“Your men are all here,” he said in a low tone to Archie, “and are stowed away in the cottages. Everything went well, and there was not the slightest noise.”
Archie now went on shore and entered into conversation with one of the soldiers.
“Think you,” he said, “that the governor would buy my cargo of fish. I have a great store on board, for I had good luck before the storm suddenly broke upon me just as I was leaving the fishing grounds for Montrose. The gale may last for some days, and my boat will need repairs before I put to sea, therefore my fish will be spoiled before I can get them to market, and I will make a good bargain with the governor if he will take them from me.”
“I should think that he will do so gladly,” the soldier said, “for he can salt them down, and they make a pleasant change. How much have you got?”
“About ten baskets full,” Archie replied, “of some hundred pounds each.”
“I will go with you to the castle,” the soldier said. “The governor will lower the drawbridge for no man, but you can speak with the warder across the moat and he will bear your message to the governor, and should he agree, you must present yourself with your men with the fish at four o’clock, at which time the drawbridge will be lowered for us to return to the castle.”
Archie accompanied the soldier to the end of the drawbridge, and parleyed with the warder. The latter acquainted the governor that the master of the fishing boat which had been driven in by stress of weather would fain dispose of his cargo of fish on cheap terms, and returned for answer that the governor would give sixpence for each basket of a hundred pounds. Archie grumbled that he should receive thrice that sum at Montrose; still that as he must sell them or let them spoil, he accepted the offer, and would be there with the fish at four o’clock.
He then returned to the boat, his ally, the fisherman, taking word round to the cottages that at four o’clock all must be in readiness to sally out on the signal, and that William Orr was to dress half a dozen of his men in fishermen’s clothes and saunter up carelessly close to the castle, so as to be able to rush forward on the instant.
At the appointed hour Archie, accompanied by his four followers, each of whom carried on his shoulder a great basket filled with fish, stepped on to the quay and made their way to the castle. By the side of the moat facing the drawbridge the ten English soldiers who had been out on leave for the day were already assembled.
“Are you all there?” the warder asked.
“Yes,” Archie said, “but I shall have to make another two trips down to the boat, seeing that I have ten baskets full and but four men to carry them.”
“Then you must bring another load,” the warder said, “when the drawbridge is lowered tomorrow. You will have to stop in the castle tonight, and issue out at eleven tomorrow, for the governor will not have the drawbridge lowered more than twice a day.”