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Graham of Claverhouse by Ian Maclaren



BOOK I

BOOK II

BOOK III

BOOK IV


1907

BOOK I

CHAPTER I. BY THE CAMP-FIRE

That afternoon a strange thing had happened to the camp of the Prince of Orange, which was pitched near Nivelle in Brabant, for the Prince was then challenging Condé, who stuck behind his trenches at Charleroi and would not come out to fight. A dusty-colored cloud came racing along the sky so swiftly—yet there was no wind to be felt—that it was above the camp almost as soon as it was seen. When the fringes of the cloud encompassed the place, there burst forth as from its belly a whirlwind and wrought sudden devastation in a fashion none had ever seen before or could afterwards forget. With one long and fierce gust it tore up trees by the roots, unroofed the barns where the Prince's headquarters were, sucked up tents into the air, and carried soldiers' caps in flocks, as if they were flocks of rooks. This commotion went on for half an hour, then ceased as instantly as it began; there was calm again and the evening ended in peace, while the cloud of fury went on its way into the west, and afterwards we heard that a very grand and strong church at Utrecht had suffered greatly. As the camp was in vast disorder, both officers and men bivouacked in the open that night, and as it was inclined to chill in those autumn evenings, fires had been lit not only for the cooking of food, but for the comfort of their heat. Round one fire a group of English gentlemen had gathered, who had joined the Prince's forces, partly because, like other men of their breed, they had an insatiable love of fighting, and partly to push their fortunes, for Englishmen in those days, and still more Scotsmen were willing to serve on any side where the pay and the risks together were certain, and under any commander who was a man of his head and hands. Europe swarmed with soldiers of fortune from Great Britain, hard bitten and fearless men, some of whom fell far from home, and were buried in unknown graves, others of whom returned to take their share in any fighting that turned up in their own country. So it came to pass that many of our Islanders had fought impartially with equal courage and interest for the French and against them, like those two Scots who met for the first time at the camp-fire that night, and whose fortunes were to the end of the chapter to be so curiously intertwined. There was Collier, who afterwards became My Lord Patmore; Rooke, who rose to be a major-general in the English army; Hales, for many years Governor of Chelsea Hospital; Venner, the son of one of Cromwell's soldiers, who had strange notions about a fifth monarchy which was to be held by our Lord himself, but who was a good fighting man; and some others who came to nothing and left no mark. Two young Scots gentlemen were among the Englishmen, who were to have a share in making history in their own country, and both to die as generals upon the battle-field, the death they chiefly loved. Both men were to suffer more than falls to the ordinary lot, and the life of one, some part of whose story is here to be told, was nothing else but tragedy. For the gods had bestowed upon him quick gifts of mind and matchless beauty of face, and yet he was to be hated by his nation, till his name has become a byword, and to be betrayed by his own friends who were cowards or self-seekers, and to find even love, like a sword, pierce his heart.

Scotland contains within it two races, and partly because their blood is different and partly because the one race has lived in the open and fertile Lowlands, and the other in the wild and shadowy Highlands, the Celt of the North and the Scot of the south are well-nigh as distant from each other as the east from the west. But among the Celts there were two kinds in that time, and even unto this day the distinction can be found by those who look for it. There was the eager and fiery Celt who was guided by his passions rather than by prudence, who struck first and reasoned afterwards, who was the victim of varying moods and the child of hopeless causes. He was usually a Catholic in faith, so far as he had any religion, and devoted to the Stuart dynasty, so far as he had any policy apart from his chief. There was also another sort of Celt, who was quiet and self-contained, determined and persevering. Men of this type were usually Protestant in their faith, and when the day of choice came they threw in their lot with Hanover against Stuart. Hugh MacKay was the younger son of an ancient Highland house of large possessions and much influence in the distant North of Scotland; his people were suspicious of the Stuarts because the kings of that ill-fated line were intoxicated with the idea of divine right, and were ever clutching at absolute power; nor had the MacKays any overwhelming and reverential love for bishops, because they considered them to be the instruments of royal tyranny and the oppressors of the kirk. MacKay has found a place between Collier and Venner, and as he sits leaning back against a saddle and to all appearance half asleep, the firelight falls on his broad, powerful, but rather awkward figure, and on a strong, determined face, which in its severity is well set off by his close-cut sandy hair. Although one would judge him to be dozing, or at least absorbed in his own thoughts, if anything is said which arrests him, he will cast a quick look on the speaker, and then one marks that his eyes are steely gray, cold and penetrating, but also brave and honest. By and by he rouses himself, and taking a book out of an inner pocket, and leaning sideways towards the fire, he begins to read, and secludes himself from the camp talk. Venner notices that it is a Bible, and opens his mouth to ask him whether he can give him the latest news about the fifth monarchy which made a windmill in his poor father's head, but, catching sight of MacKay's grim profile, thinks better and only shrugs his shoulders. For MacKay was not a man whose face or manner invited jesting.

Upon the other side of the fire, so that the two men could only catch occasional and uncertain glimpses of each other through the smoke, as was to be their lot in after days, lay the other Scot in careless grace, supporting his head upon his hand, quite at his ease and in good fellowship with all his comrades. If MacKay marked a contrast to the characteristic Celt of hot blood and wayward impulses, by his reserve and self-control, John Graham was quite unlike the average Lowlander by the spirit of feudal prejudice and romantic sentiment, of uncalculating devotion and loyalty to dead ideals, which burned within his heart, and were to drive him headlong on his troubled and disastrous career. A kinsman of the great Montrose and born of a line which traced its origin to Scottish kings, the child of a line of fighting cavaliers, he loathed Presbyterians, their faith and their habits together, counting them fanatics by inherent disposition and traitors whenever opportunity offered. He was devoted to the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and regarded a bishop with reverence for the sake of his office, and he was ready to die, as the Marquis of Montrose had done before him, for the Stuart line and their rightful place. One can see as he stretches himself, raising his arms above his head with a taking gesture, that he is not more than middle size and slightly built, though lithe and sinewy as a young tiger, but what catches one's eye is the face, which is lit up by a sudden flash of firelight. It is that of a woman rather than a man, and a beautiful woman to boot, and this girl face he was to keep through all the days of strife and pain, and also fierce deeds, till they carried him dead from Killiecrankie field. It was a full, rich face, with fine complexion somewhat browned by campaign life, with large, expressive eyes of hazel hue, whose expression could change with rapidity from love to hate, which could be very gentle in a woman's wooing, or very hard when dealing with a Covenanting rebel, but which in repose were apt to be sad and hopeless. The lips are rich and flexible, the nose strong and straight, the eyebrows high and well arched, and the mouth, with the short upper lip, is both tender and strong. His abundant and rich brown hair he wears in long curls falling over his shoulders, as did the cavaliers, and he is dressed with great care in the height of military fashion, evidently a gallant and debonair gentleman. He has just ceased from badinage with Rooke, in which that honest soldier's somewhat homely army jokes have been worsted by the graceful play of Graham's wit, who was ever gay, but never coarse, who was no ascetic, and was ever willing to drink the king's health, but, as his worst enemies used grudgingly to admit, cared neither for wine nor women. Silence falls for a little on the company. Claverhouse looking into the fire and seeing things of long ago and far away, hums a Royalist ballad to the honor of King Charles, and the confounding of crop-eared Puritans. Among the company was that honest gentleman, Captain George Carlton, who was afterwards to tell many entertaining anecdotes of the War in Spain under that brilliant commander Lord Peterborough. And as Carlton, who was ever in thirst for adventures, had been serving with the fleet, and had only left it because he thought there might be more doing now in other quarters, Venner demanded whether he had seen anything whose telling would make the time pass more gayly by the fire, for as that liberated Puritan said: “My good comrade on the right is engaged at his devotions, and I also would be reading a Bible if I had one, but my worthy father studied the Good Book so much that men judged it had driven him crazy, and I having few wits to lose have been afraid to open it ever since. As for Mr. Graham, if I catch the air he is singing, it is a song of the malignants against which as a Psalm-singing Puritan I lift my testimony. So a toothsome story of the sea, if it please you, Mr. Carlton.”

“Apart from the fighting, gentlemen,” began Carlton, who was a man of careful speech and stiff mind, “for I judge you do not hanker after battle-tales, seeing we shall have our stomach full ere many days be past, if the Prince can entice Condé into the open, there were not many things worth telling. But this was a remarkable occurrence, the like of which I will dare say none of you have seen, though I know there are men here who have been in battle once and again. Upon the 'Catherine' there was a gentleman volunteer, a man of family and fine estate, by the name of Hodge Vaughan. Early in the fight, when the Earl of Sandwich was our admiral and Van Ghent commanded the Dutch, Vaughan received a considerable wound, and was carried down into the hold. Well, it happened that they had some hogs aboard and, the worse for poor Hodge Vaughan, the sailor who had charge of them, like any other proper Englishman, was fonder of fighting than of feeding pigs, and so left them to forage for themselves. As they could get nothing else, and liked a change in their victuals when it came within their reach, they made their meal off Vaughan, and when the fight was over there was nothing left of that poor gentleman except his skull, which was monstrous thick and bade defiance to the hogs. This is not a common happening,” continued Carlton with much composure, “and I thank my Maker I was not carried into that hold to be a hog's dinner. Yet I give you my word of honor that the tale is true.”

“Lord! it was a cruel ending for a gallant gentleman,” said Collier, “and it makes gruesome telling. Have you anything else sweeter for the mouth, for there be enough of hogs on the land as well as on sea, and some of them go round the field, where men are lying helpless, on two legs and not on four, from whom heaven defend us.”

“Since you ask for more,” replied Carlton, “a thing took place about which there was much talk, and on it I should like to have your judgment. Upon the same ship with myself, there was a gentleman volunteer, and he came with the name of a skilful swordsman. He had been in many duels and thought no more of standing face to face with another man, and he cared not who he was, than taking his breakfast. You would have said that he of all men would have been the coolest on the deck and would have given no heed to danger. Yet the moment the bullets whizzed he ran into the hold, and for all his land mettle he was a coward on the sea. When everyone laughed at him and he was becoming a thing of scorn, he asked to be tied to the mainmast, so that he might not be able to escape. So it comes into my mind,” concluded Carlton, “to ask this question of you gallant gentlemen, Is courage what Sir Walter Raleigh calls it, if I mind me rightly, the art of the philosophy of quarrel, or must it not be the issue of principle and rest upon a steady basis of religion? I should like to ask those artists in murder, meaning no offence to any gentleman present who may have been out in a duel, to tell me this, why one who has run so many risks at his sword's point should be turned into a coward at the whizz of a cannon ball?”

“There is not much puzzle in it as it seems to me,” answered Rooke; “every man that is worth calling such has so much courage, see you, but there are different kinds. As Mr. Carlton well called it, there is land mettle, and that good swordsman was not afraid when his feet were on the solid ground, then there is sea mettle, and faith he had not much of that, a trifle too little, I grant you, for a gentleman. So it is in measure with us all I never saw the horse I would not mount or the wall within reason I would not take, but I cannot put my foot in a little boat and feel it rising on the sea without a tremble at the heart. That is how I read the riddle.”

“What I hold,” burst in Collier, “is that everything depends on a man's blood. If it be pure and he has come of a good stock, he cannot play the coward any more than a lion can stalk like a fox. Land or sea, whatever tremble be at the heart he faces his danger as a gentleman should, though there be certain kinds of danger, as has been said, which are worse for some men than others. But I take it your gentleman volunteer, though he might be a good player with the sword, was, if you knew it, a mongrel.”

“If you mean by mongrel humbly born,” broke in Venner, “saving your presence, you are talking nonsense, and I will prove it to you from days that are not long passed. When it came to fighting in the days of our fathers, I say not that the lads who followed Rupert were not gallant gentlemen and hardy blades, but unless my poor memory has been carried off by that infernal whirlwind, I think Old Noll's Ironsides held their own pretty well. And who were they but blacksmiths and farmer men, from Essex and the Eastern counties. There does not seem to me much difference between the man from the castle and the man behind the plough when their blood is up and they have a sword in their hands.”

“I am under obligation to you all for discussing my humble question, but I see that we have two Scots gentlemen with us, and I would crave their opinion. For all men know that the Scots soldier has gone everywhere sword in hand, and whether he was in the body-guard of the King of France, or doing his duty for the Lion of the North, has never turned his back to the foe. And I am the more moved to ask an answer for the settlement of my mind, because as I have ever understood, the Scots more than our people are accustomed to go into the reason of things, and to argue about principles. It is not always that the strong sword-arm goes with a clear head, and I am waiting to hear what two gallant Scots soldiers will say.” And the Englishman paid his tribute of courtesy first across the fire to Claverhouse, who responded gracefully with a pleasant smile that showed his white, even teeth beneath his slight mustache, and then to MacKay, who leaned forward and bowed stiffly.

“We are vastly indebted to Mr. Carlton for his good opinion of our nation,” said Claverhouse, after a slight pause to see whether MacKay would not answer, and in gentle, almost caressing tones, “but I fear me his charity flatters us. Certainly no man can deny that Scotland is ever ringing with debate. But much of it had better been left unsaid, and most of it is carried on by ignorant brawlers, who should be left ploughing fields and herding sheep instead of meddling with matters too high for them. At least such is my humble mind, but I am only a gentleman private of the Prince's guard, and there is opposite me a commissioned officer of his army. It is becoming that Captain Hugh MacKay, who many will say has a better right to speak for Scotland than a member of my house, and who has just been getting counsel from the highest, as I take it, should give his judgment on this curious point of bravery or cowardice.”

Although Graham's manner was perfectly civil and his accents almost silken, Venner glanced keenly from one Scot to the other, and everyone felt that the atmosphere had grown more intense, and that there was latent antipathy between the two men. And even Rooke, a blunt and matter-of-fact Englishman, who having said his say, had been smoking diligently, turned round to listen to MacKay, who had never said a word through all the talk of the evening.

“Mr. Carlton and gentlemen volunteers,” MacKay began, with grave formality, “I had not intended to break in upon your conversation, which I found very instructive, but as Claverhouse” (and it was characteristic of his nation that MacKay should call Graham by the name of his estate) “has asked me straightly to speak, I would first apologize for my presence in this company. I do not belong, as ye know, to the King's guard, and it is true that I have a captain's commission. As the tempest of to-day had thrown all things into confusion, and it happened that I had nowhere to sit, Mr. Venner was so kind as to ask me to take my place by this fire for the night, and I am pleased to find myself among so many goodly young gentlemen. I make no doubt,” he added, “that everyone will so acquit himself as very soon to receive his commission.”

“The sooner the better,” said Hales, “and as I have a flask of decent Burgundy here, I will pass it round that we may drink to our luck from a loving cup.” And everyone took his draught except MacKay, who only held the cup to his lips and inclined his head, being a severe and temperate man in everything.

“Concerning the duel and the action of that gentleman,” continued MacKay, “my mind may not be that of the present honorable company. It has ever seemed to me that a man has no right to risk his own life or take that of his neighbor save in the cause of just war, when he doubtless is absolved. For two sinful mortals to settle their poor quarrels by striking each other dead is nothing else than black murder. There is no difficulty to my judgment in understanding the character of that duellist. When he knew that through skill in fencing he could kill the other man and escape himself, he was always ready to fight; when he found that danger had shifted to his own side, he was quick to flee. My verdict on him,” and MacKay's voice was vibrant, “is that he was nothing other than a butcher and a coward.”

“As the Lord liveth,” cried Venner, “I hear my sainted father laying down the law, and I do Captain MacKay filial reverence. May I inquire whether Scotland is raising many such noble Puritans, for they are quickly dying out in England. Such savory and godly conversation have I not heard for years, and it warms my heart.”

“The sooner the knaves die out in England the better,” cried Collier; “but I mean no offence to Venner, who is no more a Puritan than I am, though he has learned their talk, and none at all to Captain MacKay, whom I salute, and of whose good services when he was fighting on the other side we have all heard. Nor can I, indeed, believe that he is a Roundhead, for I was always given to understand that Highland gentlemen were always Cavaliers, and high-spirited soldiers.”

“Ye be wrong then, good comrades,” broke in Claverhouse, “for all Highlanders be not of the same way of thinking, though I grant you most of them are what ye judge. But have you never heard of the godly Marquis of Argyle, who took such care of himself on the field of battle, but afterwards happened to lose his head through a little accident, and his swarm of Campbells, besides some other clans that I will not mention? My kinsman of immortal memory, whom I maintain to be the finest gentleman and most skilful general Scotland has yet reared, could have told you that there were Highland Roundheads; he knew them, and they knew him, and I hope I need not be telling this company what happened when they met.” As Graham spoke, it may have been the firelight on MacKay's face, but it seemed to flush and his expression to harden. However, he said no word and made no sign, and Claverhouse, whose voice was as smooth as ever, but whose eyes were flashing fire, continued: “If there should be trouble soon in Scotland, and my advice from home tells me that the fanatics in the West will soon be coming to a head and taking to the field, we shall know that some of the clans are loyal and some of them are not. And for my own part, I care not how soon we come to our duel in Scotland. Please God, I would dearly love to have the settling of the matter. With a few thousand Camerons, Macphersons, MacDonalds, and such like, I will guarantee that I could teach the Psalm-singing canters a lesson they would never forget. But I crave pardon for touching on our national differences, when we had better be employed in cracking another flask of that good Burgundy.” And Graham, as if ashamed of his heat, stretched his arms above his head.

“May God in His mercy avert so great a calamity,” said MacKay after a pause. “When brother turns against brother in the same nation it is the cruellest of all wars. But the rulers of Scotland may make themselves sure that if they drive God-fearing people mad, they will rise against their oppressors. Mr. Graham, however, has wisdom on his side—I wish it had come a minute sooner—when he said there was no place for our Scots quarrels in the Prince's army. Wherefore I say no more on that matter, but I pray we all may have the desire of a soldier's heart, a righteous cause, a fair battle, and a crowning victory, and that we all in the hour of peril may do our part as Christian gentlemen.”

“Amen to that, Captain MacKay of Scourie, three times Amen!” cried Graham. “I drink it in this wine, and pledge you all to brave deeds when a chance comes our way. The sooner the better and the gladder I shall be, for our race have never been more content than when the swords were clashing. I wish to heaven we were serving under a more high-spirited commander; I deny not his courage, else I would not be among his guard, nor his skill, but I confess that I do not love a man whose blood runs so slow, and whose words drop like icicles. But these be hasty words, and should not be spoken except among honorable comrades when the wine is going round by the camp-fire. And here is Jock Grimond who, because he taught me to catch a trout and shoot the muir-fowl when I was a little lad, thinks he ought to rule me all my days, and has been telling me for the last ten minutes that he has prepared some kind of bed with the remains of my tent. So good night and sound sleep, gentlemen, and may to-morrow bring the day for which we pray.”

CHAPTER II. THE BATTLE OF SINEFFE

It was early in the morning on the first day of August, and darkness was still heavy upon the camp, when Grimond stooped over his master and had to shake him vigorously before Claverhouse woke.

“It's time you were up, Maister John; the Prince's guards are gatherin', and sune will be fallin' in; that's their trumpets soundin'. Ye will need a bite before ye start, and here's a small breakfast, pairt of which I saved oot o' that stramash yesterday—sall! the blast threatened to leave neither meat nor lodgin', and pairt I happened to light upon this mornin' when I was takin' a bit walk through the camp with my lantern.”

Grimond spread out a fairly generous breakfast of half a fowl, a piece of ham, some excellent cheese, with good white bread and a bottle of wine, and held the lantern that his master might eat with some comfort, if it had to be with more haste.

“Do you ken, Jock, where I was when you wakened me, and flashed the light upon my face? Away in bonnie Glen Ogilvie, where everything is at its best to-day. I dreamed that I was off to Sidlaw Hill, to see what was doing with the muir-fowl, and I felt the good Scots air blowing upon my face. This is a black wakening, Jock, but I've slept worse, and you have done well for breakfast. Ye never came honestly by it, man. Have ye been raiding?”

“Providence guided me, Maister John, and I micht have given a little assistance mysel'. As I was crossing thro' a corner of the Dutch camp, I caught a glimpse of this roast chuckie, with some other bits o' things, and it cam into my mind that that was somebody's breakfast. Whether he had taken all he wanted or whether he was going to be too late was-na my business, but the Lord delivered that fowl into my hands, and I considered it a temptin' o' Providence no to tak it, to say nothin' o' the white bread. The wine and the ham I savit frae yesterday.”

“You auld thief, I might have guessed where you picked up the breakfast. I only hope 'twas a heavy-built Dutchman who could starve for a week without suffering, and not a lean, hungry Scot who needed some breakfast to put strength in him for a day's fighting, if God be good enough to send it. Isn't it a regiment of the Scots brigade which is lying next to us, Jock?”

“It is,” replied that worthy servitor, “and I was hopin' that it was Captain MacKay's rations which were given into my hands, so to say, by the higher power. I was standing behind you, Maister John, last nicht when you and him was argling-bargling, and if ever I saw a cunning twa-faced Covenanter, it's that man. They say he has got a good word with the Prince through his Dutch wife, and where ye give that kind of man an inch, he will take an ell. It's no for me to give advice, me bein' in my place and you in yours. But I promised your honorable mither that I wouldna see you come to mischief if I could help it, and I am sair mistaken if yon man will no be a mercilous and persistent enemy. May the Almichty forbid it, but if MacKay of Scourie can hinder it there will be little advancement for Graham of Claverhouse in this army.”

“You are a dour and suspicious devil, Jock, and you've always been the same ever since I remember you. Captain MacKay is a whig and a Presbyterian, but he is a good soldier, and I wish I had been more civil to him last night. We are here to fight for the Prince of Orange and to beat the French, and let the best man win; it will be time enough to quarrel when we get back to Scotland. Kindly Scots should bury their differences, and stand shoulder to shoulder in a foreign land.”

“That is bonnie talk, laird, but dinna forget there's been twa kinds of Scot in the land since the Reformation, and there will be twa to the end of the chapter, and they'll never agree till the day of judgment, and then they'll be on opposite sides. There was Queen Mary and there was John Knox, there was that false-hearted loon Argyle, that ye gave a grand nip at the fire last nicht, and there was the head o' your hoose, the gallant Marquis—peace to his soul. Now there's the Carnegies and the Gordons and the rest o' the royal families in the Northeast, and the sour-blooded Covenanters down in the West, and it's no in the nature o' things that they should agree any more than oil and water. As for me, the very face of a Presbyterian whig makes me sick. But there's the trumpet again,” and Grimond helped his master to put on his arms.

“I've been awfu favored this mornin', Maister John, for what div ye think? I've secured nae less than a baggage waggon for oorsels. The driver was stravagin' aboot in the dark and didna know where he was going, so I asked him if he wasna coming for the baggage of the English gentlemen, to say naething of a Scots gentleman. When he was trying to understand me, and I was trying to put some sense into him, up comes Mr. Carlton, and I explained the situation to him. He told the driver in his own language that I would guide him to the spot, and me and the other men are packing the whole of the gentlemen's luggage and ane or twa comforts in the shape of meat and bedding which the fools round about us didna seem to notice, or were going to leave. That waggon, Mr. John, is a crownin' mercy, and I'm to sit beside the driver, and it will no be my blame if there's no a tent and a supper wherever Providence sends us this nicht.” And Jock went off in great feather to look after his acquisition, while his master joined his comrades of the Prince's guard.

As the day rapidly breaks, they find themselves passing from the level into a broken country. The ground is rising, and in the distance they can see defiles through which the army must make its way. The vanguard, as they learn from one of the Prince's aides-de-camp, is composed of the Imperial corps commanded by Count Souches, and must by this time be passing through the narrows. In front are the Dutch troops, who are under the immediate command of the Commander-in-Chief, the Prince of Orange. The English volunteers being the next to the Prince's regiment of Guards, followed close upon the main body of the army, and behind them trailed the long, cumbrous baggage train. The rear-guard, together with some details of various kinds and nations, consisted of the Spanish division, which was commanded by Prince Vaudemont. As they came to higher ground Claverhouse began to see the lie of the country, and to express his fears to Carlton.

“I don't know how you judge things,” said Claverhouse, “but I would not be quite at my ease if I were his Highness of Orange, in command of the army, and with more than one nation's interest at stake, instead of a poor devil of a volunteer, with little pay, less reputation, and no responsibility. If we were marching across a plain and could see twenty miles round, or if there were no enemy within striking reach, well, then this were a pleasant march from Neville to Binch, for that is where I'm told we are going. But, faith, I don't like the sight of this country in which we are being entangled. If Condé has any head, and he is not a fool, he could arrange a fine ambuscade, and catch those mighty and vain-glorious Imperialists and that fool Souches like rats in a trap. Or he might make a sudden attack on the flank and cut our army into two, as you divide a caterpillar crawling along the ground.”

“The General knows what he is about, no doubt,” replies Carlton with true English phlegm; “he has made his plan, and I suppose the cavalry have been scouting. It's their business who have got the command to arrange the march and the attack, and ours to do the fighting. It will be soon enough for us to arrange the tactics when we get to be generals. What say you to that, Mr. Graham? There's no sign of the enemy at any rate, and Souches must be well in through the valley.”

“No,” said Graham, “there are no Frenchmen to be seen, but they may be there behind the hill on our right, and quick enough to show themselves when the time comes. Oh! I like this bit of country, for it minds me of the Braes of Angus, and I hate a land where all is flat and smooth. By heaven! what a chance there is for any commander who knows how to use a hill country. See ye here, comrade, suppose this was Scotland, and this were an army of black Whigs, making their way to do some evil work after their heart's desire against their King and Church, and I had the dealing with them. All I would ask would be a couple of Highland clans and a regiment of loyal gentlemen, well-mounted and armed. I would wait concealed behind yon wood up there near the sky-line till those Imperialists were fairly up the glen and out of sight and the Dutch were plodding their way in. Then I'd launch the Highlanders, sword in hand, down the slope of that hill, and cut off the rear-guard, and take the baggage at a swoop, and in half an hour the army would be disabled and the third part of it put out of action.”

“What about the Imperial troops and the Dutch, my General?” said Carlton, much interested in Claverhouse's plan of battle. “You can't take an army in detachments just as you please.”

“You can with Highlanders and cavalry, and then having struck your blow retire as quickly as you came. Faith, there would be no option about the retiring with your Highlanders; when they got hold of the baggage they would do nothing more. After every man had lifted as much as he could carry, he would make for the hills and leave the other troops to do as they pleased. An army of Highlanders is quickly gathered and quickly dispersed, and the great point of attraction is the baggage. Condé has no Highlanders, the worse for him and the better for us, but he has plenty of light troops—infantry as well as cavalry—and if he doesn't take this chance he ought to be discharged with disgrace. But see there, what make you of that, Carlton?”

“What and where?” said Carlton, looking in the direction Claverhouse pointed. “I see the brushwood, and it may be that there are troops behind, but my eyes cannot detect them.”

“Watch a moment that place where the leaves are darker and thicker, and that tree stands out; you can catch a glitter, just an instant, and then it disappears. What do you say to that?”

“By the Lord!” cried Carlton, who was standing in his stirrups and shading his eyes with his hand, “it's the glitter of a breastplate. There's one trooper at any rate in that wood, and if there is one there may be hundreds. What think you?”

“What I've been expecting for hours. Those are the videttes of the French army, and they have been watching us all the time our vanguard was passing. I'll stake a year's rental of the lands of Claverhouse that if we could see on the other side of that hill we would find Condé's troops making ready for an attack.”

“I will not say but that you are right, and I don't like the situation nor feel as comfortable as I did half an hour ago. Do you think that the general in command knows of this danger, or has heard that the French outposts are so near?”

“If you ask me, Mr. Carlton, I would say that those Dutch officers don't know that there is a Frenchman within ten miles; they are good at drill, and steady in battle, but their minds are as heavy as their bodies. Their idea of fighting is to deploy according to a book of drill on a parade ground; you cannot expect men who live on the flat to understand hills. That wood,” and Claverhouse was looking at the hill intently, “is simply full of men and horses, and within an hour, and perhaps less, you will see a pretty attack. Aren't we at their mercy?” Claverhouse pointed forward to the crest of a little hill over which the Dutch brigade were passing in marching formation, and backward to the lumbering train of baggage-wagons.

“'Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad,' is a Latin proverb I picked up at St. Andrew's University, and one of the few scraps of knowledge I carried away from the good old place. They might at least have thrown out some of our cavalry on the right to draw fire from that wood, and enable us to find their position. It's not overly pleasant to jog quietly along as if one were riding up the Carse of Gowrie to Perth fair, when it's far more likely we are riding into the shambles like a herd of fat bullocks going to Davie Saunders, the Dundee butcher.”

“See you here, friend,” cried Carlton, “I am not in a mind to be taken at a disadvantage and ridden down by those Frenchmen when we are not in formation. They have us at a disadvantage in any case, but, by my life, we ought at any rate to deploy to the right, and seize that higher ground, or else they will send us into that marshland that I see forward there on the left. If they do, there will be some throats cut, and it might be yours or mine. What say you, Mr. Graham, to ride forward and tell one of the officers in attendance on his Highness what we have seen, and then let them do as they please?”

“I have nothing to say against that, but I know one man who will not go, and that is John Graham of Claverhouse. It may be vain pride, or it may not, but I will not have the shame of telling my tale to one of those Dutchmen as if you were speaking to a painted monument, and then have him order you back to your place as if you were a mutineer; my hand would be itching for the sword-handle before all was done, and so I'll just be doing. But I will be ready when the cloud breaks from yon hill, and it's not far off the bursting now.” And Graham pointed out that the glitter was repeated at several points, as when the sun is reflected from broken dishes on a hillside.

“You Scots are a proud race,” laughed Carlton, “and quick to take offence. We English have a temper, too, but we are nearer to those Dutchmen in our nature. I'll not see the army ambuscaded without a warning. If they take it we shall make a better fight, and for the first hour it will be bad enough anyway till the vanguard are brought back, and if they won't take it, why, we have done our duty, and we will have to look after ourselves.” And Carlton spurred his horse and cantered forward to where the headquarters staff were riding with the troop which was called the Scots brigade, because it was largely officered and to some extent manned by Scotsmen, and in which MacKay had a captain's commission.

In some fifteen minutes Carlton rejoined Claverhouse red and annoyed, and on the sight of him Claverhouse laughed.

“Without offence, good comrade, I take it you have not been thanked for your trouble or been promised promotion. Sworn at, I dare say, if those godly Dutchmen are allowed to rap out an oath. At any rate you have been told to attend to your own work and leave our wise generals to manage theirs, eh?”

“You are right, Graham. I wish I had bitten off my tongue rather than reported the matter. I got hold of an aide-de-camp, and I pointed out what we had seen, and he spoke to me as if I was a boy with my heart in my mouth for fear I would be shot every minute. For a set of pig-headed fools——”

“Well, it would not have mattered much, for the news, as it happened, would have come too late. See, the attack has begun; whatever be the issue of the battle before night, it will be one way or another with us within an hour.” As he spoke Claverhouse began to put himself in order, seeing that his pistols were ready in the holsters, his sword loose in the scabbard, and the girths of his saddle tight.

“It will be a sharp piece of work for us, and some good sword play before it is done.”

Suddenly from the wood a line of cavalry emerged, followed by another and still another, till at least three regiments were on the side of the hill, and behind them it was evident there was a large body of troops. By this time the staff had taken alarm, and an officer had galloped up with orders that the English volunteers and Dutch cavalry should deploy to the right, and orders were also sent to the Spaniards in the rear to advance rapidly and cover the baggage. The Dutch troops in front who had entered the defile were arrested, and began to march back, and an urgent message was sent to the Imperialists to follow the Dutch in case the French should make a general attack. Before the Dutch troops had returned to the open, and long before the Imperialists could be in action, the French, crossing the hill with immense rapidity and covered by a screen of cavalry, attacked the Spanish rear-guard before it was able to take up a proper form of defence, and though the Spaniards fought with their accustomed courage, and no blame could be attached to the dispositions made in haste by Vaudemont, this division of the army was absolutely routed, and one distinguished Spanish general, the Marquis of Assentar, was killed when cheering his men to the defence. The defeat of the Spaniards left the baggage train unprotected, and the French troops fell upon it with great zest: indeed, Claverhouse that night declared that the Highlanders themselves could not have raided more heartily or more swiftly. Nor did the Spaniards, when once they had been beaten and scattered, and fighting was no longer of any use, disdain to help themselves to the plunder. Grimond was furious as he saw his wagon in danger, and endeavored to rally some odds and ends of flying Spaniards and terrified wagon-drivers to defend his cherished possessions. But he was left to do so himself, and after beating off the two first Frenchmen who came to investigate, and being wounded in a general fight with the next lot, he was obliged to leave the possessions of the English volunteers to their fate and set off to discover how it fared with his master.

The Battle of Sineffe was to last all day, and before evening the two armies would be generally engaged; eighteen thousand men were to fall on both sides, and there were to be many hot encounters, but the sharpest took place at the centre and early in the day. The cavalry with the English volunteers were thrown forward to hinder the advance of the French cavalry who, while their infantry were dealing with the Spanish corps, were being hurled at the centre in order to cut the army in two and confine the Dutch troops to the defile, or if they emerged from the defiles, to crush them before they could deploy on the broken country.

“Where do you take it is the point of conflict?” asked Carlton as the regiment of the guards with which they were serving went forward at a sharp trot across the level ground, on which the French cavalry should soon be appearing. “Where is his Highness himself, for I can get no sight of the rest of the Dutch cavalry?”

“To the left, I take it, where the fight has already begun. Do you not hear the firing? and I seem to catch some shouts, as if the Dutch and the French were already meeting. Mind you, Carlton, his Highness may have been too confident and laid the army open to attack, but he can tell where the heart of the situation is, and his business will be to resist the French onslaught till the infantry are in position. Just as I thought, we are to go to his aid, and in ten minutes, or my name is not Graham, we shall have as much as we want.”

In less than that space of time the regiment, now galloping, found themselves in the immediate rear of the fighting line, and opened out and prepared to advance. In front of them three regiments of Dutch cavalry were being beaten back by a French brigade, and just when the English volunteers arrived the French received a large accession of strength, and the Dutch, broken and ridden down by weight of men and horses, were driven back. It was in vain that their colonel ordered his men to charge, for in fifty yards the mass of Dutch cavalry in front were thrown upon them and broke their line. It was now a man to man and hand to hand conflict for a few minutes, and Claverhouse, when he had disentangled himself from the hurly-burly, and forced his way through the mass, was in immediate conflict with a French officer in front of their line, whom he disarmed by a clever sword trick which he had learned from a master of arms in the French service. A French soldier missed Claverhouse's head by a hair's-breadth, while he, swerving, struck down another on his right. Carlton had disappeared, Hales had been wounded, but in the end escaped with his life. Collier and Claverhouse were now in the open space behind the first line of the French cavalry, and they could see more than one Dutch officer and some of the Dutch troopers also in the same dangerous position. Graham was considering what to do when he caught sight, a short distance off on the left, of a figure he seemed to know: it was an officer riding slowly along the line as if in command, and taking no heed of the many incidents happening round him.

“Collier,” cried Graham, “see you who that is among the French soldiers alone and at their mercy? As I am a living man it is the Prince himself. Good God! how did he get there, and what is he going to do?”

While Graham was speaking the Prince of Orange, who was now quite close to him, but gave no sign that he recognized him, suddenly threw out an order in French to the regiment behind which he was riding, and which was hewing its way through a mass of Dutch. He called on them to halt and reform, and their officers supposing him to be one of their generals who had arrived from headquarters, set to work to extricate their men from the mêlée. The Prince passed with the utmost coolness through their line as if to see what was doing in front, while Claverhouse and Collier followed him as if they were attached. As soon as he had got to the open space in front, for what remained of the Dutch were in rapid retreat, and were scattering in all directions, he put spurs to his horse, and shouting to Claverhouse and Collier to follow rapidly, for his trick had already been detected, he galloped forward to the place where the crowd of fugitives was thinnest, that he might as soon as possible rejoin his staff and resume command when above all times a general was needed. A French officer, however, had recognized him as he passed through the line, and now with some dozen soldiers was pursuing at full speed. The Prince's horse had been wounded in two places and was also blown with exertion, and passing over some marshy ground had not strength to clear it, but plunged helplessly in the soft soil. In two minutes, the French would have been upon them and made the greatest capture of the war. Claverhouse, leaping off his horse, asked the Prince to mount, who, instantly and without more than a nod, sprang into the saddle and escaped when the Frenchmen were within a few yards. Claverhouse fired at the French officer and missed him, but brought down his horse, which did just as well, and Collier sent his sword through the shoulder of the French soldier who followed next. Claverhouse, seizing this minute of delay, ran with all his might for a hedge, over which dismounted stragglers were climbing in hot haste, and made for the nearest gap. It was blocked by a tall and heavily-built Dutch dragoon, who could neither get through nor back, and was swearing fearfully.

[Illustration: Claverhouse fired at the French officer and missed him, but brought down his horse. Page 49.]

“It's maist awfu' to see a Christian man misusing the Lord's mercies like that,” and at the sound of that familiar voice Claverhouse turned to find Grimond by his side, who had been out in the hope of finding his master, and had certainly come to his aid at the right time.

“Would onybody but a blunderin' fool of a Dutchman think of blockin' a passage when the troops are in retreat? If we canna get through him, we had better get ower him. I've helped ye across a dyke afore, Maister John, and there ye go.” Claverhouse, jumping on Grimond, who made a back for him, went over the Dutchman's shoulders. Then he seized the Dutchman by his arm, while Grimond acted as a battering-ram behind: so they pulled what remained of him, like a cork out of the mouth of a bottle, and Grimond followed his master. Collier, who had been covering the retreat, left his horse to its fate, and ran by the same convenient gap.

