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A Story Of The Civil Wars
by [?]


The Singletons were a small Lowland clan, or rather faction, for their name does not appear in history as a clan. For all that, they were as loyal to their king and as devoted to their chief as any clan in Scotland, and when the time for sacrifice and hard blows came, the Singletons, as every one knew, were ever to the front.

And it is only fair to say the Singletons were always in the wars. When they were not fighting the Roundheads they were fighting the Campbells or the Frasers or the Macintoshes, or others of their hereditary foes; or if none of these were obliging enough, or at liberty to indulge them in their favourite pastime, then they made enemies for themselves among the neighbouring clans, or else crossed over to Holland to keep their hands in there till fortune favoured them once more at home. The old castle, with its rambling towers, and walls, and buttresses was a sort of rallying-point for all the pugnacious spirits of the time, and its bluff walls showed many a scar and many a dint where hostile guns had played upon them, not, you may be sure, without reply.

The Singletons, in fact (and specially since the old laird had died), thrived on fighting. At the present day they might, perhaps, have passed as freebooters and outlaws, but during the troubled times of the Commonwealth they were looked upon as a noble band of patriots, whose swords were ever ready in the king’s cause, and whose castle was as open and hospitable to a friend as it was unyielding to a foe.

Such was the place within whose weather-beaten and war-beaten walls a festive company was assembled one November afternoon in the year of our Lord 16–.

For once in a way the Singletons were at peace. The king’s cause was for a time under a cloud, and the Campbells and the Frasers and the Macintoshes were far too busy about their own affairs to come out of the way to defy this small bulldog of a clan in the south. The Singletons had serious thoughts of invading some place, or sacking some castle, or making a raid across the border, just to pass the time. It was like being out of work! They fretted and chafed in their fortress, and nearly fell out among themselves, and very heartily wished some one would give them a pretext for a fight. But no one did.

It was at least a diversion for them to celebrate the coming of age of the young laird, and the event, which in times of war might have passed scarcely heeded, now became one of mighty importance to these restless Singletons.

They called together every man of the name who could easily be found between the Solway and the Tay. They hoisted the old family ensign on the castle walls, and by way of mischief some of them displayed the pennant of the Macfies–another rival clan–below it. They drove in twelve head of oxen, regardless of proprietorship, wherewith to make good cheer at table, and they decked the grand old banqueting-hall with branches and heather, till it was more like a bower than a room.

These and many other things the Singletons did by way of showing honour to the occasion, and when that evening thirty of them sat round the festive board, with the young chief at the head, and with pyramids of beef and mutton and bread before them, their satisfaction and enthusiasm reached its highest pitch.

“Here’s luck to the Singleton!” shouted they, “root and branch, laird and clan.”

And amid cheers, prolonged and deafening, the health was honoured and the banquet proceeded.

“Was ever luck like ours?” growled one youth to his neighbour. “Here have we been six weeks idle, with never a knock.”