Friends, Though Divided by G. A. Henty
Chapter XX. With the Scotch Army.
While trying and executing Montrose for loyalty to the king, the Scots were themselves negotiating with Charles, commissioners having come over to Breda, where he was living, for the purpose. They insisted upon his swearing to be faithful to the Covenant, to his submitting himself to the advice of the Parliament and Church, and to his promising never to permit the exercise of the Catholic religion in any part of his dominions. Charles agreed to everything demanded of him, having all the time no intention whatever of keeping his promises. While he was swearing to observe everything the Scots asked of him, he was writing to Ormonde to tell him that he was to mind nothing he heard as to his agreement with the Scots, for that he would do all the Irish required. Charles, indeed, although but a young man of twenty, was as full of duplicity and faithlessness as his father, without possessing any of the virtues of that unfortunate king, and the older and wiser men among his followers were alienated by his dissolute conduct, and by the manner in which he gave himself up to the reckless counsels of men like Buckingham and Wilmot.
Harry heard with deep regret the many stories current of the evil life and ways of the young king. Had it not been for the deadly hatred which he felt to Cromwell and the Puritans for the murder of Sir Arthur Ashton, and the rest of the garrison and people of Drogheda, in cold blood, he would have retired altogether from the strife, and would have entered one of the continental armies, in which many Royalist refugees had already taken service. He determined, however, that he would join in this one expedition, and that if it failed he would take no further part in civil wars in England, but wait for the time, however distant, when, as he doubted not, the people of England would tire of the hard rule of the men of the army and conventicle, and would, with open arms, welcome the return of their sovereign.
Early in June the king sailed for Scotland, accompanied by the regiment which Harry had raised, and a few hundred other troops. He landed there on the 16th. The English Parliament at once appointed Cromwell captain-general and commander-in-chief of all the forces raised and to be raised within the commonwealth of England. A few days later he left London, and on the 23d of June entered Scotland with sixteen thousand men. King Charles, to whom Harry had been presented by Prince Rupert as one of his father's most gallant and faithful soldiers, received him at first with great cordiality. As soon as he found, however, that this young colonel was in no way inclined to join in his dissipations, that his face was stern and set when light talk or sneers against religion were uttered by the king's companions, Charles grew cold to him, and Harry was glad to be relieved from all personal attendance upon him, and to devote himself solely to his military duties. Upon landing in Scotland, Harry, with his regiment, was encamped in the valley between Edinburgh Castle and the high hill called Arthur's Seat. A few days after his arrival he, with Jacob, who was now raised to the rank of major, and William Long, who was one of his lieutenants, entered the palace of Holyrood, where the king's court was held. Here were gathered a motley assembly. A few English Cavaliers, many loyal Scotch nobles and gentlemen, and a large number of somber men of the Covenant. Next to Charles stood a tall man, whom Harry instantly recognized. Argyll, for it was he, stared fixedly at the young colonel, who returned his look with one as cold and haughty.
"This is Colonel Furness, my lord earl," the young king said. "One of my father's bravest and most devoted followers."
"I seem to have met the gentleman before," the earl said.
"You have," Harry replied coldly. "At that time the Earl of Argyll threatened to torture me into betraying the secrets of his majesty, and would, I doubt not, have carried his threat into effect had I not escaped from his hands. The times have changed, and the Earl of Argyll now stands beside his king, but I, sir, have not forgotten the past so easily." So saying, with a deep bow to the king, Harry passed on.
"Harry," whispered Donald Leslie, a young Scotch officer who had joined the ranks of his regiment as captain at Hamburg, "hitherto I have thought you the wisest and most discreet of men. I cannot say as much now. It would have been safer to walk into a den of lions than to insult the old red fox. He was never known to forgive, and those who offend him have a short life. Beware, colonel, for henceforth you carry your life in your hand."
"My sword is as sharp as his," Harry laughed, as they issued into the open air.
"I doubt it not," Leslie said, "but it is with daggers rather than swords that Argyll fights, and with secret plottings more than either. Edinburgh swarms with Campbells, any one of whom would think no more of running you through at his lord's command than he would of killing a rat. Mark my words, before a week is out you will be engaged in some broil or other."
Jacob and William Long heard with great disquietude the remarks of the young Scotch officer, which they knew sufficient of Argyll to be aware were perfectly true. They resolved that they would maintain a careful watch over their friend, and that night they charged Mike, who was now a tall, active young fellow of seventeen, to keep the strictest watch as he followed his master in the streets, and to have pistol and sword always in readiness.
