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THE



Last of the Macallisters



BY

AMELIA E. BARR

AUTHOR Of "jAN VEDDEr's WIFE," ''tHE BOW OF GRANGE RIBBOM,"
" REMEMBER THE ALAMO," ETC



NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD & COMPANY

PUBLISHERS



PS

I07Z

L3



Copyright, 1886,

BY

HARPER & BROS.

Copyright, 1889,

BY

DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.
A/i ri^Ais reserved.



CONTENTS.



I. CHIEF AND LAWYii.l 5

II. THE chief's triumph 2$

III. ASSYNT AND GRACE CAMERON 42

IV. LAIRD ANGUS AND A HORSE-TRADE 69

V, TWO QUARRELS AND TWO PROPOSALS. ... 90

VI. THE FIRST CLOUD OF THE STORM II7

VII. THE RUBICON PASSED I42

VIII. THE gypsy's REVENGE 169

IX. A prince's success and a gypsy's DEATH. I95

X. THE DEATH OF THE MACALLISTER 223

XI. A FAREWELL 248

XII. AFTER long YEARS 282



THE LAST OF THE MACALLISTERS



CHAPTER I.

CHIEF AND LAWYER.

"Oh, where are the pretty men of yore ?

Oh, where are the brave men gone ?
Oh, where are the heroes of the north ?

Each under his own gray stone.
The chiefs that were foremost of old,

Macdonald, and brave Lochiel,
The Gordon, the Murray, and the Graham,

With their clansmen true as steel."

" MacAllister, it is the height of nonsense
for you to fret and fume at this rate. Two
things you need never be angry at — what you
can help and what you cannot help ; and it's
plain you cannot help Cameron buying Assynt
and Balkerry. Do you know him at all ? "

" Know him ! know a trading body who has
dared to offer siller for an auld estate, sir ; an
estate as auld as the flood, sir ; a deal aulder,
sir ; siller scrapit together by some kind o' handi-



6 THE LAST OF THE MACALLISTERS.

work ! Who was his grandfather ? A puir
Glasgo' wabster ! That's a bonnie origin for a
Highland chief! Ugh I And what's to come
of the MacLeods ? "

" They have shaken hands wi' Cameron, and
are goin' to turn herring-fishers."

" The MacLeods and the Camerons ! Certie !
There's a bonnie pair o' them."

" Come, come, Laird ; it is ill sitting in Rome
and striving wi' the pope, as the saying is, A
man can live without his kin, but he canna live
without his neighbors, and I am free to tell you
that the wood in the Reay forest wants to be
let alone now, and there's that bill due the Perth
Bank. It's been noted and protested already,
MacAUister, and I'm thinking there is a writ o'
horning and caption on the road to Strathleven.
I heard of it at Tain."

" It is a far cry from Tain to Strathleven,
Fraser ; and what does MacAUister care for a
wheen lawyer's papers ? I'll just send a dozen
o' my gillies to meet them, and convoy them
back o'er the hills again."

" That's aboon your thumb, Laird, The law
is ower strong for any Highland chief now, and



CHIEF AND LA WYER.



it's folly to show your teeth — unless you can
bite."

" It is na twenty years since I went wi' five
hundred wild MacAllisters into Moray's land,
and every man o' them took his prey."

" Ah weel, Laird ! Then was then, but now's
the now. The MacAllisters were never saints,
nor did they ever get the name o' it."

" They were never lawyers, anyway, nor fac-
tors, nor counting bodies, and you'll never speak
against the MacAllisters again, Fraser."
" My tongue isna under your belt, Laird,"
" It's weel you say that under my roof, Fraser.
Gude manners you may hae, sir, but you dinna
carry them about wi' you."

" If a' things were true. Laird, that would be
nae lie. But there's no folly like falling out, and
I'm lawyer enough, if I keep my tongue, to keep
my siller likewise."

" How dare you anger me thus, Fraser ? "
" Dare is a hard word to crack, Laird."
" Umff ! Umff ! ! Umff ! ! ! Better be going,
sir. The gate is wide open afore you."

