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with frequent messages to his wife regarding the health of their son, consequently the fact of his detention in Aberdeen and Lis place of residence there, became commonly known in Cromyand neighbourhood, and thus soon reached the ears of Eobert Innes of Innermarky, who bore a most inveterate enmity towards his kinsman, Alexander, to explain the cause of which, it will be necessary to give the following particulars :—
About throe years previously, on the 15th March 1577, John, Laird of Innes and head of that family, who was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander, sixth Lord Saltouu, finding he was not likely to have any children, entered into a mutual bond of tailzie with his cousin and nearest heir-male, Alexander Innes of Cromy, to the effect that whoever should die first without leaving an heir-male, the other should succeed to their whole estates. This bond of tailzie gave great offence to the other members of the family, more particularly to Robert Innes of Innermarky, who disputed the claim of Alexander Innes of Cromy to be the nearest heirmale to John, Laird of Innes. This feeling of annoyance and injury was greatly increased by the subsequent conduct of Cromy, who presuming on the fact of the Laird not having children, began to act as head of the family, taking upon himself the title of Lines of that Ilk, which title he had no right to assume until after the death of his cousin John, Laird of Innes. Innermarky appears to have been a bold, unscrupulous man who would let no obstacle stand in the way of his ambition. John, Laird of Innes, on the other hand seems to have been of much weaker mind, and was easily led by the crafty insinuations of Innermarky to look upon Cromy with displeasure and jealousy, and to regret having entered into the bond of tailzie with him, yet from which he could not withdraw. Seeing he could gain his purpose by no other means, Innermarky allowed his mind to dwell on the terrible thought of taking the life of his kinsroan, Innes of Cromy.
He was far too cautious a man to do such a deed rashly, and waited patiently until he could effect his fell purpose with least danger to himself, And now Fortune herself seemed to favour his designs. Here was Cromy away from his house and friends in a lodging in a strange town, with only a few servants and his sick son. What more easy than to surprise them in the night, and thus at one blow get rid of Cromy and his heirl After some trouble he prevailed upon the facile laird, John Innes, to join him in his conspiracy, and assembling a number of his own friends and followers, and accompanied by Laird John, Innermarky started for Aberdeen.
With his usual caution he delayed entering the town until after nightfall, and it was nearly midnight before he and his party reached the house in which his unsuspecting victim lay sleeping in fancied security. The house was situated in a close, the gate of which they found unlocked, and, so, easily gained admittance. But they found the doors of the house securely fastened, and not wishing to force them, for fear' of creating an alarm among the neighbours, Innermarky bethought him of a stratagem to lure out his prey. Well knowing Cromy to be an eager partisan of the house of Gordon—between whom and the Eorbeses there was at that time an open feud—Innermarky ordered his party to clash their swords and call out the gathering words of the friends of the Gordon. Innes of Cromy being awoke out of his sleep by the noise in the close, and hearing the well known cry of " A Gordon! a Gordon! to the rescue!" instantly leaped out of bed, and seizing his sword, rushed, all undressed as he was, down the steps leading to the close, calling out to know what was the matter. Directly Iunermarky heard his voice he raised his gun, and the white shirt poor Croniy wore offering a good mark in the darkness, lie was instantly shot down by his unnatural kinsman. The rest of the party, to make sure work of him, hacked at his senseless body with their swords and dirks—all but Laird John, who, terrified at the dreadful deed, stood irresolute and inactive, until Innermarky, with a fearful oath, seized him, and with threats compelled him also to plunge his dagger into the disfigured corpse, so that he might share the blame of the cowardly act with the rest of them. Their next step was to secure Cromy's son Robert, who had been sleeping in the same bed with his father, but who, fortunately, was able, by the assistance of the people of the house, to make his escape by a back door, and found safety in a neighbouring house. Cromy's servants were all secured prisoners before they were able to strike a blow, and taking them and their horses with them, Innermarky and his party departed as suddenly as they had come, without any one daring to interrupt them, Innermarky first taking the precaution of drawing from the finger of the murdered man his signet ring, for which he had a special purpose. After getting clear away from Aberdeen, the party separated, and Innermarky picking out one of Cromy's servants, prevailed upon him, partly by threats and partly by promises of payment, to mount his dead master's horse, and, taking his signet ring, to go back to Cromy and ask for the box of deeds, as though he came from Cromy himself. Innermarky and the Laird, the latter helpless as a child in the hands of his strong-willed cousin, did not return at once to their own houses, thinking it safer for the present to seek shelter and protection from Lord Saltoun, whose son-in-law the laird was. They accordingly went to Rothiemay, where Lord Saltoun then lived. Whether his lordship was cognisant beforehand or not of their designs is not certain; he, however, gave them his countenance after the deed, and afforded them protection until the law got too strong for even his influence to shield them from the just retribution their crime so truly merited.
