WHEN the men had disappeared into the house, Archie remained under his
stairhead considering. He had been told in his instructions to
discover two things–whether Logie was in touch with Ferrier, and
whether ‘The Happy Land’ was frequented by the pair. Though Ferrier
was in command of the small Jacobite force in Brechin, it was
suspected that he spent an unknown quantity of his time in Montrose.

To the first of these questions he had already mastered the answer; it
only remained for him to be absolutely certain that the house in front
of him was ‘The Happy Land.’ He could not swear that he was in the New
Wynd, though he was morally certain of it, but there were marks upon
the house which would be proof of its identity. There would be a
little hole, covered by an inside sliding panel, in the door of ‘The
Happy Land,’ through which its inmates could see anyone who ascended
the stair without being seen themselves, and there would be the
remains of an ancient ‘risp,’ or tirling-pin, at one side of it.

Archie ran lightly across the street, crept up the staircase, and
passed his palm over the wood. Yes, there was the hole, two inches
deep in the solid door. He put in his finger and felt the panel in the
farther side. Then he searched along the wall till his hand came in
contact with the jagged edge of the ancient risp. There was no ring on
it, for it had long been disused, but it hung there still–a useless
and maimed veteran, put out of action.

He returned to his post satisfied. His discoveries had earned him the
right to go home, but he did not mean to do so. How he was going to
get back into Balnillo House, unseen, he did not know, and had not, so
far, troubled himself to imagine. Perhaps he might have to stop out
all night. He hoped not, but he was not going to meet trouble
half-way. The house would be locked, the household–with the exception
of the errant James–abed, and his own room was not upon the
ground-floor. However, these were matters for later consideration, and
he would remain where he was for a time. For all he knew, Ferrier and
Logie might combine business with pleasure by staying in ‘The Happy
Land’ till morning; but they were just as likely to come out within
measurable time, and then he could see where they went. He was quite
happy, as he was everywhere.

He fell to thinking of other things: of his host, with his thin, neat
legs and velvet coat; of that ‘riding the circuit’ upon which the old
man valued himself so much. In his mind’s eye he figured him astride
of his floundering nag at the edge of some uninviting bog in an access
of precise dismay. That was how he would have wished to paint him. His
powers of detachment were such that he became fascinated by the idea,
and awoke from it with a start to hear the footsteps of Logie and
Ferrier coming down the stairway opposite.

They did not retrace their way up the Wynd, but went on to its end and
turned into a street leading southwards, whilst Archie slipped along
in their wake. At last they reached a wilderness of sheds and lumber,
above which stood a windmill on a little eminence, and the strong
smell of sea and tar proclaimed the region of the harbour. A light
shone clear and large across the dark space of water, touching the
moving ripples, and this Archie guessed to be the riding-light of the
_Venture_, which lay like a sullen watch-dog under Ferryden village.

He had to go very warily, for the pair in front stopped often and
stood talking in low voices, but the bales and coils of rope and heaps
of timber with which the quays were strewn gave him cover. He could
not get close enough to them to hear what they said, but their figures
were much plainer against the background of water than they had been
in the streets, and he noted how often Logie would stretch out his
arm, pointing to the solitary light across the strait.

There was scarcely any illumination on this side of it, and the
unrigged shipping lay in darkness as Ferrier and his friend went along
the quay and seated themselves on a windlass. Archie, drawing closer,
could hear the rustle as the former unrolled James’s map. The soldier
took out his flint and steel and struck a light, covering it with his
hand, and both men bent their heads over the paper. Archie’s wrist
smarted afresh as he saw it; his sleeve had rubbed the burn, and he
could feel the oozing blood.

He crouched behind them, peering through the medley of ropes and
tackle which hung on the windlass. By standing up he could have
touched the two men. He had no idea what it was that they were
studying, but his sharp wits told him that it must be a map of some
kind, something which might concern the English ship across the
waterway. He longed to get it. His confidence in his own luck was one
of the qualities that had served him best, and his confidence in his
own speed was great and, moreover, well-placed. He knew that he had
twelve years of advantage over James, and, from the sound of Ferrier’s
voice, he judged that he had the same, or more, over him.

The temptation of chance overmastered him. He raised himself
noiselessly, leaned over the intervening tackle, and made a bold
snatch at the map, which Ferrier held whilst James was occupied with
the lighted twist of tow.

But his luck was to fail him this time. Logie moved his hand, knocking
it against Flemington’s, and the light caught the paper’s edge. A soft
puff of sea-wind was coming in from over the strait, and in one moment
the sheet was ablaze. Archie snatched back his hand and fled; but the
glare of the burning paper had been bright enough to show Logie a
man’s wrist, on which there was a fresh, bleeding mark.

The bright flare of the paper only intensified the darkness for the
two astounded men, and though each was instantly on his feet and
running in the direction of the retreating footsteps, Archie had
threaded the maze of amphibious obstacles and was plunging between the
sheds into the street before either of them could get clear of the
pitfalls of the quay.

He tore on, not knowing whither he went. His start had been a good
one, but as he paused to listen, which he did when he had gone some
way, he could hear them following. The town was so quiet that he met
nobody, and he pressed on, trusting to luck for his direction.

Through the empty streets he went at the top of his speed, launched on
the flood of chance, and steering as best he could for the north end
of the town. Finally, an unexpected turning brought him within a few
yards of the North Port. He waited close to the spot where he had
first taken shelter, and listened; then, hearing nothing, he struck
out at a brisk walk for the country, and was soon clear of Montrose.

He sat down by the wayside to rest. He had had a more sensational
night than he expected, and though his spirits were still good, his
ill-luck in missing the paper he had risked so much to obtain had
cooled them a little, and by the light of this disappointment he
looked rather ruefully on his poor prospects of getting to bed. It was
past midnight, and there seemed nothing to do but to return to
Balnillo and to make himself as comfortable as he could in one of the
many out-buildings which the yard by its back-door contained. The
household rose early, and at the unlocking of that door he must manage
to slip in and gain his bedroom.

He rose, plodded home, and stole into the courtyard, where, searching
in an outhouse, he found an endurable couch on a heap of straw. On
this he spread his coat like a blanket, crawling under it, and, with a
calmness born of perfect health and perfect nerves, was soon asleep.

When dawn broke it found him wakeful. He had not rested well, for his
burnt wrist was very sore, and the straw seemed to find it out and to
prick the wound, no matter how he might dispose his hand. He propped
himself against the wall by the open outhouse-window, whence he could
see the back door of Balnillo and watch for the moment of its first
opening. It would be neck or nothing then, for he must enter boldly,
trusting to hit on a lucky moment.

At last the growing light began to define details of the house,
tracing them out on its great mass with an invisible pencil, and he
thought he heard a movement within. The stable-clock struck six, and
high above he could see the sun touching the slates and the stone
angles of the chimney-stacks with the first fresh ethereal beam of a
pure October morning. He inhaled its breath lovingly, and with it
there fell from him the heaviness of his uneasy night. All was well,
he told himself. His sensuous joy in the world, his love of life and
its hazards and energies came back upon him, strong, clean, and
ecstatic, and the sounds of a bolt withdrawn made him rise to his

A maidservant came out carrying a lantern, whose beam burned with
feeble pretentiousness in the coming sunlight. She set it down by the
threshold and went past his retreat to the stable. No doubt she was
going to call the men. When she had gone by he slipped out, and in a
dozen paces was inside the house.

Another minute and he was in his room.

He looked with some amusement at the rough effigy of himself which he
had made in the bed overnight, and when he had flung the cushion back
to its place he got out of his clothes and lay down, sinking into the
cool luxury of the sheets with a sigh of pleasure. But he had no
desire to sleep, and when a servant came to wake him half an hour
later he was ready to get up. He rose, dressed, wrote out the detailed
description of his night’s discoveries, and put the document in his
pocket to await its chance of transmission.

A message was brought to him from Lord Balnillo as he left his room,
which begged his guest to excuse his company at breakfast. He had been
long astir, and busy with his correspondence; at eleven o’clock he
would be ready for his sitting, if that were agreeable to Mr.

As Mr. Flemington realized how easily he might have met the judge as
he ran through the shuttered passage, his belief in the luck that had
used him so scurvily last night returned.

There was no sign of James as Archie sat down to his meal, though a
second place was set at the table, and as he did not want to ask
embarrassing questions, he made no inquiry about him. Besides which,
being immoderately hungry, he was too well occupied to trouble about

He went out upon the terrace when he had finished. The warm greyness
of the autumn morning was lifting from the earth and it was still
early enough for long shadows to lie cool on the westward side of the
timber. As they shortened, the crystal of the dew was catching shafts
from the sun, and the parks seemed to lie waiting till the energy of
the young day should let loose the forces of life from under the
mystery of its spangled veil. Where the gean-trees glowed carmine and
orange, touches of quickening fire shot through the interstices of
their branches, and coloured like a tress of trailing forget-me-not,
the South Esk wound into the Basin of Montrose, where the tide, ebbing
beyond the town, was leaving its wet sands as a feasting-ground for
all sorts of roving birds whose crying voices came faintly to Archie,
mellowed by distance.

Truly this was a fascinating place, with its changing element of
distant water, its great plain lines of pasture, its ordered vistas of
foliage! The passion for beauty lay deep below the tossing, driving
impulses of Flemington’s nature, and it rose up now as he stood on the
yew-edged terraces of Balnillo and gazed before him. For the moment
everything in his mind was swallowed up but the abstract, fundamental
desire for perfection, which is, when all is said and done, humanity’s
mainspring, its incessant though often erring guide, whose perverted
behests we call sin, whose legitimate ones we call virtue; whose very
existence is a guarantee of immortality.

