The Project Gutenberg eBook of White Cockades, by Edward Irenæus Stevenson

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Title: White Cockades

An Incident of the "Forty-Five"

Author: Edward Irenæus Stevenson

Release Date: March 19, 2022 [eBook #67658]

Language: English

Produced by: anonymous Project Gutenberg volunteers


Book cover

All was dark as he turned toward the landing. —(P.68.)

"All was dark as he turned toward the landing."
—(p. 68.)


An Incident of the "Forty-Five"



Copyright, 1887, by




In a Highland Glade, 1
A Story and a Shelter, 17
"In the King's Name", 30
"Puss in the Corner", 52
In which Captain Jermain's Memory is Useful, 66
A Desperate Shift, 85
Prisoner and Sentry, 109
Meeting—Flight, 140
Colonel Danforth, 161
All for Him, 184
Under the Oak, 202
L'Envoi, 213



Just as the brilliancy of a singularly clear July afternoon, in the year above named, was diminishing into that clear, white light which, in as high a Scotch latitude as Loch Arkaig, lasts long past actual sunset, Andrew Boyd, a Highland lad of sixteen, was putting the finishing strokes to the notch in the trunk of a good-sized oak he was felling. Its thick foliage waved rather mournfully, as if in expectancy of near doom, over the boy's head. That oak had engaged Andrew's attention pretty much all the afternoon. He was glad to be so well on toward his work's close.

Around the young wood-cutter soughed the dense forest. It clothed the mountain side, straight from the margin of the loch below. Andrew's blows rang quick and true against the trunk. His springy back, his well-developed legs and arms, came handsomely into play. On the moss lay his plaid and bonnet. The sweat dripped from his forehead, not much cooled by the breeze that tossed his yellow hair and the folds of his kilt.

Young Boyd did not cut down oak-trees for a livelihood, though he just now worked as if fortune had mapped a no less arduous career for him. He was the only son of a wealthy landholder of the vicinity, a man of English descent and English thrift. Andrew's grandfather came north into Scotland from Shrewsbury, in a sort of angry freak after a local quarrel. He bought and developed a valuable farm near Loch Arkaig, and then suddenly died upon it, leaving the newly acquired estate to Gilbert Boyd, the father of young Andrew. All of which had happened some forty years before this tale's beginning.

One, two—one, two—rang the axe upon the tough wood which Andrew wished for the boat he was building, down at the loch side. His thoughts ran an accompaniment. We spare the reader their translation from the Scotch dash in which they were couched, the result of Andrew's schooling and intimacies round about him.

"There! Have at you again, old tree! How I wish you were a dragon, and I some Saint George busy at carving you!" One, two—one, two—quoth the axe, approvingly. "No, I don't! Away with any wish that meddles with saint or man that the Lowlanders love!" One, two—one, two—assented the axe. "Better wish that you were the little English King George himself! and I a stout headsman, ready to knock his crown off, head and all!"

The chopper's brows knit. His eyes flashed at a notion that struck a specially sensitive chord. "Ah, you stockish trunk, if you only were George, the Dutchman! Tyrant! Monster! Will you withdraw your troops from our harried counties? Will you end now, at once, your bloodthirsty hunt for the Prince?—God bless him! Will you empty out that horrid Tower, full of our noble gentlemen and lords who fought for the Lost Cause? Will you pardon my father's friend, the Earl of Arkaig, and send him home straightway to us? What, you won't? Take that, then!—and that!"

Here the axe-strokes descended with such vim and amid such a meteoric shower of chips that no clear-headed listener could entertain for a moment doubt as to hot-headed young Boyd's politics. The oak sighed, and rather unexpectedly crackled and snapped, and came crashing down most magnificently.

But halloa! At the instant that its mighty top smashed into the underbrush and saplings, a single sharp, piercing cry of pain and terror rang out above the crackle and splinterings.

Andrew dropped the axe. He rested rigid as stone, open-mouthed, in sudden alarm and consternation. "What!" he exclaimed. "Great Heaven! Can it be that—that a human creature—a man—was hid in the thicket, and that when the oak fell——"

"Help! help! for the love of mercy!" The appeal, fainter than the first cry, rose from the densest crush of the shattered oak branches. There could be no mistake. Some one had been slinking in the bushes near young Boyd; possibly a Hanoverian spy! Through his own unaccountable carelessness the unseen person had allowed himself to be suddenly trapped by the boughs of the falling tree. He was pinned in a torturing, if not a fatal trap.

Andrew's sharp eyes could not penetrate the barricade of dark green. "Hi, there! Halloa!" he shouted. "Are ye under the oak? What has befallen ye, man, or whatever ye be?"

No answer. To catch up his axe and plunge boldly into the tangle was his next impulse. He hewed and trampled a path toward the centre of the felled tree, which had been young but very vigorous and leafy. No trace of any unusual object imprisoned beneath the knitted boughs, no new cry for help guided him.

He began to doubt whether to press to right or left, or to go round about and continue his examination from another point of the oak's circumference, when a low but distinct groan spurred him to more active work in the same direction. Forcing aside the strong branches by his knees, he caught sight of a dark object just beyond. He next discerned a cloth garment, covering a man's back. The yet invisible wearer had been all this time in a faint, and was now able to betray but small sign of interest in his own deliverance.

"This way, this way," Andrew heard him moan, as if articulating with real anguish; "I am hurt badly, I fear. I cannot stir."

The accent, not so Scotch as Andrew's, seemed gentle. The mysterious interloper might then be some well-bred prowler. Andrew thrust away the last intervening twigs. There lay on the turf a man, at full length, and face downward, with one arm and a part of his right shoulder held as if in a vice by the oak's grasp. His well-turned neck and figure implied to Andrew's hasty survey that he was young and comely.

"Whatever you do, man, don't try to move!" exclaimed Andrew; "leave your outgetting to me. I'll set you free in a trice."

He went to work cautiously but swiftly to do it.

"And my ankle is fast too"—came the smothered complaint. "Look—you will see how—my leg—is held!"

Andrew looked. "'Twill be free speedily, sir!" he answered cheerfully, already impressed by the fortitude of the tormented man. "Be but a bit patient, sir. That's it; now you can roll to the left, please." He employed axe and helve adroitly as he spoke. "Now, to the right; up, up—that's it, sir. What a miracle your skull 'scaped the fork."

The victim rolled over, displaying the countenance of an entire stranger, eight or ten years Andrew's senior, and with strikingly handsome features. "Thank you, thank you, my good friend!" he gasped, pulling himself to his feet; "that was the torture of a fiend, I assure you! Your hand, one instant, please."

By dint of leaning on Andrew's arm, and after several battles with successive tough boughs, in which the new-comer showed that he possessed strength and dexterity, the two finally scrambled out of all the labyrinth of foliage and into clear space. Andrew flung down the axe and assisted his new acquaintance to a seat upon the prostrate trunk.

"The next matter is to examine your hurts, sir!" Boyd exclaimed, taking a sharp look at his dignified protégé. The latter returned this scrutiny as keenly, however.

"I begin to suspect that such hurts amount to little or naught," returned the stranger, dropping Andrew's hand which he had held in a grateful pressure. "I have nothing worse than a bruised shin, a scraped shoulder and back, I fancy. Heaven be blessed, nothing is broken in my anatomy!"

Andrew laughed, although he knelt down all the same and began a rigid inspection of the bruises. He remarked how spare and muscular were the stranger's legs and arms, as if from much exertion and little food. His costume was odd: a faded Highland suit, rent and stained, ill-fitting brogans, agape with holes cut by mountain flints; his throat and face were surprisingly sunburnt, though his natural complexion seemed to be fair. But what of his clothing or his tan? As the man leaned against the prostrate trunk, with one leg boldly out before the other for Andrew's care, there was something commanding, fascinating to Boyd in his whole bearing. Andrew had not read Shakespeare, but if he had he might well have recalled the lines in "Coriolanus":

"——though thy tackle's torn
Thou showest a noble vessel."

While the hurried surgery progressed the object of it aided therein with no small skill, venting now and then an ejaculation of pain. He stealthily studied Andrew. It was a question which should first act on the opinions shaped by this mutual caution. But in those gray blue eyes sparkled a quizzical light that made Andrew smile, as he suddenly observed it, when rising from his bowed attitude.

"Name for name, it must be, I see; and faction for faction, eh? Well, I don't wonder that you and I have eyed each other askance. These be days when honest men can ill be known as such. It would be strange, too, if loyal subjects of Hanover, like you and your axe, should not remember spies and renegades when you pluck strangers out of tree-tops."

"You—you overheard my thoughts while I hewed!" returned Andrew, first red, then pale. "I—I knew not that I ran them so heedlessly into speech. Evil speech to be overheard, sir."

"Your tongue has a Lowland twang to it, whatever little to please a Lowlander it spoke," said the stranger. "You are right my lad; what you prattled there, by yourself, as you thought, was treason—with a vengeance. Know you not that these mountains are filled with those who would gladly tie your arms behind your back and gallop you off to Neith jail, for half such sentiments. Or"—and here the voice became tinged with a profound sadness, "or, have you been, young as you seem, like myself, a defender of that most unlucky young soldier, my master, Charles Stewart, who, a hunted refugee, with an army cut to pieces and a realm lost, is skulking to-day in some corner of the country with death at his heels and a price upon his head—instead of a crown-royal."

Andrew drew himself back proudly and stared into his questioner's face. "Sir," he exclaimed, "I see you are a soldier! You may be a Southerner as well. I care not. God save the Prince! I love him! God defend him! So will say my father and every man and woman at Windlestrae! I was too young—so they pleased to think—to fight at Culloden Moor, and my father has just tided over a long sickness. But for these things we had both been there—and dead, by now, 'tis very likely."

The stranger fairly leaped from his resting-place. "Your hand, your hand, young sir!" he demanded, his face suffused with color. "Rash as you are loyal, let me press it! I, too, love the Prince, our master; and I, too, hope yet to see him make a footstool of his enemies. My name is Geoffry Armitage—Lord Armitage I am oftenest called. Windlestrae, said you? Then I speak to one of those to whom I am sent on an errand from which yonder villainous tree did its best to let me. Are you Peter—no, Andrew Boyd, the son of Gilbert Boyd, who owns the manor of Windlestrae?"

"I am, sir," replied Andrew, in deepening surprise: "this very nook of the woodland we stand in belongs to my father and is within our farm. The manor house and fields are but half-an-hour from this spot; below the hill-foot yonder."

"Fortune favors me at last!" cried Lord Geoffry, seating himself again on the trunk. "I bring a long message from the minister of Sheilar Kirk, that I have to give to your father. I am a fugitive, as you may have already guessed from the disparity between a title and my dress. A fugitive? Yes, and one who has often thought that his life might better have been left where the cause for which he would have laid it down was lost—on Culloden Moor."

"Culloden!" exclaimed Andrew, "Oh! sir, were you truly in the fight? Tell me more of it, I beseech you."

"Ay—for whatever in my own history is worth telling you or your father begins with it!" the ruined nobleman replied in a melancholy tone. He paused. Andrew heard him murmur, "Can I speak of that day so soon?" But he composed his utterance, and after a quick glance about them looked up at Andrew, to begin his brief account of himself.


"You would hear more of—Culloden?" began the fugitive. "Not from me! I headed a charge of foot under Lord George Murray on that fatal day. My men were cut to pieces before my eyes. I, after what last, desperate stand for liberty one arm could make against a score of the enemy, was taken prisoner in a ditch—in a ditch, like a fox or a badger!——"

"But you escaped?" Andrew interrupted.

"Ay, I escaped, after three days of starvation and brutality. The hand of God seemed to deliver me—I know not what else to call that series of events that saw me free and able to fly for my life. Favored again by a dozen happy occurrences I reached these mountains. They are swarming with gallant fellows as unlucky as myself. Now some brave Highlander sheltered me in his cottage; now I lay, night after night, in holes and caves, when the English troops who scout the hillsides for refugees came too close to my retreat. Some weeks ago I ventured to come westward, and Solomon McMucklestane, the old minister at Sheilar Kirk, received me into his manse. He hid me there, he, at the risk of his all. I have had a brief respite for rest and the regaining of my strength."

"Have you been forced to turn from Sheilar also?" said Andrew, who listened with the deepest interest to the Jacobite's tale.

"Yes. You have heard that Colonel Danforth has lately begun his searches in the neighborhood of Sheilar? It seems that he has lately got wind of the fact that the neighborhood hides one or two lurking Jacobites. My reverend host was warned upon Monday that he and his manse were suspected. I was obliged to be off again. On Tuesday night I quitted him, directed by him to your father, and expecting to reach your farm yesterday. I saw soldiery and abandoned the highway. My path of uncertainty over these wild slopes I quickly lost. With only glimpses of the pallid Loch yonder to guide me, I have wandered in desperation. I slept last night airily—in a stout yew. This evening the sound of your axe all at once caught my ear. I followed it. You can understand that I should think it best to study your face and appearance from the shelter of the thicket before advancing to a stranger. My excitement and fear of your observing me made me careless, I presume, for I did not notice how nearly your wooden King George was done for until too late to escape his clutches. (I hope it is not an omen.) Down came the oak, and I under it.

"Such is my story, friend Andrew. I am glad to have found one from your household at last. You see before you," and Lord Geoffry again smiled bitterly, "no English spy—only a hunted, hiding follower of the Prince, come to beg for your father's and your pity, and to pray for shelter until escape from this dangerous region is possible. It has never seemed less so than now."

Andrew could contain himself no longer.

"What a blessed chance was it which led me to stay here a couple of hours later than I purposed; simply to finish bringing down that oak! Ah, my lord! You do not know my father! I do. You will be welcome a hundred times to our house, and all that we have. It will go hard if you quit Windlestrae, except in safety. Let us lose no more time in getting down to the Manor, and my father's presence. To him must you tell over your story and at once receive the earnest of his help."

"God bless you both! and after a night's rest I shall be better able to hear and discuss new plans for my welfare," said Lord Geoffry. "A little food might not be amiss either," he added carelessly. There was a peculiar sweetness in his smile and an air of dignity which had already made its fascination felt upon young Andrew Boyd.

"Ay, this is a soldier indeed," the lad thought, "able to endure peril, and hunger, and thirst, and fatigue, and laugh over them!"

The boy caught up his bonnet and plaid and thrust the axe under the oak's trunk. "Take my arm, my lord," he urged courteously. The wearied man accepted it, and they set out.

"There are some questions I ought to ask, friend Andrew, while we go," said the young nobleman, as they entered a narrow, stony path leading upward from the glade. The sunless sky was still bright overhead. "First of all, have the soldiery been prowling around your Manor or its neighborhood?"

"Until lately they have scarcely shown themselves near us. Colonel Danforth and his dragoons are stationed at Neith—as you too well know—with orders from the Duke of Cumberland to arrest any suspected Jacobites. But we have seen nothing of Danforth or his band."

"And what of the Duke himself and the garrison to the northeast, at Fort Augustus?"

"They have been equally quiet. The Manor lies midway between both garrisons; the troopers have harried the settlements closer to their hand. But—but—there is a better reason, my lord, for Windlestrae's being let alone."

"And what is that? Your father's friend, at Sheilar, I think hinted at some special one. I did not pay the heed which I should to his words."

"Why, my lord, my grandfather was an Englishman like yourself; and my father lived thirty years upon English ground, and spoke the English tongue before he came hither to live. Our Scottish neighbors have always counted us Whigs! They have never ceased to suspect my father of favoring the cause of King George—though he has said many a bold word for the Lost Cause. Worse still, my father was too ill to enlist under the Prince, as he would gladly have done; and this has set our neighbors yet more bitterly against him. We have no character as patriots, sir."

"You think that the English troops in the town and at the Fort hold your father a good partisan of their own king?"

"Exactly, my lord; and hence is it, I am sure, that our Manor has been so let alone by the enemy during these past weeks of spying and searching. The ill-color of my father's name shall stand you in good stead. There is no house in Scotland where a Jacobite would less be thought a-lurking or protected. But my father has felt the unkind opinions of his Scotch neighbors very deeply."

"Strange!" said Lord Geoffry, as if to himself, "the hand of heaven seems to lead me still. To find, in the heart of Scotland, Englishmen who are loyal to the Stewarts!"

While they spoke the lad guided Lord Geoffry rapidly along the flinty, steep path, which did not admit of their now walking side by side. It so continually twisted and turned and the trees shut it in so closely that Lord Armitage presently confessed that he could not imagine which point of the compass lay before him.

"We cross directly over the top of this mountain, my lord," explained Andrew. "Windlestrae Manor lies in the valley. We shall presently go down by a steep mountain-road which our wood-cutters use, after we reach a clearing on the summit of the hill, whence you might be able to trace all your late wanderings from Balloch and get a glimpse of the chimneys of the Manor also."

Sure enough, our two quick walkers presently attained exactly this spot—the crown of the ridge. A remarkable prospect was to be viewed from it. The loch lay behind them; on the left, a wooded, rugged extent of country, stretching toward Neith; and descending from their feet, the mountain waving with foliage. In the valley below Sir Geoffry could distinctly see some substantial buildings and tall chimney-pots.

"The Manor," said Andrew, pointing at these last. To the north continued the plain, with wild hills on the west closing the scene—altogether a savage Inverness landscape, not less romantic in the evening light.

