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Book of Scottish Story
Young Ronald of Morar


Angus MacDonald, a son of Clanranald, having quarrelled with his neighbour and namesake, the Laird of Morar, he made an irruption into that district, at the head of a select portion of his followers. One of his men was celebrated for his dexterity as a marksman; and on their march he gave a proof of this, by striking the head off the ‘canna’, or moss cotton, with an arrow. This plant is common on mossy ground in the Highlands ; it is as white as the driven snow, and not half the size of the lily.

Having got possession of the cattle, Angus was driving away the ‘spreith’ to his own country ; but Dugald of Morar pursued him with a few servants who happened to be at hand; and, being esteemed a man of great bravery, Angus had no wish to encounter him. He ordered the marksman to shoot him with an arrow; but the poor fellow, being unwilling to injure Dugald, aimed high, and overshot him. Angus observed this, and expressed his surprise that a man who could hit the ‘canna’ yesterday, could not hit Dugald’s broad forehead that day; and drawing his sword, swore that he would cleave the marksman’s head should he miss him again. John then reluctantly drew his 1 bow, and Dugald fell to rise no more.

Angus got into his hands the only son of the dreaded Morar, then very young; and the treatment which the unfortunate boy received was calculated to injure his health and shorten his life. A poor girl, who attended the calves, had pity on him, and at last contrived to carry him away, wrapped up in a large fleece of wool. Having escaped from her pursuers, she made her way to the house of Cameron of Lochiel. Here she and the boy were most hospitably received; and, according to the custom of the country in those days, they passed a year and a day without being asked any question. At the end of that period, Lochiel made inquiry regarding the boy, and the girl candidly told him her story. He thus discovered that the boy was the son of his own wife’s sister ; but he concealed the whole from his lady, of whose secrecy he was not very confident. But he treated young Ronald with great kindness. Lochiel had a son much of the same age; the two boys frequently quarrelled, and the lady was angry to see her own son worsted. She at last swore that " the girl and her vagabond must quit the house next morning." The generous Lochiel set out with the boy to Inverness, where he boarded him under a false name, and placed the woman in the service of a friend in the neighbourhood, that she might have an eye to his condition.

Ronald received such education as befitted his birth; and when he grew up to manhood, he paid a visit to Lochiel, his kind benefactor, in Lochaber, who was so much satisfied with him, that he determined on giving him his powerful assistance in recovering his paternal estate, which was then in the possession of Angus.

Lochiel ordered a hundred men to attend himself and Ronald on this occasion; and they arrived in Morar on a Sunday, when the usurper and all his people were in church at mass. He congratulated the young man on the opportunity he now had of avenging his father’s blood, and destroying all his enemies at once, by burning them in the church. Ronald humanely objected, that though many of those persons then in the church were guilty of his father’s death, yet there were others innocent of that crime; and he declared "that if his estate could not be recovered otherwise, he would rather want it, and trust to Providence and his own valour. Lochiel did not at all relish such sentiments, and left Ronald to his fate.

Ronald took refuge in a cavern, and the daughter of Angus, his only child, frequently passed that way, in looking after her father’s fold. He sometimes got into conversation with her; and, though but a child, she became attached to him. He prevailed upon her to get his shirts washed for him. Her father having accidentally discovered the linen bleaching, observed the initial letters of Ronald’s name; and making inquiry into the circumstances, soon suspected that he was at hand. He attempted to persuade his daughter to decoy Ronald into his power; but she told the young man all that her father proposed to her; and he, finding that Angus was still thirsting for his blood, immediately left the country, and took the girl along with him. With much difficulty he conveyed her in safety to Inverness, from whence he procured a passage to France, where he placed her in a convent. He entered the French army, and was much distinguished for his bravery; he was thus enabled to support himself, and to defray the expense of her education. When the young woman was of age, they were married, and returned to Scotland. Ronald having obtained strong recommendations to the king, he found means of being reconciled to Angus, who was then old, and had become very penitent. He made great professions of friendship and attachment to Ronald; but his daughter was always doubtful of his sincerity, and it would appear that she had justly appreciated his disposition. One night, Ronald having feigned intoxication and retired to rest, the old barbarian calculated that he would sleep very soundly, and slunk into his apartment, armed with a dirk, to stab his son-in-law; but the young man watched the treacherous hypocrite, and put him to death. Ronald obtained possession of his paternal estate, and, after a long and prosperous life, became the founder of a very respectable family.—‘Lit. Gazette.’

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