Part 3 out of 5
rock to rock, crying on them piteously. even after they were out
of reach of my voice, I still cried and waved to them; and when
they were quite gone, I thought my heart would have burst. All
the time of my troubles I wept only twice. Once, when I could
not reach the yard, and now, the second time, when these fishers
turned a deaf ear to my cries. But this time I wept and roared
like a wicked child, tearing up the turf with my nails, and
grinding my face in the earth. If a wish would kill men, those
two fishers would never have seen morning, and I should likely
have died upon my island.
When I was a little over my anger, I must eat again, but with
such loathing of the mess as I could now scarce control. Sure
enough, I should have done as well to fast, for my fishes
poisoned me again. I had all my first pains; my throat was so
sore I could scarce swallow; I had a fit of strong shuddering,
which clucked my teeth together; and there came on me that
dreadful sense of illness, which we have no name for either in
Scotch or English. I thought I should have died, and made my
peace with God, forgiving all men, even my uncle and the fishers;
and as soon as I had thus made up my mind to the worst, clearness
came upon me; I observed the night was falling dry; my clothes
were dried a good deal; truly, I was in a better case than ever
before, since I had landed on the isle; and so I got to sleep at
last, with a thought of gratitude.
The next day (which was the fourth of this horrible life of mine)
I found my bodily strength run very low. But the sun shone, the
air was sweet, and what I managed to eat of the shell-fish agreed
well with me and revived my courage.
I was scarce back on my rock (where I went always the first thing
after I had eaten) before I observed a boat coming down the
Sound, and with her head, as I thought, in my direction.
I began at once to hope and fear exceedingly; for I thought these
men might have thought better of their cruelty and be coming back
to my assistance. But another disappointment, such as
yesterday's, was more than I could bear. I turned my back,
accordingly, upon the sea, and did not look again till I had
counted many hundreds. The boat was still heading for the
island. The next time I counted the full thousand, as slowly as
I could, my heart beating so as to hurt me. And then it was out
of all question. She was coming straight to Earraid!
I could no longer hold myself back, but ran to the seaside and
out, from one rock to another, as far as I could go. It is a
marvel I was not drowned; for when I was brought to a stand at
last, my legs shook under me, and my mouth was so dry, I must wet
it with the sea-water before I was able to shout.
All this time the boat was coming on; and now I was able to
perceive it was the same boat and the same two men as yesterday.
This I knew by their hair, which the one had of a bright yellow
and the other black. But now there was a third man along with
them, who looked to be of a better class.
As soon as they were come within easy speech, they let down their
sail and lay quiet. In spite of my supplications, they drew no
nearer in, and what frightened me most of all, the new man
tee-hee'd with laughter as he talked and looked at me.
Then he stood up in the boat and addressed me a long while,
speaking fast and with many wavings of his hand. I told him I had
no Gaelic; and at this he became very angry, and I began to
suspect he thought he was talking English. Listening very close,
I caught the word "whateffer" several times; but all the rest was
Gaelic and might have been Greek and Hebrew for me.
"Whatever," said I, to show him I had caught a word.
"Yes, yes -- yes, yes," says he, and then he looked at the other
men, as much as to say, "I told you I spoke English," and began
again as hard as ever in the Gaelic.
This time I picked out another word, "tide." Then I had a flash
of hope. I remembered he was always waving his hand towards the
mainland of the Ross.
"Do you mean when the tide is out --?" I cried, and could not
"Yes, yes," said he. "Tide."
At that I turned tail upon their boat (where my adviser had once
more begun to tee-hee with laughter), leaped back the way I had
come, from one stone to another, and set off running across the
isle as I had never run before. In about half an hour I came out
upon the shores of the creek; and, sure enough, it was shrunk
into a little trickle of water, through which I dashed, not above
my knees, and landed with a shout on the main island.
A sea-bred boy would not have stayed a day on Earraid; which is
only what they call a tidal islet, and except in the bottom of
the neaps, can be entered and left twice in every twenty-four
hours, either dry-shod, or at the most by wading. Even I, who
had the tide going out and in before me in the bay, and even
watched for the ebbs, the better to get my shellfish -- even I (I
say) if I had sat down to think, instead of raging at my fate,
must have soon guessed the secret, and got free. It was no
wonder the fishers had not understood me. The wonder was rather
that they had ever guessed my pitiful illusion, and taken the
trouble to come back. I had starved with cold and hunger on that
island for close upon one hundred hours. But for the fishers, I
might have left my bones there, in pure folly. And even as it
was, I had paid for it pretty dear, not only in past sufferings,
but in my present case; being clothed like a beggar-man, scarce
able to walk, and in great pain of my sore throat.
I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both; and I
believe they both get paid in the end; but the fools first.
THE LAD WITH THE SILVER BUTTON: THROUGH THE ISLE OF MULL
The Ross of Mull, which I had now got upon, was rugged and
trackless, like the isle I had just left; being all bog, and
brier, and big stone. There may be roads for them that know that
country well; but for my part I had no better guide than my own
nose, and no other landmark than Ben More.
I aimed as well as I could for the smoke I had seen so often from
the island; and with all my great weariness and the difficulty of
the way came upon the house in the bottom of a little hollow
about five or six at night. It was low and longish, roofed with
turf and built of unmortared stones; and on a mound in front of
it, an old gentleman sat smoking his pipe in the sun.
With what little English he had, he gave me to understand that my
shipmates had got safe ashore, and had broken bread in that very
house on the day after.
"Was there one," I asked, "dressed like a gentleman?"
He said they all wore rough great-coats; but to be sure, the
first of them, the one that came alone, wore breeches and
stockings, while the rest had sailors' trousers.
"Ah," said I, "and he would have a feathered hat?"
He told me, no, that he was bareheaded like myself.
At first I thought Alan might have lost his hat; and then the
rain came in my mind, and I judged it more likely he had it out
of harm's way under his great-coat. This set me smiling, partly
because my friend was safe, partly to think of his vanity in
And then the old gentleman clapped his hand to his brow, and
cried out that I must be the lad with the silver button.
"Why, yes!" said I, in some wonder.
"Well, then," said the old gentleman, "I have a word for you,
that you are to follow your friend to his country, by Torosay."
He then asked me how I had fared, and I told him my tale. A
south-country man would certainly have laughed; but this old
gentleman (I call him so because of his manners, for his clothes
were dropping off his back) heard me all through with nothing but
gravity and pity. When I had done, he took me by the hand, led
me into his hut (it was no better) and presented me before his
wife, as if she had been the Queen and I a duke.
The good woman set oat-bread before me and a cold grouse, patting
my shoulder and smiling to me all the time, for she had no
English; and the old gentleman (not to be behind) brewed me a
strong punch out of their country spirit. All the while I was
eating, and after that when I was drinking the punch, I could
scarce come to believe in my good fortune; and the house, though
it was thick with the peat-smoke and as full of holes as a
colander, seemed like a palace.
The punch threw me in a strong sweat and a deep slumber; the good
people let me lie; and it was near noon of the next day before I
took the road, my throat already easier and my spirits quite
restored by good fare and good news. The old gentleman, although
I pressed him hard, would take no money, and gave me an old
bonnet for my head; though I am free to own I was no sooner out
of view of the house than I very jealously washed this gift of
his in a wayside fountain.
Thought I to myself: "If these are the wild Highlanders, I could
wish my own folk wilder."
I not only started late, but I must have wandered nearly half the
time. True, I met plenty of people, grubbing in little miserable
fields that would not keep a cat, or herding little kine about
the bigness of asses. The Highland dress being forbidden by law
since the rebellion, and the people condemned to the Lowland
habit, which they much disliked, it was strange to see the
variety of their array. Some went bare, only for a hanging cloak
or great-coat, and carried their trousers on their backs like a
useless burthen: some had made an imitation of the tartan with
little parti-coloured stripes patched together like an old wife's
quilt; others, again, still wore the Highland philabeg, but by
putting a few stitches between the legs transformed it into a
pair of trousers like a Dutchman's. All those makeshifts were
condemned and punished, for the law was harshly applied, in hopes
to break up the clan spirit; but in that out-of-the-way,
sea-bound isle, there were few to make remarks and fewer to tell
They seemed in great poverty; which was no doubt natural, now
that rapine was put down, and the chiefs kept no longer an open
house; and the roads (even such a wandering, country by--track as
the one I followed) were infested with beggars. And here again I
marked a difference from my own part of the country. For our
Lowland beggars -- even the gownsmen themselves, who beg by
patent -- had a louting, flattering way with them, and if you
gave them a plaek and asked change, would very civilly return you
a boddle. But these Highland beggars stood on their dignity,
asked alms only to buy snuff (by their account) and would give no
To be sure, this was no concern of mine, except in so far as it
entertained me by the way. What was much more to the purpose,
few had any English, and these few (unless they were of the
brotherhood of beggars) not very anxious to place it at my
service. I knew Torosay to be my destination, and repeated the
name to them and pointed; but instead of simply pointing in
reply, they would give me a screed of the Gaelic that set me
foolish; so it was small wonder if I went out of my road as often
as I stayed in it.
At last, about eight at night, and already very weary, I came to
a lone house, where I asked admittance, and was refused, until I
bethought me of the power of money in so poor a country, and held
up one of my guineas in my finger and thumb. Thereupon, the man
of the house, who had hitherto pretended to have no English, and
driven me from his door by signals, suddenly began to speak as
clearly as was needful, and agreed for five shillings to give me
a night's lodging and guide me the next day to Torosay.