But Fraser filled his glass, and tied up care-
fully some accounts and papers, and then, with
his hat in his hand, said,



8 THE LAST OF THE MACALLISTERS.

•' I shall stay a' night at Donald Du MacAl-
lister's, and maybe by the morn you'll cool and
come to yourself, Laird," Then he went slowly
down the mountain path, muttering at intervals :
" A man should haud his tongue in an ill time ;
and as for MacAllister's anger, I'll never fash my
head about it. I ken him as weel as if I had
gane through him wi' a lighted candle, and his
ill words ate only frae the teeth forward : his
heart is a' right. Maybe I should hae keepit a
stiller tongue in my head, but as gude gie the
insult as tak' it. And I needna do it again ;
once is no custom."

Just at this point in his soliloquy he turned a
sharp corner in the rocky descent, and for a mo-
ment forgot everything but the scene before him.
He had been among mountains shouldering one
another up to the sky, and there ! another step,
and a world of valleys was at his feet ! Valleys
like emeralds, and hills like amethyst, and streams
of silver tumbling down deep ravines, overgrown
with bracken and bell-heather.

" It's a bonnie land ! " he cried ; " a bonnie
land ! and it would be a sair pity for young Hec-
tor to lose it. If the auld laird wasna so con-
trairie, sae aggravating, I would, yes, I would — "



CEIEF AND LA WYER. 9

And he turned around in an irresolute fashion
and faced Strathleven again.

But he did not return, for clear and cheerily
a strong young voice began chanting just below
him,

" Little wat ye wha's coming !
Duncan's coming, Donald's coming,
Colin's coming, Ronald's coming,
Dougald's coming, Lauchlan's coming,
MacAllister and a's coming,
Borland and his men's coming
Cameron and McLean's coming,
Gordon and McGregor's coming,
Ilka dunywastle's coming."

" Hector, fair -fa' you, lad ! Why are ye sing-
ing these auld-warld rhymes ? Let byganes be
byganes, lad. Thae Stuarts are unlucky folk,
and ill-luck is catching. Let them alone, Hec-
tor, your father had trouble enough, in the '15,
my lad."

" That may be so, Fraser ; but when my men
are tired, or hungry, a lilt about — ye ken wha'
— makes the hardest hill as easy as dancing.
But you are turning your face the wrong way;
Strathleven is up, not down."

" I know that, but the laird and I hae been
calling each ither ill names ; and I am not going



10 THE LAST OF THE MACALLISTERS.

back to Strathleven to-night — the morn's the
morn — but I am not going back to-night. Yet
there are counts to cast, and MacAllister will
neither see, nor hear, nor meddle with them."

" Where are you going, then? "

" To Donald Du's — and you had better come
along with me."

" If it is needful, yes ; but I must send the
lads home, they are tired and hungry."

The lads were about a score in number — a
score men such as could hardly be found, except
in Caithness and Sutherland, giants in stature,
in strength, and in heart; "pretty men, every
ane o' them," as Fraser admiringly allowed,
though they were all distinctly inferior to the
young laird. He said a few words to the gilly
nearest to him, and, lifting his bonnet to his
companions, motioned to them to proceed with-
out him.

In this interval Hector's bright face had
gathered a slight shadow. He knew that only
some event of importance had brought Fraser to
Strathleven out of his usual order of coming,
and he had lived long enough in Edinburgh to
be aware that the lawyer's bills and papers
which his father treated with such sublime scorn



CHIEF AND LA WYER. 1 1

were capable of holding their own, even in the
wilds of Sutherland.

But down the narrow mountain path it was
impossible to converse, and the two men walked
on in silence until they came to Donald Du's
cottage. It was a little stone hut of three rooms,
very much superior to the ordinary shielings of
the MacAllisters ; for Donald Du was the laird's
foster brother, and on him rested the actual di-
rection of all the chief's orders. He was eating
his supper when they entered, and though it was
July, the table was drawn close to the peat fire.

