Inverawe was one night sitting in social converse with his wife and his son, and their friend, young George Campbell – the same individual who, as you may remember, was the giver of the toast of the roof-tree of Inverawe – when a packet of letters was brought in, and handed to the laird.
What is all this?” exclaimed he, quickly breaking the seal, and hastily examining the contents. “Ha! the old Black Watch again! this is news indeed!”
“What? – What is it?” cried his lady.
“Glorious news!” cried Inverawe, rubbing his hands. “I am appointed to the majority of the Highlanders; and here is an ensign’s commission for you, young gentleman,” said he, addressing George Campbell. And my friend Grant, who writes to me, tells me that he had got the lieutenant-colonelcy. What can be more delightful than the prospect of serving in such a corps, under the command of so old a friend?”
“Glorious! – glorious!” cried young George Campbell, jumping from his chair, and dancing through the room with joy.
“A bumper to the gallant Highlanders, and their brave commander!” cried Inverawe, filling the cups.
The toast was quaffed with enthusiasm. Young Inverawe alone seemed to feel that there was no joy in the cup for him.
“Would I had a commission too!” said he, in a tone of extreme vexation.
“Boy,” said Inverawe, gravely, “Your time is coming. It will be well for you to stay at home to look after tour mother. One of us two is enough in the field at once.”
Am I then to be doomed to sloth and idleness at home?” said Donald, pettishly; “better put petticoats on me at once, and give me a distaff to wield.”
“Speak not so, Donald,” said his mother, in a trembling voice. “You are hardly old enough for such warlike undertakings; and, indeed, your father says what is but too true – for what could I do, were both of you to be torn from me?”
Donald said no more. The cup circulated. George Campbell was in high spirits, and full of happy anticipations.
“I hope we may soon be sent on service,” said he, exultingly. Inverawe, going on to gather the remainder of the contents of his packet. “Grant writes me here, that in consequence of the turn which matters are taking in America, he hopes every day for the arrival of an order for the regiment to embark. George, you and I must lose no time in making up our kitts, for we must join the corps with all manner of expedition.”
The parting between Inverawe and his lady was tender and touching. Donald bis his father farewell with less appearance of regret than his known affection for him would have led any one to have anticipated. There was even a certain smile of triumph on his countenance as he saw them depart. But his mother was too much overwhelmed by her own feelings, to notice anything regarding those of her son.
The meeting between Inverawe and his old brother officers was naturally a joyous one, and nothing could be more delightful than the warmth of the reception he met with from his long-tried friend Colonel Grant, now the commanding-officer of the corps.
“My dear fellow, Inverawe!” said he, cordially shaking him by the hand, “this happy circumstance of having got you amongst us again, is even more gratifying to me than my own promotion, and yet, let me tell you, the peculiar circumstances attending that were gratifying enough.”
“I need not assure you that the news of it were most gratifying to me,” replied Inverawe. “It doubled the happiness I felt, in getting the majority, to find that I was to serve under so old and so much valued a friend. But to what particular circumstances do you allude?”
“When the step was opened to me, by the promotion of Colonel Campbell to the command of the fifty-fourth regiment,” replied Colonel Grant, in a trembling voice, and with tears beginning to swell in his eyes, “I was not a little surprised, and, as you will readily believe, pleased also, to be waited on by a deputation from the non-commissioned officers and privates of the corps, to make offer to me of a purse containing the cum necessary to purchase the lieutenant-colonelcy, which they had subscribed among themselves, and proposed a present to me, with the selfish view, as the noble fellows declared to me, of securing to themselves as commanding-officer a man whom they all so much loved and respected! Campbell! – Inverawe!” continued he, with his voice faltering still more from the swelling of his emotions, “I can never deserve it all – but – but pshaw! my heart is too full to give utterance to my feelings – and I must e’en play the woman.”
“Noble fellows indeed!” cried Inverawe, fully sympathising with him in all he felt; “but by my faith they looked at the matter in its true light, when moved by selfish considerations, they were led so to act – for they well knew that you would be as a father to them.”
“I shall ever be as a father to them whilst it pleases God to spare me,” said the Colonel warmly, “and if ever I desert them while life remains, may I be blown from the mouth of a cannon!”
“What was the result of this matter then?” demanded inverawe.
“Why, as it happened,” replied the Colonel, “the promotion went in the regiment without purchase, so that I enjoyed all the pleasure of receiving this kind demonstration from my children, without taxing their pockets, or laying myself under an unpleasant pecuniary obligation to them, which might at times have had a tendency in some degree to paralyse me in the wholesome exercise of strict discipline. And we shall require to stick the more rigidly to that now, seeing that we are going on service.”
“We are going on service then?” said Inverawe.
“We have this very evening received our orders for America,” replied Colonel Grant; “and never did commanding-officer go on service with more confidence in his men and officers than I do.”
“And I may safely say that never did officers or men go on service with greater confidence in their commander than we shall do,” replied Inverawe, again shaking the Colonel heartily by the hand.