“To think o' the perversity o' that Dutchman obstructin' a right o' way, especially on sich a busy day, wi' his muckle unmannerly carcase, as if he had been a Highland cattle beast. Dod! he would make a grand Covenanter for the cursed thrawnness o' him.”

That night when the English volunteers, who had all escaped with some slight wounds and the loss of their baggage, were going over the day's work, an officer attached to the Prince asked if a Scots gentleman called Mr. Graham was present. When Claverhouse rose and saluted him, the officer said, with the curt brevity of his kind, “His Highness desires your presence,” and immediately turned and strode off in the direction of the headquarters, while Claverhouse, shrugging his shoulders, followed him in his usual leisurely fashion. On arriving at the farm-house where the Prince had gone after the French had retired, Graham was immediately shown into his room. The Prince, rising and returning Claverhouse's respectful salutation, gave him one long, searching glance, and then said: “You did me a great service to-day, and saved my person from capture, perhaps my life from death. I do not forget any man who has done me good, and who is loyal to me. What you desire at my hands I do not know, and what it would be best to do for you I do not yet know. If you determine after some experience to remain in my service, and if you show yourself the good soldier I take you to be, you will not miss promotion. That is all I will say to-night, for I know not where your ambitions may lie.” The Prince looked coldly at Graham's love-locks and Cavalier air. “Your cause may not be my cause. I bid you good-evening, Mr. Graham. We shall meet again.”

CHAPTER III. A DECISIVE BLOW

“You have the devil's luck, Graham,” said Rooke, who had taken a meal fit for two men, and now had settled down to smoke and drink for the evening. “To get the best place in the attack to-day on the town, and to escape with nothing more than a cat scratch, which will not hurt your beauty, is more than any ordinary man can expect. There will be some hot work before Grave is taken, and plenty of good men will get their marching orders,” for the Prince and his troops were now besieging Grave keenly, and the English volunteers were messing together after an assault which had captured some of the outworks.

“I would lay you what you like, Rooke,” drawled Venner, “if I were not a Puritan, and didn't disapprove of drinking and gambling and other works of Satan, that Chamilly will come to terms within fourteen days. He has no stomach for those mortars that are playing on the place, and he knows that Orange, having got his teeth in, will never take them out. Another assault like to-day will settle the matter. Graham here used to say that his Highness was an icicle, but I judge him a good fighting man. You will get as much as you want if you follow the Prince. Ballantine that's gone to-day always said that there was no soldier in Europe he would put before the Prince. Speaking about that, who, think you, will get the place of lieutenant-colonel in the Scots Brigade in succession to Sir William?”

“Don't know, and don't care,” said Collier, stretching himself and yawning. “It will go to some officer of the Scots Brigade, and though I am a born Scot, nobody remembers that, and I pass for an Englishman. And to tell the truth, I'm happier with you volunteers than among those canny Scots; they are as jealous and as bigoted as a Roundhead Conventicle, and I don't envy the man who gets promotion among them. But it doesn't concern any of us.”

“There I differ with you, comrade,” broke in Carlton. “You seem to have forgotten that one of our good company is not only a Scot, but has done the Prince priceless service. I make little doubt that we shall hear news in twenty-four hours. We are proud to have Mr. Graham with us, for he is a good comrade and a good soldier, but I expect to-morrow to drink a flask of wine to his commission as lieutenant-colonel. What say you to my idea?”

“If promotion went by merit, I'm with you, Carlton; but, faith, it goes by everything else, and specially back-door influence. A man gets his step, not because he is a good soldier, but because he has got a friend at court, or he is the same religion as the general, or I have heard cases where it went by gold.”

“That such things are done, Rooke, I will not deny, but they say that promotion goes fairly where his Highness commands; he has an eye for a good soldier, and you have forgotten that he would not be in his place to-day had it not been for our comrade's help.”

“I remember that quite well, and I wish to God other people may remember, for Graham ran a pretty good chance of closing his life that day and never seeing Scotland again, but Princes have short memories. If Charles II. of sainted character had called to his mind that my grandfather, more fool he, melted all his plate and lost all his land, to say nothing of three or four sons, for the Stuart cause, I would not be a gentleman volunteer in this army without a spare gold piece in my pocket. Kings bless you at the time with many pretty words, and then don't know your face next time you meet; but I wish you good luck, Graham, and I drink your health. What think you yourself?”

“What I ought to think, gentlemen, is that I am much honored to have your good opinion and your friendly wishes.” And Graham gathered them all with a smile that gave his delicate and comely features a rare fascination. “You are true comrades as well as brave gentlemen. I will not deny, though I would only say it among my friends, that I have thought of that vacancy, and have wondered whether the appointment would come my way. I received, indeed, a private word to apply for it this evening, but that I will not do. The Prince knows what I have done, though I do not make so much of saving his life as you may think. If he is pleased to give me this advance, well, gentlemen, I hope I shall not bring disgrace upon the Scots Brigade. But let us change the subject. We be a barbarous people in the North, but after all a gentleman does not love to talk about his own doings, still less of his own glory. To bed, my comrades, we may have heavy work to-morrow.”

The Prince gave his troops a day's rest, and left the artillery to do their work, and Claverhouse was reading for the sixth time some letters of his mother's, when Grimond came in with the air of a man full of news, but determined not to tell them until he was questioned, and even then to give what he had grudgingly and by way of favor.

“What news, did ye say, Mr. John? Weel, if ye mean from Scotland, ye have the last yersel' in the letters of your honorable mither. What I am hearing from some Scot that cam oot o' the west country is that if the council does na maister the Covenanters, the dear carles will maister them, and then Scotland will be a gey ill place to live in. It will be a fine sicht when you and me, Claverhouse, has to sign the Solemn League and Covenant, and hear Sandy Peden, that they call a prophet, preachin' three hours on the sins o' prelacy and dancin'. My certes!” And at the thought thereof Grimond lost the power of speech.

“Never mind Scotland, Jock, just now; the auld country will take care of herself till we go home, and then we'll give such assistance as in the power of a good sword. Who knows, man, but we'll be riding through the muirs of Ayrshire after something bigger than muir-fowl before many years are over? But the camp, man, what's going on here this morning, and what are the folk talking about, for, as ye know, I've been on the broad of my back after yesterday's work?”

“If ye mean by news, laird, what wasna expected, and that, I'm judging, is a correct definition o' news, there's naethin' worth mentionin'. A dozen more Scots have come to get their livin' or their death, as Providence wills, in a foreign army, instead of working their bit o' land on a brae-side in bonnie Scotland. But that's no news, for it has been goin' on for centuries, and I'm expectin' will last as long as thae foreign bodies need buirdly men and Scotland has a cold climate.

“They are saying, I may mention, that Chamilly is getting sick o' these mortars, and didna particularly like the attack yesterday, and the story is going about that he will soon ask for terms, and that if he gets the honors of war the Prince may have the town. It will be another feather in his cap, and, to my thinkin', he has got ower many for his deservin'—an underhand and evil-hearted loon.” And Grimond spoke with such vehemence and a keen dislike that Claverhouse suspected he had heard something more important than he had told.

“'Is that all?' ye ask, Claverhouse, and I reply no; but I wish to gudeness that it was. If news be what has happened, even though some of us expected it, then I have got some, although I would rather that my tongue was blistered than tell it. It cam into my mind that the Prince micht be appointin' the new colonel to the Scots Brigade this mornin', and so I just happened to give a cry on an Angus man who is gettin' his bit livin' as a servant to one of the aides-de-camp. He is called a Dutchman, but has honest Scots blood in his veins. We havered about this and about that, and then I threipit (insisted) that he would never hear onything that was goin' on, and, for example, that he wouldna know who was the new colonel. 'Div I no?' said Patrick Harris. 'Maybe I do, but maybe I wouldna be anxious to tell ye, Jock Grimond, for ye michtna be pleased.' 'Pleased or no pleased,' I said, 'let me hear his name.' 'Well,' he answered, 'if ye maun have it, it's no your maister that folk thought would get it.' 'Then,' said I, 'Patrick, I jalouse who it is; it's MacKay of Scourie.' 'It is,' said Patrick. 'I heard it when I was standin' close to the door, and I canna say that I'm pleased.' Naither was I, ye may depend upon it, Claverhouse, but I wouldna give onybody the satisfaction of knowing what I thocht. So I just contented mysel' wi' sayin', 'Damn them baith, the are for an ungrateful scoundrel, and the other for a plottin', schemin' hypocritical Presbyterian. I cam to tell ye, but no word would have passed my lips if ye hadna chanced to ask me.”

“Jock, you've been a faithful man to the house of Graham for many years,” said Claverhouse, after a silence of some minutes, during which Grimond busied himself polishing his master's arms, “and I will say to you what I am not going to tell the camp, that you might have brought better news. Whether I was right or wrong, man, I had set my heart upon succeeding Ballantine, and I was imagining that maybe this very afternoon I could write home to my mother and tell her that her son was a lieutenant-colonel in the good Scots Brigade. But it's all in the chances of war, and we must just take things as they come. Do ye know, Jock, I often think I was born like the Marquis, under an unlucky star, and that all my life things will go ill with me, and with my cause. I dinna think that I'll ever see old age, and I doubt whether I'll leave an heir to succeed me. I dreamed one nicht that the wraith of our house stood beside my bed and said, 'Ye'll be cursed in love and cursed in war, and die a bloody death at the hand of traitors whom ye trusted.'”

“For God's sake, Maister John, dinna speak like that.” And Grimond's voice, hard man though he was, was nigh the breaking. “It's no chancy, what ye say micht come to pass if ye believe it. Whatever the evil spirit said in the veesions o' the nicht—oh! my laddie, for laddie ye have been to me since I learned ye to ride your pony and fire your first shot, ye mauna give heed or meddle wi' Providence. Ye have been awfu' favored wi' the bonniest face ever I saw on a man, so that there's no a lass looks on ye but she loves ye, and the hardiest body ever I kenned. Ye have the best blood of Scotland in your veins, and I never saw ye fearful o' onything; ye have covered yersel' wi' glory in this war, and I prophesy there will be a great place waiting you in the North country. There's no a noble lady in Scotland that wouldna be willing to marry you, and I'm expectin' afore I die to see you famous as the great Marquis himsel', wi' sons and daughters standin' round ye. I ken aboot the wraith o' the house o' Graham, a maleecious and lying jade. If she ever comes to ye again by nicht or day, bid her begone to the evil place in the name o' the Lord wha redeemed us.”

“You're a trusty friend, Grimond, for both my mother and myself count you more friend than servant, and you've spoken good words; but I take it this day's happenings are an omen of what is coming. Maybe I am ower young to take black views o' hidden days, but ye'll mind afterwards, Jock Grimond, when ye wrap me in a bloody coat for burial, for there will be no shroud for me, that I said the shadow began to fall at the siege of Grave. But there's no use complaining, man; our cup is mixed, and we must drink it, bitter or sweet. Aye, the Grahams are a doomed house, and we maun dree oor weird (suffer our destiny).”

“Weird,” broke out Grimond, with a revulsion from pathos to anger. “Ye speak as if it were the will o' the Almichty, but I am thinkin' the thing was worked from another quarter. Providence had very little hand in it, unless ye call Captain Hugh MacKay Providence, and in that case it'll be true what some folks say, that the devil rules the world. From all I can gather, and I keep my ears open when you are concerned, laird, I am as sure as you are Laird of Claverhouse that Scourie, confoond his smooth face, has been plottin' aginst ye ever since ye sat that nicht afore the Battle of Sineffe roond the camp-fire. I saw how he looked, and I said to mysel', 'You're up to some mischief.' His party hangit the noble Marquis and plagued him wi' their prayers on the scaffold, and it is as natural for a Covenanter to hate a Graham as to eat his breakfast. MacKay saw we were dangerous, and ye'll be more dangerous yet, Claverhouse, to the black crew. He has been up the back stairs tellin' lies aboot ye, and sayin' that though many trust ye, for a' that ye are an enemy to Presbytery. Ye'll have your chance yet, laird, and avenge the murder o' the Marquis, but there'll be no place for ye here so long as MacKay is pourin' the poison o' asps, as auld David has it, into the Prince's ear.”

“Na, na, Mr. John,” concluded Grimond when his master had remonstrated with him for speaking against the Prince and an officer of the army, and warned him to be careful of his tongue, “ye needna be feart that a word o' this will be heard ootside. I mind the word in the Good Book, 'Speak not against the King, lest a bird of the air carry the matter.' There's plenty o' birds in this camp that would be glad enough to work us wrang. Gin onybody speaks to me aboot Captain MacKay being made a colonel, I'll give him to understand that my master was offered the post and declined to take it for special reasons o' his own; maybe because ye wanted to stay wi' the gentlemen volunteers, and maybe because there was a grand position waitin' for ye in Scotland. Let me alone, laird, for makin' the most o' the situation: but dinna forget MacKay.”

Claverhouse was of another breed from Grimond, and had the chivalrous instincts of his house, but as the time wore on and Graham went with the Prince's guards after the surrender of Grave to The Hague, where Colonel MacKay and the Scots Brigade were also stationed, the constant spray of insinuations of MacKay's cunning and the Prince's prejudice began to tell upon his mind. He was conscious of a growing dislike towards MacKay, beyond that coolness which must always exist between men of such different religious and political creeds. It was a tradition among the Scots Royalists from the days of Montrose that the Whig Highlanders, such as the Campbells, were cunning and treacherous, and then it was right to admit that MacKay might think himself justified in warning the Prince of Orange, who was surrounded by Presbyterians, and already coming under the masterful influence of Carstairs, the minister of the Presbyterian Church, and afterwards William's most trusted councillor, that Graham belonged to a thoroughgoing and dangerous Cavalier house, and that it would not be wise to show him too much favor. Although they were fellow-soldiers, and had met in camp life from time to time, they had never been anything more than distant acquaintances. Now it seemed to Claverhouse that MacKay looked at him more coldly than ever, and that he had caught a triumphant expression in his eye. MacKay was getting upon his nerves, and he had come to hate the sight of him. As a matter of fact, and as Claverhouse granted to himself afterwards, while MacKay was not his friend and could not be, he had never said a word against him to the Prince, and if he had used no influence for him, had never tried to hinder his promotion. The day was coming when Claverhouse would acknowledge that though MacKay was on the wrong side, he had conducted himself as became a man of blood and a brave soldier. In those days at The Hague, disappointed about promotion, and with evil news from Scotland, to say nothing of Grimond ever at his elbow goading and inflaming him through his very loyalty, Claverhouse allowed himself to fall into an unworthy and inflammatory temper. When one is in this morbid state of mind, he may at any moment lose self-control, and it was unfortunate that, after a long tirade one morning from Grimond, who professed to have new evidence of MacKay's underhand dealing, Claverhouse should have met his supposed enemy in the precincts of the Prince's house. MacKay was going to wait upon the Prince, and was passing hurriedly with a formal salutation, when Claverhouse, who in this very haste found ground of offence, stood in the way.

“May I have the honor, if you be called not immediately to the Prince's presence, to wish you good-morning, Colonel MacKay, and to say, for it is better to give to a man's face what one is thinking behind his back, that, although I have not the satisfaction of speaking much with you, I hear you are busy enough speaking about me.”

“If we do not meet much, Claverhouse,” replied MacKay, with a look of surprise on his calm and composed face, “this is not my blame, and doubtless it may be counted my loss. It is only that our duties lie apart and we keep different company. I know not what you mean by your charge against me, which, I take it, comes to this, that I have said evil of you to some one, I know not whom, and in some place I know not where. Is that why you have been avoiding me, and even looking at me as if I were your enemy? My time is short, but this misunderstanding between gentlemen can surely be quickly cleared. I pray you of your courtesy, explain yourself and give your evidence.”

“No doubt you have little time, and no doubt you will soon be busy with the same work. You were born of a good house, though it has taken an evil road in these days; you know the rules by which a man of blood should guide his life, and the things it were a shame for him to do, even to the man he may have to meet on the battle ground. Is it fitting, Scourie, to slander a fellow-officer to his commander, and so to pollute his fountain of influence that he shall not receive his just place? You have asked what I have against you; now I tell you, and I am ashamed to bring so foul an accusation against a Scots gentleman.”

“Is that the cause of your black looks and secret ill-will?” And MacKay was as cold as ever, and gave no sign that he had been stirred by this sudden attack. “In that case I can remove your suspicion, and prevent any breach between two Scots officers who may not be on the same side in their own country, but who serve the same Prince in this land. Never have I once, save in some careless and passing reference, spoken about you with the Prince, and never have I, and I say it on the honor of a Highland gentleman, said one word against you as a man or as a soldier. You spoke of evidence. What is your evidence? Who has told you this thing, which is not true? Who has tried to set you on fire against me?”

“It is not necessary, Colonel MacKay, to produce any witness or to quote any saying of yours. The facts are known to all the army; they have seen how it has fared with you and with me. I will not say whether I had not some claim to succeed Ballantine as lieutenant-colonel in the Scots Brigade, and I will not argue whether you or I had done most for his Highness. I have not heard that you saved his life, or that he promised to show his gratitude. I will not touch further on that point, but how is it, I ask you, that since that day, though I had my share of fighting at the siege of Grave and elsewhere as ye know, there is no word of advance for me? If you can read this riddle to me and keep yourself out of it, why then I shall be willing to take your hand and count you, Presbyterian though you be, an honest man.”

“Why ask those questions of me, especially as ye seem to doubt my word, Captain Graham?” And for the first time MacKay seemed stung by the insinuation of dishonorable conduct. “If you will pardon my advice, would it not be better that you go yourself to the Prince and ask him if any man has injured you with him, and how it is you have not received what you consider your just reward?”

“That is cheap counsel, Hugh MacKay, and mayhap you gave it because you knew it would not be taken. Never will I humble myself before that wooden image, never will I ask as a favor what should be given as my right. It were fine telling in Scotland that John Graham of Claverhouse was waiting like a beggar upon a Dutch Prince. I would rather that the liars and the plotters whom he makes his friends should have the will of me.”

MacKay's face flushes for an instant to a fiery red, and then turns ghastly pale, and without a word he is going on his way, but Claverhouse will not let him.

“Will nothing rouse your blood and touch your honor? Must I do this also?” And lifting his cane he struck MacKay lightly upon the breast. “That, I take it, will give a reason for settling things between us. Mr. Collier will, I make no doubt, receive any officer you are pleased to send within an hour, and I will give you the satisfaction one gentleman desires of another before the sun sets.”

“You have done me bitter wrong, Captain Graham.” And MacKay was trembling with passion, and putting the severest restraint upon his temper, which had now been fairly roused. “But I shall not do wrong against my own conscience. When I took up the honorable service of arms, I made a vow unto myself and sealed it in covenant with God that I would accept no challenge nor fight any duel. It is enough that the blood of our enemies be on our souls. I will not have the guilt of a fellow-officer's death, or risk my own life in a private quarrel. I pray you let me pass.”

“It is your own life you are concerned about, Colonel MacKay,” answered Claverhouse, with an evil smile full of contempt, and in the quietest of accents, for he had resumed his characteristic composure, “your own precious life, which you desire to keep in safeguard.” Then, turning with a graceful gesture to some officers who had been passing and been arrested by the altercation, Claverhouse said with an air of careless languor: “May I have the strange privilege never given me before, and perhaps never to be mine again, of introducing you, by his leave or without it, to a Scot whom no one can deny is by birth a gentleman, and whom no one can deny now is also a coward—Lieutenant-Colonel MacKay, of the Prince's Scots Brigade.”

CHAPTER IV. A CHANGE OF MASTERS

When his first fierce heat cooled, and Claverhouse had time for reflection, he was by no means so well satisfied with himself as he had imagined he would be in the foresight of such a scene. For one thing he had shown the soreness of his heart in not getting promotion, and had betrayed a watchful suspiciousness, which was hardly included in a chivalrous character. He had gone out of his way to insult a fellow-Scot, and a fellow-officer who had never pretended to be his friend, and who was in no way bound to advance his interest, because, to put it the worst, MacKay had secured his own promotion and not that of Claverhouse. As regards MacKay's courage, it had been proved on many occasions, and to call him a coward was only a childish offence, as if one flung mud upon a passer-by. When Claverhouse reviewed his conduct, and no man was more candid in self-judgment, he confessed to himself that he had played an undignified part, and was bitterly chagrined. The encounter, of course, buzzed through the camp, and every man gave his judgment, many justifying Captain Graham, and declaring that he had shown himself a man of mettle—they were the younger and cruder minds—many censuring him for his insolent ambition and speaking of him as a brawling bravo—they were some of the staid and stronger minds. His friends, he noticed, avoided the subject and left him to open it if he pleased, but he gathered beforehand that he would not receive much sympathy from that figure of common-sense Carlton, nor that matter-of-fact soldier Rooke, and that the ex-Puritan Venner would only make the incident a subject of satirical moralizing. With another disposition than that which Providence had been pleased to give John Graham, the condemnation of his better judgment, confirmed by the judgment of sound men, would have led him to the manly step of an apology which would have been humiliating to his pride, but certainly was deserved at his hands. Under the domination of his masterful pride, which was both the strength and the weakness of Graham's character, making him capable of the most absolute loyalty, and capable of the most inexcusable deeds, a pride no friend could guide, and no adversity could break, Claverhouse fell into a fit of silent anger with himself, with MacKay, with his absent critics, with the Prince. It was also in keeping with his nature to be that afternoon gayer than usual—recalling the humorous events of early days with Grimond, who could hardly conceal the satisfaction he dared not express, treating every man he met with the most gracious courtesy, smiling approval of the poorest jest, and proposing healths and drinking national toasts that evening with his friends as if nothing had happened, and no care heavier than thistledown lay upon his mind. But Claverhouse knew that the incident was not closed, and he was not surprised when an officer attached to the Prince's person called at his lodging and commanded his presence at the Prince's house next morning. He was aware that in striking MacKay and challenging him to a duel he had infringed a strict law, which forbade such deeds within the Royal grounds.

William of Orange was a younger man than when England knew him, and he came as king to reign over what was ever to him a foreign people, as he was to them an unattractive monarch. He was a man of slight and frail body; of calm and passionless nature, capable as few men have been of silence and reserve. His mind worked, as it were, in vacuo, secluded from the atmosphere of tradition, prejudice, emotions, jealousies. It was free from moods and changes, clear, penetrating, determined, masterful. Against no man did he bear a personal grudge, for that would have only deflected his judgment and embarrassed his action. For only two or three men had he any personal affection; that also might have affected the balance of his judgment and the freedom of his action. His courage was undeniable, his spirit of endurance magnificent, his military talents and his gift of statesmanship brilliant. Perhaps, on the whole, his most valuable characteristic qualities were self-control and a spirit of moderation, which enabled him to warm his hands at other men's fires and to avoid the perils of extremes. His weakness was the gravity of his character, which did not attract the eye or inspire devotion in the ordinary man, and an inevitable want of imagination, which prevented him entering into the feelings of men of a different caste. It would, indeed, have been difficult to find a more vivid contrast between the two men who faced each other in the Prince's room, and who represented those two schools of thought which have ever been in conflict in religion—reason and authority, and those two types of character which have ever collided in life—the phlegmatic and the empassioned.

“What, I pray you, is the reason of your conduct yesterday in the precincts?” asked the Prince at once after formally acknowledging Claverhouse's reverence. “I am informed upon good evidence that you wantonly insulted Lieutenant-Colonel MacKay of the Scots Brigade, and that you invited him to a duel, and that when he, as became an officer of judgment and piety, as well as of high courage, declined to join with you in a foolish and illegal act, that you called him a coward. Have I been rightly informed?

“Then that point is settled as I expected, and in order that you may not make any mistake on this matter I will add, though I am not obliged to do so, that Colonel MacKay did not condescend to inform against you. The scandal was public enough to come from various quarters, and now to my chief question, have you anything to say in your defence?”

“Nothing, sir,” replied Claverhouse. “I judged that Colonel MacKay had done me a personal injury for which I desired satisfaction in the way that gentlemen give. He has a prudent dislike to risk his life, although I endeavored to quicken his spirit. And so I allowed him to know what I thought of him, and some officers who overheard our conversation seemed to have been so much pleased with my judgment that they carried it round the army. In this way I presume it came to your Highness's ears. That is all,” concluded Graham with much sweetness of manner, “that I have to say.”

“It is what you ought to be ashamed to say, Mr. Graham,” said William severely. “Neither of us are old men, but I take it you are older than I am——”

“I am twenty-six years of age, may it please your Highness,” interpolated Claverhouse, “and have served in two armies.”

“We are, at any rate, old enough not to play the fool or carry ourselves like headstrong boys. As regards your quarrel, I am given to understand that the cause lies not so much with your fellow-officer as with your general. You are one of that large company who can be found in all armies, who are disappointed because, in their judgment, promotion has not corresponded with their merits. Be good enough to say if I do you an injustice? You are silent, then I am right. And so, because another officer was promoted before you, you choose to take offence and try to put shame upon a gallant gentleman. Is this”—the Prince inquired with a flavor of contempt—“how well-born Scots carry themselves in their own country?”

“Your Highness's reasoning,” replied Graham with elaborate deliberation, “has convinced me of my error, but I should like to make this plea, that if I had not been carried by a gust of passion in the park yester-morning, I had not disputed with Colonel MacKay. It still seems to me that he has been treated with over much kindness in this matter of promotion, in which—it may be their foolishness—soldiers are apt to be jealous, and I have been in some degree neglected. But I most frankly confess that I have been in the wrong in doing what I did, since it was more your Highness's business than mine to have resented this quarrel.”

“What mean you by this word, for it has an evil sound?” But there was not a flush on William's pale, immovable face, and it was marvellous to see so young a Prince carry himself so quietly under the polite scorn of Claverhouse's manner and the rising insolence of his speech.

“As your Highness insists, it is my pleasure to make my poor meaning plain in your Highness's ears. If I know what happened, Colonel MacKay, reaching the highest quarter by the back stair, persuaded your Highness to give him the colonelcy, although it in honor belonged to another officer, and I submit to your Highness's judgment that it was you who should have flicked him with your cane. Colonel MacKay has done John Graham of Claverhouse less injury in disappointing him of his regiment, though it has been a grievous dash, than in inducing your Highness to break your promise.” And Claverhouse, whose last word had fallen in smoothness like honey from the comb, and in venom like the poison of a serpent, looked the Prince straight in the face and then bowed most lowly.

“You are, I judge, Captain Graham, recalling a certain happening at the Battle of Sineffe, when you rendered important service to me, and it may be saved my life. If you conclude that this has been forgotten, or that a Prince has no gratitude, because you did not obtain the place you coveted, then understand that you are wrong, and that with all your twenty-six years and your service in two armies, you are ignorant of the principle on which an army should be regulated. Upon your way of it, if any young officer, more raw in character than in years, and not yet able to rule his own spirit, or to keep himself from quarrelling like a common soldier, should happen to be of use in a strait—I acknowledge the strait—to a king, his foolishness should be placed in command of veteran officers and men. It were right to recompense him at the cost of the Prince, mayhap, but not at the cost of gallant soldiers whom he was unfit to govern, because he could not govern himself.”

Whether William was angry at Claverhouse's impertinence, or was no more touched than the cliff by the spray from a wave, only his intimates could have told, but in this conflict between the two temperaments, the Prince was in the end an easy victor. If William had no boiling point, Claverhouse, though as composed in manner as he was afterwards to be cruel in action, had limits to his self-restraint. As the Prince suggested that, though two years older than himself, he was a shallow-pated and self-conceited boy, who was ever looking after his own ends, and when he was disappointed, kicked and struggled like a child fighting with its nurse; that, in fact, in spite of thinking himself a fine gentleman, he ought to know that he had neither sense nor manners, and was as yet unfit for any high place, Claverhouse's temper gave way, and he struck with cutting words at the Prince.

“What I intended to have said, but my blundering speech may not have reached your Highness's mind, is that if a Prince makes a promise of reward to another man who has saved his life at the risk of his own, that Prince is bound to keep his word or to make some reparation. And there is a debt due by your Highness to a certain Scots officer which has not been paid. Is a Prince alone privileged to break his word?”

“You desire reparation,” answered the Prince more swiftly than usual, and with a certain haughty gesture, “and you shall have it before you leave my presence. For brawling and striking within our grounds, you are in danger of losing your right arm, and other men have been so punished for more excusable doings. You have been complaining in a public place that you have not obtained a regiment, as if it were your due, and you have charged your general with the worst of military sins after cowardice, of being a favorer. I bestow upon you what will be more valuable to you than a regiment which you have not the capacity to command. I give you back your right arm, and I release you from the service of my army.”

“May I ask your Highness to accept my most humble and profound gratitude for sparing my arm, which has fought for your Highness, and if it be possible, yet deeper gratitude for releasing me from the service of a Prince who does not know how to keep his word. Have I your Highness's permission to leave your presence, and to make arrangements for my departure from The Hague?”

Claverhouse spoke with an exaggerated accent of respect, but the words were so stinging that William's eyes, for an instant only, flashed fire, and the aide-de-camp in the room made a step forward as if to arrest the Scots officer. There was a pause, say, of fifteen seconds, which seemed an hour, and then the Prince ordered his aide-de-camp to leave the chamber, and William and Claverhouse stood alone.

“You are a bold man, Mr. Graham,” said the Prince icily, “and I should not judge you to be a wise one. It is not likely that you will ever be as prudent as you are daring, and I foresee a troubled career, whether it be long or short, for you.

“No man, royal or otherwise, has ever spoken to me as you have done; mayhap in the years before me, whether they be few or many, no one will ever do so. As you know, for what you have said any other Prince in my place would have you punished for the gravest of crimes on the part of an officer against his commander.”

Claverhouse bowed, and looked curiously at the Prince, wondering within himself what would follow. Was it possible that his Highness would lay aside for an hour the privilege of royalty and give him satisfaction? Or was he merely to lecture him like the Calvinistic preachers to whom his Highness listened, and then let him go with contempt? Claverhouse's indignation had now given way to intellectual interest, and he waited for the decision of this strong, calm man, who, though only a little more than a lad, had already the coolness and dignity of old age.

“Were I not a Prince, and if my creed of honor were different from what it is, I should lay aside my Princedom, and meet you sword in hand, for I also, though you may not believe it, have the pride of a soldier, and it has been outraged by your deliberate insolence. Whether it was worthy of your courtesy to offer an insult to one who cannot defend himself, I shall leave to your own arbitrament, when you bethink yourself in other hours of this situation. I pray you be silent, I have not finished. My intention is to treat your words as if they had never been spoken. The officer in attendance has learned better than to blaze abroad anything that happens in this place, and you will do as it pleases yourself, and is becoming to your honor as a gentleman. I have no fear of you. You are a brave man whatever else you be; you will do me the justice of believing I am another.” Claverhouse remembered this was the first moment that he had felt any kindness to the Prince of Orange.

“My reason for dealing with you after this fashion is that you have some cause to complain of injustice, and to think that the good help you gave has been forgotten, because I have not said anything nor done anything. This is not so, for I have not been certain how I could best recompense you. When a moment ago I spoke of you as not fit for promotion, I did you injustice, for, though there be some heat in you, there is far more capacity, and I take it you will have high command some day.” The last few words were spoken with a slight effort, and Graham, when in his better mood the most magnanimous of men, was suddenly touched by the remembrance of the Prince's station and ability, his courage and severity, and his grace in making this amend to one who had spoken rudely to him. Claverhouse would have responded, but was again silent in obedience to a sign from the Prince.

“Let me say plainly, Mr. Graham, that you are a soldier whom any commander will be glad to enroll for life service in his army, but”—and here his Highness looked searchingly at Graham as he had once done before—“I doubt whether your calling be in the Dutch army or in any army that is of our mind or is likely to fight for our cause.

“It is not given to man to lift the veil that hides the future, but we can reason with ourselves as to what is likely, and guide our course by this faint light. I have advices from Scotland, and I know that the day will come, though it may not be yet, when there will be a great division in that land and the shedding of blood. Were you and I both in your country when that day comes, you, Mr. Graham, would draw your sword on one side and I on the other.

“We may never cross one another in the unknown days, but each man must be true to the light which God has given him. Colonel MacKay will fulfil his calling in our army and on our side; in some other army and for another side you will follow your destiny. It is seldom I speak at such length; now I have only one other word to say before I give you for the day farewell.

“Mr. Graham, I know what you think of me as clearly as if you had spoken. Let me say what I think of you. You are a gallant gentleman, full of the ideas of the past, and incapable of changing; you will be a loyal servant to your own cause, and it will be beaten. To you I owe my life. Possibly it might have been better for you to have let me fall by the sword of one of Condé's dragoons, but we are all in the hands of the Eternal, Who doeth what He wills with each man. You will receive to-day a captain's commission in the cavalry, and in some day to come, I do not know how soon, and in a way I may not at present reveal to you, I will, if God please, do a kindness to you which will be after your own heart, and enable you to rise to your own height in the great affair of life. I bid you good-morning.”

Few men were ever to hear the Prince of Orange use as many words or give as much of his mind. As Claverhouse realized his fairness and understood, although only a little, then, of his foresight, and as he came to appreciate the fact that the Prince was trying to do something more lasting for him than merely conferring a commission, he was overwhelmed with a sense of the injustice he had done his Highness. He also realized his own petulance with intense shame.

“Will your Highness forgive my wild words, for which I might have been justly punished”—Graham, with an impulse of emotion, stepped forward, knelt down, and kissed the Prince's hand—“and the shame I put upon a Scots gentleman, for which I shall apologize this very day. My sword is at your Highness's disposal while I am in your service and this arm is able to use it. If in any day to come it be my fate to stand on some other side, I shall not forget I once served under a great commander and a most honorable gentleman, who dealt graciously with me.”

Two years passed during which Captain Graham saw much fighting and many of his fellow-officers fall, and it was in keeping with the character of the Prince that during all that time he took no special notice of Claverhouse, and gave no indication that he had that interview in mind. Claverhouse had learned one lesson, however—patience—and he would have many more to learn; he had also been taught not to take hasty views, but to wait for the long result. And his heart lifted when, after the abortive siege of Charleroi, he was summoned for a second time to the Prince's presence. On this occasion the Prince said little, but it was to the point; it was the crisis in Claverhouse's life.

“Within a few days, Captain Graham,” said the Prince, with the same frozen face, “I leave for London. I may not speak about my errand nor other things which may happen, but if it be your will, I shall take you in attendance upon me. At the English court I may be able to give you an introduction which will place you in the way of service such as you desire, and if it be the will of God, high honor. For this opportunity, which I thought might come some day, I have been waiting, and if it be as I expect, you will have some poor reward for saving the life of the Prince of Orange.”

It was known by this time in the army, and, indeed, throughout Europe, that William of Orange was going to wed the Princess Mary, who was the daughter of the Duke of York, the King of England's brother, and likely to be herself the daughter of an English sovereign. For certain reasons it seemed an unlikely and incongruous alliance, for even in the end of 1677, when the marriage took place, anyone with prescience could foresee that there would be a wide rift between the politics of the Duke of York when he became King and those of William, and even then there must have been some who saw afar off the conflict which ended in William and Mary succeeding James upon the throne of England. There were many envied Claverhouse when it came out that he was to be a member of the Prince's suite, and be associated with the Prince's most distinguished courtiers. But he carried himself, upon the whole, with such graciousness and gallantry that his brother officers congratulated him on every hand, and feasted him so lavishly before he left that certain of his own comrades of the Prince's guard were laid aside from duty for several days. It was to the credit of both men that on the morning of his departure one of his last visitors was Colonel MacKay, who wished him success, and prophesied that they would hear great things of him in days to come, since it was understood that Claverhouse would not return to the Dutch service.

For some time after the arrival of the Prince and his staff in London, William gave no sign of the good he was going to do Claverhouse. Indeed, he was busy with the work of his wooing and the arrangements for his marriage. Claverhouse by this time had learned, however, that William forgot nothing and never failed to carry out his plans, and his pulse beat quicker when the Prince requested him to be in attendance one afternoon, and to accompany him alone to Whitehall, where the Duke of York was in residence. There was a certain superficial likeness in character between the Prince and his father-in-law, for both appeared unfeeling and unsympathetic men, but what in James was obstinacy, in William was power, and what in James was superstitious, in William was religion, and what in James was pride, in William was dignity. His friends could trust William, but no one could trust James; while William could make immense sacrifices for his cause, James could wreck his cause by an amazing blindness and a foolish grasping at the shadow of power. If anyone desired a master under whom he would be led to victory, and by whom he would never be put to shame, a master who might not praise him effusively but would never betray him, then let him, as he valued his life and his career, refuse James and cleave to William. But it is not given to a man to choose his creed, far less his destiny, and Claverhouse was never to have fortune on his side. It was to be his lot rather to be hindered at every turn where he should have been helped, and to run his race alone with many weights and over the roughest ground.

“Your Highness has of your courtesy allowed me to present in public audience the officers who have come with me from The Hague,” said the Prince of Orange to James, “and now I have the pleasure to specially introduce this gentleman who was lately a captain in my cavalry, and who some while ago rendered me the last service one man can do for another. Had it not been for his presence of mind and bravery of action, I had not the supreme honor of waiting to-day upon your Highness, and the prospect of felicity before me. May I, with the utmost zeal towards him and the most profound respect towards your Highness, recommend to your service Mr. Graham of Claverhouse, who distinguished himself on many fields of battle, and who is a fine gentleman and a brave officer fit for any post, civil or military. I will only say one thing more: he belongs to the same house as the Marquis of Montrose, and has in him the same spirit of loyalty.”

