Sunday, 16 February 2014
In The Footsteps Of Prince Charlie.
The lads were happy to be home in Dalmore again. They had bought presents for all their family, nothing special, but where possible things you could get only in town and certainly not on the West Side. Their father never really expected a present from anyone, but he was happy to accept from his sons a few ounces of tobacco and a large flask of French brandy ( makes a nice change to whisky ). For their mother, they had purchased a perfume, a tincture of rose oil dissolved in cologne. It was Margaret, madame in the House of Joy, who had acquired the perfume for the boys. Their mother was delighted with the perfume, and decided to wear a small dab on her wrist when she went to the prayer meeting in Shawbost. Even Calvin would not have objected to this tiny vanity. Donald and Neil took a walk down to the beach at Dalmore, where as children they had passed many happy times. As they sat on the golden sand, their conversation inevitably turned on the news that Charles Stuart, claimant to three crowns, had landed in Scotland. "Frankly, it beggars belief, said Neil. "If he can rally the Highland clans and the Jacobite sympathisers, which we are told are many and far flung, then God help us. The future will be uncertain and war is possible." The British government had spies in France keeping a close eye on Charles, and recently they were reporting that he was preparing to sail for Scotland. " Like me," said Donald, "you must realise that this heralds life changing times. I propose that we travel to the mainland to see first hand what is happening there, purely as observers, of course." "Observers ? How in hell do we manage that?" exclaimed Neil," Stick a large sign to the rump of our horses?" "No, Neil, but that's not such a bad idea! We should try to obtain papers of accreditation signed by a lawyer or minister of the cloth stating our neutrality in this affair, only reporting on what we see, in an honest and unbiased manner. Well, we are notionally Protestant but not adherents to any church in Lewis. I hope that this will not work against us, in our dealings with the Prince and his followers, all of whom are of the Catholic persuasion." " We will need to establish our credentials very early on," said Neil," assuring everyone we talk to, that what they say will be reported verbatim and sensitively. However, any secret information gained during interview will be treated as such, a secret, and not revealed in our despatches." Of course, doing otherwise would end their career in journalism, if not their young lives. They would need to speak to their father about their plans, and hopefully he would agree to finance them, until they "found their feet", a strange metaphor for two horsemen to choose. Their father was no Jacobite, and wondered at his sons' interest in this affair, They had shown no interest in affairs of state or anything of a serious nature, and concluded that they were hungry for adventure. This might be the making of them, he hoped. It was time that they made their way in the world, but for the time being he would help to "launch their boat." Their mother was told that her sons had a notion to travel widely on the mainland, to explore worthwhile opportunities in business or commerce. This was as near the truth as their mother could bear. In the next few days, Neil and Donald made preparations for leaving. They had received their letters of accreditation and credit notes from their father's banker, both of which would be useful in pursuing their grear adventure. They bade farewell to their family in Dalmore, and headed out the Mullach Mor without looking back.