gallant ship the gale moderated
so much that Captain Roderick was able to reach the north harbour
of Scalpay early next morning. Being expected there the previous
night, none of the Campbells—who were, as might be supposed, greatly
concerned for Captain Allan’s safety, knowing, as they did, that his
non-arrival arose from the furious tempest—went to bed that night.
They were, therefore, by early dawn on the top of the hill which
flanked their house, which is still standing, and from which they
secured a view of the Minch in all directions. From this position
they early descried Captain Roderick’s ship making for the island. As
the brave vessel passed up through the narrow Sound of Scalpay, the
Campbells, and chief among them the fair Annie, some relatives and
friends, stood on the north-east point of the island, and, thinking
it was Captain Allan’s ship, welcomed her with waving handkerchiefs.
But their gay signs of joy were but of short duration, for presently a
small flag was observed half-mast-high, and the next moment a sharp
scream burst from the lovely Annie, exclaiming that Allan Donn was
gone! Captain Roderick’s ship soon cast anchor; in a few minutes he
landed, and conveyed the sad tidings of his brother’s and relatives’
untimely end, as above described.

We will not attempt to describe the effect which this melancholy
intelligence had upon the fair Annie, whose grief at that moment knew
no bounds—her heart broke for him whom she would never see again.
Refusing to be comforted, she might be seen at early dawn, mid-day,
and twilight, wandering sorrowfully on the shore, looking for her
‘dear Allan’s body,’ and crying ‘Allain Duinn Shiubhlainn leat.’ She
continued thus while she lived, which was only a few days, her heart
having, it is said, literally burst. It is even asserted that her pure
white breast wasted to that extent that an aperture was formed opposite
her heart. She composed a song or lament for her devoted lover each day
afterwards while she lived.

The song composed by Annie Campbell on the day she received the tidings
of her beloved’s death, is entitled, ‘Allain Duinn, Shiubhlainn leat.’
It has a peculiarly touching air, and is still sung by many people
on the Island of Harris, and it is now published in Part II. of Mr
Sinclair’s “Oranaiche.”

It was an oft expressed wish of the broken-hearted maiden that her body
should be buried in the sea, that she might share her ‘dear Allan’s
grave.’ But whether her friends promised compliance with her request
is not said. It is worthy of note, however, that his name was the last
word she uttered. Surrounded by a crowded chamber of weeping friends,
her gentle spirit took its flight to that brighter region which lies
beyond the grave; and, though grief had wasted her body to a mere
shadow, the same pleasant features which graced her in life continued
to adorn her even when embraced in the cold arms of death. Her demise
excited universal regret in the whole Outer Hebrides.

The respect and admiration in which Annie Campbell was held by her
acquaintances in life were fully demonstrated at her death, for during
the week in which her body lay in state at Scalpay, scores of people
who could not, on account of the throng, obtain admission to the house
of mourning, although kept open day and night, might be seen, with sad
countenances and sorrowful hearts, standing around it from morn to
eve, and eve to morn, and the respectful silence which prevailed among
them was such that ‘the fall of a pin might be heard.’ Some people
may be disposed to say that to devote a whole week to the ceremony
called the ‘leekwake,’ was a needless waste of time. But, considering
the great preparations which had to be made for the deceased lady’s
funeral, it must be confessed that it was short enough. Fifteen gallons
of whisky, two or three large creelfuls of beef, mutton, and fowl,
and a corresponding supply of newly-baked oaten cake, and cheese,
were generally required at the interment of a common person in the
Highlands in the olden times; and although they had neither pastry nor
confections from Edinburgh, nor brandy from Cognac, at Annie’s funeral,
the expenditure was, nevertheless, most profuse. There was gin from
Schiedam, wine from Oporto, and whisky from Berneray, in unlimited
quantities; and as to the supply of oat and barley meal cakes, cheese,
beef, mutton, and fowl, it was simply enormous.