The world, this crystalline morning, was so beautiful to Archie that
he ached with the uncomprehended longing to identify himself with
perfection; to cast his body down upon the light-pervaded earth and to
be one with it, to fling his soul into the heights and depths of the
limitless encompassing ether, to be drawn into the heart of God’s
material manifestation on earth–the sun. He understood nothing of
what he felt, neither the discomfort of his imprisonment of flesh, nor
the rapturous, tentative, wing-sweeps of the spirit within it. He left
the garden terrace and went off towards the Basin, with the touch of
that elemental flood of truth into which he had been plunged for a
moment fresh on his soul. The whole universe and its contents seemed
to him good–and not only good, but of consummate interest–humanity
was fascinating. His failure to snatch the map from Ferrier’s hand
last night only made him smile. In the perfection of this transcendent
creation all was, and must be, well!

His thoughts, woven of the same radiant appreciation, flew to James,
whose personality appealed to him so strongly. The gentle blood which
ran in the veins of the pair of brothers ran closer to the surface in
the younger one; and a steadfast, unostentatious gallantry of heart
seemed to be the atmosphere in which he breathed. He was one of those
whose presence in a room would always be the strongest force in it,
whether he spoke or was silent, and his voice had the tone of
something sounding over great and hidden depths. It was not necessary
to talk to him to know that he had lived a life of vicissitude, and
Archie, all unsuspected, in the watches of last night had seen a side
of him which did not show at Balnillo. His grim resourcefulness in
small things was illustrated by the raw spot on the young man’s wrist.
That episode pleased Flemington’s imagination–though it might have
pleased him even better had the victim been someone else; but he bore
James no malice for it, and the picture of the man haunting the dark
quays, strewn with romantic, sea-going lumber, and scheming for the
cause at his heart, whilst the light from the hostile ship trailed the
water beside him, charmed his active fancy.

But it was not only his fancy that was at work. He knew that the
compelling atmosphere of Logie had not been created by mere fancy,
because there was something larger than himself, and larger than
anything he could understand, about the soldier. And feeling, as he
was apt to do, every little change in the mental climate surrounding
him he had guessed that Logie liked him. The thought added to the
exultation produced in him by the glory of the pure morning; and he
suddenly fell from his height as he remembered afresh that he was here
to cheat him.

It was with a shock that he heard Skirling Wattie’s pipes as he
reached the Montrose road, and saw the beggar’s outlandish cart
approaching, evidently on its return journey to Montrose. His heart
beat against the report that lay in his pocket awaiting the
opportunity that Fate was bringing nearer every moment. There was
nobody to be seen as the beggar drew up beside him. The insolent
joviality that pervaded the man, his almost indecent oddness–things
which had pleased Archie yesterday struck cold on him now. He had no
wish to stay talking to him, and he gave him the paper without a word
more than the injunction to have it despatched.

He left him, hurrying across the Montrose road and making for the
place where the ground began to fall away to the Basin. He sat down on
the scrubby waste land by a broom-bush, whose dry, burst pods hung
like tattered black flags in the brush of green; their acrid smell was
coming out as the sun mounted higher. Below him the marshy ground ran
out to meet the water; and eastward the uncovered mud and wet sand,
bared by the tide ebbing beyond Montrose, stretched along its shores
to the town.

The fall of the broom-covered bank was steep enough to hide anyone
coming up from the lower levels, and he listened to the movements of
somebody who was approaching, and to the crackling noise of the bushes
as they were thrust apart.

The sound stopped; and Archie, leaning forward, saw James standing
half-way up the ascent, with his back turned towards him, looking out
across the flats. He knew what his thoughts were. He drew his right
sleeve lower. So long as he did not stretch out his arm the mark could
not be seen.

He did not want to appear as if he were watching Logie, so he made a
slight sound, and the other turned quickly and faced him, hidden from
the waist downwards in the broom. Then his crooked lip moved, and he
came up the bank and threw himself down beside Flemington.

Continue Reading


THE door opened a little further.

“Here,” said Ferrier to the woman, “go up and bring me the roll of
unwritten paper from the table.”

“You’ll no be coming in?”

“Not now. Maybe in another hour or more.”

“But wha’s yon?” said she.

“Lord! woman, have you lived all these years in Montrose and never
seen a drunken man?” exclaimed he impatiently. “Shut the door, I’m
telling you, and get what I want. He will not trouble you. He’s past
troubling anybody.”

She obeyed, and Archie heard a bolt shot on the inside.

Though he had been startled on discovering his mistake, he now felt
comforted by it, for, being unknown to Ferrier, he was much safer with
him than he would have been with James. He raised his head and tried
to get an idea of his companion’s face, but the darkness of the close
was too great to let him distinguish his features. He had discovered
where he lived by accident, but though a description of the man was in
the little box now reposing on the tester of his bed at Balnillo, he
did not know him by sight. These things were going through his mind as
the woman returned from her lodger’s errand, and the door had just
been made fast again when there was a step at the close’s mouth and
another man came quickly in, stopping short as he found it occupied.

Ferrier coughed.

“Ferrier?” said James’s voice softly. “What is this?” he asked as his
foot came in contact with Archie.

“It’s a drunken brute who came roaring in here a minute syne and fell
head over heels at my door,” replied the other. “The town is full of
them to-night.”

He stooped down and took Flemington by the shoulder.

“Up you get!” he cried, shaking him.

Archie breathed heavily and let his whole weight hang on Ferrier’s

“Haud awa’ frae me, lassie!” he expostulated thickly.

Logie laughed.

“He must be far gone indeed to take you for a lass,” he observed.

Ferrier gave Archie a stronger shake.

“A’ll no gang hame wantin’ Annie!” continued Flemington, whose humour
was beginning to find some pleasure in the situation.

The raw vernacular that he had mastered with absolute success in
childhood was at his tongue’s end still.

“Come, come,” said James.

Ferrier moved forward, but Archie had reached out a limp hand and
taken him by the ankle.

“Annie!” he muttered, “ma bonnie, bonnie Annie!”

Ferrier, who had nearly fallen forward, tried to strike out with his
foot, but Archie’s grip, nerveless yet clinging as a limpet, held him

“A’ tell ye, a’ll nae gang hame wantin’ Annie!” he repeated more

“He has me by the foot, damn him!” said Ferrier.

James swore quietly but distinctly.

“Annie! _Annie!_” roared Archie, making the silent close echo again.

“Great heavens!” exclaimed the exasperated James, “we shall have the
whole town out of bed if this goes on! Shake him off, man, and let us
be going.”

He bent down as he spoke and groping in the darkness, found
Flemington’s heels. He seized them and began to drag him backwards as
a man drags a fighting dog. He had a grip of iron.

The effect of the sudden pull on Ferrier was to make him lose his
balance. He staggered against the side of the close, calling to Logie
to desist.

Archie still held on with back-boneless tenacity; but as the scrape of
flint and steel cut the darkness, he knew that he had carried his
superfluous pleasantries too far. He dared not loose Ferrier’s ankle
and roll to the wall, lest the action should prove him to be more
wideawake and less intoxicated than he seemed. He could only bury his
face in his sleeve.

His next sensation was a violent stab of burning pain in his wrist
that made him draw it back with a groan.

“I knew that would mend matters,” said James grimly, as he blew out
the tiny twist of ignited tow and replaced it and the steel box in his
pocket. “Come away–this sot has wasted our time long enough. He can
sleep off his liquor as well here as anywhere else.”

“You’ve helped to sober him,” said Ferrier, as the two men went out of
the close.

Flemington sat up. The burn stung him dreadfully, for the saltpetre in
which the tow had been dipped added to the smart. But there was no
time to be lost, so he rose and followed again.

Ferrier and Logie went off up the High Street, and turned down an
offshoot of it which Archie guessed to be the New Wynd, because it
answered to its position in his map of the town. He dashed to the
corner and watched them by the one light which illuminated the narrow
street till he could see them no longer. Then he flitted after them, a
soft-footed shadow, and withdrew under a friendly ‘stairhead,’ as he
had done at the North Port. A little farther on he could distinguish
the two ascending an outside stair to a squat building, and he heard
the sound of their knuckles on wood. Another minute and they were

The two captains were let into a small room in the back premises of
‘The Happy Land’ by a slatternly-looking woman, who disappeared when
she had given them a light. Pens and ink lay upon the table and the
smoke of lamps had blackened the ceiling. It was a wretched place, and
the sound of rough voices came now and again from other parts of the
house. James drew up a chair, and Ferrier also sat down, tossing the
roll of paper to his companion.

“A young man called Flemington is at Balnillo painting my brother’s
portrait,” said Logie. “It’s a pity that I have not something of his
gift for drawing.”

“Flemington—-?” said the other. “There is a widow Flemington who
lives a mile or so this side of the Perthshire border; but that is the
only part of the country I do not know.”

“This is her grandson. She lived at St. Germain, and her husband was
with King James. He is a strange lad–a fine lad too. My brother seems
mightily taken up with him.”

“Where is your plan?” asked Ferrier.

James took out a small pocket-book and laid it on the table; then he
smoothed out the roll of paper, drew the points of the compass on it,
and began to copy from the rough sketches and signs which covered the
leaf of his little book.

Ferrier watched him in silence.

“I could not do that were it to save my life,” he said at last.

