“It is a dark hour you have chosen to go away from your home,” said the mother; and the lean hand, resting on the table before her, trembled somewhat.
“Why, mother,” the young man said, lightly, “you know I am to have Captain ——’s cabin as far as Greenock; and there will be plenty of time for me to put the kilts away before I am seen by the people.”
“Oh, Keith,” his cousin cried—for she was trying to be very cheerful, too—“do you say that you are ashamed of the tartan?”
“Ashamed of the tartan!” he said, with a laugh. “Is there any one who has been brought up at Dare who is likely to be ashamed of the tartan! When I am ashamed of the tartan I will put a pigeon’s feather in my cap, as the new suaicheantas of this branch of Clann Leoid. But then, my good Janet, I would as soon think of taking my rifle and the dogs through the streets of London as of wearing the kilts in the south.”
The old lady paid no heed. Her hands were now clasped before her. There was sad thinking in her eyes.
“You are the last of my six boys,” said she, “and you are going away from me too.”
“Now, now, mother,” said he, “you must not make so much of a holiday. You would not have me always at Dare? You know that no good comes of a stay-at-home.”
She knew the proverb. Her other sons had not been stay-at-homes. What had come to them!
Of Sholto, the eldest, the traveller, the dare-devil, the grave is unknown; but the story of how he met his death, in far Arizona, came years after to England and to Castle Dare. He sold his life dearly, as became one of his race and name. When his cowardly attendants found a band of twenty Apaches riding down on them, they unhitched the mules and galloped off, leaving him to confront the savages by himself. One of these, more courageous than his fellows, advanced and drew his arrow to the barb; the next second he uttered a yell, and rolled from his saddle to the ground, shot through the heart. Macleod seized this instant, when the savages were terror-stricken by the precision of the white man’s weapons, to retreat a few yards and get behind a mesquit-tree.