It is the forenoon of a lovely May day, and the lady of Croniv House sits at the open casement enjoying the freshness and sweetness peculiar to the early summer-time. She is looking more cheerful than when we saw her last Ever and anon a smile flits across her still handsome face, while her fingers are busy with her tambour work, She is thinking of her husband and son. Only two days ago she received a message, telling her to expect to see them both at home very soon, Robert's health being so much improved that he would soon be able to travel. Even while she is thus thinking, the distant tramp, tramp, of an approaching horseman is heard, and with a heightened colour and quickened pulse she leans out to catch the first view of the rider as he enters the long avenue leading to the house; for perhaps it might be her husband returning to-day, and riding on in advance of the others as he often did. And surely that splendid black horse can be no other than Bruce, her husband's favourite charger, but a second glance shows that it is not her husband's well known figure that rides him, Wondering that any one but himself should be allowed to mount Bruce, the lady hurries out to the door to meet the horseman, who she finds to be one of the servants who attended her husband to Aberdeen. And as he drew up she eagerly exclaimed, " What news, Duncan, what news t Is your master coming, or have you only a message from him 1 Be quick, man, and give mo your news," she added impatiently, as the man seemed to have some difficulty in speaking, and kept his eyes carefully averted from her searching gaze. At length he managed to say that his master was still detained in Aberdeen for some days, and had sent him for a box of papers which he had left in her hands; that his master had no time to write, but had sent his signet ring to convince the lady all was right, and had also told him to ride Bruce as being the fleetest horse he had, as the documents were required immediately. The lady listened in astonishment, mingled with doubt It was so unlike her husband to send such an important message without writing. What if it should be a ruse of the crafty Innermarky to gain possession of the papers t But then there was her husband's ring, his servant, and his horse. There could scarcely be a mistake, and she turned to enter the house, when she remembered her husband's particular injunctions not to let the box out of her possession; and she again crossquestioned the man, but could elicit nothing but his former story, that his orders were peremptory to get the box and return without a moment's delay, adding, "You may be sure, mistress, that Cromy was in great need of the papers before he would let me ride Bruce." This argument could not be refuted, and the lady got the box and delivered it to the man, who immediately prepared to depart.
Young Alexander Innes, the nephew of Cromy, was very anxious to go to Aberdeen to see his cousin Robert, to whom he was much attached and thinking this wa? a good opportunity, he begged Duncan to let him get up behind him, as Bruce was quite strong enough to carry them both; and the more the man objected, the more urgent did the lad get to gain his purpose. He was suspicious, too, of the man's truthfulness, for he found him prevaricating, sometimes saying he was only going as far as Kinnardy—which indeed was the fact, as it was there Innermarky was waiting him—and in the next breath saying he must return at once to Aberdeen. Finding him so stubborn, young Innes desisted from importuning him, but being more determined than ever to attain his object, he ran on before to the end of the avenue where there was a gate, which he closed, and then concealed himself among the trees; and as Duncan rode up, slackening his headlong speed to bend forward and open the gate, the lad with one bound sprang on to the saddle and firmly clasping the rider from behind, swore he should take him wheresoever he was bound, whether to Aberdeen or elsewhere. In vain Duncan tried to throw the lad off. At last, losing his temper, he drew his dirk and threatened young Innes with a taste of cold steel if he did not leave him alone. Now firmly convinced from Duncan's manner that there was something wrong, the brave lad wrenched the weapon from his hand and the next moment buried it in the traitor's heart; then, securing the box of papers, he galloped back to the house to acquaint his aunt with what had occurred. The recital threw the lady into great perturbation of mind. She did not know whether to blame or praise the daring deed of the lad. While they were still discussing the strange affair, another horseman was seen rapidly appreaching; his mud-stained, disordered dress, his terrified looks, his horse covered with sweat and flecked with foam, proclaimed at once that he was the bearer of some fearful news. All too soon was the terrible tidings made known to the horror-stricken household. Long and loud arose the wails of the women. Loud and deep were the curses of the men upon the murderers, and eager their cries for vengeance. The blow fell with overwhelming force upon the widow, who was stunned at the suddenness of the calamity. Xhe thought of her son first recalled her to herself, and having been assured by the messenger that Robert was in safety, she nerved herself to make some efforts to avenge her husband's untimely and cruel death. She now realised the value of the service young Innes had performed in regaining possession of the papers. Taking the box with her, and accompanied by her nephew, she fled for protection to her own friends, the Forbeses of Balfour, who assisted her in bringing her cause before the King, and demanding justice against her enemies. Meanwhile the Earl of Huntly, who was connected by ties of kinship to the murdered man, took special charge of his son Robert, whom he took to Edinburgh and placed for safety in the house of Lord Elphinstone, who was at that time Lord High Treasurer of Scotland.