“I learned something, campaigning by the walls of Dantzig,” replied

Ferrier watched the growing of the hasty map with admiration. His own
talents for organization and tactics had given this obscure landowner
the position he held in the Prince’s haphazard army, but the
professional soldier was invaluable to him. He sat wondering how he
could have got on without James.

“See,” said Logie, pushing the paper to him, “here lies the _Venture_
off Ferryden, at the south side of the river, and here is Inchbrayock
Island. That English captain is a fool, or he would have landed some
men there. You and I will land on it, Ferrier. And now,” he went on,
“the man is twice a fool, for, though he has taken the guns from the
fort and put them on board one of the unrigged ships, he has left her
beside the quay. This point that I have marked with a cross is where
she is moored. It would be idle not to make use of such folly! Why,
man, if we can carry through the work I have in my mind, we shall blow
the _Venture_ out of the water! Three nights I have skulked round the
harbour, and now I think that every close and every kennel that opens
its mouth upon it is in my head. And the island is the key to

Logie’s eyes shone in the dim room like the eyes of some animal
watching in a cave.

“We must get possession of the ship at the quay-side,” continued he.
“Then we will take a couple of the town guns and land them on
Inchbrayock. A hundred men from Brechin should be sufficient.”

“It must be done at night,” said the other.

“At night,” said James, getting up and putting his hands on the back
of his chair. “And now, as soon as possible, we must go down to the
harbour and look carefully at the position of everything.”

Ferrier stood up and stretched himself, as men so often will when they
are turning over some unacknowledged intention.

James took up the roll of paper, glanced at it and threw it down

“I see it as though it had come by inspiration!” he cried. “I see that
we have a blockhead to deal with, and when heaven sends such an
advantage to His Highness, it is not you nor I, Ferrier, who will balk
its design. You will not hang back?”

He looked at his friend as though he were ready to spring at him. But
Ferrier went on with his own train of thought. He was a slower man
than Logie, but if he lacked his fire, he lacked none of his

“You are right,” he said. “A man is a fool who leaves what he has
captured on the farther side of the river, who thinks, having taken
his enemy’s guns from a fort, that he can let it stand empty. He has
done these follies because he knows that there are no troops in

“Ay, but there are troops in Brechin!” burst out James.

“There are troops in Brechin,” repeated Ferrier slowly, “and they must
be got quietly into the town. I wish there were not eight miles of
road between the two.”

“I have not forgotten that,” said James, “and to-night I mean to
remain here till daylight and then return home by the side of the
Basin. I will make my way along its shore and judge whether it be
possible for you to bring your men by that route. If you can get them
out of Brechin by the river-bank and so on along the side of the Esk,
you will avoid the road and I will be waiting for you at the fort.”

Logie had come round the little table and stood by his friend, waiting
for him to speak.

“I will go with you,” said Ferrier. “We can part below Balnillo, and
I, too, will go back to Brechin by the river. I must know every step
before I attempt to bring them in the dark. There must be no delays
when the time comes.”

James drew a long sigh of relief. He had never doubted his companion’s
zeal, but his heart had been on fire with the project he carried in
it, and Ferrier’s complete acceptance of it was balm to his spirit. He
was a man who spared himself nothing, mentally or physically.

He folded the roll of paper and gave it to Ferrier.

“Keep it,” said he. “Now we must go to the harbour.”

Continue Reading


EVENTS seemed to Flemington to be moving fast.

Lord Balnillo dined soon after five, and during the meal the young man
tried to detach his mind from the contents of the letter lying in his
pocket and to listen to his host’s talk, which ran on the portrait to
be begun next morning.

The judge had ordered his robes to be taken out and aired carefully,
and a little room with a north aspect had been prepared for the first
sitting. The details of Archie’s trade had excited the household below
stairs, and the servant who waited appeared to look upon him with the
curious mixture of awe and contempt accorded to charlatans and to
those connected with the arts. Only James seemed to remain outside the
circle of interest, like a wayfarer who pauses to watch the progress
of some wayside bargain with which he has no concern. Yet, though
Archie’s occupations did not move Logie, the young man felt
intuitively that he was anything but a hostile presence.

“With your permission I shall go early to bed to-night,” said
Flemington to his host, as the three sat over their wine by the
dining-room fire and the clock’s hands pointed to eight.

“Fie!” said the judge; “you are a young man to be thinking of such
things at this hour.”

“My bones have not forgotten yesterday—-” began Archie.

“And what would you do if you had to ride the circuit, sir?” exclaimed
Balnillo, looking sideways at him like a sly old crow. “Man, James,
you and I have had other things to consider besides our bones! And
here’s Mr. Flemington, who might be your son and my grandson, havering
about his bed!”

Archie laughed aloud.

“Captain Logie would need to have married young for that!” he cried.
“And I cannot picture your lordship as anybody’s grandfather.”

“Come, Jamie, how old are you?” inquired his brother in a tone that
had a light touch of gratification.

“I lose count nowadays,” said James, sighing. “I must be near upon
eight-and-thirty, I suppose. Life’s a long business, after all.”

“Yours has scarcely been long enough to have begotten me, unless you
had done so at twelve years old,” observed Archie.

“When I had to ride the circuit,” began Balnillo, setting down his
glass and joining his hands across his waistcoat, “I had many a time
to stick fast in worse places than the Den yonder–ay, and to leave my
horse where he was and get forward on my clerk’s nag. I’ve been forced
to sit the bench in another man’s wig because my own had rolled in the
water in my luggage, and was a plaster of dirt–maybe never fit to be
seen again upon a Lord of Session’s head.”

Logie smiled with his crooked mouth. He remembered, though he did not
mention, the vernacular rhyme written on that occasion by some
impudent member of the junior bar:

“Auld David Balnillo gangs wantin’ his wig,
And he’s seekin’ the loan of anither as big.
A modest request, an’ there’s naething agin’ it,
But he’d better hae soucht a new head to put in it!”

“It was only last year,” continued his brother, “that I gave up the
saddle and the bench together.”

“That was more from choice than from necessity–at least, so I have
heard,” said Archie.

“You heard that, Mr. Flemington?”

“My lord, do you think that we obscure country-folk know nothing? or
that reputations don’t fly farther than Edinburgh? The truth is that
we of the younger generation are not made of the same stuff. That is
what my grandmother tells me so often–so often that, from force of
habit, I don’t listen. But I have begun to believe it at last.”

“She is a wise woman,” said Balnillo.

“She has been a mighty attractive one,” observed Archie meditatively;
“at least, so she was thought at St. Germain.”

“At St. Germain?” exclaimed the judge.

“My grandfather died in exile with his master, and my father too,”
replied Flemington quietly.

There was a silence, and then James Logie opened his mouth to speak,
but Archie had risen.

“Let me go, Lord Balnillo,” he said. “The truth is, my work needs a
steady hand, and I mean to have it when I begin your portrait

When he had gone James took the empty seat by his brother.

“His grandfather with the King, and he following this womanish trade!”
he exclaimed.

“I should like to have asked him more about his father,” said
Balnillo; “but—-”

“He did not wish to speak; I could see that,” said James. “I like the
fellow, David, in spite of his paint-pots. I would like him much if I
had time to like anything.”

“I have been asking myself: am I a fool to be keeping him here?” said
the other. “Was I right to let a strange man into the house at such a
time? I am relieved, James. He is on the right side.”

“He keeps his ears open, brother.”

“He seems to know all about _me_,” observed Balnillo. “He’s a fine
lad, Jamie–a lad of fine taste; and his free tongue hasn’t interfered
with his good sense. And I am relieved, as I said.”

Logie smiled again. The affection he had for his brother was of that
solid quality which accepts a character in the lump, and loves it for
its best parts. David’s little vanities and vacillations, his
meticulous love of small things, were plain enough to the soldier, and
he knew well that the bench and the bar alike had found plenty to make
merry over in Balnillo. He had all the loyal feeling which the Scot of
his time bore to the head of his family, and, as his sentiments
towards him sprang from the heart rather than from the brain, it is
possible that he undervalued the sudden fits of shrewdness which would
attack his brother as headache or ague might attack another man. The
fact that David’s colleagues had never made this mistake was
responsible for a career the success of which surprised many who knew
the judge by hearsay alone. Drink, detail and indecision have probably
ruined more characters than any three other influences in the world;
but the two latter had not quite succeeded with Lord Balnillo, and the
former had passed him over.

“I wonder—-” said James–“I wonder is it a good chance that has sent
him here? Could we make anything of him, David?”

“Whisht, James!” said the other, turning his face away quickly. “You
go too fast. And, mind you, if a man has only one notion in his head,
there are times when his skull is scarce thick enough to stand between
his thoughts and the world.”

“That is true. But I doubt Flemington’s mind is too much taken up with
his pictures to think what is in other men’s heads.”

“Maybe,” replied Balnillo; “but we’ll know that better a few days
hence. I am not sorry he has gone to bed.”

“I will give him an hour to get between his blankets,” said Logie,
drawing out his watch. “That should make him safe.”

Meanwhile Flemington had reached his room and was pulling his great
package of spare canvases from under his sombre four-poster. He undid
the straps which secured them and drew from between two of them a long
dark riding-coat, thrusting back the bundle into its place. He changed
his clothes and threw those he had taken off on a chair. Then he took
the little locked box he had saved so carefully from the catastrophe
of the previous night, and, standing on the bed, he laid it on the top
of the tester, which was near enough to the ceiling to prevent any
object placed upon it from being seen. He gathered a couple of
cushions from a couch, and, beating them up, arranged them between the
bedclothes, patting them into a human-looking shape. Though he meant
to lock his door and to keep the key in his pocket during the absence
he contemplated, and though he had desired the servants not to disturb
him until an hour before breakfast, he had the good habit of preparing
for the worst.

