Infomotions, Inc.A tale of the times of Gustavus Adolphus / Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902



Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred), 1832-1902
Title: A tale of the times of Gustavus Adolphus
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): malcolm; wallenstein; gustavus; imperialists; munro; swedish; duke bernhard; colonel munro; duke; army; malcolm graheme; regiment; colonel; troops; new brandenburg; nigel graheme; castle
Contributor(s): Wormeley, Katharine Prescott, 1830-1908 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 108,990 words (short) Grade range: 12-15 (college) Readability score: 56 (average)
Identifier: etext5075
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Title: The Lion of the North

Author: G.A. Henty

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The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Lion of The North:
A Tale of the Times of Gustavus Adolphus, by G. A. Henty

This etext was produced by Martin Robb (MartinRobb@ieee.org)

PREFACE.


MY DEAR LADS,

You are nowadays called upon to acquire so great a mass of learning
and information in the period of life between the ages of twelve
and eighteen that it is not surprising that but little time can be
spared for the study of the history of foreign nations. Most lads
are, therefore, lamentably ignorant of the leading events of even
the most important epochs of Continental history, although, as many
of these events have exercised a marked influence upon the existing
state of affairs in Europe, a knowledge of them is far more
useful, and, it may be said, far more interesting than that of the
comparatively petty affairs of Athens, Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes.

Prominent among such epochs is the Thirty Years' War, which arose
from the determination of the Emperor of Austria to crush out
Protestantism throughout Germany. Since the invasion of the Huns
no struggle which has taken place in Europe has approached this
in the obstinacy of the fighting and the terrible sufferings which
the war inflicted upon the people at large. During these thirty
years the population of Germany decreased by nearly a third, and
in some of the states half the towns and two-thirds of the villages
absolutely disappeared.

The story of the Thirty Years' War is too long to be treated in
one volume. Fortunately it divides itself naturally into two parts.
The first begins with the entry of Sweden, under her chivalrous
monarch Gustavus Adolphus, upon the struggle, and terminates with
his death and that of his great rival Wallenstein. This portion of
the war has been treated in the present story. The second period
begins at the point when France assumed the leading part in the
struggle, and concluded with the peace which secured liberty of
conscience to the Protestants of Germany. This period I hope to
treat some day in another story, so that you may have a complete
picture of the war. The military events of the present tale, the
battles, sieges, and operations, are all taken from the best authorities,
while for the account of the special doings of Mackay's, afterwards
Munro's Scottish Regiment, I am indebted to Mr. J. Grant's Life of
Sir John Hepburn.

Yours sincerely,

G. A. HENTY



CHAPTER I THE INVITATION


It was late in the afternoon in the spring of the year 1630; the
hilltops of the south of Scotland were covered with masses of cloud,
and a fierce wind swept the driving rain before it with such force
that it was not easy to make way against it. It had been raining
for three days without intermission. Every little mountain burn had
become a boiling torrent, while the rivers had risen above their
banks and flooded the low lands in the valleys.

The shades of evening were closing in, when a lad of some sixteen
years of age stood gazing across the swollen waters of the Nith
rushing past in turbid flood. He scarce seemed conscious of the
pouring rain; but with his lowland bonnet pressed down over his
eyes, and his plaid wrapped tightly round him, he stood on a rising
hummock of ground at the edge of the flood, and looked across the
stream.

"If they are not here soon," he said to himself, "they will not
get across the Nith tonight. None but bold riders could do so now;
but by what uncle says, Captain Hume must be that and more. Ah!
here they come."

As he spoke two horsemen rode down the opposite side of the valley
and halted at the water's edge. The prospect was not a pleasant
one. The river was sixty or seventy feet wide, and in the centre
the water swept along in a raging current.

"You cannot cross here," the boy shouted at the top of his voice.
"You must go higher up where the water's deeper."

The wind swept his words away, but his gestures were understood.

"The boy is telling us to go higher up," said one of the horsemen.

"I suppose he is," the other replied; "but here is the ford. You
see the road we have travelled ends here, and I can see it again
on the other side. It is getting dark, and were we to cross higher
up we might lose our way and get bogged; it is years since I was
here. What's the boy going to do now? Show us a place for crossing?"

The lad, on seeing the hesitation of the horsemen, had run along
the bank up the stream, and to their surprise, when he had gone a
little more than a hundred yards he dashed into the water.  For a
time the water was shallow, and he waded out until he reached the
edge of the regular bank of the river, and then swam out into the
current.

"Go back," the horseman shouted; but his voice did not reach
the swimmer, who, in a few strokes, was in the full force of the
stream, and was soon lost to the sight of the horsemen among the
short foaming waves of the torrent.

"The boy will be drowned," one of the horsemen said, spurring his
horse up the valley; but in another minute the lad was seen breasting
the calmer water just above the ford.

"You cannot cross here, Captain Hume," he said, as he approached
the horsemen. "You must go nigh a mile up the river."

"Why, who are you, lad?" the horseman asked, "and how do you know
my name?"

"I'm the nephew of Nigel Graheme. Seeing how deep the floods were
I came out to show you the way, for the best horse in the world
could not swim the Nith here now."

"But this is the ford," Captain Hume said.

"Yes, this is the ford in dry weather. The bottom here is hard rock
and easy to ride over when the river is but waist deep, but below
and above this place it is covered with great boulders. The water
is six feet deep here now, and the horses would be carried down
among the rocks, and would never get across. A mile up the river
is always deep, and though the current is strong there is nothing
to prevent a bold horseman from swimming across."

"I thank you heartily, young sir," Captain Hume said.  "I can see
how broken is the surface of the water, and doubt not that it would
have fared hard with us had we attempted to swim across here. In
faith, Munro, we have had a narrow escape."

"Ay, indeed," the other agreed. "It would have been hard if you and
I, after going through all the battlefields of the Low Countries,
should have been drowned here together in a Scottish burn. Your
young friend is a gallant lad and a good swimmer, for in truth it
was no light task to swim that torrent with the water almost as
cold as ice."

"Now, sirs, will you please to ride on," the boy said; "it is
getting dark fast, and the sooner we are across the better."

So saying he went off at a fast run, the horses trotting behind
him. A mile above he reached the spot he had spoken of. The river
was narrower here, and the stream was running with great rapidity,
swirling and heaving as it went, but with a smooth even surface.

"Two hundred yards farther up," the boy said, "is the beginning of
the deep; if you take the water there you will get across so as to
climb up by that sloping bank just opposite."

He led the way to the spot he indicated, and then plunged into
the stream, swimming quietly and steadily across, and allowing the
stream to drift him down.

The horsemen followed his example. They had swum many a swollen
river, and although their horses snorted and plunged at first, they
soon quieted down and swam steadily over. They just struck the spot
which the boy had indicated.  He had already arrived there, and,
without a word, trotted forward.

It was soon dark, and the horsemen were obliged to keep close to
his heels to see his figure. It was as much as they could do to
keep up with him, for the ground was rough and broken, sometimes
swampy, sometimes strewn with boulders.

"It is well we have a guide," Colonel Munro said to his companion;
"for assuredly, even had we got safely across the stream, we should
never have found our way across such a country as this. Scotland
is a fine country, Hume, a grand country, and we are all proud of
it, you know, but for campaigning, give me the plains of Germany;
while, as for your weather here, it is only fit for a water rat."

Hume laughed at this outburst.

"I sha'n't be sorry, Munro, for a change of dry clothes and a corner
by a fire; but we must be nearly there now if I remember right.
Graheme's hold is about three miles from the Nith."

The boy presently gave a loud shout, and a minute later lights
were seen ahead, and in two or three minutes the horsemen drew up
at a door beside which two men were standing with torches; another
strolled out as they stopped.

"Welcome, Hume! I am glad indeed to see you; and -- ah! is it you,
Munro? it is long indeed since we met."

"That is it, Graheme; it is twelve years since we were students
together at St. Andrews."

"I did not think you would have come on such a night," Graheme
said.

"I doubt that we should have come tonight, or any other night,
Nigel, if it had not been that that brave boy who calls you uncle
swam across the Nith to show us the best way to cross. It was a
gallant deed, and I consider we owe him our lives."

"It would have gone hard with you, indeed, had you tried to swim
the Nith at the ford; had I not made so sure you would not come I
would have sent a man down there. I missed Malcolm after dinner,
and wondered what had become of him. But come in and get your wet
things off. It is a cold welcome keeping you here. My men will take
your horses round to the stable and see that they are well rubbed
down and warmly littered."

In a quarter of an hour the party were assembled again in the sitting
room. It was a bare room with heavily timbered ceiling and narrow
windows high up from the ground; for the house was built for
purposes of defence, like most Scottish residences in those days.
The floor was thickly strewn with rushes. Arms and trophies of the
chase hung on the walls, and a bright fire blazing on the hearth
gave it a warm and cheerful aspect. As his guests entered the room
Graheme presented them with a large silver cup of steaming liquor.

"Drain this," he said, "to begin with. I will warrant me a draught
of spiced wine will drive the cold of the Nith out of your bones."

The travellers drank off the liquor.

"'Tis a famous drink," Hume said, "and there is nowhere I enjoy it
so much as in Scotland, for the cold here seems to have a knack of
getting into one's very marrow, though I will say there have been
times in the Low Countries when we have appreciated such a draught.
Well, and how goes it with you, Graheme?"

"Things might be better; in fact, times in Scotland have been getting
worse and worse ever since King James went to England, and all the
court with him. If it were not for an occasional raid among the
wild folks of Galloway, and a few quarrels among ourselves, life
would be too dull to bear here."

"But why bear it?" Captain Hume asked. "You used to have plenty
of spirit in our old college days, Graheme, and I wonder at your
rusting your life out here when there is a fair field and plenty of
honour, to say nothing of hard cash, to be won in the Low Country.
Why, beside Hepburn's regiment, which has made itself a name
throughout all Europe, there are half a score of Scottish regiments
in the service of the King of Sweden, and his gracious majesty
Gustavus Adolphus does not keep them idle, I warrant you."

"I have thought of going a dozen times," Graheme said, "but you see
circumstances have kept me back; but I have all along intended to
cross the seas when Malcolm came of an age to take the charge of
his father's lands. When my brother James was dying from that sword
thrust he got in a fray with the Duffs, I promised him I would be
a father to the boy, and see that he got his rights."

"Well, we will talk of the affair after supper, Graheme, for now
that I have got rid of the cold I begin to perceive that I am well
nigh famished."

As the officer was speaking, the servitors were laying the table,
and supper was soon brought in. After ample justice had been done
to this, and the board was again cleared, the three men drew their
seats round the fire, Malcolm seating himself on a low stool by
his uncle.

"And now to business, Nigel," Colonel Munro said. "We have not come
back to Scotland to see the country, or to enjoy your weather, or
even for the pleasure of swimming your rivers in flood.

"We are commissioned by the King of Sweden to raise some 3000
or 4000 more Scottish troops. I believe that the king intends to
take part in the war in Germany, where the Protestants are getting
terribly mauled, and where, indeed, it is likely that the Reformed
Religion will be stamped out altogether unless the Swedes strike in
to their rescue. My chief object is to fill up to its full strength
of two thousand men the Mackay Regiment, of which I am lieutenant
colonel.  The rest of the recruits whom we may get will go as drafts
to fill up the vacancies in the other regiments. So you see here
we are, and it is our intention to beat up all our friends and
relations, and ask them each to raise a company or half a company
of recruits, of which, of course, they would have the command.

"We landed at Berwick, and wrote to several of our friends that
we were coming. Scott of Jedburgh has engaged to raise a company.
Balfour of Lauderdale, who is a cousin of mine, has promised to
bring another; they were both at St. Andrew's with us, as you may
remember, Graheme. Young Hamilton, who had been an ensign in my
regiment, left us on the way. He will raise a company in Douglasdale.
Now, Graheme, don't you think you can bring us a band of the men
of Nithsdale?"

"I don't know," Graheme said hesitatingly. "I should like it of all
things, for I am sick of doing nothing here, and my blood often runs
hot when I read of the persecutions of the Protestants in Germany;
but I don't think I can manage it."

"Oh, nonsense, Nigel!" said Hume; "you can manage it easily enough
if you have the will. Are you thinking of the lad there? Why not
bring him with you? He is young, certainly, but he could carry a
colour; and as for his spirit and bravery, Munro and I will vouch
for it."

"Oh, do, uncle," the lad exclaimed, leaping to his feet in his
excitement. "I promise you I would not give you any trouble; and
as for marching, there isn't a man in Nithsdale who can tire me
out across the mountains."

"But what's to become of the house, Malcolm, and the land and the
herds?"

"Oh, they will be all right," the boy said. "Leave old Duncan in
charge, and he will look after them."

"But I had intended you to go to St. Andrews next year, Malcolm,
and I think the best plan will be for you to go there at once. As
you say, Duncan can look after the place."

Malcolm's face fell.

"Take the lad with you, Graheme," Colonel Munro said.  "Three years
under Gustavus will do him vastly more good than will St. Andrews.
You know it never did us any good to speak of. We learned a little
more Latin than we knew when we went there, but I don't know that
that has been of any use to us; whereas for the dry tomes of divinity
we waded through, I am happy to say that not a single word of the
musty stuff remains in my brains. The boy will see life and service,
he will have opportunities of distinguishing himself under the
eye of the most chivalrous king in Europe, he will have entered a
noble profession, and have a fair chance of bettering his fortune,
all of which is a thousand times better than settling down here in
this corner of Scotland."

"I must think it over," Graheme said; "it is a serious step to
take. I had thought of his going to the court at London after he
left the university, and of using our family interest to push his
way there."

"What is he to do in London?" Munro said. "The old pedant James, who
wouldn't spend a shilling or raise a dozen men to aid the cause of
his own daughter, and who thought more of musty dogmatic treatises
than of the glory and credit of the country he ruled over, or the
sufferings of his co-religionists in Germany, has left no career
open to a lad of spirit."

"Well, I will think it over by the morning," Graheme said.  "And now
tell me a little more about the merits of this quarrel in Germany.
If I am going to fight, I should like at least to know exactly what
I am fighting about."

"My dear fellow," Hume laughed, "you will never make a soldier
if you always want to know the ins and outs of every quarrel you
have to fight about; but for once the tenderest conscience may be
satisfied as to the justice of the contention.  But Munro is much
better versed in the history of the affair than I am; for, to tell
you the truth, beyond the fact that it is a general row between
the Protestants and Catholics, I have not troubled myself much in
the matter."

"You must know," Colonel Munro began, "that some twenty years
ago the Protestant princes of Germany formed a league for mutual
protection and support, which they called the Protestant Union; and
a year later the Catholics, on their side, constituted what they
called the Holy League. At that time the condition of the Protestants
was not unbearable.  In Bohemia, where they constituted two-thirds
of the population, Rudolph II, and after him Mathias, gave conditions
of religious freedom.

"Gradually, however, the Catholic party about the emperor gained the
upper hand; then various acts in breach of the conditions granted
to the Protestants were committed, and public spirit on both sides
became much embittered.  On the 23d of May, 1618, the Estates of
Bohemia met at Prague, and the Protestant nobles, headed by Count
Thurn, came there armed, and demanded from the Imperial councillors an
account of the high handed proceedings. A violent quarrel ensued,
and finally the Protestant deputies seized the councillors Martinitz
and Slavata, and their secretary, and hurled them from the window
into the dry ditch, fifty feet below. Fortunately for the councillors
the ditch contained a quantity of light rubbish, and they and their
secretary escaped without serious damage. The incident, however,
was the commencement of war.  Bohemia was almost independent
of Austria, administering its own internal affairs. The Estates
invested Count Thurn with the command of the army. The Protestant
Union supported Bohemia in its action.  Mathias, who was himself
a tolerant and well meaning man, tried to allay the storm; but,
failing to do so, marched an army into Bohemia.

"Had Mathias lived matters would probably have arranged themselves,
but he died the following spring, and was succeeded by Ferdinand
II. Ferdinand is one of the most bigoted Catholics living, and is
at the same time a bold and resolute man; and he had taken a solemn
vow at the shrine of Loretto that, if ever he came to the throne,
he would re-establish Catholicism throughout his dominions.  Both
parties prepared for the strife; the Bohemians renounced their
allegiance to him and nominated the Elector Palatine Frederick V,
the husband of our Scotch princess, their king.

"The first blow was struck at Zablati. There a Union army, led by
Mansfeldt, was defeated by the Imperial general Bucquoi. A few days
later, however, Count Thurn, marching through Moravia and Upper
Austria, laid siege to Vienna.  Ferdinand's own subjects were
estranged from him, and the cry of the Protestant army, `Equal rights
for all Christian churches,' was approved by the whole population
-- for even in Austria itself there were a very large number of
Protestants.  Ferdinand had but a few soldiers, the population of
the city were hostile, and had Thurn only entered the town he could
have seized the emperor without any resistance.

"Thurn hesitated, and endeavoured instead to obtain the conditions
of toleration which the Protestants required; and sixteen Austrian
barons in the city were in the act of insisting upon Ferdinand
signing these when the head of the relieving army entered the city.
Thurn retired hastily.  The Catholic princes and representatives
met at Frankfort and elected Ferdinand Emperor of Germany. He at
once entered into a strict agreement with Maximilian of Bavaria to
crush Protestantism throughout Germany. The Bohemians, however, in
concert with Bethlem Gabor, king of Hungary, again besieged Vienna;
but as the winter set in they were obliged to retire. From that
moment the Protestant cause was lost; Saxony and Hesse-Darmstadt
left the Union and joined Ferdinand. Denmark, which had promised
its assistance to the Protestants, was persuaded to remain quiet.
Sweden was engaged in a war with the Poles.

"The Protestant army was assembled at Ulm; the army of the League,
under the order of Maximilian of Bavaria, was at Donauworth.
Maximilian worked upon the fears of the Protestant princes, who,
frightened at the contest they had undertaken, agreed to a peace,
by which they bound themselves to offer no aid to Frederick V.

"The Imperial forces then marched to Bohemia and attacked Frederick's
army outside Prague, and in less than an hour completely defeated
it. Frederick escaped with his family to Holland. Ferdinand then
took steps to carry out his oath. The religious freedom granted by
Mathias was abolished. In Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, and Austria
proper.  Many of the promoters of the rebellion were punished in
life and property. The year following all members of the Calvinistic
sect were forced to leave their country, a few months afterwards
the Lutherans were also expelled, and in 1627 the exercise of all
religious forms except those of the Catholic Church was forbidden;
200 of the noble, and 30,000 of the wealthier and industrial classes,
were driven into exile; and lands and property to the amount of
5,000,000 or 6,000,000 pounds were confiscated.

"The hereditary dominions of Frederick V were invaded, the Protestants
were defeated, the Palatinate entirely subdued, and the electorate
was conferred upon Maximilian of Bavaria; and the rigid laws against
the Protestants were carried into effect in the Palatinate also.
It had now become evident to all Europe that the Emperor of Austria
was determined to stamp out Protestantism throughout Germany; and
the Protestant princes, now thoroughly alarmed, besought aid from
the Protestant countries, England, Holland, and Denmark. King James,
who had seen unmoved the misfortunes which had befallen his daughter
and her husband, and who had been dead to the general feeling of
the country, could no longer resist, and England agreed to supply
an annual subsidy; Holland consented to supply troops; and the King
of Denmark joined the League, and was to take command of the army.

"In Germany the Protestants of lower Saxony and Brunswick, and the
partisan leader Mansfeldt, were still in arms. The army under the
king of Denmark advanced into Brunswick, and was there confronted
by that of the league under Tilly, while an Austrian army, raised
by Wallenstein, also marched against it.  Mansfeldt endeavoured to
prevent Wallenstein from joining Tilly, but was met and defeated by
the former general. Mansfeldt was, however, an enterprising leader,
and falling back into Brandenburg, recruited his army, joined the
force under the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and started by forced marches
to Silesia and Moravia, to join Bethlem Gabor in Hungary. Wallenstein
was therefore obliged to abandon his campaign against the Danes and
to follow him.  Mansfeldt joined the Hungarian army, but so rapid
were his marches that his force had dwindled away to a mere skeleton,
and the assistance which it would be to the Hungarians was so small
that Bethlem Gabor refused to cooperate with it against Austria.

"Mansfeldt disbanded his remaining soldiers, and two months
afterwards died. Wallenstein then marched north.  In the meantime
Tilly had attacked King Christian at Lutter, and completely
defeated him. I will tell you about that battle some other time.
When Wallenstein came north it was decided that Tilly should carry
the war into Holland, and that Wallenstein should deal with the
King of Denmark and the Protestant princes. In the course of two
years he drove the Danes from Silesia, subdued Brandenburg and
Mecklenburg, and, advancing into Pomerania, besieged Stralsund.

"What a siege that was to be sure! Wallenstein had sworn to capture
the place, but he didn't reckon upon the Scots.  After the siege
had begun Lieutenant General Sir Alexander Leslie, with 5000 Scots
and Swedes, fought his way into the town; and though Wallenstein
raised fire upon it, though we were half starved and ravaged
by plague, we held out for three months, repulsing every assault,
till at last the Imperialists were obliged to draw off; having lost
12,200 men.

"This, however, was the solitary success on our side, and a few months
since, Christian signed a peace, binding himself to interfere no
more in the affairs of Germany. When Ferdinand considered himself
free to carry out his plans, he issued an edict by which the
Protestants throughout Germany were required to restore to the
Catholics all the monasteries and land which had formerly belonged
to the Catholic Church.  The Catholic service was alone to
be performed, and the Catholic princes of the empire were ordered
to constrain their subjects, by force if necessary, to conform to
the Catholic faith; and it was intimated to the Protestant princes
that they would be equally forced to carry the edict into effect.
But this was too much.  Even France disapproved, not from any
feeling of pity on the part of Richelieu for the Protestants, but
because it did not suit the interests of France that Ferdinand
should become the absolute monarch of all Germany.

"In these circumstances Gustavus of Sweden at once resolved to
assist the Protestants in arms, and ere long will take the field.
That is what has brought us here. Already in the Swedish army there
are 10,000 Scotchmen, and in Denmark they also form the backbone
of the force; and both in the Swedish and Danish armies the greater
part of the native troops are officered and commanded by Scotchmen.

"Hitherto I myself have been in the Danish service, but my regiment
is about to take service with the Swedes. It has been quietly intimated
to us that there will be no objection to our doing so, although
Christian intends to remain neutral, at any rate for a time. We
suffered very heavily at Lutter, and I need 500 men to fill up my
ranks to the full strength.

"Now, Graheme, I quite rely upon you. You were at college with
Hepburn, Hume, and myself, and it will be a pleasure for us all
to fight side by side; and if I know anything of your disposition
I am sure you cannot be contented to be remaining here at the age
of nine-and-twenty, rusting out your life as a Scotch laird, while
Hepburn has already won a name which is known through Europe."



CHAPTER II SHIPWRECKED


Upon the following morning Nigel Graheme told his visitors that
he had determined to accept their offer, and would at once set to
work to raise a company.

"I have," he said, "as you know, a small patrimony of my own, and
as for the last eight years I have been living here looking after
Malcolm I have been laying by any rents, and can now furnish the
arms and accoutrements for a hundred men without difficulty. When
Malcolm comes of age he must act for himself, and can raise two
or three hundred men if he chooses; but at present he will march
in my company. I understand that I have the appointment of my own
officers."

"Yes, until you join the regiment," Munro said. "You have the
first appointments. Afterwards the colonel will fill up vacancies.
You must decide how you will arm your men, for you must know
that Gustavus' regiments have their right and left wings composed
of musketeers, while the centre is formed of pikemen, so you must
decide to which branch your company shall belong."

"I would choose the pike," Nigel said, "for after all it must be
by the pike that the battle is decided."

"Quite right, Nigel. I have here with me a drawing of the armour in
use with us. You see they have helmets of an acorn shape, with a
rim turning up in front; gauntlets, buff coats well padded in front,
and large breast plates. The pikes vary from fourteen to eighteen
feet long according to the taste of the commander. We generally use
about sixteen. If your company is a hundred strong you will have
two lieutenants and three ensigns. Be careful in choosing your
officers. I will fill in the king's commission to you as captain
of the company, authorizing you to enlist men for his service and
to appoint officers thereto."

An hour or two later Colonel Munro and Captain Hume proceeded on
their way. The news speedily spread through Nithsdale that Nigel
Graheme had received a commission from the King of Sweden to raise
a company in his service, and very speedily men began to pour in.
The disbandment of the Scottish army had left but few careers open
at home to the youth of that country, and very large numbers had
consequently flocked to the Continent and taken service in one
or other of the armies there, any opening of the sort, therefore,
had only to be known to be freely embraced.  Consequently, in
eight-and-forty hours Nigel Graheme had applications from a far
larger number than he could accept, and he was enabled to pick and
choose among the applicants.  Many young men of good family were
among them, for in those days service in the ranks was regarded
as honourable, and great numbers of young men of good family and
education trailed a pike in the Scotch regiments in the service of
the various powers of Europe. Two young men whose property adjoined
his own, Herries and Farquhar, each of whom brought twenty of
his own tenants with him, were appointed lieutenants, while two
others, Leslie and Jamieson, were with Malcolm named as ensigns.
The noncommissioned officers were appointed from men who had served
before. Many of the men already possessed armour which was suitable,
for in those day's there was no strict uniformity of military
attire, and the armies of the various nationalities differed very
slightly from each other. Colonel Munro returned in the course of
a fortnight, Nigel Graheme's company completing the number of men
required to fill up the ranks of his regiment.

Captain Hume had proceeded further north. Colonel Munro stopped
for a week in Nithsdale, giving instructions to the officers and
noncommissioned officers as to the drill in use in the Swedish army.
Military manoeuvres were in these days very different to what they
have now become.  The movements were few and simple, and easily
acquired.  Gustavus had, however, introduced an entirely new formation
into his army. Hitherto troops had fought in solid masses, twenty
or more deep. Gustavus taught his men to fight six deep, maintaining
that if troops were steady this depth of formation should be able
to sustain any assault upon it, and that with a greater depth the
men behind were useless in the fight. His cavalry fought only three
deep. The recruits acquired the new tactics with little difficulty.
In Scotland for generations every man and boy had received a certain
military training, and all were instructed in the use of the pike;
consequently, at the end of a week Colonel Munro pronounced Nigel
Graheme's company capable of taking their place in the regiment
without discredit, and so went forward to see to the training
of the companies of Hamilton, Balfour, and Scott, having arranged
with Graheme to march his company to Dunbar in three weeks' time,
when he would be joined by the other three companies. Malcolm was
delighted with the stir and bustle of his new life. Accustomed to
hard exercise, to climbing and swimming, he was a strong and well
grown lad, and was in appearance fully a year beyond his age. He
felt but little fatigued by the incessant drill in which the days
were passed, though he was glad enough of an evening to lay aside
his armour, of which the officers wore in those days considerably
more than the soldiers, the mounted officers being still clad
in full armour, while those on foot wore back and arm pieces, and
often leg pieces, in addition to the helmet and breastplate. They
were armed with swords and pistols, and carried besides what were
called half pikes, or pikes some 7 feet long. They wore feathers
in their helmets, and the armour was of fine quality, and often
richly damascened, or inlaid with gold.

Very proud did Malcolm feel as on the appointed day he marched with
the company from Nithsdale, with the sun glittering on their arms
and a drummer beating the march at their head. They arrived in
due course at Dunbar, and were in a few hours joined by the other
three companies under Munro himself. The regiment which was now
commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Munro had been raised in 1626 by
Sir Donald Mackay of Farre and Strathnaver, 1500 strong, for the
service of the King of Denmark. Munro was his cousin, and when Sir
Donald went home shortly before, he succeeded to the command of
the regiment.  They embarked at once on board a ship which Munro
had chartered, and were landed in Denmark and marched to Flensberg,
where the rest of the regiment was lying.

A fortnight was spent in severe drill, and then orders were received
from Oxenstiern, the chancellor of Sweden, to embark the regiment
on board two Swedish vessels, the Lillynichol and the Hound. On
board the former were the companies of Captains Robert Munro, Hector
Munro, Bullion, Nigel Graheme, and Hamilton. Colonel Munro sailed
in this ship, while Major Sennot commanded the wing of the regiment
on board the Hound. The baggage horses and ammunition were in a
smaller vessel.

The orders were that they were to land at Wolgast on the southern
shore of the Baltic. Scarcely had they set sail than the weather
changed, and a sudden tempest burst upon them. Higher and higher
grew the wind, and the vessels were separated in the night. The
Lillynichol laboured heavily in the waves, and the discomfort of the
troops, crowded together between decks, was very great. Presently
it was discovered that she had made a leak, and that the water was
entering fast. Munro at once called forty-eight soldiers to the
pumps. They were relieved every quarter of an hour, and by dint of
the greatest exertions barely succeeded in keeping down the water.
So heavily did the vessel labour that Munro bore away for Dantzig;
but when night came on the storm increased in fury. They were now
in shoal water, and the vessel, already half waterlogged, became
quite unmanageable in the furious waves. Beyond the fact that they
were fast driving on to the Pomeranian coast, they were ignorant
of their position.

"This is a rough beginning," Nigel said to his nephew.  "We
bargained to run the risk of being killed by the Germans, but we
did not expect to run the hazard of being drowned. I doubt if the
vessel can live till morning. It is only eleven o'clock yet, and
in spite of the pumps she is getting lower and lower in the water."

Before Malcolm had time to answer him there was a tremendous crash
which threw them off their feet. All below struggled on deck, but
nothing could be seen in the darkness save masses of foam as the
waves broke on the rock on which they had struck. There were two
more crashes, and then another, even louder and more terrible, and
the vessel broke in two parts.

"Come aft all," Colonel Munro shouted; "this part of the wreck is
fixed."

With great efforts all on board managed to reach the after portion
of the vessel, which was wedged among the rocks, and soon afterwards
the forepart broke up and disappeared. For two hours the sea broke
wildly over the ship, and all had to hold on for life.

Malcolm, even in this time of danger, could not but admire the
calmness and coolness of his young colonel.  He at once set men to
work with ropes to drag towards the vessel the floating pieces of
wreck which were tossing about in the boiling surf. The masts and
yards were hauled alongside, and the colonel instructed the men
to make themselves fast to these in case the vessel should go to
pieces.

Hour after hour passed, and at last, to the joy of all, daylight
appeared. The boats had all been broken to pieces, and Munro now
set the men to work to bind the spars and timbers together into a
raft. One of the soldiers and a sailor volunteered to try to swim
to shore with lines, but both were dashed to pieces.

At one o'clock in the day some natives were seen collecting on the
shore, and these presently dragged down a boat and launched it, and
with great difficulty rowed out to the ship. A line was thrown to
them, and with this they returned to shore, where they made the
line fast. The storm was now abating somewhat, and Munro ordered
the debarkation to commence.

As many of the troops as could find a place on the raft, or could
cling to the ropes fastened on its sides, started first, and by means
of the line hauled the raft ashore. A small party then brought it
back to the ship, while others manned the boat; and so after a number
of trips the whole of the troops and crew were landed, together
with all the weapons and armour that could be saved.

From the peasantry Munro now learned that they had been wrecked
upon the coast of Rugenwalde, a low lying tract of country in the
north of Pomerania. The forts upon it were all in the possession of
the Imperialists, while the nearest post of the Swedes was eighty
miles away.

The position was not a pleasant one. Many of the arms had been lost,
and the gunpowder was of course destroyed.  The men were exhausted
and worn out with their long struggle with the tempest. They were
without food, and might at any moment be attacked by their enemies.

"Something must be done, and that quickly," Munro said, "or our
fate will be well nigh as bad as that of the Sinclairs; but before
night we can do nothing, and we must hope that the Germans will
not discover us till then."

Thereupon he ordered all the men to lie down under shelter of the
bushes on the slopes facing the shore, and on no account to show
themselves on the higher ground. Then he sent a Walloon officer
of the regiment to the Pomeranian seneschal of the old castle
of Rugenwalde which belonged to Bogislaus IV, Duke of Pomerania,
to inform him that a body of Scotch troops in the service of the
Swedish king had been cast on the coast, and begging him to supply
them with a few muskets, some dry powder, and bullets, promising if
he would do so that the Scotch would clear the town of its Imperial
garrison.

The castle itself, which was a very old feudal building, was
held only by the retainers of the duke, and the seneschal at once
complied with Munro's request, for the Duke of Pomerania, his master,
although nominally an ally of the Imperialists, had been deprived
of all authority by them, and the feelings of his subjects were
entirely with the Swedes.

Fifty old muskets, some ammunition, and some food were sent out by
a secret passage to the Scots. There was great satisfaction among
the men when these supplies arrived. The muskets which had been
brought ashore were cleaned up and loaded, and the feeling that they
were no longer in a position to fall helplessly into the hands of
any foe who might discover them restored the spirits of the troops,
and fatigue and hunger were forgotten as they looked forward to
striking a blow at the enemy.

"What did the colonel mean by saying that our position was well
nigh as bad as that of the Sinclairs?" Malcolm asked Captain Hector
Munro, who with two or three other officers was sheltering under
a thick clump of bushes.

"That was a bad business," Captain Munro replied. "It happened
now nigh twenty years ago. Colonel Monkhoven, a Swedish officer,
had enlisted 2300 men in Scotland for service with Gustavus, and
sailed with them and with a regiment 900 strong raised by Sinclair
entirely of his own clan and name. Sweden was at war with Denmark,
and Stockholm was invested by the Danish fleet when Monkhoven
arrived with his ships. Finding that he was unable to land, he
sailed north, landed at Trondheim, and marching over the Norwegian
Alps reached Stockholm in safety, where the appearance of his
reinforcements discouraged the Danes and enabled Gustavus to raise
the siege.

"Unfortunately Colonel Sinclair's regiment had not kept with Monkhoven,
it being thought better that they should march by different routes
so as to distract the attention of the Norwegians, who were bitterly
hostile.  The Sinclairs were attacked several times, but beat off
their assailants; when passing, however, through the tremendous
gorge of Kringellen, the peasantry of the whole surrounding country
gathered in the mountains.  The road wound along on one side of the
gorge. So steep was the hill that the path was cut in solid rock
which rose almost precipitously on one side, while far below at
their feet rushed a rapid torrent. As the Sinclairs were marching
along through this rocky gorge a tremendous fire was opened upon
them from the pine forests above, while huge rocks and stones came
bounding down the precipice.

"The Sinclairs strove in vain to climb the mountainside and get
at their foes. It was impossible, and they were simply slaughtered
where they stood, only one man of the whole regiment escaping to
tell the story."

"That was a terrible massacre indeed," Malcolm said.  "I have read
of a good many surprises and slaughters in our Scottish history,
but never of such complete destruction as that only one man out of
900 should escape. And was the slaughter never avenged?"

"No," Munro replied. "We Scots would gladly march north and repay
these savage peasants for the massacre of our countrymen, but the
King of Sweden has had plenty of occupation for his Scotchmen in
his own wars. What with the Russians and the Poles and the Danes
his hands have been pretty full from that day to this, and indeed
an expedition against the Norsemen is one which would bring more
fatigue and labour than profit. The peasants would seek shelter in
their forests and mountains, and march as we would we should never
see them, save when they fell upon us with advantage in some defile."

At nightfall the troops were mustered, and, led by the men who
had brought the arms, they passed by the secret passage into the
castle, and thence sallied suddenly into the town below. There
they fell upon a patrol of Imperial cavalry, who were all shot down
before they had time to draw their swords. Then scattering through
the town, the whole squadron of cuirassiers who garrisoned it were
either killed or taken prisoners.  This easy conquest achieved, the
first care of Munro was to feed his troops. These were then armed
from the stores in the town, and a strong guard being placed lest
they should be attacked by the Austrian force, which was, they
learned, lying but seven miles away, on the other side of the river,
the troops lay down to snatch a few hours of needed rest.

In the morning the country was scoured, and a few detached posts
of the Austrians captured. The main body then advanced and blew
up the bridge across the river. Five days later an order came from
Oxenstiern, to whom Munro had at once despatched the news of his
capture of Rugenwalde, ordering him to hold it to the last, the
position being a very valuable one, as opening an entrance into
Pomerania.

The passage of the river was protected by entrenchments, strong
redoubts were thrown up round Rugenwalde, and parties crossing the
river in boats collected provisions and stores from the country
to the very gates of Dantzig. The Austrians rapidly closed in upon
all sides, and for nine weeks a constant series of skirmishes were
maintained with them.

At the end of that time Sir John Hepburn arrived from Spruce,
having pushed forward by order of Oxenstiern by forced marches to
their relief. Loud and hearty was the cheering when the two Scotch
regiments united, and the friends, Munro and Hepburn, clasped hands.
Not only had they been at college together, but they had, after
leaving St.  Andrews, travelled in companionship on the Continent
for two or three years before taking service, Munro entering that
of France, while Hepburn joined Sir Andrew Gray as a volunteer when
he led a band to succour the Prince Palatine at the commencement
of the war.

"I have another old friend in my regiment, Hepburn," the colonel
said after the first greeting was over --"Nigel Graheme, of course
you remember him."

"Certainly I do," Hepburn exclaimed cordially, "and right glad will
I be to see him again; but I thought your regiment was entirely
from the north."

"It was originally," Munro said; "but I have filled up the gaps
with men from Nithsdale and the south. I was pressed for time, and
our glens of Farre and Strathnaver had already been cleared of all
their best men. The other companies are all commanded by men who
were with us at St. Andrews -- Balfour, George Hamilton, and James
Scott."

"That is well," Hepburn said. "Whether from the north or the south
Scots fight equally well; and with Gustavus 'tis like being in our
own country, so large a proportion are we of his majesty's army.
And now, Munro, I fear that I must supersede you in command, being
senior to you in the service, and having, moreover, his majesty's
commission as governor of the town and district."

"There is no one to whom I would more willingly resign the command.
I have seen some hard fighting, but have yet my name to win; while
you, though still only a colonel, are famous throughout Europe."

"Thanks to my men rather than to myself," Hepburn said, "though,
indeed, mine is no better than the other Scottish regiments in the
king's service; but we have had luck, and in war, you know, luck
is everything."

There were many officers in both regiments who were old friends
and acquaintances, and there was much feasting that night in the
Scotch camp. In the morning work began again. The peasants of the
district, 8000 strong, were mustered and divided into companies,
armed and disciplined, and with these and the two Scotch regiments
Hepburn advanced through Pomerania to the gates of Colberg, fifty
miles away, clearing the country of the Austrians, who offered,
indeed, but a faint resistance.

The Lord of Kniphausen, a general in the Swedish service, now arrived
with some Swedish troops, and prepared to besiege the town. The
rest of Munro's regiment accompanied him, having arrived safely
at their destination, and the whole were ordered to aid in the
investment of Colberg, while Hepburn was to seize the town and
castle of Schiefelbrune, five miles distant, and there to check the
advance of the Imperialists, who were moving forward in strength
towards it.

Hepburn performed his mission with a party of cavalry, and reported
that although the castle was dilapidated it was a place of strength,
and that it could be held by a resolute garrison; whereupon Munro
with 500 men of his regiment was ordered to occupy it. Nigel
Graheme's company was one of those which marched forward on the
6th of November, and entering the town, which was almost deserted
by its inhabitants, set to work to prepare it for defence. Ramparts
of earth and stockades were hastily thrown up, and the gates were
backed by piles of rubbish to prevent them being blown in by petards.

Scarcely were the preparations completed before the enemy were seen
moving down the hillside.

"How many are there of them, think you?" Malcolm asked Lieutenant
Farquhar.

"I am not skilled in judging numbers, Malcolm, but I should say
that there must be fully five thousand."

There were indeed eight thousand Imperialists approaching, led by
the Count of Montecuculi, a distinguished Italian officer, who had
with him the regiments of Coloredo, Isslani, Goetz, Sparre, and
Charles Wallenstein, with a large force of mounted Croats.

Munro's orders were to hold the town as long as he could, and
afterwards to defend the castle to the last man.  The Imperial
general sent in a message requesting him to treat for the surrender
of the place; but Munro replied simply, that as no allusion to the
word treaty was contained in his instructions he should defend the
place to the last. The first advance of the Imperialists was made
by the cavalry covered by 1000 musketeers, but these were repulsed
without much difficulty by the Scottish fire.

The whole force then advanced to the attack with great resolution.
Desperately the Highlanders defended the town, again and again the
Imperialists were repulsed from the slight rampart, and when at
last they won their way into the place by dint of numbers, every
street, lane, alley, and house was defended to the last.  Malcolm
was almost bewildered at the din, the incessant roll of musketry,
the hoarse shouts of the contending troops, the rattling of the
guns, and the shrieks of pain.

Every time the Imperialists tried to force their way in heavy columns
up the streets the Scots poured out from the houses to resist them,
and meeting them pike to pike hurled them backwards. Malcolm tried
to keep cool, and to imitate the behaviour of his senior officers,
repeating their orders, and seeing that they were carried out.

Time after time the Austrians attempted to carry the place, and
were always hurled back, although outnumbering the Scots by nigh
twenty to one. At last the town was in ruins, and was on fire in a
score of places. Its streets and lanes were heaped with dead, and
it was no longer tenable.  Munro therefore gave orders that the
houses should everywhere be set on fire, and the troops fall back
to the castle.

Steadily and in good order his commands were carried out, and with
levelled pikes, still facing the enemy, the troops retired into the
castle. The Imperial general, seeing how heavy had been his losses
in carrying the open town, shrank from the prospect of assaulting
a castle defended by such troops, and when night fell he quietly
marched away with the force under his command.



CHAPTER III SIR JOHN HEPBURN


Munro's first care, when he found that the Imperialists had retreated
in the direction of Colberg, was to send out some horsemen to
discover whether the Swedes were in a position to cover that town.
The men returned in two hours with the report that Field Marshal
Horn, with the Swedish troops from Stettin, had joined Kniphausen
and Hepburn, and were guarding the passage between the enemy and
Colberg.

Two days later a message arrived to the effect that Sir Donald
Mackay, who had now been created Lord Reay, had arrived to take
the command of his regiment, and that Nigel Graheme's company was
to march and join him; while Munro with the rest of his command
was to continue to hold the Castle of Schiefelbrune.

Shortly afterwards General Bauditzen arrived with 4000 men and 18
pieces of cannon to press the siege of Colberg, which was one of
the strongest fortresses in North Germany.  On the 13th of November
the news arrived that Montecuculi was again advancing to raise the
siege; and Lord Reay with his half regiment, Hepburn with half his
regiment, and a regiment of Swedish infantry marched out to meet
him, Kniphausen being in command. They took up a position in a
little village a few miles from the town; and here, at four o'clock
in the morning, they were attacked by the Imperialists, 7000 strong.
The Swedish infantry fled almost without firing a shot, but the
Scottish musketeers of Hepburn and Reay stood their ground.

For a time a desperate conflict raged. In the darkness it was
utterly impossible to distinguish friend from foe, and numbers on
both sides were mown down by the volleys of their own party. In the
streets and gardens of the little village men fought desperately
with pikes and clubbed muskets.  Unable to act in the darkness,
and losing many men from the storm of bullets which swept over the
village, the Swedish cavalry who had accompanied the column turned
and fled; and being unable to resist so vast a superiority of
force, Kniphausen gave the word, and the Scotch fell slowly back
under cover of the heavy mist which rose with the first breath of
day, leaving 500 men, nearly half their force, dead behind them.

Nigel Graheme's company had suffered severely; he himself was badly
wounded. A lieutenant and one of the ensigns were killed, with
thirty of the men, and many others were wounded with pike or bullet.
Malcolm had had his share of the fighting. Several times he and
the men immediately round him had been charged by the Imperialists,
but their long pikes had each time repulsed the assaults.

Malcolm had before this come to the conclusion, from the anecdotes
he heard from the officers who had served through several campaigns,
that the first quality of an officer is coolness, and that this is
even more valuable than is reckless bravery. He had therefore set
before himself that his first duty in action was to be perfectly
calm, to speak without hurry or excitement in a quiet and natural
tone.

In his first fight at Schiefelbrune he had endeavoured to carry
this out, but although he gained much commendation from Nigel and
the other officers of the company for his coolness on that occasion,
he had by no means satisfied himself; but upon the present occasion
he succeeded much better in keeping his natural feelings in check,
forcing himself to speak in a quiet and deliberate way without
flurry or excitement, and in a tone of voice in no way raised above
the ordinary. The effect had been excellent, and the soldiers, in
talking over the affair next day, were loud in their praise of the
conduct of the young ensign.

"The lad was as cool as an old soldier," one of the sergeants
said, "and cooler. Just as the Austrian column was coming on for
the third time, shouting, and cheering, and sending their bullets
in a hail, he said to me as quietly as if he was giving an order
about his dinner, 'I think, Donald, it would be as well to keep
the men out of fire until the last moment. Some one might get hurt,
you see, before the enemy get close enough to use the pikes.' And
then when they came close he said, 'Now, sergeant, I think it is time
to move out and stop them.' When they came upon us he was fighting
with his half pike with the best of us. And when the Austrians
fell back and began to fire again, and we took shelter behind the
houses, he walked about on the road, stooping down over those who
had fallen, to see if all were killed, and finding two were alive
he called out, 'Will one of you just come and help me carry these
men under shelter?  They may get hit again if they remain here.'
I went out to him, but I can tell you I didn't like it, for the
bullets were coming along the road in a shower. His helmet was
knocked off by one, and one of the men we were carrying in was
struck by two more bullets and killed, and the lad seemed to mind
it no more than if it had been a rainstorm in the hills at home.
I thought when we left Nithsdale that the captain was in the wrong
to make so young a boy an officer, but I don't think so now. Munro
himself could not have been cooler. If he lives he will make a
great soldier."

The defence of the Scots had been so stubborn that Montecuculi
abandoned his attempt to relieve Colberg that day, and so vigilant
was the watch which the besiegers kept that he was obliged at last
to draw off his troops and leave Colberg to its fate. The place
held out to the 26th of February, when the garrison surrendered
and were allowed to march out with the honours of war, with pikes
carried, colours flying, drums beating, matches lighted, with
their baggage, and with two pieces of cannon loaded and ready for
action. They were saluted by the army as they marched away to the
nearest town held by the Austrians, and as they passed by Schiefelbrune
Munro's command were drawn up and presented arms to the 1500 men
who had for three months resisted every attempt to capture Colberg
by assault.

Nigel Graheme's wound was so severe that he was obliged for a time
to relinquish the command of his company, which he handed over to
Herries.

As there had been two vacancies among the officers Malcolm would
naturally have been promoted to the duties of lieutenant, but at his
urgent request his uncle chose for the purpose a young gentleman of
good family who had fought in the ranks, and had much distinguished
himself in both the contests. Two others were also promoted to fill
up the vacancies as ensigns.

The troops after the capture of Colberg marched to Stettin, around
which town they encamped for a time, while Gustavus completed his
preparations for his march into Germany. While a portion of his
army had been besieging Colberg, Gustavus had been driving the
Imperialists out of the whole of Pomerania.  Landing on the 24th
of June with an army in all of 15,000 infantry, 2000 cavalry, and
about 3000 artillery, he had, after despatching troops to aid Munro
and besiege Colberg, marched against the Imperialists under Conti.
These, however, retreated in great disorder and with much loss of
men, guns, and baggage, into Brandenburg; and in a few weeks after
the Swedish landing only Colberg, Greifswald, and Demming held out.
In January Gustavus concluded a treaty with France, who agreed to
pay him an annual subsidy of 400,000 thalers on the condition that
Gustavus maintained in the field an army of 30,000 infantry and
6000 cavalry, and assured to the princes and peoples whose territory
he might occupy the free exercise of their religion. England also
promised a subsidy, and the Marquis of Hamilton was to bring over
6000 infantry; but as the king did not wish openly to take part
in the war this force was not to appear as an English contingent.
Another regiment of Highlanders was brought over by Colonel John
Munro of Obstell, and also a regiment recruited in the Lowlands by
Colonel Sir James Lumsden.

Many other parties of Scotch were brought over by gentlemen of rank.
Four chosen Scottish regiments, Hepburn's regiment, Lord Reay's
regiment, Sir James Lumsden's musketeers, and Stargate's corps,
were formed into one brigade under the command of Hepburn. It was
called the Green Brigade, and the doublets, scarfs, feathers, and
standards were of that colour. The rest of the infantry were divided
into the Yellow, Blue, and White Brigades.

One evening when the officers of Reay's regiment were sitting round
the campfire Lieutenant Farquhar said to Colonel Munro:

"How is it that Sir John Hepburn has, although still so young,
risen to such high honour in the counsel of the king; how did he
first make his way?"

"He first entered the force raised by Sir Andrew Gray, who crossed
from Leith to Holland, and then uniting with a body of English
troops under Sir Horace Vere marched to join the troops of the
Elector Palatine. It was a work of danger and difficulty for so
small a body of men to march through Germany, and Spinola with a
powerful force tried to intercept them. They managed, however, to
avoid him, and reached their destination in safety.

"Vere's force consisted of 2200 men, and when he and Sir Andrew
Gray joined the Margrave of Anspach the latter had but 4000 horse
and 4000 foot with him. There was a good deal of fighting, and
Hepburn so distinguished himself that although then but twenty
years old he obtained command of a company of pikemen in Sir Andrew
Gray's band, and this company was specially selected as a bodyguard
for the king.

"There was one Scotchman in the band who vied even with Hepburn in
the gallantry of his deeds. He was the son of a burgess of Stirling
named Edmund, and on one occasion, laying aside his armour, he swam
the Danube at night in front of the Austrian lines, and penetrated
to the very heart of the Imperial camp. There he managed to enter
the tent of the Imperialist general, the Count de Bucquoi, gagged
and bound him, carried him to the river, swam across with him and
presented him as a prisoner to the Prince of Orange, under whose
command he was then serving.

"It was well for Hepburn that at the battle of Prague he was guarding
the king, or he also might have fallen among the hosts who died
on that disastrous day. When the elector had fled the country Sir
Andrew Gray's bands formed part of Mansfeldt's force, under whom
they gained great glory.  When driven out of the Palatinate they
still kept up the war in various parts of Germany and Alsace. With
the Scotch companies of Colonel Henderson they defended Bergen when
the Marquis of Spinola besieged it. Morgan with an English brigade
was with them, and right steadily they fought.  Again and again
the Spaniards attempted to storm the place, but after losing 12,000
men they were forced to withdraw on the approach of Prince Maurice.

"The elector now made peace with the emperor, and Mansfeldt's bands
found themselves without employment.  Mansfeldt in vain endeavoured
to obtain employment under one of the powers, but failing, marched
into Lorraine. There, it must be owned, they plundered and ravaged
till they were a terror to the country. At last the Dutch, being
sorely pressed by the Spaniards, offered to take them into their
pay, and the bands marched out from Lorraine in high spirits.

"They were in sore plight for fighting, for most of them had been
obliged to sell even their arms and armour to procure food. Spinola,
hearing of their approach pushed forward with a strong force to
intercept them, and so came upon them at Fleurus, eight miles from
Namur, on the 30th of August, 1622.

"The Scots were led by Hepburn, Hume, and Sir James Ramsay;
the English by Sir Charles Rich, brother to the Earl of Warwick,
Sir James Hayes, and others. The odds seemed all in favour of the
Spaniards. who were much superior in numbers, and were splendidly
accoutred and well disciplined, and what was more, were well fed,
while Mansfeldt's bands were but half armed and almost wholly
starving.

"It was a desperate battle, and the Spaniards in the end remained
masters of the field, but Mansfeldt with his bands had burst their
way through them, and succeeded in crossing into Holland. Here
their position was bettered; for, though there was little fighting
for them to do, and they could get no pay, they lived and grew
fat in free quarters among the Dutch. At last the force broke
up altogether; the Germans scattered to their homes, the English
crossed the seas, and Hepburn led what remained of Sir Andrew Gray's
bands to Sweden, where he offered their services to Gustavus. The
Swedish king had already a large number of Scotch in his service,
and Hepburn was made a colonel, having a strong regiment composed
of his old followers inured to war and hardship, and strengthened
by a number of new arrivals.  When in 1625 hostilities were renewed
with Poland Hepburn's regiment formed part of the army which invaded
Polish Prussia. The first feat in which he distinguished himself in
the service of Sweden was at the relief of Mewe, a town in Eastern
Prussia, which was blockaded by King Sigismund at the head of
30,000 Poles. The town is situated at the confluence of the Bersa
with the Vistula, which washes two sides of its walls.

"In front of the other face is a steep green eminence which the
Poles had very strongly entrenched, and had erected upon it ten
batteries of heavy cannon. As the town could only be approached on
this side the difficulties of the relieving force were enormous;
but as the relief of the town was a necessity in order to enable
Gustavus to carry out the campaign he intended, the king determined
to make a desperate effort to effect it.

"He selected 3000 of his best Scottish infantry, among whom was
Hepburn's own regiment, and 500 horse under Colonel Thurn. When
they were drawn up he gave them a short address on the desperate
nature of the service they were about to perform, namely, to cut
a passage over a strongly fortified hill defended by 30,000 men.
The column, commanded by Hepburn, started at dusk, and, unseen by
the enemy, approached their position, and working round it began
to ascend the hill by a narrow and winding path encumbered by rocks
and stones, thick underwood, and overhanging trees.

"The difficulty for troops with heavy muskets, cartridges, breastplates,
and helmets, to make their way up such a place was enormous, and
the mountain side was so steep that they were frequently obliged
to haul themselves up by the branches of the trees; nevertheless,
they managed to make their way through the enemy's outposts unobserved,
and reached the summit, where the ground was smooth and level.

"Here they fell at once upon the Poles, who were working busily
at their trenches, and for a time gained a footing there; but a
deadly fire of musketry with showers of arrows and stones, opened
upon them from all points, compelled the Scots to recoil from the
trenches, when they were instantly attacked by crowds of horsemen
in mail shirts and steel caps. Hepburn drew off his men till they
reached a rock on the plateau, and here they made their stand, the
musketeers occupying the rock, the pikemen forming in a wall around
it.

"They had brought with them the portable chevaux-de-frise carried
by the infantry in the Swedish service.  They fixed this along in
front, and it aided the spearmen greatly in resisting the desperate
charges of the Polish horsemen.  Hepburn was joined by Colonel Mostyn,
an Englishman, and Count Brahe, with 200 German arquebusiers, and
this force for two days withstood the incessant attacks of the
whole of the Polish army.

"While this desperate strife was going on, and the attention of the
enemy entirely occupied, Gustavus managed to pass a strong force of
men and a store of ammunition into the town, and the Poles, seeing
that he had achieved his purpose, retired unmolested. In every
battle which Gustavus fought Hepburn bore a prominent part. He
distinguished himself at the storming of Kesmark and the defeat of
the Poles who were marching to its relief.

"He took part in the siege and capture of Marienburg and in
the defeat of the Poles at Dirschau. He was with Leslie when last
year he defended Stralsund against Wallenstein, and inflicted upon
the haughty general the first reverse he had ever met with. Truly
Hepburn has won his honours by the edge of the sword."

"Wallenstein is the greatest of the Imperial commanders, is he
not?" Farquhar asked.

"He and Tilly," Munro replied. "'Tis a question which is the greatest.
They are men of a very different stamp. Tilly is a soldier, and
nothing but a soldier, save that he is a fanatic in religion. He
is as cruel as he is brave, and as portentously ugly as he is cruel.

"Wallenstein is a very different man. He has enormous ambition and
great talent, and his possessions are so vast that he is a dangerous
subject for any potentate, even the most powerful. Curiously enough,
he was born of Protestant parents, but when they died, while he
was yet a child, he was committed to the care of his uncle, Albert
Slavata, a Jesuit, and was by him brought up a strict Catholic.
When he had finished the course of his study at Metz he spent some
time at the University of Altdorf, and afterwards studied at Bologna
and Padua. He then travelled in Italy, Germany, France, Spain,
England, and Holland, studying the military forces and tactics of
each country.

"On his return to Bohemia he took service under the Emperor
Rudolph and joined the army of General Basta in Hungary, where he
distinguished himself greatly at the siege of Grau. When peace was
made in 1606 Wallenstein returned to Bohemia, and though he was but
twenty-three years old he married a wealthy old widow, all of whose
large properties came to him at her death eight years afterwards.

"Five years later he raised at his own cost two hundred dragoons to
support Ferdinand of Gratz in his war against the Venetians. Here
he greatly distinguished himself, and was promoted to a colonelcy.
He married a second time, and again to one of the richest heiresses
of Austria. On the outbreak of the religious war of 1618 he raised
a regiment of Cuirassiers, and fought at its head. Two years later
he was made quartermaster general of the army, and marched at the
head of an independent force into Moravia, and there re-established
the Imperial authority.

"The next year he bought from the Emperor Ferdinand, for a little
over 7,000,000 florins, sixty properties which the emperor had
confiscated from Protestants whom he had either executed or banished.
He had been made a count at the time of his second marriage; he was
now named a prince, which title was changed into that of the Duke
of Friedland.  They say that his wealth is so vast that he obtains
two millions and a half sterling a year from his various estates.

"When in 1625 King Christian of Denmark joined in the war against
the emperor, Wallenstein raised at his own cost an army of 50,000
men and defeated Mansfeldt's army.  After that he cleared the Danes
out of Silesia, conquered Brandenburg and Mecklenburg, and laid
siege to Stralsund, and there broke his teeth against our Scottish
pikes. For his services in that war Wallenstein received the duchy
of Mecklenburg.

"At present he is in retirement. The conquests which his army have
made for the emperor aroused the suspicion and jealousy of the
German princes, and it may be that the emperor himself was glad
enough of an excuse to humble his too powerful subject. At any
rate, Wallenstein's army was disbanded, and he retired to one of
his castles. You may be sure we shall hear of him again. Tilly, you
know, is the Bavarian commander, and we shall probably encounter
him before long."

New Brandenburg and several other towns were captured and strongly
garrisoned, 600 of Reay's regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay
being left in New Brandenburg. Nigel Graheme was still laid up,
but his company formed part of the force.

"This is ill fortune indeed," Malcolm said to Lieutenant Farquhar,
"thus to be shut up here while the army are marching away to win
victories in the field."

"It is indeed, Malcolm, but I suppose that the king thinks that
Tilly is likely to try and retake these places, and so to threaten
his rear as he marches forward. He would never have placed as
strong a force of his best soldiers here if he had not thought the
position a very important one."

The troops were quartered in the larger buildings of New Brandenburg;
the officers were billeted upon the burghers. The position of the
country people and the inhabitants of the towns of Germany during
this long and desolating war was terrible; no matter which side
won, they suffered. There were in those days no commissariat wagons
bringing up stores from depots and magazines to the armies.  The
troops lived entirely upon the country through which they marched.
In exceptional cases, when the military chest happened to be well
filled, the provisions acquired might be paid for, but as a rule
armies upon the march lived by foraging. The cavalry swept in the
flocks and herds from the country round. Flour, forage, and everything
else required was seized wherever found, and the unhappy peasants
and villagers thought themselves lucky if they escaped with the loss
of all they possessed, without violence, insult, and ill treatment.
The slightest resistance to the exactions of the lawless foragers
excited their fury, and indiscriminate slaughter took place. The
march of an army could be followed by burned villages, demolished
houses, crops destroyed, and general ruin, havoc, and desolation.

In the cases of towns these generally escaped indiscriminate
plunder by sending deputies forward to meet advancing armies, when
an offer would be made to the general to supply so much food and to
pay so much money on condition that private property was respected.
In these cases the main body of the troops was generally encamped
outside the town. Along the routes frequently followed by armies
the country became a desert, the hapless people forsook their ruined
homes, and took refuge in the forests or in the heart of the hills,
carrying with them their portable property, and driving before them
a cow or two and a few goats.

How great was the general slaughter and destruction may be judged by
the fact that the population of Germany decreased by half during
the war, and in Bohemia the slaughter was even greater. At the
commencement of the war the population of Bohemia consisted of
3,000,000 of people, inhabiting 738 towns and 34,700 villages. At
the end of the war there were but 780,000 inhabitants, 230 towns,
and 6000 villages. Thus three out of four of the whole population
had been slaughtered during the struggle.

Malcolm was, with Lieutenant Farquhar, quartered upon one of the
principal burghers of New Brandenburg, and syndic of the weavers.
He received them cordially.