But neither wished now to tarry for gazing. They left the cleared space behind. At once began the descent of the hill. Their course was almost a series of plunges. They darted between bowlders, they overleaped trees fallen across the scarcely traceable path; they sprang over tiny cascades pouring down the slope. The excitement of such a rapid journey made Armitage forget well-nigh everything except keeping breath and footing. Andrew noticed that he was not much the better mountaineer of the two.

They landed in a glen at the foot of the mountain. "We cross this," explained Andrew. They did so, and as well two tracts of boggy land. Grain-fields and hay-ricks succeeded, and then the barns and Manor House of Windlestrae were suddenly looming before them. Lord Geoffry perceived that Andrew's father must be a man of wealth. Just as he was about to ask the boy whether it would be well for them to enter the house together, Andrew exclaimed, "Huzzah! There is my father this minute!"

"Where?" asked Lord Armitage, eagerly.

"He comes yonder, through the gate, talking with two of the farm-hands. He usually walks here after his supper."

From the southwest corner of the field approached Gilbert Boyd. He was a tall, gray-haired man, decidedly English in style and feature, but dressed in the usual attire of a Highland landholder of the best rank. He appeared engaged in an excited discussion with two stalwart servants accompanying him. Andrew and his companion could catch the sound of the uplifted voices. Andrew put his fingers to his lips and whistled shrill. The elder Boyd, startled by the sound, stopped short in a sentence and looked up. He perceived Andrew and the stranger advancing.

"Stay you where you are," Lord Geoffry heard him say quickly to the tall servants. Gilbert then came on alone. The fugitive began to wonder what sort of a reception awaited him.


He need not have had any misgivings. The rugged face of the Master of Windlestrae underwent rapid changes as he listened to his young son's breathless story. Then he came striding across to the fugitive nobleman with outstretched palm. Andrew looked delighted enough at this quick show of cordiality to a man by whom he already was not a little fascinated.

As the elder Boyd halted in front of Lord Geoffry the latter instantly decided that he had seldom seen a more naturally commanding figure and a face fuller of resolution than this transplanted Englishman's—his tall, sturdy form, iron-grizzled hair, and keen gray eyes.

"Welcome, welcome, my lord!" he exclaimed; "welcome to the board and hearth of Windlestrae! My son has bidden you be so, and I echo his greeting. Surely all Scotland is at the service of those who have drawn blade for—its rightful sovereign."

The two men shook hands, and Boyd's mighty grip thrilled Lord Armitage's heart. He tried to falter out something about being "an ill-omened bird to flutter to so peaceful a roost."

"Peaceful? Tut, tut, my lord, no roost is peaceful when there be so many hawks in the air. Andrew, lad, run—hasten to the Manor before us. Bid Girzie and Mistress Annan prepare supper and all things suitable for our guest. I must trouble Lord Geoffry with questionings and doubtless make him many answers, while we shall come after you."

Andrew sped away toward the house, which ended the lane. The two older men came on more slowly.

"First, my lord," began Gilbert Boyd, "as my son has surely told you, you have come to the house in this neighborhood where you will be safest from pursuit. My good friends hereabouts have never forgot that my father was Southern-born and that I speak Scotch only when I must. Hence it follows that I am worthy to be hanged as a traitor. For once, though, I am glad that I stand in such sorely false light. The soldiers have troubled themselves little about Windlestrae, and have ransacked many of the loud-mouthed patriots instead."

"And you have had no raidings from Colonel Danforth's troop?" asked Lord Geoffry.

Boyd laughed disdainfully. "His soldiery have occasionally moved toward the Manor, my lord, but even that seldom. I confess, I have been surprised at my good fortune. One afternoon Danforth and his company galloped past the crossroads, a couple of miles down yonder, and asked one of my neighbors, 'Who lives up yonder?' 'Boyd of Windlestrae,' says the lad. 'Well, then, we'll go no further up that way to-day!' cries Danforth; 'that man Boyd is as sound a Whig as ourselves and his wine is most properly bad.' So away they rode, good riddance to them."

"Safe for long or not, I can at least be sure of a supper and a bedchamber less airy than a tree," Lord Armitage responded cheerily; "and both I will enjoy, although Danforth suddenly alter his mind and come to open every closet in your Manor House."

"Hm!" grunted Boyd, with a peculiar expression. "He will hardly do that."

They passed thatched barns and low stables. It was now growing murky and dark. The Manor House was next reached, a rambling but dignified structure, built of gray stone and apparently remarkably roomy and comfortable. Gilbert pushed open the thick oaken door and motioned his guest to enter. One or two servants were hurrying along the wainscoted hall, running in and out of a dining-parlor. Andrew appeared from this, and with him an elderly woman, Mistress Janet Annan, the housekeeper, who courtesied to the master and the unexpected guest. Andrew's mother had died in giving birth to her only child.

The hall and aforesaid dining-parlor were brightly lighted. The excellent supper—to which Lord Armitage did ravenous justice, seconded by Andrew—was hurried through in silence; Boyd absorbed in ministering to the wants of his guest. In the Manor it was already rumored that the master had suddenly met an old friend; and this explanation satisfied the present curiosity of the servants' hall.

"To-morrow morning they shall be told the truth," Boyd said reflectively. "They must not be permitted to gossip. They are all loyal-hearted men and women. And now, my lord," he continued, as Lord Geoffry pushed back his chair from the table and exclaimed, "I am quite another man already!" in his refreshment—"now you must to your rest without a moment's loss. To-morrow we can discuss together the means of forwarding you to the sea-coast. Candles, son Andrew! To the Purple Chamber."

Andrew led the way up a staircase of very respectable breadth and ease. The room designated as "the Purple Chamber"—from sundry faded hangings—proved a fair-sized apartment with three casements and a low-studded ceiling. A formidable four-posted bed and accompanying furniture graced it, and a trifle of fire flickered on the hearth. Gilbert locked the door, as Andrew set down the candlesticks on a tall chest of drawers. "Nay, wait my lad," he said, as he turned toward the door, "I have something to impart to both our guests and you."

In some surprise, Andrew returned and leaned against one of the heavy chairs in silence.

"My lord," began Boyd, turning to Armitage, "you spoke a while ago of Danforth searching the very closets—was it?—of Windlestrae Manor, if once his suspicions that it sheltered such refugees as yourself should be stirred. I care not if he do—provided no earthquake and no traitor disclose to him one of them, built in this old rookery long before my father bought it and added to it. Until this day have I preserved one secret of it from you, son, with the rest. There opens from the wall yonder as snug a hiding-hole as any in Scotland."

"A secret chamber!" ejaculated both Boyd's auditors, following the pointing of his hand.

"Ay," replied he, approaching Andrew, with a smile upon his grim features. "The Mouse's Nest—so my father heard it called. I doubt not that it hid many a Jacobite in the first uprising. Andrew, is yonder door locked? Good. Now mark!"

Boyd pushed back the hangings and pressed his hand steadily on the joining of the wainscot at some spot which he identified after an instant's quick scrutiny. To Andrew's intense astonishment, part of the jamb of the chimney-piece slid back into the thickness of the wall. A narrow door-way was revealed leading into darkness.

Andrew was more surprised at the existence of this unsuspected mystery than Lord Armitage. The latter had been shown many similar hiding-places in old French and English mansions, he declared.

"Let us within," Gilbert Boyd said; and they passed into a long and narrow sort of closet, not more than five feet wide, but of six or seven times that length. Gray stone, above, below—everywhere; rough-hewn and clammy; no plastering. The place would have been scarcely at all lighted, and that only at its upper end, without the candles carried by Boyd. An opening a few inches square, that Andrew discovered, some ten feet above their heads, seemed constructed only to admit air, although a faint light also found entrance thereby.

On the floor lay two or three stag-skins, and a couple of small stools, a taper, and flint and steel; and a pallet in the farther corner completed the furnishings.

Lord Armitage and Andrew surveyed the place curiously, and Gilbert explained the means of opening it and securing the panel from within.

"It has not been used in my recollection, my lord," he said, laughing, as the jamb reclosed. "I trust it may not be; yet if Danforth come too close, your retreat is secure; and I warrant you one he will not fathom! Knowing that I have such a guest-room for such a guest is a rare satisfaction to me to-night."

Father and son then bade the young refugee good-night and left him to get to bed; he declining all valeting from Andrew. Lord Geoffry was indeed so exhausted, and the homespun sheets of Mistress Annan's purveyance seemed so cool, that he fell back into them, asleep, almost as he touched them.

That sound repose lasted far into the afternoon of the next day. The Manor House was kept quiet by the master's order, lest word or foot-fall should waken the young knight out of season. He left his chamber, on Andrew's arm, as the tall clock on the landing of the staircase struck four.

"Ha! you look like a new man!" exclaimed Gilbert; "your color has come back; your eye sparkles like a live coal!"

Seated at the table in the dining-room, the master showed that, while his guest had slept, he had not been careless for his welfare. In the first place, the trustworthy servants of the Manor had been solemnly informed of the situation at morning prayers, and each one pledged to secrecy and assistance.

"And when do you think that I can proceed eastward to the sea-coast?" asked Lord Geoffry, anxiously.

"Within three weeks, I trust," replied the master—"not before. Inside of that time I shall have marked out your route for you, and started you in loyal hands upon it from one shelter to the other. In the meantime, you must abide here with us plain folk of Windlestrae. I am glad to say that we have heard no more of Danforth to-day."

Nor came there any such unwelcome tidings. The day passed quietly, each hour benefiting Lord Armitage in body and spirit. The second night that he slept under the Manor's roof was spent as tranquilly as the first. His strength and vivacity were doubled by it. The next few days he did nothing but eat and sleep, or, shut up for the most part within the comfortable Purple Chamber, talk with Andrew and Boyd or Mistress Annan of his travels and hardships. The rest and a sense of security did him worlds of good, and he grew more entertaining and full of merriment each hour of it.

"I never saw such a fellow!" Gilbert remarked once to Mistress Annan. "One would think that he were at ease and freedom in some court, instead of in daily danger of a hanging! What a careless, happy temper! Hearken to him, laughing this minute with my lad, as though he had never a trouble in the world!"

"And I am na sorry for it, sir," Mistress Annan stoutly responded; "'tis o' God's favor that his heart is sae licht! Wad ye hae the puir man gae roun' wi' the shadow o' the gibbet in front o' his twa bonny eyes?" Mistress Annan, in truth, was quite bewitched with Lord Geoffry's engaging glances and his gay tongue.

Both Andrew and his father observed one thing--how little the young exile spoke of England; of his home there, or of the Lowland life and cities. But he explained this one morning by confessing that he had lived most of his life in Paris, his only brother, Guy, looking after the family estate.

"I am more a Frenchman than an Englishman, I fear," he admitted, smiling; and often, as if unconsciously, he would begin a sentence in the French, that seemed to come upon his lips spontaneously; and the light songs he hummed were echoes of the gay days of Fontainebleau and the court of Louis XV. But, French or English, all the little household agreed that a more gallant, a jollier spirit had never sat at their table, or whiled away long evenings with reminiscences of famous men, fair women, and strange adventures.

It was not until the third day, by the way, that they discovered him to be a Roman Catholic; but then so great a proportion of the Stewart adherents were of the older faith that Gilbert was not displeased. Besides, the refugee was quite as devout at the morning and evening prayers and accompanying Bible-reading of the Manor family as Mistress Annan herself. That good woman was so edified by Lord Geoffry's respect to religion and solemn recognition of Providence in his escapes that she confessed to Girzie Inglis, her head hand-maiden: "Aiblins thae Papists are nae all sic children o' the Deil, as I hae been tauld! Yon's a gude young man—a gude young man! The Lord bring him to mair pairfect licht!"

So passed four days. At noon of the fourth the sky was overcast. In less than an hour thick mist and rain shut out almost all the light, and it grew so dark that the Manor had to be illumined by candles. At supper everybody was in the best of moods; Gilbert at the head of the table, the red firelight showing his grim face relaxed as he listened to Lord Geoffry's keen speeches; Andrew next the knight; and Mistress Annan forgetting to put her cup to her lips or adjust her cap more trimly, in her reluctant enjoyment of such unaccustomed fun. "I fear me 'tis no Christian behavior in me to be sae frivolous!" her Presbyterian conscience whispered; but she laughed all the more in spite of the Presbyterian conscience. Neil Auchcross, Boyd's main manager of the farm, was the only other person for whom a cover was laid. The table was bountifully spread, and Mistress Annan had set it with their store of silver, in honor of Lord Geoffry. In the kitchen the more menial servants were also supping.

Suddenly, in a brief silence throughout the dining-parlor, there came a sound to the ears of each one present. It struck them all alike with alarm. Lusty voices, not far off, were singing together.

"Hark!" exclaimed Boyd, "what do you think that sound can be?"

Auchcross leaped up and threw open the heavy window.

Through the mist and darkness rang into the cheerful old room the notes of a familiar drinking-song:

. . . "King George, God bless him forever!
And down with the White Cockades!" . . .

The trampling of hoofs, the dull clank of steel, accompanied this chorus, borne on the murky breeze of the night.

"Danforth's cavalry!" cried Boyd and Auchcross.

"What! coming up toward Windlestrae?" exclaimed Lord Geoffry, springing from his seat.

"I fear it—I fear it!" muttered Boyd, leaning out of the casement into the driving mist. The rest hearkened at his back, breathless.

The roystering voices, the thud of hoofs and a single whinny, sounded nearer than before.

Gilbert drew himself quickly inside the room again and pulled Neil and the shutters with him.

"It is! It is Danforth!" he cried. "This misty night, of all others! We have not a moment to waste! They may have set out directly for the Manor to see what discoveries can be made here. Very good! Andrew, ask no questions, but assemble all the household in the hall! Neil, go you to find Hugh and Malcolm. My lord, with me to the Purple Chamber—and the Mouse's Nest!"

The singers in their saddles were not fifty yards off by the time Andrew, Neil, and Mistress Annan had executed Boyd's orders, in ignorance of what was to be gained by them; and seen the four or five women and as many men-servants, constituting the Windlestrae household, seated on the benches and stools in the hall. Each one knew what was the imminent danger which had stolen a march on them and their guest. Each was prepared to do all possible to avert it. Mistress Annan and the maids were so white and trembling that Andrew feared discovery through their very looks. But Armitage was his next thought. Turning his back on the confused and whispering group in the hall, he dashed up-stairs.

"Back, son!" Gilbert Boyd exclaimed, sternly, catching the lad in his arms on the landing-place. "Back, I say! He is safe!"

"Safe? Lord Geoffry? Is he in the Mouse's Nest? Oh, father, tell me!"

The sound of the singing, mingled with calls and something like argument, as if the intruders were discussing the direction of the Manor House in the fog, now were clearly audible. Boyd sprang down-stairs into the hall, drawing Andrew with him.

"Girzie!" cried he—"Mistress Annan! They have turned up from the gate! Bring candles—candles—from the table."

They were back with them at once, the grease dripping to the floor through the trembling of their hands. Gilbert motioned them all not to move from the settles along the wainscot. "Sit ye still there," he whispered, hoarsely. He dropped into an arm-chair beside the candles, flapped open some book which he carried, and exclaimed, in a firm voice, "Let us sing the praise—of God—in the Thirtieth Psalm."—and thereupon led off the verse!

Andrew caught the idea that lay behind this extraordinary conduct. But could Windlestrae seem to Colonel Danforth a quiet Scotch household, engaged in the usual family prayers, untroubled by trembling hearts or the care of a Jacobite refugee?

Somehow or other he and the rest found voice to unite in the psalm with the master. Those approaching outside heard the melody. Then came a louder trampling, the thud of dismounting riders, loud, coarse accents, and spurs jingling on the very porch.

A thundering knock broke off the Thirtieth Psalm in its second verse. Mistress Annan gasped audibly in terror.

"Halloo there! Open, in the King's name!" rang out a stern voice.

"Andrew, open the door!" commanded Gilbert.

Andrew obeyed.


In the fog outside flared a torch or two. The candle-lit hall sent forth a pale stream. Five horsemen in their saddles could be discerned—but not Danforth. Nor was Danforth the trooper who had alighted to knock—a short, young fellow with a swarthy skin, a magnificent mustache, and eyes as black as the long, damp cloak tossed back over his shoulder. It swayed as he bowed with unexpected ceremony.

"Is this the Manor House of Windlestrae?—and do I address its master?" he asked, in a commanding but civil tone, peering past Andrew into the hall.

Gilbert Boyd laid aside the psalm-book with studied calmness, coming forward to the doorway.

"It is. I am Gilbert Boyd, the Master of Windlestrae, sir," he responded, courteously. "What is your pleasure?"

Both his own and Andrew's minds were fully prepared for the answer: "I am in the service of the King and have reason to believe that there is now hidden in this dwelling a Jacobite rebel and refugee, Lord Geoffry Armitage."

But, oh, unexpected occurrence! not such was the response. In an accent yet more courteous, the unknown cavalier returned. "Pardon the rudeness of our summons, Mr. Boyd. I fear—I see, that we disturb your evening devotions. The house was so dark as we rode hither that we could scarce tell whether it was really tenanted or not. My name is Jermain—Captain Jermain. I was ordered this morning to convey a message to Colonel Danforth at Neith, and I set out from Fort Augustus with a few of our troop. Unluckily this fog came up apace. Our escort speedily became dispersed. They are now somewhere in the hills, behind. We lost our own road; and, encumbered by a rebel prisoner that we were fortunate enough to capture on the way, we found ourselves almost at your doors before we knew our bearings."

Andrew's heart gave a leap, as he realized that these were not the expected and dreaded guests; but others who came by accident! Evidently they knew nothing of the man hidden within his father's walls. It was an unspeakable relief!