" Fa's tat ? Maister Fraser and ta young
laird? Come in, shentlemans, her nainsel is
glad to see ye baith. Ta porridge is shust
ready, and ta fresh feesh, and ta goot whiskey —
ta real, right thing, shentlemen."

In a few moments the visitors had laid aside
their bonnets, and their porridge was before
them.

" Is it ta whiskey or ta cow's milk ye'll be
wanting wi' your meal ? " asked Donald of the
lawyer.

"I'll just tak' them baith, Donald," said
Fraser.

Donald was not regarded as any hinderance to



12 THE LAST OF THE 3IACA LUSTERS.

a confidential conversation, and when the por-
ridge had taken the edge off their hunger, and
while they sat waiting for the trout broiling on
the embers at their feet, Fraser said,

" I hae sure information that thae Perth bodies
hae sent aff the writ and constables, anent that
bill the laird gave, and willna talk about paying."

Hector laughed, but not very pleasantly.
"Well," he said, "what can they do? "

" They can take the laird away bodily, and
clap him within four stone walls, that's what
they can do — if they are not hindered."

" How can we hinder them, then ? "

" No ways but by paying the money. Four
hundred pounds sterling ! Hector, lad, it is a
big sum."

"Her nainsel wadna pay a penny o' it. Turn
ta craters free in ta Reay forest, and let them
fint their ways hame to Perth again. It will pe
a lang time ere they win there — yes, inteet ! "

" Hout, Donald ! That's fair nonsense."

" Gie them ta whole Reay forest. That wad
pe vera ceevil."

" Senselessly ceevil. The money is due, and
the money must be paid. Folk canna eat their



CHIEF AND LAWYER. 13

cake and hae it too ; Hector kens that as weel as
I do."

" How can we raise the money ? "

"That is warld-like talk. It is raised, I
brought it wi' me. But MacAllister gat into a
raging temper every time I spoke of paying it.
Donald must get him awa to the Reay forest —
there are reasons enough besides the timber, and
cattle ; and Hector, you must go off somewhere
with that red-hot brother o' yours, or he'll be
sure to put a quarrelsome finger in the pie.
Then if I am left myself to manage thae limbs
of the law, we'll neither kill each ither nor burn
the house about our heads."

Hector's foot was patting the floor in a very
irritable manner, and the frown on his handsome
face was a dark one.

"It is a just debt, Hector, and a just debt
ought to be paid."

" I know that ; it is the making of these
debts. Don't you see they are ruining the
estate? How can they be prevented? "

" I have thought o' that, and we'll speak o'
the matter anon. To-night you had better go to
Strathleven and do what you may do to get the
laird out o' harm's way. It is true that if we



14 THE LAST OF TEE MACALLISTERS.

pay the debt they canna touch him, but the
Laird o' MacAUister isna always laird o' him-
sel', and his dirk is whiles far too near his hand."

There seemed to be no better thing to do, and
after some further reasoning with Donald Du —
who refused to see any claim superior to Mac-
Allister's in the MacAUister's country — Hector
went thoughtfully home. Every year he was
becoming more painfully conscious that they
were living out of time and tune with the great
world outside them. Travel and a liberal
education had convinced him long ago that a
noble estate was being recklessly wasted in an
endeavor to avoid dangers that sooner or later
were inevitable.

To-night he blamed himself severely, perhaps
more so than he deserved, for it was no light
task that presented itself to him as a duty.
Indeed, it was a task from which an affectionate
son might well shrink, since any plan of his for
economizing or improving the MacAUister lands
must necessarily seem selfish to those in the
present enjoyment of them. His father might
suspect that he was looking towards the time
when he himself would be chief of the Mac-
AUisters, and he knew that his brother Angus



CHIEF AND LA WYER. 1 5

*would keenly resent any curtailment of tlie
ancient glories or privileges of the clan.

And Angus was very dear to Hector. In his
great love for the lad he threw a heroic glamour
over all the wild deeds rumor ascribed to him.
It was easy also to make excuses for Angus ; he
had never been beyond his native mountains ;
his world was Caithness and Sutherland. Out-
side their boundaries London to Labrador seemed
equally remote from his interests and sympa-
thies.