"I am glad," he said, "to entertain two Scottish officers, and, to
speak frankly, your presence will be of no slight advantage, for
it is only the houses where officers are quartered which can hope
to escape from the plunder and exactions of the soldiers. My wife
and I will do our best to make you comfortable, but we cannot
entertain you as we could have done before this war began, for
trade is altogether ruined. None have money wherewith to buy goods.
Even when free from the presence of contending armies, the country
is infested with parties of deserters or disbanded soldiers, who
plunder and murder all whom they meet, so that none dare travel
along the roads save in strong parties.  I believe that there is
scarce a village standing within twenty miles, and many parts have
suffered much more than we have. If this war goes on, God help the
people, for I know not what will become of them. This is my house,
will you please to enter."

Entering a wide hall, he led them into a low sitting room where
his wife and three daughters were at work.  They started up with
looks of alarm at the clatter of steel in the hall.

"Wife," the syndic said as he entered, "these are two gentlemen,
officers of the Scottish regiment; they will stay with us during
the occupation of the town. I know that you and the girls will do
your best to make their stay pleasant to them."

As the officers removed their helmets the apprehensions of the women
calmed down on perceiving that one of their guests was a young man
of three or four and twenty, while the other was a lad, and that
both had bright pleasant faces in no way answering the terrible
reputation gained by the invincible soldiers of the Swedish king.

"I hope," Farquhar said pleasantly, "that you will not put yourselves
out of your way for us. We are soldiers of fortune accustomed to
sleep on the ground and to live on the roughest fare, and since
leaving Scotland we have scarcely slept beneath a roof. We will be
as little trouble to you as we can, and our two soldier servants
will do all that we need."

Farquhar spoke in German, for so large a number of Germans were
serving among the Swedes that the Scottish officers had all learned
to speak that language and Swedish, German being absolutely necessary
for their intercourse with the country people. This was the more
easy as the two languages were akin to each other, and were less
broadly separated from English in those days than they are now.

It was nearly a year since Farquhar and Malcolm had landed on the
shores of the Baltic, and living as they had done among Swedes
and Germans, they had had no difficulty in learning to speak both
languages fluently.



CHAPTER IV NEW BRANDENBURG


Farquhar and Malcolm Graheme were soon at home with their hosts.
The syndic had offered to have their meals prepared for them in a
separate chamber, but they begged to be allowed to take them with
the family, with whom they speedily became intimate.

Three weeks after the capture of New Brandenburg the news came that
Tilly with a large army was rapidly approaching.

Every effort was made to place the town in a position of defence.
Day after day messengers came in with the news that the other
places which had been garrisoned by the Swedes had been captured,
and very shortly the Imperialist army was seen approaching.
The garrison knew that they could expect no relief from Gustavus,
who had ten days before marched northward, and all prepared for
a desperate resistance. The townsfolk looked on with trembling
apprehension, their sympathies were with the defenders, and,
moreover, they knew that in any case they might expect pillage and
rapine should the city be taken, for the property of the townspeople
when a city was captured was regarded by the soldiery as their
lawful prize, whether friendly to the conquerors or the reverse.
The town was at once summoned to surrender, and upon Lindsay's
refusal the guns were placed in position, and the siege began.

As Tilly was anxious to march away to the north to oppose Gustavus
he spared no effort to reduce New Brandenburg as speedily as
possible, and his artillery fired night and day to effect breaches
in the walls.  The Scotch officers saw little of their hosts now,
for they were almost continually upon the walls.

At the first news of the approach of the Imperialists the syndic
had sent away his daughters to the house of a relative at Stralsund,
where his son was settled in business. When Farquhar and Malcolm
returned to eat a meal or to throw themselves on their beds to
snatch a short sleep, the syndic anxiously questioned them as to
the progress of the siege.  The reports were not hopeful. In several
places the walls were crumbling, and it was probable that a storm
would shortly be attempted. The town itself was suffering heavily,
for the balls of the besiegers frequently flew high, and came
crashing among the houses. Few of the inhabitants were to be seen
in the streets; all had buried their most valuable property, and
with scared faces awaited the issue of the conflict.

After six days' cannonade the walls were breached in many places,
and the Imperialists advanced to the assault.  The Scotch defended
them with great resolution, and again and again the Imperialists
recoiled, unable to burst their way through the lines of pikes
or to withstand the heavy musketry fire poured upon them from the
walls and buildings.

But Tilly's army was so strong that he was able continually to bring
up fresh troops to the attack, while the Scotch were incessantly
engaged. For eight-and-forty hours the defenders resisted successfully,
but at last, worn out by fatigue, they were unable to withstand
the onslaught of the enemy, and the latter forced their way into
the town. Still the Scots fought on. Falling back from the breaches,
they contested every foot of the ground, holding the streets and
lanes with desperate tenacity, and inflicting terrible losses upon
the enemy.

At last, twelve hours later, they were gathered in the marketplace,
nearly in the centre of the town, surrounded on all sides by the
enemy. Several times the Scottish bugles had sounded a parley, but
Tilly, furious at the resistance, and at the loss which the capture
of the town had entailed, had issued orders that no quarter should
be given, and his troops pressed the now diminished band of Scotchmen
on all sides.

Even now they could not break through the circle of spears, but
from every window and roof commanding them a deadly fire was poured
in. Colonel Lindsay was shot dead.  Captain Moncrieff, Lieutenant
Keith, and Farquhar fell close to Malcolm. The shouts of "Kill,
kill, no quarter," rose from the masses of Imperialists. Parties
of the Scotch, preferring to die sword in hand rather than be shot
down, flung themselves into the midst of the enemy and died fighting.

At last, when but fifty men remained standing, these in a close
body rushed at the enemy and drove them by the fury of their attack
some distance down the principal street.  Then numbers told. The
band was broken up, and a desperate hand-to-hand conflict raged
for a time.

Two of the Scottish officers alone, Captain Innes and Lieutenant
Lumsden, succeeded in breaking their way down a side lane, and
thence, rushing to the wall, leapt down into the moat, and swimming
across, succeeded in making their escape, and in carrying the news
of the massacre to the camp of Gustavus, where the tale filled all
with indignation and fury. Among the Scotch regiments deep vows of
vengeance were interchanged, and in after battles the Imperialists
had cause bitterly to rue having refused quarter to the Scots at
New Brandenburg.

When the last melee was at its thickest, and all hope was at an
end, Malcolm, who had been fighting desperately with his half pike,
found himself for a moment in a doorway.  He turned the handle,
and it opened at once. The house, like all the others, was full
of Imperialists, who had thrown themselves into it when the Scots
made their charge, and were now keeping up a fire at them from the
upper windows.  Closing the door behind him, Malcolm stood for a
moment to recover his breath. He had passed unscathed through the
three days' fighting, though his armour and helmet were deeply
dinted in many places.

The din without and above was tremendous. The stroke of sword on
armour, the sharp crack of the pistols, the rattle of musketry,
the shouts of the Imperialists, and the wild defiant cries of the
Highlanders mingled together.

As Malcolm stood panting he recalled the situation, and, remembering
that the syndic's house was in the street behind, he determined to
gain it, feeling sure that his host would shelter him if he could.
Passing through the house he issued into a courtyard, quickly
stripped off his armour and accoutrements, and threw them into an
outhouse. Climbing on the roof of this he got upon the wall, and
ran along it until behind the house of the syndic. He had no fear
of being observed, for the attention of all in the houses in the
street he had left would be directed to the conflict below.

The sound of musketry had already ceased, telling that the work
of slaughter was well nigh over, when Malcolm dropped into the
courtyard of the syndic; the latter and his wife gave a cry of
astonishment as the lad entered the house, breathless and pale as
death.

"Can you shelter me awhile?" he said. "I believe that all my
countrymen are killed."

"We will do our best, my lad," the syndic said at once.  "But the
houses will be ransacked presently from top to bottom."

"Let him have one of the servant's disguises," the wife said; "they
can all be trusted."

One of the serving men was at once called in, and he hurried off
with Malcolm.

The young Scotchmen had made themselves very popular with the
servants by their courtesy and care to avoid giving unnecessary
trouble, and in a few minutes Malcolm was attired as a serving man,
and joined the servants who were busy in spreading the tables with
provisions, and in broaching a large cask of wine to allay the
passions of the Imperialists.

It was not long before they came. Soon there was a thundering knocking
at the door, and upon its being opened a number of soldiers burst
in. Many were bleeding from wounds. All bore signs of the desperate
strife in which they had been engaged.

"You are welcome," the host said, advancing towards them. "I have
made preparations for your coming; eat and drink as it pleases
you."

Rushing to the wine casks, the soldiers appeased their thirst with
long draughts of wine, and then fell upon the eatables. Other bands
followed, and the house was soon filled from top to bottom with
soldiers, who ransacked the cupboards, loaded themselves with such
things as they deemed worth carrying away, and wantonly broke and
destroyed what they could not. The servants were all kept busy
bringing up wine from the cellars. This was of good quality, and
the soldiers, well satisfied, abstained from personal violence.

All night long pandemonium reigned in the town.  Shrieks and cries,
oaths and sounds of conflict arose from all quarters, as citizens
or their wives were slaughtered by drunken soldiers, or the latter
quarrelled and fought among themselves for some article of plunder.
Flames broke out in many places, and whole streets were burned, many
of the drunken soldiers losing their lives in the burning houses;
but in the morning the bugles rang out, the soldiers desisted from
their orgies, and such as were able to stand staggered away to join
their colours.

A fresh party marched into the town; these collected the stragglers,
and seized all the horses and carts for the carriage of the
baggage and plunder. The burgomaster had been taken before Tilly
and commanded to find a considerable sum of money the first thing
in the morning, under threat that the whole town would be burned
down, and the inhabitants massacred if it was not forthcoming.

A council of the principal inhabitants was hastily summoned at
daybreak. The syndics of the various guilds between them contributed
the necessary sum either in money or in drafts, and at noon Tilly
marched away with his troops, leaving the smoking and ruined town
behind him. Many of the inhabitants were forced as drivers to
accompany the horses and carts taken away. Among these were three
of the syndic's serving men, Malcolm being one of the number.

It was well that the Pomeranian dialect differed so widely from
the Bavarian, so Malcolm's German had consequently passed muster
without suspicion. The Imperialist army, although dragging with
them an immense train of carts laden with plunder, marched rapidly.
The baggage was guarded by horsemen who kept the train in motion,
galloping up and down the line, and freely administering blows
among their captives whenever a delay or stoppage occurred.

The whole country through which they passed was desolated and wasted,
and the army would have fared badly had it not been for the herds
of captured cattle they drove along with them, and the wagons laden
with flour and wine taken at New Brandenburg and the other towns
they had stormed. The marches were long, for Tilly was anxious
to accomplish his object before Gustavus should be aware of the
direction he was taking.

This object was the capture of the town of Magdeburg, a large and
important city, and one of the strongholds of Protestantism. Here
he was resolved to strike a blow which would, he believed, terrify
Germany into submission.

When Gustavus heard that Tilly had marched west, he moved against
Frankfort-on-the-Oder, where the Imperialists were commanded by
Count Schomberg. The latter had taken every measure for the defence
of the town, destroying all the suburbs, burning the country houses
and mills, and cutting down the orchards and vineyards.

Gustavus, accompanied by Sir John Hepburn, at once reconnoitred
the place and posted his troops. The Blue and Yellow Brigades
were posted among the vineyards on the road to Custrin; the White
Brigade took post opposite one of the two gates of the town. Hepburn
and the Green Brigade were stationed opposite the other.

As the Swedes advanced the Imperialist garrison, who were 10,000
strong, opened fire with musketry and cannon from the walls. The
weakest point in the defence was assigned by Schomberg to Colonel
Walter Butler, who commanded a regiment of Irish musketeers in the
Imperialist service. In the evening Hepburn and some other officers
accompanied the king to reconnoitre near the walls. A party
of Imperialists, seeing some officers approaching, and judging by
their waving plumes they were of importance, sallied quietly out
of a postern gate unperceived and suddenly opened fire.  Lieutenant
Munro, of Munro's regiment, was shot in the leg, and Count Teuffel,
a colonel of the Life Guards, in the arm.  A body of Hepburn's
regiment, under Major Sinclair, rushed forward and drove in the
Imperialists, a lieutenant colonel and a captain being captured.

So hotly did they press the Imperialists that they were able to
make a lodgment, on some high ground near the rampart, on which
stood an old churchyard surrounded by a wall, and whence their fire
could sweep the enemy's works.  Some cannon were at once brought
up and placed in position here, and opened fire on the Guben gate.
Captain Gunter, of Hepburn's regiment, went forward with twelve
men, and in spite of a very heavy fire from the walls reconnoitred
the ditch and approaches to the walls.

The next day all was ready for the assault. It was Palm Sunday,
the 3d of April, and the attack was to take place at five o'clock
in the afternoon. Before advancing, Hepburn and several of the
other officers wished to lay aside their armour, as its weight was
great, and would impede their movements. The king, however, forbade
them to do so.

"No," he said; "he who loves my service will not risk life lightly.
If my officers are killed, who is to command my soldiers?"

Fascines and scaling ladders were prepared. The Green Brigade
were to head the assault, and Gustavus, addressing them, bade them
remember New Brandenburg.

At five o'clock a tremendous cannonade was opened on the walls from
all the Swedish batteries, and under cover of the smoke the Green
Brigade advanced to the assault.  From the circle of the walls a
cloud of smoke and fire broke out from cannon and arquebus, muskets,
and wall pieces.  Sir John Hepburn and Colonel Lumsden, side by
side, led on their regiments against the Guben gate; both carried
petards.

In spite of the tremendous fire poured upon them from the wall they
reached the gate, and the two colonels fixed the petards to it and
retired a few paces. In a minute there was a tremendous explosion,
and the gate fell scattered in fragments. Then the Scottish pikemen
rushed forward. As they did so there was a roar of cannon, and
a storm of bullets ploughed lanes through the close ranks of the
pikemen, for the Imperialists, expecting the attack, had placed
cannon, loaded to the muzzle with bullets, behind the gates.

Munro's regiment now leapt into the moat, waded across, and planting
their ladders under a murderous fire, stormed the works flanking
the gate, and then joined their comrades, who were striving to
make an entrance. Hepburn, leading on the pikemen, was hit on the
knee, where he had in a former battle been badly wounded.

"Go on, bully Munro," he said jocularly to his old schoolfellow,
"for I am wounded."

A major who advanced to take his place at the head of the regiment
was shot dead, and so terrible was the fire that even the pikemen
of Hepburn's regiment wavered for a moment; but Munro and Lumsden,
with their vizors down and half pikes in their hands, cheered on
their men, and, side by side, led the way.

"My hearts!" shouted Lumsden, waving his pike -- "my brave hearts,
let's enter."

"Forward!" shouted Munro; "advance pikes!"

With a wild cheer the Scots burst forward; the gates were stormed,
and in a moment the cannon, being seized, were turned, and volleys
of bullets poured upon the dense masses of the Imperialists. The
pikemen pressed forward in close column, shoulder to shoulder,
the pikes levelled in front, the musketeers behind firing on the
Imperialists in the houses.

In the meantime Gustavus, with the Blue and Yellow Swedish Brigades,
stormed that part of the wall defended by Butler with his Irishmen.
These fought with extreme bravery, and continued their resistance
until almost every man was killed, when the two brigades burst into
the town, the White Brigade storming the wall in another quarter.
Twice the Imperialist drums beat a parley, but their sound was
deadened by the roar of musketry and the boom of cannon from wall
and battery, and the uproar and shouting in every street and house.
The Green Brigade, under its commander, maintained its regular order,
pressing forward with resistless strength. In vain the Austrians
shouted for quarter. They were met by shouts of -- "Remember New
Brandenburg!"

Even now, when all was lost, Tilly's veterans fought with extreme
bravery and resolution; but at last, when Butler had fallen, and
Schomberg and Montecuculi, and a few other officers had succeeded
in escaping, all resistance ceased. Four colonels, 36 officers, and
3000 men were killed. Fifty colours and ten baggage wagons, laden
with gold and silver plate, were captured.

Many were taken prisoners, and hundreds were drowned in the Oder,
across which the survivors of the garrison made their escape.
Plundering at once began, and several houses were set on fire; but
Gustavus ordered the drums to beat, and the soldiers to repair to
their colours outside the town, which was committed to the charge
of Sir John Hepburn, with his regiment.

The rumour that Magdeburg was the next object of attack circulated
among Tilly's troops the day after they marched west from New
Brandenburg. It originated in some chance word dropped by a superior
officer, and seemed confirmed by the direction which they were
taking which was directly away from the Swedish army. There was a
report, too, that Count Pappenheim, who commanded a separate army,
would meet Tilly there, and that every effort would be made to
capture the town before Gustavus could march to its assistance.

Malcolm could easily have made his escape the first night after
leaving New Brandenburg; but the distance to be traversed to join the
Swedish army was great, confusion and disorder reigned everywhere,
and he had decided that it would be safer to remain with the
Imperialist army until Gustavus should approach within striking
distance. On the road he kept with the other two men who had been
taken with the horses from the syndic of the weavers, and, chatting
with them when the convoy halted, he had not the least fear of being
questioned by others. Indeed, none of those in the long train of
carts and wagons paid much attention to their fellows, all had been
alike forced to accompany the Imperialists, and each was too much
occupied by the hardships of his own lot, and by thoughts of the
home from which he had been torn, to seek for the companionship of
his comrades in misfortune.

As soon, however, as Malcolm heard the report of Tilly's intentions,
he saw that it was of the utmost importance that the King of Sweden
should be informed of the Imperialist plans as early as possible,
and he determined at once to start and endeavour to make his way
across the country. At nightfall the train with the baggage and
plunder was as usual so placed that it was surrounded by the camps
of the various brigades of the army in order to prevent desertion.
The previous night an escape would have been comparatively easy, for
the soldiers were worn out by their exertions at the siege of New
Brandenburg, and were still heavy from the drink they had obtained
there; but discipline was now restored, and the sentries were on
the alert. A close cordon of these was placed around the baggage
train; and when this was passed, there would still be the difficulty
of escaping through the camps of soldiery, and of passing the
outposts. Malcolm waited until the camp became quiet, or rather
comparatively quiet, for the supplies of wine were far from
exhausted, and revelling was still going on in various parts of the
camp, for the rigid discipline in use in modern armies was at that
time unknown, and except when on duty in the ranks a wide amount
of license was permitted to the soldiers. The night was fine and
bright, and Malcolm saw that it would be difficult to get through
the line of sentries who were stationed some thirty or forty yards
apart.

After thinking for some time he went up to a group of eight or ten
horses which were fastened by their bridles to a large store wagon
on the outside of the baggage camp.  Malcolm unfastened the bridles
and turned the horses heads outwards. Then he gave two of them a
sharp prick with his dagger, and the startled animals dashed forward
in affright, followed by their companions. They passed close to
one of the sentries, who tried in vain to stop them, and then burst
into the camp beyond, where their rush startled the horses picketed
there. These began to kick and struggle desperately to free themselves
from their fastenings. The soldiers, startled at the sudden noise,
sprang to their feet, and much confusion reigned until the runaway
horses were secured and driven back to their lines.

The instant he had thus diverted the attention of the whole line
of sentries along that side of the baggage camp, Malcolm crept
quietly up and passed between them. Turning from the direction in
which the horses had disturbed the camp, he made his way cautiously
along. Only the officers had tents, the men sleeping on the ground
around their fires. He had to move with the greatest caution
to avoid treading upon the sleepers, and was constantly compelled
to make detours to get beyond the range of the fires, round which
groups of men were sitting and carousing.

At last he reached the outside of the camp, and taking advantage
of every clump of bushes he had no difficulty in making his way
through the outposts, for as the enemy was known to be far away,
no great vigilance was observed by the sentries. He had still to
be watchful, for fires were blazing in a score of places over the
country round, showing that the foragers of the army were at their
usual work of rapine, and he might at any moment meet one of these
returning laden with spoil.

Once or twice, indeed, he heard the galloping of bodies of horse,
and the sound of distant pistol shots and the shrieks of women came
faintly to his ears. He passed on, however, without meeting with
any of the foraging parties, and by morning was fifteen miles away
from Tilly's camp. Entering a wood he threw himself down and slept
soundly for some hours. It was nearly noon before he started again.
After an hour's walking he came upon the ruins of a village. Smoke
was still curling up from the charred beams and rafters of the
cottages, and the destruction had evidently taken place but the day
before. The bodies of several men and women lay scattered among the
houses; two or three dogs were prowling about, and these growled
angrily at the intruder, and would have attacked him had he not
flourished a club which he had cut in the woods for self defence.

Moving about through the village he heard a sound of wild laughter,
and going in that direction saw a woman sitting on the ground. In
her lap was a dead child pierced through with a lance. The woman
was talking and laughing to it, her clothes were torn, and her hair
fell in wild disorder over her shoulders. It needed but a glance
to tell Malcolm that the poor creature was mad, distraught by the
horrors of the previous day.

A peasant stood by leaning on a stick, mournfully regarding her.
He turned suddenly round with the weapon uplifted at the sound of
Malcolm's approach, but lowered it on seeing that the newcomer was
a lad.

"I hoped you were a soldier," the peasant said, as he lowered his
stick. "I should like to kill one, and then to be killed myself. My
God, what is life worth living for in this unhappy country? Three
times since the war began has our village been burned, but each
time we were warned of the approach of the plunderers, and escaped
in time. Yesterday they came when I was away, and see what they
have done;" and be pointed to his wife and child, and to the corpses
scattered about.

"It is terrible," Malcolm replied. "I was taken a prisoner but two
days since at the sack of New Brandenburg, but I have managed to
escape. I am a Scot, and am on my way now to join the army of the
Swedes, which will, I hope, soon punish the villains who have done
this damage."

"I shall take my wife to her mother," the peasant said, "and leave
her there. I hope God will take her soon, and then I will go and
take service under the Swedish king, and will slay till I am slain.
I would kill myself now, but that I would fain avenge my wife and
child on some of these murderers of Tilly's before I die."

Malcolm felt that the case was far beyond any attempt at consolation.

"If you come to the Swedish army ask for Ensign Malcolm Graheme of
Reay's Scottish regiment, and I will take you to one of the German
corps, where you will understand the language of your comrades."
So saying he turned from the bloodstained village and continued
his way.



CHAPTER V MARAUDERS


Malcolm had brought with him from Tilly's camp a supply of provisions
sufficient for three or four days, and a flask of wine. Before he
started from New Brandenburg the syndic had slipped into his band
a purse containing ten gold pieces, and whenever he came to a village
which had escaped the ravages of the war he had no difficulty in
obtaining provisions.

It was pitiable at each place to see the anxiety with which the
villagers crowded round him upon his arrival and questioned him as
to the position of the armies and whether he had met with any parties
of raiders on the way. Everywhere the cattle had been driven into
the woods; boys were posted as lookouts on eminences at a distance
to bring in word should any body of men be seen moving in that
direction; and the inhabitants were prepared to fly instantly at
the approach of danger.

The news that Tilly's army was marching in the opposite direction
was received with a deep sense of thankfulness and relief, for they
were now assured of a respite from his plunderers, although still
exposed to danger from the arrival of some of the numerous bands.
These, nominally fighting for one or other of the parties, were
in truth nothing but marauders, being composed of deserters and
desperadoes of all kinds, who lived upon the misfortunes of the
country, and were even more cruel and pitiless than were the regular
troops.

At one of these villages Malcolm exchanged his attire as a serving
man of a rich burgher for that of a peasant lad.  He was in ignorance
of the present position of the Swedish army, and was making for
the intrenched camp of Schwedt, on the Oder, which Gustavus had
not left when he had last heard of him.

On the fourth day after leaving the camp of Tilly, as Malcolm was
proceeding across a bare and desolate country he heard a sound of
galloping behind him, and saw a party of six rough looking horsemen
coming along the road. As flight would have been useless he continued
his way until they overtook him. They reined up when they reached
him.

"Where are you going, boy, and where do you belong to?" the leader
of the party asked.

"I am going in search of work," Malcolm answered. "My village is
destroyed and my parents killed."

"Don't tell me that tale," the man said, drawing a pistol from his
holster. "I can tell by your speech that you are not a native of
these parts."

There was nothing in the appointments of the men to indicate which
party they favoured, and Malcolm thought it better to state exactly
who he was, for a doubtful answer might be followed by a pistol
shot, which would have brought his career to a close.

"You are right," he said quietly; "but in these times it is not safe
always to state one's errand to all comers. I am a Scotch officer
in the army of the King of Sweden. I was in New Brandenburg when it
was stormed by Tilly. I disguised myself, and, passing unnoticed,
was forced to accompany his army as a teamster. The second night I
escaped, and am now making my way to Schwedt, where I hope to find
the army."

The man replaced his pistol.

"You are an outspoken lad," he said laughing, "and a fearless one.
I believe that your story is true, for no German boor would have
looked me in the face and answered so quietly; but I have heard
that the Scotch scarce know what danger is, though they will find
Tilly and Pappenheim very different customers to the Poles."

"Which side do you fight on?" Malcolm asked.

"A frank question and a bold one!" the leader laughed.  "What say
you, men? Whom are we for just at present? We were for the Imperialists
the other day, but now they have marched away, and as it may be
the Swedes will be coming in this direction, I fancy that we shall
soon find ourselves on the side of the new religion."

The men laughed. "What shall we do with this boy? To begin with,
if he is what he says, no doubt he has some money with him."

Malcolm at once drew out his purse. "Here are nine gold pieces,"
he said. "They are all I have, save some small change."

"That is better than nothing," the leader said, pocketing the purse.
"And now what shall we do with him?"

"He is a Protestant," one of the men replied; "best shoot him."

"I should say," another said, "that we had best make him our cook.
Old Rollo is always grumbling at being kept at the work, and his
cooking gets worse and worse. I could not get my jaws into the meat
this morning."

A murmur of agreement was raised by the other horsemen.

"So be it," the leader said. "Dost hear, lad? You have the choice
whether you will be cook to a band of honourable gentlemen or be
shot at once."

"The choice pleases me not," Malcolm replied. "Still, if it must
needs be, I would prefer for a time the post of cook to the other
alternative."

"And mind you," the leader said sharply, "at the first attempt to
escape we string you up to the nearest bough.  Carl, do you lead
him back and set him to work, and tell the men there to keep a
sharp watch upon him."

One of the men turned his horse, and, with Malcolm walking by his
side, left the party. They soon turned aside from the road, and after
a ride of five miles across a rough and broken country entered a
wood.  Another half mile and they reached the foot of an eminence,
on the summit of which stood a ruined castle.  Several horses were
picketed among the trees at the foot of the hill, and two men were
sitting near them cleaning their arms. The sight of these deterred
Malcolm from carrying into execution the plan which he had formed
-- namely, to strike down his guard with his club as he dismounted,
to leap on his horse, and ride off.

"Who have you there, Carl?" one of the men asked as they rose and
approached the newcomers.

"A prisoner," Carl said, "whom the captain has appointed to the
honourable office of cook instead of old Rollo, whose food gets
harder and tougher every day. You are to keep a sharp eye over the
lad, who says he is a Scotch officer of the Swedes, and to shoot
him down if he attempts to escape."

"Why, I thought those Scots were very devils to fight," one of the
men said, "and this is but a boy. How comes he here?"

"He told the captain his story, and he believed it," Carl said
carelessly, "and the captain is not easily taken in. He was captured
by Tilly at New Brandenburg, which town we heard yesterday he
assaulted and sacked, killing every man of the garrison; but it
seems this boy put on a disguise, and being but a boy I suppose
passed unnoticed, and was taken off as a teamster with Tilly's
army. He gave them the slip, but as he has managed to fall into our
hands I don't know that he has gained much by the exchange. Now,
youngster, go up to the castle."

Having picketed his horse the man led the way up the steep hill.
When they reached the castle Malcolm saw that it was less ruined
than it had appeared to be from below. The battlements had indeed
crumbled away, and there were cracks and fissures in the upper parts
of the walls, but below the walls were still solid and unbroken,
and as the rock was almost precipitous, save at the point at which
a narrow path wound up to the entrance, it was still capable of
making a stout defence against attack.

A strong but roughly made gate, evidently of quite recent make,
hung on the hinges, and passing through it Malcolm found himself
in the courtyard of the castle.  Crossing this he entered with his
guide what had once been the principal room of the castle. A good
fire blazed in the centre; around this half a dozen men were lying
on a thick couch of straw. Malcolm's guide repeated the history
of the newcomer, and then passed through with him into a smaller
apartment, where a man was attending to several sauce pans over a
fire.

"Rollo," he said, "I bring you a substitute. You have been always
grumbling about being told off for the cooking, just because you
happened to be the oldest of the band. Here is a lad who will take
your place, and tomorrow you can mount your horse and ride with
the rest of us."

"And be poisoned, I suppose, with bad food when I return," the man
grumbled -- "a nice lookout truly."

"There's one thing, you old grumbler, it is quite certain he cannot
do worse than you do. My jaws ache now with trying to eat the food
you gave us this morning. Another week and you would have starved
the whole band to death."

"Very well," the man said surlily; "we will see whether you have
gained by the exchange. What does this boy know about cooking?"

"Very little, I am afraid," Malcolm said cheerfully; "but at least
I can try. If I must be a cook I will at least do my best to be a
good one. Now, what have you got in these pots?"

Rollo grumblingly enumerated their contents, and then putting
on his doublet went out to join his comrades in the hall, leaving
Malcolm to his new duties.

The latter set to work with a will. He saw that it was best to
appear contented with the situation, and to gain as far as possible
the goodwill of the band by his attention to their wants. In this
way their vigilance would become relaxed, and some mode of escape
might open itself to him. At dusk the rest of the band returned, and
Malcolm found that those who had met him with the captain were but
a portion of the party, as three other companies of equal strength
arrived at about the same time, the total number mounting up to
over thirty.

Malcolm was conscious that the supper was far from being a success;
but for this he was not responsible, as the cooking was well advanced
when he undertook it; however the band were not dissatisfied, for
it was much better than they had been accustomed to, as Malcolm
had procured woodwork from the disused part of the castle, and had
kept the fire briskly going; whereas his predecessor in the office
had been too indolent to get sufficient wood to keep the water on
the boil.

In the year which Malcolm had spent in camp he had learned a good
deal of rough cookery, for when on active duty the officers had
often to shift for themselves, and consequently next day he was
able to produce a dinner so far in advance of that to which the
band was accustomed that their approbation was warmly and loudly
expressed.

The stew was juicy and tender, the roast done to a turn, and the
bread, baked on an iron plate, was pronounced to be excellent.
The band declared that their new cook was a treasure. Malcolm had
already found that though he could move about the castle as he
chose, one of the band was now always stationed at the gate with
pike and pistols, while at night the door between the room in which
he cooked and the hall was closed, and two or three heavy logs
thrown against it.

Under the pretence of getting wood Malcolm soon explored the castle.
The upper rooms were all roofless and open to the air. There were
no windows on the side upon which the path ascended, and by which
alone an attack upon the castle was possible. Here the walls were
pierced only by narrow loopholes for arrows or musketry. On the
other sides the windows were large, for here the steepness of the
rock protected the castle from attack.

The kitchen in which he cooked and slept had no other entrance save
that into the hall, the doorway into the courtyard being closed by
a heap of fallen stones from above.  Two or three narrow slits in
the wall allowed light and air to enter. Malcolm saw that escape
at night, after he had once been shut in, was impossible, and that
in the daytime he could not pass out by the gate; for even if by
a sudden surprise he overpowered the sentry there, he would be met
at the bottom of the path by the two men who were always stationed
as guards to the horses, and to give notice of the approach of
strangers.

The only chance of escape, therefore, was by lowering himself from
one of the windows behind, down the steep rock. To do this a rope
of some seventy feet long was necessary, and after a careful search
through the ruins he failed to discover even the shortest piece of
rope.

That afternoon some of the band on their return from foraging drove
in half a dozen cattle, and one of these was with much difficulty
compelled to climb up the path to the castle, and was slaughtered
in the yard.

"There, Scot, are victuals for the next week; cut it up, and throw
the head and offal down the rock behind."

As Malcolm commenced his unpleasant task a thought suddenly struck
him, and he laboured away cheerfully and hopefully. After cutting
up the animal into quarters he threw the head, the lower joints
of the legs, and the offal, from the window. The hide he carried,
with the four quarters, into his kitchen, and there concealed it
under the pile of straw which served for his bed.

When the dinner was over, and the usual carousal had begun, and
he knew there was no chance of any of the freebooters coming into
the room, he spread out the hide on the floor, cut off the edges,
and trimmed it up till it was nearly circular in form, and then began
to cut a strip two inches wide round and round till he reached the
centre. This gave him a thong of over a hundred feet long. Tying
one end to a ring in the wall he twisted the long strip until it
assumed the form of a rope, which was, he was sure, strong enough
to bear many times his weight.

This part of the work was done after the freebooters had retired to
rest. When he had finished cutting the hide he went in as usual and
sat down with them as they drank, as he wished to appear contented
with his position. The freebooters were discussing an attack upon
a village some thirty miles away. It lay in a secluded position,
and had so far escaped pillage either by the armies or wandering
bands.  The captain said he had learned that the principal farmer
was a well-to-do man with a large herd of cattle, some good horses,
and a well stocked house. It was finally agreed that the band
should the next day carry out another raid which had already been
decided upon, and that they should on the day following that sack
and burn Glogau.

As soon as the majority of the band had started in the morning Malcolm
made his way with his rope to the back of the castle, fastened it
to the window, and launched himself over the rock, which, although
too steep to climb, was not perpendicular; and holding by the rope
Malcolm had no difficulty in lowering himself down. He had before
starting taken a brace of pistols and a sword from the heap of
weapons which the freebooters had collected in their raids, and as
soon as he reached the ground he struck off through the wood.

Enough had been said during the conversation the night before to
indicate the direction in which Glogau lay, and he determined, in
the first place, to warn the inhabitants of the village of the fate
which the freebooters intended for them.

He walked miles before seeing a single person in the deserted fields.
He had long since left the wood, and was now traversing the open
country, frequently turning round to examine the country around him,
for at any moment after he had left, his absence from the castle
might be discovered, and the pursuit begun. He hoped, however, that
two or three hours at least would elapse before the discovery was
made.

He had, before starting, piled high the fire in the hall, and had
placed plenty of logs for the purpose of replenishing it close at
hand. He put tankards on the board, and with them a large jug full
of wine, so that the freebooters would have no occasion to call
for him, and unless they wanted him they would be unlikely to look
into the kitchen. Except when occasionally breaking into a walk to
get breath, he ran steadily on. It was not until he had gone nearly
ten miles that he saw a goatherd tending a few goats, and from him
he learned the direction of Glogau, and was glad to find he had
not gone very far out of the direct line. At last, after asking
the way several times, he arrived within a short distance of the
village. The ground had now become undulating, and the slopes were
covered with trees. The village lay up a valley, and it was evident
that the road he was travelling was but little frequented, ending
probably at the village itself.  Proceeding for nearly two miles
through a wood he came suddenly upon Glogau.

It stood near the head of the valley, which was here free of
trees, and some cultivated fields lay around it.  The houses were
surrounded by fruit trees, and an air of peace and tranquillity
prevailed such as Malcolm had not seen before since he left his
native country. One house was much larger than the rest; several
stacks stood in the rick yard, and the large stables and barns gave
a proof of the prosperity of its owner. The war which had already
devastated a great part of Germany had passed by this secluded
hamlet.

No signs of work were to be seen, the village was as still and
quiet as if it was deserted. Suddenly Malcolm remembered that it
was the Sabbath, which, though always kept strictly by the Scotch
and Swedish soldiers when in camp, for the most part passed unobserved
when they were engaged in active service. Malcolm turned his steps
towards the house; as he neared it he heard the sound of singing
within. The door was open, and he entered and found himself on the
threshold of a large apartment in which some twenty men and twice
as many women and children were standing singing a hymn which was
led by a venerable pastor who stood at the head of the room, with
a powerfully built elderly man, evidently the master of the house,
near him.

The singing was not interrupted by the entrance of the newcomer.
Many eyes were cast in his direction, but seeing that their leaders
went on unmoved, the little congregation continued their hymn with
great fervour and force. When they had done the pastor prayed for
some time, and then dismissed the congregation with his blessing.
They filed out in a quiet and orderly way, but not until the last
had left did the master of the house show any sign of observing
Malcolm, who had taken his place near the door.

Then he said gravely, "Strangers do not often find their way
to Glogau, and in truth we can do without them, for a stranger in
these times too often means a foe; but you are young, my lad, though
strong enough to bear weapons, and can mean us no ill. What is it
that brings you to our quiet village?"

"I have, sir, but this morning escaped from the hands of the
freebooters at Wolfsburg, and I come to warn you that last night I
heard them agree to attack and sack your village tomorrow; therefore,
before pursuing my own way, which is to the camp of the Swedish
king, in whose service I am, I came hither to warn you of their
intention."

Exclamations of alarm arose from the females of the farmer's family,
who were sitting at the end of the room.  The farmer waved his hand
and the women were instantly silent.

"This is bad news, truly," he said gravely; "hitherto God has
protected our village and suffered us to worship Him in our own
way in peace and in quiet in spite of the decrees of emperors and
princes. This gang of Wolfsburg have long been a scourge to the
country around it, and terrible are the tales we have heard of
their violence and cruelty. I have for weeks feared that sooner or
later they would extend their ravages even to this secluded spot."

"And, indeed, I thank you, brave youth, for the warning you have
given us, which will enable us to send our womenkind, our cattle and
horses, to a place of safety before these scourges of God arrive
here.  Gretchen, place food and wine before this youth who has done
us so great a service; doubtless he is hungry and thirsty, for `tis
a long journey from Wolfsburg hither."

"What think you, father, shall I warn the men at once of the coming
danger, or shall I let them sleep quietly this Sabbath night for
the last time in their old homes?"

"What time, think you, will these marauders leave their hold?" the
pastor asked Malcolm.

"They will probably start by daybreak," Malcolm said, "seeing
that the journey is a long one; but this is not certain, as they
may intend to remain here for the night, and to return with their
plunder on the following day to the castle."

"But, sir," he went on, turning to the farmer, "surely you will
not abandon your home and goods thus tamely to these freebooters.
You have here, unless I am mistaken, fully twenty stout men capable
of bearing arms; the marauders number but thirty in all, and they
always leave at least five to guard the castle and two as sentries
over the horses; thus you will not have more than twenty-three to
cope with. Had they, as they expected, taken you by surprise, this
force would have been ample to put down all resistance here; but
as you will be prepared for them, and will, therefore, take them
by surprise, it seems to me that you should be able to make a good
fight of it, stout men-at-arms though the villains be."

"You speak boldly, sir, for one but a boy in years," the pastor
said; "it is lawful, nay it is right to defend one's home against
these lawless pillagers and murderers, but as you say, evil though
their ways are, these freebooters are stout men-at-arms, and we
have heard that they have taken a terrible vengeance on the villages
which have ventured to oppose them."

"I am a Scottish officer in the King of Sweden's army," Malcolm
said, "and fought at Schiefelbrune and New Brandenburg, and in the
fight when the Imperialists tried to relieve Colberg, and having,
I hope, done my duty in three such desperate struggles against
the Imperialist veterans, I need not shrink from an encounter with
these freebooters.  If you decide to defend the village I am ready
to strike a blow at them, for they have held me captive for five
days, and have degraded me by making me cook for them."

A slight titter was heard among the younger females at the indignant
tone in which Malcolm spoke of his enforced culinary work.

"And you are truly one of those Scottish soldiers of the Swedish
hero who fight so stoutly for the Faith and of whose deeds we have
heard so much!" the pastor said. "Truly we are glad to see you.
Our prayers have not been wanting night and morning for the success
of the champions of the Reformed Faith. What say you, my friend?
Shall we take the advice of this young soldier and venture our
lives for the defence of our homes?"

"That will we," the farmer said warmly. "He is used to war, and
can give us good advice. As far as strength goes, our men are not
wanting. Each has his sword and pike, and there are four or five
arquebuses in the village. Yes, if there be a chance of success,
even of the slightest, we will do our best as men in defence of
our homes."



CHAPTER VI THE ATTACK ON THE VILLAGE


"And now," the farmer said to Malcolm, "what is your advice? That
we will fight is settled. When, where, and how? This house is
strongly built, and we could so strengthen its doors and windows
with beams that we might hold out for a long time against them."

"No," Malcolm said, "that would not be my advice.  Assuredly we
might defend the house; but in that case the rest of the village,
the herds and granaries, would fall into their hands. To do any good,
we must fight them in the wood on their way hither. But although
I hope for a favourable issue, I should strongly advise that you
should have the herds and horses driven away. Send off all your
more valuable goods in the wagons, with your women and children,
to a distance. We shall fight all the better if we know that they
are all in safety. Some of the old men and boys will suffice for
this work. And now, methinks, you had best summon the men, for
there will be work for them tonight."

The bell which was used to call the hands from their work in the
fields and woods at sunset soon sounded, and the men in surprise
came trooping in at the summons. When they were assembled the farmer
told them the news he had heard, and the determination which had
been arrived at to defend the village.

After the first movement of alarm caused by the name of the
dreaded band of the Wolfsburg had subsided Malcolm was glad to
see an expression of stout determination come over the faces of
the assemblage, and all declared themselves ready to fight to the
last. Four of the elder men were told off at once to superintend
the placing of the more movable household goods of the village
in wagons, which were to set out at daybreak with the cattle and
families.

"Now," Malcolm said, "I want the rest to bring mattocks and shovels
and to accompany me along the road.  There is one spot which I
marked as I came along as being specially suited for defence."

This was about half a mile away, and as darkness had now set in
the men lighted torches, and with their implements followed him.
At the spot which he had selected there was for the distance of a
hundred yards a thick growth of underwood bordering the track on
either side. Across the road, at the end of the passage nearest to
the farm, Malcolm directed ten of the men to dig a pit twelve feet
wide and eight feet deep. The rest of the men he set to work to cut
nearly through the trunks of the trees standing nearest the road
until they were ready to fall.

Ten trees were so treated, five on either side of the road.
Standing, as they did, among the undergrowth, the operation which
had been performed on them was invisible to any one passing by.
Ropes were now fastened to the upper part of the trees and carried
across the road, almost hidden from sight by the foliage which met
over the path. When the pit was completed the earth which had been
taken from it was scattered in the wood out of sight. Light boughs
were then placed over the hole. These were covered with earth and
sods trampled down until the break in the road was not perceptible
to a casual eye.

This was done by Malcolm himself, as the lightest of the party,
the boughs sufficing to bear his weight, although they would give
way at once beneath that of a horse. The men all worked with vigour
and alacrity as soon as they understood Malcolm's plans. Daylight
was breaking when the preparations were completed.  Malcolm now
divided the party, and told them off to their respective posts.
They were sixteen in all, excluding the pastor.

Eight were placed on each side of the road. Those on one side
were gathered near the pit which had been dug, those on the other
were opposite to the tree which was farthest down the valley. The
freebooters were to be allowed to pass along until the foremost
fell into the pit. The men stationed there were at once to haul
upon the rope attached to the tree near it and to bring it down.
Its fall would bar the road and prevent the horsemen from leaping
the pit. Those in the rear were, if they heard the crash before
the last of the marauders had passed through, to wait until they
had closed up, which they were sure to do when the obstacle was
reached, and then to fell the tree to bar their retreat.

The instant this was done both parties were to run to other ropes
and to bring down the trees upon the horsemen gathered on the road,
and were then to fall upon them with axe, pike, and arquebus.

"If it works as well as I expect," Malcolm said, "not one of them
will escape from the trap."

Soon after daybreak bowls of milk and trays of bread and meat were
brought down to the workers by some of the women. As there was
no immediate expectation of attack, the farmer himself, with the
pastor, went back to the village to cheer the women before their
departure.

"You need not be afraid, wife," the farmer said. "I shall keep to
my plans, because when you have once made a plan it is foolish to
change it; but I deem not that there is any real need for sending
you and the wagons and beasts away. This young Scotch lad seems
made for a commander, and truly, if all his countrymen are like
himself, I wonder no longer that the Poles and Imperialists have
been unable to withstand them. Truly he has constructed a trap from
which this band of villains will have but little chance of escape,
and I trust that we may slay them without much loss to ourselves.
What rejoicings will there not be in the fifty villages when the
news comes that their oppressors have been killed! The good God
has assuredly sent this youth hither as His instrument in defeating
the oppressors, even as He chose the shepherd boy David out of
Israel to be the scourge of the Philistines."

By this time all was ready for a start, and having seen the wagons
fairly on their way the farmer returned to the wood, the pastor
accompanying the women. Three hours passed before there were any
signs of the marauders, and Malcolm began to think that the idea
might have occurred to them that he had gone to Glogau, and that
they might therefore have postponed their raid upon that village
until they could make sure of taking it by surprise, and so capturing
all the horses and valuables before the villagers had time to remove
them. Glogau was, however, quite out of Malcolm's direct line for
the Swedish camp, and it was hardly likely that the freebooters
would think that their late captive would go out of his way to warn
the village, in which he had no interest whatever; indeed they would
scarcely be likely to recall the fact that he had been present when
they were discussing their proposed expedition against it.

All doubts were, however, set at rest when a boy who had been
stationed in a high tree near the edge of the wood ran in with
the news that a band of horsemen were riding across the plain, and
would be there in a few minutes. Every one fell into his appointed
place. The farmer himself took the command of the party on one side
of the road, Malcolm of that on the other. Matches were blown, and
the priming of the arquebuses looked to; then they gathered round
the ropes, and listened for the tramp of horses.

Although it was but a few minutes before it came, the time seemed
long to those waiting; but at last a vague sound was heard, which
rapidly rose into a loud trampling of horses.  The marauders had
been riding quietly until they neared the wood, as speed was no
object; but as they wished to take the village by surprise -- and
it was just possible that they might have been seen approaching --
they were now riding rapidly.

Suddenly the earth gave way under the feet of the horses of the
captain and his lieutenant, who were riding at the head of the
troop, and men and animals disappeared from the sight of those
who followed. The two men behind them pulled their horses back on
their haunches, and checked them at the edge of the pit into which
their leaders had fallen.

As they did so a loud crack was heard, and a great tree came crashing
down, falling directly upon them, striking them and their horses
to the ground. A loud cry of astonishment and alarm rose from those
behind, followed by curses and exclamations of rage. A few seconds
after the fall of the tree there was a crash in the rear of the
party, and to their astonishment the freebooters saw that another
tree had fallen there, and that a barricade of boughs and leaves
closed their way behind as in front. Deprived of their leaders,
bewildered and alarmed at this strange and unexpected occurrence,
the marauders remained irresolute. Two or three of those in front
got off their horses and tried to make their way to the assistance
of their comrades who were lying crushed under the mass of foliage,
and of their leaders in the pit beyond.

But now almost simultaneously two more crashes were heard, and a tree
from each side fell upon them.  Panic stricken now the horsemen
strove to dash through the underwood, but their progress was
arrested, for among the bushes ropes had been fastened from tree
to tree; stakes had been driven in, and the bushes interlaced with
cords. The trees continued to fall till the portion of the road
occupied by the troop was covered by a heap of fallen wood and
leaf.  Then for the first time the silence in the wood beyond them
was broken, the flashes of firearms darted out from the brushwood,
and then with a shout a number of men armed with pikes and axes
sprang forward to the attack.

A few only of the marauders were in a position to offer any
resistance whatever. The greater portion were buried under the mass
of foliage. Many had been struck down by the trunks or heavy arms
of the trees. All were hampered and confused by the situation in which
they found themselves. Under such circumstances it was a massacre
rather than a fight. Malcolm, seeing the inability of the freebooters
to oppose any formidable resistance, sheathed his sword, and left
it to the peasants to avenge the countless murders which the band
had committed, and the ruin and misery which they had inflicted
upon the country.

In a few minutes all was over. The brigands were shot down, piked,
or slain by the heavy axes through the openings in their leafy
prison. Quarter was neither asked for nor given.  The freebooters
knew that it would be useless, and died cursing their foes and
their own fate in being thus slaughtered like rats in a trap. Two
or three of the peasants were wounded by pistol shots, but this
was all the injury that their success cost them.

"The wicked have digged a pit, and they have fallen into it
themselves," the farmer said as he approached the spot where Malcolm
was standing, some little distance from the scene of slaughter.
"Verily the Lord hath delivered them into our hands. I understand,
my young friend, why you as a soldier did not aid in the slaughter
of these villains. It is your trade to fight in open battle, and
you care not to slay your enemies when helpless; but with us it is
different. We regard them as wild beasts, without heart or pity,
as scourges to be annihilated when we have the chance; just as in
winter we slay the wolves who come down to attack our herds."

"I blame you not," Malcolm said. "When men take to the life of
wild beasts they must be slain as such.  Now my task is done, and
I will journey on at once to join my countrymen; but I will give
you one piece of advice before I go.

"In the course of a day or two the party left at Wolfsburg will
grow uneasy, and two of their number are sure to ride hither to
inquire as to the tarrying of the band. Let your men with arquebuses
keep watch night and day and shoot them down when they arrive. Were I
in your place I would then mount a dozen of your men and let them
put on the armour of these dead robbers and ride to Wolfsburg,
arriving there about daybreak. If they see you coming they will
take you to be the band returning. The two men below you will cut
down without difficulty, and there will then be but three or four
to deal with in the castle.

"I recommend you to make a complete end of them; and for this
reason: if any of the band survive they will join themselves with
some other party and will be sure to endeavour to get them to
avenge this slaughter; for although these bands have no love for
each other, yet they would be ready enough to take up each other's
quarrel as against country folk, especially when there is a hope
of plunder.  Exterminate them, then, and advise your men to keep
their secret. Few can have seen the brigands riding hither today.
When it is found that the band have disappeared the country around
will thank God, and will have little curiosity as to how they
have gone. You will of course clear the path again and bury their
bodies; and were I you I would prepare at once another ambush
like that into which they have fallen, and when a second band of
marauders comes into this part of the country set a watch night
and day. Your men will in future be better armed than hitherto, as
each of those freebooters carries a brace of pistols. And now, as
I would fain be off as soon as possible, I would ask you to let
your men set to work with their axes and cut away the boughs and
to get me out a horse. Several of them must have been killed by
the falling trees, and some by the fire of the arquebuses; but no
doubt there are some uninjured."

In a quarter of an hour a horse was brought up, together with the
helmet and armour worn by the late captain of the band.

As Malcolm mounted, the men crowded round him and loaded him with
thanks and blessings for the danger from which he had delivered
them, their wives and families.

When the fugitives had left the village a store of cooked provisions
had been left behind for the use of the defenders during the day.
As the women could not be fetched back before nightfall, the farmer
had despatched a man for some of this food and the wallets on the
saddle were filled with sufficient to last Malcolm for three or
four days.

A brace of pistols were placed in the holsters, and with a last
farewell to the farmer Malcolm gave the rein to his horse and rode
away from the village. He travelled fast now and without fear of
interruption. The sight of armed men riding to join one or other
of the armies was too common to attract any attention, and avoiding
large towns Malcolm rode unmolested across the plain.

He presently heard the report that the Swedes had captured
Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and as he approached that town, after four
days' riding, heard that they had moved towards Landsberg. Thither
he followed them, and came up to them outside the walls of that
place six days after leaving Glogau. The main body of the Swedish
army had remained in and around Frankfort, Gustavus having marched
against Landsberg with only 3200 musketeers, 12 pieces of cannon,
and a strong body of horse. Hepburn and Reay's Scotch regiments
formed part of the column, and Malcolm with delight again saw the
green scarves and banners.

As he rode into the camp of his regiment he was unnoticed by the
soldiers until he reached the tents of the officers, before which
Colonel Munro was standing talking with several others. On seeing
an officer approach in full armour they looked up, and a cry of
astonishment broke from them on recognizing Malcolm.

"Is it you, Malcolm Graheme, or your wraith?" Munro exclaimed.

"It is I in the flesh, colonel, sound and hearty."

"Why, my dear lad," Munro exclaimed, holding out his hand, "we
thought you had fallen at the sack of New Brandenburg. Innes and
Lumsden were believed to be the only ones who had escaped."

"I have come through it, nevertheless," Malcolm said; "but it is
a long story, colonel, and I would ask you first if the king has
learned what Tilly is doing."

"No, he has received no news whatever of him since he heard of the
affair at New Brandenburg, and is most anxious lest he should fall
upon the army at Frankfort while we are away. Do you know aught
about him?"

"Tilly marched west from New Brandenburg," Malcolm said, "and is
now besieging Magdeburg."

"This is news indeed," Munro said; "you must come with me at once
to the king."

Malcolm followed Colonel Munro to the royal tent, which was but a
few hundred yards away. Gustavus had just returned after visiting
the advanced lines round the city. On being told that Colonel Munro
wished to speak to him on important business, he at once came to
the entrance of his tent.

"Allow me to present to you, sire, Malcolm Graheme, a very gallant
young officer of my regiment. He was at New Brandenburg, and I
deemed that he had fallen there; how he escaped I have not yet had
time to learn, seeing that he has but now ridden into the camp; but
as he is bearer of news of the whereabouts of Tilly and his army,
I thought it best to bring him immediately to you."

"Well, sir," Gustavus said anxiously to Malcolm, "what is your
news?"

"Tilly is besieging Magdeburg, sire, with his whole strength."

"Magdeburg!" Gustavus exclaimed incredulously. "Are you sure of
your news? I deemed him advancing upon Frankfort."

"Quite sure, sire, for I accompanied his column to within two marches
of the city, and there was no secret of his intentions. He started
for that town on the very day after he had captured New Brandenburg."

"This is important, indeed," Gustavus said; "follow me," and he
turned and entered the tent. Spread out on the table was a large
map, which the king at once consulted.

"You see, Colonel Munro, that to relieve Magdeburg I must march
through Kustrin, Berlin, and Spandau, and the first and last are
strong fortresses. I can do nothing until the Elector of Brandenburg
declares for us, and gives us leave to pass those places, for
I dare not march round and leave them in my rear until sure that
this weak prince will not take sides with the Imperialists. I will
despatch a messenger tonight to him at Berlin demanding leave to
march through his territory to relieve Magdeburg. In the meantime
we will finish off with this place, and so be in readiness to march
west when his answer arrives. And now, sir," he went on, turning
to Malcolm, "please to give me the account of how you escaped first
from New Brandenburg, and then from Tilly."

Malcolm related briefly the manner of his escape from the massacre
at New Brandenburg, and how, after accompanying Tilly's army
as a teamster for two days, he had made his escape. He then still
more briefly related how he had been taken prisoner by a band of
freebooters, but had managed to get away from them, and had drawn
them into an ambush by peasants, where they had been slain, by which
means he had obtained a horse and ridden straight to the army.

Gustavus asked many questions, and elicited many more details than
Malcolm had deemed it necessary to give in his first recital.

"You have shown great prudence and forethought," the king said
when he had finished, "such as would not be looked for in so young
a soldier."

"And he behaved, sire, with distinguished gallantry and coolness
at Schiefelbrune, and in the destructive fight outside Colberg,"
Colonel Munro put in. "By the slaughter on the latter day he would
naturally have obtained his promotion, but he begged to be passed
over, asserting that it was best that at his age he should remain
for a time an ensign."

"Such modesty is unusual," the king said, "and pleases me; see the
next time a step is vacant, colonel, that he has it.  Whatever his
age, he has shown himself fit to do man's work, and years are of
no great value in a soldier; why, among all my Scottish regiments
I have scarcely a colonel who is yet thirty years old."

Malcolm now returned with Colonel Munro to the regiment, and there
had to give a full and minute account of his adventures, and was
warmly congratulated by his fellow officers on his good fortune in
escaping from the dangers which had beset him. The suit of armour
was a handsome one, and had been doubtless stripped off from the
body of some knight or noble murdered by the freebooters. The leg
pieces Malcolm laid aside, retaining only a cuirass, back piece,
and helmet, as the full armour was too heavy for service on foot.

Two days later the king gave orders that the assault upon Landsberg
was to be made that night. The place was extremely strong, and
Gustavus had in his previous campaign twice failed in attempts
to capture it.  Since that time the Imperialists had been busy in
strengthening the fortification, and all the peasantry for ten miles
round had been employed in throwing up earthworks; but its principal
defence was in the marsh which surrounded it, and which rendered
the construction of approaches by besiegers almost impossible.
Its importance consisted in the fact that from its great strength
its garrison dominated the whole district known as the Marc of
Brandenburg. It was the key to Silesia, and guarded the approaches
to Pomerania, and its possession was therefore of supreme importance
to Gustavus. The garrison consisted of five thousand Imperialist
infantry and twelve troops of horse, the whole commanded by Count
Gratz. The principal approach to the town was guarded by a strong
redoubt armed with numerous artillery.

Colonel Munro had advanced his trenches to within a short distance
of this redoubt, and had mounted the twelve pieces of cannon to
play upon it, but so solid was the masonry of the fort that their
fire produced but little visible effect.  Gustavus had brought from
Frankfort as guide on the march a blacksmith who was a native of
Landsberg, and this man had informed him of a postern gate into the
town which would not be likely to be defended, as to reach it it
would be necessary to cross a swamp flanked by the advanced redoubt
and covered with water.

For two days previous to the assault the troops had been at work
cutting bushes and trees, and preparing the materials for constructing
a floating causeway across the mud and water. As soon as night fell
the men were set to work laying down the causeway, and when this
was finished the column advanced to the attack.  It consisted of
250 pikemen under Colonel Munro, and the same number of the dragoons
under Colonel Deubattel. Hepburn with 1000 musketeers followed a
short distance behind them.

The pikemen led the way, and passed along the floating causeway
without difficulty, but the causeway swayed and often sank under
the feet of the cavalry behind them. These, however, also managed
to get across. Their approach was entirely unobserved, and they
effected an entrance into the town.

Scarcely had they done so when they came upon a body of three
hundred Imperialists who were about to make a sally under Colonel
Gratz, son of the governor. The pikemen at once fell upon them.
Taken by surprise the Imperialists fought nevertheless stoutly,
and eighty of the Scots fell under the fire of their musketry. But
the pikemen charged home; Colonel Gratz was killed, with many of
his men, and the rest taken prisoners. Hepburn marching on behind
heard the din of musketry and pressed forward; before reaching the
town he found a place in the swamp sufficiently firm to enable his
men to march across it, and, turning off, he led his troops between
the town and the redoubt, and then attacked the latter in the rear
where its defences were weak, and after three minutes' fighting
with its surprised and disheartened garrison the latter surrendered.

The redoubt having fallen, and Munro's men having effected a
lodgment in the town, while the retreat on one side was cut off by
the force of Gustavus, and on the other by a strong body of cavalry
under Marshal Horn, the governor sent a drummer to Colonel Munro
to say that he was ready to surrender, and to ask for terms. The
drummer was sent to Gustavus, who agreed that the garrison should
be allowed to march away with the honours of war, taking their
baggage and effects with them. Accordingly at eight o'clock the
Count of Gratz at the head of his soldiers marched out with colours
flying and drums beating, and retired into Silesia. A garrison was
placed in Landsberg, and the blacksmith appointed burgomaster of
the town.  Landsberg fell on the 15th of April, and on the 18th
the force marched back to Frankfort.



CHAPTER VII A QUIET TIME


In spite of the urgent entreaties of Gustavus and the pressing
peril of Magdeburg, the wavering Duke of Brandenburg could not
bring himself to join the Swedes.  He delivered Spandau over to
them, but would do no more.  The Swedish army accordingly marched to
Berlin and invested his capital. The duke sent his wife to Gustavus
to beseech him to draw off his army and allow him to remain neutral;
but Gustavus would not listen to his entreaties, and insisted, as
the only condition upon which he would raise the siege, that the
duke should ally himself with him, and that the troops of Brandenburg
should join his army.

These conditions the duke was obliged to accept, but in the meantime
his long hesitation and delay had caused the loss of Magdeburg,
which after a gallant defence was stormed by the troops of Pappenheim
and Tilly on the 10th of May.  The ferocious Tilly had determined
upon a deed which would, he believed, frighten Germany into submission;
he ordered that no quarter should be given, and for five days the
city was handed over to the troops.

