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Deeside Tales
Chapter XIII


"’Twas thus the Latest Minstrel sung.”—Scott.

IN the days when Scotland had her ain king, though, as George Brown used to say, he was the last and about the queerest king she ever had, there fell out a terrible quarrel between the Gordons and the Forbeses. The quarrel, indeed, had begun many years before, when Mary was queen, and the good Regent Moray managed her affairs. It was that time that the Reformation was going on in this country, and John Knox by his preaching o’ the true gospel put an end to papistry and false doctrine.

Weel, i1 the north here they kent little o’ what was going on i1 the south. They had nae bibles an’ couldna read them if they had got them, an’ nae preacher like John Knox to tell them what was true an’ what wasna. So they were a’ papists thegither; nae that they ken’t or care’t muckle about religion o’ ony kind, but they just followed their great lords an’ lairds that should hae ken’t better.

Weel, ye see, the head o’ the Gordons—he was a great papist, an’ wouldna be hadden in by the good Regent and John Knox; an’ who was like him, sae big an’ sae proud?

They ca’d him, for a nickname, George the Gross; for he was a very stout an’ fiat man. But the Regent wouldna let him aflf wi’ his high-handed ways, haudan’ law and religion at defiance; an’ at last they came to open war.

Now the Head o’ the Forbeses wanted to become a Protestant, but couldna for fear o’ the Head o’ the Gordons, who at that time had some power over him, and could force him to do anything he liked. So he forced him to gather his men and come out wi’ him to fight against the Regent, but he did it wi’ nae good will

The armies met on the Hill o’ Fare, and a terrible battle began. Some said the Queen hersel’ was there sittin’ on a big stane out ower a bit, an’ lookin’ on, but as to that I canna’ say, for there are different accounts. Though the Gordons had the advantage o’ the ground and fought desperately, the Forbeses held back; and the Regent’s dragoons galloped up the hill and got at them behind, and syne there was a terrible slaughter. Hundreds upon hundreds were killed, and at last the Gordons in spite o’ themselves had to run. When the Regent’s soldiers came to bury the slain, who should they find among the rest but George the Gross himsel’.

Weel, next day the Forbeses came an’ made their submission to the Regent, but the Gordons wouldna, but cast a’ the blame o’ losing the battle on the Forbeses, and vowed revenge. They were proud, stubborn callants, the Gordons o’ that day, and wouldna submit or hear reason. Syne there fell out sic a time o’ spulzie an’ rieft, human* houses an’ castles, an9 slaughteran’ innocent wives an’ b&ims, as this country has never seen the like o’; an’ it would be hard to say whilk pairty was maist cruel; for strife, as George Brown used to say, is like a muirbum, the mair it’s thrashed the heicher it glows. But to my story.

It was about twenty years after the battle o’ the Hill o’ Fare that there was livan’ in Greystone a weaver o’ extraordinary size and strength, o’ the name o’ Fleeman, or Muckle Fleeman, as he was generally ca’d. But though he was so vera strong he wasna a troublesome man nor a bad neighbour; but for something that they had done to him, he had an ill will at the Gordons.

It happened one time he was down at Strathgimock wi’ a web he had been weavan’ to the laird The laird was, like himsel’, a very strong man, an’ o’ a dark complexion. They ca’d him “Black Airter Forbes.” It was a fine summer morning, and ye wouldna hinder the twa to tak’ a turn o’ the sweertree on the loan just to see fa was strongest The laird, strong though he was, ken’t he had nae chance wi’ Fleeman; but he thought it would be such a fine joke gin he could pull him up, fair or no fair; and so he had given directions to his servant to stan’ behind him, an’ put his feet on his coat-tails unken’t to Fleeman, thinkan’ that wi’ this purchase he might maybe lift him. Fleeman hardly ken’t his ain strength; an’ at the sweertree he had never fa’en in wi’ onybody that he couldna lift wi’ a’ ease. So he tried the laird wi’ a canny pull first; but the laird wouldna jee. Syne he gave a stronger pull; but no, the laird wouldna rise, though the man that was standin’ behind him was near thrown aff his legs. Fleeman now got angry at his failures, an’ puttan’ forth a’ his strength, gave a tremendous pull. Up jumped the laird as gin he had been a feather, but left his coat tails on the green.

