Part 4 out of 6
man he had a villainous reputation, and was regarded as one of the most
dangerous men about the court. To do him justice, he is brave and a fine
swordsman, and for choice he would rather slay with his own hands those
who offend him than by other means. Though he was but three-and-twenty at
the time I first left France he had fought half a dozen duels and killed
as many men, and several others who were known to have offended him died
suddenly. Some were killed in street brawls, returning home at night, one
or two were suspected of having been poisoned. Altogether the man was
feared and hated in those days, although, of course, none spoke their
"From what I have heard those suspicions have stuck to him ever since. He
has not been engaged in many duels, because in the first place edicts
against duelling are very strict, and in the second because his
reputation as a swordsman is so great that few would risk their lives
against him. Still all who stood in his way have somehow or other come to
a sudden end. We must therefore be on our guard night and day. He is, of
course, your most dangerous foe; but besides him must be numbered all
those who hope to obtain your mother's estates. The heirs of the marquis
doubtless feel perfectly safe from interference. There is no chance
whatever of the king dispossessing them in favour of a foreigner, so we
need not count them among your foes.
"It is just as well, Ronald, that we started tonight instead of waiting
till tomorrow. The duke is pretty certain to learn that the king's answer
will be sent this evening, and may possibly have made preparations for
you on the road; but he will hardly expect that you will start before the
morning. However, in order to be on the safe side I propose that we shall
presently turn off from the main road and avoid all large towns on our
way down to Poitiers."
"Do you think the danger is as great as that, Malcolm?"
"I do not think there is much danger, Ronald, just at present, though I
do in the future."
Travelling by byways Ronald and Malcolm arrived at Poitiers without
"I have brought you the king's answer, mother," Ronald said as he
alighted; "but before you open it I may tell you that it is unfavourable,
though I am ignorant of the precise nature of its contents. But you must
not be disappointed. Marshal Saxe bade me tell you that he considers his
honour engaged in seeing you righted, and that whenever an opportunity
occurs he will endeavour to move the king's mind in your favour. How is
"He suffers grievously from rheumatism, Ronald, and can scarce move from
As soon as they joined the colonel the countess opened the king's letter.
It was brief. "The Countess Amelie de Recambours is hereby ordered to
withdraw at once to her estate of La Grenouille and there to await the
king's pleasure concerning her."
The king's signature was affixed.
"Well, that is not so very bad," the countess said. "At any rate my right
to one of my mother's estates is recognized. La Grenouille is the
smallest of them, and contains but three or four farms. Still that will
suffice for our wants, and as it lies but twenty miles from Bordeaux the
air will be warm and soft for you, Angus."
"Is there a chateau on it, mother?"
"Yes, there is a small chateau. I was there once as a girl. It has never
been modernized, but is still a castle such as it was two hundred years
"All the better," Ronald said; and he then gave Malcolm's reasons for
their being on the watch against any sudden attack.
"He is quite right, Ronald," Colonel Leslie said. "The duke is capable of
anything. However, we will be on our guard, and if, as your mother says,
it is a fortified house, we need have no fear of any sudden attack."
"I would suggest, colonel, that I should ride to Tours," Malcolm said,
"and hire two of the men who escorted madame's carriage. They have served
in the wars and can be relied upon. They would not need high wages, for
most of the discharged soldiers have trouble enough to keep body and soul
together. With a couple of men of this kind, and two or three of the men
on the estate, I think, colonel, you need fear no sudden attack."
The colonel approved of the suggestion, and a week later, Malcolm having
returned with the two men, a carriage was hired to convey the colonel and
his wife, and so they journeyed quietly down to La Grenouille. On
arriving there they found that they were expected, the old steward in
charge having received a letter from the royal chancellor, saying that he
was to receive the countess as the owner of the estate.
The old man, who had known her mother well and remembered her visits as a
child, received the countess with respectful joy. The chateau was, as
Amelie had said, really a castle. It was surrounded by a moat filled with
water, from which the walls rose abruptly, with no windows in the lower
stories and only small loopholes in those above. Although the steward was
ignorant when his mistress might be expected, he had already caused great
fires to be lighted in all the rooms and had temporarily engaged two of
the farmer's daughters to wait upon the countess, and three stout men as
"What are the revenues of the estate?" the countess asked the steward
that evening. "My mother's other estates have not been restored to me as
yet, and I have only this to depend upon, and I do not know what
establishment I can afford to keep up."
"The revenue amounts to twelve thousand francs," he said. "There are
three large farms and four small ones. Twelve thousand francs are not
much, countess, for your mother's daughter; but they go a long way here,
where one can live for next to nothing. We have a garden which will
provide all the fruit and vegetables you require, and your poultry will
cost you nothing. The vineyard attached to the chateau furnishes more
than enough wine, and the cellars are well filled, for every year I have
put aside a few barrels, so that in fact it will be only meat you have to
"So that you think I can keep the two men I have brought with me and the
servants you have engaged?"
"Easily, madam, and more if you wished it."
"Do you think five men will be sufficient?" the countess said. "I ask
because I have powerful enemies, and in these lawless times an attack
upon a lonely house might well be carried out."
"With the drawbridge drawn up, madam, five men could hold the chateau
against a score, and the sound of the alarm bell would bring all the
tenants and their men down to your assistance. I will answer for them
all. There were great rejoicings last week when I sent round the news
that you were expected. The memory of your mother, who once resided here
for a year, is very dear to all of us, and there is not a man on the
estate but would take up arms in your defence. The sound of the alarm
bell would bring thirty stout fellows, at least, to your aid."
"Then we need not trouble on that score, Amelie," the colonel said
cheerfully. "Malcolm will see to the drawbridge tomorrow; probably it has
not been raised for years."
"I have already been examining it," Malcolm -- who had just entered the
room -- said. "It only needs a little oil and a bolt or two. I will have
it raised tonight. Things look better than I expected, colonel, and I
shall be able to return to Paris without having any anxiety upon your
"But you are not thinking of going back, Ronald?" the countess asked
anxiously. "If there is danger here for us, there must be surely danger
for you in Paris. And I want you here with us."
"I will stop for a few days, mother, and then Malcolm and I will be off.
As I have Marshal Saxe's protection I need fear no open enmity from
anyone, and as I shall be with the regiment I shall be safe from the
secret attacks; besides, my sword can guard my head."
"You have taught him to defend himself -- eh, Malcolm?" Colonel Leslie
"I," Malcolm repeated -- "I can use my sword in a melee, colonel, as you
know, and hold my own against Dutchman or German when I meet them on the
field; but Ronald is a different blade altogether. He was well taught in
Glasgow, and has practised under the best maitres d'armes in Paris since,
and I am proud to say that I do not think there are ten men in France
against whom he could not hold his own."
"That is good, that is good, indeed," the colonel said, delighted.
"Malcolm, I feel my obligations to you more and more every day. Truly I
had never even hoped that if my son were ever to be restored to me, I
should have such cause to be proud of him."
"But why do you think you had better return to Paris, Ronald?" his mother
"Because, mother, it will not do to let your enemies have entirely their
own way now that you have been so far restored. Doubtless your family
will be the more inclined to aid you with their influence, but there must
be somebody to urge them to do so."
"Besides, Amelie," the colonel put in, "we must not cage the lad here at
your apron strings. He has already won Saxe's regard and protection by
his conduct in the field, and can now accept a commission in the old
regiment. He has begun well, and may yet live to command it. No, no, my
love. I should like to keep him here as much as you would, but in every
way it is better that he should go out and take his place in the world.
To you and me, after our long imprisonment, this place is life, freedom,
and happiness, and we are together; but for him it is a dreary little
country chateau, and he would soon long for a life among men."
And so, after three weeks' stay at the chateau, Ronald and Malcolm rode
back to Paris, and the former received a week later a commission through
Marshal Saxe in the Scottish Dragoons. That regiment had returned from
the frontier, and Ronald at once took his place in its ranks, and was
heartily received by all the officers, to whom he was formally introduced
by Colonel Hume as the son of their former commanding officer.
A short time afterwards it became the turn of duty of the Scottish
Dragoons to furnish guards for a week at Versailles, and Colonel Hume
took down two troops for that purpose. That to which Ronald belonged was
one of them. Ronald, knowing that for the present he was not in favour
with the king, begged the colonel to put him on duty as often as
possible, so that he might avoid the necessity of being present at the
king's audiences with the other officers.
He was one day walking with the colonel and several other officers in the
grounds at a distance from the palace, when they came, at the turn of the
walk, upon the Duc de Chateaurouge and three other gentlemen of the
court. The former stopped abruptly before Colonel Hume.
"I had the honour, Colonel Hume, to speak to you some time since of a
volunteer in your regiment who chose to call himself the name of Leslie.
I understand he is now an officer. I see by the lists in the courtyard
that a Cornet Leslie is now on duty here. Where does he hide himself, for
I have been seeking in vain to meet him?"
"Cornet Leslie is not one to balk any man's desire that way," Colonel
Hume said gravely. "This is Cornet Leslie."
Ronald stepped forward and looked the duke calmly in the face.
"So this is the young cockerel," the duke said contemptuously. "A worthy
son of a worthy father, I doubt not."
"At any rate, my lord duke," Ronald said quietly, "I do not rid myself of
my foes by getting those I am afraid to meet as man to man thrown into
prison, nor by setting midnight assassins upon them. Nor do I rely upon
my skill as a swordsman to be a bully and a coward."
The duke started as if struck.
"I had made up my mind to kill you, young sir," he said, "sooner or
later; but you have brought it on yourself now. Draw, sir!" And the duke
drew his sword.
Colonel Hume and several others threw themselves before Ronald.
"Put up your sword, sir. Duelling is forbidden, and you know the
consequence of drawing within the precincts of the palace."
"What care I for ordinances!" the duke said furiously. "Stand aside,
gentlemen, lest I do you harm!"
"Harm or no harm," Colonel Hume said sternly, "my young friend shall not
fight in the palace grounds. I protest against his being forced into a
duel at all; but at any rate he shall not fight here."
The duke looked for a moment as if he was about to spring upon Colonel
Hume, but he saw by their faces that his companions also were against
him. For the consequences of drawing a sword within the precincts of a
palace were so serious, that even the most powerful nobles shrank from
"Very well," he said at last, thrusting his sword back into its scabbard.
"It is but ten minutes' walk to the boundary wall, I will let him live
So saying he started off with rapid strides down the walk, followed at a
slower pace by the rest.
CHAPTER XII: The End of the Quarrel.
"This is a serious business, Leslie," the colonel said in a low voice.
"If it had been anyone but you I should have ordered him to the barracks
at once under pain of arrest, and have laid the matter before the king,
for it would have been nothing short of murder. But I can trust you to
hold your own even against the Duke of Chateaurouge. And, in truth, after
what has been said, I do not see that you can do other but meet him."
"I would not avoid it if I could," Ronald said. "His insults to me do not
disturb me; but I have my father's wrongs to avenge."
"Forbes," the colonel said to one of the other officers, "do you go
straight to the barracks, bid Leslie's man saddle his own horse and his
master's instantly, and bring them round outside the wall of the park. If
Leslie wounds or kills his man he will have to ride for it."
The officer at once hurried away.
