of War (or The Highlanders in Spain)
Chapter 3 - A True Highlander
One fine forenoon, a few
days after the occurrences related in the last chapter, a horseman
appeared riding along the narrow uneven road leading by the banks of
Lochisla towards the tower. It was Sir Allan Lisle, who came along at a
slow trot, managing his nag with the ease and grace of a perfect rider,
never making use of either whip or spur, but often drawing in his rein to
indulge the pleasure and curiosity with which he beheld (though accustomed
to the splendid scenery of Perthshire) this secluded spot, which he had
never seen before, the black and solitary tower, the dark blue waveless
loch, and the wild scenery by which it was surrounded.
As he advanced up the
ascent towards the tower, his horse began to snort, shake its mane, and
grow restive, as its ears were saluted by a noise to which they were
Donald Iverach, the old
piper of the family (which office his ancestors had held since the days of
Robert the Second, according to his own account), was pacing with a
stately air to and fro before the door of the fortalice, with the expanded
bag of the piob mhor under his arm, blowing from its long chaunter and
three huge drones 'a tempest of dissonance;' while he measured with
regular strides the length of the barbican or court, at one end of which
stood a large stoup of whisky (placed on the end of a cask), to which he
applied himself at every turn of his promenade to wet his whistle.
The piper, though of low
stature, was of a powerful, athletic, and sinewy form, and although nearly
sixty, was as fresh as when only sixteen; his face was rough and purple,
from drinking and exposure to the weather; his huge red whiskers curled
round beneath his chin and grew up to his eyes, which twinkled and
glittered beneath their shaggy-brows; a smart blue bonnet set jauntily,
very much over the right eye, gave him a knowing look, and his knees,
which had never known covering from the day of his birth,' where exposed
by the kilt, were hairy and rough as the hide of the roe-buck; his plaid
waved behind, and a richly-mounted dirk, eighteen inches long, hanging on
his right side, completed his attire.
Great was the surprise of
the Celt when, on turning in his march, he suddenly beheld Sir Allan
Lisle, whom he had not seen since the last year, when by the laird's
orders he had endeavoured, by the overwhelming noise of his pipe, to drown
a speech which the baronet was addressing to the electors of the county.
But what earthly errand, thought Donald, could bring a Lisle up Strathisla,
where one of the race had not been since the father of the present Sir
Allan had beleaguered the tower in 1746 with a party of the Scottish
Fusiliers. The chaunter fell from the hand of the astonished piper, and
the wind in the bag of his instrument escaped with an appalling groan.
'My good friend, I am glad
you have ceased at last,' said Sir Allan; 'I expected every moment that my
horse would have thrown me. This fortress of yours will be secure against
cavalry while you are in it, I dare swear.'
'I dinna ken, sir,' replied
the piper, touching his bonnet haughtily; 'but when pare leggit gillies
and red coats tried it in the troublesome times, they aye gat the tead
man's share o' the deep loch below.'
'Is your master is
Lochisla at home?' His honour the laird is within,' replied Iverach, as
Sir Allan dismounted and desired him to hold his horse.
'Lochisla's piper will hold
nae man's bridle-rein, his honour's excepted,' said the indignant
Highlander;' put a common gillie may do tat. Holloa! Alpin Oig Stuart;
Dugald! Evan ! come an' hold ta shentle-man's praw sheltie,' shouted he,
making the old barbican ring.
'One will do, I dare say,'
said Sir Allan, smiling as he resigned his nag to Evan, Iverach's son, a
powerful young mountaineer, who appeared at his father's shout.
Preceded by Donald, Sir
Allan ascended the winding staircase of the tower, and was ushered into
the hall, or principal apartment it contained, the roof of which was a
stone arch. At one side yawned a large fireplace, on the mouldered lintel
of which appeared die crest and badge-flower of the Stuarts a thistle
and underneath was the family motto 'Omne solum forti patria.' At each end
of the chamber was a window of moderate size, with a stone mullion in the
form of a cross ; one commanded a view of the loch and neighbouring
forests of birch and pine, and the other the distant outline of the high
Benmore. The walls were adorned with apparatus for hunting, fishing,
shooting, and sylvan trophies, intermixed with targets, claymores,
Lochaber axes, old muskets, matchlocks, etc.
