"Continue," urged Sir Donald, with a black cloud in his face. "What happened next?"
"When Neil had gone out of the room," said the old campaigner, "Alan gave a mocking laugh. 'What do you think of them, Jack?' said he. 'It seems to me we've dropped into a hornet's nest. It will be war to the knife with my father and me after this. Which reminds me,' he added, crossing the room to the wall opposite the window there, 'this pretty dirk is mine. I may as well take possession of it.' And he took down a long-bladed, jewel-hafted dagger that was hung there under the picture of Bonnie Belinda. 'Wait outside for me, Jack,' said he; 'wait at the stable door. There's something else I want to do before we go back to Nairn.' So I went out and waited at the stable. I waited for fully an hour. When Alan joined me at last, he was a different man. He was strangely agitated almost mad with passion and fierce vindictive rage against his father.
"'Look here, Jack,' said he, 'you'd better ride back to Nairn at once—without me. I shall come on later—perhaps not until to-morrow morning. Ride back as quickly as you can, and see the Duke of Cumberland. If you can't see him, go to Major Wolfe. Tell him—tell either of them—that the rebel army is only some four thousand strong, but that the Pretender has determined to attack the King's troops to-morrow. I have just heard this by accident. The three of them—Charles Stuart, my father, and that young scamp Neil—have been closeted together. But I overheard them talking and unfolding their plans. There was only a thin curtain between us, and I heard every word. I heard my father saying that he had a store of arms and ammunition here in the castle for the use of the Highlanders. Two hundred muskets and as many swords, as well as ten thousand pounds in gold. These he offered to Stuart, bidding him send for them at eleven o'clock to-night. The arms and the money