Of course his education had been faulty, but
Hector was not to blame for that. He had often
tried to persuade Angus to go southward and
enter some famous school, but from childhood
the lad had loved a sword better than a book.
His mother dying at his birth under very sor-
rowful circumstances, he had been wholly left to
the unreasoning affection of men and women
who had taught him mainly two things — the use
of weapons and the superiority of the MacAllis-
ters.

So, to Angus, the world revolved in the Mac-
AlHster country, and the laird of the clan saw in
this son his own wild, heroic youth, and loved
him for the backward vision. How then was



l6 THE LAST OF THE 3TACALLISTERS.

Hector to make clear to them the necessity for
turning their swords into ploughshares without
laying himself open to suspicions he could not
bear to contemplate ?

Busy with such thoughts as these — thoughts
in which Angus was somehow always first and
last — he lifted his eyes as he felt the soft lawn
of the castle court beneath his feet, and saw
Angus coming to meet him. Angus was a tall,
dark youth in kilt and philibeg, with a face
more serious than Hector's, and a stature that in
the evening dusk looked almost gigantic. Nor
did his appearance belie his real strength ; the
dirk in his belt had been won in fair and open
contest from Grant of Grant, and the feather in
his bonnet plucked by his own hand from the
wing of an eagle in the dark fastnesses of Ben
More.

Yet, unreasonable as Angus frequently was
with all others, to Hector he always listened
with loving patience ; and now, as he joined him
in the court, he said, eagerly, " Hector, I have
waited from my bed to see thee. Two things
have ^one "wrong with me to-day, I have quar-
reled with Ewen, and our father is sair troubled



CHIEF AND LA WYER. 1/

about something. The world is turning wither-
shins, I think."

" Our father has good reasons for trouble,
Angus. Come here ;'' and the two young men
leaned together over the wall which guarded the
court, and from which the hil) went down on
three sides in a sheer precipice of five hundred
feet. " To-morrow there will be men here who
unless he pays them four hundred pounds, will
carry him to Perth and put him in prison."

" You are talking foolishness, Hector ; they
dare do no such thing ! "

" Angus, dear lad, get quickly rid of such
dreams. Outside our own land the world cares
no more for the chief of MacAUister than it does
for the chief of the gypsy camp down at Du-
chally."

" What is to be done ?"

" The money is to be paid."

" Where is it to be got ? "

" It is got. Fraser has it, but our father will
not hear of paying it. Now it must be done, and
it may as well be done quietly. So I trust to
you and Donald ; you must take the laird away
on some pretext to the Reay forest."

" When will these men be here ? "

2



1 5 THE LAST OF THE MA CA L TASTERS.

" I think to-morrow, Fraser heard of them at
Tain, and came on as quickly as possible ; but it
is a bad road for those strange to it."

" Perhaps they will take the northern pass."

" They are sure to do that ; indeed, Fraser had
certain tidings of them at Strathdonan yester-
day. You will give your word with mine,
Angus, and keep our father beyond trouble for
a few days,"

" Surely, Hector. A man can only walk as
his shoes will let him ; and if we cannot fight a
wrong, why I suppose we must bear it."

** Come inside now, Angus, it is getting late."

" No, no, there is more for me to do yet. I
must see Ewen before I go in ; it is ill sleeping
with a drawn dirk between us."

" Oh, Angus, you are the noblest lad ! and
now I am free to say that you owe it to Ewen.
He is your foster-father, and three times your
age, and he loves you almost as well as I do."

" All that may be, and yet Ewen may be
wrong and I right ; but I must needs see h'm,
so good-night. Hector, and trouble not yourself
about the day and the folks you never saw, for
all the men in Scotland can do no more than
they may do."



CHIEF AND LA WYER. 1 9

So Hector went into the castle to talk over
affairs with his father, and Angus took the road
down the mountain. There was no moon, but
daylight lingers long in that latitude, and the
solemn gray stillness was only intensified by the
whispering of the pines and the soft plashing of
the linn down the rocky defile at his right
hand.

