Legends of The Black Watch or
I have been told that a
better or a braver fellow than Louis Charters of ours never drew a sword.
He was, as the regimental records show, captain of our 7th company, and
major in the army when the corps embarked for service in the Illinois in
1768 ; but prior to that his story was a strange and romantic one. Louis
was a cadet of one of the oldest houses in Scotland, the Charters of
Amisfield ; thus he was a lineal descendant of the famous Red Riever.
Early in life he had been gazetted to an ensignc in Montgomery's
Highlanders, the old 77th, when that corps was raised in 1737 by Colonel
Archibald Montgomery (afterwards Earl of Eglinton and Governor of
Dumbarton), belong the Frasers, Macdonalds, Camerons, Macleans, and other
In January, 1757, he was recruiting at Perth for the 77th, when it was his good, or perhaps ill fortune, to become attached to a young lady possessed of great attractions, whom he had met at a ball, and who was the only daughter of the Laird of Tullynairn, a gentleman of property in the vicinity of the "Fair City."
Emmy Stuart was four-and-twenty, and Louis was three years her senior. She was tall and beautiful in face and figure ; her hair was chesnut, her eyes hazel, and there was a charming droop in their lids which enhanced all her varieties of expression, especially the droll, and lent to them a seductive beauty, most dangerous to the peace of all who engaged in a two-handed flirtation with her; for although that word was unknown to the fair maids of Perth in those days, yet they flirted nevertheless, and none more than the lively Emmy Stuart.
Though her charming figure was almost hidden by her frightful hoop petticoat, and her beautiful hair by white powder—but that, if possible, increased the brilliance of her eyes and complexion—none knew better than Emmy the piquant mode of arranging her capuchin, of holding a vinaigrette under her pretty pink nostrils; and your great-grandmother, my good reader, never surpassed her in the secret part of putting those devilish little patches on her soft cheek, or about her bright roguish eyes, in such a manner as to give double point to those glances of drollery or disdain in which all ladies then excelled; or, worse still, an amorous languish, levelled la Francaise, in such a mode as would have demolished a whole battalion; while the adorable embonpoint of her figure was somewhat increased by the arrangement of her busk, her jewelled necklace, her embossed gold watch and tui, which no lady was ever without, and which Emmy of course carried at her waist.
When she left the assembly,
there was always such a crush of gay gallants about the door to see her
depart, that Louis seldom got her safely into her sedan or coach without
swords being drawn, and some unfortunate being run through the body, or
having a few inches of a flaming link thrust down his throat; for the "
fine fellows" of those days were not over particular in their mode of
resentment when a pretty woman was concerned. The " Blood," or to Buck,"
or Maccaroni," of the last century was a very different
It was no wonder that Louis loved Emmy; the only marvel would have been had he proved invulnerable; so he fell before a glance of her bright hazel eyes, as Dunkirk fell before the allied armies. But Emmy was so gay in manner, distinguishing none in particular, that Charters was often in an agony of anxiety to learn whether she would ever love him; and moreover, there was one of ours, a Captain Douglas, recruiting in Perth, who possessed a most annoyingly handsome person, and who hovered more about the beautiful Emmy than our friend of the 77th could have wished. To make the matter worse, Douglas was an old lover, having met Emmy at a ball three years before, and been shot clean through the heart by one other most seductive glances.
Emmy was so full of repartee and drollery, that though Charters was always making the most desperate love |D her, he was compelled to mask his approaches under over of pretty banter, or mere flirtation; thus leaving him an honourable retreat in case of a sharp repulse; for he could not yet trust himself to opening the trenches in earnest, lest she might laugh at him, as she had done at others; and Louis knew enough of the world to be aware, that a lover once laughed at is lost, and may as well quit the field.
So passed away the summer of—I am sorry to give so antique an epoch—1757. The snow began to powder the bare scalps of the Highland frontier; the woods of Scone and Kinnoull became stripped and leafless, and their russet spoils where whirled along the green inches and the reedy banks of the Tay; then the hoar frost wove its thistle blades on the windows in fine morning, and our lovers found that a period was put to their rambles in the evening, when the sun was setting behind the darkening mountains of the west.