Claverhouse, overcome by the remembrance of the past, is stirred to the heart, and can hardly make his reverence for emotion. As he kisses James's hand he registers a vow which he was to keep with his life. And when he has left the presence of the Duke, the Prince of Orange said to Claverhouse's new master: “You have, sir, obtained a servant who will be faithful unto death; I make him over to you with confidence and with regret. This day, I believe, he will begin the work to which he has been called, and so far as a man can, he will finish it.”

BOOK II

CHAPTER I. A COVENANTING HOUSE

The glory of Paisley Castle has long departed, but it was a brave and well-furnished house in the late spring of 1684, to which this story now moves. The primroses were blooming in sheltered nooks, where the keen east wind—the curse and the strength of Scotland—could not blight them, and the sun had them for his wooing; there were signs of foliage on the trees as the buds began to burgeon, and send a shimmer of green along the branches; the grass, reviving after winter, was showing its first freshness, and the bare earth took a softer color in the caressing sunlight. The birds had taken heart again and were seeking for their mates, some were already building their summer homes. Life is one throughout the world, and the stirring of spring in the roots of the grass and in the trunks of the trees touches also human hearts and wakes them from their winter. The season of hope, which was softening the clods of the field, and gentling the rough massive walls of the castle, were also making tender the austere face of a Covenanting minister standing in one of the deep window recesses of what was called in Scots houses of that day the gallery, and what was a long and magnificent upper hall, adorned with arms and tapestry. He was looking out upon the woods that stretched to the silver water of the Clyde, then a narrow and undeveloped river, and to the far-away hills of Argyleshire, within which lay the mystery of the Highlands. Henry Pollock had been born of a Cavalier and Episcopalian family, with blood as loyal as that of Claverhouse; he had been brought up amid what the Covenanters called malignant surroundings, and had been taught to regard the Marquis of Montrose as the first of Scotsmen and the most heroic of martyrs. Although the senior of Claverhouse by two years, he had been with him at St. Andrew's University, and knew him well, but in spite of his heredity Pollock had ever carried a more open mind than Graham. During his university days he had heard the saint and scholar of the Covenant, Samuel Rutherford, who was principal and professor in the university and a most distinguished preacher of his day in Scotland. No doubt Rutherford raged furiously against prelacy as a work of the devil, and the enemy of Scots freedom; no doubt he also wrote books which struck hard at the authority of the King, and made for the cause of the people. His name was a reproach among Pollock's friends, and Pollock began with no sympathy towards Rutherford's opinions, but the lad's soul was stirred when, in the college chapel of St. Andrew's and also in the parish kirk where Rutherford was colleague with that servant of the Lord Mr. Blair, he listened to Rutherford upon the love of God and the loveliness of Christ. One day he was present, standing obscure among a mass of townsfolk, when Rutherford, after making a tedious argument on the controversies of the day which had almost driven Pollock from the Kirk, came across the name of Christ and then, carried away out of his course as by a magnet, began to rehearse the titles of the Lord Jesus till a Scots noble seated in the kirk cried out, “Hold you there, Rutherford.” And Pollock was tempted to say “Amen.” With his side he resented the Covenanting regime, because it frowned on gayety and enforced the hateful Covenant, but even then the lad wished that his side had preachers to be compared with Rutherford and Blair, and the words of Rutherford lay hidden in his heart. When the Restoration came he flung up his cap with the rest of them, and drank only too many healths to King Charles. For a while he was intoxicated with the triumph of the Restoration, but there was a vein of seriousness in him as well as candor, and as the years passed and the people were still drinking, and as the tyranny of Cromwell gave place to the brutality of the infamous crew, Lauderdale, the renegade, and others, who misruled Scotland in the name of the King, Pollock was much shaken, and began to wonder within himself whether the Presbyterians, with all their bigotry, may not have had the right of it. If they did not dance and drink they prayed and led God-fearing lives, and if they would not be driven to hear the curates preach, there was not too much to hear if they had gone. When the Covenant was the symbol of oppression, Pollock hated it, when it became the symbol for suffering he was drawn to it, till at last, to the horror of his family, he threw in his lot with the Covenanters of the west of Scotland. Being a lad of parts with competent scholarship, and having given every pledge of sincerity, he was studying theology in Holland, while Claverhouse was fighting in the army of the Prince, and he was there ordained to the ministry of the kirk. When one has passed through so thorough a change, and sacrificed everything which is most dear for his convictions, he is certain to be a root and branch man, and to fling himself without reserve, perhaps also, alas, without moderation, into the service of his new cause. Pollock was not of that party in the kirk which was willing to take an indulgence at the hands of the government and minister quietly in their parishes, on condition that they gave no trouble to the bishops. He would take no oaths and sign no agreements, nor make any compromise, nor bow down to any persecutor. He threw in his lot with the wild hillmen, who were being hunted like wild birds upon the mountains by Claverhouse's cavalry, and as he wandered from one hiding place to another, he preached to them in picturesque conventicles, which gathered in the cathedral of the Ayrshire hills, and built them up in the faith of God and of the Covenant. Like Rutherford, who had been to him what St. Stephen was to St. Paul, he was that strange mixture of fierceness and of tenderness which Scots piety has often bred and chiefly in its dark days. He was not afraid to pursue the doctrine of Calvin to its furthest extreme, and would glorify God in the death of sinners till even the stern souls of his congregation trembled. Nor was he afraid to defend resistance to an unjust and ungodly government, and he was willing to fight himself almost as much, though not quite, as to pray.

But even the gloomiest and bitterest bigots that heard him, huddled in some deep morass and encircled by the cold mist, testified that Henry Pollock was greatest when he declared the evangel of Jesus, and besought his hearers, who might before nightfall be sent by a bloody death into eternity, to accept Christ as their Saviour. When he celebrated the sacrament amid the hills, and lifted up the emblems of the Lord's body and blood, his voice broken with passion, and the tears rolling down his cheeks, they said that his face was like that of an angel. Times without number he had been chased on the moors; often he had been hidden cunningly in shepherd's cottages, twice he had eluded the dragoons by immersing himself in peat-bogs, and once he had been wounded. His face could never at any time have been otherwise than refined and spiritual, but now it was that of an ascetic, worn by prayer and fasting, while his dark blue eyes glowed when he was moved like coals of fire, and the golden hair upon his head, as the sun touched it, was like unto an aureole. Standing in the embrasure of that gallery, which had so many signs of the world which is, in the pictures of sport upon the walls and the stands of arms, he seemed to be rather the messenger and forerunner of the world which is to come. As he looks out upon the fair spring view, he is settling something with his conscience, and is half praying, half meditating, for, in his lonely vigils, with no company but the curlew and the sheep, he has fallen upon the way of speaking aloud.

“There be those who are called to live alone and to serve the Lord night and day in the high places of the field, like Elijah, who was that prophet, and John the Baptist, who ran before the face of the Lord. If this be Thy will for me, oh, God, I am also willing, and Thou knowest that mine is a lonely life, and that I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. If this be my calling, make Thy way plain before Thy servant, and give me grace to walk therein with a steadfast heart. He that forsaketh not father and mother ... and wife for His name's sake, is not worthy.” And then a change came over his mood.

“But the Master came not like the Baptist; He came eating and drinking; yea, He went unto the marriage of Cana in Galilee, and He blessed little children and said, 'For of such is the Kingdom of God.' Thou knowest, Lord, that I have loved Thy children, and when a bairn has smiled in my face as I baptized it into Thy name, that I have longed for one that would call me father. When I have seen a man and his wife together by the fireside, and I have gone out to my hiding-place on the moor, like a wild beast to its den, I confess, oh, Lord, I have watched that square of light so long as I could see it, and have wondered whether there would ever be a home for me, and any woman would call me husband. Is this the weakness of the flesh; is this the longing of the creature for comfort; is this the refusing of the cross; is this my sin? Search me, oh, God, and try me.” And again the gentler mood returned. “Didst Thou not set the woman beside the man in the Garden? Has not the love of Jacob for Rachel been glorified in Thy word? Art not Thou Thyself the bridegroom, and is not the kirk Thy bride? Are we not called to the marriage supper of the Lamb? Is not marriage Thine own ordinance, and shall I count that unclean, as certain vain persons have imagined, which Thou hast established? Oh, my Saviour, wast Thou not born of a woman? My soul is torn within me, and unto Thee, therefore, do I look for light; give me this day a sign that I may know what Thou wouldst have me to do, that it may be well for Thy cause in the land, and the souls of Thy servants committed to my charge.”

He is unconscious of everything except the agony of duty through which he is passing, and his words, though spoken low, have a sweet and penetrating note, which arrest the attention of one who has come down the gallery, and is now standing at the opening of the alcove where Pollock is hidden. It is his hostess, the widow of Lord Cochrane, the eldest son of the Earl of Dundonald, who was still living, though old and feeble, and who left the management of affairs very much to Lady Cochrane. Like many other families in the days of the “Troubles,” the Cochranes was a house divided against itself, although till now the strength had been all on one side. Lord Dundonald had been a loyal adherent of the Stuarts, and had rendered them service in earlier days, for which it was understood he had received his earldom; but he was a broken man now, and had no strength in him to resist his masterful daughter-in-law. She was a child of the Earl of Cassillis, one of the stoutest and most thoroughgoing of Covenanters; her husband had died in the year when the Battle of Bothwell-Brig had been fought, and his last prayers were for the success of the Covenanters. His younger brother had been one of the Rye House Plot men, and was now an exile for the safety of his life in Holland. By her blood and by her sympathy, by everything she thought and felt, Lady Cochrane was a Covenanter, and in her face and figure, as she stands with the light from the window falling upon her, she symbolizes her cause and party. Tall and strong-boned, with a lean, powerful face, and clear, unrelenting eyes, yet with a latent suggestion of enthusiasm which would move her to any sacrifice for what she judged to be righteousness, and with an honest belief in her religious creed, Lady Cochrane was one of the godly women of the Covenant. The old Earl had no chance against her resolute will, and contented himself with a quavering protest against her ideas, and bleating disapproval of her actions. When she denounced the Council as a set of Herods, and filled the house with Covenanting ministers and outlawed persons, his only comfort and sympathizer was Lady Cochrane's daughter Jean. This young woman had of late taken on herself the office of protector, and had shown a tendency to criticise both her mother's words and ways, which led to one or two domestic scenes. For though her ladyship was loud against the tyranny of the government, she was an absolute ruler in her own home. And that day she was going to assert herself and put down an incipient rebellion.

“I give you good-morning, Mr. Pollock,” said Lady Cochrane, “and I crave your pardon if I have done amiss, but since you were, as I take it, wrestling in prayer I had not the mind to break in upon you; I have therefore heard some portion of your petitions. It seems to me, though in such matters I am but blind of eye and dull of hearing, that God indeed is giving a sign of approval when He seems to have been turning your heart unto the thought of the marriage between the bridegroom and the bride in the Holy Scriptures, of which other marriages are, I take it, a shadow and a foretaste.”

“It may be your ladyship is right,” said Pollock after he had returned his hostess's greeting, “but we shall soon know, for God hath promised that light shall arise unto the righteous. For myself, I declare that as it has happened on the hills when I was fleeing from Claverhouse, so it is now in my affairs. I am moving in a mist which folds me round like a thin garment; here and there I see the light struggling through, and it seems to me most beautiful even in its dimness; by and by the mist shall altogether pass, and I shall stand in the light, which is the shining of His face. But whether I shall then find myself at Cana of Galilee or in the Garden of Gethsemane, I know not.”

“If it were in my handling,” said Lady Cochrane, regarding her guest with a mixed expression of admiration and pity, “ye would find yourself, and that without overmuch delay, at a marriage feast. The dispensation of John Baptist is done with in my humble judgment, and I count the refusing to marry to be pure will-worship and a soul-destroying snare of the Papists. Ye are a good man, Mr. Henry, and a faithful minister of the Word, but ye would be a better, with fewer dreams and more sense for daily duty, besides being more comfortable, if you had a wife. Doubtless the days are evil, and there be those who would say that this is not a time to marry, but if you had the right wife it is no unlikely ye might be safer than ye are to-day. For there would be a big house to hide you, and, at the worst, you and she could make your ways to Holland, and get shelter from the Prince till those calamities be overpast.”

“My fear,” continued her ladyship, “is not that ye will do wrong in marrying, but that ye may fail to win the wife ye told me yesterday was your desire. No, Mr. Henry, it is not that I am not with you, for I am a favorer of your suit. In those days when the call is for everyone to say whether he be for God or Baal, I would rather see my daughter married to a faithful minister of the kirk, than to the proudest noble in Scotland, who was a persecutor of the Lord's people. As regards blood, I mind me also that ye belong to an ancient house, and as regards titles, it was from King Charles the earldom came to the Cochranes, and the most of the nobles he has made have been the sons of his mistresses. There will soon be more disgrace than honor in being called a lord in the land of England.”

“It may be,” hazarded Pollock anxiously, “that the Earl then does not look on me with pleasure, and as the head of the house——”

“As what?” said Lady Cochrane. “It is not much his lordship has to say on anything, for his mind is failing fast, and it never, to my seeing, was very strong. He says little, and it's a mercy he has less power, or rather, I should say, a dispensation of Providence, for if the misguided man had his way of it, Jean would be married to-morrow to some drinking, swearing officer in Claverhouse's Horse, or, for that matter, to that son of Satan, Claverhouse himself.”

“While I am here,” continued this Covenanting heroine, “you need not trouble yourself about the Earl of Dundonald, but I cannot speak so surely for my daughter. Jean's name was inserted in the Covenant, and she has been taught the truth by my own lips, besides hearing many godly ministers, but I sorely doubt whether she be steadfast and single-hearted. It was only two days ago she lent her aid to her grandfather when he was havering about toleration, and before all was done she spoke lightly of the contendings of God's remnant in this land, and said that if they had the upper hand Scotland would not be fit to live in. So far as I can see she has no ill-will to you, Mr. Henry, and has never said aught against you. Nay, more, I recall her speaking well of your goodness, but whether she will consent unto your plea I cannot prophesy. Where she got her proud temper and her stubborn self-will passes my mind, for her father was an exercised Christian and a douce man, and there never was a word of contradiction from him all the days of our married life. It may be the judgment of the Lord for the sins of the land, that the children are raising themselves against their parents. Be that as it may, I have done my best for you, and now I will send her to the gallery and ye must make your own suit. I pray God her heart may be turned unto you.”

When the daughter came down the middle of the gallery, with an easy and graceful carriage, for she was a good goer, it would seem as if the mother had returned, more beautiful and more gentle, yet quite as strong and determined. Jean Cochrane—whose proper style as a lord's daughter would be the Honorable Jean, but who, partly because she was an earl's granddaughter, partly in keeping with the usage of the day, was known as Lady Jean—was like her mother, tall and well built, straight as a young tree, with her head set on a long, slender neck, and in conversation thrown back. Her complexion was perfect in its healthy tone and fine coloring; she had a wealth of the most rich and radiant auburn hair, somewhat like that of Pollock, but redder and more commanding to the eye; her eyes were sometimes gray and sometimes blue, according to their expression, which was ever changing with her varying moods. This is no girl of timid or yielding nature who can be coaxed or driven, or of clinging and meek affection. This is a woman full grown, not in stature only, but in character, of high ambition, of warm passion, of resolute will and clear mind, who is fit to be the mate for a patriot, in which case she would be ready to accompany him to the scaffold, or for a soldier, in which case she would send him to his death with a proud heart. Her mobile face, as flexible as that of a supreme actress, is set and hard when she enters the gallery, for she and her mother had just crossed swords, and Lady Jean knew for what end she had been asked to meet the Covenanter. Lady Cochrane was an unhappy advocate for such a plea, and with such a daughter, although she might have been successful with a helpless and submissive girl. With that look in her eyes, which are as cold as steel and have its glitter, one could not augur success for any wooer. It was a tribute not so much to the appearance of Pollock as to the soul of the man shining through his face in most persuasive purity and sincerity, that when they met and turned aside into that window space and stood in the spring sunlight, her face softened towards him. The pride of her carriage seemed to relax, and the offence went out of her eyes, and she gave him a gracious greeting, and no woman, if she had a mind, could be more ingratiating. Then, still standing, which suited her best, and looking at him with not unfriendly gravity, she waited for what he had to say.

“Lady Jean,” he began, “your honorable mother has told you for what end I desired speech with you this day, and I ask you to give me a fair hearing of your kindness, for though I have been called of God to declare His word before many people, I have no skill in the business to which I now address myself. In this matter of love between a man and a maid I have never before spoken, and if I succeed not to-day, shall never speak again. Bear with me when I explain for your better understanding of my case, that I began my life in the faith of my family, and that I came into the Covenant after I was a man. I was called, as I trust of God, unto the ministry of the Evangel, and I have exercised it not in quiet places, but in the service of God's people who are scattered and peeled among the hills. It seemed therefore of my calling that I should live as a Nazarite and die alone, having known neither wife nor child, and indeed this may be my lot.” Having said so much, as he looked not at the girl but out of the window, he now turned his face upon her, which, always pale, began now to be ashen white, through rising emotion and intensity of heart.

“Two years ago I first came to this castle and saw you; from time to time upon the errands of my master or sheltering from my pursuers I have lived here, and before I knew it I found my heart go out to you, Lady Jean, so that on the moors I heard your voice in the singing of the mountain birds, and saw your face with your burning hair in the glory of the setting sun. The thought of you was never far from me, and the turn of your head and your step as you have walked before me came ever to my sight. Was not this, I said to myself, the guidance of the Lord in Whose hands are the hearts of men, and Who did cause Isaac to cleave to Rebecca? But, again, might it not be that I was turning from the way of the cross and following the desires of my own heart? I prayed for some token, and fourteen days ago this word in the Song of Solomon came unto me, and was laid upon my heart. 'Behold thou art fair, my love, behold thou art fair, thou hast dove's eyes within thy locks, thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead.' Wherefore I make bold to speak to you to-day, and on your reply will hang the issue of my after life.” His eyes had begun to shine with mystic tenderness and yearning appeal, so that she, who had been looking away from him, could not now withdraw her gaze.

“Is there in your heart any kindness and confidence towards me, and have you been moved to think of me as one whom you could wed and whose life you could share? It is not to wealth nor to honor, it is not to ease and safety that I invite you, Lady Jean; you must be prepared to see me suffer, and you must be willing that I should die. What I could do to protect and cherish you, if God gave you to me, I should, and next to the Lord who redeemed me, you would be the love of my heart in time and also in eternity, where we should follow the Lord together, unto living fountains of waters.”

It was not the wooing of quieter days or gentler lives; it was not after this fashion that a Cavalier would have spoken to his ladylove, but his words were in keeping with the man, and streamed from the light of his eyes rather than from his lips. And the girl, who had come to say no as briefly and firmly as might be consistent with courtesy, was touched in the deepest part of her being, and for the moment almost hesitated.

“Ye have done me the chief honor a man can offer to a woman, Mr. Pollock, and Jean Cochrane will never forget that ye asked her in marriage. It cannot be, and it is better that I should say this without delay or uncertain speech, but I pray you, Mr. Henry, understand why, and think me not a proud or foolish girl. It is not that I do not know that you are a holy and a brave man, whom the folk rightly consider to be a saint, and whom others say would have made a gallant soldier. It is not that I doubt the woman ye wedded would be well and tenderly loved, for, I confess to you, ye seem to me to have the making of a perfect husband. And it is not that I”—and here she straightened herself—“would be afraid of any danger, or any suffering either, for myself or you. I should bid it welcome, and if I saw you laid dead for the cause ye love, I should take you in my arms and kiss you on the mouth, though you were red with blood, as I never kissed you living on our marriage day.” And she carried her head as a queen at the moment of her coronation.

“No,” she went on, while the glow faded and her voice grew gentle; “it is for two reasons, but one of them I tell you only to yourself, in the secrecy of your honor. I admire and I—reverence you as one lifted above me like a saint, but this is not the feeling of a woman for the man that is to be her husband. I do not love you as I know I shall in an instant love the man who is to be my man when I first see him, and for whom I shall forsake without any pang my father's house, or else, if he appear not, I shall never wed. That mayhap is reason enough, but I am dealing with you as a friend this day. Though my name be in the Covenant, I am not sure—oh, those are dark times—whether I would write it to-day with my own hand. I might be able to do so when I was your wife, but that I may not be. Yet it is left to me, Mr. Henry, to have your name in my prayers, that God may keep you in the hard road ye have chosen, and give you in the end a glorious crown. And I will ask of you to mention at a time Jean Cochrane before the throne of grace. For surely ye will be heard, and blessed shall she be for whom ye pray.”

For an instant there was silence, and then, before she left, Lady Jean, as Pollock stood with head sunk on his breast and lips moving in prayer, bent forward and kissed him on the forehead. When an hour later the minister descended to Lady Cochrane's room, he told her that his suit was hopeless, but that he was thankful unto God that he had spoken with Lady Jean.

CHAPTER II. THE COMING OF THE AMALEKITE

It would have been hard to find within the civilized world a more miserable and distracted country than Scotland at the date of our history, and the West Country was worst of all. The Covenanters, who were never averse to fighting, had turned upon Claverhouse and his dragoons when they came to disperse a field-meeting at Drumclog, and had soundly beaten the King's Horse. Then, gathering themselves to a head and meeting the royal forces under the Duke of Monmouth at Bothwell Bridge, they had in turn been hopelessly crushed. What remained of their army was scattered by the cavalry, and since that day, with some interludes, Claverhouse had been engaged in the inglorious work of dispersing Presbyterian Conventicles gathered in remote places among the hills, or searching the moss-hags for outlawed preachers. It was a poor business for one who had seen war on the grand scale under the Prince of Orange, and had fought in battles where eighteen thousand men were left on the field. War was not the name for those operations, they were simply police work of an irksome and degrading kind. There were some who said that Claverhouse gloried in it, and that the inherent cruelty of his nature was gratified in causing obstinate Covenanters, who had not taken the oath, to be shot on the spot, and haling others to prison, where they were treated with extreme barbarity. Others believed that being a man of broad mind and chivalrous temper, he absolutely disapproved of the government policy and loathed the butcher work to which he and his troopers were set.

Upon one way of it he was a bloodthirsty tyrant, and upon the other he was an obedient soldier, but the truth was with neither view. There is no doubt that, like any other ambitious commander, he would much rather have been engaged in a proper campaign, and it may be granted that as a brave man he did not hanker to be the executioner of peasants; but he absolutely approved of the policy of his rulers, and had no scruple in carrying it out. It was the only thing that could be done, and it had better be done thoroughly; the sooner the turbulent and irreconcilable Covenanters were crushed and the country reduced to peace the better for Scotland. And it must be remembered that, though they were only a fraction of the nation, the hillmen were a very resolute and harassing fraction, and kept the western counties in a state of turmoil. No week passed without some picturesque incident being added to the annals of this lamentable religious war, and whether it was an escape or an arrest, an attack or a defeat, the name of Claverhouse was always in the story. The air was thick with rumors of his doings, and in every cottage enraged Covenanters spoke of his atrocities. No doubt the king had other officers quite as merciless and almost as active, and the names of men like Grierson of Lag and Bruce of Earleshall and that fierce old Muscovite fighter, General Dalziel, were engraved for everlasting reprobation upon the memory of the Scots people. But there was no superstition so mad that it was not credited to Claverhouse, and no act so wicked that it was not believed of him. During the hours of day he ranged the country, a monster thirsting for the blood of innocent men, and the hours of the evening he spent with his associates in orgies worthy of hell. His horse, famous for its fleetness and beauty, was supposed to be an evil spirit, and as for himself, everyone knew that Claverhouse could not be shot except by a silver bullet, because he was under the protection of the devil. Perhaps it is not too much to say that during those black years—black for both sides, and very much so for Claverhouse—he was, in the imagination of the country folk, little else than a devil himself, and it was then he earned the title which has clung to him unto this day and been the sentence of his infamy, “Bloody Claverse.”

Although there were not many houses of importance in the west which Graham had not visited during those years, it happened that he had never been within Paisley Castle, and that he had never met any of the family except the earl and his aged countess. Lady Cochrane and the Covenanting servants could have given a thumb-nail sketch of him which would have done for a mediæval picture of Satan, and an accompanying letter-press of his character which would have been a slander upon Judas Iscariot. Her heroic ladyship had, however, never met Claverhouse, and she prayed God she never would, not because she was afraid of him or of the devil himself, but because she knew it would not be a pleasant interview on either side. But it was not likely in those times that the Dundonalds should altogether escape the notice of the government, or that Graham, ranging through the country seeking whom he might devour, as the Covenanters said, should not find himself some day under their roof. The earl himself was known to be well affected, and in any case did not count, but Lady Cochrane was a dangerous woman, and her brother-in-law, Sir John, had been plotting against the government and was an exile. No one was much surprised when tidings came to the castle early one morning that Claverhouse with two troops of his regiment, his own and the one commanded by Lord Ross, Jean Cochrane's cousin, was near Paisley, and that Claverhouse with Lord Ross craved the hospitality of the castle. It was natural that he should stay in the chief house of the neighborhood, and all the more as Lord Dundonald was himself notoriously loyal, but it was suspected that he came to gather what information he could about Sir John Cochrane, and to warn Lady Cochrane, the real ruler of the castle, to give heed to her ways.

“The day of trial which separates the wheat from the chaff has come at last, as I expected it would,” said Lady Cochrane, with pride triumphing over concern; “it would have been strange and a cause for searching of hearts if the enemy had visited so many of God's people and had passed us by as if we were a thing of naught, or indeed were like unto Judas, who had made his peace with the persecutors. Have ye considered what ye will do, my lord?” she said to the earl, who was wandering helplessly up and down the dining-hall.

“Do, my lady?” It was curious to notice how they all called her my lady. “I judge that Claverhouse and any servants he brings must be our guests, and of course Ross. But you know more about what we can do than I. Do you think we could invite the other officers of his troop? There will be Bruce of Earleshall and—” Then, catching Lady Cochrane's eye, he brought his maundering plans of hospitality to a close. “Doubtless you will send a letter and invite such as the castle may accommodate. I leave everything, Margaret, in your hands.”

I invite John Graham of Claverhouse and his bloody crew, officers or men it matters not, to cross our threshold and break bread within our walls—I, a daughter of the house of Cassillis and the widow of your faithful son? May my hand be smitten helpless forever if I write such a word, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I welcome this slayer of the saints to my home!” And Lady Cochrane rose from her place and stood like a lioness at bay. “Receive that servant of the Evil One into Paisley Castle? Yea, I would receive him if I could. If early word had been sent of his approach and it were in my power, I would call together every man in this region who is true unto God and the Covenant, and I would close the gates of the castle and bid the persecutor take it by force. I should count it an honor before the Lord to shed my own blood in its defence. But I doubt that may not be.”

“What shall I do, then?” in answer to a quavering question from the earl, who was now huddled in a chair before the huge open fireplace. “I would leave the castle if it were not too late, and seek some lodging till Claverhouse be gone, for I fear to dwell beneath the same roof with this man of blood lest the Lord smite us with a common destruction. See him or speak with him I will not; I will to my own rooms, and there I will seclude myself, praying that God may speedily judge this man, and cast him from his place. Lord Dundonald, I will leave it to you to play the host: very likely ye will not have much sorrow over it, for ye have more than a friendly heart to the Malignants.”

“It seems to me, if I be not too bold in saying it, that ye are taking a wise course, my lady, for there might arise some slight debate between you and Claverhouse, and that in the present circumstances would not be convenient. Not quite, as I said, convenient. You are a brave woman, Margaret, and worthy of your honorable house, but Claverhouse is the king's officer, and I forget—my memory is not what it was—the number of men in a troop, but he has two troops with him. Apart from that,” rambled on the earl, “we must remember John, who is in danger, and we may not give offence if we can speak a canny word which will get the right side of Claverhouse.”

“Ye have learned your lesson well, my lord, and ye will do your part in this day of expediency when men are more concerned about their safety and that of their children than that of the kirk of God and the cause of righteousness. I make sure that there will be much fair talk between you and your guests, but I cannot breathe this air, and so you will excuse me from your company. Jean, you will come with your mother and stay with me till this plague has left the house, for I count a visit of Claverhouse worse than leprosy or the black death.”

“Craving your pardon, mother,” said Jean, who had been listening to this conversation with intense sympathy, and entering keenly into the contrast between the earl and Lady Cochrane, “I will not go with you and hide myself till Colonel Graham be gone. There should, it seems to me, be some woman by the side of the head of the house, especially when he is no longer young, to receive Claverhouse, for whether we hate or love him he is our guest while underneath this roof. I am not afraid of him, and I will make free to confess that I desire to see this man of whom we have heard so much ill. It may be, after all, that he is not what those foolish people think. At any rate, by your leave, I shall stand by the earl's side if he will have me.”

“Ye speak boldly, girl. Though you have often debated with me more than was becoming, I do not recall till this day that ye have disobeyed me. But be it so, since this gives pleasure to his lordship” (who had crept over and was standing, as it were, under the shield of his bold granddaughter). “Only, one word of warning, if ye be not too proud and high-minded to take it. Albeit this man has the heart of Pontius Pilate, and will be the curse of everyone that has to do with him, yet the story goes that the master whom he serves has given him a fair face and beguiling words, and I bid you beware. But from what I hear outside it is time I left. Your guest is at your gate: I pray you may have comfort in him, and that he may not bring a shadow to this home.” And Lady Cochrane swept her majestic way out of the dining-hall; and retired to her apartments in another wing.

As she left, the earl, with Jean, went to the public door of the hall to meet Lord Ross and Claverhouse, who, without waiting for any invitation to stay in the castle, had come to pay their respects to the earl. They were already ascending the narrow stone stairs by which visitors came from the courtyard to the hall, and almost as soon as the earl and Jean had taken their places, Lord Ross came through the doorway, and having bowed to the earl turned aside to present Claverhouse. Jean saw him for the first time framed in the arch of the door, and never while she lived, even after she was the loyal wife of another man, forgot the sight. Ten years had passed since Graham jested at the camp-fire with his comrades of the English Volunteers, on the night before the battle of Sineffe, but war, with many anxieties, had left only slight traces upon his face. He was no longer a soldier of fortune, but the commander of “His Majesty's Own Regiment of Horse,” and a colonel in the king's army. By this time also he was a member of the Privy Council, and a favorite person at Court; he had held various offices and taken part in many public affairs. Yet he was the same gracious and engaging figure, carrying on his face the changeless bloom of youth, though now thirty-six years of age. He was in the handsome uniform of his regiment, completed by a polished and gleaming breastplate over which his neckerchief of white lace streamed, while his face looked out from the wealth of brown hair which fell over his shoulders. His left hand rested on his sword, and Jean marked the refinement and delicacy of his right hand, which was ungloved, as if for salutation. The day had been cloudy, and the hall, with its stone floor, high roof, oaken furniture, and walls covered by dark tapestry, was full of gloom, only partially relieved by the firelight from the wide, open hearth. While Claverhouse was coming up the stairs to the sound of his spurs and the striking of his sword against the wall, the sun came out from behind a cloud, and a ray of light streaming from an opposite window fell upon the doorway as he entered. It lingered but for a moment, and after touching his picturesque figure as with a caress, disappeared, and the eyes of John Graham and Jean Cochrane met.

They were the opposite of each other: he slight and graceful, she tall and strong; he dark and rich of complexion, with hazel eye, she fair and golden, with eyes of gray-blue; he a born and convinced Cavalier, and she a born and professed Covenanter; he a kinsman of the great marquis whom the Covenanters beheaded, and she on her mother's side the daughter of a house which hated Montrose and all his works. There was nothing common between them; they stood distant as the east from the west, and yet in that instant their hearts were drawn together. They might never confess their love—there would be a thousand hindrances to give it effect—it was in the last degree unlikely that they could ever marry, but it had come to pass with them as with innumerable lovers, that love was born in an instant.

“I thank you, my lord,” said Claverhouse, bowing low to the earl, “for this friendly greeting, and for the invitation you now give to be your guest during my short stay in the district. It is strange that through some ordering of circumstances, to me very disappointing, I have never had the honor of offering to you an assurance of my respect as a good subject of the king, and one whom the king has greatly honored. As you know, my lord, I come and go hastily on the king's business. I only wish, and I judge his Majesty would join in the wish, that my visits to those parts were fewer. One is tempted, preachers tell us, to think well of himself, overmuch indeed, maybe, but I have been wonderfully delivered from the snare of imagining that I am a beloved person in the west of Scotland.” As he spoke, a sudden and almost roguish look of humor sprang from his eyes and played across his face. And he smiled pleasantly to Lady Jean, to whom he was now introduced, and whose hand he kissed.

“You will give your indulgence to a poor soldier who must appear in this foolish trapping of war, and whose time in these parts is spent in the saddle rather than in a lady's rooms. I trust that it is well with the Lady Cochrane, of whom I have often heard, and whom I dared to hope I might have the privilege of meeting.” And a second time the same smile flickered over Claverhouse's face, and he seemed to challenge Jean for an answer.

“My mother, Colonel Graham,” responded Jean, with a careful choice of words, “does not find herself able to receive you to-day as we would have wished, and I fear she may be confined to her room during your visit. It will, I fear, be the greater loss to you that you have to accept me in her place, but we will try to give you such attention as we can, and my good cousin here knows the castle as if it were his own home.”

“Yes, and he has often spoken of our fair hostess of to-day”—and Claverhouse led Lady Jean to the table, where a meal was spread—“and everyone has heard how wide is the hospitality of Paisley Castle. Am I too bold in asking whether Lord Ross and I are the only guests, or whether we may not expect to have a blessing on this generous board from some minister of the kirk, even perhaps from the worthy Mr. Henry Pollock? I think, my lord, he favors you sometimes with his company.” Again the smile returned, but this time more searching and ironical.

“Pollock? Henry? That name sounds familiar. One of the leaders of the hillmen, isn't he, who were giving such trouble to the government? I am not sure but he was in this district not long ago, maybe a month since. Last Monday, was it? Well, you will know better than I do, Colonel. My Lady Cochrane and I don't perhaps quite agree in this, but I can't approve of any trafficking with persons disaffected to the government. Gone! what, did any man say that Pollock was here?” And the earl shuffled in his chair beneath Claverhouse's mocking eyes.

“If you desire to know the truth,” Jean Cochrane said, with severe dignity, “it were better not to ask my lord, because many come and go, and he sometimes forgets their names. Mr. Henry Pollock was our guest three days ago, as you are ours to-day, but next day he left, and we know not where he is. If, as I judge, you have surrounded the castle, I think you might let your troopers go to their dinner.”

“It is good advice,” laughed Claverhouse, concealing his disappointment, and nodding to Lord Ross, who rose and left the table, to send off the soldiers. “For one thing, at any rate, I have come a day behind the fair, and I shall not have the pleasure this time of hearing some gracious words from that eminent saint, and introducing my unworthy self to his notice. We have met once or twice before, but at a distance, and he had no leisure to speak with me. Some day I hope to be more fortunate.”

“When you do meet, Colonel Graham,” retorted Jean, stung by this mockery, for she knew now that one of the ends of Claverhouse's visit was the arrest of Pollock, and if it had not been the accident of her refusal, Pollock would have been Claverhouse's prisoner, “you will be in the company of a good man and a brave, who may not be of your way, but who, I will say in any presence, is a gentleman of Christ.”

“Whatever else befall him, Pollock is fortunate in his advocate.” Claverhouse looked curiously at Jean. “God knows I do not desire to say aught against him. Had I found him in Paisley Castle I should have done my duty, and he would have done his. We were together in the old days at St. Andrew's, and he was a good Cavalier then; he is a man of family and of honor. Pardon me if I think he has chosen the wrong side, and is doing vast evil in stirring up ignorant people against the government and breeding lawlessness. But there, I desire not to debate, and none grieves more over the divisions of the day than an unhappy soldier who is sent to settle them by the rough medicine of the sword. Henry Pollock has chosen his side and taken his risk: I have chosen mine and taken my risk, too. If it be his lot when the time comes he will die as a brave man should, for there is no cowardice in Pollock, and when my time comes, may heaven give me the same grace. But I fear, Lady Jean, it is a struggle unto life or death.” Claverhouse's face grew stern and sad, and he repeated, “Unto life or death.”

Then suddenly his face relaxed into the old polite, mocking smile as he turned to Lord Dundonald. “The Lady Jean and I have fallen upon much too serious talk, and I take blame, my lord, that I have not been inquiring for the welfare of your family. I congratulate you on my Lord Cochrane, who well sustains the fame of your house on all its sides for turning out strong men and fair women. Some day I hope Cochrane will ask for a commission in his Majesty's Regiment of Horse and join his kinsman Ross under my command. But what news have you from Sir John? It came to my ears somehow that he was travelling abroad; is that so, my lord? Some one told me also that you had a letter from him a week ago.”

“John! We have not seen him for a year. He was in London, but he is not there now. Yes, I seem to remember that he had some business which has taken him out of the country for a little. We hope he will soon return, and when he knows that you have done us the honor of coming beneath our roof he will be very sorry that he was not here to meet you.” The earl havered to the end of his breath and his prevarications, like a clock which had run down.

“It would have been more good fortune than I expected from my information if I had found Sir John here, for unless rumor be a wilder liar than usual he is in Holland, where there is a considerable gathering of worthy Presbyterians at present, taking council together, no doubt, for the good of their country. When you are writing to Sir John, would you of your courtesy give him a message from me? Say that I know Holland well, and that the climate is excellent for Scotsmen—more healthy sometimes, indeed, than their native air—and that some of his well-wishers think that he might be happier there than even in Paisley Castle. If he wishes service in the army, I could recommend him to the notice of my old fellow-officer MacKay of Scourie, who is now, I hear, a general in the Prince's service. You will be pleased to know, my lord, that the Rye House Plot against his Majesty was a very poor failure, and that all engaged in it, who were caught, will be soundly trounced.”

