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216 THE BATTLE OF BALEINNES.
lay, scornfully rejected the choice proposed to them, renewed their connections with Spain, and were accordingly declared guilty of high treason and subjected to the doom of forfeiture.
King James's exchequer was at this time so low that it was impossible for him to undertake the enforcing of this sentence in person. He was obliged to delegate the office to the young Earl of Argyle, who was induced to accept the appointment by the promise of a portion of Huntly's forfeited estates. The prospect of booty and the authority of the chief of the Campbells drew together six or seven thousand Highlanders, to whom were joined some hundreds of men from the Western Islands, under the chief of Maclean. With this body, one fourth of whom carried firelocks, while the rest were armed after the Gaelic fashion, Argyle descended from the hills towards Huntly's castle of Strathbogie.
The chief of the Gordons, suddenly assailed, had no time to procure assistance from Angus. He collected about a thousand gentlemen of his own name, and Errol came to his aid with two or three hundred of the Hays. All these were men of birth, well armed and mounted, and to this small, but powerful, troop of cavalry, was added a train of six field pieces (engines very terrible to Highlanders), under the management of an excellent soldier, the very same Captain Ker, who has figured already in -the ballad of Edom o' Gordon.
The armies encountered at a place called Belrinnes in a district called Glenlivet. The Highlanders were posted on a mountain-side, so steep that footmen could barely keep their hold. Notwithstanding this obstacle,