Ewen sat at the door of his cottage, and he
must have been deeply hurt by their dispute,
for he never noticed his favorite's approach.
For a moment Angus stood silently over him,
then he touched him gently and said, " Ewen,
Ewen, there is nothing for misdeeds but amends ;
I did you wrong, my father ! I am sorry."

In an instant the old man was pouring out in
a torrent of Gaelic his love, his sorrow, and his
utter devotion to his young chief, and the quar-
rel ended, as many a quarrel between them had
done before, in their weeping upon each other's
necks.

" And now we shall drink the peace-cup,
Ewen, for I have something particular to ttll
you."

They talked earnestly, and yet cheerfully, until
after midnight, and then Angus did not return



20 THE LAST OF THE 3IACALLISTERS.

to Strathleven, but lay down in Ewen's cottage
upon a pallet of fresh brackens. Ewen stood
some time afterwards in the open door, holding
an argument with himself. But at last he
seemed to be perfectly satisfied, for, as he lay
down, he muttered: " It is petter ta keep ta deil
out than to hae to put him out ; aye, is it."

In the meantime Eraser was sleeplessly watch-
ing out the night in Donald Du's cottage. He
missed sorely the comfort of his own feather bed,
and the little bachelor luxuries with which he
had surrounded himself.

" It's a born fool I am to be putting mysel' in
danger 'o the rheumatics for a man bound to go
to ruin ony way ; and here's a mist thick enou'
to wet a hielandman to the skin, no' to speak o'
their hot tempers and their hasty hands. I'll e'en
win my way hame again as cannily as I can, and
let what will be will be."

But as soon as the sun rose and filled the val-
ley with sunshine Eraser felt more like himself.
" Oh, how sweet and fresh is this caller air," he
said joyfully, " and the mavis singing on every
tree, and the lark awa' up in the lift, and the
gowans and bluebells glinting all over the strath.
It wad be baith a sin and a shame no' to try and



CHIEF AND LA WTER 21

keep the land thegither for that braw lad, Hec-
tor, for he is warld-like and sensible, so I'll e'en
awa up to Strathleven Castle, and see which way
the wind sits in MacAUister's temper this morn-
ing."

He found Donald Du already dressed, and
eating his porridge and whiskey in something of
a hurry.

" Ta laird was going to Strathoikel to see and
hear tell o' ta Ross men, and she'll na move
a step at a' without her nainsel," he explained.

Hearing this, Fraser at once began the ascent
to the castle, for he well knew that even giving
himself half the distance as a start, Donald's
mighty steps would behkelyto leave him behind.
He found the hall of the castle in the greatest
confusion. Gillies were running hither and
thither, buckling garters and belts, packing
baskets with oatcakes and Farintosh, or attempt-
ing to execute a score of orders which the chief
thought of at the last moment.

There was a strange and perplexing hubbub,
made up of Gaelic and English cries, of shrill
calls and whistles, of laughter and angry disput-
ing, and Fraser, seeing how impossible any



22 THE LAST OF THE MACALLISTERS.

reasonable conversation was, determined to ig-
nore the quarrel of the preceding night.

Of course he expected the laird to be equally-
conciliating, but that was a step quite beyond
the MacAllister's nature.

" Come in, Fraser," he said with a lofty
condescension, " come in ; you are welcome,
though you did set yoursel' up in a blaze yes-
treen."

" What's in the wind this morning, Laird ? "

" As if ye didna ken weel enough, Andrew
Fraser ! There's some o' your ain craft coming
o'er the hills to tak' me — me mind ye ! — awa' to
prison. Heard ye ever the like ? And a' for
a miserable screed of a goose-feather! "

" Weel, Laird, I'll do a' that may be to settle
the matter."

" But ye'U pay no siller, Andrew Fraser, not a
bawbee. Why should I ? I never saw the
color o' their Perth money, not I."

" But, Laird, it was paid on your ain hand-
write to Dalraid & Dounachy for the linsey and
tartans I sent you last November."

