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the pipers played, and the people shouted, and the maidens strewed flowers in the path. Suddenly, the Maclure stopped. "See, Helen," he exclaimed, pointing to the brow of a hill which overhung them; "I have often told you how proud I am of my forest and my deer, and there is a herd gazing at us even now, as if it to welcome my bonnie Helen to Glen-Garran; look how they sweep down towards us! and by the ghost of Red John," added the Chief, whilst his eye flashed with excitement, "there is the Black Stag leading the van!" His voice sank as he added, " Poor Angus! faithful, gallant, and true to the death." "I see no black stag," replied Helen, somewhat disconcerted at the altered voice and sad countenance of her lord. "Let us go in ; the people are already waiting in the hall;" and, as she spoke, her cheek turned a shade paler, and she pressed her hand to her heart, as if in pain.
The vassals feasted high, and music and revelry sped the hours on rosy pinions. Beauteous was the bride, and gallant was the bridegroom; yet ever and anon a pang smote through the heart of the latter, as he glanced at Helen's pale cheek, and thought of the Black Stag of CorrieGarran. Yet was there one consolation-she had not seen the vision. The warning, if warning it was, could not be for his bride, and for her sake alone he cared; so he strove to stifle his forebodings; and though he often set the cup untasted by, he encouraged his guests to enjoy themselves, as became the clan at their chieftain's wedding.
Helen sat alone in her bridal chamber, and looked forth from the window over glen, and loch and mountain, bathed in the yellow lustre of a bright summer moon. The night was warm and balmy; soft silvery clouds floated slowly across the sky, but the graceful fir-trees scarcely stirred on the light breeze, and the lake threw back the moonbeams from her surface undimmed by a single ripple. The bride gazed idly upon the waters; and though her gentle face wore an expression of meek, contented happiness, yet ever and anon she pressed her hand upon her heart, and a contraction as of physical pain furrowed her pure, open brow. But a step along the passage, a hand upon the door, brought the colour to her cheek, as it chased the shadows from her forehead; and as her husband entered the chamber, she looked once more the young, happy, sparkling bride. "And how have you amused yourself, Helen," said the Maclure, "whilst I have been doing my duty with the clan? At last, I have made my escape; and those shouts, even now, are a farewell health to ourselves, and the roof-tree at Glen-Garran." "I have been looking at this beautiful night," replied Helen," and watching your deer trooping down to the loch to drink. One was a magnificent fellow," she added with a smile, "and worthy of his chieftain-a huge black stag, with wide-spreading antlers; we have none such in Rannoch: and he passed close under my window, ere he disappeared in the direction of Corrie-Garran. You see I begin to know the place already." Maclure started as if he had been shot: in that one prophetic moment he saw it all-the stunning blow, the years of agony, the dull blank future of loneliness and despair. He strove to hide his feelings from his wife; he strove to argue down the superstitious dread that palsied his very mind.. In vain he felt the warning was not without a purpose. There she stood before him, in the light of her loveliness-his bride, his own; but the blow had already fallen, and it was hard, too hard to bear.
When the sun rose on Glen Garran, the lily indeed was crushed and withered and faded away: Helen Maclure lay cold and lifeless on her bridal bed. The south-wind blew in at the casement, and stirred in mockery her long brown hair. The winter will pass, the flowers will again blossom in the Glen, but spring shall smile no more for John Maclure. He did not go mad: people in real life retain their senses under the heaviest afflictions. He followed the remains of all he loved on earth, down the very path along which he had led her that day week a happy blooming bride, and his brain retained its powers, his step was firm, and his port lofty as ever; yet all who saw him shuddered as he passed. There is a majesty in deep enduring woe, on which man can scarcely brook to gaze. How feebly does that simple tablet, with its timeworn inscription of "Sacred to the memory of Helen, the beloved wife of John Maclure of Maclure, who died of disease of the heart, on such and such a date, in the twenty-fifth year of her age," express the agony of the survivor, the touching fate of the poor girl herself, or the gloom that was ever after destined to overshadow the existence of John Maclure.
As he walked back to the castle, his eyes bent to the earth, he saw a bunch of white heather, trampled and cut by the footmarks of a deer. It may be that he had not forgotten old Eachan's prophecy, but he stooped to gather the soiled and drooping blossoms; and years afterwards they were found lying next his heart, with a long ringlet of silken hair.
