An order having been issued
for a general attack on the enemy's position at the Nive, on the morning
of the 9th of December, an hour before daybreak, the allied army got under
arms, in high spirits and glee at the prospect of fighting monsieur on his
own ground, and prosecuting their victorious career still further into
France. But as it is not my purpose . to give an account of that brilliant
affair, I will confine myself to the adventures of our friends. In
Stuart's quarter, or billet,—a miserable and half-ruined cottage,—the
officers who were to be under his command on a certain duty, sat smoking
cigars and carousing on the common wine of the country, until the signal
'to arms' was given. The parly consisted of his own subs,—of Blacier and a
Spanish captain, Castronuno, a tall and sombre cavalier, lank, lean, and
bony, and who might very well have passed for the Knight of La Mancha.
Their supper consisted of tough ration carne (beef), broiled over the fire
on ramrods, and eaten without salt,—an article which was always so scarce,
that a duro would have been given for a teaspoonful. This poor fare
Blacier improved by swallowing an ample mess of chopped cabbage and
vinegar, and by puffing assiduously at his meerschaum. After having
stuffed himself until belt and button strained almost to starting, he
deposited in his haversack a quantity of spare bread and meat for his
breakfast. Castro-hiuno, who had been observing his gluttony with quiet
wonder, recom. mended him to eat his breakfast then, as it would save
trouble on the morrow. This advice Stuart enforced by adding that he might
be knocked on the head before day broke, and perhaps all his good
provender would go to swell some other man's paunch.
'Mein Gott!' groaned the
German, 'vat you say is right. I veel eat vile I can. Hagel! mein Herr,
you hab gibben de soond advice.' And he commenced a fresh attack on the
viands, and quickly transferred them from the haversack to his distended
stomach. He had scarcely finished, and let out four holes in his
sword-belt, before the sharp Celtic visage of Sergeant Macrone was seen
peering through the clouds of tobacco-smoke, as he informed Stuart, ' Tat
ta lads were a' standin' to their airms on the plain stanes.'
It was then an hour before
daybreak, and the sky was dark and gloomy. Stuart noiselessly paraded his
troops—the 'light-bobs,' Blacier's riflemen, and Castronuno's Spaniards,
and moved up the banks of the stream, to execute the duty assigned to him.
This was to carry by storm the castle of the Nive, that the troops in its
immediate neighbourhood might be enabled to cross by the ford, the passage
of which was swept by the guns of the fortress. The day preceding the
projected assault, Ronald and Blacier made a reconnaissance of the place,
and found that there was no other method but to ford the river below the
neighbouring cascade, and carrying the outer defences by storm, trusting
to Heaven and their own hands for the rest, as the tall keep might be
defended against musketry for an age, unless a piece of cannon was brought
to bear upon it.
the time mentioned, an hour before dawn, the whole of the troops in and
about Cambo were under arms, and the signal to cross was to be the
storming of the chateau. The companies destined to effect this dangerous
piece of service marched up the bank of the Nive a few miles, and,
favoured by the intense darkness, halted immediately opposite to the scene
of action among some olive-trees, which were, however, bare and leafless.
There a consultation was held, and it was determined to proceed forthwith.
All appeared still within the chateau. The sentries on the bastions and
palisades were seen passing and repassing the embrasures, but the noise of
their tread was drowned in the rush of the cascade, which poured furiously
over a ledge of rock a few yards above the fort, and plunged into a deep
chasm, from which a constant cloud of spray arose. Desiring Evan Bean
Iverach to keep close by his side, Ronald, with a section of twelve picked
Highlanders carrying three stout ladders, led the way. Under the command
of Evan Macpherson, the rest of the company followed close upon his heels,
with their bayonets pointing forward, and every man's hand on the lock of
his musket. Old Blacier, who was as brave as a lion, notwithstanding all
his oddities, prepared to mount the works by escalade a little further up
the stream, where his riflemen were in imminent danger of being drenched
by the spray of the waterfall. Two companies of the 18th Spanish corps of
the line were to form a reserve, under the command of Don Alfonso de
then, lads,' said Ronald, while his heart leaped and hfe breath came thick
and close, for the moment was an exciting one, 'keep up your locks from
the stream, and look well to your priming,—though we must trust most to
butt and bayonet.'