Rodel, the place of interment, was only twelve miles from the island
of Scalpay, but, on account of the large number of people which was to
take part in the proceedings at Cille Chliaran (Rodel churchyard),
which is supposed to have been built in the tenth century, and was
dedicated to St Clement, three large galleys, or boats, were required
for the funeral procession. One of the boats, which was manned by a
select crew, was intended for the coffin and chief mourners; another
was for the deceased’s kinsfolk and friends, and the third for carrying
the provisions. The day fixed for the funeral arrived—it was a
Saturday in the year 1768—a day which will be remembered in Harris
while a Highlander breathes on its soil. On the morning of that day,
the three boats left Scalpay for Rodel. In the foremost boat, Am Bata
Caol Cannach, was the coffin, and the chief mourners were Kenneth
Campbell, deceased’s brother; Campbell of Marrig, Campbell of Strond,
Macleod of Hushinish, Macleod of Luskintyre, and two or three other
leading Harris-men. It also contained several casks of rum, gin, &c.
The morning was so calm and pleasant, that the surface of the Minch
seemed like a huge sheet of glass, so that the sails, which seamen
depend so much upon, were useless; but, stripped to the shirts, the
stalwart oarsmen pulled their respective galleys through the briny
water with great speed. The little procession had hardly passed Rudha
Reibinish when a smart head-wind began to blow. The horizon was soon
afterwards darkened by a sheet of black clouds that betokened the
approaching storm, which almost immediately set in. It soon blew a
perfect hurricane, against which oars could make little headway. At the
outset of the rising wind, the Bata Caol Cannach set sail, was thus
carried far out to sea, and was in mid-channel when the tempest was at
its height. The sails were torn to shreds, and the snow, which began to
fall thick and fast, hid the land from view. They were now in a most
critical position, for it was impossible for any boat to live long
in such an awful sea, and the boat was half full of water. They gave
up all hope of surviving many moments longer, and each began to pray
earnestly for his soul’s salvation, when to their still greater horror,
the form of a female—Annie’s phantom—was observed quite near them,
following in the wake of their boat. This extraordinary circumstance
was at once laid down as one of the direst omens. Nor need we wonder
much if it did, when we consider the peculiar circumstances under
which the figure appeared, and the superstitious beliefs which then,
and to a certain extent still, prevail in the Highlands. Each time the
phantom, which seemed to scowl angrily upon them, appeared, the Bata
Caol Cannach shipped fearful seas. Life being sweet, the poor fellows
used every means in their power to keep their vessel afloat. They used
the wine and gin ankers, out of which they knocked the ends, spilling
the liquor among the salt water, for bailing the boat. The phantom
still followed, and was coming closer and closer to the boat’s stern,
when they recalled to mind Annie’s oft expressed desire to be buried in
the sea, that she might share Allan’s grave; and they at once concluded
that her spirit followed them, first in the storm, and now in visible
shape, to enforce compliance with her last request. Some of them,
therefore, advised that the coffin should be immediately committed
to the deep; but to this proposal Kenneth Campbell, the deceased’s
brother, would not consent. He was sitting in the stern of the boat,
and his late sister’s spirit drew so near to him that she could put her
hand on his shoulder. He chanced to have a bunch of keys in his pocket,
to which some fabulous charm was attached, and he threw them to the
phantom to appease her, but without effect. By this time some of the
crew lay helplessly in the bottom of the boat, when one of the most
courageous proposed that, to lighten the craft, the ‘knocked up’ men
should be thrown overboard. ‘Not one,’ replied an elderly man, ‘of
the living shall be put out, till the dead is put out first.’ He had
hardly finished speaking, when a huge sea rolled over the boat, which
almost swamped her, and the coffin, which was then floating in the
boat, striking Kenneth Campbell on the chest, had almost pitched him
overboard. He, thereupon, immediately ordered it to be thrown out,
an order which, we need hardly say, was directly obeyed; but another
tremendous sea again threw it into the water-logged boat. They managed,
however, with great difficulty to unship it again, and knocking one of
the ends out of it with their oars, all that remained of the fair Annie
sank in a twinkling to the bottom of the sea, and the angry spirit
immediately disappeared.