He slipped out with the coat over his arm, turned the key and walked
softly but boldly down into the hall. He paused outside the
dining-room, listening to the hum of the brothers’ voices, then
disappeared down the back-stairs. If he found the door into the
stable-yard secured he meant to call someone from the kitchen regions
to open it and to announce that he was going out to look at his
disabled horse. He would say that he intended to return through the
front door, by which Captain Logie had promised to admit him.

Everything was quiet. The only sign of life was the shrill voice of a
maid singing in the scullery as she washed the dishes, and the house
was not shut up for the night. Through the yard he went and out
unmolested, under the great arch which supported the stable clock, and
then ran swiftly round to the front. He passed under the still lighted
windows and plunged into a mass of trees and undergrowth which headed
the eastern approach.

Once among the friendly shadows, he put on the coat, buttoning it
closely about his neck, and took a small grey wig from one of its deep
pockets. When he had adjusted this under his hat he emerged, crossed
the avenue, dropped over the sunk wall dividing it from the fields,
and made down them till he reached the Montrose road. Through the
still darkness the sound of the Balnillo stable clock floated after
him, striking nine.

There was not enough light to show him anything but his nearest
surroundings. The wall which bounded the great Balnillo grass-parks
was at his left hand, and by it he guided his steps, keeping a
perpetual look out to avoid stumbling over the inequalities and loose
stones, for there were no side-paths to the roads in those days. He
knew that the town was only three miles off, and that the dark stretch
which extended on his right was the Basin of Montrose. A cold snap
played in the air, reminding him that autumn, which in Scotland keeps
its mellowness late, was some way forward, and this sting in the
breath of night was indicated by a trembling of the stars in the dark
vault overhead.

He hastened on, for time was precious. The paper which he had taken
from Skirling Wattie’s hands had bid him prepare to follow Logie into
the town when dark set in, but it had been able to tell him neither at
what hour the soldier would start nor whether he would walk or ride.

His chance in meeting the beggar so soon had put him in possession of
James’s usual movements immediately, but it had given him little time
to think out many details, and the gaps in his plans had been filled
in by guesswork. He did not think James would ride, for there had been
no sound of preparation in the stable. His intention was to reach the
town first, to conceal himself by its entrance, and when James should
pass, to follow him to his destination. He had a rough map of Montrose
in his possession, and with its help he had been able to locate the
house for which he suspected him to be bound–a house known by the
party he served to be one of the meeting-places of the adherents of
Charles Edward Stuart.

Archie’s buoyancy of spirit was sufficient to keep at arm’s length a
regret he could not quite banish; for he had the happy carelessness
that carries a man easily on any errand which has possibilities of
development, more from the cheerful love of chance than from
responsible feeling. His light-hearted courage and tenacity were
buried so deep under a luxuriance of effrontery, grace, and
mother-wit, and the glamour of a manner difficult to resist, that
hardly anyone but Madam Flemington, who had brought him up, suspected
the toughness of their quality. He had the refinement of a woman, yet
he had extorted the wonder of an east-coast Scotsman by his
comprehensive profanity; the expression, at times, of a timid girl,
yet he would plunge into a flood of difficulties, whose further shore
he did not trouble to contemplate; but these contrasts in him spoke of
no repression, no conscious effort. He merely rode every quality in
his character with a loose rein, and while he attempted to puzzle
nobody, he had the acuteness to know that his audience would puzzle
itself by its own conception of him. The regret which he ignored was
the regret that he was obliged to shadow a man who pleased him as much
as did James Logie. He realized how much more satisfaction he would
have got out of his present business had its object been Lord
Balnillo. He liked James’s voice, his bearing, his crooked mouth, and
something intangible about him which he neither understood nor tried
to understand. The iron hand of Madam Flemington had brought him up so
consistently to his occupation that he accepted it as a part of life.
His painting he used as a means, not as an end, and the changes and
chances of his main employment were congenial to a temperament at once
boyish and capable.

The Pleiades rode high above Taurus, and Orion’s hands were coming up
over the eastern horizon as he reached the narrow street which was the
beginning of Montrose. The place was dark and ill-lit, like every
country town of those days; and here, by the North Port, as it was
called, the irregularities of the low houses, with their outside
stairs, offered a choice of odd corners in which he might wait unseen.

He chose the narrowest part of the street, that he might see across it
the more readily, and drew back into the cavity, roofed in by the
‘stairhead’ of a projecting flight of steps which ran sideways up a
wall. Few people would leave the town at that hour, and those who were
still abroad were likely to keep within its limits. A wretched lamp,
stuck in a niche of an opposite building, made his position all the
more desirable, for the flicker which it cast would be sufficient to
throw up the figure of Logie should he pass beneath it. He watched a
stealthy cat cross its shine with an air of suppressed melodrama that
would have befitted a man-eating tiger, and the genial bellowing of a
couple of drunken men came down the High Street as he settled his
shoulders against the masonry at his back and resigned himself to a
probable hour of tedium.

Not a mile distant, James Logie was coming along the Montrose road. He
had trodden it many times in the darkness during the past weeks, and
his mind was roving far from his steps, far even from the errand on
which he was bent. He was thinking of Archie, whom he believed to be
snug in bed at Balnillo.

He had gone out last night and landed this fantastic piece of young
humanity from the Den, as a man may land a salmon, and he had
contemplated him ever since with a kind of fascination. Flemington was
so much unlike any young man he had known that the difference half
shocked him, and though he had told his brother that he liked the
fellow, he had done so in spite of one side of himself. It was hard to
believe that but a dozen years divided them, for he had imagined
Archie much younger, and the appeal of his boyishness was a strong one
to Logie, who had had so little time for boyishness himself. His life
since he was fifteen had been merged in his profession, and the
restoration of the Stuarts had been for many years the thing nearest
to his heart. There had been one exception to this, and that had long
gone out of his life, taking his youth with it. He was scarcely a sad
man, but he had the habit of sadness, which is as hard a one to combat
as any other, and the burst of youth and buoyancy that had come in
suddenly with Archie had blown on James like a spring wind. Archie’s
father and grandfather had died in exile, too, with Charles Edward’s
parents. And his eyes reminded him of other eyes.

The events that had taken place since the landing of the Prince in
July had made themselves felt all up the east coast, and the country
was Jacobite almost to a man. Charles Edward had raised his standard
at Glenfinnan, had marched on Edinburgh in the early part of
September, and had established himself in Holyrood on the surrender of
the town. After his victory over Cope at Preston Pans, he had
collected his forces on Portobello sands–thirteen regiments composed
of the Highland clans, five regiments of Lowlanders, two troops of
horse commanded by Lords Elcho and Balmerino, with two others under
Lord Kilmarnock and Lord Pitsligo. The command of the latter consisted
of Angus men armed with such weapons as they owned or could gather.

The insurgent army had entered England in two portions: one of these
led by Lord George Murray, and one by the Prince himself, who marched
at the head of his men, sharing the fatigues of the road with them,
and fascinating the imagination of the Scots by his hopeful
good-humour and his keen desire to identify himself with his soldiers.
The two bodies had concentrated on Carlisle, investing the city, and
after a few days of defiance, the mayor displayed the white flag on
the ramparts and surrendered the town keys. After this, the Prince and
his father had been proclaimed at the market cross, in presence of the

But in spite of this success the signs of the times were not
consistently cheering to the Jacobite party. There had been many
desertions during the march across the border, and no sooner had the
Prince’s troops left Edinburgh than the city had gone back to the Whig
dominion. At Perth and Dundee the wind seemed to be changing too, and
only the country places stuck steadily to the Prince and went on
recruiting for the Stuarts.

Although he was aching to go south with the invaders, now that the
English were advancing in force, Logie was kept in the neighbourhood
of Montrose by the business he had undertaken. His own instincts and
inclinations were ever those of a fighter, and he groaned in spirit
over the fate which had made it his duty to remain in Angus, concerned
with recruiting and the raising of money and arms. He had not yet
openly joined the Stuarts, in spite of his ardent devotion to their
cause, because it had been represented to him that he was, for the
moment, a more valuable asset to his party whilst he worked secretly
than he could be in the field. The question that perplexed the coast
of Angus was the landing of those French supplies so sorely needed by
the half-fed, half-clothed, half-paid troops, in the face of the
English cruisers that haunted the coast; and it was these matters that
kept Logie busy.

James knew the harbour of Montrose as men know the places which are
the scenes of the forbidden exploits of their youth. This younger son,
who was so far removed in years from the rest of his family as to be
almost like an only child, was running wild in the town among the
fisher-folk, and taking surreptitious trips across the bar when the
staid David was pursuing his respectable career at a very different
kind of bar in Edinburgh. He was the man that Montrose needed in this
emergency, and to-night he was on his way to the town; for he would
come there a couple of times in the week, as secretly as he could, to
meet one David Ferrier, a country gentleman who had joined the
regiment of six hundred men raised by Lord Ogilvie, and had been made
deputy-governor of Brechin for the Prince.

