(for all he was a rank usurper) spoke them fair and gave each man three guineas in his hand. Now, as they were going out of the palace, they had a porters lodge to go, by; and it came in on my father, as he was perhaps the first private Hieland gentleman that had ever gone by that door, it was right he should give the poor porter a proper notion of their quality. So he gives the Kings three guineas into the mans hand, as if it was his common custom; the three others that came behind him did the same; and there they were on the street, never a penny the better for their pains. Some say it was one, that was the first to fee the Kings porter; and some say it was another; but the truth of it is, that it was Duncan Stewart, as I am willing to prove with either sword or pistol. And that was the father that I had, God rest him!
I think he was not the man to leave you rich, said I.
And thats true, said Alan. He left me my breeks to cover me, and little besides. And that was how I came to enlist, which was a black spot upon my character at the best of times, and would still be a sore job for me if I fell among the red-coats.
What, cried I, were you in the English army?
That was I, said Alan. But I deserted to the right side at Preston Pansand thats some comfort.
I could scarcely share this view: holding desertion under arms for an unpardonable fault in honour. But for all I was so young, I was wiser than say my thought. Dear, dear, says I, the punishment is death.
Ay said he, if they got hands on me, it would be a short shrift and a lang tow for Alan! But I have the King of Frances commission in my pocket, which would aye be some protection.
I misdoubt it much, said I.
I have doubts mysel, said Alan drily.
And, good heaven, man, cried I, you that are a condemned rebel, and a deserter, and a man of the French Kingswhat tempts ye back into this country? Its a braving of Providence.
Tut! says Alan, I have been back every year since forty-six!
And what brings ye, man? cried I.
Well, ye see, I weary for my friends and country, said he. France is a braw place, nae doubt; but I weary for the heather and the deer. And then I have bit things that I attend to. Whiles I pick up a few lads to serve the King of France: recruits, ye see; and thats aye a little money. But the heart of the matter is the business of my chief, Ardshiel.
I thought they called your chief Appin, said I.
Ay, but Ardshiel is the captain of the clan, said he, which scarcely cleared my mind. Ye see, David, he that was all his life so great a man, and come of the blood and bearing the name of kings, is now brought down to live in a French town like a poor and private person. He that had four hundred swords at his whistle, I have seen, with these eyes of mine, buying butter in the market-place, and taking it home in a kale-leaf. This is not only a pain but a disgrace to us of his family and clan. There are the bairns forby, the children and the hope of Appin, that must be learned their letters and how to hold a sword, in that far country. Now, the tenants of Appin have to pay a rent to King George; but their hearts are staunch, they are true to their chief; and what with love and a bit of pressure, and maybe a threat or two, the poor folk scrape up a second rent for Ardshiel. Well, David, Im the hand that carries it. And he struck the belt about his body, so that the guineas rang.
Do they pay both? cried I.
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