" I tell ye I never saw a bawbee o' it, I ken
not if there be such bodies as Dalraid & Doun-



CHIEF A XD LAWYER. 23

achy. Now what for should I pay back siller I
never saw ? "

" But the tartans, Laird ? "

"Umff! Thae Perth craters ought to be
thankfu' that a few yards o' tartan is all their
loss. My father, the gude laird Alexander,
would hae gane wi' five hundred men, and just
taen a' the tartan he needed, maybe other little
matters besides."

" Then if I am not to pay the siller, Laird,
what am I to do ? "

"One lawyer ought to ken how to fleece
another. It would ill become me, Laird Hector
MacA-llister, to hae any hobble-shaw anent such
matters as wabster's and tailor's bills. Lawyer
against lawyer, it will be a proper wrastle, that
it will, and dinna you be the one to gie in first"

" And where are you going. Laird ? "

" It isna quite determined on yet; but I'll be
somewhere in the Edderkyles deer forest. They
will be brave men that follow me there without
a guide, and they will be rich men that can hire
a guide in the MacAllister's land. Ane o' them
bonnie-looking bogs, not twenty feet wide,
wouldna mak a moutfu' o' the Court o' Session
and the London Parliament, wi' all the lawyers



24 Tim LAST OF THE MACALLISTERS.

on King Geordie's rolls thrown into the bargain.
Gude-morning to you, Fraser, there's Hector to
stand beside ye, and whatever Hector puts his
hand to, I'll say yes to it. There's my thumb
on that promise."

So at the last Fraser had got what he desired,
for he understood that this was simply the laird's
way of accepting the thing he knew to be inevit-
able.

"And he must just hae his little bluster if it
soothes his pride a bit," said Fraser, apologeti-
cally, as he watched the laird and his following
disappear among the dark woods of Loch Mora.
" Paying debts is a hard lesson to learn, if
ye dinna start it till ye are mair than saxty years
auld "



CHAPTER II.

THE chief's triumph.

" Often do the spirits
Of great events stride on before the events,
And in to-day already walks to-morrow."

" Helen's beauty in a brow of Egpyt."

" Come in now, Fraser, and have your break-
fast ; my father has gone away as happy as a
child on a holiday."

Fraser turned in gladly enough ; a breakfast
with Hector meant an orderly, if not a luxurious
meal, and when they entered the little parlor
where it was laid he could not help a sigh of
content and pleasant anticipation. " Ham and
corned beef and pies, and kippered salmon and
tongue and eggs, and fresh butter and thick
cream and marmalade ! Certes, Hector, a good
breakfast, and a good appetite, the cause is ex-
cellent, lad, and the word is * fall to.' "

The order was heartily obeyed, so heartily
that it was not until Fraser pushed aside the dish
of lordly salmon that he found time to say : "I

25



26 THE LAST OF THE 3IACALLISTEE3.'

have not seen Angus this morning ; I hope he
has taken the same road as the laird."

" I think he has. He slept at Ewen's last
night, and Ewen and he were here at dawning.
I heard them say they would meet the laird at
the hunting-lodge in the Edderkyle."

" That is well. I was mair feared for Angus
than for his father ; the lad has a double portion
o' the MacAllister's temper."

" I wonder what is best to do for him ? ''

" There is nae remedy for temper but in cut-
ting aff the head — unless, maybe, marriage. I
hae heard that a wife wad tame the sea, and ye
could find one for it." And the old bachelor
laughed queerly as he added : " For mysel' 1
wald rather thole the disease than the cure for
it. But if a wife wad sort Angus's temper, then
I ken the very lassie he should wed."

"Helen MacDonald?"

" Na, na, it is just bonnie Grace Cameron.
Why Hector, she is a kind o' Providence for the
MacAllister. Look here, my lad " — and Eraser
bent eagerly forward — "Assynt and Balkerry


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Online LibraryAmelia Edith Huddleston BarrThe last of the Macallisters → online text (page 1 of 14)