The furniture was of oak,
or old and black mahogany, massive and much dilapidated, presenting a very
different appearance to that in the splendid modern drawing-room at
Inchavon. A few old portraits hung on the blackened walls; and one in
particular, that of a stern old Highlander, whose white beard flowed over
his belted plaid, seemed to scowl on Sir Allan, who felt considerably
embarrassed when he unexpectedly found himself in the habitation of one
whom he could not consider otherwise than as his foe.
While awaiting the
appearance of the proprietor, whom the piper was gone to inform of the
visit, Sir Allan's eye often wandered to the portrait above the fireplace,
and he remembered that it was the likeness of the father of the present
Stuart, who at the battle of Falkirk had unhorsed, by a stroke of his
broadsword, his (Sir Allan's) father, then an officer in the army of
General Hawley. While Sir Allan mused over the tales he had heard of the
grim Ian Mhor of Lochisla, the door opened, and Mr. Stuart entered.
Erect in person, stately in
step, and graceful in deportment, strong and athletic of form, he appeared
in every respect the genuine Highland gentleman. He was upwards of sixty,
but his eye was clear, keen, and right, and his weather-beaten cheek and
expansive forehead were naturally tinged with a ruddy tint, which was
increased to a flush by the excitement caused at this unlooked-for visit.
Unlike his servants, who
wore the red tartan of their race, he was attired in the usual dress of a
country gentleman, and wore his silver locks thickly and unnecessarily
powdered, and clubbed in a thick queue behind.
The natural politeness and
hospitable feeling of a Highlander had banished every trace of displeasure
from his bold and unwrinkled brow, and he grasped Sir Allan's hand with a
frankness at which the latter was surprised, as was old Janet the
housekeeper, who saw through the keyhole what passed, though she was
unable, in consequence of her deafness, to hear what was said.
'Be seated, Sir Allan,'
said Mr. Stuart, bowing politely, though he felt his stiffness and hauteur
rising within him, and endeavoured to smother it. 'To what am I indebted
for the honour of this visit? which, I must have the candour to
acknowledge, is most unexpected.'
'Lochisla,' replied the
other, addressing him in the Scottish manner by the name of his property,
'to the gallantry of your brave boy, Ronald, but for whose exertions I
should at this moment have been sleeping at the bottom of the Linn at
Corrieavon. I have deemed it incumbent upon me to visit Lochisla, to
return my earnest thanks personally for the signal service he has rendered
to me, and I regret that the terms on which you on which we have lived,
render, in your estimation my visit rather an honour than a pleasure.'
A shade crossed the brow of
the Highlander, but on hearing the particulars, he congratulated Sir Allan
on his escape in a distant and polite manner, while the twinkle of his
bright eyes showed how much satisfaction he enjoyed at the brave conduct
of his son. While Sir Allan was relating the story, Mr. Stuart placed near
him a large silver liqueur-frame, containing six cut-glass bottles, the
variously-coloured contents of which sparkled behind their silver labels.
'Come, Sir Allan, fill your
glass, and drink to my boy's health: one does not experience so narrow an
escape often, nowadays at least. Come, sir, fill your glass, there is
sherry, brandy, port, and the purer dew of the hills; choose which you
'You Stuarts of Lochisla
have long borne a name for hospitality, but it is rather early to taste
strong waters 'tis not meridian yet.'
'Our hospitality was
greater in the olden time than it is now; but it is not often that this
old hall has within it one of the Lisles of the Inch, and you must
positively drink with me,' answered his host, compelling him to fill his
glass from the decanter of purple port.
'Our visits have been
fewer, and less friendly, than I trust they will be for the future. Your
health, Lochisla,' he added, sipping his wine. ''Tis sixty years and more,
I think, since my father came up the Strath with his followers,
'We will not talk of these
matters, Sir Allan,' exclaimed Stuart, on whose features was gathering a
stern expression, which Sir Allan saw not, as he sat with his face to a
window and looked through his glass with one eye closed, watching a crumb
of the bee's-wing floating on the bright liquor. 'They are the last I
would wish to think of when you are my guest.'
'Pardon me, I had no wish
to offend ; we have ever been as strangers to each other, although our
acres march. I have had every desire to live on amicable terms with you,
Mr. Stuart; but you have ever been prejudiced against me, and truly
without a cause.'
