Three hours before daybreak a party of fifty picked men assembled at the castle, for this force was deemed to be ample. The two men who had escaped from the attack on the previous day led the way to the ravine, and there Red Roy became the guide and led the band far up the hillside. Had it been possible they would have surrounded the cave before daylight, but Roy said that it was so long since he had first found the cave, that he could not lead them there in the dark, but would need daylight to enable him to recognize the surroundings. Even when daylight came he was for some time at fault, but he at last pointed to a clump of bushes, growing on a broken and precipitous face of rock, as the place where the cave was situated.
Red Roy was right in his conjecture. Archie had once, when wandering among the hills, shot at a wild cat and wounded it, and had followed it to the cave to which it had fled, and seeing it an advantageous place of concealment had, when he determined to harry the district of the Kerrs, fixed upon it as the hiding place for his band. Deeming it possible, however, that its existence might be known to others, he always placed a sentry on watch; and on the approach of the Kerrs, Cluny Campbell, who happened to be on guard, ran in and roused the band with the news that the Kerrs were below. Archie immediately crept out and reconnoitred them; from the bushes he could see that his foes were for the present at fault. Sir John himself was standing apart from the rest, with Red Roy, who was narrowly scrutinizing the face of the cliff, and Archie guessed at once that they were aware of the existence of the cavern, though at present they could not determine the exact spot where it was situated. It was too late to retreat now, for the face of the hill was too steep to climb to its crest, and their retreat below was cut off by the Kerrs. He therefore returned to the cave, leaving Cluny on guard.
“They are not sure as to the situation of the cave yet,” he said, “but they will find it. We can hold the mouth against them for any time, but they might smoke us out, that is our real danger; or if they fail in that, they may try starvation. Do half a dozen of you take brands at once from the embers and explore all the windings behind us; they are so narrow and low that hitherto we have not deemed it worth while to examine them, but now they are really our only hope; some of them may lead round to the face of the hill, and in that case we may find some way by which we may circumvent the Kerrs.”
Six of the lads at once started with flaming pine knots, while Archie returned to the entrance. Just as he took his place there he saw Red Roy pointing towards the bushes. A minute or two later Sir John and his followers began to advance. Archie now called out the rest of his band, who silently took their places in the bushes beside him. Led by Sir John and his personal retainers, the assailants approached the foot of the rocks and began to make