Ferrier also was a man well calculated to serve the cause. He owned a
small property and a farm not far from the village of Edzell, situated
at the foot of a glen running up into the Grampians, and his perfect
knowledge of the country and its inhabitants of all degrees gave him
an insight into every turn of feeling that swept through it in those
troubled days. The business of his farm had brought him continually
into both Brechin and Montrose, and the shepherds, travelling
incessantly with their flocks from hill to strath, formed one of his
many chains of intelligence. He had joined Lord Ogilvie a couple of
months earlier, and, though he was now stationed at Brechin with a
hundred men of his corps, he would absent himself for a night at a
time, staying quietly at Montrose in the house of a former dependent
of his own, that he might keep an eye upon the movements of an English

The Government sloop-of-war _Venture_ had come into the harbour,
carrying sixteen guns and about eighty men, and had anchored south of
the town, in the strait made by the passage of the River Esk into the
sea. Montrose, apparently, was to suffer for the work she had done as
a port for Stuart supplies, for the _Venture_, lying at a convenient
distance just under the fishing village of Ferryden, had fired heavily
on the town, though no Jacobite troops were there. The commander had
unrigged the shipping and burned two trading barques whose owners were
townsmen, and he had landed a force at the fort, which had captured
the town guns and had carried them on board a vessel lying at the

Ferrier looked with complete trust to James Logie and his brother
Balnillo. The old man, during his judicial career, had made some
parade of keeping himself aloof from politics; and as his retirement
had taken place previous to the landing of the Prince, he had sunk the
public servant in the country gentleman before the world of
politicians began to divide the sheep from the goats. For some time
few troubled their heads about the peaceable and cautious old Lord of
Session, whose inconspicuous talents were vegetating among the trees
and grass-parks that the late Lady Balnillo had husbanded so carefully
for him. As to his very much younger brother, who had been incessantly
absent from his native land, his existence was practically forgotten.
But because the Government’s Secret Intelligence Department on the
east coast had remembered it at last with some suspicion, Flemington
had been sent to Montrose with directions to send his reports to its
agent in Perth. And Flemington had bettered his orders in landing
himself at Balnillo.

As Archie heard a steady tread approaching, he shrank farther back
under the stair. He could only distinguish a middle-sized male figure
which might belong to anyone, and he followed it with straining eyes
to within a few feet of the lamp. Here it paused, and, skirting the
light patch, stepped out into the middle of the way.

He scarcely breathed. He was not sure yet, though the man had come
nearer by half the street; but the height matched his expectation, and
the avoidance of the solitary light proved the desire for secrecy in
the person before him. As the man moved on he slipped from his shelter
and followed him, keeping just enough distance between them to allow
him to see the way he went.

The two figures passed up the High Street, one behind the other,
Flemington shrinking close to the walls and drawing a little nearer.
Before they had gone a hundred yards, his unconscious guide turned
suddenly into one of those narrow covered-in alleys, or closes, as
they are called, which started at right angles from the main street.

Archie dived in after him as unconcernedly as he would have dived into
the mouth of hell, had his interests taken him that way. These closes,
characteristic of Scottish towns to this day, were so long, and
burrowed under so many sightless-looking windows and doors, to emerge
in unexpected places, that he admired James’s knowledge of the short
cuts of Montrose, though it seemed to him no more than natural. The
place for which he conceived him to be making was a house in the New
Wynd nicknamed the ‘Happy Land,’ and kept by a well-known widow for
purposes which made its insignificance an advantage. It was used, as
he had heard, by the Jacobite community, because the frequent visitors
who entered after dusk passed in without more comment from the
townspeople than could be expressed in a lifted eyebrow or a sly
nudge. It was a disconcerting moment, even to him, when the man in
front of him stopped, and what he had taken for the distant glimmer of
an open space revealed itself as a patch of whitewash with a door in
it. The close was a cul-de-sac.

Flemington stood motionless as the other knocked at the door. Flight
was undesirable, for James might give chase, and capture would mean
the end of a piece of work of which he was justly proud. He guessed
himself to be the fleeter-footed of the two, but he knew nothing of
the town’s byways, and other night-birds besides Logie might join in.
But his bold wit did not desert him, for he gave a loud drunken shout,
as like those he had heard at the North Port as he could make it, and
lurched across the close. Its other inmate turned towards him, and as
he did so Archie shouted again, and, stumbling against him, subsided
upon the paved floor.

The door beyond them opened a little, showing a portion of a scared
face and a hand which held a light.

“Guid sakes! what’ll be wrang?” inquired a tremulous female voice.

The man was standing over Archie, pushing him with his foot. His
answer may have reassured the questioner, but it had a different
effect upon the heap on the ground.

“Hoot, woman! don’t be a fool! It’s me–Ferrier!”

Continue Reading


ARCHIE sat in his bedroom at a table. The window was open, for it was
a soft October afternoon, and he looked out meditatively at the
prospect before him.

The wind that had howled in the night had spent itself towards
morning, and by midday the tormented sky had cleared and the curtain
of cloud rolled away, leaving a mellow sun smiling over the Basin of
Montrose. He had never been within some miles of Balnillo, and the
aspect of this piece of the country being new to him, his painter’s
eye rested appreciatively on what he saw.

Two avenues of ancient trees ran southward, one on either side of the
house, and a succession of grass fields sloped away before him between
these bands of timber to the tidal estuary, where the water lay blue
and quiet with the ribbon of the South Esk winding into it from the
west. Beyond it the low hills with their gentle rise touched the
horizon; nearer at hand the beeches and gean-trees, so dear to Lord
Balnillo’s heart, were red and gold. Here and there, where the gale
had thinned the leaves, the bareness of stem and bough let in glimpses
of the distant purple which was the veil of the farther atmosphere. To
the east, shut out from his sight by all this wood, was the town of
Montrose, set, with its pointed steeple, like the blue silhouette of
some Dutch town, between the Basin and the North Sea.

A pen was in Flemington’s hand, and the very long letter he had just
written was before him.



“I beg you to look upon the address at the head of this letter, and to
judge whether fortune has favoured your devoted grandson.

“I am _on the very spot_, and, what is more, seem like to remain there
indefinitely. Could anything in this untoward world have fallen out
better? Montrose is a bare three miles from where I sit, and I can
betake myself there on business when necessary, while I live as
secluded as I please, cheek by jowl with the very persons whose
acquaintance I had laid so many plots to compass. My dear grandmother,
could you but have seen me last night, when I lay down after my
labours, tricked out in my worshipful host’s nightshirt! Though the
honest man is something of a fop in his attire, his arms are not so
long as mine, and the fine ruffles on the sleeves did little more than
adorn my elbows, which made me feel like a lady till I looked at my
skirts. Then I felt more like a highlandman. But I am telling you only
effects when you are wanting causes.

“I changed horses at Brechin, having got so far in safety just after
dark, and went on towards Montrose, with the wind rising and never a
star to look comfort at me through the coach window. Though I knew we
must be on the right road, I asked my way at every hovel we passed,
and was much interested when I was told that I was at the edge of my
Lord Balnillo’s estate, and not far from his house.

“The road soon afterwards took a plunge into the very vilest place I
ever saw–a steep way scarcely fit for a cattle-road, between a mass
of trees. I put out my head and heard the rushing of water. Oh, what a
fine thing memory is! I remembered having heard of the Den of Balnillo
and being told that it was near Balnillo house, and I judged we must
be there. Another minute and we were clattering among stones; the
water was up to the axle and we rocked like a ship. One wheel was
higher than the other, and we leaned over so that I could scarcely
sit. Then I was inspired. I threw myself with all my weight against
the side, and dragged so much of my cargo of canvases as I could lay
hold of with me. There was a great splash and over we went. It was
mighty hard work getting out, for the devil caused the door to stick
fast, and I had to crawl through the window at that side of the coach
which was turned to the sky, like a roof. I hope I may never be
colder. We turned to and got the horses out and on to dry ground, and
the postilion, a very frog for slime and mud, began to shout, which
soon produced a couple of men with a lantern. I shouted too, and did
my poor best in the way of oaths to give the affair all the colour of
reality I could, and I believe I was successful. The noise brought
more people about us, and with them my lord’s brother, Captain Logie,
hurrying to the rescue with a fellow who had run to the house with
news of our trouble. The result was that we ended our night, the coach
with a cracked axle and a hole in the panel, the postilion in the
servants’ hall with half a bottle of good Scots whisky inside him, the
horses–one with a broken knee–in the stable, and myself, as I tell
you, in his lordship’s nightshirt.

“I promise you that I thought myself happy when I got inside the
mansion–a solemn block, with a grand manner of its own and Corinthian
pillars in the dining-room. His lordship was on the hearthrug, as
solemn as his house, but with a pinched, precise look which it has not
got. He was no easy nut to crack, and it took me a little time to
establish myself with him, but the good James, his brother, left us a
little while alone, and I made all the way I could in his favour. I
may have trouble with the old man, and, at any rate, must be always at
my best with him, for he seems to me to be silly, virtuous and cunning
all at once. He is vain, too, and suspicious, and has seen so many
wicked people in his judicial career that I must not let him confound
me with them. I could see that he had difficulty in making my
occupation and appearance match to his satisfaction. He wears a
mouse-coloured velvet coat, and is very nice in the details of his
dress. I should like you to see him–not because he would amuse you,
but because it would entertain me so completely to see you together.

“James, his brother, is cut to a very different pattern. He is many
years younger than his lordship–not a dozen years older than myself,
I imagine–and he has spent much of his life with Lord Orkney’s
regiment in Holland. There is something mighty attractive in his face,
though I cannot make out what it is. It is strange that, though he
seems to be a much simpler person than the old man, I feel less able
to describe him. I have had much talk with him this morning, and I
don’t know when I have liked anyone better.

