Graham of Claverhouse
"Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush," "Kate Carnegie," "Young Barbarians," "A Doctor of the Old School," Etc., Etc.
Illustrated in Water-Colors by FRANK T. MERRILL
Copyright, 1907, by John Watson
The Sale of this book in New York and Philadelphia is confined to the stores of JOHN WANAMAKER.
NEW YORK AND LONDON THE AUTHORS AND NEWSPAPERS ASSOCIATION 1907
COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY JOHN WATSON.
Entered at Stationers' Hall. All rights reserved.
Composition and Electrotyping by J. J. Little & Co. Printing and binding by The Plimpton Press, Norwood, Mass., U. S. A.
BOOK I. CHAPTER PAGE I.—By the Camp Fire 11 II.—The Battle of Sineffe 31 III.—A Decisive Blow 53 IV.—A Change of Masters 72
I.—A Covenanting House 93 II.—The Coming of the Amalekite 114 III.—Between Mother and Lover 133 IV.—Thy People Shall Be My People, Thy God My God 155
I.—One Fearless Man 175 II.—The Crisis 194 III.—The Last Blow 216 IV.—Thou Also False 237
I.—Treason in the Camp 263 II.—Visions of the Night 284 III.—Faithful Unto Death 303
GRAHAM OF CLAVERHOUSE
BY THE CAMP-FIRE
That afternoon a strange thing had happened to the camp of the Prince of Orange, which was pitched near Nivelle in Brabant, for the Prince was then challenging Conde, who stuck behind his trenches at Charleroi and would not come out to fight. A dusty-colored cloud came racing along the sky so swiftly—yet there was no wind to be felt—that it was above the camp almost as soon as it was seen. When the fringes of the cloud encompassed the place, there burst forth as from its belly a whirlwind and wrought sudden devastation in a fashion none had ever seen before or could afterwards forget. With one long and fierce gust it tore up trees by the roots, unroofed the barns where the Prince's headquarters were, sucked up tents into the air, and carried soldiers' caps in flocks, as if they were flocks of rooks. This commotion went on for half an hour, then ceased as instantly as it began; there was calm again and the evening ended in peace, while the cloud of fury went on its way into the west, and afterwards we heard that a very grand and strong church at Utrecht had suffered greatly. As the camp was in vast disorder, both officers and men bivouacked in the open that night, and as it was inclined to chill in those autumn evenings, fires had been lit not only for the cooking of food, but for the comfort of their heat. Round one fire a group of English gentlemen had gathered, who had joined the Prince's forces, partly because, like other men of their breed, they had an insatiable love of fighting, and partly to push their fortunes, for Englishmen in those days, and still more Scotsmen were willing to serve on any side where the pay and the risks together were certain, and under any commander who was a man of his head and hands. Europe swarmed with soldiers of fortune from Great Britain, hard bitten and fearless men, some of whom fell far from home, and were buried in unknown graves, others of whom returned to take their share in any fighting that turned up in their own country. So it came to pass that many of our Islanders had fought impartially with equal courage and interest for the French and against them, like those two Scots who met for the first time at the camp-fire that night, and whose fortunes were to the end of the chapter to be so curiously intertwined. There was Collier, who afterwards became My Lord Patmore; Rooke, who rose to be a major-general in the English army; Hales, for many years Governor of Chelsea Hospital; Venner, the son of one of Cromwell's soldiers, who had strange notions about a fifth monarchy which was to be held by our Lord himself, but who was a good fighting man; and some others who came to nothing and left no mark. Two young Scots gentlemen were among the Englishmen, who were to have a share in making history in their own country, and both to die as generals upon the battle-field, the death they chiefly loved. Both men were to suffer more than falls to the ordinary lot, and the life of one, some part of whose story is here to be told, was nothing else but tragedy. For the gods had bestowed upon him quick gifts of mind and matchless beauty of face, and yet he was to be hated by his nation, till his name has become a byword, and to be betrayed by his own friends who were cowards or self-seekers, and to find even love, like a sword, pierce his heart.
Scotland contains within it two races, and partly because their blood is different and partly because the one race has lived in the open and fertile Lowlands, and the other in the wild and shadowy Highlands, the Celt of the North and the Scot of the south are well-nigh as distant from each other as the east from the west. But among the Celts there were two kinds in that time, and even unto this day the distinction can be found by those who look for it. There was the eager and fiery Celt who was guided by his passions rather than by prudence, who struck first and reasoned afterwards, who was the victim of varying moods and the child of hopeless causes. He was usually a Catholic in faith, so far as he had any religion, and devoted to the Stuart dynasty, so far as he had any policy apart from his chief. There was also another sort of Celt, who was quiet and self-contained, determined and persevering. Men of this type were usually Protestant in their faith, and when the day of choice came they threw in their lot with Hanover against Stuart. Hugh MacKay was the younger son of an ancient Highland house of large possessions and much influence in the distant North of Scotland; his people were suspicious of the Stuarts because the kings of that ill-fated line were intoxicated with the idea of divine right, and were ever clutching at absolute power; nor had the MacKays any overwhelming and reverential love for bishops, because they considered them to be the instruments of royal tyranny and the oppressors of the kirk. MacKay has found a place between Collier and Venner, and as he sits leaning back against a saddle and to all appearance half asleep, the firelight falls on his broad, powerful, but rather awkward figure, and on a strong, determined face, which in its severity is well set off by his close-cut sandy hair. Although one would judge him to be dozing, or at least absorbed in his own thoughts, if anything is said which arrests him, he will cast a quick look on the speaker, and then one marks that his eyes are steely gray, cold and penetrating, but also brave and honest. By and by he rouses himself, and taking a book out of an inner pocket, and leaning sideways towards the fire, he begins to read, and secludes himself from the camp talk. Venner notices that it is a Bible, and opens his mouth to ask him whether he can give him the latest news about the fifth monarchy which made a windmill in his poor father's head, but, catching sight of MacKay's grim profile, thinks better and only shrugs his shoulders. For MacKay was not a man whose face or manner invited jesting.
Upon the other side of the fire, so that the two men could only catch occasional and uncertain glimpses of each other through the smoke, as was to be their lot in after days, lay the other Scot in careless grace, supporting his head upon his hand, quite at his ease and in good fellowship with all his comrades. If MacKay marked a contrast to the characteristic Celt of hot blood and wayward impulses, by his reserve and self-control, John Graham was quite unlike the average Lowlander by the spirit of feudal prejudice and romantic sentiment, of uncalculating devotion and loyalty to dead ideals, which burned within his heart, and were to drive him headlong on his troubled and disastrous career. A kinsman of the great Montrose and born of a line which traced its origin to Scottish kings, the child of a line of fighting cavaliers, he loathed Presbyterians, their faith and their habits together, counting them fanatics by inherent disposition and traitors whenever opportunity offered. He was devoted to the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and regarded a bishop with reverence for the sake of his office, and he was ready to die, as the Marquis of Montrose had done before him, for the Stuart line and their rightful place. One can see as he stretches himself, raising his arms above his head with a taking gesture, that he is not more than middle size and slightly built, though lithe and sinewy as a young tiger, but what catches one's eye is the face, which is lit up by a sudden flash of firelight. It is that of a woman rather than a man, and a beautiful woman to boot, and this girl face he was to keep through all the days of strife and pain, and also fierce deeds, till they carried him dead from Killiecrankie field. It was a full, rich face, with fine complexion somewhat browned by campaign life, with large, expressive eyes of hazel hue, whose expression could change with rapidity from love to hate, which could be very gentle in a woman's wooing, or very hard when dealing with a Covenanting rebel, but which in repose were apt to be sad and hopeless. The lips are rich and flexible, the nose strong and straight, the eyebrows high and well arched, and the mouth, with the short upper lip, is both tender and strong. His abundant and rich brown hair he wears in long curls falling over his shoulders, as did the cavaliers, and he is dressed with great care in the height of military fashion, evidently a gallant and debonair gentleman. He has just ceased from badinage with Rooke, in which that honest soldier's somewhat homely army jokes have been worsted by the graceful play of Graham's wit, who was ever gay, but never coarse, who was no ascetic, and was ever willing to drink the king's health, but, as his worst enemies used grudgingly to admit, cared neither for wine nor women. Silence falls for a little on the company. Claverhouse looking into the fire and seeing things of long ago and far away, hums a Royalist ballad to the honor of King Charles, and the confounding of crop-eared Puritans. Among the company was that honest gentleman, Captain George Carlton, who was afterwards to tell many entertaining anecdotes of the War in Spain under that brilliant commander Lord Peterborough. And as Carlton, who was ever in thirst for adventures, had been serving with the fleet, and had only left it because he thought there might be more doing now in other quarters, Venner demanded whether he had seen anything whose telling would make the time pass more gayly by the fire, for as that liberated Puritan said: "My good comrade on the right is engaged at his devotions, and I also would be reading a Bible if I had one, but my worthy father studied the Good Book so much that men judged it had driven him crazy, and I having few wits to lose have been afraid to open it ever since. As for Mr. Graham, if I catch the air he is singing, it is a song of the malignants against which as a Psalm-singing Puritan I lift my testimony. So a toothsome story of the sea, if it please you, Mr. Carlton."
