The Second Battle Of The Cruives
The military historian must often make shift to write of battles with slender data, but he
can pad out his deficiencies by learned parallels. If his were the talented pen describing
this, the latest action fought on British soil against a foreign foe, he would no doubt be
crippled by the absence of written orders and war diaries. But how eloquently he would
descant on the resemblance between Dougal and Gouraud--how the plan of leaving the
enemy to waste his strength upon a deserted position was that which on the 15th of July
1918 the French general had used with decisive effect in Champagne! But Dougal had
never heard of Gouraud, and I cannot claim that, like the Happy Warrior, he
"through the heat of conflict kept the law In calmness made, and saw what he
I have had the benefit of discussing the affair with him and his colleagues, but I should
offend against historic truth if I represented the main action as anything but a scrimmage-
-a "soldiers' battle," the historian would say, a Malplaquet, an Albuera.
Just after half-past three that afternoon the Commander-in-Chief was revealed in a very
bad temper. He had intercepted Sir Archie's car, and, since Leon was known to be fully
occupied, had brought it in by the West Lodge, and hidden it behind a clump of laurels.
There he had held a hoarse council of war. He had cast an appraising eye over Sime the
butler, Carfrae the chauffeur, and McGuffog the gamekeeper, and his brows had
lightened when he beheld Sir Archie with an armful of guns and two big cartridge-
magazines. But they had darkened again at the first words of the leader of the
"Now for the Tower,' Sir Archie had observed cheerfully. "We should be a match for the
three watchers, my lad, and it's time that poor devil What's-his-name was relieved."
"A bonny-like plan that would be," said Dougal. "Man, ye would be walkin' into the very
trap they want. In an hour, or maybe two, the rest will turn up from the sea and they'd
have ye tight by the neck. Na, na! It's time we're wantin', and the longer they think we're
a' in the auld Tower the better for us. What news o' the polis?"
He listened to Sir Archie's report with a gloomy face.
"Not afore the darkenin'? They'll be ower late--the polis are aye ower late. It looks as if
we had the job to do oursels. What's your notion?"
"God knows," said the baronet, whose eyes were on Saskia. "What's yours?"
The deference conciliated Dougal. "There's just the one plan that's worth a docken.
There's five o' us here, and there's plenty weapons. Besides there's five Die-Hards
somewhere about, and though they've never tried it afore they can be trusted to loose off
a gun. My advice is to hide at the Garplefoot and stop the boats landin'. We'd have the
tinklers on our flank, no doubt, but I'm not muckle feared o' them. It wouldn't be easy for
the boats to get in wi' this tearin' wind and us firin' volleys from the shore."