Young Robert Innes of Cromy remained safely in Edinburgh for fully two years under the powerful protection of Lord Elphinstone, who not only warmly espoused his cause, but got so attached to him personally as to promise him his daughter in marriage. In the meantime John, Laird of Innes, still instigated by Robert of Innermarky, took possession of the murdered man's estate; and five weeks had only elapsed since the slaughter of poor Innes of Cromy when his arch-enemy Innermarky obtained from his facile tool, Laird John, a new disposition of the estate of Cromy, and for two years he kept possession, strengthening himself all he could by making friends and allies of his neighbours, backed up as he waa by the countenance of Laird John and Lord Saltoun.
The widowed lady of Cromy was, however, not idle during this time. By persistent and well sustained efforts she at length obtained judgment against her adversaries, who were pronounced outlaws, and her son Robert —now a fine young man, whom the tragic late of his father and his own trials, had changed from a dreaming student into a determined, energetic man—got a commission against Innermarky, Laird John, and all the others who were implicated in the murder. Accompanied by his cousin Alexander Innes—the same who killed the servant and regained the box of deeds —who was always devoted to him, he marched north with a large party to regain his estate and punish his guilty kinsmen. The weak, timorous John, Laird of Innes, did not wait for the attack, but fled in abject terror and hid himself for a while in the South. He, however, was quickly discovered and taken prisoner by some of the friends of Lord Elphinstone, who at once sent him back to Robert Innes of Cromy. Young Innes spared his life, rightly conjecturing that he was only a cats-paw in the hands of Innermarky, but bound him down to various restitutions, making him revoke all he had done in favour of Innermarky, and confirm the bond of talzie which he had before granted to his father. Innermarky stood his ground as long as he could, but at last, deserted by Laird John and his other friends, he fled to the hills, hotly pursued by young Robert and his party. Being driven from place to place, yet still managing to
escape the clutches of his infuriated kinsmen, he at last shut himself up in Edinglassy House, which he made as strong as he could, and then fairly stood at hay.
His career was now, however, nearly over. Young Robert Innes, accompanied by his cousin Alexander and their friends, soon found out his retreat, and one night, in September 1584, they suddenly surrounded the house, and requested him to surrender; but on Innermarky declaring they should never take him prisoner, they broke open the door, and Alexander Innes—with the same reckless courage which had animated him when he killed the traitorous serving man—rushed in first, boldly attacked Innermarky, and, after a brief struggle, succeeded in killing him. Innermarky being a strong man, in the prime of life, noted as a skilful swordsman, and being moreover rendered perfectly desperate, it was considered such a daring deed for a mere youth like Alexander to thus "beard the lion in his den," that he ever after bore the sobriquet of " Craigg in peirill."
Innermarky was beheaded, and his head carried in triumph to the widowed lady of Cromy, who, receiving the ghastly trophy with fierce pleasure, at once hurried to Edinburgh with it, and, gaining an audience of the King, cast it at his feet; an act, though quite in accordance with the barbarous customs of the age, was still, to use the words of the old chronicler, "a thing too masculine to be commended in a woman."
Robert Innes was reinstated in his father's property, but there was continued strife and opposition between him and the family of Innermarky, until, by the interference of mutual friends, the Laird of Mackintosh, Sir George Ogilvie of Dunlugus, and others, all differences were arranged, and the parties reconciled by a mutual contract, dated 1587; by which " Robert Innes and his posterity enjoyed the estate and dignities of the house of Innes ever after." He married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert, third Lord Elphinstone, and had a family of two sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Robert Innes of that Hk, was created a baronet by King Charles the First in 1625.
M. A. ROSE.
FORTHCOMING HIGHLAND PUBLICATIONS.—We observe that Mr Alexander Mackenzie announces that his "History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles," which has been running through the Odtie Magazine, is about to be published by subscription in one goodly volume of 500 pages. The work embraces a great amount of local and genealogical information, and will be acceptable to those who are interested in Highland history, as well as to members of the Clan Macdonald. Mr Mackenzie also announces a volume entitled "Among the Highlanders of Canada," written by himself, and a "History of Flora Macdonald," by the Rev. Alex. Macgregor, Inverness. The last-mentioned work will be of special interest. No one now living is half so well acquainted as Mr Macgregor with the incidents of Flora Macdonald's life.—Inverness Courier.
The Invemtssian (Inverness: A. & W. Mackenzie, 2 Ness Bank) is true to its name, and therefore local in its character; but, in spite of this fact we have been constrained to read nearly the whole of it, so lively and amusing are its contents. It is a kind of miscellany, half newspaper, half magazine, for which a market would be found in many places, were the editor in each case as well up to his work as Mr Mackenzie. —Qreenoclc Telegraph.
The Invernettian, a monthly penny paper, conducted by the editor of the Celtic Magazine, contains much which will be of interest to the natives of the "Capital of the Highlands," and is conducted in a free and independent manner—UunllyExprtn.