I slept uneasily that night, fearing I should be robbed; but I
might have spared myself the pain; for my host was no robber,
only miserably poor and a great cheat. He was not alone in his
poverty; for the next morning, we must go five miles about to the
house of what he called a rich man to have one of my guineas
changed. This was perhaps a rich man for Mull; he would have
scarce been thought so in the south; for it took all he had --
the whole house was turned upside down, and a neighbour brought
under contribution, before he could scrape together twenty
shillings in silver. The odd shilling he kept for himself,
protesting he could ill afford to have so great a sum of money
lying "locked up." For all that he was very courteous and well
spoken, made us both sit down with his family to dinner, and
brewed punch in a fine china bowl, over which my rascal guide
grew so merry that he refused to start.
I was for getting angry, and appealed to the rich man (Hector
Maclean was his name), who had been a witness to our bargain and
to my payment of the five shillings. But Maclean had taken his
share of the punch, and vowed that no gentleman should leave his
table after the bowl was brewed; so there was nothing for it but
to sit and hear Jacobite toasts and Gaelic songs, till all were
tipsy and staggered off to the bed or the barn for their night's
Next day (the fourth of my travels) we were up before five upon
the clock; but my rascal guide got to the bottle at once, and it
was three hours before I had him clear of the house, and then (as
you shall hear) only for a worse disappointment.
As long as we went down a heathery valley that lay before Mr.
Maclean's house, all went well; only my guide looked constantly
over his shoulder, and when I asked him the cause, only grinned
at me. No sooner, however, had we crossed the back of a hill,
and got out of sight of the house windows, than he told me
Torosay lay right in front, and that a hill-top (which he pointed
out) was my best landmark.
"I care very little for that," said I, "since you are going with
The impudent cheat answered me in the Gaelic that he had no
"My fine fellow," I said, "I know very well your English comes
and goes. Tell me what will bring it back? Is it more money you
"Five shillings mair," said he, "and hersel' will bring ye
I reflected awhile and then offered him two, which he accepted
greedily, and insisted on having in his hands at once "for luck,"
as he said, but I think it was rather for my misfortune.
The two shillings carried him not quite as many miles; at the end
of which distance, he sat down upon the wayside and took off his
brogues from his feet, like a man about to rest.
I was now red-hot. "Ha!" said I, "have you no more English?"
He said impudently, "No."
At that I boiled over, and lifted my hand to strike him; and he,
drawing a knife from his rags, squatted back and grinned at me
like a wildcat. At that, forgetting everything but my anger, I
ran in upon him, put aside his knife with my left, and struck him
in the mouth with the right. I was a strong lad and very angry,
and he but a little man; and he went down before me heavily. By
good luck, his knife flew out of his hand as he fell.
I picked up both that and his brogues, wished him a good morning,
and set off upon my way, leaving him barefoot and disarmed. I
chuckled to myself as I went, being sure I was done with that
rogue, for a variety of reasons. First, he knew he could have no
more of my money; next, the brogues were worth in that country
only a few pence; and, lastly, the knife, which was really a
dagger, it was against the law for him to carry.
In about half an hour of walk, I overtook a great, ragged man,
moving pretty fast but feeling before him with a staff. He was
quite blind, and told me he was a catechist, which should have
put me at my ease. But his face went against me; it seemed dark
and dangerous and secret; and presently, as we began to go on
alongside, I saw the steel butt of a pistol sticking from under
the flap of his coat-pocket. To carry such a thing meant a fine
of fifteen pounds sterling upon a first offence, and
transportation to the colonies upon a second. Nor could I quite
see why a religious teacher should go armed, or what a blind man
could be doing with a pistol.
I told him about my guide, for I was proud of what I had done,
and my vanity for once got the heels of my prudence. At the
mention of the five shillings he cried out so loud that I made up
my mind I should say nothing of the other two, and was glad he
could not see my blushes.
"Was it too much?" I asked, a little faltering.
"Too much!" cries he. "Why, I will guide you to Torosay myself
for a dram of brandy. And give you the great pleasure of my
company (me that is a man of some learning) in the bargain."
I said I did not see how a blind man could be a guide; but at
that he laughed aloud, and said his stick was eyes enough for an
"In the Isle of Mull, at least," says he, "where I know every
stone and heather-bush by mark of head. See, now," he said,
striking right and left, as if to make sure, "down there a burn
is running; and at the head of it there stands a bit of a small
hill with a stone cocked upon the top of that; and it's hard at
the foot of the hill, that the way runs by to Torosay; and the
way here, being for droves, is plainly trodden, and will show
grassy through the heather."
I had to own he was right in every feature, and told my wonder.
"Ha!" says he, "that's nothing. Would ye believe me now, that
before the Act came out, and when there were weepons in this
country, I could shoot? Ay, could I!" cries he, and then with a
leer: "If ye had such a thing as a pistol here to try with, I
would show ye how it's done."
I told him I had nothing of the sort, and gave him a wider berth.
If he had known, his pistol stuck at that time quite plainly out
of his pocket, and I could see the sun twinkle on the steel of
the butt. But by the better luck for me, he knew nothing,
thought all was covered, and lied on in the dark.
He then began to question me cunningly, where I came from,
whether I was rich, whether I could change a five-shilling piece
for him (which he declared he had that moment in his sporran),
and all the time he kept edging up to me and I avoiding him. We
were now upon a sort of green cattle-track which crossed the
hills towards Torosay, and we kept changing sides upon that like
ancers in a reel. I had so plainly the upper-hand that my
spirits rose, and indeed I took a pleasure in this game of
blindman's buff; but the catechist grew angrier and angrier, and
at last began to swear in Gaelic and to strike for my legs with
Then I told him that, sure enough, I had a pistol in my pocket as
well as he, and if he did not strike across the hill due south I
would even blow his brains out.
He became at once very polite, and after trying to soften me for
some time, but quite in vain, he cursed me once more in Gaelic
and took himself off. I watched him striding along, through bog
and brier, tapping with his stick, until he turned the end of a
hill and disappeared in the next hollow. Then I struck on again
for Torosay, much better pleased to be alone than to travel with
that man of learning. This was an unlucky day; and these two, of
whom I had just rid myself, one after the other, were the two
worst men I met with in the Highlands.
At Torosay, on the Sound of Mull and looking over to the mainland
of Morven, there was an inn with an innkeeper, who was a Maclean,
it appeared, of a very high family; for to keep an inn is thought
even more genteel in the Highlands than it is with us, perhaps as
partaking of hospitality, or perhaps because the trade is idle
and drunken. He spoke good English, and finding me to be
something of a scholar, tried me first in French, where he easily
beat me, and then in the Latin, in which I don't know which of us
did best. This pleasant rivalry put us at once upon friendly
terms; and I sat up and drank punch with him (or to be more
correct, sat up and watched him drink it), until he was so tipsy
that he wept upon my shoulder.
I tried him, as if by accident, with a sight of Alan's button;
but it was plain he had never seen or heard of it. Indeed, he
bore some grudge against the family and friends of Ardshiel, and
before he was drunk he read me a lampoon, in very good Latin, but
with a very ill meaning, which he had made in elegiac verses upon
a person of that house.
When I told him of my catechist, he shook his head, and said I
was lucky to have got clear off. "That is a very dangerous man,"
he said; "Duncan Mackiegh is his name; he can shoot by the ear at
several yards, and has been often accused of highway robberies,
and once of murder."
"The cream of it is," says I, "that he called himself a
"And why should he not?" says he, "when that is what he is. It
was Maclean of Duart gave it to him because he was blind. But
perhaps it was a peety," says my host, "for he is always on the
road, going from one place to another to hear the young folk say
their religion; and, doubtless, that is a great temptation to the
At last, when my landlord could drink no more, he showed me to a
bed, and I lay down in very good spirits; having travelled the
greater part of that big and crooked Island of Mull, from Earraid
to Torosay, fifty miles as the crow flies, and (with my
wanderings) much nearer a hundred, in four days and with little
fatigue. Indeed I was by far in better heart and health of body
at the end of that long tramp than I had been at the beginning.
THE LAD WITH THE SILVER BUTTON: ACROSS MORVEN
There is a regular ferry from Torosay to Kinlochaline on the
mainland. Both shores of the Sound are in the country of the
strong clan of the Macleans, and the people that passed the ferry
with me were almost all of that clan. The skipper of the boat,
on the other hand, was called Neil Roy Macrob; and since Macrob
was one of the names of Alan's clansmen, and Alan himself had
sent me to that ferry, I was eager to come to private speech of
In the crowded boat this was of course impossible, and the
passage was a very slow affair. There was no wind, and as the
boat was wretchedly equipped, we could pull but two oars on one
side, and one on the other. The men gave way, however, with a
good will, the passengers taking spells to help them, and the
whole company giving the time in Gaelic boat-songs. And what
with the songs, and the sea-air, and the good-nature and spirit
of all concerned, and the bright weather, the passage was a
pretty thing to have seen.
But there was one melancholy part. In the mouth of Loch Aline we
found a great sea-going ship at anchor; and this I supposed at
first to be one of the King's cruisers which were kept along that
coast, both summer and winter, to prevent communication with the
French. As we got a little nearer, it became plain she was a
ship of merchandise; and what still more puzzled me, not only her
decks, but the sea-beach also, were quite black with people, and
skiffs were continually plying to and fro between them. Yet
nearer, and there began to come to our ears a great sound of
mourning, the people on board and those on the shore crying and
lamenting one to another so as to pierce the heart.
Then I understood this was an emigrant ship bound for the
We put the ferry-boat alongside, and the exiles leaned over the
bulwarks, weeping and reaching out their hands to my
fellow-passengers, among whom they counted some near friends.
How long this might have gone on I do not know, for they seemed
to have no sense of time: but at last the captain of the ship,
who seemed near beside himself (and no great wonder) in the midst
of this crying and confusion, came to the side and begged us to
Thereupon Neil sheered off; and the chief singer in our boat
struck into a melancholy air, which was presently taken up both
by the emigrants and their friends upon the beach, so that it
sounded from all sides like a lament for the dying. I saw the
tears run down the cheeks of the men and women in the boat, even
as they bent at the oars; and the circumstances and the music of
the song (which is one called "Lochaber no more") were highly
affecting even to myself.
