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Deeside Tales
Chapter XIV


THOUGH muckle good came o’ the paction between the Gordons and the laird o’ Strath-gimock at Luimnaghuie, this wasna to be the | end o’ their strife, and the warst came hin’ most.

Henry Gordon, the auld laird o’ the Knoc, was killed, as I told ye, in the great raid o’ the year 1592. Haean* nae family, his next brother, Alister, that succeeded him, was a man i’ the prime o’ life, an’ being o’ a peaceable disposition, he an’ Black Airter got on nae that ill for lang.

Knoc had a large family, maistly sons, and Strathgirnock had but an only dochter, an’ what was mair natural, as they were neighbours’ bairns, than that ane o’ the lads o’ the Knoc should fa’ in love wi’ the young lady o’ Strathgimock?

They had a’ their courtan’ ado unkent to her father; an’ as George Brown used to say, it *s nae aften that muckle good comes o’ that way o’t They baith kent weel that he would never allow them to marry gin he could help it, an’ that he would get into a terrible rage gin he thought they were makan’ up for ony sic thing.

Had it been the young laird, there wouldna hae been sae muckle fear but that matters might maybe hae been settled between them; but it was only the third son, an’ that would never da Ower an’ forby that, Forbes had intended that his dochter should marry her ain cousin, young Skellater, an’ so keep the property in the family. But young folk’s love, as George Brown used to say, is unco wilfu’, an’ winna bend to auld folk’s schemes. Though young Skellater came sometimes to see her, she never liket him, an’ would marry him upon no account She hadna keepit this ony ways hidden Tae her father, and he was very vexed; but he wouldna cross his lassie, as he ca’d her, for he was very, very fond o’ her. But had he ken’t that it was Francie Gordon that had wiled awa’ his baimie’s heart he wouldna hae ta’en the matter sae calmly.

It was the auld, auld story o’ secret, forbidden love ower again; an’ a time came when it couldna be concealed. The young folks got the Baron o’ Braichley, a gentleman o’ discretion that everybody respeckit, to tak’ in hand to brak’ the news to her father.

Forbes at first got pale as death; but at last says he, “ I’ll no hinder them, Braichley. They can take their way, and I’ll take mine.”

The baron didna like his manner ava’. It was unnatural He expected he would hae flown into a rage, an’ fa’en out on the whole tribe o’ the Gordons; an’ he would hae liket that better. It would soon hae blown past, an’ then his “ain lassie ” would hae been his ain lassie still But he got into no rage, though he was a passionate man, made no answer, but, as gin he were speaking to himsel’, just said, “They can take their way, I’ll take mine.”

The young folks didna see ony o’ the danger in this that the Baron saw, an’ were only glad that he hadna flown into a bigger rage; an’ so the wedding was arranged to take place in a fortnight

They had a queer custom then o’ days: the bridegroom gaed a thiggan* among the friends, an’ got presents o’ com an’ ither gear in token o’ their well wishes. It wouldna maybe hae been thought quite becoman’ in the young laird to hae done this, for the meaning o’t was to set him up in the warF; but for the ither sons it was the common fashion.

Weel, Fnuicie Gordon would be just like his neighbours, an’ so out he sets wi’ a servant an’ a horse an’ creels; an* he would make no exception o’ his intended gude-father, thinkan’ that maybe in this way he might manage to get a little into his favour. But he had sair mista’en the temper o’ the laird Forbes looked upon it as an intended insult to him an’ his dochter; an’ happenan’ to be walkan’ about when the callant came, he took up his sword to drive him awa’ like a hungry dog, as he said But in drawan’ a blow at him, the scabbard flew aff, an’ Francie Gordon’s head row’d awa’ like a ba’ on the loan.

The laird didna appear to be much astonished or very sorry at the accident, gin it was an accident, for all he said was—

“It’s a sad business this. Howsomever, what’s ance done canna be mendit If the Gordons winna get a bridal, they’ll get a burial, an’ that’s aye something.”

It was nae doubt an awfu’ savage deed o’ blood, an’ might weel be expected to be as savagely avenged; but for some reason or other the friends o’ the slaughtered youth thought it best to have Forbes first condemned at a head court to be holden at the Foot o’ Gaim. Before the court he was summoned to appear; but expecting little justice at their hands, instead of doing so, he made aff to advise wi’ his auld friend, Fleeman Mor.

