The Master of Stair/Epilogue
THE GLEN O' WEEPING
The sun that so rarely pierces the mists that shroud the Valley of Glencoe, was to-day shining mournfully on the solitude of the Glen of Weeping.
It was mid-July and above the snow-topped mountains the sky shone coldly blue.
A keen wind whistled through the winding ravines and patches of purple, dull gold and scarlet, showed where the heather, the gorse and the rowan bloomed.
The grass was studded with harebells and the pines grew fresh and green.
Yet the scene was desolation, utter desolation; in all the vast expanse there was no human being in sight, no animal nor bird. Only, bare to the wide sky, lay the scattered, ruined huts of the Macdonalds; the little creeping wild flowers had overgrown the ashes of the charred door-posts which lay half-hidden in the grass; the storms and winds of three winters had nearly demolished what the vengeance of the Campbells had left, but still above the rough graves made by the surviving Macdonalds for their kindred rose some few traces of the village of Makian.
And now it is past midday and the sad sun has disappeared behind the distant snows; a cold mournful light fills the valley, and the hollow about the sullen water is full of shadows, to right and left silence save for the crying of the wind and sound of the swaying fir-trees.
Then the noise of bridle bells and horses coming rapidly across the heather and a cavalcade of some hundred men gallop down the mouth of the Glen; Campbells with red-blond hair.
Their leader is Breadalbane, he rides a white horse with steel and scarlet trappings, and his green and blue tartan blows out behind him across his shining cuirass; he rides easily, swiftly, with one hand on his hip above his sword and the other lightly on his reins; in his bonnet is a sprig of myrtle and his hair flutters pale as silver back from his face.
By his side is the Countess Peggy, her plaid floats from her shoulder and over her black horse; she leans forward a little in the saddle and her red curls frame a pale triumphant face.
After these come the Campbells, red gentlemen in dark tartans with faces singularly contained and hard light eyes.
Silently they ride through Glencoe, the Glen o' Weeping, their horses' hoofs stir the dead ashes from under the heather, they pass through the dismantled ruins, they gallop over the graves of their enemies but they raise no shout of victory, make no gesture of triumph.
It is the Campbell way.
Only as they pass through desolation, the Countess Peggy looks at her husband and he at her; their eyes meet and flash and her thin lips curve into a smile.
There—somewhere under their horses' hoofs lies Ronald Macdonald and the Campbells are free of Glencoe and all the Highlands.
Out of the Glen o' Weeping they come, the Campbells hard-faced, riding swiftly, and Breadalbane's wife looks at him with a deepening of her smile.