Seats Of The Mighty by Gilbert Parker
VI. Moray Tells the Story of His Life
"...I would have you know of what I am and whence I came, though I have given you glimpses in the past. That done, I will make plain why I am charged with this that puts my life in danger, which would make you blush that you ever knew me if it were true. And I will show you first a picture as it runs before me, sitting here, the corn of my dungeon garden twining in my fingers:--
"A multiplying width of green grass spotted with white flowers, an upland where sheep browsed on a carpet of purple and gold and green, a tall rock on a hill where birds perched and fluttered, a blue sky arching over all. There, sprawling in a garden, a child pulled at long blades of grass, as he watched the birds flitting about the rocks, and heard a low voice coming down the wind. Here in my dungeon I can hear the voice as I have not heard it since that day in the year 1730--that voice stilled so long ago. The air and the words come floating down (for the words I knew years afterwards):
'Did ye see the white cloud in the glint o' the sun? That's the brow and the eye o' my bairnie. Did ye ken the red bloom at the bend o' the crag? That's the rose in the cheek o' my bairnie. Did ye hear the gay lilt o' the lark by the burn? That's the voice of my bairnie, my dearie. Did ye smell the wild scent in the green o' the wood? That's the breath o' my ain, o' my bairnie. Sae I'll gang awa' hame, to the shine o' the fire, To the cot where I lie wi' my bairnie.'
"These words came crooning over the grass of that little garden at Balmore which was by my mother's home. There I was born one day in June, though I was reared in the busy streets of Glasgow, where my father was a prosperous merchant and famous for his parts and honesty.
"I see myself, a little child of no great strength, for I was, indeed, the only one of my family who lived past infancy, and my mother feared she should never bring me up. She, too, is in that picture, tall, delicate, kind yet firm of face, but with a strong brow, under which shone grave gray eyes, and a manner so distinguished that none might dispute her kinship to the renowned Montrose, who was lifted so high in dying, though his gallows was but thirty feet, that all the world has seen him there. There was one other in that picture, standing near my mother, and looking at me, who often used to speak of our great ancestor--my grandfather, John Mitchell, the Gentleman of Balmore, as he was called, out of regard for his ancestry and his rare merits.
"I have him well in mind: his black silk breeches and white stockings and gold seals, and two eyes that twinkled with great humour when, as he stooped over me, I ran my head between his calves and held him tight. I recall how my mother said, 'I doubt that I shall ever bring him up,' and how he replied (the words seem to come through great distances to me), 'He'll live to be Montrose the second, rascal laddie! Four seasons at the breast? Tut, tut! what o' that? 'Tis but his foolery, his scampishness! Nae, nae! his epitaph's no for writing till you and I are tucked i' the sod, my Jeanie. Then, like Montrose's, it will be--
'Tull Edinburrow they led him thair, And on a gallows hong; They hong him high abone the rest, He was so trim a boy.'
"I can hear his laugh this minute, as he gave an accent to the words by stirring me with his stick, and I caught the gold head of it and carried it off, trailing it through the garden, till I heard my mother calling, and then forced her to give me chase, as I pushed open a little gate and posted away into that wide world of green, coming quickly to the river, where I paused and stood at bay. I can see my mother's anxious face now, as she caught me to her arms; and yet I know she had a kind of pride, too, when my grandfather said, on our return, 'The rascal's at it early. Next time he'll ford the stream and skirl at ye, Jeanie, from yonder bank.'
"This is the first of my life that I remember. It may seem strange to you that I thus suddenly recall not only it, but the words then spoken too. It is strange to me, also. But here it comes to me all on a sudden in this silence, as if another self of me were speaking from far places. At first all is in patches and confused, and then it folds out--if not clearly, still so I can understand--and the words I repeat come as if filtered through many brains to mine. I do not say that it is true--it may be dreams; and yet, as I say, it is firmly in my mind.
"The next that I remember was climbing upon a chair to reach for my grandfather's musket, which hung across the chimney. I got at last upon the mantelshelf, and my hands were on the weapon, when the door opened, and my grandfather and my father entered. I was so busy I did not hear them till I was caught by the legs and swung to a shoulder, where I sat kicking. 'You see his tastes, William,' said my grandfather to my father; 'he's white o' face and slim o' body, but he'll no carry on your hopes.' And more he said to the point, though what it was I knew not. But I think it to have been suggestion (I heard him say it later) that I would bring Glasgow up to London by the sword (good doting soul!) as my father brought it by manufactures, gaining honour thereby.