At Kinlochaline I got Neil Roy upon one side on the beach, and
said I made sure he was one of Appin's men.
"And what for no?" said he.
"I am seeking somebody," said I; "and it comes in my mind that
you will have news of him. Alan Breck Stewart is his name." And
very foolishly, instead of showing him the button, I sought to
pass a shilling in his hand.
At this he drew back. "I am very much affronted," he said; "and
this is not the way that one shentleman should behave to another
at all. The man you ask for is in France; but if he was in my
sporran," says he, "and your belly full of shillings, I would not
hurt a hair upon his body."
I saw I had gone the wrong way to work, and without wasting time
upon apologies, showed him the button lying in the hollow of my
"Aweel, aweel," said Neil; "and I think ye might have begun with
that end of the stick, whatever! But if ye are the lad with the
silver button, all is well, and I have the word to see that ye
come safe. But if ye will pardon me to speak plainly," says he,
"there is a name that you should never take into your mouth, and
that is the name of Alan Breck; and there is a thing that ye
would never do, and that is to offer your dirty money to a
It was not very easy to apologise; for I could scarce tell him
(what was the truth) that I had never dreamed he would set up to
be a gentleman until he told me so. Neil on his part had no wish
to prolong his dealings with me, only to fulfil his orders and be
done with it; and he made haste to give me my route. This was to
lie the night in Kinlochaline in the public inn; to cross Morven
the next day to Ardgour, and lie the night in the house of one
John of the Claymore, who was warned that I might come; the third
day, to be set across one loch at Corran and another at
Balachulish, and then ask my way to the house of James of the
Glens, at Aucharn in Duror of Appin. There was a good deal of
ferrying, as you hear; the sea in all this part running deep into
the mountains and winding about their roots. It makes the
country strong to hold and difficult to travel, but full of
prodigious wild and dreadful prospects.
I had some other advice from Neil: to speak with no one by the
way, to avoid Whigs, Campbells, and the "red-soldiers;" to leave
the road and lie in a bush if I saw any of the latter coming,
"for it was never chancy to meet in with them;" and in brief, to
conduct myself like a robber or a Jacobite agent, as perhaps Neil
The inn at Kinlochaline was the most beggarly vile place that
ever pigs were styed in, full of smoke, vermin, and silent
Highlanders. I was not only discontented with my lodging, but
with myself for my mismanagement of Neil, and thought I could
hardly be worse off. But very wrongly, as I was soon to see; for
I had not been half an hour at the inn (standing in the door most
of the time, to ease my eyes from the peat smoke) when a
thunderstorm came close by, the springs broke in a little hill on
which the inn stood, and one end of the house became a running
water. Places of public entertainment were bad enough all over
Scotland in those days; yet it was a wonder to myself, when I had
to go from the fireside to the bed in which I slept, wading over
Early in my next day's journey I overtook a little, stout, solemn
man, walking very slowly with his toes turned out, sometimes
reading in a book and sometimes marking the place with his
finger, and dressed decently and plainly in something of a
This I found to be another catechist, but of a different order
from the blind man of Mull: being indeed one of those sent out by
the Edinburgh Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, to
evangelise the more savage places of the Highlands. His name was
Henderland; he spoke with the broad south-country tongue, which I
was beginning to weary for the sound of; and besides common
countryship, we soon found we had a more particular bond of
interest. For my good friend, the minister of Essendean, had
translated into the Gaelic in his by-time a number of hymns and
pious books which Henderland used in his work, and held in great
esteem. Indeed, it was one of these he was carrying and reading
when we met.
We fell in company at once, our ways lying together as far as to
Kingairloch. As we went, he stopped and spoke with all the
wayfarers and workers that we met or passed; and though of course
I could not tell what they discoursed about, yet I judged Mr.
Henderland must be well liked in the countryside, for I observed
many of them to bring out their mulls and share a pinch of snuff
I told him as far in my affairs as I judged wise; as far, that
is, as they were none of Alan's; and gave Balachulish as the
place I was travelling to, to meet a friend; for I thought
Aucharn, or even Duror, would be too particular, and might put
him on the scent.
On his part, he told me much of his work and the people he worked
among, the hiding priests and Jacobites, the Disarming Act, the
dress, and many other curiosities of the time and place. He
seemed moderate; blaming Parliament in several points, and
especially because they had framed the Act more severely against
those who wore the dress than against those who carried weapons.
This moderation put it in my mind to question him of the Red Fox
and the Appin tenants; questions which, I thought, would seem
natural enough in the mouth of one travelling to that country.
He said it was a bad business. "It's wonderful," said he, "where
the tenants find the money, for their life is mere starvation.
(Ye don't carry such a thing as snuff, do ye, Mr. Balfour? No.
Well, I'm better wanting it.) But these tenants (as I was
saying) are doubtless partly driven to it. James Stewart in
Duror (that's him they call James of the Glens) is half-brother
to Ardshiel, the captain of the clan; and he is a man much looked
up to, and drives very hard. And then there's one they call Alan
"Ah!" I cried, "what of him?"
"What of the wind that bloweth where it listeth?" said
Henderland. "He's here and awa; here to-day and gone to-morrow:
a fair heather-cat. He might be glowering at the two of us out
of yon whin-bush, and I wouldnae wonder! Ye'll no carry such a
thing as snuff, will ye?"
I told him no, and that he had asked the same thing more than
"It's highly possible," said he, sighing. "But it seems strange
ye shouldnae carry it. However, as I was saying, this Alan Breck
is a bold, desperate customer, and well kent to be James's right
hand. His life is forfeit already; he would boggle at naething;
and maybe, if a tenant-body was to hang back he would get a dirk
in his wame."
"You make a poor story of it all, Mr. Henderland," said I. "If
it is all fear upon both sides, I care to hear no more of it."
"Na," said Mr. Henderland, "but there's love too, and self-denial
that should put the like of you and me to shame. There's
something fine about it; no perhaps Christian, but humanly fine.
Even Alan Breck, by all that I hear, is a chield to be respected.
There's many a lying sneck-draw sits close in kirk in our own
part of the country, and stands well in the world's eye, and
maybe is a far worse man, Mr. Balfour, than yon misguided shedder
of man's blood. Ay, ay, we might take a lesson by them. -- Ye'll
perhaps think I've been too long in the Hielands?" he added,
smiling to me.
I told him not at all; that I had seen much to admire among the
Highlanders; and if he came to that, Mr. Campbell himself was a
"Ay," said he, "that's true. It's a fine blood."
"And what is the King's agent about?" I asked.
"Colin Campbell?" says Henderland. "Putting his head in a bees'
"He is to turn the tenants out by force, I hear?" said I.
"Yes," says he, "but the business has gone back and forth, as
folk say. First, James of the Glens rode to Edinburgh, and got
some lawyer (a Stewart, nae doubt -- they all hing together like
bats in a steeple) and had the proceedings stayed. And then
Colin Campbell cam' in again, and had the upper-hand before the
Barons of Exchequer. And now they tell me the first of the
tenants are to flit to-morrow. It's to begin at Duror under
James's very windows, which doesnae seem wise by my humble way of
"Do you think they'll fight?" I asked.
"Well," says Henderland, "they're disarmed -- or supposed to be
-- for there's still a good deal of cold iron lying by in quiet
places. And then Colin Campbell has the sogers coming. But for
all that, if I was his lady wife, I wouldnae be well pleased till
I got him home again. They're queer customers, the Appin
I asked if they were worse than their neighbours.
"No they," said he. "And that's the worst part of it. For if
Colin Roy can get his business done in Appin, he has it all to
begin again in the next country, which they call Mamore, and
which is one of the countries of the Camerons. He's King's
Factor upon both, and from both he has to drive out the tenants;
and indeed, Mr. Balfour (to be open with ye), it's my belief that
if he escapes the one lot, he'll get his death by the other."
So we continued talking and walking the great part of the, day;
until at last, Mr. Henderland after expressing his delight in my
company, and satisfaction at meeting with a friend of Mr.
Campbell's ("whom," says he, "I will make bold to call that sweet
singer of our covenanted Zion"), proposed that I should make a
short stage, and lie the night in his house a little beyond
Kingairloch. To say truth, I was overjoyed; for I had no great
desire for John of the Claymore, and since my double
misadventure, first with the guide and next with the gentleman
skipper, I stood in some fear of any Highland stranger.
Accordingly we shook hands upon the bargain, and came in the
afternoon to a small house, standing alone by the shore of the
Linnhe Loch. The sun was already gone from the desert mountains
of Ardgour upon the hither side, but shone on those of Appin on
the farther; the loch lay as still as a lake, only the gulls were
crying round the sides of it; and the whole place seemed solemn
We had no sooner come to the door of Mr. Henderland's dwelling,
than to my great surprise (for I was now used to the politeness
of Highlanders) he burst rudely past me, dashed into the room,
caught up a jar and a small horn-spoon, and began ladling snuff
into his nose in most excessive quantities. Then he had a hearty
fit of sneezing, and looked round upon me with a rather silly
"It's a vow I took," says he. "I took a vow upon me that I
wouldnae carry it. Doubtless it's a great privation; but when I
think upon the martyrs, not only to the Scottish Covenant but to
other points of Christianity, I think shame to mind it."
As soon as we had eaten (and porridge and whey was the best of
the good man's diet) he took a grave face and said he had a duty
to perform by Mr. Campbell, and that was to inquire into my state
of mind towards God. I was inclined to smile at him since the
business of the snuff; but he had not spoken long before he
brought the tears into my eyes. There are two things that men
should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too
much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people; but
Mr. Henderland had their very speech upon his tongue. And though
I was a good deal puffed up with my adventures and with having
come off, as the saying is, with flying colours; yet he soon had
me on my knees beside a simple, poor old man, and both proud and
glad to be there.