Now came the time to ballot for partners for the winter season; and then it was that Louis first learned to his joy that he was not altogether indifferent to the laughing belle. The fashion of balloting for partners was a very curious one, and now it is happily abolished in Scottish society ; for only imagine one^s sensations, good reader, on being condemned to dance everything with the same girl, and with her only, during a whole winter season ! Besides, as the devil would be sure to have it so, one would always have the girl one did not want. The laws respecting partners were strictly enforced, and when once settled or fairly handfasted to a dancing girl for the season, a gentleman was on no account permitted to change, even for a single night, on pain of being shot or run through the body by her nearest male relative.
In the beginning of the winter season, the appointment for partners usually took place in each little coterie before the opening of the first ball or assembly. A gentleman's triple-cocked beaver was unflapped, and the fans of all the ladies present were slily put therein; the gentlemen were then blindfolded, and each selected a fan; then she to whom it belonged however ill they might be paired or assorted, was his partner for the season. Such was the strange law, most rigidly enforced in the days of Miss Nicholas, who was then the mirror of fashion and presiding goddess of the Edinburgh assemblies.
When the time for balloting came, great was the anxiety of poor Louis Charters lest his beloved Emmy aright fall to the lot of that provoking fellow Douglas of ours; but judge of his joy when Emmy told him, with the most arch and beautiful smile that ever lighted up a pair of lovely hazel, eyes, bow to distinguish her fan from amid the eighteen or twenty that were deposited in the hat.
"Now, my dear Mr. Charters," said she in a whisper, " I never pretended to be ferociously honest, and thus my unfortunate little tongue is always getting me into some frightful scrape; but I shall gift you a token by which you will know my fan. Does that make you supremely happy?"
"Happy, Emmy? Dear Emmy, more than ever you will give me credit for!"
"Do not be sure of that, and do not make a scene, lest some one anticipate you."
"But the fan——"
"Has a silver ball in lieu of a tassel. Now go and she indicated.
He soon selected the fan
and drew it to the annoyance of Douglas, who beheld him bring it to the
fair owner; and her hazel eye twinkled with joy as Charters kissed her
hand with a successful air of ardour and respect. Honest Charters quite
tipsy with joy. Emmy had now showed that he was not without interest to
her; and was not this a charming admission from a young beauty, who could
command any number of wedding-rings at any hour she pleased ? Thus,
according to the witty Sir Alexander Boswell, who (for one of his squibs)
was shot one morning by Stuart of Dusiearn,
With the dancing of a whole season before them, the reader may easily imagine the result. All the tabbies, gossips, and coteries of the fair city had long since assigned them to each other; and though the mere magic of linking two names constantly together has done much to cajole boys and girls into a love for each other, no such magic was required here, for Emmy, I have said, was four-and-twenty, and Louis was three years her senior.
Finding himself completely outwitted, and that the fan of a demoiselle of somewhat mature age and rather unattractive appearance had fallen to his lot, Willy Douglas " evacuated Flanders"' i.e., forsook the ballroom, and bent-all his energies to recruiting for the second battalion of the Black Watch, leaving the fair field completely to his more successful rival.
But though assigned to
Charters by the fashion of the time, and by her own pretty manoeuvre, as a
-partner for the season, our gay coquette would not yet acknowledge
herself conquered; and Charters felt
"True, Emmy; but I would infinitely prefer a love that required no renewal," said Charters, with a sigh.
"How tiresome you become! You often make me think of Willy Douglas. Well, and where shall we find this remarkable love you speak of?"
"Ah, Emmy, you read it in every eye that turns to yours; it fills the very air you breathe, and sheds a purity and a beauty over everything.^
"Then you always see beauty here ?"
"Oh, Emmy, I always see you, and you only; but 'you are still bantering."