"Apart from the fighting, gentlemen," began Carlton, who was a man of careful speech and stiff mind, "for I judge you do not hanker after battle-tales, seeing we shall have our stomach full ere many days be past, if the Prince can entice Conde into the open, there were not many things worth telling. But this was a remarkable occurrence, the like of which I will dare say none of you have seen, though I know there are men here who have been in battle once and again. Upon the 'Catherine' there was a gentleman volunteer, a man of family and fine estate, by the name of Hodge Vaughan. Early in the fight, when the Earl of Sandwich was our admiral and Van Ghent commanded the Dutch, Vaughan received a considerable wound, and was carried down into the hold. Well, it happened that they had some hogs aboard and, the worse for poor Hodge Vaughan, the sailor who had charge of them, like any other proper Englishman, was fonder of fighting than of feeding pigs, and so left them to forage for themselves. As they could get nothing else, and liked a change in their victuals when it came within their reach, they made their meal off Vaughan, and when the fight was over there was nothing left of that poor gentleman except his skull, which was monstrous thick and bade defiance to the hogs. This is not a common happening," continued Carlton with much composure, "and I thank my Maker I was not carried into that hold to be a hog's dinner. Yet I give you my word of honor that the tale is true."
"Lord! it was a cruel ending for a gallant gentleman," said Collier, "and it makes gruesome telling. Have you anything else sweeter for the mouth, for there be enough of hogs on the land as well as on sea, and some of them go round the field, where men are lying helpless, on two legs and not on four, from whom heaven defend us."
"Since you ask for more," replied Carlton, "a thing took place about which there was much talk, and on it I should like to have your judgment. Upon the same ship with myself, there was a gentleman volunteer, and he came with the name of a skilful swordsman. He had been in many duels and thought no more of standing face to face with another man, and he cared not who he was, than taking his breakfast. You would have said that he of all men would have been the coolest on the deck and would have given no heed to danger. Yet the moment the bullets whizzed he ran into the hold, and for all his land mettle he was a coward on the sea. When everyone laughed at him and he was becoming a thing of scorn, he asked to be tied to the mainmast, so that he might not be able to escape. So it comes into my mind," concluded Carlton, "to ask this question of you gallant gentlemen, Is courage what Sir Walter Raleigh calls it, if I mind me rightly, the art of the philosophy of quarrel, or must it not be the issue of principle and rest upon a steady basis of religion? I should like to ask those artists in murder, meaning no offence to any gentleman present who may have been out in a duel, to tell me this, why one who has run so many risks at his sword's point should be turned into a coward at the whizz of a cannon ball?"
"There is not much puzzle in it as it seems to me," answered Rooke; "every man that is worth calling such has so much courage, see you, but there are different kinds. As Mr. Carlton well called it, there is land mettle, and that good swordsman was not afraid when his feet were on the solid ground, then there is sea mettle, and faith he had not much of that, a trifle too little, I grant you, for a gentleman. So it is in measure with us all I never saw the horse I would not mount or the wall within reason I would not take, but I cannot put my foot in a little boat and feel it rising on the sea without a tremble at the heart. That is how I read the riddle."
"What I hold," burst in Collier, "is that everything depends on a man's blood. If it be pure and he has come of a good stock, he cannot play the coward any more than a lion can stalk like a fox. Land or sea, whatever tremble be at the heart he faces his danger as a gentleman should, though there be certain kinds of danger, as has been said, which are worse for some men than others. But I take it your gentleman volunteer, though he might be a good player with the sword, was, if you knew it, a mongrel."
"If you mean by mongrel humbly born," broke in Venner, "saving your presence, you are talking nonsense, and I will prove it to you from days that are not long passed. When it came to fighting in the days of our fathers, I say not that the lads who followed Rupert were not gallant gentlemen and hardy blades, but unless my poor memory has been carried off by that infernal whirlwind, I think Old Noll's Ironsides held their own pretty well. And who were they but blacksmiths and farmer men, from Essex and the Eastern counties. There does not seem to me much difference between the man from the castle and the man behind the plough when their blood is up and they have a sword in their hands."
"I am under obligation to you all for discussing my humble question, but I see that we have two Scots gentlemen with us, and I would crave their opinion. For all men know that the Scots soldier has gone everywhere sword in hand, and whether he was in the body-guard of the King of France, or doing his duty for the Lion of the North, has never turned his back to the foe. And I am the more moved to ask an answer for the settlement of my mind, because as I have ever understood, the Scots more than our people are accustomed to go into the reason of things, and to argue about principles. It is not always that the strong sword-arm goes with a clear head, and I am waiting to hear what two gallant Scots soldiers will say." And the Englishman paid his tribute of courtesy first across the fire to Claverhouse, who responded gracefully with a pleasant smile that showed his white, even teeth beneath his slight mustache, and then to MacKay, who leaned forward and bowed stiffly.
"We are vastly indebted to Mr. Carlton for his good opinion of our nation," said Claverhouse, after a slight pause to see whether MacKay would not answer, and in gentle, almost caressing tones, "but I fear me his charity flatters us. Certainly no man can deny that Scotland is ever ringing with debate. But much of it had better been left unsaid, and most of it is carried on by ignorant brawlers, who should be left ploughing fields and herding sheep instead of meddling with matters too high for them. At least such is my humble mind, but I am only a gentleman private of the Prince's guard, and there is opposite me a commissioned officer of his army. It is becoming that Captain Hugh MacKay, who many will say has a better right to speak for Scotland than a member of my house, and who has just been getting counsel from the highest, as I take it, should give his judgment on this curious point of bravery or cowardice."
Although Graham's manner was perfectly civil and his accents almost silken, Venner glanced keenly from one Scot to the other, and everyone felt that the atmosphere had grown more intense, and that there was latent antipathy between the two men. And even Rooke, a blunt and matter-of-fact Englishman, who having said his say, had been smoking diligently, turned round to listen to MacKay, who had never said a word through all the talk of the evening.
"Mr. Carlton and gentlemen volunteers," MacKay began, with grave formality, "I had not intended to break in upon your conversation, which I found very instructive, but as Claverhouse" (and it was characteristic of his nation that MacKay should call Graham by the name of his estate) "has asked me straightly to speak, I would first apologize for my presence in this company. I do not belong, as ye know, to the King's guard, and it is true that I have a captain's commission. As the tempest of to-day had thrown all things into confusion, and it happened that I had nowhere to sit, Mr. Venner was so kind as to ask me to take my place by this fire for the night, and I am pleased to find myself among so many goodly young gentlemen. I make no doubt," he added, "that everyone will so acquit himself as very soon to receive his commission."
"The sooner the better," said Hales, "and as I have a flask of decent Burgundy here, I will pass it round that we may drink to our luck from a loving cup." And everyone took his draught except MacKay, who only held the cup to his lips and inclined his head, being a severe and temperate man in everything.
"Concerning the duel and the action of that gentleman," continued MacKay, "my mind may not be that of the present honorable company. It has ever seemed to me that a man has no right to risk his own life or take that of his neighbor save in the cause of just war, when he doubtless is absolved. For two sinful mortals to settle their poor quarrels by striking each other dead is nothing else than black murder. There is no difficulty to my judgment in understanding the character of that duellist. When he knew that through skill in fencing he could kill the other man and escape himself, he was always ready to fight; when he found that danger had shifted to his own side, he was quick to flee. My verdict on him," and MacKay's voice was vibrant, "is that he was nothing other than a butcher and a coward."
"As the Lord liveth," cried Venner, "I hear my sainted father laying down the law, and I do Captain MacKay filial reverence. May I inquire whether Scotland is raising many such noble Puritans, for they are quickly dying out in England. Such savory and godly conversation have I not heard for years, and it warms my heart."