"Ronald, I will tell you a piece of news I heard this morning. The young
Chevalier left Paris secretly five days ago, and I have received certain
private information this morning that he has gone to Nantes, and that he
is on the point of sailing for Scotland on his own account. I am told
that this plan of his is known to but five or six persons. If you get
safely through this business mount and ride thither at all speed. They
are more likely to pursue you towards the frontier or the northern ports,
and will not think you have made for Nantes. If you get there before the
prince has sailed, present yourself to him and join his expedition. The
king will be furious at first, both at the loss of his favourite and the
breaking of the edicts; but he must come round. The gentlemen here with
the duke are all honourable men, and were, I could see, shocked at the
insult which the duke passed on you. Therefore I can rely upon them to
join me in representing the matter in its true light to the king. Before
you return, the matter will have blown over, and it may be that the
removal of your father's most powerful enemy may facilitate an
arrangement. In any case, my dear boy, you can rely upon the marshal and
myself to look after your interests."
They had now reached a wicket gate in the wall of the park. The duke was
standing a few paces distant, having already removed his coat and turned
up the shirt sleeve of the sword arm.
"You will act as second, marquis?" he said to one of the gentlemen.
The latter bowed coldly.
"I act as second to my friend Leslie," Colonel Hume said. "And I call
upon you all, gentlemen, to bear witness in the future, that this
encounter has been wantonly forced upon him by the Duc de Chateaurouge,
and that Cornet Leslie, as a man of honour, has no alternative whatever
but to accept the challenge forced upon him."
Ronald had by this time stripped to his shirt sleeves. The seconds took
the two swords and compared their length. They were found to be as nearly
as possible the same. They were then returned to their owners. A piece of
even turf was selected, and a position chosen in which the light was
equally favourable to both parties. Then both fell into position on
guard, and as the rapiers crossed Colonel Hume said solemnly:
"May God defend the right!"
An instant later they were engaged in deadly conflict. It lasted but a
few seconds. The duke, conscious of his own skill, and believing that he
had but a lad to deal with, at once attacked eagerly, desirous of
bringing the contest to a termination before there was any chance of
interruption. He attacked, then, carelessly and eagerly, and made a
furious lunge which he thought would terminate the encounter at once; but
Ronald did not give way an inch, but parrying in carte, slipped his blade
round that of the duke, feinted in tierce, and then rapidly disengaging,
lunged in carte as before. The blade passed through the body of his
adversary, and the lunge was given with such force that the pommel of his
sword struck against the ribs. The duke fell an inert mass upon the
ground as Ronald withdrew the rapier.
An exclamation of surprise and alarm broke from the three gentlemen who
had accompanied the duke, while Colonel Hume said gravely:
"God has protected the right. Ah! here come the horses! Mount and ride,
Leslie, and do not spare the spurs. I should advise you," he said,
drawing him aside, "to take the northern route for a few miles, so as to
throw them off the scent. When you get to Nantes search the inns till you
find the Duke of Athole, he is an intimate friend of mine, and it was
from him I learned in strict secrecy of the prince's intentions. Show him
this ring, he knows it well, and tell him I sent you to join him; say
nothing at first as to this business here. Your own name and my name will
be enough. He will introduce you to Prince Charlie, who will be with him
under a disguised name. May God bless you, my lad! We will do our best
for you here."
At this moment Malcolm arrived with the two horses.
"Thank God you are safe, Ronald!" he exclaimed as Ronald leapt into his
saddle, and with a word of thanks and adieu to the colonel dashed off at
Colonel Hume then rejoined the group gathered round the duke. The
Scottish officers were looking very grave, the courtiers even more so.
They had from the first recognized fully that the duel had been provoked
by the duke, and had accompanied him reluctantly, for they regarded the
approaching conflict as so unfair that it would excite a strong amount of
feeling against all who had a hand in the matter. As to the edict against
duelling, it had not concerned them greatly, as they felt sure that with
the duke's influence the breach of the law would be passed over with only
a show of displeasure on the part of the king, and an order to absent
themselves for a short time from court. The contingency that this young
Scottish officer, who had scarcely yet attained the age of manhood,
should kill one of the best swordsmen in France had not occurred to them;
but this had happened, and there could be no doubt that the king's anger,
alike at the loss of his favourite and at the breach of the law, would
fall heavily on all concerned, and that a prolonged exile from court was
the least evil they could expect. Not a word had been spoken after they
had, on stooping over the duke, found that death had been instantaneous,
until Colonel Hume joined them.
"Well, gentlemen," he said; "this is a bad business, and means trouble
for us all. His majesty will be vastly angry. However, the duke brought
it upon himself, and is the only person to blame. His character is pretty
well known, and it will be manifest that if he had made up his mind to
fight no remonstrance on your part would have availed to induce him to
abstain from doing so. At the same time the king will not, in the first
burst of his anger, take that into consideration, and for awhile we shall
no doubt all of us suffer from his displeasure; but I do not think that
it will be lasting. The duke forced on the duel, and would have fought
within the royal park had we not interfered, and we were in a way forced
to be present. I propose that we return to the palace and give notice of
what has occurred. Captain Forbes, as you were not present at the affair,
and will not therefore be called upon to give any account of it, will you
remain here until they send down to fetch the body?
"We will, if you please, gentlemen, walk slowly, for every mile that
Leslie can put between him and Versailles is very important. The news
will reach the king's ears very shortly after we have made it public. You
and I, marquis, as the seconds in the affair, are sure to be sent for
first. As, fortunately, we were both present at the quarrel we are both
in a position to testify that the duke brought his fate upon himself,
that there was no preventing the duel, and that had we refused to act he
was in a frame of mind which would have driven him to fight without
seconds if none had been forthcoming; lastly, we can testify that the
combat was a fair one, and that the duke fell in consequence of the
rashness of his attack and his contempt for his adversary, although in
point of fact I can tell you that young Leslie is so good a swordsman
that I am confident the result would in any case have been the same."
"I suppose there's nothing else for it," the marquis grumbled. "I must
prepare myself for a prolonged visit to my country estates."
"And I shall no doubt be placed under arrest for some time," Colonel Hume
said; "and the regiment will probably be packed off to the frontier
again. However, these things don't make much difference in the long run.
What I am most anxious about, marquis, is that his majesty should
thoroughly comprehend that Leslie was not to blame, and that this affair
was so forced upon him that it was impossible for him to avoid it. There
is much more than the lad's own safety dependent on this."
"You may be sure, colonel, that I will do him justice."
At a slow pace the party proceeded until they neared the palace, when
they quickened their steps. The marquis proceeded immediately to the
apartments occupied by the duke, and told his domestics that their master
had been killed in a duel, and directed them to obtain assistance and
proceed at once to the spot where his body would be found. The colonel
went to the king's surgeon, and told him of what had taken place.
"His death was instantaneous," he said; "the sword passed right through
him, and I believe touched the heart. However, it will be as well that
you should go and see the body, as the king will be sure to ask
particulars as to the wound."
The rest of the party joined their acquaintances, and told them what had
happened, and the news spread quickiy through the palace. It created a
great sensation. Breaches of the edict were not unfrequent; but the death
of so powerful a noble, a chief favourite, too, of the king, took it
altogether out of the ordinary category of such events. The more so since
the duke's reputation as a swordsman and a duellist was so great that men
could scarce believe that he had been killed by a young officer who had
but just joined the regiment. It seemed like the story of David and
Goliath over again. A quarter of an hour later a court official
approached Colonel Hume and the Marquis de Vallecourt, who were standing
together surrounded by a number of courtiers and officers.
"Monsieur le Marquis and Colonel Hume," he said, saluting them; "I regret
to say that I am the bearer of the orders of his majesty that you shall
deliver me your swords, and that you will then accompany me to the king's
The two gentlemen handed over their swords to the official, and followed
him to the king's presence. Louis was pacing angrily up and down his
"What is this I hear, gentlemen?" he exclaimed as they entered. "A breach
of the edicts here at Versailles, almost in the boundaries of the park;
and that the Duc de Chateaurouge, one of my most valued officers and
friends has been killed; they tell me that you acted as seconds in the
"They have told your majesty the truth," the marquis said; "but I think
that, much as we regret what has happened, we could scarcely have acted
otherwise than we did. The duke drew in the first place within the limits
of the park, and would have fought out his quarrel there had we not, I
may almost say forcibly, intervened. Then he strode away towards the
boundary of the park, calling upon his antagonist to follow him; and had
we not gone the encounter would have taken place without seconds or
witnesses, and might then have been called a murder instead of a duel."
"You should have arrested him, sir," the king exclaimed, "for drawing in
"Perhaps we should have done so, sire; but you must please to remember
that the Duke of Chateaurouge was of a temper not to be crossed, and I
believe that bloodshed would have taken place had we endeavoured to
thwart him. He enjoyed your majesty's favour, and a forcible arrest, with
perhaps the shedding of blood, in the royal demesne would have been a
scandal as grave as that of this duel."
"How did it come about?" the king asked abruptly.
"The duke was walking with De Lisle, St. Aignan, and myself, when we
suddenly came upon Colonel Hume with three of the officers of his
regiment. The duke at once walked up to them and addressed Colonel Hume,
and finding which of his companions was Monsieur Leslie, addressed him in
terms of so insulting a nature that they showed that he had been waiting
for the meeting to provoke a quarrel. The young officer replied perfectly
calmly, but with what I must call admirable spirit and courage, which so
infuriated the duke, that, as I have already had the honour of telling
your majesty, he drew at once, and when we interfered he called upon him
to proceed forthwith outside the park, and there settle the quarrel. We
most reluctantly accompanied him, and determined to interfere at the
first blood drawn; but the affair scarcely lasted for a second. The duke
threw himself furiously and rashly upon the lad, for as your majesty is
aware, he is but little more. The latter, standing firm, parried with
admirable coolness, and in an instant ran the duke right through the
"But I have always heard," the king said, "that the duke was one of the
best swordsmen in the army."
"Your majesty has heard correctly," Colonel Hume replied; "but young
Leslie is one of the best swordsmen in France. The duke's passion and
rashness led to the speedy termination of the duel; but had he fought
with his accustomed coolness I believe that Leslie would have turned out
"But what was the cause of the quarrel? Why should the Duc de
Chateaurouge fix a dispute, as you tell me he did, upon this officer of
"I believe, sire, that it was a long standing quarrel. The duke's words
showed that he bore an enmity against the lad's father, and that it was
on this account that he insulted the son."
"Leslie!" the king exclaimed, with a sudden recollection. "Is that the
youth whom Marshal Saxe presented to me?"
"The same, sire; the lad who distinguished himself at Fontenoy, and whom
the Marshal afterwards appointed to a commission in my regiment, in which
he had served as a gentleman volunteer for nearly a year."
"These Leslies are always causing trouble," the king said angrily. "I
have already given orders that he shall be arrested wherever he is found,
and he shall be punished as he deserves."
"In punishing him," Colonel Hume said with grave deference, "I am sure
that your majesty will not forget that this quarrel was forced upon him,
and that, had he accepted the insults of the Duke of Chateaurouge, he
would have been unworthy to remain an officer of your majesty."
