The Master of Stair/Book 1/Chapter 25


It was midday of the thirteenth of February and the snow clouds were blowing up over the Valley of Glencoe.

The whole landscape, encompassed by vast and steep mountains, lay in a cold, leaden gray light, there was no human being in sight and the only living thing visible was the solitary eagle that circled in and out of the fissures in the hills. The clouds rested like a girdle round the mountains, the sides and summits of which showed rifts of the pure melted snow. There were many entries to the valley, desolate winding pathways between the hills, steep avenues, twisting down the rocks; and from the mouth through the center ran a flat and silent stream.

There was no sign of the nearing of the spring; it seemed the very depth of winter; the grass and trees were withered to a uniform tint of grayness; the vastness of the scene made it awful, its silence made it melancholy beyond expression, humanity appeared to have no place in this loneliness; the cry of the eagle echoed like a dismal warning to all who would intrude on his desolate domain and the silence seemed the greater as his scream fell to stillness.

Descending into the valley by its mouth were two people: a shepherd wrapped in a heavy plaid and a woman on a Highland pony. As the valley closed round them, she raised her face constantly to the sky and the mountain tops as if their rugged splendor pleased her; her face was pale and of a calm nobility in the expression; her brown eyes held an intense look and her curved mouth was firmly set; her gray hood and her heavy, dull brown hair showed off the pure lines of her uplifted square chin and full throat; she took little heed of her companion, a tall gloomy Highlander and when her gaze was not on the stormy sky it was directed down the desolate Glen.

Once she said:

"What a place to dwell—this wilderness!"

And he answered in his Gaelic:

"The Glen o' Weeping! The Glen o' Weeping!"

As they advanced farther into the Glen, a few scattered dull-colored dwellings became visible, mostly situated in the windings and twistings of the steep sides, and as they drew yet nearer the very heart of the valley they beheld, spread before them twenty or thirty rude huts gathered in some semblance of order round a central one of more pretentious size.

They did not seem the habitations of human beings, but more like the quarries or lairs of some strange wild beasts; there were no people about, but from some of the roofs a thin curl of smoke arose.

The girl on the Highland pony, Delia Featherstonehaugh, looked long at the cluster of huts as they neared them.

"The chief of the Macdonalds dwells here?" she asked.

He nodded taciturnly.

They came slowly over the worn and faded heather into the center of the little colony, then Delia slipped from her horse.

"Makian's house," said the Highlander, pointing to the largest dwelling, and she followed him to the door, leading her tired pony; her garments were blown about her in the wind and her long locks escaped and flew across her face; she lifted her eyes again to the mountains in their grand solitude and her breast rose with the trembling of a sigh.

Her guide struck on the door and instantly it was opened; the Highlander turned with an abrupt gesture to the woman, standing without in the gray.

"A Saxon woman, Macdonald, with a message for you," he said.

An old man, wrapped in a plaid, stood in the doorway, he stared from one to the other as the shepherd continued: "She met your son Ronald in the Lowlands, and he bid her come to me if ever she had need of finding him, and so she came with news of disaster to you, and I brought her thither."

"Disaster?" echoed Makian.

Delia Featherstonehaugh stepped over the threshold. She had a glimpse of a warmly-lighted interior and a group of men playing cards; she stood silent a moment with her hand on the door-post and Makian stared at her.

Then she spoke:

"I am an emissary of the King," she said; she laid her hand on the old Highlander's arm and her eager eyes looked straightly up into his. "I sent you—and all the clans a warning—by your son, you remember, Macdonald?"

He nodded, the men round the fire had risen and were listening, too; her voice rose, gaining in steadiness.

"I warned you to take the oaths to the government—I warned you that the Campbells were preparing a vengeance—"

Makian interrupted.

"We took the oaths—I went through the snows to Inverary and took the oaths."

"Too late!" she answered bitterly. "Too late! Too long you dallied—and maybe I also am too late!"

