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Scottish Vengeance

Upon the west coast of Scotland a highly dramatic incident occurred in 1527, which was in later years productive of much strife and bloodshed. The scene of it was a rock at the south end of Lismore, and the chief actors Lachlan Cattanach MacLean of Duart, and his wife the Lady Elizabeth, sister of the then Earl of Argyll. The union of this couple proved unhappy, and, as the eye of the chief fell upon a daughter of MacLean of Treshnish, a comely lady of his own clan, he conceived the idea of ridding himself of the Lady Elizabeth by exposing her on an isolated rock which, at high water, was deeply covered. With the aid of several clansmen the savage chief placed her on the rock in the evening hour and, on this place of certain death, left her to her fate. But just as the waves were breaking over her, a deliverer came, and she was rescued by the crew of a boat sent out by one of the chief’s bodyguard, who had come to hear of the villainy that was being perpetrated. By these men the unhappy lady was taken to the mainland, and escorted to her brother’s stronghold at Inveraray.

Of the rescue, Lachlan knew nothing, but communicated to the Earl the news of the death of his sister from natural causes, and his desire that she should be interred in the tomb of her ancestors. For the time the Earl kept his counsel, and within a few days the tearful husband, accompanied by many followers, arrived at the castle, bearing a coffin containing a lay figure. But the tables were turned on the thunderstruck monster when, on being ushered into the dining hall where the family sat at dinner, he found the Lady Elizabeth seated at the head of the table. Cattanach was allowed to escape, and no dramatic catastrophe occurred, but the resentment of the Campbells at the odious act burned deeply into their souls. Many years afterwards, when MacLean was an old man of eighty years, that resentment found expression in his murder at the hands of Sir John Campbell of Calder, brother of the Lady Elizabeth. The deed of vengeance was perpetrated while the aged chief was resting in his bed in Edinburgh, to which city he had come under letters of protection.

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