"Silence, sir!" the king said angrily. "You will return immediately to
Paris, under arrest, until my pleasure in your case is notified to you. I
shall at once give orders that your troops here are replaced by those of
a regiment whose officers will abstain from brawling and breaking the
edicts in our very palace. Marquis, you will retire at once to your
estates." The two gentlemen bowed and left the royal presence.
"Not worse than I expected," the marquis said, after the door had closed
behind them. "Now he will send for St. Aignan and De Lisle, and will hear
their account, and as it cannot but tally with ours the king must see
that the duke brought his fate upon himself. Louis is not unjust when his
temper cools down, and in a few weeks we shall meet again here."
"I expect to be on the frontier with my regiment before that," Colonel
Hume replied; "but as I would rather be there than in Paris that will be
Colonel Hume at once mounted and rode back to Paris and proceeded
straight to the hotel of Marshal Saxe, to whom he communicated what had
"If Leslie gets safely away it will, perhaps, all turn out for the best,"
the marshal said. "As soon as the king's anger dies out I will begin to
plead the cause of the boy's parents; and now that the influence of
Chateaurouge the other way is withdrawn, I may hope for a more favourable
hearing. As to the lad himself, we will make his peace in a few months.
The king is brave himself, as he showed when under fire at Fontenoy, and
he admires bravery in others, and when he has once got over the loss of
Chateaurouge he will appreciate the skill and courage which the lad
showed in an encounter with one of the most noted duellists in France.
Now, too, that the duke has gone, some of the stories to his
disadvantage, of which there are so many current, are likely to meet the
king's ears. Hitherto no one has ventured to speak a word against so
powerful a favourite; but the king's eyes will soon be open now, and he
will become ashamed of so long having given his countenance to a man who
is generally regarded as having not only killed half-a-dozen men in
duels, but as having procured the removal, by unfair means, of a score of
others. When he knows the truth the king is likely to do justice, not
only to young Leslie, but to his parents. I only hope that they will not
manage to overtake the lad before he reaches the frontier, for although I
can rely on the king's justice when he is cool I would not answer for it
just at present."
As Ronald rode off at full speed with Malcolm he related to him the whole
circumstances of the quarrel and subsequent duel.
"It was well done, Ronald. I made sure that sooner or later you and the
duke would get to blows, that is if he did not adopt other means to get
you removed from his path; anyhow I am heartily glad it's over, and that
the most dangerous enemy of your father and yourself is out of the way.
And now we must hope that we sha'nt be overtaken before we get to the
frontier. The danger is that orders for your arrest will be passed by
"We are not going to the frontier, Malcolm; I am only riding this way to
throw them off the scent. We are going to Nantes."
"Well, that's not a bad plan," Malcolm said. "They are not so likely to
send orders there as to the northern ports. But it will not be easy to
get a vessel to cross, for you see, now that we are at war with England,
there is little communication. However, we shall no doubt be able to
arrange with a smuggler to take us across."
"We are not going to England, Malcolm; we are going direct to Scotland.
Colonel Hume has told me a secret: Prince Charles has gone down to Nantes
and is going to cross at once to Scotland."
"What! Alone and without an army!" Malcolm exclaimed in astonishment.
"I suppose he despairs of getting assistance from Louis. Now that
Fontenoy has put an end to danger on the frontier the King of France is
no longer interested in raising trouble for George at home."
"But it is a mad scheme of the prince's," Malcolm said gravely. "If his
father did not succeed in '15 how can he expect to succeed now?"
"The country has had all the longer time to get sick of the Hanoverians,
and the gallantry of the enterprise will appeal to the people. Besides,
Malcolm, I am not so sure that he will not do better coming alone than if
he brought the fifteen thousand men he had at Dunkirk last year with him.
Fifteen thousand men would not win him a kingdom, and many who would join
him if he came alone would not do so if he came backed by an army of
foreigners. It was the French, you will remember, who ruined his
grandfather's cause in Ireland. Their arrogance and interference
disgusted the Irish, and their troops never did any fighting to speak of.
For myself, I would a thousand times rather follow Prince Charles
fighting with an army of Scotsmen for the crown of Scotland than fight
for him with a French army against Englishmen."
"Well, perhaps you are right, Ronald; it went against the grain at
Fontenoy; for after all, as you said, we are closely akin in blood and
language to the English, and although Scotland and France have always
been allies it is very little good France has ever done us. She has
always been glad enough to get our kings to make war on England whenever
she wanted a diversion made, but she has never put herself out of the way
to return the favour. It has been a one sided alliance all along.
Scotland has for centuries been sending some of her best blood to fight
as soldiers in France, but with a few exceptions no Frenchman has ever
drawn his sword for Scotland.
"No, I am inclined to think you are right, Ronald, and especially after
what we saw at Fontenoy I have no wish ever to draw sword again against
the English, and am willing to be the best friends in the world with them
if they will but let us Scots have our own king and go away peacefully. I
don't want to force Prince Charles upon them if they will but let us have
him for ourselves. If they won't, you know, it is they who are
responsible for the quarrel, not us."
"That is one way of putting it, certainly," Ronald laughed. "I am afraid
after having been one kingdom since King James went to London, they won't
let us go our own way without making an effort to keep us; but here is a
crossroad, we will strike off here and make for the west."
They avoided the towns on their routes, for although they felt certain
that they were ahead of any messengers who might be sent out with orders
for their arrest, they knew that they might be detained for some little
time at Nantes, and were therefore anxious to leave no clue of their
passage in that direction. On the evening of the third day after starting
they approached their destination.
On the first morning after leaving Versailles they had halted in wood a
short distance from Chartres, and Malcolm had ridden in alone and had
purchased a suit of citizen's clothes for Ronald, as the latter's uniform
as an officer of the Scotch Dragoons would at once have attracted notice.
Henceforward, whenever they stopped, Malcolm had taken an opportunity to
mention to the stable boy that he was accompanying his master, the son of
an advocate of Paris, on a visit to some relatives in La Vendee. This
story he repeated at the inn where they put up at Nantes.
The next morning Malcolm went round to all the inns in the town, but
could hear nothing of the Duke of Athole, so he returned at noon with the
news of his want of success.
"They may have hired a private lodging to avoid observation," Ronald
said, "or, not improbably, may have taken another name. The best thing we
can do is to go down to the river side, inquire what vessels are likely
to leave port soon, and then, if we see anyone going off to them, to
accost them. We may hear of them in that way."
Accordingly they made their way down to the river. There were several
vessels lying in the stream, in readiness to sail when the wind served,
and the mouth of the river was reported to be clear of any English
cruisers. They made inquiries as to the destination of the vessels. All
the large ones were sailing for Bordeaux or the Mediterranean ports of
"What is that little vessel lying apart from the rest?" Malcolm asked.
"She looks a saucy little craft."
"That is the privateer La Doutelle, one of the fastest little vessels on
the coast. She has brought in more than one English merchantman as a
As they were speaking a boat was seen to leave her side and make for the
shore. With a glance at Malcolm to break off his conversation with the
sailor and follow him, Ronald strode along the bank towards the spot
where the boat would land. Two gentlemen got out and advanced along the
quay. As they passed Ronald said to Malcolm:
"I know one of those men's faces."
"Do you, Ronald? I cannot recall having seen them."
Ronald stood for a moment in thought.
"I know now!" he exclaimed. "And he is one of our men, sure enough."
"I think, sir," he said as he came up to them, "that I have had the
honour of meeting you before."
A look of displeasure came across the gentleman's face.
"I think you are mistaken, sir," he said coldly. "You must take me for
some one else. My name is Verbois -- Monsieur Verbois of Le Mans."
"I have not the pleasure of knowing Monsieur Verbois," Ronald said with a
slight smile; "but I hardly think, sir, that that is the name that you
went by when I had the honour of meeting you in Glasgow more than two
"In Glasgow!" the gentleman said, looking earnestly at Ronald. "In
Glasgow! I do not remember you."
"I had the pleasure of doing you some slight service, nevertheless,"
Ronald said quietly, "when I brought you news that your enemies were upon
you, and managed to detain them while you made your escape through the
"A thousand pardons!" the gentleman exclaimed, speaking in English. "How
could I have forgotten you? But I saw you for such a short time, and two
years have changed you greatly. This is the young gentleman, marquis, to
whom I am indebted for my escape when I was so nearly captured at
Glasgow, as you have heard me say. It was to his kindly warning in the
first place, and to his courage in the second, that I owed my liberty. It
is wonderful that you should remember me."
"Two years have not changed you as much as they have changed me," Ronald
said; "besides, you were busy in destroying papers, while I had nothing
to do but to watch you."
"That is so," the gentleman agreed. "At any rate I am heartily glad of
the happy chance which has thrown us together, and has given me an
opportunity of expressing to you the deep gratitude which I have felt for
your warning and assistance. Had it not been for that, not only should I
myself have been taken, but they would have got possession of those
papers, which might have brought the heads of a score of the best blood
of Scotland to the scaffold. I took a boat that was lying in readiness,
and making down the river got on board a ship which was cruising there
awaiting me, and got off. It has always been a matter of bitter regret to
me that I never learned so much as the name of the brave young gentleman
to whom I owed so much, or what had happened to him for his share in that
"My name is Ronald Leslie, sir. I am the son of Leslie of Glenlyon, who
fought with the Chevalier in '15, and afterwards entered the service of
the King of France, and was colonel of the 2nd Scorch Dragoons."
"Of course I knew him well," the gentleman said, "and with others
endeavoured to obtain his pardon when he fell under the king's
displeasure some fifteen years ago, although I regret to say without
success. Believe me, if Prince Charles --" He stopped suddenly as his
companion touched him.
"You would say, sir," Ronald said with a smile, "If Prince Charles
succeeds in his present enterprise, and regains his throne, you will get
him to exert his influence to obtain my father's release."
The two gentlemen gave an exclamation of astonishment.
"How do you know of any enterprise that is meditated?"
"I was told of it as a secret by a Scotch officer in Paris, and am the
bearer of a message from him to the Duke of Athole, to ask him to allow
me to join the prince."
"I am the duke," the other gentleman said.
"Since it is you, sir, I may tell you that the officer I spoke of is
Colonel Hume, and that he bade me show you this ring, which he said you
would know, as a token that my story was a correct one."
"Hume is my greatest friend," the duke exclaimed, "and his introduction
would be sufficient, even if you had not already proved your devotion to
the cause of the Stuarts. I will take you at once to the prince. But," he
said, "before I do so, I must tell you that the enterprise upon which we
are about to embark is a desperate one. The prince has but five
companions with him, and we embark on board that little privateer lying
in the stream. It is true that we shall be escorted by a man of war,
which will convey the arms which Prince Charles has purchased for the
enterprise; but not a man goes with us, and the prince is about to trust
wholly to the loyalty of Scotland."
"I shall be ready to accompany him in any case, sir," Ronald said, "and I
beg to introduce to you a faithful friend of my father and myself. His
name is Malcolm Anderson. He fought for the Chevalier in '15, and
accompanied my father in his flight to France, and served under him in
the French service. Upon the occasion of my father's arrest he carried me
to Scotland, and has been my faithful friend ever since."
So saying he called Malcolm up and presented him to the duke, and the
party then proceeded to the lodging where Prince Charles was staying.