'Qui va là? challenged a sentinel.
'You'll soon find that out, my boy,' cried
Stuart, brandishing his sword. 'Forward, Gordon Highlanders! Hurrah!'
'Demeurez la/' cried the Gaul in dismay, while
he fired his piece in concert with three or four others. A Highlander fell
in the stream wounded, and was sucked into the linn, where he perished
instantly. His comrades let fly a rattling volley, and pressed boldly
forward. The water rose nearly to their waists, but the Celts had an
advantage over their comrades in trousers. Raising the thick tartan folds
of their kilts, they crossed the river, keeping all their clothing, the
hose excepted, perfectly dry.
The Nive, at the place where they crossed, was
several yards wide, and the current, on the surface of which some pieces
of thin ice floated, was intensely cold; but the hardy Highlanders pressed
onward, grasping each other by the hand, and crossed safely, but not
without several unlooked-for delays. The bed of the river was pebbly,
slippery as glass, and full of holes, which caused them to stumble every
moment, and a scaling-ladder was nearly carried away by the stream. The
rocks were steep and precipitous, rising to the height of several yards
abruptly from the water. The ladders were planted among the pebbles; and
when one point of the rock was gained, they had to draw them up before
they could reach another, and so arrive at the foot of the sloping
bastion, which was now bristling with bayonets. By the time the escalade
approached the outworks, every soldier in the chateau was at his post, and
the cannon had begun to belch their iron contents, which, however, passed
harmlessly over the heads of the assailants. The fierce northern blood of
the latter was now roused in good earnest, and their natural courage
seemed only to receive a fresh stimulus from the din of war around them.
Accustomed from infancy to climb like
squirrels, the Scotsmen clambered up the rocks, grasping weeds and tufts
of grass,—finding assistance and support where other men would have found
none; and in less space of time than I take to record it, they were all at
the base of the bastion.
'Up and on! Forward, my brave Highland
hearts!' cried Ronald Stuart, springing recklessly up the perilous ladder,
waving his sword, and feeling in his mind the wild—almost mad—sensations
of chivalry and desperation, which no man can imagine save one who has led
a forlorn hope. 'Death or glory! Hurrah! the place is our own!' At that
moment a twenty-four pounder was run through the embrasure and discharged
above his head. It was so close, that the air of the passing ball almost
stunned him; he felt the hot glow of the red fire on his cheek, and the
deadly missile whistled over his bonnet, and boomed away into the
darkness. Several fire-balls were tossed over the works by the French.
These burned with astonishing brilliancy and splendour wherever they
alighted,—even in the middle of water, where they roared, sputtered, and
hissed like devils, but would not be quenched until they burned completely
fell upon the rocks served to reveal the storming-party to the deadly aim
of the defenders, and at the same time added to the singularity, the
picturesque horror of the scene, by the alternate glares of red, blue, and
green light which they shed upon the castled rock, the bristling bastions,
the rushing river, the gleaming arms, and the bronzed features of men
whose hearts the excitement of the moment had turned to iron. Unluckily,
the first ladder planted against the breastwork broke, and the men fell
at this discomfiture, Stuart leaped up the rocks again, though drenched
with water,—but blows had been already interchanged. A second ladder had
been planted by Macpherson, who leaped into an embrasure at the very
moment a cannon was discharged through it, and he narrowly escaped being
blown to pieces. With charged bayonets the resolute Highlanders poured in
after him in that headlong manner which was never yet withstood, and a
fierce conflict ensued, foot to foot, and hand to hand. From their lack of
muscular power, the French are ever at disadvantage in such strife; and
although many of the assailants here forced over the parapet and slain,
the outworks were entirely captured in a few minutes. The Germans under
old Blacier, who led them on with his sabre in one hand, and his
meerschaum in the other, effected an entrance at one angle, while the
Spanish officer commanding the reserve bravely carried another, finding it
impossible to restrain his soldiers, whose triumphant shout of 'Santiago y
Espana! Viva/' struck the French with dismay. Finding themselves attacked
successfully on three points, they became distracted, and were driven
tumultuously from bastion and palisade, after which their own cannon were
wheeled round on them. Nevertheless they fought with the chivalrous
courage of old France. The top of the keep was lined with chasseurs, who
madly continued to pour down an indiscriminate fire of musketry on friends
and foes, and the barbican was full of blood and corpses in five minutes.