Again he interposed.

"But we are under the government's protection—I was assured of that."

She came a step forward and her glance took in the men assembled against the background of thick peat smoke; in her gray garments, falling straight from shoulders to feet with her eager, colorless face, she looked like some embodiment of the mists from the mountains that had drifted through their doors; they moved a little away from her as if they were in an awe of her person that overweighed any anxiety that they might have felt as to her message; she saw this and trembled in her desire to convince them of the terrible import of her warning; she recalled to them the hatred of the Campbells; she spoke of what she knew of the policy of the government; of how their submission had been suppressed. She said Breadalbane was at Kilchurn arming his clan, that Argyll was holding Inverness, that soldiers were quartered in Argyllshire and were marching even now from Fort William; she related her own wild journey, the difficulties, the perils, how she had come from England, hastening, never stopping, that she might warn them of the doom preparing; that she might arrest a bloody execution, and her eyes went to the figure of Ronald Macdonald, who leaned quietly against the rude wall close to her.

When the tide of her words had come to an end she stood with panting bosom and dilated eyes, waiting.

While she spoke the circle of her audience had grown; men, women and children, they were gathered round the hut door, while within stood the old chief and his family with somber faces. But there was silence and no movement from any of them. The girl turned to Ronald with a strange smile.

"You know me, Ronald Macdonald?—you think that I speak the truth?"

He answered slowly:

"I know you and I believe."

His father cried out, struck through his apathy at last:

"The Campbells march from Fort William?"

"Ay, I saw them on the road—I slipped past them because my guide knew the shorter, hidden ways."

A sound like a faint wail arose from the gathered crowd; a portentous sense of evil, not to be measured either by exact statement or loose phrasing, possessed them; they all turned their eyes to the Saxon woman in their midst and she in her turn gazed on the one indifferent face among them, the face of the young man Ronald, for the memory of whom she had kept her vow to save him.

"We may fly through Strath Tay," said one.

Delia shook her head.

"The laird of Weem has been secured by the government—ye are surrounded—every avenue of the Glen is—I think, closed. I have done little—only ye cannot be murdered unwitting in your sleep."

"They come for that—these Campbells?" demanded Ronald sullenly. "To slay us in our sleep?"

"They come with full power of sword and fire," she answered.

She rested her weary head against the lintel of the door and again a curious smile moved her lips; she thought of the last time she had seen him and the present gray scene, the surrounding figures, the loud cursing of the Campbell name, the shrill talk of women, fell away from her. She recalled the little house in Glasgow and the coming of the Highlander, and Perseus, busy writing, plotting, coming to and fro, the even round of the days, excitement and the great hope ahead, the beacon to lead them on, recalled all this with curiosity and no regret even as she pictured the dead brother whom she had loved; once waiting idly in some great house, she had noticed pictures on the walls, a carnival on the ice, a fruit shop, a lady with a fan, she could remember them now, every detail, and as impersonal as these did she see her life of a few months ago, quiet, pleasant pictures, rising in succession, till suddenly they were shattered into darkness and one rose that blotted them out, one figure, one face.

In her recital she had not named the Master of Stair; she had blamed Breadalbane, the Campbells, the government, but she had not named the name of the man whom she knew to be behind it all she had not hinted that the hand of the Master of Stair was guiding Breadalbane, all of them, that his will and his power were behind the redcoats marching for Glencoe.

They brought her to the fire and made her lay aside her cloak and warm her cold hands; and showed her rough hospitality. She obeyed silently and sat down meekly in the heavy peat reek with a lassitude not to be explained; as if there were no momentous hour at hand, as if her life ran smoothly ahead, as if there were no white faces and eager voices about her, as if no army was marching nearer, with the slow fading of the light, nearer.

One of the women brought her some milk, and came and kissed her hand and blessed her; she took no notice of either; she was picturing a finely-dressed lady, who held out a miniature from the end of a mauve ribbon.