"Do you know, Captain Charters, that I do not take it polite to tell a woman that she is beautiful" said Emmy, pretending to pout, while her eyelids drooped, and she played with her fan. To tell any ordinary woman that she was beautiful might offend her, if she was sensible; but to tell her so, though you have the sense of a thousand,
"Best be pleasing, because
you are conscious of your life, beauty, Emmy, and know its fatal power—but
alas! too well."
For much so for my peace.
Beautiful! One Stuart, you are dangerously so. But you with me cruelly,
Emmy. Think how time is gliding away—and a day must come when I shall be
no longer here.^
Charters gazed at her
anxiously, and after a momentary pause, with all his soul in his eyes and
on his tongue, he said :—
This time Emmy heard him in silence, with downcast eyes, a blush playing upon her beautiful cheek, a, smile hovering on her alluring little mouth, with her breast heaving and her pretty fingers playing nervously with her fan and the frills of her busk.
This conversation may be taken as a specimen of a hundred that our lovers had on every convenient opportunity, when Louis was all truthful earnestness —devotion and anxiety pervading his voice and manner ; while Emmy was all fun, drollery, and coquetry, yet loving him nevertheless.
But a crisis came, when
Charters received, by the hand of his chief friend, Lieutenant Alaster
Mackenzie, of the house of Seaforth, a command to rejoin his regiment,
then under orders to embark at Greenock, to share in the expedition which
Brigadier-General Forbes of Pittencrief was to lead against Fort du Quesne,
one of the three great enterprises undertaken in 1758 against the French
possessions in North America. How futile were the tears of Emmy now !
"Think—think of me often, very often, as I shall think of you."
"I do not doubt you, Louis. I now judge of your long, faithful, and noble affection by my own. Oh, Louis ! have been foolish and wilful; I have pained you often; but you will forgive your poor Emmy now ; she judges of your love by her own."
It was now too late to think of marriage. Emmy, subdued by the prospect of a sudden and long separation from her winning and handsome lover, and by a knowledge of the dangers that lay before him by sea and land, the French bullet, the Indian arrow—all the risks of war and pestilence—was almost broken-hearted on his departure. The usual rings and locks of hair, the customary embraces, were exchanged; the usual adieus and promises—solemn and sobbing promises of mutual fidelity—were given, and so they parted ; and with sad Emmy's kiss yet lingering on his lips, and her undried tears on his cheek, poor Charters found himself marching at the head of his party of fifty recruits, while the drum and fife woke the echoes in the romantic Wicks, of Baiglie, as he bade a long adieu to beautiful Perth, the home of his Emmy, and joined the headquarters of Montgomery's Highlanders at Greenock.
But amid all the bustle of the embarkation in transports and ships of war—such rough sea-going ships ay Smollet has portrayed in his "Roderick Random"—Charters saw ever before him the happy, bright, and beautiful Emmy of the past year of joy; or as he had last seen her, pale, crushed, and drooping in tears upon his breast—her coquetry, her drollery, her laughter, all evaporated, and the true loving and trusting woman alone remaining—her eyes full of affection, and her voice tremulous with emotion.
Louis sailed for America with one of the finest regiments ever sent forth by Scotland, which, in the war that preceded the declaration of American independence, gave to the British ranks more than sixty thousand soldiers—few, indeed, of whom ever returned to lay their bones in the land of their fathers.
Montgomery's Highlanders consisted of thirteen companies, making a total of 1460 men, including 6 sergeants who were armed with Lochaber axes, and 30 pipers armed with target and claymore.
Once more among his
comrades, the spirit of Charters rose again; a hundred kindly old
regimental sympathies were awakened in his breast, and, though the keen
regret of his recent parting was fresh in his memory, yet in the
conversation of Alaster Mackenzie (who shared his confidence), and in his
military duty, he found a relief from bitterness—a refuge which was denied
to poor Emmy, who was left to the solitude of her own thoughts and the
bitter solace of her own tears, amid those familiar scenes which only
conduced to add poignancy to her grief, and served hourly to recall some
memory of the absent, and those hours of love and. pleasure that had fled,
perhaps never to return.