It was thought very unlucky for a man under guilt or even charge of murder to enter another man's house. So when the laird came to Greystone, he wouldna come in for a’ that Fleeman could entreat him. The weaver had not yet heard what had happened at Strathgirnock, but dreaded that there was something very far wrang wi9 the laird when he wouldna come in, an’ says he—

“Gin ye winna come in, laird, ye’ll surely tak’ a drink o’ ale at the door.”

This was to be a token to him that, whatever was the matter, he would stand by him, and not betray him. The laird therefore accepted the offer, saying—

“I will do so, weaver; I’m not out of the need of a drink of your ale the day.”

“And ye’re very welcome to it,” says Fleeman, “it would be ill my pairt nae to stand by ye, whatever be ado.” “Weel, it’s this,” says the laird, after he had ta’en a good drink. “Ye’ve heard nae doubt of the wedding that we were to have had, and wondered muckle at it, I daresay. But I can tell ye there’ll be no wedding o’t The chid had the impudence to come to me when he was out at his bridal thigging, and I drew a blow at him with my sword in the scabbard, and the Gordons are vowing vengeance.”

“I dinna see,” says the weaver, “that they ’re needan’ to mak’ sae muckle ado for a blow wi’ the scabbard.”

“Aye, aye, Fleeman,” says the laird, “but the scabbard flew off.”

“Ochone, ochone, laird,” cried Fleeman; an’ looked on the ground a good while maist bewildered. Then turning to Forbes says he—

“What do you think the Gordons will do?”

“As to that, weaver,” answers the laird, “ye may be sure they’ll do their worst If I ken’t as well what I should do myself I would be much relieved in my mind They ^ meet to-day at a head court at die Foot o’ Gmiro to take counsel; and if they could get a hold of me I pot no ^ but they would take a abort way of clearing lang scores between us. But what do you think should be dooe? Should I appear or not?

“I think you should," said Fleeman; “to be awa' would be to tak* an guilt; but nae alane. Ill buckle on my graith, an’ go down wi’ ye to see gin a quiet settlement can be made.”

When the twa made their appearance on the brae-head above the haugh where the Gordons were met, some of them proposed that they should at once seize them, an’ execute justice on Forbes for the slaughter of their kinsman. But an auld wise sennachie among them steps forward, an says he—

“I’ve nae doubt, men, but ye could do what ye say, but ye behove to consider that they are prepared to defend themselves to the very last if we try force on them, or they wouldna be here to-day; and gin we try to take them by the strong hand it will cost the life o’ mair than ane o’ ourselves, and so make matters waur than they are. They’re baith m o’ no ordinar1 strength an’ in desperate case, an1 my that we should not attempt violence on this occasion."

The discretion of this advice was soon seen, sent a message that he was willing, wi’ second, to have the case decided by purpose challenged ony twa Got enter the lists with him.

Fleeman died in as the troubles o’ the civil war were breaking out; and didna live to see the evil that befell his friend, the laird, which, as George Brown said, would hae brought down his grey hairs wi’ sorrow to the grave.

I would be much relieved in my mind. They are to meet to-day at a head court at the Foot o’ Gaim to take counsel; and if they could get a hold of me I put no doubt but they would take a -short way of clearing lang scores between us. But what do you think should be done? Should I appear or not?”

“I think you should,” said Fleeman; “to be awa’ would be to tak’ on guilt; but nae alane. I’ll buckle on my graith, an’ go down wi’ ye to see gin a quiet settlement can be made.”

When the twa made their appearance on the brae-head above the haugh where the Gordons were met, some of them proposed that they should at once seize them, an’ execute justice on Forbes for the slaughter of their kinsman. But an auld wise sennachie among them steps forward, an’ says he—

“I’ve nae doubt, men, but ye could do what ye say, but ye behove to consider that they are prepared to defend themselves to the very last if we try force on them, or they wouldna be here to-day; and gin we try to take them by the strong hand it will cost the life o’ mair than ane o’ ourselves, and so make matters waur than they are. They’re baith men o’ no ordinar’ strength an’ in desperate case, an’ my counsel is that we should not attempt violence on this occasion.”

The discretion of this advice was soon seen, when Forbes sent a message that he was willing, wi’ Fleeman as his second, to have the case decided by combat, an’ for this purpose challenged ony twa Gordons that micht choose to enter the lists with him. There was nae twa that did choose; and so the Gordons returned home without doing anything. Forbes and Fleeman likewise returned home, and this was the last time they were ever in idler’s company.

Fleeman died in peace in his ain house in Greystone just as the troubles o’ the civil war were breaking out; and didna live to see the evil that befell his friend, the laird, which, as George Brown said, would hae brought down his grey hairs wi’ sorrow to the grave.


 


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