|| ||Simon was navigating and negotiating his way through the French administration in Paris, and considered that he was making progress in establishing himself as a prime mover in the plans for a return of King James, aided by the French, and in a way that would be to their advantage. He succeeded in achieving a private audience with King Louis IV, the Sun King, who was somewhat taken by this self-proclaimed spokesman for the chiefs of the Highland clans.
He heard about the birth of his son and so visited Amelia and the infant at the Atholl residence. He was uncertain as to how he could handle the situation, and made sure that Tullibardine was absent. He felt immediately that there was a distance between them. Amelia was polite but distant, without a husbandly welcome.
‘Good morning. Your son is with his nurse. Would you like to see him?’
When he nodded, she rang a bell from the table next to her to summon her maid, asking her to escort Simon to the nurse. He found the infant busy suckling at the breast of the wet-nurse, looking bonny and healthy, but not interested in his visitor. It was normal practice for noblewomen to use a wet-nurse for their children, it being considered unbecoming for a high-born to indulge in such a practice. It also had an advantage in shortening the period between pregnancies so that there could be more children. He touched a soft cheek and gently stroked the sparse birth hair on the head. This was his son.
The woman smiled at him, saying, in French,
‘He is always hungry. I will help him to grow strong.’
He thanked her for her care and returned to Amelia,
‘Now that we are a family, I will arrange for somewhere where we may live. Perhaps at St Germain, although the palace there is in a state of squalor.’
Amelia gestured for him to sit opposite her, and sitting firmly upright herself, hands folded quietly in her lap, her face without expression,
‘That will not be necessary. I am returning to Scotland in a few weeks, to become the Lady Dowager and help protect the Clan from Sir Roderick’s plans to make his Mackenzie dynasty on Fraser lands.’
‘But how can that work? I cannot go to Scotland as I am still a wanted man. As my wife you should not go without me, particularly now that we have a child.’
‘I cannot be the Lady Dowager and also your wife, so, in the interests of the Clan, I have decided to no longer be your wife. I am sorry, but if we do nothing and both stay in France Sir Roderick will succeed and Lovat will be Mackenzie. I cannot let that happen.’
Simon was having difficulty controlling his rage, but held himself back,
‘But how can we not be married, we have a son to raise? Will you take the child with you back to Scotland? How could you explain him if you deny our marriage?’
‘I will go alone and leave my child behind. He has become a love-child and will be looked after in France. He is not the first love-child that a woman has had to leave behind. We will provide for his upkeep and education.’
Simon had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, and he asked very very calmly,
‘Who is “we”?’
Amelia drew herself up even more upright, and kept her voice level,
‘My brother John and I. He has agreed to help me save the Clan, and to provide support for my child.’
Simon could hold himself in no longer, jumping to his feet, yelling as he strode around the room, waving his arms to add more emphasis,
‘He has talked you into this abomination! He has persecuted me since the death of my Uncle Hugh, killed my first child and now persuaded you to turn my son into a bastard! And you are willing to sacrifice your child to satisfy his greed to take ownership of Lovat, with the reward of living in comfort at Lovat expense! While I live in poverty as an exile in France!’
‘It is my decision to put the survival of the Clan first. John has agreed to abandon his claims on Lovat and help me fend off Sir Roderick.’
‘This is all Tullibardine trickery! He is a devil and cannot be trusted. I demand that you, as my wife, put all this away from you and come and help raise my son!’
She looked at him, steadily and impassively, until he started towards the door, shouting,
‘I will bring Tullibardine down in disgrace and you with him, just watch! And then you will realise his treachery, and we will make do the best that we can!’
He threw open the door, scattering the menservants who were hovering outside just in case they were needed, slammed it so hard that the building shook, then through the front door, leaving it swinging open. In his anger he walked and walked until some of the fire turned to cold resolve.
Amelia sat back and felt her face relax, exhausted by the confrontation, but also with some sadness that she would not be a wife to Simon, and mother to their child. Their brief honeymoon on Eileen Aigas had been marred by her anxiety concerning her father’s acceptance of the marriage, but, looking back, Simon had been good company and a caring and considerate husband, and she would likely not get another chance at marital happiness. She took a deep breath and turned her mind away from the might-have-been, focussing on the ways that she could help hold the clan together on her return as the Dowager.
Simon made a plan. He knew that Tullibardine had secretly visited the court at St Germain, although he was not aware of the purpose of the visit, assuming that Tullibardine was playing politics to both sides, just is case the Jacobite cause was successful. He would seek to acquire witness statements and then present them to the government in London to show that Tullibardine was a traitor to the Crown.