Brilliant fire-balls were also cast over, and the glare thrown by them on
the bloody earth, the flashing weapons and powder-blackened visages of the
combatants, produced an effect never to be forgotten by a beholder. Poor
Blacier, who had been shot through the lungs at the moment he entered the
court, hurled his sabre among the enemy and crawled away into a corner,
where he smoked composedly as he bled to death,—or at least appeared to
smoke. The Gascon major of the 105th was encountered by Alfonso de
Castronuno, who at the second blow laid him dead at his feet, but almost
at the same moment the Spaniard himself expired: a shot had passed through
his heart. Remembering Louis Lisle, and animated by a bitter hatred
against all who wore the same garb, the duke, with his cloak rolled round
his left arm, and accoutred with sword and dagger, leaped among the
Highlanders, calling on the French to follow; but no man obeyed. He would
have been instantly bayoneted but for Ronald, who was the first man he
encountered, and who ordered the soldiers to leave them hand to hand. In
avoiding the duke's stiletto, Stuart stumbled over the corse of Castronuno,
and would have been instantly despatched, but for the crossed bayonets of
a dozen soldiers.
'Save him!' cried Stuart. 'Macpherson! Evan Bean! take him alive.' 'Haud!'
cried Iverach sternly. 'Stand, ye black son o' the devil ! Back—back! or
my bayonet's through ye in a twinkling.' But the furious Spaniard spat
upon him in the bitterness of his fury, and the next moment his blood was
reeking on Evan's weapon. He fell prone to the earth, and even while he
lay choking in blood, he continued to curse and spit at the conquerors,
until the Spaniards destroyed him by trampling him to death. The moment he
fell, the French surrendered, after being hemmed into a corner, and
finding it impossible to maintain the conflict longer. On both sides the
slaughter was very great, and upwards of two hundred lay killed in the
court or barbican. The chasseurs on the top of the keep did not yield
until threatened that the place would be blown up ; on which they laid
down their arms, and joined the other prisoners, who formed a sullen band,
ranked in a corner and guarded by the Spaniards, for whom they showed
their scorn and contempt so openly that three or four were killed.
Many of the captives were mere boys, poor
conscripts, who only a month before had been compelled to resign the
shovel for the musket ; and some were the old and high-spirited soldiers
of the Emperor,—stern fellows, with bronzed and scarred cheeks, rough
moustaches, and mouths black with the cartridges they had bitten. They
looked around them with an air of haughty pride, defiance, and
nonchalance, which only a Frenchman can assume under such circumstances.
When daylight dawned, Blacier was found lying dead. When last seen alive,
he was sitting philosophically watching the pool formed by his blood; and
thus he expired with his pipe in his mouth, an inveterate smoker to the
among the prisoners!' cried Stuart, on the occasion of a brawl ensuing
between them and the Spaniards. 'Your fellows must restrain their national
animosity,—just now, at least,' added he firmly, to the Spanish lieutenant
commanding the escort.
'Bueno! but how am I to do it? See you,
senor,' said the Spaniard, 'how the Frenchmen spit upon and upbraid them,
as if they were so many Moors or Portuguese? Virgin de Pilar! I would hew
them down to ribbons, but for the contrary order of senor, the great
Capitan Général, —the Duke of Vittoria.'
'Stay, senor,' said Stuart; ' one should treat
with generosity a conquered enemy.'
'On my honour, capitan,' replied the other,
'old Cuesta would have had them all swimming down the Nive, had he
'Holloa, Stuart,' cried Macpherson; 'come this way! Here is another
uproar. Never mind the prisoners; one might as well sing psalms to a dead
horse as speak of generosity to a Spaniard.'
Their attention was arrested by the report of
a musket; and hurrying to where the sound came from, they found several
Highlanders engaged in beating down the door of a turret. This operation
Iverach shortened, by applying his musket and blowing the lock to
pieces,—a perilous exploit for the inmate, who narrowly escaped being shot
through the body. Evan next applied his shoulder to the shattered barrier,
and burst it open.
