Who Comes to
King's Mountain? (Young Adult)
discussed by Janie B.
Cheaney & Dr. M. M.
Janie: Aside from the title, it
wasn't very good, but the main character is named McLeod,
and a major supporting character is named Gilchrist, so I continued
reading in your honor ... . The hero, Alec McLeod, is a
Loyal Scot but his grandparents are Patriots because they have ugly
memories of Culloden.
Doc: Does not compute... Most
ex-Jacos were Loyal because they had views on royal authority that
made George III look like an anarcho-syndicalist! The Jaco stuff had
been a sectarian/dynastic scrap over who should rule the Empire, not
whether it should exist! Most had reconciled themselves to G3 anyway,
since he was the first monarch since Anne to have been born and bred
in Britain, which is more than could be said for a certain
wife-beating Polish-Italian dipso in Rome ("The King over the Water"?
More like "The King under the Table"!) And the Jacos would surely
love Pattie Ferguson - nephew of Alexander Murray the Elibank
Plotter, and first cousin of Lady Ogilvy!
Janie: His fiery grandfather nurses
a romantic love of Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Doc: Evidently insane, then.
Janie: and his weird granny is
always staring into the fire reading cryptic fortunes. She sees Alec
crossing paths with a red beast and a white beast, and coming first
to dark waters and then to a high place where something will happen
to his left hand. Ban is the white beast (so called for his milky
Doc: It's a bilingual pun -
ban means 'white' in Gaelic!
Janie: who cold-bloodedly kills
Jamie Gilchrist, a Loyal volunteer and friend of Alec's to get his
horse. (He wouldn't!) Alec slips pokeberry juice into the rum the
green dragoons are swilling and makes them all deathly sick,
including Tarleton. Pat is the red beast (because of his hair and
coat--get it?) who suspects Alec's father of treachery and orders him
to brained in the back of the head with a musket stock. (He
WOULDN'T!) It's not quite a cold-blooded act: he figures the old man
is going for his gun. Alec joins Francis Marion in the swamp (dark
water) and enlists as a courier for him, in which capacity he's
captured by Ferguson's men and is forced on the King's Mountain
march. Neither beast appears too much in the narrative, but here's
how they compare:
- Alec conjured up the White Beast and the Red Beast in his
mind. Milk-white Tarleton and Ferguson, red as a fox, hot as
flame, and almost as quick to burn as Tarleton perhaps? In the
very brief time Alec had seen Ferguson he'd sensed a feyness in
him, too--not the same quicksilver sort that he felt in Jamie, but
a feyness all the same. There was no blustering in Ferguson. He
was a deliberate man and one who would accomplish what he set out
Not too critical an assessment, except that Pat, when he does
appear, is cold and distant and not at all the humorous lad we've
come to know and admire. Also, during the battle he appears to come a
little unglued, not in a cowardly sense but in a monomaniacal
sense... going off his rocker and losing all touch with reality.
Doc: This is insulting. Since he
could hear the Rebs shouting: "Give 'em Buford's play!" and
"Tarleton's quarter!", he knew he and his men were probably dead
meat. Better to go down fighting than bayoneted after surrendering,
or kicking air at the end of a rope from the nearest tree...
Janie: Alec ends up being the youth
who got the bayonet stuck through his hand, which literally pins him
to the mountain and prevents him from running away to join the
patriots. This leads to an unfortunate misunderstanding when the
over-mountain men assume he's a spy but he's rescued at the last
minute, etc. The book isn't put together too well: strings out too
long in some places and bunches up in others. I modestly think I
could do better, with half my wits in cold storage.
Doc: And so say all of us...!
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