DONALD MACPHERSON,

SMUGGLER.

HIS ADVENTURES IN AND AROUND DUFFTOWN.

CHAPTER V
RESURRECTION OF DONALD. – IN THE GIANT’S CRADLE.

On the announcement of the intelligence that the horses had broken loose, both officers rushed from the house in pursuit of the animals, while Jock immediately started pulling down the peats he had so recently built, and in a couple of seconds the resurrection of Donald was complete.

“Ye did that very cleverly, Sandy,” said he to his son, as he hauled out the but half-awake Donald from beneath the superincumbent mass of peats. “ I suppose it will be some time before they catch the beasts as they are rather wild, haeing naething to dae but canter aboot the country a’ day lang. Haste ye, man,” he continued, addressing the now perfectly conscious Donald, “or perhaps the villains may come back. Aff ye gang, doon by the head o’ the glen, an’ ye’ll be hame in nae time.”

Donald needed no second bidding, but took his departure at a brisk run in the direction indicated. As he neared the top of the glen, however, he could perceive by the bright moonlight another party on the opposite side also making for the head of the glen, and by continuing his journey he would directly cross their path. He was now on a little plateau where the Dullan makes a sudden sweep northward before entering the gorge at the Giant’s Chair, and hearing the crackling of branches a little further down he concluded that another party was coming that way, and by remaining where he was he would be caught like a rat in a trap. In his agitation he glanced wildly around for some way of escape, but none presented itself, and he felt that he was being gradually surrounded.

“Mercy me!” he cried in despair, “I dinna ken what to dae. Noo let me see,” and he hung his head thoughtly. “I think I hae it” he exclaimed suddenly raising his head with a look of triumph in his eyes, “The Giant’s Cradle!”

He descended from his elevated position, and turning sharply to the right came to the gorge where the water had worn the rock to a great depth, forming an impossible barrier on one side, while a mass of broken and water-worn rock occupied the other. Between these the Dullan formed a sort of rapid, ending in a cascade. Into this gorge Donald entered and turning sharply to the right, he stood in front of the Giant’s Cradle.

This was a sort of cave, a little higher than the bed of the river, formed by the action of the water when the stream flowed at a higher level upon some intrusive matter in the limestone of which the rock is composed, and which it had dissolved, leaving the limestone matrix intact. It was sufficiently large to hold four or five people conveniently. Although situated within a foot of the corner of the projecting rock, and within a few feet of the pathway on top, yet its situation was such that it was wholly screened from observation in every direction, and a person might wander for any length of time within a few feet of it and yet remain totally unconscious of its existence until he actually stood in the mouth of the cave.

In a short time the party whom Donald had seen barring his way towards the Lettoch arrived and took up their position on the small plateau immediately above the cave, and so close were they to its inhabitant that he could overhear every word that was uttered. It was quite evident that they had seen him, for their conversation showed at once that they were in pursuit of somebody, and Donald was firmly convinced in this opinion by the arrival of the party coming up the glen, when a comparison of notes was made.

“Did you meet anybody as you came up the glen?” inquired one of the first arrivals.
“Not a soul,” responded another voice,” everything is as quiet as the grave.”
“It is very strange,” said the first speaker. “I am certain I saw a man coming in this direction, but when we hurried up he had disappeared. He must have taken the pathway down the glen, for there is no other way he could leave this without our seeing him.”
“I am equally certain he did not come down the glen. Perhaps he is hiding somewhere among the shubbry. I wish, however, that Barret would turn up. He would be able to direct us. Was not this place he appointed to meet us?”
“Yes, and it’s now long past his time. Perhaps he has made some fresh discovery which detains him. However, we can do nothing until he comes.”

“So Barret’s the head of them – a shupervisor I think the ca’ him,” mused Donald. “Weel I’m thinking if he comes he’ll hae to walk it, for young Sandy Grant has ta’en care o’ the horses, an’ I expect by this time they’ll be haein’ a gallop through the heather, juist to keep their legs frae stiffenin’.”

At this moment they were joined by a third party from the direction of Pitglassie, and Donald had no difficulty in recognising the voices of the speakers as those he heard while lying entombed among the peats at Grant’s.

“Did you see any appearance of horses about?” inquired the voice of Barret as he joined the party. “We have been at Pitglassie, and I am certain that some of the Laggan Smugglers are concealed somewhere about, as when we were in a house there someone let loose our horses, and while we were endeavouring to catch them some others must have escaped this way.”

“There,” said the speaker who had first arrived, “I said I saw someone coming that way, and I am now certain he must be still lurking among the brushwood somewhere about here.”

“Then,” said Barret, “we will make a thorough search. Scatter yourselves, and do not leave a bush unsearched. We will unearth the fox at any cost.”

“What a mercy they dinna ken o’ this hiding place,” said Donald chuckling. “Its no’ safe to venture oot as lang as they varmints are aboot, sae I’ll just rest mysel’ until they tire o’ their search an’ gang hame.” With these words Donald stretched himself on the floor of the cave to finish his interrupted slumber, and was soon sleeping as peacefully as he could have done at home in bed without a thing to disturb his slumbers.

When he awoke the sun was shining brightly among the trees in the glen, long streaming bars of golden light shooting slantingly among the trees, while the blackbird and thrush vied with each other in the variety of their notes; but Donald did not see or hear these, his idea was to get home as soon as possible, and with this intention he started at a brisk pace towards the Lettoch. Here Janet received him with a better grace than he expected – more especially was he freely forgiven at sight of the money he brought into the exchequer.

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