"My children."

She heard the words again and saw the action, but again the thrill of exquisite anguish with which her own words had come:

"How like!—how like!"

So he had looked when he had bargained with her; when he had given her his word for the safety of her friends; so, too, had he looked when he had betrayed them, only perhaps then he had smiled, he had contemplated her hanged or beheaded and most probably had smiled; he had thought of her utter folly and lifted his shoulders in contempt; and she, the woman who had the picture of his children hanging round her neck, perhaps he had told her something and she had also smiled—or pitied.

These thoughts had been her companions during her journey; they would not be shaken off now. As ghosts they grinned through the peat smoke. Unbearable, they became at last; she went to the door and watched the clan assemble.

Over everything was that sense of fear aroused, of wrath held in leash, before every one was that picture of the passes filling silently with red-coated Campbells; of strangely-armed soldiers coming from Fort William, steadily, with bloody purpose, still nearer; in every mind was there thought of Jock Campbell of Breadalbane, wronged, insulted, moving at last from his quiet with a terrible revenge. To all the little glens and colonies messengers went out; Sandy and Ian Macdonald dragged out ancient guns with watchful eyes up the pass, Makian gave commands calmly, women looked on grimly and put their children behind them; over everything that sense of oppression of disaster gathering in silence; before all that vision of the Cambpells coming steadily.

One man alone stood apart, Ronald Macdonald wrapped in his plaid, indifferent against the open door.

The gray day was growing grayer; up from rifts and hidden valleys in the hills came the tacksmen of Macdonald; contained, silent, in a moment comprehending, in a moment seeing that picture of the Campbells, of Strath Tay held, of Breadalbane rising in Invernesshire, of Argyll rising in Argylshire, of themselves surrounded, trapped, sport for the enemy food for his sword. Small they appeared beneath the vastness of the hills, the wild splendor of the tossing clouds, the wide spread of the sky, not more than seventy men, all told, and Delia's heart cried out within her.

As the daylight faded it grew colder; so cold that the children were taken back into the huts; a few flakes of snow fell across the grayness of the sky and drifted lightly onto the shoulders of the men.

Would they wait till it was dark? Would they come tonight?

The question went from mouth to mouth; Makian bitterly cursed the government that had so foully deceived him; he spoke of the assurances the sheriff had given him that they were safe. And Delia thought of the suppressed oath and her cheeks went hot with shame; they misplaced their curses; one and only one deserved them, but she could not speak his name.

They were gathered together to leave the valley, packing their few poor goods, calling up their herds, their ponies—there must be some outlet to the Glen unguarded, unknown to any.

They said very little; dread and fear were among them as a living devil, clutching the throat of each; only the little children wailed, miserably, because of the cruel cold and the strangeness of this desertion of the fireside for the chill heather.

Delia turned to Ronald who gave no sign.

"You do not come?" she said; she noticed that he was pale, haggard and preoccupied; he lifted wild eyes to hers.

"Her husband will be among them—I gave him his life once—I shall not touch him now—I will not fight the clan that holds Margaret Campbell, though she spurn me for a coward."

Then he added simply: "I shall be very glad to die."

His carelessness threw about him a grandeur, lifting him above the others, each one eager for his own life; Delia looked at him and laid her hand on his folded arms.

"I too," she said quietly, "better to be dead than to be—alone. And I have no purpose in life."

The long line of ponies had come up; the bundles were strapped on them; the Macdonalds were moving to and fro.

Then it happened Delia dropped her hand from Ronald's arm and cried out:

"The soldiers!"

They had come at a full gallop round a turn in the Glen; at a full gallop they came over the heather and at a shout from their leader drew up a few paces off.

As suddenly as the falling snow or the rain will cover the ground, so suddenly had these soldiers appeared and spread themselves across the Glen before the Macdonalds could fly or scream or warn each other; before they could do anything save realize their peril.