'I am one of the few who
inherit the feelings of a bygone age. But, Sir Allah Lisle, let us not, I
entreat you, refer to the past,' coldly replied the old Highlander, to
whom two parts of his guest's last speech were displeasing. The recurrence
to the past terms on which they had lived, brought to his mind more than
one case of litigation in which Sir Allan had come off victorious ; the
other was being addressed as Mr. Stuart, a title by which he was never
known among his own people. The polite and affable manner of his visitor
had tended to diminish his prejudices during the last five minutes, but
Sir Allan's blundering observations recalled to the mind of the old
duinhe-wassal the bitter feelings which he inherited from his father, and
his high forehead became flushed and contracted.
'It appears very
unaccountable,' said he, after the uncomfortable pause which had ensued,
'that my son has never, during the past days, mentioned the circumstance
of the happy manner in which he drew you from the Corrie-avon.'
'To that,' replied the
other, laughing, 'a story is appended, a very romantic one indeed, part of
which I suppressed in my relation; nothing less, in fact, than a
love-affair, to which, as I have conceived a friendship for the brave boy
to whom I owe a life, I drink every success (draining his glass); 'but
this must be treated of more gravely at a future interview.'
'Sir Allan, I understand
you not; but if Ronald has formed any attachment in this neighbourhood, he
must learn to forget it, as he will soon leave Lochisla. Some
cottage-girl, I suppose; these attachments are common enough among the
'You mistake me: the young
lady is one every way his equal, and they have known each other from their
childhood. But I will leave the hero to tell his own tale, which will
sound better from the lips of a handsome Highland youth, than those of a
plain gray-haired old fellow, like myself.
'I like your frankness,'
said Stuart, softened by the praise bestowed on his son by his old
adversary, whose hand he shook, 'and will requite it, Sir Allan. When
Ronald comes down the glen, I will talk with him over this matter, which I
confess troubles me a little at heart, as I never supposed he would have
kept an attachment of his secret from me, his only parent now, and one
that has loved him so dearly as I have done. But I must be gentle with
him, as he is about to leave me soon, poor boy.'
'Ah! for the army, so I
have heard: our boys will follow nothing else nowadays. I fear my own
springald, Lewis, is casting wistful thoughts that way. But should you
wish it, I may do much in Ronald's favour: I have some little interest
with those in power in London, and------'
'I thank you. but it needs
not be so. Huntly has promised me that Ronald shall not be forgotten when
a vacancy occurs in the "Gordon Highlanders," a regiment raised among his
own people and kindred; and the Marquis, whose interest is great with the
Duke of York, will not forget his word his pledged word to a Highland
On Sir Allan's departure,
Stuart, from one of the hall windows, watched his retiring figure as he
rode rapidly down the glen, and disappeared among the birchen foliage
which overhung and shrouded the winding pathway. A sour smile curled his
lip; he felt old prejudices rising strongly in his breast, and he turned
his eye on the faded portrait of his father, and thought of the time when
he had sat as a little child upon his knee, and heard the family of Lisle
mentioned with all the bitterness of Highland rancour, and been told a
thousand times of the days when Colonel Lisle had carried fire and sword
through all Lochisla, besieging the little tower for days, until its
inmates were perishing for want. In the tide of feeling which these
reflections called forth, the late amiable interview was forgotten; and he
only remembered Sir Allan as the foe of his race, and the victor in many a
keenly-contested case in the Parliament House, the place where the Court
of Session sit at Edinburgh.
A bustle in the narrow
staircase recalled him to himself: the door was thrown open, and Ronald
entered, gun in hand, from the hill, flushed and excited with the nature
of the sport. Two tall Highlanders strode behind, bearing on their
shoulders a stout pole, from which was suspended by the heels a gigantic
deer, whose branching antlers trailed on the floor, which was sprinkled
with spots of blood falling from its dilated nostrils and a death-wound in
its neck, which had been gashed across by the skene-dhu of a Highlander. A
number of red-eyed dogs accompanied them, displaying in their forms the
long and muscular limbs, voluminous chest, and rough wiry coat of the old
Scottish hound, a noble animal, once common in the Lowlands, but now to
be found only in the north, where the deer wander free over immense
stretches of waste moorland or forest, as they did of old.