“ Well, well,” says he, lookan’ round wi’astonishment, “you may have established yourself for a good hand at the sweertree, Fleeman, but you have lost all your credit for a weaver. Look at that rotten trash that couldna stand a pull of an honest man. If ye don’t make better claith than that,

I doubt I’ll need to give my tmde to Johnny Gordon o’ Scurrystane.”

The laird ken’t fine that Fleeman had a particular and long-standin’ grudge at Scurrystane.

“Fa?” says Fleeman, “wee Johnnie, the laird o’ Knoc’s weaver? I hope I’ll never live to see the day that the laird o’ Strathgirnock will be clad in onything that’s come through the hands o’ ony Gordon o’ them, mair especially o’ sic a feckless bodie as Johnnie.”

“Ye’ll live lang if ye do, Fleeman, my man,” said the laird to himsel’; for he had that very day had a quarrel wi’ Gordon o’ the Knoc about a brig ower the Gimock, and he wished to stir up Fleeman’s wrath against the Gordons, as he thought it no unlikely that he might soon need his help.

Harry Gordon o’ the Knoc and Forbes o’ Strathgirnock had always been bad neighbours, baith on account o’ the strife between their clans, and o’ private quarrels o’ their ain; an’ this business o’ the brig made them nae better. Forbes wanted the brig for the convenience o’ gettan’ to his moss; and Gordon wanted him cut out o’ the moss, an’ wouldna let him put up the brig, as an end o’t would be on his land.

Just the day Fleeman was down wi’ the web the twa lairds had some angry words about it, and Forbes tell’t Gordon he would put it up, an’ haud it up in spite o’ him. Weel, some days after, he gathered his folk, an’ they cut down big trees an’ made a brig o’ logs; but next night Gordon’s folk threw it a’ down the bum. Some while after this the lairds met in the moss, an’ there was like to be a blue hour between them. Forbes accused the Gordons o’ takan’ advantage o’ the nicht for their cowardly wark.

“To make amends for that,” says Gordon, “next time ye try on a brig, ye can take advantage o’ the nicht time, and, man for man, next day we’ll send it after your ither ane.”

“I take the challenge,'1 says Forbes, and more than that, with the help of one other man, before I’m a day older, IH put on a brig that there’s nae four Gordons o’ a’ yer kith will be able to throw down.”

"If ye do,” says Gordon,"I’ll let it stand.”

Forbes had long had an eye on a great flag o’ a stane on Craigphipie, and thought it would make an unmoveable brig, if it could only be got to the bum and set up.

Well, away he went to see if he could get Muckle Fleeman to help him. The canny weaver wasna easy got to try ony ploy but the sweertree; but Forbes got about him.

"D’ ye ken,” says he, "what Knoc has cast in my teeth, Fleeman?”

"No,” says Fleeman, "it would be ill to ken what lees a Gordon wouldna make up. What did he say ? ”

"Weel, he said that we twa wouldna put up a brig on the Gimock before morning that Johnnie o’ Scurrystane wi’ ither three sic like wouldna pu’ down before breakfast time next morning.”

"He surely didna say that, did he ? ” asked Fleeman.

"Upon my word, he did, Fleeman,” answered the laird "The vratch,” said Fleeman, an’ said nae mair, but buckled on his plaid (for he never went from home without his plaid, wet day or dry, cauld or warm, summer or winter) and followed the laird.