The leader of the redcoats was almost in their midst, in the security of his steel cuirass he defied them; he was a large red man with a freckled face showing under his black beaver; his horse was panting with the speed of his gallop, he patted her neck carelessly, while he spoke:

"Macdonald! surrender, in the name of the King—" he swept his glance over the confused array; he noted the preparations for flight.

"So ye have been warned of my coming!" he said and laughed.

Across the Glen spread the soldiers, cavalry and foot; the last light gleamed in their steel collars and muskets; Makian, at the head of his people, looked sternly at the leader who swept off his hat with another laugh; his red hair was blown back from his face and his light eyes gleamed as he spoke for the third time: "Ye know me, Macdonald?"

"Ay," answered Makian in an impassive voice. "I know you, Robert Campbell of Glenlyon. I know not your errand."

Captain Campbell lifted a gauntleted hand against the darkening sky, beckoning his men nearer.

"I come to root out your cursed den of thieves," he said. "By the command of Scotland and the King."

"Ye lying Campbell!" cried Makian. "We are under the protection of the King! I took the oath."

"Too late," smiled Glenlyon. "Ye are approved traitors and rebels, therefore surrender."

At this Delia Featherstonehaugh came from the side of Ronald and crossed the wet heather between the Campbells and Macdonald till she came to Glenlyon's saddle bow.

"Captain Campbell," she said.

He looked down at her in a quick surprise.

"Take care," said Delia. "I know—I know that the submission of these people has been suppressed." Glenlyon frowned, and his eyes were curiously intent on her.

"Who are you, mistress?" he asked.

"Does it matter?" Her words came quickly, she put her hand on his rein; both soldiers and Highlanders watched her in silence. "What authority have you? Take care how ye satisfy a private feud under cover of the law."

"I obey my commands," answered Glenlyon, still gazing at her, "I have the letter here," he touched his breast. "Higher than I, mistress, must answer for this day's work; Hill, Hamilton, Breadalbane and the Master of Stair."

He smiled at her slow look of horror.

"What are the Macdonalds to you?" he asked.

"I came from London to warn them," said Delia in a vague manner. "But surely it is in vain—what are you going to do?"

"My orders are to slay every Macdonald under seventy—and pay particular attention to the old fox and his cubs."

"My God! oh, my God!" she slipped to her knees and clung to his stirrup in a distracted manner, with her wild eyes staring fixedly; she made no appeal beyond that cry and the agony of her glance; she knelt there ready for his horse to trample her to death.

Glenlyon stooped from the saddle and loosened her hands gently; then he beckoned to one of his soldiers.

"Take her away," he said with a flushed face. "Take care of her," and as the man lifted Delia from the ground, his gray eyes dwelt on her face in a troubled manner.

She made no resistance as the man led her away, and Glenlyon turned fiercely to the Macdonalds. "Lay down yours arms and surrender," he commanded. "I'll not wait much longer."

They had watched his parley with the girl in silence, knowing well that there was no escape for them; that on their first movement the soldiers would fire; so they stood, gathered together with somber faces, fronting the Campbells. The snow was falling faster; the great clouds had almost obscured the mountains.

Glenlyon drew out his watch.

"Hamilton said five," he muttered.

It was now five minutes past; he glanced over his men; the Argyllshire regiment, all Campbells, then repeated his commands to the Macdonalds to surrender.

Makian refused and a full murmur of scorn went up from the Macdonalds.

"Then I shall fall on ye without mercy—men, women and children," said Glenlyon.

There was no sound from the Macdonalds save the faint wail of a frightened child; the chief stood in front of them, his sons beside him. Ronald was not there.

"Fire!" cried Glenlyon.

The volley of musketry echoed down the Glen; a savage cry of triumph broke from the Campbells, as, flinging their guns aside and drawing their swords, they dashed on the Macdonalds.

Delia Featherstonehaugh saw the world about her struck with strange confusion; she slipped from the soldier who held her and ran blindly down the Glen through the smoke.