Gilbert Boyd was not a whit behind him in apprehension and gratefulness: "You have, indeed, fared poorly, sir," he said, motioning the young officer to step within his threshold. "What with by-paths and cross-roads the track is difficult in fair weather. I presume that my sending one of my household with you, until you need his guidance no longer, will be a welcome offer."

"For which I thank you," laughed the young trooper; "but, begging your pardon, I don't intend to ask that favor until to-morrow. It is no evening for travelling, Mr. Boyd—and my faith! nothing but a bayonet's point, I fear, will turn me out of your hospitable doors to-night. You must find quarters, no matter how poor, for us few weary men, until daylight. I have learned too much of Highland kindness to fear that you will not—eh? House, barn or shed—it is all one to me and my little troop."

In spite of the ingratiating tone, a command of a sort common enough to all the region at the time, lurked unmistakably in the dragoon-captain's smooth words. Gilbert recognized this. At the precise hour when he was sheltering a proscribed and hunted Jacobite, he must entertain, as best he could, a handful of the very men who, did they suspect the other's nearness, would delight to drag him forth to his death, as, very possibly, they were preparing to do with their prisoner out yonder!

But it was no moment to allow more than a bewildered thought of the untoward complication and how it must be met.

"Gude sauf us!" ejaculated poor Mistress Annan in her heart, "what an awfu' kind o' game o' puss in the corner we're a' like to be playin' this night!"

For she heard Gilbert, with well-simulated cordiality say, "Neil—Morgan—Mistress Annan! Girzie Inglis! You hear? Pray request your companions to dismount, sir. We will offer you and them any such poor entertainment as my house affords. Step within, gentlemen!"

One grateful thought of the infinitely less trying situation that now seemed ahead of him and his family, and another of gratitude at what appeared an uncommon refinement on the part of this young soldier crossed him, as Captain Jermain bowed and prepared to follow. The other dragoons threw themselves from their saddles with exclamations of satisfaction.

"Captain, Captain? How about this Highland wild-cat that we've got on our hands," called one of the party to Jermain, who stood on the porch giving some directions.

"Oh, bring him along with you," returned he. "We can keep him in the kitchen for the present, and find a hole to stow him safely in over-night. Meanwhile, see that no one speaks with him."

Captain Jermain preceded his escort into the hall. They who tramped along at his back were of quite inferior social stamp and address. Two of the party led between them the captured Highlander.

Andrew started back and stared half in pity, half curiosity. The troopers had tied their prize's hands at his back, and he limped, as if in the contest he had hurt his foot. There were stains of blood and soil on his rough garments, and a ragged bandage was tied across his forehead. A thick shock of black hair effectually disguised his sunburnt and unshaven face from close recognition. A more wretched figure it would have been hard to draw. He gave a piercing look at the group in the hall as he passed, as if seeking compassion; but there was too much else to engross the attention of the Master and Andrew for them now to proffer it. Even the women shrunk back as he was forced along. Gilbert directed Angus to show two of the four guards to a small outer room adjoining the rear passage, where Captain Jermain suggested that supper be served them speedily, and thus their charge remain directly under their eyes and ears.

"Sit down, Captain," Gilbert said, as Andrew once more closed the door. "We shall have some refreshment at your service in a few moments. We finished our own evening meal just before you arrived. Be seated, gentlemen."

"I must again regret that we disturbed your family-prayers, Mr. Boyd," apologized the young soldier, dropping into a seat: "I have too much respect for your kindness and for religion, soldier that I am, to willingly disarrange you. Ah, this is a fine old house! It is like a bit of home for a Southerner to slip into such a spot for a night."

"You have not been long in the army?" Gilbert inquired.

"Oh, dear, no," returned the young captain, stretching out his long legs luxuriously—"only a couple of months, and all of those loitering about the Fort. I haven't gained much military experience, I dare swear, by all this famous Rebellion! Have I, Mr. Dawkin? Have I, Roxley?"

Two of the other men laughed; and confirmed Boyd in his idea that this was a very simple-hearted young soldier, a good theorist likely, but not much experienced in anything except fox-hunting, or slaying soft hearts at Lowland balls. Very boyish and frank did he look, sitting there, in spite of his dignity and manliness; and also very much like a boy was his evident enjoyment in finding himself so comfortably situated. In spite of his apprehensions, Gilbert could not help fancying this Achilles the pride of some Surrey household, the darling of some mother whose breeding of him all the rough life of a barracks had not effaced. How much worse the peril would have been if such a guest, forcing himself on the household, were a rude, wary old officer full of strange oaths, exactions and suspicions of everybody and everything about him! "Praise be to God!" Gilbert exclaimed, in his soul, "for we may tide over the danger yet!"

He led the conversation with increased self-control into such topics as could be discussed in common. Each sentence went further in convincing Captain Jermain, as well as his two companions, that they were meeting quite the most frank and friendly of hosts.

Girzie appeared and announced the supper, hastily got together by Mistress Annan's trembling but energetic hands.

"Walk into the next room, captain. This way, gentlemen," said Boyd, rising. Then, turning to Andrew, he added, with a meaning look, but no accent in his voice that might awaken any interest in his remark among the enemy. "My son, step upstairs and see if you can be of use. The East Room will be wanted—tell Mistress Annan so."

The three troopers, headed by Gilbert, passed into the dining-parlor.

Andrew stood bewildered. His father had surely intended some special reference to Lord Geoffry Armitage! Was Lord Geoffry waiting all this time within ear-shot? Andrew could hardly force himself into walking toward the stair with assumed indifference—to mount step after step leisurely, as if reluctant to quit the sudden stir going on below and the company of the soldiers.

All was dark as he turned toward the landing. The boy's nerves were by this time strained intensely. He nearly uttered a cry as he ran into a figure kneeling at the top of the staircase. Lord Geoffry's strong clasp about him and exclamation of caution saved him.

"Oh, my lord, my lord! Have you heard? Do you know it all? It is not Danforth!" Andrew whispered, still clasped in the imperiled young nobleman's arms.

"Yes, yes, dear lad! I have been listening. I stole out from the Mouse's Nest and the Purple Chamber—I can retreat to it again at an instant's warning, you see! Be calm, dear Andrew. Do not tremble so. I am yet safe."

"But, my lord, they may discover that you are here!"

"I do not know how," whispered the fugitive. "We have no traitors, and walls have not tongues." He pressed the Highland boy yet more warmly to his breast, as if in that hour of ill-fortune, standing there within ear-shot of his foes, he was glad to feel a human heart so near him, however young, that he knew already loved him too well to betray him, even at the point of the bayonet.

The boy murmured passionately in his ear: "If you—are taken—I shall die!" all of a tremor, that came from dread and love.

"Pshaw! Keep up heart!" hoarsely replied the young nobleman, with something like tears in his voice at the gallant lad's devotion; "you must not die, nor must I, either. We shall all come out right and safe, I am sure. Quick—back to that handful of knaves below! I can see already that they have a bigger child than you for their leader. Find out for me, if possible, who is their prisoner. Contrive to let your father know that I am in spirits—that is why he sent you. Go, play your part well. My life is in your hands too, remember."

"I shall, I shall! But oh, my lord—go back to the Mouse's Nest. Promise me that you will."

"So be it!" And Andrew thought he heard the intrepid young man laugh shame-facedly at yielding to his terrified importunity, "I promise!" Then they pressed hands and parted in the gloom.


Andrew entered the dining-parlor timorously. He made his way thither by the little passage into which opened the outer kitchen containing the Highland prisoner and his guards. It was shut. The servants, who questioned him eagerly as to Lord Armitage's security, told him that to knock at the door was only to have one of the guards come to it and slam it in his face. They would allow nobody within but themselves.

His father sat at the head of the long table, only half of which was laid. The three cavaliers had begun hungrily on meats, bread, and potables.

"Come and sit down here, my lad," called out Captain Jermain kindly, well-disposed to pay some attention to his host's attractive son; "you are a fine, tall fellow. I dare say you will be carrying the king's colors yourself one of these days—eh?"

Andrew seated himself between the captain and Gilbert. A glance passed between father and boy as he did so. Boyd read in it a quick reassurance upon the state of mind of Lord Armitage above-stairs.

A man who better liked plain-dealing than Gilbert Boyd of Windlestrae it would be hard to light upon. To seem to be what he was not stifled him. Nevertheless, his feeling of sacred duty to the fugitive, to whom he had sworn protection by every lawful means, induced him to waive scruples and to preside at this supper with a remarkable simulation of calmness and of desire to make the three soldiers at ease in the Manor. As far as possible, he diverted the talk from politics, where he must and would betray himself rather than lie! "I have been rumored a Whig so long to no good," he thought, resignedly, "that I may as well let the error keep alive on such a night as this, when it can save a life. Humph."

Presently he said aloud: "Help yourselves freely, gentlemen. I am sorry, by the way, that the Manor can offer you no better liquors than our own ales and usquebaugh."

"Oh, no apologies, no apologies," replied Captain Jermain. "This is the very lap of luxury for us. I trust that when these troubled times end—and his ragged Princeship with his bare-legged support are hanged—many a hospitable Whig like yourself will call upon us in London, or anywhere else, and be repaid for your trouble in kind. To your health, Mr. Boyd!"

"Be entirely at ease, sir, as to trouble," Gilbert answered, raising his ale-glass; "there is always room and to spare in this old nook."

Andrew nerved himself in the instant of silence ensuing: "Was the prisoner that you captured—was he—a person of consequence, sir?" he faltered.

Roxley, the elder of the two other troopers (and who, Gilbert soon decided, was a special favorite with the young captain and a man of some petty rank), exclaimed, with a sneering oath: "Consequence? I should scarce think so!" Jermain, however, bent his eyes pleasantly on the embarrassed boy, and replied: "Faith, no, my young warrior! A tattered and villainous hind, lurking about, whom we sighted slipping into a copse two or three miles above the crossroads."

Our hero longed to put the captive upstairs in possession of even this slight portion of what he desired to know. But Boyd took up the cue intuitively.

"Did you run him down?"

"Ay. By some awkwardness the villain tripped; and though he wrestled with Roxley like a tiger, and won sundry thumps and cuts for his pains, we managed to master him. He is all bone and muscle, I verily believe."

"Simply a wandering spy, Captain, depend upon it!" affirmed Dawkin. "Whatever he was busy about," he continued, to Andrew's father, "he refused to speak a syllable of, in spite of all our little measures—ha, ha, Captain! But we will see what the guard-room at Neith can do for him to-morrow. Here's to his obstinacy after Danforth gets hold of him!"

"His straps must be looked to sharply before we go to bed," suggested Roxley.

"Yes," added the captain, drinking; "'tis a pity that Tracey and Saville must lose their sleep to-night on his account."

Boyd shuddered at the mention of those "little measures," and the persuasions of the Neith guard-room. The Spanish boots, the whip-corded eyeballs, the thumb-screw, and brimstone-sliver were meant. God help the poor wretch who became Danforth's victim! Clearly nothing more was to be discovered as to the prisoner from his captors. Andrew determined to slip back to the outer kitchen, and thence up to Lord Armitage with just so much intelligence as he had come by. But he would do well to wait until the exactly right excuse should offer for his leaving the room. The troopers pushed back their chairs and refilled their glasses of whiskey-and-water. Good cheer began to tell on their tongues. Jermain rose, stretched himself, and stared about the room in great good-humor. He noticed a small hanging-shelf with half a dozen books on it, and thereupon turned amiably to Andrew.

"So you go to school up in this forsaken region of the kingdom, do you, Andrew? You remind me not a little of a fair young cousin of mine, Eustace Jermain, down in Warwickshire. He is now a scholar, too, prosing away at some Oxford college."

"I have always been at school when there was any school to go to, sir. But my father has taught me for the most part, and once or twice I had a tutor, by good luck."

"And I, too, by ill-luck!" The young man laughed, sauntering up to the shelf and glancing over the titles. "What a life I led them! Ah! 'The Pilgrim's Progress,' 'The Call to Truth,' 'Common Prayer,' 'An History of Rome,' 'Virgil's Æneid—' So you know Latin here, friend Boyd? I used to know it myself. How begins old Virgil?—

"'Ar—arma vorumque cani,'

it goes, don't it?" He opened the volume idly. In so doing his eye fell upon the title-page.

He read the name written there with an exclamation of surprise. Then holding the Virgil he came back to his chair, puzzling over the fly-leaf. Next he smote his hand upon the board with an impetuous, "By the sword of Claver'se! 'Jonas Lockett, His Book.' Can it be the man? What Jonas, except our long-legged Jonas, wrote that cramped fist? Tell me, friend Boyd, was Jonas Lockett, an Edinboro' pedagogue, ever in your house, here, a certain winter?"

"One of my son's instructors, years ago, was so named," replied Boyd, cautiously. He did not like to give these interlopers the least significant bit of information upon his family or its history.

"Was he from Edinboro'? Tell me of him. Well, well, well—Jonas Lockett! Ha!"

"There is little to tell, sir. I understood that he was from Edinboro'. His health suffered there and he travelled into Perthshire and Inverness to recruit it. He was poor and somehow came to me for help. Andrew's ignorance enabled me to give it him. But he only stayed with us a season. I have scarce thought of him since. Did you know him also?"

"Know him! Truly I did. I recollect that he came from Scotland directly before he entered my father's employ. A tall, lean, quick-spoken fellow, with a sly eye and many odd stories at his tongue's end."

"The same, I dare say," Boyd assented, indifferently; "an odd coincidence. But the world is a narrow place, Captain."

Andrew glanced uneasily from one face to the other. Was even this trivial discovery likely to breed the seed of any fresh danger? Danger lurked in every turn of thought or speech.

Jermain continued turning over the leaves of the Virgil absently.

"Upon my honor!" he suddenly cried, throwing down the book; "of what have I been thinking? This, too, must be the very old Scotch house that Lockett told me all about one evening at the Parsonage! I declare—I have heard of you and it before this night, friend Boyd. I remembered it not until now."

"Ah!" came Gilbert's dry monosyllable. Boyd's whole being was at once wholly on the alert. Andrew thought it best not to make for that outer door quite yet.

"Nor is that all," continued the young officer, draining his glass. "I dare wager that through Lockett's describing his life here that winter, besides his being a famous hand to poke and pry about and meddle with other people's concerns, I know a rare little secret of you and your Manor House, friend Boyd."

"Captain Jermain! How—what?—I do not understand you, sir!" exclaimed Gilbert, growing pale and turning sharply upon the young soldier. Andrew grasped the arm of his chair so tightly that his knuckles were white. Peril, relentless peril—could it be possible?—and from so remote a chance! Dawkin and Roxley looked around from their discussion, surprised at the excited turn the talk behind them had taken.

"What's all this in the wind now?" asked Dawkin.

"Nothing, except that I am in possession of a family mystery of friend Boyd's here," returned Jermain gayly, "or I think I am. Forgive me, Boyd, but the jest is too good! Let me explain. You must know that Lockett slept sometimes in a room in your old house called—what the mischief was it called?—the Green—the Red—no, the Purple Chamber! That's it, the Purple Chamber; and opening out of this Purple Chamber is a secret room, to be got at by a spring-panel in the wall; a most curious old place altogether—and, by the by, perhaps just the sort of strong room that Tracey and Saville have been wishing for to shut that slippery rascal into to-night. Ha! ha! ha! Boyd, I'm sorry for you, for you see that I did know this little family secret after all, did I not? Oh, man, don't look so tragic over it. See his face, Roxley! By all that is hospitable to mad wags like ourselves here, you shall make amends for your soberness by taking us all upstairs and helping us to find out this wonderful hole. Up, Roxley! Up, Dawkin!" continued the domineering young trooper, already excited by the usquebaugh and full of a boyish delight at having someone to tease who was quite in his power; "you, too, my blue-eyed Andrew! Your father must pilot us upstairs at once, or he is no honest host. Huzzah!"

"Huzzah! huzzah!" chimed in Roxley and Dawkin. Jermain seized the candles, and, laughing boisterously, forced one of them into the terrified Boyd's hand. Roxley caught hold of the master's arm. Boyd stood between them, the color of the wall, rigid, his eyes conveying to Andrew a despairing signal. Through the crack of the door were peering Mistress Annan and some women-servants, with blanched cheeks.

Ruin had stalked in a few seconds into their midst.

Terrible was the temptation to Gilbert Boyd as he was held there in the half-sportive, half-brutal grasp of the dragoons. Yet might one bold falsehood save everything! How easy to cry out, "That wing of my house was burnt to the ground years ago!" or to declare that the Mouse's Nest itself had been opened up and its secrecy destroyed—one of a half-dozen other excuses, proffered with the dignity of a man in his own house might avert the calamity precipitating. Hospitality—the saving of a guest's life—did not these cry out for a lie?

But he did not utter it. Not he, Gilbert Boyd, of Windlestrae. It was not because with the thought of falsehood he remembered that those beside him would probably exact proof. It was because too keenly upon his conscience pressed the acted-out departures from strict truth of which this bitter evening had already made him guilty. These must be none worse henceforth. He would obey his God; and God would sustain him and his. Nevertheless he was mortal man enough to protest, as he wrested his wrist from the familiar grasp of the leering Dawkin and stood commandingly before the trio: "Gentlemen—Captain Jermain—you have forgotten yourselves! It—it is impossible! The room—the room is all in unreadiness. Mistress Annan hath charge of it—I cannot take you into it to-night. Let me go, I beg, Captain! You carry your wild humors too far."