Before the sun keekit ower Craigphipie, the Gimock was runnan’ below the stane. At the appointed time the four strongest men in a’ Glenmuick appeared wi’ Knoc at their head, besides a lot mair to see fair play, and Scurrystane among the rest, but in spite o’ a’ they could do, they couldna mudge the brig. There it remained till the great flood o’ the year ’99 took it out o’ sight

You may be sure the Gordons were angry, and there was like to be a ply between them an’ the Forbeses. It was noticeable that Scurrystane keepit weel out o’ the way, an’ as muckle need had, for by Fleeman’s looks it was thought that, if he could hae gotten a hold o’ him, he wouldna hae left a thrum o’ him thegither. However, Knoc said he wouldna brak his word, and there was nae scaith done that day.

But though they parted without blows, the Gordons werena likely to be quiet beneath the affront that had been put upon them. It made matters worse when sometime after Gordon poinded some sdrks belongan’ to Forbes that had gone across the march, an’ gae him insultan’ language when he came to relieve them. Forbes got wild, threw Knoc on his back i’ the midden, and took awa* the stirks without askan’ leave.

This couldna be let pass. The Gordons gathered, an’ in ae night cleaned Strathgimock o’ every cattle beast in’t Forbes an’ twa or three o’ his tenants went to Knoc to see if they could quietly make up matters, an’ get back their beasts. But na Knoc had his folk out to guard the fauld, an’ he was unco croose.

“There’s yer stirks, Forbes,” says he, “let’s see if you an’ your Strathgimock folk, even wi’ the muckle weaver o’ Greystane at your back, will be able to take them away now.”

Forbes couldna help himself. He an’ his tenants were herriet, an’ a dowie man was he, for he saw that he could get nae redress, as he had been the first himself to try the strong hand. They consulted together, but saw no way o’ richtan’ themselves, for they weel kent that the Gordons, when they got the grip, would keep the grip.

Muckle Fleeman heard what had happened to the laird, an’ down he comes fully armed for whatever might be ada

Forbes was glad to see him, for his counsel was some* times as good as his strength. Fleeman was for forcan1 the fauld directly, an’ takan’ away the stirks by main strength, but the laird wouldna hear o’t

"There’s been enough of bad blood raised already,” says he, “and I’m some in the faut myself. I shouldna hae been sae rash. We’ll wait a day or two before we draw the sword.” “ By that time,” says Fleeman, 441 shouldna wonder gin ye’ll hae nae cattle tae recover; but far be it fae me to advise the spillan’ o’ human bleed.”

"Weel, weel, Fleeman,” says the laird, "come ye back on the third day, an’ if nae better can be, I’ll get ready.”

It was dark before Fleeman left Strathgirnock. Though he usually came an’ went by the north side o’ the Dee, crossing at the islands o’ Balchailach, this time being in gloomy spirits he took the path up the Craiguise as being the shortest, scheman’ as he gaed along what could be done, an’ seean’ nae way for the laird out o’ his difficulty but by handy micht

When he was about half gate up the wood he bad got some plan in his head, an’ sat down on a stock wi’ his back dll a tree to think about it He was sae muckle teen up wi’ his ain thoughts that he didna nodce twa men that had come up the path dll they were within a few yards of him. Syne they turned aff the path, an’ stood there whisperan’ to ane anither.

"Ye’re nae about muckle good at ony rate,” thinks he, "howsomever I’se watch ye.”

"What can be keepan’ Rory?” says the ane to the ither. "He was to have been here before this time.” And then they fell a whisperan’ again.

By an bye a third man comes.

"Weel met,” says he, “we’ve a grand chance. The cattle o’ Strathgirnock’s i’ the fauld o’ the Knoc, an* Black

Airter’s sulky about it, an’ we’ll get nae disturbance f’ae him ; an’ the Gordons are herdan’ the fauld, so we can lift wi’ a’ freedom. We’ll be through the Dee, an’ past Rineaton afore day-licht, an’ next morning we’ll leave Inverey’s three coos at the Linn, an’ then we can gae up the Geldie at a’ leisure. But there’s nae time to lose just now.”