"However that may be, I would not rest till my grandfather had put the musket into my arms. I could scarcely lift it, but from the first it had a charm for me, and now and then, in spite of my mother's protests, I was let to handle it, to learn its parts, to burnish it, and by-and-bye--I could not have been more than six years old--to rest it on a rock and fire it off. It kicked my shoulder roughly in firing, but I know I did not wink as I pulled the trigger. Then I got a wild hunger to fire it at all times; so much so, indeed, that powder and shot were locked up, and the musket was put away in my grandfather's chest. But now and again it was taken out, and I made war upon the unresisting hillside, to the dismay of our neighbours in Balmore. Feeding the fever in my veins, my grandfather taught me soldiers' exercises and the handling of arms: to my dear mother's sorrow, for she ever fancied me as leading a merchant's quiet life like my father's, hugging the hearthstone, and finding joy in small civic duties, while she and my dear father sat peacefully watching me in their decline of years.
"I have told you of that river which flowed near my father's house. At this time most of my hours were spent by it in good weather, for at last my mother came to trust me alone there, having found her alert fears of little use. But she would very often come with me and watch me as I played there. I loved to fancy myself a miller, and my little mill-wheel, made by my own hands, did duty here and there on the stream, and many drives of logs did I, in fancy, saw into piles of lumber, and loads of flour sent away to the City of Desire. Then, again, I made bridges, and drove mimic armies across them; and if they were enemies, craftily let them partly cross, to tumble them in at the moment when part of the forces were on one side of the stream and part on the other, and at the mercy of my men.
"My grandfather taught me how to build forts and breastworks, and I lay in ambush for the beadle, who was my good friend, for my grandfather, and for half a dozen other village folk, who took no offense at my sport, but made believe to be bitterly afraid when I surrounded them and drove them, shackled, to my fort by the river. Little by little the fort grew, until it was a goodly pile; for now and then a village youth helped me, or again an old man, whose heart, maybe, rejoiced to play at being child again with me. Years after, whenever I went back to Balmore, there stood the fort, for no one ever meddled with it, nor tore it down.
"And I will tell you one reason why this was, and you will think it strange that it should have played such a part in the history of the village, as in my own life. You must know that people living in secluded places are mostly superstitious. Well, when my fort was built to such proportions that a small ladder must be used to fix new mud and mortar in place upon it, something happened.
"Once a year there came to Balmore--and he had done so for a generation--one of those beings called The Men, who are given to prayer, fasting, and prophesying, who preach the word of warning ever, calling even the ministers of the Lord sharply to account. One day this Man came past my fort, folk with him, looking for preaching or prophesy from him. Suddenly turning he came inside my fort, and, standing upon the ladder against the wall, spoke to them fervently. His last words became a legend in Balmore, and spread even to Glasgow and beyond.
"'Hear me!' cried he. 'As I stand looking at ye from this wall, calling on ye in your natural bodies to take refuge in the Fort of God, the Angel of Death is looking ower the battlements of heaven, choosing ye out, the sheep frae the goats; calling the one to burning flames, and the other into peaceable habitations. I hear the voice now,' cried he, 'and some soul among us goeth forth. Flee ye to the Fort of Refuge.' I can see him now, his pale face shining, his eyes burning, his beard blowing in the wind, his grizzled hair shaking on his forehead. I had stood within the fort watching him. At last he turned, and, seeing me intent, stooped, caught me by the arms, and lifted me upon the wall. 'See you,' said he, 'yesterday's babe a warrior to-day. Have done, have done, ye quarrelsome hearts. Ye that build forts here shall lie in darksome prisons; there is no fort but the Fort of God. The call comes frae the white ramparts. Hush!' he added solemnly, raising a finger. 'One of us goeth hence this day; are ye ready to walk i' the fearsome valley?'
"I have heard my mother speak these words over often, and they were, as I said, like an old song in Balmore and Glasgow. He set me down, and then walked away, waving the frightened people back; and there was none of them that slept that night.
"Now comes the stranger thing. In the morning The Man was found dead in my little fort, at the foot of the wall. Henceforth the spot was sacred, and I am sure it stands there as when last I saw it twelve years ago, but worn away by rains and winds.
"Again and again my mother said over to me his words, 'Ye that build forts here shall lie in darksome prisons'; for always she had fear of the soldier's life, and she was moved by signs and dreams.