"Oh, no, Boyd, not a step too far," retorted Roxley, "provided you carry us upstairs with you."

"But—but—I assure you, gentlemen, the—the Nest is wholly unfit for the purposes of a prison. Listen to me, Captain Jermain, I pray. Only be reasonable, Mr. Roxley! It is not in repair; and we have under our roof another, a much securer place of the sort, if you insist on one——"

"Hardly, Mr. Boyd, I dare wager," interrupted Captain Jermain, laughing afresh at what he counted Gilbert's absurd annoyance over the "family secret."

"A strong, well-barred room in the East Wing, overhead, that was fitted up for a gaol, and hath been so employed before now. I will send and have it made ready to show you, gentlemen. Release my arm, Captain, I insist! I will not consent."

Jermain, Dawkin, and Roxley seemed the more amused at his annoyance. It was plain that only forcible resistance would check their folly, and forcible resistance was not to be, for an instant, considered.

Had Lord Armitage been listening? Ought not he to be within the Mouse's Nest—out of earshot? He must be warned and extricated. Andrew responded to that intense look from his father's eyes by a quick step toward the hall-door, frantic to dash headlong up the dark stairs and transmit an alarm through the panel in the Purple Chamber. Ah, by his own pledge he had made more certain the doom of his friend! By his own pledge!

But the captain interrupted him by a single stride. "Hold there, friend Andrew, my bonny Highland chiel! No dodging upward to warn any pretty faces that have shut themselves into this same old room. They shall be gallantly surprised by a serenade before their portal. Here!" continued Jermain, snatching a candle from the elder Boyd, and bestowing it in Andrew's unwilling grasp; "you shall head the exploring party! Huzzah!"

With one arm about Boyd's neck, and holding Andrew between Roxley and himself, Jermain set the unsteady procession on the march from the dining-parlor and out into the hall, the three shouting boisterously: "Above-stairs, all of us! Huzzah!" and singing, like the caricature of a death-hymn, as they approached the first step, that roystering refrain:

"King George, God bless him forever!
And down with the White Cockades!"


In the meantime Lord Armitage had been sitting on one of the two stools in the Mouse's Nest. That retreat was quite too dark for him to see his hand before his face, except precisely in the corner where he was resting. Into this the high opening in the wall, alluded to, seemed to filter a gray gleam.

The young refugee realized that his present insecurity was great; but he had been in deeper danger before it, and that self-control which had rather disconcerted Andrew during that moment they had been standing at the stair-top was not much assumed.

"Bless the boy!" he muttered; "it is something to have won such a stout young heart! Ah, if ever I get away from this accursed land, where death dogs my footsteps to trip me up, Andrew, you shall not be forgotten, depend upon it. But, gadzooks! it looks now very little like my conferring care or honor upon any man, young or old!"

He rose and peered curiously up at the aperture in the blank, black wall, with his hands clasped behind his back.

"A strong draught from that, I note. I wonder with what it communicates? Some sort of an air shaft probably. Faugh, what a den is this! A day or so within it would go far to bring a gay fellow like me to suicide—provided he could lay hand on aught here to take himself away with. When can Andrew get back here to bring me word of the prisoner below? Would to God I knew! My mind misgives me. If it be from them, after all—! Still, still, there are so many of our gallant fellows hiding in thickets and caves. If it were Cameron or Lochiel it would break my heart. That peasant-woman last week told me that she had given shelter to a gentleman of the Prince's army only the day before! Oh, Andrew, Andrew, my lad! make haste, for I am in worse dread for others than for myself until you ease me."

He went softly—though there was no need, for the floor was stone and only the under-arching thickness of the partition was below—down the length of the Nest in the darkness, feeling his way along the wall until he perceived that he stood alongside the sliding panel. A narrow, almost undistinguishable crevice marked it out. He put his ear to this, as he had done a score of times since his entrance; but he could not catch the slightest sound, so impervious and exactly adjusted was the barrier.

"I cannot stand it!" he ejaculated, feeling for the iron lever, a simple turn of which, followed by a prolonged and equable pressure, would slide back the panel. "It is a risk. Andrew is right. Any one of those miscreants may take it into his head to go prowling about the halls or chambers while the rest are at supper. But I must get some inkling of what is going on in that dining-parlor! Andrew may be on his way to me, too."

He moved the lever. A slight tremor—a widening of the crevice—in an instant he perceived that the massive jamb had retreated.

All was dark. He thrust forth his arm and touched the under-side of the thick hangings along the wall of the Purple Chamber. Then he slipped out beneath their folds, like a cat, and stood again in the great room itself—alone. Apparently no one, friendly or hostile, was on that second story as yet. Tiptoe he ventured toward the closed door, the outline of which he could trace.

But he caught his breath as he came to it and set it ajar with trembling caution. He had stolen forth from the Nest exactly as the bustle below, the voices, laughter, and singing culminated in the audacious demand by Captain Jermain that the mysterious secret-chamber be laid open for the diversion of himself and his companions. Boyd's protests he could not hear—nor see the scene at the table—nor guess how it had come about. He heard only the pushing aside of the chairs, the drunken march into the broad hall, the hoarse—

"King George, God bless him forever!
And down with the White Cockades!"

the reiterated cry: "Above-stairs, all of us! huzzah!"

The tone in which that drinking song was sung, those words uttered, assured him that it was not betrayal, but some new train of concurrent circumstances, that was bringing about a startling move. He dared not lock the door. He leaped back, stumbled headlong toward the chimney-piece, tossed aside the arras and threw himself within the Mouse's Nest, with the pant of a hunted stag. To seize the lever was the gesture of a half-second. He could bolt the panel to all outsiders as soon as it shut. Excitement guided his hand truly in the dark. He pushed and pressed. The panel slid obediently back toward its deceptive resting-place. In doing so it creaked slightly—an ominous occurrence that had not accompanied its previous passage. He tugged harder at the lever as, with the creak, something seemed to resist his hand.

Up the stairway was coming the tramp of the soldiers and the two Boyds. He could overhear more merriment. He pushed with all his might. It was useless labor. Within some three inches of closure, for its bolting, the mechanism operating from the within-side of the panel suddenly had refused to act. Everything stood still—perfectly, terribly still. A wide black crack must inevitably be visible to any person who should draw aside the arras of the chamber wall!

"I am lost if the villains have lighted on the secret of the Nest!" the endangered nobleman exclaimed, in sudden realization and despair. "Oh why, why did I not bethink me that I might not be able to close it—through some weakness of the old apparatus? The chase is up!"

The next moment the shine of candles below the folds of the arras—the loud banter and laughter of Jermain—broken sentences from Boyd—came all within a few yards' length, as the quintet stood within the Purple Chamber.

The young man crouched down. His teeth were set to meet the extreme of his peril. The perspiration oozed from his forehead.

"Once for all, gentlemen," came the angry tones of Gilbert Boyd, amid the scuffling of feet, "I swear to you that no hand but mine shall ever, with my consent, disclose this secret place, however near it may lie to us—and, as I live, it shall not be so disclosed this night!"

"Oh, but it must be, and shall be!" retorted Jermain, more delighted than ever at prolonging and enjoying the old Master's concern; "away with your silly family pride, Boyd! You have too much sense for it."

"We'll never tell, Boyd," said Dawkin; "will we, Roxley? Oh, 'tis rare sport!"

"Never," assented Roxley; "hold up the candles, Andrew, that we may all guess at the very spot."

"Beware, gentlemen, how you tempt my patience further! Surely, you see that I am past the humor for such folly! Leave the room with me, Captain Jermain! I command it—I adjure you all, by the laws of hospitality and courtesy——"

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the three tormentors. Had they been less influenced by the excellent cheer at the table just quitted, one or all of them must have by this suspected a deeper motive for Boyd's recusancy. But, as it was, it all was taken with the other details of the scene—an obstinate and proud Scotch householder, unwilling to share a petty secret with some gay guests.

"And I—I adjure you," mimicked Jermain, "by the laws of hospitality and courtesy, not to cross my pleasure so peevishly. Ay, there is the chimney! Lockett particularized the chimney. Behind the corner of the arras, just about where that figure of the Prodigal Son is worked, must lie the plate set in the angle of the stone——"

Lord Armitage stiffened his muscles. "If I had only caught up one of those stools yonder, the battle should begin from my side!" he grimly reflected. "Stay—I must not give them one extra inch of vantage. I will creep into yonder farthest corner—lay hand on a stool, crouch—and wait for them!"

"Oh, merciful God!" thought, or rather prayed Andrew, on the other side, clutching the candles and white as one who swoons. "Does he hear? What can he do? Save him, save him, O Lord—for only thou canst preserve him or us now."

Dawkin made for the chimney-jamb, exclaiming: "Come, I'll draw back the Prodigal from his husks!"

Before he could reach it, Gilbert, desperate, careless of any further pacific measures, seeing in mind nothing but imminent bloodshed, leaped between him and the chimney. Indignation had altered the very fashion of his countenance.

"Hear me, sirs, for the last time!" he cried; "by the God of my fathers, who hath preserved me and mine within this house until these hairs are white, not one step further into its secrets or secret chambers shall you take, nor dare any longer to indulge this unsoldierly curiosity and insolence! I mean what I say. No, I will give no reasons except what I have given, what common decency might prompt to you. This impudent business stops at once. Take away your hand, sir! Put down your arm, fellow! Call it over-respect to my family and its trusts, or call it what you may, I swear that I will strike down the man who sets a finger upon this arras! Must I call up my servants to protect us from you?" [Four or five of these last were already waiting wherever a man could lurk in the hall or adjoining rooms, trembling for their master's safety, and only restrained by Neil from running into the Purple Chamber to chastise the insolent troopers.]

Half-intoxicated though he was, this vehement speech and the gestures accompanying it were enough to change the mood of Captain Jermain to irritation. He turned red, gave a short, hard laugh of contempt, and uttered an oath—with which he darted forward to seize the arras. He slipped, laughing triumphantly, beneath Boyd's extended arm. He clutched the tapestry with a violent pull. The rusty nails above yielded. Down fell the Prodigal and his Swine, partly overturning both disputants. A cloud of dust rose; and, as it cleared away, a cry of surprise broke from the lips of all the group. There, exposed to full sight, rose the broad crack! The panel was unmistakable, because partially open! "O Almighty Protector!" thought Gilbert, a thrill of hope entering his heart, "he overheard—he had time to escape from it."

"Yes, he has escaped—he has escaped!" ejaculated Andrew to himself; "not yet in their power, not yet!"

"Open?" cried Jermain. "Yes, by the sword of Claverhouse, it is open! The easier for us to take our look at it, but a bad sign for its safety as a prison to-night. Let's see—will the doorway widen if we push at the old panel."

There was no sound from the cell. Captain Jermain approached the opening. Boyd could make no further resistance—he wondered whether he might not have undone the success of some defence on his guest's part, as it was; for as Roxley and Dawkin stepped toward the wall Gilbert gave a sigh of exhaustion, and then sank back upon an arm-chair in a half-faint.

Mistress Annan darted into the room unobtrusively, but looking like an elderly Scotch ghost in cap and spectacles, and began chafing her master's cold hands. Andrew would see it out to the end. "If he be there, and if they seize him, I will strike one of them down for him," thought the lad. The end, the end was at hand—life or death in it!

"Works like a charm!" cried Jermain, now quite forgetting his fit of passion in the indulgence of curiosity. "There, we can pass! Ugh! What a stinking hole!" The lever, to outside persuasion, offered no reluctance to move. The door, truly, was wide open. Blackness of darkness—a rush of chill, malodorous wind. But no outrushing or defiant figure!

"Give me one candle, boy," said Jermain—"hold the other before us. So. Watch well your feet, lads. These odd nooks often have holes and traps in their floors." With these words he stepped inside the Nest.

Face the worst, within that pit of gloom, Andrew must. But he contrived, in obeying the command to accompany the three, audaciously to stumble against the captain on the very sill. The latter's taper was thereby cleverly dashed from the candlestick. It rolled to some dusty nook quite beyond their feet.

"Awkward lout!" exclaimed Jermain; "but never mind; one candle shall serve."

Making even it waver as much as he could (a process very easy in the state of his nerves) they advanced well within the Nest, Jermain and the others more awed each step by the dismalness of the retreat, but all talking loudly. No Lord Armitage at bay, desperate, yet faced them. And they moved on—on—now to the very end of the narrow apartment, where were placed the mothy stag-skins and the two stools. Everything seemed undisturbed, as if during the lapse of decades.

"Well, 'tis a dull discovery after all, so far, I admit," said Jermain, peering now to the right, now to the left, or glancing toward the cornice, all a black void some twenty-five feet overhead, in such wretched illumination. "Not worth while to have so hot a question with—ha, ha—friend Boyd, over it! Yes, here we are at its end, I declare. Nothing beyond this dead wall, of course. Look, Roxley, how rough the courses are—how strong."

"There seems to be a glim of light somewhere there," Dawkin remarked, pointing up to the square aperture previously mentioned. "But 'tis a vile den for any poor wretch to be shut into. Plenty snug enough for that Highland dog, though."

"Ay," replied Jermain, frowning, "provided it be secure. Let's back to look. Steady—beware of this uncertain floor. Dawkin, thou wilt need all Andrew's candle-light for thine own share, thanks to the last two glasses I filled thee."

Could it be possible? Andrew was dumb with gratitude. For he realized that, tired of their own rudeness and curiosity, Jermain, Roxley, and Dawkin were retracing their steps to the open panel, and that for all the harm that had been done him by Jermain's acquaintance with the place of his concealment and this visit to it, Lord Geoffry Armitage might as well have been a thousand miles away!

But far more inexplicable was the mystery than he divined; until, on the heels of Dawkin and the other two, he was crossing the threshold. He saw his father standing a few paces outside, himself unable to solve the riddle, but full of thankfulness for that which he felt was the veritable overruling of God's power. He saw Captain Jermain offer his hand with a stammered apology. He heard Roxley call to him, "Come forth, youngster, we must shut up this panel and try what kind of a lock it hath upon it, and then back to the merry board, my friends. Halloa, look, look you at this, Captain. Here, Boyd, don't bear malice, man, but give us your counsel a moment."

And then—and then—just as Andrew hastened to obey Roxley, a voice spoke his name: "Andrew—Andrew." That was all; uttered in a startling, almost magical, whisper. It came from somewhere over his head, like speech evoked from the dense shadow itself.

He had presence of mind not to exclaim or start. He dared not stand still there. With difficulty Roxley and the young captain closed the panel once more. Like one in a dream he heard them exclaim in disappointment and surprise on discovering that there was absolutely no way of securing the door on the outside, and thus rendering it fit for the special use desired. Still like one in a dream the boy watched them, already wearied of their whim, force the panel back and forth in its grooves, and with more boisterous raillery declare the place no more a prison than a parlor. He heard Roxley ask his father to exhibit to them the strong room in the East Wing, of which he had spoken, and Captain Jermain interpose, laughing, "Oh, later, later, Roxley. One dungeon is surely enough until we have forgot our quarrel over it in a fresh glass together! Let the strong-room in the East Wing wait an hour." And next he and they were all descending the staircase together, the ordeal over, and he on fire to be rushing back to the Purple Chamber! For he understood it all now.

At the moment in which Lord Armitage partially rose to make his way toward the sole weapon of defence at hand—one of the three-legged stools—an inspiration came to him. He recollected the void above him; the uncertainty of candle-light—the inaccuracy of eyes dulled with wine. He drew off, in the twinkling of an eye, the brogues Gilbert Boyd had loaned him. Holding these between his teeth, he stepped a yard or so beyond the panel, so dangerously ajar for the success of the daring plan he had suddenly devised. He thrust his feet into the crevices of the rude masonry, searching noiselessly with fingers and toes for the numberless rough projections. In a few seconds he had readily gained a height of eight or ten feet. Clinging to the stones, he raised his hand to feel for some further coign of vantage. His hand struck an object that he had little suspected, but instantly bethought him was almost certain to be there, discoverable in any room so constructed in such a house—a strong iron brace traversing the Nest at a height considerably above the low entrance and running from wall to wall. He laid hold of it. Would it break? He had no time to test it. He took his fate in his hands.

With rigid muscles, and jaws aching from the strain of holding the shoes, he drew himself up, got astride of it, and at last stood with both feet upon it!

It was rusted, but it did not even bend. He balanced himself. Before climbing he had knotted the latchets of the brogues together; he now hung them across the bar, close to the black wall. So far so good!

Again must he attempt the dangerous, but far from impracticable, feat, that he began to feel convinced was his succor. Could those outside hear him as he climbed? No—it would seem not. He could have cried aloud for joy as he felt, at arm's length above his head, a second iron brace, evidently another essential in the support of the wall, to which he clove like a human fly. To this second aid he pulled himself up, and stood upright on it, with palms pressing the stones. At that height, perhaps twenty feet from the floor he could, he dared hope, defy the candle-light the intruders might introduce. It proved that he could. Motionless, afraid to breathe, he presently saw their entrance, and blessed Andrew for the additional security the fallen candle brought about; and it was from up there, exhausted but safe from capture, if not death, that he marked the troopers' departure from beneath his very feet. Then was it that, wishing to enlighten Andrew as to his resource and its merciful success, he ventured to send down to the boy's quick ears that repeated name—"Andrew—Andrew."*

*The escape of Lord Geoffry Armitage has its foundation in the experience of a Jacobite refugee, of inferior extraction, who participated in the Insurrection of 1715. Back


"It was a miracle—a miracle!" repeated Gilbert Boyd, lost in wonder and gratitude, some twenty minutes after the return of Captain Jermain and his friends to their glasses down in the dining-parlor, whither Boyd, in a state of utter bewilderment, had escorted them. The sound of their laughter and raillery penetrated to the place where the fugitive with Andrew and Gilbert now sat—a small lumber-room, windowless and unceiled, in the attic of the rambling Manor, partitioned off in one of its gables. Lord Armitage's self-extrication from the Nest had been dangerously prompt. Andrew hurried up the staircase and came upon Lord Geoffry creeping about in the dark hall; through the boy's suggestion this uppermost retreat had been gained, and hither, too, hastened Gilbert from the festivities recommenced in the dining-parlor.

