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- Bonnie Prince Charlie - 40/56 -
As soon as Malcolm had put up Ronald's horse and his own in the stables, and seen to their comfort, he and Ronald sallied out. It was now dark, but they wrapped themselves up in their cloaks so as not to be noticed, as in the hostile state of the town they might have been insulted and a quarrel forced upon them, had they been recognized as two of the new arrivals. The night, however, was dark, and they passed without recognition through the ill lighted streets to the house of Andrew Anderson. They rang at the bell. A minute later the grille was opened, and a voice, which they recognized as that of Elspeth, asked who was there, and what was their business.
"We come to arrest one Elspeth Dow, as one who troubles the state and is a traitor to his majesty."
There was an exclamation from within and the door suddenly opened.
"I know your voice, bairn. The Lord be praised that you have come back home again!" and she was about to run forward, when she checked herself. "Is it yourself, Ronald?"
"It is no one else, Elspeth," he replied, giving the old woman a hearty kiss.
"And such a man as you have grown!" she exclaimed in surprise. For the two years had added several inches to Ronald's stature, and he now stood over six feet in height.
"And have you no welcome for me, Elspeth?" Malcolm asked, coming forward.
"The Lord preserve us!" Elspeth exclaimed. "Why, it's my boy Malcolm!"
"Turned up again like a bad penny, you see, Elspeth."
"What is it, Elspeth?" Andrew's voice called from above. "Who are these men you are talking to, and what do they want at this time of night?"
"They want some supper, Andrew," Malcolm called back, "and that badly."
In a moment Andrew ran down and clasped his brother's hand. In the darkness he did not notice Malcolm's companion, and after the first greeting with his brother led the way up stairs.
"It is my brother Malcolm," he said to his wife as he entered the room.
Ronald followed Malcolm forward. As the light fell on his face Andrew started, and, as Ronald smiled, ran forward and clasped him in his arms.
"It is Ronald, wife! Ah, my boy, have you come back to us again?"
Mrs. Anderson received Ronald with motherly kindness.
"We had heard of your escape before your letter came to us from Paris. Our city constables brought back the news of how you had jumped overboard, and had been pulled into a boat and disappeared. And finely they were laughed at when they told their tale. Then came your letter saying that it was Malcolm who had met you with the boat, and how you had sailed away and been wrecked on the coast of France; but since then we have heard nothing."
"I wrote twice," Ronald said; "but owing to the war there have been no regular communications, and I suppose my letters got lost."
"And I suppose you have both come over to have a hand in this mad enterprise?"
"I don't know whether it is mad or not, Andrew; but we have certainly come over to have a hand in it," Malcolm said. "And now, before we have a regular talk, let me tell you that we are famishing. I know your supper is long since over, but doubtless Elspeth has still something to eat in her cupboard. Oh, here she comes!"
Elspeth soon placed a joint of cold meat upon the table, and Ronald and Malcolm set to at once to satisfy their hunger. Then a jar of whiskey and glasses were set upon the table, and pipes lighted, and Ronald began a detailed narration of all that had taken place since they had last met.
"Had my father and mother known that I was coming to Scotland, and should have an opportunity of seeing you both, they would have sent you their warmest thanks and gratitude for your kindness to me," he concluded. "For over and over again have I heard them say how deeply they felt indebted to you for your care of me during so many years, and how they wished that they could see you and thank you in person."
"What we did was done, in the first place, for my brother Malcolm, and afterwards for love of you, Ronald; and right glad I am to hear that you obtained the freedom of your parents and a commission as an officer in the service of the King of France. I would be glad that you had come over here on any other errand than that which brings you. Things have gone on well with you so far; but how will they end? I hear that the Jacobites of England are not stirring, and you do not think that with a few thousand Highland clansmen you are going to conquer the English army that beat the French at Dettingen, and well nigh overcame them at Fontenoy. Ah, lad, it will prove a sore day for Scotland when Charles Stuart set foot on our soil!"