The report of the guns echoed from the mountains, rang in her ears; she saw smoke curling from the huts and one burst suddenly into a bright flame that rose heavenwards.

She heard the guns discharge again and a distant answer to them float from the hills; horsemen flew past her; one fell and his companion leaped over man and animal and was gone into the smoke; screams rose and thick cries of triumph and hate; figures formed out of the smoke and were lost again; a second time came the roll of musketry from the hills, nearer now. Delia found herself leaning against the rocky side of the valley, watching, listening, dumb—not blind. A shrieking boy rushed past her, two soldiers after him; one had a bleeding face.

From the burning hut a woman came running, alight from head to foot; there was no outcry; she flung up her hands above her blazing hair and fell forward on her face.

The musketry cracked again; a horseman galloped by with a Highlander clinging to the saddle; they were striking at each other with knives; the Macdonald dragged the Campbell from the saddle and the maddened horse plunged over both.

It was almost dark; Delia stumbled forward from her place and ran along the rocks, crying to herself.

She came into a circle of light cast by the burning dwelling and stopped, moaning.

A rider swept up, cried out at sight of her and flung himself from the saddle. She felt him seize her and drag her away.

"Ye will be slain," he kept saying and he hurried her from the shrieking confusion into the dark of the cold rocks and wet heather; once her companion put his arms about her and lifted her over a fallen man. He held her close against his breast a moment; the musketry still cracked in their ears and the snow was falling over them.

Delia struggled away to stare into her rescuer's face.

It was Glenlyon.

He had her firmly by the arm.

"Ye must come into safety," he said hoarsely, and he drew her along, supporting her over the rough way; her cloak had fallen and he put it about her.

At that she spoke.

"Why are ye so careful of me, Robert Campbell? There are women dying down there." She pointed to the dip of the valley they were leaving where the red light and the smoke rose through the darkness.

"It is over now," he answered in a troubled manner. "We killed no women if we could help it—Hamilton is coming—I must get ye into his camp."

"There are others will die of cold this night—let me join them, Robert Campbell!"

But he held her firmly. "Who have ye among the Macdonalds?" he asked quickly.

"Robert Campbell—let me go!"

Through the dark his voice came strained and labored.

"I cannot—ye will be hurt—let me be with ye—ye can command me."

She gave her arm such a sudden wrench that his grasp was slackened for a second and in that second she had freed herself and was running back through the darkness toward the deadly circle of light.

As she reached the first hut the red glare that lit the way showed things that made her blood run cold.

The soldiers had left their work to pursue those that had fled into the mountains; Hamilton was late; it had been bungled; some of the avenues from the Glen were left unguarded and so many of the Macdonalds had escaped.

She hurried on through smoking ruins and sinking fires; to right and left lay the dead, frozen in their blood; stained and torn plaids were scattered over the heather; here and there a musket was flung down or a dirk, or a household implement hastily snatched up and cast aside.

The flames of the burning huts were sinking under the snow; the cold numbed Delia's very senses, horror and dread were frozen into apathy; the icy air, the bitter soft snowflakes chilled the heat of wrath and terror in her blood.

She came through the dismantled dwellings to Makian's house; it still stood; the door was broken off and a man with his plaid over his face lay across the threshold; by his white beard, blood-stained and trodden into the mire, she knew it for the old chief.

She crept past him and into his ruined home; the peat fire still flickered upon the hearth; the place was warm despite the wind that whined through the torn door.

In the very center of the room a man lay on his back with his hands outspread.