Two days later Harry had the first evidence of the truth of Leslie's prediction. He was walking up the High Street, accompanied by Jacob, while Leslie and two or three of his officers followed a short distance behind, when three or four Scotch nobles were seen approaching. One of these, Colonel Campbell, of Arrain, a tall and powerful figure, in passing jostled roughly against Harry.
"S'death, sir!" he exclaimed. "Do you think that you are in England, that you can take up the whole of the road?"
"I'm as much entitled to the road as yourself," Harry said hotly; "you purposely jostled me."
"Well, sir, and what if I did?" Colonel Campbell replied. "If you don't like it you have your remedy," and he touched his sword significantly.
"I will meet you, sir," Harry said, "in an hour's time at the foot of the Castlehill."
The colonel nodded, and accompanied by his kinsmen strode on.
"Jacob, you and Leslie will act with me?" Harry asked.
"Willingly enough," Leslie replied. "But it is a bad business. Campbell has the name of being one of the best swordsmen in the Scottish army. Of course he has been set on to attack you."
"I have been fighting," Harry said, "for the last ten years, and was not a bad swordsman when I began. Unless I mistake, I am as powerful a man as Colonel Campbell, and I fear not him or any man."
At the time appointed Harry, accompanied by his seconds, was upon the ground, where five minutes later they were joined by Colonel Campbell, with two of his kinsmen. While the principals divested themselves of their cloaks and doublets, the seconds compared their swords. They were of entirely different fashion, Harry's being long and straight with sharp edges, while Colonel Campbell's was a basket-hilted sword, also straight and double edged, and even larger and much heavier than Harry's; each had brought one of similar make and size to his own. Some conversation took place as to the weapons which should be used.
"I cannot fight with a plaything like that," Colonel Campbell said roughly.
"And I object equally," Harry puts in calmly, "to wield a heavier weapon than that to which I am accustomed. But I am quite content to fight with my own against that of Colonel Campbell."
The seconds at first on both sides objected to this, arguing that the weight and length of Campbell's weapon would give him an unfair advantage. Harry, however, was firm.
"A man fights better," he said, "with the sword to which he is used. Mine is of tried temper, and I have no fear of its breaking." Harry had good reason for faith in his weapon. It was a long, straight blade of Toledo steel, which he had purchased for a considerable sum from a Spanish Jew in Hamburg. Colonel Campbell put an end to the argument by roughly saying that he wanted no more talk, and that if Colonel Furness meant fighting he had better take up his ground. This had already been marked out, and Harry immediately stood on the defensive.
In a moment the swords met. Colonel Campbell at once attacked furiously, trying to beat down Harry's guard by sheer strength and the weight of his weapon. The Englishman, however, was to the full as powerful a man, and his muscles from long usage were like cords of steel. His blade met the sweeping blows of the Scotchman firmly and steadily, while his point over and over again menaced the breast of his adversary, who several times only saved himself by springing back beyond it. Harry's seconds saw from the first that the issue was not doubtful. In a contest between the edge and the point, the latter always wins if strength and skill be equal, and in this case, while in point of strength the combatants were fairly matched, Harry was more skilled in the use of his weapon, whose lightness, combined with its strength, added to his advantage. The fight lasted but five minutes. Twice Harry's sword drew blood, and at the third thrust he ran his adversary through under the shoulder. The latter dropped his sword, with a curse.
"I have spared your life, Colonel Campbell," Harry said. "It was at my mercy a dozed times, but I wished not to kill you. You forced this quarrel upon me at the bidding of another, and against you I had no animosity. Farewell, sir. I trust that ere the day of battle you will be able to use your sword again in the service of the king."
So saying, Harry resumed his doublet and cloak, and, accompanied by his seconds, returned to his camp, leaving Campbell, furious with pain and disappointment, to be conveyed home by his friends.
"So far, so good, Harry," Captain Leslie said. "The attempt will, you will find, be a more serious one. Argyll will not try fair means again. But beware how you go out at night."
The duel made a good deal of talk, and Argyll attempted to induce the king to take the matter up, and to punish Harry for his share in it. But the young king, although obliged to listen every day to the long sermons and admonitions of the Covenanters, was heartily sick of them already and answered Argyll lightly that, so far as he had heard of the circumstances, Colonel Campbell was wholly to blame. "And, indeed," added the king, "from what I have heard, the conduct of your kinsman was so wantonly insulting that men say he must have been provoked thereto by others, as the two officers appear to have been strangers until the moment when their quarrel arose."
The earl grew paler than usual, and pressed his thin lips tightly together.
"I know of no reason," he said, "why Colonel Campbell should have engaged wantonly in a quarrel with this English officer."