'Maister Lisle o' the Inch House! Hurrah! How happy I am to see you! Od,
this dings a' !' he exclaimed in breathless astonishment, as Lisle issued
from his place of confinement.
'Ha, Louis!' cried Stuart, grasping his hand
in wonder. 'Is it possible that they treat you in this unworthy manner,
caging you up in a place like a dog-kennel? I thought you were enjoying
yourself on a parole in France.'
'No, faith! I have been locked up like a gaol-bird
in Pampeluna, and other infernal places, ever since that unlucky affair at
Fuerite Duenna ; and yet, after all, I do not regret it.' ' Indeed!'
'Why, you have yet to learn. But where is
Virginia,—Virginia de Alba?'
'How on earth should I know, Louis? 'Tis an
odd question; but her father's blood, the fierce old villain! is yet red
on Evan's bayonet.'
'What is this you tell me?' said Lisle, frowning. 'Was the duke slain?'
'He fell in the assault,' replied Macpherson,
'and thus escaped the axe, the garrote, or a volley through the back,—all
of which he so well merited.'
'Stay, Macpherson!' interrupted Lisle, so
angrily that the other was indignant. 'I will not hear him spoken of thus.
He has gone to his last account,—so rail against him no more. Truly, he
deserves little pity from
me, for I have suffered much at his hands; but that you will all know
another time. Virginia ! Virginia ! for Heaven's sake tell me something
heard aught of the lady since we were last at Aranjuez; but I hope the
ci-devant abbess is well, notwithstanding the demerits of her fierce and
treacherous father. Your hand again, Louis ! My dear fellow, I
congratulate you on your freedom. All are well at Inchavon, and— but
meantime duty must be attended to.' And, ignorant of the cause of Lisle's
deep anxiety, he turned away, crying,' Holloa, Macrone! Where is that
confounded old humbug loitering? In the spirit-store, likely. Ah ! get the
company under arms, and let the piper blow the gathering.'
'I trust in Heaven that the tower yet contains
her !' exclaimed Lisle. 'I will find her, or be guilty of some desperate
thing. Follow me, Evan, and some of you, my true old comrades ! The keep
is full of Spaniards and Germans, who are wont to be unscrupulous enough,
when heated by the fury of an assault. Forward, Highlanders! We will
ransack the prison-house, and a score of dollars shall be his who finds
snatched up the sword from the dead hand of Castronuno, and, followed by a
few soldiers, rushed up the stairs of the keep, and sought at once the
boudoir, or apartment of Virginia, whom he found in the act of
surrendering her bracelets and rings to a cazador, who had terrified her
to extremity by his oaths and menaces. The Spaniard was a powerful
Asturian, but Louis grasped him by his black cross-belts, and hurled him
downstairs like an infant, for rage supplied him with unusual strength.
Virginia clasped him in her arms, and hung weeping and sobbing bitterly ;
while Ronald Stuart and his lieutenant, Evan Macpherson, who had followed
Louis upstairs, stood for a few moments at the door, unwilling to intrude
hung thus drooping on Lisle's breast, although less gaily attired than
when at the Aranjuez ball, Virginia yet looked surpassingly beautiful. She
had no veil or comb, and the massive braids of her dark-brown hair hung
free and loose over her pale cheek and delicate blue-veined neck, of which
rather more than usual was displayed, in consequence of the disorder of
her dress. Her attendant had been preparing her for bed at the moment the
assault took place ; and want of sleep, together with the terror and
anxiety under which she had been labouring, rendered her paler than usual.
Tears were rolling fast from the long lashes which shaded her light hazel
eyes, but they only made her more bewitching.
An exclamation of surprise, which Ronald found
it impossible to restrain, caused her to start and blush deeply, for her
arms, feet, and ankles were bare, and her graceful attire was all in
disorder ; but she threw her veil and mantilla instantly around her.
'There are none here but friends, Virginia,'
said Louis, to reassure her; and he introduced her to Ronald and
Macpherson as 'the Honourable Mrs. Lisle.'
