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Torquil, Knight of Lochrainabhat (II)
Torquil, Knight of Lochrainabhat (II)
A Story of Peggy Macaulay, daughter of Domhnall Cam, by the late Dr Norman Morrison, Shawbost. Part II.
Torquil and Peggy eventually arrived at the castle Rainabhat and Marion gave them both a cordial welcome. Peggy took Marion into her confidence and told her everything that had happened to her. Marion made her very comfortable and gave her a room to herself. She was convalescing in the castle for a few days when, one day Torquil entered the room and asked her if she would like to go ashore with him to stretch her legs. Peggy thanked him and said,"I would like to go with you and have a good walk but I am anxious to get in touch with my father."
Torquil agreed and said, "We shall have plenty of time for that."
Torquil launched his small boat and returned to the castle to take Peggy aboard and row across the loch to the mainland. Peggy by this time had recovered from the shock and looked gracious and very charming. Torquil got ashore and pulled the boat up. They both went for a bracing walk among the heather and hills, where something happened that was to change the whole evening for both of them. While walking through the heather a black rabbit ran in front of them.
Peggy screamed, "Torquil! Torquil! A very bad omen!"
Torquill laughed and said, "Peggy, it's only a black rabbit."
Peggy said again to Torquil, "A very bad omen - and you will see before the sun sets today that I am right in my prediction."
Torquil laughed again and said,""It's only a black rabbit."
Peggy demanded to be taken back to the castle, and Torquil was taken aback, but agreed.
They went into the boat and Torquil started rowing back to the castle. When they were getting near the shore, Torquil saw one of his henchmen standing near the water.
He called out," Torquil, Chief of Clan McLeod! Domhnall Cam is coming round Ceann Thulabhaig with his men."
Torquil called back, "Get the fiery cross and get your men to go to Shawbost, Bragar, Barvas and all the way down to Ness.Tell them to collect their arms and assemble at the castle as soon as possible."
Torquil arrived on the shore of the castle. He called Peggy up into the bows of the boat, took a hold of her, lifted her bodily and placed her on the ground. As he was doing this Peggy kissed his cheek and said, "Torquil. Take care of yourself."
Torquil was stunned and on thinking of all the feuds between himself and Domhnall Cam here was daughter after kissing him on his cheek. He started getting ready for the dawn to come, and put on his swords and kilt, ready to march to Beinn Barvas that same evening.
Macleod of Harris had long since reached Domhnall Cam for further orders. By this time the Macaulays from Uig had long passed Ceann Thulabhaig, and were marching round East Loch Roag making for the West Side, to position themselves in a suitable place to arrange for the following raids. They marched on to their destination to settle down for the night and prepare for the next eventful day.
The Macleods and Morrisons had by now assembled at the Castle of Lochrainabhat and started getting ready for the morning.
Peggy went into her room and called Marion to come with her. She opened her heart to Marion and they discussed how she might get in touch with her father. Eventually Peggy hit on a plan. She would dress as a Macleod soldier, mingle with the Torquil's soldiers and through time desert the camp, and eventually might reach her father.
Domhnall Cam was meanwhile ignorant of Peggy's presence, thinking her still with her Granny.
Torquil marched his troops to Beinn Barvas and then settled down till dawn the following day. Some of the clans were out of practice and they immediately started sparring with swords so as to prepare them for for the morning, starting off in twos, then fours, then six until they had a good number facing each other.
Peggy and Marion prepared for Peggy to dress as a Macleod soldier. Peggy had a mass of dark curly hair and found it very difficult to hide it inside her bonnet, but with various adjustments they managed to tidy the hair and Torquil's "bonnet" fitted perfectly along with his kilt, brogues and top hose until she was in full Highland dress.
By this time Torquil and his troops had settled down at Beinn Barvas. By this time the Harris McLeod had seated himself right on top of the hill, with an expansive view. He signalled to Domhnall Cam of the disposition of the clans and their strength.
At the crack of dawn Torquil gave the order to his men
"Clann MhicLeoid. Se seo a latha! - This is the day!"
And with that the cry went out, "Clann MhicLeoid, se seo a latha!" They ran over the mountain still crying "Clann MhicLeoid!"
The two sides clashed at the bottom of the hill and the battle raged on for hours. Torquil fell and still the battle raged on. Torquil died and was placed in a dry cave on Beinn Bharbhais.
When Peggy entered the camp in disguise, she made for the top of the hill where the Hearach was sitting. He noticed something peculiar in her gait and got very frightened. He raised his bow and arrow and let fly at her. She fell dead.
Domhnall Cam called a halt to the fighting to all his men, so as to allow for the burial of the dead. Torquil was placed in his Macleod plaid shroud. Peggy placed in her own Macaulay plaid and the two of them were buried side by side. It was discovered that Torquil was wearing Peggy's bandage next to his skin as a token of respect and love.
Domhnall Cam made for home after the funeral, a broken man, and on arrival home he put away his sword and said,"Where I failed with the sword Peggy my daughter did it for me with her love for Torquill McLeod."