"But this is how the thing came to shape my life:
"About a year after The Man died, there came to my grandfather's house, my mother and I being present, a gentleman, by name Sir John Godric, and he would have my mother tell the whole story of The Man. That being done, he said that The Man was his brother, who had been bad and wild in youth, a soldier; but repenting had gone as far the other way, giving up place and property, and cutting off from all his kin.
"This gentleman took much notice of me and said that he should be glad to see more of me. And so he did, for in the years that followed he would visit at our home in Glasgow when I was at school, or at Balmore until my grandfather died.
"My father liked Sir John greatly, and they grew exceedingly friendly, walking forth in the streets of Glasgow, Sir John's hand upon my father's arm. One day they came to the school in High Street, where I learned Latin and other accomplishments, together with fencing from an excellent master, Sergeant Dowie of the One Hundredth Foot. They found me with my regiment at drill; for I had got full thirty of my school-fellows under arms, and spent all leisure hours in mustering, marching, and drum-beating, and practising all manner of discipline and evolution which I had been taught by my grandfather and Sergeant Dowie.
"Those were the days soon after which came Dettingen and Fontenoy and Charles Edward the Pretender, and the ardour of arms ran high. Sir John was a follower of the Stuarts, and this was the one point at which he and my father paused in their good friendship. When Sir John saw me with my thirty lads marching in fine order, all fired with the little sport of battle--for to me it was all real, and our sham fights often saw broken heads and bruised shoulders--he stamped his cane upon the ground, and said in a big voice, 'Well done! well done! For that you shall have a hundred pounds next birthday, and as fine a suit of scarlet as you please, and a sword from London too.'
"Then he came to me and caught me by both shoulders. 'But alack, alack! there needs some blood and flesh here, Robert Moray,' said he. 'You have more heart than muscle.'
"This was true. I had ever been more eager than my strength--thank God, that day is gone!--and sometimes, after Latin and the drill of my Lightfoots, as I called them, I could have cried for weakness and weariness, had I been a girl and not a proud lad. And Sir John kept his word, liking me better from that day forth, and coming now and again to see me at the school,--though he was much abroad in France--giving many a pound to my Lightfoots, who were no worse soldiers for that. His eye ran us over sharply, and his head nodded, as we marched past him; and once I heard him say, 'If they had had but ten years each on their heads, my Prince!'
"About this time my father died--that is, when I was fourteen years old. Sir John became one of the executors with my mother, and at my wish, a year afterwards, I was sent to the university, where at least fifteen of my Lightfoots went also; and there I formed a new battalion of them, though we were watched at first, and even held in suspicion, because of the known friendship of Sir John for me; and he himself had twice been under arrest for his friendship to the Stuart cause. That he helped Prince Charles was clear: his estates were mortgaged to the hilt.
"He died suddenly on that day of January when Culloden was fought, before he knew of the defeat of the Prince. I was with him at the last. After some most serious business, which I shall come to by-and-bye, 'Robert,' said he, 'I wish thou hadst been with my Prince. When thou becomest a soldier, fight where thou hast heart to fight; but if thou hast conscience for it, let it be with a Stuart. I thought to leave thee a good moiety of my fortune, Robert, but little that's free is left for giving. Yet thou hast something from thy father, and down in Virginia, where my friend Dinwiddie is Governor, there's a plantation for thee, and a purse of gold, which was for me in case I should have cause to flee this troubled realm. But I need it not; I go for refuge to my Father's house. The little vineyard and the purse of gold are for thee, Robert. If thou thinkest well of it, leave this sick land for that new one. Build thyself a name in that great young country, wear thy sword honourably and bravely, use thy gifts in council and debate--for Dinwiddie will be thy friend--and think of me as one who would have been a father to thee if he could. Give thy good mother my loving farewells.... Forget not to wear my sword--it has come from the first King Charles himself, Robert.'
"After which he raised himself upon his elbow and said, 'Life--life, is it so hard to untie the knot?' Then a twinge of agony crossed over his face, and afterwards came a great clearing and peace, and he was gone.
"King George's soldiers entered with a warrant for him even as he died, and the same moment dropped their hands upon my shoulder. I was kept in durance for many days, and was not even at the funeral of my benefactor; but through the efforts of the provost of the university and some good friends who could vouch for my loyal principles, I was released. But my pride had got a setback, and I listened with patience to my mother's prayers that I would not join the King's men. With the anger of a youth, I now blamed his Majesty for the acts of Sir John Godric's enemies. And though I was a good soldier of the King at heart, I would not serve him henceforth. We threshed matters back and forth, and presently it was thought I should sail to Virginia to take over my estate. My mother urged it, too, for she thought if I were weaned from my old comrades, military fame would no longer charm. So she urged me, and go I did, with a commission from some merchants of Glasgow, to give my visit to the colony more weight.