“If anyone says that my son had anything to do with that damnable proceeding, which all loyal subjects must detest, then he is slandering John, who is——”

“Your son, my lord, and the brother of my late Lord Cochrane cut off too soon. I am curious to get any gossip from the low country. Would it be too great a labor for you to let your eyes rest again on Sir John's letters, and to learn whether he has anything to tell about my old commander, his Highness of Orange, or anything else that would satisfy my poor curiosity. Burned them, have you? Strange. If I had a son instead of being a lonely man, I think his letters would be kept. But you are a wise man, my lord, no doubt, and I seem to be doomed to disappointment to-day in everything except the most gracious hospitality. Now, with your permission, Lady Jean, I must go to see that those rascals of mine are not making your good people in the town drink the king's health too deeply.”

CHAPTER III. BETWEEN MOTHER AND LOVER

For no less a time than fourteen days did Claverhouse and his men remain in Paisley, to the amazement of the district and the fierce indignation of Lady Cochrane. During that time the soldiers made sudden journeys in various directions, but if they arrested any Covenanters they were never brought to Paisley, and although Lady Cochrane prophesied the murder of the saints every day, no new atrocity was laid to her guest's charge. Once or twice he went out with his men himself, but he mostly contented himself with directing their operations, and he occupied his time with writing long despatches on the case of Sir John Cochrane and the state of affairs in Scotland. He was not so busy, however, that he had no leisure for the duties of a guest, and now that he had missed Pollock and had found out all he wanted about Sir John, he never came a thousand miles within controversy. He was studiously courteous to the servants at the castle, who had regarded his coming with absolute terror; he calmed and gentled the timid old earl, and drew him out to tell stories of the days of the Commonwealth, when one of Cromwell's troopers pulled the minister out of the pulpit of the Abbey kirk, and held forth himself on the sins both of Prelacy and Presbytery, declaring that he was as good a priest as any man. Claverhouse made no objection when the minister of the Abbey, who had taken the indulgence and was on good terms with the government, but whom Lady Cochrane detested and considered to be a mere Gallio, came up to hold family worship in the castle. He attended the service himself, and explained that he always had prayers when he was at home, and that he generally had a chaplain with him. When he was not shut up in his room reading or writing despatches, he mingled freely with the family and suited himself to each one's taste with great tact and good nature. It was not long since he had returned from Court at London, where he was now a popular and influential person, and he had many good tales for young Lord Cochrane, about hunting with the Duke of York, cock-fighting and other sports in vogue, and all the doings of the royal circle. For Jean he had endless interesting gossip from the capital about the great ladies and famous men, and the amusements of the Court and the varied life of London. But he was careful never to tell any of those tales which buzzed through the land about the ways of Charles, but which were not fit for a maiden's ears. From time to time, also, as they walked together in the pleasaunce of the castle, they touched on deeper things, and Jean marked that, although this man had lived a soldier's life, and had been much with people who were far removed from Puritanism, he was free from the coarseness of the day, and that, although he might be capable of severity and even cruelty, he was of more fastidious and chivalrous temper than anyone else she had met among the Covenanters except Henry Pollock. Unconsciously Jean began to compare the two men, and to weigh their types of character. There was nothing to choose between them in honor or in manliness, though the one was a minister of the Evangel and the other a colonel of his Majesty's Horse, but they were different. Pollock, with all his narrowness of faith and extravagance of action, was a saint, and no one could say that of Claverhouse, even though they might admit he was not the devil of the Covenanting imagination. But John Graham was more human: he might not see visions, and there never came into his face that light of the other world which she had seen on Pollock's, but he knew when a woman was walking by his side, and his eyes caressed her. His voice never had that indescribable accent of eternity which thrilled Henry Pollock's hearers, and was to them as a message from God, but Graham's speech could turn from grave and courteous mockery, which was very taking in its way, to a gentle deference and respectful appeal, which, from a strong man with so dazzling a reputation, was irresistible to a woman's heart. Then, no one could deny that his person was beautiful—a rare thing to say of a man—or that his manner was gracious, and Jean began to admit to herself that if he set himself he would be a successful lover. The very contradiction of the man—with so graceful a form and so high a spirit, with so evil a name for persecution and so engaging a presence, with such a high tone of authority among the men in power and so modest a carriage towards maidens—made him a captivating guest and dangerous to women's hearts. There was also a natural sympathy between John Graham and Jean Cochrane, because, though they had been brought up under different traditions and were on opposite sides, they were both resolute, honest, independent, and loyal. No word or hint of love passed between them during those days, but Jean knew that for the first time her heart had been touched, and Claverhouse, who had seen all kinds of women and had been indifferent to them all, and who for the beauty of him had been tempted at Court quite shamelessly and had remained cold as ice, understood at last the attraction of a maid for a man, and also realized that Jean Cochrane was a fit mate for him because her spirit was as high as his own.

They were trying days for Lady Cochrane in her self-enforced seclusion, and her temper was not improved by the news, brought diligently to her by her waiting-maid, that her daughter was doing her utmost to make the persecutor's time pass pleasantly. Her mother had no suspicion at this point that Jean was really wavering in loyalty to the good cause, but as a woman with insight and discernment she knew the danger to which Jean was exposed, and blamed herself for her own inconvenient pride. What if by way of putting a slight on this arch enemy she were to sacrifice her own child? It was impossible, of course, that any daughter of hers should ever allow her affections to be entangled by the murderer of the saints, and Claverhouse dared not, if he would, marry a Cochrane, for he might as well throw up his commission and join Henry Pollock at the next preaching on the moors. But foolish ideas might come into the girl's head, and it was said that Claverhouse could appear as an angel of light. It might be as well to strengthen and safeguard her daughter against the wiles of the wicked one, so she summoned her to her room, and, as her manner was, dealt with Jean in a straightforward and faithful fashion. Lady Cochrane had, however, learned that her daughter could not be browbeaten or captured by direct assault, but that, however thorough might be her own mind and uncompromising her will, she would have to walk warily with Jean.

“It was an ill wind that blew that evil man to this castle, and an ill work, I make no doubt, he has been after in this district. He came like a bloodhound to catch Henry Pollock, and like a fox to get what news he could about Sir John. What he lingers for his master only knows, but it grieves me, lassie, that ye have had the burden of him on your shoulders. They are too light, though they may be stronger than most, for such a weight; I will not deny your spirit, but he, as the Proverb goes, must have a lang spoon to sup wi' the deil. Has he spoken civilly”—and Lady Cochrane eyed her daughter keenly—“or has he been saying evil of our house and the cause?”

“Claverhouse has said no evil of any man that I can mind of, mother,” replied Jean coldly; “and what he did say about Mr. Henry Pollock would have rather pleased than angered you. He does not discourse without ceasing, as certain do when they come to the castle, about the times and all the black troubles; he seems to me rather to avoid matters of debate, I suppose because they would give offence. I doubt whether you could quarrel with him if you met him.”

“What, then, is the substance of his talk—for, if all stories be true, it is not much he knows of anything but war and wicked people? What has he for a godly maiden to hear?”

“Nothing worth mentioning, mayhap”—and Jean spoke with almost studied indifference—“what is going on in London, and how the great ladies of the Court are dressed, and the clever things the king says, and how the Duke of York loves sport, and suchlike. It would please you to hear him, for ye have seen the Court.”

“Once, Jean, and never again by God's mercy, for it is a spring of corruption from which pours every evil work, where no man can live clean, and no chaste woman should ever go. The like of it has not been seen for wickedness since the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod and his lewd courtiers, and obtained the head of John the Baptist on a charger for her reward. Black shame upon John Graham! Cruel he is, but I thought he would not pollute any girl's ears with such immodest tales.” And Lady Cochrane was beginning to lose control of herself.

“Colonel Graham said never a word which it were unbecoming a maiden to hear, and especially a daughter of Lady Cochrane.” And Jean grew hot with indignation. “His talk was about the ceremonies and the dresses; there was no mention of any wrongdoings. Nor was his speech always of London, for he touched on many other things, and seemed to me to have right thoughts, both of how men should live and die. For example, he said, that though Mr. Henry Pollock and he differ, Mr. Henry was a good and brave gentleman.”

“Did he, indeed?” and Lady Cochrane was very scornful. “Doubtless that was very cunning on his part, and meant to tickle your ears. But ye know, Jean, that if by evil chance, or rather, let us say, a dark ordering of the Lord, he had caught Mr. Henry here, like a bird in the snare of the fowler, he would have given him a short trial. If ye had cared to look ye would have seen that godly man shot in our own courtyard by six of Claverhouse's dragoons. Aye, and he would have given the order in words as smooth as butter, and come back to tell you brave tales of the court ladies with a smile upon his bonnie face. May God smite his beauty with wasting and destruction!”

“Mother,” said Jean, flushing and throwing back her head, “ye speak what ye believe to be true, and many hard things are done in these black days on both sides; but after I have spoken with Claverhouse, I cannot think that he would have any good man killed in cold blood.”

“What does it matter, Jean, what you think, for it is weel kent that a young lassie's eye is caught in the snare of a glancing eye and a gallant's lovelocks. Listen to me, and I will tell you what three weeks ago this fair-spoken and sweet-smiling cavalier did. He was hunting for the hidden servants of the Lord in the wild places of Ayrshire, and he caught near his own house a faithful professor of religion, on whose head a price was set, and for whose blood those sons of Belial were thirsting. Claverhouse demanded that he should take the oath, which no honest man can swear, and of which ye have often heard. And when that brave heart would not, because he counted his life not dear to him for the Lord's sake, Claverhouse gave him three minutes to pray before he died. You are hearing me, Jean, for I have not done?

“The martyr of the Lord prayed so earnestly for his wife and children, for the downtrodden Kirk of Scotland, and for his murderer, that Graham ordered him to rise from his knees, because his time was come. When he rose he was made to stand upon the green before his own house, with his wife and bairns at the door, and Claverhouse commanded so many of his men to fire upon him. Ah! ye would have seen another Claverhouse than ye know in that hour. But that is not all.

“His dragoons are ignorant and ungodly men, accustomed to blood, but after hearing that prayer their hearts were softened within them and they refused to fire. So Graham took a pistol from his saddle, and with his own hands slew the martyr. Ye are hearing, Jean, but there is more to follow. With her husband lying dead before her eyes, Claverhouse asked his wife what she thought of her man now. That brave woman, made strong in the hour of trial, wrapt her husband's head in a white cloth and took it on her lap, and answered: 'I have always honored him, but I have never been so proud of him as this day. Ye will have to answer to man and God for this.' This is what he gave back to her: 'I am not afraid of man, and God I will take into my own hands.' That is how he can deal with women, Jean, when he is on his errands of blood, and that is what he thinks of God. But his day is coming, and the judgment of the Lord will not tarry.”

[Illustration: “Ye will have to answer to man and God for this.” Page 143.]

“My lady,” said Jean, who had grown very pale, and whose face had hardened through this ghastly story, “that, I am certain as I live, is a lie. Colonel Graham might order the Covenanter to be shot, and that were dreadful enough. He would never have insulted his wife after such a base manner—none but a churl would do that, and Claverhouse is not base-born.”

“He is base, girl, who does basely, it matters not how fair he be or how pleasing in a lady's room. And I am not sure about his respect for ladies and the high ways of what ye would call his chivalry. Mayhap ye have not heard the story of his courting—then I have something else, and a lighter tale for your ears, but whether it please you better I know not. Though I begin to believe ye are easily satisfied.” At the mention of courting Lady Cochrane searched the face of her daughter, but though Jean was startled she gave no sign.

“There be many tales which fly up and down the land, and are passed from mouth to mouth among the children of this world, and some of them are not for a godly maiden's ears, since they are maistly concerned wi' chambering and wantonness. But this thing ye had better hear, and then ye will understand what manner of man in his walk and conversation we are harboring beneath our roof. For a' he look so grand and carries his head so high, he has little gold in his purse, but the black devil of greed is in his heart. So, like the lave of the gallants that drink and gamble and do waur things at the king's court, he has been hunting for some lass that will bring him a tocher (dowry) and a title. For this is what the men of his generation are ever needing. Ye follow me, Jean? This may be news to a country lass wha has not been corrupted among the king's ladies.

“Weel, it's mair than three years ago our brave gentleman scented his game, and ever since has been trying to trap this misguided lass, for like the rest o' them, when he is not persecuting the saints, he is ruining innocent women soul and body. I would have you understand that, daughter, and maybe ye will walk with him less in the pleasaunce.” Both women were standing, and Lady Cochrane was watching Jean to see whether she had touched her. Her daughter gave no sign except that her face was hardening, and she tapped the floor with her foot.

“Ye may not have heard of Helen Graham, for she belongs to another world from ours, and one I pray God ye may never see the inside of, for a black clan to Scotland have been the Grahams from the Marquis himself, who was a traitor to the Covenant and a scourge to Israel, to this bonnie kinsman of his, who has the face of a woman and the dress of a popinjay and the heart of a fiend. Now, it happens that this fair lass, whom I pity both for her blood and for her company, for indeed she is a daughter of Heth and hath the portion of her people, is heiress to the Earl of Monteith, and whaso-ever marries her will succeed to what money there is and will be an earl in his own richt. A fine prize for an avaricious and ambitious worldling.

“For years, then, as I was saying, Claverhouse has been scheming and plotting to capture Helen Graham and to make himself Earl o' Monteith. It wasna sic easy work as shootin' God's people on the hillside, and for a while the sun didna shine on his game. Some say the Marquis wanted her for himself, and then John Graham of Claverhouse would have to go behind like a little dog to his master's heel. Some say that her father had some compunction in handing over his daughter into sic cruel hands. Some say that the lass had a lover of her own, though that is neither here nor there with her folk. But it's no easy throwing a bloodhound off the track, and now I hear he has gained his purpose, and afore he left the Court and came back to his evil trade in Scotland the contract of marriage was settled, and ane o' these days we will be hearing that a Graham has married a Graham, and that both o' them have gotten the portion that belongeth to the unrighteous. Ye ken, Jean, that I have never loved the foolish gossip which fills the minds o' idle folk when they had better be readin' their Bibles and praying for their souls, but I judged it expedient that ye should know that Claverhouse is as gude as a married man.”

“If he were not,” said Jean, looking steadily at her mother, and drawing herself up to her full height, “there is little danger he would come to Paisley Castle for his love, or find a bride in my Lady Cochrane's daughter. Ye have given me fair warning and have used very plain speech, but I was wondering with myself all the time”—and then as her mother waited and questioned her by a look—“whether miscalling a man black with the shameful lies of his enemies is not the surest way to turn the heart of a woman towards him. But doubtless ye ken best.” Without further speech Jean left her mother's room, who felt that she would have succeeded better if her daughter had been less like herself.

Jean gave, truth to tell, little heed to the stories of Claverhouse's savagery, partly because rough deeds were being done on both sides, and they were not so much horrified in the West Country of that time at the shooting of a man as we are in our delicate days; partly, also, because she had been fed on those horrors for years, and had learned to regard Claverhouse and the other Royalist officers as men capable of any atrocity. Gradually the dramatic stories had grown stale and lost their bite, and when she noticed that with every new telling it was necessary to strengthen the horrors, Jean had begun to regard them as works of political fiction. But this was another story about Claverhouse's engagement to Helen Graham. Jean would not admit to herself, even in her own room or in her own heart, that she was in love with Graham, and she was ready to say to herself that no marriage could be more preposterous than between a Cochrane and a Graham. It did not really matter to her whether he had been engaged or was going to be engaged to one Graham or twenty Grahams. She had never seen him till a few days ago, and very likely, having done all he wanted, he would never come to Paisley Castle again. Their lives had touched just for a space, and then would run forever afterwards apart. They had passed some pleasant hours together, and she would ever remember his face; perhaps he might sometimes recall hers. So the little play would end without ill being done to her or him. Still, as she knew her mother was not overscrupulous, and any stick was good enough wherewith to beat Claverhouse, she would like to know, if only to gratify a woman's curiosity, whether Claverhouse was really going to marry this kinswoman of his, and, in passing, whether he was the mercenary adventurer of her mother's description.

This was the reason of a friendly duel between that vivacious woman Kirsty Howieson, Jean Cochrane's maid and humble friend, and that hard-headed and far-seeing man of Angus, Jock Grimond, Claverhouse's servant and only too loyal clansman.

“It's no true every time 'Like master like man'”—and Kirsty made a bold opening, as was the way of her class—“for I never saw a woman wi' a bonnier face than Claverhouse, and, my certes, mony a lass would give ten years o' her life, aye, and mair, for his brown curls and his glancing een. I'm judgin' there have been sair hearts for him amang the fair Court ladies.”

“Ye may weel say that, Kirsty,” answered Jock; “if Providence had been pleased to give ye a coontinance half as winsome, nae doot ye would have been married afore this, my lass. As for him, the women just rin after Claverhouse in flooks. It doesna matter whether it be Holland or whether it be London, whether it be duchesses at Whitehall or merchants' daughters at Dundee, he could have married a hundred times over wi' money and rank and beauty and power. Lord's sake! the opportunities he has had, and the risks he has run, it's been a merciful thing he had me by his side to be, if I may say it, a guide and a protector.”

“If the Almichty hasna done muckle for your face, Jock, He's given you a grand conceit o' yoursel', and that must be a rael comfort. I wish I'd a share o' it. So you have preserved your maister safe till this day, and he's still gaeing aboot heart-free and hand-free.”

“Na, Kirsty”—and Grimond looked shrewdly at her—“I'll no say that Claverhouse isna bound to marry some day or ither, and, of course, in his posseetion it behove him to find a lady of his ain rank and his ain creed. Noo, what I'm tellin' ye is strictly between oorsel's, and ye're no to mention it even to your ain mistress. Claverhouse is contracted in marriage to Miss Helen Graham, the daughter of Sir James Graham, his own uncle, and the heiress to the Earl of Monteith. Ye see, Miss Helen is his kinswoman, and she brings him an earldom in her lap. Besides that she's verra takin' in her appearance and manner, and I needna say just hates a Covenanter as she would a brock (badger). It's a maist suitable match every way ye look at it, and it has my entire approbation. But no a word aboot this, mind ye, Kirsty—though I was juist thinkin' this afternoon of recommendin' Claverhouse to let this contract be known. He's an honorable man, is the laird, and, by ordinary, weel-livin'; but there's nae doot he is awfu' temptit by women, and I wouldna like to see their hearts broken.”

“A word in season to my Lady Jean, if I'm no sair mistaken”—and Jock chuckled to himself when Kirsty had gone—“and a warning to the laird micht no be amiss. It would be fine business for a Graham o' Claverhouse to marry a Covenantin' fanatic and the daughter o' sic a mither. Dod! it would be fair ruin for his career, and misery for himsel'. I'll no deny her looks, but I'll guarantee she has her mither's temper. What would Claverhouse have done without me—though I wouldna say that to onybody except mysel'—he would have been just an object—aye, aye, just a fair object.”

As Grimond had communicated the engagement of Claverhouse to Helen Graham under the form of a secret, he was perfectly certain that Kirsty would tell it that evening to her mistress and in the end to the whole castle. But he thought it wise to reinforce the resolution of the other side, and when he waited on his master that evening he laid himself out for instruction.

“Ye would have laughed hearty, Mr. John, if you had heard the officers over their wine this afternoon in the town. Lord Ross wasna there, and so they had the freedom o' their tongues, and if Sir Adam Blair wasna holdin' out that you had fallen in love wi' Lady Jean, and the next thing they would hear would be a marriage that would astonish Scotland. Earleshall nearly went mad, and said that if ye did that you would be fairly bewitched, and that you might as well join the Covenanters. I tell ye, laird, they nearly quarrelled over it, and I am telt they got so thirsty that they drank fourteen bottles o' claret to five o' them besides what they had before. Ye will excuse me mentionin' this, for it's no for me to tell you what the gentlemen speak aboot, but I thought a bit o' daffin' (amusement) micht lichten ye after the day's work.”

“It is no concern of mine what the officers say between themselves, and I've told you before, Grimond, that you are not to bring any idle tales you pick up to my ears. You've done this more than once, and I lay it on you not to do it again.”

“Surely, Mr. John, surely. I ken it's no becoming and I'll no give ye cause to complain again. But as sure as death, when I heard them saying it as I took in your message to Earleshall I nearly dropped on the floor, I was that amused. Claverhouse married to a Covenanter! It was verra takin'.

“Na, na, Mr. John, I kent better than that, but I'm no just comfortable in my mind sae lang as ye are in Paisley Castle and in the company o' Lady Jean. Her mither is an able besom, and her young ladyship is verra deep. What I'm hearin' on the ither side o' the hedge is that she's trying to get round ye so as to get a pardon for Sir John, and to let him come home from Holland. No, Claverhouse, ye maunna be angry wi' me, for I've waited on ye longer than ye mind, and I canna help bein' anxious. Ye are a grand soldier, and ye've been a fine adviser to the government. There's no mony things ye're no fit for, Mr. John, but the women are cunning, and have aye made a fule o' the men since Eve led Adam aff the straicht and made sic a mishanter o' the hale race. They say doon stairs that Lady Jean is getting roond ye fine, and that if it wasna that her family wanted something from you, you would never have had a blink o' her, ony mair than her auld jade o' a mither. For a hypocrite give me a Covenanter, and, of course, the higher they are the cleverer.

“Just ae word more, Claverhouse, and I pray ye no to be angry, for there's naebody luves ye better than Jock Grimond. I hear things ye canna hear, and I see things ye canna see. Naebody would tell you that Lady Jean and Pollock, the Covenantin' minister, are as gude as man and wife. They may no be married yet, but they will be as sune as it's safe, and that's how he comes here so often. She has a good reason to speak ye fair, laird, and she has a souple tongue and a beguilin' way, juist a Delilah. Laird, as sure as I'm a livin' man this is a hoose o' deceit, and we are encompassed wi' fausehood as wi' a garment.” And although Claverhouse's rebuke was hot, Grimond felt that he had not suffered in vain.

CHAPTER IV. “THY PEOPLE SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, THY GOD MY GOD”

A month had passed before Claverhouse returned to Paisley, and this time he made his headquarters in the town, and did not accept the hospitality of the castle, excusing himself on the ground of his many and sudden journeys. His real reason was that he thought it better to keep away, both for his own sake and that of Jean Cochrane. During his lonely rides he had time to examine the state of his feelings, and he found himself more deeply affected than he thought; indeed he confessed to himself that if he were to marry he should prefer Jean to any other woman he had ever met. But he remembered her ancestry, especially her mother, and her creed, which was the opposite of his, and he knew that either she would not marry him because he was the chief opponent of her cause, or if he succeeded in winning her, he would most likely be discredited at Court by this suspicious marriage. It was better not to see her, or to run any further risks. He had made many sacrifices—all his life was to be sacrificed for his cause—and this would only be one more. He tried also to think the matter out from her side, and although he hated to think that she was a traitress trying to ensnare him for her own ends, yet it might be that her family were making a tool of her to seduce him from the path of duty, and although he doubted whether she was betrothed to Pollock, yet it might be true, and he certainly was not going to be Pollock's unsuccessful rival. Altogether, it was expedient that they should not see one another, and Claverhouse contented himself with sending a courteous message by Lord Ross to the earl and Lady Jean, and busied himself with his public and by no means agreeable task of Covenanter-hunting. As, however, he had received the very thoughtful and generous hospitality of the castle on his last visit, and as Lord Ross was constantly saying that the earl would like to see him, he determined to call on the afternoon before his departure. Lady Cochrane, as usual, did not appear, and neither did her daughter, and after a futile conversation with Dundonald, who seemed feebler than ever, Claverhouse left, and had it not been for a sudden whim, as he was going through the courtyard, he had never seen Jean Cochrane again, and many things would not have happened. But there was a way of reaching the town through the pleasaunce, and under the attraction of past hours spent among its trees Claverhouse turned aside, and walking down one of its grass walks, and thinking of an evening in that place with Jean, he came suddenly upon her on her favorite seat beneath a spreading beech.

“I crave your pardon, my Lady Jean,” said Claverhouse, recovering himself after an instant's discomposure, “for this intrusion upon your chosen place and your meditation. My excuse is the peace of the garden after the wildness of the moors, but I did not hope to find so good company. My success in Paisley Castle has been greater than among the moss-hags.”

“It is a brave work, Colonel Graham, to hunt unarmed peasants”—and for the first time Claverhouse caught the ironical note in Jean's speech, and knew that for some reason she was nettled with him—“and it seems to bring little glory. Though, the story did come to our ears, it sometimes brought risk, and—perhaps it was a lie of the Covenanters—once ended in the defeat of his Majesty's Horse. I seem to forget the name of the place.”

“Yes,” replied Claverhouse with great good humor, “the rascals had the better of us at Drumclog. They might have the same to-morrow again, for the bogs are not good ground for cavalry, and fanatics are dour fighters.”

“It was Henry Pollock ye were after this time, we hear, and ye followed him hard, but ye have not got him. It was a sair pity that you did not come a day sooner to the castle, and then you could have captured him without danger.” And Lady Jean mocked him openly. “Ye would have tied his hands behind his back and his feet below the horse's belly, and taken him to Edinburgh with a hundred of his Majesty's Horse before him and a hundred behind to keep him safe; ye would have been a proud man, Colonel Graham, when ye came and presented the prisoner to your masters. May I crave of you the right word, for I am only a woman of the country? Would Mr. Henry Pollock have been a prisoner of war—of war?” she repeated with an accent and look of vast contempt.

Never had Claverhouse admired her more than at that moment, for the scorn on her face became her well, and he concluded that it must spring from one of two causes. Most likely, after all, Pollock was her lover.

“'Tis not possible, my Lady Jean,” softening his accent till it was as smooth as velvet, and looking at the girl through half-closed eyes, “to please everyone to whom he owes duty in this poor world. If I had been successful for my master his Majesty the King—I cannot remember the name of any other master—then I would have arrested a rebel and a maker of strife in the land, and doubtless he would have suffered his just punishment. That would have been my part towards the king and towards Mr. Henry Pollock, too, and therein have I for the time failed. To-morrow, Lady Jean, I may succeed.”

“Perhaps,” she said, looking at him from a height, “and perhaps not. And to whom else do you owe a duty, and have you filled it better?”

“I owe a service to a most gracious hostess, and that is to please her in every way I can. Whether by my will or not, I have surely given you satisfaction by allowing Mr. Henry Pollock to escape, instead of bringing him tied with ropes to Paisley Castle. So far as my information goes you may sleep quietly to-night, for he is safe in some rebel's house. Yet I am sorry from my heart,” said Claverhouse, “and I am sorry for your sake, since I make no doubt he will die some day soon, either on the hill or on the scaffold.”

“For my sake?” said Jean, looking at him in amazement. “What have I to do with him more than other women?”

“If I have touched upon a secret thing which ought not to be spoken of, I ask your pardon upon my bended knees. But I was told, it seemed to me from a sure quarter, that there was some love passage between you and Henry Pollock, and that indeed you were betrothed for marriage.”

As Claverhouse spoke the red blood flowed over Jean's face and ebbed as quickly. She looked at Claverhouse steadily, and answered him in a quiet and intense voice, which quivered with emotion.

“Ye were told wrong, then, Claverhouse, for I have never been betrothed to any man, and I shall never be the wife of Henry Pollock. I am not worthy, for he is a saint, and God knows I am not that nor ever likely to be, but only a woman. But I tell you, face to face, that I respect him, suffering for his religion more than those who pursue him unto his death. And when he dies, for his testimony, he will have greater honor than those who have murdered him. But they did me too much grace who betrothed me to Henry Pollock; if I am ever married it will be to more ordinary flesh and blood, and I doubt me”—here her mood changed, and the tension relaxing, she smiled on Claverhouse—“whether it will be to any Covenanter.”

“Lady Jean,” said Claverhouse, with a new light breaking on him, for he began to suspect another cause of her anger, “it concerns me to see you standing while there is this fair seat, and, with your leave, may I sit beside you? Can you give me a few minutes of your time before we part—I to go on my way and you on yours. I hope mine will not bring me again to Paisley Castle, where I am, as the hillmen would say, 'a stumbling-block and an offence.'“ Jean, glancing quickly at him, saw that Claverhouse was not mocking, but speaking with a note of sad sincerity.

“When you said a brief while ago that mine was work without glory, ye said truly. But consider that in this confused and dark world, in which we grope our way like shepherds in a mist, we have to do what lies to our hand, and ask no questions—and the weariness of it is that in the darkness we strike ane another. We know not which be right, and shall not know till the day breaks: we maun just do our duty, and mine, by every drop of my blood, is to the king and the king's side. But mind ye, Lady Jean, it will not be always through the moss-hags—chasing shepherds, ploughmen and sic-like; by and by it will be on the battle-field, when this great quarrel is settled in Scotland. May the day not be far off, and may the richt side win.”

As Claverhouse spoke he leaned back in the corner of the seat and looked into the far distance, while his face lost its changing expressions of cynicism, severity, gracious courtesy and keen scrutiny, and showed a nobility which Jean had never seen before. She noticed how it invested his somewhat effeminate beauty with manliness and dignity.

“That is true”—and Jean's voice grew gentler—“nane kens that better than myself, for nane has been more tossed in mind than I have been. Ilka man, and also woman, must walk the road as they see it before them, and do their part till the end comes; but the roads cross terribly on the muirs in the West Country. If I was uncivil a minute syne I crave your pardon, for that was not my mind. But if rumor be true it matters not to you what any man says, far less my Lady Cochrane's daughter, for ye were made to gang yir ain gait.”

“Ye are wrong there, Lady Jean, far wrong,” Claverhouse suddenly turned round and looked at her with a new countenance. “I will not deny that I am made to be careless about the strife of tongues, and to give little heed whether the world condemns or approves if I do my devoir rightly to my lord the king. But it would touch me to the heart what you thought of me. They say that a woman knows if a man loves her, even though his love be sudden and unlikely, and if that be so, then surely you have seen, as we walked in this pleasaunce those fair evenings, that I have loved you from the moment I saw you in the hall that day. Confess it, Jean, if that be not so. I, with what I heard of Pollock, was bound in honor to be silent.”

“Was Pollock the only bond of honor?” and Jean blazed on him with sudden fury. “Is there no other tie that should keep you from speaking of love to me and offering me insult in my father's house? Is this the chivalry of a Royalist, and am I, Jean Cochrane, to be treated like a light lady of the Court, or some poor lass of the countryside ye can play with at your leisure? Pleased by your notice and then flung aside like a flower ye wore till it withered.”

“Before God, what do ye mean by those words?” They were both standing now, and Graham's face was white as death. “Is the love of John Graham of Claverhouse a dishonor?”

“It is, and so is the love of any man if he be pledged to another woman. Though we go not to Court, think you I have not heard of Helen Graham, the heiress of Monteith, and your courting of her—where, the story goes, ye have been more successful than catching ministers of the kirk? Ye would play with me! I thank God my brother lives, and they say he is no mean swordsman.”

“If it were as you believe, my lady, and I had spoken of love to you when I was betrothed to another woman, then ye did well and worthy of your blood to be angry, and my Lord Cochrane's sword, if it had found its way to my heart, had rid the world of a rascal. Rumor is often wrong, and it has told you false this time. I deny not, since I am on my confession, that I desired to wed Helen Graham, and I will also say freely, though it also be to my shame, that I desired to win her, not only because she was a Graham and a gracious maiden, but because I should obtain rank and power, for I have ever hungered for both, that with them I might serve my cause. My suit did not prosper, so that we were never betrothed, and now I hear she is to be married to Captain Rawdon, the nephew of my Lord Conway. I would have married Helen Graham in her smock if need be, though I say again I craved that title, and I would have been a faithful husband to her. But I have never loved her, nor any other woman before. Love, Jean”—he went on, and they both unconsciously had seated themselves a little apart—“is like the wind spoken of in the Holy Gospel. It bloweth where it listeth, and is not to be explained by reasons. In my coming and going to Court I have seen many fair women, and some of them have smiled on me and tried to take me by the lure of their eyes, but none has ever been so bonnie to me as you, Jean, and your hair of burnished gold. Doubtless I have met holier women than you, though my way has not lain much among the saints, but though one should show me a hundred faults in you, ye are to me to-day the best, and I declare if ye had sinned I would love you for your sins only less than for your virtues. I love you as a man should love a woman: altogether, your fair body from the crown of your head to the sole of your foot, your hair, your eyes, your mouth, your hands, the way you hold your head, the way you walk, your white teeth when you smile, and the dimple on your cheek. Yourself, too, the Jean within that body, with your courage, your pride, your scorn, your temper, your fierce desires, your fiery jealousies, your changing moods. And your passion, with its demands, with its surrenders, with its caresses, with its pain. You, Jean Cochrane, as you are and as you shall be, with all my heart and with all my body, with all my loyalty, next to that I give my king, I love you, Jean.” He leaned towards her as he spoke, and all the passion that was hidden behind his girl face and Court manner—the passion that had made him the most daring of soldiers, and was to make him the most successful of leaders—poured from his eyes, from his lips, from his whole self, like a hot stream, enveloping, overwhelming and captivating her. Strong as she was in will and character, she could not speak nor move, but only looked at him, with eyes wide open, from the midst of the wealth of her golden hair.

[Illustration: She could not speak nor move, but only looked at him. Page 166.]

“Do I not know the sacrifice I am asking if you should consent to be my wife? Jean, I will tell you true: not for my love even and your bonnie self will I lie or palter with my faith. You will have to come to me, I will not go to you; you will have to break with the Covenant, leave your father's house and face your mother's anger, and be denounced by the godly, up and down the land, because ye married the man of blood and the persecutor of the saints. I will not change, ye understand that? No, not for the warm, soft clasp of your white arms round my neck; no, not though ye tie me with the meshes of your shining hair. I judge that ye will not be a temptress, but I give you warning I am no Sampson, in his weakness to a woman's witchery, when it comes to my faith and my duty. I will love you night and day as a man loveth a woman, but I will do what I am told to do, even though it be against your own people, till the evil days be over. And it may be, Jean, that I shall have to lead a hopeless cause. Ye must be willing to give me to death without a grudge, and send me with a kiss to serve the king.

“Can you do this”—and now his voice sank almost to a whisper, and he stretched his hands towards her—“for the sake of love, for love's sake only, for the sight of my face, for the touch of my lips, for the clasp of my arms, for the service of my heart, for myself? If ye should, I will be a true man to you, Jean, till death us do part. I have not been better than other men, but women have never made me play the fool, and even your own folk, who hate me, will tell you that I have been a clean liver. And now I will never touch or look on any other woman in the way of love save you. If I have to leave your side to serve the king, I will return when the work is done, and all the time I am away my love will be returning to you. If you be not in my empty arms, you shall ever be in my heart; if I win honor or wealth, it will now be for you. If I can shelter you from sorrows and trouble, I will do so with my life, and if I die my last thought, after the cause, will be of you, my lady and my love.

“Jean Cochrane, can you trust yourself to me; will you be the wife of John Graham of Claverhouse?”

They had risen as by an instinct, and were facing one another where the light of the setting sun fell softly upon them through the fretted greenery of the beech tree.

“For life, John Graham, and for death,” and as she said “death” he clasped her in his arms. The brown hair mingled with the gold, they looked into one another's eyes, and their lips met in a long, passionate kiss, renewed again and again, as if their souls had flowed together. Then she disentangled herself and stood a pace away, and laying her hands upon his shoulders and looking steadfastly at him, she said: “Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”

The sooner they were married the better pleased John Graham and Jean Cochrane would be, for life in Paisley Castle could not be a paradise for Jean after that betrothal. Three weeks later Claverhouse rode down one Saturday from Edinburgh to Paisley against his marriage day on the following Tuesday. His love for Jean had steadily grown during those days, and now was in a white heat of anticipation, for she was no nun, but a woman to stir a man's senses. Yet there were many things to chasten and keep him sober. No sooner was it known that he was to marry Lady Cochrane's daughter and the granddaughter of Lord Cassillis than his rivals in the high places of Scotland and at Whitehall did their best to injure him, setting abroad stories that he was no longer loyal, and that in future he would play into the hands of the enemy. His young wife would certainly get round him and shake his integrity, and it would not be wise to trust Claverhouse with secrets of grave affairs. It was prophesied that this amazing and incongruous marriage, the mating of opposites, would only work ruin to his career, and that indeed this was the beginning of the end for Claverhouse. Lady Cochrane, raging like a fiend in Paisley Castle, did not fail, in the interludes of invective against her daughter for disgracing their good name and giving herself into the hands of the cruelest enemy of the kirk, to remind Jean also that she was doing the worst injury to the man she professed to love, and that in the end Claverhouse would be twice damned—for his sin against the Covenanters and for his disloyalty to his own cause. Jean was, of all women, most capable of holding her own even with her masterful mother, and Claverhouse was perfectly confident that neither Lady Cochrane nor her family would be able to shake Jean's fidelity. But there were times, and they were her bitterest hours, when Jean was not sure whether she had not done selfishly and was not going to satisfy her love at the expense of her lover. On his part, he could not help being anxious, for it seemed as if every man of his own party had turned his hand against him. With all his severity, Claverhouse had a just mind, and he offended Queensberry by protesting against the severity of the law; while the Duke of Perth, an unprincipled vagabond, ready to play traitor to either king or religion, hated Claverhouse because he was an honorable man. Claverhouse thought it necessary to write to the Duke of York, explaining the circumstances of his marriage and assuring him of his continued loyalty, and to the Duke of Hamilton, whose daughter was to be married to young Lord Cochrane, testifying to the integrity of Jean. “For the young lady herself, I shall answer for her. Had she been right principled she would never in despyt of her mother and relations made choyse of a persecutor, as they call me. So, whoever think to misrepresent me on that head will find themselves mistaken; for both the king and the church's interest, dryve as fast as they think fit, they will never see me behind.”