Meanwhile, the other two boats, which had never raised their sails at
all, went ashore at Manish. Having landed, the men proceeded at once
by land to Rodel, where they communicated the manner of their parting
with the Bata Caol Cannach, as above described. All agreed that she
had foundered, ‘for it was impossible,’ they said, ‘for any open,
or other boat, to live in the Minch that day.’ This was a terrible
circumstance—a calamity which plunged the whole country into an
overwhelming grief. The deaths of Annie Campbell and Allan Donn were
wholly absorbed by this extraordinary affair—an affair which seemed,
to all appearance, to be nothing less than a judgment from God; for the
flower of all the Harris gentlemen shared in one hour the same watery
grave. The sorrow caused by this sad occurrence was so universal that a
dry eye could not be found that evening from one end of Harris to the
other; and this general grief continued for days and nights together,
for all sympathised with the bereaved.

But to return to the Bata Caol Cannach, which we left water-logged,
and about to sink in the middle of the Minch. It was a remarkable
coincidence, that as soon as the cold clay of the fair maiden sank in
the sea, the furious storm immediately abated, and the raging billows
ceased their wild commotion. The Bata Caol Cannach was then bailed as
quickly as possible, and one of the men—Malcolm Macleod—happening to
have his plaid along with him, it was hoisted before the wind instead
of a sail. The boat’s stern was turned to the wind which drove it
forward at a considerable rate, but, being pitch dark, none of them
knew whither they were going. A new danger now began to alarm them—the
danger of the boat being dashed to pieces on some shore. This fresh
evil had only presented itself when the Bata Caol Cannach’s keel struck
the ground. The gratitude to an all-ruling Providence that filled their
hearts at that moment none but those similarly situated can tell.
They immediately leaped ashore, leaving the boat in the spot where it
struck; and after wandering about for some time, stumbled upon a house,
where they were kindly received and cared for. On entering this house,
they discovered that one of their number was amissing, and, hungry and
exhausted though they were, they immediately went to search for him,
and found him lying insensible in the bows of the boat. He was at once
carried to the house which they had just left, and with much care and
attention he soon recovered. The place where the Bata Caol Cannach went
ashore, and where the men were so hospitably entertained, was Snizort,
in the Isle of Skye. It was some time before the Harris-men had
thoroughly recovered from the hardships they underwent; but, as soon as
they were able to undertake the journey, they returned home.

Kenneth Campbell, Annie’s brother, was afterwards also drowned. He
commanded a vessel, and being met by a French pirate, his ship, after
being robbed, was sent to the bottom, every soul on board perishing.
There are many other anecdotes connected with the men who composed the
crew of the Bata Caol Cannach on the occasion referred to, but I must
conclude, merely mentioning that the body of the unfortunate Allan Donn
was found at the Shiant Isles shortly after the death of his sorrowing
lover Annie, and was interred with befitting solemnities in the family
sepulchre in Lewis. As an extraordinary coincidence, the body of the
fair Annie Campbell was soon after Di-Sathairn an Fhuadaich also found
at the Shiant Isle, and in the very spot where the body of her lover
had been recovered. Whether it was placed in the same grave as Allan
tradition does not record.

Malcolm Macleod, grandson of Malcolm Macleod, whose plaid was used as a
sail in the Bata Caol Cannach, an elder in the Free Church at Tarbert,
Harris, who only died about two years ago, repeatedly told me the above
story. The Bata Caol Cannach was so called on account of having been
purchased by the Campbells from a man in the island of Canna.



Marrig House stands on a gentle declivity near the upper end of
Loch-Seaforth, a bay some miles in length, in the Outer Hebrides. It
was in olden times a structure of the most primitive description. Its
walls, some six feet in thickness, and about four feet in height, were
built of sods, earth, and mountain boulders; and its roof of pieces of
wreckage found on the sea-shore, covered over with sods, ferns, and
rushes. It had neither window or chimney, save a rude opening at the
top of the wall, and an old creel stuck into the ridge, which served
the double purpose of admitting light and emitting the dense volumes
of smoke which invariably darkened the interior. The fire was in the
centre of the clay-made floor. The cooking utensils were suspended from
the rafters by a heather rope. The partitions, made of boards, pieces
of wreckage, and old sails, did not extend higher than the level of the

