The Glens of Stone – Episode 57

Outside, Ewan took off his cloak and strode up to a barricade manned by a group of Highlanders. Seeing his uniform, they let him pass and he made his way forward to the castle gatehouse.

His sword scabbard slapping his thigh, Ewan veered towards a corporal.

“I am Major Ogilvie, Scots Royals. I have a message for General Guest from his Highness Prince Charles Edward Stuart.”

The soldier licked his lips nervously.

“We have orders to admit no-one.”

“What’s going on, Corporal?” Robert Marshall appeared through the gate.

Quickly the soldier explained. Robert saluted Ewan reluctantly.

“You have some nerve, sir,” he said, glowering. “I should have you clapped in irons right here and now.”

“I’d run you through if you attempted such a thing, Captain. Besides I’ve come, though I don’t carry one, under a white flag.”

Robert regarded him coolly.

“The general is inspecting the gun batteries at present, Major.”

“My orders are to speak with him,” Ewan persisted.

Robert’s thoughts were teeming. Was it wise to admit this man? Was he here to spy on the garrison? On the other hand, he would make a good hostage.

He waved Ewan forward. They marched swiftly through the precincts until they emerged into a compound where, to Ewan’s unease, a line of cannons was trained down Castle Hill.

General Guest was making his way unsteadily from one to the next. Catching sight of the two men, he moved towards them.

“What’s this, Captain?” He stared at Ewan’s uniform. “Since when do we entertain a rebel?”

“Sir, this is Major Ogilvie. He is an emissary of the, er, Regent.”

“That young upstart?” He scowled at Ewan. “Well, what’s so important, man?”

“His Highness wishes to know if you will surrender the castle as he asked.”

Guest snorted, his face livid.

“This castle is held in the King’s name and we will die rather than surrender it!”

Ewan inclined his head.

“I expected such a response, sir, and accept that honour allows no other.”

The general’s face darkened.

“I doubt if honour is a word you and your renegades understand. Let me demonstrate my intent, Major,” he cried. “Captain, give the order to fire!”

“But, sir,” Robert stammered, pointing to the teeming street far below. “They are mostly civilians!”

“Do as you are ordered!” the old man thundered. “The Prince knows I’ve threatened a salvo or two.”

“Just as he knows the palace is outwith the reach of your guns,” Ewan protested.

“Marshall, I gave you an order!”

Annoyed at the captain’s hesitation, Guest pushed him aside.

“Commence firing!” he bellowed.

Seconds later there was a deafening roar as the first ball whistled downwards to plough into a low wall at the far end of Castle Hill. The second and third cannonballs careened down the Lawnmarket, throwing the crowds into panic. Screams rose as further missiles hurtled down.

“Cease fire!”

Guest smiled grimly.

“Well, Major, what do you think of my response to the Prince’s demands?”

“Seldom have I seen an act of such barbarism.” Ewan could not hide his disgust.

General Guest flushed.

“We are at war, Major Ogilvie. Perhaps the Pretender will have second thoughts now and retreat.” Grim-faced, he turned to Robert. “Have this man escorted from the castle. And on your return report to me to explain why you should not face a military court for refusing to obey my orders!”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.