George Campbell was introduced by Inverawe to the particular notice of Colonel Grant, and by him to the rest of the officers, among whom he soon found himself at his ease. The time for their embarkation approached, and all was bustle and preparation amongst them. George had much to do, and it was with some difficulty, but with great inward delight, that he at last found himself complete in all his arms, trappings, and necessaries. The night previous to their going on board of the ships appointed to convey them to their place of destination, was a busy one for him, and he was still occupied, at a late hour, in his quarters, when he was surprised by a knock at his door.
“Come in!” cried George Campbell.
The door opened, and a young man entered, whose fatigued and soiled appearance showed that he had come off a long journey.
“Donald Campbell of Inverawe!” cried George, in utter astonishment; and the young men were instantly in one another’s arms. “My dear fellow, what strange chance has brought you hither?”
“I come to throw myself on your honour,” said Donald. “I come to throw myself on the honour of him whom I have ever held to be my dearest friend; – on the honour of one who has never failed me hitherto, and who, if I mistake not, will not fail me now. Give me your solemn promise that you will keep mu counsel, and do your best to assist me in my present undertaking.”
“Methinks you need hardly ask for my solemn promise,” replied George Campbell; “for you might safely count on my best exertions to oblige you at all times. But what can I do for you? It would need to be something that maybe quickly and immediately gone about, else cannot I stay to effect it. We embark to-morrow morning.”
“You will not require to stay behind the rest, in order to do what I require of you,” said Donald of Inverawe.
“I could not if I would,” replied George Campbell.
“Do you go in the same ship with my father?” demanded young Inverawe.
“I wish I did,” replied George Campbell; “but I regret to say that I go in a different vessel.
“So much the better for my purpose,” replied young Inverawe eagerly. “You will be the better able to take me with you without my being discovered.”
“Take you with me!” cried George Campbell, in great astonishment. “What in the name of wonder would you propose?”
“That which is perfectly reasonable,” replied young Inverawe. “Do you think that I could sit quietly at home, whilst my father, and you, and so many of my friends, are earning honour and glory abroad? Ask yourself, George, what would you have done under my circumstances?”
“I have never thought as to how I might have acted had I been so placed,” replied George Campbell, much perplexed. “But I have no relish for having any hand in aiding you to oppose the will of your father.”
“No matter now, George, whether you have any relish for it or not,” replied young Inverawe, smiling. “You have given me your promise that you will aid me, and you must now make the best of it. So come away. Let me see how you can best manage to get me aboard. I must not be seen by my father till we land in America, and then I shall enter as a volunteer.”
“What will your father say then?” demanded George Campbell.
“Why, that the blood of Inverawe was too strong in me to be restrained,” replied Donald. “Why, man, it is just what he would have done himself. He will be too proud of the spirit inherent in his house, which has impelled me to this act, ever to think of blaming me for it. Come, come, you have given me your word.”
“I have given you my word,” said George Campbell; “and I must honestly tell you that I wish I had been less precipitate. But having given it, I must in truth abide by it. It may be as you say, that your father will have more pride than pain in this matter, when he comes to know it. And then, as for myself, I shall be too happy to have you as my companion in so long a voyage. But come, let us have some refreshment, and then we can talk over the matter, and consider how your scheme may be best carried into effect.”
the thing was easily enough arranged. Many of the private of the corps were gentlemen who had attendants of their own. There was nothing extraordinary, therefore, in an officer being so provided. A slight disguise was employed to alter Donald’s appearance, so that he might escape detection from anyone who had seen him before. Next morning he went on board in charge of some of Ensign George Campbell’s baggage, and there he remained snugly, until the expedition sailed.
The Highland regiment embarked full of enthusiasm, and it was ultimately landed at New York in the highest health and spirits. Colonel Stewart of Garth, in his interesting work, tells us, that they were caressed by all ranks and orders of men, but more particularly by the Indians. Those inhabitants of the wilds flocked from all quarters to see the strangers, as they were on their march to Albany, and the resemblance which they discovered between the Celtic dress and their own, inclining them to believe that they were of the same extraction as themselves, they hailed them as brothers. Orders were issued to treat the Indians kindly; but, although these were most generally and most cheerfully obeyed, instances did occur where gross acts of impropriety and harshness were exhibited towards them, and one of these I shall now mention.
A young Indian, of tall and handsome proportions, with that conscious air of equality which they all possess, came up to a group of the Highlanders who were resting themselves round a fire. An ignorant and mischievous fellow of the party, who much more merited the name of savage than him of the woods, having heated the end of the stalk of a tobacco-pipe, handed it, full of tobacco, with much mock solemnity, to the young Indian, who, in ignorance of the trick, was just about to take it into his hand, and to apply the heated end of it to his lips, when a young Highlander who was present, dashed it to the ground. The Indian started – looked tomahawks at the Highland youth, and might have used one too, had not he, with his glove on, taken up a portion of the broken pipe-stalk, and signing to the Indian to feel it, made him sensible of the kind and friendly service he had rendered him. The ferocious rage that lightened in the eye of the Red Man was at once extinguished. A mild and benignant sunshine succeeded it. He took the hand of the young Highlander, and pressed it to his heart; and then, darting a look of dignified contempt upon the poor creature who had been the author of this base and childish piece of knavery against him, he slowly, solemnly, and silently withdrew.