Being on a portion of the estate of Harris—which was from time
immemorial possessed by the branch of the Macleods known as Siol
Thormaid—Marrig House was occupied by a Macleod; and not unfrequently
did it afford temporary shelter and entertainment to the Chief of Siol
Thormaid himself, when following the chase in the adjoining forests. It
was from this house that Sir Rory Mor Macleod of Dunvegan and Harris,
while laid up with a bad leg, wrote, on the 2nd of September 1596, a
letter to King James, acknowledging receipt of the King’s charge, of
the 18th of August, commanding him to be at Islay with all his forces
on the second day thereafter, under pain of treason, and explaining
that it was impossible to comply with His Majesty’s orders, even
‘althocht my hail force haid beine togidder, and wund and widder serued
one at eiverir airt.’ But the house which was then at Marrig has long
since disappeared, and a more substantial and modern one now stands in
its place. The tenant of Marrig was locally called ‘Fear Mharig,’ or
the good man of Marrig, a term which was and still is applied in the
Highlands to large tenants.

Marrig at the time of which we write was tenanted by a near relation of
the Chief of Siol Thormaid, a brave, prudent, and upright man. He had
an only daughter, his heiress, upon whom Nature had bestowed no small
share of her favours; she was as modest and tender-hearted as she was
beautiful. She was courted and sought after by all the young gentlemen
of the island; but being devotedly attached to her father, whom she
idolized, and on whose advice and counsel she invariably acted, their
proffered suits were always rejected, until circumstances which took
place in the neighbourhood of Glasgow at that time brought a new and
more successful suitor on the scene.

It happened, while a son of the then Earl of Argyll was prosecuting
his studies in the University of Glasgow, that a dispute arose between
him and one of his fellow-students regarding the superiority of their
respective clans. The quarrel ultimately assumed such proportions, that
it was resolved to decide it by an appeal to arms. The weapons chosen
were the broadsword and target, these being the common weapons of war
in those days. At the proper time the combatants, with their seconds,
appeared at the appointed place. A desperate combat immediately began,
and continued with unabated fury for some time; and so well were the
warriors matched that it became doubtful latterly which of them would
carry the day. Campbell, however, ultimately made a clever and skilful
stroke, which secured him the victory—having split his adversary’s
head almost in two. Campbell was thus, according to law, guilty of
manslaughter, and being ‘wanted’ for that offence, he and his second,
a son of Macleod of Dunvegan and Harris, fled to the latter island for

Campbell was not long in the island when he became acquainted with
Mary Macleod, the fair heiress of Marrig, and became deeply enamoured
of her; and being a handsome man of prepossessing appearance, refined
address, winning manners, and withal of an illustrious family, his
love was soon warmly returned, and with the full concurrence of the
young lady’s father the day of their marriage was fixed for an early
date. But it happened soon afterwards that the old gentleman casually
received a full account of the reason which brought his daughter’s
affianced to Harris, and, his whole nature revolting at the idea of
marrying his daughter to a man guilty of manslaughter, he at once
resolved to break off the alliance. He well knew that this could not be
accomplished without encountering some serious difficulty, possibly a
bitter and deadly feud. Not that he apprehended any serious opposition
on the part of his daughter, who, he was sure, would sacrifice almost
anything to please him; but her suitor was a very different person.
He was proud and easily irritated, and that he was of a violent
disposition was sufficiently demonstrated from the fact that he had
already fought a duel and had slain his opponent for the honour of
his name. He belonged to a powerful family, whose chief might feign
offence at his son’s proffered suit and engagement being thus summarily
rejected and violated, and who might come to make reprisals, or,
peradventure, declare open war with the Siol Thormaid, the result of
which might be disastrous. Carefully considering all these questions
which operated strongly on his feelings, the good man of Marrig called
his daughter to his presence, and told her in an affectionate and
feeling manner what he had discovered of the history of her lover, and
then, in a tone sufficiently firm to manifest that he meant what he
said, he made known his resolution. ‘You must not,’ he said, ‘have any
further communication with Campbell. Sorry, indeed, am I to be under
the necessity of thwarting my dear Mary’s affections, but ten times
more would it pain me to see her wedded to a man whose past conduct
my soul loathes. My darling Mary is still very young. Let her trust
in Providence, and she will yet get a husband, in whom she may safely
repose her trust, and whom her aged father can love as he loves his

‘Never have I attempted to go against my father’s commands,’ answered
she, weeping bitterly, ‘nor shall I do so now; but as my heart bleeds
for my beloved, I trust you have authentic information before you can
act so harshly. Shall I, Oh! shall I be permitted to see him once more?’