"The sooner the knaves die out in England the better," cried Collier; "but I mean no offence to Venner, who is no more a Puritan than I am, though he has learned their talk, and none at all to Captain MacKay, whom I salute, and of whose good services when he was fighting on the other side we have all heard. Nor can I, indeed, believe that he is a Roundhead, for I was always given to understand that Highland gentlemen were always Cavaliers, and high-spirited soldiers."
"Ye be wrong then, good comrades," broke in Claverhouse, "for all Highlanders be not of the same way of thinking, though I grant you most of them are what ye judge. But have you never heard of the godly Marquis of Argyle, who took such care of himself on the field of battle, but afterwards happened to lose his head through a little accident, and his swarm of Campbells, besides some other clans that I will not mention? My kinsman of immortal memory, whom I maintain to be the finest gentleman and most skilful general Scotland has yet reared, could have told you that there were Highland Roundheads; he knew them, and they knew him, and I hope I need not be telling this company what happened when they met." As Graham spoke, it may have been the firelight on MacKay's face, but it seemed to flush and his expression to harden. However, he said no word and made no sign, and Claverhouse, whose voice was as smooth as ever, but whose eyes were flashing fire, continued: "If there should be trouble soon in Scotland, and my advice from home tells me that the fanatics in the West will soon be coming to a head and taking to the field, we shall know that some of the clans are loyal and some of them are not. And for my own part, I care not how soon we come to our duel in Scotland. Please God, I would dearly love to have the settling of the matter. With a few thousand Camerons, Macphersons, MacDonalds, and such like, I will guarantee that I could teach the Psalm-singing canters a lesson they would never forget. But I crave pardon for touching on our national differences, when we had better be employed in cracking another flask of that good Burgundy." And Graham, as if ashamed of his heat, stretched his arms above his head.
"May God in His mercy avert so great a calamity," said MacKay after a pause. "When brother turns against brother in the same nation it is the cruellest of all wars. But the rulers of Scotland may make themselves sure that if they drive God-fearing people mad, they will rise against their oppressors. Mr. Graham, however, has wisdom on his side—I wish it had come a minute sooner—when he said there was no place for our Scots quarrels in the Prince's army. Wherefore I say no more on that matter, but I pray we all may have the desire of a soldier's heart, a righteous cause, a fair battle, and a crowning victory, and that we all in the hour of peril may do our part as Christian gentlemen."
"Amen to that, Captain MacKay of Scourie, three times Amen!" cried Graham. "I drink it in this wine, and pledge you all to brave deeds when a chance comes our way. The sooner the better and the gladder I shall be, for our race have never been more content than when the swords were clashing. I wish to heaven we were serving under a more high-spirited commander; I deny not his courage, else I would not be among his guard, nor his skill, but I confess that I do not love a man whose blood runs so slow, and whose words drop like icicles. But these be hasty words, and should not be spoken except among honorable comrades when the wine is going round by the camp-fire. And here is Jock Grimond who, because he taught me to catch a trout and shoot the muir-fowl when I was a little lad, thinks he ought to rule me all my days, and has been telling me for the last ten minutes that he has prepared some kind of bed with the remains of my tent. So good night and sound sleep, gentlemen, and may to-morrow bring the day for which we pray."
THE BATTLE OF SINEFFE
It was early in the morning on the first day of August, and darkness was still heavy upon the camp, when Grimond stooped over his master and had to shake him vigorously before Claverhouse woke.
"It's time you were up, Maister John; the Prince's guards are gatherin', and sune will be fallin' in; that's their trumpets soundin'. Ye will need a bite before ye start, and here's a small breakfast, pairt of which I saved oot o' that stramash yesterday—sall! the blast threatened to leave neither meat nor lodgin', and pairt I happened to light upon this mornin' when I was takin' a bit walk through the camp with my lantern."
Grimond spread out a fairly generous breakfast of half a fowl, a piece of ham, some excellent cheese, with good white bread and a bottle of wine, and held the lantern that his master might eat with some comfort, if it had to be with more haste.
"Do you ken, Jock, where I was when you wakened me, and flashed the light upon my face? Away in bonnie Glen Ogilvie, where everything is at its best to-day. I dreamed that I was off to Sidlaw Hill, to see what was doing with the muir-fowl, and I felt the good Scots air blowing upon my face. This is a black wakening, Jock, but I've slept worse, and you have done well for breakfast. Ye never came honestly by it, man. Have ye been raiding?"
"Providence guided me, Maister John, and I micht have given a little assistance mysel'. As I was crossing thro' a corner of the Dutch camp, I caught a glimpse of this roast chuckie, with some other bits o' things, and it cam into my mind that that was somebody's breakfast. Whether he had taken all he wanted or whether he was going to be too late was-na my business, but the Lord delivered that fowl into my hands, and I considered it a temptin' o' Providence no to tak it, to say nothin' o' the white bread. The wine and the ham I savit frae yesterday."
"You auld thief, I might have guessed where you picked up the breakfast. I only hope 'twas a heavy-built Dutchman who could starve for a week without suffering, and not a lean, hungry Scot who needed some breakfast to put strength in him for a day's fighting, if God be good enough to send it. Isn't it a regiment of the Scots brigade which is lying next to us, Jock?"
"It is," replied that worthy servitor, "and I was hopin' that it was Captain MacKay's rations which were given into my hands, so to say, by the higher power. I was standing behind you, Maister John, last nicht when you and him was argling-bargling, and if ever I saw a cunning twa-faced Covenanter, it's that man. They say he has got a good word with the Prince through his Dutch wife, and where ye give that kind of man an inch, he will take an ell. It's no for me to give advice, me bein' in my place and you in yours. But I promised your honorable mither that I wouldna see you come to mischief if I could help it, and I am sair mistaken if yon man will no be a mercilous and persistent enemy. May the Almichty forbid it, but if MacKay of Scourie can hinder it there will be little advancement for Graham of Claverhouse in this army."
"You are a dour and suspicious devil, Jock, and you've always been the same ever since I remember you. Captain MacKay is a whig and a Presbyterian, but he is a good soldier, and I wish I had been more civil to him last night. We are here to fight for the Prince of Orange and to beat the French, and let the best man win; it will be time enough to quarrel when we get back to Scotland. Kindly Scots should bury their differences, and stand shoulder to shoulder in a foreign land."
"That is bonnie talk, laird, but dinna forget there's been twa kinds of Scot in the land since the Reformation, and there will be twa to the end of the chapter, and they'll never agree till the day of judgment, and then they'll be on opposite sides. There was Queen Mary and there was John Knox, there was that false-hearted loon Argyle, that ye gave a grand nip at the fire last nicht, and there was the head o' your hoose, the gallant Marquis—peace to his soul. Now there's the Carnegies and the Gordons and the rest o' the royal families in the Northeast, and the sour-blooded Covenanters down in the West, and it's no in the nature o' things that they should agree any more than oil and water. As for me, the very face of a Presbyterian whig makes me sick. But there's the trumpet again," and Grimond helped his master to put on his arms.
"I've been awfu favored this mornin', Maister John, for what div ye think? I've secured nae less than a baggage waggon for oorsels. The driver was stravagin' aboot in the dark and didna know where he was going, so I asked him if he wasna coming for the baggage of the English gentlemen, to say naething of a Scots gentleman. When he was trying to understand me, and I was trying to put some sense into him, up comes Mr. Carlton, and I explained the situation to him. He told the driver in his own language that I would guide him to the spot, and me and the other men are packing the whole of the gentlemen's luggage and ane or twa comforts in the shape of meat and bedding which the fools round about us didna seem to notice, or were going to leave. That waggon, Mr. John, is a crownin' mercy, and I'm to sit beside the driver, and it will no be my blame if there's no a tent and a supper wherever Providence sends us this nicht." And Jock went off in great feather to look after his acquisition, while his master joined his comrades of the Prince's guard.
As the day rapidly breaks, they find themselves passing from the level into a broken country. The ground is rising, and in the distance they can see defiles through which the army must make its way. The vanguard, as they learn from one of the Prince's aides-de-camp, is composed of the Imperial corps commanded by Count Souches, and must by this time be passing through the narrows. In front are the Dutch troops, who are under the immediate command of the Commander-in-Chief, the Prince of Orange. The English volunteers being the next to the Prince's regiment of Guards, followed close upon the main body of the army, and behind them trailed the long, cumbrous baggage train. The rear-guard, together with some details of various kinds and nations, consisted of the Spanish division, which was commanded by Prince Vaudemont. As they came to higher ground Claverhouse began to see the lie of the country, and to express his fears to Carlton.
