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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
The Prince at Kingsburgh House


Till the departure of Kingsburgh to meet Charles, the uneasiness of Lady Macdonald was extreme. Flora too, who had remarked her anxiety, had her misgivings lest the prince should be discovered; but with her wonted firmness she kept up the conversation with the commander of the detachment, till dinner was announced, by which time Charles was on his way to Kingsburgh. After dinner, Miss Macdonald rose to depart; but Lady Macdonald, in order to deceive the officer, pressed her to remain, and put her in mind that she had promised on a former occasion to make some stay the first time she should visit Moydhstat. Flora, however, excused herself, on the ground that she was anxious to be with her mother, who, in the absence of her husband, could not but feel uneasy in such troublesome times. With apparent reluctance Lady Margaret at length accepted he apology, under the condition that she should make amends for her sudden departure by making a longer stay at Moydhstat on her next visit.

Miss Macdonald accordingly proceeded on her journey, accompanied by Neil Mac Eachan, and by Mrs Macdonald, the lady formerly mentioned, who was attended by a male and female servant. The whole party, who were on horseback, soon overtook the prince and Kingsburgh, who had gone so far by the common road. Mrs Macdonald, who had never seen the prince before, was desirous of obtaining a view of his countenance, and made several attempts to look him in the face, but Charles always turned his head aside to avoid her gaze. Mrs Macdonald's maid observing this, and being struck with the uncouth appearance of the prince, remarked to Miss Flora, that she had never before seen such an impudent looking woman as the one with whom Kingsburgh was walking, and stated her impression, that the singular looking stranger was either an Irishwoman, or a man in woman's clothes. Miss Macdonald informed the girl that she was quite right in her conjecture that the extraordinary looking female was an Irishwoman, for she knew her, having seen her before. The maid then exclaimed, "Bless me, what long strides the jade takes, and how awkwardly she manages her petticoats!". To put an end to the prying curiosity of Mrs Macdonald's maid, and to prevent the servants of that lady from observing the route which the prince and Kingsburgh were about to take across the hills, Miss Macdonald called upon her party to ride faster, as they had a long way to travel. They accordingly set off at the trot, and, when the party were out of sight, the two pedestrians, to avoid the militia, who were on all the public roads, went off by an unfrequented path, and arrived at Kingsburgh house about eleven o'clock at night, where they were almost immediately joined by Miss Macdonald and Neil Mac Eachan.

Not expecting her husband home at such a late hour, Mrs Macdonald had undressed, and was just going into bed, when one of her maid servants entered her bed-room, and informed her that Kingsburgh had arrived, and had brought company with him, and that Miss Flora Macdonald was among the guests. Mrs Macdonald send down word to Flora, that being sleepy and undressed she hoped she would excuse her for not coming down stairs, but begged that she would use her freedom, and help herself to anything she might require. Immediately upon the departure of the servant down stairs, a young girl, a daughter of Kingsburgh, entered her mother's apartment in a great hurry, and, with looks of surprise, informed her, that her father had brought to the house the most "odd muckle ill-shaken-up wife she had ever seen and taken her into the hall too!". Before Mrs Macdonald had time to form any conjecture on the subject, Kingsburgh himself entered his wife's bedchamber, and desired her to dress herself as fast as she could, and get some supper ready for his guests. Mrs Macdonald asked the names of her visitors, but Kingsburgh said he had no time for explanation; and after telling her that she would know the whole matter in time, and urging her to make haste, he returned to his friends in the hall.

In compliance with her husband's desire, Mrs Macdonald proceeded to dress herself, and sent her daughter down for her keys, which she had left in the hall. The girl went, but she returned almost instantly in a state of alarm, and told her mother that she was afraid to venture into the hall, as the tall woman was walking up and down it. Mrs Macdonald then went down herself; but on observing the prince striding through the hall she hesitated to enter, and calling to her husband requested him to go in and bring her the keys. Kingsburgh, however, refused to humour the pusillanimity of his wife, and she was at length obliged to enter.

When Mrs Macdonald entered the hall, Charles, who, during the altercation between her and her husband, had taken a seat, rose up, and advancing, immediately saluted her agreeably to the Highland practice. Mrs Macdonald, little expecting the roughness of a male chin under a female attire, began to tremble, and, without saying a word to the silent and mysterious being who stood before her, she hastened out of the hall, and going to her husband importuned him to inform her who the stranger was. She had not the least idea that the person who saluted her was the prince; and, imagining that the stranger was some nobleman or gentleman in disguise, she inquired if he knew what had become of the prince. Smiling at her simplicity, Kingsburgh said to her, "My dear, the person in the hall is the prince himself". Alarmed at this unexpected announcement, she exclaimed, "The prince! then we are all ruined: we will all be hanged now!". "Hout", replied Kingsburgh, "we can die but once; and if we are hanged for this we shall die in a good cause, doing only an act of humanity and charity. But go", continued he, "make haste with supper; bring us eggs, butter, cheese, and whatever else can be got quickly ready". "Eggs, butter, and cheese!" rejoined Mrs Macdonald, "what a supper is that for a prince!". "Oh! wife", replied Kingsburgh, "you know little how this good prince has lived of late; this will be a feast to him. Besides, to make a formal supper would make the servants suspect something; the less ceremony, therefore, the better; make haste, and come to supper yourself". Mrs Macdonald, doubtful of her own capabilities to conduct herself properly before royalty, exclaimed, "I come to supper! I know not how to behave before Majesty!". "You must come", replied Kingsburgh, "the prince will not eat one bit without you; and you will find it no difficult matter to behave before him, so obliging and easy is he in his conversation".

