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Chapter 6 The Fight



 

The men outside waited for me, but then the captain came to the open door.

' Stop!' said Alan. He had his sword in his hand.

The captain said nothing. He turned and looked at me with an angry face. Then he went away.

It came suddenly. There was a shout, and then Mr Shuan was at the door. He fought Alan.

' Watch your window!' said Alan. And before I turned, his sword went through the first officer's stomach.

I looked quickly through my window. Five men ran to the other door with some heavy wood. I started shooting at them with my first gun. One of them shouted when I hit him. I shot again, but it went over their heads. But they threw down the wood and ran away.

I couldn't see across the room because of the smoke from my gun. Alan was all right, but Mr Shuan was on the floor.

' They'll be back, David, 'Alan said.' Watch from your window.'

I got my guns ready again. Then I waited.

Suddenly some men with swords ran to the open door. Then the window above my head broke and a man jumped through. His sword fell from his hand. Before he could take it again, I put a gun to his back.

But I couldn't shoot. He turned quickly, and put his hands on me. Then I was really afraid, so I shot him in the stomach. He fell to the floor.

Then the leg of a second man hit me on the head. I looked up when he came through the window. I quickly took another gun and shot him in the leg.

' David!' shouted Alan. A seaman had his arms round Alan.

I took the sword of a dead man and ran to Alan. But before I could do anything, Alan jumped away from the man. He shouted and used his sword fast and angrily. The seaman and his friends turned and ran.

There were four dead men inside the roundhouse. Alan and I threw them outside.

Nothing happened for a long time. One of us sat at the door and watched. The other slept.

At about six o'clock in the morning we sat down and had breakfast. Alan ate fast, but I was not very hungry. This was my first fight.

Alan cut a shiny button from his coat. 'My father, Duncan Stewart, gave me these buttons,' he said. 'Now I'm giving you one so you will remember last night's work. Show the button anywhere, and Alan Breck's friends will be your friends.'

Mr Riach called from outside. The captain wanted to talk to Alan.

' What will he do ?' I said.

' He won't try anything,' Riach answered.' He can't. The men won't help him. And I'm afraid, Davie. We want to see the man off this ship. We'll take him to Linnhe Loch.'

 

Chapter 7 The 'Red Fox'

 

The nearest way to Linnhe Loch was to the north of the island of Mull. But the captain didn't know that way. So we went down the west of Mull, and came round the south of the island.



Alan and I sat and told our stories. First I told him my story.

He listened kindly. But he was angry when I spoke about that good friend of mine in Essendean, Mr Campbell. Then he shouted,' I hate everybody with that name!'

'Why?' I asked. 'Mr Campbell's a good man. What's wrong with the Campbells?'

' I'm a Stewart from Appin,' said Alan.' The Campbells hate us. They want our lands and houses, and they try everything. They use lawyers - but never a sword. The Campbells make life dangerous for me and my friends.'

' But you are going home ?' I said.

' Oh yes!' said Alan.' I come home every year. I have to see my friends and my country. France is a fine place, of course, but I have to see Scotland. And then there's my chieftain, Ardshiel. All his life he was a great man, David. He had a king's name, and 400 swordsmen. And now he has to live in a French town. Now, the people of Appin have to pay King George of England so they can use their land. But they love their chieftain, and they find money for Ardshiel, too. So, David, I carry that money' And he hit the money bag hard with his hand. 'Ardshiel's brother,James Stewart, gets it from people. I carry it.'

I thought about the clansmen's love of their chieftain. 'I understand,' I said. 'I'm not fighting the king's men, but I understand.'

' Yes,' he said.' You're a good man and you understand. But the Campbells don't. And the Red Fox—' He stopped, and there was hate in his eyes.

' The Red Fox ?' I said.' Who is he ?'

'I'll tell you,' said Alan.'Ardshiel had to run with his wife and their children after the fight with the English at Culloden. It was difficult, but they got to France. And the English took away all Ardshiel's land; they took the swords and guns from his clansmen. But they could not kill the clansmen's love for their chieftain.'

' The money in your bag shows that,' I said.

' Yes,' said Alan.' But there is a man with red hair, a Campbell -Colin of Glenure—'

' The Red Fox ?' I said.

'Yes,' said Alan.' He got papers from King George.The papers made him the king's man in the lands of Appin. The clansmen had to pay him for their land. But of course they sent money to Ardshiel, too. He was very angry about that. He sent for lawyers and papers and soldiers. He sent all Ardshiel's people away from their homes and their lands. The soldiers are there now. Hundreds of them. But the money gets through to Ardshiel. The soldiers can't stop it.'

'But I don't understand,' I said. 'There are soldiers in the Highlands. But they don't catch you. How do you do it?'

' It's not difficult,' said Alan.' A soldier is in one place, so you go a different way. And everywhere you find friends." Where are the soldiers ?" you ask them. And they tell you. They are good people, and you can stay in their houses. They give you food, and a bed for the night. And the soldiers don't watch very well because the clansmen have no guns or swords.' He smiled.' Or they think that. But there are some, under floors and in other places. The soldiers don't know about them.'

 





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