Page:Yule Logs.djvu/146

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130
THE BADGE OF THE FOURTH FOOT

"Rejoiced to be rid of him?" echoed the colonel, in surprise. "I do not understand. Neil Leslie was his father's especial favourite. And very naturally so, as it seems to me, since they both were Jacobites."

Sir Donald laid his pipe upon the table.

"Jacobites?" he repeated, in a tone half of surprise and half of disbelief. "Who were Jacobites?"

"Why, Sir John Leslie and his son Neil."

"No, no," returned Sir Donald emphatically. "You mistake the facts, colonel; you are dreaming. My brother Neil was a Jacobite, curse him. But my father, I thank Heaven, was as firmly for the House of Hanover as you or I."

"If either of us is dreaming," declared the soldier, "I am afraid it is yourself, Sir Donald. Surely you do not pretend that you never knew your father to be a bitter enemy of King George! Surely you, his own son, cannot be ignorant of the fact that for month—ay, for years—before Culloden, Sir John Leslie was secretly one of the most active friends and personal supporters of the young Pretender?"

Sir Donald had risen to his feet, and now he strode thoughtfully to the end of the room and back.

"If you are speaking the truth, I have been ignorant indeed," he said, with a frown. He turned and continued moodily to pace the room. To and fro he strode with his twitching hands linked together behind his back. Colonel Ossington quietly puffed at his pipe, while young Colin Leslie, in his seat at the ingle, leaned forward staring at the two men in fixed attention. No word was spoken for many minutes, and all was silent saving only for the wild, boisterous rumbling of the wind in the chimney, and the regular shuffling tramp of Sir Donald Leslie's slippered feet upon the bare oak floor. Presently this latter sound ceased, and Sir Donald stood still, ruminating.

"I cannot believe it," he said at length, confronting