Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

ly from his place, and was almost in the act of putting down one toe on the lid of the large chest, when an accidental motion of some of the sleepers, such as the laboured stretching of an arm, or a leg, when they dreamt of their waking deeds, or perhaps the turning of a head to an easier position, would disconcert his purpose. Being so often disappointed, he was almost resolved to risk the desperate chance, and was arming himself with the resolution necessary for the unequal combat that must have followed his attempt, when, to his astonishment, the door was suddenly forced in, and thrown down upon the sleepers, by a large stone driven with such fury against it, that it scattered the very embers of the fire about the floor.

In the aperture, a little figure appeared for an instant, shrouded in a large fleece of green moss, torn from the ample surface of some rock or bank. It screamed in a shrill voice: 66 Let the dead watch their time, and come down and flee!"--and then instantly disappeared.

The whole gang, roused by the crash, were upon their legs in a moment; but being so suddenly awakened from a profound sleep, they arose cor

fused and ignorant of what occasioned the alarm; and the clamour in Gaelic and English was so loud, that not a word could be heard. All inquired, and none could explain.

As they were standing debating, another large stone came bang against the sods forming the back wall of the building; and the shock was followed by a wild unearthly laugh.

“ Damnation !" exclaimed Alexander Macgillivray. “ What are ye all standing and chattering at as if it were a ghost? There's somebody playing tricks upon us; let's out after them!” And seizing a claymore, he sprang to the door, followed by the miller and the whole gang.

Amherst heard them crashing through the bushes behind the hut, as if in pursuit of some one in that direction. His first thought was to make an immediate effort to escape ; but having observed from their looks, that most of the gang believed there was something really supernatural in this assault, and arguing from thence, that they would probably not venture very far beyond the light that glimmered from the door-way, he readily interpreted the friendly hint that had been given him, and lifting the dead body of the

[ocr errors]

officer, he stripped off the bloody coat, and quickly put it over his own. He then seized his fowl. ing piece, and dropped himself to the floor, and concealing his face as well as he could with his cap, he stalked forth from the door.

His conjectures as to the men's fears had not been groundless.' They had followed their more hardy leaders no farther than to the outside of the hut, where, had he appeared undisguised, he would have been most certainly intercepted and seized by them. But, no sooner did they behold what they took to be the reanimated body of the murdered officer, walking in the stream of light that issued from the door, with the blood pouring as it were from the fatal wound in his breast, than the whole superstitious group, believing that the devil had taken possession of the corpse, uttered yells of terror, and ran off amongst those very bushes their fears had formerly hindered them from venturing to penetrate.

Amherst seeing the way clear before him, pressed forward, but, in the confusion of the moment, he took the direction up the glen, leading to the mountains. He had not gone three steps, when he heard the voice of the miller, who was

by this time returning with Macgillivray from a fruitless chase, and was within less than twenty yards.

“ Damn it! there's a man rinnin' awa!-this way, Maister Macgillivray !-after him !-this way !-up the water !"

Amherst urged forwards. The obscure moonlight fell partially among the trees; the shades of night being deepened to blackness in particular parts, by the thickness of the foliage above, so that, though the mere figure might occasionally be perceptible, it was more frequently lost altogether. Amherst flew,--and as he did so, he heard the quick steps, and the shouts and execrations of his pursuers, at no great distance behind him. He rushed desperately onwards along the precipices, and in passing by a steep projecting bank, where the pendant bushes made it so dark that he could only guess at his way, his foot slipped through some decayed soil projecting from the edge of a rock overhanging the hollow bed of the brook, and he tumbled headlong through the boughs of the trees below, twenty or thirty feet, down to the very bottom.

Fortunately for Amherst, he dropped upon a

dry heap of pure soft sand, loosely laid up by some recent flood. This lucky circumstance, and that of his fall having been broken by the intervening twigs, saved him from being killed. As it was, he escaped with a few unimportant bruises. He lay, however, stupified for a moment, but was soon brought to his recollection, by hearing the loud curses and exclamations of his pursuers, who, ignorant of what had happened, still scrambled along in his supposed track, from which he had much reason to be thankful he had been so suddenly and safely removed.

He lay as still as death for a considerable time, until he heard their distant voices faintly repeated by the echoes far up the glen. He then recovered his legs, and stripping off his borrowed coat, he threw it away, and groped for his fowl. ing-piece, that had fallen as 'softly as he had done, and was uninjured. With niuch circumspection he began to feel his way down the cavernous bed of the brook, creeping in the dark with as little noise as possible, under the projecting rocks, and banks, and bushes, and occasionally wading through the shallow water, support

« AnteriorContinuar »