'Is it possible?' exclaimed Stuart. 'How
fortunate—how happy! I have a thousand pardons to ask, Louis, for treating
your anxiety so lightly. Allow me to congratulate you------'
'And me too, Lisle, old fellow,' added
Macpherson. 'I wish you all joy, but I cannot pay my respects to the donna,
because my Spanish, which is none of the best, always turns into Gaelic,
and never comes glibly to my tongue until after sunset.'
'Oh, senores!' said the lady, 'such a night of
horrors this has been! I heard all the dreadful conflict above, beneath,
and around me,— and, Holy Mother Mary! I shall never forget it. I looked
but once from my window, and the scene of the night assault will never be
effaced from my remembrance. Oh, 'tis a fearful thing to see men fighting
for death and life, and destroying each other like wild beasts or demons!
But where is the duke? Have you not seen him, senor cavaliers? Oh, search
for my father, and bring him instantly to me, that I may be assured of his
senora,' answered Stuart, 'I regret—I fear we cannot gratify you in this
Virgin!' she faltered. 'Caballero, you mean not to tell me that my father
is no more,—that your soldados have slain him?' She spoke in a voice of
exquisite tenderness, and laid her fair hand on Ronald's arm, grasping it
tightly, and he gazed on her with some confusion. Her bright eyes were
full of fire, and seemed to search his heart for an answer, while her
half-parted lips displayed a fair set of brilliant teeth. Noble Oficial!
tell me if my father lives,' she added, bursting into tears.
'I fear the duke has escaped,' replied Ronald,
unwilling to afflict her by revealing the truth; for notwithstanding the
duke's sternness and severity, she had always tenderly loved him. 'He must
have escaped, senora, as I have not seen him since the place was stormed.
He must have fled.'
'No, cavalier. My father would perish rather than fly,' said the young
lady indignantly. He comes of a race whose blood has fallen on a thousand
fields, but never from the veins of a coward.'
'Pardon, gracios senora, I meant not to say
that he had fled, but only retreated,' said Stuart. 'But pray excuse me
for a moment, as my presence is required below.' He retired with the
intention of ordering the body of the ignoble duke to be looked after,
that it might not shock the eyes of his daughter; but the soldiers of
Alfonso de Castronuno had beforehand disposed of it in a summary manner.
In the intensity of their hatred, they tied a few cannon-shot to the body
and tossed it into the chasm at the bottom of the cascade, where it could
never be found again. The troops engaged in the capture of the chateau
remained there for the ensuing day, during the whole of which firing was
heard along the line of the Nive. With their usual success, the allies
crossed the river in triumph, and drove the troops of Soult before them
horse had been shot under him, Fassifern fought on foot, and four times
led his victorious Highlanders on to the charge, sword in hand, and four
times successively the stubborn masses of the enemy gave way before them.
But the Celtic impetuosity was not to be resisted. Their black plumes were
seen dashing on through bayonets, blood, and smoke, as they hurled the
columns of the French before them as clouds are driven by the gale. Every
regiment distinguished itself, and many charged desperately with the
Dugald Mhor, animated by the gallant example of his master, forgot his
white hairs and failing powers, and distinguished himself by his prowess,
and by the address with which he unhorsed and captured a French
* * * *
On the 27th of February, 1814, the allies
gained the battle of Orthez—a victory which was succeeded by the passages
of the Adour and Garonne, and by the most signal defeat of the Duke of
Dalmatia before Toulouse, on Easter Sunday, the 10th of April.
Many of the British regiments suffered
severely. The gallant 61st were reduced to scarcely fifty men, I believe;
and the Gordon Highlanders were also roughly handled by the enemy. Stuart
was wounded, and he lost many of the friends who survived the fatal
battles of the Pyrenees, and among them was Evan Iverach, the faithful and
affectionate young fellow who had become a soldier for his sake,
abandoning his home, his sweetheart, and his aged father, and who had
followed and served him with the love of a younger brother, the respect of
a vassal, and the disinterested devotion of a Highlander.