History has no record since the days of Attila of so frightful a
massacre. Neither age nor sex was spared, and 30,000 men, women,
and children were ruthlessly massacred.  The result for a time
justified the anticipations of the ferocious leader. The terrible
deed sent a shudder of horror and terror through Protestant Germany.
It seemed, too, as if the catastrophe might have been averted had
the Swedes shown diligence and marched to the relief of the city;
for in such a time men were not inclined to discuss how much of
the blame rested upon the shoulders of the Duke of Brandenburg,
who was, in fact, alone responsible for the delay of the Swedes.

Many of the princes and free towns which had hitherto been staunch
to the cause of Protestantism at once hastened to make their
peace with the emperor. For a time the sack of Magdeburg greatly
strengthened the Imperialist cause. No sooner did the news reach
the ears of the Duke of Brandenburg than his fears overcame him,
and he wrote to Gustavus withdrawing from the treaty he had made,
and saying that as Spandau had only been delivered to him in order
that he might march to the relief of Magdeburg he was now bound in
honour to restore it.

Gustavus at once ordered Spandau to be evacuated by his troops,
and again marched with the army against Berlin, which he had but a
few days before left. Here he again dictated terms, which the duke
was forced to agree to.

The Swedish army now marched to Old Brandenburg, thirty-four miles
west of Berlin, and there remained for some time waiting until some
expected reinforcements should reach it.

The place was extremely unhealthy, and great numbers died from
malaria and fever, thirty of Munro's musketeers dying in a single
week. During this time the king was negotiating with the Elector of
Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse. These were the two most powerful
of the Protestant princes in that part of Germany, and Tilly resolved
to reduce them to obedience before the army of Gustavus was in a
position to move forward, for at present his force was too small
to enable him to take the field against the united armies of Tilly
and Pappenheim.

He first fell upon the Landgrave of Hesse, and laid Thuringen
waste with fire and sword. Frankenhausen was plundered and burned
to the ground. Erfurt saved itself from a similar fate by the
payment of a large sum of money, and by engaging to supply great
stores of provisions for the use of the Imperial army. The Landgrave
of Hesse-Cassel was next summoned by Tilly, who threatened to carry
fire and sword through his dominions unless he would immediately
disband his troops, pay a heavy contribution and receive the
Imperial troops into his cities and fortresses; but the landgrave
refused to accept the terms.

Owing to the unhealthiness of the district round Old Brandenburg,
Gustavus raised his camp there, and marched forward to Werben near
the junction of the Elbe with the Havel. He was joined there by
his young queen, Maria Eleonora, with a reinforcement of 8000 men,
and by the Marquis of Hamilton with 6200, for the most part Scotch,
who had been raised by him with the consent of Charles I, to whom
the marquis was master of the horse.

Werben was distant but a few miles from Magdeburg, and Pappenheim,
who commanded the troops in that neighbourhood, seeing that Gustavus
was now in a position to take the field against him, sent an urgent
message to Tilly for assistance; and the Imperial general, who was
on the point of attacking the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, at once
marched with his army and effected a junction with Pappenheim,
their combined force being greatly superior to that of Gustavus
even after the latter had received his reinforcements.

Malcolm had not accompanied the army in its march from Old
Brandenburg. He had been prostrated by fever, and although he shook
off the attack it left him so weak and feeble that he was altogether
unfit for duty. The army was still lying in its swampy quarters,
and the leech who had attended him declared that he could never
recover his strength in such an unhealthy air. Nigel Graheme, who
had now rejoined the regiment cured of his wound, reported the
surgeon's opinion to Munro.

"I am not surprised," the colonel said, "and there are many others
in the same state; but whither can I send them?  The Elector of
Brandenburg is so fickle and treacherous that he may at any moment
turn against us."

"I was speaking to Malcolm," Nigel replied, "and he said that he
would he could go for a time to recruit his health in that village
among the hills where he had the fight with the freebooters who
made him captive. He said he was sure of a cordial welcome there,
and it is but three days' march from here."

"'Tis an out-of-the-way place," Munro said, "and if we move west we
shall be still further removed from it.  There are Imperial bands
everywhere harrying the country unguarded by us, and one of these
might at any moment swoop down into that neighbourhood."

"That is true; but, after all, it would be better that he should
run that risk than sink from weakness as so many have done here
after getting through the first attack of fever."

"That is so, Nigel, and if you and Malcolm prefer that risk to
the other I will not say you nay; but what is good for him is good
for others, and I will ask the surgeon to make me a list of twenty
men who are strong enough to journey by easy stages, and who yet
absolutely require to get out of this poisonous air to enable them
to effect their recovery. We will furnish them with one of the
baggage wagons of the regiment, so that they can ride when they
choose. Tell the paymaster to give each man in advance a month's
pay, that they may have money to pay what they need. Horses are
scarce, so we can give them but two with the wagon, but that will
be sufficient as they will journey slowly. See that a steady and
experienced driver is told off with them. They had best start at
daybreak tomorrow morning."

At the appointed time the wagon was in readiness, and those who had
to accompany Malcolm gathered round, together with many of their
comrades who had assembled to wish them Godspeed. The pikes and
muskets, helmets and breast pieces were placed in the wagon, and
then the fever stricken band formed up before it.

Munro, Nigel, and most of the officers came down to bid farewell
to Malcolm, and to wish him a speedy return in good health. Then he
placed himself at the head of the band and marched off, the wagon
following in the rear.  Before they had been gone a mile several
of the men had been compelled to take their places in the wagon,
and by the time three miles had been passed the rest had one by
one been forced to give in.

Malcolm was one of the last. He took his seat by the driver, and
the now heavily freighted wagon moved slowly across the country.
A store of provisions sufficient for several days had been placed
in the wagon, and after proceeding fifteen miles a halt was made
at a deserted village, and two of the houses in the best condition
were taken possession of, Malcolm and the sergeant of the party, a
young fellow named Sinclair, occupying the one, and the men taking
up their quarters in another.

The next morning the benefit of the change and the removal from
the fever tainted air made itself already apparent. The distance
performed on foot was somewhat longer than on the preceding day;
the men were in better spirits, and marched with a brisker step than
that with which they had left the camp. At the end of the fourth
day they approached the wood in which the village was situated.

"I will go on ahead," Malcolm said. "Our approach will probably
have been seen, and unless they know who we are we may meet with
but a rough welcome. Halt the wagon here until one returns with
news that you may proceed, for there may be pitfalls in the road."

Malcolm had kept the horse on which he had ridden to Landsberg, and
it had been tied behind the wagon.  During the last day's march he
had been strong enough to ride it.  He now dismounted, and taking
the bridle over his arm he entered the wood. He examined the road
cautiously as he went along. He had gone about half way when the
farmer with four of his men armed with pikes suddenly appeared in
the road before him.

"Who are you," the farmer asked, "and what would you here?"

"Do you not remember me?" Malcolm said. "It is but three months
since I was here."

"Bless me, it is our Scottish friend! Why, lad, I knew you not
again, so changed are you. Why, what has happened to you?"

"I have had the fever," Malcolm said, "and have been like to die;
but I thought that a change to the pure air of your hills and
woods here would set me up. So I have travelled here to ask your
hospitality."

By this time the farmer had come up and had grasped Malcolm's hand.

"All that I have is yours," he said warmly. "The lookout saw a wagon
coming across the plain with three or four men walking beside it,
and he thought that many more were seated in it; so thinking that
this might be a ruse of some freebooting band, I had the alarm bell
rung, and prepared to give them a hot reception."

"I have brought some sick comrades with me," Malcolm said. "I have
no thought of quartering them on you. That would be nigh as bad as
the arrival of a party of marauders, for they are getting strength,
and will, I warrant you, have keen appetites ere long; but we have
brought tents, and will pay for all we have."

"Do not talk of payment," the farmer said heartily. "As long as there
is flour in the storehouse and bacon on the beams, any Scottish
soldier of Gustavus is welcome to it, still more if they be comrades
of thine."

"Thanks, indeed," Malcolm replied. "I left them at the edge of the
wood, for I knew not what welcome you might have prepared here;
and seeing so many men you might have shot at them before waiting
to ask a question."

"That is possible enough," the farmer said, "for indeed we could
hardly look for friends. The men are all posted a hundred yards
further on."

The farmer ordered one of his men to go on and bring up the wagon,
and then with Malcolm walked on to the village. A call that all was
right brought out the defenders of the ambush. It had been arranged
similarly to that which had been so successful before, except that
instead of the pit, several strong ropes had been laid across the
road, to be tightened breast high as soon as an enemy came close
to them.

"These are not as good as the pit," the farmer said as they passed
them; "but as we have to use the road sometimes we could not keep
a pit here, which, moreover, might have given way and injured any
one from a neighbouring village who might be riding hither. We
have made a strong stockade of beams among the underwood on either
side, so that none could break through into the wood from the path."

"That is good," Malcolm said; "but were I you I would dig a pit
across the road some twelve feet wide, and would cover it with
a stout door with a catch, so that it would bear wagons crossing,
but when the catch is drawn it should rest only on some light
supports below, and would give way at once if a weight came on it.
It would, of course, be covered over with turf. It will take some
time to make, but it will add greatly to your safety."

"It shall be done," the farmer said. "Wood is in plenty, and some
of my men are good carpenters. I will set about it at once."

On arriving at the village Malcolm was cordially welcomed by the
farmer's wife and daughters. The guest chamber was instantly prepared
for him and refreshments laid on the table, while the maids, under
the direction of the farmer's wife, at once began to cook a bounteous
meal in readiness for the arrival of the soldiers. A spot was chosen
on some smooth turf under the shade of trees for the erection of
the tents, and trusses of clean straw carried there for bedding.

Malcolm as he sat in the cool chamber in the farm house felt the
change delightful after the hot dusty journey across the plain.
There was quite an excitement in the little village when the wagon
drove up. The men lifted the arms and baggage from the wagon. The
women offered fruit and flagons of wine, and fresh cool water, to
the soldiers. There was not only general pleasure throughout the
village caused by the novelty of the arrival of the party from the
outer world, but a real satisfaction in receiving these men who
had fought so bravely against the oppressors of the Protestants of
Germany. There was also the feeling that so long as this body of
soldiers might remain in the village they would be able to sleep
in peace and security, safe from the attacks of any marauding band.
The tents were soon pitched by the peasants under the direction
of Sergeant Sinclair, straw was laid down in them, and the canvas
raised to allow the air to sweep through them.

Very grateful were the weary men for the kindness with which they
were received, and even the weakest felt that they should soon
recover their strength.

In an hour two men came up from the farm house carrying a huge
pot filled with strong soup. Another brought a great dish of stew.
Women carried wooden platters, bowls of stewed fruit, and loaves
of bread; and the soldiers, seated upon the grass, fell to with
an appetite such as they had not experienced for weeks.  With the
meal was an abundant supply of the rough but wholesome wine of the
country.

To the Scottish soldiers after the hardships they had passed
through, this secluded valley seemed a perfect paradise. They had
nought to do save to eat their meals, to sleep on the turf in the
shade, or to wander in the woods and gardens free to pick what
fruit they fancied. Under these circumstances they rapidly picked
up strength, and in a week after their arrival would hardly have
been recognized as the feeble band who had left the Swedish camp
at Old Brandenburg.

On Sunday the pastor arrived. He did not live permanently at the
village, but ministered to the inhabitants of several villages
scattered among the hills, holding services in them by turns, and
remaining a few days in each. As the congregation was too large for
the room in the farm house the service was held in the open air.
The Scotch soldiers were all present, and joined heartily in the
singing, although many of them were ignorant of the language, and
sang the words of Scotch hymns to the German tunes.

Even the roughest of them, and those who had been longest away from
their native country, were much moved by the service. The hush and
stillness, the air of quiet and peace which prevailed, the fervour
with which all joined in the simple service, took them back in
thought to the days of their youth in quiet Scottish glens, and many
a hand was passed hastily across eyes which had not been moistened
for many a year.

The armour and arms were now cleaned and polished, and for a short
time each day Malcolm exercised them. The martial appearance and
perfect discipline of the Scots struck the villagers with admiration
the first time they saw them under arms, and they earnestly begged
Malcolm that they might receive from him and Sergeant Sinclair some
instruction in drill.

Accordingly every evening when work was done the men of the village
were formed up and drilled.  Several of the soldiers took their
places with them in the ranks in order to aid them by their example.
After the drill there was sword and pike exercise, and as most of
the men had already some knowledge of the use of arms they made
rapid progress, and felt an increased confidence in their power
to defend the village against the attacks of any small bands
of plunderers.  To Malcolm the time passed delightfully. His kind
hosts vied with each other in their efforts to make him comfortable,
and it was in vain that he assured them that he no longer needed
attention and care. A seat was always placed for him in the coolest
nook in the room, fresh grapes and other fruit stood in readiness
on a table hard by. The farmer's daughters, busy as they were in
their household avocations, were always ready to sit and talk with
him when he was indoors, and of an evening to sing him the country
melodies.

At the end of a fortnight the men were all fit for duty again, but
the hospitable farmer would not hear of their leaving, and as news
from time to time reached them from the outer world, and Malcolm
learned that there was no chance of any engagement for a time
between the hostile armies, he was only too glad to remain.

Another fortnight passed, and Malcolm reluctantly gave the word that
on the morrow the march must be recommenced. A general feeling of
sorrow reigned in the village when it was known that their guests
were about to depart, for the Scottish soldiers had made themselves
extremely popular. They were ever ready to assist in the labours
of the village. They helped to pick the apples from the heavily
laden trees, they assisted to thrash out the corn, and in every
way strove to repay their entertainers for the kindness they had
shown them.

Of an evening their camp had been the rendezvous of the whole
village. There alternately the soldiers and the peasants sang their
national songs, and joined in hearty choruses. Sometimes there were
dances, for many of the villagers played on various instruments;
and altogether Glogau had never known such a time of festivity and
cheerfulness before.

Late in the evening of the day before they had fixed for their
departure the pastor rode into the village.

"I have bad news," he said. "A party of Pappenheim's dragoons, three
hundred strong, are raiding in the district on the other side of
the hills. A man came in just as I mounted my horse, saying that
it was expected they would attack Mansfeld, whose count is a sturdy
Protestant. The people were determined to resist to the last, in
spite of the fate of Magdeburg and Frankenhausen, but I fear that
their chance of success is a small one; but they say they may as
well die fighting as be slaughtered in cold blood."

"Is Mansfeld fortified?" Malcolm asked.

"It has a wall," the pastor replied, "but of no great strength. The
count's castle, which stands on a rock adjoining it, might defend
itself for some time, but I question whether it can withstand
Pappenheim's veterans.

"Mansfeld itself is little more than a village. I should not say
it had more than a thousand inhabitants, and can muster at best
about two hundred and fifty men capable of bearing arms."

"How far is it from here?" Malcolm asked after a pause.

"Twenty-four miles by the bridle path across the hills."

"When were the Imperialists expected to arrive?"

"They were ten miles away this morning," the pastor replied; "but
as they were plundering and burning as they went they will not
probably arrive before Mansfeld before the morning. Some of the
more timid citizens were leaving, and many were sending away their
wives and families."

"Then," Malcolm said, "I will march thither at once.  Twenty good
soldiers may make all the difference, and although I have, of course,
no orders for such an emergency, the king can hardly blame me even
if the worst happens for striking a blow against the Imperialists
here. Will you give me a man," he asked the farmer, "to guide us
across the hills?"

"That will I right willingly," the farmer said; "but it seems to me
a desperate service to embark in. These townspeople are of little
good for fighting, and probably intend only to make a show of
resistance in order to procure better terms.  The count himself
is a brave nobleman, but I fear that the enterprise is a hopeless
one."

"Hopeless or not," Malcolm said, "I will undertake it, and will at
once put the men under arms. The wagon and horses with the baggage
I will leave here till I return, that is if we should ever come
back again."

A tap of the drum and the soldiers came running in hastily from
various cottages where they were spending their last evening with
their village friends, wondering at the sudden summons to arms. As
soon as they had fallen in, Malcolm joined them.

"Men," he said, "I am sorry to disturb you on your last evening
here, but there is business on hand. A party of Pappenheim's dragoons
are about to attack the town of Mansfeld, where the people are of
the Reformed Religion.  The siege will begin in the morning, and
ere that time we must be there. We have all got fat and lazy, and
a little fighting will do us good."

The thought of a coming fray reconciled the men to their departure
from their quiet and happy resting place.  Armour was donned,
buckles fastened, and arms inspected, and in half an hour, after
a cordial adieu from their kind hosts, the detachment marched off,
their guide with a lighted torch leading the way. The men were in
light marching order, having left everything superfluous behind
them in the wagon; and they marched briskly along over hill and
through forest without a halt, till at three o'clock in the morning
the little town of Mansfeld, with its castle rising above it, was
visible before them in the first light of morning.

As they approached the walls a musketoon was fired, and the alarm
bell of the church instantly rang out.  Soon armed men made their
appearance on the walls. Fearing that the burghers might fire
before waiting to ascertain who were the newcomers, Malcolm halted
his band, and advanced alone towards the walls.

"Who are you who come in arms to the peaceful town of Mansfeld?"
an officer asked from the wall.

"I am an officer of his Swedish Majesty, Gustavus, and hearing that
the town was threatened with attack by the Imperialists, I have
marched hither with my detachment to aid in the defence."

A loud cheer broke from the walls. Not only was the reinforcement
a most welcome one, small as it was, for the valour of the Scottish
soldiers of the King of Sweden was at that time the talk of all
Germany, but the fact that a detachment of these redoubted troops
had arrived seemed a proof that the main army of the Swedish king
could not be far away. The gates were at once opened, and Malcolm
with his band marched into Mansfield.



CHAPTER VIII THE SIEGE OF MANSFELD


"Will it please your worship at once to repair to the castle?" the
leader of the townspeople said. "The count has just sent down to
inquire into the reason of the alarm."

"Yes," Malcolm replied, "I will go at once. In the meantime, sir,
I pray you to see to the wants of my soldiers, who have taken a
long night march and will be none the worse for some refreshment.
Hast seen aught of the Imperialists?"

"They are at a village but a mile distant on the other side of the
town," the citizen said. "Yesterday we counted eighteen villages
in flames, and the peasants who have come in say that numbers have
been slain by them."

"There is little mercy to be expected from the butchers of Magdeburg,"
Malcolm replied; "the only arguments they will listen to are steel
and lead, and we will not be sparing of these."

A murmur of assent rang through the townsfolk who had gathered
round, and then the burgomaster himself led Malcolm up the ascent
to the castle. The news that the newcomers were a party of Scots
had already been sent up to the castle, and as Malcolm entered the
gateway the count came forward to welcome him.

"You are welcome indeed, fair sir," he said. "It seems almost as
if you had arrived from the clouds to our assistance, for we had
heard that the Swedish king and his army were encamped around Old
Brandenburg.

"His majesty has moved west, I hear," Malcolm said; "but we have
been a month away from the camp. My detachment consisted of a body
of invalids who came up among the hills to get rid of the fever which
was playing such havoc among our ranks. I am glad to say that all
are restored, and fit as ever for a meeting with the Imperialists.
I heard but yestereven that you were expecting an attack, and have
marched all night to be here in time. My party is a small one, but
each man can be relied upon; and when it comes to hard fighting
twenty in good soldiers may turn the day."

"You are heartily welcome, sir, and I thank you much for coming to
our aid. The townspeople are determined to do their best, but most
of them have little skill in arms. I have a score or two of old
soldiers here in the castle, and had hoped to be able to hold this
to the end; but truly I despaired of a successful defence of the
town. But enter, I pray you; the countess will be glad to welcome
you.

Malcolm accompanied the count to the banquet hall of the castle.
The countess, a gentle and graceful woman, was already there; for
indeed but few in Mansfeld had closed an eye that night, for it
was possible that the Imperialists might attack without delay. By
her side stood her daughter, a girl of about fourteen years old.
Malcolm had already stated his name to the count, and the latter
now presented him to his wife.

"We have heard so much of the Scottish soldiers," she said as she
held out her hand, over which Malcolm bent deeply, "that we have
all been curious to see them, little dreaming that a band of them
would appear here like good angels in our hour of danger."

"It was a fortunate accident which found me within reach when I
heard of the approach of the Imperialists.  The names of the Count
and Countess of Mansfeld are so well known and so highly esteemed
through Protestant Germany that I was sure that the king would
approve of my hastening to lend what aid I might to you without
orders from him."

"I see you have learned to flatter," the countess said smiling.
"This is my daughter Thekla."

"I am glad to see you," the girl said; "but I am a little disappointed.
I had thought that the Scots were such big fierce soldiers, and
you are not very big -- not so tall as papa; and you do not look
fierce at all -- not half so fierce as my cousin Caspar, who is
but a boy."

"That is very rude, Thekla," her mother said reprovingly, while
Malcolm laughed gaily.

"You are quite right, Fraulein Thekla. I know I do not look very
fierce, but I hope when my moustache grows I shall come up more
nearly to your expectations. As to my height, I have some years to
grow yet, seeing that I am scarce eighteen, and perhaps no older
than your cousin."

"Have you recently joined, sir?" the countess asked.

"I have served through the campaign," Malcolm replied, "and have
seen some hard knocks given, as you may imagine when I tell you
that I was at the siege of New Brandenburg."

"When your soldiers fought like heroes, and, as I heard, all died
sword in hand save two or three officers who managed to escape."

"I was one of the three, countess; but the tale is a long one, and
can be told after we have done with the Imperialists.  Now, sir,"
he went on, turning to the count, "I am at your orders, and will
take post with my men at any point that you may think fit."

"Before doing that," the count said, "you must join us at breakfast.
You must be hungry after your long march, and as I have been all
night in my armour I shall do justice to it myself. You will, of
course, take up your abode here. As to other matters I have done
my best, and the townspeople were yesterday all told off to their
places on the walls. I should think it were best that your band
were stationed in the marketplace as a reserve, they could then
move to any point which might be seriously threatened. Should the
Imperialists enter the town the citizens have orders to fall back
here fighting. All their most valuable goods were sent up here
yesterday, together with such of their wives and families as have
not taken flight, so that there will be nothing to distract them
from their duty."

"That is good," Malcolm said. "The thought that one is fighting
for home and family must nerve a man in the defence, but when the
enemy once breaks in he would naturally think of home first and
hasten away to defend it to the last, instead of obeying orders
and falling back with his comrades in good order and discipline."

The meal was a cheerful one. Malcolm related more in detail how he
and his detachment happened to be so far removed from the army.

Just as the meal came to an end a drum beat in the town and the
alarm bells began to ring. The count and Malcolm sallied out at
once to the outer wall, and saw a small party of officers riding
from the village occupied by the Imperialists towards the town.

"Let us descend," the count said. "I presume they are going to
demand our surrender."

They reached the wall of the town just as the Imperialist officers
approached the gate.

"In the name of his majesty the emperor," one of them cried out,
"I command you to open the gate and to surrender to his good will
and pleasure."

"The smoking villages which I see around me," Count Mansfeld
replied, "are no hopeful sign of any good will or pleasure on the
part of his majesty towards us. As to surrendering, we will rather
die. But I am willing to pay a fair ransom for the town if you will
draw off your troops and march away."

"Beware, sir!" the officer said. "I have a force here sufficient
to compel obedience, and I warn you of the fate which will befall
all within these walls if you persist in refusing to admit us."

"I doubt not as to their fate," the count replied; "there are plenty
of examples before us of the tender mercy which your master's troops
show towards the towns you capture.

"Once again I offer you a ransom for the town. Name the sum, and
if it be in reason such as I and the townspeople can pay, it shall
be yours; but open the gates to you we will not."

"Very well," the officer said; "then your blood be on your own
heads." And turning his horse he rode with his companions back
towards the village.

On their arrival there a bustle was seen to prevail. A hundred
horsemen rode off and took post on an eminence near the town, ready
to cut off the retreat of any who might try to escape, and to enter
the town when the gates were forced open. The other two hundred
men advanced on foot in a close body towards the principal gate.

"They will try and blow it open with petards," Malcolm said. "Half
of my men are musketeers and good shots, and I will, with your
permission, place them on the wall to aid the townsfolk there, for
if the gate is blown open and the enemy force their way in it will
go hard with us."

The count assented, and Malcolm posted his musketeers on the wall,
ordering Sergeant Sinclair with the remainder to set to work to
erect barricades across the street leading from the gate, so that,
in case this were blown in, such a stand might be made against the
Imperialists as would give the townspeople time to rally from the
walls and to gather there.

The Imperialists heralded their advance by opening fire with pistols
and musketoons against the wall, and the defenders at once replied.
So heavy was the fire that the head of the column wavered, many of
the leading files being at once shot down, but, encouraged by their
officers, they rallied, and pushed forward at a run. The fire of
the townspeople at once became hurried and irregular, but the Scots
picked off their men with steady aim. The leader of the Imperialists,
who carried a petard, advanced boldly to the edge of the ditch. The
fosse was shallow and contained but little water, and he at once
dashed into it and waded across, for the drawbridge had, of course,
been raised. He climbed up the bank, and was close to the gate,
when Malcolm, leaning far over the wall, discharged his pistol at
him. The ball glanced from the steel armour.

Malcolm drew his other pistol and again fired, this time more
effectually, for the ball struck between the shoulder and the neck
at the junction of the breast and back pieces, and passed down into
the body of the Austrian, who, dropping the petard, fell dead; but
a number of his men were close behind him.

"Quick, lads!" Malcolm cried. "Put your strength to this parapet.
It is old and rotten. Now, all together!  Shove!"

The soldiers bent their strength against the parapet, while some
of the townspeople, thrusting their pikes into the rotten mortar
between the stones, prised them up with all their strength. The
parapet tottered, and then with a tremendous crash fell, burying
five or six of the Imperialists and the petard beneath the ruins.

A shout of exultation rose from the defenders, and the Imperialists
at once withdrew at full speed. They halted out of gunshot, and
then a number of men were sent back to the village, whence they
returned carrying ladders, some of which had been collected the
day before from the neighbouring villages and others manufactured
during the night. The enemy now divided into three parties, which
advanced simultaneously against different points of the wall.

Notwithstanding the storm of shot poured upon them as they advanced,
they pressed forward until they reached the wall and planted their
ladders, and then essayed to climb; but at each point the stormers
were stoutly met with pike and sword, while the musketeers from
the flanking towers poured their bullets into them.

The troops proved themselves worthy of their reputation, for it
was not until more than fifty had fallen that they desisted from
the attempt and drew off.

"Now we shall have a respite," Malcolm said. "If there are no more
of them in the neighbourhood methinks they will retire altogether,
but if they have any friends with cannon anywhere within reach they
will probably send for them and renew the attack."

The day passed quietly. Parties of horsemen were seen leaving the
village to forage and plunder the surrounding country, but the main
body remained quietly there. The next day there was still no renewal
of the attack, but as the enemy remained in occupation of the
village Malcolm guessed that they must be waiting for the arrival
of reinforcements. The following afternoon a cloud of dust was seen
upon the plain, and presently a column of infantry some four hundred
strong, with three cannon, could be made out. The townspeople now
wavered in their determination.  A few were still for resistance,
but the majority held that they could not attempt to withstand an
assault by so strong a force, and that it was better to make the
best terms they could with the enemy.

A parlementaire was accordingly despatched to the Imperialists
asking what terms would be granted should the place surrender.

"We will grant no terms whatever," the colonel in command of the
Imperialists said. "The town is at our mercy, and we will do as we
will with it and all within it; but tell Count Mansfeld that if he
will surrender the castle as well as the town at once, and without
striking another blow, his case shall receive favourable consideration."

"That will not do," the count said. "They either guarantee our
lives or they do not. I give not up my castle on terms like these,
but I will exercise no pressure on the townspeople. If they choose
to defend themselves till the last I will fight here with them; if
they choose to surrender they can do so; and those who differ from
their fellows and put no faith in Tilly's wolves can enter the
castle with me."

The principal inhabitants of the town debated the question hotly.
Malcolm lost patience with them, and said:  "Are you mad as well
as stupid? Do you not see the smoking villages round you? Do you
not remember the fate of Magdeburg, New Brandenburg, and the other
towns which have made a resistance?  You have chosen to resist. It
was open to you to have fled when you heard the Imperialists were
coming.  You could have opened the gates then with some hope at
least of your lives; but you decided to resist.  You have killed
some fifty or sixty of their soldiers. You have repulsed them from
a place which they thought to take with scarce an effort. You have
compelled them to send for reinforcements and guns. And now you
are talking of opening the gates without even obtaining a promise
that your lives shall be spared. This is the extremity of folly,
and all I can say is, if you take such a step you will well deserve
your fate."

Malcolm's indignant address had its effect, and after a short
discussion the townspeople again placed themselves at the count's
disposal, and said that they would obey his orders.

"I will give no orders," the count said. "My Scottish friend here
agrees with me that it is useless to try to defend the town. We
might repulse several attacks, but in the end they would surely
break in, for the walls are old and weak, and will crumble before
their cannon. Were there any hope of relief one would defend them
to the last, but as it is it would be but a waste of blood, for many
would be slain both in the defence and before they could retreat
to the castle; therefore we propose at once to withdraw. We doubt
not that we can hold the castle. Any who like to remain in their
houses and trust to the tender mercy of Tilly's wolves can do so."

There was no more hesitation, and a cannonball, the first which the
Imperialists had fired, at that moment crashed into a house hard
by, and sharpened their decision wonderfully.

"I have no great store of provisions in the castle," the count said,
"and although I deem it not likely that we shall have to stand a
long siege we must be prepared for it. There are already more than
700 of your wives and children there, therefore while half of the
force continue to show themselves upon the walls, and so deter
the enemy from attempting an assault until they have opened some
breaches, let the rest carry up provisions to the castle. Any houses
from which the women have fled are at once to be broken open. All
that we leave behind the enemy will take, and the less we leave
for them the better; therefore all stores and magazines of food and
wine must be considered as public property. Let the men at once be
divided into two bodies -- the one to guard the walls, the other
to search for and carry up provisions.  They can be changed every
three or four hours."

The resolution was taken and carried into effect without delay. Most
of the horses and carts in the town had left with the fugitives,
those that remained were at once set to work.  The carts were
laden with large barrels of wine and sacks of flour, while the men
carried sides of bacon, kegs of butter, and other portable articles
on their heads. The Imperialists, seeing the movement up the steep
road to the castle gate, opened fire with their arquebuses, but
the defenders of the wall replied so hotly that they were forced
to retire out of range. The cannon played steadily all day, and by
nightfall two breaches had been effected in the wall and the gate
had been battered down.

But by this time an ample store of provisions had been collected
in the castle and as the Imperialists were seen to form up for the
assault the trumpet was sounded, and at the signal the whole of
the defenders of the walls left their posts and fell back to the
castle, leaving the deserted town at the mercy of the enemy. The
Imperialists raised a shout of triumph as they entered the breaches
and found them undefended, and when once assured that the town was
deserted they broke their ranks and scattered to plunder.

It was now quite dark, and many of them dragging articles of furniture
into the streets made great bonfires to light them at their work
of plunder. But they had soon reason to repent having done so, for
immediately the flames sprang up and lighted the streets, flashes
ran round the battlements of the castle, and a heavy fire was
opened into the streets, killing many of the soldiers. Seeing the
danger of thus exposing the men to the fire from the castle, the
Imperialist commander issued orders at once that all fires should
be extinguished, that anyone setting fire to a house should be
instantly hung, and that no lights were to be lit in the houses
whose windows faced the castle.

Foreseeing the possibility of an attack from the castle, the
Austrians placed a hundred men at the foot of the road leading up
to it, and laid their three cannon loaded to the muzzle to command
it.

"Have you not," Malcolm asked the count, "some means of exit from
the castle besides the way into the town?"

"Yes," the count said, "there is a footpath down the rock on the
other side."

"Then," Malcolm said, "as soon as they are fairly drunk, which
will be before midnight, let us fall upon them from the other side.
Leave fifty of your oldest men with half a dozen veteran soldiers
to defend the gateway against a sudden attack; with the rest we
can issue out, and marching round, enter by the gate and breaches,
sweeping the streets as we go, and then uniting, burst through any
guard they may have placed to prevent a sortie, and so regain the
castle."

The count at once assented. In a short time shouts, songs, the
sound of rioting and quarrels, arose from the town, showing that
revelry was general. At eleven o'clock the men in the castle were
mustered, fifty were told off to the defence with five experienced
soldiers, an officer of the count being left in command. The
rest sallied through a little door at the back of the castle and
noiselessly descended the steep path. On arriving at the bottom they
were divided into three bodies. Malcolm with his Scots and fifty
of the townspeople formed one. Count Mansfeld took the command
of another, composed of his own soldiers and fifty more of the
townspeople. The third consisted of eighty of the best fighting
men of the town under their own leaders. These were to enter by
the gate, while the other two parties came in by the breaches. The
moment the attack began the defenders of the castle were to open
as rapid a fire as they could upon the foot of the road so as to
occupy the attention of the enemy's force there, and to lead them
to anticipate a sortie.

The breach by which Malcolm was to enter was the farthest from the
castle, and his command would, therefore, be the last in arriving
at its station. When he reached it he ordered the trumpeters who
accompanied him to sound, and at the signal the three columns rushed
into the town uttering shouts of "Gustavus! Gustavus!"

The Imperialists in the houses near were slaughtered with scarcely
any resistance. They were for the most part intoxicated, and such
as retained their senses were paralysed at the sudden attack, and
panic stricken at the shouts, which portended the arrival of a
relieving force from the army of the King of Sweden. As the bands
pressed forward, slaying all whom they came upon, the resistance
became stronger; but the three columns were all headed by parties
of pikemen who advanced steadily and in good order, bearing down
all opposition, and leaving to those behind them the task of slaying
all found in the houses.

Lights flashed from the windows and partly lit up the streets,
and the Imperialist officers attempted to rally their men; but the
Scottish shouts, "A Hepburn! A Hepburn!" and the sight of their
green scarves added to the terror of the soldiers, who were convinced
that the terrible Green Brigade of the King of Sweden was upon
them.

Hundreds were cut down after striking scarce a blow in their defence,
numbers fled to the walls and leapt over. The panic communicated
itself to the party drawn up to repel a sortie. Hearing the yells,
screams, and shouts, accompanied by the musketry approaching from
three different quarters of the town, while a steady fire from the
castle indicated that the defenders there might, at any moment,
sally out upon them, they stood for a time irresolute; but as the
heads of the three columns approached they lost heart, quitted their
station, and withdrew in a body by a street by which they avoided
the approaching columns. On arriving at the spot Malcolm found the
guns deserted.

"The town is won now," he said. "I will take my post here with my
men in case the Austrians should rally; do you with the rest scatter
over the town and complete the work, but bid them keep together in
parties of twenty."

The force broke up and scattered through the town in their work
of vengeance. House after house was entered and searched, and all
who were found there put to the sword; but by this time most of
those who were not too drunk to fly had already made for the gates.

In half an hour not an Imperialist was left alive in the town. Then
guards were placed at the gate and breaches, and they waited till
morning. Not a sign of an Imperialist was to be seen on the plain,
and parties sallying out found that they had fled in the utmost
disorder. Arms, accoutrements, and portions of plunder lay scattered
thickly about, and it was clear that in the belief that the Swedish
army was on them, the Imperialists had fled panic stricken, and
were now far away. Upwards of two hundred bodies were found in the
streets and houses.

A huge grave was dug outside the walls, and here the fallen foes
were buried. Only three or four of the defenders of the town were
killed and a score or so wounded in the whole affair. Although there
was little fear of a return, as the Imperialists would probably
continue their headlong flight for a long distance, and would then
march with all haste to rejoin their main army with the news that
a strong Swedish force was at Mansfeld, the count set the townspeople
at once to repair the breaches.

The people were overjoyed with their success, and delighted at
having preserved their homes from destruction, for they knew that
the Imperialists would, if unsuccessful against the castle, have
given the town to the flames before retiring. The women and children
flocked down to their homes again, and although much furniture had
been destroyed and damage done, this was little heeded when so much
was saved.

All vied in the expression of gratitude towards Malcolm and his
Scots, but Malcolm modestly disclaimed all merit, saying that he
and his men had scarcely struck a blow.

"It is not so much the fighting," the count said, "as the example
which you set the townsmen, and the spirit which the presence of
you and your men diffused among them.  Besides, your counsel and
support to me have been invaluable; had it not been for you the
place would probably have been carried at the first attack, and
if not the townspeople would have surrendered when the enemy's
reinforcements arrived; and in that case, with so small a force at
my command I could not have hoped to defend the castle successfully.
Moreover, the idea of the sortie which has freed us of them and
saved the town from destruction was entirely yours. No, my friend,
say what you will I feel that I am indebted to you for the safety
of my wife and child, and so long as I live I shall be deeply your
debtor."

The following day Malcolm with his party marched away.  The count had
presented him with a suit of magnificent armour, and the countess
with a gold chain of great value.  Handsome presents were also made
to Sergeant Sinclair, who was a cadet of good family, and a purse
of gold was given to each of the soldiers, so in high spirits the
band marched away over the mountains on their return to the village.



CHAPTER IX THE BATTLE OF BREITENFELD


Great joy was manifested as Malcolm's band marched into the village
and it was found that they had accomplished the mission on which
they went, had saved Mansfeld, and utterly defeated the Imperialists,
and had returned in undiminished numbers, although two or three
had received wounds more or less serious, principally in the first
day's fighting. They only remained one night in the village.

On the following morning the baggage was placed in the wagons with
a store of fruit and provisions for their march, and after another
hearty adieu the detachment set out in high spirits. After marching
for two days they learned that the Swedish army had marched to
Werben, and that Tilly's army had followed it there.

After the receipt of this news there was no more loitering; the
marches were long and severe, and after making a detour to avoid the
Imperialists the detachment entered the royal camp without having
met with any adventure on the way. His fellow officers flocked round
Malcolm to congratulate him on his safe return and on his restored
health.

"The change has done wonders for you, Malcolm," Nigel Graheme said.
"Why, when you marched out you were a band of tottering scarecrows,
and now your detachment looks as healthy and fresh as if they had
but yesterday left Scotland; but come in, the bugle has just sounded
to supper, and we are only waiting for the colonel to arrive. He
is at present in council with the king with Hepburn and some more.
Ah! here he comes."

Munro rode up and leapt from his horse, and after heartily greeting
Malcolm led the way into the tent where supper was laid out.
Malcolm was glad to see by the faces of his comrades that all had
shaken off the disease which had played such havoc among them at
Old Brandenburg.

"Is there any chance of a general engagement?" he asked Nigel.

"Not at present," Nigel said. "We are expecting the reinforcements
up in a few days. As you see we have fortified the camp too strongly
for Tilly to venture to attack us here.  Only yesterday he drew
up his army and offered us battle; but the odds were too great,
and the king will not fight till his reinforcements arrive.  Some
of the hotter spirits were sorry that he would not accept Tilly's
invitation, and I own that I rather gnashed my teeth myself; but I
knew that the king was right in not risking the whole cause rashly
when a few days will put us in a position to meet the Imperialists
on something like equal terms. Is there any news, colonel?" he
asked, turning to Munro.

"No news of importance," the colonel replied; "but the king is
rather puzzled. A prisoner was taken today --one of Pappenheim's
horsemen -- and he declares that a force of horse and foot have
been defeated at Mansfeld by a Swedish army with heavy loss. He
avers that he was present at the affair, and arrived in camp with
the rest of the beaten force only yesterday. We cannot make it
out, as we know that there are no Swedish troops anywhere in that
direction."

Malcolm burst into a hearty laugh, to the surprise of his fellow
officers.

"I can explain the matter, colonel," he said. "It was my detachment
that had the honour of representing the Swedish army at Mansfeld."

"What on earth do you mean, Malcolm?" the colonel asked.

"Well, sir, as you know I went with a detachment to the village
where I had before been well treated, and had earned the gratitude
of the people by teaching them how to destroy a party of marauders.
After having been there for a month I was on the point of marching,
for the men were all perfectly restored to health; and indeed I
know I ought to have returned sooner, seeing that the men were fit
for service; but as I thought you were still at Old Brandenburg,
and could well dispense with our services, I lingered on to the
last. But just as I was about to march the news came that a party
of Imperialist horse, three hundred strong, was about to attack
Mansfeld, a place of whose existence I had never heard; but hearing
that its count was a staunch Protestant, and that the inhabitants
intended to make a stout defence, I thought that I could not be
doing wrong in the service of the king by marching to aid them,
the place being but twenty-four miles away across the hills. We
got there in time, and aided the townspeople to repulse the first
assault. After two days they brought up a reinforcement of four
hundred infantry and some cannon. As the place is a small one, with
but about two hundred and fifty fighting men of all ages, we deemed
it impossible to defend the town, and while they were breaching
the walls fell back to the castle. The Imperialists occupied it
at sunset, and at night, leaving a party to hold the castle, we
sallied out from the other side, and marching round, entered by the
breaches, and, raising the Swedish war cry fell upon the enemy, who
were for the most part too drunk to offer any serious resistance.
We killed two hundred and fifty of them, and the rest fled in terror,
thinking they had the whole Swedish army upon them. The next day I
started on my march back here, and though we have not spared speed,
it seems that the Imperialists have arrived before us."

A burst of laughter and applause greeted the solution of the mystery.

"You have done well, sir," Munro said cordially, "and have rendered
a great service not only in the defeat of the Imperialists, but in
its consequences here, for the prisoner said that last night five
thousand men were marched away from Tilly's army to observe and
make head against this supposed Swedish force advancing from the
east. When I have done my meal I will go over to the king with the
news, for his majesty is greatly puzzled, especially as the prisoner
declared that he himself had seen the Scots of the Green Brigade
in the van of the column, and had heard the war cry, 'A Hepburn!
A Hepburn!'

"Hepburn himself could make neither head nor tail of it, and was
half inclined to believe that this avenging force was led by the
ghosts of those who had been slain at New Brandenburg. Whenever we
can't account for a thing, we Scots are inclined to believe it's
supernatural.

"Now tell me more about the affair, Malcolm. By the way do you
know that you are a lieutenant now? Poor Foulis died of the fever
a few days after you left us, and as the king had himself ordered
that you were to have the next vacancy, I of course appointed you
at once. We must drink tonight to your promotion."

Malcolm now related fully the incidents of the siege.

"By my faith, Malcolm Graheme," Munro said when he had finished,
"you are as lucky as you are brave.  Mansfeld is a powerful nobleman,
and has large possessions in various parts of Germany and much
influence, and the king will be grateful that you have thus rendered
him such effective assistance and so bound him to our cause. I
believe he has no children."

"He has a daughter," Malcolm said, "a pretty little maid some
fourteen years old."

"In faith, Malcolm, 'tis a pity that you and she are not some four
or five years older. What a match it would be for you, the heiress
of Mansfeld; she would be a catch indeed!  Well, there's time enough
yet, my lad, for there is no saying how long this war will last."

There was a general laugh, and the colonel continued:

"Malcolm has the grace to colour, which I am afraid the rest of us
have lost long ago. Never mind, Malcolm, there are plenty of Scotch
cadets have mended their fortune by means of a rich heiress before
now, and I hope there will be many more. I am on the lookout for a
wealthy young countess myself, and I don't think there is one here
who would not lay aside his armour and sword on such inducement.
And now, gentlemen, as we have all finished, I will leave you to
your wine while I go across with our young lieutenant to the king. I
must tell him tonight, or he will not sleep with wondering over the
mystery. We will be back anon and will broach a cask of that famous
wine we picked up the other day, in honour of Malcolm Graheme's
promotion."

Sir John Hepburn was dining with Gustavus, and the meal was just
concluded when Colonel Munro was announced.

"Well, my brave Munro, what is it?" the king said heartily, "and whom
have you here? The young officer who escaped from New Brandenburg
and Tilly, unless I am mistaken."

"It is, sir, but I have to introduce him in a new character
tonight, as the leader of your majesty's army who have defeated
the Imperialists at Mansfeld."

"Say you so?" exclaimed the king. "Then, though I understand you not,
we shall hear a solution of the mystery which has been puzzling us.
Sit down, young sir; fill yourself a flagon of wine, and expound
this riddle to us."

Malcolm repeated the narrative as he had told it to his colonel,
and the king expressed his warm satisfaction.

"You will make a great leader some day if you do not get killed in
one of these adventures, young sir.  Bravery seems to be a common
gift of the men of your nation; but you seem to unite with it
a surprising prudence and sagacity, and, moreover, this march of
yours to Mansfeld shows that you do not fear taking responsibility,
which is a high and rare quality. You have done good service to
the cause, and I thank you, and shall keep my eye upon you in the
future."

The next day Malcolm went round the camp, and was surprised at
the extensive works which had been erected.  Strong ramparts and
redoubts had been thrown up round it, faced with stone, and mounted
with 150 pieces of cannon.  In the centre stood an inner entrenchment
with earthworks and a deep fosse. In this stood the tents of the
king and those of his principal officers. The Marquis of Hamilton
had, Malcolm heard, arrived and gone. He had lost on the march
many of the soldiers he had enlisted in England, who had died from
eating German bread, which was heavier, darker coloured, and more
sour than that of their own country. This, however, did not disagree
with the Scotch, who were accustomed to black bread.

"I wonder," Malcolm said to Nigel Graheme, "that when the king has
in face of him a force so superior to his own he should have sent
away on detached service the four splendid regiments which they
say the marquis brought."

"Well, the fact was," Nigel said laughing, "Hamilton was altogether
too grand for us here. We all felt small and mean so long as he
remained. Gustavus himself, who is as simple in his tastes as any
officer in the army, and who keeps up no ostentatious show, was
thrown into the shade by his visitor. Why, had he been the Emperor
of Germany or the King of France he could not have made a braver
show. His table was equipped and furnished with magnificence; his
carriages would have created a sensation in Paris; the liveries of
his attendants were more splendid than the uniforms of generals;
he had forty gentlemen as esquires and pages, and 200 yeomen,
splendidly mounted and armed, rode with him as his bodyguard.

"Altogether he was oppressive; but the Hamiltons have ever been
fond of show and finery. So Gustavus has sent him and his troops
away to guard the passages of the Oder and to cover our retreat
should we be forced to fall back."

Tilly, finding that the position of Gustavus was too strong to be
forced, retired to Wolmirstadt, whence he summoned the Elector of
Saxony to admit his army into his country, and either to disband
the Saxon army or to unite it to his own. Hitherto the elector
had held aloof from Gustavus, whom he regarded with jealousy and
dislike, and had stood by inactive although the slightest movement
of his army would have saved Magdeburg. To disband his troops, however,
and to hand over his fortresses to Tilly, would be equivalent to
giving up his dominions to the enemy; rather than do this he determined
to join Gustavus, and having despatched Arnheim to treat with the
King of Sweden for alliance, he sent a point blank refusal to Tilly.

The Imperialist general at once marched towards Leipzig, devastating
the country as he advanced. Terms were soon arranged between the
elector and Gustavus, and on the 3d of September, 1631, the Swedish
army crossed the Elbe, and the next day joined the Saxon army at
Torgau. By this time Tilly was in front of Leipzig, and immediately
on his arrival burned to the ground Halle, a suburb lying beyond
the wall, and then summoned the city to surrender.

Alarmed at the sight of the conflagration of Halle, and with the
fate of Magdeburg in their minds, the citizens of Leipzig opened
their gates at once on promise of fair treatment. The news of this
speedy surrender was a heavy blow to the allies, who, however, after
a council of war, determined at once to march forward against the
city, and to give battle to the Imperialists on the plain around
it.

Leipzig stands on a wide plain which is called the plain of
Breitenfeld, and the battle which was about to commence there has
been called by the Germans the battle of Breitenfeld, to distinguish
it from the even greater struggles which have since taken place
under the walls of Leipzig.

The baggage had all been left behind, and the Swedish army lay down
as they stood. The king occupied his travelling coach, and passed
the night chatting with Sir John Hepburn, Marshal Horn, Sir John
Banner, Baron Teuffel, who commanded the guards, and other leaders.
The lines of red fires which marked Tilly's position on the slope
of a gentle eminence to the southwest were plainly to be seen. The
day broke dull and misty on the 7th of September, and as the light
fog gradually rose the troops formed up for battle.  Prayers were
said in front of every regiment, and the army then moved forward.
Two Scottish brigades had the places of honour in the van, where
the regiments of Sir James Ramsay, the Laird of Foulis, and Sir
John Hamilton were posted, while Hepburn's Green Brigade formed part
of the reserve -- a force composed of the best troops of the army,
as on them the fate of the battle frequently depends. The Swedish
cavalry were commanded by Field Marshal Horn, General Banner, and
Lieutenant General Bauditzen.

The king and Baron Teuffel led the main body of infantry; the
King of Saxony commanded the Saxons, who were on the Swedish left.
The armies were not very unequal in numbers, the allies numbering
35,000, of whom the Swedes and Scots counted 20,000, the Saxons
15,000. The Imperialists numbered about 40,000. Tilly was fighting
unwillingly, for he had wished to await the arrival from Italy
of 12,000 veterans under General Altringer, and who were within a
few days' march; but he had been induced, against his own better
judgment, by the urgency of Pappenheim, Furstenberg, and the younger
generals, to quit the unassailable post he had taken up in front of
Leipzig, and to move out on to the plain of Breitenfeld to accept
the battle which the Swedes offered.

A short distance in his front was the village of Podelwitz.  Behind
his position were two elevations, on which he placed his guns,
forty in number. In rear of these elevations was a very thick wood.
The Imperialist right was commanded by Furstenberg, the left by
Pappenheim, the centre by Tilly himself.  Although he had yielded
to his generals so far as to take up a position on the plain, Tilly
was resolved, if possible, not to fight until the arrival of the
reinforcements; but the rashness of Pappenheim brought on a battle. To
approach the Austrian position the Swedes had to cross the little
river Loder, and Pappenheim asked permission of Tilly to charge them
as they did so. Tilly consented on condition that he only charged
with two thousand horse and did not bring on a general engagement.
Accordingly, as the Scottish brigade under Sir James Ramsay crossed
the Loder, Pappenheim swept down upon them.

The Scots stood firm, and with pike and musket repelled the attack;
and after hard fighting Pappenheim was obliged to fall back,
setting fire as he retired to the village of Podelwitz.  The smoke
of the burning village drifted across the plain, and was useful to
the Swedes, as under its cover the entire army passed the Loder,
and formed up ready for battle facing the Imperialists position,
the movement being executed under a heavy fire from the Austrian
batteries on the hills.

The Swedish order of battle was different from that of the
Imperialists. The latter had their cavalry massed together in one
heavy, compact body, while the Swedish regiments of horse were placed
alternately with the various regiments or brigades of infantry.
The Swedish centre was composed of four brigades of pikemen. Guns
were behind the first line, as were the cavalry supporting the
pikemen. The regiments of musketeers were placed at intervals among
the brigades of pikemen.

Pappenheim on his return to the camp ordered up the whole of his
cavalry, and charged down with fury upon the Swedes, while at the
same moment Furstenberg dashed with seven regiments of cavalry on
the Saxons. Between these and the Swedes there was a slight interval,
for Gustavus had doubts of the steadiness of his allies, and was
anxious that in case of their defeat his own troops should not be
thrown into confusion. The result justified his anticipations.

Attacked with fury on their flank by Furstenberg's horse, while
his infantry and artillery poured a direct fire into their front,
the Saxons at once gave way. Their elector was the first to set
the example of flight, and, turning his horse, galloped without
drawing rein to Torgau, and in twenty minutes after the commencement
of the fight the whole of the Saxons were in utter rout, hotly
pursued by Furstenberg's cavalry.

Tilly now deemed the victory certain, for nearly half of his opponents
were disposed of, and he outnumbered the remainder by two to one;
but while Furstenberg had gained so complete a victory over the
Saxons, Pappenheim, who had charged the Swedish centre, had met
with a very different reception.

In vain he tried to break through the Swedish spears.  The wind was
blowing full in the faces of the pikemen, and the clouds of smoke
and dust which rolled down upon them rendered it impossible for
them to see the heavy columns of horse until they fell upon them
like an avalanche, yet with perfect steadiness they withstood the
attacks.

Seven times Pappenheim renewed his charge; seven times he fell back
broken and disordered.

As be drew off for the last time Gustavus, seeing the rout of the
Saxons, and knowing that he would have the whole of Tilly's force
upon him in a few minutes, determined to rid himself altogether of
Pappenheim, and launched the whole of his cavalry upon the retreating
squadrons with overwhelming effect. Thus at the end of half an
hour's fighting Tilly had disposed of the Saxons, and Gustavus had
driven Pappenheim's horse from the field.

Three of the Scottish regiments were sent from the centre to
strengthen Horn on the left flank, which was now exposed by the
flight of the Saxons. Scarcely had the Scottish musketeers taken
their position when Furstenberg's horse returned triumphant from
their pursuit of the Saxons, and at once fell upon Horn's pikemen.
These, however, stood as firmly as their comrades in the centre
had done; and the Scottish musketeers, six deep, the three front
ranks kneeling, the three in rear standing, poured such heavy
volleys into the horsemen that these fell back in disorder; the
more confused perhaps, since volley firing was at that time peculiar
to the Swedish army, and the crashes of musketry were new to the
Imperialists.

As the cavalry fell back in disorder, Gustavus led his horse, who
had just returned from the pursuit of Pappenheim, against them.
The shock was irresistible, and Furstenberg's horse were driven
headlong from the field.  But the Imperialist infantry, led by
Tilly himself, were now close at hand, and the roar of musketry
along the whole line was tremendous, while the artillery on both
sides played unceasingly.

Just as the battle was at the hottest the Swedish reserve came up
to the assistance of the first line, and Sir John Hepburn led the
Green Brigade through the intervals of the Swedish regiments into
action. Lord Reay's regiment was in front, and Munro, leading it
on, advanced against the solid Imperialist columns, pouring heavy
volleys into them.  When close at hand the pikemen passed through
the intervals of the musketeers and charged furiously with levelled
pikes, the musketeers following them with clubbed weapons.

The gaps formed by the losses of the regiment at New Brandenburg and
the other engagements had been filled up, and two thousand strong
they fell upon the Imperialists.  For a few minutes there was a
tremendous hand-to-hand conflict, but the valour and strength of
the Scotch prevailed, and the regiment was the first to burst its
way through the ranks of the Imperialists, and then pressed on to
attack the trenches behind, held by the Walloon infantry. While the
battle was raging in the plain the Swedish cavalry, after driving
away Furstenberg's horse, swept round and charged the eminence in
the rear of the Imperialists, cutting down the artillerymen and
capturing the cannon there.

These were at once turned upon the masses of Imperialist infantry,
who thus, taken between two fires --pressed hotly by the pikemen
in front, mown down by the cannon in their rear -- lost heart and
fled precipitately, four regiments alone, the veterans of Furstenberg's
infantry, holding together and cutting their way through to the
woods in the rear of their position.

The slaughter would have been even greater than it was, had not the
cloud of dust and smoke been so thick that the Swedes were unable
to see ten yards in front of them.  The pursuit was taken up by
their cavalry, who pressed the flying Imperialists until nightfall.
So complete was the defeat that Tilly, who was badly wounded, could
only muster 600 men to accompany him in his retreat, and Pappenheim
could get together but 1400 of his horsemen. Seven thousand of the
Imperialists were killed, 5000 were wounded or taken prisoners.
The Swedes lost but 700 men, the Saxons about 2000.

The Swedes that night occupied the Imperial tents, making great
bonfires of the broken wagons, pikes, and stockades. A hundred
standards were taken. Tilly had fought throughout the battle with
desperate valour.  He was ever in the van of his infantry, and
three times was wounded by bullets and once taken prisoner, and
only rescued after a desperate conflict.

At the conclusion of the day Cronenberg with 600 Walloon cavalry threw
themselves around him and bore him from the field. The fierce old
soldier is said to have burst into a passion of tears on beholding
the slaughter and defeat of his infantry. Hitherto he had been
invincible, this being the first defeat he had suffered in the
course of his long military career. Great stores of provision and
wine had been captured, and the night was spent in feasting in the
Swedish camp.

The next morning the Elector of Saxony rode on to the field to
congratulate Gustavus on his victory. The latter was politic enough
to receive him with great courtesy and to thank him for the services
the Saxons had rendered. He intrusted to the elector the task of
recapturing Leipzig, while he marched against Merseburg, which he
captured with its garrison of five hundred men.

After two or three assaults had been made on Leipzig the garrison
capitulated to the Saxons, and on the 11th of September the army was
drawn up and reviewed by Gustavus.  When the king arrived opposite
the Green Brigade he dismounted and made the soldiers an address,
thanking them for their great share in winning the battle of Leipzig.

Many of the Scottish officers were promoted, Munro being made a
full colonel, and many others advanced a step in rank. The Scottish
brigade responded to the address of the gallant king with hearty
cheers.  Gustavus was indeed beloved as well as admired by his
soldiers. Fearless himself of danger, he ever recognized bravery
in others, and was ready to take his full share of every hardship
as well as every peril.

He had ever a word of commendation and encouragement for his
troops, and was regarded by them as a comrade as well as a leader.
In person he was tall and rather stout, his face was handsome,
his complexion fair, his forehead lofty, his hair auburn, his eyes
large and penetrating, his cheeks ruddy and healthy. He had an air
of majesty which enabled him to address his soldiers in terms of
cheerful familiarity without in the slightest degree diminishing
their respect and reverence for him as their monarch.



CHAPTER X THE PASSAGE OF THE RHINE


"I suppose," Nigel Graheme said, as the officers of the regiment
assembled in one of the Imperialist tents on the night after the
battle of Leipzig, "we shall at once press forward to Vienna;"
and such was the general opinion throughout the Swedish army; but
such was not the intention of Gustavus. Undoubtedly the temptation
to press forward and dictate peace in Vienna was strong, but the
difficulties and disadvantages of such a step were many. He had but
20,000 men, for the Saxons could not be reckoned upon; and indeed
it was probable that their elector, whose jealousy and dislike of
Gustavus would undoubtedly be heightened by the events of the battle
of Breitenfeld, would prove himself to be a more than a doubtful
ally were the Swedish army to remove to a distance.

Tilly would soon rally his fugitives, and, reinforced by the numerous
Imperialist garrisons from the towns, would be able to overrun North
Germany in his absence, and to force the Saxons to join him even if
the elector were unwilling to do so. Thus the little Swedish force
would be isolated in the heart of Germany; and should Ferdinand
abandon Vienna at his approach and altogether refuse to treat
with him -- which his obstinacy upon a former occasion when in the
very hands of his enemy rendered probable -- the Swedes would find
themselves in a desperate position, isolated and alone in the midst
of enemies.

There was another consideration. An Imperialist diet was at
that moment sitting at Frankfort, and Ferdinand was using all his
influence to compel the various princes and representatives of the
free cities to submit to him. It was of the utmost importance that
Gustavus should strengthen his friends and overawe the waverers
by the approach of his army.  Hitherto Franconia and the Rhine
provinces had been entirely in the hands of the Imperialists, and
it was needful that a counterbalancing influence should be exerted.
These considerations induced Gustavus to abandon the tempting idea
of a march upon Vienna. The Elector of Saxony was charged with
carrying the war into Silesia and Bohemia, the Electors of Hesse
and Hesse-Cassel were to maintain Lower Saxony and Westphalia, and
the Swedish army turned its face towards the Rhine.

On the 20th of September it arrived before Erfurt, an important
fortified town on the Gera, which surrendered at discretion. Gustavus
granted the inhabitants, who were for the most part Catholics, the
free exercise of their religion, and nominated the Duke of Saxe-Weimar
to be governor of the district and of the province of Thuringen,
and the Count of Lowenstein to be commander of the garrison, which
consisted of Colonel Foulis's Scottish regiment, 1500 strong.

Travelling by different routes in two columns the army marched
to Wurtzburg, the capital of Franconia, a rich and populous city,
the Imperialist garrison having withdrawn to the strong castle
of Marienburg, on a lofty eminence overlooking the town, and only
separated from it by the river Maine. The cathedral at Wurtzburg
is dedicated to a Scottish saint, St. Kilian, a bishop who with two
priests came from Scotland in the year 688 to convert the heathen
of Franconia.  They baptized many at Wurtzburg, among them Gospert,
the duke of that country. This leader was married to Geilana, the
widow of his brother; and Kilian urging upon him that such a marriage
was contrary to the laws of the Christian church, the duke promised
to separate from her. Geilana had not, like her lord, accepted
Christianity, and, furious at this interference of Kilian, she
seized the opportunity when the latter had gone with his followers
on an expedition against the pagan Saxons to have Kilian and his
two companions murdered.