Scots Generals ..... 29
Meanwhile, Charters had not
a thought or hope, desire or aim, but to do his duty nobly in the field,
to obtain promotion, and to return to wed Emmy. A year—two years—yea, even
three, though an eternity to a lover, would soon pass amid the bustle and
excitement of war and of foreign service. Three years at most, then, would
find him again at the side of Emmy, hand in hand as of old. But, alas! as
poor Robert Burns says pithily—
After a lapse of two long and weary months, by a sailing vessel poor Emmy received a letter from Louis, and, in the hushed silence of her own apartment, the humbled coquette wept over every word of it—and read it again and again—for it seemed to come like the beloved voice of the writer from a vast distance and from that land of danger. Then when she looked at the date and saw that it was a month—a whole month—ago, and when she thought of the new terrors each day brought forth, she trembled and her heart grew sick; then a paroxysm of tears was her only relief, for she was a creature of a nervous and highly excitable temperament.
It described the long and dreary voyage to America in the crowded and comfortless transport—-one thought ever in his soul—the thought of her; one scene ever around him—sea and sky. It detailed the hurried disembarkation and forced march of General Forbes's little army of 6200 soldiers from Philadelphia in the beginning of July, through a vast tract of country, little known to civilized men ; all. but impenetrable or impassable, as the r6ads were mere war paths, that lay through dense untrodden forests or deep morasses and over lofty mountains, where wild, active, and ferocious Indians, by musket, tomahawk, scalping-knife, and poisoned arrow, co-operated with the French in harassing our troops at every rood of the way. He told how many of the strongest and healthiest of Montgomery's Highlanders perished amid the toils and horrors they encountered; but how still he bore up, animated by the memory of her, by that love which was a second life to him, and by the darling hope that, with God's help, he would survive the campaign and all its miseries, and would find himself again, as of old, seated by the side of his beloved Emmy, with her cheek on his shoulder and her dear little hand clasped in his. He sent her son Indian beads, a few forget-me-nots that grew amid the grass within his tent; he sent her another lock of his hair, and prayed kind God to bless for the sake of his poor absent heart that loved her so well.
And here ended this sorrowful letter, which was dated from the camp of the Scottish Brigadier, who halted at Raystown, ninety miles on the march from Fort du Quesne. Thus, by the time Emmy received it, the fort must have been attacked and lost or won.
Attacked—How breathlessly and with what protracted agony did she long for intelligence—for another letter or for the War-office lists! But days, weeks, months rolled on; the snow descended on the Highland mountains; the woods of Kinnoull were again leafless ; again the broad Inches of Perth wore the white mantle of winter; the Tay was frozen hard as flint between its banks and between the piers of the old wooden bridge; there now came no mails from America; no letter reached her; and poor Emmy, though surrounded by admirers as of old, felt all the misery of that deferred hope which " maketh the heart sick.
Meanwhile Louis, at the
head of his company of Montgomery's Highlanders, accompanied the force of
Brigadier Forces, who, in September, despatched from Eaystown Colonel
Bouquet to a place called Loyal Henning, to reconnoitre the approach to
Fort du Quesne. The colonel's force consisted of 2000 men; of these he
despatched in advance 500 Provincials and 400 of Montgomery's regiment,
under Major James Grant of Ballindalloch, whose second in command was
Captain Charters. Despite the advice of the latter, Grant, a brave but
reckless and imprudent officer, advanced boldly towards Fort du Quesne
with all his pipes playing and drums beating, as if he was approaching a
friendly town. Now the French officer who commanded in the fort was a
determined fellow. He it was who had behaved with such heroism at the
recent siege of Savannah, where he had been sergeant-major of Dillon's
Regiment of the Irish Brigade in the service of King Louis. When the Oomte
d'Tgstaing madly proposed to take the fortress by a coup-de-main, M. Ie
Comte Dillon, anxious to signalize his Irishmen, proposed a reward of a
hundred guineas to the first grenadier who should plant a fascine in the
fosse, which was swept by the whole fire of the garrison ; but his purse
was proffered in vain, for not an Irishman would advance. Confounded by
this, Dillon was upbraiding them with cowardice, when the sergeant-major
But to resume : the moment the soldiers of Grant were within range, the French cannon opened upon them, and under cover of this fire, the infantry made a furious sortie.
