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Prince Charles Edward Stuart
Narrow escape of the Prince


After a short absence the messenger who had been despatched to Glenfinnan returned without finding Glenaladale's brother, or the two men who had, before his arrival there, departed for the appointed place of rendezvous. He brought the alarming intelligence, that a hundred Argyleshire militia had arrived at the foot of the hill on which the prince now stood. Without waiting for the return of the other messengers, the party set out about sunset on their hazardous attempt. They travelled at a pretty quick pace till about eleven o'clock at night; when passing through a hollow way between two hills, they observed a man coming down one of them in their direction. Charles and young Macdonald kept behind, and Glenaladale went forward to ascertain whether this person was friend or foe. Strange to tell, the suspected individual was Donald Cameron of Glenpean, the very person whom, of all others, Glenaladale wished to see. He was immediately conducted to Charles, to whom he communicated such information as he had obtained about the government troops.

Undertaking to guide the prince and his companions past the guards, Cameron conducted them over roads almost impassable in day-light; and after travelling all night, they arrived about four o'clock in the morning of the 19th of July, on the top of a hill in the braes of Loch Arkaig, called Mamnyn-Callum. from which they could perceive the enemy's camp about a mile distant. Being informed by their guide, that the hill on which they now stood had been searched the previous day, they supposed there would not be a second search for some time, and they therefore resolved to remain on the hill all the day. They lay down to rest, and after sleeping two hours, the whole party, with the exception of Charles, rose to keep watch. About ten o'clock they observed a man at a little distance coming up the hill. As there was a probability that Cameron, being generally acquainted with the inhabitants of that part of the country, might know this person, he was sent forward to speak with him, and was agreeably surprised to find that he was no other than Glenaladale's brother, who not meeting the prince at the place appointed, had become alarmed for his safety, and was in search of him.

The whole party remained on the top of the hill all the day, and about nine o'clock at night set out in a southern direction. About one o'clock in the morning they came to a place called Corrinangaull, on the confines of Knoydart and Loch Arkaig, where Cameron expected to have met some of the Loch Arkaig people, who had fled with their cattle on the approach of the soldiery. Cameron had calculated on getting a supply of provisions from these people, as the prince and his party had only a small quantity of butter and oatmeal, which they could not prepare for want of fire. Perceiving some huts down the face of the hill, Glenaladale's brother and the guide, at the risk of being observed by some of the sentinels who were going their rounds, ventured down to them, in expectation of meeting some of the country people, and obtaining a supply of provisions; but they found these shielings uninhabited. Judging themselves no longer safe on the top of the hill, the whole party shifted their quarters, and went to a fastness in the brow of a hill at the head of Lochnaigh, about a mile distant from the troops. They lay down in this retreat to take some rest. With the exception of Charles, they all awoke after a short repose; and it was resolved that, dangerous as the experiment might be, Glenaladale's brother and the guide should again go in quest of provisions, of which they now stood in very great need. Leaving, therefore, Glenaladale, and Borodale's son to stand sentry over Charles, they set off, while it was yet dark, on their errand. The place which the weary wanderers had chosen for their nocturnal abode commanded a view of the lake, and when the sun rose, Charles and his friends observed the enemy's camp at the head of Lochnaigh. They would have gladly removed to a greater distance, but they resolved to wait for the return of the foraging party, who arrived about three o'clock in the afternoon, with two small cheeses, which were all the provisions they could procure. They also brought the alarming intelligence, that about a hundred soldiers were marching up the opposite side of the hill to search for some of the country people, who were supposed to have fled thither for shelter.

As it was not improbable that this party would in the course of their examination find out the place where Charles and his friends lay concealed, the most direful apprehensions must have seized the minds of the unhappy fugitives. Seeing no possibility of leaving their retreat without observation, whilst the soldiers were on the hill, they resolved to remain and abide the result. The soldiers made a general and narrow search all around, but fortunately did not come to the place where the wanderers lay. After the search was over the soldiers returned to their camp; and about eight o'clock in the evening Charles and his friends left their place of concealment, and, travelling at a very quick pace till it became dark, ascended a steep hill called Drimachosi, on arriving at the top of which, they observed the fires of a camp directly in their front, which in passing onward they imagined they could scarcely avoid. Determined, however, to make the attempt, whatever might be the consequences, they proceeded forward, and came so near the posts as to hear the soldiers talking together.

In passing over the top of this mountain Charles made a very narrow escape. Down a steep and pathless descent a small stream glided, the waters of which spreading among a mixture of grass and heath, with which the descent was covered, rendered it slippery, and of course very dangerous. When about to descend, Charles's foot slipped, and he would have undoubtedly fallen headlong down the precipice, and been dashed to pieces, had not Cameron, who preceded him, seized him by one of his arms, and held him fast with one hand, whilst with the other, he laid hold of the heath to prevent both from tumbling down together. In this situation, Cameron held Charles till Glenaladale came down, who, laying hold of the prince's other arm, rescued him from his danger. Arriving at the bottom, they crept up the next hill, and, on reaching its summit, perceived the fires of another camp at the foot of the hill, directly in the way they intended to go down.

To pass this post seemed to be an undertaking utterly hopeless, and certain destruction appeared inevitable in the attempt; yet, extremely dangerous as it was, the party resolved to make it. Unwilling, however, to expose the prince to such great risk, before putting the practicability of the measure to the test, Cameron, entirely regardless of his own safety, proposed to make the experiment himself before Charles ventured to pass. "If I succeed", said the generous Highlander, "and return safe, then your royal highness may venture, and I shall conduct you". At this time Cameron's nose began to itch, - a circumstance which was regarded by Donald as a dangerous omen. Whilst rubbing his nose, he could not avoid stating his apprehensions to Charles; but these superstitious fears did not divert him from his purpose. Cameron accordingly went forward, and, in short time, returned to his companions with the agreeable information that he had entirely succeeded. No doubt now existing of the practicability and even the safety of the attempt, the whole party set off about two o'clock in the morning. Turning a little westward, Cameron conduced them to the channel of a small brook, through which they crept on their hands and feet to escape observation; and watching their opportunity when the backs of the sentinels were turned towards one another, quietly passed between them. After they were out of danger from the guards, Charles came up to Glenpean, and jocularly said to him, "Well, Donald, how does your nose do now?" "It is better now", answered Cameron, "but is still yucks (itches) a little". "Aye, Donald", rejoined the prince, as if taking the hint, "have we still more guards to go through?".

Having thus fortunately cleared the line of posts, the party proceeded in their course, and, at about the distance of two miles, came to a place called Corriscorridill, on the Glenelg side of the head of Loch Hourn, where they stopped, and, having chosen a secure place, sat down and took some refreshment. They had no bread; but Charles supplied the deficiency by covering a slice of the dry cheese with oatmeal. He partook of this coarse fare cheerfully, and washed it down with some water from a neighbouring spring. They remained in this retreat till eight o'clock in the evening.


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