The cathedral was naturally an object of interest to the Scotch
soldiers in the time of Gustavus, and there was an animated argument
in the quarters of the officers of Munro's regiment on the night of
their arrival as to whether St. Kilian had done well or otherwise
in insisting upon his new convert repudiating his wife.  The general
opinion, however, was against the saint, the colonel summing up
the question.

"In my opinion," he said, "Kilian was a fool. Here was no less a
matter at stake than the conversion of a whole nation, or at least
of a great tribe of heathens, and Kilian imperilled it all on a
question of minor importance; for in the first place, the Church
of Rome has always held that the pope could grant permission for
marriage within interdicted degrees; in the second place, the marriage
had taken place before the conversion of the duke to Christianity,
and they were therefore innocently and without thought of harm
bona fide man and wife. Lastly, the Church of Rome is opposed to
divorce; and Kilian might in any case have put up with this small
sin, if sin it were, for the sake of saving the souls of thousands
of pagans. My opinion is that St. Kilian richly deserved the fate
which befell him. And now to a subject much more interesting to us
-- viz, the capture of Marienburg.

"I tell you, my friends, it is going to be a warm business; the
castle is considered impregnable, and is strong by nature as well
as art, and Captain Keller is said to be a stout and brave soldier.
He has 1000 men in the garrison, and all the monks who were in the
town have gone up and turned soldiers. But if the task is a hard
one the reward will be rich; for as the Imperialists believe the
place cannot be taken, the treasures of all the country round are
stored up there. And I can tell you more, in the cellars are sixty
gigantic tuns of stone, the smallest of which holds twenty-five
wagon loads of wine, and they say some of it is a hundred years
old.  With glory and treasure and good wine to be won we will outdo
ourselves tomorrow; and you may be sure that the brunt of the affair
will fall upon the Scots."

"Well, there is one satisfaction," said Nigel Graheme -- who after
Leipzig had been promoted to the rank of major -- "if we get the
lion's share of the fighting, we shall have the lion's share of
the plunder and wine."

"For shame, Graheme! You say nothing of the glory."

"Ah! well," Graheme laughed, "we have already had so large share
of that, that I for one could do without winning any more just at
present. It's a dear commodity to purchase, and neither fills our
belly nor our pockets."

"For shame, Graheme! for shame!" Munro said laughing.  "It is a
scandal that such sentiments should be whispered in the Scottish
brigade; and now to bed, gentlemen, for we shall have, methinks,
a busy day tomorrow."

Sir James Ramsay was appointed to command the assault. The river
Maine had to be crossed, and he sent off Lieutenant Robert Ramsay
of his own regiment to obtain boats from the peasantry. The disguise
in which he went was seen through, and he was taken prisoner and
carried to the castle. A few boats were, however, obtained by the
Swedes.

The river is here 300 yards wide, and the central arch of the bridge
had been blown up by the Imperialists, a single plank remaining
across the chasm over the river 48 feet below. The bridge was swept
by the heaviest cannon in the fortress, and a passage appeared well
nigh hopeless. On the afternoon of the 5th of October the party
prepared to pass, some in boats, others by the bridge. A tremendous
fire was opened by the Imperialists from cannon and musketry,
sweeping the bridge with a storm of missiles and lashing the river
to foam around the boats. The soldiers in these returned the fire
with their muskets, and the smoke served as a cover to conceal them
from the enemy.

In the meantime Major Bothwell of Ramsay's regiment led a company
across the bridge. These, in spite of the fire, crossed the plank
over the broken arch and reached the head of the bridge, from whence
they kept up so heavy a fire upon the gunners and musketeers in
the lower works by the river that they forced them to quit their
posts, and so enabled Sir James Ramsay and Sir John Hamilton to
effect a landing.

Major Bothwell, his brother, and the greater part of his followers
were, however, slain by the Imperialists' fire from above. The
commandant of the castle now sallied out and endeavoured to recapture
the works by the water, but the Scotch repelled the attack and drove
the enemy up the hill to the castle again. The Scottish troops
having thus effected a lodgment across the river, and being protected
by the rocks from the enemy's fire, lay down for the night in the
position they had won.

Gustavus during the night caused planks to be thrown across the broken
bridge and prepared to assault at daybreak.  Just as morning was
breaking, a Swedish officer with seven men climbed up the hill to
reconnoitre the castle, and found to his surprise that the drawbridge
was down, but a guard of 200 men were stationed at the gate. He
was at once challenged, and, shouting "Sweden!" sprang with his men
on to the end of the drawbridge. The Imperialists tried in vain to
raise it; before they could succeed some companions of the Swedes
ran up, and, driving in the guard, took possession of the outer
court.

Almost at the same moment Ramsay's and Hamilton's regiments commenced
their assault on a strong outwork of the castle, which, after two
hours' desperate fighting, they succeeded in gaining. They then
turned its guns upon the gate of the keep, which they battered
down, and were about to charge in when they received orders from the
king to halt and retire, while the Swedish regiment of Axel-Lilly
and the Blue Brigade advanced to the storm.

The Scottish regiments retired in the deepest discontent, deeming
themselves affronted by others being ordered to the post of honour
after they had by their bravery cleared the way. The Swedish
troops forced their way in after hard fighting; and the Castle of
Marienburg, so long deemed impregnable, was captured after a few
hours' fighting. The quantity of treasure found in it was enormous,
and there were sufficient provisions to have lasted its garrison
for twenty years.

Immediately the place was taken, Colonel Sir John Hamilton advanced
to Gustavus and resigned his commission on the spot; nor did the
assurances of the king that he intended no insult to the Scotch
soldiers mollify his wrath, and quitting the Swedish service he
returned at once to Scotland.  Munro's regiment had taken no part
in the storming of Marienburg, but was formed up on the north side
of the river in readiness to advance should the first attack be
repelled, and many were wounded by the shot of the enemy while thus
inactive.

Malcolm while binding up the arm of his sergeant who stood next to
him felt a sharp pain shoot through his leg, and at once fell to
the ground. He was lifted up and carried to the rear, where his
wound was examined by the doctor to the regiment.

"Your luck has not deserted you," he said after probing the wound.
"The bullet has missed the bone by half an inch, and a short rest
will soon put you right again."

Fortunately for a short time the army remained around Wurtzburg.
Columns scoured the surrounding country, capturing the various
towns and fortresses held by the Imperialists, and collecting large
quantities of provisions and stores. Tilly's army lay within a few
days' march; but although superior in numbers to that of Gustavus,
Tilly had received strict orders not to risk a general engagement
as his army was now almost the only one that remained to the
Imperialists, and should it suffer another defeat the country would
lie at the mercy of the Swedes.

One evening when Malcolm had so far recovered as to be able to walk
for a short distance, he was at supper with Colonel Munro and some
other officers, when the door opened and Gustavus himself entered.
All leapt to their feet.

"Munro," he said, "get the musketeers of your brigade under arms
with all haste, form them up in the square before the town hall,
and desire Sir John Hepburn to meet me there."


The drum was at once beaten, and the troops came pouring from their
lodgings, and in three or four minutes the musketeers, 800 strong,
were formed up with Hepburn and Munro at their head. Malcolm had
prepared to take his arms on the summons, but Munro said at once:

"No, Malcolm, so sudden a summons augurs desperate duty, maybe a
long night march; you would break down before you got half a mile;
besides, as only the musketeers have to go, half the officers must
remain here."

Without a word the king placed himself at the head of the men,
and through the dark and stormy night the troops started on their
unknown mission. Hepburn and Munro were, like their men, on foot,
for they had not had time to have their horses saddled.

After marching two hours along the right bank of the Maine the
tramp of horses was heard behind them, and they were reinforced by
eighty troopers whom Gustavus before starting had ordered to mount
and follow. Hitherto the king had remained lost in abstraction,
but he now roused himself.

"I have just received the most serious news, Hepburn.  Tilly has
been reinforced by 17,000 men under the Duke of Lorraine, and is
marching with all speed against me. Were my whole army collected
here he would outnumber us by two to one, but many columns are
away, and the position is well nigh desperate.

"I have resolved to hold Ochsenfurt. The place is not strong, but
it lies in a sharp bend of the river and may be defended for a
time. If any can do so it is surely you and your Scots. Tilly is
already close to the town; indeed the man who brought me the news
said that when he left it his advanced pickets were just entering,
hence the need for this haste.

"You must hold it to the last, Hepburn, and then, if you can, fall
back to Wurtzburg; even a day's delay will enable me to call in
some of the detachments and to prepare to receive Tilly."

Without halting, the little column marched sixteen miles, and then,
crossing the bridge over the Maine, entered Ochsenfurt.

It was occupied by a party of fifty Imperialist arquebusiers, but
these were driven headlong from it. The night was extremely dark,
all were ignorant of the locality, and the troops were formed up
in the marketplace to await either morning or the attack of Tilly.
Fifty troopers were sent half a mile in advance to give warning
of the approach of the enemy. They had scarcely taken their place
when they were attacked by the Imperialists, who had been roused by
the firing in the town. The incessant flash of fire and the heavy
rattle of musketry told Gustavus that they were in force, and
a lieutenant of Lumsden's regiment with fifty musketeers was sent
off to reinforce the cavalry. The Imperialists were, however, too
strong to be checked, and horse and foot were being driven in when
Colonel Munro sallied out with a hundred of his own regiment, and
the Imperialists after a brisk skirmish, not knowing what force
they had to deal with, fell back.

As soon as day broke the king and Hepburn made a tour of the walls,
which were found to be in a very bad condition and ill calculated
to resist an assault. The Imperialists were not to be seen, and the
king, fearing they might have marched by some other route against
Wurtzburg, determined to return at once, telling Hepburn to mine
the bridge, and to blow it up if forced to abandon the town.

Hepburn at once set to work to strengthen the position, to demolish
all the houses and walls outside the defences, cut down and destroy
all trees and hedges which might shelter an enemy, and to strengthen
the walls with banks of earth and platforms of wood. For three days
the troops laboured incessantly; on the third night the enemy were
heard approaching. The advanced troopers and a half company of
infantry were driven in, contesting every foot of the way. When they
reached the walls heavy volleys were poured in by the musketeers
who lined them upon the approaching enemy, and Tilly, supposing
that Gustavus must have moved forward a considerable portion of
his army, called off his troops and marched away to Nuremberg.  Two
days later Hepburn was ordered to return with his force to Wurtzburg.

The king now broke up his camp near Wurtzburg, and leaving a garrison
in the castle of Marienburg and appointing Marshal Horn to hold
Franconia with 8000 men, he marched against Frankfort-on-the-Maine,
his troops capturing all the towns and castles on the way, levying
contributions, and collecting great booty.  Frankfort opened its
gates without resistance, and for a short time the army had rest
in pleasant quarters.

The regiments were reorganized, in some cases two of those which
had suffered most being joined into one.  Gustavus had lately been
strengthened by two more Scottish regiments under Sir Frederick
Hamilton and Alexander Master of Forbes, and an English regiment
under Captain Austin. He had now thirteen regiments of Scottish
infantry, and the other corps of the army were almost entirely
officered by Scotchmen. He had five regiments of English and Irish,
and had thus eighteen regiments of British infantry.

At Frankfort he was joined by the Marquis of Hamilton, who had done
splendid service with the troops under his command. He had driven
the Imperialists out of Silesia, and marching south, struck such
fear into them that Tilly was obliged to weaken his army to send
reinforcements to that quarter. By the order of Gustavus he left
Silesia and marched to Magdeburg. He had now but 3500 men with him,
2700 having died from pestilence, famine, and disease.  He assisted
General Banner in blockading the Imperialist garrison of Magdeburg,
and his losses by fever and pestilence thinned his troops down to
two small regiments; these were incorporated with the force of the
Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and the Marquis of Hamilton joined the staff
of Gustavus as a simple volunteer.

The king now determined to conquer the Palatinate, which was held
by a Spanish army. He drove them before him until he reached the
Rhine, where they endeavoured to defend the passage by burning
every vessel and boat they could find, and for a time the advance
of the Swedes was checked. It was now the end of November, the snow
lay thick over the whole country, and the troops, without tents or
covering, were bivouacked along the side of the river, two miles
below Oppenheim. The opposite bank was covered with bushes to the
water's edge, and on an eminence a short distance back could be
seen the tents of the Spaniards.

"If it were summer we might swim across," Nigel Graheme said to
Malcolm; "the river is broad, but a good swimmer could cross it
easily enough."

"Yes," Malcolm agreed, "there would be no difficulty in swimming if
unencumbered with arms and armour, but there would be no advantage
in getting across without these; if we could but get hold of a boat
or two, we would soon wake yonder Spaniards up."

The next morning Malcolm wandered along the bank closely examining
the bushes as he went, to see if any boats might be concealed among
them, for the fishermen and boatmen would naturally try to save
their craft when they heard that the Imperialists were destroying
them. He walked three miles up the river without success. As he
returned he kept his eyes fixed on the bushes on the opposite bank.
When within half a mile of the camp he suddenly stopped, for his
eye caught something dark among them. He went to the water's edge
and stooped, the better to see under the bushes, and saw what
he doubted not to be the stern of a boat hauled up and sheltered
beneath them. He leapt to his feet with a joyful exclamation. Here
was the means of crossing the river; but the boat had to be brought
over. Once afloat this would be easy enough, but he was sure that
his own strength would be insufficient to launch her, and that he
should need the aid of at least one man. On returning to camp he
called aside the sergeant of his company, James Grant, who was from
his own estate in Nithsdale, and whom he knew to be a good swimmer.


"Sergeant," he said, "I want you to join me in an enterprise tonight.
I have found a boat hauled up under the bushes on the opposite
shore, and we must bring her across. I cannot make out her size;
but from the look of her stern I should say she was a large boat.
You had better therefore borrow from the artillerymen one of their
wooden levers, and get a stout pole two or three inches across,
and cut half a dozen two foot lengths from it to put under her
as rollers. Get also a plank of four inches wide from one of the
deserted houses in the village behind us, and cut out two paddles;
we may find oars on board, but it is as well to be prepared in case
the owner should have removed them."

"Shall I take my weapons, sir?"

"We can take our dirks in our belts, sergeant, and lash our swords
to the wooden lever, but I do not think we shall have any fighting.
The night will be dark, and the Spaniards, believing that we have
no boats, will not keep a very strict watch. The worst part of the
business is the swim across the river, the water will be bitterly
cold; but as you and I have often swum Scotch burns when they were
swollen by the melting snow I think that we may well manage to get
across this sluggish stream."

"At what time will we be starting, sir?"

"Be here at the edge of the river at six o'clock, sergeant.  I can
get away at that time without exciting comment, and we will say
nothing about it unless we succeed."

Thinking it over, however, it occurred to Malcolm that by this
means a day would be lost -- and he knew how anxious the king was
to press forward. He therefore abandoned his idea of keeping his
discovery secret, and going to his colonel reported that he had
found a boat, and could bring it across from the other side by
seven o'clock.

The news was so important that Munro at once went to the king.
Gustavus ordered three hundred Swedes and a hundred Scots of each
of the regiments of Ramsay, Munro, and the Laird of Wormiston, the
whole under the command of Count Brahe, to form up after dark on
the river bank and prepare to cross, and he himself came down to
superintend the passage. By six it was perfectly dark. During the
day Malcolm had placed two stones on the edge of the water, one
exactly opposite the boat, the other twenty feet behind it in an
exact line. When Gustavus arrived at the spot where the troops were
drawn up, Malcolm was taken up to him by his colonel.

"Well, my brave young Graheme," the king said, "so you are going
to do us another service; but how will you find the boat in this
darkness? Even were there no stream you would find it very difficult
to strike the exact spot on a dark night like this."

"I have provided against that, sir, by placing two marks on the
bank. When we start lanterns will be placed on these.  We shall
cross higher up so as to strike the bank a little above where I
believe the boat to be, then we shall float along under the bushes
until the lanterns are in a line one with another, and we shall
know then that we are exactly opposite the boat."

"Well thought of!" the king exclaimed. "Munro, this lieutenant of
yours is a treasure. And now God speed you, my friend, in your cold
swim across the stream!"

Malcolm and the sergeant now walked half a mile up the river, a
distance which, judging from the strength of the current and the
speed at which they could swim, would, they thought, take them
to the opposite bank at about the point where the boat was lying.
Shaking hands with Colonel Munro, who had accompanied them,
Malcolm entered the icy cold water without delay. Knowing that it
was possible that their strength might give out before they reached
the opposite side, Malcolm had had two pairs of small casks lashed
two feet apart. These they fastened securely, so that as they began
to swim the casks floated a short distance behind each shoulder,
giving them perfect support. The lever and paddles were towed behind
them. The lights in the two camps afforded them a means of directing
their way.  The water was intensely cold, and before they were
halfway across Malcolm congratulated himself upon having thought
of the casks. Had it not been for them he would have begun to doubt
his ability to reach the further shore, for although he would have
thought nothing of the swim at other times his limbs were fast
becoming numbed with the extreme cold.  The sergeant kept close to
him, and a word or two was occasionally exchanged.

"I think it is colder than our mountain streams, Grant?"

"It's no colder, your honour, but the water is smooth and still,
and we do not have to wrestle with it as with a brook in spate.
It's the stillness which makes it feel so cold. The harder we swim
the less we will feel it."

It was with a deep feeling of relief that Malcolm saw something
loom just in front of him from the darkness, and knew that he was
close to the land.  A few more strokes and he touched the bushes.
Looking back he saw that the two lights were nearly in a line.
Stopping swimming he let the stream drift him down.  Two or three
minutes more and one of the tiny lights seemed exactly above the
other.

"This is the spot, Grant," he said in a low voice; "land here as
quietly as you can."



CHAPTER XI THE CAPTURE OF OPPENHEIM


The two swimmers dragged themselves on shore, but for a minute or
two could scarce stand, so numbed were their limbs by the cold.
Malcolm took from his belt a flask of brandy, took a long draught,
and handed it to his companion, who followed his example.

The spirit sent a glow of warmth through their veins, and they
began to search among the bushes for the boat, one proceeding each
way along the bank. They had not removed their leathern doublets
before entering the water, as these, buoyed up as they were, would
not affect their swimming, and would be a necessary protection when
they landed not only against the cold of the night air but against
the bushes.

Malcolm's beacon proved an accurate guide, for he had not proceeded
twenty yards before he came against a solid object which he at once
felt to be the boat. A low whistle called the sergeant to his side,
bringing with him the rollers and paddles from the spot where they
had landed. They soon felt that the boat was a large one, and that
their strength would have been wholly insufficient to get her into
the water without the aid of the lever and rollers. Taking the
former they placed its end under the stern post, and placing a
roller under its heel to serve as a pivot they threw their weight
on the other end of the lever and at once raised the boat some
inches in the air.

Grant held the lever down and Malcolm slid a roller as far up
under the keel as it would go; the lever was then shifted and the
boat again raised, and the process was continued until her weight
rested upon three rollers. She was now ready to be launched, and
as the bank was steep they had no doubt of their ability to run her
down. An examination had already shown that their paddles would be
needless, as the oars were inside her. They took their places one
on each side of the bow, and applying their strength the boat glided
rapidly down.

"Gently, Grant," Malcolm said, "don't let her go in with a splash.
There may be some sentries within hearing."

They continued their work cautiously, and the boat noiselessly
entered the water. Getting out the oars they gave her a push, and
she was soon floating down the stream. The rowlocks were in their
places, and rowing with extreme care so as to avoid making the
slightest sound they made their way across the river. They were
below the camp when they landed, but there were many men on the
lookout, for the news of the attempt had spread rapidly.

Leaping ashore amidst a low cheer from a group of soldiers, Malcolm
directed them to tow the boat up at once to the place where the
troops were formed ready for crossing, while he and the sergeant,
who were both chilled to the bone, for their clothes had frozen stiff
upon them, hurried to the spot where the regiment was bivouacked.
Here by the side of a blazing fire they stripped, and were rubbed
with cloths by their comrades till a glow of warmth again began
to be felt, the external heat and friction being aided by the
administration of two steaming flagons of spiced wine. Dry clothes
were taken from their knapsacks and warmed before the fire, and
when these were put on they again felt warm and comfortable.

Hurrying off now to the spot where the troops were drawn up, they
found that the boat had already made two passages. She rowed four
oars, and would, laden down to the water's edge, carry twenty-five
men. The oars had been muffled with cloths so as to make no sound
in the rowlocks.  A party of Munro's Scots had first crossed, then
a party of Swedes. Malcolm and the sergeant joined their company
unnoticed in the darkness. Each detachment sent over a boat load
in turns, and when six loads had crossed it was again the turn of
the men of Munro's regiment, and Malcolm entered the boat with the
men. The lights still burned as a signal, enabling the boat to
land each party almost at the same spot. Malcolm wondered what was
going on. A perfect stillness reigned on the other side, and it
was certain that the alarm had not yet been given.

On ascending the bank he saw in front of him some dark figures
actively engaged, and heard dull sounds.  On reaching the spot he
found the parties who had preceded him hard at work with shovels
throwing up an intrenchment.  In the darkness he had not perceived
that each of the soldiers carried a spade in addition to his arms.
The soil was deep and soft, and the operations were carried on
with scarce a sound. As each party landed they fell to work under
the direction of their officers. All night the labour continued,
and when the dull light of the winter morning began to dispel the
darkness a solid rampart of earth breast high rose in a semicircle,
with its two extremities resting on the riverbank.

The last boat load had but just arrived across, and the 600 men
were now gathered in the work, which was about 150 feet across, the
base formed by the river. The earth forming the ramparts had been
taken from the outside, and a ditch 3 feet deep and 6 feet wide
had been thus formed.

The men, who, in spite of the cold were hot and perspiring from
their night's work, now entered the intrenched space, and sat down
to take a meal, each man having brought two days' rations in his
havresack.  It grew rapidly lighter, and suddenly the sound of a
trumpet, followed by the rapid beating of drums, showed that the
Spaniards had, from their camp on the eminence half a mile away,
discovered the work which had sprung up during the night as if by
magic on their side of the river.

In a few minutes a great body of cavalry was seen issuing from the
Spanish camp, and fourteen squadrons of cuirassiers trotted down
towards the intrenchments. Soon the word was given to charge, and,
like a torrent, the mass of cavalry swept down upon it.

Two-thirds of those who had crossed were musketeers, the remainder
pikemen. The latter formed the front line behind the rampart,
their spears forming a close hedge around it, while the musketeers
prepared to fire between them. By the order of Count Brahe not a
trigger was pulled until the cavalry were within fifty yards, then
a flash of flame swept round the rampart, and horses and men in
the front line of the cavalry tumbled to the ground. But half the
musketeers had fired, and a few seconds later another volley was
poured into the horsemen. The latter, however, although many had
fallen, did not check their speed, but rode up close to the rampart,
and flung themselves upon the hedge of spears.

Nothing could exceed the gallantry with which the Spaniards fought.
Some dismounted, and, leaping into the ditch, tried to climb the
rampart; others leapt the horses into it, and standing up in their
saddles, cut at the spearmen with their swords, and fired their
pistols among them. Many, again, tried to leap their horses over
ditch and rampart, but the pikemen stood firm, while at short
intervals withering volleys tore into the struggling mass.

For half an hour the desperate fight continued, and then, finding
that the position could not be carried by horsemen, the Spanish
commander drew off his men, leaving no less than 600 lying dead
around the rampart of earth.  There were no Spanish infantry within
some miles of the spot, and the cavalry rode away, some to Maintz,
but the greater part to Oppenheim, where there was a strong garrison
of 1000 men.

A careful search among the bushes brought three more boats to light,
and a force was soon taken across the river sufficient to maintain
itself against any attack. Gustavus himself was in one of the first
boats that crossed.

"Well done, my brave hearts!" he said as he landed, just as the
Spanish horsemen had ridden away. "You have fought stoutly and
well, and our way is now open to us. Where are Lieutenant Graheme
and the sergeant who swam across with him?"

Malcolm and his companion soon presented themselves.

"I sent for you to your camp," the king said, "but found that you
but waited to change your clothes, and had then joined the force
crossing. You had no orders to do so."

"We had no orders not to do so, sire, but having begun the affair
it was only natural that we should see the end of it."

"You had done your share and more," the king said, "and I thank
you both heartily for it, and promote you, Graheme, at once to the
rank of captain, and will request Colonel Munro to give you the
first company which may fall vacant in his regiment. If a vacancy
should not occur shortly I will place you in another regiment
until one may happen in your own corps. To you, sergeant, I give
a commission as officer. You will take that rank at once, and will
be a supernumerary in your regiment till a vacancy occurs. Such
promotion has been well and worthily won by you both."

Without delay an advance was ordered against Oppenheim. It lay on
the Imperialist side of the Rhine.  Behind the town stood a strong
and well fortified castle upon a lofty eminence. Its guns swept not
only the country around it, but the ground upon the opposite side
of the river. There, facing it, stood a strong fort surrounded by
double ditches, which were deep and broad and full of water. They
were crossed only by a drawbridge on the side facing the river,
and the garrison could therefore obtain by boats supplies or
reinforcements as needed from the town.

The Green and Blue Brigades at once commenced opening trenches
against this fort, and would have assaulted the place without delay
had not a number of boats been brought over by a Protestant well
wisher of the Swedes from the other side of the river. The assault
was therefore delayed in order that the attack might be delivered
simultaneously against the positions on both sides of the river.
The brigade of guards and the White Brigade crossed in the boats at
Gernsheim, five miles from the town, and marched against it during
the night.

The Spaniards from their lofty position in the castle of Oppenheim
saw the campfires of the Scots around their fort on the other side
of the river, and opened a heavy cannonade upon them. The fire was
destructive, and many of the Scots were killed, Hepburn and Munro
having a narrow escape, a cannonball passing just over their heads
as they were sitting together by a fire.

The defenders of the fort determined to take advantage of the fire
poured upon their assailants, and two hundred musketeers made a
gallant sortie upon them; but Hepburn led on his pikemen who were
nearest at hand, and, without firing a shot, drove them back again
into the fort. At daybreak the roar of cannon on the opposite side
of the river commenced, and showed that the king with the divisions
which had crossed had arrived at their posts. The governor of the
fort, seeing that if, as was certain, the lower town were captured
by the Swedes, he should be cut off from all communication with
the castle and completely isolated, surrendered to Sir John Hepburn.

The town had, indeed, at once opened its gates, and two hundred men
of Sir James Ramsay's regiment were placed there. Hepburn prepared
to cross the river with the Blue and Green Brigades to aid the
king in reducing the castle -- a place of vast size and strength
-- whose garrison composed of Spaniards and Italians were replying
to the fire of Gustavus. A boat was lying at the gate of the fort.

"Captain Graheme," Hepburn said to Malcolm, "take with you two
lieutenants and twenty men in the boat and cross the river; then send
word by an officer to the king that the fort here has surrendered,
and that I am about to cross, and let the men bring over that
flotilla of boats which is lying under the town wall."

Malcolm crossed at once. After despatching the message to the king
and sending the officer back with the boats he had for the moment
nothing to do, and made his way into the town to inquire from the
officers of Ramsay's detachment how things were going. He found
the men drawn up.

"Ah! Malcolm Graheme," the major in command said, "you have arrived
in the very nick of time to take part in a gallant enterprise."

"I am ready," Malcolm said; "what is to be done?"

"We are going to take the castle, that is all," the major said.

"You are joking," Malcolm laughed, looking at the great castle and
the little band of two hundred men.

"That am I not," the major answered; "my men have just discovered
a private passage from the governor's quarters here up to the very
gate of the outer wall. As you see we have collected some ladders,
and as we shall take them by surprise, while they are occupied with
the king, we shall give a good account of them."

"I will go with you right willingly," Malcolm said; but he could
not but feel that the enterprise was a desperate one, and wished
that the major had waited until a few hundred more men had crossed.
Placing himself behind the Scottish officer, he advanced up the
passage which had been discovered. Ascending flight after flight of
stone stairs, the column issued from the passage at the very foot
of the outer wall before the garrison stationed there were aware
of their approach. The ladders were just placed when the Italians
caught sight of them and rushed to the defence, but it was too
late. The Scotch swarmed up and gained a footing on the wall.

Driving the enemy before them they cleared the outer works, and
pressed so hotly upon the retiring Imperialists that they entered
with them into the inner works of the castle, crossing the drawbridge
over the moat which separated it from its outer works before the
garrison had time to raise it.

Now in the very heart of the castle a terrible encounter took place.
The garrison, twelve hundred strong, ran down from their places on
the wall, and seeing how small was the force that had entered fell
upon them with fury. It was a hand to hand fight. Loud rose the
war cries of the Italian and Spanish soldiers, and the answering
cheers of the Scots mingled with the clash of sword on steel armour
and the cries of the wounded, while without the walls the cannon
of Gustavus thundered incessantly.

Not since the dreadful struggle in the streets of New Brandenburg
had Malcolm been engaged in so desperate a strife. All order and
regularity was lost, and man to man they fought with pike, sword,
and clubbed musket. There was no giving of orders, for no word
could be heard in such a din, and the officers with their swords
and half pikes fought desperately in the melee with the rest.

Gradually, however, the strength and endurance of Ramsay's veterans
prevailed over numbers. Most of the officers of the Imperialists
had been slain, as well as their bravest men, and the rest began
to draw off and to scatter through the castle, some to look for
hiding places, many to jump over the walls rather than fall into
the hands of the terrible Scots.

The astonishment of Gustavus and of Hepburn, who was now marching
with his men towards the castle, at hearing the rattle of musketry
and the din of battle within the very heart of the fortress was
great indeed, and this was heightened when, a few minutes later,
the soldiers were seen leaping desperately from the walls, and a
great shout arose from the troops as the Imperial banner was seen
to descend from its flagstaff on the keep. Gustavus with his staff
rode at once to the gate, which was opened for him; and on entering
he found Ramsay's little force drawn up to salute him as he entered.
It was reduced nearly half in strength, and not a man but was
bleeding from several wounds, while cleft helms and dinted armour
showed how severe had been the fray.

"My brave Scots," he exclaimed, "why were you too quick for me?"

The courtyard of the castle was piled with slain, who were also
scattered in every room throughout it, five hundred having been
slain there before the rest threw down their arms and were given
quarter. This exploit was one of the most valiant which was performed
during the course of the whole war. Four colours were taken, one
of which was that of the Spanish regiment, this being the first of
that nationality which had ever been captured by Gustavus.

After going over the castle, whose capture would have tasked his
resources and the valour of his troops to the utmost had he been
compelled to attack it in the usual way, Gustavus sent for the
officers of Ramsay's companies and thanked them individually for
their capture.

"What! you here, Malcolm Graheme!" Gustavus said as he came in at
the rear of Ramsay's officers. "Why, what had you to do with this
business?"

"I was only a volunteer, sire," Malcolm said. "I crossed with the
parties who fetched the boats; but as my instructions ended there
I had nought to do, and finding that Ramsay's men were about to
march up to the attack of the castle, I thought it best to join
them, being somewhat afraid to stop in the town alone."

"And he did valiant service, sire," the major said. "I marked him
in the thick of the fight, and saw more than one Imperialist go
down before his sword."

"You know the story of the pitcher and the well, Captain Graheme,"
the king said, smiling. "Some day you will go once too often, and
I shall have to mourn the loss of one of the bravest young officers
in my army."

There was no rest for the soldiers of Gustavus, and no sooner had
Oppenheim fallen than the army marched against Maintz. This was
defended by two thousand Spanish troops under Don Philip de Sylvia,
and was a place of immense strength. It was at once invested, and
trenches commenced on all sides, the Green Brigade as usual having
the post of danger and honour facing the citadel. The investment
began in the evening, but so vigorously did the Scotch work all
night in spite of the heavy musketry and artillery fire with which
the garrison swept the ground that by morning the first parallel
was completed, and the soldiers were under shelter behind a thick
bank of earth.

All day the Imperialists kept up their fire, the Scots gradually
pushing forward their trenches. In the evening Colonel Axel Lily,
one of the bravest of the Swedish officers, came into the trenches
to pay a visit to Hepburn. He found him just sitting down to dinner
with Munro by the side of a fire in the trench. They invited him to
join them, and the party were chatting gaily when a heavy cannonball
crashed through the earthen rampart behind them, and, passing between
Hepburn and Munro, carried off the leg of the Swedish officer.

Upon the following day the governor, seeing that the Swedes had
erected several strong batteries, and that the Green Brigade, whose
name was a terror to the Imperialists, was preparing to storm,
capitulated, and his soldiers were allowed to march out with all
their baggage, flying colours, and two pieces of cannon. Eighty
pieces of cannon fell into the hands of the Swedes. The citizens
paid 220,000 dollars as the ransom of their city from pillage, and
the Jews 180,000 for the protection of their quarters and of their
gorgeous synagogue, whose wealth and magnificence were celebrated;
and on the 14th of December, 1631, on which day Gustavus completed
his thirty-seventh year, he entered the city as conqueror.

Here he kept Christmas with great festivity, and his court was
attended by princes and nobles from all parts of Germany. Among them
were six of the chief princes of the empire and twelve ambassadors
from foreign powers. Among the nobles was the Count of Mansfeld,
who brought with him his wife and daughter. Three days before
Christmas Hepburn's brigade had been moved in from their bivouac
in the snow covered trenches, and assigned quarters in the town,
and the count, who arrived on the following day, at once repaired
to the mansion inhabited by the colonel and officers of Munro's
regiment, and inquired for Malcolm Graheme.

"You will find Captain Graheme within," the Scottish soldier on
sentry said.

"It is not Captain Graheme I wish to see," the count said, "but
Malcolm Graheme, a very young officer."

"I reckon that it is the captain," the soldier said; "he is but
a boy; but in all the regiment there is not a braver soldier; not
even the colonel himself. Donald," he said, turning to a comrade,
"tell Captain Graheme that he is wanted here."

In a short time Malcolm appeared at the door.

"Ah! it is you, my young friend!" the count exclaimed; "and you
have won the rank of captain already by your brave deeds! Right
glad am I to see you again. I have come with my wife, to attend the
court of this noble king of yours. Can you come with me at once?
The countess is longing to see you, and will be delighted to hear
that you have passed unscathed through all the terrible contests
in which you have been engaged. My daughter is here too; she is
never tired of talking about her young Scottish soldier; but now
that you are a captain she will have to be grave and respectful."

Malcolm at once accompanied the count to his house, and was most
kindly received by the countess.

"It is difficult to believe," she said, "that 'tis but four months
since we met, so many have been the events which have been crowded
into that time. Scarce a day has passed but we have received news
of some success gained, of some town or castle captured, and your
Green Brigade has always been in the van. We have been constantly
in fear for you, and after that terrible battle before Leipzig Thekla
scarcely slept a wink until we obtained a copy of the Gazette with
the names of the officers killed."

"You are kind indeed to bear me so in remembrance," Malcolm said,
"and I am indeed grateful for it. I have often wondered whether
any fresh danger threatened you; but I hoped that the advance of
the Marquis of Hamilton's force would have given the Imperialists
too much to do for them to disturb you."

"Yes, we have had no more trouble," the countess replied. "The
villages which the Imperialists destroyed are rising again; and as
after the flight of the enemy the cattle and booty they had captured
were all left behind, the people are recovering from their visit.
What terrible havoc has the war caused! Our way here led through
ruined towns and villages, the country is infested by marauders, and
all law and order is at an end save where there are strong bodies
of troops. We rode with an escort of twenty men; but even then we
did not feel very safe until we were fairly through Franconia. And
so you have passed unwounded through the strife?"

"Yes, countess," Malcolm replied. "I had indeed a ball through my
leg at Wurtzburg; but as it missed the bone, a trifle like that is
scarcely worth counting. I have been most fortunate indeed."

"He is a captain now," the count said, "and to obtain such promotion
he must have greatly distinguished himself.  I do not suppose that
he will himself tell us his exploits; but I shall soon learn all
about them from others. I am to meet his colonel this evening at
a dinner at the palace, and shall be able to give you the whole
history tomorrow."

"But I want the history now," Thekla said. "It is much nicer to
hear a thing straight from some one who has done it, than from any
one else."

"There is no story to tell," Malcolm said. "I had been promised my
lieutenancy at the first vacancy before I was at Mansfeld, and on
my return found that the vacancy had already occurred, and I was
appointed. I got my company the other day for a very simple matter,
namely, for swimming across the Rhine with a barrel fixed on each
side of me to prevent my sinking. Nothing very heroic about that,
you see, young lady."

"For swimming across the Rhine!" the count said. "Then you must
have been the Scottish officer who with a sergeant swam and fetched
the boat across which enabled the Swedes to pass a body of troops
over, and so open the way into the Palatinate. I heard it spoken
of as a most gallant action."

"I can assure you," Malcolm said earnestly, "that there was no
gallantry about it. It was exceedingly cold, I grant, but that was
all."

"Then why should the king have made you a captain for it? You can't
get over that."

"That was a reward for my luck," Malcolm laughed. "`Tis better to
be lucky than to be rich, it is said, and I had the good luck to
discover a boat concealed among the bushes just at the time when
a boat was worth its weight in gold."

For an hour Malcolm sat chatting, and then took his leave, as he
was going on duty, promising to return the next day, and to spend
as much of his time as possible with them while they remained in
the city.



CHAPTER XII THE PASSAGE OF THE LECH


For the next two months the Green Brigade remained quietly at
Maintz, a welcome rest after their arduous labours. The town was
very gay, and every house was occupied either by troops or by the
nobles and visitors from all parts of Northern Europe. Banquets
and balls were of nightly occurrence; and a stranger who arrived
in the gay city would not have dreamt that a terrible campaign had
just been concluded, and that another to the full as arduous was
about to commence.

During this interval of rest the damages which the campaign had
effected in the armour and accoutrements of men and officers were
repaired, the deep dents effected by sword, pike, and bullet were
hammered out, the rust removed, and the stains of blood and bivouac
obliterated; fresh doublets and jerkins were served out from the
ample stores captured from the enemy, and the army looked as gay
and brilliant as when it first landed in North Germany.

Malcolm spent much of his spare time with the Count and Countess of
Mansfeld, who, irrespective of their gratitude for the assistance
he had rendered them in time of need, had taken a strong liking to
the young Scotchman.

"You are becoming quite a court gallant, Graheme," one of
his comrades said at a court ball where Malcolm had been enjoying
himself greatly, having, thanks to the Countess of Mansfeld, no
lack of partners, while many of the officers were forced to look
on without taking part in the dancing, the number of ladies being
altogether insufficient to furnish partners to the throng of officers,
Swedish, German, and Scottish. Beyond the scarf and feathers which
showed the brigade to which officers belonged, there was, even when
in arms, but slight attempt at uniformity in their attire, still
less so when off duty. The scene at these balls was therefore gay
in the extreme, the gallants being all attired in silk, satin, or
velvet of brilliant colours slashed with white or some contrasting
hue. The tailors at Maintz had had a busy time of it, for in so
rapid a campaign much baggage had been necessarily lost, and many
of the officers required an entirely new outfit before they could
take part in the court festivities.

There was, however, no lack of money, for the booty and treasure
captured had been immense, and each officer having received a fixed
share, they were well able to renew their wardrobes. Some fresh
reinforcements arrived during their stay here, and the vacancies
which battle and disease had made in the ranks were filled up.

But although the Green Brigade did not march from Maintz till the
5th of March, 1632, the whole army did not enjoy so long a rest. In
February Gustavus despatched three hundred of Ramsay's regiment under
Lieutenant Colonel George Douglas against the town of Creutzenach,
together with a small party of English volunteers under Lord Craven.
Forty-seven of the men were killed while opening the trenches, but
the next day they stormed one of the gates and drove the garrison,
which was composed of six hundred Walloons and Burgundians, out
of the town into the castle of Kausemberg, which commanded it. Its
position was extremely strong, its walls and bastions rising one
behind another, and their aspect was so formidable that they were
popularly known as the "Devil's Works." From these the garrison
opened a very heavy fire into the town, killing many of the Scots.
Douglas, however, gave them but short respite, for gathering his
men he attacked the castle and carried bastion after bastion by
storm until the whole were taken.

About the same time the important town of Ulm on the Danube opened
its gates to the Swedes, and Sir Patrick Ruthven was appointed
commandant with 1200 Swedes as garrison, Colonel Munro with two
companies of musketeers marched to Coblentz and aided Otto Louis
the Rhinegrave, who with a brigade of twenty troops of horse was
expecting to be attacked by 10,000 Spaniards and Walloons from
Spires.  Four regiments of Spanish horse attacked the Rhinegrave's
quarters, but were charged so furiously by four troops of Swedish
dragoons under Captain Hume that 300 of them were killed and the
Elector of Nassau taken prisoner; after this the Spaniards retired
beyond the Moselle.

In other parts of Germany the generals of Gustavus were equally
successful. General Horn defeated the Imperialists at Heidelberg
and Heilbronn. General Lowenhausen scoured all the shores of
the Baltic, and compelled Colonel Graham, a Scotch soldier in the
Imperial service, to surrender the Hanse town of Wismar. Graham
marched out with his garrison, 3000 strong, with the honours of
war en route for Silesia, but having, contrary to terms, spiked
the cannon, plundered the shipping, and slain a Swedish lieutenant,
Lowenhausen pursued him, and in the battle which ensued 500 of
Graham's men were slain and the colonel himself with 2000 taken
prisoner.

General Ottentodt was moving up the Elbe carrying all before him with
a force of 14,000 men, among whom were five battalions of Scots and
one of English. This force cleared the whole duchy of Mecklenburg,
capturing all the towns and fortresses in rapid succession. Sir
Patrick Ruthven advanced along the shores of Lake Constance, driving
the Imperialists before him into the Tyrol. Magdeburg was captured
by General Banner, the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel reduced all
Fulda-Paderborn and the adjacent districts, the Elector of Saxony
overran Bohemia, and Sir Alexander Leslie threatened the Imperialists
in Lower Saxony.

Thus the campaign of 1632 opened under the most favourable auspices.
The Green Brigade marched on the 5th of March to Aschaffenburg,
a distance of more than thirty miles, a fact which speaks volumes
for the physique and endurance of the troops, for this would in
the present day be considered an extremely long march for troops,
and the weight of the helmet and armour, musket and accoutrements,
of the troops of those days was fully double that now carried by
European soldiers. Here they were reviewed by the king.

By the 10th the whole army, 23,000 strong, were collected at Weinsheim
and advanced towards Bavaria, driving before them the Imperialists
under the Count de Bucquio. The Chancellor Oxenstiern had been left
by the king with a strong force to guard his conquests on the Rhine.

No sooner had the king marched than the Spaniards again crossed
the Moselle. The chancellor and the Duke of Weimar advanced against
them. The Dutch troops, who formed the first line of the chancellor's
army, were unable to stand the charge of the Spanish and fled in
utter confusion; but the Scottish regiment of Sir Roderick Leslie,
who had succeeded Sir John Hamilton on his resignation, and the
battalion of Sir John Ruthven, charged the Spaniards with levelled
pikes so furiously that these in turn were broken and driven off
the field.

On the 26th of March Gustavus arrived before the important town and
fortress of Donauworth, being joined on the same day by the Laird
of Foulis with his two regiments of horse and foot. Donauworth
is the key to Swabia; it stands on the Danube, and was a strongly
fortified place, its defences being further covered by fortifications
upon a lofty eminence close by, named the Schellemberg. It was held
by the Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg with two thousand five hundred men.
The country round Donauworth is fertile and hilly, and Gustavus at
once seized a height which commanded the place. The Bavarians were
at work upon entrenchments here as the Swedes advanced, but were
forced to fall back into the town. From the foot of the hill a
suburb extended to the gates of the city. This was at once occupied
by five hundred musketeers, who took up their post in the houses
along the main road in readiness to repel a sortie should the
garrison attempt one; while the force on the hillside worked all
night, and by daybreak on the 27th had completed and armed a twenty
gun battery.

In this was placed a strong body of infantry under Captain Semple,
a Scotchman. As this battery commanded the walls of the town, and
flanked the bridge across the Danube, the position of the defenders
was now seriously menaced, but the Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg refused
the demand of Gustavus to surrender. The battery now opened fire,
first demolishing a large stone building by the river occupied by
a force of Imperialists, and then directing its fire upon the city
gates.

The cannonade continued after nightfall, but in the darkness a
body of Imperialist horsemen under Colonel Cronenberg dashed out at
full speed through the gate, cut a passage through the musketeers
in the suburb, galloped up the hill, and fell upon the infantry
and artillery in the battery.  So furious was their charge that
the greater part of the defenders of the battery were cut down.
The guns were spiked, and the cavalry, having accomplished their
purpose, charged down the hill, cut their way through the suburb,
and regained the town.

This gallant exploit deranged the plans of the Swedes.  Gustavus
reconnoitred the town accompanied by Sir John Hepburn, and by the
advice of that officer decided upon a fresh plan of operations.
Hepburn pointed out to him that by taking possession of the angle
formed by the confluence of the Wermitz and Danube to the west of
the town the bridge crossing from Donauworth into Bavaria would be
completely commanded, and the garrison would be cut off from all
hope of escape and of receiving relief from Bavaria.

The plan being approved, Hepburn drew off his brigade with its
artillery, and marching five miles up the Danube crossed the river
at the bridge of Hassfurt, and descended the opposite bank until he
faced Donauworth. He reached his position at midnight, and placed
his cannon so as to command the whole length of the bridge, and
then posted his musketeers in the gardens and houses of a suburb
on the river, so that their crossfire also swept it.

The pikemen were drawn up close to the artillery at the head of
the bridge. Quietly as these movements were performed the garrison
took the alarm, and towards morning the duke, finding his retreat
intercepted, sallied out at the head of eight hundred musketeers
to cut his way through; but as the column advanced upon the bridge
the Green Brigade opened fire, the leaden hail of their musketeers
smote the column on both sides, while the cannon ploughed lanes
through it from end to end. So great was the destruction that the
Bavarians retreated in confusion back into the town again, leaving
the bridge strewn with their dead.

Alone the gallant Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg charged through the hail
of fire across the bridge, fell upon the pikemen sword in hand,
and cutting his way through them rode away, leaving his garrison
to their fate. The roar of artillery informed Gustavus what was
going on, and he immediately opened fire against the other side of
the town and led his men to the assault of the gate.

The instant the Scotch had recovered from their surprise at the
desperate feat performed by the duke, Hepburn, calling them together,
placed himself at their head and led them across the bridge. The
panic stricken fugitives had omitted to close the gate, and the Scotch
at once entered the town. Here the garrison resisted desperately;
their pikemen barred the streets, and from every window and roof
their musketeers poured their fire upon the advancing column.

The day was breaking now, and the roar of battle in the city mingled
with that at the gates, where the Swedes were in vain striving to
effect an entrance. Gradually the Scotch won their way forward;
500 of the Bavarians were killed, in addition to 400 who had fallen
on the bridge. The rest now attempted to fly. Great numbers were
drowned in the Danube, and the remainder were taken prisoners. The
streets were encumbered by the heavily laden baggage wagons, and a
vast amount of booty fell into the hands of the Scotch, who thus
became masters of the town before Gustavus and his Swedes had
succeeded in carrying the gate.

The king now entered the town, and as soon as order was restored
Hepburn's brigade recrossed the Danube and threw up a strong work
on the other side of the bridge; for Tilly was on the Lech, but
seven miles distant, and might at any moment return. He had just
struck a severe blow at Marshal Horn, who had recently taken Bamberg.
His force, 9000 strong, had been scattered to put down a rising of
the country people, when Tilly with 16,000 fell upon them.

A column under Bauditzen was attacked and defeated, and Tilly's
horsemen pursued them hotly to the bridge leading to the town.
Marshal Horn threw a barricade across this and defended it until
nightfall. Tilly had then fallen back before the advance of Gustavus
to a very strong position on the Lech. This was an extremely rapid
river, difficult to cross and easily defensible. Tilly had broken
down the bridges, and was prepared to dispute till the last the
further advance of the Swedes. He placed his army between Rain,
where the Lech falls into the Danube, and Augsburg, a distance of
sixteen miles -- all the assailable points being strongly occupied,
with small bodies of cavalry in the intervals to give warning
of the approach of the enemy. He had been joined by Maximilian of
Bavaria, and his force amounted to 40,000 men.

Gustavus gave his army four days' rest at Donauworth, and then
advanced with 32,000 men against the Lech. His dragoons, who had
been pushed forward, had found the bridges destroyed. He first
attempted to repair that at Rain, but the fire of the artillery
and musketry was so heavy that he was forced to abandon the idea.
He then made a careful reconnaissance of the river, whose course
was winding and erratic.

Finding that at every point at which a crossing could be easily
effected Tilly's batteries and troops commanded the position, he
determined to make his attack at a point where the river made a
sharp bend in the form of a semicircle, of which he occupied the
outer edge. He encamped the bulk of his army at the village of
Nordheim, a short distance in the rear, and erected three powerful
batteries mounting seventy-two guns. One of these faced the centre
of the loop, the others were placed opposite the sides.

The ground on the Swedish bank of the river was higher than that
facing it; and when the Swedish batteries opened they so completely
swept the ground inclosed by the curve of the river that the
Imperialists could not advance across it, and were compelled to
remain behind a rivulet called the Ach, a short distance in the
rear of the Lech. They brought up their artillery, however, and
replied to the cannonade of the Swedes.

For four days the artillery duel continued, and while it was going
on a considerable number of troops were at work in the village of
Oberndorf, which lay in a declivity near the river, hidden from
the sight of the Imperialists, constructing a bridge. For that
purpose a number of strong wooden trestles of various heights and
with feet of unequal length for standing in the bed of the river
were prepared, together with a quantity of piles to be driven in
among and beside them to enable them to resist the force of the
current.

On the night of the fourth day the king caused a number of fires
to be lighted near the river, fed with green wood and damp straw.
A favourable wind blew the smoke towards the enemy, and thus concealed
the ground from them. At daybreak on the 5th of April, a thousand
picked men crossed the river in two boats, and having reached the
other side at once proceeded to throw up intrenchments to cover
the head of the bridge, while at the same time the workmen began
to place the trestles in position.

As soon as day broke Tilly became aware of what was being done, and
two batteries opened fire upon the work at the head of the bridge
and against the bridge itself; but the low and swampy nature of the
ground on the Imperialist side of the river prevented his placing
the batteries in a position from which they could command the works,
and their fire proved ineffective in preventing the construction
of the bridge. Seeing this, Tilly at once commenced preparations
for arresting the further advance of the Swedes.

To reach his position they would be obliged to cross the swampy
ground exposed to the fire of his troops, and to render their
progress still more difficult he proceeded to cut down large trees,
lopping and sharpening their branches to form a chevaux-de-frise
before his troops. All the morning a heavy cannonade was kept up
on both sides, but by noon the bridge was completed and the advance
guard of the Swedes, led by Colonels Wrandel and Gassion, advanced
across it. As the other brigades were following, Tilly directed
General Altringer to lead his cavalry against them.

Altringer led his troops round the end of the marsh and charged
with great bravery down upon the Swedes.  These, however, had time
to form up, and a tremendous fire of musketry was poured into the
Imperialist horse, while the round shot from the three Swedish
batteries ploughed their ranks in front and on both flanks. Under
such circumstances, although fighting with reckless bravery, the
Imperialist cavalry were repulsed. Altringer, however, rallied them
and led them back again to the charge, but a cannonball grazed his
temple and he was carried senseless from the field. His men, shaken
by the tremendous fire and deprived of their leader, fell back in
confusion.

Tilly at once placed himself at the head of a chosen body of troops
and advanced to the attack, fighting with the ardour and bravery
which always distinguished him. He was short in stature and remarkable
for his ugliness as well as his bravery. Lean and spare in figure,
he had hollow cheeks, a long nose, a broad wrinkled forehead, heavy
moustaches, and a sharp pointed chin. He had from his boyhood been
fighting against the Protestants. He had learned the art of war under
the cruel and pitiless Spanish general Alva in the Netherlands, of
which country he was a native, and had afterwards fought against
them in Bavaria, in Bohemia, and the Palatinate, and had served in
Hungary against the Turks.

Until he met Gustavus at Breitenfeld he had never known a reverse.
A bigoted Catholic, he had never hesitated at any act of cruelty
which might benefit the cause for which he fought, or strike terror
into the Protestants; and the singularity of his costume and the
ugliness of his appearance heightened the terror which his deeds
inspired among them.  When not in armour his costume was modelled
upon that of the Duke of Alva, consisting of a slashed doublet of
green silk, with an enormously wide-brimmed and high conical hat
adorned with a large red ostrich feather. In his girdle he carried
a long dagger and a Toledo sword of immense length.  His personal
bravery was famous, and never did he fight more gallantly than when
he led his veterans to the attack of the Swedes.

For twenty minutes a furious hand to hand conflict raged, and
the result was still uncertain when a shot from a falconet struck
Tilly on the knee and shattered the bone, and the old general fell
insensible to the ground. He was carried off the field, and his
troops, now without a leader, gave way, the movement being hastened
by two bodies of Swedish horse, who, eager for action, swam their
horses across the river and threatened to cut off the retreat. By
this time evening was at hand. The Swedes had secured the passage
of the river, but the Imperialist army still held its intrenched
position in the wood behind the Lech. Gustavus brought the rest of
his army across and halted for the night.

The Imperialist position was tremendously strong, being unassailable
on the right and covered in the front by the marshy ground. It
could still have been defended with every prospect of success by
a determined general, but the two best Imperialist commanders were
hors de combat, and Maximilian of Bavaria, the nominal generalissimo,
had no military experience. The army, too, was disheartened by the
first success of the Swedes and by the loss of the general whom
they regarded as well nigh invincible.

Tilly had now recovered his senses, but was suffering intense agony
from his wound, and on being consulted by Maximilian he advised
him to fall back, as the destruction of his army would leave the
whole country open to the Swedes.

The Imperialists accordingly evacuated their position and fell back
in good order during the night on Neuberg, and then to Ingolstadt.
Rain and Neuberg were occupied the next day by the Swedes. Gustavus
despatched Marshal Horn to follow the retreating enemy to Ingolstadt,
and he himself with the rest of his army marched up the Lech to
Augsburg, which was held by Colonel Breda with four thousand five
hundred men.

The Imperialists had broken down the bridge, but Gustavus immediately
built two others, one above and the other below the city, and
summoned it to surrender. Breda, hearing that Tilly was dying,
Altringer severely wounded, and that no help was to be expected
from Maximilian, considered it hopeless to resist, and surrendered
the town, which Gustavus, attended by the titular King of Bohemia and
many other princes, entered in triumph on the following day, April
14th. The capture of Augsburg was hailed with peculiar satisfaction,
as the city was regarded as the birthplace of the Reformation in
Germany. Leaving a garrison there the king retraced his steps along
the Lech to Neuberg, and marched thence to join Marshal Horn in
front of Ingolstadt.

This town was one of the strongest places in Germany and had
never been captured. It was now held by a formidable garrison, and
the Imperialist army covered it on the north. Tilly had implored
Maximilian to defend it and Ratisbon at all hazards, as their
possession was a bar to the further advance of Gustavus.

The king arrived before it on the 19th, and on the following day
advanced to reconnoitre it closely. The gunners of the town, seeing
a number of officers approaching, fired, and with so good an aim
that a cannonball carried off the hindquarters of the horse the
king was riding. A cry of alarm and consternation burst from the
officers, but their delight was great when the king rose to his
feet, covered with dust and blood indeed, but otherwise unhurt.

On the following day a cannonball carried off the head of the
Margrave of Baden-Durlach, and on the same day Tilly expired. With
his last breath he urged Maximilian never to break his alliance
with the emperor, and to appoint Colonel Cratz, an officer of great
courage and ability, to the command of his army.

Gustavus remained eight days before Ingolstadt, and then, finding
that the reduction of the place could not be effected without the
loss of much valuable time, he raised the siege. On his march he
took possession of Landshut and forced it to pay a ransom of 100,000
thalers and to receive a garrison, and then continued his way to
Munich.

The Bavarian capital surrendered without a blow on the 17th of May.
Gustavus made a triumphal entry into the town, where he obtained
possession of a vast quantity of treasure and stores. Here he
remained some little time reducing the country round and capturing
many cities and fortresses. The Green Brigade had suffered severely
at Ingolstadt. On the evening of the 19th of April the king,
expecting a sally, had ordered Hepburn to post the brigade on some
high ground near the gate and the soldiers remained under arms the
whole night.

The glow of their matches enabled the enemy to fire with precision,
and a heavy cannonade was poured upon them throughout the whole night.
Three hundred men were killed as they stood, Munro losing twelve
men by one shot; but the brigade stood their ground unflinchingly,
and remained until morning in steady line in readiness to repel
any sortie of the enemy.

The army suffered greatly on the march from the Lech to Ingolstadt,
and thence to Munich, from the attacks of the country people, who
were excited against them by the priests.  Every straggler who fell
into their hands was murdered with horrible cruelty, the hands and
feet being cut off, and other savage mutilations being performed
upon them, in revenge for which the Swedes and Scots shot all the
Bavarians who fell into their hands, and burned two hundred towns
and villages.



CHAPTER XIII CAPTURED BY THE PEASANTS


Malcolm Graheme was not present at the siege of Ingolstadt. The orders
after crossing the Lech had been very strict against straggling,
so soon as the disposition of the country people was seen; but it
is not easy to keep a large column of troops in a solid body. The
regiments in the march indeed, under the eye of the officers, can
be kept in column, but a considerable number of troops are scattered
along the great convoy of wagons containing the tents, stores, and
ammunition of the army, and which often extends some miles in length.
Even if the desire for plunder does not draw men away, many are
forced to fall behind either from sickness, sore feet, or other
causes.

The number of these was comparatively small in the army of Gustavus,
for discipline was strict and the spirit of the troops good.  As
soon, however, as it was found that every straggler who fell into
the hands of the peasantry was murdered under circumstances of
horrible atrocity it became very difficult for the officers to keep
the men together, so intense was their fury and desire for vengeance
against the savage peasantry, and on every possible occasion when
a village was seen near the line of march men would slip away and
slay, plunder, and burn.

Gustavus endeavoured to repress these proceedings. He shared the
indignation of his troops at the barbarous conduct of the peasantry,
but throughout the war he always tried to carry on hostilities
so as to inflict as little loss and suffering as possible upon
noncombatants. This state of warfare too between his troops and the
country people added to his difficulties, for the peasantry drove
off their cattle and burned their stacks, and rendered it necessary
for provisions and forage to be carried with the army. Parties
were therefore sent out on the flanks of the column for the double
purpose of preventing soldiers stealing off to plunder and burn,
and of picking up stragglers and saving them from the fury of the
peasants.

A strong rear guard followed a short distance behind the army. It
was accompanied by some empty wagons, in which those who fell out
and were unable to keep up with the march were placed. Two days
after the advance from the Lech, Malcolm was in charge of a small
party on the right flank of the column. There was no fear of an
attack from the enemy, for the Swedish horsemen were out scouring
the country, and the Imperialists were known to have fallen back to
Ingolstadt. The villages were found deserted by the male inhabitants,
the younger women too had all left, but a few old crones generally
remained in charge. These scowled at the invaders, and crossing
themselves muttered curses beneath their breath upon those whom their
priests had taught them to regard as devils. There was nothing to
tempt the cupidity of the soldiers in these villages. Malcolm's
duty was confined to a casual inspection, to see that no stragglers
had entered for the purpose of procuring wine.

The day's march was nearly over when he saw some flames rise from
a village a short distance away.  Hurrying forward with his men he
found a party of ten of the Swedish soldiers who had stolen away
from the baggage guard engaged in plundering. Two peasants lay dead
in the street, and a house was in flames.

Malcolm at once ordered his detachment, who were twenty strong,
to arrest the Swedes and to march them back to the columns. While
they were doing this he went from house to house to see that none
of the party were lurking there. At the door of the last house of
the village three women were standing.

"Are any of the soldiers here?" he asked.