The light companies had been thrown forward as
skirmishers, and Stuart's fell into a sort of ambush formed by the enemy,
who poured a destructive fire upon them. Lieutenant Evan Macpherson was
killed, and a ball passed through the breast of Iverach, which laid him
prostrate on the turf. He had previously been wounded in the left knee,
but he had refused to retire from the field, protesting that he would
fight while he had breath left in his body. Thrown into disorder by this
unexpected volley, the company retired, and Ronald, as he staggered about,
confused by the concussion of a rifle-ball which grazed his left temple,
heard the deep moans of pain which were uttered by poor Iverach.
Regardless of the French fire, he rushed forward, and raising him in his
arms, bore him off in the face of the foe, who suspended their firing on
witnessing the action, which gained Ronald the love and esteem of every
soldier who beheld it. Two Highlanders soon relieved him of his burden,
and carried Iverach, who was enduring great agony, to a place which was
secure from the bullets of the enemy's riflemen. He was laid at the back
of a stone wall, which formed the boundary of a meadow or field. The first
thing he cried for was water: and Stuart, filling his canteen in a muddy
ditch, the only place from which he could procure it, held it to the hot
quivering lips of the sufferer, who, after he had drunk greedily,
expressed much more concern to behold blood trickling from Ronald's
temple, than for the probable issue of his own wound. Whenever he spoke,
he was almost suffocated with his own blood; and ceasing the attempt, he
leaned his head against the wall, and while tears trickled over his face,
gazed with an eye of intense affection upon his master, who knelt down
beside him, and, as gently as a mother would have done, unclasped his
accoutrements and opened his coat, that he might breathe more freely.
Stuart, the assistant-surgeon, who had been
sitting opportunely on the other side of the wall, ready for action, with
his case of instruments displayed around him like a pedlar's wares,
whispered in Ronald's ear with most medical composure, 'It is all over
with him, poor fellow ! Rejoin your company before Cameron misses you:
Iverach will die in ten minutes.'
'I cannot leave him,' said Stuart, deeply
distressed. 'Oh, cannot you do something for him? I would yield all I
possess on earth to save Evan's life.'
'He is bleeding more internally than cutwardly,
and were I to attempt to stop the discharge of blood from his mouth and
breast, he would be instantly suffocated.'
'D—nation, Dick!' said Ronald angrily, 'and
will you leave him to die?'
'He will die without my assistance: on my
honour, I can do nothing ! He is past my skill, and I have other work on
hand. See how the wounded are pouring down from the height! I must indeed
snatched up his box, and ran to where four soldiers of the 61st had laid
down Coghlan, their eccentric old colonel, who had received a shot which
entered the top of his left epaulette and came out at his right side. But
he, too, was passed Stuart's skill, and died instantly.
Evan heard not what passed, but learned the
doctor's opinion from the sad expression of his master's face.
'Oh, sir! and sae he has gien me ower,' said
he, speaking in a broken and difficult manner, while the blood continued
to gurgle incessantly in his throat. He held out his hand, and Ronald,
taking it in his own, knelt down beside him. 'And sae, sir, he has gien me
ower. I thocht as muckle, but he micht, he micht have tried to save me.
But na, na! it's a' ower noo-I ken my wierd mon a' be fulfilled; I kent I
wad fa' the day. There was an unco sooghin' in my heart a' the last nicht.
Something seemed aye whispering in my lug it was the last I was doomed to
see. Oich, ay! it will be sair news to auld Donald Iverach, when he hears
that Evan Bean—his Evan with the fair hair, Evan that he was aye sae fond
o', has deed in the land o' the foe and the stranger. But oh, dear Maister
Ronald! ye'll tell him—ye'll tell a' the folk in the bonnie glen, when ye
gang hame to Miss Alice, that I died as became me, with my bonnet on my
brow, and my face to the enemy.'
'I will, Evan; I will,' groaned Ronald.
'I have always dune my duty, sir, to you and
to my cuintry.'
have, Evan—bravely and nobly.'
'Thanks, sir, thanks! Ye'll say that Evan, the
son of Iverach, never flinched in the dark hour o' trial and danger !'
said he, while his eyes lighted up with Highland enthusiasm. 'Tell them
this,—that the auld folk may remember me in their prayers, when the
coronach is sung for me in the clachan at Lochisla.'