"Sling your muskets! Dirk and claymore," cried the major as the foe came on. A terrible conflict ensued, the Highlanders fighting with their swords and daggers, and the Provincials with their fixed bayonets; the French gave way, but, unable to reach the fort, they dispersed and sought shelter in the vast forest which spread in every direction round it. Here they were joined by a strong body of Indians, and returning, from amid the leafy jungles and dense foliage they opened a murderous fire upon Major Grant's detachment, which had halted to refresh, when suddenly summoned to arms.
A yell pierced the sky. It was the Indian war-whoop, startling the green leaves of that lone American forest, and waking the echoes of the distant hills that, overlook the plain of the Alleghany; thousands of Red Indian warriors, horrible in their native ugliness, their streaky war paint, jangling mocassins and tufted feathers, naked and muscular, savage as tigers and supple as eels, with their barbed pears, scalping-knuives, tomahawks, and French muskets, burst like a living flood upon the soldiers of Ballindalloch. The Provincials immediately endeavoured to form square, but were broken, brained, scalped, and trod under foot, as if a brigade of horse had swept over them. While, in the old fashion of their native land, the undaunted 77th men endeavoured to meet the foe, foot to foot and hand to hand, with the broad-sword, but in vain. Grant ordered them to throw aside their knapsacks, plaids, and coats, and betake themselves to the claymore, and the claymore only. For three hours a desultory and disastrous combat was maintained—every stump and tree, every bush, rock, and stone being battled for with deadly energy and all the horrors of Indian warfare—yells, whoops, the tomahawk and the knife—were added to those of Europe, and before the remnant of our Highlanders effected an escape, Captains MacDonald and Munro, Lieutenants Alaster, William and Robert Mackenzie, and Colin Campbell, were killed and scalped, with many of their men. Ensign Alaster Grant lost a hand by a poisoned arrow; but of all who fell, Charters most deeply regretted Alaster Mackenzie, his friend and confidant, to save whom, after a shot had pierced his breast, he made a desperate effort and slew three Indians by three consecutive blows; but this succour came too late, and Mackenzie's scalp was torn off before he breathed his last.
"Stand by your colours,
comrades, till death !" were his last words. Farewell, dear Charters—may
God protect you for your Emmy's sake—we'll meet again!"
"Yes—again—in heaven" he answered, and expired with his sword in his hand, like a brave and pious soldier.
The Bed men were like
incarnate fiends, and, amid groans, yells, prayers, and entreaties, were
James Grant of
Ballindalloch died a general in the army in 1806 ; but he never forgot the
horrors of his rashness at Fort du Quesne, which was abandoned to
Brigadier Forbes on the 24th November; by this he was deprived of a
revenge, and to win it Charters had volunteered to lead the forlorn-hope.
Poor General Forbes died on the retreat.
Renewed or recruited thrice from the Highland clans, the old 77th covered themselves with glory, and of all the Scottish corps in the King's service, there was none from which the soldiers more nobly and rigidly transmitted to their aged parents in Scotland the savings of their poor pay or the prize money gained by their blood in the Havannah. In one of his (unanswered) letters to Emmy Stuart, Louis says, "I have known some of our poor fellows, my dear girl, who almost starved themselves for this purpose."