Before we went to bed he offered me sixpence to help me on my
way, out of a scanty store he kept in the turf wall of his house;
at which excess of goodness I knew not what to do. But at last
he was so earnest with me that I thought it the more mannerly
part to let him have his way, and so left him poorer than myself.
THE DEATH OF THE RED FOX
The next day Mr. Henderland found for me a man who had a boat of
his own and was to cross the Linnhe Loch that afternoon into
Appin, fishing. Him he prevailed on to take me, for he was one
of his flock; and in this way I saved a long day's travel and the
price of the two public ferries I must otherwise have passed.
It was near noon before we set out; a dark day with clouds, and
the sun shining upon little patches. The sea was here very deep
and still, and had scarce a wave upon it; so that I must put the
water to my lips before I could believe it to be truly salt. The
mountains on either side were high, rough and barren, very black
and gloomy in the shadow of the clouds, but all silver-laced with
little watercourses where the sun shone upon them. It seemed a
hard country, this of Appin, for people to care as much about as
There was but one thing to mention. A little after we had
started, the sun shone upon a little moving clump of scarlet
close in along the water-side to the north. It was much of the
same red as soldiers' coats; every now and then, too, there came
little sparks and lightnings, as though the sun had struck upon
I asked my boatman what it should be, and he answered he supposed
it was some of the red soldiers coming from Fort William into
Appin, against the poor tenantry of the country. Well, it was a
sad sight to me; and whether it was because of my thoughts of
Alan, or from something prophetic in my bosom, although this was
but the second time I had seen King George's troops, I had no
good will to them.
At last we came so near the point of land at the entering in of
Loch Leven that I begged to be set on shore. My boatman (who was
an honest fellow and mindful of his promise to the catechist)
would fain have carried me on to Balachulish; but as this was to
take me farther from my secret destination, I insisted, and was
set on shore at last under the wood of Lettermore (or Lettervore,
for I have heard it both ways) in Alan's country of Appin.
This was a wood of birches, growing on a steep, craggy side of a
mountain that overhung the loch. It had many openings and ferny
howes; and a road or bridle track ran north and south through the
midst of it, by the edge of which, where was a spring, I sat down
to eat some oat-bread of Mr. Henderland's and think upon my
Here I was not only troubled by a cloud of stinging midges, but
far more by the doubts of my mind. What I ought to do, why I was
going to join myself with an outlaw and a would-be murderer like
Alan, whether I should not be acting more like a man of sense to
tramp back to the south country direct, by my own guidance and at
my own charges, and what Mr. Campbell or even Mr. Henderland
would think of me if they should ever learn my folly and
presumption: these were the doubts that now began to come in on
me stronger than ever.
As I was so sitting and thinking, a sound of men and horses came
to me through the wood; and presently after, at a turning of the
road, I saw four travellers come into view. The way was in this
part so rough and narrow that they came single and led their
horses by the reins. The first was a great, red-headed
gentleman, of an imperious and flushed face, who carried his hat
in his hand and fanned himself, for he was in a breathing heat.
The second, by his decent black garb and white wig, I correctly
took to be a lawyer. The third was a servant, and wore some part
of his clothes in tartan, which showed that his master was of a
Highland family, and either an outlaw or else in singular good
odour with the Government, since the wearing of tartan was
against the Act. If I had been better versed in these things, I
would have known the tartan to be of the Argyle (or Campbell)
colours. This servant had a good-sized portmanteau strapped on
his horse, and a net of lemons (to brew punch with) hanging at
the saddle-bow; as was often enough the custom with luxurious
travellers in that part of the country.
As for the fourth, who brought up the tail, I had seen his like
before, and knew him at once to be a sheriff's officer.
I had no sooner seen these people coming than I made up my mind
(for no reason that I can tell) to go through with my adventure;
and when the first came alongside of me, I rose up from the
bracken and asked him the way to Aucharn.
He stopped and looked at me, as I thought, a little oddly; and
then, turning to the lawyer, "Mungo," said he, "there's many a
man would think this more of a warning than two pyats. Here am I
on my road to Duror on the job ye ken; and here is a young lad
starts up out of the bracken, and speers if I am on the way to
"Glenure," said the other, "this is an ill subject for jesting."
These two had now drawn close up and were gazing at me, while the
two followers had halted about a stone-cast in the rear.
"And what seek ye in Aucharn?" said Colin Roy Campbell of
Glenure, him they called the Red Fox; for he it was that I had
"The man that lives there," said I.
"James of the Glens," says Glenure, musingly; and then to the
lawyer: "Is he gathering his people, think ye?"
"Anyway," says the lawyer, "we shall do better to bide where we
are, and let the soldiers rally us."
"If you are concerned for me," said I, "I am neither of his
people nor yours, but an honest subject of King George, owing no
man and fearing no man."
"Why, very well said," replies the Factor. "But if I may make so
bold as ask, what does this honest man so far from his country?
and why does he come seeking the brother of Ardshiel? I have
power here, I must tell you. I am King's Factor upon several of
these estates, and have twelve files of soldiers at my back."
"I have heard a waif word in the country," said I, a little
nettled, "that you were a hard man to drive."
He still kept looking at me, as if in doubt.
"Well," said he, at last, "your tongue is bold; but I am no
unfriend to plainness. If ye had asked me the way to the door of
James Stewart on any other day but this, I would have set ye
right and bidden ye God speed. But to-day -- eh, Mungo?" And he
turned again to look at the lawyer.
But just as he turned there came the shot of a firelock from
higher up the hill; and with the very sound of it Glenure fell
upon the road.
"O, I am dead!" he cried, several times over.
The lawyer had caught him up and held him in his arms, the
servant standing over and clasping his hands. And now the
wounded man looked from one to another with scared eyes, and
there was a change in his voice, that went to the heart.
"Take care of yourselves," says he. "I am dead."
He tried to open his clothes as if to look for the wound, but his
fingers slipped on the buttons. With that he gave a great sigh,
his head rolled on his shoulder, and he passed away.
The lawyer said never a word, but his face was as sharp as a pen
and as white as the dead man's; the servant broke out into a
great noise of crying and weeping, like a child; and I, on my
side, stood staring at them in a kind of horror. The sheriff's
officer had run back at the first sound of the shot, to hasten
the coming of the soldiers.
At last the lawyer laid down the dead man in his blood upon the
road, and got to his own feet with a kind of stagger.
I believe it was his movement that brought me to my senses; for
he had no sooner done so than I began to scramble up the hill,
crying out, "The murderer! the murderer!"
So little a time had elapsed, that when I got to the top of the
first steepness, and could see some part of the open mountain,
the murderer was still moving away at no great distance. He was
a big man, in a black coat, with metal buttons, and carried a
"Here!" I cried. "I see him!"
At that the murderer gave a little, quick look over his shoulder,
and began to run. The next moment he was lost in a fringe of
birches; then he came out again on the upper side, where I could
see him climbing like a jackanapes, for that part was again very
steep; and then he dipped behind a shoulder, and I saw him no
All this time I had been running on my side, and had got a good
way up, when a voice cried upon me to stand.
I was at the edge of the upper wood, and so now, when I halted
and looked back, I saw all the open part of the hill below me.
The lawyer and the sheriff's officer were standing just above the
road, crying and waving on me to come back; and on their left,
the red-coats, musket in hand, were beginning to struggle singly
out of the lower wood.
"Why should I come back?" I cried. "Come you on!"
"Ten pounds if ye take that lad!" cried the lawyer. "He's an
accomplice. He was posted here to hold us in talk."
At that word (which I could hear quite plainly, though it was to
the soldiers and not to me that he was crying it) my heart came
in my mouth with quite a new kind of terror. Indeed, it is one
thing to stand the danger of your life, and quite another to run
the peril of both life and character. The thing, besides, had
come so suddenly, like thunder out of a clear sky, that I was all
amazed and helpless.
The soldiers began to spread, some of them to run, and others to
put up their pieces and cover me; and still I stood.
"Jock in here among the trees," said a voice close by.
Indeed, I scarce knew what I was doing, but I obeyed; and as I
did so, I heard the firelocks bang and the balls whistle in the
Just inside the shelter of the trees I found Alan Breck standing,
with a fishing-rod. He gave me no salutation; indeed it was no
time for civilities; only "Come!" says he, and set off running
along the side of the mountain towards Balaehulish; and I, like a
sheep, to follow him.
Now we ran among the birches; now stooping behind low humps upon
the mountain-side; now crawling on all fours among the heather.
The pace was deadly: my heart seemed bursting against my ribs;
and I had neither time to think nor breath to speak with. Only I
remember seeing with wonder, that Alan every now and then would
straighten himself to his full height and look back; and every
time he did so, there came a great far-away cheering and crying
of the soldiers.
Quarter of an hour later, Alan stopped, clapped down flat in the
heather, and turned to me.
"Now," said he, "it's earnest. Do as I do, for your life."
And at the same speed, but now with infinitely more precaution,
we traced back again across the mountain-side by the same way
that we had come, only perhaps higher; till at last Alan threw
himself down in the upper wood of Lettermore, where I had found
him at the first, and lay, with his face in the bracken, panting
like a dog.
My own sides so ached, my head so swam, my tongue so hung out of
my mouth with heat and dryness, that I lay beside him like one
I TALK WITH ALAN IN THE WOOD OF LETTERMORE
Alan was the first to come round. He rose, went to the border of
the wood, peered out a little, and then returned and sat down.
"Well," said he, "yon was a hot burst, David."