Whilst Major Campbell of Inverawe was on the march, his noble appearance seemed to make a strong impression on their Indian followers. For his part, he was peculiarly struck with the fine figure and graceful mien of a heroic-looking young warrior of the woods, who seemed to keep near to him, as if earnestly intent on holding intercourse with him. He encouraged his approach; and, conversing with him, as well as the young man’s imperfect knowledge of English permitted him to do, he invited him, when they halted for refreshment, to partake of his hasty meal. The young Eagle Eye – for such was the Indian’s name in his own tribe – carried a rifle; and Major Campbell having put some questions to him as to his skill in using it, his curiosity was so excited by all that the red man said of himself, that he resolved to put it to the proof. Having loaded his own piece, therefore, he proposed to his new Indian ally, to take a short circuit, to look for game, during the brief time that the men were allowed for rest, and one or two of the officers arose to accompany them. The Eagle Eye moved on before them with that silence, and with that dignified air, which marked the confidence which he had in his own powers. A walk of a few hundred yards from their line of march, brought them into a small open space of grassy ground, surrounded by thickets. Inverawe stopped by chance to adjust the buckle of his bandoleer, when the Eagle Eye, who happened at that moment to be some paces to the right of him, sprang on him like a falcon, and threw him to the ground. As he was in the very act of doing so, an arrow from the thicket in front of them pierced the Indian’s shoulder, whilst he, almost at the same moment, levelled his rifle, fired it in the direction from whence the arrow came, and, rushing forward with a yell, plunged among the bushes. The whole of these circumstances passed so instantaneously, that Major Campbell’s brother officers were confounded. But having assisted him to rise from the ground, they congratulated him on his escape from a danger which neither he not they could as yet very well comprehend or explain. They were not long left in suspense however, for the Eagle Eye soon reappeared, dragging from the thicket the body of an Indian belonging to a hostile tribe. In an instant, the Eagle Eye exercised his scalping-knife, and possessed himself of the bloody trophy of his enemy. On examination, the ball from his rifle was discovered to have perforated the brain through the forehead of his victim. The mystery was explained. The young Eagle Eye had suddenly descried the lurking foe, deeply nestled among the bushes, and in the act of taking a deliberate aim at Inverawe. He had saved the Major’s life at the imminent risk of his own, and that quick sight from which he had his name, had enabled his ready hand to take prompt and deadly vengeance for the wound he had received in doing so. The grateful Inverawe felt beggared in expression of thanks to his Indian preserver. he and his friends extracted the arrow from the shoulder of the hero, poured spirits into the wound, and bound it up; an then, as they hastened back to join the troops, he entreated the Eagle Eye to tell him how he could recompense him.
“It is enough for me,” replied the young Indian warrior, with dignified gravity of manner, mingled with becoming modesty, and in his broken language, the imperfections of which I shall not attempt to give you, though I shall endeavour to preserve the finer peculiarities of its poetical conceptions, – “it is enough for my youth to be suffered to live within the shadow of a chief, broad as that which the great rock spreads over the grassy surface of the prairie. A chief among those who have come over the waters of the great salt lake, in number like that of the beavers of the mohawk, whose feathers were the brethren of our fathers, though their hunting grounds are now so far apart. The tribe of the Eagle Eye has been broken. The pride of the foes of the Eagle Eye is swelled by a thousand scalps of his kindred. He is like a solitary tree that has escaped from the whirlwind that has levelled the forest. The Eagle Eye has no father – he is alone – make him thy son.”
“You shall be as a son to me!” said Inverawe, deeply affected by the many tender recollections of home which this appeal ahd awakened in his mind. “You shall never want such fatherly protection as I can give you. But I would fain have you ask some more instant and direct recompense from me, for having thus so nobly saved my life at the peril of your own. Is there nothing immediate that I can do for you? Gratify me by asking something.”
“The Eagle Eye will obey his father,” replied the Indian, calmly. “One of your pale-faced tribe has deeply insulted your red son.”
“Ha!” exclaimed Inverawe, “find him out for me, and you shall forthwith see him punished to your heart’s content.”
“The cunning and cowardly kite is beneath the vengeance of the Eagle,” replied the Indian. “But there was a youth among your pale faces, who stood the red man’s friend. Him would I hold as my brother. Him would I bring with me beneath the shelter of my father, the great chief, that he may grow green and lofty under his protection.”
“You shall search me out that youth,” replied Inverawe, “and be assured he shall find a friend in me for your sake.”
