Page:Yule Logs.djvu/157

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141
THE BADGE OF THE FOURTH FOOT

all these years?" He leaned forward with his open hands clasping his knees, and with his eyes fixed upon the fire. Then he went on, as if speaking to himself : "Some years ago, just after the taking of Quebec, I chanced to make the acquaintance of an aged Highlander, who had a bullet in his chest and was dying in the hospital. I learned that the man's name was David Duncan. We got talking of the Jacobite rebellion, and I discovered that he had been present at Culloden. Further conversation elicited the information that this same old Highlander had been one of the Pretender's messengers sent to Castle Leslie to convey the arms and money to the rebel encampment. Duncan and his companions waited that night near the postern gate. They were at their post at eleven. They waited until three o'clock. But no one ever came to them and the arms were never delivered. While they waited, Duncan heard a strange, weird cry, like a cry for help. Whence it came he could not tell; neither did he know whether it was the cry of a man or of a woman. Human it certainly was. It seemed, he said, to come out of the ground at his feet. It was then midnight."

The old clock in the outer hall struck eleven. Sir Donald Leslie signed to Colin, indicating that it was high time the boy was in bed. Colin bade the two men goodnight, but still lingered in the room for a few moments, hoping to hear more of this family mystery.

"I infer from what you have said," remarked Colonel Ossington, addressing his host, "that you have no knowledge of the secret place in which the military stores and the gold of which we have been speaking were hidden?"

"There is no such secret place in all the castle," returned Sir Donald. "Of that I am quite certain. Whether the rebels received the stores or not, the things vere assuredly removed long before I returned to Scotland."

These were the last arguments that Colin Leslie heard