The women gave him an unintelligible answer in the country patois,
and passing between them he entered the cottage. On the table stood
a large jug of water, and lifting it he took a long draught. There
was a sudden crash, and he fell heavily, struck down from behind
with a heavy mallet by one of the women. He was stunned by the
blow, and when he recovered his senses he found that he was bound
hand and foot, a cloth had been stuffed tightly into his mouth,
and he was covered thickly with a heap of straw and rubbish.  He
struggled desperately to free himself, but so tightly were the
cords bound that they did not give in the slightest.

A cold perspiration broke out on his forehead as he reflected that
he was helpless in the power of these savage peasants, and that
he should probably be put to death by torture. Presently he could
hear the shouts of his men, who, on finding that he did not return,
had scattered through the village in search of him. He heard the
voice of his sergeant.

"These old hags say they saw an officer walk across to the left.
The captain may have meant us to march the prisoners at once to the
column, and be waiting just outside the village for us, but it is
not likely. At any rate, lads, we will search every house from top
to bottom before we leave. So set to work at once; search every
room, cupboard, and shed.  There may be foul play; though we see
no men about, some may be in hiding."

Malcolm heard the sound of footsteps, and the crashing of planks as
the men searched the cottages, wrenched off the doors of cupboards,
and ransacked the whole place.  Gradually the sound ceased, and
everything became quiet.  Presently he heard the sound of drums,
and knew that the regiment which formed the rear guard was passing.

It was bitterness indeed to know that his friends were within sound
of a call for aid, and that he was bound and helpless. The halting
place for the night was, he knew, but a mile or two in advance, and
his only hope was that some band of plunderers might in the night
visit the village; but even then his chances of being discovered
were small indeed, for even should they sack and burn it he would
pass unnoticed lying hidden in the straw yard. His captors were
no doubt aware of the possibility of such a visit, for it was not
until broad daylight, when the army would again be on its forward
march, that they uncovered him.

Brave as Malcolm was he could scarce repress a shudder as he looked
at the band of women who surrounded him.  All were past middle
age, some were old and toothless, but all were animated by a spirit
of ferocious triumph. Raising him into a sitting position, they
clustered round him, some shook their skinny hands in his face,
others heaped curses upon him, some of the most furious assailed
him with heavy sticks, and had he not still been clothed in his
armour, would then and there have killed him.

This, however, was not their intention, for they intended to put
him to death by slow torture. He was lifted and carried into the
cottage. There the lacings of his armour were cut, the cords loosened
one by one, sufficient to enable them to remove the various pieces
of which it was composed, then he was left to himself, as the hags
intended to postpone the final tragedy until the men returned from
the hills.

This might be some hours yet, as the Swedish cavalry would still be
scouring the country, and other bodies of troops might be marching
up. From the conversation of the women, which he understood
but imperfectly, Malcolm gathered that they thought the men would
return that night. Some of the women were in favour of executing
the vengeance themselves, but the majority were of opinion that
the men should have their share of the pleasure.

All sorts of fiendish propositions were made as to the manner in
which his execution should be carried out, but even the mildest
caused Malcolm to shudder in anticipation.  His arms were bound
tightly to his side at the elbows, and the wrists were fastened in
front of him, his legs were tied at the knees and ankles.  Sometimes
he was left alone as the women went about their various avocations
in the village, but he was so securely bound that to him as to them
his escape appeared altogether impossible. The day passed heavily
and slowly. The cloth had been removed from his mouth, but he was
parched with thirst, while the tightly bound cords cut deeply into
his flesh.

He had once asked for water, but his request had been answered with
such jeers and mockery that he resolved to suffer silently until
the last. At length the darkness of the winter evening began to
fall when a thought suddenly struck him. On the hearth a fire was
burning; he waited until the women had again left the hut. He could
hear their voices without as they talked with those in the next
cottage. They might at any moment return, and it was improbable
that they would again go out, for the cold was bitter, and they
would most likely wait indoors for the return of the men.

This then was his last opportunity. He rolled himself to the fire,
and with his teeth seized the end of one of the burning sticks.
He raised himself into a sitting position, and with the greatest
difficulty laid the burning end of the stick across the cords which
bound his wrists. It seemed to him that they would never catch
fire.  The flesh scorched and frizzled, and the smoke rose up with
that of the burning rope. The agony was intense, but it was for
life, and Malcolm unflinchingly held the burning brand in its place
until the cords flew asunder and his hands were free. Although
almost mad with the pain, Malcolm set to work instantly to undo
the other ropes. As soon as one of his arms was free he seized a
hatchet, which lay near him, and rapidly cut the rest. He was not
a moment too soon, for as he cut the last knot he heard the sound
of steps, and two women appeared at the door.

On seeing their prisoner standing erect with an axe in his hand
they turned and fled shrieking loudly. It was well for Malcolm that
they did so, for so stiff and numbed were his limbs that he could
scarcely hold the axe, and the slightest push would have thrown
him to the ground.

Some minutes passed before, by stamping his feet and rubbing his
legs he restored circulation sufficiently to totter across the
room. Then he seized a brand and thrust it into the thatch of the
house, having first put on his helmet and placed his sword and
pistols in his belt. His hands were too crippled and powerless to
enable him to fasten on the rest of his armour. He knew that he
had no time to lose.  Fortunately the women would not know how weak
and helpless he was, for had they returned in a body they could
easily have overpowered him; but at any moment the men might arrive,
and if he was found there by them his fate was sealed.

Accordingly as soon as he had fired the hut he made his way from
the village as quickly as he could crawl along.  He saw behind him
the flames rising higher and higher. The wind was blowing keenly,
and the fire spread rapidly from house to house, and by the time
he reached the road along which the army had travelled the whole
village was in flames.  He felt that he could not travel far, for
the intense sufferings which he had endured for twenty-four hours
without food or water had exhausted his strength.

His limbs were swollen and bruised from the tightness of the cords,
the agony of his burned wrists was terrible, and after proceeding
slowly for about a mile he drew off from the broad trampled track
which the army had made in passing, and dragging himself to a clump
of trees a short distance from the road, made his way through some
thick undergrowth and flung himself down. The night was intensely
cold, but this was a relief to him rather than otherwise, for it
alleviated the burning pain of his limbs while he kept handfuls of
snow applied to his wrists.

Two hours after he had taken refuge he heard a number of men come
along the road at a run. Looking through the bushes he could see
by their figures against the snow that they were peasants, and had
no doubt that they were the men of the village who had returned
and at once started in pursuit of him.

An hour later, feeling somewhat relieved, he left his hiding place
and moved a mile away from the road, as he feared that the peasants,
failing to overtake him, might, as they returned, search every
possible hiding place near it.  He had no fear of the track being
noticed, for the surface of the snow was everywhere marked by
parties going and returning to the main body. He kept on until he
saw a small shed. The door was unfastened; opening it he found that
the place was empty, though there were signs that it was usually
used as a shelter for cattle.

A rough ladder led to a loft. This was nearly full of hay.  Malcolm
threw himself down on this, and covering himself up thickly, felt
the blood again begin to circulate in his limbs.  It brought,
however, such a renewal of his pain, that it was not until morning
that fatigue overpowered his sufferings and he fell asleep.

It was late in the afternoon when he woke at the sound of shouts and
holloaing. Springing to his feet he looked out between the cracks
in the boards and saw a party of forty or fifty peasants passing
close by the shed. They were armed with hatchets, scythes, and
pikes. On the heads of four of the pikes were stuck gory heads,
and in the centre of the party were three prisoners, two Swedes
and a Scot. These were covered with blood, and were scarcely able
to walk, but were being urged forward with blows and pike thrusts
amid the brutal laughter of their captors.

Malcolm retired to his bed full of rage and sorrow. It would have
been madness to have followed his first impulse to sally out sword
in hand and fall upon the ruffians, as such a step would only have
ensured his own death without assisting the captives.

"Hitherto," he said to himself, "I have ever restrained my men, and
have endeavoured to protect the peasants from violence; henceforward,
so long as we remain in Bavaria, no word of mine shall be uttered
to save one of these murderous peasants. However, I am not with my
company yet. The army is two marches ahead, and must by this time
be in front of Ingolstadt. I have been two days without food, and
see but little chance of getting any until I rejoin them, and the
whole country between us is swarming with an infuriated peasantry.
The prospect is certainly not a bright one. I would give a year's
pay to hear the sound of a Swedish trumpet."

When darkness had fairly set in Malcolm started on his way again.
Although his limbs still smarted from the weals and sores left
by the cords they had now recovered their lissomeness; but he was
weak from want of food, and no longer walked with the free elastic
stride which distinguished the Scottish infantry. His wrists gave
him great pain, being both terribly burned, and every movement of
the hand sent a thrill of agony up the arm. He persisted, however,
in frequently opening and clenching his hands, regardless of the
pain, for he feared that did he not do so they would stiffen and
he would be unable to grasp a sword.  Fortunately the wounds were
principally on the upper side of the thumbs, where the flesh was
burned away to the bone, but the sinews and muscles of the wrists
had to a great extent escaped.

He had not journeyed very far when he saw a light ahead and presently
perceived the houses of a village. A fire was lit in the centre,
and a number of figures were gathered round it.

"Something is going on," Malcolm said to himself; "as likely as not
they have got some unfortunate prisoner.  Whatever it be, I will
steal in and try to get some food. I cannot go much further without
it; and as their attention is occupied, I may find a cottage empty."

Making his way round to the back of the houses, he approached one
of the cottages in the rear. He lifted the latch of the door and
opened it a little. All was still. With his drawn sword he entered.
The room was empty; a fire burned on the hearth, and on the table
were some loaves which had evidently been just baked.  Malcolm
fell upon one of them and speedily devoured it, and, taking a long
draught of rough country wine from a skin hanging against the wall,
he felt another man.

He broke another loaf in two and thrust the pieces into his doublet,
and then sallied out from the cottage again.  Still keeping behind
the houses he made his way until he got within view of the fire.
Here he saw a sight which thrilled him with horror. Some eight or
ten peasants and forty or fifty women were yelling and shouting.
Fastened against a post in front of the fire were the remains of
a prisoner. He had been stripped, his ears, nose, hands, and feet
cut off, and he was slowly bleeding to death.

Four other men, bound hand and foot, lay close to the fire. By its
flames Malcolm saw the green scarves that told they were Scotchmen
of his own brigade, and he determined at once to rescue them or
die in the attempt. He crept forward until he reached the edge of
the road; then he raised a pistol and with a steady aim fired at
one of the natives, who fell dead across the fire.

Another shot laid another beside him before the peasants recovered
from their first surprise. Then with a loud shout in German, "Kill
-- kill! and spare none!" Malcolm dashed forward. The peasants,
believing that they were attacked by a strong body, fled precipitately
in all directions.  Malcolm, on reaching the prisoners, instantly
severed their bonds.

"Quick, my lads!" he exclaimed; "we shall have them upon us again
in a minute."

The men in vain tried to struggle to their feet -- their limbs were
too numbed to bear them.

"Crawl to the nearest cottage!" Malcolm exclaimed; "we can hold it
until your limbs are recovered."

He caught up from the ground some pikes and scythes which the
peasants had dropped in their flight, and aided the men to make
their way to the nearest cottage. They were but just in time; for
the peasants, finding they were not pursued, had looked round, and
seeing but one opponent had gained courage and were beginning to
approach again.  Malcolm barred the door, and then taking down a
skin of wine bade his companions take a drink. There were loaves
on the shelves, and these he cut up and handed to them.

"Quick, lads!" he said; "stamp your legs and swing your arms, and
get the blood in motion. I will keep these fellows at bay a few
minutes longer."

He reloaded his pistols and fired through the door, at which the
peasants were now hewing with axes. A cry and a heavy fall told
him that one of the shots had taken effect.  Suddenly there was a
smell of smoke.

"They have fired the roof," Malcolm said. "Now, lads, each of you
put a loaf of bread under his jerkin.  There is no saying when we
may get more. Now get ready and sally out with me. There are but
six or eight men in the village, and they are no match for us. They
only dared to attack us because they saw that you couldn't walk."

The door was opened, and headed by Malcolm the four Scotchmen
dashed out. They were assailed by a shower of missiles by the crowd
as they appeared, but as soon as it was seen that the men were on
foot again the peasants gave way.  Malcolm shot one and cut down
another, and the rest scattered in all directions.

"Now, lads, follow me while we may," and Malcolm again took to
the fields. The peasants followed for some distance, but when the
soldiers had quite recovered the use of their limbs Malcolm suddenly
turned on his pursuers, overtaking and killing two of them. Then he
and his men again continued their journey, the peasants no longer
following.  When at some distance from the village he said:

"We must turn and make for the Lech again. It is no farther than it
is to Ingolstadt, and we shall find friends there.  These peasants
will go on ahead and raise all the villagers against us, and we
should never get through. What regiment do you belong to, lads?"
for in the darkness he had been unable to see their faces.

"Your own, Captain Graheme. We were in charge of one of the wagons
with sick. The wheel came off, and we were left behind the convoy
while we were mending it. As we were at work, our weapons laid on
the ground, some twenty men sprang out from some bushes hard by
and fell upon us.  We killed five or six of them, but were beaten
down and ten of our number were slain. They murdered all the sick
in the wagons and marched us away, bound, to this village where
you found us. Sandy McAlister they had murdered just as you came
up, and we should have had a like horrible fate had you been a few
minutes later. Eh, sir! but it's an awful death to be cut in pieces
by these devils incarnate!"

"Well, lads," Malcolm said, "we will determine that they shall not
take us alive again. If we are overtaken or met by any of these
gangs of peasants we will fight till we die. None of us, I hope, are
afraid of death in fair strife, but the bravest might well shrink
from such a death as that of your poor comrade. Now let us see what
arms we have between us."

Malcolm had his sword and pistols, two of the men had pikes, the
other two scythes fastened to long handles.

"These are clumsy weapons," Malcolm said. "You had best fit short
handles to them, so as to make them into double handed swords."

They were unable to travel far, for all were exhausted with the
sufferings they had gone through, but they kept on until they came
upon a village which had been fired when the troops marched through.
The walls of a little church were alone standing. It had, like the
rest of the village, been burned, but the shell still remained.

"So far as I can see," Malcolm said, "the tower has escaped. Had it
been burned we should see through the windows. We may find shelter
in the belfry."

On reaching the church they found that the entrance to the belfry
tower was outside the church, and to this, no doubt, it owed its
escape from the fire which had destroyed the main edifice. The door
was strong and defied their efforts to break it in.

"I must fire my pistol through the lock," Malcolm said.  "I do not
like doing so, for the sound may reach the ears of any peasants in
the neighbourhood; but we must risk it, for the cold is extreme,
and to lie down in the snow would be well nigh certain death."

He placed his pistol to the keyhole and fired. The lock at once
yielded and the party entered the door.

"Before we mount," Malcolm said, "let each pick up one of these
blocks of stone which have fallen from the wall.  We will wedge
the door from behind, and can then sleep secure against a surprise."

When the door was closed one of the men, who was a musketeer,
struck some sparks from a flint and steel on to a slow match which
he carried in his jerkin, and by its glow they were enabled to look
around them.  The stone steps began to ascend close to the door,
and by laying the stones between the bottom step and the door
they wedged the latter firmly in its place. They then ascended the
stairs, and found themselves in a room some ten feet square, in
which hung the bell which had called the village to prayers. It
hung from some beams which were covered with a boarded floor, and
a rough ladder led to a trapdoor, showing that there was another
room above. The floor of the room in which they stood was of stone.

"Now, lads," Malcolm said, "two of you make your way up that ladder
and rip up some of the planks of the flooring.  See if there are
any windows or loopholes in the chamber above, and if so stuff your
jerkins into them; we will close up those here. In a few minutes
we will have a roaring fire; but we must beware lest a gleam of
light be visible without, for this belfry can be seen for miles
round.

Some of the boards were soon split up into fragments; but before
the light was applied to them Malcolm carefully examined each window
and loophole to be sure that they were perfectly stopped. Then the
slow match was placed in the centre of a number of pieces of dry
and rotten wood.  One of the men kneeling down blew lustily, and
in a few seconds a flame sprang up. The wood was now heaped on,
and a bright fire was soon blazing high.

A trapdoor leading out on to the flat top of the tower was opened
for the escape of the smoke, and the party then seated themselves
round the fire, under whose genial warmth their spirits speedily
rose. They now took from their wallets the bread which they had
brought away with them.

"If we had," one of the soldiers said, "but a few flasks of Rhine
wine with us we need not envy a king."

"No," Malcolm replied, "we are better off at present than our
comrades who are sleeping in the snow round the watchfires; but
for all that I would that we were with them, for we have a long and
dangerous march before us. And now, lads, you can sleep soundly.
There will be no occasion to place a watch, for the door is securely
fastened; but at the first dawn of light we must be on our feet;
for although I do not mean to march until nightfall, we must remove
the stoppings from the windows, for should the eye of any passing
peasant fall upon them, he will guess at once that some one is
sheltering here, and may proceed to find out whether it be friend
or foe."

Having finished half their bread, for Malcolm had warned them to
save the other half for the next day, the men lay down round the
fire, and soon all were sound asleep.



CHAPTER XIV IN THE CHURCHTOWER


Malcolm was the first to awake, and was vexed to find by a stream
of light pouring down through the half open trapdoor above that it
was broad day.  He roused the men, and the stoppings were at once
removed from the loopholes. The sun was already high, for the party,
overpowered with fatigue, had slept long and soundly.

Malcolm looked cautiously from the window; no one was in sight,
and the ruins of the village below lay black and deserted. The men
resumed the clothes which had been used for blocking the loopholes,
and sat down to pass the long hours which would elapse before the
time for action arrived. It was exceedingly cold, for there were
loopholes on each side of the chamber, and the wind blew keenly
through.

"Sergeant," Malcolm said, "we will risk a bit of fire again, for
the cold pierces to the bone; only be sure that you use perfectly
dry wood. Examine each piece to see that no drip from the roof has
penetrated it. If it is dry it will give but little smoke, and a
slight vapour is not likely to be observed rising from the top of
the tower."

The fire was again lighted, and the smoke was so slight that Malcolm
had little fear of its being observed.

An hour later, as the men were talking, Malcolm suddenly held up
his hand for silence, and the murmur of voices was heard without.
Malcolm rose to his feet to reconnoitre, standing far back from the
loophole as he did so. A group of some eight or ten peasants were
standing looking at the tower, while a woman was pointing to it
and talking eagerly.

It was towards the windows that she was pointing, and Malcolm
guessed at once that, having returned in the early morning to see
what remained of her home, she had happened to notice the garments
stuffed in the windows, and had carried the news to some of her
companions.  Malcolm regretted bitterly now that he had not set
a watch, so that at the first gleam of daylight the windows might
have been unblocked; but it was now too late.

"We shall have to fight for it, lads," he said, turning round.
"Our clothes must have been seen early this morning, and there is
a party of peasants watching the tower. Of course they cannot know
at present whether we are friends or foes; but no doubt the news
of last evening's doings has travelled through the country, and the
peasants are on the lookout for us, so they may well guess that we
are here. However, we shall soon see. Sergeant, place one of your
men on sentry at the foot of the stairs, but do not let him speak
or give any signs of his presence if the door is tried."

One of the soldiers was placed on guard. Scarcely had he taken
his station when there was a knocking at the door, and shouts were
heard outside from the peasants calling on those within, if they
were friends, to come out. No answer was returned.

"It's fortunate for you," Malcolm muttered, "that we don't come
out, or we should make short work of you; but I know you would fly
like hares if you saw us, and would bring the whole country down
on us. No; we must hold out here.  Our only hope is to escape at
night, or to hold this place till some of our troops come along.
At any moment some regiments from the Lech may be marching forward
to join the king.

"We must make our bread last, lads," he said cheerfully to the men,
"for we may have to stand a long siege.  Methinks we can hold this
stone staircase against all the peasants of this part of Bavaria;
and we must do so until we hear the sound of the Swedish drums;
they may come along at any time. If the worst comes to the worst
one of us must start at night and carry news of our peril to the
Lech. We made a good supper last night, and can fast for a bit. If
we cut our bread up into small portions we can hold out for days.
There should be snow enough on the tower top to furnish us with
drink."

After hammering at the door for some time, the peasants retired
convinced that there were none of their own people within the tower,
and that those who had slept there were the fugitives of whom they
had been in search during the night. These might, indeed, have
departed in the interval between the time when the woman first saw
the traces of their presence and her return with them; but they did
not think that this was so, for in that case they could not have
fastened the door behind them. The peasants accordingly withdrew
a short distance from the church, and three of their number were
sent off in different directions to bring up reinforcements. As soon
as Malcolm saw this movement he knew that concealment was useless,
and began to make preparations for the defence. First, he with the
sergeant ascended to the roof of the tower. To his disappointment
he saw that the heat of the flames had melted the snow, and that
most of the water had run away. Some, however, stood in the hollows
and inequalities of the stone platform, where it had again frozen
into ice.

As the supply would be very precious, Malcolm directed that before
any moved about on the platform every piece of ice should be
carefully taken up and carried below. Here it was melted over the
fire in one of the iron caps, and was found to furnish three quarts
of water. The appearance of Malcolm and his companion on the tower
had been hailed by a shout of hatred and exultation by the peasants;
but the defenders had paid no attention to the demonstration, and
had continued their work as if regardless of the presence of their
enemies.

On his return to the platform Malcolm found, looking over the low
parapet, that on the side farthest from the church great icicles
hung down from the mouth of the gutter, the water having frozen
again as it trickled from the platform.  These icicles were three
or four inches in diameter and many feet in length. They were
carefully broken off, and were laid down on the platform where they
would remain frozen until wanted.  Malcolm now felt secure against
the attacks of thirst for some days to come. The stones of the
parapet were next tried, and were without much trouble moved from
their places, and were all carried to the side in which the door
was situated, in readiness to hurl down upon any who might assault
it. Some of the beams of the upper flooring were removed from their
places, and being carried down, were wedged against the upper part
of the door, securing it as firmly as did the stones below. These
preparations being finished, Malcolm took a survey of the situation
outside.

The group of peasants had increased largely, some thirty or forty
men armed with pikes, bills, and scythes being gathered in a body,
while many more could be seen across the country hurrying over the
white plain towards the spot.  The windows of the lower apartment
had been barricaded with planks, partly to keep out missiles,
partly for warmth.  A good fire now blazed in the centre, and the
soldiers, confident in themselves and their leader, cracked grim
jokes as, their work being finished, they sat down around it and
awaited the attack, one of their number being placed on the summit
of the tower to give warning of the approach of the enemy.

"I would that we had a musket or two," Malcolm said; "for we might
then keep them from the door. I have only some twenty charges for
my pistols, and the most of these, at any rate, I must keep for
the defence of the stairs."

Presently the sentry from above called out that the peasants were
moving forward to the attack.

"Sergeant," Malcolm said, "do you fasten my green scarf to a long
strip of plank and fix it to the top of the tower. We cannot fight
under a better banner. Now let us mount to the roof and give them
a warm reception."

"Look out, sir," the sentry exclaimed as Malcolm ascended the stair,
"three or four of them have got muskets."

"Then we must be careful," Malcolm said. "I don't suppose they are
much of marksmen, but even a random shot will tell at times, and I
want to take you all back safe with me; so keep low when you get on
the roof, lads, and don't show your heads more than you can help."

Heralding their attack by a discharge from their muskets, whose
balls whistled harmlessly round the tower, the peasants rushed
forward to the door and commenced an assault upon it with hatchets
and axes.

Malcolm and his men each lifted a heavy stone and rolled it over
the parapet, the five loosing the missiles simultaneously. There
was a dull crash, and with a terrible cry the peasants fled from
the door. Looking over, Malcolm saw that six or seven men had
been struck down. Five of these lay dead or senseless; two were
endeavouring to drag themselves away.

"That is lesson number one," he said. "They will be more prudent
next time."

The peasants, after holding a tumultuous council, scattered, most
of them making for a wood a short distance off.

"They are going to cut down a tree and use it as a battering ram,"
Malcolm observed. "They know that these large stones are too heavy
for us to cast many paces from the foot of the wall. We must get
to work and break some of them up. That will not be difficult, for
the wind and weather have rotted many of them half through."

The stones were for the most part from two to three feet long and
nine or ten inches square. Two were laid down on the platform some
eighteen inches apart and another placed across them. The four men
then lifted another stone, and holding it perpendicularly brought
it down with all their strength upon the unsupported centre of
the stone, which broke in half at once. To break it again required
greater efforts, but it yielded to the blows. Other stones were
similarly treated, until a large pile was formed of blocks of some
ten inches each way, besides a number of smaller fragments.

In half an hour the peasants reappeared with a slight well grown
tree some forty feet long which had been robbed of its branches.
It was laid down about fifty yards from the church, and then twenty
men lifted it near the butt and advanced to use it as a battering
ram, with the small end forward; but before they were near enough
to touch the door the bearers were arrested by a cry from the crowd
as the defenders appeared on the tower, and poising their blocks
of stone above their heads, hurled them down. Three of them flew
over the heads of the peasants, but the others crashed down among
them, slaying and terribly mutilating two of the bearers of the
tree and striking several others to the ground. The battering ram
was instantly dropped, and before the Scotchmen had time to lift
another missile the peasants were beyond their reach.

"Lesson number two," Malcolm said. "What will our friends do next,
I wonder?"

The peasants were clearly at a loss. A long consultation was held,
but this was not followed by any renewal of the attack.

"I think they must have made up their minds to starve us out,
sir," the sergeant remarked as the hours went slowly by without
any renewal of the attack.

"Yes; either that, sergeant, or a night attack. In either case I
consider that we are safe for a time, but sooner or later our fate
is sealed unless aid comes to us, and therefore I propose that one
of you should tonight try and bear a message to the Lech. We can
lower him down by the bell rope from this window in the angle where
the tower touches the church. Keeping round by the church he will
be in deep shadow until he reaches the other end, and will then be
close to the ruins of the village. Before morning he could reach
our camp."

"I will undertake it myself, sir, if you will allow me," the sergeant
said, while the other men also volunteered for the duty.

"You shall try first, sergeant," Malcolm said. "It will be dangerous
work, for as the news of our being here spreads the peasants will
be coming in from all quarters. Their numbers are already greatly
increased since they commenced the attack, and there must be at
least three or four hundred men around us. They will be sure to
keep a sharp lookout against our escaping, and it will need all
your care and caution to get through them."

"Never fear, sir," the man replied confidently. "I have stalked
the deer scores of times, and it will be hard if I cannot crawl
through a number of thick witted Bavarian peasants."

"Even beyond the village you will have to keep your eyes open, as
you may meet parties of peasants on their way here. Fortunately you
will have no difficulty in keeping the road, so well beaten is it
by the march of the army. If by tomorrow night no rescue arrives
I shall consider that you have been taken or killed, and shall try
with the others to make my way through. It would be better to die
sword in hand while we have still the strength to wield our arms
than to be cooped up here until too weak any longer to defend
ourselves, and then to be slowly tortured to death."

As soon as it was dusk a sentry was placed on the top of the
tower, with orders to report the slightest sound or stir.  During
the day this had not been necessary, for a view could be obtained
from the windows, and the men with firearms, who had now considerably
increased in numbers, kept up a constant fire at the tower.

An hour later the sentry reported that he could hear the sound of
many feet in the darkness, with the occasional snapping as of dry
twigs.

"They are going to burn down the door," Malcolm said.  "That is
what I expected. Now, sergeant, is your time. They are all busy
and intent upon their purpose. You could not have a better time."

The rope was fastened round the sergeant's waist, and with some
difficulty he squeezed himself through the narrow window, after
listening attentively to discover if any were below.

All seemed perfectly still on this side, and he was gradually and
steadily lowered down. Presently those above felt the rope slack.
Another minute and it swung loosely. It was drawn up again, and
Malcolm, placing one of the men at the loophole, with instructions
to listen intently for any sound of alarm or conflict, turned his
attention to the other side.

Soon he saw a number of dark figures bearing on their heads great
bundles which he knew to be faggots approaching across the snow.

As they approached a brisk fire suddenly opened on the tower.
Malcolm at once called the sentry down.

"It is of no use exposing yourself," he said, "and we could not
do much harm to them did we take to stoning them again. We have
nothing to do now but to wait."

Soon a series of dull heavy crashes were heard as the faggots were
thrown down against the door. Malcolm descended the stairs until
he reached the lowest loophole which lighted them, and which was
a few feet above the top of the door. He took one of the men with
him.

"Here are my flask and bullet pouch," he said. "Do you reload my
pistols as I discharge them."

For some minutes the sound of the faggots being thrown down continued,
then the footsteps were heard retreating, and all was quiet again.

"Now it is our turn again," Malcolm said. "It is one thing to
prepare a fire and another to light it, my fine fellows.  I expect
that you have forgotten that there are firearms here."

Presently a light was seen in the distance, and two men with blazing
brands approached. They advanced confidently until within twenty
yards of the tower, then there was the sharp crack of a pistol,
and one of them fell forward on his face, the other hesitated and
stood irresolute, then, summoning up courage, he sprang forward.

As he did so another shot flashed out, and he, too, fell prostrate,
the brand hissing and spluttering in the snow a few feet from the
pile of brushwood. A loud yell of rage and disappointment arose
on the night air, showing how large was the number of peasants who
were watching the operations. Some time elapsed before any further
move was made on the part of the assailants, then some twenty points
of light were seen approaching.

"Donald," Malcolm said to the soldier, "go up to the top of the
tower with your comrades. They are sure to light the pile this
time, but if it is only fired in one place you may possibly dash
out the light with a stone."

The lights rapidly approached, but when the bearers came within
forty yards they stopped. They were a wild group, as, with their
unkempt hair and beards, and their rough attire, they stood holding
the lighted brands above their heads. A very tall and powerful man
stood at their head.

"Come on," he said, "why do you hesitate? Let us finish with them."
And he rushed forward.

Malcolm had his pistol lying on the sill of the loophole covering
him, and when the peasant had run ten paces he fired, and the man
fell headlong. The others stopped, and a second shot took effect
among them.  With a yell of terror they hurled the brands towards
the pile and fled. Most of the brands fell short, others missed
their aim, but from his loophole Malcolm saw that one had fallen
on to the outside faggot of the pile.

Almost instantly a heavy stone fell in the snow close by, another,
and another. Malcolm stood with his eyes fixed on the brand. The
twigs against which it leaned were catching, and the flames began
to shoot up.  Higher and higher they rose, and a shout of triumph
from the peasants told how keenly they were also watching. Still
the heavy stones continued to fall. The flames rose higher, and
half the faggot was now alight. Another minute and the fire would
communicate with the pile. Then there was a crash. A shower of
sparks leapt up as the faggot, struck by one of the heavy stones,
was dashed from its place and lay blazing twenty feet distant from
the pile. There it burnt itself out, and for a time the tower was
safe.

For an hour the defenders watched the peasants, who had now lighted
great fires just out of pistol shot from the tower, and were gathered
thickly round them, the light flashing redly from pike head and
scythe.

The uproar of voices was loud; but though the defenders guessed
that they were discussing the next plan of attack they could catch
no meaning from such words as reached them, for the patois of the
Bavarian peasants was unintelligible. At last a large number seized
brands, some approached as before towards the pile, the others
scattered in various directions, while the men with muskets again
opened fire at the top of the tower.

Malcolm took his post at the loophole awaiting attack, but the
men in front of him did not advance.  Suddenly a light sprang up
beneath him. There was a sound of falling stones, but the light
grew brighter and brighter, and he knew that this time the pile had
been fired. As he ran upstairs he was met by one of the soldiers
from above.

"They crept round by the back of the church, sir, and round at the
foot of the tower, and they had fired the pile before we saw that
they were there."

"It cannot be helped," Malcolm said, "they were sure to succeed
sooner or later. Call the others down from the roof."

The door at the top of the stairs was now closed, and the crevices
were stuffed tightly with strips torn from the men's clothes so
as to prevent the smoke from entering when the door below gave way
to the flames. A broad glare of light now lit up the scene, and
showers of sparks, and an occasional tongue of flame were visible
through the window.

"Shut down the trapdoor in the roof," Malcolm said, "that will
check the draught through the windows."

The wood was dry, and what smoke made its way in through the window
found its way out through the loopholes of the upper chamber without
seriously incommoding those below.

"We can take it easy, now," Malcolm said as he set the example by
sitting down against the wall. "It will be hours before the stonework
below will be cool enough to permit them to attack."

"They are lighting a circle of fires all round the church," one of
the soldiers said looking out.

"They think we shall be trying to escape, now that our door is
burned. They are too late; I trust our messenger is miles away by
this time."

In half an hour the flames died away, but a deep red glow showed
that the pile of embers was still giving out an intense heat.
One of the men was now placed on the top of the tower again, as a
measure of precaution, but it was certain that hours would elapse
before an attack could be made.  The peasants, indeed, secure
of their prey, evinced no hurry to commence the attack, but spent
the night in shouting and singing round their fires, occasionally
yelling threats of the fate which awaited them against the defenders
of the tower.

Towards daylight Malcolm commenced his preparations for defence.
The door was taken off its hinges and was laid on the stone stairs.
These were but two feet wide, the door itself being some three
inches less. The rope was fastened round its upper end to prevent
it from sliding down.

"I wish we had some grease to pour over it," Malcolm said, "but dry
as it is it will be next to impossible for anyone to walk up that
sharp incline, and we four should be able to hold it against the
peasants till doomsday."

It was not until broad daylight that the peasants prepared for
the attack. So long as the operation had been a distant one it had
seemed easy enough, but as in a confused mass they approached the
open doorway they realized that to ascend the narrow staircase,
defended at the top by desperate men, was an enterprise of no common
danger, and that the work which they had regarded as finished was
in fact scarcely begun.

The greater part then hung back, but a band of men, who by their
blackened garments and swarthy faces Malcolm judged to be charcoal
burners, armed with heavy axes, advanced to the front, and with an
air of dogged resolution approached the door. The defenders gave
no sign of their presence, no pistol flashed out from window or
loophole.

Striding through the still hot ashes the leader of the woodmen
passed through the doorway and advanced up the stairs. These ran in
short straight flights round the tower, lighted by narrow loopholes.
No resistance was encountered until he reached the last turning,
where a broader glare of light came from the open doorway, where
two of the soldiers, pike in hand, stood ready to repel them. With
a shout to his followers to come on, the peasant sprang forward.
He ascended three steps, and then, as he placed his foot upon the
sharply inclined plane of the door, which he had not noticed, he
stumbled forward. His companions, supposing he had been pierced
with a spear, pressed on after him, but each fell when they trod
upon the door until a heap of men cumbered the stair. These were
not unharmed, for with their long pikes the Scottish spearmen ran
them through and through as they lay.

Their bodies afforded a foothold to those who followed, but these
could make but little way, for as but one could advance at a time,
each as he came on was slain by the pikes.  Finding that two were
well able to hold the door, Malcolm with the other ran up to the
top of the tower, and toppled over the stones of the parapet upon
the mass gathered around the door. These at once scattered, and
those on the stairs, finding themselves unable to get forward, for
the narrow passage was now completely choked with the dead, made
their way out again and rejoined their comrades.

"I expect they will send their musketeers first next time," Malcolm
said as he rejoined those below, leaving the soldier on the watch.
"Now let us get the door up again, and bring the dead here; we can
form a barrier with them breast high."

The door was quickly shifted on one side, and then the troopers
brought up the dead, who were eleven in number.

"Now replace the door," Malcolm ordered; "fill your iron caps with
blood -- there is plenty flowing from these fellows -- and pour it
over the door, it will be as good as oil."

This was done, and the bodies were then piled shoulder high across
the door.

"They can fire as much as they like now," Malcolm said, "they will
be no nearer, and I defy anyone to climb up that door now."



CHAPTER XV A TIMELY RESCUE


Although unaware how much more formidable the task before them
had become, the peasants were disheartened by their defeat, and
even the boldest hesitated at the thought of again attacking foes
so formidably posted. None of those who had returned were able
to explain what was the obstacle which had checked their advance.
All that they could tell was, that those before them had fallen,
in some cases even before they were touched by the spears of the
defenders. This mystery added to the dread which the assault of so
difficult a position naturally inspired, and some hours were spent
in discussing how the next attack should be made. Many indeed
were strongly in favour of remaining quietly around the tower and
starving its defenders into surrendering.

Others advocated an attempt to stifle them by heaping green wood
and damp straw round the tower; but the more timid pointed out
that many would be killed in carrying out the task by the firearms
of the besieged, and that even were the combustibles placed in
position and lighted the success of the experiment would be by no
means certain, as the besieged might stuff up all the orifices, or
at the worst might obtain sufficient fresh air on the top of the
tower to enable them to breathe.

"You are forgetting," one of the peasants exclaimed, "the powder
wagon which broke down as Count Tilly retreated from the Lech. Did
we not carry off the powder barrels and hide them, partly to prevent
them falling into the hands of these accursed Swedes, partly because
the powder would last us for years for hunting the wolf and wild
boar? We have only to stow these inside the tower to blow it into
the air."

The idea was seized with shouts of acclamation. Most of the peasants
who had assisted in carrying off the contents of the wagon were
present, and these started instantly to dig up the barrels which they
had taken as their share of the booty. The shouts of satisfaction
and the departure of forty or fifty men at full speed in various
directions did not pass unnoticed by the garrison of the tower.

"They have got a plan of some sort," Malcolm said; "what it is I
have no idea, but they certainly seem confident about it. Look at
those fellows throwing up their caps and waving their arms. I do
not see how we can be attacked, but I do not like these signs of
confidence on their part, for they know now how strong our position
is.  It seems to me that we are impregnable except against artillery."

Unable to repress his uneasiness Malcolm wandered from window to
window watching attentively what was going on without, but keeping
himself as far back as possible from the loopholes; for the men
with muskets kept up a dropping fire at the openings, and although
their aim was poor, bullets occasionally passed in and flattened
themselves against the opposite walls.

"There is a man returning," he said in about half an hour; "he is
carrying something on his shoulder, but I cannot see what it is."

In another ten minutes the man had reached the group of peasants
standing two or three hundred yards from the church, and was greeted
with cheers and waving of hats.

"Good heavens!" Malcolm exclaimed suddenly, "it is a barrel of
powder. They must have stripped some broken down ammunition wagon.
This is a danger indeed."

The men grasped their weapons and rose to their feet at the news,
prepared to take any steps which their young officer might command,
for his promptitude and ingenuity had inspired them with unbounded
confidence in him.

"We must at all hazards," he said after a few minutes thought,
"prevent them from storing these barrels below.  Remove the barricade
of bodies and then carry the door down the stairs. We must fix it
again on the bottom steps.  The bottom stair is but a foot or two
inside the doorway; if you place it there it will hinder their
rushing up to attack you, and your pikes, as you stand above it,
will prevent any from placing their barrels inside.

"I will take my place at the loophole as before. We cannot prevent
their crawling round from behind as they did to light the faggots;
but if they pile them outside, they may blow in a hole in the wall
of the tower, but it is possible that even then it may not fall.
Two will be sufficient to hold the stairs, at any rate for the
present.  Do you, Cameron, take your place on the tower, and drop
stones over on any who may try to make their way round from behind;
even if you do no harm you will make them careful and delay the
operation, and every hour now is of consequence."

Malcolm's instructions were carried out, and all was in readiness
before the peasants, some of whom had to go considerable distances,
had returned with the powder.

The lesson of the previous evening had evidently not been lost upon
the peasants, for Malcolm saw a tall man who was acting as their
leader wave his hand, and those who had brought the powder started
to make a detour round the church. Malcolm, finding that no movement
was being made towards the front, and that at present he could do
nothing from his loophole, ran up to the top of the tower and took
his place by the soldier who was lying down on the roof and looking
over the edge.

Presently the first of the peasants appeared round the corner of
the main building, and dashed rapidly across to the angle of the
tower. Two heavy stones were dropped, but he had passed on long
before they had reached the bottom.  Man after man followed, and
Malcolm, seeing that he could do nothing to stop them, again ran
down. As he did so he heard a scream of agony. The leading peasants
had reached the doorway, but as they dashed in to place their
barrels of powder they were run through and through by the spears
of the pikemen. They fell half in and half out of the doorway, and
the barrels rolled some distance away.  Those behind them stopped
panic stricken at their sudden fall. Several of them dropped their
barrels and fled, while others ran round the angle of the tower
again, coming in violent contact with those following them; all
then hurried round behind the church. Malcolm stamped his feet with
vexation.

"What a fool I am," he muttered, "not to have thought of a sortie!
If we had all held ourselves in readiness to spring out, we might
have cut down the whole of them; at any rate none would have got
off with their barrels."

This unexpected failure greatly damped the spirit of the peasants,
and there was much consultation among them before any fresh move
was made. As he saw that they were fully occupied, and paying no
heed to the tower, Malcolm said to his men:

"I am going outside; prepare to help me up over the door again
quickly if necessary.

Leaving his sword behind him, he took a leap from the step above
the inclined plane and landed at the bottom, and at once threw
himself down outside. With his dagger he removed the hoops of one
of the barrels, and scattered the contents thickly along the front
of the tower. None of the peasants perceived him, for there were
many bodies lying round the foot of the tower; and even had any
looked that way they would not have noticed that one prone figure
had been added to the number.

Crawling cautiously along Malcolm pushed two other barrels before
him, and opening them as before, spread the contents of one upon
the ground near the side of the tower, and the other by the hinder
face. The thick black layer on the snow would have told its tale
instantly to a soldier, but Malcolm had little fear of the peasants
in their haste paying attention to it. When his task was completed
he crawled back again to the door and laid a train from the foot
of the slide to the powder without.

"I will remain here," he said, "for the present. Do one of you take
your place in the belfry. Tell Cameron to shout down to you what
is passing behind, and do you run instantly down the stairs to tell
me."

The peasants advanced next time accompanied by a strong force
of their armed comrades. As before they came round from behind,
intending to stack their barrels in the angle there.  As the bearers
of the first two or three powder barrels came round the corner
Cameron shouted the news, and the soldier below ran down to Malcolm,
who fired his pistol into the train. A broad flash of fire rose
round the tower followed instantaneously by two heavy explosions.
There was silence for an instant, and then a chorus of shrieks and
yells.

The powder barrels borne by the two first men had exploded, their
heads having been knocked in previously to admit of their ignition.
Some thirty of the peasants were killed or terribly mutilated by
the explosion, and the rest took to their heels in terror, leaving
their wounded comrades on the ground.

The echoes of the explosion had scarce died away when a shout of
terror broke from the main body of peasants, and Malcolm saw them
flying in all directions. An instant afterwards the ringing sound
of the Swedish trumpets was heard, and a squadron of horse galloped
down full speed.  The peasants attempted no resistance, but fled
in all directions, hotly pursued by the Swedes, who broke up into
small parties and followed the fugitives cross the country cutting
down great numbers of them. The Swedish leader at once rode up to
the foot of the tower, where Malcolm had already sallied out.

"I am glad indeed I am in time, Captain Graheme; we have ridden
without drawing rein since your messenger arrived at four o'clock
this morning."

"Thanks indeed, Captain Burgh," Malcolm replied.  Your coming is
most welcome; though I think we have given the peasants so hot a
lesson that they would not have attacked us again, and by tightening
our waistbelts we could have held on for another three or four
days."

"I see that you have punished them heavily," the Swedish officer
said, looking round at the bodies; "but what was the explosion I
heard?"

"You will see its signs behind the tower," Malcolm said as he
led the way there. "They tried to blow us up, but burnt their own
fingers."

The scene behind the tower was ghastly. Some thirty peasants lay
with their clothes completely burned from their bodies, the greater
portion of them dead, but some still writhing in agony. Malcolm
uttered an exclamation of horror.

"It were a kindness to put these wretches out of their misery," the
Swede said, and dismounting he passed his sword through the bodies
of the writhing men. "You know I am in favour of carrying on the
war as mercifully as may be," he continued turning to Malcolm,
"for we have talked the matter over before now; and God forbid that
I should strike a fallen foe; but these poor wretches were beyond
help, and it is true mercy to end their sufferings."

"They have had a heavy lesson," Malcolm said; "there are eleven
more dead up in the belfry, which they tried to carry by storm,
and a dozen at least crushed by stones.

"You and your three men have indeed given a good account of
yourselves," Captain Burgh exclaimed; "but while I am talking you
are fasting. Here is a bottle of wine, a cold chicken, and a manchet
of bread which I put in my wallet on starting; let us breakfast,
for though I do not pretend to have been fasting as you have, the
morning ride has given me an appetite. I see your fellows are hard
at work already on the viands which my orderly brought for them in
his havresack; but first let us move away to the tree over yonder,
for verily the scent of blood and of roasted flesh is enough to take
away one's appetite, little squeamish as these wars have taught us
to be."

Captain Burgh asked no questions until Malcolm had finished his
meal. "I have plenty more food," he said, "for we have brought three
led horses well laden; but it were better that you eat no more at
present, tis ill overloading a fasting stomach. My men will not be
back from the pursuit for a couple of hours yet, for they will not
draw rein so long as their horses can gallop, so excited are they
over the tales of the horrible cruelties which have been perpetrated
on all our men who have fallen into the hands of the peasants, so
now you can tell me in full the tale of your adventures. I had no
time to ask any questions of your sergeant, for we were called up
and sent off five minutes after he arrived with the news that you
with three men were beleaguered here by a party of peasants."

Malcolm related the whole incidents which had befallen him since
he had been suddenly felled and made captive by the women in the
hut in the village. The Swede laughed over this part of the adventure.

"To think," he said, "of you, a dashing captain of the Green Brigade,
being made captive by a couple of old women. There is more than one
gallant Scot, if reports be true, has fallen a captive to German
maidens, but of another sort; to be taken prisoner and hid in a
straw yard is too good."

"It was no laughing matter, I can tell you," Malcolm said, "though
doubtless it will serve as a standing jest against me for a long
time; however, I am so thankful I have got out of the scrape that
those may laugh who will."

When Malcolm finished his story Captain Burgh said:  "You have
managed marvellously well indeed, Graheme, and can well afford to
put up with a little laughter anent that matter of the women, for
in truth there are few who would with three men have held a post
against four or five hundred, as you have done --ay, and fairly
defeated them before I came on the scene. That thought of yours of
laying the door upon the stairs was a masterly one, and you rarely
met and defeated every device of the enemy.

"Now, if you will, I will mount this stronghold of yours with you,
and see exactly how it stands, for I shall have to tell the tale
a score of times at least when I get back to camp, and I can do it
all the better after I have seen for myself the various features
of the place."

By the time they had mounted the top of the tower and Captain Burgh
had fully satisfied himself as to the details of the defence the
troopers began to return. Their horses were far too fatigued with
the long ride from the camp and the subsequent pursuit to be able
to travel farther. Fires were accordingly lit, rations distributed,
and a halt ordered till the following morning, when, at daybreak,
they returned to the Lech.

Two days later Malcolm and his men marched forward with a brigade
which was advancing to reinforce the army under Gustavus, and
reached Ingolstadt on the day when the king raised the siege, and
accompanied him on his march to Munich.

Malcolm on rejoining was greeted with great pleasure by his comrades,
who had made up their minds that he had in some way fallen a victim
to the peasants. The noncommissioned officers and men of his party
had been severely reprimanded for leaving the village without finding
him.  In their defence they declared that they had searched every
house and shed, and, having found no sign of him, or of any struggle
having taken place, they supposed that he must have returned alone.
But their excuses were not held to be valid, the idea of Malcolm
having left his men without orders being so preposterous that it was
held it should never have been entertained for a moment by them.

"I shall never be anxious about you again," Nigel Graheme said, when
Malcolm finished the narrative of his adventures to the officers
of his regiment as they sat round the campfire on the evening when
he rejoined them. "This is the third or fourth time that I have
given you up for dead.  Whatever happens in the future, I shall
refuse to believe the possibility of any harm having come to you,
and shall be sure that sooner or later you will walk quietly into
camp with a fresh batch of adventures to tell us. Whoever of us
may be doomed to lay our bones in this German soil, it will not be
you. Some good fairy has distinctly taken charge of you, and there
is no saying what brilliant destiny may await you."

"But he must keep clear of the petticoats, Graheme," Colonel Munro
laughed; "evidently danger lurks for him there, and if he is caught
napping again some Delilah will assuredly crop the hair of this
young Samson of ours."

"There was not much of Delilah in that fury who felled me with a
mallet, colonel," Malcolm laughed; "however, I will be careful in
future, and will not give them a chance."

"Ah! it may come in another form next time, Malcolm," Munro said;
"this time it was an old woman, next time it may be a young one.
Beware, my boy! they are far the most dangerous, innocent though
they may look."

A laugh ran round the circle.

"Forewarned forearmed, colonel," Malcolm said sturdily, "I will be
on my guard against every female creature, young or old, in future.
But I don't think that in this affair the woman has had much to
boast about -- she and her friends had best have left me alone."

"That is so, Malcolm," the colonel said warmly. "You have borne
yourself well and bravely, and you have got an old head on those
young shoulders of yours. You are as full of plans and stratagems
as if you had been a campaigner for the last half century; and no
man, even in the Green Brigade, no, not Hepburn himself, could have
held that church tower more ably than you did. It will be a good
tale to tell the king as we ride on the march tomorrow, for he
loves a gallant deed, and the more so when there is prudence and
good strategy as well as bravery. He has more than once asked if
you have been getting into any new adventures, and seemed almost
surprised when I told him that you were doing your duty with your
company. He evidently regards it as your special mission to get
into harebrained scrapes. He regards you, in fact, as a pedagogue
might view the pickle of the school."

There was a general laugh at Malcolm's expense.

"I don't know how it is I am always getting into scrapes," the lad
said half ruefully when the laugh subsided. "I am sure I don't want
to get into them, colonel, and really I have never gone out of my
way to do so, unless you call my march to help the Count of Mansfeld
going out of my way. All the other things have come to me without
any fault of my own."

"Quite so, Graheme," the colonel said smiling; "that's always the
excuse of the boy who gets into scrapes.  The question is, Why do
these things always happen to you and to nobody else? If you can
explain that your whole case is made out. But don't take it seriously,
Malcolm," he continued, seeing that the lad looked really crestfallen.

"You know I am only laughing, and there is not a man here, including
myself, who does not envy you a little for the numerous adventures
which have fallen to your lot, and for the courage and wisdom which
you have shown in extricating yourself from them."

"And now, please, will you tell me, colonel," Malcolm said more
cheerfully, "why we are turning our backs upon Ingolstadt and are
marching away without taking it? I have been away for ten days, you
know, and it is a mystery to me why we are leaving the only enemy
between us and Vienna, after having beaten him so heartily a
fortnight since, without making an effort to rout him thoroughly."

"Maximilian's position is a very strong one, my lad, and covered
as he is by the guns of Ingolstadt it would be even a harder task
to dislodge him than it was to cross the Lech in his teeth. But
you are wrong; his is not the only army which stands between us
and Vienna. No sooner is old Tilly dead than a greater than Tilly
appears to oppose us.  Wallenstein is in the field again.  It has
been known that he has for some time been negotiating with the
emperor, who has been imploring him to forgive the slight that was
passed upon him before, and to again take the field.

"Wallenstein, knowing that the game was in his hands, and that the
emperor must finally agree to any terms which he chose to dictate,
has, while he has been negotiating, been collecting an army; and
when the emperor finally agreed to his conditions, that he was at
the conclusion of the peace to be assured a royal title and the
fief of a sovereign state, he had an army ready to his hand, and
is now on the point of entering Bohemia with 40,000 men."

"What his plans may be we cannot yet say, but at any rate it would
not do to be delaying here and leaving Germany open to Wallenstein
to operate as he will. It was a stern day at Leipzig, but, mark
my words, it will be sterner still when we meet Wallenstein; for,
great captain as Tilly undoubtedly was, Wallenstein is far greater,
and Europe will hold its breath when Gustavus and he, the two
greatest captains of the age, meet in a pitched battle."

At Munich the regiments of Munro and Spynie were quartered in the
magnificent Electoral Palace, where they fared sumptuously and
enjoyed not a little their comfortable quarters and the stores of
old wines in the cellar. Sir John Hepburn was appointed military
governor of Munich.

In the arsenal armour, arms, and clothing sufficient for 10,000
infantry were found, and a hundred and forty pieces of cannon were
discovered buried beneath the floors of the palace. Their carriages
were ready in the arsenal, and they were soon put in order for battle.
For three weeks the army remained at Munich, Gustavus waiting to
see what course Wallenstein was taking. The Imperialist general
had entered Bohemia, had driven thence, with scarcely an effort,
Arnheim and the Saxons, and formed a junction near Eger with
the remnants of the army which had been beaten on the Lech; then,
leaving a strong garrison in Ratisbon, he had marched on with an
army of sixty thousand men.

He saw that his best plan to force Gustavus to loose his hold of
Bavaria was to march on some important point lying between him and
North Germany. He therefore selected a place which Gustavus could
not abandon, and so would be obliged to leave Bavaria garrisoned
only by a force insufficient to withstand the attacks of Pappenheim,
who had collected a considerable army for the recovery of the
territories of Maximilian. Such a point was Nuremberg, the greatest
and strongest of the free cities, and which had been the first to
open its gates to Gustavus. The Swedish king could hardly abandon
this friendly city to the assaults of the Imperialists, and indeed
its fall would have been followed by the general defection from his
cause of all that part of Germany, and he would have found himself
isolated and cut off from the North.

As soon as Gustavus perceived that Nuremberg was the point towards
which Wallenstein was moving, he hastened at once from Munich to
the assistance of the threatened city.  The forces at his disposal
had been weakened by the despatch of Marshal Horn to the Lower
Palatinate, and by the garrisons left in the Bavarian cities,
and he had but 17,000 men disposable to meet the 60,000 with whom
Wallenstein was advancing. He did not hesitate, however, but sent
off messengers at once to direct the corps in Swabia under General
Banner, Prince William of Weimar, and General Ruthven, to join him,
if possible, before Nuremberg.

Marching with all haste he arrived at Nuremberg before Wallenstein
reached it, and prepared at once for the defence of the city.
He first called together the principal citizens of Nuremberg and
explained to them his position. He showed them that were he to fall
back with his army he should be able to effect a junction with the
troops under his generals, and would ere long be in a position to
offer battle to Wallenstein upon more equal terms, but that were
he to do so he would be forced to abandon the city to the vengeance
of the Imperialists. He told them that did he remain before the
city he must to a great extent be dependent upon them for food and
supplies, as he would be beleaguered by Wallenstein, and should be
unable to draw food and forage from the surrounding country; he
could therefore only maintain himself by the aid of the cordial
goodwill and assistance of the citizens.

The people of Nuremberg were true to the side they had chosen,
and placed the whole of their resources at his disposal. Gustavus
at once set his army to work to form a position in which he could
confront the overwhelming forces of the enemy. Round the city, at
a distance of about thirteen hundred yards from it, he dug a ditch,
nowhere less than twelve feet wide and eight deep, but, where most
exposed to an attack, eighteen feet wide and twelve deep. Within the
circuit of this ditch he erected eight large forts and connected them
with a long and thick earthen parapet strengthened with bastions.
On the ramparts and forts three hundred cannon, for the most part
supplied by the city of Nuremberg, were placed in position. As the
camp between the ramparts and the town was traversed by the river
Pegnitz numerous bridges were thrown across it, so that the whole
force could concentrate on either side in case of attack. So
vigorously did the army, assisted by the citizens, labour at these
works, that they were completed in fourteen days after Gustavus
reached Nuremberg.

It was on the 19th of June that the Swedish army arrived there, and
on the 30th Wallenstein and Maximilian of Bavaria appeared before
it with the intention of making an immediate assault. The works,
however, although not yet quite completed, were so formidable that
Wallenstein saw at once that the success of an assault upon them
would be extremely doubtful, and, in spite of the earnest entreaties
of Maximilian to lead his army to the assault, he decided to
reduce the place by starvation. This method appeared at once easy
and certain. The whole of the surrounding country belonged to the
Bishop of Bamberg, who was devoted to the Imperialist cause, and
he possessed all the towns, and strong places in the circle of
country around Nuremberg. Wallenstein had brought with him vast
stores of provisions, and could draw upon the surrounding country
for the further maintenance of his army. It was only necessary then
to place himself in a position where the Swedes could not attack
him with a hope of success.

Such a position lay at a distance of three miles from Nuremberg,
where there was a wooded hill known as the Alte Veste. Round this
Wallenstein threw up a circle of defences, consisting of a ditch
behind which was an interlacement of forest trees, baggage wagons,
and gabions, forming an almost insurpassable obstacle to an attacking
force. Within this circle he encamped his army, formed into eight
divisions, each about seven thousand strong, while two considerable
bodies of troops in the diocese of Bamberg and the Upper Palatinate
prepared to oppose any forces approaching to the aid of Nuremberg,
and the Croats, horse and foot, scoured the country day and night
to prevent any supplies entering the city. Having thus adopted every
means for starving out the beleaguered army and city, Wallenstein
calmly awaited the result.



CHAPTER XVI THE SIEGE OF NUREMBERG


Drearily passed the days in the beleaguered camp, varied only
by an occasional raid by small parties to drive in cattle from
the surrounding country, or to intercept convoys of provisions on
their way to the Imperialists' camp. So active and watchful were
the Croats that these enterprises seldom succeeded, although, to
enable his men to move with celerity, Gustavus mounted bodies of
infantry on horseback. Thus they were enabled to get over the ground
quickly, and if attacked they dismounted and fought on foot.

To these mounted infantry the name of dragoons was given, and so
useful were they found that the institution was adopted in other
armies, and dragoons became a recognized portion of every military
force.  In time the custom of dismounting and fighting on foot was
gradually abandoned, and dragoons became regular cavalry; but in
modern times the utility of Gustavus's invention of mounted infantry
has been again recognized, and in all the small wars in which England
has been engaged bodies of mounted infantry have been organized.
Ere long mounted infantry will again become a recognized arm of
the service.

But these raids in search of provisions occupied but a small portion
of the army. The rest passed their time in enforced idleness.
There was nothing to be done save to clean and furbish their arms
and armour; to stand on the ramparts and gaze on the distant heights
of the Alte Veste, to watch the solid columns of the Imperial army,
which from time to time Wallenstein marched down from his stronghold
and paraded in order of battle, as a challenge to the Swedes
to come out and fight, or to loiter through the narrow streets of
Nuremberg, and to talk to the citizens, whose trade and commerce
were now entirely at a standstill.  Malcolm, with the restlessness
of youth, seldom stayed many hours quiet in camp. He did not care
either for drinking or gambling; nor could he imitate the passive
tranquillity of the old soldiers, who were content to sleep away
the greater part of their time.  He therefore spent many hours
every day in the city, where he speedily made many acquaintances.

In the city of Nuremberg time dragged as slowly as it did in the
camp. At ordinary times the centre of a quiet and busy trade, the
city was now cut off from the world. The shops were for the most part
closed; the artisans stood idle in the streets, and the townsfolk
had nought to do, save to gather in groups and discuss the times,
or to take occasional excursions beyond the gates into the camp
of their allies.  The advances then of the young Scottish officer
were willingly responded to, and he soon became intimate in the
houses of all the principal citizens; and while the greater part
of his comrades spent their evenings in drinking and gambling, he
enjoyed the hours in conversation and music in the houses of the
citizens of Nuremberg.

The long inaction brought its moral consequences, and the troops
became demoralized and insubordinate from their enforced idleness.
Plundering and acts of violence became so common that Gustavus was
obliged to issue the most stringent ordinances to restore discipline;
and an officer and many men had to be executed before the spirit
of insubordination was quelled. In order to pass some of the hours
of the days Malcolm obtained leave from one of the great clockmakers
of the town -- for Nuremberg was at that time the centre of the
craft of clockmaking -- to allow him to work in his shop, and to
learn the mysteries of his trade.

Most of the establishments were closed, but Malcolm's acquaintance
was one of the wealthiest of the citizens, and was able to keep
his craftsmen at work, and to store the goods he manufactured until
better times should return. Malcolm began the work purely to occupy
his time, but he presently came to take a lively interest in it,
and was soon able to take to pieces and put together again the
cumbrous but simple machines which constituted the clocks of the
period.