"I don't know how you judge things," said Claverhouse, "but I would not be quite at my ease if I were his Highness of Orange, in command of the army, and with more than one nation's interest at stake, instead of a poor devil of a volunteer, with little pay, less reputation, and no responsibility. If we were marching across a plain and could see twenty miles round, or if there were no enemy within striking reach, well, then this were a pleasant march from Neville to Binch, for that is where I'm told we are going. But, faith, I don't like the sight of this country in which we are being entangled. If Conde has any head, and he is not a fool, he could arrange a fine ambuscade, and catch those mighty and vain-glorious Imperialists and that fool Souches like rats in a trap. Or he might make a sudden attack on the flank and cut our army into two, as you divide a caterpillar crawling along the ground."
"The General knows what he is about, no doubt," replies Carlton with true English phlegm; "he has made his plan, and I suppose the cavalry have been scouting. It's their business who have got the command to arrange the march and the attack, and ours to do the fighting. It will be soon enough for us to arrange the tactics when we get to be generals. What say you to that, Mr. Graham? There's no sign of the enemy at any rate, and Souches must be well in through the valley."
"No," said Graham, "there are no Frenchmen to be seen, but they may be there behind the hill on our right, and quick enough to show themselves when the time comes. Oh! I like this bit of country, for it minds me of the Braes of Angus, and I hate a land where all is flat and smooth. By heaven! what a chance there is for any commander who knows how to use a hill country. See ye here, comrade, suppose this was Scotland, and this were an army of black Whigs, making their way to do some evil work after their heart's desire against their King and Church, and I had the dealing with them. All I would ask would be a couple of Highland clans and a regiment of loyal gentlemen, well-mounted and armed. I would wait concealed behind yon wood up there near the sky-line till those Imperialists were fairly up the glen and out of sight and the Dutch were plodding their way in. Then I'd launch the Highlanders, sword in hand, down the slope of that hill, and cut off the rear-guard, and take the baggage at a swoop, and in half an hour the army would be disabled and the third part of it put out of action."
"What about the Imperial troops and the Dutch, my General?" said Carlton, much interested in Claverhouse's plan of battle. "You can't take an army in detachments just as you please."
"You can with Highlanders and cavalry, and then having struck your blow retire as quickly as you came. Faith, there would be no option about the retiring with your Highlanders; when they got hold of the baggage they would do nothing more. After every man had lifted as much as he could carry, he would make for the hills and leave the other troops to do as they pleased. An army of Highlanders is quickly gathered and quickly dispersed, and the great point of attraction is the baggage. Conde has no Highlanders, the worse for him and the better for us, but he has plenty of light troops—infantry as well as cavalry—and if he doesn't take this chance he ought to be discharged with disgrace. But see there, what make you of that, Carlton?"
"What and where?" said Carlton, looking in the direction Claverhouse pointed. "I see the brushwood, and it may be that there are troops behind, but my eyes cannot detect them."
"Watch a moment that place where the leaves are darker and thicker, and that tree stands out; you can catch a glitter, just an instant, and then it disappears. What do you say to that?"
"By the Lord!" cried Carlton, who was standing in his stirrups and shading his eyes with his hand, "it's the glitter of a breastplate. There's one trooper at any rate in that wood, and if there is one there may be hundreds. What think you?"
"What I've been expecting for hours. Those are the videttes of the French army, and they have been watching us all the time our vanguard was passing. I'll stake a year's rental of the lands of Claverhouse that if we could see on the other side of that hill we would find Conde's troops making ready for an attack."
"I will not say but that you are right, and I don't like the situation nor feel as comfortable as I did half an hour ago. Do you think that the general in command knows of this danger, or has heard that the French outposts are so near?"
"If you ask me, Mr. Carlton, I would say that those Dutch officers don't know that there is a Frenchman within ten miles; they are good at drill, and steady in battle, but their minds are as heavy as their bodies. Their idea of fighting is to deploy according to a book of drill on a parade ground; you cannot expect men who live on the flat to understand hills. That wood," and Claverhouse was looking at the hill intently, "is simply full of men and horses, and within an hour, and perhaps less, you will see a pretty attack. Aren't we at their mercy?" Claverhouse pointed forward to the crest of a little hill over which the Dutch brigade were passing in marching formation, and backward to the lumbering train of baggage-wagons.
"'Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad,' is a Latin proverb I picked up at St. Andrew's University, and one of the few scraps of knowledge I carried away from the good old place. They might at least have thrown out some of our cavalry on the right to draw fire from that wood, and enable us to find their position. It's not overly pleasant to jog quietly along as if one were riding up the Carse of Gowrie to Perth fair, when it's far more likely we are riding into the shambles like a herd of fat bullocks going to Davie Saunders, the Dundee butcher."
"See you here, friend," cried Carlton, "I am not in a mind to be taken at a disadvantage and ridden down by those Frenchmen when we are not in formation. They have us at a disadvantage in any case, but, by my life, we ought at any rate to deploy to the right, and seize that higher ground, or else they will send us into that marshland that I see forward there on the left. If they do, there will be some throats cut, and it might be yours or mine. What say you, Mr. Graham, to ride forward and tell one of the officers in attendance on his Highness what we have seen, and then let them do as they please?"
"I have nothing to say against that, but I know one man who will not go, and that is John Graham of Claverhouse. It may be vain pride, or it may not, but I will not have the shame of telling my tale to one of those Dutchmen as if you were speaking to a painted monument, and then have him order you back to your place as if you were a mutineer; my hand would be itching for the sword-handle before all was done, and so I'll just be doing. But I will be ready when the cloud breaks from yon hill, and it's not far off the bursting now." And Graham pointed out that the glitter was repeated at several points, as when the sun is reflected from broken dishes on a hillside.
"You Scots are a proud race," laughed Carlton, "and quick to take offence. We English have a temper, too, but we are nearer to those Dutchmen in our nature. I'll not see the army ambuscaded without a warning. If they take it we shall make a better fight, and for the first hour it will be bad enough anyway till the vanguard are brought back, and if they won't take it, why, we have done our duty, and we will have to look after ourselves." And Carlton spurred his horse and cantered forward to where the headquarters staff were riding with the troop which was called the Scots brigade, because it was largely officered and to some extent manned by Scotsmen, and in which MacKay had a captain's commission.
In some fifteen minutes Carlton rejoined Claverhouse red and annoyed, and on the sight of him Claverhouse laughed.
"Without offence, good comrade, I take it you have not been thanked for your trouble or been promised promotion. Sworn at, I dare say, if those godly Dutchmen are allowed to rap out an oath. At any rate you have been told to attend to your own work and leave our wise generals to manage theirs, eh?"
"You are right, Graham. I wish I had bitten off my tongue rather than reported the matter. I got hold of an aide-de-camp, and I pointed out what we had seen, and he spoke to me as if I was a boy with my heart in my mouth for fear I would be shot every minute. For a set of pig-headed fools——"
"Well, it would not have mattered much, for the news, as it happened, would have come too late. See, the attack has begun; whatever be the issue of the battle before night, it will be one way or another with us within an hour." As he spoke Claverhouse began to put himself in order, seeing that his pistols were ready in the holsters, his sword loose in the scabbard, and the girths of his saddle tight.
"It will be a sharp piece of work for us, and some good sword play before it is done."
Suddenly from the wood a line of cavalry emerged, followed by another and still another, till at least three regiments were on the side of the hill, and behind them it was evident there was a large body of troops. By this time the staff had taken alarm, and an officer had galloped up with orders that the English volunteers and Dutch cavalry should deploy to the right, and orders were also sent to the Spaniards in the rear to advance rapidly and cover the baggage. The Dutch troops in front who had entered the defile were arrested, and began to march back, and an urgent message was sent to the Imperialists to follow the Dutch in case the French should make a general attack. Before the Dutch troops had returned to the open, and long before the Imperialists could be in action, the French, crossing the hill with immense rapidity and covered by a screen of cavalry, attacked the Spanish rear-guard before it was able to take up a proper form of defence, and though the Spaniards fought with their accustomed courage, and no blame could be attached to the dispositions made in haste by Vaudemont, this division of the army was absolutely routed, and one distinguished Spanish general, the Marquis of Assentar, was killed when cheering his men to the defence. The defeat of the Spaniards left the baggage train unprotected, and the French troops fell upon it with great zest: indeed, Claverhouse that night declared that the Highlanders themselves could not have raided more heartily or more swiftly. Nor did the Spaniards, when once they had been beaten and scattered, and fighting was no longer of any use, disdain to help themselves to the plunder. Grimond was furious as he saw his wagon in danger, and endeavored to rally some odds and ends of flying Spaniards and terrified wagon-drivers to defend his cherished possessions. But he was left to do so himself, and after beating off the two first Frenchmen who came to investigate, and being wounded in a general fight with the next lot, he was obliged to leave the possessions of the English volunteers to their fate and set off to discover how it fared with his master.