The Eagle Eye, with great dignity, took the right hand of Inverawe between both of his, and pressed it forcibly to his heart. When they reached the ground where the men were halting, the major despatched a non-commissioned officer with the Indian, to find out the young man, and to bring him immediately before him. They soon reappeared with him; and what was Inverawe’s astonishment, when he lifted up his eyes, and beheld – his son!
It was exactly as Donald had himself prognosticated. Inverawe’s heart was so filled with joy, in thus so unexpectedly beholding and embracing his boy, at the very moment when he had been dreaming that he was so far from him; and with pride in thinking of that brave spirit which had impelled him to follow him to America; as well as with deep gratification at the kind-hearted act which had thus caused him to be so strangely brought before him, that no toom was left within it for those gloomy thoughts which might have otherwise arisen there. He clasped him again and again to his bosom, whilst the Indian stood by as a calm spectator of the scene, his countenance unmoved by the feelings of sympathy that were working within him. Their first emotions were no sooner over, than Inverawe hurried Donald away to introduce him to the commanding-officer, and he was speedily admitted into the corps as a gentleman volunteer, with the promise of the first vacant ensigncy. It will easily be believed, that the strict ties which were thus formed between the Campbells of Inverawe and the noble Eagle Eye, were destined to increase every day. Under the direction of his European friends, his wound was treated with the most tender care, and he was soon perfectly cured. The Eagle Eye deeply felt the kindness of his Highland father and brother; but, whether in happiness or in pain, in joy or in grief, his lofty countenance never betrayed those feelings which are so readily yielded to in civilised life. It was in vain that they tried to induce him to adopt European habits, or to domesticate him so far as to make him regularly participate in those comforts which are the fruits of civilisation. He adhered with pertinacity to his own customs, and looked down with barbarian dignity upon those of his hosts, which so widely differed from them; and when at any time he was induced to partake of them, it was with a lofty native politeness, which seemed to indicate that he did so more in compliment to those with whom he was associated, than from any gratification he received in his own person.
Circumstances, with which they or their commanding-officer had nothing to do, had kept the Highlanders altogether out of action during the campaign of 1757, which had done so little for the glory of the British arms. But in the autumn of this year, Lord Loudon was recalled, and Lieutenant-General Abercromby succeeded to the command of the army. By this time, the Highlanders had received an accession of strength, by the arrival of seven hundred recruits from their native mountains; and the corps now numbered no less than thirteen hundred men, of size, figure, strength, and courage, not easily be matched. The British army in America now consisted altogether of above twenty-two thousand regulars, and thirty thousand provincial troops, which last could not be classed under that character. The hopes of all were high, therefore, and active operations were immediately contemplated.
It was some little time before this, that Inverawe was spending an evening, tête-a-tête, with his friend, Colonel Grant. The bottle was passing slowly, but regularly, between them, when, by some unaccountable change in their conversation, the subject of supernatural appearances came to be introduced. Colonel Grant protested against all belief in them. The recollection of the apparition which had three several times visited Inverawe, came back upon his mind, in form and colours so strong and forcible, that his cheeks grew pale, and a deep gloom overspread his brow; so much so, indeed, that it did not escape the observation of his friend. Colonel Grant rallied him, and asked him, jocularly, if he had ever seen a ghost.
“I declare I could almost fancy that you saw some spectre at this moment, Inverawe,” said he.
“Where? – how? – what?” cried Inverawe, darting his eyes into every corner of the room, with a degree of perturbation which the Colonel had never seen him display before.
“Nay,” said the Colonel, surprised into sudden gravity, “I cannot say either where or what; but I must confess that you seem to me as much disturbed at present as if you saw a spectre.”
“I cannot see him here,” said Inverawe, with an abstracted solemnity of tone and manner, that greatly increased his friend’s astonishment – “I cannot see him here. This is not the place where I am fated to behold him.”
“Him!” exclaimed Colonel Grant, with growing anxiety – “him! – who, I pray you? For heaven’s sake tell me who it is that you are fated to behold!”
“pardon me,” replied Inverawe, at length in some degree collecting his ideas, but speaking in a solemn tone. “An intense remembrance which came suddenly upon me, regarding strange circumstances which happened to myself, has betrayed me to talk of that which I would have rather avoided, and – which cannot interest you, incredulous as you have declared yourself to be regarding all such supernatural visitations.”
“Nay, you will pardon me, if you please,” said the Colonel, eagerly; “for you have so wonderfully excited my curiosity, that I must e’en entreat you to satisfy me. What were these circumstances that happened to you? – tell me, I conjure you.”
“It is with great pain,” said Inverawe, gravely, “that I enter upon them at all; for, although they still remain as fresh upon my mind as if they had happened yesterday, I would fain bury them, not only from all mankind, but from myself. And yet, perhaps, it may be as well that you should know them, – for strange as they are in themselves, they would yet be stranger in their fulfilment. Listen then attentively, and I shall tell you everything, even to the very minutest thought that possessed me.” And so he proceeded to narrate all that I have already told.