An altered man was the Maclure from henceforth action, keen spiritstirring action, was the only stimulus that could rouse him from despair. When man's better feelings may live but in the past; when there is no to-morrow for his heart, and the hopeless Never rings through his brain every hour of solitude and reflection; then it is that the nobler spirit flies to danger and excitement as the only relief from its gnawing agony, the only power that can force it into forgetfulness of self. It is, after all, a species of opiate, a trance that is but a poor substitute for repose; yet is it better than the bleak reality of inaction-the wearing longing for the impossible, and the outwearied soul is fain to content itself with intoxication when it cannot hope for sleep. So Maclure busied himself in all the intrigues of the period, became more zealous than ever in the cause of the exiled Stuarts, and marched at the head of his clan to join that doomed army which occupied the bleak heights of Culloden, and perished almost man by man upon the Moor.
The Chevalier had given his order for the night attack upon the Hanoverian camp at Nairne. The clans, though jaded with toil, halfstarved, and ill-supplied with ammunition, recovered their cheerfulness at the prospect of a speedy engagement with the enemy, and Maclure's devoted band rallied round their chieftain, and vowed to follow him to the death. In order as much as possible to mask his forward movement, the Chevalier had ordered his army to set fire to the heather on the ground they had previously occupied, and to Maclure was confided this important duty, ere he should join the attacking force, in the van of which the greater part of his retainers were already marshalled. What a picturesque scene must it have been! The blazing heather lighting up the darkness, to bring out the majestic features of that frowning landscape-here a busy Highlander standing forth in bold relief from the
very torch he carried in his hand; there a plaided woman, half obscured by the smoke, packing up some little article of camp value, or gazing wistfully after the departing ranks, from whose arms and accoutrements the light glinted back in fitful gleams, blurred perhaps, to her loving eyes, with tears; the young moon looking peacefully down on the scene, and the night-wind sighing faintly through the distant firs, and mingling with the tramp of the receding columns. Maclure paused for an instant, after the performance of his duty, to gaze upon it all, ere he betook himself to his proper post as leader of his clan. Who shall say what gentle thoughts, far, far removed from war and bloodshed, stole over the chieftain's mind? His foot was on Culloden Moor, and his claymore was in his hand; but his heart was far away in the past, amongst the hills of Glen-Garran, and the soft eyes that had haunted him for years, the gentle face that had never been forgotten, were looking upon him kindly as of yore, and once again she stood by him in her beauty, his own unaltered love. But a quick tramp upon the heather startles the Chief from his dream, and galloping through the smoke, with red eye and antlers lowered, he spies a huge black stag rushing fiercely into the darkness, and he knows what the vision portends, and smiles a calm, peaceful smile, as he thinks that to-morrow he shall be at rest in his grave.
Of that ill-starred march through the night history has said enough. Feudal jealousy, personal hatred, mistrust, and mismanagement were at work in the ranks of the Chevalier's army; nor was gaunt famine absent from those doomed columns, like all undisciplined forces, too ill-guarded against the assaults of that invincible foe. The night attack was indeed
a failure, inasmuch as it was already broad day-light ere the straggling van had reached the outposts of the enemy, and the Highland army, wearied, starving, and dispirited, was fain to retire once more upon its previous position, and await at Culloden the conflict it should have itself provoked at Nairne. On the various opinions of the different leaders, on the jealousy which curbed the charge of the Macdonalds, and on the irresolution and military incapacity of the Chevalier himself, it is not our province to enlarge. Our business is with the Maclure, rushing at the head of his clan upon the bayonets of the enemy, and scattering with the national weapons of broadsword and target, a whole regiment of well-organized and well-disciplined infantry, who found themselves, much to their discomfiture, opposed to this disorderly charge of the wild and furious mountaineers. Like the rest of the Highlanders, the Maclures were supplied with muskets; and, like their countrymen, they threw them away at the first opportunity, in order to draw the claymore, and finish the battle hand-to-hand. Alas for sword and target, and scattered files, and individual gallantry, when opposed to the crushing weight, the steady tactics, and the sweeping sabres of the Hanoverian horse! Behind a huge grey rock, which sheltered him from the bullets, and reared itself alone in the midst of the plain, stood the Duke of Cumberland, commander of the royal army; and to that rock Maclure, with dauntless gallantry, hoped to win his way in his last headlong charge, at the head of his retainers, galled by a dropping fire from a still fresh regiment of infantry, poured steadily in upon his flanks, man by man falling as he advanced rapidly to the onset.