"I have the misfortune to be still ignorant of your name, sir," Ronald
said to his acquaintance of Glasgow.
"What!" the gentleman said in surprise. "You do not know my name, after
doing so much for me! I thought, as a matter of course, that when you
were captured for aiding my escape you would have heard it, hence my
remissness in not introducing myself. I am Colonel Macdonald. When you
met me I was engaged in a tour through the Highland clans, sounding the
chiefs and obtaining additions to the seven who had signed a declaration
in favour of the prince three years before. The English government had
obtained, through one of their spies about the person of the Chevalier,
news of my mission, and had set a vigilant watch for me."
"But is it possible that there can be spies among those near the
Chevalier!" Ronald exclaimed in astonishment.
"Aye, there are spies everywhere," Macdonald said bitterly. "All sorts of
people come and go round the Chevalier and round Prince Charles. Every
Scotch or Irish vagabond who has made his native country too hot to hold
him, come to them and pretend that they are martyrs to their loyalty to
the Stuarts; and the worst of it is their story is believed. They flatter
and fawn, they say just what they are wanted to say, and have no opinion
of their own, and the consequence is that the Chevalier looks upon these
fellows as his friends, and often turns his back upon Scottish gentlemen
who have risked and lost all in his service, but who are too honest to
flatter him or to descend to the arts of courtiers. Look at the men who
are here with the prince now."
"Macdonald! Macdonald!" the duke said warmly.
"Well, well," the other broke off impatiently; "no doubt it is better to
hold one's tongue. But it is monstrous, that when there are a score, ay,
a hundred of Scottish gentlemen of family, many of them officers with a
high knowledge of war, who would gladly have accompanied him at the first
whisper of his intentions, the prince should be starting on such a
venture as this with yourself only, duke, as a representative of the
Scottish nobles and chiefs, and six or eight mongrels -- Irish, English,
and Scotch -- the sort of men who haunt the pot houses of Flanders, and
spend their time in telling what they have suffered in the Stuart cause
to any who will pay for their liquor."
"Not quite so bad as that, Macdonald," the duke said. "Still I admit that
I could have wished that Prince Charles should have landed in Scotland
surrounded by men with names known and honoured there, rather than by
those he has selected to accompany him."
"But you are going, are you not, sir?" Ronald asked Colonel Macdonald.
"No, I do not accompany the prince; but I hope to follow shortly. As soon
as the prince has sailed it is my mission to see all his friends and
followers in France, and urge them to join him in Scotland; while we
bring all the influence we have to bear upon Louis, to induce him to
furnish arms and assistance for the expedition."
CHAPTER XIII: Prince Charles.
Upon arriving at the prince's lodgings Macdonald remained without, the
Duke of Athole entering, accompanied only by Ronald.
"The prince is in disguise," he said, "and but one or two of us visit him
here in order that no suspicion may be incited among the people of the
house that he is anything beyond what he appears to be -- a young student
of the Scotch college at Paris."
They ascended the stairs to the upper story, and on the marquis knocking,
a door was opened. The duke entered, followed by Ronald.
"Well, duke, what is the news?"
The question was asked by a young man, who was pacing restlessly up and
down the room, of which he was, with the exception of his valet de
chambre, an Italian named Michel, the person who had opened the door, the
"Ah! whom have you here?"
"Allow me to present to your royal highness Lieutenant Leslie. He is the
son of Leslie of Glenlyon, who fought by my side in your father's cause
in '15, and has, like myself, been an exile ever since. This is the young
gentleman who, two years since, saved Macdonald from arrest in Glasgow."
"Ah! I remember the adventure," the prince said courteously, "and right
gallant action it was; but how did you hear that I was here, sir?"
"I was told by my good friend and commanding officer, Colonel Hume of the
2nd Scottish Dragoons, your royal highness."
"I revealed it to Hume before leaving Paris," the duke said, "he being a
great friend of mine and as staunch as steel, and I knew that he could be
trusted to keep a secret."
"It seems that in the last particular you were wrong," the prince
remarked with a slight smile.
"Colonel Hume only revealed it to me, sir," Ronald said, anxious to save
his friend from the suspicion of having betrayed a secret confided to
him, "for very special reasons. I had the misfortune to kill in a duel
the Duke of Chateaurouge, and as we fought just outside the park of
Versailles, and the duke was a favourite of the king's, I had to ride for
it; then Colonel Hume, knowing my devotion to the cause of your highness,
whispered to me the secret of your intention, and gave me a message to
his friend the Duke of Athole."
"Do you say that you have killed the Duke of Chateaurouge in a duel?" the
duke exclaimed in astonishment. "Why, he has the reputation of being one
of the best swordsmen in France, and has a most evil name as a dangerous
and unscrupulous man. I met him constantly at court, and his arrogance
and haughtiness were well nigh insufferable. And you have killed him?"
"I knew him well too," the prince said, "and his reputation. We do not
doubt what you say, young gentleman," he added quickiy, seeing a flush
mount into Ronald's face; "but in truth it seems strange that such should
have been the case."
"Colonel Hume did me the honour to be my second," Ronald said quietly,
"and the Marquis de Vallecourt was second to the duke; some other
officers of the Scottish regiment were present, as were two other French
noblemen, De Lisle and St. Aignan."
"We doubt you not, sir," the duke said warmly. "You will understand that
it cannot but seem strange that you at your age -- for it seems to me
that you cannot be more than nineteen -- should have been able to stand
for a moment against one of the best swordsmen in France, to say nothing
of having slain him."
"Colonel Hume would scarcely have consented to act as my second had he
thought that the contest was a wholly unequal one," Ronald said with a
slight smile; "indeed I may say that he regarded it as almost certain
that I should have the best of the fray."
"Why, you must be a very Paladin," the prince said admiringly; "but sit
down and tell us all about it. Upon my word I am so sick of being cooped
up for four days in this wretched den that I regard your coming as a
godsend. Now tell me how it was that the Duc de Chateaurouge condescended
to quarrel with a young officer in the Scottish Horse."
"It was a family quarrel, sir, which I had inherited from my father."
"Yes, yes, I remember now," the Duke of Athole broke in. "It is an old
story now; but I heard all about it at the time, and did what I could, as
did all Leslie's friends, to set the matter right, but in vain. Leslie of
Glenlyon, prince, was colonel of the Scottish Dragoons, and as gallant
and dashing a soldier as ever was in the service of the King of France,
and as good looking a one too; and the result was, the daughter of the
Marquis de Recambours, one of the richest heiresses in France, whom her
father and the king destined as the bride of this Duke of Chateaurouge,
who was then quite a young man, fell in love with Leslie, and a secret
marriage took place between them. For three years no one suspected it;
but the young lady's obstinacy in refusing to obey her father's orders
caused her to be shut up in a convent. Somehow the truth came out. Leslie
was arrested and thrown into the Bastille, and he has never been heard of
since. What became of the child which was said to have been born no one
ever heard; but it was generally supposed that it had been put out of the
way. We in vain endeavoured to soften the king's anger against Leslie,
but the influence of Recambours and Chateaurouge was too great for us.
Hume told me some time since that Leslie's son had been carried off to
Scotland by one of his troopers, and had returned, and was riding as a
gentleman volunteer in his regiment; but we have had no further talk on
"You will be glad to hear, sir," Ronald said, "that my father and mother
have within the last few weeks been released, and are now living on a
small estate of my mother's in the south. They were ordered to retire
there by the king."
"I am glad, indeed," the duke said cordially; "and how is your father?"
"He is sadly crippled by rheumatism, and can scarce walk," Ronald said,
"and I fear that his health is altogether shaken with what he had to go
"How did you obtain their release, Leslie?" the prince asked.
"Marshal Saxe obtained it for me," Ronald answered. "Colonel Hume first
introduced me to him, and as he too had known my father he promised that
should he obtain a victory he would ask as a boon from the king the
release of my father, and he did so after Fontenoy, where the Marquis de
Recambours was killed, and the king thereby freed from his influence. The
Duke of Chateaurouge, whose hostility against my father had always been
bitter, was doubtless greatly irritated at his release, and took the
first opportunity, on meeting me, of grossly insulting me. On my replying
in terms in accordance with the insult, he drew, and would have fought me
in the palace grounds had not Colonel Hume and his friends interfered;
then we adjourned outside the park. The duke doubtless thought that he
would kill me without difficulty, and so rushed in so carelessly that at
the very first thrust I ran him through."
"And served him right," the prince said heartily. "Now since both your
father's enemies are gone, it may be hoped that his troubles are over,
and that your mother will recover the estates to which she is entitled.
And now, duke, what is your news? When are we going to sail?"
"The Doutelle is already by this time on her way down the river, and it
is proposed that we shall start this evening and board her there. The
stores and arms are all safely on board the Elizabeth, and she is lying
off Belleisle; so far as Mr. Walsh has heard, no suspicion has been
excited as to their purpose or destination, so that we may hope in
twenty-four hours to be fairly on board."
"That is the best news I have heard for months," the prince said; "thank
goodness the time for action is at last at hand!"
"I have, I trust, your royal highness' permission to accompany you,"
Ronald said; "together with my follower, Anderson. He is the trooper who
carried me over to Scotland as a child, and has been my faithful friend
"Certainly, Leslie. I shall be glad indeed to have a member of a family
who have proved so faithful to my father's cause with me in the adventure
upon which I am embarking."
Ronald with a few words of thanks bowed and took his leave, after
receiving instructions from the duke to start shortly and to ride down
the river towards Lorient.
"You can halt for a few hours on the road, and then ride on again; we
shall overtake you before you reach the port. We shall all leave singly
or in pairs, to avoid attracting any attention."
Ronald left, delighted with the kindness of the prince's manner. Prince
Charles was indeed possessed of all the attributes which win men's hearts
and devotion. In figure he was tall and well formed, and endowed both
with strength and activity. He excelled in all manly exercises, and was
an excellent walker, having applied himself ardently to field sports
during his residence in Italy.
He was strikingly handsome, his face was of a perfect oval, his features
high and noble, his complexion was fair, his eyes light blue, and,
contrary to the custom of the time, when wigs were almost universally
worn, he allowed his hair to fall in long ringlets on his neck. His
manner was graceful, and although he always bore himself with a sort of
royal dignity he had the peculiar talent of pleasing and attracting all
with whom he came in contact, and had the art of adapting his
conversation to the taste or station of those whom he addressed.