"Miracle? Ay—it seems a trifle like one," responded Lord Armitage, laughing already; "what's the verse of Holy Writ about they who shall bear up the righteous in their arms? Surely, I may count myself a better man than I dared, and take courage forever."

"Blessed be the hasty fingers that left those walls so rude within!" ejaculated Gilbert. "And a second brace above the first! I shall go and see it for myself when those villains have spurred away to-morrow. But I dare leave them no longer to themselves, my lord. I must below. Andrew shall be our messenger—the comings and goings of the boy will not be noticed. I will return at the next possible chance—say within half an hour. But such a place for you! Mistress Annan shall see that it is made as comfortable for you until morning as it can be. Little dreamed I you were safer here than in that most hidden corner of my house. Come, Andrew; this greatest of perils is over; go you and see if you can learn more of this prisoner or how we can help him. Farewell, my lord, you are not likely to be endangered again. I must keep my noisy guests in good humor till they be ready for bed."

Lord Armitage bolted the door behind them. He sank upon a pile of dried hides, in the middle of his musty sanctuary, feeling completely exhausted. He closed his eyes. Perhaps the reaction from such present peril was all at once something like a swoon. In any case he lay motionless and with eyelids closed for quite an indefinite time, until he was startled by Andrew's knock, and his whisper from without.

"You are soon back," he said, collecting his faculties.

"Soon? Yes, yes—I have had an adventure myself, and I bring you tidings thereby," began the lad, quickly. "Oh, I thought I was never coming up."

He drew Lord Geoffry to the improvised seat. "All is well below. They are drinking—laughing. But I have spoken with the prisoner! My lord, despite his tattered clothes and sorry look, I truly believe him, like yourself, a gentleman, a——"

The boy was startled at the effect of these few words. Lord Armitage uttered a low cry, as of assurance made sure. His eyes flashed, and he caught at Andrew's arm: "I feared it! I hoped it! Tell me what you did, what happened! Tell me all, at once!"

In a few words Andrew related his slipping into the improvised guard-room under pretence of offering to the willing Tracey and Saville another flagon. Thereupon he boldly asked leave to give the prisoner a glass of water, for which the man suddenly began faintly moaning. What with their refreshments and the absence of anyone to remind them of discipline, both dragoons were in a vastly better humor than before their meal.

"So I leaned over him," Andrew continued, excitedly, "and I raised his head and held him the cup. The man they call Saville had his back to me. 'You are with friends, but we cannot help you,' said I, in his ear. I could scarcely catch what he dared whisper as I laid down his head, but I surely heard him say in English: 'Your father—warn him—Danforth.'"

"Your father? Danforth?" interrupted Lord Armitage. "Good heavens! What can he desire to say? Danforth? Oh, my God!"

"I know not," pursued Andrew, "for just as I bent to listen again the two soldiers turned around. 'Are you not through yet with your fetching a drink, boy?' called out Saville to me; 'come, come, enough of such folly! He is not worth it. Out with you. This is not your place.' So I had to hasten forth trembling. I dare not try again yet awhile. They have set a chair against the door."

"Danforth? He spoke of him—and of your father, and of a warning?" repeated Lord Geoffry, with clenched fist and a knit forehead. "Oh, Andrew, what may those words mean? Why, why could you not gather more? More must be gained in some way. There has been, is, fresh danger brewing, I fear, and before we are out of the shadow of this. But stay here no longer. Hasten, tell your father what has chanced, that he, too, may ponder over it. Return when you may—be cautious—but especially come to me if you discover anything, ay, anything more about this mysterious prisoner or from him." The knight hesitated an instant, and then added:

"I will confess to you, dear lad, that for weeks before I came to Windlestrae I lived in daily hope of hearing certain special intelligence that very possibly can be trusted only to me. Moreover, it will come to me from—I know not whom! It concerns a friend—the nearest friend I have, and one pursued and miserable as I am. I wait for it, I hope for it, without the least knowledge of who shall bring it me. Alas, look not so surprised and perplexed! I cannot tell thee more, my boy. But so it is—and in every stranger I may pass by my messenger unless I am ever-watchful. On such a hard riddle hangs perhaps all my future. Leave me; while you are gone I must plan how it may be possible for me, in spite of Jermain or Tracey or Saville, to speak with this man myself."

These last declarations left Andrew aghast; but he quitted the attic and sped down-stairs, just as Mistress Annan and a maid-servant were seeking the gable-room with a mattress, a pitcher of water, and some other articles. He once more attempted the outer kitchen; but it was hopeless, Neil informing him that the door had again been denied all comers by the two on its inside. Andrew listened, and heard enough to convince him that Tracey and Saville, well supplied with liquor at their own angry demands, were setting in for private saturnalia of their own; a course, which, however loathed by the temperate Manor House family, the Master saw might be of great help, if the prisoner they guarded was really to be addressed.

The little dining-parlor was still bright with a dozen of Mistress Annan's best candles; and the liquors that Boyd dared not withhold, when fresh supplies were called for, seemed in active circulation.

"Come in, Andrew," called Jermain, as Andrew slipped back to a seat, "you are too young to be gay, but you can sit down and let your bonny face smile on us. May you never grow up as wild a fellow as I! Here's to your health, Boyd, prince of solemn-faced Highland hosts! Now, gentlemen, I'm going to sing you all a capital song." Which he proceeded to do.

Andrew, during it, whispered over his father's shoulder. Gilbert's heart sank like lead again. Yes, there must be a communication with the prisoner, whoever he really was, as soon as possible. A prospect of Danforth! That meant fresh peril. Had there not been enough? He sat and affected to listen to Jermain's frivolous chat until he could remain no longer. He rose as if to get something.

"No, friend Boyd, no more budging," protested Jermain, "you can sit as long as we, and sit you must. You have been an uneasy host all the evening, ever since the secret-chamber affair was broached, and now you shall make amends. Fill up your glass."

Boyd dared not persist. Twice after this did he attempt to get away, that he might try to hold a conversation with the captive in the outer apartment, or compare his alarmed surmises with Lord Geoffry. But the captain seemed good-humoredly wary. By this time, however, the hilarity of the two other soldiers had passed into, first, a disputatious, then a maudlin, mood. The familiarity between Roxley and the captain was decidedly more apparent, Jermain laughing immoderately at all his stories, and applying himself quite as liberally to the cup, though with what seemed a stronger head for it. Andrew disappeared a little earlier, which the lateness of the hour entirely warranted the boy's doing.

"I must speak with my son before he sleeps," Gilbert said abruptly. He left the table, this time without exciting comment.

When he reached the kitchen he was not a little disturbed to find Mistress Annan, the two maid-servants, Angus and Neil, and two others of the household, all sitting in partial darkness and silence, evidently each too apprehensive of further trouble to be willing to go to sleep. "Nay, to your beds, all of you!" he ordered quickly. "I hope that the night will pass without new disquiet. You can do no good by watchfulness here—rather harm. Stay! Neil and Angus, you two had best sit awhile until I speak with you again. The rest of you go cautiously hence at once."

Gilbert passed swiftly on and listened at the outer kitchen. He could hear Saville humming a tune and Tracey talking. "Do you lack anything, gentlemen?" he inquired, pushing against the barrier on its inner side and opening the door, "or are you disposed to seek your rest?"

"No," growled Tracey; "we'll go to bed when we please, and not before. Shut the door!" Boyd obeyed; but the glance he had cast within the place showed that the prisoner lay wide awake in his corner, and that his two guards seemed further advanced in drunkenness than their superiors at the other end of the house. For once the upright master of Windlestrae thanked God that beings made in his own image could so readily turn themselves into beasts. He hastened to the attic. Andrew was there also, as he had fancied.

"Ah, you are come!" exclaimed Lord Armitage, as he entered; "you are just in time, for I was about bidding Andrew go down to you and tell you what I have decided must be done as to this prisoner and his message to you or me. First of all, are Tracey and Saville yet enough off their guard to allow you speech with him? No? Very well, then, my chance is desperate. I shall speak with him myself."

"You?" ejaculated Boyd, in consternation.

"Yes, I! Listen. I more safely than anyone else. These villains propose to shut the poor man into the Nest, do they not?"

"Not so, my lord. They have given that over."


"The panel cannot be fastened on the outside. It was never intended to be made a bridewell. There is no lock, and besides that the mechanism of the door is rusted and uncertain; you found that out to your cost."

"Where, then, will they stow the unfortunate fellow?"

"In the East Wing. There is a strong room there which I have offered them."

"Has it a window?"

"Yes, but a window useless to you if you attempt parley from without the house. It is the oldest part of the Manor; a dead-wall has been built up flat in front of the window-bars."

"Is the cell upon a passage, then?"

"No; it opens from a larger chamber, my lord—the East Room we call it—and that East Room is the only access to it; and the captain has already said that one or two of his party must sleep in the East Room, if only for the sake of form——"

Lord Geoffry interrupted Gilbert decisively. "I want, then, a suit of Neil's or Angus' clothes—their worst. When you return below offer Jermain a servant to relieve his men of this same formal guard-duty. 'Tis ten to one that this thoughtless, half-drunken young soldier jumps at your proposal. If I am once stationed before the door of that strong-room, depend upon it I can find a way to learn all that its inmate has to tell. Those brutes will not waken, once sound asleep, though I blew a trumpet over them."

Boyd stared, bewildered, at this audacious scheme. "He will lock the cell's door, my lord; keep the key himself or give it to one of his men. Such a plan is folly."

"He must not keep the key; or, if he do, it must be got again. It can be, if you do not spare your whiskey."

"And do you, then, suppose," asked Gilbert impatiently, and staggered by such persistency, "do you suppose that Jermain will say 'yes' to this offer? He is innocent of suspicions, my lord. But he is not a fool."

"If he say 'no,' well and good. Then will I go down to the room as I am dressed this minute, and while they sleep; or we will devise other means to do what must be done. Bring first the suit—the clothes—I beg. Boyd, be not so fearful."

In spite of his determination not to assist his guest in such an extraordinary attempt, the arguments of Sir Geoffry faced the bewildered Master quite down. Particularly was Boyd impressed with Sir Geoffry's strange insistence that "the prisoner might have that to utter which could be said best or only to him."

"So be it, my lord," he said; "your blood be upon your own head; and yet, good sooth, I know not what else to attempt. Danforth! Danforth! The name makes me tremble for you. I will go and await the fittest moment to proffer your services to Jermain, and, if he accept it, I will do my best to apprise the prisoner that something is in store for him. Andrew, my son, this is no hour for you to be awake. You aid us at your own cost. Go you to your bed when you have helped my lord into yonder frieze-coat and leather breeches."

"If I do go I shall not shut my eyes; I shall but lie there and suffer death each moment," cried the boy pleadingly. "No, let me stay near my lord until all these new dangers are over. Ah, how can I sleep until he and you sleep?"

Gilbert had not the heart to command.

"Well, well, be it as you will; but keep above-stairs," returned his father. "God knows the end of this night's business. Pray each moment for us all. Hark! I hear Roxley singing and the rest shouting. How vile, how vile a crew to be harbored in this honest abode! What goodly lessons for thy youth to be taught!"

Gilbert had been absent quite a considerable period this time, although the fact aroused no interest in the dissolute trio he would willingly have driven from his threshold. He saw at once, as he entered the dining-parlor, that a change had taken place. Good Scotch whiskey had done disgusting work. Roxley had ceased singing and telling anecdotes and lounged with one arm on the table, supporting his drowsy head, which lolled back stupidly. Dawkin was sprawled half-across the board, his hand clutching an empty bottle. Jermain was arguing some point of military etiquette in an aimless fashion and without waiting for replies from Roxley. The young captain's gallant bearing was gone: his eyes were dull and bloodshot, his dignity and vigilance vanished, and his whole appearance that of a half-intoxicated and quite commonplace young soldier.

"At this rate," thought Boyd, "your fine Surrey friends will not know you when you go back southward. The king's army is an ill school indeed, for you young men!"

"Well, Boyd—do your clocks—sing bedtime for all honest people," he inquired, sluggishly; "your face betokens your thinking that it is an hour when all men and most brutes should be asleep—and under either name I am ready enough to stretch myself. Halloa there, Dawkin! wake up, man, and go out to the kitchen and tell Saville and Tracey to fetch that rascal hither. I must see him securely bound before we fasten him into that strong-room upstairs, that Boyd talks about. Pity the secret chamber is of no use. Boyd, I'll go up with you now and inspect this other place at once."

Dawkin stirred, looked vacantly at his superior, and burlesqued a salute with his hand and the bottle. He rose staggeringly, but fell back in his chair, apologetically murmuring something.

"The man is drunk!" commented Jermain, angrily, relinquishing his grasp of him. "Roxley—no, wait here until I come back."

He took Gilbert's arm. The latter led him up through the second-story hall again.

"Down this way," said Boyd, descending abruptly a couple of steps into a side passage, very low-ceiled and evidently little used. He opened the door of a large chamber tolerably furnished, and put in order for the night by Mistress Annan, but plainly seldom tenanted. Directly opposite them Jermain saw a solid oak-door studded with nails—a grim-looking little portal that admitted them into a stone-floored and certainly dismal enough apartment, with a grated window.

"Fetters even, I declare!" exclaimed Jermain, stooping to examine some rusted chains, which proved past service. "Come along, Boyd; this is just the place. That's the key? So. Tight as Newgate! We'll get our fellow here in a trice and Tracey and Saville shall lie in the outside chamber."

But when they and Roxley presently stood before the door of the outer kitchen, it resisted Roxley's efforts, until his violent push overturned the chair-barricade within—and with no audible protest from the prudent architects thereof.

"Well, well—this is a pretty sight!" ejaculated the captain.

It was, indeed. A candle was guttering on the table amid empty flagons and spilled wine. Motionless in a corner lay the prisoner, just where Gilbert last saw him, apparently asleep now, in spite of his pain and the stifling air. At full length, opposite, stretched Saville, a brawny Irishman of middle years, sound asleep. Tracey, similarly oblivious to all responsibilities, snored beside Saville.

"More brutishness!" thought Boyd, in disgust at such a spectacle; "and yet I would they had but dropped off an hour earlier!"

Jermain and Roxley began trying to rouse the derelict pair. It was no use. Each relapsed into a stupidity more hopelessly complete at each attempt.

The captain suddenly gave up the task with a spasm of profanity that horrified Boyd, and drew from him a stern rebuke.

"They both deserve to be court-martialled and shot," declared Jermain. "Wait until we get to Neith! No, I don't care how informal their service is, Roxley. They shall be hung up by the thumbs for this—Dawkin, too."

"What—what's to be done, captain?" demanded Roxley, in a sudden attempt to hide his own dubious condition that was ludicrous to behold.

"To be done? Why, those fellows must be let lie where they are—no use trying to stir them. We must get him above-stairs ourselves. By Jove, Boyd, I'm glad of your strong-room, with a vengeance! Look at those two; look at Roxley—and," he added, with a laugh, "look at me! Strong-room be praised! I am too tired to play watchman, and I seem to be the only one fit—were it my place—which it certainly is not! But—by the sword of Claverhouse!—somebody ought to have an open ear to what goes on inside or outside this house, between now and morning. A surprise might be undertaken by the Jacobite farmers hereabouts. What's that? You can ask one of your hinds to mount guard upstairs with Roxley?"

Boyd reiterated his proposal. "H'm—I don't know. Yet why not? Yes, let it be so. If I should have to report such a thing, I would have to be mum about Roxley's status. Here, pray lend a hand. Be lively, Roxley. Up, you varlet!"

The prisoner struggled sullenly to his feet. Boyd dared not yet speak to him. Roxley was close on the other side. But his eyes met the captive's with a meaning look. Just as they came to the stairs Roxley stumbled. Jermain leaned to his aid. It was Boyd's opportunity, albeit one of seconds only.

"The sentinel is a friend," he whispered—"he will speak with you. Expect him."

There was time for no more; but he felt the man's hobbled foot pressed upon his own. He had been understood, at least in part. They reached the East Room.

"In with you, sirrah!" said Roxley, urging on their charge with a thrust past the iron-studded door of the cell. He made no resistance while they bound his legs more tightly.

Then came a crucial moment. Jermain pulled the key from the lock. Boyd held in his hand another key of Andrew's searching out, one closely like it. Only a sober and sharp eye would detect imposture. To make the change was a matter of adroitness, but its success involved the discovery of the trick before morning, unless cunning could accomplish a second change. Luckily, Boyd did not have to effect the first one.

"Take the key, Roxley," said Jermain, yawning, "put it in your pocket, and don't open the door, no matter what you hear, without calling me. Boyd has stowed me not far off—I'll show you."

In his heart the derelict young captain was glad to throw any responsibilities of the night upon his favorite's shoulders.