'A brave beast he is,' said Ronald exultingly, as he cast aside his bonnet
and gun. ' At the head of the loch I fired, and wounded him here in the
neck : we traced him by the blood for two miles down the Isla, where he
flew through thicket and brake with the speed of an arrow; but the gallant
dogs Odin and Carrill fastened upon him, and drew him down when about to
take the water, near the marchstone of the Lisles. 'Twas luckily done :
had he once gained the grounds of Inchavon, our prize would have been
' Ronald,' replied his father coldly, ' we will hear all this matter
afterwards.' Then turning to the gillies, 'Dugald Stuart, and you Alpin
Oig,' said he, ' carry away this quarry to the housekeeper, and desire her
to fill your queghs for you. 1 have had a visit from Sir Allan Lisle,'
resumed Stuart, when the Highlanders had obeyed his order and retired. '
Hah ! you change countenance already : this has been a mysterious matter.
He has been here to return thanks for your pulling him out of Isla, where
he was nearly drowned, poor man, a day or two since, a circumstance
which you seem to have thought too worthless to mention to me. But there
is another matter, on which I might at least have been consulted,' he
added, watching steadily the changes in the countenance of the young man,
whose heart fluttered with excitement. ' You have formed an attachment to
some girl in the neighbourhood, which has reached the ears of this Allan
Lisle, although it never came to mine, and the intercourse has continued
for years, although I have been ignorant of it. Ronald, my boy, who is the
girl ? As your father, I have at least a right to inquire her name and
' Do pray excuse me,' faltered the other, playing nervously with his
bonnet; ' I am too much embarrassed at present to reply, some other
time. Ah ! your anger would but increase, I fear, were you to know.'
' It does increase ! Surely she is not a daughter of that grim churl
Corrieoich, up the glen yonder ? I have seen his tawdry kimmers at the
county ball. I can scarcely think this flame of yours is a child of his.
You remember the squabble I had with him about firing on his people, who
were dragging the loch with nets under the very tower windows. By Heaven!
is she a daughter of his!' cried his father, in the loud and imperative
tone so natural to a Highlander. 'Answer me, I command you, Ronald Stuart
' She is not, I pledge you my word,' replied the young man gently. '
Ronald !' exclaimed the old gentleman, a dark flush gathering on his
cheek, ' she must be some mean and contemptible object, otherwise you
would not shrink from the mention of her name, were it gentle and noble,
in this coward way.'
' Coward I never was,' replied Ronald bitterly. ' I may shrink before my
own father, when I would scorn to quail before the angry eye of any other
man who lives or breathes. Nor do I blush to own the name of of this
lady. She is Alice, the daughter of Sir Allan Lisle, of Inchavon. Ah, sir!
I fear I have applied a match to a mine ; but I must await the explosion.'
Ronald had indeed lighted a mine. A terrible expression flashed in the
eyes of the old Highlander, and gathered upon his formidable brow.
'Ronald! Ronald; for this
duplicity I was unprepared,' he exclaimed in emphatic Gaelic, with a tone
of the bitterest reproach. 'Have you dared to address yourself to a
daughter of that man? Look up, degenerate boy !' he added, grasping
Ronald's arm with fierce energy, while he spoke with stern distinctness.
'Look upon the portrait of old Ian Mhor, your brave grandsire, and imagine
what he would have thought of this. The Lisles of Inchavon! Dhia gledh
sinn! I have not forgotten their last hostile attempt sixty-five years
since, in 1746, when Colonel Lisle, the father of this Sir Allan, besieged
our tower with his whole battalion. I was a mere infant then ; but I well
remember how the muskets of the fusiliers flashed daily and nightly from
rock and copse-wood, and from the dark loopholes of the tower, where the
brave retainers of Lochisla defended my father's stronghold with the
desperate courage of outlawed and ruined men, ruined and outlawed in a
noble cause! These days of death and siege I have not forgotten, nor the
pale cheek of the mother at whose breast I hung seeking nourishment, while
she was perishing for want of food. Nor have I forgotten the gallows-tree
God be gracious unto me! raised by the insolent soldiery on the
brae-head to hang our people when they surrendered; and, had they ever
yielded, they would have swung every man of them, and have been food for
the raven and hoodiecraw. And this paternal tower would have been now
ruined and roofless, forming a lair for the fox and the owl, but for the
friendship of our kinsman Seafield, who wrung a respite and reprieve from
the unwilling hand of the merciless German duke.