Maclure made his last despairing effort.
Already he was within
a hundred paces of the grey rock, already the claymores were flashing, and the tartans waving within a musket-shot of the Duke and his staff, when the fatal signal was given, and the broken files of the charging clansmen were in their turn charged by a fresh regiment of mailed horse, bringing weight, numbers, and discipline to bear upon wild courage, and that individual devotion, which alas! goes for nothing in the great game of war. What other result could spring from such unequal strife? Down went the bloody tartans and the plumed bonnet before the trampling war-steed and his steel-clad rider. Even in death, the mountaineer griped for his dirk, and glared upward with fixed eyeballs, revengeful on his foe, a very war-wolf to the last; but the redcoated dragoons rode to and fro amongst the rout, and smote and spared not, and Glen-Garran may weep and wail, and cry the Coronach for her clan. She has but old men and boys left to grace the name of Maclure.
Within fifty yards of the grey stone lay the chieftain, a dead trooper on either side of him, a sabre-cut across his forehead, a sabrethrust through his heart, his right hand closed firmly round his claymore, and his face to the foe; but on that face was no scowl of hatred, no grin of mortal anguish and despair: the brow was smooth and peaceful, the lips were wreathed in a smile they had not worn for many a long day, and the last vision that passed before John Maclure's failing sight was of no fierce striking horseman with rearing charger and whirling blade, but of the well remembered form, the soft blue eyes and silken hair, and the long-lost loving face, that seemed to welcome her wanderer home.
(To be continued.)
HUNTING NOTES FOR SEPTEMBER.
Merry it is in the good green wood
When the mavis and merle are singing,
When the fox sweeps by, and the hounds are in cry,
The master or manager of fox-hounds should now be at home actively preparing for the field: he should notice the young hounds, which ought ere this to be ready for entering.
Cub-hunting commences very generally throughout England the beginning of this month, though in a country deficient of foxes it should not begin until the end of the month; although it would be disadvantageous to young hounds to defer it longer, nevertheless the sport of the ensuing season should not be destroyed. But under any circumstances, cub-hunting should never begin till such a time as it can be carried on regularly, otherwise the young hounds will be spoiled.
The horses intended for cub-hunting, should, from the beginning of the month, be ridden with the hounds by the huntsman and whippersin. For the first morning's cubbing, it is advisable to go to a covert, where you are sure of finding a cub directly, and almost as sure of killing him from one to two hours' work is quite enough the first day. Do the same the second day with a little more work; after which, get into hard work as soon as possible.
If the huntsman is reasonable, and can be depended on, one cub out of each litter may be killed, not only with safety, but advantage to the sport of the season; as by giving the cubs a good routing when young, they are wilder afterwards. But unless you can depend on the discretion of the huntsman, it is a very dangerous experiment to let him take the hounds into the best country, at least before the middle of October. I have known a huntsman, who went for noses on the kennel door, kill three cubs of a morning, which were sadly wanted before the close of the season, when foxes had become scarce.
During cub-hunting, those earths only should be stopped where you wish to kill a cub. This should be carefully attended to, notwithstanding anything the huntsman may urge to the contrary: some of these gentlemen require a great deal of watching at this time, or they will murder foxes without the least necessity, and consequently curtail sport. It is a good plan, as soon as one fox has been killed, to order the earths to be opened, and let some one especially appointed take care a fox is not headed from them. Look also sharply to the whippers-in, or they will place themselves directly on the earths. All the men will kill as many foxes as they can of course there may be exceptions to this general rule, but they should be acted on with caution.
It is a bad plan to allow young hounds to have a view at a fox in a ride, if it can be avoided, as it is apt to keep them on the look out for a fox, and thereby they become skirters.
Observe the hounds as they pass water: it is perhaps the best criterion to judge of the meal. If the main body appear greedy for water whenever they approach it, you may suspect adulteration in the meal.
Many little attentions may now be paid to the farmers, who are easily kept in good humour, with a little tact: they certainly deserve attention, and all of them are pleased at it-every man in his own humour. Nothing is more conducive to the preservation of foxes than good management in these matters.