His education had been intrusted to Sir Thomas Sheridan, an Irish Roman
Catholic, who had grossly neglected his duties, and who indeed has been
more than suspected of acting as an agent in the pay of the British
government. The weakness in the prince's character was that he was a bad
judge of men, and inclined on all occasions to take the advice of
designing knaves who flattered and paid deference to him, rather than
that of the Scottish nobles who were risking their lives for his cause,
but who at times gave their advice with a bluntness and warmth which were
displeasing to him. It was this weakness which brought an enterprise,
which at one time had the fairest prospect of success, to destruction and
On leaving the house Ronald was joined by Malcolm, and half an hour later
they mounted their horses and rode for the mouth of the Loire. The whole
party arrived on the following day at St. Nazaire, embarking separately
on board the Doutelle, where Prince Charles, who had come down from
Nantes in a fishing boat, was received by Mr. Walsh, the owner of the
vessel. Ronald now saw gathered together the various persons who were to
accompany Prince Charles on this adventurous expedition. These were
Sheridan, the former tutor of the prince; Kelly, a non-juring clergyman,
and Sullivan -- both, like Sheridan, Irishmen; Strickland, a personage so
unimportant that while some writers call him an Englishman, others assert
that he was Irish; Aeneas Macdonald, a Scotchman; Sir John Macdonald, an
officer in the Spanish service; the prince's valet, Michel; and the Duke
of Athole, or, as he is more generally called, the Marquis of
Tullibardine, the last named being the only man of high standing or
reputation. Never did a prince start to fight for a kingdom with such a
The Doutelle weighed anchor as soon as the last of the party arrived on
deck, and under easy sail proceeded to Belleisle. Here she lay for some
days awaiting the arrival of the Elizabeth. Mr. Rutledge, a merchant at
Nantes, had obtained an order from the French court that this man of war
should proceed to cruise on the coast of Scotland, and had then arranged
with the captain of the ship to take on board the arms that had been
purchased by the prince with the proceeds of the sale of some of the
These consisted of fifteen hundred muskets, eighteen hundred broadswords,
twenty small field pieces, and some ammunition. The captain had also
agreed that the Doutelle, which only mounted eighteen small guns, should
sail in company with the Elizabeth to Scotland. As soon as the Elizabeth
was seen the Doutelle spread her sails, and keeping a short distance from
each other, the two vessels sailed north. So great was the necessity for
prudence that the prince still maintained his disguise as a Scottish
student, and, with the exception of Mr. Walsh, none of the officers and
crew of the Doutelle were acquainted with his real rank, and the various
members of his party treated him and each other as strangers.
Four days after leaving Belleisle a British man of war of fifty-eight
guns hove in sight, and crowding on all sail rapidly came up. The
Elizabeth at once prepared to engage her, signalling to the Doutelle to
do the same. The prince urged Mr. Walsh to aid the Elizabeth, but the
latter steadily refused.
He had undertaken, he said, to carry the prince to Scotland, and would do
nothing to endanger the success of the enterprise. The two vessels were
well matched, and he would not allow the Doutelle to engage in the
affair. The prince continued to urge the point, until at last Mr. Walsh
said "that unless he abstained from interference he should be forced to
order him below."
The Doutelle, therefore, stood aloof from the engagement, which lasted
for five or six hours, and sailed quietly on her course, in order to be
beyond the risk of capture should the English ship prove victorious;
neither of the vessels, however, obtained any decided advantage. Both
were so crippled in the encounter that the Elizabeth returned to France,
the Lion to Plymouth to refit. Thus the small supply of arms and
artillery which the prince had with such great trouble got together was
"Well, Ronald," Malcolm said that evening as they leant over the taffrail
together, "I do think that such a mad headed expedition as this was never
undertaken. An exiled prince, an outlawed duke, six adventurers, a valet,
and our two selves. One could laugh if one was not almost ready to cry at
the folly of invading a country like England in such a fashion."
"That is only one way of looking at it, Malcolm. We are not an army of
invasion. The prince is simply travelling with a few personal followers
to put himself at the head of an army. The affair depends, not upon us,
but upon the country. If the clans turn out to support him as they did in
'15 he will soon be at the head of some twenty thousand men. Not enough,
I grant you, to conquer England, but enough for a nucleus round which the
Lowland and English Jacobites can gather."
"Yes, it depends upon the ifs, Ronald. If all the Highland clans join,
and if there are sufficient Jacobites in the Lowlands and England to make
a large army, we may do. I have some hopes of the clans, but after what
we saw of the apathy of the English Jacobites in '15 I have no shadow of
faith in them. However, I fought for the Chevalier in '15, and I am ready
to fight for Prince Charles now as long as there is any fighting to be
done, and when that is over I shall be as ready to make for France as I
"You are certainly not enthusiastic about it, Malcolm."
"When one gets to my age, Ronald, common sense takes the place of
enthusiasm, and I have seen enough of wars to know that for business a
well appointed and well disciplined army is required. If Prince Charles
does get what you call an army, but which I should call an armed mob,
together, there will be the same dissensions, the same bickerings, the
same want of plan that there was before; and unless something like a
miracle happens it will end as the last did at Preston, in defeat and
ruin. However, lad, here we are, and we will go through with it to the
end. By the time we get back to France we must hope that King Louis will
have got over the killing of his favourite. However, I tell you frankly
that my hope is that when the Highland chiefs see that the prince has
come without arms, without men, and without even promises of support by
France, they will refuse to risk liberty and life and to bring ruin upon
their people by joining in such a mad brained adventure."
"I hope not, Malcolm," Ronald said, as he looked at the prince as he was
pacing up and down the deck with the Duke of Athole, talking rapidly, his
face flushed with enthusiasm, his clustering hair blown backward by the
wind. "He is a noble young prince. He is fighting for his own. He has
justice and right on his side, and God grant that he may succeed!"
"Amen to that, Ronald, with all my heart! But so far as my experience
goes, strength and discipline and generalship and resources go a great
deal further than right in deciding the issue of a war."
Two days later another English man of war came in sight and gave chase to
the Doutelle, but the latter was a fast sailer and soon left her pursuer
behind, and without further adventure arrived among the Western Isles,
and dropped anchor near the little islet of Erisca, between Barra and
South Uist. As they approached the island an eagle sailed out from the
rocky shore and hovered over the vessel, and the Duke of Athole pointed
it out as a favourable augury to the prince.
Charles and his companions landed at Erisca and passed the night on
shore. They found on inquiry that this cluster of islands belonged to
Macdonald of Clanranald, a young chief who was known to be attached to
the Jacobite cause. He was at present absent on the mainland, but his
uncle and principal adviser, Macdonald of Boisdale, was in South Uist.
The prince sent off one of his followers in a boat to summon him, and he
came aboard the Doutelle the next morning; but when he heard from the
prince that he had come alone and unattended he refused to have anything
to do with the enterprise, which he asserted was rash to the point of
insanity, and would bring ruin and destruction on all who took part in
The prince employed all his efforts to persuade the old chief, but in
vain, and the latter returned to his isle in a boat, while the Doutelle
pursued her voyage to the mainland and entered the Bay of Lochnanuagh, in
Inverness shire, and immediately sent a messenger to Clanranald, who came
on board shortly with Macdonald of Kinloch Moidart, and several other
They received the prince with the greatest respect, but, like Macdonald
of Boisdale, the two chiefs refused to take up arms in an enterprise
which they believed to be absolutely hopeless. In vain Prince Charles
argued and implored. The two chiefs remained firm, until the prince
suddenly turned to a younger brother of Moidart, who stood listening to
the conversation, and with his fingers clutching the hilt of his
broadsword as he heard the young prince, whom he regarded as his future
king, in vain imploring the assistance of his brother and kinsmen.
"Will you at least not assist me?" the prince exclaimed.
"I will, I will!" Ranald Macdonald exclaimed. "Though no other man in the
Highlands shall draw a sword, I am ready to die for you."
The enthusiasm of the young man was catching, and throwing to the winds
their own convictions and forebodings, the two Macdonalds declared that
they also would join, and use every exertion to engage their countrymen.
The clansmen who had come on board the ship without knowing the object of
the visit were now told who the prince was, and they expressed their
readiness to follow to the death. Two or three days later, on the 25th of
July, Prince Charles landed and was conducted to Borodale, a farmhouse
belonging to Clanranald.
Charles at once sent off letters to the Highland chiefs whom he knew to
be favourable to the Stuart cause. Among these the principal were Cameron
of Locheil, Sir Alexander Macdonald, and Macleod. Locheil immediately
obeyed the summons, but being convinced of the madness of the enterprise
he came, not to join the prince, but to dissuade him from embarking in
it. On his way he called upon his brother, Cameron of Fassefern, who
agreed with his opinion as to the hopelessness of success, and urged him
to write to the prince instead of going to see him.
"I know you better than you know yourself," he said. "If the prince once
sets eyes upon you, he will make you do whatever he pleases."
Locheil, however, persisted in going, convinced that the prince would, on
his representation, abandon the design. For a long time he stood firm,
until the prince exclaimed:
"I am resolved to put all to the hazard. In a few days I will erect the
royal standard and proclaim to the people of Britain that Charles Stuart
is come over to claim the crown of his ancestors or perish in the
attempt. Locheil, who my father has often told me was our firmest friend,
may stay at home and learn from the newspapers the fate of his prince."
Locheil's resolution melted at once at these words, and he said:
"Not so. I will share the fate of my prince whatsoever it be, and so
shall every man over whom nature or fortune hath given me power."
The conversion of Locheil was the turning point of the enterprise. Upon
the news of the prince's landing spreading, most of the other chiefs had
agreed that if Locheil stood aloof they would not move; and had he
remained firm not a man would have joined the prince's standard, and he
would have been forced to abandon the enterprise. Sir Alexander Macdonald
and Macleod, instead of going to see the prince, had gone off together,
on the receipt of his letter, to the Isle of Skye, so as to avoid an
interview. Clanranald was despatched by Prince Charles to see them, but
they declined to join, urging with the truth that the promises which they
had given to join in a rising were contingent upon the prince arriving at
the head of a strong French force with arms and supplies. They therefore
refused at present to move. Others, however, were not so cautious. Fired
by the example of Locheil, and by their own traditions of loyalty to the
Stuarts' cause, many of the lesser chiefs at once summoned their
followers to the field. With the majority the absence of French troops
had the exactly opposite effect that it had had with Sir Alexander
Macdonald and Macleod. Had the prince landed with a French army they
might have stood aloof and suffered him to fight out his quarrel unaided;
but his arrival alone and unattended, trusting solely and wholly to the
loyalty of the Scottish people, made an irresistible appeal to their
generous feelings, and although there were probably but few who did not
foresee that failure, ruin, and death would be the result of the
enterprise, they embarked in the cause with as much ardour as if their
success had been certain.
From Borodale, after disembarking the scanty treasure of four thousand
louis d'or which he had brought with him and a few stands of arms from
the Doutelle, Charles proceeded by water to Kinloch Moidart.
Mr. Walsh sailed in the Doutelle, after receiving the prince's warmest
thanks, and a letter to his father in Rome begging him to grant Mr. Walsh
an Irish earldom as a reward for the services he had rendered, a
recommendation which was complied with.
The chiefs soon began to assemble at Moidart, and the house became the
centre of a picturesque gathering.
Ronald had now put aside the remembrance of Malcolm's forebodings, and
entered heart and soul into the enterprise. He had in Glasgow frequently
seen Highlanders in their native dress, but he had not before witnessed
any large gathering, and he was delighted with the aspect of the sturdy
mountaineers in their picturesque garb.
The prince had at once laid aside the attire in which he had landed and
had assumed Highland costume, and by the charm and geniality of his
manner he completely won the hearts of all who came in contact with him.
Among those who joined him at Moidart was Murray of Broughton, a man who
was destined to exercise as destructive an influence on the prince's
fortune as had Mr. Forster over that of his father. Murray had hurried
from his seat in the south, having first had a large number of
manifestoes for future distribution printed. He was at once appointed by
Charles his secretary of state.