Workshops were not in those days factories. The master of a craft
worked, surrounded by his craftsmen and apprentices. Every wheel
and spring were made upon the premises, fashioned and finished with
chisel and file; and there was an interest in the work far beyond
any which it possesses in the present day, when watches are turned
out wholesale, the separate parts being prepared by machinery,
and the work of the artisan consisting solely in the finishing and
putting them together.

Laying aside his armour and gay attire, and donning a workman's
apron, Malcolm sat at the bench by the side of the master, shaping
and filing, and listening to his stories connected with the trade
and history of Nuremberg. He anticipated no advantage from the
knowledge he was gaining, but regarded it simply as a pleasant way
of getting through a portion of the day.

Thus for three months the armies confronted each other. Provisions
were becoming terribly scarce, the magazines of the city were
emptying fast, and although working night and day, the mills of
the place did not suffice to grind flour for the needs of so many
mouths. The population of the city itself was greatly swollen by
the crowds of Protestant fugitives who had fled there for refuge
on the approach of the Imperialists, and the magazines of the city
dwindled fast under the demands made upon them by this addition,
and that of the Swedish army, to the normal population. Fever broke
out in the city and camp. The waters of the Pegnitz were tainted
by the carcasses of dead horses and other animals. The supplies
of forage had long since been exhausted, and the baggage and troop
animals died in vast numbers.

Still there was no sign of a change. Wallenstein would not attack,
Gustavus could not. The Swedish king waited to take advantage of some
false move on the part of the Imperial commander; but Wallenstein
was as great a general as himself, and afforded him no opening,
turning a deaf ear to the entreaties and importunities of Maximilian
that he would end the tedious siege by an attack upon the small
and enfeebled army around Nuremberg.

All this time Gustavus was in constant communication with
his generals outside, his messengers making their way by speed or
stratagem through the beleaguering Croats, and kept up the spirits
of his men by daily reviews and by the cheerful countenance which
he always wore.

The Swedish columns were gradually closing in towards Nuremberg.
One was led by the chancellor Oxenstiern, to whom had been committed
the care of the Middle Rhine and the Lower Palatinate, where he
had been confronted by the Spanish troops under Don Philip de Sylva.

On the 11th July, leaving Horn with a small force to oppose the
Spaniards, the chancellor set out to join his master. On the way he
effected a junction with the forces of the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel.
This general had been opposed in Westphalia by Pappenheim, but
he seized the opportunity when the latter had marched to relieve
Maestricht, which was besieged by Frederic of Nassau, to march away
and join Oxenstiern.

The Scotch officers Ballandine and Alexander Hamilton were with
their regiment in the Duchy of Magdeburg. When the news of the
king's danger reached them without waiting for instructions they
marched to Halle and joining a portion of the division of the Duke
of Saxe-Weimar, to which they were attached, pushed on to Zeitz,
and were there joined by the duke himself, who had hurried on from
the Lake of Constance, attended only by his guards, but, picking
up five Saxon regiments in Franconia. Together they passed
on to Wurtzburg, where they joined Oxenstiern and the Landgrave
of Hesse-Cassel. General Banner, with the fourth corps, was at
Augsburg, opposed to Cratz, who was at the head of the remains of
Tilly's old army.

Slipping away from his foes he marched to Windsheim, and was there
joined by a body of troops under Bernhard of Weimar. The force from
Wurtzburg soon afterwards came up, and the whole of the detached
corps, amounting to 49,000 men, being now collected, they marched
to Bruck, ten miles north of Nuremberg. Three days later, on the
16th of August, Gustavus rode into their camp, and on the 21st
marched at their head into Nuremberg, unhindered by the Imperialists.

Gustavus probably calculated that the Imperialists would now move
down and offer battle; but Wallenstein, who had detached 10,000 men
to bring up supplies, could not place in the field a number equal
to those of the reinforcements, and preferred to await an attack
in the position which he had prepared with such care.  He knew the
straits to which Nuremberg and its defenders were reduced, and the
impossibility there would be of feeding the new arrivals.

The country round for a vast distance had been long since stripped
of provisions, and Gustavus had no course open to him but to march
away with his army and leave the city to its fate, or to attack
the Imperialists in their stronghold.

On the day after his arrival, the 21st of August, Gustavus marched
out and opened a cannonade upon the Imperialists' position, in order
to induce Wallenstein to come down and give battle. Wallenstein was
not, however, to be tempted, but kept his whole army busy with the
spade and axe further intrenching his position. The next day the
king brought his guns nearer to the enemy's camp, and for twenty-four
hours kept up a heavy fire. The only result, however, was that
Wallenstein fell back a few hundred yards on to two ridges, on one
of which was the ruined castle called the Alte Veste; the other was
known as the Altenburg. The ascent to these was steep and craggy,
and they were covered by a thick forest.  Here Wallenstein formed
in front of his position a threefold barrier of felled trees woven
and interlaced with each other, each barrier rising in a semicircle
one above the other. Before the Swedish cannon ceased to fire the
new position of the Imperialists had been made impregnable.

Unfortunately for Gustavus he had at this moment lost the services
of the best officer in his army, Sir John Hepburn, whom he had
always regarded as his right hand. The quarrel had arisen from some
trifling circumstance, and Gustavus in the heat of the moment made
some disparaging allusion to the religion of Hepburn, who was a
Catholic and also to that officer's love of dress and finery. The
indignant Hepburn at once resigned his commission and swore never
again to draw his sword in the service of the king -- a resolution
to which he adhered, although Gustavus, when his anger cooled,
endeavoured in every way to appease the angry soldier.

As he persisted in his resolution Colonel Munro was appointed to
the command of the Green Brigade. It is probable that the quarrel
was the consummation of a long standing grievance. Hepburn as well
as the other Scottish officers had shared the indignation of Sir
John Hamilton when the latter resigned in consequence of the Swedish
troop being placed in the post of honour at the storm of the castle
of Marienburg after the Scots had done all the work. There had,
too, been much discontent among them concerning the Marquis of
Hamilton, whom they considered that Gustavus had treated ungenerously;
and still more concerning Lieutenant Colonel Douglas, whom Gustavus
had committed to a common prison for a slight breach of etiquette,
a punishment at which the English ambassador, Sir Harry Vane,
remonstrated, and which the whole Scottish officers considered an
insult to them and their country.

There were probably faults on both sides. The Scottish troops were
the backbone of the Swedish army, and to them were principally
due almost the whole of the successes which Gustavus had gained.
Doubtless they presumed upon the fact, and although Gustavus recognized
his obligations, as is shown by the immense number of commands and
governorships which he bestowed upon his Scottish officers, he may
well have been angered and irritated by the insistance with which
they asserted their claims and services. It was, however, a most
unfortunate circumstance that just at this critical moment he should
have lost the services of an officer whose prudence was equal to
his daring, and who was unquestionably one of the greatest military
leaders of his age.

It is probable that had Hepburn remained by his side the king would
not have undertaken the attack upon the impregnable position of
the Imperialists. Deprived of the counsellor upon whose advice he
had hitherto invariably relied, Gustavus determined to attempt to
drive Wallenstein from his position, the decision being finally
induced by a ruse of the Imperialist commander, who desired nothing
so much as that the Swedes should dash their forces against the
terrible position he had prepared for them. Accordingly on the 24th
of August he directed a considerable portion of his force to march
away from the rear of his position as if, alarmed at the superior
strength of the Swedes, he had determined to abandon the heights
he had so long occupied and to march away.

Gustavus fell into the trap, and prepared at once to assault the
position. Two hundred pieces of artillery heralded the advance,
which was made by the whole body of the musketeers of the army,
drafted from the several brigades and divided into battalions 500
strong, each commanded by a colonel. It was a terrible position
which they were advancing to storm. Each of the lines of intrenchments
was surmounted by rows of polished helmets, while pikes and arquebuses
glittered in the sunshine; but it was not long that the scene was
visible, for as the battalions approached the foot of the Altenburg
80 pieces of artillery opened from its summit and from the ridge
of the Alte Veste, while the smoke of the arquebuses drifted up in
a cloud from the lines of intrenchments.

Steadily and in good order the Scotch and Swedish infantry pressed
forward, and forcing the lower ditch strove to climb the rocky
heights; but in vain did they strive. Over and over again they reached
the intrenchments, but were unable to force their way through the
thickly bound fallen trees, while their lines were torn with a
storm of iron and lead. Never did the Scottish soldiers of Gustavus
fight with greater desperation and valour. Scores of them rolled
lifeless down the slope, but fresh men took their places and strove
to hack their way through the impenetrable screen through which
the Imperialist bullets whistled like hail.

At last, when nigh half their number had fallen, the rest, exhausted,
broken, and in disorder, fell suddenly back.  Gustavus in person
then led on his Finlanders, but these, after a struggle as obstinate
and heroic as that of their predecessors, in their turn fell back
baffled. The Livonians next made the attempt, but in vain.

In the meantime a sharp conflict had taken place between the Imperial
cavalry and the Swedish left wing.  Wallenstein's cuirassiers, hidden
by the smoke, charged right through a column of Swedish infantry;
but this success was counterbalanced by the rout of Cronenberg's
Invincibles, a magnificent regiment of 1500 horsemen, by 200 Finland
troopers. The troops of Duke Bernhard of Weimar, among whom were
still the Scottish regiments of Hamilton and Douglas, marched
against the heights which commanded the Alte Veste, and drove back
the Imperialists with great loss. Five hundred musketeers of the
Green Brigade under Colonel Munro then pushed gallantly forward
and posted themselves far in advance, resisting all attempts of the
Imperialists to drive them back, until Lieutenant Colonel Sinclair,
who was now in command of Munro's own regiment, brought it forward
to his assistance. Until the next morning this body of one thousand
men maintained the ground they had won in spite of all the efforts
of the Imperialists to dislodge them.

Colonel Munro was severely wounded in the left side.  Lieutenant
Colonel Maken, Capt. Innis, and Capt.  Traill were killed, and an
immense number of other Scottish officers were killed and wounded.
The news was brought down to Gustavus of the advantage gained by
Duke Bernhard, but he was unable to take advantage of it by moving
his army round to that position, as he would have exposed himself
to a counter attack of the enemy while doing so. He therefore
launched a fresh column of attack against the Alte Veste.

This was followed by another and yet another, until every regiment
in the army had in its turn attempted to storm the position, but
still without success.

The battle had now raged for ten hours, and nightfall put an end
to the struggle. Hepburn had all day ridden behind the king as a
simple cavalier, and had twice carried messages through the thick
of the fire when there were no others to bear them, so great had
been the slaughter round the person of the king.

It was the first time that Gustavus had been repulsed, and he could
hardly yet realize the fact; but as messenger after messenger came
in from the different divisions he discovered how terrible had
been his loss. Most of his generals and superior officers had been
killed or wounded, 2000 men lay dead on the field, and there were
nigh three times that number of wounded.

The Imperialists on their side lost 1000 killed and 1500 wounded;
but the accounts of the losses on both sides differ greatly, some
placing the Imperial loss higher than that of the Swedes, a palpably
absurd estimate, as the Imperialists, fighting behind shelter, could
not have suffered anything like so heavily as their assailants,
who were exposed to their fire in the open.

Hepburn bore the order from the king for Munro's troops and those
of Duke Bernhard to retire from the position they had won, as
they were entirely cut off from the rest of the army, and would
at daylight have had the whole of the Imperialists upon them. The
service was one of great danger, and Hepburn had to cut his way
sword in hand through the Croats who intervened between him and his
comrades of the Green Brigade. He accomplished his task in safety,
and before daylight Munro's men and the regiments of Duke Bernhard
rejoined the army in the plain. But though repulsed Gustavus was
not defeated. He took up a new position just out of cannon shot of
the Altenburg, and then offered battle to Wallenstein, the latter,
however, well satisfied with his success, remained firm in his
policy of starving out the enemy, and resisted every device of the
king to turn him from his stronghold.

For fourteen days Gustavus remained in position. Then he could hold
out no longer. The supplies were entirely exhausted. The summer had
been unusually hot. The shrunken waters of the Pegnitz were putrid
and stinking, the carcasses of dead horses poisoned the air, and
fever and pestilence raged in the camp.  Leaving, then, Kniphausen
with eight thousand men to aid the citizens of Nuremberg to defend
the city should Wallenstein besiege it, Gustavus marched on the 8th
of September by way of Neustadt to Windsheim, and there halted to
watch the further movements of the enemy.

Five days later Wallenstein quitted his camp and marched to Forsheim.
So far the advantage of the campaign lay with him.  His patience
and iron resolution had given the first check to the victorious
career of the Lion of the North.

Munro's regiment, as it was still called -- for he was now its full
colonel, although Lieutenant Colonel Sinclair commanded it in the
field -- had suffered terribly, but less, perhaps, than some of
those who had in vain attempted to force their way up the slopes
of the Alte Veste; and many an eye grew moist as at daybreak the
regiment marched into its place in the ranks of the brigade and saw
how terrible had been the slaughter among them. Munro's soldiers
had had but little of that hand to hand fighting in which men's
blood becomes heated and all thought of danger is lost in the
fierce desire to kill. Their losses had been caused by the storm
of cannonball and bullet which had swept through them, as, panting
and breathless, they struggled up the steep slopes, incapable of
answering the fire of the enemy. They had had their triumph, indeed,
as the Imperial regiments broke and fled before their advance;
but although proud that they at least had succeeded in a day when
failure was general, there was not a man but regretted that he had
not come within push of pike of the enemy.

Malcolm Graheme had passed scatheless through the fray -- a good
fortune that had attended but few of his brother officers. His uncle
was badly wounded, and several of his friends had fallen. Of the
men who had marched from Denmark but a year before scarce a third
remained in the ranks, and although the regiment had been strengthened
by the breaking up of two or three of the weaker battalions and
their incorporation with the other Scottish regiments, it was now
less than half its former strength. While Gustavus and Wallenstein
had been facing each other at Nuremberg the war had continued without
interruption in other parts, and the Swedes and their allies had
gained advantages everywhere except in Westphalia and Lower Saxony,
where Pappenheim had more than held his own against Baudissen, who
commanded for Gustavus; and although Wallenstein had checked the
king he had gained no material advantages and had wrested no single
town or fortress from his hands.  Gustavus was still in Bavaria,
nearer to Munich than he was, his garrisons still holding Ulm,
Nordlingen, and Donauworth, its strongest fortresses.

He felt sure, however, that it would be impossible for Gustavus
to maintain at one spot the army which he had at Windsheim, and
that with so many points to defend he would soon break it up into
separate commands. He resolved then to wait until he did so, and
then to sweep down upon Northern Germany, and so by threatening
the king's line of retreat to force him to abandon Bavaria and the
south and to march to meet him.

At present he was in no position to risk a battle, for he had already
detached 4000 men to reinforce Holk, whom he had sent with 10,000
to threaten Dresden. The 13,000 Bavarians who were with him under
Maximilian had separated from him on his way to Forsheim, and
on arriving at that place his army numbered but 17,000 men, while
Gustavus had more than 40,000 gathered at Windsheim.

Gustavus, on his part, determined to carry out his former projects,
to march against Ingolstadt, which he had before failed to capture,
and thence to penetrate into Upper Austria. But fearful lest
Wallenstein, released from his presence, should attempt to recover
the fortresses in Franconia, he despatched half his force under Duke
Bernhard to prevent the Imperial general from crossing the Rhine.
Could he succeed in doing this he would be in a position to dictate
terms to the emperor in Vienna.

On the 12th of October he reached Neuberg, on the Danube, and halted
there, awaiting the arrival of his siege train from Donauworth.
While making the most vigorous exertions to press on the necessary
arrangements for his march against Vienna he received the most
urgent messages to return to Saxony. Not only, as he was told, had
Wallenstein penetrated into that province, but he was employing
all his influence to detach its elector from the Protestant cause,
and there was great fear that the weak prince would yield to the
solicitations of Wallenstein and to his own jealousy of the King
of Sweden.

No sooner, in fact, had Gustavus crossed the Danube than Wallenstein
moved towards Schweinfurt, and by so doing drew to that place the
Swedish army under the command of Duke Bernhard. He then suddenly
marched eastward at full speed, capturing Bamberg, Baireuth, and
Culmbach, and pushed on to Colberg.

The town was captured, but the Swedish Colonel Dubatel, who
was really a Scotchman, by name M'Dougal, a gallant and brilliant
officer, threw himself with his dragoons into the castle, which
commanded the town, and defended it so resolutely against the
assaults of Wallenstein that Duke Bernhard had time to march to
within twenty miles of the place. Wallenstein then raised the siege,
marched east to Kronach, and then north to Weida, on the Elster.
Thence he pressed on direct to Leipzig, which he besieged at once;
and while the main body of his troops were engaged before the city,
others took possession of the surrounding towns and fortresses.

Leipzig held out for only two days, and after its capture
Wallenstein marched to Merseburg, where he was joined by the army
under Pappenheim. Thus reinforced he was in a position to capture
the whole of Saxony. The elector, timid and vacillating, was fully
conscious of his danger and the solicitations of Wallenstein to
break off from his alliance with the King of Sweden and to join
the Imperialists were strongly seconded by Marshal Von Arnheim,
his most trusted councillor, who was an intimate friend of the
Imperialist general.

It was indeed a hard decision which Gustavus was called upon
to make. On the one hand Vienna lay almost within his grasp, for
Wallenstein was now too far north to interpose between him and
the capital. On the other hand, should the Elector of Saxony join
the Imperialists, his position after the capture of Vienna would
be perilous in the extreme. The emperor would probably leave his
capital before he arrived there, and the conquest would, therefore,
be a barren one.  Gustavus reluctantly determined to abandon his
plan, and to march to the assistance of Saxony.



CHAPTER XVII THE DEATH OF GUSTAVUS


The determination of Gustavus to march to the assistance of Saxony
once taken, he lost not a moment in carrying it into effect. General
Banner, whom he greatly trusted, was unfortunately suffering from a
wound, and until he should recover he appointed the Prince Palatine
of Burkenfeldt to command a corps 12,000 strong which he determined
to leave on the Danube; then strengthening the garrisons of Augsburg,
Rain, and Donauworth, he set out with the remainder of his army on
his march to Saxony.

From Donauworth he marched to Nuremberg, stayed there forty-eight
hours to recover the fortress of Lauf, and, having forced the
garrison of that place to surrender at discretion, pushed on with all
possible speed to Erfurt, which he had fixed upon as the point of
junction for his several corps. The Green Brigade formed a portion
of the force which Gustavus left behind him in Bavaria under the
Prince Palatine. So terribly weakened were the Scottish regiments
by the various battles of the campaign, in all of which they had
borne the brunt of the fighting, that Gustavus determined reluctantly
to leave them behind for rest and reorganization.

Hepburn, Sir James Hamilton, Sir James Ramsay, and the Marquis of
Hamilton, who like Hepburn had quarrelled with Gustavus, left the
Swedish army the day after they arrived at Neustadt, after marching
away from Nuremberg.  All the Scottish officers in the Swedish army
accompanied Hepburn and his three companions along the road for a
long German mile from Neustadt, and then parted with great grief
from the gallant cavalier who had led them so often to victory.

Malcolm Graheme did not remain behind in Bavaria with his comrades
of the Green Brigade. Gustavus, who had taken a great fancy to the
young Scotch officer, whose spirit of adventure and daring were
in strong harmony with his own character, appointed him to ride on
his own personal staff.  Although he parted with regret from his
comrades, Malcolm was glad to accompany the king on his northward
march, for there was no probability of any very active service in
Bavaria, and it was certain that a desperate battle would be fought
when Gustavus and Wallenstein met face to face in the open field.

At Erfurt Gustavus was joined by Duke Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar with
his force, which raised his army to a strength of 20,000. The news
of his approach had again revived the courage of the Elector of
Saxony, who had occupied the only towns where the Elbe could be
crossed, Dresden, Torgau, and Wittenberg -- he himself, with his
main army of 15,000 men, lying at Torgau. From him Gustavus learned
that the Imperial army was divided into three chief corps -- that
of Wallenstein 12,000 strong, that of Pappenheim 10,000, those of
Gallas and Holk united 16,000, making a total of 38,000 men.

So great was the speed with which Gustavus had marched to Erfurt that
Wallenstein had received no notice of his approach; and believing
that for some time to come he should meet with no serious opposition,
he had on the very day after the Swedes reached Erfurt despatched
Gallas with 12,000 men into Bohemia. A division of his troops was at
the same time threatening Naumburg, whose possession would enable
him to block the only easy road with which Gustavus could enter
the country held by him.

But Gustavus at Erfurt learned that Naumburg had not yet fallen,
and marching with great rapidity reached the neighbourhood of that
town before the Imperialists were aware that he had quitted Erfurt,
and cutting up a small detachment of the enemy who lay in his way,
entered the town and at once began to intrench it.  Wallenstein first
learned from the fugitives of the beaten detachment that Gustavus
had arrived at Naumburg, but as his own position lay almost centrally
between Naumburg and Torgau, so long as he could prevent the Swedes
and Saxons from uniting, he felt safe; for although together they
would outnumber him, he was superior in strength to either if
alone. The Imperialist general believed that Gustavus intended to
pass the winter at Naumburg, and he had therefore no fear of an
immediate attack.

In order to extend the area from which he could draw his supplies
Wallenstein despatched Pappenheim to secure the fortress of Halle;
for although that town had been captured the fortress held out,
and barred the main road to the north. From Halle Pappenheim was
to proceed to the relief of Cologne, which was menaced by the enemy.

Having done this, Wallenstein withdrew from the line of the Saale
and prepared to distribute his army in winter quarters in the towns
of the district, he himself with a portion of the force occupying
the little town of Lutzen. But Gustavus had no idea of taking up his
quarters for the winter at Naumburg; and he proposed to the Elector
of Saxony that if he would march to Eilenberg, midway to Leipzig,
he himself would make a detour to the south round Wallenstein's
position and join him there. Without waiting to receive the answer
of the elector, Gustavus, leaving a garrison in Naumburg, set out
at one o'clock in the morning on the 5th of November on his march;
but before he had proceeded nine miles he learned from a number
of gentlemen and peasants favourable to the cause that Pappenheim
had started for Halle, that the remainder of the Imperial army lay
dispersed among the towns and villages of the neighbourhood, and
that Wallenstein himself was at Lutzen.

Gustavus called his generals together and informed them of the
news. Learning that Lutzen was but five miles distant -- as it
turned out, a mistaken piece of information, as it was nearly twice
as far -- he ordered that the men should take some food, and then
wheeling to the left, push on towards Lutzen.

It was not until some time later that Wallenstein learned from the
Imperial scouts that Gustavus was upon him. It was then nearly five
o'clock in the evening, and darkness was at hand. Considering the
heavy state of the roads, and the fact that Gustavus would have in
the last three miles of his march to traverse a morass crossed by
a bridge over which only two persons could pass abreast, he felt
confident that the attack could not be made until the following
morning.

Mounted messengers were sent in all directions to bring up his troops
from the villages in which they were posted, and in the meantime
the troops stationed around Lutzen were employed in preparing
obstacles to hinder the advance of the Swedes. On either side of
the roads was a low swampy country intersected with ditches, and
Wallenstein at once set his men to work to widen and deepen these
ditches, which the troops as they arrived on the ground were to
occupy. All night the troops laboured at this task.

In the meantime Gustavus had found the distance longer and the
difficulties greater than he had anticipated; the roads were so
heavy that it was with difficulty that the artillery and ammunition
wagons could be dragged along them, and the delay caused by the
passage of the morass was very great.

Indeed the passage would have been scarcely possible had the men
of an Imperial regiment of cuirassiers and a battalion of Croats,
who were posted in a village on the further side of the morass,
defended it; but instead of doing so they fell back to an eminence
in the rear of the village, and remained there quietly until, just
as the sun set, the whole Swedish army got across. The cuirassiers
and Croats were at once attacked and put to flight; but as darkness
was now at hand it was impossible for Gustavus to make any further
advance, and the army was ordered to bivouac as it stood.  The
state of the roads had defeated the plans of Gustavus.  Instead
of taking the enemy by surprise, as he had hoped, and falling upon
them scattered and disunited, the delays which had occurred had
given Wallenstein time to bring up all his forces, and at daybreak
Gustavus would be confronted by a force nearly equal to his own,
and occupying a position very strongly defended by natural obstacles.

Before the day was won, Pappenheim, for whom Wallenstein would
have sent as soon as he heard of the Swedish advance, might be on
the field, and in that case the Imperialists would not only have the
advantage of position but also that of numbers. It was an anxious
night, and Gustavus spent the greater part of it in conversation
with his generals, especially Kniphausen and Duke Bernhard.

The former strongly urged that the army should repass the morass
and march, as originally intended, to effect a junction with the
Saxons. He pointed out that the troops were fatigued with their
long and weary march during the day, and would have to fight without
food, as it had been found impossible to bring up the wagons with
the supplies; he particularly urged the point that Pappenheim would
arrive on the field before the victory could be won. But Gustavus
was of opinion that the disadvantages of retreat were greater than
those of action. The troops, hungry, weary, and dispirited, would
be attacked as they retired, and he believed that by beginning the
action early the Imperialists could be defeated before Pappenheim
could return from Halle.

Gustavus proposed to move forward at two o'clock in the morning;
but fate was upon this occasion against the great Swedish leader.
Just as on the previous day the expected length of the march
and the heavy state of the roads had prevented him from crushing
Wallenstein's scattered army, so now a thick fog springing up, making
the night so dark that a soldier could not see the man standing
next to him, prevented the possibility of movement, and instead of
marching at two o'clock in the morning it was nine before the sun
cleared away the fog sufficiently to enable the army to advance.
Then, after addressing a few stirring words to his men, Gustavus
ordered the advance towards Chursitz, the village in front of them.

The king himself led the right wing, consisting of six regiments
of Swedes, supported by musketeers intermingled with cavalry. The
left, composed of cavalry and infantry intermixed, was commanded by
Duke Bernhard. The centre, consisting of four brigades of infantry
supported by the Scottish regiments under Henderson, was commanded
by Nicholas Brahe, Count of Weissenburg.

The reserves behind each of these divisions were formed entirely
of cavalry, commanded on the right by Bulach, in the centre by
Kniphausen, and on the left by Ernest, Prince of Anhalt. The field
pieces, twenty in number, were disposed to the best advantage between
the wings. Franz Albert of Lauenburg, who had joined the army the
day before, rode by the king. A short halt was made at Chursitz,
where the baggage was left behind, and the army then advanced
against the Imperialists, who at once opened fire.

Wallenstein had posted his left so as to be covered by a canal,
while his right was protected by the village of Lutzen.  On some
rising ground to the left of that village, where there were several
windmills, he planted fourteen small pieces of cannon, while
to support his front, which was composed of the musketeers in the
ditches on either side of the road, he planted a battery of seven
heavy pieces of artillery.

The main body of his infantry he formed into four massive brigades,
which were flanked on both sides by musketeers intermixed with
cavalry. Count Coloredo commanded on the left, Holk on the right,
Terzky in the centre.

As the Swedish army advanced beyond Chursitz the seven heavy pieces
of artillery on the side of the road opened upon them, doing much
execution, while their own lighter guns could not reply effectively.
The Swedes pressed forward to come to close quarters. The left
wing, led by Duke Bernhard, was the first to arrive upon the scene
of action.  Gallantly led by the duke his men forced the ditches,
cleared the road, charged the deadly battery, killed or drove away
the gunners, and rushed with fury on the Imperialist right.

Holk, a resolute commander, tried in vain to stem the assault;
the ardour of the Swedes was irresistible, and they scattered, one
after the other, his three brigades. The battle seemed already lost
when Wallenstein himself took his place at the head of the fourth
brigade, and fell upon the Swedes, who were disordered by the
rapidity and ardour of their charge, while at the same moment he
launched three regiments of cavalry on their flanks.

The Swedes fought heroically but in vain; step by step they were
driven back, the battery was recaptured, and the guns, which in the
excitement of the advance the captors had omitted to spike, were
retaken by the Imperialists.

In the meantime on the right the king had also forced the road,
and had driven from the field the Croats and Poles opposed to him,
and he was on the point of wheeling his troops to fall on the flank
of the Imperialist centre when one of Duke Bernhard's aides-de-camp
dashed up with the news that the left wing had fallen back broken
and in disorder.

Leaving to Count Stalhaus to continue to press the enemy, Gustavus,
accompanied by his staff, rode at full gallop to the left at the
head of Steinboch's regiment of dragoons.  Arrived on the spot
he dashed to the front at a point where his men had not yet been
forced back across the road, and riding among them roused them to
fresh exertions. By his side were Franz Albert of Lauenberg and a few
other followers. But his pace had been so furious that Steinboch's
dragoons had not yet arrived. As he urged on his broken men
Gustavus was struck in the shoulder by a musketball.  He reeled in
his saddle, but exclaimed, "It is nothing," and ordered them to
charge the enemy with the dragoons.  Malcolm Graheme and others
on his staff hesitated, but the king exclaimed, "Ride all, the
duke will see to me." The cavalry dashed forward, and the king,
accompanied only by Franz Albert, Duke of Lauenberg, turned to leave
the field, but he had scarcely moved a few paces when he received
another shot in the back. Calling out to Franz Albert that it was
all over with him, the mortally wounded king fell to the ground.

Franz Albert, believing the battle lost, galloped away; the king's
page alone remained with the dying man.  A minute later three
Austrian cuirassiers rode up, and demanded the name of the dying
man. The page Leubelfing refused to give it, and firing their pistols
at him they stretched him mortally wounded beside the dying king.
Gustavus then, but with difficulty, said who he was. The troopers
leapt from their horses and stripped his rich armour from him, and
then, as they saw Steinboch's dragoons returning from their charge,
they placed their pistols close to the king's head and fired, and
then leaping on their horses fled.

Great was the grief when Malcolm, happening to ride near the body,
recognized it as that of the king. An instant later a regiment of
Imperialist cavalry charged down, and a furious fight took place
for some minutes over the king's body. It was, however, at last
carried off by the Swedes, so disfigured by wounds and by the
trampling of the horses in the fray as to be unrecognizable.

The news of the fall of their king, which spread rapidly through
the ranks, so far from discouraging the Swedes, inspired them with
a desperate determination to avenge his death, and burning with fury
they advanced against the enemy, yet preserving the most perfect
steadiness and order in their ranks.

In vain did Wallenstein and his officers strive to stem the attack of
the left wing, their bravery and skill availed nothing to arrest
that furious charge. Regiment after regiment who strove to bar their
way were swept aside, the guns near the windmills were captured
and turned against the enemy. Step by step the Imperial right wing
was forced back, and the centre was assailed in flank by the guns
from the rising ground, while Stalhaus with the right wing of the
Swedes attacked them on their left.

Hopeless of victory the Imperialist centre was giving way, when the
explosion of one of their powder wagons still further shook them.
Attacked on both flanks and in front the Imperialist centre wavered,
and in a few minutes would have been in full flight. The Swedish
victory seemed assured, when a mighty trampling of horse was heard,
and emerging from the smoke Pappenheim with eight regiments of
Imperial cavalry dashed into the fray.

Pappenheim had already captured the citadel of Halle when Wallenstein's
messenger reached him. To wait until his infantry, who were engaged
in plundering, could be collected, and then to proceed at their
pace to the field of battle, would be to arrive too late to be of
service, and Pappenheim instantly placed himself at the head of
his eight regiments of magnificent cavalry, and galloped at full
speed to the battlefield eighteen miles distant. On the way he
met large numbers of flying Poles and Croats, the remnants of the
Austrian left, who had been driven from the field by Gustavus; these
he rallied, and with them dashed upon the troops of Stalhaus who
were pursuing them, and forced them backward. The relief afforded
to the Imperialists by this opportune arrival was immense, and
leaving Pappenheim to deal with the Swedish right, Wallenstein
rallied his own right on the centre, and opposed a fresh front to
the advancing troops of Duke Bernhard and Kniphausen.  Inspirited
by the arrival of the reinforcements, and burning to turn what had
just appeared a defeat into a victory, the Imperialists advanced
with such ardour that the Swedes were driven back, the guns on
the hills recaptured, and it seemed that in this terrible battle
victory was at last to declare itself in favour of the Imperialists.

It needed only the return of Pappenheim from the pursuit of the
Swedish right to decide the day, but Pappenheim was not to come.
Though driven back by the first impetuous charge of the Imperial
cavalry, the Swedes under Stalhaus, reinforced by the Scottish
regiments under Henderson, stubbornly opposed their further attacks.

While leading his men forward Pappenheim fell with two musketballs
through his body. While lying there the rumour for the first time
reached him that Gustavus had been killed. When upon inquiry the
truth of the rumour was confirmed, the eyes of the dying man lighted
up.

"Tell Wallenstein," he said to the officer nearest to him, "that I
am lying here without hope of life, but I die gladly, knowing, as
I now know, that the irreconcilable enemy of my faith has fallen
on the same day."

The Imperialists, discouraged by the fall of their general, could
not withstand the ardour with which the Swedes and Scottish infantry
attacked them, and the cavalry rode from the field. Elsewhere the
battle was still raging.  Wallenstein's right and centre had driven
Count Bernhard, the Duke of Brahe, and Kniphausen across that
desperately contested road, but beyond this they could not force
them, so stubbornly and desperately did they fight. But Stalhaus
and his men, refreshed and invigorated by their victory over
Pappenheim's force, again came up and took their part in the fight.
Wallenstein had no longer a hope of victory, he fought now only to
avoid defeat. The sun had already set, and if he could but maintain
his position for another half hour darkness would save his army.

He fell back across the road again, fighting stubbornly and in good
order, and extending his line to the left to prevent Stalhaus from
turning his flank; and in this order the terrible struggle continued
till nightfall.  Both sides fought with splendid bravery. The
Swedes, eager for the victory once again apparently within their
grasp, pressed on with fury, while the Imperialists opposed them
with the most stubborn obstinacy.

Seven times did Piccolomini charge with his cavalry upon the advancing
Swedes. Seven times was his horse shot under him, but remounting
each time, he drew off his men in good order, and in readiness to
dash forward again at the first opportunity. The other Imperialist
generals fought with equal courage and coolness, while Wallenstein,
present wherever the danger was thickest, animated all by his
courage and coolness. Though forced step by step to retire, the
Imperialists never lost their formation, never turned their backs
to the foe; and thus the fight went on till the darkness gathered
thicker and thicker, the combatants could no longer see each other,
and the desperate battle came to an end.

In the darkness, Wallenstein drew off his army and fell back to
Leipzig, leaving behind him his colours and all his guns. In thus
doing he threw away the opportunity of turning what his retreat
acknowledged to be a defeat into a victory on the following
morning, for scarcely had he left the field when the six regiments
of Pappenheim's infantry arrived from Halle. Had he held his ground
he could have renewed the battle in the morning, with the best
prospects of success, for the struggle of the preceding day had
been little more than a drawn battle, and the accessions of fresh
troops should have given him a decided advantage over the weary
Swedes.  The newcomers, finding the field deserted, and learning from
the wounded lying thickly over it that Wallenstein had retreated,
at once marched away.

In the Swedish camp there was no assurance whatever that a victory
had been gained, for nightfall had fallen on the Imperialists
fighting as stubbornly as ever. The loss of the king, the master
spirit of the war, dispirited and discouraged them, and Duke Bernhard
and Kniphausen held in the darkness an anxious consultation as to
whether the army should not at once retreat to Weissenburg. The
plan was not carried out, only because it was considered that it
was impracticable -- as the army would be exposed to destruction
should the Imperialists fall upon them while crossing the terrible
morass in their rear.

The morning showed them that the Imperialists had disappeared,
and that the mighty struggle had indeed been a victory for them --
a victory won rather by the superior stubbornness with which the
Swedish generals held their ground during the night, while Wallenstein
fell back, than to the splendid courage with which the troops had
fought on the preceding day. But better far would it have been
for the cause which the Swedes championed, that they should have
been driven a defeated host from the field of Lutzen, than that
they should have gained a barren victory at the cost of the life
of their gallant monarch -- the soul of the struggle, the hope of
Protestantism, the guiding spirit of the coalition against Catholicism
as represented by Ferdinand of Austria.

The losses in the battle were about equal, no less than 9000
having fallen upon each side -- a proportion without precedent in
any battle of modern times, and testifying to the obstinacy and
valour with which on both sides the struggle was maintained from
early morning until night alone terminated it.

It is said, indeed, that every man, both of the yellow regiments
of Swedish guards and of the blue regiments, composed entirely of
English and Scotchmen, lay dead on the field. On both sides many
men of high rank were killed.  On the Swedish side, besides Gustavus
himself, fell Count Milo, the Count of Brahe, General Uslar,
Ernest Prince of Anhalt, and Colonels Gersdorf and Wildessein. On
the Imperialist side Pappenheim, Schenk, Prince and Abbot of Fulda,
Count Berthold Wallenstein, General Brenner, Issolani, general of
the Croats, and six colonels were killed.  Piccolomini received
ten wounds, but none of them were mortal.

Holk was severely wounded, and, indeed, so close and desperate
was the conflict, that it is said there was scarcely a man in the
Imperial army who escaped altogether without a wound.



CHAPTER XVIII WOUNDED


A controversy, which has never been cleared up, has long raged as
to the death of Gustavus of Sweden; but the weight of evidence is
strongly in favour of those who affirm that he received his fatal
wound, that in the back, at the hand of Franz Albert of Lauenburg. The
circumstantial evidence is, indeed, almost overwhelming. By birth
the duke was the youngest of four sons of Franz II, Duke of Lauenburg.
On his mother's side he was related to the Swedish royal family,
and in his youth lived for some time at the court of Stockholm.

Owing to some impertinent remarks in reference to Gustavus he fell
into disfavour with the queen, and had to leave Sweden. On attaining
manhood he professed the Catholic faith, entered the Imperial army,
obtained the command of a regiment, attached himself with much
devotion to Wallenstein, and gained the confidence of that general.
While the negotiations between the emperor and Wallenstein were
pending Franz Albert was employed by the latter in endeavouring to
bring about a secret understanding with the court of Dresden.

When Gustavus was blockaded in Nuremberg by Wallenstein Franz
Albert left the camp of the latter and presented himself in that
of Gustavus as a convert to the Reformed Religion and anxious to
serve as a volunteer under him. No quarrel or disagreement had, so
far as is known, taken place between him and Wallenstein, nor has
any explanation ever been given for such an extraordinary change
of sides, made, too, at a moment when it seemed that Gustavus was
in a position almost desperate. By his profession of religious
zeal he managed to win the king's heart, but Oxenstiern, when he
saw him, entertained a profound distrust of him, and even warned
the king against putting confidence in this sudden convert.

Gustavus, however, naturally frank and open in disposition, could
not believe that treachery was intended, and continued to treat him
with kindness. After the assault made by Gustavus upon Wallenstein's
position Franz Albert quitted his camp, saying that he was desirous
of raising some troops for his service in his father's territory.
He rejoined him, however, with only his personal followers, on the
very day before the battle of Lutzen, and was received by Gustavus
with great cordiality, although the absence of his retainers
increased the general doubts as to his sincerity.

He was by the king's side when Gustavus received his first wound.
He was riding close behind him when the king received his second
and fatal wound in the back, and the moment the king had fallen
he rode away from the field, and it is asserted that it was he who
brought the news of the king's death to Wallenstein.

Very soon after the battle he exchanged the Swedish service for
the Saxon, and some eighteen months later he re-embraced the Roman
Catholic faith and re-entered the Imperial army.

A stronger case of circumstantial evidence could hardly be put
together, and it would certainly seem as if Lauenburg had entered
the Swedish service with the intention of murdering the king. That
he did not carry out his purpose during the attack on the Altenburg
was perhaps due to the fact that Gustavus may not have been in such
a position as to afford him an opportunity of doing so with safety
to himself.

It is certainly curious that after that fight he should have absented
himself, and only rejoined on the eve of the battle of Lutzen.
The only piece of evidence in his favour is that of Truchsess, a
chamberlain of the king, who, affirmed that he saw the fatal shot
fired at a distance of ten paces from the king by an Imperial
officer, Lieutenant General Falkenberg, who at once turned and
fled, but was pursued and cut down by Luckau, master of horse of
Franz Albert.

The general opinion of contemporary writers is certainly to the
effect that the King of Sweden was murdered by Franz Albert; but
the absolute facts must ever remain in doubt.

On the morning after the battle Wallenstein, having been joined
by Pappenheim's infantry, sent a division of Croats back to the
battlefield to take possession of it should they find that the
Swedes had retired; but on their report that they still held the
ground he retired at once from Leipzig, and, evacuating Saxony,
marched into Bohemia, leaving the Swedes free to accomplish their
junction with the army of the Elector, thus gaining the object for
which they had fought at Lutzen.

After the death of the king, Malcolm Graheme, full of grief and
rage at the loss of the monarch who was loved by all his troops,
and had treated him with special kindness, joined the soldiers
of Duke Bernhard, and took part in the charge which swept back
the Imperialists and captured the cannon on the hill. At the very
commencement of the struggle his horse fell dead under him, and he
fought on foot among the Swedish infantry; but when the arrival of
Pappenheim on the field enabled the Imperialists again to assume
the offensive, Malcolm, having picked up a pike from the hands
of a dead soldier, fought shoulder to shoulder in the ranks as
the Swedes, contesting stubbornly every foot of the ground, were
gradually driven back towards the road.

Suddenly a shot struck him; he reeled backwards a few feet, strove
to steady himself and to level his pike, and then all consciousness
left him, and he fell prostrate. Again and again, as the fortune
of the desperate fray wavered one way or the other, did friend and
foe pass over the place where he lay.

So thickly strewn was the field with dead that the combatants in
their desperate struggle had long ceased to pick their way over
the fallen, but trampled ruthlessly upon and over them as, hoarsely
shouting their battle cry, they either pressed forward after the
slowly retreating foe or with obstinate bravery strove to resist
the charges of the enemy.  When Malcolm recovered his consciousness
all was still, save that here and there a faint moan was heard from
others who like himself lay wounded on the battlefield. The night
was intensely dark, and Malcolm's first sensation was that of bitter
cold.

It was indeed freezing severely, and great numbers of the wounded
who might otherwise have survived were frozen to death before morning;
but a few, and among these were Malcolm, were saved by the frost.
Although unconscious of the fact, he had been wounded in two places.
The first ball had penetrated his breastpiece and had entered his
body, and a few seconds later another ball had struck him in the
arm. It was the first wound which had caused his insensibility;
but from the second, which had severed one of the principal veins
in the arm, he would have bled to death had it not been for the
effects of the cold. For a time the life blood had flowed steadily
away; but as the cold increased it froze and stiffened on his
jerkin, and at last the wound was staunched.

It was none too soon, for before it ceased to flow Malcolm had lost a
vast quantity of blood. It was hours before nature recovered from
the drain. Gradually and slowly he awoke from his swoon. It was
some time before he realized where he was and what had happened,
then gradually his recollection of the fight returned to him.

"I remember now," he murmured to himself, "I was fighting with the
Swedish infantry when a shot struck me in the body, I think, for I
seemed to feel a sudden pain like a red hot iron. Who won the day,
I wonder?  How bitterly cold it is! I feel as if I were freezing
to death."

So faint and stiff was he, partly from loss of blood, partly from
being bruised from head to foot by being trampled on again and
again as the ranks of the combatants swept over him, that it was
some time before he was capable of making the slightest movement.
His left arm was, he found, entirely useless; it was indeed firmly
frozen to the ground; but after some difficulty he succeeded in
moving his right, and felt for the flask which had hung from his
girdle.

So frozen and stiff were his fingers that he was unable to unbuckle
the strap which fastened it; but, drawing his dagger, he at last
cut through this, and removing the stopper of the flask, took a long
draught of the wine with which it was filled. The relief which it
afforded him was almost instantaneous, and he seemed to feel life
again coursing in his veins.

After a while he was sufficiently restored to be enabled to get
from his havresack some bread and meat which he had placed there
after finishing his breakfast on the previous morning. He ate a few
mouthfuls, took another long draught of wine, and then felt that
he could hope to hold on until morning. He was unable to rise even
into a sitting position, nor would it have availed him had he been
able to walk, for he knew not where the armies were lying, nor could
he have proceeded a yard in any direction without falling over the
bodies which so thickly strewed the ground around him.

Though in fact it wanted but two hours of daylight when he recovered
consciousness, the time appeared interminable; but at last, to his
delight, a faint gleam of light spread across the sky. Stronger
and stronger did it become until the day was fairly broken. It was
another hour before he heard voices approaching.  Almost holding
his breath he listened as they approached, and his heart gave a
throb of delight as he heard that they were speaking in Swedish. A
victory had been won, then, for had it not been so, it would have
been the Imperialists, not the Swedes, who would have been searching
the field of battle.

"There are but few alive," one voice said, "the cold has finished
the work which the enemy began."

Malcolm, unable to rise, lifted his arm and held it erect to call
the attention of the searchers; it was quickly observed.

"There is some one still alive," the soldier exclaimed, "an officer,
too; by his scarf and feathers he belongs to the Green Brigade."

"These Scotchmen are as hard as iron," another voice said; "come,
bring a stretcher along."

They were soon by the side of Malcolm.

"Drink this, sir," one said, kneeling beside him and placing a flask
of spirits to his lips; "that will warm your blood, I warrant, and
you must be well nigh frozen."

Malcolm took a few gulps at the potent liquor, then he had strength
to say:

"There is something the matter with my left arm, I can't move it,
and I think I am hit in the body."

"You are hit in the body, sure enough," the man said, "for there
is a bullet hole through your cuirass, and your jerkin below it
is all stained with blood. You have been hit in the left arm too,
and the blood is frozen to the ground; but we will soon free that
for you. But before trying to do that we will cut open the sleeve
of your jerkin and bandage your arm, or the movement may set it
off bleeding again, and you have lost a pool of blood already."

Very carefully the soldiers did their work, and then placing Malcolm
on the stretcher carried him away to the camp. Here the surgeons
were all hard at work attending to the wounded who were brought
in. They had already been busy all night, as those whose hurts had
not actually disabled them found their way into the camp. As he was
a Scotch officer he was carried to the lines occupied by Colonel
Henderson with his Scotch brigade. He was known to many of the
officers personally, and no time was lost in attending to him.  He
was nearly unconscious again by the time that he reached the camp,
for the movement had caused the wound in his body to break out
afresh.

His armour was at once unbuckled, and his clothes having been cut
the surgeons proceeded to examine his wounds. They shook their heads
as they did so. Passing a probe into the wound they found that the
ball, breaking one of the ribs in its course, had gone straight
on. They turned him gently over.

"Here it is," the surgeon said, producing a flattened bullet. The
missile indeed had passed right through the body and had flattened
against the back piece, which its force was too far spent to
penetrate.

"Is the case hopeless, doctor?" one of the officers who was looking
on asked.

"It is well nigh hopeless," the doctor said, "but it is just
possible that it has not touched any vital part. The lad is young,
and I judge that he has not ruined his constitution, as most of
you have done, by hard drinking, so that there is just a chance
for him. There is nothing for me to do but to put a piece of lint
over the two holes, bandage it firmly, and leave it to nature. Now
let me look at his arm.

"Ah!" he went on as he examined the wound, "he has had a narrow
escape here. The ball has cut a vein and missed the principal artery
by an eighth of an inch. If that had been cut he would have bled
to death in five minutes.  Evidently the lad has luck on his side,
and I begin to think we may save him if we can only keep him quiet."

At the earnest request of the surgeons tents were brought up and a
hospital established on some rising ground near the field of battle
for the serious cases among the wounded, and when the army marched
away to join the Saxons at Leipzig a brigade was left encamped
around the hospital.

Here for three weeks Malcolm lay between life and death. The quantity
of blood he had lost was greatly in his favour, as it diminished
the risk of inflammation, while his vigorous constitution and the
life of fatigue and activity which he had led greatly strengthened
his power. By a miracle the bullet in its passage had passed
through without injuring any of the vital parts; and though his
convalescence was slow it was steady, and even at the end of the
first week the surgeons were able to pronounce a confident opinion
that he would get over it.

But it was not until the end of the month that he was allowed to
move from his recumbent position. A week later and he was able to
sit up. On the following day, to his surprise, the Count of Mansfeld
strode into his tent.

"Ah! my young friend," he exclaimed, "I am glad indeed to see you
so far recovered. I came to Leipzig with the countess and my daughter;
for Leipzig at present is the centre where all sorts of political
combinations are seething as in a cooking pot. It is enough to make
one sick of humanity and ashamed of one's country when one sees
the greed which is displayed by every one, from the highest of the
princes down to petty nobles who can scarce set twenty men in the
field.

"Each and all are struggling to make terms by which he may better
himself, and may add a province or an acre, as the case may be,
to his patrimony at the expense of his neighbours. Truly I wonder
that the noble Oxenstiern, who represents Sweden, does not call
together the generals and troops of that country from all parts
and march away northward, leaving these greedy princes and nobles
to fight their own battles, and make the best terms they may with
their Imperial master.

"But there, all that does not interest you at present; but I am so
full of spleen and disgust that I could not help letting it out. We
arrived there a week since, and of course one of our first inquiries
was for you, and we heard to our grief that the Imperialists had
shot one of their bullets through your body and another through your
arm. This, of course, would have been sufficient for any ordinary
carcass; but I knew my Scotchman, and was not surprised when they
told me you were mending fast.

"I had speech yesterday with an officer who had ridden over
from this camp, and he told me that the doctors said you were now
convalescent, but would need repose and quiet for some time before
you could again buckle on armour. The countess, when I told her,
said at once, 'Then we will take him away back with us to Mansfeld.'
Thekla clapped her hands and said, `That will be capital! we will
look after him, and he shall tell us stories about the wars.'

"So the thing was settled at once. I have brought over with me a
horse litter, and have seen your surgeon, who says that although it
will be some weeks before you can sit on a horse without the risk
of your wound bursting out internally, there is no objection to
your progression in a litter by easy stages; so that is settled,
and the doctor will write to your colonel saying that it will be
some months before you are fit for duty, and that he has therefore
ordered you change and quiet.

"You need not be afraid of neglecting your duty or of getting out
of the way of risking your life in harebrained ventures, for there
will be no fighting till the spring.  Everyone is negotiating at
present, and you will be back with your regiment before fighting
begins again. Well, what do you say?"

"I thank you, indeed," Malcolm replied. "It will of all things be
the most pleasant; the doctor has told me that I shall not be fit
for duty until the spring, and I have been wondering how ever I
should be able to pass the time until then."

"Then we will be off without a minute's delay," the count said.
"I sent off the litter last night and started myself at daybreak,
promising the countess to be back with you ere nightfall, so we
have no time to lose."

The news soon spread that Malcolm Graheme was about to leave the
camp, and many of the Scottish officers came in to say adieu to
him; but time pressed, and half an hour after the arrival of the
count he started for Leipzig with Malcolm in a litter swung between
two horses. As they travelled at a foot pace Malcolm did not find
the journey uneasy, but the fresh air and motion soon made him
drowsy, and he was fast asleep before he had left the camp an hour,
and did not awake until the sound of the horses' hoofs on stone
pavements told him that they were entering the town of Leipzig.

A few minutes later he was lying on a couch in the comfortable
apartments occupied by the count, while the countess with her own
hands was administering refreshments to him, and Thekla was looking
timidly on, scarce able to believe that this pale and helpless
invalid was the stalwart young Scottish soldier of whose adventures
she was never weary of talking.



CHAPTER XIX A PAUSE IN HOSTILITIES


Never had Malcolm Graheme spent a more pleasant time than the two
months which he passed at Mansfeld. Travelling by very easy stages
there he was so far convalescent upon his arrival that he was able
to move about freely and could soon ride on horseback. For the time
the neighbourhood of Mansfeld was undisturbed by the peasants or
combatants on either side, and the count had acted with such vigour
against any parties of brigands and marauders who might approach
the vicinity of Mansfeld, or the country under his control, that
a greater security of life and property existed than in most other
parts of Germany. The ravages made by war were speedily effaced,
and although the peasants carried on their operations in the fields
without any surety as to who would gather the crops, they worked
free from the harassing tyranny of the petty bands of robbers.

As soon as he was strong enough Malcolm rode with the count on his
visits to the different parts of his estates, joined in several
parties got up to hunt the boar in the hills, or to make war on a small
scale against the wolves which, since the outbreak of the troubles,
had vastly increased in number, committing great depredations upon
the flocks and herds, and rendering it dangerous for the peasants
to move between their villages except in strong parties.

The evenings were passed pleasantly and quietly. The countess would
read aloud or would play on the zither, with which instrument she
would accompany herself while she sang. Thekla would sit at her
embroidery and would chat merrily to Malcolm, and ask many questions
about Scotland and the life which the ladies led in that, as she
asserted, "cold and desolate country." Sometimes the count's chaplain
would be present and would gravely discuss theological questions
with the count, wearying Malcolm and Thekla so excessively, that
they would slip away from the others and play checkers or cards
on a little table in a deep oriel window where their low talk and
laughter did not disturb the discussions of their elders.

Once Malcolm was absent for two days on a visit to the village
in the mountains he had so much aided in defending.  Here he was
joyfully received, and was glad to find that war had not penetrated
to the quiet valley, and that prosperity still reigned there.
Malcolm lingered at Mansfeld for some time after he felt that his
strength was sufficiently restored to enable him to rejoin his
regiment; but he knew that until the spring commenced no great
movement of troops would take place, and he was so happy with his
kind friends, who treated him completely as one of the family, that
he was loath indeed to tear himself away. At last he felt that he
could no longer delay, and neither the assurances of the count that
the Protestant cause could dispense with his doughty services for
a few weeks longer, or the tears of Thekla and her insistance that
he could not care for them or he would not be in such a hurry to
leave, could detain him longer, and mounting a horse with which
the count had presented him he rode away to rejoin his regiment.

No military movements of importance had taken place subsequent
to the battle of Lutzen. Oxenstiern had laboured night and day to
repair as far as possible the effects of the death of Gustavus. He
had been left by the will of the king regent of Sweden until the
king's daughter, now a child of six years old, came of age, and he
at once assumed the supreme direction of affairs. It was essential
to revive the drooping courage of the weaker states, to meet the
secret machinations of the enemy, to allay the jealousy of the more
powerful allies, to arouse the friendly powers, France in particular,
to active assistance, and above all to repair the ruined edifice
of the German alliance and to reunite the scattered strength of
the party by a close and permanent bond of union.

Had the emperor at this moment acted wisely Oxenstiern's efforts
would have been in vain. Wallenstein, farseeing and broad minded,
saw the proper course to pursue, and strongly urged upon the emperor
the advisability of declaring a universal amnesty, and of offering
favourable conditions to the Protestant princes, who, dismayed at
the loss of their great champion, would gladly accept any proposals
which would ensure the religious liberty for which they had fought;
but the emperor, blinded by this unexpected turn of fortune and
infatuated by Spanish counsels, now looked to a complete triumph
and to enforce his absolute will upon the whole of Germany.

Instead, therefore, of listening to the wise counsels of Wallenstein
he hastened to augment his forces. Spain sent him considerable
supplies, negotiated for him with the ever vacillating Elector of
Saxony, and levied troops for him in Italy. The Elector of Bavaria
increased his army, and the Duke of Lorraine prepared again to
take part in the struggle which now seemed to offer him an easy
opportunity of increasing his dominions.  For a time the Elector
of Saxony, the Duke of Brunswick, and many others of the German
princes wavered; but when they saw that Ferdinand, so far from
being disposed to offer them favourable terms to detach them from
the league, was preparing with greater vigour than ever to overwhelm
them, they perceived that their interest was to remain faithful to
their ally, and at a great meeting of princes and deputies held at
Heilbronn the alliance was re-established on a firmer basis.

Before, however, the solemn compact was ratified scarce one of the
German princes and nobles but required of Oxenstiern the gratification
of private greed and ambition, and each bargained for some possession
either already wrested or to be afterwards taken from the enemy. To
the Landgrave of Hesse the abbacies of Paderborn, Corvey, Munster,
and Fulda were promised, to Duke Bernhard of Weimar the Franconian
bishoprics, to the Duke of Wurtemburg the ecclesiastical domains
and the Austrian counties lying within his territories, all to be
held as fiefs of Sweden.

Oxenstiern, an upright and conscientious man, was disgusted at
the greed of these princes and nobles who professed to be warring
solely in defence of their religious liberties, and he once
exclaimed that he would have it entered in the Swedish archives as
an everlasting memorial that a prince of the German empire made a
request for such and such territory from a Swedish nobleman, and
that the Swedish noble complied with the request by granting him
German lands. However, the negotiations were at last completed, the
Saxons marched towards Lusatia and Silesia to act in conjunction
with Count Thurn against the Austrians in that quarter, a part of
the Swedish army was led by the Duke of Weimar into Franconia, and
the other by George, Duke of Brunswick, into Westphalia and Lower
Saxony.

When Gustavus had marched south from Ingolstadt on the news of
Wallenstein's entry into Saxony he had left the Count Palatine of
Birkenfeld and General Banner to maintain the Swedish conquests in
Bavaria.  These generals had in the first instance pressed their
conquests southward as far as Lake Constance; but towards the end
of the year the Bavarian General Altringer pressed them with so
powerful an army that Banner sent urgent requests to Horn to come
to his assistance from Alsace, where he had been carrying all before
him. Confiding his conquests to the Rhinegrave Otto Ludwig, Horn
marched at the head of seven thousand men towards Swabia. Before
he could join Banner, however, Altringer had forced the line of the
Lech, and had received reinforcements strong enough to neutralize
the aid brought to Banner by Horn.  Deeming it necessary above all
things to bar the future progress of the enemy, Horn sent orders
to Otto Ludwig to join him with all the troops still remaining in
Alsace; but finding himself still unable to resist the advance of
Altringer, he despatched an urgent request to Duke Bernhard, who
had captured Bamberg and the strong places of Kronach and Hochstadt
in Franconia, to come to his assistance. The duke at once quitted
Bamberg and marched southward, swept a strong detachment of the
Bavarian army under John of Werth from his path, and pressing on
reached Donauwurth in March 1633.

Malcolm had rejoined his regiment, which was with Duke Bernhard,
just before it advanced from Bamberg and was received with a hearty
welcome by his comrades, from whom he had been separated nine months,
having quitted them three months before the battle of Lutzen.

The officers were full of hope that Duke Bernhard was going to strike
a great blow. Altringer was away on the shore of Lake Constance
facing Horn, Wallenstein was in Bohemia.  Between Donauworth and
Vienna were but the four strong places of Ingolstadt, Ratisbon,
Passau, and Linz. Ingolstadt was, the duke knew, commanded by
a traitor who was ready to surrender. Ratisbon had a Protestant
population who were ready to open their gates. It seemed that the
opportunity for ending the war by a march upon Vienna, which had
been snatched by Wallenstein from Gustavus just when it appeared
in his grasp, was now open to Duke Bernhard. But the duke was
ambitious, his demands for Franconia had not yet been entirely
complied with by Oxenstiern, and he saw an opportunity to obtain
his own terms. The troops under his orders were discontented, owing
to the fact that their pay was many months in arrear, and private
agents of the duke fomented this feeling by assuring the men
that their general was with them and would back their demands.
Accordingly they refused to march further until their demands were
fully satisfied. The Scotch regiments stood apart from the movement,
though they too were equally in arrear with their pay. Munro and
the officers of the Brigade chafed terribly at this untimely mutiny
just when the way to Vienna appeared open to them. Duke Bernhard
forwarded the demands of the soldiers to Oxenstiern, sending at
the same time a demand on his own account, first that the territory
of the Franconian bishoprics should at once be erected into a
principality in his favour, and secondly, that he should be nominated
commander-in-chief of all the armies fighting in Germany for the
Protestant cause with the title of generalissimo.

Oxenstiern was alarmed by the receipt of the mutinous demands of the
troops on the Danube, and was disgusted when he saw those demands
virtually supported by their general. His first thought was to
dismiss Duke Bernhard from the Swedish service; but he saw that if
he did so the disaffection might spread, and that the duke might
place himself at the head of the malcontents and bring ruin upon
the cause. He therefore agreed to bestow at once the Franconian
bishoprics upon him, and gave a pledge that Sweden would defend
him in that position.

He declined to make him generalissimo of all the armies, but appointed
him commander-in-chief of the forces south of the Maine. The duke
accepted this modification, and had no difficulty in restoring
order in the ranks of his army. But precious months had been wasted
before this matter was brought to a conclusion, and the month of
October arrived before the duke had completed all his preparations
and was in a position to move forward.