‘I have no reason to doubt the correctness of my information,’ replied
he, ‘for I received it from young Macleod, who witnessed the duel. You
may see Campbell once more, but once for all.’

A meeting had previously been arranged between the lovers for the very
evening of the day on which the above conversation took place between
Mary Macleod and her father; and with buoyant spirits, and a step
so light that it scarcely bent the purple heather, Campbell walked
from Rodel to Marrig that day—a distance of between twenty-five and
thirty miles—to meet his affianced Mary. Little, alas! did he think,
while performing his journey, that she would greet him with such
heart-rending words to both as ‘My dear, I must see you no more.’ The
lovers embraced each other when they met. ‘How happy am I to meet you
and see you, my darling Mary, once more,’ said Campbell, who was the
first to speak; ‘but, thank God, we shall soon meet to part no more
while we live.’

‘Happy, thrice happy would I be,’ sobbed the maiden, ‘if that were so;
but, alas! it cannot be.’ And in broken accents she recapitulated all
that her father said to her, adding with a groan, ‘I must never see you

‘What?’ exclaimed Campbell in great excitement, ‘must I never see my
dear, my own Mary again? It cannot be. The very thought would kill me.
I will not part with my own, my darling Mary.’

They both burst into tears, and continued to weep and sob for a time;
but the young lady, who, on the whole, considering the trying nature
of it, bore the ordeal with remarkable fortitude, remarked that as her
father’s word was inexorable as the laws of the Medes and Persians
which altered not, they must be reconciled to their fate.

‘If it must be so, then,’ Campbell replied, ‘I shall try to submit to
it. But the island of Harris will henceforth have no attraction for me.
I shall depart from it at once, and go to the seas, where I can muse in
melancholy silence on the maid who first stole my heart and afterwards
rejected me.’

‘Restrain thy plaint, my dear Archy,’ rejoined the maiden, as she
proceeded to assure him that the step she had taken was entirely in
obedience to the wishes of her father, without whose consent she would
never marry while he lived; but she would faithfully promise that if
he would wait for her until her father had paid the debt of nature she
would be only too happy to fulfil her engagement and become his wife.
‘And,’ she continued, ‘I shall never marry another while you live.’

Campbell replied that since he found that her love to him was still
unaltered, he would become more reconciled to his hard fate; that
her kind and loving words had infused him with fresh hopes; that her
father, in the natural course of things, before many years had passed
away, would go to his fathers, and that till that event took place he
would patiently wait for his loving Mary. He then handed her the ring
which he intended to place on her finger on the day of her nuptials,
saying, ‘Take this and keep it till we meet again.’

She took the ring with mingled feelings of joy and sorrow—of joy,
because she could look at it as a memento of their engagement; of
sorrow, because it would remind her of an absent lover. After looking
intensely at it for some time she carefully placed it in her bosom,
saying, ‘I, too, will give you a pledge of our betrothal, it was
intended to be worn on your breast at our wedding,’ and she then
handed him a knot of blue ribbon, made by herself, and having both
their initials wrought in it with golden silk thread. Taking a parting
embrace of each other, they wept long and bitterly, and with heavy
hearts separated, it might be, for ever.

During this conversation they sat on the south side of an elevated spot
overlooking Loch-Seaforth, and when they parted she went direct to
Marrig House, while he went in the direction of Stornoway, with the
view of procuring employment as a seaman on board some vessel. Many
a look did he give towards Marrig, between Athline, at the head of
Loch-Seaforth, and Araidh Bhruthaich, the Shealing of the Ascent, in
Lochs, made famous in local tradition as the place where the Irish
plunderers lifted Donald Cam Macaulay’s cattle in his absence while he
was away on business at the Flannel Isles, and for which act they paid
with their lives; for Donald overtook them at Loch-Seaforth, and slew
every one of them.