While the gathering at Moidart was daily growing, the English remained in
ignorance of the storm which was preparing. It was not until the 30th of
July that the fact that the prince had sailed from Nantes was known in
London, and as late as the 8th of August, nearly three weeks after
Charles first appeared on the coast, the fact of his landing was unknown
to the authorities in Edinburgh.
On the 16th of August the English governor at Fort Augustus, alarmed at
the vague reports which reached him, and the sudden news that bodies of
armed Highlanders were hurrying west, sent a detachment of two companies
under Captain Scott to reinforce the advance post of Fort William.
After marching twenty miles the troops entered the narrow ravine of Spean
Bridge, when they were suddenly attacked by a party of Keppoch's clansmen
who were on their way to join the prince when they saw the English troops
on their march. They were joined by some of Locheil's clansmen, and so
heavy a fire was kept up from the heights that the English, after having
five or six men killed and many more wounded, among them their commanding
officer, were forced to lay down their arms.
They were treated with great humanity by their captors, and the wounded
were well cared for. The news of this success reached the prince on the
day before that fixed for the raising of his standard, the 19th of
August, and added to the enthusiasm which prevailed among the little
force gathered in Glenfinnan, where the ceremony took place. The glen lay
about halfway between Borodale and Fort William, both being about fifteen
miles distant. The gathering consisted principally of the Camerons of
Locheil, some six hundred strong, and they brought with them two English
companies captured on the 16th, disarmed and prisoners.
The Duke of Athole performed the ceremony of unfurling the banner. He was
the heir to the dukedom of Athole, but had been exiled for taking part in
the rising of '15 and the dukedom bestowed by the English government upon
his brother; thus among the English he was still spoken of as the Marquis
of Tullibardine, while at the French court and among the followers of the
Stuarts he was regarded as the rightful Duke of Athole.
The unfurling of the standard was greeted with loud shouts, and the
clansmen threw their bonnets high in the air. The duke then read the
manifesto of the Chevalier, and the commission of regency granted by him
to Prince Charles. After this the prince himself made an inspiring
speech, and declared that at the head of his faithful Highlanders he was
resolved to conquer or to perish.
Among the spectators of the ceremony was Captain Swetenham, an English
officer taken prisoner a few days before while on his way to assume the
command of Fort William. He had been treated with great courtesy and
kindness by the prince, who, after the ceremony, dismissed him with the
words, "You may now return to your general; tell him what you have seen,
and add that I am about to give him battle."
Soon after the conclusion of the ceremony Keppoch marched in with three
hundred of his clan, and some smaller parties also arrived. The next
morning the force marched to Locheil's house at Auchnacarrie, where the
prince was joined by the Macdonalds of Glencoe, a hundred and fifty
strong, two hundred Stuarts of Appin under their chief, and by the
younger Glengarry with two hundred more, so that the force had now
swelled to sixteen hundred men.
"We begin to look like an army," Ronald said to Malcolm.
"Well, yes," the latter replied drily, "we are rather stronger than one
regiment and not quite so strong as two; still, if things go on like this
we shall ere very long have mounted up to the strength of a brigade; but
even a brigade, Ronald, does nor go very far towards the conquest of a
kingdom, especially when only about one man in three has got a musket,
and so far there are neither cavalry nor artillery. Still, you know,
these things may come."
Ronald laughed gaily at his companion's want of faith. He himself had now
caught the enthusiasm which pervaded all around. It was true that as yet
the prince's adherents were but a handful, but it was not to be expected
that an army would spring from the ground. Promises of assistance had
come from all quarters, and if the army was a small one the English army
in Scotland was but little larger, and if a first success could be
achieved, all Scotland might be expected to rise, and the news would
surely influence the Jacobites of England to declare for the prince.
Sir John Cope, the English officer commanding the English forces in
Scotland, at the first rumour of troubles had ordered his troops to
assemble at Stirling. He had with him two regiments of dragoons,
Gardiner's and Hamilton's, both young regiments, and the whole force at
his disposal, exclusive of troops in garrison, did not exceed three
thousand men. With these he proposed to march at once to the west, and
crush the rebellion before it gained strength. The English government
approved of his proposal, and sent him a proclamation offering a reward
of thirty thousand pounds to any person who should seize and secure the
pretended Prince of Wales.
On the day of the raising of the standard Cope set out from Edinburgh for
Stirling and the next day commenced his march at the head of fifteen
hundred infantry, leaving the dragoons behind him, as these could be of
but little service among the mountains, where they would have found it
next to impossible to obtain forage for their horses. He took with him a
large quantity of baggage, a drove of black cattle for food, and a
thousand stand of arms to distribute among the volunteers who he expected
would join him. As, however, none of these came in, he sent back seven
hundred muskets to Crieff.
The first object of the march was Fort Augustus, which he intended to
make his central post. As he advanced he was met by Captain Swetenham,
who informed him of the raising of the standard and the gathering he had
witnessed. As, however, only Locheil's clansmen had arrived before
Swetenham left, Cope considered his force ample for the purpose, and
continued his march. In order to reach Fort Augustus, however, he had to
pass over Corry Arrack, a lofty and precipitous mountain which was
ascended by a military road with fifteen zigzags, known to the country as
the devil's staircase.
Prince Charles, who had received early news of the advance from Stirling,
had recognized the importance of the position, and having burned and
destroyed all baggage that would impede his progress, made a forced march
and reached Corry Arrack on the 27th, before Sir John Cope had commenced
his ascent. As Sir John saw that the formidable position was in the hands
of the enemy he felt that it would be in vain to endeavour to force it.
Each zigzag would have to be carried in turn, and the enterprise would be
a desperate one. Success would be of no great advantage, as the
Highlanders, lightly clad and active, would make off and defy pursuit;
defeat would be disastrous. He, therefore, called a council of war and
asked his officers to decide whether it would be best to remain at
Dalwhinnie at the foot of the mountain, to return to Sterling, or to
march to Inverness, where they would be joined by the well affected
clans. He himself strongly urged the last course, believing that the
prince would not venture to descend into the Lowlands while he remained
in his rear. The council of war adopted his opinion. No officer advocated
remaining inactive at Dalwhinnie, one only supported the alternative of
the retreat to Stirling, the rest agreed upon an advance to Inverness.
When it was found that Cope's army had moved away without fighting, the
exultation of the Highlanders was great. Most of the chiefs wished to
follow at once and give battle, urging that it would be hazardous to
advance south and leave the enemy to cut off their retreat; but the
prince himself saw the supreme importance of a descent into the Lowlands,
and that plan of action was decided upon.
CHAPTER XIV: Prestonpans.
Advancing in high spirits through the mountains of Badenoch, Prince
Charles with his army came down into the vale of Athole, and visited,
with Tullibardine, the castle of Blair Athole, the noble property of
which the marquis had so long been deprived, owing to his constancy to
the cause of the Stuarts, but which would again be his own were this
great enterprise successful.
From Blair Athole the little army moved on to Perth. Here they were
joined by powerful friends, of whom the principal were the young Duke of
Perth, Lord Nairn, and Lord George Murray, the younger brother of the
Marquis of Tullibardine. Lord George Murray was but ten years of age when
the events of 1715 had taken place, but four years later he came over
with the marquis with a handful of Spaniards and was wounded at the
battle of Glenshiels. The influence of the family obtained his pardon on
the plea of his extreme youth, but he remained at heart a Jacobite, and,
going to the Continent, entered the service of Sardinia, then a portion
of the possessions of the Duke of Savoy. For many years he served abroad,
and acquired a considerable reputation as an excellent officer and a most
He had, indeed, a natural genius for military operations, and had he not
been thwarted at every turn by the jealousy of Murray of Broughton, it is
by no means improbable that he would have brought the enterprise to a
successful termination and seated the Stuarts upon the throne of England.
The accession of such an officer was of the highest value to the prince.
Hitherto the army had consisted merely of wild clansmen, full of valour
and devotion but wholly undisciplined; while among those who accompanied
him, or who had joined him in Scotland, there was not a single officer of
any experience in war or any military capacity whatever. Lord George
Murray and the Duke of Perth were at once named generals in the prince's
army; but the command in reality remained entirely in the hands of
Murray, for Lord Perth, though an estimable young nobleman possessed of
considerable ability, had no military experience and was of a quiet and
Lord George Murray at once set about raising the tenantry of his brother
the Hanoverian Duke of Athole, who was absent in England, and as these
had always remained attached to the Stuart cause, and still regarded the
Marquis of Tullibardine as their rightful head, they willingly took up
arms upon Lord George Murray's bidding. Lord George decided at once that
it would be useless to attempt to drill the Highlanders into regular
soldiers, but that they must be allowed to use their national style of
fighting and trust to their desperate charge with broadsword and target
to break the enemy's ranks.
Unfortunately dissensions commenced among the leaders from the very
first. Secretary Murray, who desired to be all powerful with the prince,
saw that he should not succeed in gaining any influence over so firm and
energetic a character as Lord George Murray, while it would be easy for
him to sway the young Duke of Perth, and he was not long in poisoning the
ear of the latter against his companion in arms by representing to him
that Lord George treated him as a mere cipher, although of equal rank in
the army. The secretary's purpose was even more easily carried out with
Prince Charles. The latter was no judge of character, and fell readily
under the influence of the wily and unscrupulous Murray, who flattered
his weaknesses and assumed an air of deference to his opinions. Lord
George Murray, on the other hand, was but too prone to give offence. He
was haughty and overbearing in manner, expressed his opinions with a
directness and bluntness which were very displeasing to the prince, and,
conscious of his own military genius and experience, put aside with open
contempt the suggestions of those who were in truth ignorant of military
matters. Loyal, straightforward, and upright, he scorned to descend to
the arts of the courtier, and while devoting his whole time to his
military work, suffered his enemies to obtain the entire command of the
ear of the prince.
Ronald was introduced to him as soon as he joined at Perth, and finding
that young Leslie had had some military experience, Lord George at once
appointed him one of his aides de camp, and soon took a warm liking to
the active and energetic young officer, whose whole soul was in his work,
and who cared nothing for the courtly gatherings around the person of the
Malcolm rode as Ronald's orderly, and during the few days of their stay
in Perth, Ronald was at work from morning till night riding through the
country with messages from Lord George, and in the intervals of such duty
in trying to inculcate some idea of discipline into the wild Highland
levies. At this time Charles was using all his efforts to persuade Lord
Lovat, one of the most powerful of the northern noblemen, to join him,
offering him his patent as Duke of Fraser and the lord lieutenancy of the
Lovat, however, an utterly unscrupulous man, refused openly to join,
although he sent repeatedly assurances of his devotion. Throughout the
struggle he continued to act a double part, trying to keep friends with
both parties, but declaring for the prince at the moment when his
fortunes were at their highest. The result was that while he afforded the
prince but little real assistance, his conduct cost him his head.
Sir John Cope, finding that his march to Inverness had failed to draw the
prince after him, and had left the Lowlands and the capital open to the
insurgents, directed his march to Aberdeen, and sent to Edinburgh for
transports to bring down his army to cover that city. But Prince Charles
determined to forestall him, and on the 11th of September commenced his
march south. The age and infirmities of the Marquis of Tullibardine
prevented his accompanying Prince Charles during active operations.