“And now comes the triumph of well-doing–the climax to which all this
faithful record leads. I am to paint his lordship’s portrait (in his
Judge’s robes), and am installed here definitely for that purpose! I
shall be grateful if you will send me my chestnut-brown suit and a
couple of fine shirts, also the silk stockings which are in the top
shelf of my cupboard, and all you can lay hands on in the matter of
cravats. My valise was soaked through and through, and, though the
clothes I am wearing were dried in the night, I am rather short of
good coats, for I expected to end in an inn at Montrose rather than in
a gentleman’s house. Though I am within reach of Ardguys, and might
ride to fetch them in person, I do not want to be absent
unnecessarily. Any _important_ letters that I may send you will go by
a hand I know of. I shall go shortly to Montrose by way of procuring
myself some small necessity, and shall search for that hand. Its owner
should not be difficult to recognize, by all accounts. And now, my
dear grandmother, I shall write myself

“Your dutiful and devoted grandson,


Archie sealed his letter, and then rose and leaned far out of the
window. The sun still bathed the land, but it was getting low; the
tree-tops were thrusting their heads into a light which had already
left the grass-parks slanting away from the house. The latter part of
his morning had been taken up by his host’s slow inspection of his
canvases, and he longed for a sight of his surroundings. He knew that
the brothers had gone out together, and he took his hat and stood
irresolute, with his letter in his hand, before a humble-looking
little locked case, which he had himself rescued the night before from
among his submerged belongings in the coach, hesitating whether he
should commit the paper to it or keep it upon his own person. It
seemed to be a matter for some consideration. Finally, he put it into
his pocket and went out.

He set forth down one of the avenues, walking on a gorgeous carpet of
fallen leaves, and came out on a road running east and west, evidently
another connecting Brechin with Montrose. He smiled as he considered
it, realizing that, had he taken it last night, he would have escaped
the Den of Balnillo and many more desirable things at the same time.

As he stood looking up and down, he heard a liquid rush, and saw to
his right a mill-dam glimmering through the trees, evidently the goal
of the waters which had soused him so lately. He strolled towards it,
attracted by the forest of stems and golden foliage reflected in the
pool, and by the slide down which the stream poured into a field, to
wind, like a little serpent, through the grass. Just where it
disappeared stood a stone mill-house abutting on the highway, from
which came the clacking of a wheel. The miller was at his door. Archie
could see that he was watching something with interest, for the man
stood out, a distinct white figure, on the steps running up from the
road to the gaping doorway in the mill-wall.

Flemington was one of those blessed people for whom common sights do
not glide by, a mere meaningless procession of alien things.
Humanity’s smallest actions had an interest for him, for he had that
love of seeing effect follow cause, which is at once priceless and
childish–priceless because anything that lifts from us the irritating
burden of ourselves for so much as a moment is priceless; and childish
because it is a survival of the years when all the universe was new.
Priceless yet again, because it will often lead us down unexpected
side-tracks of knowledge in a world in which knowledge is power.

He sat down on the low wall bounding the mill-field, for he was
determined to know what the miller was staring at. Whatever it was, it
was on the farther side of a cottage built just across the road from
the mill.

He was suddenly conscious that a bare-footed little girl with
tow-coloured hair had appeared from nowhere, and was standing beside
him. She also was staring at the house by the mill, but with
occasional furtive glances at himself. All at once the heavy drone of
a bagpipe came towards them, then the shrill notes of the chanter
began to meander up and down on the blare of sonorous sound like a
light pattern running over a dark background. The little girl removed
her eyes from the stranger and cut a caper with her bare feet, as
though she would like to dance.

It was evident that the sounds had affected Flemington, too, but not
in the same way. He made a sharp exclamation under his breath, and
turned to the child.

“Who is that playing?” he cried, putting out his hand.

She jumped back and stood staring.

“Who is that playing?” he repeated.

She was still dumb, scrubbing one foot against her bare ankle after
the manner of the shoeless when embarrassed.

Archie was exasperated. He rose, without further noticing the child,
and hurried towards the mill. When he had reached the place where the
stream dived through a stone arch under the road he found she was
following him. He heard the pad, pad, of her naked soles in the mud.

All at once she was moved to answer his question.

“Yon’s Skirlin’ Wattie!” she yelled after him.

But he strode on, taking no notice; fortune was playing into his hand
so wonderfully that he was ceasing to be surprised.

In the little yard of the cottage he found a small crowd of children,
two women, and the miller’s man, collected round the strangest
assortment of living creatures he had ever seen. The name ‘Skirlin’
Wattie’ had conveyed something to him, and he was prepared for the
extraordinary, but his breath was almost taken away by the oddness of
what he saw.

In the middle of the group was a stout wooden box, which, mounted on
very low wheels, was transformed into the likeness of a rough go-cart,
and to this were yoked five dogs of differing breeds and sizes. A
half-bred mastiff in the wheel of the team was taking advantage of the
halt and lay dozing, his jowl on his paws, undisturbed by the blast of
sound which poured over his head, whilst his companion, a large,
smooth-haired yellow cur, stood alert with an almost proprietary
interest in what was going on awake in his amber eyes. The couple of
collies in front of them sniffed furtively at the bystanders, and the
wire-haired terrier, which, as leader, was harnessed singly in advance
of the lot, was sharing a bannock with a newly-breeched man-child, the
sinister nature of whose squint almost made the dog’s confidence seem

The occupant of the cart was an elderly man, whom accident had
deprived of the lower part of his legs, both of which had been
amputated just below the knee. He had the head of Falstaff, the
shoulders of Hercules, and lack of exercise had made his thighs and
back bulge out over the sides of his carriage, even as the bag of his
pipes bulged under his elbow. He was dressed in tartan breeches and
doublet, and he wore a huge Kilmarnock bonnet with a red knob on the
top. The lower half of his face was distended by his occupation, and
at the appearance of Flemington by the gate, he turned on him, above
the billows of crimson cheek and grizzled whisker, the boldest pair of
eyes that the young man had ever met. He was a masterly piper, and as
the tune stopped a murmur of applause went through the audience.

“Man, ye’re the most mountaineous player in Scotland!” said the
miller’s man, who was a coiner of words.

“Aye, dod, am I!” replied the piper.

“Hae?” continued the miller’s man, holding out an apple.

The beggar took it with that silent wag of the back of the head which
seems peculiar to the east coast of Scotland, and dropped it into the

Archie handed him a sixpence.

“Ye’ll hae to gie us mair noo!” cried the squinting child, whose eyes
had seen straight enough, and who seemed to have a keen sense of

“Aye, a sang this time,” added its mother.

“Ye’ll get a pucklie meal an’ a bawbee gin’ ye sing ‘The Tod,'”*
[*Fox.] chimed in an old woman, who had suddenly put her head out of
the upper story of the cottage.

The beggar laid down his pipes and spat on earth. Then he opened his
mouth and gave forth a voice whose volume, flexibility, and extreme
sweetness seemed incredible, considering the being from whom it

“There’s a tod aye blinkin’ when the nicht comes doon,
Blinkin’ wi’ his lang een, and keekin’ round an’ roun’,
Creepin’ by the farm-yaird when gloamin’ is to fa’,
And syne there’ll be a chicken or a deuk awa’.
Aye, when the guidwife rises there’s a deuk awa’!

“There’s a lass sits greetin’ ben the hoose at hame,
For when the guidwife’s cankered she gie’s her aye the blame,
And sair the lassie’s sabbin’, and fast the tears fa’,
For the guidwife’s tynt a bonnie hen, and it’s awa’.
Aye, she’s no sae easy dealt wi’ when her gear’s awa’!

“There’s a lad aye roamin’ when the day gets late,
A lang-leggit deevil wi’ his hand upon the gate,
And aye the guidwife cries to him to gar the toddie fa’,
For she canna thole to let her chicks an’ deuks awa’.
Aye, the muckle bubbly-jock himsel’ is ca’ed awa’!

“The laddie saw the tod gae by, an’ killed him wi’ a stane,
And the bonnie lass wha grat sae sair she sits nae mair her lane,
But the guidwife’s no contented yet–her like ye never saw,
Cries she, ‘This time it is the lass, an’ she’s awa’!’
Aye, yon laddie’s waur nor ony tod, for Jean’s awa’!”

Archie beat the top rail of the paling with so much enthusiasm that
the yellow cur began to bark. The beggar quieted him with a storm of

The beldame disappeared from the window, and her steps could be heard
descending the wooden stair of the cottage. She approached the cart
with a handful of meal on a platter which Skirling Wattie tilted into
an old leather bag that hung on his carriage.

“Whaur’s the bawbee?” cried the squinting child.

A shout of laughter went up, led by Archie.

“He kens there’s nae muckle weicht o’ meal, and wha’ should ken it
better?” said the beggar, balancing the bag on his palm and winking at
the miller’s man.

The latter, who happened to be the child’s unacknowledged parent,
disappeared behind the house.

“One more song, and I will supply the bawbee,” said Archie, throwing
another coin into the cart.

Skirling Wattie sent a considering glance at his patron; though he
might not understand refinement, he could recognize it; and much of
his local success had come from his nice appraisement of audiences.

“I’ll gie ye Logie Kirk,” said he.

“O Logie Kirk, among the braes
I’m thinkin’ o’ the merry days
Afore I trod the weary ways
That led me far frae Logie.