I said nothing, nor so much as lifted my face. I had seen murder
done, and a great, ruddy, jovial gentleman struck out of life in
a moment; the pity of that sight was still sore within me, and
yet that was but a part of my concern. Here was murder done upon
the man Alan hated; here was Alan skulking in the trees and
running from the troops; and whether his was the hand that fired
or only the head that ordered, signified but little. By my way
of it, my only friend in that wild country was blood-guilty in
the first degree; I held him in horror; I could not look upon his
face; I would have rather lain alone in the rain on my cold isle,
than in that warm wood beside a murderer.
"Are ye still wearied?" he asked again.
"No," said I, still with my face in the bracken; "no, I am not
wearied now, and I can speak. You and me must twine," I said.
"I liked you very well, Alan, but your ways are not mine, and
they're not God's: and the short and the long of it is just that
we must twine."
"I will hardly twine from ye, David, without some kind of reason
for the same," said Alan, mighty gravely. "If ye ken anything
against my reputation, it's the least thing that ye should do,
for old acquaintance' sake, to let me hear the name of it; and if
ye have only taken a distaste to my society, it will be proper
for me to judge if I'm insulted."
"Alan," said I, "what is the sense of this? Ye ken very well yon
Campbell-man lies in his blood upon the road."
He was silent for a little; then says he, "Did ever ye hear tell
of the story of the Man and the Good People?" -- by which he
meant the fairies.
"No," said I, "nor do I want to hear it."
"With your permission, Mr. Balfour, I will tell it you,
whatever," says Alan. "The man, ye should ken, was cast upon a
rock in the sea, where it appears the Good People were in use to
come and rest as they went through to Ireland. The name of this
rock is called the Skerryvore, and it's not far from where we
suffered ship-wreck. Well, it seems the man cried so sore, if he
could just see his little bairn before he died! that at last the
king of the Good People took peety upon him, and sent one flying
that brought back the bairn in a poke and laid it down beside
the man where he lay sleeping. So when the man woke, there was a
poke beside him and something into the inside of it that moved.
Well, it seems he was one of these gentry that think aye the
worst of things; and for greater security, he stuck his dirk
throughout that poke before he opened it, and there was his bairn
dead. I am thinking to myself, Mr. Balfour, that you and the man
are very much alike."
"Do you mean you had no hand in it?" cried I, sitting up.
"I will tell you first of all, Mr. Balfour of Shaws, as one
friend to another," said Alan, "that if I were going to kill a
gentleman, it would not be in my own country, to bring trouble on
my clan; and I would not go wanting sword and gun, and with a
long fishing-rod upon my back."
"Well," said I, "that's true!"
"And now," continued Alan, taking out his dirk and laying his
hand upon it in a certain manner, "I swear upon the Holy Iron I
had neither art nor part, act nor thought in it."
"I thank God for that!" cried I, and offered him my hand.
He did not appear to see it.
"And here is a great deal of work about a Campbell!" said he.
"They are not so scarce, that I ken!"
"At least," said I, "you cannot justly blame me, for you know
very well what you told me in the brig. But the temptation and
the act are different, I thank God again for that. We may all be
tempted; but to take a life in cold blood, Alan!" And I could
say no more for the moment. "And do you know who did it?" I
added. "Do you know that man in the black coat?"
"I have nae clear mind about his coat," said Alan cunningly, "but
it sticks in my head that it was blue."
"Blue or black, did ye know him?" said I.
"I couldnae just conscientiously swear to him," says Alan. "He
gaed very close by me, to be sure, but it's a strange thing that
I should just have been tying my brogues."
"Can you swear that you don't know him, Alan?" I cried, half
angered, half in a mind to laugh at his evasions.
"Not yet," says he; "but I've a grand memory for forgetting,
"And yet there was one thing I saw clearly," said I; "and that
was, that you exposed yourself and me to draw the soldiers."
"It's very likely," said Alan; "and so would any gentleman. You
and me were innocent of that transaction."
"The better reason, since we were falsely suspected, that we
should get clear," I cried. "The innocent should surely come
before the guilty."
"Why, David," said he, "the innocent have aye a chance to get
assoiled in court; but for the lad that shot the bullet, I think
the best place for him will be the heather. Them that havenae
dipped their hands in any little difficulty, should be very
mindful of the case of them that have. And that is the good
Christianity. For if it was the other way round about, and the
lad whom I couldnae just clearly see had been in our shoes, and
we in his (as might very well have been), I think we would be a
good deal obliged to him oursel's if he would draw the soldiers."
When it came to this, I gave Alan up. But he looked so innocent
all the time, and was in such clear good faith in what he said,
and so ready to sacrifice himself for what he deemed his duty,
that my mouth was closed. Mr. Henderland's words came back to
me: that we ourselves might take a lesson by these wild
Highlanders. Well, here I had taken mine. Alan's morals were
all tail-first; but he was ready to give his life for them, such
as they were.
"Alan," said I, "I'll not say it's the good Christianity as I
understand it, but it's good enough. And here I offer ye my hand
for the second time."
Whereupon he gave me both of his, saying surely I had cast a
spell upon him, for he could forgive me anything. Then he grew
very grave, and said we had not much time to throw away, but must
both flee that country: he, because he was a deserter, and the
whole of Appin would now be searched like a chamber, and every
one obliged to give a good account of himself; and I, because I
was certainly involved in the murder.
"O!" says I, willing to give him a little lesson, "I have no fear
of the justice of my country."
"As if this was your country!" said he. "Or as if ye would be
tried here, in a country of Stewarts!"
"It's all Scotland," said I.
"Man, I whiles wonder at ye," said Alan. "This is a Campbell
that's been killed. Well, it'll be tried in Inverara, the
Campbells' head place; with fifteen Campbells in the jury-box and
the biggest Campbell of all (and that's the Duke) sitting cocking
on the bench. Justice, David? The same justice, by all the
world, as Glenure found awhile ago at the roadside."
This frightened me a little, I confess, and would have frightened
me more if I had known how nearly exact were Alan's predictions;
indeed it was but in one point that he exaggerated, there being
but eleven Campbells on the jury; though as the other four were
equally in the Duke's dependence, it mattered less than might
appear. Still, I cried out that he was unjust to the Duke of
Argyle, who (for all he was a Whig) was yet a wise and honest
"Hoot!" said Alan, "the man's a Whig, nae doubt; but I would
never deny he was a good chieftain to his clan. And what would
the clan think if there was a Campbell shot, and naebody hanged,
and their own chief the Justice General? But I have often
observed," says Alan, "that you Low-country bodies have no clear
idea of what's right and wrong."
At this I did at last laugh out aloud, when to my surprise, Alan
joined in, and laughed as merrily as myself.
"Na, na," said he, "we're in the Hielands, David; and when I tell
ye to run, take my word and run. Nae doubt it's a hard thing to
skulk and starve in the Heather, but it's harder yet to lie
shackled in a red-coat prison."
I asked him whither we should flee; and as he told me "to the
Lowlands," I was a little better inclined to go with him; for,
indeed, I was growing impatient to get back and have the
upper-hand of my uncle. Besides, Alan made so sure there would
be no question of justice in the matter, that I began to be
afraid he might be right. Of all deaths, I would truly like
least to die by the gallows; and the picture of that uncanny
instrument came into my head with extraordinary clearness (as I
had once seen it engraved at the top of a pedlar's ballad) and
took away my appetite for courts of justice.
"I'll chance it, Alan," said I. "I'll go with you."
"But mind you," said Alan, "it's no small thing. Ye maun lie
bare and hard, and brook many an empty belly. Your bed shall be
the moorcock's, and your life shall be like the hunted deer's,
and ye shall sleep with your hand upon your weapons. Ay, man, ye
shall taigle many a weary foot, or we get clear! I tell ye this
at the start, for it's a life that I ken well. But if ye ask
what other chance ye have, I answer: Nane. Either take to the
heather with me, or else hang."
"And that's a choice very easily made," said I; and we shook
hands upon it.
"And now let's take another keek at the red-coats," says Alan,
and he led me to the north-eastern fringe of the wood.
Looking out between the trees, we could see a great side of
mountain, running down exceeding steep into the waters of the
loch. It was a rough part, all hanging stone, and heather, and
big scrogs of birchwood; and away at the far end towards
Balachulish, little wee red soldiers were dipping up and down
over hill and howe, and growing smaller every minute. There was
no cheering now, for I think they had other uses for what breath
was left them; but they still stuck to the trail, and doubtless
thought that we were close in front of them.
Alan watched them, smiling to himself.
"Ay," said he, "they'll be gey weary before they've got to the
end of that employ! And so you and me, David, can sit down and
eat a bite, and breathe a bit longer, and take a dram from my
bottle. Then we'll strike for Aucharn, the house of my kinsman,
James of the Glens, where I must get my clothes, and my arms, and
money to carry us along; and then, David, we'll cry, 'Forth,
Fortune!' and take a cast among the heather."
So we sat again and ate and drank, in a place whence we could see
the sun going down into a field of great, wild, and houseless
mountains, such as I was now condemned to wander in with my
companion. Partly as we so sat, and partly afterwards, on the
way to Aucharn, each of us narrated his adventures; and I shall
here set down so much of Alan's as seems either curious or
It appears he ran to the bulwarks as soon as the wave was passed;
saw me, and lost me, and saw me again, as I tumbled in the roost;
and at last had one glimpse of me clinging on the yard. It was
this that put him in some hope I would maybe get to land after
all, and made him leave those clues and messages which had
brought me (for my sins) to that unlucky country of Appin.