The Battle of Sineffe was to last all day, and before evening the two armies would be generally engaged; eighteen thousand men were to fall on both sides, and there were to be many hot encounters, but the sharpest took place at the centre and early in the day. The cavalry with the English volunteers were thrown forward to hinder the advance of the French cavalry who, while their infantry were dealing with the Spanish corps, were being hurled at the centre in order to cut the army in two and confine the Dutch troops to the defile, or if they emerged from the defiles, to crush them before they could deploy on the broken country.
"Where do you take it is the point of conflict?" asked Carlton as the regiment of the guards with which they were serving went forward at a sharp trot across the level ground, on which the French cavalry should soon be appearing. "Where is his Highness himself, for I can get no sight of the rest of the Dutch cavalry?"
"To the left, I take it, where the fight has already begun. Do you not hear the firing? and I seem to catch some shouts, as if the Dutch and the French were already meeting. Mind you, Carlton, his Highness may have been too confident and laid the army open to attack, but he can tell where the heart of the situation is, and his business will be to resist the French onslaught till the infantry are in position. Just as I thought, we are to go to his aid, and in ten minutes, or my name is not Graham, we shall have as much as we want."
In less than that space of time the regiment, now galloping, found themselves in the immediate rear of the fighting line, and opened out and prepared to advance. In front of them three regiments of Dutch cavalry were being beaten back by a French brigade, and just when the English volunteers arrived the French received a large accession of strength, and the Dutch, broken and ridden down by weight of men and horses, were driven back. It was in vain that their colonel ordered his men to charge, for in fifty yards the mass of Dutch cavalry in front were thrown upon them and broke their line. It was now a man to man and hand to hand conflict for a few minutes, and Claverhouse, when he had disentangled himself from the hurly-burly, and forced his way through the mass, was in immediate conflict with a French officer in front of their line, whom he disarmed by a clever sword trick which he had learned from a master of arms in the French service. A French soldier missed Claverhouse's head by a hair's-breadth, while he, swerving, struck down another on his right. Carlton had disappeared, Hales had been wounded, but in the end escaped with his life. Collier and Claverhouse were now in the open space behind the first line of the French cavalry, and they could see more than one Dutch officer and some of the Dutch troopers also in the same dangerous position. Graham was considering what to do when he caught sight, a short distance off on the left, of a figure he seemed to know: it was an officer riding slowly along the line as if in command, and taking no heed of the many incidents happening round him.
"Collier," cried Graham, "see you who that is among the French soldiers alone and at their mercy? As I am a living man it is the Prince himself. Good God! how did he get there, and what is he going to do?"
While Graham was speaking the Prince of Orange, who was now quite close to him, but gave no sign that he recognized him, suddenly threw out an order in French to the regiment behind which he was riding, and which was hewing its way through a mass of Dutch. He called on them to halt and reform, and their officers supposing him to be one of their generals who had arrived from headquarters, set to work to extricate their men from the melee. The Prince passed with the utmost coolness through their line as if to see what was doing in front, while Claverhouse and Collier followed him as if they were attached. As soon as he had got to the open space in front, for what remained of the Dutch were in rapid retreat, and were scattering in all directions, he put spurs to his horse, and shouting to Claverhouse and Collier to follow rapidly, for his trick had already been detected, he galloped forward to the place where the crowd of fugitives was thinnest, that he might as soon as possible rejoin his staff and resume command when above all times a general was needed. A French officer, however, had recognized him as he passed through the line, and now with some dozen soldiers was pursuing at full speed. The Prince's horse had been wounded in two places and was also blown with exertion, and passing over some marshy ground had not strength to clear it, but plunged helplessly in the soft soil. In two minutes, the French would have been upon them and made the greatest capture of the war. Claverhouse, leaping off his horse, asked the Prince to mount, who, instantly and without more than a nod, sprang into the saddle and escaped when the Frenchmen were within a few yards. Claverhouse fired at the French officer and missed him, but brought down his horse, which did just as well, and Collier sent his sword through the shoulder of the French soldier who followed next. Claverhouse, seizing this minute of delay, ran with all his might for a hedge, over which dismounted stragglers were climbing in hot haste, and made for the nearest gap. It was blocked by a tall and heavily-built Dutch dragoon, who could neither get through nor back, and was swearing fearfully.
"It's maist awfu' to see a Christian man misusing the Lord's mercies like that," and at the sound of that familiar voice Claverhouse turned to find Grimond by his side, who had been out in the hope of finding his master, and had certainly come to his aid at the right time.
"Would onybody but a blunderin' fool of a Dutchman think of blockin' a passage when the troops are in retreat? If we canna get through him, we had better get ower him. I've helped ye across a dyke afore, Maister John, and there ye go." Claverhouse, jumping on Grimond, who made a back for him, went over the Dutchman's shoulders. Then he seized the Dutchman by his arm, while Grimond acted as a battering-ram behind: so they pulled what remained of him, like a cork out of the mouth of a bottle, and Grimond followed his master. Collier, who had been covering the retreat, left his horse to its fate, and ran by the same convenient gap.
"To think o' the perversity o' that Dutchman obstructin' a right o' way, especially on sich a busy day, wi' his muckle unmannerly carcase, as if he had been a Highland cattle beast. Dod! he would make a grand Covenanter for the cursed thrawnness o' him."
That night when the English volunteers, who had all escaped with some slight wounds and the loss of their baggage, were going over the day's work, an officer attached to the Prince asked if a Scots gentleman called Mr. Graham was present. When Claverhouse rose and saluted him, the officer said, with the curt brevity of his kind, "His Highness desires your presence," and immediately turned and strode off in the direction of the headquarters, while Claverhouse, shrugging his shoulders, followed him in his usual leisurely fashion. On arriving at the farm-house where the Prince had gone after the French had retired, Graham was immediately shown into his room. The Prince, rising and returning Claverhouse's respectful salutation, gave him one long, searching glance, and then said: "You did me a great service to-day, and saved my person from capture, perhaps my life from death. I do not forget any man who has done me good, and who is loyal to me. What you desire at my hands I do not know, and what it would be best to do for you I do not yet know. If you determine after some experience to remain in my service, and if you show yourself the good soldier I take you to be, you will not miss promotion. That is all I will say to-night, for I know not where your ambitions may lie." The Prince looked coldly at Graham's love-locks and Cavalier air. "Your cause may not be my cause. I bid you good-evening, Mr. Graham. We shall meet again."
A DECISIVE BLOW
"You have the devil's luck, Graham," said Rooke, who had taken a meal fit for two men, and now had settled down to smoke and drink for the evening. "To get the best place in the attack to-day on the town, and to escape with nothing more than a cat scratch, which will not hurt your beauty, is more than any ordinary man can expect. There will be some hot work before Grave is taken, and plenty of good men will get their marching orders," for the Prince and his troops were now besieging Grave keenly, and the English volunteers were messing together after an assault which had captured some of the outworks.
"I would lay you what you like, Rooke," drawled Venner, "if I were not a Puritan, and didn't disapprove of drinking and gambling and other works of Satan, that Chamilly will come to terms within fourteen days. He has no stomach for those mortars that are playing on the place, and he knows that Orange, having got his teeth in, will never take them out. Another assault like to-day will settle the matter. Graham here used to say that his Highness was an icicle, but I judge him a good fighting man. You will get as much as you want if you follow the Prince. Ballantine that's gone to-day always said that there was no soldier in Europe he would put before the Prince. Speaking about that, who, think you, will get the place of lieutenant-colonel in the Scots Brigade in succession to Sir William?"
"Don't know, and don't care," said Collier, stretching himself and yawning. "It will go to some officer of the Scots Brigade, and though I am a born Scot, nobody remembers that, and I pass for an Englishman. And to tell the truth, I'm happier with you volunteers than among those canny Scots; they are as jealous and as bigoted as a Roundhead Conventicle, and I don't envy the man who gets promotion among them. But it doesn't concern any of us."
