In Freedom's Cause [NOOK Book]


Chapter I

Glen Cairn

The village of Glen Cairn was situated ...
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In Freedom's Cause

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Chapter I

Glen Cairn

The village of Glen Cairn was situated in a valley in the broken
country lying to the west of the Pentland Hills, some fifteen miles
north of the town of Lanark, and the country around it was wild
and picturesque. The villagers for the most part knew little of
the world beyond their own valley, although a few had occasionally
paid visits to Glasgow, which lay as far to the west as Lanark was
distant to the south. On a spur jutting out from the side of the
hill stood Glen Cairn Castle, whose master the villagers had for
generations regarded as their lord.

The glory of the little fortalice had now departed. Sir William
Forbes had been killed on his own hearthstone, and the castle had
been sacked in a raid by the Kerrs, whose hold lay to the southwest,
and who had long been at feud with the Forbeses. The royal power
was feeble, and the Kerrs had many friends, and were accordingly
granted the lands they had seized; only it was specified that Dame
Forbes, the widow of Sir William, should be allowed to reside in
the fortalice free from all let or hindrance, so long as she meddled
not, nor sought to stir up enmity among the late vassals of her
lord against their new masters.

The castle, although a small one, was strongly situated. The spur
of the hill ran some 200 yards into the valley, rising sharply
some 30 or 40 feet above it. The little river which meandered down
the valley swept completely round the foot of the spur, forming a
natural moat to it, and had in some time past been dammed back, so
that, whereas in other parts it ran brightly over a pebbly bottom,
here it was deep and still. The fortalice itself stood at the
extremity of the spur, and a strong wall with a fortified gateway
extended across the other end of the neck, touching the water on
both sides. From the gateway extended two walls inclosing a road
straight to the gateway of the hold itself, and between these walls
and the water every level foot of ground was cultivated; this garden
was now the sole remains of the lands of the Forbeses.

It was a narrow patrimony for Archie, the only son of Dame Forbes,
and his lady mother had hard work to keep up a respectable state,
and to make ends meet. Sandy Grahame, who had fought under her
husband's banner and was now her sole retainer, made the most of the
garden patches. Here he grew vegetables on the best bits of ground
and oats on the remainder; these, crushed between flat stones,
furnished a coarse bread. From the stream an abundance of fish could
always be obtained, and the traps and nets therefore furnished a
meal when all else failed. In the stream, too, swam a score and more
of ducks, while as many chickens walked about the castle yard, or
scratched for insects among the vegetables. A dozen goats browsed
on the hillside, for this was common ground to the village, and
Dame Forbes had not therefore to ask for leave from her enemies,
the Kerrs. The goats furnished milk and cheese, which was deftly
made by Elspie, Sandy's wife, who did all the work indoors, as her
husband did without. Meat they seldom touched. Occasionally the
resources of the hold were eked out by the present of a little
hill sheep, or a joint of prime meat, from one or other of her old
vassals, for these, in spite of the mastership of the Kerrs, still
at heart regarded Dame Mary Forbes as their lawful mistress, and
her son Archie as their future chief. Dame Mary Forbes was careful
in no way to encourage this feeling, for she feared above all things
to draw the attention of the Kerrs to her son. She was sure that
did Sir John Kerr entertain but a suspicion that trouble might ever
come from the rivalry of this boy, he would not hesitate a moment
in encompassing his death; for Sir John was a rough and violent
man who was known to hesitate at nothing which might lead to his
aggrandizement. Therefore she seldom moved beyond the outer wall
of the hold, except to go down to visit the sick in the village.
She herself had been a Seaton, and had been educated at the nunnery
of Dunfermline, and she now taught Archie to read and write,
accomplishments by no means common even among the better class in
those days. Archie loved not books; but as it pleased his mother,
and time often hung heavy on his hands, he did not mind devoting
two or three hours a day to the tasks she set him. At other times
he fished in the stream, wandered over the hills, and brought in
the herbs from which Dame Forbes distilled the potions which she
distributed to the villagers when sick.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013321359
  • Publisher: SAP
  • Publication date: 10/23/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 287 KB

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 2 of 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Outstanding book!

    I read this and although written over 100 years ago and, at times, the wording can be a little difficult it was great, I am pleased to see so many Henty titles available on e-book form. I can now read great books and learn some foreign history from a brilliant author. Great books for 12 yr olds through adult. No trashy language either. Henty was very popular with boy readers in the 1800's.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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