'My poor Evan, you will exhaust yourself.'
'My time is short noo,' he replied in a
moaning voice; 'but, oh! this will be sad news to my auld faither. My
death will bring sorrow and dule on his gray hairs. And then there is
Jessie—Jessie Cavers o' the Inch House, at Avonside!' He began to sob, and
his tears mingled with his blood. He sunk back exhausted, and lay still
for a short time, during which he muttered to himself,—'The gowden
braid—her lock o' hair! An ill omen,—cut in twa by a sabre at Orthez. O
Jessie! my sweet wee love, maun we never meet mair?'
'Maister Ronald!' said he, in a quivering
voice, 'see that Jessie gets a' my back pay. There's three months o't gane,
come the neist Lord's-day. Let her put it to her tocher,—'twill help her
to get anither love. I release her frae the troth she gaed to me. Alake------'And
his voice died away in a gentle wail.
'Evan, this money,—hear me; this pay you speak
of,—-shall I not give it to your father, rather than this Jessie Cavers,
who may, perhaps, have forgotten you?'
' She never will forget
me!' cried Iverach, with an impetuosity which caused the gore to rush from
his wound and mouth fearfully. 'If I thocht she had proved fause to her
plichted aith, I wad haunt her till her dyin' day. Yird an stane wadna
haud me. But my faither,—gie him this, sir; for he would fling siller into
the loch, as if it burnt his hand.'
He undid from his bonnet the regimental badge
which fastened the black cockade and upright green feather. It was a
wreath of thistles, encircling a sphinx, and the word Egypt stamped in
brass. 'Gie—gie him this : he will wear it for my sake,—the sake of his
Evan Bean. And now, Heaven bless ye, Maister Ronald! and grant that ye may
live lang and happily after I'm gane to dust, and the grass o' many a year
has grown and withered ower me. Ye've been a kind maister,—a gude
friend,—and a gude officer to me. God bless Colonel Cameron and every
officer and private man in the regiment; I thocht to have been spared to
gang hame wi' ye to auld Scotland; but that hath been ordained itherways.
voice failed him again, and his eyes grew dull and glassy, while his face
became overspread with the livid hue of death, and assumed that expression
which is terrible to look upon. On a sudden he started, and seemed to gaze
intently on some distant object.
'Evan!' said Stuart in astonishment. 'What see
you, that you gaze thus?'
'My faither the piper,' said he in a
breathless voice, while he grasped Ronald convulsively with one hand, and
with the other pointed to some vision of his imagination. ''Tis my faither!'
he added, in a voice thrilling with death and delight. 'He comes to find
me in the deid-thraw ! Yonder, yonder he comes,—doon by the dyke-side. His
pipes a' braw wi' ribbons frae the drones, and his tartan plaid waving
by the energy of the dying, soldier, Ronald looked in the direction
pointed out. No such appearance was visible to him; but there lay the
broad bosom of the Garonne, refulgent with the noonday sun, --sweeping in
watery majesty past the towers and spires of Toulouse, and disappearing
among the deep forests, which were resounding with the clang of the battle
that was waged hotly and fiercely before the walls of the city.
'Evan,' said he mournfully, 'I see not the
figure you mention.'
But there was no reply: the Highlander had ceased to exist. The blood
oozed slowly and heavily from his wound, and his distended and glassy eyes
were yet fixed with the glare of death on the scene of the distant
exclamation of deep anguish burst from Ronald Stuart on beholding the
breathless body of his humble but gallant friend, which presented a woeful
spectacle, being drenched in blood from the chin to the shoe-buckle. He
tied a handkerchief over the face, and disposing the body in its plaid, he
hewed down an olive-tree with his sword, and with the branches covered it
up, that it might be unmolested by the peasantry and death-hunters, until
he could return and commit it to the earth.
This done, he tied up his own wound, which
till then he had forgotten, and again sought the field, where flashing
steel and eddying smoke bore token of the strife. Toulouse was the last,
and one of the most keenly-contested, battles of the Peninsular War; and
it was very generally believed by the allied army that Soult, when it took
place, was aware that peace had been concluded between Great Britain and