In the meanwhile, those still on the brig had got the skiff
launched, and one or two were on board of her already, when there
came a second wave greater than the first, and heaved the brig
out of her place, and would certainly have sent her to the
bottom, had she not struck and caught on some projection of the
reef. When she had struck first, it had been bows-on, so that
the stern had hitherto been lowest. But now her stern was thrown
in the air, and the bows plunged under the sea; and with that,
the water began to pour into the fore-scuttle like the pouring of
It took the colour out of Alan's face, even to tell what
followed. For there were still two men lying impotent in their
bunks; and these, seeing the water pour in and thinking the ship
had foundered, began to cry out aloud, and that with such
harrowing cries that all who were on deck tumbled one after
another into the skiff and fell to their oars. They were not two
hundred yards away, when there came a third great sea; and at
that the brig lifted clean over the reef; her canvas filled for a
moment, and she seemed to sail in chase of them, but settling all
the while; and presently she drew down and down, as if a hand was
drawing her; and the sea closed over the Covenant of Dysart.
Never a word they spoke as they pulled ashore, being stunned with
the horror of that screaming; but they had scarce set foot upon
the beach when Hoseason woke up, as if out of a muse, and bade
them lay hands upon Alan. They hung back indeed, having little
taste for the employment; but Hoseason was like a fiend, crying
that Alan was alone, that he had a great sum about him, that he
had been the means of losing the brig and drowning all their
comrades, and that here was both revenge and wealth upon a single
cast. It was seven against one; in that part of the shore there
was no rock that Alan could set his back to; and the sailors
began to spread out and come behind him.
"And then," said Alan, "the little man with the red head -- I
havenae mind of the name that he is called."
"Riach," said I.
"Ay" said Alan, "Riach! Well, it was him that took up the clubs
for me, asked the men if they werenae feared of a judgment, and,
says he 'Dod, I'll put my back to the Hielandman's mysel'.'
That's none such an entirely bad little man, yon little man with
the red head," said Alan. "He has some spunks of decency."
"Well," said I, "he was kind to me in his way."
"And so he was to Alan," said he; "and by my troth, I found his
way a very good one! But ye see, David, the loss of the ship and
the cries of these poor lads sat very ill upon the man; and I'm
thinking that would be the cause of it."
"Well, I would think so," says I; "for he was as keen as any of
the rest at the beginning. But how did Hoseason take it?"
"It sticks in my mind that he would take it very ill," says Alan.
"But the little man cried to me to run, and indeed I thought it
was a good observe, and ran. The last that I saw they were all
in a knot upon the beach, like folk that were not agreeing very
"What do you mean by that?" said I.
"Well, the fists were going," said Alan; "and I saw one man go
down like a pair of breeks. But I thought it would be better no
to wait. Ye see there's a strip of Campbells in that end of
Mull, which is no good company for a gentleman like me. If it
hadnae been for that I would have waited and looked for ye
mysel', let alone giving a hand to the little man." (It was
droll how Alan dwelt on Mr. Riach's stature, for, to say the
truth, the one was not much smaller than the other.) "So," says
he, continuing, "I set my best foot forward, and whenever I met
in with any one I cried out there was a wreck ashore. Man, they
didnae sto p to fash with me! Ye should have seen them linking
for the beach! And when they got there they found they had had
the pleasure of a run, which is aye good for a Campbell. I'm
thinking it was a judgment on the clan that the brig went down in
the lump and didnae break. But it was a very unlucky thing for
you, that same; for if any wreck had come ashore they would have
hunted high and low, and would soon have found ye."
THE HOUSE OF FEAR
Night fell as we were walking, and the clouds, which had broken
up in the afternoon, settled in and thickened, so that it fell,
for the season of the year, extremely dark. The way we went was
over rough mountainsides; and though Alan pushed on with an
assured manner, I could by no means see how he directed himself.
At last, about half-past ten of the clock, we came to the top of
a brae, and saw lights below us. It seemed a house door stood
open and let out a beam of fire and candle-light; and all round
the house and steading five or six persons were moving hurriedly
about, each carrying a lighted brand.
"James must have tint his wits," said Alan. "If this was the
soldiers instead of you and me, he would be in a bonny mess. But
I dare say he'll have a sentry on the road, and he would ken well
enough no soldiers would find the way that we came."
Hereupon he whistled three times, in a particular manner. It was
strange to see how, at the first sound of it, all the moving
torches came to a stand, as if the bearers were affrighted; and
how, at the third, the bustle began again as before.
Having thus set folks' minds at rest, we came down the brae, and
were met at the yard gate (for this place was like a well-doing
farm) by a tall, handsome man of more than fifty, who cried out
to Alan in the Gaelic.
"James Stewart," said Alan, "I will ask ye to speak in Scotch,
for here is a young gentleman with me that has nane of the other.
This is him," he added, putting his arm through mine, "a young
gentleman of the Lowlands, and a laird in his country too, but I
am thinking it will be the better for his health if we give his
name the go-by."
James of the Glens turned to me for a moment, and greeted me
courteously enough; the next he had turned to Alan.
"This has been a dreadful accident," he cried. "It will bring
trouble on the country." And he wrung his hands.
"Hoots!" said Alan, "ye must take the sour with the sweet, man.
Colin Roy is dead, and be thankful for that!"
"Ay" said James, "and by my troth, I wish he was alive again!
It's all very fine to blow and boast beforehand; but now it's
done, Alan; and who's to bear the wyte of it? The accident
fell out in Appin -- mind ye that, Alan; it's Appin that must
pay; and I am a man that has a family."
While this was going on I looked about me at the servants. Some
were on ladders, digging in the thatch of the house or the farm
buildings, from which they brought out guns, swords, and
different weapons of war; others carried them away; and by the
sound of mattock blows from somewhere farther down the brae, I
suppose they buried them. Though they were all so busy, there
prevailed no kind of order in their efforts; men struggled
together for the same gun and ran into each other with their
burning torches; and James was continually turning about from his
talk with Alan, to cry out orders which were apparently never
understood. The faces in the torchlight were like those of
people overborne with hurry and panic; and though none spoke
above his breath, their speech sounded both anxious and angry.
It was about this time that a lassie came out of the house
carrying a pack or bundle; and it has often made me smile to
think how Alan's instinct awoke at the mere sight of it.
"What's that the lassie has?" he asked.
"We're just setting the house in order, Alan," said James, in his
frightened and somewhat fawning way. "They'll search Appin with
candles, and we must have all things straight. We're digging the
bit guns and swords into the moss, ye see; and these, I am
thinking, will be your ain French clothes. We'll be to bury
them, I believe."
"Bury my French clothes!" cried Alan. "Troth, no!" And he laid
hold upon the packet and retired into the barn to shift himself,
recommending me in the meanwhile to his kinsman.
James carried me accordingly into the kitchen, and sat down with
me at table, smiling and talking at first in a very hospitable
manner. But presently the gloom returned upon him; he sat
frowning and biting his fingers; only remembered me from time to
time; and then gave me but a word or two and a poor smile, and
back into his private terrors. His wife sat by the fire and
wept, with her face in her hands; his eldest son was crouched
upon the floor, running over a great mass of papers and now and
again setting one alight and burning it to the bitter end; all
the while a servant lass with a red face was rummaging about the
room, in a blind hurry of fear, and whimpering as she went; and
every now and again one of the men would thrust in his face from
the yard, and cry for orders.
At last James could keep his seat no longer, and begged my
permission to be so unmannerly as walk about. "I am but poor
company altogether, sir," says he, "but I can think of nothing
but this dreadful accident, and the trouble it is like to bring
upon quite innocent persons."
A little after he observed his son burning a paper which he
thought should have been kept; and at that his excitement burst
out so that it was painful to witness. He struck the lad
"Are you gone gyte?" he cried. "Do you wish to hang your
father?" and forgetful of my presence, carried on at him a long
time together in the Gaelic, the young man answering nothing;
only the wife, at the name of hanging, throwing her apron over
her face and sobbing out louder than before.
This was all wretched for a stranger like myself to hear and see;
and I was right glad when Alan returned, looking like himself in
his fine French clothes, though (to be sure) they were now grown
almost too battered and withered to deserve the name of fine. I
was then taken out in my turn by another of the sons, and given
that change of clothing of which I had stood so long in need, and
a pair of Highland brogues made of deer-leather, rather strange
at first, but after a little practice very easy to the feet.
By the time I came back Alan must have told his story; for it
seemed understood that I was to fly with him, and they were all
busy upon our equipment. They gave us each a sword and pistols,
though I professed my inability to use the former; and with
these, and some ammunition, a bag of oatmeal, an iron pan, and a
bottle of right French brandy, we were ready for the heather.
Money, indeed, was lacking. I had about two guineas left; Alan's
belt having been despatched by another hand, that trusty
messenger had no more than seventeen-pence to his whole fortune;
and as for James, it appears he had brought himself so low with
journeys to Edinburgh and legal expenses on behalf of the
tenants, that he could only scrape together
three-and-five-pence-halfpenny, the most of it in coppers.
"This'll no do," said Alan.
"Ye must find a safe bit somewhere near by," said James, "and get
word sent to me. Ye see, ye'll have to get this business
prettily off, Alan. This is no time to be stayed for a guinea or
two. They're sure to get wind of ye, sure to seek ye, and by my
way of it, sure to lay on ye the wyte of this day's accident. If
it falls on you, it falls on me that am your near kinsman and
harboured ye while ye were in the country. And if it comes on
me----" he paused, and bit his fingers, with a white face. "It
would be a painful thing for our friends if I was to hang," said
"It would be an ill day for Appin," says Alan.
"It's a day that sticks in my throat," said James. "O man, man,
man--man Alan! you and me have spoken like two fools!" he cried,
striking his hand upon the wall so that the house rang again.
"Well, and that's true, too," said Alan; "and my friend from the
Lowlands here" (nodding at me) "gave me a good word upon that
head, if I would only have listened to him."
"But see here," said James, returning to his former manner, "if
they lay me by the heels, Alan, it's then that you'll be needing
the money. For with all that I have said and that you have said,
it will look very black against the two of us; do ye mark that?