While the delays had been going on Altringer, having been joined
by the army of the Duke of Feria, quitted the line of the Danube,
in spite of Wallenstein's absolute order not to do so, and, evading
Horn and Birkenfeldt, marched into Alsace. The Swedish generals,
however, pressed hotly upon him, and finally drove him out of
Alsace. Ratisbon being left open by Altringer's disobedience to
Wallenstein's orders, Duke Bernhard marched upon that city without
opposition, and laid siege to it. Maximilian of Bavaria was himself
there with a force sufficient to defend the city had he been
supported by the inhabitants; but a large majority of the people
were Protestants, and, moreover, bitterly hated the Bavarians, who
had suppressed their rights as a free city.

Maximilian wrote urgently to the emperor and to Wallenstein, pledging
himself to maintain Ratisbon if he could receive a reinforcement
of 5000 men. The emperor was powerless; he had not the men to
send, but he despatched to Wallenstein, one after another, seven
messengers, urging him at all hazards to prevent the fall of so
important a place. Wallenstein replied to the order that he would
do all in his power, and in presence of the messengers ordered the
Count of Gallas to march with 12,000 men on Ratisbon, but privately
furnished the general with absolute orders, forbidding him on any
account to do anything which might bring on an action with the
duke.

Wallenstein's motives in so acting were, as he afterwards assured
the emperor, that he was not strong enough to divide his army, and
that he could best cover Vienna by maintaining a strong position
in Bohemia, a policy which was afterwards justified by the event.
Ratisbon resisted for a short time; but, finding that the promised
relief did not arrive, it capitulated on the 5th of November,
Maximilian having left the town before the surrender.

The duke now pushed on towards Vienna, and captured Straubing and
Plattling. John of Werth, who was posted here, not being strong
enough to dispute the passage of the Isar, fell back towards the
Bohemian frontier, hoping to meet the troops which the emperor had
urged Wallenstein to send to his aid, but which never came. Duke
Bernhard crossed the Isar unopposed, and on the 12th came within
sight of Passau.

So far Wallenstein had not moved; he had seemed to comply with the
emperor's request to save Ratisbon, but had seemed only, and had
not set a man in motion to reinforce John of Werth. He refused,
in fact, to fritter away his army.  Had he sent Gallas with 12,000
men to join John of Werth, and had their united forces been, as was
probable, attacked and defeated by the Swedes, Wallenstein would
have been too weak to save the empire. Keeping his army strong he
had the key of the position in his hands.

He had fixed upon Passau as the point beyond which Duke Bernhard
should not be allowed to advance, and felt that should he attack
that city he and his army were lost. In front of him was the Inn,
a broad and deep river protected by strongly fortified places;
behind him John of Werth, a bitterly hostile country, and the river
Isar. On his left would be Wallenstein himself marching across the
Bohemian forest.  When, therefore, he learned that Duke Bernhard
was hastening on from the Isar towards Passau he put his army in
motion and marched southward, so as to place himself in the left
rear of the duke. This movement Duke Bernhard heard of just when he
arrived in sight of Passau, and he instantly recognized the extreme
danger of his position, and perceived with his usual quickness
of glance that to be caught before Passau by Wallenstein and John
of Werth would be absolute destruction. A moment's hesitation and
the Swedish army would have been lost. Without an hour's delay he
issued the necessary orders, and the army retraced its steps with
all speed to Ratisbon, and not stopping even there marched northward
into the Upper Palatinate, to defend that conquered country against
Wallenstein even at the cost of a battle.

But Wallenstein declined to fight a battle there. He had but one army,
and were that army destroyed, Duke Bernhard, with the prestige of
victory upon him, could resume his march upon Vienna, which would
then be open to him. Therefore, having secured the safety of the
capital, he fell back again into winter quarters in Bohemia. Thus
Ferdinand again owed his safety to Wallenstein, and should have
been the more grateful since Wallenstein had saved him in defiance
of his own orders.

At the time he fully admitted in his letters to Wallenstein that
the general had acted wisely and prudently, nevertheless he was
continually listening to the Spaniards, the Jesuits, and the many
envious of Wallenstein's great position, and hoping to benefit by
his disgrace, and, in spite of all the services his great general
had rendered him, was preparing to repeat the humiliation which he
had formerly laid upon him and again to deprive him of his command.

Wallenstein was not ignorant of the intrigue against him.  Vast as
were his possessions, his pride and ambition were even greater. A
consciousness of splendid services rendered and of great intellectual
power, a belief that the army which had been raised by him and
was to a great extent paid out of his private funds, and which he
had so often led to victory, was devoted to him, and to him alone,
excited in his mind the determination to resist by force the
intriguers who dominated the bigoted and narrow minded emperor,
and, if necessary, to hurl the latter from his throne.



CHAPTER XX FRIENDS IN TROUBLE


One day in the month of December, when Malcolm Graheme was with
his regiment on outpost duty closely watching the Imperialists, a
countryman approached.

"Can you direct me to Captain Malcolm Graheme, who, they tell me,
belongs to this regiment?"

"You have come to the right man," Malcolm said. "I am Captain
Graheme -- what would you with me?"

"I am the bearer of a letter to you," the man said, and taking off
his cap he pulled out the lining and brought out a letter hidden
beneath it.

"I am to ask for some token from you by which it may be known that
it has been safely delivered."

Malcolm cut with his dagger the silk with which the letter was
fastened. It began:

"From the Lady Hilda, Countess of Mansfeld, to Captain Malcolm
Graheme of Colonel Munro's Scottish regiment. -- My dear friend,
-- I do not know whether you have heard the misfortune which has
fallen upon us. The town and castle of Mansfeld were captured two
months since by a sudden assault of the Imperialists, and my dear
husband was grievously wounded in the defence. He was brought hither
a prisoner, and Thekla and I also carried here. As the count still
lies ill with his wounds he is not placed in a prison, but we are
treated as captives and a close watch is kept upon us. The count
is threatened with the forfeiture of all his possessions unless
he will change sides and join the Imperialists, and some of his
estates have been already conferred upon other nobles as a punishment
for the part he has taken.

"Were my husband well and free he would treat the offers with
scorn, believing that the tide will turn and that he will recover
his possessions. Nor even were he certain of their perpetual
forfeiture would he desert the cause of Protestantism. Moreover,
the estates which I brought him in marriage lie in the north of
Pomerania, and the income there from is more than ample for our needs.
But the emperor has ordered that if the count remain contumacious
Thekla shall be taken from us and placed in a convent, where she
will be forced to embrace Catholicism, and will, when she comes
of age, be given in marriage to some adherent of the emperor, who
will with her receive the greater portion of her father's lands.

"She is now sixteen years old, and in another year will be deemed
marriageable. My heart is broken at the thought, and I can scarce
see the paper on which I write for weeping.  I know not why I send
to you, nor does the count know that I am writing, nor does it seem
possible that any aid can come to us, seeing that we are here in
the heart of Bohemia, and that Wallenstein's army lies between us
and you. But somehow in my heart I have a hope that you may aid us,
and at any rate I know that you will sympathize with us greatly.
I feel sure that if there be any mode in which we may be aided it
will be seized by your ready wit. And now adieu! This letter will
be brought to you by a messenger who will be hired by a woman who
attends us, and who has a kind heart as well as an eye to her own
interests. Send back by the messenger some token which she may
pass on to me, that I may know that you have received it. Send no
written answer, for the danger is too great."

Malcolm twisted off two or three links of the chain which had long
before been presented to him by the count, and then, until relieved
from duty, paced up and down, slowly revolving in his mind what
could best be done to aid his friends. His mind was at last made
up, and when his company was called in he went to his colonel and
asked for leave of absence, stating his reasons for wishing to
absent himself from the regiment.

"It is a perilous business, Malcolm," Colonel Munro said.  "I have
scarce a handful of the friends with whom I joined Gustavus but
three years and a half ago remaining, and I can ill spare another;
nevertheless I will not stay you in your enterprise. The Count of
Mansfeld has been a steady ally of ours, and is one of the few who
has appeared to have at heart the cause of Protestantism rather
than of personal gain.

"Moreover, he is as you say a friend of yours, and has shown you
real kindness in time of need. Therefore go, my boy, and Heaven
be with you! It is not likely that there will be any more serious
fighting this year.  Wallenstein lies inactive, negotiating now with
Saxony, now with Oxenstiern.  What are his aims and plans Heaven
only knows; but at any rate we have no right to grumble at the great
schemer, for ever since Lutzen he has kept the emperor's best army
inactive. Make it a point, Malcolm, to find out, so far as you can,
what is the public opinion in Bohemia as to his real intentions.
If you can bring back any information as to his plans you will have
done good service to the cause, however long your absence from the
camp may be."

That evening Malcolm packed up his armour, arms, court suits, and
valuables, and sent them away to the care of his friend the syndic
of the clockmakers of Nuremberg, with a letter requesting him
to keep them in trust for him until he returned; and in the event
of his not arriving to claim them in the course of six months, to
sell them, and to devote the proceeds to the assistance of sick
or wounded Scottish soldiers.  Then he purchased garments suitable
for a respectable craftsman, and having attired himself in these, with
a stout sword banging from his leathern belt, a wallet containing
a change of garments and a number of light tools used in clockmaking,
with a long staff in his hand, and fifty ducats sewed in the lining
of the doublet, he set out on foot on his journey.

It was nigh three weeks from the time when he started before he
arrived at Prague, for not only had he to make a very long detour
to avoid the contending armies, but he was forced to wait at each
considerable town until he could join a company of travellers going
in the same direction, for the whole country so swarmed with disbanded
soldiers, plunderers, and marauding bands that none thought of
traversing the roads save in parties sufficiently strong to defend
themselves and their property. None of those with whom he journeyed
suspected Malcolm to be aught but what he professed himself -- a
craftsman who had served his time at a clockmaker's in Nuremberg,
and who was on his way to seek for employment in Vienna.

During his three years and a half residence in Germany he had come
to speak the language like a native, and, indeed, the dialect of
the different provinces varied so widely, that, even had he spoken
the language with less fluency, no suspicion would have arisen of
his being a foreigner. Arrived at Prague, his first care was to hire
a modest lodging, and he then set to work to discover the house in
which the Count of Mansfeld was lying as a prisoner.

This he had no difficulty in doing without exciting suspicion, for
the count was a well known personage, and he soon found that he
and his family had apartments in a large house, the rest of which
was occupied by Imperialist officers and their families. There
was a separate entrance to the portion occupied by the count, and
a sentry stood always at the door.

The day after his arrival Malcolm watched the door from a distance
throughout the whole day, but none entered or came out. The next
morning he resumed his watch at a much earlier hour, and presently
had the satisfaction of seeing a woman in the attire of a domestic
issue from the door. She was carrying a basket, and was evidently
bent upon purchasing the supplies for the day. He followed her to
the market, and, after watching her make her purchases, he followed
her until, on her return, she entered a street where but few people
were about. There he quickened his pace and overtook her.

"You are the attendant of the Countess of Mansfeld, are you not?"
he said.

"I am," she replied; "but what is that to you?"

"I will tell you presently," Malcolm replied, "but in the first
place please inform me whether you are her only attendant, and in
the next place how long you have been in her service. I can assure
you," he went on, as the woman, indignant at thus being questioned
by a craftsman who was a stranger to her, tossed her head indignantly,
and was about to move on, "that I ask not from any impertinent
curiosity.  Here is a ducat as a proof that I am interested in my
questions."

The woman gave him a quick and searching glance; she took the piece
of money, and replied more civilly.  "I am the only attendant on
the countess. I cannot be said to be in her service, since I have
been placed there by the commandant of the prison, whither the
count will be moved in a few days, but I have been with them since
their arrival there, nigh three months since."

"Then you are the person whom I seek. I am he to whom a certain
letter which you wot of was sent, and who returned by the messenger
as token that he received it two links of this chain."

The woman started as he spoke, and looked round anxiously to see
that they were not observed; then she said hurriedly:

"For goodness sake, sir, if you be he, put aside that grave and
earnest look, and chat with me lightly and laughingly, so that
if any observe us speaking they will think that you are trying to
persuade me that my face has taken your admiration. Not so very
difficult a task, methinks," she added coquettishly, acting the
part she had indicated.

"By no means," Malcolm replied laughing, for the girl was really
good looking, "and were it not that other thoughts occupy me at
present you might well have another captive to look after; and now
tell me, how is it possible for me to obtain an interview with the
count?"

"And the countess, and the Fraulein Thekla," the girl said laughing,
"for I suppose you are the young Scottish officer of whom the young
countess is always talking. I don't see that it is possible."

"Twenty ducats are worth earning," Malcolm said quietly.

"Very well worth earning," the woman replied, "but a costly day's
work if they lead to a prison and flogging, if not to the gallows."

"But we must take care that you run no risk," Malcolm said. "Surely
such a clever head as I see you have can contrive some way for me
to get in."

"Yes; it might be managed," the girl said thoughtfully.  "The orders
were strict just at first, but seeing that the count cannot move
from his couch, and that the countess and the fraulein have no
motive in seeking to leave him, the strictness has been relaxed.
The orders of the sentry are stringent that neither of the ladies
shall be allowed to set foot outside the door, but I do not think
they have any orders to prevent others from going in and out had
they some good excuse for their visit."

"Then it is not so impossible after all," Malcolm said with a smile,
"for I have an excellent excuse.

"What is that?" the woman asked.

"The clock in the count's chamber has stopped, and it wearies him
to lie there and not know how the time passes, so he has requested
you to fetch in a craftsman to set it going again."

"A very good plan," the girl said. "There is a clock, and it shall
stop this afternoon. I will find out from the sentry as I go in
whether he has any orders touching the admission of strangers. If
he has I will go across to the prison and try and get a pass for
you. I shall come to market in the morning."

So saying, with a wave of her hand she tripped on towards the
house, which was now near at hand, leaving Malcolm to arrange his
plans for next day. His first care was to purchase a suit of clothes
such as would be worn by a boy of the class to which he appeared
to belong. Then he went to one of the small inns patronized by the
peasants who brought their goods into market, and without difficulty
bargained with one of them for the purchase of a cart with two oxen,
which were to remain at the inn until he called for them.  Then
he bought a suit of peasant's clothes, after which, well satisfied
with the day's work, he returned to his lodging.  In the morning
he again met the servant.

"It was well I asked," she said, "for the sentry had orders to
prevent any, save nobles and officers, from passing in.  However,
I went to the prison, and saw one of the governor's deputies, and
told him that the count was fretting because his clock had stopped,
and, as while I said so I slipped five ducats the countess had
given me for the purpose into his hand, he made no difficulty about
giving me the pass. Here it is.  Now," she said, "I have earned my
twenty ducats."

"You have earned them well," Malcolm replied, handing them to her.

"Now mind," she said, "you must not count on me farther. I don't
know what you are going to do, and I don't want to know. I have
run quite a risk enough as it is, and mean, directly the count is
lodged in the prison, to make my way home, having collected a dowry
which will enable me to buy a farm and marry my bachelor, who has
been waiting for me for the last three years. His father is an old
curmudgeon, who has declared that his son shall never marry except
a maid who can bring as much money as he will give him. I told
Fritz that if he would trust to my wits and wait I would in five
years produce the dowry. Now I have treble the sum, and shall go
off and make Fritz happy."

"He is a lucky fellow," Malcolm said laughing. "It is not every
one who gets beauty, wit, and wealth all together in a wife."

"You are a flatterer," the girl laughed; "but for all that I think
myself that Fritz is not unfortunate."

"And now tell me," Malcolm asked, "at what time is the sentry
generally changed?"

"At sunrise, at noon, at sunset, and at midnight," the girl replied;
"but what is that to you?"

"Never mind;" Malcolm laughed; "you know you don't want to be told
what I'm going to do. I will tell you if you like."

"No, no," the girl replied hurriedly. "I would rather be able to
always take my oath on the holy relics that I know nothing about
it."

"Very well," Malcolm replied; "then this afternoon I will call."

Having hidden away under his doublet the suit of boy's clothes, and
with the tools of his trade in a small basket in his hand, Malcolm
presented himself at three o'clock in the afternoon to the sentry
at the door leading to the count's apartments. The soldier glanced
at the pass and permitted him to enter without remark.

The waiting maid met him inside and conducted him upstairs, and
ushered him into a spacious apartment, in which the count was lying
on a couch, while the countess and Thekla sat at work beside him.
She then retired and closed the door after her. The count and
Thekla looked with surprise at the young artisan, but the countess
ran to meet him, and threw her arms round his neck as if she had
been his mother, while Thekla gave a cry of delight as she recognized
him.

"Welcome a thousand times! Welcome, my brave friend!" the countess
exclaimed. "What dangers must you not have encountered on your way
hither to us! The count and Thekla knew not that I had written to
you, for I feared a failure; and when I learned yesterday that you
had arrived I still kept silence, partly to give a joyful surprise
to my lord today, partly because, if the governor called, I was
sure that this child's telltale face would excite his suspicion
that something unusual had happened."

"How imprudent!" the count said, holding out his hand to Malcolm.
"Had I known that my wife was sending to you I would not have
suffered her to do so, for the risk is altogether too great, and
yet, indeed, I am truly glad to see you again."

Thekla gave Malcolm her hand, but said nothing. She had now reached
an age when girls feel a strange shyness in expressing their
feelings; but her hand trembled with pleasure as she placed it in
Malcolm's, and her cheek flushed hotly as, in accordance with the
custom of the times, she presented it to his kiss.

"Now," the count said, "do not let us waste time; tell us quickly
by what miracle you have arrived here, and have penetrated to what
is really my prison. You must be quick, for we have much to say,
and your visit must be a short one for every third day the governor
of the prison pays me a visit to see how I am getting on, and I
expect that he will be here ere long."

"Then," Malcolm said, "I had best prepare for his coming, for
assuredly I am not going to hurry away."

So saying, he lifted down the great clock which stood on a bracket
on the wall, and placed it on a side table.  "I am a clockmaker,"
he said, "and am come to put this machine, whose stopping has
annoyed you sadly, into order."

So saying, he took some tools from his basket, removed the works
of the clock, and, taking them in pieces, laid them on the table.

"I spent much of my time at Nuremberg," he said, in answer to the
surprised exclamations of the count, "in learning the mysteries of
horology, and can take a clock to pieces and can put it together
again with fair skill. There, now, I am ready, and if the governor
comes he will find me hard at work. And now I will briefly tell you
how I got here; then I will hear what plans you may have formed,
and I will tell you mine."

"For myself, I have no plans," the count said. "I am helpless, and
must for the present submit to whatever may befall me. That I will
not renounce the cause of my religion you may be sure; as for my
wife, we know not yet whether, when they remove me to the fortress,
they will allow her to accompany me or not. If they do, she will
stay with me, but it is more likely that they will not. The emperor
is merciless to those who oppose him. They will more likely keep
her under their eye here or in Vienna.  But for ourselves we care
little; our anxiety is for Thekla.  It is through her that they
are striking us. You know what they have threatened if I do not
abandon the cause of Protestantism.  Thekla is to be placed in
a convent, forced to become a Catholic, and married to the man on
whom the emperor may please to bestow my estates."

"I would rather die, father, than become a Catholic," Thekla
exclaimed firmly.

"Yes, dear!" the count said gently, "but it is not death you have
to face; with a fresh and unbroken spirit, it were comparatively
easy to die, but it needs an energy and a spirit almost superhuman to
resist the pressure which may be placed on those who are committed
to a convent. The hopelessness, the silence, the gloom, to say
nothing of threats, menaces, and constant and unremitting pressure,
are sufficient to break down the firmest resolution. The body
becomes enfeebled, the nerves shattered, and the power of resistance
enfeebled. No, my darling, brave as you are in your young strength,
you could not resist the influence which would be brought to bear
upon you."

"Then it is clear," Malcolm said cheerfully, "that we must get your
daughter out of the clutches of the emperor and the nuns."

"That is what I have thought over again and again as I have lain
here helpless, but I can see no means of doing so.  We have no
friends in the city, and, could the child be got safely out of this
place, there is nowhere whither she could go."

"And it is for that I have sent for you," the countess said. "I knew
that if it were in any way possible you would contrive her escape
and aid her to carry it out."

"Assuredly I will, my dear countess," Malcolm said. "You only wanted
a friend outside, and now you have got one. I see no difficulty
about it."

At this moment the door suddenly opened; the waiting maid put in
her head and exclaimed, "The governor is alighting at the door."
Malcolm at once seated himself at the side table and began oiling
the wheels of the clock, while the countess and Thekla took up
their work again and seated themselves, as before, by the couch of
the count.  A moment later the attendant opened the door and in a
loud voice announced the Baron of Steinburg.

The governor as he entered cast a keen glance at Malcolm, and then
bowing ceremoniously approached the count and inquired after his
health, and paid the usual compliments to the countess. The count
replied languidly that he gained strength slowly, while the countess
said quietly that he had slept but badly and that his wound troubled
him much.  It was well for Thekla that she was not obliged to take
part in the conversation, for she would have found it impossible to
speak quietly and indifferently, for every nerve was tingling with
joy at Malcolm's last words.  The prospect had seemed so hopeless
that her spirits had sunk to the lowest ebb.  Her mother had done
her best to cheer her, but the count, weakened by pain and illness,
had all along taken the most gloomy view.  He had told himself that
it was better for the girl to submit to her fate than to break her
heart like a wild bird beating out its life against the bars of
its cage, and he wished to show her that neither he nor the world
would blame her for yielding to the tremendous pressure which would
be put upon her.

For himself, he would have died a thousand times rather than renounce
his faith; but he told himself that Thekla was but a child, that
women cared little for dogmas, and that she would learn to pray as
sincerely in a Catholic as in a Protestant church, without troubling
her mind as to whether there were gross abuses in the government
of the church, in the sale of absolutions, or errors in abstruse
doctrines. But to Thekla it had seemed impossible that she could
become a Catholic.

The two religions stood in arms against each other; Catholics and
Protestants differed not only in faith but in politics.  In all
things they were actively and openly opposed to each other, and the
thought that she might be compelled to abjure her faith was most
terrible to the girl; and she was firmly resolved that, so long as
her strength lasted and her mind was unimpaired, she would resist
whatever pressure might be placed upon her, and would yield neither
to menaces, to solitary confinement, or even to active cruelty.  The
prospect, however; had weighed heavily upon her mind.  Her father
had appeared to consider any escape impossible; her mother had
said nothing of her hopes; and the words which Malcolm had spoken,
indicating something like a surety of freeing her from her terrible
position, filled her with surprise and delight.

"Whom have you here?" the governor asked, indicating Malcolm by a
motion of the head.

"It is a craftsman from Nuremberg.  The clock had stopped, and the
count, with whom the hours pass but slowly, fretted himself at not
being able to count them; so I asked our attendant to bring hither
a craftsman to put it in order, first sending her with a note to
you asking for permission for him to come; as you were out your
deputy signed the order."

"He should not have done so," the baron said shortly, "for the
orders are strict touching the entry of any here.  However, as
he has taken the clock to pieces, he can put it together again."
So saying he went over to the table where Malcolm was at work and
stood for a minute or two watching him. The manner in which Malcolm
fitted the wheels into their places, filing and oiling them wherever
they did not run smoothly, satisfied him that the youth was what
he seemed.

"You are young to have completed your apprenticeship," he said.

"It is expired but two months, sir," Malcolm said, standing up
respectfully.

"Under whom did you learn your trade?" the governor asked; "for I
have been in Nuremberg and know most of the guild of clockmakers
by name."

"Under Jans Boerhoff, the syndic of the guild," Malcolm replied.

"Ah!" the baron said shortly; "and his shop is in -- "

"The Cron Strasse," Malcolm said promptly in answer to the implied
question.

Quite satisfied now, the baron turned away and conversed a few
minutes with the count, telling him that as the surgeon said he
could now be safely removed he would in three days be transferred
to an apartment in the fortress.

"Will the countess be permitted to accompany me?" the count asked.

"That I cannot tell you," the baron replied. "We are expecting
a messenger with his majesty's orders on the subject tomorrow or
next day. I have already informed you that, in his solicitude for
her welfare, his majesty has been good enough to order that the
young countess shall be placed in the care of the lady superior of
the Convent of St.  Catherine."

A few minutes later he left the room. Not a word was spoken in
the room until the sound of horse's hoofs without told that he had
ridden off.

As the door closed the countess and Thekla had dropped their work
and sat anxiously awaiting the continuance of the conversation.
The count was the first to speak.

"How mean you, Malcolm? How think you it possible that Thekla can
escape, and where could she go?"

"I like not to make the proposal," Malcolm said gravely, "nor under
any other circumstances should I think of doing so; but in a desperate
position desperate measures must be adopted. It is impossible that
in your present state you can escape hence, and the countess will
not leave you; but what is absolutely urgent is that your daughter
should be freed from the strait.  Save myself you have no friends
here; and therefore, count, if she is to escape it must be through
my agency and she must be committed wholly to my care.  I know it
is a great responsibility; but if you and the countess can bring
yourselves to commit her to me I swear to you, as a Scottish
gentleman and a Protestant soldier, that I will watch over her as
a brother until I place her in all honour in safe hands."

The count looked at the countess and at Thekla, who sat pale and
still.

"We can trust you, Malcolm Graheme," he said after a pause. "There
are few, indeed, into whose hands we would thus confide our daughter;
but we know you to be indeed, as you say, a Scottish gentleman
and a Protestant soldier.  Moreover, we know you to be faithful,
honourable, and true.  Therefore we will, seeing that there is no
other mode of escape from the fate which awaits her, confide her
wholly to you. And now tell us what are your plans?"



CHAPTER XXI FLIGHT


I THANK you, count, and you, dear lady," Malcolm said gratefully,
"for the confidence you place in me, and will carry out my trust
were it to cost me my life. My plan is a simple one. The guard will
be changed in half an hour's time. I have brought hither a suit
of boy's garments, which I must pray the Countess Thekla to don,
seeing that it will be impossible for her to sally out in her own
garb. I show my pass to the sentry, who will deem that my companion
entered with me, and is my apprentice, and will suppose that, since
the sentry who preceded him suffered him to enter with me he may
well pass him out without question. In the town I have a wagon in
readiness, and shall, disguised as a peasant, start with it this
evening. Thekla will be in the bottom covered with straw. We shall
travel all night.

"Tomorrow, when your attendant discovers that your daughter has
escaped, she will at once take the news to the governor. The sentries
will all be questioned, and it will be found that, whereas but one
clockmaker came in two went out. The city will be searched and the
country round scoured but if the horsemen overtake me they will be
looking for a craftsman and his apprentice, and will not suspect
a solitary peasant with a wagon.

"The first danger over I must be guided by circumstances; but in
any case Thekla must travel as a boy to the end of the journey, for
in such troubled times as these it were unsafe indeed for a young
girl to travel through Germany except under a strong escort of
men-at-arms. I design to make my way to Nuremberg, and shall then
place her in the hands of my good friend Jans Boerhoff, whose wife
and daughters will, I am sure, gladly receive and care for her until
the time, which I hope is not far off, that peace be made and you
can again rejoin her."

"The plan is a good one," the count said when Malcolm had concluded,
"and offers every prospect of success. `Tis hazardous, but there
is no escape from such a strait as ours without risk. What say you,
wife?"

"Assuredly I can think of nothing better. But what say you, Thekla?
Are you ready to run the risks, the danger, and the hardships of
such a journey under the protection only of this brave Scottish
gentleman?"

"I am ready, mother," Thekla said quickly, "but I wish -- I wish"
-- and she hesitated.

"You wish you could go in your own garments, Thekla, with jewels
on your fingers and a white horse to carry you on a pillion behind
your protector," the count said with a smile, for his spirits had
risen with the hope of his daughter's escape from the peril in
which she was placed. "It cannot be, Thekla.  Malcolm's plan must
be carried out to the letter, and I doubt not that you will pass
well as a `prentice boy. But your mother must cut off that long
hair of yours; I will keep it, my child, and will stroke it often
and often in my prison as I have done when it has been on your
head; your hair may be long again before I next see you."

His eyes filled with tears as he spoke, and Thekla and the countess
both broke into a fit of crying. Leaving them by themselves,
Malcolm returned to his work, and in half an hour had replaced the
machinery of the clock and had set it in motion, while a tender
conversation went on between the count and countess and their
daughter. By this time the sun had set, and the attendant entered
and lighted the candles in the apartment, saying, as she placed one
on the table by Malcolm, "You must need a light for your work." No
sooner had she left the room than Malcolm said:

"I would not hurry your parting, countess, but the sooner we are
off now the better."

Without a word the countess rose, and, taking the clothes which
Malcolm produced from his doublet, retired to her chamber, followed
by Thekla.

"Malcolm Graheme," the count said, "it may be that we shall not
meet again. The emperor is not tender with obstinate prisoners, and
I have no strength to support long hardships. Should aught happen
to me I beseech you to watch over the happiness of my child. Had
she been a year older, and had you been willing, I would now have
solemnly betrothed her to you, and should then have felt secure of
her future whatever may befall me. Methinks she will make a good
wife, and though my estates may be forfeited by the emperor her
mother's lands will make a dowry such as many a German noble would
gladly accept with his wife.

"I might betroth her to you now, for many girls are betrothed at
a far younger age, but I would rather leave it as it is. You are
young yet, and she in most matters is but a child, and it would
be better in every way did she start on this adventure with you
regarding you as a brother than in any other light. Only remember
that if we should not meet again, and you in future years should
seek the woman who is now a child as your wife, you have my fullest
approval and consent -- nay, more, that it is my dearest wish."

"I thank you most deeply for what you have said, count," Malcolm
replied gravely. "As I have seen your daughter growing up from a
child I have thought how sweet a wife she would make, but I have
put the thought from me, seeing that she is heiress to broad lands
and I a Scottish soldier of fortune, whose lands, though wide
enough for me to live in comfort at home, are yet but a mere farm
in comparison with your broad estates. I have even told myself that
as she grew up I must no longer make long stays in your castle,
for it would be dishonourable indeed did I reward your kindness and
hospitality by winning the heart of your daughter; but after what
you have so generously said I need no longer fear my heart, and
will, when the time comes, proudly remind you of your promise. For
this journey I will put all such thoughts aside, and will regard
Thekla as my merry playfellow of the last three years. But after I
have once placed her in safety I shall thenceforward think of her
as my wife who is to be, and will watch over her safety as over
my greatest treasure, trusting that in some happy change of times
and circumstances you yourself and the dear countess, whom I already
regard almost as my parents, will give her to me."

"So be it," the count said solemnly. "My blessing on you both should
I ne'er see you again. I can meet whatever fate may be before me
with constancy and comfort now that her future is assured -- but
here they come."

The door opened, and the countess appeared, followed by Thekla,
shrinking behind her mother's skirts in her boyish attire.

"You will pass well," the count said gravely, for he knew that jest
now would jar upon her. "Keep that cap well down over your eyes,
and try and assume a little more of the jaunty and impudent air
of a boy.  Fortunately it will be dark below, and the sentry will
not be able to mark how fair is your skin and how delicate your
hands. And now farewell, my child.  Let us not stand talking, for
the quicker a parting is over the better. May God in heaven bless
you and keep you! Malcolm knows all my wishes concerning you, and
when I am not with you trust yourself to his advice and guidance as
you would to mine. There, my darling, do not break down. You must
be brave for all our sakes. Should the emperor hold me in durance
your mother will try and join you ere long at Nuremberg."

While the count was embracing Thekla, as she bravely but in vain
tried to suppress her tears, the countess opened the door, and glanced
into the anteroom to see that all was clear and the attendant in
her own apartment. Then she returned, kissed her daughter fondly,
and placed her hand in Malcolm's, saying to the latter, "God bless
you, dear friend!  Take her quickly away for her sake and ours."
One last adieu and Malcolm and Thekla stood alone in the anteroom.

"Now, Thekla," he said firmly, "be brave, the danger is at hand,
and your safety and escape from your fate, and my life, depend upon
your calmness. Do you carry this basket of tools and play your part
as my apprentice. Just as we open the door drop the basket and I
will rate you soundly for your carelessness. Keep your head down,
and do not let the light which swings over the door fall upon your
face.''

For a minute or two Thekla stood struggling to master her emotions.
Then she said, in a quiet voice, "I am ready now," and taking up
the basket of tools she followed Malcolm down the stairs. Malcolm
opened the door, and as he did so Thekla dropped the basket.

"How stupid you are!" Malcolm exclaimed sharply.  "How often have
I told you to be careful! You don't suppose that those fine tools
can stand being knocked about in that way without injury? Another
time an' you are so careless I will give you a taste of the strap,
you little rascal."

"What is all this?" the sentry asked, barring the way with his
pike, "and who are you who are issuing from this house with so much
noise? My orders are that none pass out here without an order from
the governor."

"And such an order have I," Malcolm said, producing the document.
"There's the governor's seal. I have been sent for to repair the
clock in the Count of Mansfeld's apartment, and a rare job it has
been."

The sentry was unable to read, but he looked at the seal which he
had been taught to recognize.

"But there is only one seal," he said, "and there are two of you."

"Pooh!" Malcolm said scornfully. "Dost think that when ten persons
are admitted to pass in together the governor puts ten seals
on the pass? You see for yourself that it is but a young boy, my
apprentice. Why, the governor himself left scarce an hour ago, and
was in the apartment with me while I was at work. Had it not been
all right he would have hauled me to the prison quickly enough."

As the sentry knew that the governor had left but a short time
before he came on guard this convinced him, and, standing aside,
he allowed Malcolm and his companion to pass. Malcolm made his
way first to the apartment he had occupied, where he had already
settled for his lodging.

Leaving Thekla below he ran upstairs, and hastily donned the suit
of peasant's clothes, and then making the others into a bundle
descended again, and with Thekla made his way to the quiet spot
outside the city gates where the wagon was standing ready for
a start. He had already paid the peasant half the sum agreed, and
now handed him the remainder.

"I should scarce have known you," the peasant said, examining
Malcolm by the light of his pinewood torch.  "Why, you look like
one of us instead of a city craftsman."

"I am going to astonish them when I get home," Malcolm said, "and
shall make the old folks a present of the wagon. So I am going to
arrive just as I was when I left them."

The peasant asked no farther questions, but, handing the torch to
Malcolm, and telling him that he would find half a dozen more in
the wagon, he took his way back to the town, where be intended to
sleep in the stables and to start at daybreak for his home.

He thought that the transaction was a curious one; but, as he had
been paid handsomely for his wagon, he troubled not his head about
any mystery there might be in the matter.  As soon as he had gone
Malcolm arranged the straw in the bottom of the wagon so as to form
a bed; but Thekla said that for the present she would rather walk
with him.

"It is weeks since I have been out, and I shall enjoy walking for
a time; besides, it is all so strange that I should have no chance
to sleep were I to lie down."

Malcolm at once consented, and taking his place at the head of the
oxen, he started them, walking ahead to light the way and leading
them by cords passed through their nostrils. He had not the least
fear of pursuit for the present, for it had been arranged that
the countess should inform their attendant that Thekla was feeling
unwell, and had retired to bed, and the woman, whatever she might
suspect, would take care not to verify the statement, and it would
be well on in the following morning before her absence was discovered.

Malcolm tried his best to distract Thekla's thoughts from her
parents, and from the strange situation in which she was placed,
and chatted to her of the events of the war since he had last seen
her, of the route which he intended to adopt, and the prospects
of peace. In two hours' time the girl, unaccustomed to exercise,
acknowledged that she was tired; she therefore took her place in
the wagon.

Malcolm covered her up with straw and threw some sacks lightly over
her, and then continued his journey.  He travelled all night, and
in the morning stopped at a wayside inn, where his arrival at that
hour excited no surprise, as the peasants often travelled at night,
because there was then less chance of their carts being seized and
requisitioned by the troops. He only stopped a short time to water
and feed the oxen, and to purchase some black bread and cheese. This
he did, not because he required it, for he had an ample supply of
provisions in the cart far more suited for Thekla's appetite than
the peasant's fare, but to act in the usual manner, and so avoid
any comment. Thekla was still asleep under the covering, which
completely concealed her.  Malcolm journeyed on until two miles
further he came to a wood, then, drawing aside from the road, he
unyoked the oxen and allowed them to lie down, for they had already
made a long journey.  Then he woke Thekla, who leaped up gaily on
finding that it was broad daylight.  Breakfast was eaten, and after
a four hours' halt they resumed their way, Thekla taking her place
in the wagon again, and being carefully covered up in such a manner
that a passerby would not suspect that anyone was lying under the
straw and sacks at one end of the wagon. Just at midday Malcolm
heard the trampling of horses behind him and saw a party of cavalry
coming along at full gallop. The leader drew rein when he overtook
the wagon.

"Have you seen anything," he asked Malcolm, "of two seeming craftsmen,
a man and a boy, journeying along the road?"

Malcolm shook his head. "I have seen no one on foot since I started
an hour since."

Without a word the soldiers went on. They had no reason, indeed,
for believing that those for whom they were in search had taken
that particular road. As soon as Thekla's disappearance had been
discovered by the waiting woman she had hurried to the governor, and
with much perturbation and many tears informed him that the young
countess was missing, and that her couch had not been slept on. The
governor had at once hurried to the spot. The count and countess
resolutely refused to state what had become of their daughter.

The sentries had all been strictly questioned, and it was found
that the mender of clocks had, when he left, been accompanied
by an apprentice whom the sentry previously on duty asserted had
not entered with him.  The woman was then closely questioned; she
asserted stoutly that she knew nothing whatever of the affair.  The
count had commissioned her to obtain a craftsman to set the clock
in order, and she had bethought her of a young man whose acquaintance
she had made some time previously, and who had informed her in the
course of conversation that he had come from Nuremberg, and was a
clockmaker by trade, and was at present out of work. She had met
him, she said, on several occasions, and as he was a pleasant youth
and comely, when he had spoken to her of marriage she had not been
averse, now it was plain he had deceived her; and here she began
to cry bitterly and loudly.

Her story seemed probable enough, for any friend of the count who
had intended to carry off his daughter would naturally have begun by
ingratiating himself with her attendant. She was, however, placed
in confinement for a time. The count and countess were at once
removed to the fortress. Orders were given that the town should be
searched thoroughly, and any person answering to the description
which the governor was able to give of the supposed clockmaker should
be arrested, while parties of horse were despatched along all the
roads with orders to arrest and bring to Prague any craftsman or
other person accompanied by a young boy whom they might overtake
by the way. Several innocent peasants with their sons were pounced
upon on the roads and hauled to Prague; but no news was obtained
of the real fugitives, who quietly pursued their way undisturbed
further by the active search which was being made for them.  The
anger of the emperor when he heard of the escape of the prize he had
destined for one of his favourite officers was extreme. He ordered
the count to be treated with the greatest rigour, and declared all
his estates and those of his wife forfeited, the latter part of
the sentence being at present inoperative, her estates being in a
part of the country far beyond the range of the Imperialist troops.
The waiting maid was after some weeks' detention released, as there
was no evidence whatever of her complicity in the affair.

Malcolm continued his journey quietly towards the frontier of
Bavaria; but, on arriving at a small town within a few miles of
Pilsen, he learned that Wallenstein had fallen back with his army
to that place. Much alarmed at the news he determined to turn off
by a cross road and endeavour to avoid the Imperialists. He had
not, however, left the place before a party of Imperialist horse
rode in.

Malcolm was at once stopped, and was told that he must accompany
the troops to Pilsen, as they had orders to requisition all carts
for the supply of provisions for the army.  Malcolm knew that it
was of no use to remonstrate, but, with many loud grumblings at
his hard lot, he moved to the marketplace, where he remained until
all the wagons in the place and in the surrounding country had been
collected.

Loud and bitter were the curses which the peasants uttered at
finding themselves taken from their homes and compelled to perform
service for which the pay, if received at all, would be scanty in
the extreme.  There was, however, no help for it; and when all were
collected they started in a long procession guarded by the cavalry
for Pilsen. On arriving there they were ordered to take up their
station with the great train of wagons collected for the supply of
the army.

Thekla had from her hiding place heard the conversation, and was
greatly alarmed at finding that they were again in the power of
the Imperialists. No one, however, approached the wagon, and it
was not until darkness had set in that she heard Malcolm's voice
whispering to her to arise quietly.

"We must leave the wagon; it will be impossible for you to remain
concealed here longer, for tomorrow I may be sent out to bring
in supplies. For the present we must remain in Pilsen. The whole
country will be scoured by the troops, and it will not be safe to
traverse the roads. Here in Pilsen no one will think of looking
for us.

"Wallenstein's headquarters are the last place where we should
be suspected of hiding, and you may be sure that, however close
the search may be elsewhere, the governor of Prague will not have
thought of informing Wallenstein of an affair so foreign to the
business of war as the escape from the emperor's clutches of a young
lady. I have donned my craftsman dress again, and we will boldly
seek for lodgings."

They soon entered the town, which was crowded with troops, searching
about in the poorer quarters.

Malcolm presently found a woman who agreed to let him two rooms.
He accounted for his need for the second room by saying that his
young brother was ill and needed perfect rest and quiet, and that
the filing and hammering which was necessary in his craft prevented
the lad from sleeping. As Malcolm agreed at once to the terms
she asked for the rooms, the woman accepted his statement without
doubt. They were soon lodged in two attics at the top of the house,
furnished only with a table, two chairs, and a truckle bed in each;
but Malcolm was well contented with the shelter he had found.

Seeing that it would be extremely difficult at present to journey
further, he determined to remain some little time in the town,
thinking that he might be able to carry out the instructions which
he had received from Colonel Munro, and to obtain information as
to the plans of Wallenstein and the feelings of the army.

"You will have to remain a prisoner here, Thekla, I am afraid,
almost as strictly as at Prague, for it would not do to risk the
discovery that you are a girl by your appearing in the streets
in daylight, and after dark the streets of the town, occupied by
Wallenstein's soldiers, are no place for any peaceful persons.

"I may as well be here as at Nuremberg," Thekla said, "and as I
shall have you with me instead of being with strangers, the longer
we stay here the better."

The next morning Malcolm sallied out into the town to see if he
could find employment. There was, however, but one clockmaker in
Pilsen, and the war had so injured his trade that he had discharged
all his journeymen, for clocks were still comparatively rare luxuries,
and were only to be seen in the houses of nobles and rich citizens.
Knowing that Wallenstein was devoted to luxury and magnificence,
always taking with him, except when making the most rapid marches,
a long train of baggage and furniture, Malcolm thought it possible
that he might obtain some employment in his apartments. He accordingly
went boldly to the castle where the duke had established himself,
and, asking for his steward, stated that he was a clockmaker from
the workshop of the celebrated horologist, Master Jans Boerhoff,
and could repair any clocks or watches that might be out of order.

"Then you are the very man we need," the steward said.  "My master,
the duke, is curious in such matters, and ever carries with him
some half dozen clocks with his other furniture; and, use what care
I will in packing them, the shaking of the wagons is constantly
putting them out of repair. It was but this morning the duke told
me to bring a craftsman, if one capable of the work could be found
in the town, and to get the clocks put in order, for it displeases
him if they do not all keep the time to the same minute. Follow
me."

He led the way into the private apartments of the duke.  These were
magnificently furnished, the walls being covered with rich velvet
hangings. Thick carpets brought from the East covered the floors.
Indeed, in point of luxury and magnificence, Wallenstein kept up
a state far surpassing that of his Imperial master.

There were several clocks standing on tables and on brackets, for
Wallenstein, although in most respects of a clear and commanding
intellect, was a slave to superstition. He was always accompanied
by an astrologer, who read for him the course of events from the
movements of the stars, who indicated the lucky and unlucky days,
and the hours at which it was not propitious to transact important
business. Hence it was that he placed so great an importance on
the exact observance of the hour by his numerous time pieces.

"Here are some of the clocks," the steward said, indicating them.
"Of course you cannot work here, and they are too heavy to be
removed, besides being too costly to intrust out of my charge, I
will have a room prepared in the castle where you can work. Come
again at noon with your tools, and all shall be in readiness."

At the hour appointed Malcolm again presented himself.

"The duke has given personal instructions," he said, "that a closet
close by shall be fitted up for you, in order that he himself if
he chooses may see you at work."

Malcolm was conducted to a small room near at hand.  Here one of
the clocks which had stopped had been placed on the table, and he
at once set to work. He soon discovered that one of the wheels had
been shaken from its place by the jolting of the wagons, and that
the clock could be set going by a few minutes work.  As, however,
his object was to prolong his visit to the castle as long as
possible, he set to work and took it entirely to pieces. Two hours
later the door opened and a tall handsome man of commanding presence
entered.  Malcolm rose and bowed respectfully, feeling that he was
in the presence of the great general.

"You come from Nuremberg," Wallenstein said, "as I am told, and
have learned your craft in the workshop of Master Jans Boerhoff,
who is well known as being the greatest master of his craft."

Malcolm bowed silently.

"It is strange," Wallenstein muttered to himself, "that this young
man's destiny should be connected with mine; and yet the astrologer
said that he who should present himself at the castle nearest to
the stroke of nine this morning would be a factor in my future,
and, as my steward tells me, the clock sounded nine as this young
man addressed him." He then asked Malcolm several questions as to
the work upon which he was engaged, and then said abruptly:  "Dost
know the day and hour on which you were born?"

Malcolm was somewhat surprised at the question, for he had not heard
the muttered words of Wallenstein, but he at once replied that he
had heard that he was born at the stroke of midnight on the last
day in the year.

The duke said no more, but left the closet and proceeded at once
to an apartment near his own bed chamber, which, although he had
arrived but a few hours previously, had already been fitted up for
the use of his astrologer. The walls were hidden by a plain hanging
of scarlet cloth; a large telescope stood at the window, a chart of
the heavens was spread out on the table, and piles of books stood
beside it. On the ceiling the signs of the zodiac had been painted,
and some mystical circles had been marked out on the floor. A tall
spare old man with a long white beard was seated at the table. He
rose when Wallenstein entered.

"I cannot but think," the duke said, "that your calculations must
for once have been mistaken, and that there must have been an error
in the hour, for I see not how the destiny of this craftsman, who
seems to be a simple lad, can in any way be connected with mine."

"I have made the calculation three times, your grace," the old man
replied, "and am sure there is no error."

"He was born," Wallenstein said, "at midnight on December 31st, 1613.
Work out his nativity, and see what stars were in the ascendant,
and whether there are any affinities between us."

"I will do so at once," the astrologer said; "by tonight I shall
be able to give your grace the information you require."

"Tonight," the duke said, "we will go over your calculations together
as to our great enterprise. It is all important that there should
be no mistake. I have for a whole year remained inactive because
you told me that the time had not yet come, and now that you say
the propitious moment is approaching would fain be sure that no
error has been committed. All seems well, the troops are devoted to
me, and will fight against whomsoever I bid them. By lavish gifts
and favours I have attached all my generals firmly to me, and soon
this ungrateful emperor shall feel how rash and foolish he has been
to insult the man to whom alone he owes it that he was not long
ago a fugitive and an exile, with the Swedes victorious masters of
his capital and kingdom.

"Have not I alone saved him? Did not I at my own cost raise an
army and stand between him and the victorious Gustavus? Have not
I alone of all his generals checked the triumphant progress of the
invaders?  And yet he evades all his promises, he procrastinates
and falters. Not one step does he take to give me the sovereignty
of Bohemia which he so solemnly promised me, and seems to think
that it is honour and reward enough for me to have spent my treasure
and blood in his service. But my turn is at hand, and when the
hand which saved his throne shall cast him from it he will learn
how rash he has been to have deceived and slighted me. And you say
that the stars last night all pointed to a favourable conjunction,
and that the time for striking the great blow is at hand?"

"Nothing could be better," the astrologer said; "Jupiter, your own
planet, and Mars are in the ascendant.  Saturn is still too near
them to encourage instant action, but he will shortly remove to
another house and then your time will have come."

"So be it," Wallenstein said, "and the sooner the better.  Now I
will leave you to your studies, and will ride out to inspect the
troops, and to see that they have all that they need, for they must
be kept in the best of humours at present."



CHAPTER XXII THE CONSPIRACY


The next day Wallenstein again entered Malcolm's workroom and said
abruptly to him:  "What deeds of bravery have you performed?"

Malcolm looked astonished.

"In an idle moment," the duke said, "having an interest in
nativities and seeing that you were born between two years, I asked
my astrologer to work out the calculations. He tells me that it
was fated that you should perform deeds of notable bravery while
still young. It seemed the horoscope of a soldier rather than of
a craftsman, and so I told the sage; but he will have it that he
has made no mistake."

Malcolm hesitated for a moment; the blind faith which the otherwise
intelligent and capable general placed in the science of astrology
was well known to the world. Should he deny that he had accomplished
any feats, the duke, believing implicitly the statement which his
astrologer had made him, would suspect that he was not what he
seemed; he therefore replied modestly, "I have done no deeds worthy
relating to your excellency, but I once swam across a swollen river
to direct some travellers who would otherwise have perished, and
my neighbours were good enough to say that none in those parts save
myself would have attempted such a feat."

"Ah!" the duke exclaimed in a tone of satisfaction, "as usual the
stars have spoken correctly. Doubtless as great courage is required
to swim a river in flood as to charge into the ranks of the enemy."

So saying Wallenstein left the room, filled with a desire to
attach to himself the young man whom his adviser had assured him
was in some way connected with his destiny.  Wallenstein a day or
two later offered Malcolm to take him into his permanent service,
saying that he was frequently plagued by the stoppages of his clocks,
and desired to have a craftsman capable of attending to them on
his establishment.  He even told the young man that he might expect
promotion altogether beyond his present station.

Malcolm could not refuse so flattering an offer, and was at once
installed as a member of Wallenstein's household, declining however
the use of the apartment which the steward offered him, saying that
he had a sick brother lodging with him in the town. Mingling with
the soldiers in the evenings Malcolm learned that there were rumours
that negotiations for peace were going on with Saxony and Sweden.
This was indeed the case, but Wallenstein was negotiating on his
own behalf, and not on that of the emperor.  So far but little had
come of these negotiations, for Oxenstiern had the strongest doubts
of Wallenstein's sincerity, and believed that he was only trying
to gain time and delay operations by pretended proposals for peace.
He could not believe that the great Imperialist general, the right
hand of the emperor, had any real intention of turning against
his master. Towards the end of January there was some excitement
in Pilsen owing to the arrival there of all the generals of the
Imperialist army save only Gallas, Coloredo, and Altringer.

Malcolm was sure that such a gathering could only have been summoned
by Wallenstein upon some matter of the most vital importance, and
he determined at all hazards to learn what was taking place, in
order that he might enlighten Oxenstiern as to the real sentiments
of the duke. Learning that the principal chamber in the castle had
been cleared, and that a meeting of the officers would take place
there in the evening, he told Thekla when he went home to his meal
at midday that she must not be surprised if he did not return until
a late hour. He continued his work until nearly six o'clock, the
time at which the meeting was to begin, and then extinguishing his
light, he made his way through the passages of the castle until
he reached the council chamber, meeting with no interruption from
the domestics, who were by this time familiar with his person,
and who regarded him as one rising in favour with their master. He
waited in the vicinity of the chamber until he saw an opportunity
for entering unobserved, then he stole into the room and secreted
himself behind the arras beneath a table standing against the
wall, and where, being in shadow, the bulge in the hanging would
not attract attention.

In a few minutes he heard heavy steps with the clanking of swords
and jingling of spurs, and knew that the council was beginning to
assemble. The hum of conversation rose louder and louder for a quarter
of an hour; then he heard the door of the apartment closed, and knew
that the council was about to commence.  The buzz of conversation
ceased, and then a voice, which was that of Field Marshal Illo, one
of the three men in Wallenstein's confidence, rose in the silence.
He began by laying before the army the orders which the emperor
had sent for its dispersal to various parts of the country, and by
the turn he gave to these he found it easy to excite the indignation
of the assembly.

He then expatiated with much eloquence upon the merits of the army
and its generals, and upon the ingratitude with which the emperor
had treated them after their noble efforts in his behalf. The
court, he said, was governed by Spanish influence. The ministry
were in the pay of Spain.  Wallenstein alone had hitherto opposed
this tyranny, and had thus drawn upon himself the deadly enmity
of the Spaniards. To remove him from the command, or to make away
with him entirely, had, he asserted, been long the end of their
desires, and until they could succeed they endeavoured to abridge
his power in the field. The supreme command was to be placed in the
hands of the King of Hungary solely to promote the Spanish power in
Germany, as this prince was merely the passive instrument of Spain.

It was only with the view of weakening the army that six thousand
troops were ordered to be detached from it, and solely to harass
it by a winter campaign that they were now called upon at this
inhospitable season to undertake the recovery of Ratisbon. The Jesuits
and the ministry enriched themselves with the treasure wrung from
the provinces, and squandered the money intended for the pay of
the troops.

The general, then, abandoned by the court, was forced to acknowledge
his inability to keep his engagements to the army. For all the
services which for two-and-twenty years he had rendered to the house
of Austria, in return for all the difficulties with which he had
struggled, for all the treasures of his own which he had expended
in the Imperial service, a second disgraceful dismissal awaited
him. But he was resolved the matter should not come to this; he
was determined voluntarily to resign the command before it should
be wrested from his hands, "and this," continued the speaker, "is
what he has summoned you here to make known to you, and what he
has commissioned me to inform you."

It was now for them to say whether they would permit him to leave
them; it was for each man present to consider who was to repay him
the sums he had expended in the emperor's service; how he was ever
to reap the rewards for his bravery and devotion, when the chief who
alone was cognizant of their efforts, who was their sole advocate
and champion, was removed from them.

When the speaker concluded a loud cry broke from all the officers
that they would not permit Wallenstein to be taken from them. Then
a babel of talk arose, and after much discussion four of the officers
were appointed as a deputation to wait upon the duke to assure him
of the devotion of the army, and to beg him not to withdraw himself
from them.  The four officers intrusted with the commission left
the room and repaired to the private chamber of the general. They
returned in a short time, saying that the duke refused to yield.

Another deputation was sent to pray him in even stronger terms to
remain with them. These returned with the news that Wallenstein had
reluctantly yielded to their request; but upon the condition that
each of them should give a written promise to truly and firmly adhere
to him, neither to separate or to allow himself to be separated from
him, and to shed his last drop of blood in his defence.  Whoever
should break this covenant, so long as Wallenstein should employ the
army in the emperor's service, was to be regarded as a perfidious
traitor and to be treated by the rest as a common enemy.

As these last words appeared to indicate clearly that Wallenstein
had no thought of assuming a position hostile to the emperor,
or of defying his authority, save in the point of refusing to be
separated from his army, all present agreed with acclamations to
sign the documents required.

"Then, gentlemen," Marshal Illo said, "I will have the document
for your signatures at once drawn up. A banquet has been prepared
in the next room, of which I invite you now all to partake, and at
its conclusion the document shall be ready."

Malcolm from his hiding place heard the general movement as the
officers left the apartment, and looking cautiously out from beneath
the arras, saw that the chamber was entirely empty. He determined,
however, to remain and to hear the conclusion of the conference.
He accordingly remained quiet for upwards of an hour. During this
time the attendants had entered and extinguished the lights, as
the guests would not return to the council chamber.

He now left his hiding place and made his way to the door which
separated him from the banqueting hall.  Listening intently at the
keyhole, he heard the clinking of glasses and the sound of voices
loudly raised, and he guessed that the revelry was at its height.
More and more noisy did it become, for Marshal Illo was plying his
guests with wine in order that they might sign without examination
the document which he had prepared for their signatures.  Feeling
confident that none would hear him in the state at which they had
now arrived, Malcolm cautiously opened the door an inch or two,
and was able to hear and see all that passed.

It was another hour before Marshal Illo produced the document and
passed it round for signature. Many of those to whom it was handed
signed it at once without reading the engagement; but one more
sober than the rest insisted on reading it through, and at once
rising to his feet, announced to the others that the important words
"as long as Wallenstein shall employ the army for the emperor's
service," which had been inserted in the first draft agreed to by
Wallenstein and the deputation, had been omitted.

A scene of noisy confusion ensued. Several of the officers declared
that they would not sign the document as it stood. General Piccolomini,
who had only attended the meeting in order that he might inform
the emperor, to whom he was devoted, of what took place there,
had drunk so much wine that he forgot the part he was playing, and
rose to his feet and with drunken gravity proposed the health of
the emperor.

Louder and louder grew the din of tongues until Count Terzky, who
was alone with Illo and Colonel Kinsky in Wallenstein's confidence,
arose, and in a thundering voice declared that all were perjured
villains who should recede from their engagement, and would,
according to their agreements be treated as enemies by the rest.
His menaces and the evident danger which any who might now draw
back would run, overcame the scruples of the recalcitrants, and
all signed the paper. This done the meeting broke up, and Malcolm,
stealing away from his post of observation, made his way back to
his lodgings.

He slept little that night. What he had seen convinced him that
Wallenstein was really in earnest in the propositions which he had
made to Oxenstiern and the Elector of Saxony, and that he meditated
an open rebellion against the emperor.  It was of extreme importance
that Oxenstiern should be made acquainted with these facts; but it
would be next to impossible to escape from Pilsen, burdened as he
was with Thekla, and to cross the country which intervened between
the two armies and which was constantly traversed by cavalry parties
and scouts of both sides.

After much deliberation, therefore, he determined upon the bold
course of frankly informing Wallenstein who he was and what he
had heard, and to beg of him to furnish him with an escort to pass
through the lines in order that he might make his way with all speed
to Oxenstiern in order to assure him of the good faith of the duke
and of the importance of his frankly and speedily accepting his
proposals. It was possible, of course, that he might fall a victim
to Wallenstein's first anger when he found out that he had been
duped, and the plot in which he was engaged discovered; but he
resolved to run the risk, believing that the duke would see the
advantage to be gained by complying with his proposal.

It was necessary, however, to prepare Thekla for the worst.

"Thekla," he said in the morning, "an end has come to our stay
here. Circumstances have occurred which will either enable us to
continue our journey at once and in safety or which may place me
in a prison."

Thekla gave a cry of surprise and terror. "I do not think,
my dear girl," Malcolm went on, "that there is much fear of the
second alternative, but we must be prepared for it. You must obey
my instructions implicitly. Should I not return by nightfall you
will know that for a time at least I have been detained. You will
tell the woman of the house, who is aware that I am employed by
Wallenstein, that I have been sent by him to examine and set in
order the clocks in his palace in Vienna in readiness for his return
there, but that as you were too unwell to travel I have bade you
remain here until I return to fetch you.

"You have an ample supply of money even without the purse of gold
which the duke presented to me yesterday.  You must remain here
quietly until the spring, when the tide of war is sure to roll
away to some other quarter, and I trust that, long ere that, even
should I be detained, I shall be free to come to you again; but
if not, do you then despatch this letter which I have written for
you to Jans Boerhoff. In this I tell him where you are, in order
that, if your mother comes to him asking for you, or your parents
are able to write to him to inquire for you, he may inform them of
your hiding place. I have also written you a letter to the commander
of any Swedish force which may enter this town, telling him who
you are, and praying him to forward you under an escort to Nuremberg."

"But what shall I do without you?" Thekla sobbed.

"I trust, my dear, that you will not have to do without me, and feel
convinced that tomorrow we shall be upon our way to the Swedish
outposts. I only give you instructions in case of the worst.
It troubles me terribly that I am forced to do anything which may
possibly deprive you of my protection, but my duty to the country
I serve compels me to take this step, which is one of supreme
importance to our cause."

It was long before Thekla was pacified, and Malcolm himself was
deeply troubled at the thought that the girl might be left alone
and unprotected in a strange place. Still there appeared every
probability that she would be able to remain there in safety until
an opportunity should occur for her to make her way to Nuremberg. It
was with a heavy heart, caused far more by the thought of Thekla's
position than of danger to himself, that he took his way to the
castle; but he felt that his duty was imperative, and was at heart
convinced that Wallenstein would eagerly embrace his offer.

It was not until midday that he was able to see the duke.  Wallenstein
had been greatly angered as well as alarmed at the resistance which
his scheme had met with on the previous evening. He had believed
that his favours and liberality had so thoroughly attached his
generals to his person that they would have followed him willingly
and without hesitation, even in a war against the emperor, and the
discovery that, although willing to support him against deprivation
from his command, they shrunk alarmed at the idea of disloyalty to
the emperor, showed that his position was dangerous in the extreme.