Delia stole to the fire and stirred it into flame, casting on peat from the pile beside her; then, as the light leaped up she turned to the prostrate man and saw that he was Ronald Macdonald; she went on her knees in silence and lifted his head onto her lap; he made a little movement and put his hand over his breast; she saw that his coat was torn and stained and that the sluggish blood was dripping from a cut in his forehead. With a shudder she looked about her, called aloud till she grew frightened of her own echoing voice and was silent for very horror. Half-mechanically she tore off the cambric ruffles from her sleeves and then gently laying him back upon the floor, crept to the door. In a little hollow of the rocks she saw the snow had collected; hither she carried an earthenware pot and filled it and brought it back and set it on the fire and waited its melting with a silent, wild face and busy fingers tearing her ruffles into strips.

She searched the hut for wine, but there was none; broken, empty bottles lay among the fallen cards.

As best she could she washed his wounds and bound them up, made her cloak into a pillow for him and edged him a little nearer the fire.

Then she fell into sick weeping, shuddering tears as she wiped the blood from her fingers.

He moved again and spoke:

"Have they gone?"

She caught the whisper and bent over him.


He moaned faintly.

"I am so cold—and sick—lift me up a little."

She took his head onto her lap again; his eyes, a ghastly, icy blue in his white face, fluttered open.

"Have any escaped?" he whispered.

"God knows—Macdonald."

So cold it was, so cold, and she so helpless; she cast more peat on the fire and prayed that some one might come; that some one, in this valley of the dead, might be living and come.

Through the long, bitter night she knelt so, holding him, till her limbs were stiff with his weight; he spoke no word, only his struggling breath showed that he lived.

With the first breaking of the pale gray dawn, he turned his head toward the open door.

"I hear horses," he said.

Delia started from a half-swoon.

"I hear none," she answered.

"They come," he whispered. "I am dying so slowly—"

"God knows," she said wildly.

Another silence as a faint light filled the room and the winter dawn spread above the mountains; then he spoke:

"When I am dead—take my pouch," he said through labored breaths. "It holds—Dundee's spy-glass—I want ye to have it—for staying by me now—"

She cried out in a passionate pity.

"I would not have left a dog, Macdonald!"

"So cold," he whispered. "The world is freezing into death—I see the mountains changing into snow and falling—I feel the earth dissolve into an icy sky and all my life ebb from me—so cold—hark!—the horses!"

Delia could hear them now.

"Why, there is hope," she cried, "some help is here."

Even while she uttered the words the entrance was darkened by the approaching horsemen. Now some one had slipped from the saddle and was standing on the threshold.

The dying man shuddered in Delia's arms. "Margaret Campbell!" he murmured.

Lady Breadalbane turned sharply to him.

"So one Macdonald lives!" she said, and shivered through her heavy furs.

"Have ye brought forty Campbells to murder him!" shrieked Delia.

Lady Breadalbane looked in keen curiosity at the haggard woman who held the Macdonald's head.

"Do not use that word!" she cried. "We are innocent of this night's work—innocent, I say! Who are you to look so at me?"

"Why have ye come?" asked Delia bitterly.

For answer the Countess swept across the room, dropped on her knees beside Ronald and took his hand.

"I came," she said in an eager tone, "to find if any lived—to find you—Ronald—we are innocent, you understand—innocent!"

He was gazing up into her lovely face with a passion even the chill of death could not quench utterly.

"What do you want—Margaret Campbell!"

She snatched a paper from her bosom and held it with a trembling hand out to him.

"Put your mark to this," she answered hoarsely, "to prove ye believe that my lord is guiltless of this—"

"Ah!" burst out Delia, "is not Glenlyon your husband's man?"

"Silence!" commanded the Countess. "I speak to him—"

"What has he to gain from you that his last act should be to testify to a lie?"

"It is no lie—this is government work not ours!"

Delia raised flashing eyes.

"Then if Breadalbane is innocent—wherefore do ye trouble?" she cried.

"That he may prove to all the world the Macdonalds hold him guiltless—Ronald—will ye put your mark."

"No," said Delia. "She asks too much—by Heaven, too much!"

"Ronald—I will kiss thee," breathed the Countess. "I will put my arms about thee—hold thee even as she does—to my bosom—so thou mark'st this."