Well, follow me out, and ye'll, I'll see that I'll have to get a
paper out against ye mysel'; have to offer a reward for ye; ay,
will I! It's a sore thing to do between such near friends; but
if I get the dirdum of this dreadful accident, I'll have to
fend for myself, man. Do ye see that?"
He spoke with a pleading earnestness, taking Alan by the breast
of the coat.
"Ay" said Alan, "I see that."
"And ye'll have to be clear of the country, Alan -- ay, and clear
of Scotland -- you and your friend from the Lowlands, too. For
I'll have to paper your friend from the Lowlands. Ye see that,
Alan -- say that ye see that!"
I thought Alan flushed a bit. "This is unco hard on me that
brought him here, James," said he, throwing his head back. "It's
like making me a traitor!"
"Now, Alan, man!" cried James. "Look things in the face! He'll
be papered anyway; Mungo Campbell'll be sure to paper him; what
matters if I paper him too? And then, Alan, I am a man that has
a family." And then, after a little pause on both sides, "And,
Alan, it'll be a jury of Campbells," said he.
"There's one thing," said Alan, musingly, "that naebody kens his
"Nor yet they shallnae, Alan! There's my hand on that," cried
James, for all the world as if he had really known my name and
was foregoing some advantage. "But just the habit he was in, and
what he looked like, and his age, and the like? I couldnae well
"I wonder at your father's son," cried Alan, sternly. "Would ye
sell the lad with a gift? Would ye change his clothes and then
"No, no, Alan," said James. "No, no: the habit he took off -- the
habit Mungo saw him in." But I thought he seemed crestfallen;
indeed, he was clutching at every straw, and all the time, I dare
say, saw the faces of his hereditary foes on the bench, and in
the jury-box, and the gallows in the background.
"Well, sir" says Alan, turning to me, "what say ye to, that? Ye
are here under the safeguard of my honour; and it's my part to
see nothing done but what shall please you."
"I have but one word to say," said I; "for to all this dispute I
am a perfect stranger. But the plain common-sense is to set the
blame where it belongs, and that is on the man who fired the
shot. Paper him, as ye call it, set the hunt on him; and let
honest, innocent folk show their faces in safety." But at this
both Alan and James cried out in horror; bidding me hold my
tongue, for that was not to be thought of; and asking me what the
Camerons would think? (which confirmed me, it must have been a
Cameron from Mamore that did the act) and if I did not see that
the lad might be caught? "Ye havenae surely thought of that?"
said they, with such innocent earnestness, that my hands dropped
at my side and I despaired of argument.
"Very well, then," said I, "paper me, if you please, paper Alan,
paper King George! We're all three innocent, and that seems to
be what's wanted. But at least, sir," said I to James,
recovering from my little fit of annoyance, "I am Alan's friend,
and if I can be helpful to friends of his, I will not stumble at
I thought it best to put a fair face on my consent, for I saw
Alan troubled; and, besides (thinks I to myself), as soon as my
back is turned, they will paper me, as they call it, whether I
consent or not. But in this I saw I was wrong; for I had no
sooner said the words, than Mrs. Stewart leaped out of her chair,
came running over to us, and wept first upon my neck and then on
Alan's, blessing God for our goodness to her family.
"As for you, Alan, it was no more than your bounden duty," she
said. "But for this lad that has come here and seen us at our
worst, and seen the goodman fleeching like a suitor, him that by
rights should give his commands like any king -- as for you, my
lad," she says, "my heart is wae not to have your name, but I
have your face; and as long as my heart beats under my bosom, I
will keep it, and think of it, and bless it." And with that she
kissed me, and burst once more into such sobbing, that I stood
"Hoot, hoot," said Alan, looking mighty silly. "The day comes
unco soon in this month of July; and to-morrow there'll be a fine
to-do in Appin, a fine riding of dragoons, and crying of
'Cruachan!' and running of red-coats; and it behoves you and
me to the sooner be gone."
 The rallying-word of the Campbells.
Thereupon we said farewell, and set out again, bending somewhat
eastwards, in a fine mild dark night, and over much the same
broken country as before.
THE FLIGHT IN THE HEATHER: THE ROCKS
Sometimes we walked, sometimes ran; and as it drew on to morning,
walked ever the less and ran the more. Though, upon its face,
that country appeared to be a desert, yet there were huts and
houses of the people, of which we must have passed more than
twenty, hidden in quiet places of the hills. When we came to one
of these, Alan would leave me in the way, and go himself and rap
upon the side of the house and speak awhile at the window with
some sleeper awakened. This was to pass the news; which, in that
country, was so much of a duty that Alan must pause to attend to
it even while fleeing for his life; and so well attended to by
others, that in more than half of the houses where we called they
had heard already of the murder. In the others, as well as I
could make out (standing back at a distance and hearing a strange
tongue), the news was received with more of consternation than
For all our hurry, day began to come in while we were still far
from any shelter. It found us in a prodigious valley, strewn
with rocks and where ran a foaming river. Wild mountains stood
around it; there grew there neither grass nor trees; and I have
sometimes thought since then, that it may have been the valley
called Glencoe, where the massacre was in the time of King
William. But for the details of our itinerary, I am all to seek;
our way lying now by short cuts, now by great detours; our pace
being so hurried, our time of journeying usually by night; and
the names of such places as I asked and heard being in the Gaelic
tongue and the more easily forgotten.
The first peep of morning, then, showed us this horrible place,
and I could see Alan knit his brow.
"This is no fit place for you and me," he said. "This is a place
they're bound to watch."
And with that he ran harder than ever down to the water-side, in
a part where the river was split in two among three rocks. It
went through with a horrid thundering that made my belly quake;
and there hung over the lynn a little mist of spray. Alan looked
neither to the right nor to the left, but jumped clean upon the
middle rock and fell there on his hands and knees to check
himself, for that rock was small and he might have pitched over
on the far side. I had scarce time to measure the distance or to
understand the peril before I had followed him, and he had caught
and stopped me.
So there we stood, side by side upon a small rock slippery with
spray, a far broader leap in front of us, and the river dinning
upon all sides. When I saw where I was, there came on me a deadly
sickness of fear, and I put my hand over my eyes. Alan took me
and shook me; I saw he was speaking, but the roaring of the falls
and the trouble of my mind prevented me from hearing; only I saw
his face was red with anger, and that he stamped upon the rock.
The same look showed me the water raging by, and the mist hanging
in the air: and with that I covered my eyes again and shuddered.
The next minute Alan had set the brandy bottle to my lips, and
forced me to drink about a gill, which sent the blood into my
head again. Then, putting his hands to his mouth, and his mouth
to my ear, he shouted, "Hang or drown!" and turning his back upon
me, leaped over the farther branch of the stream, and landed
I was now alone upon the rock, which gave me the more room; the
brandy was singing in my ears; I had this good example fresh
before me, and just wit enough to see that if I did not leap at
once, I should never leap at all. I bent low on my knees and
flung myself forth, with that kind of anger of despair that has
sometimes stood me in stead of courage. Sure enough, it was but
my hands that reached the full length; these slipped, caught
again, slipped again; and I was sliddering back into the lynn,
when Alan seized me, first by the hair, then by the collar, and
with a great strain dragged me into safety.
Never a word he said, but set off running again for his life, and
I must stagger to my feet and run after him. I had been weary
before, but now I was sick and bruised, and partly drunken with
the brandy; I kept stumbling as I ran, I had a stitch that came
near to overmaster me; and when at last Alan paused under a great
rock that stood there among a number of others, it was none too
soon for David Balfour.
A great rock I have said; but by rights it was two rocks leaning
together at the top, both some twenty feet high, and at the first
sight inaccessible. Even Alan (though you may say he had as good
as four hands) failed twice in an attempt to climb them; and it
was only at the third trial, and then by standing on my shoulders
and leaping up with such force as I thought must have broken my
collar-bone, that he secured a lodgment. Once there, he let down
his leathern girdle; and with the aid of that and a pair of
shallow footholds in the rock, I scrambled up beside him.
Then I saw why we had come there; for the two rocks, being both
somewhat hollow on the top and sloping one to the other, made a
kind of dish or saucer, where as many as three or four men might
have lain hidden.
All this while Alan had not said a word, and had run and climbed
with such a savage, silent frenzy of hurry, that I knew that he
was in mortal fear of some miscarriage. Even now we were on the
rock he said nothing, nor so much as relaxed the frowning look
upon his face; but clapped flat down, and keeping only one eye
above the edge of our place of shelter scouted all round the
compass. The dawn had come quite, clear; we could see the stony
sides of the valley, and its bottom, which was bestrewed with
rocks, and the river, which went from one side to another, and
made white falls; but nowhere the smoke of a house, nor any
living creature but some eagles screaming round a cliff.
Then at last Alan smiled.
"Ay" said he, "now we have a chance;" and then looking at me with
some amusement. "Ye're no very gleg at the jumping," said he.
At this I suppose I coloured with mortification, for he added at
once, "Hoots! small blame to ye! To be feared of a thing and yet
to do it, is what makes the prettiest kind of a man. And then
there was water there, and water's a thing that dauntons even me.
No, no," said Alan, "it's no you that's to blame, it's me."
I asked him why.
"Why," said he, "I have proved myself a gomeral this night. For
first of all I take a wrong road, and that in my own country of
Appin; so that the day has caught us where we should never have
been; and thanks to that, we lie here in some danger and mair
discomfort. And next (which is the worst of the two, for a man
that has been so much among the heather as myself) I have come
wanting a water-bottle, and here we lie for a long summer's day
with naething but neat spirit. Ye may think that a small matter;
but before it comes night, David, ye'll give me news of it."
I was anxious to redeem my character, and offered, if he would
pour out the brandy, to run down and fill the bottle at the
"I wouldnae waste the good spirit either," says he. "It's been a
good friend to you this night; or in my poor opinion, ye would
still be cocking on yon stone. And what's mair," says he, "ye
may have observed (you that's a man of so much penetration) that
Alan Breck Stewart was perhaps walking quicker than his
"You!" I cried, "you were running fit to burst."