"No!" Charles said innocently. "And if you do not, my lord, I know of no one that does. Colonel Furness is an officer who is somewhat staid and severe for his years, and who, in sooth, stands somewhat aloof from me, and cares not for the merry jests of Buckingham; but he is a gallant soldier. He has risked his life over and over again in the cause of my sainted father, and tried his utmost to save him, both at Carisbrook and Whitehall. Any one who plots against him is no friend of mine." The young king spoke with a dignity and sternness which were not common to him, and Argyll, biting his lips, felt a deadlier enmity than ever toward the man who had brought this reproof upon his shoulders.
The following day Harry received orders from General Leslie, who commanded the royal forces, to march down toward the border, accompanied by two regiments of horse. He was to devastate the country and to fall back gradually before Cromwell's advance, the cavalry harassing him closely, but avoiding any serious conflict with the Roundhead horse. The whole party were under the command of Colonel Macleod.
"I am heartily glad to be on the move, Jacob," Harry said, on the evening before starting. "It is not pleasant to know that one is in constant danger of being attacked whenever one goes abroad. Once away from Edinburgh one may hope to be beyond the power of Argyll."
"I would not be too sure of that," Donald Leslie said. "A hound on the track of a deer is not more sure or untiring than is Argyll when he hunts down a foe. Be warned by me, and never relax a precaution so long as you are on Scottish ground. There are men who whisper that even now, when he stands by the side of the king, Argyll is in communication with Cromwell. Trust me, if he can do you an ill turn, he will."
Upon the following morning the detachment marched, with flags flying and drums beating, and the king himself rode down to see them depart. Argyll was with him, and the king, as if in bravado of the formidable earl, waved his hand to Harry, and said: "Good-by, my grave colonel. Take care of yourself, and do not spare my enemies as you spared my friend."
Harry doffed his plumed hat, and rode on at the head of his regiment. The force marched rapidly, for it was known that Cromwell was within a few days of Berwick. So fast did they travel that in three days they were near the border. Then they began the work which they had been ordered to carry out. Every head of cattle was driven up the country, and the inhabitants were ordered to load as much of their stores of grain in wagons as these would hold, and to destroy the rest. The force under Colonel Macleod saw that these orders were carried out, and when, on the 14th of July, Cromwell crossed the Tweed, he found the whole country bare of all provision for his troops. In vain his cavalry made forays to a distance from the coast. Harry's foot opposed them at every defensible point, while the cavalry hung upon their skirts. In vain the Roundheads tried to charge by them. The Scotch cavalry, in obedience to orders, avoided a contest, and day after day Cromwell's troopers had to return empty handed, losing many of their men by the fire of Harry's infantry. Thus the army of Cromwell was obliged to advance slowly upon the line of coast, drawing their supplies wholly from the fleet which accompanied it.
One evening Colonel Macleod rode up to the cottage where Harry was quartered for the night.
"I am going to beat up Oliver's camp to-night," he said. "Do you cover the retreat with your men at the ford of the river. If I can get for five minutes in his camp I will read the Roundheads a lesson, and maybe spike some of his cannon. If I could catch Cromwell himself it would be as good as a great victory."
After nightfall the force approached the enemy's camp; at the ford the infantry halted, the cavalry crossing and continuing their way to the camp, about a mile distant. An hour passed without any sound being heard. At length a sound of distant shouts, mingled with the reports of firearms, fell upon the ear.
"Macleod is among them now," Donald Leslie exclaimed. "I would I wore with him."
"You will have your turn presently," Harry replied. "A thousand horse may do a good deal of damage in a sudden attack, but they must fall back as soon as tis Roundheads rally."
For five or six minutes the distant tumult continued. Then it ceased almost as suddenly as it had begun. A minute or two later there was a deep, muffled sound.
"Here come the horse," Jacob said.
The infantry had already been placed along the bank of the river on each side of the ford, leaving the way clear in the center for the passage of the cavalry. It was not long before they arrived on the opposite bank, and dashed at full speed across the river. Colonel Macleod rode at their rear.
"The Ironsides are just behind," he said to Harry. "Let your men shoot sharp and straight as they try to cross. We will charge them as they reach the bank."
A minute later, and the close files of the Roundhead cavalry could be seen approaching, the moonlight glinting on steel cap, breastpiece, and sword.
"Steady, lads!" Harry shouted. "Do not fire a shot till they enter the river. Then keep up a steady fire on the head of the column."