"There I differ with you, comrade," broke in Carlton. "You seem to have forgotten that one of our good company is not only a Scot, but has done the Prince priceless service. I make little doubt that we shall hear news in twenty-four hours. We are proud to have Mr. Graham with us, for he is a good comrade and a good soldier, but I expect to-morrow to drink a flask of wine to his commission as lieutenant-colonel. What say you to my idea?"
"If promotion went by merit, I'm with you, Carlton; but, faith, it goes by everything else, and specially back-door influence. A man gets his step, not because he is a good soldier, but because he has got a friend at court, or he is the same religion as the general, or I have heard cases where it went by gold."
"That such things are done, Rooke, I will not deny, but they say that promotion goes fairly where his Highness commands; he has an eye for a good soldier, and you have forgotten that he would not be in his place to-day had it not been for our comrade's help."
"I remember that quite well, and I wish to God other people may remember, for Graham ran a pretty good chance of closing his life that day and never seeing Scotland again, but Princes have short memories. If Charles II. of sainted character had called to his mind that my grandfather, more fool he, melted all his plate and lost all his land, to say nothing of three or four sons, for the Stuart cause, I would not be a gentleman volunteer in this army without a spare gold piece in my pocket. Kings bless you at the time with many pretty words, and then don't know your face next time you meet; but I wish you good luck, Graham, and I drink your health. What think you yourself?"
"What I ought to think, gentlemen, is that I am much honored to have your good opinion and your friendly wishes." And Graham gathered them all with a smile that gave his delicate and comely features a rare fascination. "You are true comrades as well as brave gentlemen. I will not deny, though I would only say it among my friends, that I have thought of that vacancy, and have wondered whether the appointment would come my way. I received, indeed, a private word to apply for it this evening, but that I will not do. The Prince knows what I have done, though I do not make so much of saving his life as you may think. If he is pleased to give me this advance, well, gentlemen, I hope I shall not bring disgrace upon the Scots Brigade. But let us change the subject. We be a barbarous people in the North, but after all a gentleman does not love to talk about his own doings, still less of his own glory. To bed, my comrades, we may have heavy work to-morrow."
The Prince gave his troops a day's rest, and left the artillery to do their work, and Claverhouse was reading for the sixth time some letters of his mother's, when Grimond came in with the air of a man full of news, but determined not to tell them until he was questioned, and even then to give what he had grudgingly and by way of favor.
"What news, did ye say, Mr. John? Weel, if ye mean from Scotland, ye have the last yersel' in the letters of your honorable mither. What I am hearing from some Scot that cam oot o' the west country is that if the council does na maister the Covenanters, the dear carles will maister them, and then Scotland will be a gey ill place to live in. It will be a fine sicht when you and me, Claverhouse, has to sign the Solemn League and Covenant, and hear Sandy Peden, that they call a prophet, preachin' three hours on the sins o' prelacy and dancin'. My certes!" And at the thought thereof Grimond lost the power of speech.
"Never mind Scotland, Jock, just now; the auld country will take care of herself till we go home, and then we'll give such assistance as in the power of a good sword. Who knows, man, but we'll be riding through the muirs of Ayrshire after something bigger than muir-fowl before many years are over? But the camp, man, what's going on here this morning, and what are the folk talking about, for, as ye know, I've been on the broad of my back after yesterday's work?"
"If ye mean by news, laird, what wasna expected, and that, I'm judging, is a correct definition o' news, there's naethin' worth mentionin'. A dozen more Scots have come to get their livin' or their death, as Providence wills, in a foreign army, instead of working their bit o' land on a brae-side in bonnie Scotland. But that's no news, for it has been goin' on for centuries, and I'm expectin' will last as long as thae foreign bodies need buirdly men and Scotland has a cold climate.
"They are saying, I may mention, that Chamilly is getting sick o' these mortars, and didna particularly like the attack yesterday, and the story is going about that he will soon ask for terms, and that if he gets the honors of war the Prince may have the town. It will be another feather in his cap, and, to my thinkin', he has got ower many for his deservin'—an underhand and evil-hearted loon." And Grimond spoke with such vehemence and a keen dislike that Claverhouse suspected he had heard something more important than he had told.
"'Is that all?' ye ask, Claverhouse, and I reply no; but I wish to gudeness that it was. If news be what has happened, even though some of us expected it, then I have got some, although I would rather that my tongue was blistered than tell it. It cam into my mind that the Prince micht be appointin' the new colonel to the Scots Brigade this mornin', and so I just happened to give a cry on an Angus man who is gettin' his bit livin' as a servant to one of the aides-de-camp. He is called a Dutchman, but has honest Scots blood in his veins. We havered about this and about that, and then I threipit (insisted) that he would never hear onything that was goin' on, and, for example, that he wouldna know who was the new colonel. 'Div I no?' said Patrick Harris. 'Maybe I do, but maybe I wouldna be anxious to tell ye, Jock Grimond, for ye michtna be pleased.' 'Pleased or no pleased,' I said, 'let me hear his name.' 'Well,' he answered, 'if ye maun have it, it's no your maister that folk thought would get it.' 'Then,' said I, 'Patrick, I jalouse who it is; it's MacKay of Scourie.' 'It is,' said Patrick. 'I heard it when I was standin' close to the door, and I canna say that I'm pleased.' Naither was I, ye may depend upon it, Claverhouse, but I wouldna give onybody the satisfaction of knowing what I thocht. So I just contented mysel' wi' sayin', 'Damn them baith, the are for an ungrateful scoundrel, and the other for a plottin', schemin' hypocritical Presbyterian. I cam to tell ye, but no word would have passed my lips if ye hadna chanced to ask me."
"Jock, you've been a faithful man to the house of Graham for many years," said Claverhouse, after a silence of some minutes, during which Grimond busied himself polishing his master's arms, "and I will say to you what I am not going to tell the camp, that you might have brought better news. Whether I was right or wrong, man, I had set my heart upon succeeding Ballantine, and I was imagining that maybe this very afternoon I could write home to my mother and tell her that her son was a lieutenant-colonel in the good Scots Brigade. But it's all in the chances of war, and we must just take things as they come. Do ye know, Jock, I often think I was born like the Marquis, under an unlucky star, and that all my life things will go ill with me, and with my cause. I dinna think that I'll ever see old age, and I doubt whether I'll leave an heir to succeed me. I dreamed one nicht that the wraith of our house stood beside my bed and said, 'Ye'll be cursed in love and cursed in war, and die a bloody death at the hand of traitors whom ye trusted.'"
"For God's sake, Maister John, dinna speak like that." And Grimond's voice, hard man though he was, was nigh the breaking. "It's no chancy, what ye say micht come to pass if ye believe it. Whatever the evil spirit said in the veesions o' the nicht—oh! my laddie, for laddie ye have been to me since I learned ye to ride your pony and fire your first shot, ye mauna give heed or meddle wi' Providence. Ye have been awfu' favored wi' the bonniest face ever I saw on a man, so that there's no a lass looks on ye but she loves ye, and the hardiest body ever I kenned. Ye have the best blood of Scotland in your veins, and I never saw ye fearful o' onything; ye have covered yersel' wi' glory in this war, and I prophesy there will be a great place waiting you in the North country. There's no a noble lady in Scotland that wouldna be willing to marry you, and I'm expectin' afore I die to see you famous as the great Marquis himsel', wi' sons and daughters standin' round ye. I ken aboot the wraith o' the house o' Graham, a maleecious and lying jade. If she ever comes to ye again by nicht or day, bid her begone to the evil place in the name o' the Lord wha redeemed us."
"You're a trusty friend, Grimond, for both my mother and myself count you more friend than servant, and you've spoken good words; but I take it this day's happenings are an omen of what is coming. Maybe I am ower young to take black views o' hidden days, but ye'll mind afterwards, Jock Grimond, when ye wrap me in a bloody coat for burial, for there will be no shroud for me, that I said the shadow began to fall at the siege of Grave. But there's no use complaining, man; our cup is mixed, and we must drink it, bitter or sweet. Aye, the Grahams are a doomed house, and we maun dree oor weird (suffer our destiny)."