"Dawkin and I lie here?" inquired Roxley, disposing of the key.

"Ay. Keep on your clothes, of course—I shall. There's a bed, and that great sofa—you can give Dawkin that. You'd best go and help him up now." Roxley departed with an uncertain step.

"Fetch your trusty henchman now, if you will, Boyd," assented Jermain, wearily. "I—I'll pay him for it to-morrow. I ought to have looked sharper after these soldiers of mine."

The die was cast. If he still were resolved Lord Armitage might come. And Roxley held the key.

Boyd vanished. Jermain gaped tremendously, sank into a seat, and leaned his spinning head upon his palm. Roxley came in with Dawkin and succeeded in getting him, still somnolent, upon the sofa, Jermain dozing in his chair while this performance was got through with. "Push up his long legs, Roxley," he advised—"that's it! I shall be glad to push up mine, I'm sure. My report must be—a—well, a loose affair, if I have to draw out one. Whe-e-w!" and the captain groaned. "How fagged I am! Here's Boyd, at last."

Behind Gilbert slouched an ill-kempt peasant, whose age was undistinguishable, armed with a pair of pistols and a cutlass. His hair hung low over his forehead.

"Found somebody, did you?" inquired Jermain, rousing himself and bestowing a single glance on Sir Geoffry. "Well, my man, we rely upon your eyes and ears for at least the forepart of the night; until Mr. Roxley relieves you—if he does. Call him, call me, if you hear or see aught amiss, within or without. Do you understand?"

A clumsy nod was the supposed servant's reply. Boyd, unwilling to open his lips in this danger-fraught moment, lighted Captain Jermain away, and beneath his grim brows looked at the three thus face to face. It seemed incredible that the men whose meeting, an hour or so earlier, seemed such an accident of dread, could, in this moment, be contrived with but a fraction of risk to one of them!

"Good-night, Roxley!" said the Captain. "Lock the door after us." But he drew the soldier aside. "Look here, Roxley, we start early; sleep soundly, but not too soundly. We ain't setting an example of discipline to the service to-night! Boyd's hand might be tempted to do—one knows not exactly what. Another time, when we have prisoners, we had best rest earlier—and drink less. Mum's the word, though, Roxley."

With a parting glance at the supposed Highlander, who sat on a stool by the chimney-piece, the very model of a steadfast, awkward Scotch farm-servant, expecting to be well-feed for an irksome duty, the Captain allowed Boyd to conduct him from the East Room.

Roxley made a remark or two to his mute aid, while pulling off his boots. "Rouse me, if aught goes amiss," he said, with a hiccough, "but not unless—and I don't promise this—you can wake me any easier than Dawkin over there. You and I'll call it our night off duty—eh?—now that Captain's gone." Whereupon Roxley sighed and hiccoughed again, and laid himself at full length across one of Mistress Annan's best coverlets; and, in a trice, could not have been roused by the incoming of his own horse at a trot.

So it is. Stillness, stillness, all through the Manor House. Dull comes the sound of one o'clock. Jermain sleeps; Roxley and Dawkin sleep; Saville and Tracey sleep. Boyd and Andrew are hidden in the garret until an appointed signal; the lad's eyes shut involuntarily from pure fatigue. Geoffry, Lord Armitage, in what of peril thou must yet meet before this wonderful night shall give place to dawn, may the Lord of the defenceless be thy helper!


Again came the muffled chime of the antique clock down-stairs; the quarter-hour.

Strange sight—the sentinel in the East Room moves. He cautiously lays aside his cutlass; his brogans he had taken off, as if to ease his feet, when he sat down.

Like a thief, he walks from his stool to the bed, then to the sofa. The sleepers are as those dead. He goes to the old door of the strong-room and lays his ear to each crevice.

"Too well-joinered yet," he says to himself, "for me to try opening my lips from here, were he close beside it. Will he hear this, I wonder!"

Gradually augmenting the sound, he imitates with his nails the scratch of a rat in the wall. But no responsive signal traverses the barrier. Nevertheless, when he repeats it he fancies that there filters to his ear, from the stillness within, a faint, prolonged whistle.

"It is the only way," he decides, raising himself from the floor.

The bolt is on the hall-door, as Captain Jermain directed. Our disguised knight need dread no interruption thence. He advances again, on tiptoe, to the motionless figure on the bed.

Drunken Roxley! Shake off your stupor, for one instant! Turn over, man! Murmur; do something that will startle this robber who is picking your pocket with the caution and address of one who realizes that his life is between his thumb and finger. But no; you merely snore, Roxley, and you do not start at the hand that by quarters of inches draws the key from its hiding-place. It is too late now; for he has glided from your side with it.

"Harmless sot!" thought Lord Geoffry, contemptuously. "Had my Lady Macbeth drugged his posset he could not be safer! Now, pray Heaven, Andrew left the lock as well-oiled as Boyd thought!"

The candle stood so that it had lighted him in his attempt, though screened from the eyelids of Roxley and Dawkin.

Once more he made his former signal. Then he inserted the key. It moved readily in the wards. He softly pushed open the door. There was no sound yet from the occupant. He stole back to the candle, returned with it, sheltering the flame with his palm, and, after a parting glance backward around the shadowy East Room, entered the cell, tiptoe.

The object of his scrutiny lay in a corner, where he had been secured to a staple, by a rope, in addition to his pinioned legs and arms. He had started into a semi-upright attitude and was maintaining it, despite his cords, leaning forward with a most miserably eager and despairing expression upon his wild countenance.

Lord Geoffry partially closed the door as he came in. He advanced with one hand raised, to remind the other of those so near them.

The prisoner showed that he appreciated the perilous situation by a nod. Another step or two brought the knight to his side.

"Do they sleep, out there?" whispered the captive, hoarsely.

"As if they were dead. Two in that room; the rest elsewhere. Did you hear my scratching? You expected me?"

"Yes, but I could make no louder answer. I caught Boyd's warning. Where is he?"

"Waiting until the half-hour strikes; with that he comes to the door of that outer room, and I can tell him whatsoever be these tidings you bring. What are you—a refugee? Ah, so I supposed. Trust me, then, with what you have to say. In a moment I will tell you why you may. We are all friends here."

"Great God!" interrupted the prisoner, in a bewilderment increasing each instant, despite the many emotions of the situation. "You are no servant of Boyd's! Are you his kinsman? I have heard your voice, seen you before! For the love of Heaven lean forward where I can see your countenance clearly. I am called Hugh Chisholm."

Lord Armitage complied. He must have expected, indeed, some special recognition; for at the sound of that low-spoken name, "Hugh Chisholm," he bent toward the other man, and in a distinct tone and with a piercingly anxious glance he repeated it—"Hugh Chisholm? Can it be the same Chisholm? And if you be from the Braes of Glenmoriston, and are sent to find in high-road or hedge one Lord Geoffry Armitage, and answer to his challenge of the Lost Cause"—and he whispered it—"I am he whom you seek, he who has despaired of meeting you or your fellows since he left Sheilar."

The self-control of the other seemed for an instant nearly overthrown. He murmured some words in a foreign tongue, with so passionate an inflection that Lord Armitage checked him.

"'Tis as I scarcely dared hope!" said the latter, continuing in the fluent French which his overjoyed interlocutor seemed entirely to understand. "Yes, you find me here. And that it should be you, and I, I not recognize you at sight! Did Patrick Grant send to Sheilar? I see; I had left the house before the message could get thither. Here, let me cut those thongs—the hounds, to so tighten them!"

Lord Armitage severed them; and he who had endured them was with difficulty prevented from kneeling at his feet, in what may have been a thrill of delight and gratitude—or another feeling. But there was only too much employment for the few moments, any one of which was liable to fatal interruption. As it was, some outside sound made their hearts stop beating; but all remained calm again, and they spoke on in lower and quicker voices.

"I would have been here early this afternoon but for this luckless meeting with Jermain and his men on the road, and their capture of me. I had a companion with me, Rab Kaims, but he escaped in the forest. I was in despair when they bound me; but scarcely could I believe my senses when I found that they had turned to Windlestrae, the very place where Grant expected us to find you! I was able to breathe part of my tidings in the ear of that lad—Boyd's son, I fancy—awhile since. He told you? So! My security rested in my feigning to be more wretched and wounded than I am. But, oh, Heaven! your daring, my gracious lord, bewilders me. Suppose that——"

"Suppose nothing, Chisholm! Long ago in Paris I used to tell you that destiny would support me through any peril. But what brings Danforth here so unlooked for?"

"In Neith, the garrison and he have suddenly suspected Boyd's politics to be quite mistaken hereabouts. Danforth gathered that a refugee had taken flight from Sheilar Manse in this direction. Yesterday Patrick Grant had word from Neith that Danforth was for riding over here after sunrise, examining Boyd and formally searching this manor. He comes; and you must be far away!"

"I far away, Chisholm? Truly. But where? Surely you cannot convey me to—to the place of which you and I know, in the short time between now and day-break?"

"I can! Why not? Morning must find us both there, in safety and among loyal hearts. Naught prevents. It is more than likely that Grant has provided for our being met on the way. The man Kaims is fleet. They will all rely on my escaping, be sure."

"Hark! No; that was not the half-hour. Concerning Boyd, one word." And Lord Geoffry spoke a sentence that made Chisholm open his wild eyes still wider and exclaim, "Impossible! But, for the love of Heaven, why?"

"Because I so chose—I scarce know why myself," answered Sir Geoffry. "And I still choose; it must not be otherwise yet. But come; be it as you say! We will get away from this den of peril. God help Boyd and his household, when Jermain awakes and Danforth rides up to join him; for it will be found that two birds instead of one have flown."

"Aha!" returned the other, with a diabolic glitter flashing in his eyes that at once revealed the savage nature below, "but why must they wake, my liege? Are not these in our hand? One knife does their business before we quit this roof—saves Boyd—eh?"

Lord Armitage recoiled at the bloody suggestion.

"Mort de Dieu! Would you slay the sleeping?" he cried. "Never—never. It were as foul murder as a Virginian savage could bring himself to do. Speak of it again, and I will cry out and we both shall perish! You chill the blood in my veins."

Chisholm looked at him curiously. But he recognized the determination in Lord Geoffry's attitude and accent and yielded, murmuring, "So be it. But because it is thy will. They would serve us thus, be sure."

"Chisholm, what will become of Boyd and his people when we are sought for? Oh, the thought is intolerable to me. Go you alone. I cannot leave them."

"If we stayed, it were no aid to Boyd," responded Chisholm, rising after him and taking his shoes in his hand; "and think of what your death"—the rest of the sentence he finished in Lord Armitage's ear, plucking the young nobleman imperatively onward. The outlaw locked the low door behind them with a cool and cautious hand and put the key into his own pocket, with a scornful smile.

Cautious of the candle's flickering light in the sleepers' eyelids, they emerged into the East Room. Boyd came in view as Sir Geoffry permitted his companion to pass through into the hall, where a lantern swung. The startled Master clasped his strong hands in consternation at beholding, not only the expected knight, but with him the prisoner, released from his fetters and walking upright, with so altered a mien. Evidently some new move had been found necessary. Boyd's cheek paled as he realized what would occur if Roxley should spring from his bed and cry out. He beckoned the fugitives away.

In a few low-uttered sentences Armitage described his successful attempt; and in the same breath disclosed the necessity for his instant flight from the Manor, along with the mysterious messenger. But more than that he had a private knowledge of Chisholm, and was positive that he could rely upon his efficient help, the fugitive seemed not to think it proper to disclose. However, Boyd had heard often enough of that singular brotherhood of loyalty and marauding, whose names and exploits have since become part of the history of the troubled time, and whose cruelty and courage in skirmish and raid terrified even the Tory troopers in relating—the Seven Men of Glen Moriston! Who, in turning over the pages of the chronicle of the "Forty-five," has not paused to admire the daring with which a handful of desperate spirits maintained themselves in a mountain fastness, defied pursuit, and, at last, their country restored to peace, died in their beds?*

With the Men of Glen Moriston, two of them acquaintances, Boyd had already had dealings; and he needed not now to be informed as to their fidelity and strength.

"There is but one course! You must be off without delay!" he exclaimed to Lord Geoffry. "The great God holds thee in his hand, that he suffers this warning to reach thee and still leaves open the way of escape. There must be no stopping for food or better clothing, or what not—though all that I have, my lord, you know, were at your service. Those to whom you go will supply you. Downstairs at once! I know the door best for your passage out. Come!"

Bewildered still, by want of preparation for this flight, which it was more than probable he would never retrace, Sir Geoffry obeyed. Boyd, who was barefooted, went stealthily to the lantern and took it from its hook. Step by step they descended the staircase after him, the lantern flashing fitfully upon the wall. Opposite the lowest step there chanced to be driven a row of wooden pegs for the hanging up of outside garments.

"It is chilly. We had best not go without better protection," suggested Chisholm, in French; and his eye falling on the pile of damp wraps that Captain Jermain and his men had cast there, the outlaw detained Boyd until he had coolly laid hands upon a couple of fine military cloaks, belonging to the dragoons, and, in spite of Boyd's dumb-show protest, also helped himself to a small leathern pouch which his deft examination showed him contained a purse and sundry trifling matters.

"It makes your false servant who releases me a genuine varlet," the outlaw argued. "Let us spoil the Egyptians."

But Boyd only thought, indignantly: "There shines the real thief-spirit, with a vengeance!" Gilbert gave them his own and Andrew's hats, and, turning through a short passage, led them into a kind of "lean-to" opening into the garden. A rude door, fastened with a stout timber-bar, was all that now interposed between the fugitives and the outside world of liberty.

The solemnity and regret of the instant entered deeply into the spirits of both the young and the elderly man, in spite of the awful possibility of an alarm ringing through the silent house, now, before the confident hands of the outlaw, already on the bolt, should lift it. The generous and grateful soul of the refugee was distressed with the reflection of the tempest sure to descend upon his protector and his household; if not from the negligent Jermain, who for his own sake would hardly dare to make too great a matter of Chisholm's escape, yet from the untimely visitation of the suspicious Danforth.

"We must not be shod until we reach the very end of the garden," cautioned Hugh Chisholm.

Lord Armitage scarcely heard the words. "Would to Heaven I did not thus leave you, Boyd!" said he to Gilbert. "Had I believed that such was to be our parting, I doubt if I had suffered our meeting. After all that you have done, all that I owe to you—Boyd, forgive me!"

"I have nothing to forgive, my lord. You came welcomed; whatever service I have offered has been welcomely tendered—you go to save your life when I cannot. Farewell!"

"But how shall I learn of your fortune after this morning's alarm and search? I cannot turn my back now, thinking that days may pass ere I do."

"Those who receive you will bear us tidings; you from me, I from you, if I live. Fear not for me and mine. The Lord is the Keeper of Windlestrae; we will not fear what man can do unto us. There will hardly be more than rough words and impudent questions."

Ah, self-sacrificing Master of Windlestrae! Even your guest feels that you are generously glozing over other pictures seen in your mind, as you thus encourage him.

"But when shall I see you? Cannot you assure me of that?" implored Lord Geoffry.

"I cannot, in truth. In better times, we must both pray; and better times are not likely soon to break. Come, no more of this! Farewell, my lord—each second is precious." He held the door open. "Go, go!"

The outlaw, indeed, beckoned in impatience. A puff of the chill morning air fluttered out the lantern. In the distance a cock crew shrilly. Lord Geoffry grasped Boyd's hand, and turned away.

"God protect you both!" murmured Gilbert, shivering in the wind. It was clear and cold; the fog in which Jermain had arrived had blown away, stars glittering overhead, and the bright dawn glimmering already in the East, in that region so early aglow. But as Armitage stepped from the stone threshold a sudden, last remembrance rushed over him. How could it have come so tardily?

"Boyd, Boyd!" he exclaimed, softly, in a tone that expressed the pang of remorse and regret assailing him. "Andrew! Where is Andrew? Good God! can I have so nearly forgotten him?"

The idea of departing thus, without a syllable to the lad who had devoted himself to him and exhibited such courage in his protection amid the environment of danger, was unendurable.

"He sleeps," replied Gilbert, chafing at further delay; "sheer weariness all at once overcame him. When I came down he lay on the floor of the attic chamber."

Lord Armitage pulled a ring from his finger. "It is better so. That to him, I beg; that, with my last adieux and my love. Say to him that it must remind him of the hour when we met, of that hour when we shall meet again. Heaven bless your boy! I hold him very dear."

Boyd took the ring. Lord Geoffry vanished after Chisholm in the cold and darkness.

*See Jesse's Lives of the Pretenders, vol. ii., pp. 136-142. Back


Streaked east became flaring light. Deep silence brooded yet over Windlestrae Farm, broken by no more unaccustomed sound than the notes of wakened birds, a cock's crow, or the low of kine.

But when the eastern side of the Manor House was showing a yellowish tint, with the faint rays of the sun through the morning mist, a hand was laid upon Roxley's shoulder and that heavy-lidded dragoon unwillingly opened his eyes, to find Captain Jermain shaking him gently.

"Come, Roxley, up with you! We must be on the road without asking for breakfast. I woke, myself, just now, by good-luck. Hasten!"

Roxley rubbed his organs of vision. Jermain stumbled, in the dark room, toward a window, administering a jolting to Dawkin on the way. He pushed open the thick shutters, so that a gray light filled the East Room; then he turned abruptly toward the corner, on the farther side of the bed, saying to what he thought was sentry but was only shadow:

"Halloa, there, my man! Go downstairs and see if you can fetch some water. For the——" Jermain's sentence broke in a profane ejaculation. "Boyd's knave has bolted! A fine sense of responsibility, truly; and I dare swear, Roxley, that you cannot tell me when."