At supper Charles placed Miss Flora on his right hand, and Mrs Macdonald on his left. He always conferred the above mark of distinction on his young protectress, and whenever she came into any room where he was sitting, he always rose up on her entry. Charles made a hearty supper,and drank a bumper of brandy to the health and prosperity of Kingsburgh and his wife. After supper he smoked a pipe, a practice which he was obliged to adopt in his wanderings, to mitigate a toothache with which he was troubled. Having drunk a few glasses of wine, and finished his pipe, Charles went to bed.

After Charles went to bed, Miss Flora, at the desire of Mrs Macdonald, gave her a relation of the prince's adventures, in as far as she had been personally concerned. When she finished her recital, Mrs Macdonald asked her what had become of the boatmen who brought the prince and her to Skye. Miss Macdonald answered, that they had been sent directly back to South Uist. Mrs Macdonald observed that it was wrong to have sent the boat back immediately, as in case of capture on their return, the boatmen might disclose the business which brought them to Skye, and the prince's pursuers might in consequence overtake him before he could leave that island. Mrs Macdonald was right in her conjecture; for the boatmen were seized on their return to South Uist, and being threatened with torture, and ultimately with death, revealed all they knew, giving even a minute description of the prince's dress. To lessen the dangers of a discovery of the prince's route, Flora advised the prince to change his clothes next day, a proposal which met with his cordial approbation, as he found the female attire very cumbrous.

The luxury of a good bed had not been enjoyed by Charles for many weeks. Three, or at most four, hours' sleep was all he had generally been accustomed to during his wanderings; but, on the present occasion he slept ten hours without interruption, and might have added a few more to the number, had he not been wakened by Kingsburgh, who was prevailed upon by Miss Macdonald, contrary to his own inclination, to rouse the prince. In talking of Charles's intended departure, Kingsburgh, acting upon Flora's suggestion, urged upon the prince the propriety of changing his dress, lest the circumstance of his being in female attire might transpire, and Kingsburgh offered him a Highland dress of his own. Charles at once assented to the proposal; but, to prevent suspicion among the servants, and to keep them in ignorance of the nature and description of the new dress in which Charles was to travel, it was arranged that he should leave the house in the same dress he entered it, and, when out of reach of observation, assume that offered to him by his kind entertainer.

Having dressed himself, the ladies went into his chamber to pin his cap, put on his apron, and adjust the other parts of his dress. Before Miss Macdonald put on the cap, Mrs Macdonald requested her, in Gaelic, to ask Charles for a lock of his hair. Flora declined, desiring her, at the same time, to make the application herself to his Royal Highness. The prince, through unable to comprehend what they were saying, clearly perceived that they were disputing about something, and, desiring to know the subject of altercation, was informed thereof by Mrs Macdonald. Charles then told her that her request was granted, and laying down his head upon Flora's lap, he desired her to cut off a lock. She complied, and divided the destined relic between them. Before leaving the house, Kingsburgh thought there was an article of dress that Charles might instantly change without much risk. This was his shoes, which were so much worn that his toes protruded through them. He, therefore, presented a new pair of his own to his Royal Highness and, taking up the out-worn brogues, said to Charles, "I will faithfully keep them till you are safely in St James's; I will introduce myself by shaking them at you, to put you in mind of your night's entertainment and protection under my roof". The prince, amused with the quaintness of the idea, could not refrain from smiling, and, to humour the joke, enjoined his host to keep his promise. Kingsburgh kept the shoes as long as he lived, and after his death they were purchased by a zealous Jacobite gentleman, who have twenty guineas for them.

On being dressed, the prince partook of breakfast, and having taken a kind leave of Mrs Macdonald, left Kingsburgh house for Portree, where it had been concerted he should embark for the island of Raasay. He was accompanied by Miss Flora and Kingsburgh, who carried under his arm the suit of clothes designed for the prince. When Charles left the house, Mrs Macdonald went up stairs to the room in which he had slept, and, folding the sheets in which he had lain, put them carefully aside, declaring that henceforth they should never again be washed or used till her death, when they should serve as a winding sheet; to which use they were accordingly applied, in fulfilment of injunctions she delivered before her death. After walking a short distance from the house, Charles and Kingsburgh entered a wood, where the prince threw off his female attire, and put on the clothes which his good friend had provided. These consisted of a tartan short coat and waistcoat, with philbeg and short hose, a plaid, and a wig and bonnet. When Charles had shifted, he embraced Kingsburgh, and thanked him for his valuable services, which he assured him he would never forget. Charles, conducted by a guide, then set out on foot across the hills, and Miss Macdonald took another and a shorter way on horseback, to obtain intelligence, and prevent a discovery.


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