CHAPTER II: MR. WOGAN REFUSES TO ACKNOWLEDGE AN UNDESIRABLE ACQUAINTANCE IN ST. JAMES'S STREET
MR. WOGAN LEFT PARIS EARLY the next morning without a thought for the despatch-box that he had sent to Kelly, and, coming to Cadiz, sailed with the Spaniards out of that harbour on the tenth of March, and into the great storm which dispersed the fleet off Cape Finisterre. In company with the Earl Marischal and the Marquis of Tullibardine, he was aboard one of those two ships which alone touched the coast of Scotland. Consequently, he figured with better men, as Field-Marshal Keith, and his brother the Ambassador, and my Lord George Murray, in that little skirmish at Glenshiel, and very thankful he was when the night shut black upon the valleys and put its limit to the attack of General Wightman's soldiers from Inverness. A council of war was held in the dark upon a hill-side, whence the fires of General Wightman's camp could be seen twinkling ruddily below, but Wogan heard little of what was disputed, for he went to sleep with his back against a boulder and dreamed of his ancestors. He was waked up about the middle of the night by the Earl Marischal, who informed him that the Spaniards had determined to surrender at discretion, and that the handful of Highlanders were already dispersing to their homes.
'As for ourselves, we shall make for the Western Islands and wait there for a ship to take us off.'
'Then I'll wish you luck and a ship,' said Wogan. He stood up and shook the dew off his cloak. 'I have friends in London, and I'll trust my lucky star to get me there.'
'Your star's in eclipse,' said the Earl. 'You will never reach London except it be with your legs tied under a horse's belly.'
'Well, I'm thinking you have not such a clear path after all to the Western Islands! Did you never hear of my forefather, Thomas Wogan, that rode with twenty-eight Cavaliers through the heart of Cromwell's England, and came safe into the Highlands? Sure what that great man could do with twenty-eight companions to make him conspicuous, his degenerate son can do alone.'
Mr. Wogan began his journey by walking over the hill, near to the top of which his friends had been driven off the road to Inverness by the English fire, which was very well nourished. He made his way to Loch Duich, as they call it, and so by boat round Ardnamurchan, to a hamlet they call Oban. There he changed his dress for the Campbell black and green, and, joining company with a drove of Rob Roy's cattle from the Lennox, travelled to Glasgow. His Irish brogue no doubt sounded a trifle strange in a Highland drover, but he was in a country where the people were friendly. At Glasgow he changed his dress again for a snuff-coloured bourgeois suit, and so rode into England by the old Carlisle and Preston route, which he had known very well in the year 1715.
Wogan was at this time little more than a lad, though full-grown enough to make a man and a good-sized boy into the bargain, and the exploit of the Cavalier Thomas Wogan, as it had prompted his design, so it exhilarated him in the execution. He went lightly on his way, weaving all manner of chivalric tales about his ancestor, to the great increase of his own vanity, bethinking him when he stopped for an hour at a wayside inn that here, too, perhaps Thomas Wogan had reined in his horse, and maybe had taken a draught from that very pint-pot which Nicholas now held to his lips. Thus the late burst up the hill-side above the Shiel was quickly robbed of its sting, and by the time that he had reached London he was so come to a pitch of confidence in the high destinies of the Wogan family that, after leaving his horse in the charge of Mr. Gunning, of Mussell Hill, whom he knew of old as a staunch friend of George Kelly's, and borrowing from him a more suitable raiment than his stained travelling dress, he must needs walk down St. James