"It was great pain to leave my mother, but she bore the parting bravely, and away I set in a good ship. Arrived in Virginia, I was treated with great courtesy in Williamsburg, and the Governor gave me welcome to his home for the sake of his old friend; and yet a little for my own, I think, for we were of one temper, though he was old and I young. We were both full of impulse and proud, and given to daring hard things, and my military spirit suited him.
"In Virginia I spent a gay and busy year, and came off very well with the rough but gentlemanly cavaliers, who rode through the wide, sandy streets of the capital on excellent horses, or in English coaches, with a rusty sort of show and splendour, but always with great gallantry. The freedom of the life charmed me, and with rumours of war with the French there seemed enough to do, whether with the sword or in the House of Burgesses, where Governor Dinwiddie said his say with more force than complaisance. So taken was I with the life--my first excursion into the wide working world--that I delayed my going back to Glasgow, the more so that some matters touching my property called for action by the House of Burgesses, and I had to drive the affair to the end. Sir John had done better by me than he thought, and I thanked him over and over again for his good gifts.
"Presently I got a letter from my father's old partner to say that my dear mother was ill. I got back to Glasgow only in time--but how glad I was of that!--to hear her last words. When my mother was gone I turned towards Virginia with longing, for I could not so soon go against her wishes and join the King's army on the Continent, and less desire had I to be a Glasgow merchant. Gentlemen merchants had better times in Virginia. So there was a winding-up of the estate, not greatly to my pleasure; for it was found that by unwise ventures my father's partner had perilled the whole, and lost part of the property. But as it was, I had a competence and several houses in Glasgow, and I set forth to Virginia with a goodly sum of money and a shipload of merchandise, which I should sell to merchants, if it chanced I should become a planter only. I was warmly welcomed by old friends and by the Governor and his family, and I soon set up an establishment of my own in Williamsburg, joining with a merchant there in business, while my land was worked by a neighbouring planter.
"Those were hearty days, wherein I made little money, but had much pleasure in the giving and taking of civilities, in throwing my doors open to acquaintances, and with my young friend, Mr. Washington, laying the foundation for a Virginian army, by drill and yearly duty in camp, with occasional excursions against the Indians. I saw very well what the end of our troubles with the French would be, and I waited for the time when I should put to keen use the sword Sir John Godric had given me. Life beat high then, for I was in the first flush of manhood, and the spirit of a rich new land was waking in us all, while in our vanity we held to and cherished forms and customs that one would have thought to see left behind in London streets and drawing-rooms. These things, these functions in a small place, kept us a little vain and proud, but, I also hope it gave us some sense of civic duty.
"And now I come to that which will, comrade of my heart, bring home to your understanding what lies behind the charges against me:
"Trouble came between Canada and Virginia. Major Washington, one Captain Mackaye, and myself marched out to the Great Meadows, where at Fort Necessity we surrendered, after hard fighting, to a force three times our number. I, with one Captain Van Braam, became a hostage. Monsieur Coulon Villiers, the French commander, gave his bond that we should be delivered up when an officer and two cadets, who were prisoners with us, should be sent on. It was a choice between Mr. Mackaye of the Regulars and Mr. Washington, or Mr. Van Braam and myself. I thought of what would be best for the country; and besides, Monsieur Coulon Villiers pitched upon my name at once, and held to it. So I gave up my sword to Charles Bedford, my lieutenant, with more regret than I can tell, for it was sheathed in memories, charging him to keep it safe--that he would use it worthily I knew. And so, sorrowfully bidding my friends good-by, away we went upon the sorry trail of captivity, arriving in due time at Fort Du Quesne, at the junction of the Ohio and the Monongahela, where I was courteously treated. There I bettered my French and made the acquaintance of some ladies from Quebec city, who took pains to help me with their language.
"Now, there was one lady to whom I talked with some freedom of my early life and of Sir John Godric. She was interested in all, but when I named Sir John she became at once much impressed, and I told her of his great attachment to Prince Charles. More than once she returned to the subject, begging me to tell her more; and so I did, still, however, saying nothing of certain papers Sir John had placed in my care. A few weeks after the first occasion of my speaking, there was a new arrival at the fort. It was--can you guess?--Monsieur Doltaire. The night after he came he visited me in my quarters, and after courteous passages, of which I need not speak, he suddenly said, 'You have the papers of Sir John Godric--those bearing on Prince Charles's invasion of England?'