“Fine do I mind when I was young,
Abune thy graves the mavis sung,
And ilka birdie had a tongue
To ca’ me back to Logie.

“O Logie Kirk, tho’ aye the same,
The burn sings ae remembered name,
There’s ne’er a voice to cry ‘Come hame
To bonnie Bess at Logie!’

“Far, far awa’ the years decline
That took the lassie wha was mine
And laid her sleepin’ lang, lang syne
Among the braes at Logie.”

His voice, and the wonderful pathos of his phrasing, fascinated
Archie, but as the last cadences fell from his mouth, the beggar
snatched up the long switch with which he drove his team and began to

“A’m awa’!” he shouted, making every wall and corner echo. “Open the
gate an’ let me through, ye misbegotten bairns o’ Auld Nick! Stand
back, ye clortie-faced weans, an’ let me out! Round about an’ up the
road! Just round about an’ up the road, a’ tell ye!”

The last sentences were addressed to the dogs who were now all on
their legs and mindful of the stick whirling in the air above them.

Archie could see that he was not included in the beggar’s general
address, but, being nearest to the gate, he swung it open and the
whole equipage dashed through, the dogs guided with amazing dexterity
between the posts by their master’s switch. The rapid circle they
described on the road as they were turned up the hill towards Brechin
seemed likely to upset the cart, but the beggar leaned outwards so
adroitly that none of the four wheels left the ground. As they went up
the incline he took up his pipes, and leaving the team to its own
guidance, tuned up and disappeared round the next bend in a blast of

Flemington would have given a great deal to run after him, and could
easily have overtaken the cart, for its pace was not very formidable.
But the whole community, including the tow-headed little girl, was
watching Skirling Wattie out of sight and speculating, he knew, upon
his own identity. So he walked leisurely on till the road turned at
the top of the hill, and he was rewarded at the other side of its bend
by the sight of the beggar halting his team by a pond at which the
dogs were drinking. He threw a look around and behind him; then, as no
human creature was to be seen, he gave a loud whistle, holding up his
arm, and began to run.

Skirling Wattie awaited him at the pond-side, and as Archie
approached, he could almost feel his bold eyes searching him from top
to toe. He stopped by the cart.

“My name is Flemington,” said he.

“A’ve heard worse,” replied the other calmly.

“And I have a description of you in my pocket,” continued Archie.
“Perhaps you would like to see it.”

The beggar looked up at him from under his bushy eyebrows, with a
smile of the most robust and genial effrontery that he had ever seen
on a human face.

“A’d need to,” said he.

Archie took a folded paper from his pocket.

“You see that signature,” he said, putting his forefinger on it.

The other reached up to take the paper.

“No, no,” said Flemington, “this never goes out of my hand.”

“That’s you!” exclaimed the beggar, with some admiration. “Put it
back. A’ ken it.”

He unhooked his leather bag, which hung inside the cart on its front
board. This Archie perceived to be made, apparently for additional
strength, of two thicknesses of wood. Skirling Wattie slid the inner
plank upwards, and the young man saw a couple of sealed letters hidden
behind it, one of which was addressed to himself.

“Tak’ yon,” said the beggar, as the sound of a horse’s tread was heard
not far off, “tak’ it quick an’ syne awa’ ye gang! Mind ye, a gang
ilka twa days frae Montrose to Brechin, an a’m aye skirlin’ as a

“And do you take this one and have it sent on from Brechin,” said
Archie hurriedly, handing him the letter he had written to Madam

The other wagged the back of his head, and laid a finger against the
rim of his bonnet.

Archie struck into the fields by the pond, and had time to drop down
behind a whin-bush before an inoffensive-looking farmer went by on his
way between the two towns.

The beggar continued his progress, singing to himself, and Flemington,
who did not care to face the mill and the curious eyes of the
tow-headed little girl again, took a line across country back to

He hated the tow-headed little girl.

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EIGHTEEN years after the last vestige of Archie’s handiwork had
vanished under the beadle’s ‘clout’ two gentlemen were sitting in the
library of a square stone mansion at the eastern end of the county of
Angus. It was evening, and they had drawn their chairs up to a
fireplace in which the flames danced between great hobs of polished
brass, shooting the light from their thrusting tongues into a lofty
room with drawn curtains and shelves of leather-bound books. Though
the shutters were closed, the two men could hear, in the pauses of
talk, a continuous distant roaring, which was the sound of surf
breaking upon the bar outside the harbour of Montrose, three miles
away. A small mahogany table with glasses and a decanter stood at Lord
Balnillo’s elbow, and he looked across at his brother James (whose
life, as a soldier, had kept him much in foreign countries until the
previous year) with an expression of mingled good-will and patronage.

David Logie was one of the many Scottish gentlemen of good birth who
had made the law his profession, and he had just retired from the
Edinburgh bench, on which, as Lord Balnillo, he had sat for hard upon
a quarter of a century. His face was fresh-coloured and healthy, and,
though he had not put on so much flesh as a man of sedentary ways who
has reached the age of sixty-two might expect to carry, his main
reason for retiring had been the long journeys on horseback over
frightful roads, which a judge’s duties forced him to take. Another
reason was his estate of Balnillo, which was far enough from Edinburgh
to make personal attention to it impossible. His wife Margaret, whose
portrait hung in the dining-room, had done all the business for many
years; but Margaret was dead, and perhaps David, who had been a
devoted husband, felt the need of something besides the law to fill up
his life. He was a lonely man, for he had no children, and his brother
James, who sat opposite to him, was his junior by twenty-five years.
For one who had attained to his position, he was slow and curiously
dependent on others; there was a turn about the lines of his
countenance which suggested fretfulness, and his eyes, which had
looked upon so many criminals, could be anxious. He was a considerate
landlord, and, in spite of the times in which he lived and the bottle
at his elbow, a person of very sober habits.

James Logie, who had started his career in Lord Orkney’s regiment of
foot with the Scots Brigade in Holland, had the same fresh complexion
as his brother and the same dark blue eyes; but they were eyes that
had a different expression, and that seemed to see one thing at a
time. He was a squarer, shorter man than Lord Balnillo, quicker of
speech and movement. His mouth was a little crooked, for the centre of
his lower lip did not come exactly under the centre of the upper one,
and this slight mistake on the part of Nature had given his face a not
unpleasant look of virility. Most people who passed James gave him a
second glance. Both men were carefully dressed and wore fine cambric
cravats and laced coats; and the shoes of the judge, which rested on
the fender, were adorned by gilt buckles.

They had been silent for some time, as people are who have come to the
same conclusion and find that there is no more to say, and in the
quietness the heavy undercurrent of sound from the coast seemed to
grow more insistent.

“The bar is very loud to-night, Jamie,” said Lord Balnillo. “I doubt
but there’s bad weather coming, and I am loth to lose more trees.”

“I see that the old beech by the stables wants a limb,” observed the
other. “That’s the only change about the place that I notice.”

“There’ll be more yet,” said the judge.

“You’ve grown weather-wise since you left Edinburgh, David.”

“I had other matters to think upon there,” answered Balnillo, with
some pomp.

James smiled faintly, making the little twist in his lip more

“Come out to the steps and look at the night,” said he, snatching,
like most restless men, at the chance of movement.

They went out through the hall. James unbarred the front door and the
two stood at the top of the flight of stone steps.

The entrance to Balnillo House faced northward, and a wet wind from
the east, slight still, but rising, struck upon their right cheeks and
carried the heavy muffled booming in through the trees. Balnillo
looked frowning at their tops, which had begun to sway; but his
brother’s attention was fixed upon a man’s figure, which was emerging
from the darkness of the grass park in front of them.

“Who is that?” cried the judge, as the footsteps grew audible.

“It’s a coach at the ford, ma lord–a muckle coach that’s couped i’
the water! Wully an’ Tam an’ Andrew Robieson are seekin’ to ca’ it
oot, but it’s fast, ma lord—-”

“Is there anyone in it?” interrupted James.

“Ay, there was. But he’s oot noo.”

“Where is he?”

“He’ll na’ get forward the night,” continued the man. “Ane of the
horse is lame. He cursin’, ma lord, an’ nae wonder–he can curse
bonnie! Robieson’s got his wee laddie wi’ him, and he gar’d the loonie
put his hands to his lugs. He’s an elder, ye see.”

The judge turned to his brother. It was not the first time that the
ford in the Den of Balnillo had been the scene of disaster, for there
was an unlucky hole in it, and the state of the roads made storm-bound
and bedraggled visitors common apparitions in the lives of country

“If ye’ll come wi’ me, ma lord, ye’ll hear him,” said the labourer, to
whom the profane victim of the ford was evidently an object of

Balnillo looked down at his silk stockings and buckled shoes.

“I should be telling the lasses to get a bed ready,” he remarked
hurriedly, as he re-entered the house.

James was already throwing his leg across the fence, though it was
scarcely the cursing which attracted him, for he had heard oaths to
suit every taste in his time. He hurried across the grass after the
labourer. The night was not very dark, and they made straight for the

The Den of Balnillo ran from north to south, not a quarter of a mile
from the house, and the long chain of miry hollows and cart-ruts which
did duty for a high road from Perth to Aberdeen plunged through it at
the point for which the men were heading. It was a steep ravine filled
with trees and stones, through which the Balnillo burn flowed and fell
and scrambled at different levels on its way to join the Basin of
Montrose, as the great estuary of the river Esk was called. The ford
lay just above one of the falls by which the water leaped downwards,
and the dense darkness of the surrounding trees made it difficult for
Captain Logie to see what was happening as he descended into the black
well of the Den. He could distinguish a confusion of objects by the
light of the lantern which his brother’s men had brought and set upon
a stone; the ford itself reflected nothing, for it was churned up into
a sea of mud, in which, as Logie approached, the outline of a
good-sized carriage, lying upon its side, became visible.