Lord Dundonald himself was pleased because the marriage secured Claverhouse's influence, and so were his personal friends, such as Lord Ross, who knew and admired Jean; Claverhouse could not hide from himself, however, that the world judged the marriage an irreparable mistake, and Grimond, so far as he dared—but he had now to be very careful—rubbed salt into the wound. All the omens were against them, and when on the Sunday Claverhouse sat beside his bride in the Abbey church, the people gave them a cold countenance, and as they went up the street true Presbyterians turned their faces from Claverhouse. The marriage service was performed in the gallery of the castle, and the minister officiating was one who had taken the indulgence and was avoided by the stricter people of the kirk. The contract was signed by Lord Dundonald and the old countess with weak and feeble hands, but the bride and bridegroom placed their names with strong and unhesitating characters. Lord Ross stood beside his commanding officer as best man, and young Lord Cochrane was also present, full of good-will and sympathy, for was he not himself about to marry the daughter of the Duke of Hamilton? But neither Dundonald's weakly approval nor the gayety of the young men could lift the shadow that fell within and without, both in the gallery and in the courtyard of the castle, upon the marriage of Claverhouse and Jean Cochrane. News had come two days before that there had been a rising among the Covenanters, and Claverhouse was ordered to pursue them with his cavalry. His regiment was in the district, and while the service was going on in the castle, his horse was saddled in the courtyard, and a guard of troopers were making ready to start. The sound of the champing of bits and the clinking of spurs came up through the quiet summer air and mingled with the prayer of the minister. Lady Cochrane was not supposed to be present, but when the minister asked if anyone could show just cause why this marriage should not be performed, she appeared suddenly from an alcove where she had been sheltered behind the servants. Stepping forward, she said, with an unfaltering voice, vibrant with solemn indignation, “In the name of God and in my own, I, the mother of Jean Cochrane, forbid this marriage, because she is marrying against my will, and joining herself to the persecutor of God's people; because she is turning herself against her father's house and forsaking the faith of her father's God.” The minister paused for a moment, for he was a quiet man and stood in awe of Lady Cochrane; he looked anxiously at the bride and bridegroom. “I have made my choice,” said Jean, “and I adhere to it with my mind and heart,” and Claverhouse, with a smile and bow, bade the minister do his duty. When they were married there was a moment's stillness, during which the bridegroom kissed the bride, and then Lady Cochrane spoke again. “Ye have gone your own way and done your own will, John Graham and Jean Cochrane, and the curse of God's kirk and of a mother goes with you. The veil is lifted from before my eyes, and I prophesy that neither the bridegroom nor the bride will die in their beds. There are those here present who will witness one day that I have spoken true.”

Claverhouse led his bride to the wing of the castle, where she lived, and from which she could look down on the courtyard. At the door of her room he kissed her again and bade her good-by. “This is what ye have got, Jean, by marrying me,” and his smile was dashed with sadness. Two minutes later he rode out from the courtyard of the castle to hunt the people of Lady Cochrane's faith, while her daughter and his bride waved him God speed from her window.

BOOK III

CHAPTER I. ONE FEARLESS MAN

Above the town of Dundee, and built to command the place, stood, at the date of our tale, Dudhope Castle, a good specimen of Scots architecture, which in its severity and strength is, like architecture everywhere, the physical incarnation of national creed and character. The hardness of Dudhope was softened in those days by what was not usual in the case of keeps and other warlike buildings, for Dudhope was set in the midst of sloping fields where cattle browsed, and had also round it rising plantations of wood. Before the castle there was a terrace, and from it one looked down upon the little town, nestling under the shelter of the castle, and across the Firth of Tay to Fifeshire, where so much Scots history had been made. It was to Dudhope Claverhouse brought his bride, after that stormy honeymoon which she had to spend under the shadow of her mother's hot displeasure in Paisley Castle, and he occupied with the weary hunt of Covenanters up and down the West Country. Their wedding day was the 10th of June, but it was not till August that Claverhouse and his wife came home to Dudhope. Since then four years have passed, during which the monotony of his duty in hunting Covenanters had been relieved by the office of Provost of Dundee, in which it is said he ruled severely, and the sameness of Jean's life at Dudhope by a visit to the Court of London, where she produced a vast impression, and was said to have been adored in the highest quarter. There were hours when she felt very lonely, although she would not have confessed this, being a woman of invincible spirit and fortified by the courage of her love. She never knew when her husband would be called away for one of his hunts, and though there were many Loyalist families in Forfarshire, it was not a time for easy social intercourse, and Jean was conscious that the Carnegies and the rest of them of the old Cavalier stock looked askance at her, and suspected the black Covenanting taint in her blood. Claverhouse, like a faithful gentleman, had done his best to conceal from her the injury which his marriage had done him, but she knew that his cunning and bitter enemy, the Duke of Queensberry, had constantly insinuated into the mind of the Duke of York and various high personages in London that no one who had married Lady Cochrane's daughter could, in the nature of things, be perfectly loyal. It was really for this love that he had lost the post of commander-in-chief in Scotland, to which he was distinctly entitled, and had experienced the insult of having his name removed from the Scots Council. It might be her imagination, but it seemed as if his fellow officers and other friends, whom she met from time to time, were not at ease with her. She was angry when they refrained from their customary frank expressions about her mother's party, just as she would have been angry if they had said the things they were accustomed to say in her presence. Claverhouse assured her on those happy days when he was living at Dudhope, and when they could be lovers among the woods there, as they had been in the pleasaunce at Paisley Castle, that he never regretted his choice, and that she was the inspiration of his life. It was pleasant to hear him repeat his love vows, with a passion as hot and words as moving as in the days of their courtship, and the very contrast between his unbending severity as a soldier and his grace as a lover made him the more fascinating to a woman who was herself of the lioness breed. All the same, she could not forget that Claverhouse would have done better for himself if he had married into one of the great Scots houses of his own party—and there were few in which he would not have been welcome—and that indeed he could not have done much worse for his future than in marrying her. It was a day of keen rivalry among the Royalists, and a more unprincipled and disreputable gang than the king's Scots ministers could not be found in any land; indeed Claverhouse was the only man of honor amongst them. His battle to hold his own and achieve his legitimate ambition was very hard, and certainly he needed no handicap. Jean Graham was haunted with the reflection that Claverhouse's wife, instead of being a help, was a hindrance to her husband, and that if it were not for the burden of her Covenanting name, he would have climbed easily to the highest place. Nor could she relish the change of attitude of the common people towards her, and the difference in atmosphere between Paisley and Dundee. Once she had been accustomed to receive a respectful, though it might be awkward, salutation from the dour West Country folk, and to know that, though in her heart she was not in sympathy with them, the people in the town, where her mother reigned supreme, felt kindly towards her, as the daughter of that godly Covenanting lady. In Dundee, where the ordinary people sided with the Presbyterians and only the minority were with the Bishops, men turned away their faces when she passed through the place, and the women cried “Bloody Claverse!” as she passed. She knew without any word of abuse that both she and her husband were bitterly hated, because he was judged a persecutor and she a renegade. They were two of the proudest people in Scotland, but although Claverhouse gave no sign that he cared for the people's loathing, she often suspected that he felt it, being a true Scots gentleman, and although Jean pretended to despise Covenanting fanaticism, she would rather have been loved by the folk round her than hated. While she declared to Graham that her deliverance from her mother's party, with their sermons, their denunciations, their narrowness and that horrible Covenant, had been a passage from bondage to liberty, there were times, as she paced the terrace alone and looked out on the gray sea of the east coast, when the contradictory circumstances of her life beset her and she was troubled. When she was forced to listen to the interminable harangues of hill preachers, sheltering for a night in the castle, and day by day was resisting the domination of her mother, her mind rose in revolt against the Presbyterians and all their ways. When she was among men who spoke of those hillmen as if they were vermin to be trapped, and as if no one had breeding or honor or intelligence or sincerity except the Cavaliers, she was again goaded into opposition. Jean had made her choice both of her man and of her cause—for they went together—with her eyes open, and she was not a woman to change again, nor to vex herself with vain regrets. It was rather her nature to decide once for all, and then to throw herself without reserve into her cause, and to follow without question her man through good report and ill, through right, and, if need be, wrong. Yet she was a shrewd and high-minded woman, and not one of those fortunate fanatics who can see nothing but good on one side, and nothing but ill on the other. Life had grown intolerable in her mother's house, and Jean had not in her the making of a convinced and thoroughgoing Covenanter, and in going over to the other party, she had, on the whole, fulfilled herself, as well as found a mate of the same proud spirit. But she was honest enough to admit to herself that those Ayrshire peasants were dying for conscience' sake, though she might think it a narrow conscience, and were sincere in their piety, though she might think it an unattractive religion. And she could not shut her eyes to the fact that there was little glory in shooting them down like muirfowl, or that the men of Claverhouse's side were too often drunken and evil-living bravos.

Jean was feeling the situation in its acuteness that evening as she read for the third time a letter which had come from Edinburgh by the hands of Grimond. At the sight of the writing her pulse quickened, and Grimond marked, with jealous displeasure (for that impracticable Scot never trusted Jean), the flush of love upon her cheek and its joy in her eyes. She now drew the letter from her bosom, and this is what she read, but in a different spelling from ours and with some slight differences in construction, all of which have been translated:

  SWEETHEART: It is my one trouble when I must leave you, and save
  when I am engaged on the king's work my every thought is with you,
  for indeed it appeareth to me that if I loved you with strong
  desire on the day of our marriage, I love you more soul and body
  this day. When another woman speaks to me in the daytime, though
  they say that she is fair, her beauty coming into comparison with
  your's, is disparaged, beside the sheen of your hair and the
  richness of your lips, and though she may have a pleasant way with
  men, as they tell me, she hath no lure for me, as I picture you
  throw back your head and look at me with eyes that challenge my
  love. When the night cometh, and the task of the day is done, I
  hold you in my embrace, the proudest woman in Scotland, and you
  say again, as on that day in the pleasaunce, “For life, John
  Graham, and for death.”

  It has not been easy living for you, Jean, since that marriage-day,
  when the trumpets were our wedding-bells, and your mother's curse
  our benediction, and I take thought oftentimes that it has been
  harder for thee, Sweetheart, than for me. I had the encounters
  of the field with open enemies and of the Council with false
  friends, but thou hast had the loneliness of Dudhope, when I was
  not there to caress you and kiss away your cares. Faithful have
  you been to the cause, and to me, and I make boast that I have not
  been unfaithful myself to either, but the sun has not been always
  shining on our side of the hedge and there have been some chill
  blasts. Yet they have ever driven us closer into one another's arms,
  and each coming home, if it has been like the first from the work of
  war, has been also like it a new marriage-day. Say you is it not
  true, Sweetheart, we be still bridegroom and bride, and shall be
  to the end?

  When I asked you to be my wife, Jean, I told you that love even
  for you would not hinder me from doing the king's work, but
  this matter I have had on hand in Edinburgh has tried me
  sorely,—though one in the Council would guess at my heart. I have
  also the fear that it will vex you greatly. Mayhap you have
  heard, for such news flies fast, that we lighted upon Henry
  Pollock and a party of his people last week. They were going
  to some preaching and were taken unawares, and we captured
  them all, not without blows and blood. Pollock himself fought as
  ye might expect, like a man without fear, and was wounded. I saw
  that his cuts were bound up, and that he had meat and drink. We
  brought him on horseback to Edinburgh, treating him as well as we
  could, for while I knew what the end would be, and that he
  sought no other, I do not deny that he is an honest man and I do
  not forget that he loved you. Yesterday he was tried before the
  Council, and I gave strong evidence against him. Upon my word
  it was that he was declared guilty of rebellion against the king's
  authority, and was condemned to death. None other could I do,
  Jean, for he that spared so dangerous and stalwart an enemy as
  Pollock, is himself a traitor, but when the Council were fain
  to insult him I rebuked them sharply and told them to their
  face that among them there was no spirit so clean and brave.
  This morning he was executed and since there was a fear lest
  the people who have greatly loved him should attempt to rescue, I
  was present with two troops of horse. It needeth not me to tell
  you that he died well, bidding farewell to earth and welcome to
  heaven in words I cannot forget, tho' they sounded strange to me.
  Sweetheart, I will say something boldly in thine ear. I have had
  little time to think of heaven and little desire for such a
  place, but I would count myself fortunate if in the hour of death
  I were as sure of winning there as Henry Pollock. So he died
  for his side, and I helped him to his death; some day I may die
  for my side, and his friends will help me to my death. It is a
  dark day and a troubled nation. Henry Pollock and John Graham
  have both been thorough. God is our judge, wha kens but He may
  accept us baith? But I cannot deny he was a saint, as ye once
  said of him, and that I shall never be, neither shall you, Jean
  Graham, my love and my heart's delight

  This is sore writing to me, but I would rather ye had it from my
  hand than from another's, and I fear me ye will hear bitter words
  in Dundee of what has been done. This is the cup we have to drink
  and worse things may yet be coming, for I have the misgiving that
  black danger is at hand and that the king will have to fight for
  his crown. Before long, if I be not a false prophet, my old
  general, the Prince of Orange, will do his part to wrest the
  throne from his own wife's father. If he does the crown will not
  be taken without one man seeing that other crowns be broken, but I
  fear me, Jean, I fear greatly. In Scotland the king's chief
  servants be mostly liars and cowards, seeking every man after his
  own interest, with the heart of Judas Iscariot, and in London I
  doubt if they be much better. These be dreary news, and I wish to
  heaven I had better to send thee. This I can ever give, unless ye
  answer me that it is yours before, the love of my inmost heart
  till I am able to give you it in the kiss of my lips, with your
  arms again flung about me, as on that day. Till our meeting and
  for evermore, my dearest lady and only Sweetheart first and last,
  I am your faithful lover and servant,

                     JOHN GRAHAM.

So it had come to pass as she had often feared, that Pollock would die by Claverhouse's doing, and now she had not been a woman if her heart were not divided that evening between her lovers, although she had no hesitation either then or in the past about her preference. Jean knew she was not made to be the wife of an ascetic, but never could she forget the look in Pollock's eyes when he told her of his love, nor cease to be proud that he had done her the chief honor a man can render to a woman. She knew then, and she knew better to-day, that she had never loved Pollock, and never indeed could have loved him as a woman loves her husband. But she revered him then, and he would have forever a place in her heart like the niche given to a saint, and she hoped that his prayers for her—for she knew he would intercede for her—would be answered in the highest. Nor could she refrain from the comparison between Pollock and Graham. In some respects they were so like one another, both being men of ancient blood and high tradition, both carrying themselves without shame and without fear, both being fanatics—the one for religion and the other for loyalty—and, it might be, both alike to be martyrs for their faith. And so unlike—the one unworldly, spiritual, and, save in self-defence, gentle and meek; the other charged with high ambition, fond of power, ready for battle, gracious in gay society, passionate in love. Who had the better of it in the fight—her debonair husband, with his body-guard of dragoons, striking down and capturing a minister and a handful of shepherds, or that pure soul, who lived preaching and praying, and was willing to die praying and fighting against hopeless odds? She had cast in her lot with the Royalists, but it came over her that in the eternal justice Pollock, dying on the scaffold, was already victor, and Graham, who sent him there, was already the loser. If it had been cruel writing for Claverhouse, it was cruel reading for his wife, and yet, when she had read it over again, the passage on Pollock faded away as if it had been spiritualized and no longer existed for the earthly sense. She only lingered over the words of devotion and passion, and when she kissed again and again his signature she knew that whether he was to win or to be beaten, whether he was right or wrong, angel or devil—and he was neither—she belonged with her whole desire to Claverhouse.

Claverhouse's letter to his wife was written in May, and by October his gloomy forebodings regarding the king were being verified. During the autumn William of Orange had been preparing to invade England, and it was freely said he would come on the invitation of the English people and as the champion of English liberty. From the beginning of the crisis James was badly advised, and showed neither nerve nor discernment, and among other foolish measures was the withdrawal of the regular troops from Scotland and their concentration at London. From London James made a feeble campaign in the direction of the west, and Claverhouse, who was in command of the Scots Cavalry, and whose mind was torn between contempt for the feebleness of the military measures and impatience to be at the enemy, wrote to Jean, sending her, as it seemed to be his lot, mixed news of honor and despair.

  For the fair hands of the Viscountess of Dundee, and Lady Graham
  of Claverhouse.

  MY DEAREST LADY: If I have to send ye evil tidings concerning the
  affairs of the king, which can hardly be worse, let me first
  acquaint you with the honor His Majesty has bestowed upon me, and
  which I count the more precious because it bringeth honor to her
  who is dearer to me than life, and who has suffered much trouble
  through me. Hitherto our marriage has meant suffering of many
  kinds for my Sweetheart, though I am fain to believe there has
  been more consolation in our love, but now it is charged with the
  King's favor and high dignity in the State. Whatever it be worth
  for you and me, and however long or short I be left to enjoy it, I
  have been made a Peer of Scotland by the titles written above, and
  what I like best in the matter, is that the peerage has been
  given—so it runs, and no doubt a woman loves to read such things
  of her man—for “Many good and eminent services rendered to His
  Majesty, and his dearest Royal brother, King Charles II, by his
  right trusty and well-beloved Councilor, Major-General John Graham
  of Claverhouse; together with his constant loyalty and firm
  adherence upon all occasions to the true interests of the crown.”
  Whatever befalls me it pleases me that the king knows I have been
  loyal and that he is grateful for one faithful servant. So I kiss
  the hand of my Lady Viscountess and were I at Dudhope I might
  venture upon her lips, aye, more than once.

  When I leave myself and come unto the King I have nothing to tell
  but what fills me with shame and fear. It was not good policy to
  call the troops from Scotland, where we could have held the land
  for the King, but one had not so much regret if we had been
  allowed to strike a blow against the Usurper. Had there been a
  heart in my Lord Feversham—it hurts me to reflect on the
  King—then the army should have made a quick march into the West,
  gathering round it all the loyal gentlemen, and struck a blow at
  the Prince before he had established himself in the land. By God's
  help we had driven him and his Dutchmen, and the traitors who have
  flocked to him, into the sea. But it is with a sore heart I tell
  thee, tho' this had better be kept to thy secret council, that
  there seemeth to be neither wisdom nor courage amongst us. His
  Majesty has been living in the Bishop's Palace, and does nothing
  at the time, when to strike quickly is to strike for ever.
  Officers in high place are stealing away like thieves, and others
  who remain are preaching caution, by which they mean safety for
  themselves and their goods. “Damn all caution,” say I, to
  Feversham and the rest of them, “let us into the saddle and
  forward, let us strike hard and altogether, for the King and our
  cause!” If we win it will be a speedy end to rebellion and another
  Sedgemoor; if we are defeated, and I do not despise the Scots
  Brigade with Hugh MacKay, we shall fall with honor and not be a
  scorn to coming generations. For myself, were it not for thee,
  Jean, I should crave no better end than to fall in a last charge
  for the King and the good cause. As it is, unless God put some
  heart into our leaders, the army will melt away like snow upon a
  dyke in the springtime, and William will have an open road to
  London and the throne of England. He may have mair trouble and see
  some bloodshed before he lays his hand on the auld crown of
  Scotland. When I may get awa to the North countrie I know not yet,
  but whether I be in the South, where many are cowards and some are
  traitors, or in the North, where the clans at least be true, and
  there be also not a few loyal Lowland Cavaliers, my love is ever
  with thee, dear heart, and warm upon my breast lies the lock of
  your golden hair.

                     Yours till death,

                     DUNDEE.

God was not pleased to reënforce the king's advisers, and his cause fell rapidly to pieces. Claverhouse withdrew the Scots Cavalry to the neighborhood of London, and wore out his heart in the effort to put manhood into his party, which was now occupied in looking after their own interests in the inevitable revolution. And again Claverhouse, or, as we should call him, Dundee, wrote to Jean:

  DEAREST AND BRAVEST OF WOMEN: Were ye not that, as I know well, I
  had no heart in me to write this letter, for I have no good thing
  to tell thee about the cause of the King and it seems to me
  certain that, for the time at least, England is lost. I am now in
  London, and the days are far harder for me than when I campaigned
  with the Usurper, and fought joyfully at Seneffe and Grave. It is
  ill to contain oneself when a man has to go from one to another of
  his comrades and ask him for God's sake and the King's sake to
  play the man. Then to get nothing but fair and false words, and to
  see the very officers that hold the King's commission shuffling
  and lying, with one eye on King James and the other on the Prince
  of Orange. Had I my way of it I would shoot a dozen of the
  traitors to encourage the others. But the King is all for
  peace—peace, forsooth! when his enemies are at the door of the
  palace. What can one man do against so many, and a King too
  tolerant and good-natured—God forgive me, I had almost written
  too weak? It is not for me to sit in judgment on my Sovereign, but
  some days ago I gave my mind to Hamilton in his own lodgings,
  where Balcarres and certain of us met to take council. There were
  hot words, and no good came of it. Balcarres alone is staunch, and
  yesterday he went with me to Whitehall and we had our last word
  for the present with the King. He was gracious unto us, as he has
  ever been to me when his mind was not poisoned by Queensberry or
  Perth, and ye might care to know, Jean, what your man, much
  daring, said to His Majesty: “We have come, Sir, to ask a favor of
  your Majesty, and that ye will let us do a deed which will waken
  the land and turn the tide of affairs. Have we your permission to
  cause the drums to be beat of every regiment in London and the
  neighbourhood, for if ye so consent there will be twenty thousand
  men ready to start to-morrow morning. Before to-morrow night the
  road to London will be barred, and, please God, before a week is
  over your throne will be placed beyond danger.” For a space I
  think he was moved and then the life went out of him, and he sadly
  shook his head. “It is too late,” he said, “too late, and the
  shedding of blood would be vain.” But I saw he was not displeased
  with us, and he signified his pleasure that we should walk with
  him in the Mall. Again I dared to entreat him not to leave his
  capital without a stroke, and in my soul I wondered that he could
  be so enduring. Had it been your man, Jean, he had been at the
  Prince's throat before the Dutchman had been twenty-four hours in
  England. But who am I to reflect upon my King? and I will say it,
  that he spake words to me I can never forget. “You are brave men,”
  said the King, and, though he be a cold man, I saw that he was
  touched, “and if there had been twenty like you among the officers
  and nobles, things had not come to this pass. Ye can do nothing
  more in England, and for myself I have resolved to go to France,
  for if I stayed here I would be a prisoner, and there is but a
  short road between the prison and the graves of Kings. To you,” he
  said to Balcarres, “I leave the charge of civil affairs in
  Scotland,” and, then turning to me, “You, Lord Dundee, who ought
  before to have had this place, but I was ill-advised, shall be
  commander of the troops in Scotland. Do for your King what God
  gives you to do, and he pledges his word to aid you by all means
  in his power, and in the day of victory to reward you.” We knelt
  and kissed his hand, and so for the time, heaven grant it be not
  forever, bade goodbye to our Sovereign. As I walked down the Mall
  I saw a face I seemed to know, and the man, whoever he was, made a
  sign that he would speak with me. I turned aside and found to my
  amazement that the stranger, who was not in uniform, and did not
  court observation, was Captain Carlton, who served with me in the
  Prince's army and of whom ye may have heard me speak. A good
  soldier and a fair-minded gentleman, tho' of another way of
  thinking from me. After a brief salutation he told me that the
  Prince was already in London and had taken up his quarters at Zion
  House.

  “Then,” said I to him, “it availeth nothing for some of us to
  remain in London, it were better that we should leave quickly.”
  “It might or it might not be,” he replied, being a man of few and
  careful words, “but before you go there is a certain person who
  desires to have a word with you. If it be not too much toil will
  you lay aside your military dress, and come with me this evening
  as a private gentleman to Zion House?” Then I knew that he had
  come from the Prince, and altho' much tossed in my mind as to what
  was right to do, I consented, and ye will be astonished, Jean, to
  hear what happened.

  There was none present at my audience, and I contented myself with
  bowing when I entered his presence, for your husband is not made
  to kiss the hands of one king in the morning and of another in the
  evening of the same day. The Prince, for so I may justly call him,
  expected none otherwise, and, according to his custom—I have
  often spoken of his silence—said at once, “My lord,” for he knows
  everything as is his wont, “it has happened as I prophesied, you
  are on one side and I am on another, and you have been a faithful
  servant to your master, as I told him you would be. If it had been
  in your power, I had not come so easily to this place, for the
  council you gave to the King has been told to me. All that man can
  do, ye have done, and now you may, like other officers, take
  service in the army under my command.” Whereupon I told the Prince
  that our house had never changed sides, and he would excuse me
  setting the example. He seemed prepared for this answer, and then
  he said, “You purpose, my lord, to return to Scotland, and I shall
  not prevent you, but I ask that ye stir not up useless strife and
  shed blood in vain, for the end is certain.” I will not deny,
  Jean, that I was moved by his words, for he is a strong man, and
  has men of the same kind with him. So far I went as to say that
  if duty did not compell me I would not trouble the land. More I
  could not promise, and I reckon there is not much in that promise,
  for I will never see the Prince of Orange made King of Scotland
  with my sword in its sheath. If there be any other way out of it,
  I have no wish to set every man's hand against his neighbour's in
  Scotland. He bowed to me and I knew that the audience was over,
  and when I left Zion House, my heart was sore that my King was not
  as wise and resolute as this foreign Prince. The second sight has
  been given to me to-day, and, dear heart, I see the shroud rising
  till it reaches the face, but whose face I cannot see. What I have
  to do, I cannot see either, but in a few days I shall be in
  Edinburgh, with as many of my horse as I can bring. If peace be
  consistent with honor then ye will see me soon in Dudhope for
  another honeymoon, but if it is to be war my lot is cast, and,
  while my hand can hold it, my sword belongs to the King. But my
  heart, sweet love, is thine till it ceases to beat.

                     Yours always and altogether,

                     DUNDEE.

CHAPTER II. THE CRISIS

Early springtime is cruel on the east coast of Scotland, and it was a bitter morning in March when Dundee took another of his many farewells before he left his wife to attend the Convention at Edinburgh. It was only a month since he had come down from London, disheartened for the moment by the treachery of Royalists and the timidity of James, and he had found relief in administrating municipal affairs as Provost of Dundee. If it had been possible in consistence with his loyalty to the Jacobite cause, and the commission he had received from James, Dundee would have gladly withdrawn from public life and lived quietly with his wife. He was an ambitious man, and of stirring spirit, but none knew better the weakness of his party, and no one on his side had been more shamefully treated. It had been his lot to leave his bride on their marriage day, and now it would be harder to leave her at a time when every husband desires to be near his wife. But the summons to be present at the Convention had come, and its business was to decide who should be King of Scotland, for though William had succeeded to the throne of England, James still reigned in law over the northern kingdom. Dundee could not be absent at the deposition of his king and the virtual close of the Stuart dynasty. As usual he would be one of a beaten party, or perhaps might stand alone; it was not his friends but his enemies who were calling him to Edinburgh, and the chances were that the hillmen would settle their account with him by assassination. His judgment told him that his presence in Edinburgh would be fruitless, and his heart held him to his home. Yet day after day he put off his going. It was now the thirteenth of March, and to-morrow the Convention would meet, and if he were to go he must go quickly. He had been tossed in mind and troubled in heart, but the instinct of obedience to duty which Graham had obeyed through good report and evil, without reserve, and without scruple, till he had done not only the things he ought to have done, but many things also which he ought not to have done, finally triumphed. He had told Jean that morning that he must leave. His little escort of troopers were saddling their horses, and in half an hour they would be on the road, the dreary, hopeless road it was his fate to be ever travelling. Jean and he were saying their last words before this new adventure, for they both knew that every departure might be the final parting. They were standing at the door, and nothing could be grayer than their outlook. For a haar had come up from the sea, as is common on the east coast, and the cold and dripping mist blotted out the seascape; it hid the town of Dundee, which lay below Dudhope, and enveloped the castle in its cold garments, like a shroud, and chilled Graham and his wife to the very bone.

“Ye will acknowledge, John, that I have never hindered you when the call came.” As she spoke Jean took his flowing hair in her hand, and he had never seen her so gentle before, for indeed she could not be called a soft or tender woman.

“Ye told me what would be the way of life for us, and it has been what ye said, and I have not complained. But this day I wish to God that ye could have stayed, for when my hour comes, and it is not far off, ye ken I will miss you sairly. Other women have their mothers with them in that strait, but for me there is none; naebody but strangers. If ony evil befall thee, John, it will go ill with me, and I have in my keeping the hope of your house. Can ye no bide quietly here with me and let them that have the power do as they will in Edinburgh? No man of your own party has ever thanked you for anything ye did, and if my mother's people do their will by you, I shall surely die and the child with me. And that will be the end of the House of Dundee. Must ye go and leave me?” And now her arm was round him, and with the other hand she caressed his face, while her warm bosom pressed against his cold, hard cuirass.

“Queensberry, for the liar he always was, said ye would be my Delilah, Jean, but that I knew was not in you,” said Dundee, smiling sadly and stroking the proud head, which he had never seen bowed before.

“You are, I believe in my soul, the bravest woman in Scotland, and I wish to God the men on our side had only had the heart of my Lady Dundee. With a hundred men and your spirit in them, Jean, we had driven William of Orange into the sea, or, at the worst, we should certainly save Scotland for the king. Well and bravely have ye stood by me since our marriage day, and if I had ever consulted my own safety or sought after private ends, I believe ye would have been the first to cry shame upon me. Surely ye have been a true soldier's wife, and ye are the same this morning, and braver even than on our wedding day.

“Do not make little of yourself, Jean, because your heart is sore and ye canna keep back the tears. It is not given to a man to understand what a woman feels in your place but I am trying to imagine, and my love is suffering with you, sweetheart. I do pity you, and I could weep with you, but tears are strange to my eyes—God made me soft without and hard within—and I have a better medicine to help you than pity.” Still he was caressing her, but she felt his body straightening within the armor.

“When ye prophesy that the fanatics of the west will be at me in Edinburgh, I suspect ye are right, but I pray you not to trouble yourself overmuch. They have shot at me before with leaden bullets and with silver, trying me first as a man and next as a devil, but no bullet touched me, and now if they fall back upon the steel there are two or three trusty lads with me who can use the sword fairly well, and though your husband be not a large man, Jean, none has had the better of him when it came to sword-play. So cheer up, lass, for I may fall some day, but it will not be at the hands of a skulking Covenanter in a street brawl.

“But if this should come to pass, Jean—and the future is known only to God—then I beseech you that ye be worthy of yourself, and show them that ye are my Lady Dundee. If I fall, then ye must live, and take good care that the unborn child shall live, too, and if he be a boy—as I am sure he will be—then ye have your life-work. Train him up in the good faith and in loyalty to the king; tell him how Montrose fought for the good cause and died for it, and how his own father followed in the steps of the Marquis. Train him for the best life a man can live and make him a soldier, and lay upon him from his youth that ye will not die till he has avenged his father's murder. That will be worthy of your blood and your rank, aye, and the love which has been between us, Jean Cochrane and John Graham.”

She held him in her arms till the very breastplate was warm, and she kissed him twice upon the lips. Then she raised herself to her full height—and she was as tall as Graham—and looking proudly at him, she said:

“Ye have put strength into me, as if the iron which covers your breast had passed into my blood. Ye go to-day with my full will to serve the king, and God protect and prosper you, my husband and my Lord Dundee.”

For a space the heat of Jean's high courage cheered her husband's heart, but as the day wore on, and hour by hour he rode through the cold gray mist which covered Fife, the temperature of his heart began to correspond with the atmosphere. While Dundee had always carried himself bravely before men, and had kept his misgivings to himself, and seemed the most indifferent of gay Cavaliers, he had really been a modest and diffident man. From the first he had had grave fears of the success of his cause, and more than doubts about the loyalty of his comrades. He was quite prepared not only for desperate effort, but for final defeat. No man could say he had embarked on the royal service from worldly ends, and now, if he had been a shrewd Lowland Scot, he had surely consulted his safety and changed his side, as most of his friends were doing. Graham did not do this for an imperative reason—because he had been so made that he could not. There are natures which are not consciously dishonest or treacherous, but which are flexible and accommodating. They are open to the play of every influence, and are sensitive to environment; they are loyal when others are loyal, but if there be a change in spirit round them they immediately correspond, and they do so not from any selfish calculation, but merely through a quick adaptation to environment. People of this kind find themselves by an instinct on the winning side, but they would be mightily offended if they were charged with being opportunists. They are at each moment thoroughly convinced of their integrity, and are ever on the side which commends itself to their judgment; if it happens to be the side on which the sun is shining, that is a felicitous accident. There are other natures, narrower possibly and more intractable, whose chief quality is a thoroughgoing and masterful devotion, perhaps to a person, perhaps to a cause. Once this devotion is given, it can never be changed by any circumstance except the last and most inexcusable treachery, and then it will be apt to turn into a madness of hatred which nothing will appease. There is no optimism in this character, very often a clear-sighted and painful acceptance of facts; faults are distinctly seen and difficulties are estimated at their full strength, sacrifice is discounted, and defeat is accepted. But the die is cast, and for weal or woe—most likely woe—they must go on their way and fight the fight to the end. This was the mould in which Dundee was cast, the heir of shattered hopes, and the descendant of broken men, the servant of a discredited and condemned cause. He faced the reality, and knew that he had only one chance out of a hundred of success; but it never entered his mind to yield to circumstances and accept the new situation. There was indeed a moment when he would have been willing, not to change his service, but to sheathe his sword and stand apart. That moment was over, and now he had bidden his wife good-by and was riding through the cold gray mist to do his weary, hopeless best for an obstinate, foolish, impracticable king, and to put some heart, if it were possible, into a dwindling handful of unprincipled, self-seeking, double-minded men. The day was full of omens, and they were all against him. Twice a hare ran across the road, and Grimond muttered to himself as he rode behind his master, “The ill-faured beast.” As they passed through Glenfarg, a raven followed them for a mile, croaking weirdly. A trooper's horse stumbled and fell, and the man had to be left behind, insensible. When they halted for an hour at Kinross it spread among the people who they were, and they were watched by hard, unsympathetic faces. The innkeeper gave them what they needed, but with ill grace, and it was clear that only fear of Dundee prevented him refusing food both to man and beast. When they left a crowd had gathered, and as they rode out from the village a voice cried: “Woe unto the man of blood—a double woe! He goeth, but he shall not return, his doom is fixed.” An approving murmur from the hearers showed what the Scots folk thought of John Graham. Grimond would fain have turned and answered this Jeremiah and his chorus with a touch of the sword, but his commander forbade him sharply. “We have other men to deal with,” he said to Grimond, “than country fanatics, and our work is before us in Edinburgh.” But he would not have been a Scot if he had been indifferent to signs, and this raven-croak the whole day long rang in his heart. The sun struggled for a little through the mist, and across Loch Leven they saw on its island the prison-house of Mary. “Grimond,” said Graham, “there is where they kept her, and by this road she went out on her last hopeless ride, and we follow her, Jock. But not to a prison, ye may stake your soul on that. It was enough that one Graham should die upon a scaffold. The next will die in the open field.”

It was late when they reached Edinburgh, and a murky night when they rode up Leith Wynd; the tall houses of Edinburgh hung over them; the few lights struggled against the thick, enveloping air. Figures came out of one dark passage, and disappeared into another. A body of Highlanders, in the Campbell tartan, for a moment blocked the way. Twice they were cursed by unknown voices, and when Claverhouse reached his lodging someone called out his name, and added: “The day of vengeance is at hand. The blood of John Brown crieth from the altar!” And Grimond kept four troopers on guard all night.

The next night Claverhouse and Balcarres were closeted together, the only men left to consult for the royal cause, and both knew what was going to be the issue.

“There is no use blinding our eyes, Balcarres,” said Graham, “or feeding our hearts with vain hopes, the Convention is for the Prince of Orange, and is done with King James. The men who kissed his hand yesterday, when he was in power, and would have licked his feet if that had got them place and power, will be the first to cast him forth and cry huzza for the new king. There is a black taint in the Scots blood, and there always have been men in high position to sell their country. The lords of the congregation were English traitors in Mary's day, and on them as much as that wanton Elizabeth lay her blood. It was a Scots army sold Charles I to the Roundheads, and it would have been mair decent to have beheaded him at Edinburgh. And now they will take the ancient throne of auld Scotland and hand it over, without a stroke, to a cold-blooded foreigner who has taught his wife to turn her hand against her own father. God's ban is upon the land, Balcarres, for one party of us be raging fanatics, and the other party be false-hearted cowards. Lord, if we could set the one against the other, Argyle's Highlanders against the West Country Whigs, it were a bonnie piece of work, and if they fought till death the country were well rid o' baith, for I know not whether I hate mair bitterly a Covenanter or a Campbell. But it would set us better, Balcarres, to keep our breath to cool oor ain porridge. What is this I hear, that Athole is playing the knave, and that Gordon cannot be trusted to keep the castle? Has the day come upon us that the best names in Scotland are to be dragged in the mire? I sairly doot that for the time the throne is lost to the auld line, but if it is to be sold by the best blood of Scotland, then I wish their silver bullet had found John Graham's heart at Drumclog.”

“Ye maunna deal ower hardly with Athole, Dundee, for I will not say he isna true. His son, mind you, is on the other side, and Athole himself is a man broken in body. These be trying times, and it is not every ane has your heart. It may be that Athole and other men judge that everything has been done that can, and that a heavy burden o' guilt will rest on ony man that spills blood without reason. Mind you,” went on Balcarres hastily, as he saw the black gloom gathering on Dundee's face, “I say not that is my way of it, for I am with you while ony hope remains, but we maun do justice.”