It was impossible for the army to march direct against Edinburgh, as the
magistrates of that town had taken the precaution to withdraw every ship
and boat from the northern side of the Forth, and the prince was
consequently obliged to make a detour and to cross the river at the fords
eight miles above Stirling, and then marching rapidly towards Edinburgh,
arrived on the evening of the 16th within three miles of that town.
So long as the coming of the prince was doubtful the citizens of
Edinburgh had declared their willingness to defend the town to the last.
Volunteer regiments had been formed and guns placed on the walls; but
when the volunteers were ordered to march out with Hamilton's regiment of
dragoons, to oppose the advance of the insurgents, the men quitted their
ranks and stole away to their houses, leaving the dragoons to march out
alone. The latter, however, showed no greater courage than that of their
citizen allies, when on the following day they came in contact with a
party of mounted gentlemen from the prince's army, who fired their
pistols at their pickets. These rode off in haste, their panic was
communicated to the main body, whose officers in vain endeavoured to
check them, and the whole regiment galloped away in wild confusion, and
passing close under the walls of Edinburgh continued their flight,
without halting, to Preston. There they halted for the night; but one of
the troopers happening in the dark to fall into a disused well, his
shouts for assistance caused an alarm that they were attacked, and
mounting their horses the regiment continued their flight to Dunbar,
where they joined General Cope's army, which had just landed there.
This disgraceful panic added to the terror of the citizens of Edinburgh,
and when, late in the afternoon, a summons to surrender came in from
Prince Charles, the council could arrive at no decision, but sent a
deputation to the prince asking for delay, hoping thereby that Cope's
army would arrive in time to save them. But the prince was also well
aware of the importance of time, and that night he sent forward Lochiel
with five hundred Camerons to lie in ambush near the Netherbow Gate. They
took with them a barrel of powder to blow it in if necessary; but in the
morning the gate was opened to admit a carriage, and the Highlanders at
once rushed in and overpowered the guard, and sending parties through the
streets they secured these also without disturbance or bloodshed, and
when the citizens awoke in the morning they found, to their surprise,
that Prince Charles was master of the city.
The Jacobite portion of the population turned out with delight to greet
the prince, while the rest thought it politic to imitate their
enthusiasm. The Highlanders behaved with perfect order and discipline,
and although the town had, as it were, been taken by storm, no single
article of property was touched. An hour later Prince Charles, at the
head of his troops, entered the royal palace of Holyrod, being met by a
crowd of enthusiastic supporters from the city, who received him with
royal shouts and tears of joy.
In the evening a grand ball was held in the palace, in spite of the fact
that it was within range of the guns of Edinburgh Castle, which still
held out. But one day was spent in Edinburgh. This was occupied in
serving out about a thousand muskets found in the magazines to the
Highlanders, and in obtaining tents, shoes, and cooking vessels, which
the town was ordered to supply. They were joined during the day by many
gentlemen, and on the night of the 19th the army, two thousand five
hundred strong, of whom only fifty were mounted, moved out to the village
of Duddingston. There the prince that evening called a council of war,
and proposed to march next morning to meet the enemy halfway, and
declared that he would himself lead his troops and charge in the first
The chiefs, however, exclaimed against this, urging that if any accident
happened to him ruin must fall upon the whole, whether they gained or
lost the battle; and upon the prince persisting they declared that they
would return home and make the best terms they could for themselves. He
was therefore obliged to give way, declaring, however, that he would lead
the second line. The next morning the army commenced its march. They had
with them only one cannon, so old that it was quite useless, and it was
only taken forward as an encouragement to the Highlanders, who had the
greatest respect for artillery.
Sir John Cope, who had received intelligence of all that had happened at
Edinburgh, had also moved forward on the 19th, and on the 20th the two
armies came in sight of each other. The Highlanders, after passing the
bridge of Musselburgh, left the road, and turning to the right took up
their position on the brow of Carberry Hill, and there waited the attack.
The English forces were marching forward with high spirit, and believed
that the Highlanders would not even wait their assault. Cope had with him
two thousand two hundred men, including the six hundred runaway dragoons.
The numbers, therefore, were nearly equal; but as the English were well
armed, disciplined, and equipped, while only about half the Highlanders
had muskets, and as they had, moreover, six pieces of artillery against
the one unserviceable gun of Prince Charles, they had every reason to
consider the victory to be certain.
On seeing the Highland array Cope drew up his troops in order of battle
-- his infantry in the centre, with a regiment of dragoons and three
pieces of artillery on each flank. His right was covered by a park wall
and by the village of Preston. On his left stood Seaton House, and in his
rear lay the sea, with the villages of Prestonpans and Cockenzie. Their
front was covered by a deep and difficult morass.
It was now about three o'clock in the afternoon, and the Highlanders,
seeing that the English did not advance against them, clamoured to be led
to the attack. Prince Charles was himself eager to fight, but his
generals persuaded him to abstain from attacking the English in such a
formidable position. The Highlanders, however, fearing that the English
would again avoid a battle, were not satisfied until Lord Nairn with five
hundred men was detached to the westward to prevent the English from
marching off towards Edinburgh.
During the night the two armies lay upon the ground. Cope retired to
sleep at Cockenzie, the prince lay down in the middle of his soldiers.
Before doing so, however, he held a council, and determined to attack
next morning in spite of the difficulty of the morass. But in the course
of the night Anderson of Whitburg, a gentleman well acquainted with the
country, bethought himself of a path from the height towards their right
by the farm of Ruigan Head, which in a great measure avoided the morass.
This important fact he imparted to Lord George Murray, who at once awoke
Locheil and some other chiefs were sent for, and it was determined to
undertake the enterprise at once. An aide de camp was sent to recall Lord
Nairn and his detachment, and under the guidance of Anderson the troops
made their way across the morass. This was not, however, accomplished
without great difficulty, as in some places they sank knee deep. The
march was unopposed, and covered by the darkness they made their way
across to firm ground just as the day was breaking dull and foggy. As
they did so, however, the dragoon outposts heard the sound of their
march, and firing their pistols galloped off to give the alarm. Sir John
Cope lost no time facing his troops about, and forming them in order of
battle. He was undisturbed while doing so, for the Highlanders were
As the sun rose the mist cleared away, and the two armies stood face to
face. The Macdonalds had been granted the post of honour on the Highland
right, the line being completed by the Camerons and Stuarts, Prince
Charles with the second line being close behind. The Highlanders
uncovered their heads, uttered a short prayer, and then as the pipers
blew the signal they rushed forward, each clan in a separate mass, and
raising their war cry, the Camerons and Stuarts rushed straight at the
cannon on the left.
These guns were served, not by Royal Artillerymen, but by some seamen
brought by Cope from the fleet. They, panic struck by the wild rush of
the Highlanders, deserted their guns and fled in all directions. Colonel
Gardiner called upon his dragoons to follow him, and with his officers
led them to the charge. But the Stuarts and Camerons, pouring in a volley
from their muskets, charged them with their broadswords, and the
dragoons, panic stricken, turned their horses and galloped off.
The Macdonalds on the right had similarly captured three guns, and
charging with similar fury upon Hamilton's regiment of dragoons, drove
them off the field; Macgregor's company, who, for want of other weapons
were armed with scythes, doing terrible execution among the horses and
their riders. The English infantry, deserted by their cavalry, and with
their guns lost, still stood firm, and poured a heavy fire into the
Highlanders; but these, as soon as they had defeated the cavalry, faced
round and charged with fury upon both flanks of the infantry. Their
onslaught was irresistible. The heavy masses of the clans broke right
through the long line of the English infantry, and drove the latter
backward in utter confusion. But the retreat was impeded by the inclosure
and park wall of Preston, and the Highlanders pressing on, the greater
portion of the English infantry were killed or taken prisoners.
A hundred and seventy of the infantry alone succeeded in making their
escape, four hundred were killed, and the rest captured. Colonel Gardiner
and many of his officers were killed fighting bravely, but the loss of
the dragoons was small. Only thirty of the Highlanders were killed, and
seventy wounded. The battle lasted but six minutes, and the moment it had
terminated Prince Charles exerted himself to the utmost to obtain mercy
for the vanquished.
He treated the prisoners with the greatest kindness and consideration,
and the wounded were relieved without any distinction of friend or foe.
The dragoons fled to Edinburgh, and dashed up the hill to the castle; but
the governor refused to admit them, and threatened to open his guns upon
them as cowards who had deserted their colours. Later on in the day the
greater portion were rallied by Sir John Cope and the Earls of Loudon and
Home; but being seized with a fresh panic they galloped on again at full
speed as far as Coldstream, and the next morning continued their flight
in a state of disgraceful disorder as far as Berwick. The contents of the
treasure chest, consisting of two thousand five hundred pounds, with the
standards and other trophies, were brought to Prince Charles. The rest of
the spoil was divided among the Highlanders, of whom a great number
immediately set off towards their homes to place the articles they had
gathered in safety.
So greatly was the Highland army weakened by the number of men who thus
left the ranks that the prince was unable to carry out his wish for an
instant advance into England. His advisers, indeed, were opposed to this
measure, urging that in a short time his force would be swelled by
thousands from all parts of Scotland; but unquestionably his own view was
the correct one, and had he marched south he would probably have met with
no resistance whatever on his march to London. There were but few troops
in England. A requisition had been sent to the Dutch by King George for
the six thousand auxiliaries they were bound to furnish, and a resolution
was taken to recall ten English regiments home from Flanders.
Marshal Wade was directed to collect as many troops as he could at
Newcastle, and the militia of several counties was called out; but the
people in no degree responded to the efforts of the government. They
looked on coldly, not indeed apparently favouring the rebellion, but as
little disposed to take part against it. The state of public feeling was
described at the time by a member of the administration, Henry Fox, in a
"England, Wade says, and I believe, is for the first comer, and if you
can tell me whether these six thousand Dutch and the ten battalions of
England, or five thousand French or Spaniards, will be here first, you
know our fate. The French are not come, God be thanked; but had five
thousand landed in any part of this island a week ago, I verily believe
the entire conquest would not have cost a battle."
The prince indeed was doing his best to obtain assistance from France,
conscious how much his final success depended upon French succour.
King Louis for a time appeared favourable. The prince's brother, Henry of
York, had arrived from Rome, and the king proposed to place him at the
head of the Irish regiments in the king's service and several others to
enable him to effect a landing in England; but with his usual insincerity
the French king continued to raise difficulties and cause delays until it
was too late, and he thus lost for ever the chance of placing the family
who had always been warm friends of France, and who would in the event of
success have been his natural friends and allies, on the throne of
In the meantime Prince Charles had taken up his abode in Edinburgh, where
he was joined by most of the gentry of Scotland. He was proclaimed king
in almost every town of the Tweed, and was master of all Scotland, save
some districts beyond Inverness, the Highland forts, and the castles of
Edinburgh and Stirling.. Prince Charles behaved with the greatest
moderation. He forbade all public rejoicing for victory, saying that he
could not rejoice over the loss which his father's misguided subjects had
sustained. He abstained from any attempt to capture Edinburgh Castle, or
even to cut off its supplies, because the general of the castle
threatened that unless he were allowed to obtain provisions he would fire
upon the city and lay it in ruins, and he even refused to interfere with
a Scotch minister who continued from his pulpit to pray for King George.