“Yonder’s the captain coming,” said a voice.

Someone lifted the lantern, and he found himself confronted by a tall
young man, whose features he could not see, but who was, no doubt, the
expert in language.

“Sir,” he said, “I fear you have had a bad accident. I am come from
Lord Balnillo to find out what he can do for you.”

“His lordship is mighty good,” replied the young man, “and if he could
force this mud-hole–which, I am told, belongs to him–to yield up my
conveyance, I should be his servant for life.”

There was a charm and softness in his voice which nullified the brisk
impertinence of his words.

“I hope you are not hurt,” said James.

“Not at all, sir. Providence has spared me. But He has had no mercy
upon one of my poor nags, which has broken its knees, nor on my
stock-in-trade, which is in the water. I am a travelling painter,” he
added quickly, “and had best introduce myself. My name is Archibald

The stranger had a difficulty in pronouncing his _r’s_; he spoke them
like a Frenchman, with a purring roll.

The other was rather taken aback. Painters in those days had not the
standing in society that they have now, but the voice and manner were
unmistakably those of a man of breeding. Even his freedom was not the
upstart licence of one trying to assert himself, but the easy
expression of a roving imagination.

“I should introduce myself too,” said Logie. “I am Captain James
Logie, Lord Balnillo’s brother. But we must rescue
your–your–baggage. Where is your postilion?”

Flemington held up the lantern again, and its rays fell upon a man
holding the two horses which were standing together under a tree.
James went towards them.

“Poor beast,” said he, as he saw the knees of one of the pair, “he
would be better in a stall. Andrew Robieson, send your boy to the
house for a light, and then you can guide them to the stables.”

Meanwhile, the two other men had almost succeeded in getting the
carriage once more upon its wheels, and with the help of Flemington
and Logie, it was soon righted. They decided to leave it where it was
for the night, and it was dragged a little aside, lest it should prove
a pitfall to any chance traveller who might pass before morning.

The two gentlemen went towards the house together, and the men
followed, carring Flemington’s possessions and the great square
package containing his canvases.

When they entered the library Lord Balnillo was standing with his back
to the fire.

“I have brought Mr. Flemington, brother,” said Logie, “his coach has
come to grief in the Den.”

Archie stopped short, and putting his heels together, made much the
same bow as he had made to Mr. Duthie eighteen years before.

A feeling of admiration went through James as the warm light of the
house revealed the person of his companion, and something in the
shrewd wrinkles round his brother’s unimpressive eyes irritated him.
He felt a vivid interest in the stranger, and the cautious old man’s
demeanour seemed to have raised the atmosphere of a law-court round
himself. He was surveying the new-comer with stiff urbanity.

But Archie made small account of it.

“Sir,” said Balnillo, with condescension, “if you will oblige me by
making yourself at home until you can continue your road, I shall take
myself for fortunate.”

“My lord,” replied Archie, “if you knew how like heaven this house
appears to me after the bottomless pit in your den, you might take
yourself for the Almighty.”

Balnillo gave his guest a critical look, and was met by all the soft
darkness of a pair of liquid brown eyes which drooped at the outer
corners, and were set under thick brows following their downward
lines. Gentleness, inquiry, appeal, were in them, and a quality which
the judge, like other observers, could not define–a quality that sat
far, far back from the surface. In spite of the eyes, there was no
suggestion of weakness in the slight young man, and his long chin gave
his olive face gravity. Speech and looks corresponded so little in him
that Balnillo was bewildered; but he was a hospitable man, and he
moved aside to make room for Archie on the hearth. The latter was a
sorry sight, as far as mud went; for his coat was splashed, and his
legs, from the knee down, were of the colour of clay. He held his
hands out to the blaze, stretching his fingers as a cat stretches her
claws under a caressing touch.

“Sit down and put your feet to the fire,” said the judge, drawing
forward one of the large armchairs, “and James, do you call for
another glass. When did you dine, Mr. Flemington?”

“I did not dine at all, my lord. I was anxious to push on to Montrose,
and I pushed on to destruction instead.”

He looked up with such a whimsical smile at his own mishaps that
Balnillo found his mouth widening in sympathy.

“I will go and tell them to make some food ready,” said the captain,
in answer to a sign from his brother.

Balnillo stood contemplating the young man; the lines round his eyes
were relaxing a little; he was fundamentally inquisitive, and his
companion matched no type he had ever seen. He was a little disturbed
by his assurance, yet his instinct of patronage was tickled by the

“I am infinitely grateful to you,” said Archie. “I know all the inns
in Brechin, and am very sensible how much better I am likely to dine
here than there. You are too kind.”

“Then you know these parts?”

“My home is at the other end of the county–at Ardguys.”

“I am familiar with the name,” said Balnillo, “but until lately, I
have been so much in Edinburgh that I am out of touch with other
places. I am not even aware to whom it belongs.”

“It is a little property, my lord–nothing but a few fields and a
battered old house. But it belongs to my grandmother Flemington, who
brought me up. She lives very quietly.”

“Indeed, indeed,” said the judge, his mind making a cast for a clue as
a hound does for the scent.

He was not successful.

“I had not taken you for a Scot,” he said, after a moment.

“I have been told that,” said Archie; “and that reminds me that it
would be proper to tell your lordship what I am. I am a painter, and
at this moment your hall is full of my paraphernalia.”

Lord Balnillo did not usually show his feelings, but the look which,
in spite of himself, flitted across his face, sent a gleam of
entertainment through Archie.

“You are surprised,” he observed, sighing. “But when a man has to mend
his fortunes he must mend them with what tools he can. Nor am I
ashamed of my trade.”

“There is no need, Mr. Flemington,” replied the other, with the
measured benevolence he had sometimes used upon the bench; “what you
tell me does you honour–much honour, sir.”

“Then you did not take me for a painter any more than for a Scot?”
said Archie, smiling at his host.

“I did not, sir,” said the judge shortly. He was not accustomed to be
questioned by his witnesses and he had the uncomfortable sensation of
being impelled, in spite of a certain prejudice, to think moderately
well of his guest.

“I have heard tell of your lordship very often,” said the latter,
suddenly, “and I know very well into what good hands I have fallen. I
could wish that all the world was more like yourself.”

He turned his head and stared wistfully at the coals.

Balnillo could not make out whether this young fellow’s assurance or
his humility was the real key-note to the man. But he liked some of
his sentiments well enough. Archie wore his own hair, and the old man
noticed how silky and fine the brown waves were in the firelight. They
were so near his hand as their owner leaned forward that he could
almost have stroked them.

“Are you going further than Montrose?” he inquired.

“I had hoped to cozen a little employment out of Aberdeen,” replied
Flemington, “but it is a mere speculation. I have a gallery of the
most attractive canvases with me–women, divines, children,
magistrates, provosts–all headless and all waiting to see what faces
chance and I may fit on to their necks. I have one lady–an angel, I
assure you, my lord!–a vision of green silk and white
roses–shoulders like satin–the hands of Venus!”

Balnillo was further bewildered. He knew little about the arts and
nothing about artists. He had looked at many a contemporary portrait
without suspecting that the original had chosen, as sitters often did,
an agreeable ready-made figure from a selection brought forward by a
painter, on which to display his or her countenance. It was a custom
which saved the trouble of many sittings and rectified much of the
niggardliness or over-generosity of Nature.

“I puzzle you, I see,” added Archie, laughing, “and no doubt the hair
of Van Dyck would stand on end at some of our modern doings. But I am
not Van Dyck, unhappily, and in common with some others I do half my
business before my sitters ever see me. A client has only to choose a
suitable body for his own head, and I can tell you that many are
thankful to have the opportunity.”

“I had no idea that portraits were done like that,” said Lord
Balnillo; “I never heard of such an arrangement before.”

“But you do not think it wrong, I hope?” exclaimed Flemington, the
gaiety dying out of his face. “There is no fraud about it! It is not
as if a man deceived his sitter.”

The half-petulant distress in his voice struck Balnillo, and almost
touched him; there was something so simple and confiding in it.

“It might have entertained your lordship to see them,” continued
Archie ruefully. “I should have liked to show you the strange company
I travel with.”

“So you shall, Mr. Flemington,” said the old man. “It would entertain
me very greatly. I only fear that the lady with the white roses may
enslave me,” he added, with rather obvious jocosity.

“Indeed, now is the time for that,” replied Archie, his face lighting
up again, “for I hope she may soon wear the head of some fat town
councillor’s wife of Aberdeen.”

As he spoke Captain Logie returned with the news that dinner was

“I have been out to the stable to see what we could do for your
horses,” said he.

“Thank you a thousand times, sir,” exclaimed Archie.

Lord Balnillo watched his brother as he led the painter to the door.

“I think I will come, too, and sit with Mr. Flemington while he eats,”
he said, after a moment’s hesitation.

A couple of hours later Archie found himself in a comfortable bedroom.
His valise had been soaked in the ford, and a nightshirt of Lord
Balnillo’s was warming at the fire. When he had put it on he went and
looked at himself in an old-fashioned mirror which hung on the wall.
He was a good deal taller than the judge, but it was not his own image
that caused the indescribable expression on his face.

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