"Captain! Captain Jermain!" spoke Roxley, in an agitated tone. The trooper was rummaging his clothes excitedly. "I can't find that key. Did you give it to me?"

"Of course I did," said Jermain, with a laugh. "I remember well enough. You pocketed it somewhere. We were all in a bad way, weren't we?"

"H'm—where is it? Where is it?" muttered Roxley. The last pocket went inside out; and just then Roxley started, for at his feet he saw lying two pieces of leathern thong.

He uttered a cry of consternation, as things all at once suggested themselves in their true light.

"Save us, captain! I fear there has been treachery—an escape!" he called, hoarsely, running to the oak-door.

"Escaped! what? who?" cried the confused Dawkin, staggering to his feet. "Was the prisoner shut up yonder? Where am I? I remember nothing—what has happened?"

"Happened? Sots and dullards that you are!" cried Jermain, at once putting two and two together. "Alarm the place with me, ye sluggards! Bid them bring an axe and a crow. Where, where be Boyd's ears—or his people's? Halloa again! The house! The house!"

Not long after, the morning sunshine lighted up a scene of mortal confusion in the East Room, the halls, and gardens of the old Manor House. Jermain, in his first surprise and bitter anger, was not able to make an intelligible inquiry of anyone—either of his following or the household. It was Chaos come again. He questioned without listening to replies, swore furiously at his men, and seemed disposed to think only of the superficial details of affairs. This was not for long. When into the upset room, streaked with sunshine, came Gilbert Boyd, firm of step and hollow-eyed from his long vigil, in which he had wrestled with his God for guidance and support in the desperate crisis now involving him and his house—then was it that Jermain turned upon him like a baited bull.

For, Boyd's reputation at Fort Augustus, or elsewhere, might be as Tory as tongues had made it. Possibly a wary Highland prisoner had cunningly corrupted his guard, and the two vanished together, leaving no soul under the Manor's roof responsible for the trick. One chain of thought forbade Jermain to go deeper than this theory, or consider his host as in collusion. But another one instantly asserted it, link by link, and turned the accepted partisanship of Gilbert Boyd, Master of Windlestrae, into a ridiculous error; and, instead of having divined that error, he, Captain Lionel Jermain, stood there, hoodwinked, entrapped, a laughing-stock to the regiments! Oh, his puerile taking all for granted last night—his unsoldierly debauch, that lay also at the bottom of his predicament! The grosser wits and tastes of Roxley and the rest might seem pardonable; his behavior, never!

"You have heard of this miserable business, Mr. Boyd?" he demanded, breathlessly, of Gilbert.

"I have," was Gilbert's monosyllabic answer. He looked the captain straight in the eye.

"It is inexplicable, outrageous! What business had you, Mr. Boyd, to press upon me a servant of whom, by all that I gather, you knew far less than you gave me to understand—a fellow who has played the traitor, disgraced me, and criminated you!"

"I am sorry that any gentleman of the service should suffer by the misconduct of one of my household," replied Gilbert, sharply, "but I deny that it criminates anyone of my household, except I shall have proof of it."

Jermain stared angrily at Boyd for a couple of seconds. Then, with an oath, he burst into a peal of coarse laughter, ending it with:

"Your impudence is a marvel, Mr. Boyd."

"And your conduct, at this moment, Captain Jermain, very unlike your behavior last night upon entering my house."

"I fancy that I know now a different host," sneered the captain. "Idiot that I have been!" he muttered. "Hark ye, Boyd, I tie, hand and foot, a wounded prisoner. I cast him into yonder strong-room, through whose door he cannot be heard, unless he call—a door that I lock with my own hands——"

Boyd interrupted—"The key of which you gave to one of your own troop, who hides it about his person."

"Ay, but—when the soldier he commits it to is in no case to resist its theft. Be silent, I command you, Roxley! You knew this, Mr. Boyd; so did your sentry, after or before your return with him well instructed in how he was to act."

"Was it your duty to accept such aid, Captain Jermain? Was it—no matter if you knew the outsider as well as I?"

"I—I—there are circumstances, Mr. Boyd, in which—in which an officer acts—according to circumstances; especially with an honest representation in his ear. Mr. Boyd, Mr. Boyd, I know not yet what to think of you, sir, however much you may have trusted your false varlet!"

"Determine for yourself, Captain Jermain. But let me ask if I am not to be deceived in a man, like the rest of the world?"

"Oh, don't plead that!" retorted Jermain. "Had you less knowledge of him than selecting him meant? Or is he, too, a part of the riddle? For, by the sword of Claver'se! I can find but little account of him from his fellows whom I have catechized here. What have you to say for yourself?"

"Captain Jermain, you shall use no such tone to me! I deny the need of my replying to you, sir. Remember that, soldier or not, you have been and you are my guest!"

"Oh, you do well to remind me of that! It is no moment for me to be overawed by trumpery Highland dignity, sir. If I am forced to violate the code of hospitality, it is because I have reason to believe that I have been tricked and deluded—with many other people. I propose to sift this occurrence at once, Mr. Boyd."

"Sift it how and when you choose, young sir! You will find only honesty where Windlestrae is concerned. I defy you!"

"Ha! you defy me?" iterated Jermain, sarcastically. "Mark that, Roxley!" The other two dragoons would have spoken, but he silenced them with an angry gesture. "That commonly means a plot that is deep-laid, Mr. Boyd."

"Deep-laid?" returned Gilbert, in a sterner accent and with curling lips—"find it out, then, Captain Jermain! Or, rather, create it to suit yourself and to best screen yourself. You would visit your spleen upon Windlestrae? You would fasten the fault of your prisoner's escape on my family? Suppose I cast in your teeth the abuse of my kindness that made you and your four companions incapable of thinking of your common duty, unable to perform it. Can you deny that——"

"No more, Mr. Gilbert Boyd!" exclaimed Jermain, scarlet with anger and the sting of Boyd's bold reminders. But he thought best to stomach the rest of Gilbert's courageous accusation.

"——That on yonder bed lay Roxley—and Dawkin there? Why suffered they this jail-breaking to go on, not two paces from their ears? Down-stairs at this moment are stretched Tracey and Saville, sunk in a drunken stupor yet too deep for their stirring, for all your cries and tramplings over this discovery. And you, Captain, where and how employed were you? You, their head, and responsible for their conduct on the march?"

Jermain was silent. The course of the Master of Windlestrae grew with each sentence, to him and the rest, more astonishing. But the secret of it was not Boyd's hope to avert by bandying of words or by his dignity the storm now let loose. In the dark attic the Master had risen from his knees believing, as if from an assurance of the Lord, that the time for blunt truth, right against might, was set straight before him. "God help me!" he cried, "not another twist, not another half-lie nor Devil's gloze of fact shall they have from lips of me or mine. Only a long and black list of them could serve us now; and that for how little space! Reveal thine arm to me this day, O Thou of the Covenant!" It was with the iron composure of some martyrs who have gone to their stakes that Gilbert Boyd had entered the East Room.

"Look here, Mr. Boyd," said Jermain, now striving to maintain a certain politic decorum, "I will have no such insinuations. It is true that I—or some—all—of my attendance became, last evening, owing to the fatigues of the day's riding, less—less abstemious at table than we might properly have been. I apologize for it. I apologize for the way in which we conducted ourselves during the inspection of your famous Mouse's Nest——"

"You do well, sir," said Boyd, coldly.

"Do well?" repeated Jermain, angrily. "By Mars! but I dare swear that your Scotch revenge for my acquaintance with the secret chamber was thus taken. 'Tis like a Scotchman."

"That is false. I bore no malice for your knowledge, nor for your violence. You were in no state to conduct yourself like a gentleman."

Alack! Discretion ought ever to elbow Valor, but so seldom does. Old Gilbert Boyd was bringing to bear in this interview many heroic qualities—his love for the truth, his trust in Heaven, and the simple power of a bold soul. Jermain inwardly weakened before them; and whatever he attempted to seem, he was beginning to wonder whether he were behaving wisely. He did not wish, he dared not just now, to press the affair. To do so he must be re-enforced from somewhere. His reputation as a soldier Boyd plainly held in his hands. He feared him. He was already thinking it would be better to swallow his pride, hurry off from the Manor with as much dignity as he could collect, and then descend again upon it from Neith, some fine morning, like a whirlwind. Yes, that would make brave amends! Such were Jermain's reflections when Boyd said that indignant something he needed not—that luckless, "You were in no state to conduct yourself like a gentleman."

"You lie, Mr. Boyd!" cried the young captain. He threw himself at Gilbert's throat, forgetting the disparity in their years, forgetting policy, everything.

"Back with you, baby in your gold-laced cap!" quoth Boyd, dashing him to the floor with one stroke of his muscular arm, all his fiery temper and outraged respect showing themselves in his defiant attitude.

Jermain struck out both hands in falling. He dragged Boyd nearly prostrate. Gilbert resisted furiously. This violent turn of affairs consumed so little time that the crestfallen Roxley and Dawkin were taken by surprise. But Dawkin and one of the men-servants sprang forward and caught hold of the Captain. Roxley grasped Boyd. The two were forced apart. With Boyd panting and Jermain cursing, each was made to right himself.

But, just as the on-lookers restrained them, Andrew Boyd hurriedly crossed the threshold of the room. He uttered a cry of terror. In the confusion of struggling figures, the clamor of eavesdropping women, and exclamations of the rest, it seemed to him immediately that Roxley was throttling Gilbert.

"Unhand my father, villain!" the intrepid boy called out, springing like a tiger-cat on the uncouth dragoon. With a blow from his doubled fist he struck stout Roxley much more effectively than the rules of his Lordship of Queensberry now sanction—aiming at, in a gastronomic as well as a pugilistic sense, Roxley's most attackable spot—and at the same time seized him by the windpipe. Roxley, roaring and gasping, released Gilbert; then strove to clutch this puissant enemy. The mêlée might have become general, for the room rang with exclamations and threats and the scuffle of feet. But Boyd snatched Andrew to his side, waved away the servants, and cried, "Peace! peace, I say! This is no time for a brawl over a boy. Captain Jermain, command yonder fellow to keep his hands for men, not children. Andrew, leave the room."

Scarcely had Gilbert uttered such words when hasty steps came along the corridor. A cry of surprise echoed from the hall. The angry group turned. They beheld in the door-way a new participant—a short, spare little officer, of perhaps forty-five years, with grizzled hair, a thin face, set lips, and a pallid color. He stretched out his hand at the astonished disputants.

"No! Neither Andrew nor any other person must leave the room. Mr. Boyd, you and these comrades here seem not to have expected visitors so early."

It was Colonel Danforth. At his back appeared half a dozen other soldiers. Without the house were reined six times as many. The confusion within enabled the Colonel to make one of those quiet advents so dear to his cunning heart; and he had hastened up from the nearly deserted lower story to share in the extraordinary fracas, visible as well as audible through the open windows of the East Room, as he and his men had trotted up below.

With grim pleasure, he stood there. He observed the consternation his presence brought. This small, invalid-looking man! Was he the soldier never accused by his comrades of humor except to wound; devoid of enthusiasm except in cruelty, of clemency save to the dead, or, indeed, of any emotions but those allied to a ferocity and vindictiveness from which a Malaccan pirate might have borrowed?

"Captain Lionel Jermain, I believe," he said, advancing carelessly through the roomful, and still extending his hand. "This is an unexpected meeting, Mr. Boyd. I give myself the honor of this very early visit—that is, to you, not your guests—upon a matter of some import; but I am glad to find acquaintance already before me. You seem agitated here. May I take the liberty of asking you, Captain, from what has arisen this altercation? Or you, Mr. Boyd? I may be able to adjust it."

The quick, decisive voice ceased. The speaker fixed his eyes on Gilbert, though he addressed Jermain. The Captain, seeing his way very clear to violent methods of uncovering the whole puzzle and revenging himself upon fate and Windlestrae for it, saluted, assumed a more soldier like attitude and demeanor, and said, with an angry glance at Gilbert: "Colonel, you know me. I am not one to groundlessly accuse. I have lodged with Mr. Boyd overnight. I charge him with promoting the escape of a Jacobite prisoner whom I bestowed in yonder strong-room under his direction."

"And I charge that young soldier with behavior unworthy a gentleman and an officer—drunkenness, abuse, and assault, and I throw his accusation back into his face," returned Boyd, speaking clearly and decidedly. But he drew Andrew closer as he uttered his brave defiance. The worst had come to the worst; and it was now simply a question of manly behavior and the end appointed by Providence.

"Ha!" spat out Danforth, with a flash darting from his small eyes that betokened instant thunder, "is this the trouble? Ah, I am not surprised, Captain. Mr. Boyd seems to be a man concerning whom most of us have oddly been at fault. Mr. Boyd, I have heard both sides, I presume? In turn, I must inform you that I have come to you this morning to determine whether or not you have in hiding at present in your house, or have been so secreting for certain days, a Jacobite refugee—another one, I take it—named Lord Geoffry Armitage. Will you be good enough to answer whether you have known aught of the movements of such a person?"

Boyd stared back in rigid silence. Whatever he might have said—always within the truth—he had no chance to prove. For, at the mention of his gallant friend's name, Andrew, in horror and utter despair, sank gasping in a half-faint. Boyd caught him or he would have fallen at his feet, and kneeling, with his son upon his arm, looked silently up at Danforth, like an old lion beside its tormented whelp.

"Ha!" exclaimed Danforth, with a sudden change from dignity to ferocity, "I need no other answer than that cry at present. Mr. Boyd, consider yourself under arrest." He struck his palms together. The soldiers manacled Boyd.

"The cockerel with the cock!" added Danforth. They gyved the semiconscious Andrew also. Angus and Neil and their fellows suffered a similar indignity in a twinkling.

"Now, gentlemen, all down below!" ejaculated Danforth, looking like some venomous snake, exultant in the power of the poison he can infuse. "Bring them! Captain Jermain, you can tell me more of your story outside." With an oath, he added: "I'll hold high court on the lawn; and I rather think that there won't be much left to find out when it's over. Be quick, you lazy varlets!"


In the middle of the little lawn Danforth stopped. A portion of the dismounted guard, on seeing their leader and Captain Jermain come from the Manor House door followed by their companions and the prisoners, gathered about him. The eight or ten who remained on horseback drew as close to the centre of investigation as was practicable. It was a spirited picture—the frowning gray house, all thrown open; the sunshiny grass-plot, covered with horses and men; the group of prisoners, at whom, from time to time, Danforth looked maliciously while Captain Jermain poured his angry tale in his ear.

"That will do, Captain!" the Colonel presently interrupted; "I think I understand the course of matters sufficiently to get to the bottom of them." He leaned against a tree. "Hark ye, Mr. Boyd," and he surveyed Gilbert amid his guards. "That you are responsible for both these acts I clearly see. You are an old traitor, an old traitor, sir! You merit the fullest punishment that you have too long escaped. But I am just, sir, I am perfectly just—I do not wish to visit more than he deserves upon even the worst Jacobite rascal that draws breath. Tell me, therefore, instantly, the whole of your share, first, in this shameful treachery to Captain Jermain, and, second, everything concerning this equally treasonable Armitage business."

With as calm deliberateness as if he had been announcing the fact to Lord George Murray or Lochiel, Gilbert responded: "The Highland prisoner, brought by Captain Jermain, I ordered set at liberty this morning by his sentry. At this hour they are both beyond your pursuit."

A general cry of wrath put a period to Boyd's response. Danforth smiled—smiled in his most sinister fashion. He muttered something to Jermain. Andrew did not take his eyes from his father's set face.

"Very well, Mr. Boyd," resumed Colonel Danforth; "so much for that! Now for the next. Have you entertained this Lord Armitage under your roof?"

"That question I decline to answer, Colonel Danforth," said Gilbert.

"Which is a silly way of saying 'yes.' How long since, Mr. Boyd?"

No reply. Other interests than his own were blended in a response to this. Unforced, Gilbert would not yield an inch here.

"How long since, I say, Mr. Boyd? So reluctant? Very good. Bring that lad here!"

Gilbert could not suppress a tremor and a stifled protest as he heard this sudden order and saw Andrew pushed forward. But a hand struck the Master of Windlestrae sharply across his mouth, he was seized on either side, made to stand turned about, with his back to his son and this English inquisitor, and so held fast.

"You heard what I last asked your father, boy? Now I'll try you—and mind you speak the truth. Has this Armitage been in Windlestrae Manor within one week?"

White and defiant, Andrew looked Danforth in the face; and, remembering Gilbert's behavior, was also mute. He glanced, too, at a sapphire ring upon his finger.

Cunning Danforth! He well guessed how speediest to reach his end. He made a sign. Boyd heard a certain confusion, but was held as if in a vice. In a twinkling Andrew's clothes were, not so much pulled, as torn from his back. Three burly dragoons forced the lad into a partially stooping position. A fourth raised a leathern whip with four or five lashes.

"Speak, insolent young dog!" cried Danforth; "answer my question!"

"I will not!" retorted Andrew, suddenly struggling.

"Give it to him, Foote!" shouted the Colonel.

A whish in the air—the blows of the thongs, and a boyish shriek!

"Again!" spoke Danforth; and again the hideous instrument descended, cutting into the bared white flesh and wringing confession of the agony it inflicted—no other confession.