When they had fairly gone, Fleeman started to his feet, lifted his braid bonnet, gae his head a scratch where it wisna youkie, an’ says he to himseP—

“Noo, fa would hae thought that ever Fleeman Mor would hae wished good luck to Lochaber thieves? But it’ll gang sair against me gin ever the beasts get the length o’ Lochaber, or Inverey either, but I’m nae sae sair against their leavan’ Glenmuick. An’ noo I’ve nae mair time to lose than ye hae, my lads. We’ll see fa’ll be at Rineaton first.” Fleeman had a cousin at Rineaton near as strong as himsel’; and straight to him he goes, and tells him what he had heard about the cattle-lifting, an’ the twa made ready to attack the cateran as they were passing, an’ tak’ the cattle fae them. It was likely they would pass through Rineaton’s land, an’ that would gie them a richt to seize the drove if they could, and keep possession till relieved by the owners on paying damages and expenses.

“It doesna matter,” replied Fleeman to his friend’s doubts about the legality o’ takan’ the animals gin they didna trespass, “it doesna matter. Fa’s tae ken? It’s my thought they’ll be on your land before onybody i’ the glen is up to see fa pat them there.”

They accordingly drove out to the hillside a bit stirkie tae gie signal, in case they should pass before it was clear; for the beastie, haean’ nae company o’ its ain, would low an’ mak’ a great ado when it smelt ither cattle coman’ on to the grun*. Syne they planted themselves in a hole near the auld drove road, where they used to hide when they were watchan’ the tod.

It was just gettan’ day-licht, an’ Fleeman was awfu' impatient that they werena coman’, an beginnan’ to doubt that the lifting must hae miscarried, when his eye caught something movan’ on the hillside atween him an’ the kythan’ sky. It was mair like a beast than a body.

After watchan’ its prowlan’ motions for a little, he whispers to his friend, “Let’s keep close, I see the spy. We’ll let him past if he’ll go; and then we’ll hae ane less to deal wi’ when the cattle comes up.”

He was coman’ straight where they were, and was amaist sure to see them. This was like to be very awkward, as the cattle might be a good bit behind, an’ if he saw them he would be back like a hound an’ gie the alarm, and then the twa might be taen for the lifters themselves if they were seen drivan’ the beasts fae a distance.

When Fleeman was gettan’ very uneasy at the approach o’ the red headed bodie, the stirkie gae a sort o’ a low. Away went Rory—for it was nae ither—to drive the beastie on afore him till he got past the touns, meanan’ then to let it in wi’ the rest This took him awa’ Fae the hidan’ place, an1 just as he went out o’ sicht roun’ ae side o’ the hill, the head o’ the drove cam’ in sicht at the ither—twenty brave coos an’ ousen; but instead o’ twa there was four men drivan’.

Fleeman’s friend was for lettan’ them pass, sayan’ it would cost somebody’s life afore that cut-throat thieves would let go their haud o’ sic a booty.

“Ye’ll lose yer stirkie,” says Fleeman, “gin we let them awa’.”

“Oh, nae matter,” says he, “I’d rather that than hae to tak’ a man’s life.”

“Weel, weel,” says Fleeman, “we canna help it noo.

They dinna seem as gin they were ga’an to pass very near, so we may just lie still and see what like they are.”

But they did come near, an1 when they were just ga’an to pass, Fleeman jumps out, catches a haud o’ twa o’ them afore they kent, threw them on the grim’ ane abeen the ither, an’ with his drawn sword prepared to defend himseT Fae the ither twa. But he had nae need One o’ them was on the gran’ already, but the ither was aiman’ an arrow at his friend”

“Hold!” roars Fleeman. “If you shoot that arrow, off comes the heads o’ these twa men the next moment”

When he heard that there was a chance o’ their heads no coman’ aff onyway, he let down his bow, an’ says the impudent rascal,

“Weel, shentlemans, if tis ish to pe a fair caption, an’ nae peagles wark, I’ll submit”

“It’s no beagles wark,” says Fleeman, “but afore ye leave this spot ye must tell me ae thing. Does Inverey ken onything o’ this job?”