He turned from Delia toward her.

"Breadalbane is blood-guilty to the soul," he gasped. "Yet kiss me—and I will sign—thy lie."

She took a pen and inkhorn from her pocket, dipped the pen and put it between his slack fingers—while Delia tried to force her back.

"Ye shall not do it!" she cried desperately to Ronald.

But he took no heed of her.

"Kiss me—" he murmured, "Margaret! Margaret!"

She caught hold of him, thrusting Delia aside. "Margaret!"

"Sign!" shrieked the Countess at sight of his face, but he rolled out of her arms between them.

"Ye are too late!" cried Delia, springing up.

Lady Breadalbane gave one look at his dead face, then rose also.

"Well, we do not care, Jock and I," she said in a quiet fury. "I think there are no Macdonalds left to harry us—and we can face the world."

She turned to the doorway and beckoned the man who stood there.

"The man is dead," she said, flinging back her red hair. "And he has not given testimony, Glenlyon."

"No, thank God, thank God!" sobbed Delia wildly.

Glenlyon looked from one to another.

"My lord must bear his own deeds," he said slowly.

The Countess's green eyes blazed.

"This deed is not his," she cried. "But thine, Robert Campbell!"

"Do you deny me, then?" he answered heavily.

"Ay—thee and they works—never look to my lord to share the burden of the blood that ye have shed to-night!"

"So—ye cast me off?" asked Glenlyon thickly.

She laughed magnificently.

"If you say that my lord bid you do what you have done—why then we do—cast you off, Glenlyon."

"There are others know the truth."

It was Delia spoke.

Lady Breadalbane glanced at her fiercely.

"You?" she said.

"I—and Jerome Caryl."

The Countess fell back before the name and clutched at the lintel of the door; then recovered herself and laughed aloud.

"He is dead—your Caryl."

Delia shrieked.


"Who was he that he should not die?"


"Have I not said so?"

"How died he?"

Lady Breadalbane put her hand to her bosom and drew herself to her full height.

"Put the deed down to those who did this work about you—there are those who did not care to see him go free from Kensington."

"He was—murdered?"

"He was found dead."

"Jerome dead! By whose orders?" Delia's tone had dropped to dullness. She seemed to be re-acting some old and ghostly dream; she had said such words before—and now the answer came the same.

"The Master of Stair," said the Countess, looking her full in the face. "They found him dead on Hounslow Heath which was the more likely—highwaymen or the Master of Stair?"

"Ye think that by his orders Jerome Caryl was slain?"

"I leave it to ye," answered the Countess and with a fierce abruptness she was gone.

They heard the thunder of her escort down the Glen as the Campbells swept away.

Delia came forward with clenched hands.

"Three," she said in a choked voice, staring down at Ronald. "God bear witness that it is three that he has taken from me—three men wantonly slain."

She put her hand over her distorted face and swung round toward Glenlyon.

"Why have ye stayed?" she asked.

He came slowly near to her, looking at her strangely. "What are you going to do?" he asked.

"Live. Live to—" she dropped her hand from her face and pressed it to her bosom. "I am going—to make a man pay the price of the blood he has shed—to pay the price."

"What is your name?" asked Glenlyon.

"Delia," she said indifferently, and she moved toward the door; the cold light was full on her pale face and her long fallen hair dark over her shoulders.

Glenlyon followed, his sword clanking on the floor.

"Come with me."

His voice came unsteadily. "You may command me," he said.

As if she suddenly realized him, Delia lifted her head; he flushed under his tan, and in a troubled way took off his beaver. "Give me—your hand—if I might."

The brown eyes considered him: "Robert Campbell—what do ye mean?" she asked wildly. "I have my life's work—I have told you—"

"Will you come with me?" he asked again. "Will you—trust me?"

Delia's glance fell to the dead man; then she looked away down the valley: slowly back at Glenlyon.

"I think I will," she said, and held out her hand.