Page:Yule Logs.djvu/147

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131
THE BADGE OF THE FOURTH FOOT

Colonel Ossington. "On what grounds do you base your conviction?"

"On the surest of all grounds," returned the soldier, "his own admission, and also my certain knowledge that when Charles Edward Stuart and his army of Highlanders were encamped on the moor near here, Sir John Leslie supplied them not only with the food which they so sorely needed, but also with money, with arms, and with ammunition."

A fierce light leapt into the old man's eyes.

"It is false!" he cried, in a quivering voice; "it is false!" He stamped his foot. "I do not doubt that you yourself believe what you are saying. Some knave or liar must have deceived you. But, all the same, it is not true. My father was as fervent a Hanoverian as I was and still am. It was Neil alone who was the skulking Jacobite. Ay, and to him I owe it that I am now so poor that I cannot even offer a chance visitor the hospitality that is his due. Had my father been in sound health at the time of the Rebellion, he would have joined the King's troops and fought as boldly as did my dear brother Alan, who fell fighting bravely and loyally for King George on Culloden Moor."

"In that last particular you are again strangely in error," interrupted Colonel Ossington. "Alan Leslie took no part whatsoever in the battle of Culloden. I, who was his comrade and friend, can testify also that he did not die a soldier's death—at least not upon the field."

"What!" cried the astonished Sir Donald. "Are you certain of this?"

"I am," reiterated the colonel, "absolutely certain."

"Then where in Heaven's name was he?"

"Here—in this house," returned Ossington, knocking the ash out of his pipe and slowly reopening his tobacco-bag. "It was of him more particularly that I came here to speak with you. I wanted to learn something of his