“Strange!” said the Colonel, after devouring the narrative with breathless attention – “wonderfully strange indeed! But these are airy phantoms of the brain, which we must not – nay, cannot allow to weigh with us, or to dwell upon our minds – else might we be bereft of reason itself, by permitting them to get mastery over us, and so might we unwittingly aid them in working out their own accomplishment. Help yourself to another cup of wine, Inverawe, and then let us change the subject for something of a more cheerful nature.”
But all the cheerfulness had fled from Inverawe for that night, and the friends soon afterwards separated, to seek a repose, which he at least in vain tried to court to his pillow for many hours; and when sleep did come at last, the figure of the murdered man floated to and fro in his dreams. But it did so, only the more to convince him of the wonderful difference between such faint visions of slumber, and that vivid spectral appearance, which had formerly so terribly and deeply impressed itself upon his waking senses, in his own bed-chamber at Inverawe.
The conversation I have just repeated, together with Inverawe’s narrative, remained strongly engraven upon the recollection of Colonel Grant. The whole circumstances adhered to him so powerfully, that he almost felt as if he too had seen the apparition, and heard him utter his fatal words. He could not divest himself of a most intense solicitude about his friend’s future fate, which he could in no manner of way explain to his own rational satisfaction. But the active and bustling duties which now called for his attention, in consequence of the approaching campaign, very speedily banished all such thoughts from his mind.
It was not long after this that Colonel Grant was summoned by General Abercromby to meet the other commanding officers of corps in a council of war. the council lasted for many hours, and when the Colonel came forth from it after it had broken up, he was observed to have a cloud upon his brow, and a certain air of serious anxiety about him, which was very much augmented by his meeting with his friend Inverawe.
“Well,” said Inverawe cheerfully to him, as Colonel Grant joined him and his other officers at mess – “I hope you have good news for us, Colonel, and that at last you can tell us that we are to march out of quarters on some piece of active service.”
“We are to march to-morrow,” replied the Colonel, with unusual gravity.
“Whither?” cried Inverawe, eagerly. “Whither, if I may be permitted to ask?”
“We march to Lake George,” replied the Colonel, with a very manifest disposition to taciturnity.
“Pardon me,” said Inverawe; “perhaps I push my questions indiscreetly, – if so, forgive me.”
“No,” replied the Colonel, with assumed carelessness. “I have nothing which the good of the service requires me to conceal from you, Inverawe, nor, indeed, from any one here present. We march for Lake George, s I have already said; and there we are to be embarked in boats to proceed up the lake. Our object,” added he, in a deeper and somewhat melancholy tone, – “our object is to attack Fort Defiance.”
“What sort of a place is it?” demanded one of the officers.
“A strong place, as I understand from the engineer who reconnoitred it,” replied the Colonel. “But these American fastnesses are so beset with forests, that no one can well judge of them till he is fairly within their entrenchments.”
“Then let us pledge this cup to our speedy possession of them!” exclaimed Inverawe joyously.
“With all my heart,” said the Colonel, filling his to the brim, – but with a solemnity of countenance that sorted but ill with the cheerful shouts of mutual interchange of congratulation that arose around the table. “With all my heart I drink the toast, and may we all be there alive to drink a cup of thanks for our success.”
“Father,” cried young Inverawe, in his keenness overlooking the Colonel’s ominous addition to the toast; “now, father, these Frenchmen shall see what stuff Highlanders are made of!”
“They shall, my boy,” replied Inverawe. “Come, then, as I am master of the revels to-night, I call on you all to fill a brimmer. I give you Highlanders shoulder to shoulder!”
“Hurrah! – hurrah! – hurrah!” vociferated the whole officers present.
This was but the commencement of an evening of more than usual jollity. The spirits of all were up, – and of all, none were so high in glee as those of Inverawe and his son. There was something, indeed, which might have been almost said to have been strangely wild in the unwonted revelry of the father. Colonel Grant was the only individual present, who did not seem to keep pace with the rest. the flask circulated with more than ordinary rapidity and frequency, – but as the mirth which it created rose higher and higher, and especially with Inverawe and young Donald, Colonel Grant’s thoughts seemed to sink deeper and deeper into gloomy speculation. He retired from the festive board at an early hour, leaving the others, who kept up their night’s enjoyment as long as they could do so with decency. Inverawe and his son sat with them to the last; and all agreed, at parting, that they had been the life and soul of that evening’s revel.
The next morning, the officers of the Highlanders were early astir, to get their men into order of march. Major Campbell of Inverawe was the most active man among them. General Abercromby’s force upon this occasion consisted of about six thousand regulars, and nine thousand provincial troops, together with a small train of artillery. Before they moved off, the General rode along the line of troops, giving his directions to the field of officers of each battalion in succession. When he came up to the Highlanders, he courteously accosted Colonel Grant and Major Campbell.