They all denied

“Now, ye lying scoundrels,” says he, “don’t I know that he was to get three cows out o’ that drove? And don’t you know that if I were going to send word to Donald Farquharson, Inverey’s head an’ yours would be higher than ye want them before ye were two days older.”

This speech had an astonishing effect “ If the shentlemans would promise no to tell the Baillie Mor, nainsels would never never come back nor let ithers come.”

“Ye promise, do ye?” says Fleeman. “Then ye’ll gang past Inverey—ye can gie him yer ain story o’ how ye lost the cattle—but tell him that, though he’s safe this time, he’ll better look after himsel*. Put back the stirkie that Rory’s

drivan’ awa’, and see that ye be past Inverey before I hae word at the Castleton.”

“The shentlemans is ower goot,” said the kern, an1 aff they ran.

Fleeman and his friend secured the cattle at Rineaton, an* then he set out for the Castleton to get a warrant fae the baillie to hold them.

Donald Farquharson heard his version o’ the story about the capture, Fleeman taken’ care to tell him that the kern were makan’ aff wi’ a sdrlde f’ae Rineaton as well

“Where do ye think the cattle have come from?” says the baillie.

“Couldna say: there’s big sdrks and weighty coos amang them,” answered Fleeman.

“They’ll be f’ae Cromar likely,” says the baillie. “I’ll give ye warrant, Fleeman, an’ see that ye make them pay well for redemption.”

Fleeman thought he had managed, for he kent fine that if the baillie had thought that the beasts belonged to the Gordons, he would neither hae given him a warrant or ony sic advice.

When he was coman’ out at the door the baillie taks him by the sleeve, an’ says he confidentially, “Do ye think, Fleeman, Inverey’s hands are in this job ? ”

“Couldna say,” says Fleeman.

“If ye could make out to me that Inverey shares the spoil, I would give you as good a cow’s among them.”

“If they come back again we’ll try an’ catch some o’ them an’ see,” says Fleeman.

“Do so, do so,” says the baillie. “Good day to you, Fleeman, and good speed to you next time.”

“There was a great stir in Glenmuick that morning. The cry got up that the cateran had been down an’ harriet the country. There was rinnan1 here an1 rinnan* there to get on the track. At last word brak out that the folk o’ Rineaton had fa’an in wi’ the cateran an’ captured the cattle. As many as twenty tenants fae Glenmuick were at Rineaton before night to claim their beasts—some, they say, that had lost nane. But Fleeman wouldna let a single beast go till he got satisfaction.

“I maun see Henry Gordon o’ the Knoc before ye get ae hoof f’ae this,” says he.

Gordon came next day, and Fleeman told him that he had the baillie’s warrant for keepan’ the beasts, and that he would gie them back only on ae condition, and that was that he would gie the folk o’ Strathgimock back theirs. The laird was awfu’ unwillan’, but he saw there was nae help, and at last he agreed, and Forbes an’ his tenants got back their beasts.

After this there was a sort o’ peace between the lairds for twa or three years, and then came the year o’ the great spulzie (1592). Ah! mony a story had George Brown about that year.

Down they came, hundreds o’ Mackintoshes, Mackenzies, an’ Camerons, wi’ Lamont o’ Inverey, an’ ithers f’ae Braemar. They surrounded Abergeldie, but couldna’ get entrance there; then down past Strathgimock an’ to Glenmuick; an’ they nearly murdered every Gordon i’ the country—Braichley, Toldhu, and Knoc, among the rest* Strathgimock was fae

*In the “Deeside Guide,” a holiday effusion of Dr. Joseph Robertson, the ballad of the “Barrone o’ Brackley” is supposed to refer to this massacre of the Gordons by the clan Chattan, whereas in reality it relates to a creach by Farquharson of Inverey, about a century after the year of the great sptUsie. The Inverey who joined the clan Chattan, tradition says, was a Lamont. He was certainly not a Farquharson. The first Farquharson of Inverey was James, fourth son of Donald, the Baillie Mor, who died about this time (1592).