He found that the signatures to the document had for the most
part been scrawled so illegibly that the writers would be able to
repudiate them if necessary, and that deceit was evidently intended.
In the morning he called together the whole of the generals, and
personally received them. After pouring out the bitterest reproaches
and abuse against the court, he reminded them of their opposition
to the proposition set before them on the previous evening, and
declared that this circumstance had induced him to retract his own
promise, and that he should at once resign his command.

The generals, in confusion and dismay, withdrew to the antechamber,
and after a short consultation returned to offer their apologies
for their conduct on the previous evening and to offer to sign anew
the engagement which bound them to him. This was done, and it now
remained only for Wallenstein to obtain the adhesion of Gallas,
Altringer, and Coloredo, which, as they held important separate
commands, was necessary for the success of his plan. Messengers were
accordingly sent out at once to request them to come instantly to
Pilsen.

After this business was despatched and Wallenstein was disengaged
he was informed that Malcolm desired earnestly to speak to him on
particular business. Greatly surprised at the request, he ordered
that he should be shown in to him.

"Your excellency," Malcolm began when they were alone, "what I am
about to say may anger you, but as I trust that much advantage may
arise from my communication, I implore you to restrain your anger
until you hear me to the end, after which it will be for you to do
with me as you will."

Still more surprised at this commencement, Wallenstein signed to
him to continue.

"I am, sir," Malcolm went on, "no clockmaker, although, indeed,
having worked for some time in the shop of Master Jans Boerhoff
at the time of the siege of Nuremberg, I am able to set clocks and
watches in repair, as I have done to those which have been placed
in my hands here. In reality, sir, I am a Scottish officer, a
captain in the service of Sweden."

Wallenstein gave a short exclamation of angry surprise. "You must
not think, sir, that I have come hither in disguise to be a spy
upon the movements of your army. I came here unwillingly, being
captured by your troops, and forced to accompany them.

"I left the Swedish camp on a private mission, having received there
a missive from the Countess of Mansfeld, who, with her husband,
was a kind friend of mine, telling me that they were prisoners of
the emperor at Prague, and begging me to come to their assistance.
Bethinking me of the occupation which had amused my leisure hours
during the weary months when we were shut up by you in Nuremberg,
I obtained leave of absence, attired myself as a craftsman, and made
my way to Prague. There I found the count confined to his couch by
a wound and unable to move. The countess had no thought of quitting
him. Her anxiety was wholly for her daughter, a girl of fifteen,
whom the emperor purposed to shut up in a convent and force to
change her religion, and then to bestow her hand upon one of his
favourites, with her father's confiscated estates as her dowry.

"I succeeded in effecting her escape, disguised as a boy; I myself
travelling in the disguise of a peasant with a wagon.  We were
making our way towards the Swedish lines when we came across your
army, which had, unknown to me, suddenly moved hither. I and my
cart were requisitioned for the service of the army.  On the night
of my arrival here I resumed my disguise as a craftsman, left my wagon,
and with my young companion took up my lodging here, intending to
remain quietly working at the craft I assumed until an opportunity
offered for continuing our journey. Accident obtained me employment
here, and as rumour said that overtures for peace were passing
between yourself and the Swedish chancellor, I may frankly say
that I determined to use the position in which I accidentally found
myself for the benefit of the country I served, by ascertaining,
if I could, how far your excellency was in earnest as to the offers
you were making.  In pursuance of that plan I yesterday concealed
myself and overheard all that passed in the council chamber with
the officers, and at the banquet subsequently."

Wallenstein leapt to his feet with an angry exclamation.

"Your excellency will please to remember," Malcolm went on quietly,
"that I could have kept all this to myself and used it to the
benefit or detriment of your excellency, but it seemed to me that
I should benefit at once your designs and the cause I serve by
frankly acquainting you with what I have discovered. It would be
a work of time for me to make my way with my companion through the
lines of your army and to gain those of the Swedes. I might be slain
in so doing and the important information I have acquired lost.

"It is of all things important to you that the Swedish chancellor,
whose nature is cautious and suspicious, should be thoroughly
convinced that it is your intention to make common cause with him
and to join him heart and soul in forcing the emperor to accept
the conditions which you and he united may impose upon him. This
the information I have acquired will assuredly suffice to do, and
he will, without doubt, at once set his army in motion to act in
concert with yours."

Wallenstein paced the room for a minute or two in silence.

"The stars truly said that you are a brave man and that your destiny
is connected with mine," he said at length, "for assuredly none
but a brave man would venture to tell me that he had spied into
my councils. I see, however, that what you say is reasonable and
cogent, and that the news you have to tell may well induce Oxenstiern
to lay aside the doubts which have so long kept us asunder and at
once to embrace my offer. What, then, do you propose?"

"I would ask, sir," Malcolm replied, "that you would at once
order a squadron of horse to escort me and my companion through
the debatable land between your army and that of the Swedes, with
orders for us to pass freely on as soon as we are beyond your
outposts and in the neighbourhood of those of the Swedes."

"It shall be done," Wallenstein said. "In half an hour a squadron
of horse shall be drawn up in the courtyard here, and a horse and
pillion in readiness for yourself and the maiden. In the meantime
I will myself prepare a letter for you to present to the Swedish
chancellor with fresh proposals for common action."



CHAPTER XXIII THE MURDER OF WALLENSTEIN


Malcolm hurried back to his lodging, where he was received with a
cry of delight from Thekla, who had passed the time since he had
left her on her knees praying for his safety. He told her at once
that she was about to be restored to safety among friends, that
her troubles were at an end, and she was again to resume her proper
garments which she had brought with her in the basket containing
his tools at the time of her flight.

A few minutes sufficed to make the change, and then she accompanied
Malcolm to the castle. Wallenstein's orders had been rapidly carried
out; a squadron of cavalry were formed up in the courtyard. and in
front of them an attendant held a horse with a pillion behind the
saddle.  Malcolm lifted Thekla on to the pillion and sprang into
the saddle in front of her.  One of Wallenstein's household handed
a letter to him and then gave him into the charge of the officer
commanding the squadron, who had already received his orders.  The
officer at once gave the word and rode from the castle followed by
the cavalry.

As soon as they were out of the town the pace was quickened, and the
cavalcade proceeded at a trot which was kept up with few intermissions
until nightfall, by which time twenty miles had been covered.
They halted for the night in a small town where the soldiers were
billeted on the inhabitants, comfortable apartments being assigned
to Malcolm and his charge.

Soon after daybreak the journey was continued.  A sharp watch was
now kept up, as at any moment parties of the Swedish cavalry making
a raid far in advance of their lines might be met with. No such
adventure happened, and late in the afternoon the troop halted on
the crest of a low hill.

"Here," the officer said, "we part.  That town which you see across
the river is held by the Swedes, and you will certainly meet with
no molestation from any of our side as you ride down to it."

Malcolm thanked the officer for the courtesy he had shown him on
the journey, and then rode forward towards the town. It was getting
dusk as he neared the bridge, but as he came close Malcolm's heart
gave a bound as he recognized the green scarves and plumes worn
by the sentries at the bridge. These seeing only a single horseman
with a female behind him did not attempt to question him as he
passed; but he reined in his horse.

"Whose regiment do you belong to?" he asked.

The men looked up in surprise at being addressed in their own
language by one whose attire was that of a simple craftsman, but
whom they now saw rode a horse of great strength and beauty.

"We belong to Hamilton's regiment," they replied.

"And where shall I find that of Munro?"

"It is lying in quarters fifteen miles away," one of the soldiers
answered.

"Then we cannot get on there tonight," Malcolm said.  "Where are
your officers quartered?"

A soldier standing near at once volunteered to act as guide, and
in a few minutes Malcolm arrived at the house occupied by them. He
was of course personally known to all the officers, and as soon as
their surprise at his disguise and at seeing him accompanied by a
young lady had subsided, they received him most heartily.

Thekla was at once taken to the house of the burgomaster, which
was close at hand, and handed over to the wife of that functionary
for the night, and Malcolm spent a merry evening with the Scottish
officers, to whom he related the adventures which had so satisfactorily
terminated -- making, however, no allusion to the political secrets
which he had discovered or the mission with which he was charged.
He was soon furnished from the wardrobes of the officers with a
suit of clothes, and although his craftsman attire had served him
well he was glad to don again the uniform of the Scottish brigade.

"You have cut your narrative strangely short at the end, Graheme,"
Colonel Hamilton said when Malcolm brought his story to a conclusion.
"How did you get away from Pilsen at last, and from whom did you
steal that splendid charger on whom you rode up to the door?"

"That is not my own secret, colonel, and I can only tell you at
present that Wallenstein himself gave it to me."

A roar of incredulous laughter broke from the officers round the
table.

"A likely story indeed, Graheme; the duke was so fascinated with
your talents as a watchmaker that he bestowed a charger fit for
his own riding upon you to carry you across into our lines."

"It does not sound likely, I grant you," Malcolm said, "but it is
true, as you will acknowledge when the time comes that there will
be no longer any occasion for me to keep the circumstances secret.
I only repeat, Wallenstein gave me the honour of an escort which
conducted me to the crest of the hill two miles away, where, if
your sentries and outposts had been keeping their eyes open, they
might have seen them."

It was late before the party broke up, but soon after daylight
Malcolm was again in the saddle, and with Thekla as before on the
pillion he continued his journey, and in three hours reached the
town where his regiment was quartered.

Alighting at the door of the colonel's quarters, he led Thekla to
his apartments. The colonel received him with the greatest cordiality
and welcomed Thekla with a kindness which soon put her at her ease,
for now that the danger was past she was beginning to feel keenly
the strangeness of her position.

She remembered Colonel Munro perfectly, as he and the other officers
of the regiment had been frequently at her father's during the stay
of the regiment at Maintz. The colonel placed her at once in charge
of the wife of one of the principal citizens, who upon hearing that
she was the daughter of the Count of Mansfeld, well known for his
attachment to the Protestant cause, willingly received her, and
offered to retain her as her guest until an opportunity should
occur for sending her on to Nuremberg, should Malcolm not be able
at once to continue his journey to that city.

"That," Colonel Munro said as soon as Malcolm informed him of
the extremely important information he had gained, "is out of the
question. Your news is of supreme importance, it alters the whole
course of events, and offers hopes of an early termination of the
struggle. There is no doubt that Wallenstein is in earnest now,
for he has committed himself beyond reparation. The only question
is whether he can carry the army with him. However, it is clear
that you must ride with all haste to Oxenstiern with your tidings;
not a moment must be lost. He is in the Palatinate, and it will
take you four days of hard riding at the least to reach him.

"In the meantime, your little maid, who by the way is already nearly
a woman, had best remain here -- I will see that she is comfortable
and well cared for, and after all she is as well here as at Nuremberg,
as there is no fear now of an advance of the Imperialists. In case
of anything extraordinary occurring which might render this town
an unsafe abiding place, I will forward her in safety to Nuremberg,
even I if I have to detach a score of my men as her escort."

Before mounting again Malcolm paid a hurried visit to Thekla, who
expressed her contentment with her new abode, and her readiness to
stay there until he should return to take her to Nuremberg, even
should it be weeks before he could do so.

"I quite feel among friends now," she said, "and Colonel Munro and
your Scotch officers will, I am sure, take good care of me till
you return."

Glad to feel that his charge was left in good hands Malcolm mounted
his horse with a light heart and galloped away. Four days later he
was closeted with the Swedish chancellor, and relating to him the
scene in the castle at Pilsen. When he had finished his narrative
Oxenstiern, who had, before Malcolm began, read the letter which
Wallenstein had sent him, said:

"After what you tell me there can be no longer the slightest doubts
of Wallenstein's intention. Ever since the death of the king he has
been negotiating privately with me, but I could not believe that
he was in earnest or that such monstrous treachery was possible.
How could I suppose that he who has been raised from the rank of
a simple gentleman to that of a duke and prince, and who, save the
fortunes which he obtained with his wives, owes everything to the
bounty of the emperor, could be preparing to turn his arms against
him?"

"It is true that he has done great things for Ferdinand, but his
ambition is even greater than his military talent. Any other man
would have been content with the enormous possessions and splendid
dignity which he has attained, and which in fact render him far richer
than his Imperial master; but to be a prince does not suffice for
him. He has been promised a kingdom, but even that is insufficient
for his ambition. It is clear that he aims to dethrone the emperor
and to set himself up in his place; however, his ingratitude does
not concern me, it suffices now that at any rate he is sincere,
and that a happy issue out of the struggle opens before us henceforth.

"I can trust him thoroughly; but though he has the will to join
us has he the power? Wallenstein, with his generals and his army
fighting for the emperor, is a mighty personage, but Wallenstein
a rebel is another altogether. By what you tell me it seems more
than doubtful whether his officers will follow him; and although
his army is attached to him, and might follow him could he put
himself at its head, it is scattered in its cantonments, and each
section will obey the orders which the general in its command may
give.

"Probably some of those who signed the document, pledging their
fidelity to Wallenstein, have already sent news to the emperor of
what is being done. It is a strange situation and needs great care;
the elements are all uncertain.  Wallenstein writes to me as if he
were assured of the allegiance of the whole of his army, and speaks
unquestionably of his power to overthrow the emperor; but the man
is clearly blinded by his ambition and infatuated by his fixed
belief in the stars. However, one thing is certain, he and as much
of his army as he can hold in hand are now our allies, and I must
lose no time in moving such troops as are most easily disposable
to his assistance.

"I will send to Saxony and urge the elector to put in motion a
force to support him, and Duke Bernhard shall move with a division
of our troops. I will at once pen a despatch to Wallenstein, accepting
his alliance and promising him active aid as soon as possible.

"What say you, young sir? You have shown the greatest circumspection
and ability in this affair. Will you undertake to carry my despatch?
You must not travel as a Scottish officer, for if there are any
traitors among the officers of Wallenstein they will assuredly
endeavour to intercept any despatches which may be passing between
us in order to send them to the emperor as proofs of the duke's
guilt."

"I will undertake the task willingly, sir," Malcolm replied, "and
doubt not that I shall be able to penetrate to him in the same
disguise which I before wore. When I once reach him is your wish
that I should remain near him, or that I should at once return?"

"It were best that you should remain for a time," the chancellor
said. "You may be able to send me news from time to time of what
is passing around the duke. Before you start, you shall be supplied
with an ample amount of money to pay messengers to bring your
reports to me. Wallenstein hardly appears to see the danger of
his situation; but you will be more clear sighted. It is a strange
drama which is being played, and may well terminate in a tragedy.
At any rate the next month will decide what is to come of these
strange combinations."

The horse on which Malcolm had ridden was knocked up from the speed
at which he had travelled, and, ordering it to be carefully tended
till his return, he obtained a fresh horse and again set out. He
made the journey at the same speed at which he had before passed
over the ground, and paused for a few hours only at Amberg, where
he found Thekla well and comfortable, and quite recovered from the
effects of her journeys and anxiety. She received him with delight;
but her joy was dashed when she found that, instead of returning
to remain with his regiment, as she had hoped, he was only passing
through on another mission.

At Amberg he again laid aside his uniform and donned his costume as
a craftsman. Colonel Munro gave him an escort of twenty troopers;
with these he crossed the river at nightfall, and, making a detour
to avoid the Imperialist outposts, rode some fifteen miles on his
way. He then dismounted and handed over his horse to his escort,
who at once started on their way back to Amberg, while he pursued
his journey on foot towards Pilsen. It was late the next evening
before he reached the town; and on arriving he learned that
Wallenstein was still there.

The Imperialist general, immediately upon obtaining the signature
of his officers, had sent to urge Altringer and Gallas, who had been
absent from the meeting, to come to him with all speed. Altringer,
on pretence of sickness, did not comply with the invitation.  Gallas
made his appearance, but merely with the intention of finding out
all Wallenstein's plans and of keeping the emperor informed of
them.  Piccolomini had, immediately the meeting broke up, sent full
details of its proceedings to the court, and Gallas was furnished
with a secret commission containing the emperor's orders to the
colonels and officers, granting an amnesty for their adhesion to
Wallenstein at Pilsen, and ordering them to make known to the army
that it was released from its obedience to Wallenstein, and was
placed under the command of Gallas himself, who received orders,
if possible, to arrest Wallenstein.

Gallas on his arrival perceived the impossibility of executing his
commission, for Wallenstein's troops and officers were devoted to
him, and not even the crime of high treason could overcome their
veneration and respect for him.  Finding that he could do nothing,
and fearful that Wallenstein should discover the commission with
which he was charged, Gallas sought for a pretence to escape from
Pilsen, and offered to go to Altringer and to persuade him to return
with him.

Wallenstein had no doubts of the fidelity of the general, and
allowed him to depart.  As he did not return at once Piccolomini,
who was also most anxious to get out of the grasp of Wallenstein,
offered to go and fetch both Gallas and Altringer.  Wallenstein
consented, and conveyed Piccolomini in his own carriage to Lintz.
No sooner had Piccolomini left him than he hurried to his own command,
denounced Wallenstein as a traitor, and prepared to surprise the
duke in Pilsen.  Gallas at the same time sent round copies of his
commission to all the Imperial camps.

Upon his arrival Malcolm at once proceeded to the castle, and,
finding the steward, requested him to inform the duke that he had
returned.  In a few minutes he was ushered into his presence, and
handed to him the letter from Oxenstiern.  Wallenstein tore it
open without a word and gave an exclamation of satisfaction as he
glanced it through.

"This is opportune indeed," he said, "and I thank you for bringing
me the news so rapidly. Well did the astrologer say that my destiny
to some extent depended on you; this is a proof that he was right.
The chancellor tells me that the Duke of Saxe-Lauenberg will march
instantly with four thousand men to join me, and that Duke Bernhard
will move down at once with six thousand of the best Swedish troops.
I may yet be even with the traitors."

Although the defection of Gallas and Piccolomini and the news of the
issue of the Imperial proclamation had fallen with stunning force
upon Wallenstein, he had still faith in the fidelity of the army
at large, and he had already despatched Marshal Terzky to Prague,
where all the troops faithful to him were to assemble, intending
to follow himself with the regiments at Pilsen as soon as carriage
could be obtained from the country round.  His astrologer still
assured him that the stars were favourable, and Wallenstein's faith
in his own destiny was unshaken.

Upon finding that Malcolm had orders to remain with him until he
was joined by Duke Bernhard, he ordered handsome apartments to be
prepared for him, and as there was no longer any reason why the
fact that a Swedish officer was in the castle should be concealed,
he commanded that Malcolm should be furnished with handsome raiment
of all sorts and a suit of superb armour.  Upon the following
morning Wallenstein sent for him.

"I have bad news," he said. "General Suys with an army arrived
at Prague before Terzky got there, and I fear that the influence
of Piccolomini, Gallas, and Altringer have withdrawn from me the
corps which they command.  Terzky will return tomorrow morning,
and I shall then march with him and the troops here to Egra. There
I shall effect a junction with Duke Bernhard, who is instructed to
march upon that town.''

The duke, though anxious, still appeared confident; but the
outlook seemed to Malcolm extremely gloomy.  The whole army save
the regiments around Pilsen had fallen away from Wallenstein.  His
princely generosity to the generals and officers and his popularity
among the troops had failed to attach them to him now that he had
declared against the emperor, and it appeared to Malcolm that he
would be able to bring over to the Swedish cause only the corps
which he immediately commanded.

Still his defection could not but cause a vast gap in the Imperial
defences, and the loss of the services of the greatest of their
leaders would in itself be a heavy blow to the Imperialist cause,
which had been almost solely supported by his commanding talents and
his vast private income.  Terzky arrived on the following morning,
and the same afternoon Wallenstein with the whole of the troops at
Pilsen marched towards Egra.

Among the officers attached to Wallenstein's person was a Scotchman
named Leslie, to whom and a few other confidants Wallenstein had
confided his designs. Wallenstein had at once introduced Malcolm to
him, and the two rode in company during the march to Egra.  Malcolm
did not find him a cheerful companion.  They chatted at times of
the engagements in which both had taken part although on opposite
sides; but Malcolm saw that his companion was absent and preoccupied,
and that he avoided any conversation as to the turn which events
had taken.

At the end of the first day's ride Malcolm came to the decided
conclusion that he did not like his companion, and, moreover, that
his heart was far from being in the enterprise on which they were
engaged.  The following day he avoided joining him, and rode with
some of the other officers. Upon their arrival at Egra the gates
were opened at their approach, and Colonel Butler, an Irishman who
commanded the garrison, met Wallenstein as he entered, and saluted
him with all honour.  Wallenstein was pleased to find that the
disaffection which had spread so rapidly through the army had not
reached Egra.

A few hours after he had entered the town Wallenstein received
the news that an Imperial edict had been issued proclaiming him
a traitor and an outlaw; he also learned that the corps under the
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg was within a day's march of Egra. As soon
as the duke retired to his apartments Leslie sought out Colonel
Butler, and revealed to him the purposes of Wallenstein, and informed
him of the Imperial order absolving the army from their allegiance
to him.  The two men, with Lieutenant Colonel Gordon, another
Imperialist officer, at once determined to capture Wallenstein and
to hand him over as a prisoner to the emperor.

In the afternoon Leslie had an interview with Wallenstein, who
told him of the near approach of the Dukes of Saxe-Lauenburg and
Saxe-Weimar, and informed him of his plans for advancing from Egra
direct into the heart of Bohemia.

The treacherous officer at once hurried away with the news to his
two associates, and it was agreed that the near approach of the
Saxons rendered it impossible for them to carry out their first plan,
but that instant and more urgent steps must be taken. That evening
a banquet was given by Butler to Wallenstein and his officers. The
duke, however, was too anxious to appear at it, and remained in his
own apartment, the rest of the officers, among them Wallenstein's
chief confidants, Illo, Terzky, and Kinsky, together with Captain
Neumann, an intimate adviser of Terzky, were among the guests.
Malcolm was also present.

The banquet passed off gaily, Wallenstein's health was drunk in
full bumpers, and his friends boasted freely that in a few days
he would find himself at the head of as powerful an army as he had
ever before commanded.  Malcolm had naturally been placed at the
table near his compatriots, and it seemed to him that their gaiety
was forced and unnatural, and a sense of danger came over him.

The danger indeed was great, although he knew it not.  The drawbridge
of the castle had been drawn up, the avenues leading to it guarded,
and twenty infantry soldiers and six of Butler's dragoons were in
hiding in the apartment next to the banqueting hall.

Dessert was placed on the table; Leslie gave the signal, and in an
instant the hall was filled with armed men, who placed themselves
behind the chairs of Wallenstein's trusted officers with shouts
of "Long live Ferdinand!" The three officers instantly sprang to
their feet, but Terzky and Kinsky were slain before they had time
to draw their swords.

Neumann in the confusion escaped into the court, where he too was
cut down.  Illo burst through his assailants, and placing his back
against a window stood on his defence.  As he kept his assailants
at bay he poured the bitterest reproaches upon Gordon for his
treachery, and challenged him to fight him fairly and honourably.
After a gallant resistance, in which he slew two of his assailants,
he fell to the ground overpowered by numbers, and pierced with ten
wounds.

Malcolm had sprung to his feet at the commencement of the tumult,
but was pressed down again into his chair by two soldiers, while
Leslie exclaimed, "Keep yourself quiet, sir, I would fain save you
as a fellow countryman, and as one who is simply here in the execution
of his duty; but if you draw sword to defend these traitors, you
must share their fate."

No sooner had the murder of the four officers been accomplished
than Leslie, Butler, and Gordon issued into the town.  Butler's
cavalry paraded the streets, and that officer quieted the garrison
by telling them that Wallenstein had been proclaimed a traitor and
an outlaw, and that all who were faithful to the emperor must obey
their orders.  The regiments most attached to Wallenstein had not
entered the city, and the garrison listened to the voice of their
commander.

Wallenstein knew nothing of what had taken place in the castle,
and had just retired to bed when a band of Butler's soldiers, led
by Captain Devereux, an Irishman, burst into his apartment. The
duke leaped from his bed, but before he could snatch up a sword he
was pierced through and through by the murderers' halberts.

So fell one of the greatest men of his age.  Even to the present day
there are differences of opinion as to the extent of his guilt, but
none as to the treachery with which he was murdered by his most
trusted officers.  That Wallenstein owed much gratitude to the
emperor is unquestionable, but upon the other hand he had even a
greater title to the gratitude of Ferdinand, whose crown and empire
he had repeatedly saved.  Wallenstein was no bigot, his views were
broad and enlightened, and he was therefore viewed with the greatest
hostility by the violent Catholics around the king, by Maximilian
of Bavaria, by the Spaniards, and by the Jesuits, who were all
powerful at court. These had once before brought about his dismissal
from the command, after he had rendered supreme services, and their
intrigues against him were again at the point of success when
Wallenstein determined to defy and dethrone the emperor.  The coldness
with which he was treated at court, the marked inattention to all
his requests, the consciousness that while he was winning victories
in the field his enemies were successfully plotting at court, angered
the proud and haughty spirit of Wallenstein almost to madness,
and it may truly be said that he was goaded into rebellion.  The
verdict of posterity has certainly been favourable to him, and the
dastardly murder which requited a lifetime of brilliant services has
been held to more than counterbalance the faults which he committed.



CHAPTER XXIV MALCOLM'S ESCAPE


After the fall of Wallenstein's colonels Malcolm was led away
a prisoner, and was conducted to a dungeon in the castle.  It was
not until the door closed behind him that he could fairly realize
what had taken place, so sudden and unexpected had been the scene
in the banqueting hall. Five minutes before he had been feasting
and drinking the health of Wallenstein, now he was a prisoner of
the Imperialists. Wallenstein's adherents had been murdered, and
it was but too probable that a like fate would befall the general
himself.  The alliance from which so much had been hoped, which
seemed to offer a prospect of a termination of the long and bloody
struggle, was cut short at a blow.

As to his own fate it seemed dark enough, and his captivity might
last for years, for the Imperialists' treatment of their prisoners
was harsh in the extreme. The system of exchange, which was usual
then as now, was in abeyance during the religious war in Germany.
There was an almost personal hatred between the combatants, and,
as Malcolm knew, many of his compatriots who had fallen into the
hands of the Imperialists had been treated with such harshness
in prison that they had died there.  Some, indeed, were more than
suspected of having been deliberately starved to death.

However, Malcolm had gone through so many adventures that even the
scene which he had witnessed and his own captivity and uncertain fate
were insufficient to banish sleep from his eyes, and he reposed as
soundly on the heap of straw in the corner of his cell as he would
have done in the carved and gilded bed in the apartment which had
been assigned to him in the castle.

The sun was shining through the loophole of his dungeon when he
awoke. For an hour he occupied himself in polishing carefully the
magnificently inlaid armour which Wallenstein had presented him,
and which, with the exception of his helmet, he had not laid aside
when he sat down to the banquet, for it was very light and in no
way hampered his movements, and except when quartered in towns far
removed from an enemy officers seldom laid aside their arms.  He
still retained his sword and dagger, for his captors, in their haste
to finish the first act of the tragedy, and to resist any rising
which might take place among the soldiery, had omitted to take them
from him when they hurried him away.

On examination he found that with his dagger he could shove back
the lock of the door, but this was firmly held by bolts without.
Thinking that on some future occasion the blade might be useful
to him, he pushed the dagger well into the lock, and with a sharp
jerk snapped it off at the hilt.  Then he concealed the steel within
his long boot and cast the hilt through the loophole.

Presently a soldier brought him his breakfast -- a manchet of bread
and a stoup of wine. He was visited again at dinner and supper.
Before the soldier came in the first time Malcolm concealed his
sword in the straw, thinking that the soldier would be sure to
remove it if he noticed it. The man who brought his breakfast and
dinner was taciturn, and made no reply to his questions, but another
man brought his supper, and he turned out of a more communicative
disposition.

"What has happened?" he repeated in reply to Malcolm's question.
"Well, I don't know much about it myself, but I do know that
Wallenstein is dead, for the trooper who rides next to me helped to
kill him.  Everyone is content that the traitor has been punished,
and as the troops have all pronounced for the emperor every thing
is quiet. We had a good laugh this afternoon.  The colonel sent
out one of our men dressed up in Wallenstein's livery to meet the
Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg and invite him to come on at once and join
him here. The duke suspected no danger, and rode on ahead of his
troops, with a few attendants, and you should have seen his face,
when, after passing through the gates, he suddenly found himself
surrounded by our men and a prisoner. Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar will
be here tomorrow, as they say, and we shall catch him in the same
way. It's a rare trap this, I can tell you."

The news heightened Malcolm's uneasiness.  The capture of Duke
Bernhard, the most brilliant of the German generals on the Protestant
side, would be a heavy blow indeed to the cause, and leaving his
supper untasted Malcolm walked up and down his cell in a fever of
rage at his impotence to prevent so serious a disaster.

At last he ate his supper, and then threw himself upon the straw,
but he was unable to sleep.  The death of Wallenstein had made
a deep impression upon him. The Imperialist general was greatly
respected by his foes.  Not only was he admired for his immense
military talents, but he carried on the war with a chivalry and
humanity which contrasted strongly with the ferocity of Tilly,
Pappenheim, and Piccolomini.  Prisoners who fell into his hands
were always treated with courtesy, and although, from motives of
policy, he placed but little check upon the excesses of his soldiery,
no massacres, such as those which had caused the names of Tilly and
Pappenheim to be held in abhorrence by the Protestants of Germany,
were associated with that of Wallenstein.  Then, too, the princely
dignity and noble presence of the duke had greatly impressed
the young soldier, and the courtesy with which he had treated him
personally had attracted his liking as well as respect.  To think
that this great general, this princely noble, the man who alone had
baffled the Lion of the North, had been foully murdered by those
he had trusted and favoured, filled him with grief and indignation,
the more so since two of the principal assassins were Scotchmen.

The thought that on the morrow Duke Bernhard of Weimar -- a leader
in importance second only to the Chancellor of Sweden -- would
fall unsuspiciously into the trap set for him goaded him almost
to madness, and he tossed restlessly on the straw through the long
hours of the night.  Towards morning he heard a faint creaking of
bolts, then there was a sound of the locks of the door being turned.
He grasped his sword and sprang to his feet.  He heard the door
close again, and then a man produced a lantern from beneath a long
cloak, and he saw Wallenstein's steward before him.  The old man's
eyes were bloodshot with weeping, and his face betokened the anguish
which the death of his master had caused him.

"You have heard the news?" he asked.

"Alas!" Malcolm replied, "I have heard it indeed."

"I am determined," the old man said, "to thwart the projects of
these murderers and to have vengeance upon them.  None have thought
of me.  I was an old man, too insignificant for notice, and I have
passed the day in my chamber lamenting the kindest of lords, the
best of masters.  Last evening I heard the soldiers boasting that
today they would capture the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and I determined
to foil them. They have been feasting and drinking all night, and
it is but now that the troopers have fallen into a drunken slumber
and I was able to possess myself of the key of your dungeon.

"Here is your helmet.  I will lead you to the stable, where I
have saddled the best and fastest of my master's horses.  You must
remain there quietly until you deem that the gates are open, then
leap upon the horse, and ride for your life.  Few will know you,
and you will probably pass out of the gate unquestioned.  If not,
you have your sword to cut your way.  Once beyond the town ride
to meet the duke.  Tell him my master has been murdered, that Egra
is in the hands of the Imperialists, and that Saxe-Lauenburg is a
prisoner.  Bid him march on this place with his force, take it by
assault, and leave not one of the assassins of my lord living within
its walls."

"You will run no risk, I hope, for your share in this adventure,"
Malcolm said.

"It matters little to me," the old man replied. "My life is
worthless, and I would gladly die in the thought that I have brought
retribution on the head of the murderers of my master.  But they
will not suspect me.  I shall lock the door behind us, and place
the key again in the girdle of the drunken guard, and then return
to my own chamber."

Quietly Malcolm and his conductor made their way through the castle
and out into the courtyard.  Then they entered the stables.

"This is the horse," the steward said, again uncovering his lantern.
"Is he not a splendid animal? He was my master's favourite, and
sooner than that his murderers should ride him I would cut the throat
of the noble beast with my dagger; but he has a better mission in
carrying the avenger of his master's blood.  And now farewell. The
rest is in your own hands.  May Heaven give you good fortune."  So
saying, the old man set down his lantern and left Malcolm alone.

The latter, after examining the saddle and bridle, and seeing that
every buckle was firm and in its place, extinguished the light,
and waited patiently for morning.  In two hours a faint light began
to show itself.  Stronger and stronger it grew until it was broad
day.  Still there were but few sounds of life and movement in the
castle. Presently, however, the noise of footsteps and voices was
heard in the courtyard.

Although apprehensive that at any moment the stable door might
open, Malcolm still delayed his start, as it would be fatal were he
to set out before the opening of the gates.  At last he felt sure
that they must be opened to admit the country people coming in with
supplies for the market.  He had donned his helmet before leaving
his cell, and he now quietly opened the stable door, sprang into
the saddle, and rode boldly out.

Several soldiers were loitering about the courtyard.  Some were
washing at the trough and bathing their heads beneath the fountain
to get rid of the fumes of the wine they had indulged in overnight.
Others were cleaning their arms.

The sudden appearance of a mounted officer armed from head to foot
caused a general pause in their occupation, although none had any
suspicion that the splendidly attired officer was a fugitive; but,
believing that he was one of Leslie's friends who was setting out
on some mission, they paid no further heed to him, as quietly and
without any sign of haste he rode through the gateway of the castle
into the town.  The inhabitants were already in the streets, country
women with baskets were vending their produce, and the market was
full of people. Malcolm rode on at a foot pace until he was within
sight of the open gate of the town.  When within fifty yards of
the gate he suddenly came upon Colonel Leslie, who had thus early
been making a tour of the walls to see that the sentries were upon
the alert, for Duke Bernhard's force was within a few miles.  He
instantly recognized Malcolm.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "Captain Graheme -- treachery!  treachery! shut
the gate there," and drawing his sword, threw himself in Malcolm's
way.

Malcolm touched the horse with his spur and it bounded forward; he
parried the blow which Leslie struck at him, and, with a sweeping
cut full on the traitor's helmet, struck him to the ground and
then dashed onward.  A sentry was beginning to shut the gate, and
his comrades were running out from the guardhouse as Malcolm galloped
up.

The steward had fastened the holsters on to the saddle, and Malcolm,
before starting, had seen to the priming of the pistols in them.
Drawing one he shot the man who was closing the gate, and before his
comrades could run up he dashed through it and over the drawbridge.

Several bullets whizzed around him, but he was soon out of range,
and galloping at full speed in the direction in which the steward
had told him that Duke Bernhard was encamped.  In half an hour he
reached the Swedish lines, and rode at once to the tent of the duke
who was upon the point of mounting; beside him stood a man in the
livery of Wallenstein.  As he rode up Malcolm drew his pistol, and
said to the man:

"If you move a foot I will send a bullet through your head."

"What is this?" exclaimed the duke in astonishment, "and who are
you, sir, who with such scant courtesy ride into my camp?"

Malcolm raised his vizor. "I am Captain Graheme of Munro's
regiment," he said, "and I have ridden here to warn your excellency
of treachery.  Wallenstein has been foully murdered.  Egra is in
the hands of the Imperialists, the Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg has been
beguiled into a trap and taken prisoner, and this fellow, who is
one of Butler's troopers, has been sent here to lead you into a
like snare."

"Wallenstein murdered!" the duke exclaimed in tones of horror.
"Murdered, say you? Impossible!"

"It is but too true, sir," Malcolm replied; "I myself saw his friends
Illo, Terzky, and Kinsky assassinated before my eyes at a banquet.
Wallenstein was murdered by his favourites Leslie and Gordon and
the Irishman Butler.  I was seized and thrown into a dungeon, but
have escaped by a miracle to warn you of your danger."

"This is a blow indeed," the duke said mournfully.  Turning to
his attendants he ordered them to hang the false messenger to the
nearest tree, and then begged Malcolm to follow him into his tent
and give him full details of this terrible transaction.

"This upsets all our schemes indeed," the duke said when he had
concluded. "What is the strength of the garrison at Egra?"

"There were Butler's dragoons and an infantry regiment in garrison
there when we arrived; six regiments accompanied us on the march,
and I fear that all these must now be considered as having gone
over to the Imperialists."

"Then their force is superior to my own," the duke said, "for
I have but six thousand men with me, and have no artillery heavy
enough to make any impression upon the walls of the town.  Much as
I should like to meet these traitors and to deal out to them the
punishment they deserve, I cannot adventure on the siege of Egra until
I have communicated this terrible news to the Swedish chancellor.
Egra was all important to us as affording an entrance into Bohemia so
long as Wallenstein was with us, but now that he has been murdered
and our schemes thus suddenly destroyed I cannot risk the destruction
of my force by an assault upon the city, which is no longer of use
to us."

Much as Malcolm would have liked to have seen the punishment of
Wallenstein's treacherous followers, he could not but feel that
the duke's view was, under the circumstances, the correct one.  The
tents were speedily struck, and the force fell back with all speed
towards Bavaria, and after accompanying them for a march or two,
Malcolm left them and rode to join his regiment, the duke having
already sent off a messenger to Oxenstiern with a full account of
the murder of Wallenstein.

As none could say what events were likely to follow the changed
position of things, Malcolm determined at once to carry out the
original intention of placing Thekla under the care of his friends
at Nuremberg, in which direction it was not probable that the tide
of war would for the present flow.  After staying therefore a day
or two with his regiment, where his relation of the events he had
witnessed caused the greatest excitement and interest, Malcolm
obtained leave from his colonel to escort Thekla to Nuremberg.

In order that they might pass in perfect safety across the intervening
country Munro gave him an escort of twelve troopers, and with these
he journeyed by easy stages to Nuremberg, where the worthy syndic
of the clockmakers and his wife gladly received Thekla, and promised
to treat her as one of their own daughters.

Here Malcolm took possession of his arms and valises, which he had
sent, upon starting for Prague, to the care of Jans Boerhoff; not
indeed that he needed the armour, for the suit which Wallenstein
had given him was the admiration and envy of his comrades, and
Munro had laughingly said that since Hepburn had left them no such
gallantly attired cavalier had ridden in the ranks of the Scottish
brigade.

There were many tears on Thekla's part as her young protector bade
her adieu, for there was no saying how long a time might elapse
before she might again see him, and Malcolm was sorely tempted
to tell her that he had her father's consent to wooing her as his
wife.  He thought it, however, better to abstain from speaking, for
should he fall in the campaign her grief would be all the greater
had she come to think of him as her destined husband, for her
hearty affection for him already assured him that she would make
no objection to carrying out her father's wishes.

Shortly after rejoining his regiment Malcolm received a communication
from the Swedish chancellor expressing in high terms his approbation
of the manner in which he had carried out his instructions with
regard to Wallenstein, and especially for the great service he had
rendered the cause by warning the Duke of Saxe-Weimar of the trap
which the Imperialists had set for him.

The death of Wallenstein was followed by a short pause in the
war.  It had entirely frustrated all the plans and hopes of the
Protestants, and it caused a delay in the movement of the Imperialists.
The emperor, when he heard of Wallenstein's death, heaped favours
and honours upon the three men who had plotted and carried out his
murder, and then appointed his son Ferdinand, King of Hungary, to
the chief command of the army, with General Gallas as his principal
adviser.

The Duke of Lorraine marched with an army to join the Imperialists,
who were also strengthened by the arrival of 10,000 Spanish veterans,
and early in May the new Imperial general entered the Palatinate
and marched to lay siege to Ratisbon. To oppose the Imperial
army, which numbered 35,000 men, Duke Bernhard, after having drawn
together all the troops scattered in the neighbourhood, could only
put 15,000 in the field.  With so great a disparity of force he
could not offer battle, but in every way he harassed and interrupted
the advance of the Imperialists, while he sent pressing messages
to Oxenstiern for men and money, and to Marshal Horn, who commanded
in Alsace, to beg him march with all haste to his assistance.

Unfortunately Horn and Duke Bernhard were men of extremely different
temperaments.  The latter was vivacious, enterprising, and daring
even to rashness, ready to undertake any enterprise which offered
the smallest hope of success.  Marshal Horn, on the other hand,
although a good general, was slow, over cautious and hesitating,
and would never move until his plans appeared to promise almost
a certainty of success. Besides this, Horn, a Swede, was a little
jealous that Duke Bernhard, a German, should be placed in the
position of general-in-chief, and this feeling no doubt tended to
increase his caution and to delay his action.

Consequently he was so long a time before be obeyed the pressing
messages sent by the duke, that Ratisbon, after a valiant defence,
surrendered on the 29th of July, before he had effected a junction
with the duke's army. The Imperialists then marched upon Donauworth,
and this place, after a feeble defence, also capitulated. The duke,
heartbroken at seeing the conquests, which had been effected at so
great a loss of life and treasure, wrested from his hands while he
was unable to strike a blow to save them, in despair marched away
to Swabia to meet the slowly advancing army of Marshal Horn.

No sooner was the junction effected than he turned quickly back and
reached the vicinity of Nordlingen, only to find the enemy already
there before him, and posted on the more advanced of the two heights
which dominate the plain.  By a skillful manoeuvre, however, he was
enabled to throw within its walls a reinforcement to the garrison
of eight hundred men.

Nordlingen, an important free town, stands on the south bank of
the Ries, some 18 miles to the northeast of Donauworth.  It was
surrounded by a wall, interspersed with numerous towers, sufficiently
strong to guard it against any surprise, but not to defend it against
a regular siege by a numerous army.  The vast plain on which the
town stands is broken near its centre by two heights rising at a
distance of three thousand yards from each other.

The height nearest to the town, which is very steep and craggy, is
known as the Weinberg, the other is called Allersheim; a village
stands some three hundred yards in advance of the valley between the
heights, and is nearer to the town than either of the two eminences.

The Scotch brigade formed part of Duke Bernhard's command. It was
now nearly two years since a pitched battle had been fought, for
although there had been many skirmishes and assaults in the preceding
year no great encounter had taken place between the armies since
Gustavus fell at Lutzen, in October, 1632, and the Scotch brigade
had not been present at that battle. In the time which had elapsed
many recruits had arrived from Scotland, and Munro's regiment had
been again raised to the strength at which it had landed at Rugen
four years before. Not half a dozen of the officers who had then,
full of life and spirit, marched in its ranks were now present.
Death had indeed been busy among them. On the evening of their
arrival in sight of the Imperialist army the two Grahemes supped
with their colonel.  Munro had but just arrived from the duke's
quarters.

"I suppose we shall fight tomorrow, Munro," Major Graheme said.

"It is not settled," the colonel replied; "between ourselves the
duke and Horn are not of one mind. The duke wants to fight; he
urges that were we to allow Nordlingen to fall, as we have allowed
Ratisbon and Donauworth, without striking a blow to save it, it would
be an evidence of caution and even cowardice which would have the
worst possible effect through Germany. Nordlingen has ever been
staunch to the cause, and the Protestants would everywhere fall away
from us did they find that we had so little care for their safety
as to stand by and see them fall into the hands of the Imperialists
without an effort.  It is better, in the duke's opinion, to fight
and to be beaten than to tamely yield Nordlingen to the Imperialists.
In the one case honour would be satisfied and the reformers
throughout Germany would feel that we had done our utmost to save
their co-religionists, on the other hand there would be shame and
disgrace."

"There is much in what the duke says," Nigel Graheme remarked.

"There is much," Munro rejoined; "but there is much also in the
arguments of Horn. He reasons that we are outnumbered, the enemy
is superior to us by at least a third, and to save the town we must
attack them in an immensely strong position, which it will cost us
great numbers to capture.

"The chances against our winning a victory are fully five to one.
Granted the fall of Nordlingen will injure us in the eyes of the
princes and people of Germany; but with good management on our part
the feeling thus aroused will be but temporary, for we should soon
wipe out the reverse.  Of the 35,000 men of which the Imperial army
is composed, 8000 at least are Spaniards who are on their way to
Flanders, and who will very shortly leave it.

"On the other hand the Rhinegrave Otto Ludwig is with 7000 men within
a few marches of us; in a short time therefore we shall actually
outnumber the enemy, and shall be able to recover our prestige,
just as we recovered it at Leipzig after suffering Magdeburg to
fall.  We shall recapture the towns which he has taken, and if the
enemy should dare to accept battle we shall beat him, and shall be
in a position to march upon Vienna."

"Horn's arguments are the strongest," Nigel Graheme said gravely;
"the course he advises is the most prudent one."

"Undoubtedly," Munro replied; "but I think that it will not be
followed.  The duke is of a fiery spirit, and he would feel it, as
most of us would feel it, a disgrace to fall back without striking
a blow for Nordlingen.  He has, too, been goaded nearly to madness
during the last few days by messengers and letters which have reached
him from the reformed princes and the free towns in all parts of
Germany, reproaching him bitterly for having suffered Ratisbon and
Donauworth to fall into the hands of the enemy without a blow, and
he feels that his honour is concerned. I have little doubt that we
shall fight a great battle to save Nordlingen."



CHAPTER XXV NORDLINGEN


While Colonel Munro and his companions were discussing the matter
a council of war was being held, and Duke Bernhard's view was
adopted by all his generals, who felt with him that their honour
was involved in the question, and that it would be disgraceful to
march away without striking a blow to save the besieged city. Horn,
therefore, being outvoted, was forced to give way.  Up to nightfall
the Imperialists had showed no signs of an intention to occupy the
Weinberg, their forces being massed on and around the Allersheim
Hill. It was determined therefore to seize the Weinberg at once,
and the execution of this step was committed to Horn.

The choice was most unfortunate. The service was one upon the
prompt carrying out of which victory depended, and Horn, though a
brave and capable commander, was slow and cautious, and particularly
unfitted for executing a service which had to be performed in a
dark night across a country with which he was not familiar. Taking
with him four thousand chosen musketeers and pikemen and twelve
guns he set out at nine o'clock, but the rough road, the dikes,
and ditches which intercepted the country impeded him, and the fact
that he was unacquainted with the general position of the country
made him doubly cautious, and it was not until midnight that he
reached the foot of the hill.

Here, unfortunately, he came to the conclusion that since he had
encountered such difficulties in crossing the flat country he should
meet with even greater obstacles and delays in ascending the hill
in the dark; he therefore took the fatal resolution of remaining
where he was until daylight, and accordingly ordered the column to
halt. Had he continued his march he would have reached the summit
of the Weinberg unopposed, and the fate of the battle on the following
day would have been changed. But the Imperialist leaders, Gallas
and Cardinal Infanta Don Fernando, had not been unmindful of the
commanding position of the hill upon which Horn was marching, and
had given orders that it should be occupied before daylight by four
hundred Spaniards.

The commander of this force was as over prompt in the execution
of his orders as Horn was over cautious.  He reached the top of
the Weinberg before midnight, and at once set his men to work to
intrench themselves strongly.  As soon as daybreak enabled Horn
to see the fatal consequences which had arisen from his delay he
ordered his men to advance. With their usual gallantry the Swedes
mounted the hill and rushed at the intrenchment. It was defended
with the greatest obstinacy and courage by the Spaniards; but after
desperate fighting the Swedes forced their way into the work at
two points, and were upon the point of capturing the position when
an ammunition wagon accidentally exploded in their midst, killing
great numbers and throwing the rest into a temporary disorder,
which enabled the Spaniards to drive them out and again occupy the
intrenchments.

Before the Swedes had fully recovered themselves the Spanish cavalry,
which at the first sound of the conflict the cardinal had ordered
to the spot, charged them in flank and forced them to a precipitate
retreat down the hillside. Bitterly regretting his delay at midnight,
Horn brought up fresh troops, and after addressing encouraging
words to those who had been already repulsed, led the united body
to the assault.

But the Weinberg, which had been occupied in the early morning by
only four hundred men, was now defended by the whole of the Spanish
infantry. Vain now was the energy of Horn, and ineffectual the valour
of his troops. Time after time did the Swedes climb the hill and
strive to obtain a footing on its crest, each assault was repulsed
with prodigious slaughter. Duke Bernhard was now fully engaged
with the Imperialists on the Allersheim, and was gradually gaining
ground. Seeing, however, how fruitless were the efforts of Horn
to capture the Weinberg, he despatched as many of his infantry as
he could spare to reinforce the marshal.  Among these was Munro's
regiment.

"Now, my brave lads," Colonel Munro shouted, as he led his regiment
against the hill, "show them what Scottish hearts can do." With a
cheer the regiment advanced.  Pressing forward unflinchingly under
a hail of bullets they won their way up the hill, and then gathering,
hurled themselves with a shout upon the heavy masses of Spanish
veterans. For a moment the latter recoiled before the onset; then
they closed in around the Scotch, who had already lost a third of
their number in ascending the hill.

Never did the famous regiment fight with greater courage and fury;
but they were outnumbered ten to one, and their opponents were
soldiers of European reputation.  In vain the Scotchmen strove to
break through the serried line of pikes which surrounded them. Here
and there a knot of desperate men would win a way through; but ere
others could follow them the Spanish line closed in again and cut
them off from their comrades, and they died fighting to the last.

Fighting desperately in the front rank Munro and his officers
encouraged their men with shouts and example; but it was all in
vain, and he at last shouted to the remains of his followers to
form in a solid body and cut their way back through the enemy who
surrounded them. Hemmed in as they were by enemies the Scottish
spearmen obeyed, and, headed by their colonel, flung themselves
with a sudden rush upon the enemy. Before the weight and fury
of the charge the veterans of Spain gave way, and the Scots found
themselves on the crest of the hill which they had lately ascended.
No sooner were they free from the Spanish ranks than the musketeers
of the latter opened fire upon them, and numbers fell in the retreat.
When they reached the foot of the fatal hill, and bleeding and
breathless gathered round their commander, Munro burst into tears
on finding that of the noble regiment he had led up the hill scarce
enough remained to form a single company. Seven times now had Horn
striven to carry the hill, seven times had he been repulsed with
terrible slaughter, and he now began to fall back to join the
force of Duke Bernhard. The latter, recognizing that the battle
was lost, and that Horn, if not speedily succoured, was doomed,
for the Imperialists, flushed with victory, were striving to cut
him off, made a desperate attack upon the enemy hoping to draw
their whole forces upon himself, and so enable Horn to retire. For
the moment he succeeded, but he was too weak in numbers to bear
the assault he had thus provoked. John of Werth, who commanded
the Imperial cavalry, charged down upon the Swedish horsemen and
overthrew them so completely that these, forced back upon their
infantry, threw them also into complete disorder.

The instant Horn had given the orders to retreat, Colonel Munro,
seeing the danger of the force being surrounded, formed up the
little remnant of his regiment and set off at the double to rejoin
the force of the duke. It was well that he did so, for just when
he had passed over the intervening ground the Imperialist cavalry,
fresh from the defeat of the Swedes, swept across the ground,
completely cutting off Horn's division from that of the duke. A few
minutes later Marshal Horn, surrounded on all sides by the enemy,
and feeling the impossibility of further resistance with his weakened
and diminished force, was forced to surrender with all his command.

Duke Bernhard narrowly escaped the same fate; but in the end he
managed to rally some nine thousand men and retreated towards the
Maine. The defeat was a terrible one; ten thousand men were killed
and wounded, and four thousand under Horn taken prisoners; all the
guns, equipage, and baggage fell into the hands of the enemy.

Nordlingen was the most decisive battle of the war; its effect was
to change a war which had hitherto been really only a civil war --
a war of religion -- into one with a foreign enemy. Hitherto France
had contented herself with subsidizing Sweden, who had played the
principal part.  Henceforward Sweden was to occupy but a secondary
position. Cardinal Richelieu saw the danger of allowing Austria to
aggrandize itself at the expense of all Germany, and now took the
field in earnest.

Upon the other hand Nordlingen dissolved the confederacy of
the Protestant German princes against Ferdinand the Second. The
Elector of Saxony, who had ever been vacillating and irresolute in
his policy, was the first to set the example by making peace with
the emperor. The Elector of Brandenburg, Duke William of Weimar,
the Prince of Anhalt, the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg, the Duke of
Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and the cities of Augsburg, Wurzburg, and
Coburg, and many others hastened to follow the example of all the
leading members of the Protestant Union.

Dukes Bernhard of Weimar and William of Cassel were almost alone
in supporting the cause to maintain which Gustavus Adolphus had
invaded Germany. The Swedish army, whose exploits had made the court
of Vienna tremble, seemed annihilated, and well might the emperor
deem that his final triumph over Protestantism was complete when he
heard of the battle of Nordlingen, for as yet he dreamed not that
its result would bring France into the field against him.

Malcolm Graheme was one of the few officers of Munro's regiment who
burst his way through the Spanish lines on the top of the Weinberg.
He was bleeding from several wounds, but none of them were serious.
Nigel was beside him as they began to descend the hill; but scarcely
had he gone a step when he fell headlong, struck by a ball from an
arquebus. Malcolm and one of the sergeants raised him, and between
them carried him to the foot of the hill; then, when the remains
of the regiments started to rejoin Duke Bernhard, they were forced
to leave him. Although Malcolm kept up with his regiment in the
retreat he was so utterly exhausted by loss of blood that he could
no longer accompany them. By the death of so many of his seniors he
was now one of the majors of the regiment, if that could be called
a regiment which was scarce a company in strength.  A few days
after the battle Colonel Munro received orders to march with his
shattered remnant, scarce one of whom but was from wounds unfit for
present service, by easy stages to North Germany, there to await
the arrival of reinforcements from Scotland, which might raise
the regiment to a strength which would enable it again to take the
field.

Malcolm remained behind until his strength slowly returned. The
colonel, before leaving, had bade him take his time before rejoining,
as months would probably elapse before the regiment would again be
fit for service. As soon as he was able to travel he journeyed to
Nuremberg. On arriving at the abode of Jans Boerhoff he learned that
Thekla was no longer an inmate of the family. The Count of Mansfeld
had died in prison, and the countess had arrived at Nuremberg and had
taken up her abode there. Malcolm made his way to the house she
occupied. The meeting was an affecting one. Malcolm was greatly grieved
over the death of his staunch friend, and joined in the sorrow of
the countess and her daughter. A few days after his arrival the
countess said to him:

"I am of course aware, Malcolm, of the conversation which the count
had with you concerning Thekla, and my wishes fully agreed with
his on the subject. In other times one would not speak of marriage
when Thekla's father had been but two months dead; but it is no
time for conventionalities now. All Southern Germany is falling away
from the Protestant cause, and ere long we may see the Imperialists
at the gate of Nuremberg, and it may be that in a few months the
whole of Germany will be in their power.  Therefore, I would that
there should be no delay. Thekla is nearly seventeen; you are
twenty-one -- over young both to enter upon the path of matrimony;
but the events of the last few months have made a woman of her,
while you have long since proved yourself both in thoughtfulness
and in valour to be a man. Thekla is no longer a great heiress.
Since Nordlingen we may consider that her father's estates have
gone for ever, mine may follow in a few months. Therefore I must
ask you, are you ready to take her without dowry?"

"I am," Malcolm said earnestly, "and that right gladly, for I love
her with all my heart."

"It needs no questioning on my part," the countess said, "to know
that she loves you as truly, and that her happiness depends wholly
on you. I saw her anguish when the news came of the terrible defeat
at Nordlingen and of the annihilation of some of the Scottish
regiments. My heart was wrung by her silent despair, her white and
rigid face, until the news came that you were among the few who had
survived the battle, and, in the outburst of joy and thankfulness
at the news, she owned to me that she loved you, her only fear being
that you cared for her only as a sister, since no word of love had
ever passed your lips. I reassured her on that score by telling her
of your conversation with her father, and that a feeling of duty
alone had kept you silent while she remained under your protection.

"However, Malcolm, she will not come to you penniless, for, seeing
that it was possible that the war would terminate adversely, and
determined to quit the country should he be forbidden to worship
according to his own religion here, the count has from time to time
despatched considerable sums to the care of a banker at Hamburg,
and there are now 10,000 gold crowns in his hands.

"There are, moreover, my estates at Silesia, but these I have for
sometime foreseen would follow those of my husband and fall into
the hands of the emperor. Before the death of the count I talked
over the whole matter with him, and he urged me in any case, even
should you fall before becoming the husband of Thekla, to leave
this unhappy country and to take refuge abroad.

"Before his death I had an interview with my nearest kinsman, who has
taken sides with the Imperialists, and to him I offered to resign
Thekla's rights as heiress to the estate for the sum of 10,000
crowns. As this was but three years revenue of the estates, and it
secured their possession to him whether the Imperialists or Swedes
were victorious in the struggle, he consented, after having obtained
the emperor's consent to the step, and I have this morning received
a letter from him saying that the money has been lodged in the
hands of the banker at Hamburg, and Thekla and I have this morning
signed a deed renouncing in his favour all claim to the estate. Thus
Thekla has a dowry of 20,000 gold crowns -- a sum not unworthy of
a dowry even for the daughter of a Count of Mansfeld; but with it
you must take me also, for I would fain leave the country and end
my days with her."

"Do you keep the dowry so long as you live, countess," Malcolm said
earnestly. "It is more than the richest noble in Scotland could
give with his daughter. My own estate, though small, is sufficient
to keep Thekla and myself in ease, and my pleasure in having you
with us will be equal to hers. You would wish, of course, that I
should quit the army and return home, and, indeed, I am ready to do
so. I have had more than enough of wars and fighting. I have been
preserved well nigh by a miracle, when my comrades have fallen
around me like grass. I cannot hope that such fortune would always
attend me. The cause for which I have fought seems lost, and since
the Protestant princes of Germany are hastening to desert it, neither
honour nor common sense demand that I, a soldier of fortune and a
foreigner, should struggle any longer for it; therefore I am ready
at once to resign my commission and to return to Scotland."

"So be it," the countess said; "but regarding Thekla's dowry I shall
insist on having my way. I should wish to see her in a position
similar to that in which she was born, and with this sum you can
largely increase your estates and take rank among the nobles of
your country. Now I will call Thekla in and leave you to ask her
to agree to the arrangements we have made.

"My child," she went on, as Thekla in obedience to her summons
entered the apartment, "Malcolm Graheme has asked your hand of me.
He tells me that he loves you truly, and is willing to take you as
a penniless bride, and to carry you and me away with him far from
these terrible wars to his native Scotland -- what say you, my
love?"

Thekla affected neither shyness or confusion, her colour hardly
heightened as in her sombre mourning she advanced to Malcolm, and
laying her hand in his, said:

"He cannot doubt my answer, mother; he must know that I love him
with my whole heart."

"Then, my daughter," the countess said, "I will leave you to
yourselves; there is much to arrange, for time presses, and your
betrothal must be quickly followed by marriage."

It was but a few days later that Malcolm led Thekla to the altar
in St. Sebald's Church, Nuremberg. The marriage was a quiet one,
seeing that the bride had been so lately orphaned, and only Jans
Boerhoff and his family, and two or three Scottish comrades of
Malcolm's, who were recovering from their wounds at Nuremberg, were
present at the quiet ceremony. The following day the little party
started for the north.  Malcolm had already received a letter from
Oxenstiern accepting his resignation, thanking him heartily for
the good services he had rendered, and congratulating him on his
approaching wedding.

Without adventure they reached Hamburg, and there, arranging with
the banker for the transmission of the sum in his hands to Edinburgh,
they took ship and crossed to Scotland.

Three months later Malcolm was delighted by the appearance of his
uncle Nigel. The latter was indeed in dilapidated condition, having
lost an arm, and suffering from other wounds. He had been retained
a prisoner by the Imperialists only until he was cured, when they
had freed him in exchange for an Imperial officer who had been
captured by the Swedes.

Thekla's dowry enabled her husband largely to increase his estates.
A new and handsome mansion was erected at a short distance from the
old castle, and here Malcolm Graheme lived quietly for very many
years with his beautiful wife, and saw a numerous progeny rise
around them.

To the gratification of both, five years after her coming to
Scotland, the Countess of Mansfeld married Nigel Graheme and the
pair took up their abode in the old castle, which was thoroughly
repaired and set in order by Malcolm for their use, while he and
Thekla insisted that the fortune he had received as a dowry with
his wife should be shared by the countess and Nigel.



THE END




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