“Justice!” broke in Claverhouse, irritated beyond control by Balcarres's apologies and his hint of compromise. “If I had my way of it, every time-serving trickster in the land would have justice—a rope round his neck and a long drop, for a bullet would be too honorable a death. But let Athole pass. He was once a loyal man, and there may be reason in what ye say. I have never known sickness myself, and doubtless it weakens even strong men. But what is this I hear of Gordon? Is it a lie that he is trafficking with Hamilton and the Whig lords to surrender the castle? If so, he is the most damnable traitor of them all, and will have his place with Judas Iscariot.”

“Na, na, Dundee, nae Gordon has ever been false, though I judge maist o' them, since Mary's day, have been foolish. Concerning the castle, this is how the matter stands, and I pray you to hear me patiently and not to fly out till I have finished.”

“For God's sake, speak out and speak on, and dinna sit watching me as if you were terrified for your life, and dinna pick your words, like a double-dealing, white-blooded Whig lawyer, or I will begin to think that the leprosy of cowardice has reached the Lindsays.”

“Weel, Dundee”—but Balcarres was still very careful with his word—“I have reason to believe, and, in fact, I may as well say I know, that there have been some goings and comings between Gordon and the Lords of Convention. I will not say that Gordon isna true to the king, and that he would not hold the castle if it would help the cause. But I am judging that he isna minded to be left alone and keep Edinburgh Castle for King James if all Scotland is for King William.” And Balcarres, plucking up courage in the face of his fierce companion, added: “I will not say, Dundee, that the duke is wrong. What use would it be if he did? But mind you,” went on Balcarres hastily, “he hasna promised to surrender his trust. He is just waiting to see what happens.”

“Which they have all been doing, every woman's son of them, instead of minding their duty whatever happens; but I grant there's no use raging, we maun make our plans. What does Gordon want if he's holding his hand? Out with it, Balcarres, for I see from your face ye ken.”

“If the duke,” replied Balcarres, “had ony guarantee that a fight would be made for the auld line in Scotland, and that he would not be left alane, like a sparrow upon the housetop in Edinburgh Castle, I make certain he would stand fast; but if the royal standard is to be seen nowhere else except on one keep—strong though that be—the duke will come to terms wi' the Convention. There ye have the situation, mak' o' it what ye will.”

“By God, Balcarres, if that be true, and I jalouse that ye are richt, Gordon will get his assurance this very nicht. It's a fair and just pledge he asks, and I know the man who'll give it to him. Edinburgh will no be the only place in the land where the good standard flies before many days are passed. Man! Balcarres, this is good news ye have brought, and I am glad to ken that there is still red blood in Gordon's heart. I'm thinking ye've had your own communings wi' the duke, and that ye ken the by-roads to the castle. Settle it that he and I can meet this very nicht, and if need be I'll be ready to leave the morrow's morning. Aye, Balcarres, if the duke holds the fastness, I'll look after the open country.” And before daybreak there was a meeting between the Gordon and the Graham. They exchanged pledges, each to do his part, but both of them knew an almost hopeless part, for the king. Many a forlorn hope had their houses led, and this would be only one more.

While his master had been reënforcing the duke's determination and giving pledges of thoroughness, Grimond had been doing his part to secure Dundee's safety in the seat of his enemies. Edinburgh was swarming with West Country Whigs, whose day of victory had come, and who had hurried to the capital that they might make the most of it. No one could blame them for their exultation, least of all Claverhouse. They had been hunted like wild beasts, they had been scattered when worshipping God according to the fashion of their fathers, they had been shot down without a trial, they had been shut up in noisome prisons—and all this because they would not submit to the most corrupt government ever known in Scotland, and that most intolerable kind of tyranny which tries, not only to coerce a man as a citizen, but also as a Christian. They had many persecutors, but, on the whole, the most active had been Graham, and it was Graham they hated most. It is his name rather than that of Dalzell or Lauderdale which has been passed with execration from mouth to mouth and from generation to generation in Scotland. The tyrant James had fled, like the coward he was, and God's deliverer had come—a man of their own faith—in William of Orange. The iron doors had been burst and the fetters had been broken, there was liberty to hear the word of the Lord again, and the Kirk of Scotland was once more free. Justice was being done, but it would not be perfect till Claverhouse suffered the penalty of his crimes. It had been the hope of many a dour Covenanter, infuriated by the wrongs of his friends, if not his own, to strike down Claverhouse and avenge the sufferings of God's people. Satan had protected his own, but now the man of blood was given into their hands. Surely it was the doing of the Lord that Dundee should have left Dudhope, where he was in stronghold, and come up to Edinburgh, where his friends were few. That he should go at large upon the streets and take his seat in the Convention, that he should dare to plot against William and lift a hand for James in this day of triumph, was his last stroke of insolence—the drop which filled his cup to overflowing. He had come to Edinburgh, to which he had sent many a martyr of the Covenant, and where he had seen Henry Pollock die for Christ's crown and the Scots kirk. Behold! was it not a sign, and was it not the will of the Lord that in this high place, where godly men had been murdered by him, his blood should be spilled as an offering unto the Lord?

This was what the hillmen were saying among themselves as they gathered in their meetings and communed together in their lodgings. They were not given to public vaporing, and were much readier to strike than to speak, but when there are so many, and their hearts are so hot, a secret cannot be easily kept. And Grimond, who concealed much shrewdness behind a stolid face—which is the way with Scots peasants—caught some suspicious words as two unmistakable Covenanters passed him in the high street. If mischief was brewing for his master, it was his business to find it out and take a hand in the affair. He followed the pair as if he were a countryman gaping at the sights of the town and the stir of those days, when armed men passed on every side and the air was thick with rumors. When the Covenanters, after glancing round, plunged down a dark entry and into an obscure tavern, Grimond, after a pause, followed cautiously, assuming as best he could—and not unsuccessfully—the manner of a man from the west. The outer room was empty when he entered, and he was careful when he got his measure of ale to bend his head over it for at least five minutes by way of grace. The woman, who had glanced sharply at him on entry, was satisfied by this sign of godliness, and left him in a dark corner, from which he saw one after another of the saints pass into an inner chamber. Between the two rooms there was a wooden partition, and through a crack in the boarding Grimond was able to see and hear what was going on. It was characteristic of the men that they opened their conference of assassination with prayer, in which the sorrows of the past were mentioned with a certain pathos, and thanks given for the great deliverance which had been wrought. Then they asked wisdom and strength to finish the Lord's work, and to rid the land of the chief of the Amalekites, after which they made their plan. Although Grimond could not catch everything that was said, he gathered clearly that when Claverhouse left his lodging to attend the Convention on the morning of the fifteenth of March, they would be waiting in the narrow way, as if talking with friends, and would slay the persecutor before he could summon help. When it was agreed who should be present, and what each one should do, they closed their meeting, as they had opened it, with prayer. One of them glanced suspiciously round the kitchen as he passed through, but saw no man, for Grimond had quietly departed. He knew his master's obstinate temper and reckless courage, and was afraid if he told him of the plot that he would give no heed, or trust to his own sword. “We'll run no risks,” said Grimond to himself, and next morning a dozen troopers of Claverhouse's regiment guarded the entry to his lodging, and a dozen more were scattered handily about the street. They followed him to the Convention and waited till he returned. That was how Claverhouse lived to fight the battle of Killiecrankie, but till that day came he had never been so near death as in that narrow way of Edinburgh.

Dundee was not a prudent man, and he was very fearless, but for once he consulted common-sense and made ready to leave Edinburgh. It was plain that the Convention would elect William to the throne of Scotland, and as the days passed it was also very bitter to him that the Jacobites were not very keen about the rising. When he learned that his trusted friends were going to attend the Convention, and did not propose with undue haste to raise the standard for the king, Dundee concluded that if anything should be done, it would not be by such cautious spirits. As he seemed to be the sole hope of his cause, the sooner he was out of Edinburgh the better. When he was seen upon the street with fifty of his troopers, mounted and armed, there was a wild idea of arresting him, but it came to nothing. There was not time to gather the hillmen together, and there was no heart in the others to face this desperate man and his body-guard. With his men behind him, he rode down Leith Wynd unmolested, and when someone cried, “Where art thou going, Lord Dundee?” he turned him round in the saddle and answered, “Whither the spirit of Montrose will lead me.” A fortnight later, in front of his house at Dudhope, he raised the standard for King James, and Jean Cochrane, a mother now, holding their infant son in her arms, stood by his side before he rode north. As he had left her on their marriage day with his troopers, so now he left her and their child, to see her only once again—a cruel meeting, before he fell. Verily, a life of storm and stress, of bitter conflicts and many partings. Verily, a man whom, right or wrong, the fates were treating as a victim and pursuing to his doom.

CHAPTER III. THE LAST BLOW

It is said that those stories are best liked which present a hero and sing his achievements from beginning to end. And the more faultless and brilliant the hero, the better goes the tale, and the louder the applause. Certainly John Graham is the central figure in this history, and so rich is the color of the man and so intense his vitality, that other personages among whom he moves become pale and uninteresting. They had, if one takes the long result, a larger share in affairs, and their hand stretches across the centuries, but there was not in them that charm of humanity which captivates the heart. One must study the work of William of Orange if he is to understand the history of his nation, but one would not go round the corner to meet him. Claverhouse, if one faces the facts and sweeps away the glamour, was only a dashing cavalry officer, who happened to win an insignificant battle by obvious local tactics, and yet there are few men whom one would prefer to meet. One would make a long journey to catch a sight of Claverhouse riding down the street, as one to-day is caught by the fascination of his portrait. But the reader has already discovered that Graham can hardly be called a hero by any of the ordinary tests except beauty of personal appearance. He was not an ignorant man, as certain persons have concluded from the varied and picturesque habits of his spelling, but his friends cannot claim that he was endowed with rich intellectual gifts. He had sense enough to condemn the wilder excesses of his colleagues in the government of the day, but he had not force enough to replace their foolishness by a wiser policy. Had his powers been more commanding, or indeed if he had had any talent for constructive action, with his unwavering integrity and masterful determination, he might have ousted Lauderdale and saved Scotland for King James. But accomplished intriguers and trained politicians were always too much for Claverhouse, and held him as a lithe wild animal is caught in the meshes of a net.

Wild partisans, to whom every man is either white as snow or black as pitch, have gone mad over Graham, making him out, according to their craze, either an angel or a devil, and forgetting that most men are half and between. But it must be also said that those who hold John Graham to have been a Jacobite saint are the more delirious in their minds, and hysterical in their writing, for they will not hear that he ever did anything less than the best, or that the men he persecuted had any right upon their side. He is from first to last a perfect paladin of romance whom everyone is bound to praise. Then artists rush in and not only make fine trade of his good looks, but lend his beauty to the clansmen who fought at Killiecrankie, till the curtain falls upon “Bonnie Dundee” being carried to his grave by picturesque and broken-hearted Highlanders dressed in the costly panoply of the Inverness Gathering, and with faces of the style of George MacDonald or Lord Leighton. Whatever Claverhouse was, and this story at least suggests that he was brave and honorable, he was in no sense a saint, and would have been the last to claim this high degree. It is open to question whether he deserved to be called a good man, for he was ambitious of power and, perhaps for public ends, of wealth; he had no small measure of pride and jealousy in him; he was headstrong and unmanageable, and for his own side he was unrelenting and cruel. There are things he would not have done to advance his cause, as, for instance, tell lies, or stain his honor, but he never would have dreamed of showing mercy to his opponent. Nor did he ever try to enter into his mind or understand what the other man was feeling.

It is sometimes judged enough for a hero that he succeed without being clever or good, but neither did Graham pass this doubtful and dangerous test. For when you clear away the romance which heroic poetry and excited prose have flung around him, you were an optimist if you did not see his life was one long failure as well as a disappointment and a sorrow. He did bravely with the Prince of Orange, and yet somehow he missed promotion; he was the best officer the government had in Scotland, and yet it was only in the last resort he became commander-in-chief. He was the only honest man among a gang of rascals in the Scots council, and yet he was once dismissed from it; he was entitled to substantial rewards, and yet he had to make degrading appeals to obtain his due. He was loyal to foolishness, yet he was represented to the Court as a man who could not be trusted. He had only two love affairs; the first brought him the reputation of mercenary aims, and the second almost ruined his life. He embarked on a contest which was hopeless from the beginning, and died at the close of a futile victory. Except winning the heart of Jean Cochrane, he failed in everything which he attempted. With the exception of his wife he was betrayed on every hand, while a multitude hated him with all their strength and thirsted for his blood. If Jean were not true to him there would not be one star in the dark sky of Claverhouse's life.

But this irredeemable and final disaster is surely incredible. Dundee, fooled as he had been both by his master and by his friends till he was alone and forsaken, was bound to put his whole trust in his wife. Had she not made the last sacrifices for him and through dark days stood bravely by his side? Their private life had not always run smoothly, for if in one way they were well mated, because both were of the eagle breed, in another way, they were ill-suited, because they were so like. John Graham and Jean Cochrane both came of proud houses which loved to rule, and were not accustomed to yield, they both had iron and determined wills, they shared the dubious gift of a lofty temper and fiery affections. They were set upon their own ways, and so they had clashed many a time in plan and deed; hot words had passed between them, and they had been days without speech. But below the tumult of contending wills, and behind the flash of fiery hearts, they were bound together by the passion of their first love, which had grown and deepened, and by that respect which strong and honorable people have for one another. They could rage, but each knew that the other could not lie; they could be most unreasonable, but each knew that the other could never descend to dishonor, so their quarrels had always one ending, and seemed, after they were over, to draw them closer together and to feed their love. One could not think of them as timid and gentle creatures, billing and cooing their affection; one rather imagined the lion and his lioness, whose very love was fierce and perilous. No power from without could separate these two nor make them quail. Alone and united Dundee and his wife could stand undismayed and self-sufficient, with all Scotland against them. Nothing could ever break their bond except dishonor. But if one should charge the other with that foulest crime, then the end had come, beside which death would be welcome. Where life is a comedy one writes with gayety not untouched by contempt; where life is a tragedy one writes with tears not unredeemed by pride. But one shrinks when the tragedy deepens into black night, and is terrified when strong passions, falling on an evil day, work their hot wills, with no restraining or favorable fate. There are people whose life is a primrose path along which they dance and prattle, whose emotions are a pose, whose thoughts are an echo, whose trials are a graceful luxury; there are others whose way lies through dark ravines and beside raging torrents, over whose head the black clouds are ever lowering, and whom any moment the lightning may strike. This was their destiny. Upon their marriage day one saw the way that these two would have to go, and it was inevitable that they should drink their cup to the dregs.

The blame of what happened must be laid at Graham's door, and in his last hours he took it altogether to himself; but since it has to be written about, and he showed so badly, let us make from the first the best excuse we can for him, and try to appreciate his state of mind. It was a brave event and a taking scene when he set up the standard of King James above Dundee, and he left to raise the North Country with a flush of hope. It soon passed away and settled down into dreary determination, as he made his toilsome journey with a handful of followers by Aboyne and Huntly, till he landed in Inverness. The Gordons had sent him a reënforcement, and certain of the chiefs had promised their support, but the only aid the Highlanders had given was of dubious value and very disappointing issue. The MacDonalds had hastened to Inverness by way of meeting Dundee, and then had seized the opportunity to plunder their old enemies, the Mackintoshes, and to extract a comfortable ransom out of Inverness. This was not his idea of war, and Dundee scolded Keppoch, who commanded the MacDonalds, most vigorously. Keppoch immediately returned homeward to his fastnesses with the accumulated spoil, partly because his fine, sensitive Highland nature was hurt by Dundee's plain speech, and partly because whatever happened it was wise to secure what they had got. It is no reflection on Dundee's manhood that he was cast down during those days at Inverness, for a ten times more buoyant man would have lost heart. His life was a romantic drama, and it seemed as if the Fates had constructed it for the stage, for now, after the lapse of years, MacKay, his old rival in Holland, reappears, and they resume the duel, which this time is to be unto death. While Dundee was struggling in Edinburgh to save the throne for James, MacKay was on his way with regiments of the Scots Brigade to make sure of Scotland for William. A few days after Dundee left Edinburgh MacKay arrived, and now, as Dundee rode northward in hot haste, MacKay was on his track. Both were eager for a meeting, but the bitterness of it for Dundee was that he dared not run the risk. With all his appeals and all his riding, he had only a handful of mounted men, and the clans had not risen. It seemed as if his enterprise were futile, and that Scotland would not lift a hand for King James. He might be a commander-in-chief, but he was a commander of nobody; he might raise a standard, but it was only a vain show. It did not matter where he went or what he did; he was not a general, but a fugitive, a man to be neglected, and his following a handful of bandits. The rising was a thing to laugh at, and the report was current in the capital that he had absconded with one or two servants. This pretty description of his campaign had not reached his ears, but the humiliation of his situation burned into his proud heart. Much as he would have liked to meet MacKay, there remained for him no alternative but flight. Flight was the only word which could describe his journey, and as he planned his course on the morrow, how he would ride to Invergarry, and then return on his course, and then make his way to Cluny, he started to his feet and paced the room in a fury of anger. What better was he than a hare with the hounds after him, running for his life, and doubling in his track, fleeing here and dodging there, a cowering, timid, panting animal of the chase? “Damnation!” and Dundee flung himself out of the room, and paced up and down the side of the river.

There was a dim light upon the running water, and his thoughts turned to the West Country, to the streams he had often crossed and along whose bed he had sometimes ridden, as he hunted for his Covenanting prey. The Fates were just, for now the Whigs were the hunters and he was the hunted. He began to understand what it was to be ever on the alert for the approach of the enemy, to escape at the first sign of danger, to cross hills in full flight, and to be listening for the sound of the pursuer. As yet he had not to hide, but before many days were over he also may be skulking in moss-hags, and concealing himself in caves, and disguising himself in peasant's garments, he, John Graham of Claverhouse, and my Viscount of Dundee. The tables had turned with a vengeance, and the day of the godly had come. The hillmen would laugh when they heard of it, and the Conventicles would rejoice together. MacKay would be sitting in his quarters at Elgin that night making his plans also, but not for flight, and hardly for fighting. When officers arrest an outlaw, it is not called a battle any more than when hounds run a fox to his lair. MacKay would be arranging how to trap him, anticipating his ways of escape, and stopping all the earths, so that say, to-morrow, he might be quietly taken. It would not be a surrender; it would be a capture, and he would be sent to Edinburgh in charge of half a dozen English dragoons, and tried at Edinburgh, and condemned for treason against King William—King William. They would execute him without mercy, and be only doing to him what he had done to the Whigs, and just as he had kept guard at Pollock's execution, that new Cameronian Regiment, of which there was much talk, would keep guard at his. There would be little cause for precaution; no one need fear a rescue, for the hillmen would be there in thousands with the other Whigs, to feast their eyes upon his shame, and cheer his death. He could not complain, for it would happen to him as it had to many of them, and what he had sown that would he reap. Would MacKay be laughing that night at Elgin, with his officers, and crying in his Puritanic cant, “Aha, aha, how is the enemy fallen and the mighty cast down! Where now is the boasting of his pride, where now is the persecutor of the saints?” No, far worse, MacKay would give orders in his cold, immovable manner, and treat the matter as of no account, as one who had never expected anything else from the beginning, and was only amazed at his opponent's madness. That was the inner bitterness of it all; they had taken their sides fifteen years ago; MacKay had chosen wisely, and he had chosen foolishly, as the world would say. The conflict had been inevitable, and it was quite as inevitable that his would be the losing side. William saw what was coming afar off, so did MacKay; and it had all come to pass, year by year, act by act, and now MacKay was to give the last stroke. They had won, and they had been sure all the time they were going to win, and they would win with hardly an effort. He did not repent of his loyalty, and he would not have done otherwise if he had had the choice over again. But their foresight, and their patience, and their capacity, and their thoroughness, and the madness of his own people, and their feebleness, and their cowardice, and their helplessness, infuriated him. “Curse MacKay and his master, and the whole crew of cold-blooded Whigs! But it is I and mine which are cursed.”

“Amen to the malediction on the Usurper and all his servants; it's weel deserved, and may it sune be fulfilled, full measure and rinnin' over, but for ony sake dinna curse yersel', my lord, for it's blessings ye've earned as a faithful servant o' your king.” And Dundee turned round to find his faithful servant had arrived from home and had sought him out on the riverside.

“You took me by surprise, Jock, and startled me, for I knew not that any man was near. I thought that you of all men were at Dudhope, where I left you, to protect Lady Dundee and the young lord. Is aught wrong,” cried Dundee anxiously, “my wife and child, are they both well? Speak quickly.” For even then Dundee saw that Grimond was hesitating, and looked like a man who had to speak carefully. “Do not tell me that MacKay has ordered the castle to be seized, and that the dragoons have insulted my family; this were an outrage on the laws of war. If they have done this thing I will avenge it before many days pass. Is that the news ye bring?” And Dundee gripped his servant's shoulder and shook him with such violence that Grimond, a strongly built fellow, was almost thrown from his feet.

“Be quiet, Maister John, for I canna help callin' ye that, and dinna work yoursel' into a frenzy, for this is no like your ain sel'. Na, na, Dudhope is safe, and no a single dragoon, leastways a soldier, has been near it since ye left; whatever other mischief he may do, Colonel Livingstone, him that commands the cavalry ye ken, at Dundee, will no see ony harm come to my Lady Dundee. Have no fear on that concern, my lord.”

“You havena come for nought, Grimond, and I'm not expecting that ye have much good to tell. Good tidings do not come my way in these days. Is the lad well?” said Dundee anxiously, “for in him is all my hope.”

“It's a gude hope then, my lord, for the bairn is juist bye-ordinary. I could see him growing every day, and never a complaint from his mouth except when he wants his food. God be thankit there's nothing wrong wi' him, and it does my heart good to see that he is a rael Graham, a branch o' the old tree; long may it stand in Scotland, and wide may its branches spread. If it be the will of Providence I would like to live till my auld een saw Lord Graham of Claverhouse, for that I'm supposing is his title, riding on the right hand of the Viscount of Dundee. And I would be a' the better pleased if it was over the necks of the Whigs. My lord, ye will never be ashamed of your son.”

“Ye have said nothing of Lady Dundee's health, surely she isna ill or anything befallen her. It was hard, Jock, for a man to leave his wife but a few weeks after his son was born. Yet she recovered quickly as becometh a strong and healthy woman, and when I left her she was in good heart and was content that I should go. There is nothing wrong with Lady Dundee, Jock?”

“Ye may set yir mind at rest aboot her ladyship, Maister John. She's stronger than I've ever seen her, and I can say no more than that, nor have I ever marked her more active, baith by nicht and day, and in spite o' her lord being so far awa and in sic peril, ye would never think she had an anxious thought. It's amazin' an' ... very encouragin' to see her ladyship sae content an' ... occupied. Ye need have nae concern aboot her bodily condeetion, an' of course that's a great matter.”

Dundee was so relieved to hear that his wife and child were well, and that Dudhope was safe, that he did not for the moment catch with the dubious tone of Grimond's references to Lady Dundee, and indeed it struck no unaccustomed note. Grimond had all the virtues of a family retainer—utter forgetfulness of self, and absolute devotion to his master's house, as well as a passionate, doglike affection for Dundee. But he had the defects of his qualities. It seems the inevitable disability of this faithfulness, that this kind of servant is jealous of any newcomer into the family, suspicious of the stranger's ways, over-sensitive to the family interests, and ready at any moment to fight for the family's cause. Grimond had done his best to prevent his master's marriage with Jean Cochrane, and had never concealed his conviction that it was an act of madness; he had never been more than decently civil to his mistress, and there never had been any love lost between them. If she had been a smaller woman, Jean would have had him dismissed from her husband's side, but being what she was herself, proud and thoroughgoing, she respected him for his very prejudices, and his dislike of her she counted unto him for righteousness. Jean had made no effort to conciliate Grimond, for he was not the kind of watchdog to be won from his allegiance by a tempting morsel. She laughed with her husband over his watchfulness, and often said, “Ye may trust me anywhere, John, if ye leave Grimond in charge. If I wanted to do wrong I should not be able.” “Ye would be wise, Jean,” Graham would reply, “to keep your eye on Grimond if ye are minded to play a prank, for his bite is as quick as his bark.” They laughed together over this jest, for they trusted each other utterly, as they had good reason to do, but the day was at hand when that laughter was to be bitter in the mouth.

“Ye are like a cross-grained tyke which snarls at its master's best friend through faithfulness to him. Ye never liked your mistress from the beginning, because ye thought she would not be loyal, but, man, ye know better now,” said Dundee kindly, “and it's time ye were giving her a share o' the love ye've always given me.”

“Never!” cried Grimond hotly. “And I canna bear that ye should treat this maitter as a jest. Many a faithful dog has been scolded—aye, and maybe struck, by his maister when he had quicker ears than the foolish man, and was giving warning of danger.

“Ye think me, my lord, a silly and cankered auld haveril, and that my head is full of prejudices and fancies. Would to God that I were wrong. If I were, I would go down on my knees to her ladyship and ask her pardon and serve her like a dog all the days of my life; but, waes me, I'm ower richt. When my lady is loyal to you I'll be loyal to her, but no an hour sooner, say ye as ye like, laugh ye as ye will. But my lady is false, and ye are deceived in your own home.”

“Do you know what you are saying, Grimond, and to whom you are speaking? We have carried this jest too far, and it is my blame, but ye may not again speak this way of your mistress in my presence. I know you mean nothing by it, and it is all your love of me and dislike of Covenanters that makes you jealous; but never again, Grimond, remember, or else, old servant though you be, you leave me that hour. It's a madness with you; ye must learn to control it,” said Dundee sternly.

“It's nae madness, my lord,” answered Grimond doggedly, “and has naethin' to do with my lady being a Cochrane. Maybe I would rather she had been a Graham or a Carnegie, but that was nae business o' mine. Even if I didna like her, it's no for a serving-man to complain o' his mistress. I ken when to speak and when to hold my tongue, but there are things I canna see and forbear. My lord, it's time you were at Dudhope, for the sake, o' your honor.”

“Grimond,” said Dundee, and his words were as morsels of ice, “if it were any other man who spoke of my wife and dishonor in the same breath I would kill him where he stood; but ye are the oldest and faithfullest follower of our house. For the work ye have done and the risks ye have run I pardon you so far as to hear any excuse ye have to make for yourself; but make it plain and make it quick, for ye know I am not a man to be trifled with.”

“I will speak plainly, my lord, though they be the hardest words I have ever had to say. I ken the risk. It is not the first time I have taken my life in my hand for the Grahams and their good name. My suspicions were aroused by that little besom Kirsty, when I saw her ane day comin' oot from the quarters of Colonel Livingstone, wha commands the dragoons at Dundee. I kent she could be doing nae good there, for she's as full o' mischief as an egg is full o' meat. So I wheeped up by the near road and met her coming up to the castle. When she saw me she hid a letter in her breast, and, question her as I like, I could get nothing from her but impudence. But it was plain to me that communication was passing between someone in Dudhope and the commander o' William's soldiers.”

“Go on,” said Dundee quietly.

“Putting two and two together, my lord, I watched in the orchard below the castle that nicht and the next, and on the next, when it was dark, a man muffled in a cloak came up the road from the town and waited below the apple trees, near where I was lying in the hollow among the grass. After a while a woman in a plaid so that ye couldna see her face came down from the direction of the castle. They drew away among the trees, so that I could only see that they were there, but couldna hear what they were saying. After a while, colloguing together, they parted, and I jaloused who the two were, but that nicht I could not be certain.”

“Go on,” said Dundee, “till you have finished.”

“Three nichts later they met again, and I crept a little nearer, and the moon coming out for a minute I saw their faces. It was her ladyship and Colonel Livingstone. She was pleading wi' him, and he was half yielding, half consenting. Her voice was so low I couldna catch her words, but I heard him say: 'God knows ye have my heart; but my honor, my honor.' 'I will be content wi' your heart,' I heard her answer. 'When will you be ready? For if Dundee hear of it, he will ride south night and day, tho' the whole English army be in his road!'

“'For eight days,' said Livingstone, 'I am engaged on duty and can do nothing, on the ninth I am at your service for ever.' Then I saw him kiss her hand, and they parted. Within an hour I was riding north. Ye may shoot me if you please, but I have cleared my conscience.”

Dundee's face was white as death, and his eyes glittered as when the light shines on steel. Twice he laid his hand upon his pistol, and twice withdrew it.

“If an angel from heaven told me that Lady Dundee was untrue I would not believe him, and you, you I take to be rather a devil from hell. Said Livingstone eight days? And two are passed. I was proposing to go south for other ends, and now I shall not fail to be there before that appointment. But it may be, Grimond, I shall have to kill you.”

CHAPTER IV. THOU ALSO FALSE

Dundee was a man of many trials, and one on whom fortune seldom smiled; but the most cruel days of his life were the ride from Inverness by the Pass of Corryarrack to Blair Athole, and from Blair Athole by Perth to Dundee. He learned then, as many men have done in times of their distress, the horror of the night time and the blessing of the light. Had his mind not been affected by the universal treachery of the time, and the disappointments he had met on every side, till it seemed that every man except himself was hunting after his own interest, and no one, high or low, could be trusted, he had from the beginning treated Grimond's story with contempt and made it a subject of jest. He would no more have doubted Jean's honor than that of his mother. He would have known that Grimond never lied, and that he did not often drink, but he also would have been sure that even if it was Jean who met Livingstone, that there was some good explanation, and he never would have allowed his thoughts to dwell upon the matter. If Jean had been told that Graham had been seen with a lady of the Court at Whitehall, she would have scorned to question him, and indeed she had often laughed at the snares certain frail beauties of that day had laid for him in London. For she knew him, and he also knew her. But he was sorely tried in spirit and driven half crazy by the disloyalty of his friends, and it is in those circumstances of morbid, unhealthy feeling that the seeds of suspicion find a root and grow, as the microbes settle upon susceptible and disordered organs of the body.

As it was, he was divided in his mind, and it was the alternation of dark and bright moods which made his agony. Spring had only reached the Highlands as he rode southwards, but its first touches had made everything winsome and beautiful. While patches of snow lingered on the higher hills, and glittered in the sunlight, the grass in the hollows between the heather was putting on the first greenness of the season, and the heather was sprouting bravely; the burns were full-bodied with the melting snow from the higher levels and rushing with a pleasant noise to join the river. As he came down from the bare uplands at Dalnaspidal into the sheltered glen at Blair Castle, the trees made an arch of the most delicate emerald over his head, for the buds were beginning to open, and the wind blew gently upon his face. The sight of habitations as he came nearer to the Lowlands, the sound of the horses' feet upon the road, the gayety of his band of troopers, the children playing before their humble cottages, the exhilarating air, and the hope of the season when winter was gone, told upon his heart and reënforced him. The despair of the night before, when he tossed to and fro upon a wretched bed or paced up and down before the farmhouse door, imagining everything that was horrible, passed away as a nightmare. Was there ever such madness as that he, John Graham, should be doubting his wife, Jean Cochrane, whom he had won from the midst of his enemies, and who had left her mother and her mother's house to be his bride? How brave she had been, how self-sacrificing, how uncomplaining, how proud in heart and high in spirit; she had given up the whole world for him; she was the bravest and purest of ladies. That his wife of those years of storm and the mother a few weeks ago of his child should forget her vows and her love, and condescend to a base intrigue; that she should meet a lover in the orchard where they often used to walk, where the blossom would now be opening on the trees, that Livingstone, whom he knew and counted in a sense a friend, though he held King William's commission now, and had not stood by the right side, should take the opportunity of his absence to seduce his wife! It was a hideous and incredible idea, some mad mistake which could be easily explained. Dundee, throwing off his black and brooding burden of thought, would touch his horse with the spur and gallop for a mile in gayety of heart and then ride on his way, singing some Cavalier song, till Grimond, who kept away from his master those days and rode among the troopers, would shake his head, and say to himself, “God grant he be not fey” (possessed). Dundee would continue in high spirits till the evening shadows began to fall, and then the other shadow would lengthen across his soul. The night before he met his wife he spent in Glamis Castle, and the grim, austere beauty of that ancient house affected his imagination. Up its winding stairs with their bare, stern walls men had gone in their armor, through the thickness of the outer walls secret stairs connected mysterious chambers one with another. Strange deeds had been done in those low-roofed rooms with their dark carved furniture, and there were secret places in the castle where ghosts of the past had their habitation. Weird figures were said to flit through the castle at night, restless spirits which revisited the scene of former tragedies and crimes, and the room in which Graham slept was known to be haunted. Alas! he needed no troubled ancestor of the Strathmore house to visit him, for his own thoughts were sufficient torment, and through the brief summer night and then through the dawning light of the morning he threshed the question which gnawed his heart. Evil suggestions and suspicious remembrances of the past, which would have fled before the sunlight, surrounded him and looked out at him from the shadow with gibbering faces. Had he not been told that Jean laid traps for him in Paisley that she might secure the safety of her lover Pollock, and also of her kinsman, Sir John Cochrane? Had she not often spoken warmly of that Covenanting minister and expressed her bitter regret that her husband had compassed Pollock's death? She had tried to keep him from attending the Convention, and of late days had often suggested that he had better be at peace and not stir up the country. After all, can you take out of the life what is bred in the bone?—and Jean Cochrane was of a Covenanting stock, and her mother a very harridan of bigotry. Might there not have been some sense in the fear of his friends that he would no longer be loyal to the good cause, and was Jock Grimond's grudge against his marriage mere stupidity and jealousy? Everyone was securing his safety and adjusting himself to the new regime; there was hardly a Lowland gentleman who had irretrievably pledged himself to King James, and as for the chiefs, they would fight for their own hand as they had always done, and could only be counted on for one thing, and that was securing plunder. Was not he alone, and would not he soon be either on the scaffold or an exile? The Whigs would soon be reigning in their glory over Scotland, and it would be well with everyone that had their password. If he were out of the way, would there not be a strong temptation for her to make terms with her family and buy security by loyalty to their side? No doubt she was a strong woman, but, after all, she was only a woman, and was she able to stand alone and live forsaken at Glenogilvie, with friends neither among Cavaliers nor Covenanters? Could he blame her if she separated herself from a ruined cause and a discredited husband, for would she not be only doing what soldiers and courtiers had done, what everybody except himself was doing? Why should she, a young woman with life before her, tie herself up with a hopeless cause, and one who might be called commander-in-chief of James's army, but who had nothing to show for it but a handful of reckless troopers and a few hundred Highland thieves, a man whom all sensible people would be regarding as a mad adventurer? Would it not be a stroke of wisdom—the Whigs were a cunning crew, and he recalled that Lord Dundonald was an adroit schemer—to buy the future for herself and her child by selling him and returning to her old allegiance? There was enough reality in this ghost to give it, as it were, a bodily shape, and Graham, who had been flinging himself about, struck out with his fist as if at flesh and blood.

“Damn you, begone, begone!”

For a while he lay quietly and made as though he would have slept. Then the ghosts began to gather around his bed again as if the Covenanters he had murdered had come from the other world and were having their day of vengeance. It must have been Jean who met Livingstone in the orchard, and it must have been an assignation. There was no woman in Dudhope had her height and carriage, and the vision of her proud face that he had loved so well brought scalding tears to his eyes. For what purpose had she met Livingstone, if not to arrange some base surrender, if not to give information about him so that MacKay might find him more easily? Was it worse than that, if worse could be when all was black as hell? Livingstone had known her for years; it had been evident that he admired her; he was an attractive man of his kind. Nothing was more likely in that day, when unlawful love was not a shame, but a boast, than that he had been making his suit to Lady Dundee. Her husband was away, likely never to return; she was a young and handsome woman, and Livingstone had time upon his hands at Dundee. A month ago he had sworn that the virtue of his wife was unassailable as that of the Blessed Virgin; he would have sworn it two days ago as he rode through Killiecrankie; but now, with the brooding darkness round him and its awful shapes peopling the room, he was not sure of anything that was good and true. Had he not lived at Court, had he not known the great ladies, had not they tried to seduce him, and flung themselves at his head? Was not Jean a woman like the rest, and why should his wife be faithful when every other woman of rank was an adulteress! This, then, was the end of it all, and he had suffered the last stroke of treachery, and the last stain of dishonor. How he had been befooled and bewitched; what an actress she had been, with a manner that would have deceived the wisest! What a stupid, blundering fool he had been! There are times, the black straits of life, when a man must either pray or curse. If he be a saint he will pray, but Dundee was not a saint, so he rose from his bed, and sweeping away the evil shapes from before him with his right arm, and then with his left, as one makes his road through high-standing corn that closes in behind him, he raged from side to side of the room in which the day was faintly breaking, while unaccustomed oaths poured from his mouth. One thing only remained for him, and at the thought peace began to come. He had planned weeks ago to visit Dundee again and give the chance to Livingstone's dragoons to join him, for he had reason to believe that they were not unalterably loyal. He was on his way to Dundee now, and to-morrow he would be there, but he cared little what the dragoons would do; he had other folk to deal with. If he found he had been betrayed at home, and by her who had lain on his breast, and by a man whom he had counted his friend, they should know the vengeance of the Grahams. “Both of them—both of them to hell, and then my work is done and I shall go to see them!”