One of the majors being killed at the storming of the Moro, his widow, in consideration of his great services, was permitted to sell his commission. Louis was now senior captain, and the regiment knew well that he, having only his pay, was unable to purchase it: but so greatly was he beloved by the soldiers, many of whom, in America, had thrown themselves before the sharp tomahawks and poisoned arrows of the Indians to save him, that they subscribed each Highlander so many days' pay to purchase his majority ; and the plunder of the rich Havannah having put these brave souls in good funds, the money was all fairly laid on the drum-head in one hour, when the corps was on evening parade in the citadel of El Fuerte.
Such a noble instance of camaraderie and true soldierly sentiment never occurred in the British service but once before ; and then it was also in an old Scottish regiment which had served, I believe, in the , wars of Queen Anne, before the amalgamation of the forces of the two kingdoms."
This was the most noble tribute his soldiers could pay to Charters, who was duly gazetted when the regiment was stationed at New York in the summer of 1763, to enjoy a little repose after the toils of the past war.
The services and adventures so briefly glanced at here, had thus spread over a period of five years—to Louis, long and weary years—during which he had never heard of Emmy but once ; and now he had no relic of her to remind him of those delightful days of peace and love that had fled apparently for ever. The ring she had given him, warm from her pretty hand, had been torn from his finger by plunderers as he lay wounded and helpless on the ramparts of Fort Loudon, on the confines of far Virginia ; her fan was lost when his baggage was taken on the retreat from Fort du'Quesne ; the locket with her hair had been rent from him, when he was taken prisoner and stripped by the French, in the attack on Martinique. He was changed in appearance too; his hair once black as night was already seamed by many a silvery thread, yet he was only two-and-thirty. His face was gaunt and wan, and bronzed by the Indian sun and keen American frost. His eyes, like the eyes of all inured to facing death and danger, pestilence and the bullet, were fierce at times, and keen and haggard; and when tidings came, or it was mooted at mess, that the war-worn regiment of Montgomery was once again to see the Scottish shore, poor Louis looked wistfully into his glass, and doubted whether Emmy would know him ; for between the French and the Cherokees he had acquired somewhat the aspect of a brigand.
Peace was proclaimed at
last, and the Government made an offer to the regiment, that such officers
and men as might choose to settle in America should have grants of land
proportioned to their rank and services. The rest might return to Scotland
or volunteer into other corps. A few remained among the colonists, and on
the revolt of America in 1775, were the first men to join the standard of
George III., who ordered them to be embodied as the 84th or Royal Regiment
of Highland Emigrants. The rest—most of whom volunteered to join the Black
Watch—with the band, pipes, and colours, under Louis Charters, embarked at
New York, and, full of hope and joy, with three hearty cheers, as their
ship cleft the waters of the Hudson and bore through the Narrows, saw the
future capital of the western world sink
Five years!..... Emmy must now be nearly nine-and-twenty's thought Louis; in a month from this time I shall see her—shall hear her voice—shall be beside her again, assuring her that I am the same Louis Charters of other days."
But month after month passed away, and six elapsed after the sailing of the transport from New York had been duly notified by the London and the Edinburgh Gazettes, and yet no tidings reached Britain of the missing regiment of Montgomery.
During all these five long years—those sixty months —those one thousand eight hundred and twenty-five days, every one of which had been counted by poor Louis—how fared it with the beautiful Emmy Stuart who was still the belle of the fair city ?
So far. as the defective
newspapers of those days, when Edinburgh had only three (and those of
London seldom came north), supplied intelligence, she had traced the
operations of Montgomery's Highlanders in the Canadas, the States, on the
Lakes, and in the West Indies, in the despatches of Brigadier Fybes,
Save once, no letter from Louis had ever reached her; yet poor Louis had written many: from among frozen and bloody fields—from wet bivouacs, yet Emmy, the belle; the coquette, remained true, for she knew the chances of war ; and that, until the regiment returned homeland he proved false, she could not desert her lover.
But Willy Douglas of the Black Watch, who had been all this time comfortably recruiting about Perth and Dunkeld (thanks to his uncle, the Duke of Douglas), was wont to remind her that the 40th Regiment had been more than forty years abroad, and the battalion of Montgomery might be quite as long.