Stornoway is twenty-six miles north of Marrig; and though the evening
was far advanced ere Campbell left, he arrived at the capital of the
Lews before many of the good citizens had retired for the night. One
would have thought that, after travelling upwards of fifty miles that
day, he would have slept pretty soundly; but such was not the case. The
thought of what had occurred at Marrig disquieted his mind so much,
that it almost became unhinged. Sleep, usually the sweet and refreshing
balm to the weary traveller, left him to writhe on a sleepless pillow.
No wonder, then, that the first peep of daylight found him in the
neighbourhood of the old castle of Stornoway—then the seat and
stronghold of the once famous Chief of Siol Thorcuil—sauntering on the
sandy beach, and peering out into the placid blue water of the bay, in
the hope of descrying some ship to take him away from the scene of his
present sorrow. He did not long look in vain, for he soon noticed a
vessel lying some distance off; and presently a small boat coming for a
supply of water left her for the shore. The ship, which had shortened
her cable before the boat had put off, he found, was bound for Holland.

‘Short of men?’ exclaimed Campbell, as the boat touched the beach.

‘Would ship one good hand,’ one of the sailors replied.

‘All right; here he is,’ responded Campbell, who, as soon as the casks
were full, accompanied the sailors to the vessel. He was engaged at
once; the ship weighed anchor, and proceeded to sea. Campbell having
now left the Hebrides, we shall return to Harris and note affairs at

Several years had passed away before Mary Macleod thoroughly recovered
from the effects of the shock produced by her bitter disappointment.
She mourned long and sorrowfully for her absent lover, and feared she
would never see him more. Her lamentations were so pitiful, she grew
so terribly thin and wan, that her father was sorely grieved that he
could not undo what he had done. ‘Woe to me,’ he often exclaimed, ‘for
killing my daughter. She is rapidly sinking to an untimely grave.’
Although some of Mary’s former admirers returned with the full ardour
of their love as soon as Campbell had left the island, and pressed
their suits with renewed zeal, she politely but firmly rejected their
proposals, with the saying, ‘I am not yet a widow.’

Five years had now almost passed away since Mary Macleod and Archie
Campbell parted, and still no tidings reached her of his whereabouts.
She knew not whether he was dead or alive. At that time some of the
sailors belonging to a large ship which came into Loch-Seaforth
for shelter called one evening for milk at Marrig House; and in
conversation with them it transpired that their vessel, then in
Loch-Seaforth, was the identical ship in which Campbell sailed from
Stornoway five years before; that he never left her until he was
accidentally drowned in the Bay of Biscay four years afterwards; that,
by his kind and obliging manner, he became a general favourite with all
his comrades, all of whom deeply lamented his loss. This unexpected
intelligence acted upon the forlorn and broken-hearted maiden as if
struck by lightning. She uttered a wild and piercing scream, and fell
fainting on the floor. During the excitement that followed the sailors
made their exit, and proceeded to their ship, which weighed anchor next
morning and disappeared; so that the fair maiden had now lost further
opportunity of obtaining any additional information she might desire
about her lover. Sad and melancholy as she had been hitherto, she was
now depressed and cheerless in the extreme. Refusing to be comforted,
she moaned and sighed day and night for weeks and months together.
Nothing apparently could rouse her spirits from the deep melancholy
which had taken possession of her. She continued thus for nearly two
years, during which time she was all but a hermit. She was often
visited, it is true, during those solitary years by many admirers, who
used all the fair words at their command to press their suit upon her,
but she invariably answered that she ‘did not yet tire of her widow’s
weeds.’ Eventually, however, she became gradually more cheerful, and
took some pleasure in society; and ultimately went and sang and danced
at local balls and other fashionable gatherings as in days long gone by.