"Weird," broke out Grimond, with a revulsion from pathos to anger. "Ye speak as if it were the will o' the Almichty, but I am thinkin' the thing was worked from another quarter. Providence had very little hand in it, unless ye call Captain Hugh MacKay Providence, and in that case it'll be true what some folks say, that the devil rules the world. From all I can gather, and I keep my ears open when you are concerned, laird, I am as sure as you are Laird of Claverhouse that Scourie, confoond his smooth face, has been plottin' aginst ye ever since ye sat that nicht afore the Battle of Sineffe roond the camp-fire. I saw how he looked, and I said to mysel', 'You're up to some mischief.' His party hangit the noble Marquis and plagued him wi' their prayers on the scaffold, and it is as natural for a Covenanter to hate a Graham as to eat his breakfast. MacKay saw we were dangerous, and ye'll be more dangerous yet, Claverhouse, to the black crew. He has been up the back stairs tellin' lies aboot ye, and sayin' that though many trust ye, for a' that ye are an enemy to Presbytery. Ye'll have your chance yet, laird, and avenge the murder o' the Marquis, but there'll be no place for ye here so long as MacKay is pourin' the poison o' asps, as auld David has it, into the Prince's ear."
"Na, na, Mr. John," concluded Grimond when his master had remonstrated with him for speaking against the Prince and an officer of the army, and warned him to be careful of his tongue, "ye needna be feart that a word o' this will be heard ootside. I mind the word in the Good Book, 'Speak not against the King, lest a bird of the air carry the matter.' There's plenty o' birds in this camp that would be glad enough to work us wrang. Gin onybody speaks to me aboot Captain MacKay being made a colonel, I'll give him to understand that my master was offered the post and declined to take it for special reasons o' his own; maybe because ye wanted to stay wi' the gentlemen volunteers, and maybe because there was a grand position waitin' for ye in Scotland. Let me alone, laird, for makin' the most o' the situation: but dinna forget MacKay."
Claverhouse was of another breed from Grimond, and had the chivalrous instincts of his house, but as the time wore on and Graham went with the Prince's guards after the surrender of Grave to The Hague, where Colonel MacKay and the Scots Brigade were also stationed, the constant spray of insinuations of MacKay's cunning and the Prince's prejudice began to tell upon his mind. He was conscious of a growing dislike towards MacKay, beyond that coolness which must always exist between men of such different religious and political creeds. It was a tradition among the Scots Royalists from the days of Montrose that the Whig Highlanders, such as the Campbells, were cunning and treacherous, and then it was right to admit that MacKay might think himself justified in warning the Prince of Orange, who was surrounded by Presbyterians, and already coming under the masterful influence of Carstairs, the minister of the Presbyterian Church, and afterwards William's most trusted councillor, that Graham belonged to a thoroughgoing and dangerous Cavalier house, and that it would not be wise to show him too much favor. Although they were fellow-soldiers, and had met in camp life from time to time, they had never been anything more than distant acquaintances. Now it seemed to Claverhouse that MacKay looked at him more coldly than ever, and that he had caught a triumphant expression in his eye. MacKay was getting upon his nerves, and he had come to hate the sight of him. As a matter of fact, and as Claverhouse granted to himself afterwards, while MacKay was not his friend and could not be, he had never said a word against him to the Prince, and if he had used no influence for him, had never tried to hinder his promotion. The day was coming when Claverhouse would acknowledge that though MacKay was on the wrong side, he had conducted himself as became a man of blood and a brave soldier. In those days at The Hague, disappointed about promotion, and with evil news from Scotland, to say nothing of Grimond ever at his elbow goading and inflaming him through his very loyalty, Claverhouse allowed himself to fall into an unworthy and inflammatory temper. When one is in this morbid state of mind, he may at any moment lose self-control, and it was unfortunate that, after a long tirade one morning from Grimond, who professed to have new evidence of MacKay's underhand dealing, Claverhouse should have met his supposed enemy in the precincts of the Prince's house. MacKay was going to wait upon the Prince, and was passing hurriedly with a formal salutation, when Claverhouse, who in this very haste found ground of offence, stood in the way.
"May I have the honor, if you be called not immediately to the Prince's presence, to wish you good-morning, Colonel MacKay, and to say, for it is better to give to a man's face what one is thinking behind his back, that, although I have not the satisfaction of speaking much with you, I hear you are busy enough speaking about me."
"If we do not meet much, Claverhouse," replied MacKay, with a look of surprise on his calm and composed face, "this is not my blame, and doubtless it may be counted my loss. It is only that our duties lie apart and we keep different company. I know not what you mean by your charge against me, which, I take it, comes to this, that I have said evil of you to some one, I know not whom, and in some place I know not where. Is that why you have been avoiding me, and even looking at me as if I were your enemy? My time is short, but this misunderstanding between gentlemen can surely be quickly cleared. I pray you of your courtesy, explain yourself and give your evidence."
"No doubt you have little time, and no doubt you will soon be busy with the same work. You were born of a good house, though it has taken an evil road in these days; you know the rules by which a man of blood should guide his life, and the things it were a shame for him to do, even to the man he may have to meet on the battle ground. Is it fitting, Scourie, to slander a fellow-officer to his commander, and so to pollute his fountain of influence that he shall not receive his just place? You have asked what I have against you; now I tell you, and I am ashamed to bring so foul an accusation against a Scots gentleman."
"Is that the cause of your black looks and secret ill-will?" And MacKay was as cold as ever, and gave no sign that he had been stirred by this sudden attack. "In that case I can remove your suspicion, and prevent any breach between two Scots officers who may not be on the same side in their own country, but who serve the same Prince in this land. Never have I once, save in some careless and passing reference, spoken about you with the Prince, and never have I, and I say it on the honor of a Highland gentleman, said one word against you as a man or as a soldier. You spoke of evidence. What is your evidence? Who has told you this thing, which is not true? Who has tried to set you on fire against me?"
"It is not necessary, Colonel MacKay, to produce any witness or to quote any saying of yours. The facts are known to all the army; they have seen how it has fared with you and with me. I will not say whether I had not some claim to succeed Ballantine as lieutenant-colonel in the Scots Brigade, and I will not argue whether you or I had done most for his Highness. I have not heard that you saved his life, or that he promised to show his gratitude. I will not touch further on that point, but how is it, I ask you, that since that day, though I had my share of fighting at the siege of Grave and elsewhere as ye know, there is no word of advance for me? If you can read this riddle to me and keep yourself out of it, why then I shall be willing to take your hand and count you, Presbyterian though you be, an honest man."
"Why ask those questions of me, especially as ye seem to doubt my word, Captain Graham?" And for the first time MacKay seemed stung by the insinuation of dishonorable conduct. "If you will pardon my advice, would it not be better that you go yourself to the Prince and ask him if any man has injured you with him, and how it is you have not received what you consider your just reward?"
"That is cheap counsel, Hugh MacKay, and mayhap you gave it because you knew it would not be taken. Never will I humble myself before that wooden image, never will I ask as a favor what should be given as my right. It were fine telling in Scotland that John Graham of Claverhouse was waiting like a beggar upon a Dutch Prince. I would rather that the liars and the plotters whom he makes his friends should have the will of me."
MacKay's face flushes for an instant to a fiery red, and then turns ghastly pale, and without a word he is going on his way, but Claverhouse will not let him.
"Will nothing rouse your blood and touch your honor? Must I do this also?" And lifting his cane he struck MacKay lightly upon the breast. "That, I take it, will give a reason for settling things between us. Mr. Collier will, I make no doubt, receive any officer you are pleased to send within an hour, and I will give you the satisfaction one gentleman desires of another before the sun sets."
"You have done me bitter wrong, Captain Graham." And MacKay was trembling with passion, and putting the severest restraint upon his temper, which had now been fairly roused. "But I shall not do wrong against my own conscience. When I took up the honorable service of arms, I made a vow unto myself and sealed it in covenant with God that I would accept no challenge nor fight any duel. It is enough that the blood of our enemies be on our souls. I will not have the guilt of a fellow-officer's death, or risk my own life in a private quarrel. I pray you let me pass."
"It is your own life you are concerned about, Colonel MacKay," answered Claverhouse, with an evil smile full of contempt, and in the quietest of accents, for he had resumed his characteristic composure, "your own precious life, which you desire to keep in safeguard." Then, turning with a graceful gesture to some officers who had been passing and been arrested by the altercation, Claverhouse said with an air of careless languor: "May I have the strange privilege never given me before, and perhaps never to be mine again, of introducing you, by his leave or without it, to a Scot whom no one can deny is by birth a gentleman, and whom no one can deny now is also a coward—Lieutenant-Colonel MacKay, of the Prince's Scots Brigade."
