Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

Ticonderoga
by [?]

A Legend Of The West Highlands

This is the tale of the man Who heard a word in the night In the land of the heathery hills, In the days of the feud and the fight. By the sides of the rainy sea, Where never a stranger came, On the awful lips of the dead, He heard the outlandish name. It sang in his sleeping ears, It hummed in his waking head: The name–Ticonderoga, The utterance of the dead.

I. THE SAYING OF THE NAME

On the loch-sides of Appin, When the mist blew from the sea, A Stewart stood with a Cameron: An angry man was he. The blood beat in his ears, The blood ran hot to his head, The mist blew from the sea, And there was the Cameron dead. “O, what have I done to my friend, O, what have I done to mysel’, That he should be cold and dead, And I in the danger of all?

Nothing but danger about me, Danger behind and before, Death at wait in the heather In Appin and Mamore, Hate at all of the ferries And death at each of the fords, Camerons priming gunlocks And Camerons sharpening swords.”

But this was a man of counsel, This was a man of a score, There dwelt no pawkier Stewart In Appin or Mamore. He looked on the blowing mist, He looked on the awful dead, And there came a smile on his face And there slipped a thought in his head.

Out over cairn and moss, Out over scrog and scaur, He ran as runs the clansman That bears the cross of war. His heart beat in his body, His hair clove to his face, When he came at last in the gloaming To the dead man’s brother’s place. The east was white with the moon, The west with the sun was red, And there, in the house-doorway, Stood the brother of the dead.

“I have slain a man to my danger, I have slain a man to my death. I put my soul in your hands,” The panting Stewart saith. “I lay it bare in your hands, For I know your hands are leal; And be you my targe and bulwark From the bullet and the steel.”

Then up and spoke the Cameron, And gave him his hand again: “There shall never a man in Scotland Set faith in me in vain; And whatever man you have slaughtered, Of whatever name or line, By my sword and yonder mountain, I make your quarrel mine. {3a} I bid you in to my fireside, I share with you house and hall; It stands upon my honour To see you safe from all.”

It fell in the time of midnight, When the fox barked in the den And the plaids were over the faces In all the houses of men, That as the living Cameron Lay sleepless on his bed, Out of the night and the other world, Came in to him the dead.

“My blood is on the heather, My bones are on the hill; There is joy in the home of ravens That the young shall eat their fill. My blood is poured in the dust, My soul is spilled in the air; And the man that has undone me Sleeps in my brother’s care.”

“I’m wae for your death, my brother, But if all of my house were dead, I couldnae withdraw the plighted hand, Nor break the word once said.”

“O, what shall I say to our father, In the place to which I fare? O, what shall I say to our mother, Who greets to see me there? And to all the kindly Camerons That have lived and died long-syne – Is this the word you send them, Fause-hearted brother mine?”

“It’s neither fear nor duty, It’s neither quick nor dead Shall gar me withdraw the plighted hand, Or break the word once said.”

Thrice in the time of midnight, When the fox barked in the den, And the plaids were over the faces In all the houses of men, Thrice as the living Cameron Lay sleepless on his bed, Out of the night and the other world Came in to him the dead, And cried to him for vengeance On the man that laid him low; And thrice the living Cameron Told the dead Cameron, no.