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The Pursuit

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425 pages6 hours

Summary

The Pursuit is an historic novel set in the Scottish Highlands during autumn of 1765, recounting a dramatic week in the life of two young men, Charles Macrae a mercenary returning from the European war and James Buchan a highland Priest.
As Charles descends into a glen on his homeward journey, his attention is drawn to a commotion at a small church below on the floor of the glen, beside the river. He observes two redcoat soldiers about to lynch a young cleric.
Troubled by what he is about to witness and too far away to intervene, he fires a shot from his musket to distract them. His shot wounds one of the soldiers who escape to report the assault. The clergyman has been saved and the matter might be concluded, but influenced by the apparent naiveté of the young priest, Charles is motivated to help him escape and a bond is formed between them, on an arduous journey that leads to tragedy and death.
Sergeant William Moss and two men, given only the name of the priest, set out to find and arrest those responsible for the shooting. With skill and persistence, despite many pitfalls on the way, he tracks down the fugitives.
During the chase Charles is reunited with the love of his youth Anne Sinclair, when the two men spend a night at the croft where she lives with her grandfather. Charles seeks to restore the relationship but is forced to flee when warned that Moss is closing in.
Just as Moss and his men catch up during a ferocious storm, disaster strikes. A powerful landslide causes the loch side road to collapse, plunging Charles towards a watery death, but James come to the rescue just in time and the two men escape on foot. The soldiers, separated from the fleeing men by the rock fall and the wide breach in the track, fire their muskets in a desperate attempt to end the pursuit and James is critically wounded.
When they reach the shelter of an abandoned bothy, Charles is shocked to learn from the dying man that he is not really a priest. He reveals that he is in fact a retired British Army Captain, repatriated in ill health from the New World. He explains that he is impersonating his brother who is the priest wanted by the Authorities, allowing him time to escape. Should he be detained he carries proof of his real identity, but the plan misfired when the drunken soldiers decided to hang him.
At dawn the soldiers approach the bothy by a circuitous track avoiding the rock fall. Moss silently enters the building just at the moment James dies. He finds documents on the dead man, which reveal his identity and assumes he is the one guilty of wounding the soldier; therefore Charles must be the priest. Moss arrests Charles as he has been ordered to do, but he is not entirely convinced of his identity.
Having learned of a romantic involvement between Anne and the accused man, Moss decides on a plan to test the truth of the matter. On the journey to Fort Augustus he rides ahead to the croft and reports to Anne the death of her soldier, so he can gauge her reaction. The evident relief she displays when the prisoner arrives confirms his suspicion that the man in his custody is not the priest. He contemplates this dilemma, but finally concludes that the decision on the matter is for others to make. He is content that he has one live fugitive and the body of the other. His duty is done and in the event, justice has probably been served.

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