“Gentlemen,” said he, “we shall have toughish work of it; for though the enemy have not had time to complete their defences, yet, I am told, that, even in its present state, there are few places which are naturally likely to be of more troublesome entrance than we shall find -“
“Then we shall find Fort Defiance,” somewhat strangely interrupted Colonel Grant, with an emphasis which not a little surprised Inverawe, as coming from a man usually so polite. “Aye, I have heard, indeed, that Fort Defiance is naturally a strong place, General. But what will not Highlanders accomplish! You may rely on it you shall have no cause to complain of the Black Watch!”
“I have no fear that I shall,” replied the General, betraying no symptoms of having taken offence at the Colonel’s apparently unaccountable interruption. “I know that both you and your men will do your duty against Fort Defiance, or any other fort.”
“Fort Defiance is a bold name, General,” said Major Campbell, laughing.
“It is a bold name,” said the Colonel, gravely.
“It is a vaunting name enough,” replied the General. “Yet I hope to meet you both alive and merry as conquerors within its works. Meanwhile, gentlemen, pray get your Highlanders under march for the boats with as little delay as possible.”
Not another word but the necessary words of command were now uttered. The regiment moved off steadily, and the embarkation on Lake George was speedily effected, with the most perfect regularity and order, on the 5th of July, 1758.
It must have been a beautiful sight indeed, to have beheld that immense flotilla of boats moving over the pellucid surface of that lovely sheet of water – not a sound proceeding from everywhere reflecting the serene sky of a July evening, together with all the charms of its bold and varied shores, and its romantic islands;- its stillness affording a strange prelude to that tempest of mortal contest which was about to ensue. Its breadth is about two miles – so that the boats nearly covered it from side to side. They moved on, while snatches of scenery, and many little circumstances in the features of nature around them, called up the remembrance of their own Loch Awe to both the Laird of Inverawe and young Donald, as the sun went down; and the pensiveness arising from these home recollections, at such a time, kept both of them silent. At length, after a safe and easy, and, on the part of the enemy, and unobserved navigation, the boats reached the northern end of the lake early on the ensuing morning; and the landing having been effected without opposition, the troops were formed by General Abercromby into two parallel columns.
The order was given to advance; and the troops speedily came to an outpost of the enemy, which was abandoned without a shot. But as they proceeded, the nature of the ground, encumbered as it was with trees, rendered the march of both lines uncertain and wavering, so that the columns soon began to interfere with each other; and great confusion ensued. Whilst endeavouring to extend themselves, the right column, composed of the Highlanders, and the Fifty-fifth regiment, under the command of Lord Howe, fell in with a detachment of the enemy, which had got bewildered in the wood, just as they themselves had done. The British attacked them briskly, and a sharp contest followed. The enemy behaved gallantly; and the Highlanders especially distinguished themselves. Young Donald of Inverawe, his bosom bounding with excitement, from the shouts of those engaged in the skirmish, rushed into the thickest part of the irregular melée, and performed such feats of prowess with his maiden claymore, that they might have done honour to an old and well-tried soldier. Excited yet more by his success, he became rash and unguarded, and being too forward in the pursuit among the trees – which had already broken the troops on both sides into small handfuls – he found himself suddenly engaged with three enemies at once. As he was just about to be overpowered by their united pressure upon him, a ball from a rifle stretched one of them lifeless before him, and in an instant afterwards, the Eagle Eye, whose accurate aim had directed it to its deadly errand, was flourishing his tomahawk over the head of another of his foes. It fell upon him – the skull was split open – the man rolled down on the ground a ghastly corpse; and the third, that was left opposed to young Inverawe, began to give way in terror before him. urging fiercely upon this last foe, however, the youth ran him through with one tremendous thrust, and he too dropped dead.
Flushed with success, Donald Campbell was now about to continue the pursuit, after some fugitives of the enemy, who came rushing past him, when, turning to call on his red brother and preserver, the Eagle Eye, to follow him, he beheld him stooping over one of his dead foes, in the act of scalping him. At that very moment, he saw a French soldier approaching his Indian brother unperceived, with sword uplifted, and with the fell intent of hewing him down. Springing before the Eagle Eye, the young Inverawe prepared himself to receive the mediated stroke – warded it skilfully off, and then following in on his foe with a thrust, he penetrated him right through the breast, with a wound that was instantaneously mortal. The Eagle Eye was now as sensible that he owed his life to young Donald, as Donald could have been that his had been preserved by the Indian warrior. They stood for a moment gazing at each other, and then they embraced, with an affection, which the stern Eagle Eye had difficulty in veiling, and which young Inverawe could not conceal.
By this time the enemy were all cut to pieces, or put to flight. The joy of this unexpected victory was turned into mourning, by the death of Lord Howe, who had been unfortunately killed in the early part of this random engagement. His loss, at such a time, was greater than anything they had gained by this partial overthrow of the enemy. And you will easily understand this, when I tell you, that it was said of this young nobleman, that he particularly distinguished himself by his courage, activity, and rigid observance of military discipline; ad that he had so acquired the esteem and affection of the soldiers, by his generosity, sweetness of manners, and engaging address, that they assembled in groups around the hurried grave to which his venerated remains were consigned, and wept over it in deep and silent grief.
