My name is Malcolm Macleod. I was born in the second year of the reign of king James I of England. The same year some nut called Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the parliament in London. My father, Leod Macneil, was a simple farmer with three boys and a wife to feed. We lived in the hills, not far from Loch Ness.The nearest city was Inverness, five days to the northwest.
We owned our land. My father gained it from my grandfather, Neil Macalister, who bought it with the pittance he was left after his mother died in Inverness. There was some left owed on the land, which he worked off with the harvest. My grandfather died a few years before I was born. I had one older brother, Dugal. We lived well enough until the third child came along. It was about that time my father was killed quite mysteriously. See he never wanted to go and fight for the damned Frasiers to the north. he always told us that fightin someone else’s battle was wrong in his mind, so he wouldn’t do it. He always talked of his grandfather goin off to fight for someone here or there, until he met the fates on some field. Seems that the Frasers were haven some trouble from the Campbells up by the Moray Firth. My father was in Inverness sellin some of the harvest, when someone stabbed him in the back. After that one of them damned Frasers came down to tell us we were being thrown off our land. As it turns out those Frasers got a bit of there own sometime later, but that’s a different story all together.
I went with my mother and brothers to Inverness where she found work as a laundress. She seemed to be well enough at that point I set off on my own to find my own way of life. I made it to Dundee when I came across this English peacock tryin to raise an army for some king in Sweden. Well now my fathers words started ringin through my head, but I was really hungry so I thought I’d sit and have a listen to what this king was fightin for, and maybe get a bite to eat while he was talkin. Sure enough I got my plate and he started talkin. Well by the time he was done and my plate was clean this git offers up a pint of mead for me, and feelin full, I accepted. After five or so I was full of spit and piss, at least in my mind, I got up to leave and bumped into someone, who was filled with his own mead. Well he wanted show me a thing or two about manners, and I wasn’t about to let anyone show me anything, so I take my swing before he could. Well he saw it coming and ducked and I, having had far more to drink than I should have had, landed right on my face and passed out.
The next thing I hear is some German yellin’ at me, that he’s my corporal, and his rote does not sleep past sunup, and I had better get my arse out to muster. He had a helluva accent and I had a helluva hangover. I’m tellin you that is not a good thing to wake up to. So after a terrible morning of drill with my head pounding like my brain was tryin’ to get out of my skull, I go and try to find this English peacock to find out what happened. To tell him it was a mistake, that I didn’t enlist. I saw him later outside one of the larger tents, talking with big guards. I went to follow him, but the gaurds stopped me and told me to run along, the Colonel isn’t seeing anyone.
So I go to that corporal that was yellin at me and tell him my story, that I shouldn’t be here.
He laughed at me and said I owed the Colonel for my plate and mead last nite, and for getting me out of that little fight. The corporal, Vonstetten was his name, was laughing uncontrollably. Well I say to myself, I owe what I owe. My father also taught me to accept responsibility and not run away like a child.
So here I am, in Col. Gaffney’s Regiment, soon to go to the Germanies. Who knows I might find my fortune there.
I’ll be damned, though, if I ever go near the drink again.
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