"We won't talk about that now, Andrew," Malcolm said good temperedly. "The matter has got to be fought out with the sword, and if our tongues were to wag all night they could make no difference one way or another. So let us not touch upon politics. But I must say, that as far as Ronald and I are concerned, we did not embark on this expedition because we had at the moment any great intention of turning Hanoverian George off his throne; but simply because Ronald had made France too hot to hold him, and this was the simplest way that presented itself of getting out of the country. As long as there are blows to be struck we shall do our best. When there is no more fighting to be done, either because King James is seated on his throne in London, or because the clans are scattered and broken, we shall make for France again, where by that time I hope the king will have got over the breach of his edict and the killing of his favourite, and where Ronald's father and mother will be longing for his presence."
"Eh, but it's awful, sirs," Elspeth, who as an old and favourite servant had remained in the room after laying the supper and listened to the conversation, put in, "to think that a young gallant like our Ronald should have slain a man! He who ought not yet to have done with his learning, to be going about into wars and battles, and to have stood up against a great French noble and slain him. Eh, but it's awful to think of!"
"It would be much more awful, Elspeth, if the French noble had killed me, at least from the light in which I look at it."
"That's true enough," Elspeth said. "And if he wanted to kill you, and it does seem from what you say that he did want, of course I cannot blame you for killing him; but to us quiet bodies here in Glasgow it seems an awful affair; though, after you got in a broil here and drew on the city watch, I ought not to be surprised at anything."
"And now we must go," Ronald said, rising. "It is well nigh midnight, and time for all decent people to be in bed."
CHAPTER XV: A Mission.
The next morning early Ronald proceeded to take an inventory of the arms and ammunition left behind by the troops when they had marched to join Sir John Cope at Stirling. Having done this he saw that they were all packed up in readiness to be sent off the next day under the escort, who were also to convey the money which the city was required to pay. For the provost and council, knowing that it was useless to resist the order, and perhaps anxious in the present doubtful state of affairs to stand well with Prince Charles, had arranged that the money should be forthcoming of the following morning. After his work was over Ronald again spent the evening at Andrew Anderson's.
The next morning he returned to Edinburgh with the arms and escort. It was late when he arrived; but as he knew that Lord George Murray would be at work in his tent, he repaired there at once.
"We have brought back the money and arms, Lord George. I have handed over the arms and ammunition at the magazine tent, and those in charge of the money have gone into the town with a part of the escort to give it over to the treasurer."
"How many arms did you get?"
"Two hundred and twenty-three muskets and eighty pistols, fourteen kegs of gunpowder, and well nigh a ton of lead."
"That is more than I had expected. And now, Leslie, I have an important mission for you. The prince this morning asked me whom I could recommend, as a sure and careful person likely to do the business well, to go down into Lancashire to visit the leading Jacobites there, and urge them to take up arms. I said that I knew of none who would be more likely to succeed than yourself. Your residence of two years in France has rubbed off any Scotch dialect you may have had, and at any rate you could pass for a northern Englishman. In the next place, your youth would enable you to pass unsuspected where an older man might be questioned. The prince agreed at once, and took shame to himself that he had not before given promotion to one who was his companion on his voyage to Scotland, the more so as he had made Johnstone a captain. Your claims are far greater than his, and moreover you have served as an officer in the French army. But, in truth, the fault is in some degree your own, for you spend all your time in carrying out your duties, and do not show yourself at any of the levees or festivities. And you know, with princes, as with other people, out of sight is out of mind. However, the prince at once took steps to repair the omission, and has signed your commission as captain. Here it is. You will understand, of course, that it is for past services, and that you are perfectly free to decline this mission to the south if you would rather not undertake it. It is unquestionably a dangerous one."
"I will undertake it readily, sir," Ronald said, "and I thank you sincerely for bringing my name before the prince, and the prince himself for his kindness in granting me his commission, which so far I have done but little to win. I shall be able, I trust, to carry out this mission to his satisfaction; and although I am ignorant of the country I shall have the advantage of taking with me my brave follower, Malcolm Anderson, who for years was in the habit of going with droves of cattle down into Lancashire, and will not only know the country but have acquaintances there, and being known as a drover would pass without suspicion of his being engaged with politics."
"That will do well," Lord George said. "I will get the list of persons on whom you should call prepared tomorrow. You had best go to Sir Thomas Sheridan and Francis Strickland, who came over with you, and get them to present you to Secretary Murray and recommend you to him. If he hears that your mission is of my recommendation he will do all he can to set
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