'Oh, Ronald Stuart!
remember these things, and recall some traces of the spirit of Ian Mhor,
whose name and blood you inherit. He was a stern old man, and a proud one,
possessing the spirit of the days that are gone, days when the bold son
of the hills redressed his wrongs with his own right hand, and held his
lands, not by possession of a sheepskin, but by the broad blade of his
He paused a moment, passed
his hand across his glowing brow, and thus continued in a tone of sterner
import, and more high-flown Gaelic: 'Listen to me, O Ronald! Hearken to a
father who has loved, and watched, and tended you as never father did a
son. Think no more of Inchavon's daughter! Promise me to spurn her from
your remembrance or never more shall you find a home in the dwelling-place
of our fathers: you shall be a stranger to my heart, and your name be
known in Lochisla no more. I will cast you off as a withered branch, and
leave our ancient patrimony to the hereditary chieftain of our race.
Pledge me your word, or, Ronald, I pronounce you for ever lost.'
During this long and
energetic harangue, which was delivered in the sonorous voice which Mr.
Stuart always assumed with his Gaelic, various had been the contending
emotions in the bosom of Ronald. Love and pride, indignation and filial
respect, agitated him by turns; and when his father ceased, he took up his
bonnet with an air of pride and grief.
'Sir sir O my father!'
said he, while his pale lip quivered, and a tear glitted in his dark eye,
'you will be spared any further trouble on my account. I will go; leave
Lochisla to the Stuarts of Appin, or whom you may please. I will seek my
fortune elsewhere, and show you truly that " a brave man makes every soil
As he turned to leave the
apartment, the stern aspect of his father's features relaxed, and he
surveyed him with a wistful look.
'Stay, Ronald,' he
exclaimed; 'I have been hasty. You would not desert me thus in my old age,
and leave me with anger on your brow? Let not our pride overcome our
natural affection. I will speak of this matter again, and------'
Here he was interrupted by
Donald Iverach, who entered respectfully, bonnet in hand, bearing two long
official-looking letters, which he handed to Mr. Stuart, who stared on
perceiving 'On his Majesty's service' (an unusual notice to him) printed
on the upper corner of each.
'Hoigh!' said the piper,
'your honour's clory disna get twa sic muckle letters ilka day. The auld
doited cailloch tat keeps the post-house down at the clachan of
Strathfillan, sent a gilly trotting up the waterside wi' them, as fast as
his houghs could pring him.'
Their contents became
speedily known. The first was a letter from the Horse Guards, informing
Mr. Stuart that his son was appointed to an ensigncy in the 92nd regiment,
or Gordon Highlanders, commanded by the Marquis of Huntly. The second was
to Ronald himself, signed by the adjutant-general, directing him with all
speed to join a detachment which was shortly to leave the depot in the
Castle of Edinburgh for the seat of war.
Pride and pleasure at the
new and varied prospect before him were the first emotions of Ronald's
mind; sorrow and regret at thoughts of parting so suddenly, perhaps for
ever, from all that was dear to him, succeeded them.
'Hoigh! hui-uigh!' cried
old Iverach, capering with Highland agility on hearing the letters read. 'Hui-uigh!'
he exclaimed, making the weapons clatter on the wall with his wild and
startling shout, while he tossed his bonnet up to the vaulted roof; 'and
so braw Maister Ronald is going to the clorious wars, to shoot the French
loons like the muir-cocks o' Strathisla, or the bonnie red roes o' Benmore!
Hoigh! Got tarn! auld Iverach's son sall gang too, and follow the laird's,
as my ain father and mony a braw shentleman did auld Sir Ian Mhor to the
muster o' Glenfinan. And when promotion is in the way, braw Maister Ronald
will no forget puir Evan Iverach, the son of his father's piper, that
follows him for love to the far-awa' land. And when the pipers blaw the
onset, neither o' them will forget the bonnie banks of Lochisla, and the
true hearts they have left behind them there. And when the onset is nigh,
let them shout the war-cry of their race: my prave profilers cried it on
the ramparts of Ticonderago, where the auld plack watch were mown doon
like grass, in a land far peyond the isles, where the sun sets in the
As this enthusiastic
retainer left the apartment to communicate the news to the rest of the
household, old Mr. Stuart turned to gaze on his son.
The arrival of these
letters had caused a vast change in their feelings within the last five
minutes ; all traces of discord had vanished, and the softest feelings of
our nature remained behind.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.