"Was I so?" said he. "Well, then, ye may depend upon it, there
was nae time to be lost. And now here is enough said; gang you
to your sleep, lad, and I'll watch."
Accordingly, I lay down to sleep; a little peaty earth had
drifted in between the top of the two rocks, and some bracken
grew there, to be a bed to me; the last thing I heard was still
the crying of the eagles.
I dare say it would be nine in the morning when I was roughly
awakened, and found Alan's hand pressed upon my mouth.
"Wheesht!" he whispered. "Ye were snoring."
"Well," said I, surprised at his anxious and dark face, "and why
He peered over the edge of the rock, and signed to me to do the
It was now high day, cloudless, and very hot. The valley was as
clear as in a picture. About half a mile up the water was a camp
of red-coats; a big fire blazed in their midst, at which some
were cooking; and near by, on the top of a rock about as high as
ours, there stood a sentry, with the sun sparkling on his arms.
All the way down along the river-side were posted other sentries;
here near together, there widelier scattered; some planted like
the first, on places of command, some on the ground level and
marching and counter-marching, so as to meet half-way. Higher up
the glen, where the ground was more open, the chain of posts was
continued by horse-soldiers, whom we could see in the distance
riding to and fro. Lower down, the infantry continued; but as
the stream was suddenly swelled by the confluence of a
considerable burn, they were more widely set, and only watched
the fords and stepping-stones.
I took but one look at them, and ducked again into my place. It
was strange indeed to see this valley, which had lain so solitary
in the hour of dawn, bristling with arms and dotted with the red
coats and breeches.
"Ye see," said Alan, "this was what I was afraid of, Davie: that
they would watch the burn-side. They began to come in about two
hours ago, and, man! but ye're a grand hand at the sleeping!
We're in a narrow place. If they get up the sides of the hill,
they could easy spy us with a glass; but if they'll only keep in
the foot of the valley, we'll do yet. The posts are thinner down
the water; and, come night, we'll try our hand at getting by
"And what are we to do till night?" I asked.
"Lie here," says he, "and birstle."
That one good Scotch word, "birstle," was indeed the most of the
story of the day that we had now to pass. You are to remember
that we lay on the bare top of a rock, like scones upon a girdle;
the sun beat upon us cruelly; the rock grew so heated, a man
could scarce endure the touch of it; and the little patch of
earth and fern, which kept cooler, was only large enough for one
at a time. We took turn about to lie on the naked rock, which
was indeed like the position of that saint that was martyred on a
gridiron; and it ran in my mind how strange it was, that in the
same climate and at only a few days' distance, I should have
suffered so cruelly, first from cold upon my island and now from
heat upon this rock.
All the while we had no water, only raw brandy for a drink, which
was worse than nothing; but we kept the bottle as cool as we
could, burying it in the earth, and got some relief by bathing
our breasts and temples.
The soldiers kept stirring all day in the bottom of the valley,
now changing guard, now in patrolling parties hunting among the
rocks. These lay round in so great a number, that to look for
men among them was like looking for a needle in a bottle of hay;
and being so hopeless a task, it was gone about with the less
care. Yet we could see the soldiers pike their bayonets among
the heather, which sent a cold thrill into my vitals; and they
would sometimes hang about our rock, so that we scarce dared to
It was in this way that I first heard the right English speech;
one fellow as he went by actually clapping his hand upon the
sunny face of the rock on which we lay, and plucking it off again
with an oath. "I tell you it's 'ot," says he; and I was amazed at
the clipping tones and the odd sing-song in which he spoke, and
no less at that strange trick of dropping out the letter "h." To
be sure, I had heard Ransome; but he had taken his ways from all
sorts of people, and spoke so imperfectly at the best, that I set
down the most of it to childishness. My surprise was all the
greater to hear that manner of speaking in the mouth of a grown
man; and indeed I have never grown used to it; nor yet altogether
with the English grammar, as perhaps a very critical eye might
here and there spy out even in these memoirs.
The tediousness and pain of these hours upon the rock grew only
the greater as the day went on; the rock getting still the hotter
and the sun fiercer. There were giddiness, and sickness, and
sharp pangs like rheumatism, to be supported. I minded then, and
have often minded since, on the lines in our Scotch psalm: --
"The moon by night thee shall not smite,
Nor yet the sun by day;"
and indeed it was only by God's blessing that we were neither of
At last, about two, it was beyond men's bearing, and there was
now temptation to resist, as well as pain to thole. For the sun
being now got a little into the west, there came a patch of shade
on the east side of our rock, which was the side sheltered from
"As well one death as another," said Alan, and slipped over the
edge and dropped on the ground on the shadowy side.
I followed him at once, and instantly fell all my length, so weak
was I and so giddy with that long exposure. Here, then, we lay
for an hour or two, aching from head to foot, as weak as water,
and lying quite naked to the eye of any soldier who should have
strolled that way. None came, however, all passing by on the
other side; so that our rock continued to be our shield even in
this new position.
Presently we began again to get a little strength; and as the
soldiers were now lying closer along the river-side, Alan
proposed that we should try a start. I was by this time afraid
of but one thing in the world; and that was to be set back upon
the rock; anything else was welcome to me; so we got ourselves at
once in marching order, and began to slip from rock to rock one
after the other, now crawling flat on our bellies in the shade,
now making a run for it, heart in mouth.
The soldiers, having searched this side of the valley after a
fashion, and being perhaps somewhat sleepy with the sultriness of
the afternoon, had now laid by much of their vigilance, and stood
dozing at their posts or only kept a look-out along the banks of
the river; so that in this way, keeping down the valley and at
the same time towards the mountains, we drew steadily away from
their neighbourhood. But the business was the most wearing I had
ever taken part in. A man had need of a hundred eyes in every
part of him, to keep concealed in that uneven country and within
cry of so many and scattered sentries. When we must pass an open
place, quickness was not all, but a swift judgment not only of
the lie of the whole country, but of the solidity of every stone
on which we must set foot; for the afternoon was now fallen so
breathless that the rolling of a pebble sounded abroad like a
pistol shot, and would start the echo calling among the hills and
By sundown we had made some distance, even by our slow rate of
progress, though to be sure the sentry on the rock was still
plainly in our view. But now we came on something that put all
fears out of season; and that was a deep rushing burn, that tore
down, in that part, to join the glen river. At the sight of this
we cast ourselves on the ground and plunged head and shoulders in
the water; and I cannot tell which was the more pleasant, the
great shock as the cool stream went over us, or the greed with
which we drank of it.
We lay there (for the banks hid us), drank again and again,
bathed our chests, let our wrists trail in the running water till
they ached with the chill; and at last, being wonderfullv
renewed, we got out the meal-bag and made drammach in the iron
pan. This, though it is but cold water mingled with oatmeal, yet
makes a good enough dish for a hungry man; and where there are no
means of making fire, or (as in our case) good reason for not
making one, it is the chief stand-by of those who have taken to
As soon as the shadow of the night had fallen, we set forth
again, at first with the same caution, but presently with more
boldness, standing our full height and stepping out at a good
pace of walking. The way was very intricate, lying up the steep
sides of mountains and along the brows of cliffs; clouds had come
in with the sunset, and the night was dark and cool; so that I
walked without much fatigue, but in continual fear of falling and
rolling down the mountains, and with no guess at our direction.
The moon rose at last and found us still on the road; it was in
its last quarter, and was long beset with clouds; but after
awhile shone out and showed me many dark heads of mountains, and
was reflected far underneath us on the narrow arm of a sea-loch.
At this sight we both paused: I struck with wonder to find myself
so high and walking (as it seemed to me) upon clouds; Alan to
make sure of his direction.
Seemingly he was well pleased, and he must certainly have judged
us out of ear-shot of all our enemies; for throughout the rest of
our night-march he beguiled the way with whistling of many tunes,
warlike, merry, plaintive; reel tunes that made the foot go
faster; tunes of my own south country that made me fain to be
home from my adventures; and all these, on the great, dark,
desert mountains, making company upon the way.
THE FLIGHT IN THE HEATHER: THE HEUGH OF CORRYNAKIEGH
Early as day comes in the beginning of July, it was still dark
when we reached our destination, a cleft in the head of a great
mountain, with a water running through the midst, and upon the
one hand a shallow cave in a rock. Birches grew there in a thin,
pretty wood, which a little farther on was changed into a wood of
pines. The burn was full of trout; the wood of cushat-doves; on
the open side of the mountain beyond, whaups would be always
whistling, and cuckoos were plentiful. From the mouth of the
cleft we looked down upon a part of Mamore, and on the sea-loch
that divides that country from Appin; and this from so great a
height as made it my continual wonder and pleasure to sit and
The name of the cleft was the Heugh of Corrynakiegh; and although
from its height and being so near upon the sea, it was often
beset with clouds, yet it was on the whole a pleasant place, and
the five days we lived in it went happily.
We slept in the cave, making our bed of heather bushes which we
cut for that purpose, and covering ourselves with Alan's
great-coat. There was a low concealed place, in a turning of the
glen, where we were so bold as to make fire: so that we could
warm ourselves when the clouds set in, and cook hot porridge, and
grill the little trouts that we caught with our hands under the
stones and overhanging banks of the burn. This was indeed our
chief pleasure and business; and not only to save our meal
against worse times, but with a rivalry that much amused us, we
spent a great part of our days at the water-side, stripped to the
waist and groping about or (as they say) guddling for these fish.
The largest we got might have been a quarter of a pound; but they
were of good flesh and flavour, and when broiled upon the coals,
lacked only a little salt to be delicious.
In any by-time Alan must teach me to use my sword, for my