The Roundheads halted when they reached the river, and formed rapidly into a column, twelve abreast, for the ford was no wider. As they entered the stream a heavy musketry fire opened suddenly upon them. Men and horses went down, floating away in the river. In spite of their losses the cavalry pressed on, and though numbers fell, gained the opposite bank. Then arose the Royalist cry "King and Covenant!" and the Scottish horse swept down. The head of the column was shattered by the charge, but the Ironsides still pressed on, and breaking the center of the Scottish horse, poured across the river.
Harry had already given his orders to Jacob, who commanded the left wing of the infantry, and the regiment, drawing up on both flanks of the column of Ironsides, poured so heavy a fire upon them, while the cavalry of Macleod again charged them in front, that the column was broken, and still fighting sturdily, fell back again across the river. The moment they did so a heavy fire of musketry opened from the further bank.
"Their infantry are up, Colonel Furness," Macleod said. "Draw off your men in good order. I will cover the retreat. We have done enough for to-night."
Getting his regiment together, Harry ordered them to retire at the double, keeping their formation as they went. The Roundhead cavalry again crossed the river, and several times charged the Scotch horse. Twice they succeeded in breaking through, but Harry, facing his men round, received them pike in hand, the musketeers in rear keeping up so hot a fire over the shoulders of the pikemen that the Ironsides drew rein before reaching them, and presently fell back, leaving the party to retire without further pursuit.
"I as nearly as possible caught Cromwell," Colonel Macleod said, riding up to Harry. "We got confused among the tents and ropes, or should have had him. We entered his tent, but the bird had flown. We cut down some scores of his infantry, and spiked four guns, I have not lost twenty men, and his cavalry must have lost at least a hundred from your fire, besides the damage I did at their camp."
Obtaining a stock of supplies sufficient for some days from the ships at Dunbar, Cromwell advanced to Musselburgh, within striking distance of Edinburgh. Leslie had strongly posted his army in intrenched lines extending from Edinburgh to Leith, a distance of two miles. Colonel Macleod with his detachment rejoined the army on the same day that Cromwell reached Musselburgh. Upon the day after the arrival of the English there was a sharp cavalry fight, and Cromwell would fain have tempted the Scotch army to engage beyond their lines. But Leslie was not to be drawn. He knew that if he could maintain himself in his intrenchments the English must fall back, as they had the sea behind them and on their right, Edinburgh in front of them, and a devastated country on their left. At the urgent request of Cromwell the Parliament strained every nerve to send up provisions by ships, and so enabled him to remain before Edinburgh for a month.
A few days after his arrival Harry received orders to take a hundred and fifty men of his regiment, and to post himself at Kirkglen, which blocked a road by which it was thought Cromwell might send foraging parties westward. Harry asked that a detachment of cavalry might accompany him, but the request was refused. Kirkglen stood fifteen miles south of Edinburgh, and somewhat to its west. Harry left Jacob to command the main body of the regiment, and took with him the companies of Donald Leslie and Hugh Grahame, in the latter of which William Long was lieutenant. They sallied out from the western side of the camp at daybreak.
"I like not this expedition, Colonel Furness," Donald Leslie said. "The refusal to send cavalry with us is strange. Methinks I see the finger of that crafty fox Argyll in the pie. His faithfulness to the cause is more and more doubted, though none dare wag a tongue against him, and if it be true that he is in communication with Cromwell, we shall have the Roundheads, horse and foot, down upon us."
"There is a castle there, is there not," Harry asked, "which we might occupy?"
"Assuredly there is," Leslie replied. "It is the hold of Alan Campbell, a cousin of the man you pinked. It is that which adds to my suspicion. You will see, unless I am greatly mistaken, that he will not admit us."
Such, indeed, proved to be the case. Upon their arrival at Kirkglen, Leslie went in Harry's name to demand admittance to the castle for the royal troops, but Campbell replied that he had received no orders to that effect, and that it would greatly incommode him to quarter so large a number of men there. He said, however, that he would willingly entertain Colonel Furness and his officers. Leslie brought back the message, strongly urging Harry on no account to enter the castle and put himself in the hands of the Campbells. Harry said that even had he no cause to doubt the welcome he might receive at the castle, he should in no case separate himself from his men, when he might be at any moment attacked.
"It is a rough piece of country between this and Cromwell's post," Leslie said, "and he would have difficulty in finding his way hither. There is more than one broad morass to be crossed, and without a guide he would scarce attempt it. It is for this reason that he is so unlikely to send out foraging parties in this direction. It was this reflection which caused me to wonder why we should be ordered hither."
"Mike," Harry said, "you have heard what Captain Leslie says. Do you keep watch to-night near the castle gate, and let me know whether any leave it; and in which direction they go. I will place a man behind to watch the postern. If treachery is meditated, Campbell will send news of our coming to Cromwell."