But before the whip could again do its fearful office Boyd wrenched himself loose. He ran to his son's side with a cry of passion and horror and sacrifice. He threw his arms about Andrew, fettered as he was, fairly dashing the monsters off by his impetuous interposition.

"Stop, stop, for the love of God!" he exclaimed. "Colonel Danforth—Captain Jermain—spare the innocent! On me, on me, do what you will! I have sheltered Lord Geoffry Armitage. He was the sentry who fled with the prisoner this morning. They are safe! Do your worst, but only to me; I am responsible for everything—everything! God send all such hunted men deliverance; and God send confusion on you and your king!"

A shout from the dragoons, a confused clamor from the helpless servants, and half a dozen quick sentences from the two officers followed.

Under such a revelation, Captain Jermain was with difficulty kept from a second personal assault on his late host. Without blenching, Gilbert stood firm until all the ebullition should subside. "Courage, my brave lad!" he said to Andrew; "we could only bring worse trouble on others by longer silence. We are in the hands of the Lord of Hosts—if the worst be death, He shall sustain us in that, too!"

Danforth turned upon Boyd, with a smile which was more ominous than a whole torrent of threats.

"Thank you, Mr. Boyd. I see you have prudence in emergencies as well as adroitness. I am satisfied with your admissions for this moment. The details I shall take opportunity of hearing in the guard-house at Neith. Ah, Barkalow, you have finished your search through the house? Did you get into that secret chamber with Captain Jermain's man? Very good. Holloa, there! Into the saddle, everybody! Captain Jermain, please order your men to mount! Croft, see that Boyd and his son have horses—it will save time. Release the servants! By Jove! we have made quick work this morning. Back to Neith, instantly!"

In five minutes Andrew and Gilbert found themselves the centre of a cordon moving slowly over the Manor lawn. Protest from the servants was useless; the weeping of the faithful women was rudely silenced. In front rode Colonel Danforth and his younger colleague, who was still tracing out, angrily, the night's work, with Roxley and Dawkin, and an occasional comment from gruff Lieutenant Barkalow. But just as they gained a slight eminence, close beside the rude gate-way of the Manor that opened into the Neith Road, the Colonel reined his horse and said to the Master:

"Boyd, what shall be done to you for this traitorous business I know not; nor shall I know until I draw out of you at Neith an accounting, down to the least detail. And I will draw it—expect that! But, for your insolence and stubbornness thus far, I can show you your reward, already."

He pointed back to the Manor House through the oaks. Four belated dragoons dashed up at the same moment. What had detained them explained itself at once. Faint cries from the terrified group left masterless about the open door; a column of smoke suddenly rising against the sky—the defenceless old house was fired! Two of Danforth's cruel emissaries had slipped around to the rear and set brands to the thatch of an odd wing. In a moment the flames leaped high in air, roaring and crackling, before the eyes of its owner and his heir.

Boyd groaned. But he said no word. He watched the destroyer blaze from casement to casement, seethe against the old stone walls and surge upward in rolling masses of smoke, consuming all that was perishable before it. He had to stand there and hear his live-stock career in a panic down distant lanes as the great barn caught in turn and swelled the conflagration. Andrew covered his face. He could not bear the spectacle.

Once, however, he looked across at his father, and observed him still determined not to give his tormentors the satisfaction of a word of protest or despair over what was leaving him a ruined man; but the strong old face was working convulsively, and the overarched eyes were filled with tears.

Long afterward, Andrew used to say that it was the only time that he remembered seeing his father shed them.

"On!" commanded Danforth, abruptly, "the show is over!"

The father and son were separated; neither could they converse. They rode along, now too miserable over the past to be concerned for the future. The laughing and talking of the dragoons they heeded no longer. Once Boyd was heard to say, in a suffocated voice, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away!" He knew what that meant now.

After about an hour's slow progress, they entered a little defile between two low hills covered with pine-trees. As the middle of it was attained, Colonel Danforth, from the van of the column, raised his eyes to a covert, and then exclaimed, "Captain Jermain! Mr. Barkalow! Look up there—beside the white bowlder. Isn't that a man skulking?"

Before the other two could answer, a shot rang out on the breeze. A dragoon cried out in anguish and fell from his horse, dead. Another shot followed—another. The figures of several men were now discernible above, leaping between the trees.

"A surprise! a surprise! At them, every man of you! 'Tis a rescue!" called out Danforth and the other officers.

But the volley that hailed on them with this order was so full and galling that it struck the troop with panic. Men were calling out in pain, or falling, right and left. A wild slogan echoed above and around from the dense shrubbery. The horses plunged, their riders rolling in the dust under their hoofs. Encumbered with their steeds, the soldiers were utterly unprepared for such an ambush. Each second came the bullets from the ensconced sharp-shooters.

"Villains! cowards!" shouted Colonel Danforth; "will you fly from a pack of Highland wolves?" But as he lashed his horse up the bluff, what seemed to be the first of a horde of gigantic, half-crazed desperadoes rushed from the thicket upon the troopers, yelling again an undistinguishable cry, and brandishing naked weapons.

This was too much even for Danforth. Over the bodies of a dozen dead or dying men of his escort, and a struggling horse or two, he fled amain, with all his cohort, regardless of aid to comrades or securing the two prisoners. But as the dragoon conducting Andrew pushed away the boy, he fired his pistol full at him. Gilbert struck his arm aside. He diverted the bullet from his son's brain to his own shoulder. And then, in a flash, the defile was abandoned to these uncouth and unknown friends, so disguised that they could not be distinguished one from the other.

Amid a rush and sundry very disconnected reassurances, Gilbert and Andrew found themselves surrounded by their panting but victorious deliverers, and urged furiously up the almost inaccessible mountain-path.

"Ask no questions now! You shall hear all soon," said one of their flying escort; "you must first be safe." Gilbert was soon discovered to be in no condition to ask questions, or, indeed, more than endure so rough a journey. The wound, which in the excitement of their rescue he had thought little of, was bleeding profusely, and he turned presently very faint from pain and weakness. In astonishment at his fortitude, so far, the riders halted behind a pile of crags, and the hurt was looked to hastily by two young men. The bullet had entered the breast, glancing from the shoulder, and its dislodgement must be a work of better opportunity. They supported Gilbert on his horse for the rest of the way, he enduring the increasing torment and weakness manfully. But Andrew was not a little alarmed to see how much his father suffered and how haggard grew his face. They had, however, chance for but a few words now; Gilbert's resolution keeping up the speed of the party at a high rate, and mounted or unmounted members of it hurrying along with an astonishingly equal rapidity.

After half an hour's ride they galloped through a ravine where it was a miracle to find a track, so savage and sombre were the surroundings. Next, a deep glen began opening below them. From those beside them neither father nor son could yet gain a syllable of explanation as to how they had come to them in their extreme need nor whither they sped; indeed, all of them spoke a particularly guttural Gaelic. But with the certainty that he and his father were delivered, there came a new hope into Andrew's heart.

Nor was that hope checked. For, presently, flushed and breathless from their downward career, he and Gilbert suddenly passed through a vast cleft, some rods wide, between two cliffs at the foot of the last mountain-spur. A rude camp lay before them. Men and women, and even children, were moving about in it, and spoil of all sorts seemed to be piled up under the shelter of booths and trees.

"Huzzah!" rang a welcome to their guards.

"Huzzah!" replied the latter's shout, the horsemen throwing themselves to the turf; some of the band talking boisterously in Gaelic, others assisting the two Boyds to dismount and paying solicitous heed to Gilbert's suffering state.

Andrew set his feet on the earth. And then out from a hut hurried a dozen men, whose bearing at once asserted high rank and broken fortunes. But the foremost figure outsped them and ran forward, and caught Andrew in an embrace, amid an acclaim, "God save the Prince!" and all about Andrew and his father men and women were kneeling upon the green sod.

"Oh, my lord, my lord!" cried Andrew, looking up into Sir Geoffry's face; "are you here? God be praised!"

"Yes, Andrew," replied the knight, with one hand upon the boy's shoulder, but extending the other to Gilbert, who knelt, despite his exhaustion, before his late guest, in a sudden awe and amazement that even the morning's terrible experiences could not check. "Yes, Andrew, I am here, dearest lad—I, your friend; and, some day, please Heaven!—your King!"


Yes, so it was! The pursued refugee, for whose sake Windlestrae lay a ruin, for whose sake its owner and his son were sheltered with him in the hidden stronghold of the Seven Men of Glenmoriston, might be no better able to make amends for such calamities, nor defend himself and them from further mischiefs. But under the veil of Lord Geoffry Armitage, Charles Stewart, the adored Prince of Scotland, had seen fit to hide himself in Windlestrae; and if it was the man that Andrew and his father had learned to love, it was also their sovereign whom they had entertained unawares.

"Forgive me, Boyd," cried the Pretender, raising Gilbert tenderly and insisting that, because of his extreme faintness, he should recline on a pallet already improvised; "forgive me! It was not that I feared to trust you or Andrew with your king's identity. I deferred doing so from an idle freak, when we met, until I was ashamed—and then came the hope of better days, when I might enjoy your surprise at recognizing me in gayer surroundings. Alas, alas! I looked not for such a meeting as this. Tell me at once, Andrew, for the love of Heaven, the worst those miscreants have done to you."

"Danforth arrived, my lord—I mean, Your Majesty," Andrew began, falteringly.

"Nay, I like the old title best. By the ring that I gave thee, call me by it," interrupted Prince Charles, smiling. He was in haste to hear the outlines of the story, for he was secretly shocked at Boyd's appearance. A refugee surgeon, who was addressed by the sympathizing group as MacCullom, was dressing the pistol-wound, with a solicitous face, and administering spirits. Extracting the ball he found was impossible.

"The escape had just been discovered. They sought to know more. Danforth was there, too. My father and I kept back what we could, until they wrung from us your being at Windlestrae and flying with the outlaw. They fettered my father—beat me—have burnt Windlestrae. We were being borne to Neith by them."

"O God!" cried Prince Charles, raising his eyes to the blue sky above, and then casting them in grief and pity on the father and son; "what misery do I bring upon men wherever I set my foot! Reward such faithful hearts, O Lord, for all the sorrow I breed among them! Hear ye that, Patrick Grant—hear ye that, John Macdonnell? If ever we again can lift hand against them, woe be to them and their children!"

"It shall—it shall! Woe be to them!" rose the hoarse reply from those standing by.

"Your Majesty, the wounded gentleman would fain speak with you," said the surgeon MacCollum. He added, in a whisper, something else, as Charles turned apologetically to Boyd's resting-place, that made the Prince exclaim, in a shocked tone, "What? No, no! It cannot be, MacCollum, it must not be."

But the other answered, "I am as astonished as you; but it is too late, Your Majesty."

Boyd was stretched out at the foot of an oak, carefully tended. "What is it, true friend?" asked Charles, bending over him and clasping his sinewy hand. "God do more to me for ill than he hath, if I do not revenge you upon those who have so wronged you for my sake! Are you in great pain?"

"Not so great but that I would fain hear of your adventures after you left my poor house," began Boyd, gasping, despite his fortitude. "Alas! my house had done them no wrong! Why should they destroy it with its Master?"

"With its Master?" remonstrated Charles; "nay, Boyd, you are over-fearful. Chisholm and I—see, there he is—oh, we found the path that he well knew how to trace, and were here hours ago. A number of brave men, believing, from Rab Kaims' tale, that mischief was in the air, were dashing away toward the Neith Road to fall upon Danforth when he should set out for the town. They were your rescuers, and had gone when Chisholm and I got hither."

"God be blessed for them!" replied Boyd, feebly. "I thank Him that I, too, have been counted worthy to suffer for my king! What a joy, what an honor forever, in my family, unto Andrew's children's children, shall this week remain!" The thought seemed to possess him wholly.

"And what keen remorse and regret to me, noble Master of Windlestrae!" exclaimed Charles. He drew Andrew closer as they knelt there together. The lad had grown more alarmed than ever at his father's appearance, but was far from suspecting that MacCollum's whisper pronounced the wound mortal, and Gilbert's life a question of brief time. The infuriated trooper had not thrown away his shot.

"Nay, my lord—be it not so," replied Boyd, "not so! What hath chanced is of God and for my sovereign. Aha!" added he with a scornful curl of his lips, now white and compressed in pain, "what will my Windlestrae neighbors say when they learn it? Andrew, boy, the honor of my house, of thy house is won for thee, when Scotland shall see peace beneath her rightful king. Would I might not die here! If I could but live to welcome such a day, too! Not so is it set for me!"

"Father, father!" ejaculated Andrew, dropping his royal protector's hand as the bitter truth broke upon him. "Why speak you thus? Do you suffer so? Oh, tell me not, tell me not that he is—is dying! Look at him, gentlemen, look at him!"

"My poor fellow," responded MacCollum, gently, as he felt the patient's pulse—for Boyd had closed his eyes an instant, from agony and exhaustion—"I should wrong you by feigning. I fear that he cannot hold out long."

Boyd looked up again. A great change had suddenly come over his face. Andrew was terrified at it. His father not only was intensely pale and weak, but the lines of age had somehow stolen into his rugged countenance, the shadows of eld into his sunken eyes.

"My lord," he said to the Pretender, after a long look at Andrew, "I am dying. I pass away, here, in this green-wood, stretched at your feet, not making obeisance before you when you shall be seated on the throne of your fathers. Will you grant me a last request? By one promise you can repay all this debt which, while it lies lightly, ay, joyfully, on my heart, you say is a burden to yours."

"Oh, Boyd, Boyd—anything—everything!" exclaimed Charles, the tears filling his blue eyes.

"Unto you, then, do I commit my son. Defend him, care for him, so far as Heaven shall permit. He is as a wild partridge upon the mountains now; as art thou. But I see it, I feel it, the God of Strength shall lead thee and him hence; yea, shall deliver thee in safety from this land, and grant to thee long life and a death upon a peaceful pillow. Henceforth, remember my lad. Swear to me that thou wilt, so far as shall be in thy power, be his guardian, his protector forevermore."

"I swear it," replied Prince Charles, solemnly, taking the sobbing Andrew's hand again in his own. "I call these about us to my witness. Whither I go, shall he go; and where I lodge, shall he lodge."

"You mark?" asked Boyd, with painful eagerness, turning his eyes to those on the right and left of his couch. "So may it be! Andrew, to thy king do I commit thee. Live thou for him—die thou for him as do I, if need be. Lean over—kiss my forehead. Ah, thy face looks like thy mother's, boy, when I wedded her under the green holms at Dunmorar. So!—my lord, with this Mouse's Nest we defy Danforth——Quick, Mistress Janet, bring the candles!—we must not lose a moment! It is life and death! Captain Jermain, Captain Jermain, you can not lodge in the Purple Chamber!"——And then, with a few more muttered incoherencies in his delirium, the heroic soul of the Master of Windlestrae fled.

One by one the circle drew back or slipped away, leaving only the Prince and Andrew gazing through their tears on the face upturned to the waving oak. Presently Surgeon MacCollum came and gently laid a cloak over the still form. The sobbing Andrew was drawn away. But Charles remained on his knees, praying inaudibly, beside the dead Master's body.


Perhaps history can best remind the reader of what followed. How, after some further but slighter peril, Charles Stewart was guided, by other devoted friends, by way of Bowalder and Auchnagarry, to the Castle of Lochiel and the longed-for sea-coast—one can read this for himself. There rode at anchor—oh, sight of inexpressible comfort!—the two French vessels L'Heureux and La Princesse de Conti, sent by the exiled Chevalier from Morlaix Harbor, France, and waiting until the fugitive's approach, so frequently despaired of. In L'Heureux, on the night of September 20, 1746, Charles Stewart embarked for France, with one hundred and thirty other exiled and beggared followers. From its deck, nine days later, did the unfortunate heir to the throne of the Stewarts step to the beach at Roscoff, near Morlaix—able, for the first time in weary months, to draw a free breath and look about him in perfect safety; his hopes of a kingdom broken at his back like egg-shells.

But history, which seldom has space for such trifles, does not state that ever at the Prince's side, upon sea or land, from the hour of his departure from Glenmoriston and its outlaws, there was a Highland lad, toward whom the exile showed a quiet care and affection, never for an instant relaxed, and of a sort that won the notice of all who encountered them. Little was said of his antecedents or his story. The Prince desired no questions upon the matter; but he and his gallant looking protégé seemed inseparable even in private.

And when the fugitive made that almost royal entrance to Fontainebleau to meet Louis XV., in a carriage following his own, clad in deep mourning, rode Andrew Boyd, usually spoken of as "that young Scotchman—the special confidential secretary of the Prince."

With Charles, Andrew led a busy and somewhat varied life for the next few years, while his noble protector flitted, now to one European city, now another; until Charles succeeded, through the agency of some Scotch acquaintances, in providing substantially for Andrew and, at the same time, in having restored to him the lands of Windlestrae. Thereupon, grown to man's estate, Andrew built again a Manor House, and even collected about him some of the old servants. Thither, too, did he bring home, not long after, a fair French bride. Never was a cheerfuller wedding, or one that prophesied more truly of the calm and happy years to follow it, for the bride and groom. But on the marriage-day, as he stood proudly admiring his young wife's rich costume, Andrew was heard to sigh; and when she demanded the reason, he replied, gently, "Alas! dear heart, thy knots of white ribbon mind me of so many White Cockades! Thou hast many fair white roses, yonder—hide thy love-knots with them!"


Obvious printing errors have been silently corrected throughout. Otherwise, inconsistencies and possible errors have been preserved.

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