From the name of the founder of the family, the Farquharsons of hame, but they didna spulzie his land, and it was thought that he ken’t mair about it than he should hae ken’t

The (reach was hardly past, when up got the Gordons o’ Cabiach (Auchindown), an’ Donald Farquharson, an’ his folk in Biaemar, to revenge the murder o’ their clansmen, an’ a bloody revenge they took. Black Airter hadna come hame (he couldna venture); but they killed his servants, an’ burnt

Inverey, according to a custom very prevalent among Highland clans, were distinguished from other branches by the patronymic of MacHamish —or sons of James. Thus William, the son and successor of the founder, was styled by way of pre-eminence “The MacHamish Farquharson,” and William’s son, John, who did commit the slaughter recorded in the ballad, was fond of being addressed by the same title. But he was a man of many titles. Being of a dark complexion, and having held a command under Dundee, he often went by the name of the “Black Colonel”; and in the neighbouring Lowlands, where he was but too well known as a severe scourge, from his exactions of black mail and other oppressions he was styled “the lang-leggit Highlander,” and still more frequently “Logie.”

Between him and Sir William Forbfcs of Craigievar there was a deadly feud. Leaders of opposite political parties, when that meant mortal strife, Inverey took every opportunity to make raids on Cr&igie-var*s territory—attacks which were keenly repelled, and sometimes even avenged. In one of their encounters, Forbes having had the worst, was obliged to consult his safety by flight, and hence arose the jeering rhyme,

“Run, Willie, run,
Run, or ye’ll be taen,
For the lang-leggit Highlander
Is coman' ower Culbleen.”

In another aflair of arms Inverey’s party were scattered, and himself only escaped capture by seeking concealment in a kiln-logie, which ignoble retreat procured for him the above mentioned nickname of “Logie,” and gave rise to the counter-blast—

“Run, Logie, run,
Run, or ye’ll be taen;
An’ there’s nae kye-lifting
In the jail o’ Aberdeen.”

The house o’ Strathgimock, and Muckle Fleeman himsel' had to go into hiding, though he had nae mair hand in’t, or wyte o’t than you or me. The Baillie Mor hanged Inverey an* his sons on a tree before their ain door, and got his land for his trouble. Their peer auld mither was put out o’ her senses by this cruelty, and in her raving madness she prophesied that the tree would be green when his tribe would be as landless and sonless as he had made her. Gin this come true or no, I canna say, for trees last lang, an* the auld Farquharsons are wearan’ fast awa1. For as mony lairds o’ them as there was a hundred years, an’ less, ago, there’s nane now has a foot o’ land abeen Culbleen, save Monaltrie an’ Invercauld; and Monaltrie has nae bairns, and the auld laird o’ Invercauld saw a’ his bonnie family dead before him, ’cept his youngest lassie, that’s now the lady o’ a’ his land.* But to my story.

Things had quieted down a little before next year, an’ Forbes had creepit back, though he wasna seen openly, an’ Fleeman had begun his weaving again.

Months passed, and Forbes was lodging, when he thought it safe to be in a house, wi’ a tenant o’ his ain at Loinchork. But the Gordons were only waitan’ their opportunity. A plot was formed to capture Forbes and Fleeman, alive or dead. Their plan was to fall upon them in the night time unawares and catch them in their beds.

Weel, ae day the laird had been watched an’ seen about Loinchork in the gloamin’. That night the wife couldna get sleep, an’ sat up wi’ a bit lassie, a dochter o’ her ain, at the fireside. When it was gettan’ late, she says to the lassie— “Run out, Janettie, to the well for some water to be ready i’ the morning, an’ syne we’ll gang to our beds.”

The lassie came back in a fricht without the water, an’ says she, “Mither, I’m feert”

“Fat makes ye feert, bairn ? ” says her mither.

“Fan I was ga’an to the well,” says she, “ I heard some cursmushling at the back o’ the dyke; an’ fan I steed an’ harken’t, there was folk speakan’.”