The troops having been much harassed by this engagement, as well as by the troublesome nature of their march, General Abercromby, in consideration of the lateness of the hour, deemed it prudent, to deliver them from the embarrassment of the woods, to march them back to the landing-place, which they reached early in the morning. They were then allowed the whole of the ensuing day and night for repose. But on the morning of the 8th of July, he rode up to the lines of the Highlanders, and saluting Colonel Grant and Major Campbell of Inverawe, “Gentlemen,” said he, “I have just obtained information from some of the prisoners, that General Levi is advancing with three thousand men to reinforce, or succour, – a – a – a – to succour, I say, – the garrison I wish to attack.”
“What!” exclaimed Colonel Grant, – “to succour Fort Defiance, General? Then I presume you will move on directly, to strike the blow before they can arrive.”
“That is exactly my intention,” replied General Abercromby.
“And now I must tell you confidentially, gentlemen, that the present garrison consists of fully five thousand men, of whom the greater part are said to be French troops of the line, who, I am informed, are stationed behind the traverses, with large trees lying everywhere felled in front of them. But I have sent forward an engineer to reconnoitre more strictly, and I trust I shall have his report before we shall have advanced as far as – as -”
“As Fort Defiance,” interrupted Colonel Grant. “Well, General, are we to be in the advance?”
“No,” replied the General. “As you and the Fifty-fifth have had all the fighting that has as yet fallen to our lot, I mean that you shall be in the reserve upon this occasion. The picquets will commence the assault, and they will be followed by the grenadiers, – which will be in their turn supported by the battalions of the reserve. – Nay, do not look mortified, Colonel; – you and your men will have a bellyfull of it before all is done, I promise you.”
With these words the General left them, and the columns moved on through the wood in the order he had signified to them. They had now possessed themselves of better guides, and they were thus enabled to make their march more direct, and as they had already cleared their front of enemies, the leading troops were soon up at the entrenchments. Here they were surprised to find a regular breast-work, nine or ten feet high, strongly defended with wall-pieces, and having a very impregnable chevaux de frieze, whilst the whole ground in front was everywhere strewed thickly over with huge newly felled oak trees, for the distance of about a cannon-shot from the walls. From behind the chevaux de frieze, the enemy, in strong force, commenced a most galling and destructive fire upon the assailants, so as to render the works almost unapproachable, without certain destruction, especially without the artillery, which, from some accident, had not as yet been brought up. But the very danger they had to encounter seemed to give the British troops a more than human courage. Regardless of the hailstorm of bullets discharged on them, with deliberate aim from behind the abattis, whilst they were fighting their laborious and painful way through the labyrinth of fallen trunks and branches that opposed their passage, they continued, column after column, to advance, dropping and thinning fearfully as they went.
The Highlanders beheld this slaughter that the enemy was making of their friends – their blood boiled within them. In vain Colonel Grant and Major Campbell galloped backwards and forwards along the line, using every command and every argument that official authority or reason could employ to restrain and to soothe them, till their time for action should arrive. With one tremendous shout they rushed forward from the reserve, and cutting their way through the trees with their claymores, they were soon showing their plumed crests among the very foremost ranks of the assailants/ But so murderous was the fire that fell upon them, that their black tufted bonnets were seen dropping in all directions, never to be again raised by the brave heads that bore them. Their loss before they gained the outward defences of the fort was fearful; but the onset of those who survived was so overwhelming that it drove the enemy from these outworks, and compelled them to retreat within the body of the fort itself.
Now came the most dreadful part of this work of death. The garrison, protected by the works of the fort, mowed down the ranks of the besiegers with a yet more certain and unerring aim. Under the false report that these works were as yet incomplete, scaling ladders had been considered as unnecessary. The Highlanders, gnashing their teeth like raging tigers caught in the toils, endeavoured to clamber up the front of them, by rearing themselves on each other’s shoulders, and by digging holes with their swords and bayonets in the face of the intrenchments. Some few succeeded, by such means, in gaining a footing on the top. But it was only to make themselves more conspicuous, and more certain marks for destruction; and they were no sooner seen, than their lifeless bodies, perforated by showers of bullets, were swept down upon their struggling comrades below. By repeated and multiplied exertions of this kind, Captain John Campbell succeeded in forcing his way entirely over the breastwork, at the head of a handful of men; but they also were instantly despatched by the multitude of bayonets by which they were assailed. Four hours did these gallant men persevere in the repetition of such daring attempts as I have described – all, alas! with equal want of success, and with increasing slaughter, till General Abercromby ordered the retreat to be sounded. To this call, however, the Highlanders were deaf; and it was not until Colonel Grant, after receiving three successive orders from the General, which he had failed in enforcing, threw himself among them, and literally drove them back from the works with his sword, that he could collect and bring away the small moiety that yet remained alive, of that splendid regiment with which he had marched to the attack. More than one-half of the men, and two-thirds of the officers, were lying killed or wounded on that bloody field.