"I was stunned by the question, for I could not guess his drift or purpose, though presently it dawned upon me.--Among the papers were many letters from a great lady in France, a growing rival with La Pompadour in the counsels and favour of the King. She it was who had a secret passion for Prince Charles, and these letters to Sir John, who had been with the Pretender at Versailles, must prove her ruin if produced. I had promised Sir John most solemnly that no one should ever have them while I lived, except the great lady herself, and that I would give them to her some time, or destroy them. It was Doltaire's mission to get these letters, and he had projected a visit to Williamsburg to see me, having just arrived in Canada, after a search for me in Scotland, when word came from the lady gossip at Fort Du Quesne (with whom he had been on most familiar terms in Quebec) that I was there.
"When I said I had the papers, he asked me lightly for 'those compromising letters,' remarking that a good price would be paid, and adding my liberty as a pleasant gift. I instantly refused, and told him I would not be the weapon of La Pompadour against her rival. With cool persistence he begged me to think again, for much depended on my answer.
"'See, monsieur le capitaine,' said he, 'this little affair at Fort Necessity, at which you became a hostage, shall or shall not be a war between England and France as you shall dispose.' When I asked him how that was, he said, 'First, will you swear that you will not, to aid yourself, disclose what I tell you? You can see that matters will be where they were an hour ago in any case.'
"I agreed, for I could act even if I might not speak. So I gave my word. Then he told me that if those letters were not put into his hands, La Pompadour would be enraged, and fretful and hesitating now, would join Austria against England, since in this provincial war was convenient cue for battle. If I gave the letters up, she would not stir, and the disputed territory between us should be by articles conceded by the French.
"I thought much and long, during which he sat smoking and humming, and seeming to care little how my answer went. At last I turned on him, and told him I would not give up the letters, and if a war must hang on a whim of malice, then, by God's help, the rightness of our cause would be our strong weapon to bring France to her knees.
"'That is your final answer?' asked he, rising, fingering his lace, and viewing himself in a looking-glass upon the wall.
"'I will not change it now or ever,' answered I.
"'Ever is a long time,' retorted he, as one might speak to a wilful child. 'You shall have time to think and space for reverie. For if you do not grant this trifle you shall no more see your dear Virginia; and when the time is ripe you shall go forth to a better land, as the Grande Marquise shall give you carriage.'
"'The Articles of Capitulation!' I broke out protestingly.
"He waved his fingers at me. 'Ah, that,' he rejoined--'that is a matter for conning. You are a hostage. Well, we need not take any wastrel or nobody the English offer in exchange for you. Indeed, why should we be content with less than a royal duke? For you are worth more to us just now than any prince we have; at least so says the Grande Marquise. Is your mind quite firm to refuse?' he added, nodding his head in a bored sort of way.
"'Entirely,' said I. 'I will not part with those letters.'
"'But think once again,' he urged; 'the gain of territory to Virginia, the peace between our countries!'
"'Folly!' returned I. 'I know well you overstate the case. You turn a small intrigue into a game of nations. Yours is a schoolboy's tale, Monsieur Doltaire.'
"'You are something of an ass,' he mused, and took a pinch of snuff.
"'And you--you have no name,' retorted I.
"I did not know, when I spoke, how this might strike home in two ways or I should not have said it. I had not meant, of course, that he was King Louis's illegitimate son.
"'There is some truth in that,' he replied patiently, though a red spot flamed high on his cheeks. 'But some men need no christening for their distinction, and others win their names with proper weapons. I am not here to quarrel with you. I am acting in a large affair, not in a small intrigue; a century of fate may hang on this. Come with me,' he added. 'You doubt my power, maybe.'
"He opened the door of the cell, and I followed him out, past the storehouse and the officers' apartments, to the drawbridge. Standing in the shadow by the gate, he took keys from his pocket. 'Here,' said he, 'are what will set you free. This fort is all mine: I act for France. Will you care to free yourself? You shall have escort to your own people. You see I am most serious,' he added, laughing lightly. 'It is not my way to sweat or worry. You and I hold war and peace in our hands. Which shall it be? In this trouble France or England will be mangled. It tires one to think of it when life can be so easy. Now, for the last time,' he urged, holding out the keys. 'Your word of honour that the letters shall be mine--eh?'
"'Never,' I concluded. 'England and France are in greater hands than yours or mine. The God of battles still stands beside the balances.'