In one respect he carried his generosity so far as to excite discontent
among his followers. It was proposed to send one of the prisoners taken
at Preston to London with a demand for the exchange of prisoners taken or
to be taken in the war, and with the declaration that if this were
refused, and if the prince's friends who fell into the enemy's hands were
put to death as rebels, the prince would be compelled to treat his
captives in the same way. It was evident that this step would be of great
utility, as many of the prince's adherents hesitated to take up arms, not
from fear of death in battle, but of execution if taken prisoners.
The prince, however, steadily refused, saying, "It is beneath me to make
empty threats, and I will never put such as this into execution. I cannot
in cold blood take away lives which I have saved in the heat of action."
Six weeks after the victory the prince's army mustered nearly six
thousand men; but Macleod, Macdonald, and Lovat, who could have brought a
further force of four thousand men, still held aloof. Had these three
powerful chiefs joined at once after the battle of Prestonpans, Prince
Charles could have marched to London, and would probably have succeeded
in placing his father on the throne, without having occasion to strike
another blow; but they came not, and the delay caused during the
fruitless negotiations enabled the English troops to be brought over from
Flanders, while Prince Charles on his side only received a few small
consignments of arms and money from France.
But in the meantime Edinburgh was as gay as if the Stuart cause had been
already won. Receptions and balls followed each other in close
succession, and Prince Charles won the hearts of all alike by his
courtesy and kindness, and by the care which he showed for the comfort of
At the commencement of the campaign Lord George Murray had but one aide
de camp besides Ronald. This was an officer known as the Chevalier de
Johnstone, who afterwards wrote a history of the campaign. After the
battle of Prestonpans he received a captain's commission, and immediately
raised a company, with which he joined the Duke of Perth's regiment. Two
other gentlemen of family were then appointed aides de camp, and this
afforded some relief to Ronald, whose duties had been extremely heavy.
A week after the battle Lord George said to Ronald:
"As there is now no chance of a movement at present, and I know that you
care nothing for the court festivities here, I propose sending you with
the officers who are riding into Glasgow tomorrow, with the orders of the
council that the city shall pay a subsidy of five thousand pounds towards
the necessities of the state. The citizens are Hanoverians to a man, and
may think themselves well off that no heavier charge is levied upon them.
Do you take an account of what warlike stores there are in the magazines
there, and see that all muskets and ammunition are packed up and
The next morning Ronald started at daybreak with several other mounted
gentlemen and an escort of a hundred of Clanranald's men, under the
command of the eldest son of that chief, for Glasgow, and late the same
evening entered that city. They were received with acclamation by a part
of the population; but the larger portion of the citizens gazed at them
from their doorways as they passed in sullen hostility. They marched
direct to the barracks lately occupied by the English troops, the
gentlemen taking the quarters occupied by the officers. A notification
was at once sent to the provost to assemble the city council at nine
o'clock in the morning, to hear a communication from the royal council.
As soon as Malcolm had put up Ronald's horse and his own in the stables,
and seen to their comfort, he and Ronald sallied out. It was now dark,
but they wrapped themselves up in their cloaks so as not to be noticed,
as in the hostile state of the town they might have been insulted and a
quarrel forced upon them, had they been recognized as two of the new
arrivals. The night, however, was dark, and they passed without
recognition through the ill lighted streets to the house of Andrew
Anderson. They rang at the bell. A minute later the grille was opened,
and a voice, which they recognized as that of Elspeth, asked who was
there, and what was their business.
"We come to arrest one Elspeth Dow, as one who troubles the state and is
a traitor to his majesty."
There was an exclamation from within and the door suddenly opened.
"I know your voice, bairn. The Lord be praised that you have come back
home again!" and she was about to run forward, when she checked herself.
"Is it yourself, Ronald?"
"It is no one else, Elspeth," he replied, giving the old woman a hearty
"And such a man as you have grown!" she exclaimed in surprise. For the
two years had added several inches to Ronald's stature, and he now stood
over six feet in height.
"And have you no welcome for me, Elspeth?" Malcolm asked, coming forward.
"The Lord preserve us!" Elspeth exclaimed. "Why, it's my boy Malcolm!"
"Turned up again like a bad penny, you see, Elspeth."
"What is it, Elspeth?" Andrew's voice called from above. "Who are these
men you are talking to, and what do they want at this time of night?"
"They want some supper, Andrew," Malcolm called back, "and that badly."
In a moment Andrew ran down and clasped his brother's hand. In the
darkness he did not notice Malcolm's companion, and after the first
greeting with his brother led the way up stairs.
"It is my brother Malcolm," he said to his wife as he entered the room.
Ronald followed Malcolm forward. As the light fell on his face Andrew
started, and, as Ronald smiled, ran forward and clasped him in his arms.
"It is Ronald, wife! Ah, my boy, have you come back to us again?"
Mrs. Anderson received Ronald with motherly kindness.
"We had heard of your escape before your letter came to us from Paris.
Our city constables brought back the news of how you had jumped
overboard, and had been pulled into a boat and disappeared. And finely
they were laughed at when they told their tale. Then came your letter
saying that it was Malcolm who had met you with the boat, and how you had
sailed away and been wrecked on the coast of France; but since then we
have heard nothing."
"I wrote twice," Ronald said; "but owing to the war there have been no
regular communications, and I suppose my letters got lost."
"And I suppose you have both come over to have a hand in this mad
"I don't know whether it is mad or not, Andrew; but we have certainly
come over to have a hand in it," Malcolm said. "And now, before we have a
regular talk, let me tell you that we are famishing. I know your supper
is long since over, but doubtless Elspeth has still something to eat in
her cupboard. Oh, here she comes!"
Elspeth soon placed a joint of cold meat upon the table, and Ronald and
Malcolm set to at once to satisfy their hunger. Then a jar of whiskey and
glasses were set upon the table, and pipes lighted, and Ronald began a
detailed narration of all that had taken place since they had last met.
"Had my father and mother known that I was coming to Scotland, and should
have an opportunity of seeing you both, they would have sent you their
warmest thanks and gratitude for your kindness to me," he concluded. "For
over and over again have I heard them say how deeply they felt indebted
to you for your care of me during so many years, and how they wished that
they could see you and thank you in person."
"What we did was done, in the first place, for my brother Malcolm, and
afterwards for love of you, Ronald; and right glad I am to hear that you
obtained the freedom of your parents and a commission as an officer in
the service of the King of France. I would be glad that you had come over
here on any other errand than that which brings you. Things have gone on
well with you so far; but how will they end? I hear that the Jacobites of
England are not stirring, and you do not think that with a few thousand
Highland clansmen you are going to conquer the English army that beat the
French at Dettingen, and well nigh overcame them at Fontenoy. Ah, lad, it
will prove a sore day for Scotland when Charles Stuart set foot on our
"We won't talk about that now, Andrew," Malcolm said good temperedly.
"The matter has got to be fought out with the sword, and if our tongues
were to wag all night they could make no difference one way or another.
So let us not touch upon politics. But I must say, that as far as Ronald
and I are concerned, we did not embark on this expedition because we had
at the moment any great intention of turning Hanoverian George off his
throne; but simply because Ronald had made France too hot to hold him,
and this was the simplest way that presented itself of getting out of the
country. As long as there are blows to be struck we shall do our best.
When there is no more fighting to be done, either because King James is
seated on his throne in London, or because the clans are scattered and
broken, we shall make for France again, where by that time I hope the
king will have got over the breach of his edict and the killing of his
favourite, and where Ronald's father and mother will be longing for his
"Eh, but it's awful, sirs," Elspeth, who as an old and favourite servant
had remained in the room after laying the supper and listened to the
conversation, put in, "to think that a young gallant like our Ronald
should have slain a man! He who ought not yet to have done with his
learning, to be going about into wars and battles, and to have stood up
against a great French noble and slain him. Eh, but it's awful to think
"It would be much more awful, Elspeth, if the French noble had killed me,
at least from the light in which I look at it."
"That's true enough," Elspeth said. "And if he wanted to kill you, and it
does seem from what you say that he did want, of course I cannot blame
you for killing him; but to us quiet bodies here in Glasgow it seems an
awful affair; though, after you got in a broil here and drew on the city
watch, I ought not to be surprised at anything."
"And now we must go," Ronald said, rising. "It is well nigh midnight, and
time for all decent people to be in bed."
CHAPTER XV: A Mission.
The next morning early Ronald proceeded to take an inventory of the arms
and ammunition left behind by the troops when they had marched to join
Sir John Cope at Stirling. Having done this he saw that they were all
packed up in readiness to be sent off the next day under the escort, who
were also to convey the money which the city was required to pay. For the
provost and council, knowing that it was useless to resist the order, and
perhaps anxious in the present doubtful state of affairs to stand well
with Prince Charles, had arranged that the money should be forthcoming of
the following morning. After his work was over Ronald again spent the
evening at Andrew Anderson's.
The next morning he returned to Edinburgh with the arms and escort. It
was late when he arrived; but as he knew that Lord George Murray would be
at work in his tent, he repaired there at once.
"We have brought back the money and arms, Lord George. I have handed over
the arms and ammunition at the magazine tent, and those in charge of the
money have gone into the town with a part of the escort to give it over
to the treasurer."
"How many arms did you get?"
"Two hundred and twenty-three muskets and eighty pistols, fourteen kegs
of gunpowder, and well nigh a ton of lead."
"That is more than I had expected. And now, Leslie, I have an important
mission for you. The prince this morning asked me whom I could recommend,
as a sure and careful person likely to do the business well, to go down
into Lancashire to visit the leading Jacobites there, and urge them to
take up arms. I said that I knew of none who would be more likely to
succeed than yourself. Your residence of two years in France has rubbed
off any Scotch dialect you may have had, and at any rate you could pass
for a northern Englishman. In the next place, your youth would enable you
to pass unsuspected where an older man might be questioned. The prince
agreed at once, and took shame to himself that he had not before given
promotion to one who was his companion on his voyage to Scotland, the
more so as he had made Johnstone a captain. Your claims are far greater
than his, and moreover you have served as an officer in the French army.
But, in truth, the fault is in some degree your own, for you spend all
your time in carrying out your duties, and do not show yourself at any of
the levees or festivities. And you know, with princes, as with other
people, out of sight is out of mind. However, the prince at once took
steps to repair the omission, and has signed your commission as captain.
Here it is. You will understand, of course, that it is for past services,
and that you are perfectly free to decline this mission to the south if
you would rather not undertake it. It is unquestionably a dangerous one."
"I will undertake it readily, sir," Ronald said, "and I thank you
sincerely for bringing my name before the prince, and the prince himself
for his kindness in granting me his commission, which so far I have done
but little to win. I shall be able, I trust, to carry out this mission to
his satisfaction; and although I am ignorant of the country I shall have
the advantage of taking with me my brave follower, Malcolm Anderson, who
for years was in the habit of going with droves of cattle down into
Lancashire, and will not only know the country but have acquaintances
there, and being known as a drover would pass without suspicion of his