THE BADGE OF THE FOURTH FOOT
without, and a tall, singularly noble-looking young man entered with the majestic stride of a monarch. He was followed by a yet younger man. At sight of our red coats both new-comers started back in amazement. Before either could speak, however, Sir John had hurried the elder of them out of the room. The younger man, whom I rightly guessed to be Neil Leslie, stepped back and, looking into Alan's face, smiled in recognition, and held out his hand. Alan refused to accept this; offer of friendship."
"Ay, and quite right," interposed Sir Donald.
Colonel Ossington did not heed the interruption, but proceeded with his narrative.
"As the two brothers stood there, facing each other," he said, "I thought them the two handsomest youths I had ever beheld. Alan, with his smart military bearing, his finely featured face and his glistening dark eyes; Neil, somewhat taller, although younger, with fairer hair and more lithe figure, dressed in the picturesque Highland costume, with his dark tartan kilt and his long flowing plaid, that was caught at the shoulder by a large silver brooch, set with a sparkling yellow stone."
On hearing this description of his great-uncle, young Colin Leslie moved from his seat at the fire to a vacant chair opposite to Colonel Ossington. It was evident that Neil was in his eyes a hero.
"Alan, I say, refused to accept his brother's proffered friendship. 'Who was the young man that came to the door with you just now?' he demanded. And Neil answered proudly, as he turned to leave the room: 'It was the prince whom I have the honour to serve—Prince Charles Edward Stuart.'"
"And he was once here—here in this very room?" murmured Colin, with reverent enthusiasm. In his boyish imagination the room had been sanctified by the presence of the romantic adventurer.