"He shrugged a shoulder. 'Oh well,' said he, 'that ends it. It will be interesting to watch the way of the God of battles. Meanwhile you travel to Quebec. Remember that however free you may appear you will have watchers, that when you seem safe you will be in most danger, that in the end we will have those letters or your life; that meanwhile the war will go on, that you shall have no share in it, and that the whole power of England will not be enough to set her hostage free. That is all there is to say, I think.... Will you have a glass of wine with me?' he added courteously, waving a hand towards the commander's quarters.
"I assented, for why, thought I, should there be a personal quarrel between us? We talked on many things for an hour or more, and his I found the keenest mind that ever I have met. There was in him a dispassionateness, a breadth, which seemed most strange in a trifler of the Court, in an exquisite--for such he was. I sometimes think that his elegance and flippancy were deliberate, lest he should be taking himself or life too seriously. His intelligence charmed me, held me, and, later, as we travelled up to Quebec, I found my journey one long feast of interest. He was never dull, and his cynicism had an admirable grace and cordiality. A born intriguer, he still was above intrigue, justifying it on the basis that life was all sport. In logic a leveller, praising the moles, as he called them, the champion of the peasant, the apologist for the bourgeois--who always, he said, had civic virtues--he nevertheless held that what was was best, that it could not be altered, and that it was all interesting. 'I never repent,' he said to me one day. 'I have done after my nature, in the sway and impulse of our time, and as the King has said, After us the deluge. What a pity it is we shall see neither the flood nor the ark! And so, when all is done, we shall miss the most interesting thing of all: ourselves dead and the gap and ruin we leave behind us. By that, from my standpoint,' he would add, 'life is a failure as a spectacle.'
"Talking in this fashion and in a hundred other ways, we came to Quebec. And you know in general what happened. I met your honoured father, whose life I had saved on the Ohio some years before, and he worked for my comfort in my bondage. You know how exchange after exchange was refused, and that for near three years I have been here, fretting my soul out, eager to be fighting in our cause, yet tied hand and foot, wasting time and losing heart, idle in an enemy's country. As Doltaire said, war was declared, but not till he had made here in Quebec last efforts to get those letters. I do not complain so bitterly of these lost years, since they have brought me the best gift of my life, your love and friendship; but my enemies here, commanded from France, have bided their time, till an accident has given them a cue to dispose of me without openly breaking the accepted law of nations. They could not decently hang a hostage, for whom they had signed articles; but they have got their chance, as they think, to try me for a spy.
"Here is the case. When I found that they were determined and had ever determined to violate their articles, that they never intended to set me free, I felt absolved from my duty as an officer on parole, and I therefore secretly sent to Mr. Washington in Virginia a plan of Fort Du Quesne and one of Quebec. I knew that I was risking my life by so doing, but that did not deter me. By my promise to Doltaire, I could not tell of the matter between us, and whatever he has done in other ways, he has preserved my life; for it would have been easy to have me dropped off by a stray bullet, or to have accidentally drowned me in the St. Lawrence. I believe this matter of the letters to be between myself and him and Bigot--and perhaps not even Bigot, though he must know that La Pompadour has some peculiar reason for interesting herself in a poor captain of provincials. You now can see another motive for the duel which was brought about between your brother and myself.
"My plans and letters were given by Mr. Washington to General Braddock, and the sequel you know: they have fallen into the hands of my enemies, copies have gone to France, and I am to be tried for my life. Preserving faith with my enemy Doltaire, I can not plead the real cause of my long detention; I can only urge that they had not kept to their articles, and that I, therefore, was free from the obligations of parole. I am sure they have no intention of giving me the benefit of any doubt. My real hope lies in escape and the intervention of England, though my country, alas! has not concerned herself about me, as if indeed she resented the non-delivery of those letters to Doltaire, since they were addressed to one she looked on as a traitor, and held by one whom she had unjustly put under suspicion.
"So, dear Alixe, from that little fort on the banks of the river Kelvin have come these strange twistings of my life, and I can date this dismal fortune of a dungeon from that day The Man made his prophecy from the wall of my mud fort.
"Whatever comes now, if you have this record, you will know the private history of my life.... I have told all, with unpractised tongue, but with a wish to be understood, and to set forth a story of which the letter should be as true as the spirit. Friend beyond all price to me, some day this tale will reach your hands, and I ask you to house it in your heart, and, whatever comes, let it be for my remembrance. God be with you, and farewell!"