It was characteristic of the man that, though he had no assistance from Grimond in the morning—for Jock dared not go near him—Dundee appeared in perfect order, even more carefully dressed than usual; but as he rode from the door of Glamis Castle through the beautiful domain of park and wood, Grimond was aghast at his pinched and drawn face and the gleam in his eye. “May the Lord hae mercy, but I doot sairly that he is aff his head, and that there will be wild work at Dudhope.” And while Grimond had all the imperturbable self-satisfaction and unshaken dourness of the Lowland Scot, and never on any occasion acknowledged that he could be wrong or changed his way, he almost wished that he had left this affair alone and had not meddled between his master and his master's wife. It was again a fair and sunny day, when the freshness of spring was feeling the first touch of summer, as Dundee and his men rode up the pass through the hills from Strathmore to Dundee. There were times when Graham would have breathed his horse at the highest point, from which you are able to look down upon the sea, and drunk in the pure, invigorating air, and gazed at the distant stretches of the ocean. But he had no time to lose that day; he had work to do without delay. With all his delirium—and Graham's brain was hot, and every nerve tingling—he retained the instincts of a soldier, and just because he was so suspicious of his reception he took the more elaborate precautions. Before he entered the pass his scouts made sure that he would not be ambuscaded, for it might be that his approach was known, and that Livingstone, taking him at a disadvantage in the narrow way, by one happy stroke would complete his triumph. As he came near Dundee, he sent out a party to reconnoitre, while he remained with his troop to watch events. When the sound of firing was heard he knew that the garrison was on the alert, and that the town could only be taken by assault. The soldiers came galloping back with several wounded men, having left one dead. Livingstone was for the moment safe in his fastness, and it was evident that the dragoons were not in a mind to desert their colors. By this time it would be known at Dudhope that he was near, and the sooner he arrived the more chance of finding his wife. It was possible that Livingstone had garrisoned Dudhope, and that if he rode forward alone he might be snared. But this risk he would take in the heat of his mind, and summoning Grimond with a stern gesture to his side, and ordering the soldiers to follow at a slight interval and to surround the castle, he galloped forward to the door. The place appeared to be deserted, but at last, in answer to his knocking, as he beat on the door with the hilt of his sword, it was opened by an old woman who seemed the only servant left, and who was driven speechless by her master's unexpected appearance and his wild expression. For, although John Graham had been a stern as well as just and kind master, and although he had often been angry, and was never to be trifled with, no one had ever seen him before other than cool and calm, smooth-spoken and master of himself.

“What means it, Janet, or whatever be your name, that the door was barred and I kept standing outside my own house? What were ye doing, and who is within the walls? Speak out, and quickly, or I will make you do it at your pain. Have the dragoons been here, and are there any hid in this place? Is my Lady Dundee in the castle, and if so, where is she?” And then, when the panic-stricken woman could not find intelligible words before the unwonted fury of her master, he pushed her aside and, rushing up the stair, tore open the door of the familiar room where Jean and he usually sat—to find that she was not there nor anywhere else in the castle, that his wife and the child were gone. With this confirmation of his worst fears, his fever left him suddenly, and he came to himself, so far as the action of his mind and the passion of his manner were concerned. Sending for Janet, he expressed his regret, with more than his usual courtesy, that he had spoken roughly to her and for the moment had frightened her. Something, he said, had vexed him, but now she must not be afraid, but must tell him some things that he wished to know. Had everything been going well at Dudhope since he left, and had her ladyship and my little lord been in good health? That was excellent. He hoped that the dragoons had not been troublesome or come about the castle? They had not? Well, that was satisfactory. Their commander, Colonel Livingstone, perhaps had called to pay his respects to Lady Dundee, and render any kindness he could? No, never been seen at the castle? That was strange. Her ladyship—where had she gone, for she did not appear to be in the castle, nor her maid nor the other servants? Where were they all? Had her ladyship taken refuge in Dundee for safety in those troubled times? And as his master asked this question with studied calmness and the gentlest of accents, Grimond shuddered, for this was the heart of the matter, and there was murder in the answer. Not to Dundee—where then? To Glenogilvie, only last night in great haste, as if afraid of someone or something happening. Of whom, of what? But Janet did not know, and could only say that Lady Dundee and the household had formed a sudden plan and departed at nightfall for the old home of the Grahams. Whereat Dundee smiled, and, crossing to a window and looking down upon the town, said to himself: “A cunning trap. I was to be taken at Dundee, when in my hot haste, and thinking I had an easy capture, I rushed the town without precautions, as I might have done. While in quiet Glenogilvie my lady waited for his triumphant coming, victor and lover. It was a saving mercy, as her people would say, that our scouts drew their fire and brought out the situation. They might have baited the trap at Dudhope had they been cleverer, and I been taken in my home with her by my side—but that would have been dangerous. Now it is left for me to see whether the town could be rushed, and I have the last joy of one good stroke at Colonel Livingstone. But if that be beyond my reach, as I fear it may, then haste me to Glenogilvie.”

During the day Graham hung about the outskirts of the town searching for some weak spot where he could make a successful entrance with his troopers. Before evening he was driven to the conclusion that an assault could only mean defeat and likely his own death, and he wished to live at least for another day. So when the sun was setting he rode away from Dudhope, and on the crest of the hill that overhangs Dundee, he turned him in his saddle and looked down on the castle from which he had ruled the town, and where he had spent many glad days with Jean. The shadows of evening were now gathering, and when he reached the home of his boyhood in secluded Glenogilvie the night had fallen. It was contrary to his pride to practise any tactics in his own country, and they rode boldly to the door from which he had gone out and in so often in earlier, happier days. They had been keeping watch, he noticed, for lights shifted in the rooms as they came near, and almost as soon as he had crossed the threshold his wife came out from her room to greet him. He marked in that instant that, though she was startled to see him, and had not looked for him so soon, she showed no sign of confusion or of guilt. Against his will he admired the courage of her carriage and her dignity in what he judged a critical hour of her life. It was not their way to rush into one another's arms, though there burned in them the hottest and fiercest passion of love. In presence of others they never gave themselves away, but carried themselves with a stately grace. “We heard you were on your way, my lord,” she simply said, “but I did not expect so quick a meeting. Have ye come from the north or from Perth? A messenger went to Lord Perth's house with news of the happenings at Dundee, but doubtless he missed you.” She gave him her hand, over which he bent, and which he seemed to kiss, but did not. “We left Perth two days ago,” he replied, with a cold, clear voice, which did not quite hide the underlying emotion, “and we have this day paid our visit to Dundee—to get a chill welcome and find Dudhope empty. It was a pity that we missed the messenger, Lady Dundee, who doubtless sought for us diligently, for if we had known where you were when we left Glamis this morning, it had been easy—aye, and in keeping with my mind—to turn aside and visit Glenogilvie.” They were still standing in the hall, and Jean had begun to realize that Dundee was changed, and that behind this cold courtesy some fire was burning. When they were alone she would, in other circumstances, have cast herself in the proud surrender of a strong woman's love into his arms, and he would have kissed her hair, her forehead, her eyes, her cheeks, her chin, and, last, her mouth; but at the sight of his eyes she stood apart, and straightening herself, Jean said: “What is the meaning of this look, John, and what ails you? Ye seem as if ye had suffered some cruel blow. Has aught gone wrong with you? Ye have come back in hot haste.”

“Yes, my Lady Dundee, something wrong with me, and maybe worse with you. I have come quicker than I intended, and have had a somewhat cold reception at Dundee, but I grant you that was not your blame, you had doubtless prepared a warmer. Livingstone was the laggard.”

“You are angry, John, and I now understand the cause. It was not my blame, for what woman could do I did, and maybe more than becometh your wife, to win him over. He almost consented, and I declare to you that Livingstone is with us. I could have sworn two days ago that the regiment would have joined us and been waiting for you. But that determined Whig, Captain Balfour, discovered the plot, and I had a message yesterday afternoon that it was hopeless. So for fear of arrest I hurried to Glenogilvie, and tried to intercept your coming. Blame not me, for I could do no more—and what mean you by calling me ever by my title and not by my name, after our parting for so long and dangerous a time?”

“You are right, Jean Cochrane, and I will do you this justice, ye could not do more than meet him in the orchard and in the dark of the night. Yes, ye were both seen, and word was brought me to the north by a faithful messenger—I judge the only true heart left. That was fine doing and fine pleading, when he confessed that you had won his heart, but his honor was hindering him. Ye cannot deny the words, they are graven on my heart like fire, and are burning it to the core. You, my wife, and whom I made my Lady Dundee, as if you had been a lowborn country lass.”

“You are unjust, my lord, shamefully and cruelly unjust. It was not a pleasant thing for me to do, and I hated myself in the stooping to do it, but there was no other way for it, since he dared not come in the daylight, and I dared not go to him. Now I wish to God I had never troubled myself and never lifted my little finger to accomplish this thing for the cause, since spies have been going and coming between Dudhope and the north. What I did, I did for you and King James, and if I had succeeded ye would have praised me and said that a woman's wiles had won a regiment of horse. But because I have failed ye fling my poor effort in my face, and make me angry with myself that I ever tried to serve you—you who stand here reproaching me for my condescension.”

“Well acted, my lady, and a very cunning tale. So it was to serve me ye crept out at night disguised, and it was to win his heart for King James that ye spoke so tenderly? I never expected the day would come when John Graham of Claverhouse would call down blessings—aye, the richest benediction of heaven—upon a Covenanter, but I pray God to bless Captain Balfour with all things that he desires in this world and in that which is to come. Because, though he knew not what he was doing, and might have served his own cause better by letting things run their course, he saved, at least in the eyes of the world, my honor, and averted the public shame of a treacherous wanton.”

As the words fell slowly and quietly from his lips, like drops of vitriol, Jean's face reflected the rapid succession of emotions in her heart. She was startled as one not grasping the meaning of his words: she was horrified as their shameful charge emerged: she was stricken to the heart as the man she had loved from out of all the world called her by the vilest of all names a woman can hear. Then, being no gentle and timid young wife who could be crushed by a savage and unexpected blow and find her relief in a flood of tears, but a proud and determined woman with the blood of two ancient houses in her veins, after the briefest pause she struck back at Dundee, carrying herself at her full height, throwing back her head with an attitude of scorn, her face pale because intense feeling had called the blood back to the heart, and her eyes blazing with fury, as when the forked lightning bursts from the cloud and shatters a house or strikes a living person dead. And it was like her that she spoke almost as quietly as Graham, neither shrinking nor trembling.

“This, then, is the cause of your strange carriage, Lord Dundee, which I noted on your coming, and tried to explain in a simple and honorable way, for I had no key to your mind, and have not known you for what you are till this night. So that was the base thing you have been imagining in your heart, as you rode through the North Country, and that was the spur that drave you home with such haste—to guard your honor as a husband, and to put to shame an adulterous wife? Pardon me if I was slow in catching your meaning, the charge has taken me somewhat by surprise.” And already, before her face, Dundee began to weaken and to shrink for the first time in his life.

“And you are the man whom I, Jean Cochrane, have loved alone of all men in the world, and for whose love I forsook my mother and my house, and became a stranger in the land! You are the husband whom I trusted utterly, for whom I was willing to make the last sacrifice of life, of whom I boasted in my heart, in whom I placed all my joy! I knew you were a bigot for your cause; I knew you were cruel in the doing of your work; I knew you had a merciless ambition; I knew you had an unmanageable pride; I have not lain in your arms nor lived by your side, I have not heard you speak nor seen you act, without understanding how obstinate is the temper of your mind, and how fiery is your heart. For those faults I did not love you less, and of them I did not complain, for they were my own also. That you were incapable of trusting, that you could suspect your wife of dishonor, that you would be moved by the report of a spy, a baseborn peasant man, that you could offer the last gross, unpardonable insult to a virtuous woman, is what I never could have even imagined. The Covenanters called you by many evil names, and I did not believe them. I believe every one of them now—they did not tell half the truth. They called you persecutor and murderer, they forgot to call you what I now do. As when one strikes a cur with a whip, so to your fair, false face I call you liar and coward. Peace till I be done, and then you may kill me, for it were better I should not live, and if I had the sword of one of my kinsfolk here I would kill you where you stand. God in heaven, what an accusation! A wife of five years, and a mother of only a few weeks, that she should sin with an honorable man who is her friend and her husband's friend! Did Livingstone say, according to that dastard hiding in the wood, that his heart was with us? That was with our cause, and not with me. Did he say honor hindered him? That was not honor towards you, it was honor towards his colors. But honor is a strange word in your ears now, my lord. I have never thought of Livingstone more than any other man who has a good name and has never betrayed a trust. This night my heart is favorable to him, for I saw him in an agony about his honor, and I judge if he were a woman's husband, and she was such a woman as I am before God this day, he would rather die than insult her.”

“Ye wished for some weapon wherewith to take a coward's life. Here is my sword, Jean, and here is my heart. I would not be sorry to die, and I would rather take the last stroke from you than from my enemies. It is not worth while to live, for I have no friend, and soon shall have no possessions. My cause is forlorn, and my name is a byword, and now, by my own doing, I have lost my only love. Strike just here, and my blood will be an atonement to thee for my sin, and generations unborn will bless the hand which slew Claverhouse.

“Ye hesitate for a moment”—for she was holding the sword by the hilt, and her face was still clouded with gloom, although the fire was dying down. “Then I will use that moment, not to ask your pardon, for I judge you are not a woman to forgive—and neither should I be in your place—but to explain. I shall not speak of my love for you, for that now ye will not believe, nor of my shame in having received those evil thoughts for a moment into my heart. I have never known the bitterness of shame before, but I would fain tell how it happened, that the remembrance of me be less black after we have parted forever. Had I been in my natural state it had been impossible for me to doubt thee, Jean, and if I had seen thee sin before mine eyes, I would have thought it was another. But my mind has been distraught through weariness of the body on the long rides, and nights without sleep as I lay a-planning, and the desertion of friends in whom I trusted, and the refusals of men of whom I expected loyalty, and the humiliating helplessness before William's general, my old rival MacKay. I was almost mad. In the night-time, I think, I was mad altogether. But I had always one comfort, like a single star shining in a dark sky, and that was the faithfulness of my wife. When a cloud obscured that solitary light, then a frenzy passed into my blood. I ceased to reason, and according to the measure of my love was my foolish, groundless hate.”

“Take back your sword, Dundee, for I am not now minded to use it. Five minutes ago it had been dangerous to give it me. If ye fall, it shall be by another hand than your wife's, and in another place than your home. We have said words to one another this night which neither of us will lightly pardon, for we are not of the pardoning kind. I do not feel as I did: my anger has turned into sorrow; the idol of my idolatry is broken—my fair model of chivalry—and now I can only gather together the pieces. Even while I hated you I was loving you—this is the contradiction of a woman's heart—and I knew that love of me had made you mad. Whatever happens, I will always remember that you loved me, but my dream has vanished—forever.”

They spent next day walking quietly in the glen, and the following morning he left for his last campaign. They said farewell alone, but after he was in the saddle Lady Dundee lifted up the child for him to kiss—which was to die before the year was out. He turned as they were riding down the road and waved his plumed hat to his wife, where she stood, still holding the child in her arms. And that was the last Jean Cochrane saw of Claverhouse.

BOOK IV

CHAPTER I. TREASON IN THE CAMP

Since the day Dundee rode away from Glenogilvie, after the scene with Jean, he was a man broken in heart, but he hid his private wound bravely, and gave himself with the fiercer energy to the king's business. Hither and thither through the Highlands he raced, so that he was described in letters of that day as “skipping from one hill to another like wildfire, which at last will vanish of itself for want of fuel,” and “like an incendiary to inflame that cold country, yet he finds small encouragement.” Anything more pathetic than this last endeavor of Dundee, except it be his death, cannot be imagined. The clans were not devoured with devotion to King James, and were not the victims of guileless enthusiasm; they were not the heroes of romance depicted by Jacobite poets and story-tellers: they were half-starved, entirely ignorant, fond of fighting, but largely intent on stealing. If there was any chance of a foray in which they could gather spoil, they were ready to fling themselves into the fray, but as soon as they had gained their end, they would make for the glens and leave their general in the lurch. Whether they would rise or not depended neither on the merits of William or James, but in the last issue upon their chiefs—and the chiefs were not easy to move. Some of them were hostile, and most of them lukewarm; and Dundee drank the cup of humiliation as he canvassed for his cause from door to door. By pleading, by arguing, by cajoling, by threatening, by promising and by bribing, he got together some two thousand men, more or less, and he had also the remains of his cavalry. His king had, as usual, left him to fend for himself, and sent him nothing but an incapable Irish officer called Cannon and some ragged Irish recruits, while MacKay was watching him and following him with a well-equipped force. Now and again the sun shone on him and he had glimpses of victory, driving MacKay for days before him, and keeping up communication with Livingstone, who had come from Dundee with his dragoons, and was playing the part of traitor in MacKay's army—for Jean was still determined, with characteristic obstinacy and indifference to suspicion, to reap the fruit of her negotiation with Livingstone. It seemed as if Dundee would at least gain a few troops of cavalry, which would be a great advantage to him and a disquieting event for MacKay's army. But again the Fates were hostile, and misfortune dogged the Jacobite cause. MacKay got wind of the plot, Livingstone and his fellow-officers were arrested, and Jean's scheming, with all its weary expedients and bitter cost, came to naught.

When Claverhouse, in the height of summer, started on his last campaign and descended on Blair Athole, he carried himself as one in the highest spirits and assured of triumph. He sent word everywhere that things were going well with the cause, and that the whole world was with him; he made no doubt of crushing MacKay if he opposed his march into the Lowlands, and of entering Edinburgh after another fashion than he had left it. He kept a bold front, and wrote in a buoyant style; but this was partly the pride of his house, and partly the tactics of a desperate leader. Though a bigot to his cause, Graham was not a madman. He was a thorough believer in the power of guerrilla troops, but he knew that in the end they would go down before the regulars. He hoped, by availing himself of the hot courage of the clansmen, to deal a smashing blow at his old rival, but unless the Lowlands and the regulars joined James's side, there was not the remotest chance of unseating William from his new throne. His words were high, but his heart was anxious, as he hurried with his little army to strike once at least for the king, and to make his last adventure. He had decided on the line of march to be taken next morning, and the place where he would join issue with MacKay, who was coming up from Perth with a small army of regular troops, many of whom were veterans. He had discussed the matter with his staff, and settled with the jealous and irascible chiefs as best he could the position they were to take on the battle-field, and he had fallen into a fit of gloomy meditation, when Grimond entered the room in Blair Castle, where Dundee had his headquarters for the night.

If Grimond, for pure malice or even for jealousy, had invented that unhappy interview between Lady Dundee and Livingstone, or if it had been shown that he had by a word perverted the conversation, then his master, who had sent many a Covenanter to death, because he loved his religion more than King James, would have shot even that faithful servant without scruple and with satisfaction. But it was in keeping with the chivalry of Dundee—his sense of justice, his appreciation of loyalty, and his admiration for thoroughness—that he took no revenge for his own madness upon the unwitting cause thereof. During the brief stay at Glenogilvie, Grimond hid himself with discretion, so that neither his master nor mistress either saw or heard of him, and when Dundee left his home with his men, Grimond was not in the company. But as a dog which is not sure of a welcome from its master, or rather expects a blow and yet cannot leave him or let him go alone, will suddenly join him on the road by which he is making his journey, and will follow him distantly, but ever keep him in sight, so Jock was found one morning among the troopers. He kept as far from his master as he could and was careful not to obtrude himself or offer to resume a servant's duty. Dundee's face hardened at the sight of him, but he said no word, and Jock made no approach. With wise discretion he remained at a distance, and seemed anxious to be forgotten, but he had his own plan of operations. One morning Dundee found his bits and stirrups and the steel work of his horse furnishing polished and glittering as they had not been since he rode to Glenogilvie, and he suspected that an old hand had been at work. Another day his cuirass was so well and carefully done, his uniform so perfectly brushed and laid out, and his lace cravat so skilfully arranged that he was certain Grimond was doing secret duty. Day by day the signs of his attention grew more frequent and visible, till at last one morning he appeared in person, and without remark began to assist his master with his arms. Nothing passed between them, and for weeks relations were very strained, but before the end Grimond knew that he had been forgiven for his superfluity of loyalty, and Dundee was thankful that, as the shadows settled upon his life blacker and deeper every day, one honest man was his companion, and would remain true when every fair-weather friend and false schemer had fled. One can make excuses for jealousy when it is another name for love; one may not quarrel with doggedness when it is another name for devotion. There are not too many people who have in them the heart to be faithful unto death, not too many who will place one's interest before their own life. When one's back is at the wall, and he is not sure even of his nearest, he will not despise or quarrel with the roughest or plainest man who will stand by his side and share his lot, either of life or death. So Jock was reinstated without pardon asked or given, and with no reference to the tragedy of Glenogilvie, and Dundee knew that he had beside him a faithful and fearless watchdog of the tough old Scottish breed. As Grimond busied himself with preparations for the evening meal—among other dark suspicions he had taken into his head that Dundee might be poisoned—his master's eye fell on him, and at the sight memory woke. John Graham recalled the days when Grimond received him from the charge of his nurse, and took him out upon the hills round Glenogilvie. How he taught him to catch trout with his own hands below the big stones of the burn, how he told him the names of the wild birds and their ways, how he gave him his first lesson in sport, how one day he saved his life, when he was about to be gored by an infuriated bull. All the kindness of this hard man and his thoughtfulness, all his faithfulness and unselfishness, touched Dundee's heart—a heart capable of affection for a few, though it could never be called tender, and capable of sentiment, though rather that which is bound up with a cause than with a person.

“Jock,” said Graham, with a certain accent of former days and kindly doings. Now, a person's name may mean anything according to the way in which it is pronounced. It may be an accusation, a rebuke, an insult, a threat, or it may be an appeal, a thanksgiving, a benediction, a caress. And at the sound of the word, said more kindly than he had ever heard it, Grimond turned him round and looked at his master; his grim, lean, weather-beaten face relaxed and softened and grew almost gentle.

“Maister John, Maister John,” and suddenly he did a thing incredible for his undemonstrative, unsentimental, immovable granite nature. He knelt down beside Dundee, and seizing his hand, kissed it, while tears rolled down his cheeks. “My laddie, and my lord, baith o' them, this is the best day o' my life, for ye've forgiven me my terrible mistake, and my sin against my mistress. It's sore against my grain to confess that I was wrang, for it's been my infirmity to be always richt, but I sinned in this matter grievously, and micht have done what could never be put richt. But oh! my lord, it was a' for love's sake, for though I be only a serving man to the house of Graham, I dare to say I have been faithful. With neither wife nor child, I have nothing but you, my lord, and I have nothing to live for but your weel. When ye were angry wi' me I didna blame you, I coonted ye just, but 'twas to me as when the sun gaes behind the clouds. I cared neither to eat nor drink—had it not been for your sake, I didna care to live. But noo, when ye've buried the past and taken me back into your favor, I'm in the licht again, and I carena what happens to me, neither hardship nor death. Oh! my loved lord, will ye call me Jock again? When the severe and self-contained Lowland Scot takes fire, there is such strength of fuel in him, that he burns into white heat, and there is no quenching of the flame. And at that moment Graham understood, as he had only imagined before, the passion which can be concealed in the heart of a Scots retainer.

“Get up, Jock, you old fool and—my trusty friend.” Claverhouse concealed but poorly behind his banter the emotion of his heart, for Jock had found him in a lonely mood.

“You and me are no made for kneeling, except to our Maker and our king. Faith, I judge we are better at the striking. Aye, we are friends again, and shall be till the end, which I am thinking may not be far off. Ye gave me a bitter time, the like of which I never had before, and beside which death, when it comes, will be welcome, but ye did it not in baseness, but in all honesty. It was our calamity. Life, Jock, is full o' sic calamities, and we are all for the maist part at cross purposes. It seemeth to me as if we were travelling in the darkness, knowing not whether the man beside us be friend or foe, and often striking at our friends by mistake. But we must march on till the day breaks.

“It'll break for us soon, at any rate,” went on Dundee, “for by to-morrow night the matter will be settled between General MacKay and me. Div ye mind, Jock, how I fain would have fought with him at The Hague, and he wouldna take my challenge?”

“Cowardly and cold-blooded Whig like the lave o' them,” burst out Jock, in a strong reaction from his former mood of tenderness. “Leave him to look after himsel', he micht have stood mair nor once thae last weeks and faced ye like a man, but would he? Na, na, he ran afore ye, and I doot sair whether he will give you a chance to-morrow.”

“Have no fear of that, Jock, we've waited long for our duel, but, ye may take my word for it, it will come off at Killiecrankie before the sun goes down again behind the hills. There will be a fair field and a free fight, and the best man will win; and, Jock, I will not be sorry when the sun sets. What ails you, Jock, for your face is downcast? That didna used to be the way with you in the low country on the prospect of battle. Div ye mind Seneffe and the gap in the wall?”

“Fine, my lord, fine, and I'll acknowledge that I've nae rooted objection in principle or in practice to fechtin'—that is, when it's to serve a richt cause and there be a good chance o' victory, to say nothing o' profit. But a' thing maun be fair and aboveboard, and I'm dootin' whether that will be the case the mornin'. What I'm feared o' is no war, but black murder.” And there was an earnestness in Grimond's tone which arrested Dundee.

“My lord,” said Jock, in answer to the interrogation on his master's face, “I came here to speak, if Providence gave me the chance, for aifter all that has happened, I didna consider your ear would be open to hear me. When a man has made as big a mistake as I have dune, and caused as muckle sorrow, it behooves him to walk softly, and this is pairt of his judgment that them he loves most may trust him least.

“Na, na, my lord,” for the face of Dundee was beginning again to blacken. “I've no a word to say against her ladyship. I gather she has been doing what she can for the cause wi' them slippery rascals o' dragoons and their Laodicean commander, of whom I have my ain thoughts. I fear me, indeed, to say what I have found, and what I am suspecting, for ye hae reason to conclude that my head is full o' plots, and that broodin' ower treachery has made me daft.”

“What is it now, Jock?” in a tone between amusement and seriousness. “Ye havena found a letter from Lochiel to the Prince of Orange, offering to win the reward upon my head, or caught General MacKay, dressed in a ragged kilt, stealing about through the army? Out with it, and let us know the worst at once.”

“Ye are laughin', Maister John, and I will not deny ye have justification. I wish to God I be as far frae the truth this time as I was last time, but there is some thin' gaein' on in the camp that bodes nae gude to yersel', and through you to the cause. It was not for naethin' I watched two of our new recruits for days, and heard a snap o' their conversation yesterday on the march.”

“I'll be bound, Jock, ye heard some wild talk, for I doubt our men are readier with an oath than a Psalm and a loose story than a sermon. But we must just take them as they come—rough men for rough work, and desperate men for a wild adventure.”

“Gude knows, my ears are weel accustomed to the clatter of the camp, and it's no a coarse word here or there would offend Jock Grimond. But the men I mean are of the other kind; they speak like gentlefolk, and micht, for the manner o' them, sit wi' her ladyship in Dudhope Castle.”

“Broken gentlemen, very likely, Jock. There have always been plenty in our ranks. Surely you are not going to make that a crime at this time of the day. If I had five hundred of that kidney behind me, I would drive MacKay—horse, foot and bits of artillery—like chaff before the wind. A gentleman makes a good trooper, and when he has nothing to lose, he's the very devil to fight.”

“But that's no a' else. I wouldna have troubled you, my lord, but the two are aye the-gither, and keep in company like a pair o' dogs poachin'. They have the look o' men who are on their gaird, and are feared o' bein' caught by surprise. According to their story they had served with Livingstone's dragoons, and had come over to us because they were for the good cause. But ain o' Livingstone's lads wha deserted at the same time, and has naethin' wrong wi' him except that he belongs to Forfar and has a perpetual drouth, tells me that our twa friends were juist in and oot, no mair than a week wi' the dragoons. My idea is that they went wi' Livingstone to get to us. And what for—aye, what for?”

“For King James, I should say, and a bellyful of fighting,” said Dundee carelessly.

“Maybe ye're richt, and if so, there's no mischief done; and maybe ye're wrang, and if so, there will be black trouble. At ony rate, I didna like the story, and I wasna taken wi' the men. No that they're bad-lookin', but they're after some ploy. Weel, they ride by themsel's, and they camp by themsel's, and they eat by themsel's, and they sleep by themsel's. So this midday, when we haltit, they made off to the bank o' the river, and settled themsel's ablow a tree, and by chance a burn ran into the river there wi' a high bank on the side next them. Are ye listenin', my lord?”

“Yes, yes,” said Dundee, whose thoughts had evidently been far away, and who was attaching little importance to Jock's groundless fears. “Go on. So you did a bit of scouting, I suppose?”

“I did,” said Jock, with some pride, “and they never jaloused wha was lying close beside them, like a tod (fox) in his hole. I'm no prepared to say that I could catch a' their colloguing, but I got enough to set me thinkin'. Juist bits, but they could be pieced togither.”

“Well,” said Dundee, with more interest, “what were the bits?”

“The one asks the other where he keeps his pass. 'Sown in the lining of my coat,' says he. 'Where's yours?' 'In my boot,' answers he, 'the safest place.' Who gave them the passes, thinks I to myself, and what are they hiding them for? So I cocks both my ears to hear the rest.”

“And what was that, Jock?” And Dundee now was paying close attention.

“For a while they spoke so low I could only hear, 'This underhand work goes against my stomach.' 'Aha, my lad, so it's underhand,' says I in my hole. 'It's worth the doing,' says the other, 'and a big stroke of work if we succeed. It might be a throne one way or other.' 'Not to us,' laughs the first. 'No,' says his friend, 'but we'll have our share.' 'This is no ordinary work,' says I to mysel', and I risked my ears out of the hole. 'It's no an army,' says one o' them, 'but juist a rabble, and a' depends on one man.' 'You're right there,' answers the other, 'if he falls all is over.' Then they said something to one another I couldn't catch, and then one stretched himself, as I took it by his kicking a stone into the river, and rose, saying, 'By heaven! we'll manage it.' The other laughed as he rose too, and as they went away the last words I heard were, 'The devil, Jack, is more likely to be our friend.' Notice this, my lord, every word in the English tongue, as fine and smooth spoken as ye like. Where did they come from, and what are they after? Aye, and wha is to fall, that's the question, my lord?”

Dundee started, for Jock's story had unloosed a secret fear in his mind, which he had often banished, but which had been returning with great force. As a band holds together the sheaf of corn, so he alone kept King James's army. Apart from him there was no cohesion, and apart from him there was no commander. With his death, not only would the forces disperse, but the cause of King James would be ended. If he were out of the way, William would have no other cause for anxiety, and he knew the determined and cold-blooded character of his former master. William had given him his chance, and he had not taken it. He would have no more scruple in assassinating his opponent than in brushing a fly off the table. Instead of gathering an army and fighting him through the Highlands and Lowlands, just one stroke of a dirk or a pistol bullet and William is secure on his throne. “Jock may be right for once,” said Claverhouse to himself, “and, by heaven! if I am to fall, I had rather be shot in front than behind.” He wrote an order to the commander of the cavalry, and in fifteen minutes the two troopers were standing before him disarmed and guarded.

The moment Dundee looked at them he knew that Jock was correct in saying that they were not common soldiers, for they had the unmistakable manner of gentlemen, and as soon as they spoke he also knew that they were Englishmen. One was tall and fair, with honest blue eyes, which did not suggest treachery, the other was shorter and dark, with a more cautious and uncertain expression.

“For certain reasons, gentlemen,” said Dundee, with emphasis upon the word, “I desire by your leave to ask you one or two questions. If you will take my advice, you had better answer truthfully. I will not waste time about things I know. What brought you from Livingstone's dragoons to us? why were ye so short a time with them? and why did ye leave the English army? Tell no lies, I pray you. I can see that ye are soldiers and have been officers. Why are you with us in the guise of troopers?”

“You know so much, my lord,” said the taller man, with that outspoken candor which is so taking, “that I may as well tell you all. We have held commissions in the army, and are, I suppose, officers to-day, though they will be wondering where we are, and we should be shot if we were caught. You will excuse me giving our names, for they could not be easily kept. We belong to families which have ever been true to their king, and we came north to take a share in the good work. That is the only way that we could manage it, and we do not fancy it overmuch, but we have taken our lives in our hands for the adventure.”

“You are men of spirit, I can see,” said Dundee ironically, “but ye are wise men also, and have reduced your risks. Would you do me the favor of showing the passes with which you provided yourselves before leaving England? Save yourselves the trouble of—argument. One of you has got his pass in his coat, and the other in his boot. I'm sure you would not wish to be stripped.”

The shorter man colored with vexation and then paled, but the other only laughed like a boy caught in a trick, and said, “There are quick eyes, or, more likely, quick ears, in this army, my lord.” Then, without more ado, they handed Lord Dundee the passes. “As I expected,” said Dundee, “to the officers of King William's army, and to allow the bearers to go where they please, and signed by his Majesty's secretary of state.” And Dundee looked at them with a mocking smile.

“Damn those passes!” said the spokesman with much geniality. “I always thought we should have destroyed them once we were safely through the other lines, but my friend declared they might help us afterwards in time of need.”

“And now, gentlemen, they are going to hang you, for shooting is too honorable for spies and, worse than spies, assassins, for,” concluded Dundee softly, “it was to shoot me you two loyal Cavaliers have come.”

The shorter man was about to protest, in hope of saving his life, but his comrade waved him to be silent, and for the last time took up the talk.

“We are caught in a pretty coil, my lord. Circumstances are against us, and we have nothing to put on the other side, except our word of honor as gentlemen. Neither my comrade nor I are going to plead for our lives, though we don't fancy being hung. But perhaps of your courtesy, if we write our names, you will allow a letter to go to General MacKay, and that canting Puritan will be vastly amused when he learns that he had hired us to assassinate my Lord Dundee. He will be more apt to consider our execution an act of judgment for joining the Malignants. We got our passes by trickery from Lord Nottingham, and they have tricked us, and, by the gods! the whole affair is a fine jest, except the hanging. I would rather it had been shooting, but I grant that if MacKay had sent us on such an errand, both he and we deserve to be hung.” And the Englishman shrugged his shoulders as one who had said his last word and accepted his fate.

He carried himself so bravely, with such an ingenuous countenance and honest speech, that Claverhouse was interested in the man, and the reference to MacKay arrested him in his purpose. They were not likely to have come on such an errand from MacKay's camp without the English general knowing what they were about. Was MacKay the man to sanction a proceeding so cowardly and so contrary to the rules of war? Of all things in the world, was not this action the one his principles would most strongly condemn? Certainly their conversation by the riverside had been suspicious, but then Grimond had made one hideous mistake before. It was possible that he had made another. Graham had insulted his loyal wife through Grimond's blundering; it would be almost as bad if he put to an ignominious death two adventurous, blundering English Cavaliers. He ordered that the Englishmen should be kept under close arrest till next morning, and he sent the following letter by a swift messenger and under flag of truce to the general of the English forces.

                     BLAIR CASTLE, July 26, 1689.

  To Major-General Hugh MacKay, Commanding the forces in the
  interests of the Prince of Orange.

  SIR: It is years since we have met and many things have happened
  since, but I freely acknowledge that you have ever been a good
  soldier and one who would not condescend to dishonor. And this
  being my mind I crave your assistance in the following matter.

  Two English officers have been arrested in disguise and carrying
  compromising passes; there is reason to believe that their errand
  was to assassinate me, and if this be the case they shall be hung
  early to-morrow morning.

  Albeit we were rivals in the Low Country and will soon fight our
  duel to the death, I am loath to believe that this thing is true
  of you, and I will ask of you this last courtesy, for your sake
  and mine and that of the two Englishmen, that ye tell me the
  truth.

  I salute you before we fight and I have the honor to be,

                     Your most obedient servant,

                     DUNDEE.

CHAPTER II. VISIONS OF THE NIGHT

Upon the highest floor of Blair Castle there was a long and spacious apartment, like unto the gallery in Paisley Castle, where John Graham had been married to Jean Cochrane, and which to-day is the drawing-room. To this high place Claverhouse climbed from the room where he had examined the two Englishmen, and here he passed the last hours of daylight on the day before the battle of Killiecrankie. Seating himself at one of the windows, he looked out towards the west, through whose golden gates the sun had begun to enter. Beneath lay a widespreading meadow which reached to the Garry; beyond the river the ground began to rise, and in the distance were the hills covered with heather, with lakes of emerald amid the purple. There are two hours of the day when the soul of man is powerfully affected by the physical world in which we live, and in which, indeed, the things we see become transparent, like a thin veil, and through them the things which are not seen stream in upon the soul. One is sunrise, when there is first a grayness in the east, and then the clouds begin to redden, and afterwards a joyful brightness heralds the appearing of the sun as he drives in rout the reluctant rearguard of the night. The most impressive moment is when all the high lands are bathed in soft, fresh, hopeful sunshine, but the glens are still lying in the cold and dank shadow, so that one may suddenly descend from a place of brightness, where he has been in the eye of the sun, to a land of gloom, which the sun has not yet reached. Sunrise quickens the power that has been sleeping, and calls a man in high hope to the labor of the day, for if there be darkness lingering in the glen, there is light on the lofty table-lands, and soon it will be shining everywhere, when the sun has reached his meridian. And it puts heart into a man to come over the hill and down through the hollows when the sun is rising, for though the woods be dark and chill, the traveller is sure of the inevitable victory of the light.