A CHANGE OF MASTERS
When his first fierce heat cooled, and Claverhouse had time for reflection, he was by no means so well satisfied with himself as he had imagined he would be in the foresight of such a scene. For one thing he had shown the soreness of his heart in not getting promotion, and had betrayed a watchful suspiciousness, which was hardly included in a chivalrous character. He had gone out of his way to insult a fellow-Scot, and a fellow-officer who had never pretended to be his friend, and who was in no way bound to advance his interest, because, to put it the worst, MacKay had secured his own promotion and not that of Claverhouse. As regards MacKay's courage, it had been proved on many occasions, and to call him a coward was only a childish offence, as if one flung mud upon a passer-by. When Claverhouse reviewed his conduct, and no man was more candid in self-judgment, he confessed to himself that he had played an undignified part, and was bitterly chagrined. The encounter, of course, buzzed through the camp, and every man gave his judgment, many justifying Captain Graham, and declaring that he had shown himself a man of mettle—they were the younger and cruder minds—many censuring him for his insolent ambition and speaking of him as a brawling bravo—they were some of the staid and stronger minds. His friends, he noticed, avoided the subject and left him to open it if he pleased, but he gathered beforehand that he would not receive much sympathy from that figure of common-sense Carlton, nor that matter-of-fact soldier Rooke, and that the ex-Puritan Venner would only make the incident a subject of satirical moralizing. With another disposition than that which Providence had been pleased to give John Graham, the condemnation of his better judgment, confirmed by the judgment of sound men, would have led him to the manly step of an apology which would have been humiliating to his pride, but certainly was deserved at his hands. Under the domination of his masterful pride, which was both the strength and the weakness of Graham's character, making him capable of the most absolute loyalty, and capable of the most inexcusable deeds, a pride no friend could guide, and no adversity could break, Claverhouse fell into a fit of silent anger with himself, with MacKay, with his absent critics, with the Prince. It was also in keeping with his nature to be that afternoon gayer than usual—recalling the humorous events of early days with Grimond, who could hardly conceal the satisfaction he dared not express, treating every man he met with the most gracious courtesy, smiling approval of the poorest jest, and proposing healths and drinking national toasts that evening with his friends as if nothing had happened, and no care heavier than thistledown lay upon his mind. But Claverhouse knew that the incident was not closed, and he was not surprised when an officer attached to the Prince's person called at his lodging and commanded his presence at the Prince's house next morning. He was aware that in striking MacKay and challenging him to a duel he had infringed a strict law, which forbade such deeds within the Royal grounds.
William of Orange was a younger man than when England knew him, and he came as king to reign over what was ever to him a foreign people, as he was to them an unattractive monarch. He was a man of slight and frail body; of calm and passionless nature, capable as few men have been of silence and reserve. His mind worked, as it were, in vacuo, secluded from the atmosphere of tradition, prejudice, emotions, jealousies. It was free from moods and changes, clear, penetrating, determined, masterful. Against no man did he bear a personal grudge, for that would have only deflected his judgment and embarrassed his action. For only two or three men had he any personal affection; that also might have affected the balance of his judgment and the freedom of his action. His courage was undeniable, his spirit of endurance magnificent, his military talents and his gift of statesmanship brilliant. Perhaps, on the whole, his most valuable characteristic qualities were self-control and a spirit of moderation, which enabled him to warm his hands at other men's fires and to avoid the perils of extremes. His weakness was the gravity of his character, which did not attract the eye or inspire devotion in the ordinary man, and an inevitable want of imagination, which prevented him entering into the feelings of men of a different caste. It would, indeed, have been difficult to find a more vivid contrast between the two men who faced each other in the Prince's room, and who represented those two schools of thought which have ever been in conflict in religion—reason and authority, and those two types of character which have ever collided in life—the phlegmatic and the empassioned.
"What, I pray you, is the reason of your conduct yesterday in the precincts?" asked the Prince at once after formally acknowledging Claverhouse's reverence. "I am informed upon good evidence that you wantonly insulted Lieutenant-Colonel MacKay of the Scots Brigade, and that you invited him to a duel, and that when he, as became an officer of judgment and piety, as well as of high courage, declined to join with you in a foolish and illegal act, that you called him a coward. Have I been rightly informed?
"Then that point is settled as I expected, and in order that you may not make any mistake on this matter I will add, though I am not obliged to do so, that Colonel MacKay did not condescend to inform against you. The scandal was public enough to come from various quarters, and now to my chief question, have you anything to say in your defence?"
"Nothing, sir," replied Claverhouse. "I judged that Colonel MacKay had done me a personal injury for which I desired satisfaction in the way that gentlemen give. He has a prudent dislike to risk his life, although I endeavored to quicken his spirit. And so I allowed him to know what I thought of him, and some officers who overheard our conversation seemed to have been so much pleased with my judgment that they carried it round the army. In this way I presume it came to your Highness's ears. That is all," concluded Graham with much sweetness of manner, "that I have to say."
"It is what you ought to be ashamed to say, Mr. Graham," said William severely. "Neither of us are old men, but I take it you are older than I am——"
"I am twenty-six years of age, may it please your Highness," interpolated Claverhouse, "and have served in two armies."
"We are, at any rate, old enough not to play the fool or carry ourselves like headstrong boys. As regards your quarrel, I am given to understand that the cause lies not so much with your fellow-officer as with your general. You are one of that large company who can be found in all armies, who are disappointed because, in their judgment, promotion has not corresponded with their merits. Be good enough to say if I do you an injustice? You are silent, then I am right. And so, because another officer was promoted before you, you choose to take offence and try to put shame upon a gallant gentleman. Is this"—the Prince inquired with a flavor of contempt—"how well-born Scots carry themselves in their own country?"
"Your Highness's reasoning," replied Graham with elaborate deliberation, "has convinced me of my error, but I should like to make this plea, that if I had not been carried by a gust of passion in the park yester-morning, I had not disputed with Colonel MacKay. It still seems to me that he has been treated with over much kindness in this matter of promotion, in which—it may be their foolishness—soldiers are apt to be jealous, and I have been in some degree neglected. But I most frankly confess that I have been in the wrong in doing what I did, since it was more your Highness's business than mine to have resented this quarrel."
"What mean you by this word, for it has an evil sound?" But there was not a flush on William's pale, immovable face, and it was marvellous to see so young a Prince carry himself so quietly under the polite scorn of Claverhouse's manner and the rising insolence of his speech.
"As your Highness insists, it is my pleasure to make my poor meaning plain in your Highness's ears. If I know what happened, Colonel MacKay, reaching the highest quarter by the back stair, persuaded your Highness to give him the colonelcy, although it in honor belonged to another officer, and I submit to your Highness's judgment that it was you who should have flicked him with your cane. Colonel MacKay has done John Graham of Claverhouse less injury in disappointing him of his regiment, though it has been a grievous dash, than in inducing your Highness to break your promise." And Claverhouse, whose last word had fallen in smoothness like honey from the comb, and in venom like the poison of a serpent, looked the Prince straight in the face and then bowed most lowly.
"You are, I judge, Captain Graham, recalling a certain happening at the Battle of Sineffe, when you rendered important service to me, and it may be saved my life. If you conclude that this has been forgotten, or that a Prince has no gratitude, because you did not obtain the place you coveted, then understand that you are wrong, and that with all your twenty-six years and your service in two armies, you are ignorant of the principle on which an army should be regulated. Upon your way of it, if any young officer, more raw in character than in years, and not yet able to rule his own spirit, or to keep himself from quarrelling like a common soldier, should happen to be of use in a strait—I acknowledge the strait—to a king, his foolishness should be placed in command of veteran officers and men. It were right to recompense him at the cost of the Prince, mayhap, but not at the cost of gallant soldiers whom he was unfit to govern, because he could not govern himself."
Whether William was angry at Claverhouse's impertinence, or was no more touched than the cliff by the spray from a wave, only his intimates could have told, but in this conflict between the two temperaments, the Prince was in the end an easy victor. If William had no boiling point, Claverhouse, though as composed in manner as he was afterwards to be cruel in action, had limits to his self-restraint. As the Prince suggested that, though two years older than himself, he was a shallow-pated and self-conceited boy, who was ever looking after his own ends, and when he was disappointed, kicked and struggled like a child fighting with its nurse; that, in fact, in spite of thinking himself a fine gentleman, he ought to know that he had neither sense nor manners, and was as yet unfit for any high place, Claverhouse's temper gave way, and he struck with cutting words at the Prince.