Of all Mary Macleod’s admirers Macleod of Hushinish was her greatest
favourite; and some three years after she obtained intelligence of
Campbell’s death, she consented to become his wife, with the full
consent of the father and other relations, and the day of their
espousal was fixed. The preparations for the wedding, which was to be
on a grand scale, were necessarily extensive. The liquors consisted of
whisky, rum, gin, and brandy. The marriage ceremony was, according to
the usual custom, to be performed in her father’s house, whither the
officiating clergyman had been invited several days previously. For
some days prior to the marriage a strong gale of wind blew from the
south, and the barometer gave every indication of its continuance. This
proved a fortunate circumstance for the bride’s father, whose stock of
gin and brandy had become somewhat limited at the very time when it
was most required; for, two days previous to that of the marriage, a
foreign vessel had put into Loch-Seaforth to shelter from the storm,
and from this ship he procured an addition to the necessary supply of
spirits. On account of the liberal terms on which the captain supplied
him, Fear Mharig invited him and the first mate to the wedding. The
captain—a middle-aged burly man, with a well tanned face—was, as
became his position, dressed in a suit corresponding to his rank;
but the mate, who seemed about thirty years of age, with brown, but
well-fared face, of ordinary height and handsome figure, was dressed in
the garb of an ordinary seaman.

The number of people collected at Marrig House was so large that the
marriage ceremony had to be performed in the large barn, where as many
as it could contain were requested to go and witness the proceedings.
In the general rush the captain and his mate were left outside. But
being the greatest strangers, and anxious that they should see the
ritual, some of the leading Harris men gave up their own seats in
favour of the sailors, who thus received front positions. They had
scarcely occupied them when the bride and her maids entered, followed
almost immediately by the bridegroom and his party. The bride, attired
in her magnificent marriage robes, looking beautiful, and spotless
as an angel, was greeted with vociferous cheering. This enthusiastic
welcome over, and just when the minister was about to commence the
service, the mate, who chanced to be exactly opposite to the bride,
interrupted the proceedings by saying in the blunt but pointed manner
peculiar to sailors, ‘I presume that all the ladies and gentlemen
present have already presented the bride with their presents. I
haven’t yet had a proper opportunity of giving mine; and although it
is but small, and apparently trifling, I trust the young lady will,
nevertheless, accept and appreciate it as a token of my constant
love and devoted affection.’ He then handed to the bride a neatly
folded paper parcel, about the size of a small-sized envelope. She
nervously tore it open, and on examining the contents, she, to the
great astonishment of the assembly, exclaimed, ‘Archy, Archy, my dear!
my long absent Archy,’ and springing forward she embraced him again
and again. It is almost needless to say that the sailor’s gift was
the identical knot of blue ribbon given by Mary Macleod to Archibald
Campbell some eight years before. Mary and her betrothed, Archibald
Campbell (for it was he), were for several minutes locked fast in
each other’s embrace, and she, after the commotion produced by this
unexpected meeting had somewhat subsided, said, in an audible tone,
that she was now ready to fulfil her original engagement to her first
love, and that her father, she was quite sure, would now offer no
objections to their marriage. Fear Mharig at once replied that he had
already suffered quite enough of harrowed remorse for the part he had
previously taken in their separation to offer any further objection.
He would therefore give his full consent, for the whole matter seemed
to him to have been arranged by Providence. Young Macleod of Harris,
Campbell’s University companion, now stepped forward, and shook the
sailor warmly by the hand, giving him a thousand welcomes, and
congratulating him on coming so opportunely to claim the hand of Mary
Macleod; and Fear Mharig suggested that, as all the arrangements were
ready, and the clergyman standing there, the marriage ceremony had
better be proceeded with; which proposal was acted upon, and Archibald
Campbell and Mary Macleod were there and then made man and wife. During
the proceedings, young Hushinish, the disappointed bridegroom, stood a
silent spectator and quite dumbfounded.

The marriage ceremony over, Campbell entertained the company, relating
his travels and all the peculiar incidents which occurred during the
eight years that elapsed since he left Harris, one of which was how his
ship came to Loch-Seaforth three years before, as already noticed, how
that he himself formed one of the party of sailors who then called at
Marrig House for milk, and personally reported that he had been drowned
in the Bay of Biscay. His object in making this untrue statement
was to test his Mary’s affection; for finding that her father was
still alive, he deemed it prudent not to make himself known. He then
solemnly assured them, corroborated by his Captain, that his coming
to Loch-Seaforth two days ago, driven by the storm, was by the merest

It need hardly be said that the vessel left Loch-Seaforth minus the
first mate, who was from his marriage-day henceforth called Fear
Mharig. From Mary Macleod and Archibald Campbell, descended all the
Campbells in Harris, Lews, Uist, and Skye many of whom became famous in
their day and generation.


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