When we looked between the trees, we could just see the redcoats of the soldiers, still moving away from us across the hills. Alan smiled, and told me that we would go first to the house of his clansman, James Stewart, and then to the Low lands. The Campbells and the English soldiers would not think of looking for us there, and Alan could find a place on a ship sailing to France.
We walked for several hours, and arrived that night at a large house in a valley.
There were lights in all the windows, and people were running in and out of the open doors. Alan whistled three times, and we were met at the door by a tall, good-looking man of about fifty, who welcomed us in Gaelic.
'James Stewart,' said Alan, 'I'll ask ye to speak in English, because my friend here comes from the Lowlands, and cannot speak Gaelic.'
James spoke politely to me for a few moments, but soon he turned back to Alan, with a very worried look on his face 'This is a terrible accident,' he said. 'It will bring trouble to all of us!'
'Well, man,' said Alan, 'ye should be grateful that Colin Campbell is dead!'
'Aye,' replied James, 'but he was killed in Appin, remember that, Alan, so it's the Appin Stewarts who'll be accused. And I'm a man with a family!'
I looked around me. Men with white, frightened faces were hurrying here and there, without any clear idea of what they ought to do first.
Some were hiding guns and swords, while others were burning papers. When James saw me looking surprised, he explained, 'The soldiers'll search my house first, ye see, and I don't want them to find anything.'
We went inside, and met James's wife and children, who were crying in a corner. I felt very sorry for them, but we did not have much time to talk. Alan explained what we needed for our escape, and soon James's men brought us two swords, two pistols, some food, a cooking pot and a bottle of whisky. We needed money too, because Alan had given his gold to an other man to take to France. But James had only a little to give us.
'Ye must find a safe place somewhere near,' he said, 'and send me a message. I'll find some more money for ye, and send it to ye. But, Alan,' and here he stopped for a moment, biting his finger worriedly, 'I'll have to accuse ye of killing that Campbell. I'll have to! If I don't, they'll accuse me! I have to think of myself and my family! Do ye see that?'
'Aye,' said Alan slowly. 'I see that.'
'And I'll have to accuse your friend from the Lowlands too. Ye see that, Alan—say that ye see that!'
Alan's face went red. 'It's hard on me, James! I brought him here, and now my friends accuse him of murder!'
'But just think, Alan, man!' cried James. 'The Campbells will be sure to accuse him. And I have children!'
'Well, sir,' said Alan, turning to me, 'what do ye say? If ye do not agree, I won't let James do it.'
'I cannot understand why we don't accuse the man who did kill Campbell,' I replied sharply, 'but accuse me, Mr Stewart, if you like, accuse Alan, accuse King George! I am Alan's friend, and if I can help his friends in any way, I don't mind the danger.'