After three years had passed without letters arriving, Emmy still mourned and loved Louis more than ever; while well-meaning friends, who never thought of consulting the army list, assured her that he was killed ; but it availed them nought.
Then five years elapsed, and in all that time there came. no letter yet, when taunted that Louis had forgotten her, she replied as Cleopatra did to Alexis when he advised her to deem her lover cruel, inconstant, and ungrateful:—
"I cannot, if I could; these thoughts were vain, Faithless, ungrateful, cruel if he be, I still must love him !"
But time changes all
things. A pleasing and sad recollection was now beginning to replace her
lively affection for Charters. Tired of worshipping one who had become
little more than a beautiful statue, her admirers had disappeared
gradually, till the assiduous Douglas alone remained in the position of a
tacit and privileged dangler. Willy was an honest-hearted fellow, and with
his real love for Emmy there was mingled much of pity for what she
suffered on account of his "devilish neglectful rival," as he termed
Charters. Emmy had long been insensible to his addresses ; but as Douglas,
who was very prepossessing, was the nephew of the last Duke of Douglas,
and had a handsome fortune, her father requently, earnestly, and
affectionately urged her to accept his proposals; while her mother
reminded her that she was past eight-and-twenty now; and added, that in a
new and more fortunate attachment—in the love that is supposed to follow
marriage—she would forget the sorrows of the past. But Emmy, though
knowing that this was all mere sophistry, was about to give a silent
acquiescence to their schemes, when, turning over the leaves of an old
periodical, one day, in a dreamy and listless mood, her eye fell on the
Emmy thought of Douglas's fortune, and the book fell from her hand.
"No, no" she said with a
shudder; "I shall not be the adorned victim offered up to this golden
idol" and from that time she resolved to decline his addresses.
"The lost regiment" was spoken of from time to time, till even friends, comrades, and relations grew tired of futile surmises, and their unaccountable dis-appearance became like a tale that is told—or a fragment of old and forgotten intelligence.
For a time a sickening and painful suspense had been kept alive by occasional reports of pieces of wreck with red coats and tartan fluttering about them, having been espied in the Atlantic; vessels waterlogged and abandoned were passed by solitary ships, and averred to be the missing transport; craft answering her description had been seen to founder in tempests off the banks of Newfoundland; but after eight months had elapsed nothing was heard of what was emphatically called the lost regiment.
Emmy mourned now for Louis as for one who was dead - one who, after all his toil and valour, suffering and constancy (she felt assured he had been constant), was sleeping in the great ocean that had divided them so long.
Tired of all this her friends had arrayed her in mourning as for one who was really dead; and to carry out a plan of realizing this conviction, her father had erected in the church of St. John a handsome marble tablet to the memory of Charters ; and this cold white slab in memoriam met Emmy's heavy eyes every time she raised them from her prayer-book on Sunday. So at last Louis was dead—she felt convinced of it, and, with a reluctant and foreboding mind, she consented to a marriage with Captain Douglas of the Black Watch—a consent in which she had but one thought, that in making this terrible sacrifice she was only seeking to soothe the anxiety and gratify the solicitations of her mother, who was now well up in the vale of years, and who loved her tenderly.
Emmy was placid and content; but though even cheerful in appearance, she was not happy; for her cheek was ever pale and her soft hazel eyes, with their half-drooping lids, failed to veil a restlessness that seemed to search for something vague and undefined.
They were married. We will pass over the appearance of the bride, her pale beauty, her rich lace, the splendour of all the accessories by which the wealth of her father, of her husband, and the solicitude of her kind friends surrounded her, and come the crisis in our story—a crisis in which a lamentable fatality seemed to rule the destinies of the chief actors in our little drama.