“If there was, my bairn, it’s time for somebody to be up an’ awa’; but come out wi’ me; maybe we’ll fin’ out what they’re after.”

When they got to the place where the lassie heard the speakan’, they harken’t for a wee, an’ syne heard ae man behind the dyke sayan’ to anither, “By this time the other lot will be settan’ out for Greystone; we’ll better get through wi’ this job as fast’s we can.”

The gudewife waited to hear nae mair; but rushan’ to where Forbes was sleepan’ cries to him, “Run, laird, run; save your ain life an’ Fleeman’s. Out at the window, the Gordons are at the door!”

He started up, an’ without waitan’ to put on his daes jumped out at the window, down the glen, an’ through the water, though it came up to his middle, an’ burst into Fleeman’s house in Greystone in less than half an hour.

Fleeman was nearly dumfounder’d to see the laird coman’ this way, mair than half naked, at the dead hour o’ midnight, an’ in a terrible excited state.

“They’ll be here,” says Forbes, “in less than half an hour, an’ what’s to be done?”

“Fa’ll be here?” asks Fleeman.

“The Gordons,” says the laird; an’ syne he tells him what had been overheard by the wife o’ Loinchork.

“To arms!” cries Fleeman, and jumped out o’ his warm bed. He soon put on his grey plaiding daes, an’ as soon took down his sword fae the nail at the foot o’ the bed, an9 wi’ it cut a half finished web out o’ the loom, tied it about the laird’s shoulders, an1 puttan’ an auld Lochaber axe in his hand made ready to go out

“Ye’re nae wise enough,” says the laird, “there’ll be mair than a dozen o’ them.”

uGin there were twa, Airter, we’ll go and face them,” says he, an* wi’ that he out an’ down the road, and the laird close at his heels.

They didna speak a word for mair than a mile, but says the laird at last, “ We’re not unlikely to miss them if we go on this way.”

“If we do, we’ll not miss the castle o’ the Knoc,” says Fleeman.

Forbes saw at once that there would be nobody to defend the castle that night, and that there might be prisoners taen that the Gordons didna think o’, an’ if there were houses burnt, the castle itsel’ might pay for ’L He was keen for this, and on they went till they were between Coilacreich an’ Luimnaghuie. Here they noticed something coman’ round the comer before them.

“We’ll post ourselves at the top o’ the brae here,” says Fleeman, “an’ wait till that comes up, whatever it is.”

When they came near enough—for it was the Gordons— Fleeman jumped out f’ae the back o’ the bank where he and the laird had hid themselves, ordered them to stand, and demanded to know what they meant by coming that way under cloud o’ night into the country o’ peaceable folk.

No Gordon could mistake the voice. Fearan’ that they had fallen into an ambush, they drew back a little, and consulted together; and then sent Toldhu to speak to Fleeman.

Toldhu was a sensible man, an’ kennan’ that a saft answer turns away wrath, says he,

“Fie, fie, Fleeman, man! the laddies mean nae harm; they’re only on a bit o’ frolic."

“Frolic!” cried Forbes in scorn, “when the Gordons bandy together for frolic, it’s like to cost some one dear.” “This nicht’s w&rk very nearly cost them dear,” put in Fleeman, “but I’m opposed to the sheddan’ o’ human bleed gin it can be helpit. Gae back, Toldhu, and tell them that I’m determined we shall not part this night without blood, unless they give their solemn oath that for a year Pae this day we an’ ours shall not be molested by them or theirs. If in ten minutes they don’t do this, by him that begot me! there will be wild frolic to tell o’ in Glenmuick the mom.” Toldhu managed the matter, an’ got the Gordons to consent Indeed, they were glad that they were to get aff sae easily, an’ baith pairties swore on their naked dirks to be good neighbours for a year to come; an’ the Gordons took aff hame gey an’ crestfallen. But good came o’ this, an’ there was peace between the twa dans on Deeside for nae ae year but mony a year thereafter.


 


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