Cromwell—For the Crown
Montrose gave everything for his King, even his life, and his King rewarded him by forsaking him. He made no effort to save him from death, and even denied that he had commanded him to make war in Scotland. There was little gratitude in Charles ii. , and now, seeing that there was no other way to the throne, he signed the Covenant, and accepted the crown from the hands of the men who had just killed his truest follower.
Scarcely a month after the death of Montrose, Charles landed in Scotland. Once more Edinburgh was ablaze with joy, and riotous with the sound of cheers and bells, as Charles signed the Covenant, listened to long and solemn sermons, and promised many things.
He did not care what he promised, so long as he won the crown. But he soon found that he was treated more like a prisoner than a king.
Charles was very young. He was gay and merry, and he brought many friends with him, who were as gay and as merry as himself. But these friends did not please the solemn, stern Covenanters, so they sent them all away. Instead of laughing, dancing, and playing cards, Charles found himself obliged to go about with a grave face, and to listen every day to long sermons. Once he had to hear no less than six sermons in one day. On Sundays, he was not even allowed to go for a walk.
Charles grew so tired of this dull life, that one night he ran away. But the Covenanters followed him and brought him back. They saw, however, that if they wanted to keep their King, they must not treat him so sternly, and after that he had a little more freedom.
But the English Parliament had abolished kings, and had made it a crime for any one to call Charles King. So Cromwell marched into Scotland to fight against the very men, who, so lately, had been fighting for him.
But the Scots were ready. Encamped in a good place near Edinburgh, with plenty to eat and drink, they quietly awaited the English. For a dreary, rainy month, Cromwell and his men lay opposite. There was little fighting; hunger, cold, and wet did their work. Horrible disease raged throughout the English camp; men sickened and died by hundreds. At last, without having fought any great battle, Cromwell decided to go homeward.
Then the wary Scottish general made a false move. He left his safe position to meet the English, and was surprised and defeated near Dunbar.
After this, Cromwell had no thought of going home. He marched on through Scotland, taking towns and castles. His unconquered Ironsides, as his soldiers were called, were everywhere victorious.
All this time, Charles had not been with the army. Now, while Cromwell was marching through Scotland, he was crowned at Scone. The crown was placed upon his head by the Marquis of Argyll, one of Montrose's bitterest enemies. Then taking command of the army, the King marched into England, leaving Cromwell in Scotland.
Charles hoped that the English Royalists would rise and join him, and that he would be able to make himself master of England while Cromwell was out of it. But no sooner did Cromwell discover what Charles was doing, than he followed him.
At Worcester the armies met. Again the Royalists were defeated, and Charles, seeing his cause utterly lost, fled in disguise. After many adventures and dangers, he escaped at last to France.
This victory Cromwell called his "crowning mercy," for by it the last hope of the Royalists was shattered.
When Cromwell went away from Scotland, he left one of his generals called Monk, with five thousand men, to carry on the war. One by one the towns and castles of Scotland yielded to him.
But one castle called Dunnottar held out bravely, and would not yield. The English, however, were determined to take this castle, for they knew that within it were the Regalia, that is the crown, sceptre, and sword of state of Scotland, and they wanted to seize them and carry them away to England.
So cannon boomed and roared, and shook the castle walls. Food grew scarcer and scarcer; death stared the brave defenders in the face. Still they would not yield.
The Governor of the castle was called George Ogilvie. He had married a beautiful and clever lady named Elizabeth Douglas. She was with him in the castle, and now that it was impossible to hold out any longer, she thought of a plan by which the Regalia might be saved from the English.
"Let me have the Regalia," she said, "and I will send them away to a safe place. I will not tell you where, so when the English ask you, you can truly say that you do not know."
George Ogilvie knew that he could trust his wife, so he gave the Regalia to her. She then carried them away to another brave lady called Mrs. Granger, the wife of a minister. Together they wrapped the jewels up in bundles of linen. Then Mrs. Granger asked the English general to allow her to leave the castle, and to take with her some bundles of linen which belonged to her.
The general gave her leave, and Mrs. Granger calmly walked out with her bundles, mounted upon her horse under the very eye of the general himself, and rode away. Indeed, as he was a polite gentleman, he helped her to mount, and to arrange her bundles. No doubt the brave lady's heart beat fast, and she was terribly afraid of being found out, but she looked so calm and unconcerned that no one suspected what precious things were hidden away in these bundles.
As soon as Mrs. Granger got beyond the English line she rode fast until she reached her own home. Then she gave the Regalia to her husband, and he going secretly into the church at night, dug a hole under the pulpit and laid the jewels in, and covered them over again.
When Mrs. Granger had gone, Dame Elizabeth told her husband that the jewels were safe, and he, knowing that it was useless to hold out any longer, surrendered to the English. And because they had fought so gallantly the English general promised him and all his soldiers their lives and freedom.
So, next morning, with drums beating and colours flying, the little band of soldiers marched out. There were only thirty-six of them. They were pale and thin, some of them were wounded and ill and scarcely able to walk. But they made a brave show and held themselves proudly, for they had fought to the last for their King, and they had saved his crown from the English. George Ogilvie's young son carried the royal standard. He was the last man to carry the King's colours in Scotland for many a day.
When the little garrison had marched out, the English entered the castle. They searched everywhere for the crown jewels, but nowhere were they to be found. Then, being very angry, they seized George Ogilvie and tried to force him to tell where they were. But he did not know. He could not tell, and would not have told even if he could. In the cruel manner of the time, they tortured him to make him speak, but he would not. Then they tried to bribe him; but neither torture nor bribery were of any use, and at last this brave husband and wife were put in prison.
Day or night they were never left alone. A sentinel was always beside them, so that they could not say a word to each other without being heard.
At last, Dame Elizabeth became ill. Although she was so brave and bright, like a piece of true steel she could not bear the close damp prison. All that she had to suffer wore out her strength, so that she died. Just before she died, and not till then, did she tell her husband where the jewels were, and he promised never to tell the English. And he never did.
Long afterwards, when King Charles came back again to reign, the jewels were found safe in the church where the minister had hidden them. He and his wife were rewarded by a sum of money; George Ogilvie was made a baronet, but Sir John Keith, a gentleman who had had nothing to do with hiding the jewels at all, but whose name had been used to put the English off the scent, was made an earl.
It seems a pity that the right person did not receive the greatest reward, but George Ogilvie and his wife, Dame Elizabeth Douglas, will always be remembered among the patriots to whom Scotland owes her unconquered crown.