The minister of St. John's Church had just pronounced the nuptial blessing, and the pale bride was in her mother's arms, while the officers of the Black Watch were crowding round Douglas with their hearty congratulations; a buzz of voices had filled the large withdrawing room, as a hum of gladness succeeded the solemn but impressive monotony of the marriage service, when the sharp rattle of drums and the-shrill sound of the fifes ringing in the Southgate of Perth struck upon their ears, and the measured march of feet, mingling with the rising huzzahs of the people, woke the echoes of every close and wynd.
A foreboding smote the
heart of Captain Douglas. He sprang to a window and saw the gleam of arms—
The Lost Regiment—the Highlanders of Montgomery !"
A low cry burst from Emmy; she threw up her clasped hands, and sank in a dead faint at her mother's feet. All was consternation in the house of Stuart of Tullynairn; and the marriage guests gazed at the passing soldiers, as at some fascinating but unreal pageant—but on they marched, cheering, to the barracks, with drums beating and pipes playing; and now the mounted officer, who had been gazing wistfully at the crowded windows, stoops from his saddle and whispers a few words to another—Alaster the One-handed, now a captain—then he turns his horse, and, dismounting at the door, is heard to ascend the stair; and in another moment, Louis Charters, sallow thin, and hollow-eyed, by long toil and suffering, his left arm in a sling and his right cheek scarred by a shot, stands amid all these gaily-attired guests in his fighting jacket, the scarlet of which had long since become threadbare and purple.
He immediately approached Emmy, who had now, partially recovered and gazed at him, as one might gaze at a spectre, when Douglas threw himself forward with a hand on his sword.
What is the meaning of all this said Louis, who grew ashy pale, and whose voice sank into Emmy's soul; have you all forgotten me—Louis Charters of Montgomery's Regiment ?"
"No!"' replied Douglas, "but your presence here at such a time is most unfeeling, and inopportune."
Louis started as if a scorpion had stung him, and his trembling hand sought the hilt the old minister addressed him and the guests crowded between them all aside and turned from word or glance from Emmy. Time had frozen her, and mute despair gard yet still beautiful eyes.
"Half an hour earlier and I had saved myself!" exclaimed Charters! Half-hour I loitered in Strathearn there to refresh his weary soldiers.
And now to explain this sudden reappearance.
Tempest-tossed and under jurymasts, after long beating against adverse winds, the transport, with the remnant of his regiment, had been driven to 37 and 40 degrees of north latitude, and was stranded on the small isles of Corvo and Flores, two of the most western and detached of the Azores. There they had been lingering among the Portuguese for seven months, unknown to and unheard of by our Government; and it was not until Charters, leaving Alaster Grant in command at Corvo, had visited Angra, the capital of the island, and urged the necessity of having his soldiers transmitted home, that he procured a ship at Ponta del Gada, the largest town of these lands, and sailing with the still reduced remnant of his corps—for many had perished with the foundered transport—he landed at Greenock, from whence he was ordered at once to join the 2nd Battalion of the Black Watch, into which his soldiers had volunteered, and which, by a strange fatality, was quartered in Perth—the home of his Emmy, and the place where for five long years he had garnered up his thoughts and dearest hopes.
The reader may imagine the emotions of poor Emmy on finding that her lover lived, and that her heart was thus cruelly wrenched away from all it had treasured and cherished for years. Then, as if to aggravate her sorrow, our battalion marched the next day for foreign service, and Louis again embarked for America, the land of his toil, without relentless fate permitting Emmy to excuse or explain herself.
Douglas left the corps and took his wife to Paris, where he fell in a duel with a Jacobite refugee.
Emmy lived to be a very old woman, but she never smiled again.
Thus were two fond hearts separated for ever. Three months after Louis landed in America he died of a broken heart say some; of the marsh fever say others. He was then on the march with a detachment of ours up the Mississippi, a long route of 1500 miles, to take possession of Fort Charters in the Illinois. His friend, a Captain Grant—Alaster the One-handed—performed the last offices for him, and saw him rolled in a blanket, and buried at the foot of a cotton-tree, where the muskets of the Black Watch made the echoes of the vast prairie ring as they poured three farewell volleys over the last home of a brave but lonely heart.