Colonel Grant had hardly gathered this remnant of his men together, when he hastened back over the ground where the contest had raged, to search eagerly for some of those whom he most dearly loved, and for the cause of whose absence from this hasty muster he trembled to inquire or investigate. The enemy, though victorious, had been too roughly handled to be tempted to sally, for the mere purpose of annoying those who were peacefully engaged in the sad duty of carrying off their wounded or dying comrades. The Colonel was therefore enabled to make his way over the encumbered field without molestation, and with no other interruption than that which was presented to him by the prostrate trees, which, however, seemed to him to offer greater obstruction to his present impatience, than they had done during his advance with his corps to the attack. The scene was strangely terrible! It might have been imagined by anyone who looked upon that field, that all Nature, even the elements themselves, had been at strife. Slaughtered, and mutilated, and dying men lay in confused heaps, or scattered singly among the overthrown giants of the forest, those enormous trees which had been so recently rooted in the primeval soil, where they had stood for ages. Colonel Grant looked everywhere anxiously around him. Many were the familiar faces that he recognised, but their features were now so fixed by the last agonising pang of a violent death, as cruelly, yet certainly, to assure him, that they could never again in this world recognise him. the last spirited words of high and courageous hope, so recently uttered by many of them to him in their anticipation of triumph, still rang in his recollection, and as he tore his eyes away from them, the tears would burst over his manly cheeks as the thought arose in his mind, that words of theirs would never again reach his ears. He moved hurriedly on, endeavouring to suppress his feelings, but every now and then compelled to give way to them, till his attention was absorbingly attracted by descrying the dark form of an Indian, who was seated on his hams, beneath the arched trunk and boughs of a huge felled oak. It was the Eagle Eye.
He sat motionless as a bronze statue, with the drapery of his blanket hanging in deep folds from his shoulders. His features were grave and still, and apparently devoid of feeling; but his eyes were turned downward, and they were immoveably fixed on the countenance of a young man who lay stretched out a corpse before him. His head was supported between the knees of the red man, whilst the cold and stiffened fingers of him who was dead were firmly clasped between both his hands. The body was that of young Donald Campbell of Inverawe.
“God help me!” cried the Colonel, clasping his hands and weeping bitterly. “God help me, what a spectacle!”
“Why should you weep, old man?” said the Eagle Eye, with imperturbable calmness. “My young brother has gone to the Great Spirit, like a great warrior as he was. Who among his tribe shall be ashamed of him? Who among warriors shall call him a woman? I could weep for him too did I not know that the Great Spirit has taken him to happiness, from which it were wicked in me to wish to have detained him for my own miserable gratification. But he is happy! He has gone to those fair, boundless, and plentiful hunting-grounds that lie beyond the great lake, where he will never know want, and where we, if our deeds be like his, will surely follow him. But till then the sunshine of the Eagle Eye has departed, and night must surround his footsteps, since the light of his pale-faced brother has departed!”
“This is too much!” said the Colonel, quite overwhelmed by his feelings. “Help me to bear off the body. It must not be left here.”
The Eagle Eye arose in silence, and gravely and solemnly assisted the Highlander who attended the Colonel to lift and bear away the body, and they had not thus proceeded more than a few paces in their retreat from the works when the weeping eyes of the Highland commanding-officer and the eagle gaze of the red warrior were equally arrested at the same moment by one and the same object. This was the manly and heroic form of Major Campbell of Inverawe. He sat on the ground desperately wounded, with his back partially supported against the body of his horse, which had been killed under him. His eye-balls were stretched from their sockets, and fixed upon vacancy, with an expression of terror greater than that with which death himself, riding triumphant as he was over that field of the slain, could have filled those of so brave a man. Colonel Grant was so overcome that he could not utter a word. He was convulsed by his emotions. The Eagle Eye laid down the body of Donald opposite to his father, and silently resumed his former position, with the youth’s head between his knees. The father’s eyes caught the motionless features of his son, and he started from his strange state of abstraction.
“My son!” murmured the wounded Inverawe/ “So, it is as I supposed. – he is gone! But I shall soon be with you, boy. God in his mercy help and protect your poor mother!”
“Speak not thus, my dearest friend!” said Colonel Grant, making an effort to command himself, and hastening to support and comfort the wounded man; “trust me you will yet do well. You must live for your poor wife’s sake.”
“No!” replied Inverawe, with deep solemnity. “My hour is come. In vain was it that your kind friendship and that of the brave Abercromby, succeeded in deceiving me, – for I have seen him – I have seen him terribly, – and this is Ticonderoga!”
“Pardon me, my dear Inverawe, for a deception which was so well intended,” said the Colonel, much agitated. “It is indeed Ticonderoga as you say, but – but – believe me, – that which now disturbs you was only some phantom of your brain, arising from loss of blood and weakness. Cheer up! – Come, man! – Come! – Inverawe” – Merciful Heaven, he is gone!”