Yet more imperious and irresistible is the impression of sunset as Dundee saw the closing pageant of the day on the last evening of his life. When first he looked the green plain was flooded with gentle light which turned into gold the brown, shaggy Highland cattle scattered among the grass, and made the river as it flashed out and in among the trees a chain of silver, and took the hardness from the jagged rocks that emerged from the sides of the hills. As the sun entered in between high banks of cloud, the light began to fade from the plain, and it touched the river no more; but above the clouds were glowing and reddening like a celestial army clad in scarlet and escorting home to his palace a victorious general. In a few minutes the sun has disappeared, and the red changes into violet and delicate, indescribable shades of green and blue, like the color of Nile water. Then there is a faint flicker, sudden and transient, from the city into which the sun has gone, and the day is over. As the monarch of the day withdraws, the queen of the night takes possession, and Claverhouse, leaning his chin upon his hand and gazing from the sadness of his eyes across the valley, saw the silver light, clear, beautiful, awful, flood the mountains and the level ground below, till the outstanding hills above, and the cattle which had lain down to rest in the meadow, were thrown out as in an etching, with exact and distinct outlines. The day, with its morning promise, with its noontide heat, with its evening glory, was closed, completed and irrevocable. The night, in which no man can work, had come, and in the cold and merciless light thereof every man's work was revealed and judged. The weird influence of the hour was upon the imagination of an impressionable man, and before him he saw the history of his life. It seemed only a year or so since he was a gay-hearted lad upon the Sidlaw hills, and yesterday since he made his first adventure in arms, with the army of France. Again he is sitting by the camp-fire in the Low Country, and crossing swords for the first time with Hugh MacKay, with whom he is to settle his warfare to-morrow. He is again pledging his loyalty to King James at Whitehall, whom he has done his best to serve, and who has been but a sorry master to him. His thoughts turn once more to the pleasaunce of Paisley Castle, he hears again the jingling of the horses' bits as he pledges his troth to his bride. Across the moss-hags, where the horses plunge in the ooze and the mist encircles the troopers, he is hunting his Covenanting prey, and catches the fearless face of some peasant zealot as he falls pierced with bullets. Jean weaves her arms round his neck, for once in her life a tender and fearful woman, pleading that he should withdraw from the fight and live quietly with her at home, and then, more like herself, she rages in the moment of his mad jealousy and her unquenchable anger. To-morrow he would submit to the final arbitrament of arms the cause for which he had lived, and for which the presentiment was upon him that he would die, and the quarrel begun between him and MacKay fifteen years ago, between the sides they represent centuries ago, would be settled. If the years had been given back to him to live again, he would not have had them otherwise. Destiny had settled for him his politics and his principles, for he could not leave the way in which Montrose had gone before, or be the comrade of Covenanting Whigs. It would have been a thing unnatural and impossible. And yet he feared that the future was with them and not with the Jacobites. He only did his part in arresting fanatical hillmen and executing the punishment of the law upon them, but he would have been glad that night if he had not been obliged to shoot John Brown of Priest Hill before his wife's eyes, and keep guard at the scaffold from which Pollock went home to God. He had never loved any other woman than Jean Cochrane, and they were well mated in their high temper of nature, but their marriage had been tempestuous, and he was haunted with vague misgivings. What light was given him he had followed, but there was little to show for his life. His king had failed him, his comrades had distrusted him, his nation hated him. His wife—had she forgiven him, and was she true-hearted to him still? Behind high words of loyalty and hope his heart had been sinking, and now it seemed to him in the light of eternal judgment, wherein there is justice but no charity, that his forty years had failed and were leaving behind them no lasting good to his house or to his land. The moonlight shining full upon Claverhouse shows many a line now on the smoothness of his fair girl face, and declares his hidden, inextinguishable sorrow, who all his days had been an actor in a tragedy. He had written to the chiefs that all the world was with him, but in his heart he knew that it was against him, and perhaps also God.

Once and again Grimond had come into the gallery to summon his master to rest, but seeing him absorbed in one of his reveries had quietly withdrawn. Full of anxiety, for he knows what the morrow will mean, that faithful servitor at last came near and rustled to catch his master's ear.

“Jock,” said Claverhouse, startling and rising to his feet, “is that you, man, coming to coax me to my bed as ye did lang syne, when ye received me first from my nurse's hands? It's getting late, and I am needing rest for to-morrow's work, if I can get it. We have come to Armageddon, as the preachers would say, and mony things for mony days hang on the issue. All a man can do, Jock, is to walk in the road that was set before him from a laddie, and to complete the task laid to his hand. What will happen afterwards doesna concern him, so be it he is faithful. Where is my room? And, hark ye, Jock, waken me early, and be not far from me through the night, for I can trust you altogether. And there be not mony true.”

Worn out with a long day in the saddle, and the planning of the evening together with many anxieties, and the inward tumult of his mind, Claverhouse fell asleep. He was resting so quietly that Grimond, who had gone to the door to listen, was satisfied and lay down to catch an hour or two of sleep for himself, for he could waken at any hour he pleased, and knew that soon after daybreak he must be stirring. While he was nearby heavy with sleep, his master, conscious or unconscious, according as one judges, was in the awful presence of the unseen. He woke suddenly, as if he had been called, and knew that someone was in the room, but also in the same instant that it was not Grimond or any visitor of flesh and blood. Twice had the wraith of the Grahams appeared to him, and always before a day of danger, but this time it was no sad, beautiful woman's face, carrying upon its weird grace the sorrows of his line, but the figure of a man that loomed from the shadow. The moon had gone behind a cloud, and the room was so dark that he could only see that someone was there, but could not tell who it was or by what name he would be called. Then the moon struggled out from behind her covering, and sent a shaft of light into the gloomy chamber, with its dark draping and heavy carved furniture. With the coming of the light Claverhouse, who was not unaccustomed to ghostly sights, for they were his heritage, raised himself in bed, and knowing no fear looked steadily. What he saw thrown into relief against the shadows was the figure of a hillman of the west, and one that in an instant he knew. The Covenanter was dressed in rough homespun hodden gray, stained heavily with the black of the peat holes in which he had been hiding, and torn here and there where the rocks had caught him as he was crawling for shelter. Of middle age, with hair hanging over his ears and beard uncared for, his face bore all the signs of hunger and suffering, as of one who had wanted right food and warmth and every comfort of life for months on end. In his eyes glowed the fire of an intense and honest, but fierce and narrow piety, and with that expression was mingled another, not of anger nor of sorrow, but of reproach, of judgment and of sombre triumph. His hands were strapped in front of him with a stirrup leather, and his head was bare. As the moon shone more clearly, Claverhouse saw other stains than those of peat upon his chest, and while he looked the red blood seemed to rise from wounds that pierced his heart and lungs, it flowed out again in a trickling stream, and dripped upon the whiteness of his hands. More awful still, there was a wound in his forehead, and part of his head was shattered. The scene had never been absent long from Claverhouse's memory, and now he reacted it again. How this man had been caught after a long pursuit, upon the moor, how he had stood bold and unrepentant before the man that had power of life and death over him, how he refused to take the oath of loyalty to the king, how he had been shot dead before his cottage, and how his wife had been spectator of her husband's death.

“Ye have not forgot me, John Graham of Claverhouse, nor the deed which ye did at Priest Hill in the West Country. I am John Brown, whom ye caused to be slain for the faith of the saints and their testimony, and whom ye set free from the bondage of man forever. Behold, I have washed my robes and made them white in better blood than this, but I am sent in the garment o' earth, sair stained wi' its defilement, and in my ain unworthy blude, that ye may ken me and believe that I am sent.”

“What I did was according to law,” answered Claverhouse, unshaken by the sight, “and in the fulfilling of my commission, though God knows I loved not the work, and have oftentimes regretted thy killing. For that and all the deeds of this life I shall answer to my judge and not to man. What wilt thou have with me, what hast thou to do with me? Had it been the other way and I had fallen at Drumclog, I had not troubled thee or any of thy kind.”

“Nor had I been minded or allowed to visit thee, John Graham, if I had fallen in fair fight, contending for Christ's crown and the liberty of the Scots Kirk, but these wounds upon my head and breast speak not of war, but of murder. Because thou didst murder Christ's confessors, and the souls of the martyrs cry from beneath the altar, I am come to show thee things which are to be and the doing of Him who saith, 'I will avenge.' Ye have often said go, and he goeth, and come and he cometh, but this nicht ye will come with me, and see things that will shake even thy bold heart.” And so in vision they went.

Claverhouse was standing in a country kirkyard, and at the hour of sunset. Round him were ancient graves with stones whose inscriptions had been worn away by rough weather, and upon which the grass was growing rank. They were the resting-places of past generations whose descendants had died out, and whose names were forgotten in the land where once they may have been mighty people. Before him was a burying-place he knew, for it belonged to his house. There lay his father, and there he had laid his mother, the Lady Magdalene Graham, to rest, taken as he often thought from the evil to come. The ground had been stirred again, and there was another grave. It was of tiny size, not that of a man or woman, but of a child, and one that had died in its infancy. It was carefully tended, as if the mother still lived and had not yet forgotten her child. At the sight of it Claverhouse turned to the figure by his side.

“Ye mean not——”

“Read,” said the Covenanter, “for the writing surely is plain.” And this is what Claverhouse saw:

                     “JAMES GRAHAME,
                 Only son and child of my Lord Dundie.
                     Aged eight months.”

“Ye longed for him and ye were proud of him, and if the sword of the righteous should slay thee, ye boasted in your heart that there was a man-child to continue your line. But there shall be none, and thine evil house shall die from out the land, like the house of Ahab, the son of Omri, who persecuted the saints. Fathers have seen their sons' heads hung above the West Port to bleach in the sun for the sake of the Covenant, and mothers have wept for them who languished in the dungeon of the Bass and wearied for death. This is the cup ye are drinking this night before the time, for, behold, thou hast harried many homes, but thy house shall be left unto thee desolate.”

For a brief space Claverhouse bent his head, for he seemed to feel the child in his arms, as he had held him before leaving Glenogilvie. Then he rallied his manhood, who had never been given to quail before the hardest strokes of fortune.

“God rest his innocent soul, if this be his lot; but I live and with me my house.”

“Yea, thou livest,” said the shade, “and it has been a stumbling-block to many that thou wert spared so long, but the day of vengeance is at hand. Come again with me.”

Claverhouse finds himself now on a plain with the hills above and a river beneath and an ancient house close at hand, and he knows that this is the battle-field of to-morrow. They are standing together on a mound which rises out of a garden, and on the grass the body of a man is lying. A cloth covers his face, but by the uniform and arms Claverhouse knows that it is that of an officer of rank, and one that has belonged to his own regiment of horse. A dint upon the cuirass and the sight of the sword by his side catch his eye and he shudders.

“This—do I see myself?”

“Yes, thou seest thyself lying low as the humblest man and weaker now than the poorest of God's people thou didst mock.”

“It is not other than I expected, nor does this make me afraid, and I judge thou art a lying spirit, for I see no wound. Lift up the cloth. Nor any mark upon my face. I had not died for nothing.”

“Nay, thou hadst been ready to die in the heat of battle facing thy foe, for there has ever been in thee a bold heart, but thy wound is not in front as mine is. See ye, Claverhouse, thou hast been killed from behind.” And Claverhouse saw where the blood, escaping from a wound near the armpit, had stained the grass. “Aye, some one of thine own and riding near beside thee found that place, and as thou didst raise thine arm to call thy soldiers to the slaughter of them who are contending for the right, thou wast cunningly stricken unto death. By a coward's blow thou hast fallen, O valiant man, and there will be none to mourn thy doom, for thou hast been a man of blood from thy youth up, even unto this day.”

“Thou liest there, and art a false spirit. It may be that your assassins are in my army, and that I may have the fate of the good archbishop whom the saints slew in cold blood and before his daughter's eyes. But if I fall I shall be mourned deep and long by one who was of your faith, and had her name in your Covenant, but whose heart I won like goodly spoil taken from the mighty. If I die by the sword of my Lady Cochrane's men, her daughter will keep my grave green with her tears. If, living, I have been loved by one strong woman, and after I am dead am mourned by her, I have not lived in vain.”

“Sayest thou,” replied the shadowy figure, with triumphant scorn. “That was a pretty catch-word to be repeated over the wine cup at the drinking of my lady's health. Verily thou didst deceive a daughter of the godly, and she was willing to be caught in the snare of thy fair face and soft words. Judge ye whether the child who breaks the bond of the Covenant and turns against the mother who bore her, is likely to be a true wife or a faithful widow. Again will I lift the veil, and thou wilt see with thine own eyes the things which are going to be, for as thou hast shown no mercy, mercy will not be shown to thee. Dost thou remember this place?”

Claverhouse is again within the gallery of Paisley Castle, and he is looking upon a marriage service. Before him are the people of five years ago, except that now young Lord Cochrane is Earl of Dundonald, and is giving away the bride, and my Lady Cochrane is not there either to bless or to ban. For a while he cannot see the faces of the bride or bridegroom, nor tell what they are, save that he is a soldier, and she is tall and proud of carriage.

“My marriage day!” exclaimed Claverhouse, his defiant note softening into tenderness, and the underlying sorrow rising into joy. “For this vision at least I bless thee, spirit, whoever thou mayest be, Brown or any other. That was the day of all my life, and I am ready now or any time in this world or the other to have it over again and pledge my troth to my one and only love, to my gallant lady and sweetheart, Jean.”

“Thou wilt not be asked to take thy marriage vow again, Claverhouse, nor would thy presence be acceptable on this day. It is the wedding of my Lady Viscountess Dundee, but be not too sure that thou art the bridegroom. She that broke lightly the Covenant with her living heavenly bridegroom, will have little scruple in breaking the bond to a dead earthly bridegroom. Thy Jean hath found another husband.”

From the faces of the bride and bridegroom the mysterious shadow, which hides the future from the present in mercy to us all, lifted. It was Jean as majestic and as youthful as in the days when he wooed her in the pleasaunce, with her golden hair glittering as before in the sunshine, and the love-light again in her eye. And beside her, oh! fickleness of a woman's heart, oh! irony of life, oh! cruelty to the most faithful passion, Colonel Livingstone, now my Lord Kilsyth. And an expression of fierce satisfaction lit up the Covenanter's ghastly face.

“This then was thy revenge, Jean, for the insult I offered at Glenogilvie, and I was right in my fear that thy love was shattered. Be it so,” said Claverhouse, “I believe that thou wast loyal while I lived, and now, while I may have hoped other things of thee, I will not grudge thee in thy loneliness peace and protection. When this heart of mine, which ever beat for thee, lies cold in the grave, and my hair, that thou didst caress, has mingled with the dust, may joy be with thee, Jean, and God's sunshine ever rest upon thy golden crown. Thou didst think, servant of the devil, to damn my soul in the black depths of jealousy and hatred, as once I damned myself, but I have escaped, and I defy thee. Do as thou pleasest, thou canst not break my spirit or make me bend. Hast thou other visions?”

“One more,” said the spirit, “and I have done with thee, proud and unrepentant sinner.”

Before Claverhouse is a room in which there has been some sudden disaster, for the roof has fallen and buried in its ruins a bed whereon someone had been sleeping, and a cradle in which some child had been lying. In the foreground is a coffin covered by a pall.

“She was called before her judge without warning, prepared or unprepared, and thou hadst better see her for the last time ere she goes to the place of the dead.” And then the cloth being lifted, Claverhouse looked on the face of his wife, with her infant child, not his, but Kilsyth's, lying at her feet. There was no abatement in the splendor of her hair, nor the pride of her countenance; the flush was still upon her cheek, and though her eyes were closed there was courage in the set of her lips. By an unexpected blow she had been stricken and perished, but in the fullness of her magnificent womanhood, and undismayed. Lying there she seemed to defy death, and her mother's curse, which had come true at last.

“So thou also art to be cut off in the midst of thy days, Jean. Better this way both for you and me, than to grow old and become feeble, and be carried to and fro, and be despised. We were born to rule and not to serve, to conquer and not to yield, to persecute if need be, but not to be persecuted. Kilsyth loved thee, it was not his blame, who would not? He did his best to please thee. Mayhap it was not much he could do, but that was not his blame. He was thy husband for awhile, but I am thy man forever. Thou art mine and I am thine, for we are of the same creed and temper. I, John Graham of Claverhouse, and not Kilsyth, will claim thee on the judgment day, and thou shalt come with me, as the eagle follows her mate; together we shall go to Heaven or to Hell, for we are one. Slain we may be, Jean, but conquered never. We have lived, we have loved, and neither in life or death can anyone make us afraid.”

Outside the trumpets sounded and Claverhouse awoke, for the visions of the night had passed and the light of the morning was pouring into his room.

CHAPTER III. FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH

It is written in an ancient book “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” and with the brief darkness of the summer night passed the shadow from Claverhouse's soul. According, also, to the brightness and freshness of the early sunshine was his high hope on the eventful day, which was to decide both the fate of his king and of himself. The powers of darkness had attacked him on every side, appealing to his fear and to his faith, to his love and to his hate, to his pride and to his jealousy, to see whether they could not shake his constancy and break his spirit. They had failed at every assault, and he had conquered; he had risen above his ghostly enemies and above himself, and now, having stood fast against principalities and powers of the other world, he was convinced that his earthly enemies would be driven before him as chaff before the wind. He knew exactly what MacKay and his army could do, and what he and his army could, in the place of issue, where, by the mercy of God, Who surely was on the side of His anointed, the battle would be fought. What would avail MacKay's parade-ground tactics and all the lessons of books, and what would avail the drilling and the manoeuvring of his hired automatons in the pass of Killiecrankie, with its wooded banks and swift running river, and narrow gorge and surrounding hills? This was no level plain for wheeling right and wheeling left, for bombarding with artillery and flanking by masses of cavalry. Claverhouse remembers the morning of the battle of Seneffe, when he rode with Carleton and longed to be on the hills with a body of Highlanders, and have the chance of taking by surprise the lumbering army of the Prince of Orange and sweeping it away by one headlong charge. The day for this onslaught had come, and by an irony, or felicity, of Providence, he has the troops he had longed for and his rival has the inert and helpless regulars. News had come that MacKay was marching with phlegmatic steadiness and perfect confidence into the trap, and going to place himself at the greatest disadvantage for his kind of army. The Lord was giving the Whigs into his hand, and they would fall before the sun set, as a prey unto his sword. The passion of battle was in his blood, and the laurels of victory were within his reach. Graham forgot his bitter disappointments and cowardly friends, the weary journeys and worse anxieties of the past weeks, the cunning cautiousness of the chiefs and their maddening jealousies. Even the pitiable scene at Glenogilvie and his gnawing vain regret faded for the moment from his memory and from his heart. If the Lowlands had been cold as death to the good cause, the Highlands had at last taken fire; if he had not one-tenth the army he should have commanded, had every Highlander shared his loyalty to the ancient line, he had sufficient for the day's work. If he had spoken in vain to the king at Whitehall and miserably failed to put some spirit into his timid mind, and been outvoted at the Convention, and been driven from Edinburgh by Covenanting assassins and hunted like a brigand by MacKay's troops, his day had now come. He was to taste for the first time the glorious cup of victory. He had not been so glad or confident since his marriage day, when he snatched his bride from the fastness of his enemy, and as Grimond helped him to arm, and gave the last touches to his martial dress, he jested merrily with that solemn servitor, and sang aloud to Grimond's vast dismay, who held the good Scottish faith that if you be quiet Providence may leave you alone, but if you show any sign of triumph it will be an irresistible temptation to the unseen powers.

“I'm judging my lord, that we'll win the day, and that it will be a crownin' victory. I would like fine to see MacKay's army tumble in are great heap into the Garry, with their general on the top o' them. I'm expectin' to see ye ride into Edinburgh at the head o' the clans, and the Duke o' Gordon come oot frae the castle to greet you, as the king's commander-in-chief, and a' Scotland lyin' at yir mercy. But for ony sake be cautious, Maister John, and dinna mak a noise, it's juist temptin' Providence, an' the Lord forgie me for sayin' it, I never saw a hicht withoot a howe. I'm no wantin' you to be there afore the day is done. Dinna sing thae rantin' camp songs, and abune a' dinna whistle till a' things be settled; at ony rate, it's no canny.”

“Was there ever such a solemn face and cautious-spoken fellow living as you, Jock Grimond, though I've seen you take your glass, and unless my ears played me false, sing a song, too, round the camp-fire in days past. But I know the superstition that is in you and all your breed of Lowland Scots. Whether ye be Covenanters or Cavaliers, ye are all tarred with the same stick. Do ye really think, Jock, that the Almighty sits watching us, like a poor, jealous, cankered Whig minister, and if a bit of good fortune comes our way and our hearts are lifted, that He's ready to strike for pure bad temper? But there's no use arguing with you, for you're set in your own opinions. But I'll tell you what to do—sing the dreariest Psalm ye can find to the longest Cameronian tune. That will keep things right, and ward off judgment, for the blood in my veins is dancing, Jock, and the day of my life has come.”

Claverhouse went out from his room to confer with the chiefs and his officers about the plan of operation, “like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.” Grimond, as he watched him go, shook his head and said to himself, “The last time I heard a Covenanting tune was at Drumclog, and it's no a cheerfu' remembrance. May God preserve him, for in John Graham is all our hope and a' my love.”

Through the morning of the decisive day the omens continued favorable, and the sun still shone on Claverhouse's heart. As a rule, a war council of Highland chiefs was a babel and a battle, when their jealous pride and traditional rivalry rose to fever height. They were often more anxious to settle standing quarrels with one another than to join issue with the enemy; they would not draw a sword if their pride had in any way been touched, and battles were lost because a clan had been offended. Jacobite councils were also cursed by the self-seeking and insubordination of officers, who were not under the iron discipline of a regular army, and owing to the absence of the central authorities, with a king beyond the water, were apt to fight for their own hand. Dundee had known trouble, and had in his day required more self-restraint than nature had given him, and if there had been division among the chiefs that day, he would have fallen into despair; but he had never seen such harmony. They were of one mind that there could not be a ground more favorable than Killiecrankie, and that they should offer battle to MacKay before the day closed. They approved of the line of march which Dundee had laid out, and the chiefs, wonderful to say, raised no objection to the arrangement of the clans in the fighting line, even although the MacDonalds were placed on the left, which was not a situation that proud clan greatly fancied. The morning was still young when the Jacobite army left their camping ground in the valley north of Blair Castle, and, climbing the hillside, passed Lude, till they reached a ridge which ran down from the high country on their left to the narrow pass through which the Garry ran. Along this rising ground, with a plateau of open ground before them, fringed with wood, Dundee drew up his army, while below MacKay arranged his troops, whom he had hastily extricated from the dangerous and helpless confinement of the pass. During the day they faced one another, the Jacobites on their high ground, William's troops on the level ground below—two characteristic armies of Highlanders and Lowlanders, met to settle a quarrel older than James and William, and which would last, under different conditions and other names, centuries after the grass had grown on the battle-field of Killiecrankie and Dundee been laid to his last rest in the ancient kirkyard of Blair. Had Dundee considered only his own impetuous feelings, and given effect to the fire that was burning him, he would have instantly launched his force at MacKay. He was, however, determined that day, keen though he was, to run no needless risks nor to give any advantage to the enemy. The Highlanders were like hounds held in the leash, and it was a question of time when they must be let go. He would keep them if he could, till the sun had begun to set and its light was behind them and on the face of MacKay's army.

During this period the messenger came back with an answer to the despatch which Dundee had sent to MacKay the night before. He had found William's general at Pitlochry, as he was approaching the pass of Killiecrankie, and, not without difficulty and some danger, had presented his letter.

“This man, sir, surrendered himself late last night to my Lord Belhaven, who was bivouacking in the pass which is ahead,” said an English aide-de-camp to General MacKay, “and his lordship, from what I am told, was doubtful whether he should not have shot him as a spy, but seeing he had some kind of letter addressed to you, sir, he sent him on under guard. It may be that it contains terms of surrender, and at any rate it will, I take it, be your desire that the man be kept a prisoner.”

“You may take my word for it, Major Lovel,” said young Cameron of Lochiel, who, according to the curious confusion of that day, was with MacKay, while his father was with Dundee, “and my oath also, if that adds anything to my word, that whatever be in the letter, there will be no word of surrender. Lord Dundee will fight as sure as we are living men, and I only pray we may not be the losers. Ye be not wise to laugh,” added he hotly, “and ye would not if ye had ever seen the Cameron's charge.”

“Peace, gentlemen, we are not here to quarrel with one another,” said General MacKay. “Hand me the letter, and do the messenger no ill till we see its contents.”

As he read his cheek flushed for a moment, and he made an impatient gesture with his hand, as one repudiating the shameful accusation, and then he spoke with his usual composure.

“You are right,” he said, addressing Cameron, who was on his staff, “in thinking that Lord Dundee is ready for the fight. I had expected nothing else from him, for I knew him of old, the bigotry of his principles, and the courage of his heart. We could never be else than foes, but I wish to say, whatever happens before the day is done, that I count him a brave and honorable gentleman, as it pleases me to know he counts me also.

“This letter”—and MacKay threw it with irritation on the table of the room in which he had taken his morning meal, “is from Dundee explaining that two English officers have been arrested, who were serving as privates in his cavalry, and who are suspected of being sent by us to assassinate him. If no answer is sent back they will be hung at once, but if the charge is denied, they will be released, which, I take it, gentlemen, is merciful and generous conduct.

“I will write a letter with my own hand and clear our honor from this foul slander. Spying is allowed in war, though I have never liked it, and the spy need deserve no mercy, but assassination is unworthy of any soldier, and a work of the devil, of which I humbly trust I am incapable, and also my king. Give this letter”—when he had written and sealed it—“to the messenger, Major Lovel, and see that he has a safe conduct through our army, and past our outposts.” Lovel saluted and left the room, but outside he laughed, and said to himself, “Very likely it's true all the same, and a quick and useful way of ending the war. When Claverhouse dies the rebellion dies, too, and there's a text somewhere which runs like this, 'It is expedient that one man should die than all the people.' I wonder who those fellows are, and if they'll manage it, and what they're going to get. They have the devil's luck in this affair, for, of course, MacKay would be told nothing about it; he's the piousest officer in the English army.”

Dundee received MacKay's letter during the long wait before the battle, and this is what he read:

  To My Lord Viscount Dundee, Commanding the forces raised in the
  interest of James Stuart.

  MY LORD: It gives me satisfaction that altho' words once passed
  between us, and there be a far greater difference to-day, you have
  not believed that I was art and part in so base a work as
  assassination, and I hereby on my word of honor as an officer, and
  as a Christian, declare that I know nothing of the two men who are
  under arrest in your camp. So far as I am concerned their blood
  should not be shed, nor any evil befall them.

  Before this letter reaches your hand we shall be arrayed against
  one another in order of battle, and though arms be my profession,
  I am filled with sorrow as I think that the conflict to-day will
  be between men of the same nation, and sometimes of the same
  family, for it seemeth to me as if brother will be slaying
  brother.

  I fear that it is too late to avert battle and I have no authority
  to offer any terms of settlement to you and those that are with
  you. Unto God belongs the issue, and in His hands I leave it. We
  are divided by faith, and now also by loyalty, but if any evil
  befel your person I pray you to believe that it would give me no
  satisfaction, and I beg that ye be not angry with me nor regard me
  with contempt if I send you as I now do the prayer which, as a
  believer in our common Lord I have drawn up for the use of our
  army. It may be the last communication that shall pass between
  us.

    I have the honor to be,

                     Your very obedient servant,

                     HUGH MACKAY.
                     Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty's Forces.

And this was the prayer, surely the most remarkable ever published by a general of the British army:

  O Almighty King of Kings, and Lord of Hosts, which by Thy Angels
  thereunto appointed, dost minister both War and Peace; Thou rulest
  and commandest all things, and sittest in the throne judging
  right; And, therefore, we make our Addresses to Thy Divine Majesty
  in this our necessity, that Thou wouldst take us and our Cause
  into Thine Own hand and judge between us and our Enemies. Stir up
  Thy strength, O Lord, and come and help us, for Thou givest not
  always the Battle to the strong, but canst save by Many or Few. O
  let not our sins now cry against us for vengeance, but hear us Thy
  poor servants, begging mercy, and imploring Thy help, and that
  Thou wouldst be a defence for us against the Enemy. Make it
  appear, that Thou art our Saviour, and Mighty Deliverer, through
  Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Dundee ordered the English officers to be brought before him, and for thirty seconds he looked at them without speaking, as if he were searching their thoughts and estimating their character. During this scrutiny the shorter man looked sullen and defiant, as one prepared for the worst, but the other was as careless and gay as ever, with the expression either of one who was sure of a favorable issue, or of one who took life or death as a part of the game.

“If I tell you, gentlemen, that your general refuses to clear you from this charge, have ye anything to say before ye die?”

“Nothing,” said their spokesman, with a light laugh, “except that we would take more kindly to a bullet than a rope. 'Tis a soldier's fancy, my lord, but I fear me ye will not humor it; perhaps ye will even say we have not deserved it.”

When Dundee turned to the other, who had not yet spoken, this was all he got:

“My lord, that it be quickly, and that no mention be made of our names. It was an adventure, and it has ended badly.”

“Gentlemen, whoever ye may be, and that I do not know, and whatever ye may be about, and of that also I am not sure, I have watched you closely, and I freely grant that ye are both brave men. Each in his own way, and each to be trusted by his own cause, though there be one of you I would trust rather than the other.

“I have this further to say, that General MacKay declares that, so far as he knows, ye are innocent of the foul crime of which we suspected you. I might still keep you in arrest, and it were perhaps wiser to do so; but I have myself suffered greatly through mistrusting those who were true and honorable, and I would not wish to let the shadow of disgrace lie upon you, if indeed ye be honest Cavaliers. You have your liberty, gentlemen, to return to your troop, and if there be any gratitude in you for this deliverance from death, ride in the front and strike hard to-day for our king and the ancient Scottish glory.”

“Thank you, my lord, but I expected nothing else. I give you our word that we shall not fail in our duty,” said the taller soldier, with a light-hearted laugh. But the other grew dark red in the face, as if a strong passion were stirring within him. “My lord,” he said, “I would rather remain as I am till the battle be over, and then that ye give me leave to depart from the army.”

Dundee glanced keenly at him, as one weighing his words, and trying to fathom their meaning, but the taller man broke in with boisterous haste:

“Pardon my comrade, general, we Englishmen have proud stomachs, and ye have offended his honor by your charges, but to-day's fighting will be the best medicine.” And then he hurried his friend away, and as they left to join their troop he seemed to be remonstrating with him for his touchy scruples.

“What ye may think of those two gentlemen I know not, my lord,” said Lochiel, who had been standing by, “but I count the dark man the truer of the two. I like not the other, though I grant they both be brave. He is fair and false, if I am not out in my judgment, with a smooth word and a tricky dirk, like the Campbells. God grant ye be not over-generous, and trustful unto blindness.”

“Lochiel, I have trusted, as ye know, many men who have betrayed our cause; I have distrusted one who was faithful at a cost to me. On this day, maybe the last of my life, I will believe rather than doubt, in the hope that faith will be the surest bond of honor. There is something, I know not what, in that tall fellow I did not like. But what I have done, I have done, and if I have erred, Lochiel, the punishment will be on my own head.”

“On many other heads, too, I judge,” muttered Lochiel to himself, and for an instant he thought of taking private measures to hinder the two Englishmen from service that day, but considering that he would have enough to do with his own work, he went to prepare his clan for the hour that was near at hand.

Dundee dismissed his staff for the time on various duties, and attended only by Grimond, sat down upon a knoll, from which he could see the whole plateau of Urrard—the drawn-out line of his own army beneath him, and the corresponding formation of the English troops in the distance. He read MacKay's prayer slowly and reverently, and then, letting the paper fall upon the grass, Dundee fell into a reverie. There was a day when he would have treated the prayer lightly, not because he had ever been a profane man, like Esau, but because he had no relish for soldiers who acted as chaplains.

To-day, with the lists of battle before his eyes, and the ordeal of last night still fresh in his experience, and his inexcusable cruelty to Jean, his heart was weighed with a sense of the tragedy of life and the tears of things. He was going to fight unto death for his king, but he was haunted by the conviction that William was a wiser and better monarch. MacKay and he were to cross swords, as before they had crossed words, and would ever cross principles, but he could not help confessing to himself that MacKay, in the service of the Prince of Orange, had for years been doing a more soldierly part than his, in hunting to the death Covenanting peasants. His Highlanders below, hungering for the joy of battle and the gathering of spoil, were brave and faithful, but they were little more than savages, and woe betide the land that lay beneath their sword; while the troops on the other side represented the forces of order and civilization, and though they might be routed that evening, they held the promise of final victory. Was it worth the doing, and something of which afterwards a man could be proud, to restore King James to Whitehall, and place Scotland again in the hands of the gang of cowards and evil livers, thieves and liars who had misgoverned it and shamefully treated himself? What a confused and tangled web life was, and who had eyes to decipher its pattern? He would live and die for the Stuarts, as Montrose had done before him; he could not take service under William, nor be partner with the Covenanters. He could do none otherwise, and yet, what a Scotland it would be under James, and what a miserable business for him to return to the hunt of the Covenanters!

The buoyancy of the morning had passed, and now his thoughts took a darker turn. MacKay, no doubt, had told the truth, for he was not capable of falsehood, but if those Englishmen were not agents of the English government, did it follow that they were clear of suspicion? There was some mystery about them, for if indeed they had been Cavalier gentlemen who had abandoned the English service, would they be so anxious to conceal themselves? Why should they refuse to let their names be known? They had come from Livingstone's regiment. Was it possible that they had been sent by him, and if so, for what end? It is the penalty of once yielding to distrust that a person falls into the habit of suspicion, and the latent jealousy of Livingstone began to work like poison in Dundee's blood. Jean was innocent, he would stake his life on that, but Livingstone—who knew whether the attraction of those interviews was Dundee's cause or Dundee's wife? If Livingstone had been in earnest, he had been with King James's men that day; but he might be earnest enough in love, though halting enough in loyalty. If her husband fell, he would have the freer course in wooing the wife. What if he had arranged the assassination, and not William's government; what if Jean, outraged by that reflection upon her honor and infuriated by wounded pride, had consented to this revenge? Her house had never been scrupulous, and love changed to hate by an insult such as he had offered might be satisfied with nothing less than blood. Stung by this venomous thought, Dundee sprang to his feet, and looking at the westering sun, cried to Grimond, who had been watching him with unobtrusive sympathy, as if he read his thoughts, “Jock, the time for thinking is over, the time for doing has come.”

He rode along the line and gave his last directions to the army. Riding from right to left, he placed himself at the head of the cavalry, and gave the order to charge. That wild rush of Highlanders, which swept before it, across the plain of Urrard, the thin and panic-stricken line of regular troops, was not a battle. It was an onslaught, a flight, a massacre, as when the rain breaks upon a Highland mountain, and the river in the glen beneath, swollen with the mountain water, dashes to the lowlands with irresistible devastation. Grimond placed himself close behind his master for the charge, and determined that if there was treachery in the ranks, the bullet that was meant for Dundee must pass through him. But the battle advance of cavalry is confused and tumultuous, as horses and men roll in the dust, and eager riders push ahead of their fellows, and no man knows what he is doing, except that the foe is in front of him. They were passing at a gallop across the ground above Urrard House, when Grimond, who was now a little in the rear of his commander, saw him lift his right arm in the air and wave his sword, and heard him cry, “King James and the crown of Scotland!” At that instant he fell forward upon his horse's mane, as one who had received a mortal wound, and the horse galloped off towards the right, with its master helpless upon it. Through the dust of battle, and looking between two troopers who intervened, Grimond saw the fair-haired Englishman lowering the pistol and thrusting it into his holster, with which he had shot Dundee through the armpit, as he gave his last command. Onward they were carried, till one of the troopers on his right fell and the other went ahead, and there was clear course between Grimond and the Englishman. They were now, both of them, detached from the main body, and the Englishman was planning to fall aside and escape unnoticed from the field. His comrade could not be seen, and evidently had taken no part in the deed. Grimond was upon him ere he knew, and before he could turn and parry the stroke, Jock's sword was in him, and he fell mortally wounded from his horse. Keen as Grimond was to follow his master, and find him where he must be lying ahead, he was still more anxious to get the truth at last out of the dying man. He knelt down and lifted up his head.

“It is over with ye now, and thou hast done thy hellish deed. I wish to God I'd killed thee before; but say before thou goest who was thy master—was it Livingstone? Quick, man, tell the truth, it may serve thee in the other world, and make hell cooler.”

“Livingstone,” replied the Englishman with his dying breath, and a look of almost boyish triumph on his face, “what had I to do with him? It was from my Lord Nottingham, his Majesty's secretary of state, I took my orders, and I have fulfilled them. Did I not lie bravely and do what I had to do thoroughly? Thou cunning rascal, save for thee I had also escaped. You may take my purse, for thou art a faithful servant. My hand struck the final blow.” Now, his breath was going fast from him, and with a last effort, as Grimond dropped his head with a curse, he cried, “You have—won—the battle. Your cause is—lost.”

Amid the confusion the cavalry had not noticed the fall of their commander, and Grimond found his master lying near a mound, a little above the house of Urrard. He was faint through loss of blood, and evidently was wounded unto death, but he recognized his faithful follower, and thanked him with his eyes, as Jock wiped the blood from his lips—for he was wounded through the lungs—and gave him brandy to restore his strength.

“Ye cannot staunch that wound, Jock, and this is my last fight. How goes it—is it well?”

“Well for the king, my lord—the battle is won; but ill for thee, my dear maister.”

“If it be well for the king, it's well for me, Jock, but I wish to God my wound had been in front. That fair-haired fellow, I take it, did the deed. Ye killed him, did ye, Jock? Well, he deserved it, but I fain would know who was behind him before I die. If it were he whom I suspect, Jock, I could not rest in my grave.”

“Rest easy, Maister John, I wrung the truth frae his deein' lips. It was Lord Nottingham, the English minister, wha feed him, the black-hearted devil. Livingstone had naethin' to do wi' the maitter, far less onybody—ye luved.”

“Thank God, and you too, Jock, my faithful friend.... Tell Lady Dundee that my last thoughts were with her, and my last breath repeated her name.... For the rest, I have done what I could, according to my conscience.... May the Lord have mercy on my sins.... God save the King!”

So, after much strife and many sorrows, Claverhouse fell in the moment of victory, and passed to his account.

THE END

 
 
 

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