He found that the image of his infant son, and memory of the touch, would not leave him, and decided that he could not abandon the child. He wrote to Amelia, saying that he appreciated her position and accepted her decision, at least for now, but would like to care for his son. She replied that she was agreeable and that she and her brother would provide an allowance for his upkeep and education, but on the condition that the arrangement be in strictest confidence.
He was not happy to be receiving financial support from his arch enemy, but the additional funding gave him more freedom to explore the possibilities. Previously, with essentially no income, living hand to mouth from handouts from the Jacobite Court at St Germain, he was very much tied to following the instructions attached to each amount. Now he could live in some comfort and be free to choose his own path.
He then had to arrange for the christening of his son. France under Louis IV was fiercely anti-protestant, so he had no choice but to convert to Catholicism. This was good politics anyway, so he did it very openly with a letter to the Pope. He christened his son Simon Archibald; Simon as was proper for his eldest son and possible future chief, and Archibald in honour of his chief mentor, Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll. In traditional Gaelic style, and to minimise confusion the boy was always referred to by his nickname, Archie.
His next task was to find a way of getting his evidence about Tullibardine’s visit to St Germain to the English authorities. He succeeded in persuading the powers at St Germain to fund a visit to Scotland to sound out the level of Jacobite support, with support from King Louis. While in London, Simon managed to meet with the Queen’s High Commissioner, the Duke of Queensberry, to whom he presented his case, claiming to have irrefutable evidence. Tullibardine had just been elevated to 1st Duke of Atholl, as an expression of gratitude from the Queen for his discrete service in communicating with her half brother, James. The Queen was very upset by the imputations from Queensberry and he was instantly removed from office in disgrace. Tullibardine remained relatively unscathed, certainly not in disgrace as Simon had planned.
His situation was not helped by the sudden death of his old mentor, Archibald Campbell, Duke of Argyll, so he was left without anyone to speak for him at the Palace.
When Simon returned to France, the news of his attempt to disgrace Tullibardine followed him. Providing a report of confidential Jacobite information to the English authorities was clearly an act of treason, and King Louis was asked for him to be executed as a traitor. King Louis was not impressed by the internal politics of St Germain and considered that Simon, as a true representative of the highland clans, might still be useful, so he was exiled to Bourges, about 150 miles south of Paris, and provided with a purse for his maintenance. He was given the freedom of the city but not permitted to leave its precincts. Archie was now over a year old and no longer in need of a wet-nurse.
He was devastated by the failure of his scheme to discredit Tullibardine, and that he was now seen as a traitor by both sides. There seemed to be no possibility of him being accepted at St Germain, and a pardon from Queen Anne was clearly impossible.
He decided that his only chance was to gain the support of King Louis, so, in a manic gesture, Simon spent all of the purse in providing a grand party for the people of Bourges, and then asked King Louis for more. The King and his ministers were not impressed and decided that this wild man of the Highlands needed a sharp lesson, so had him moved to the ancient prison at Angoulême, even further from Paris.
This prison was a converted fortress, Le Chatelet, with little comfort but room for apartments for gentlemen. At this time, it was not a prison for criminals, except in the dungeon, but a holding place for French nobles that had fallen out with the establishment, sometimes with mental illness being part of the problem.
Simon was treated with some respect, keeping his servants and still with his young son, but not permitted any contact with the outside world. The financial support from Atholl was enough to provide a little comfort, and the jailers were considerate in minimising the impact on the young boy. After the Queensberry fiasco, Atholl (previously Tullibardine) wrote to Amelia suggesting that it was no longer appropriate to maintain this support, but she wrote back that the purpose of the stipend was to support her child, and that, from what she had heard, Simon was being punished enough in France, and did not wish this punishment to be also visited on to her child.
Once Simon realised that he had also lost favour with King Louis, he fell into a deep depression, not being able to see any way of establishing his rights or of protecting the Clan. Young Archie was a bright and active toddler, and soon became everyone’s favourite, helping to bring some light into lives otherwise gloomy and hopeless. His birthdays became a celebration for the whole prison.
Simon had some social contact with the other inmates, and with the superintendent of the prison, but remained depressed, telling his young son of his rightful place in the world and how he had been cheated. Archie was too young to understand but his natural affection for his father was a comfort.
When Simon was first in France and doing the rounds at the Court of Versaille, he had made close friends with a lieutenant-general in the French artillery. Jean-Baptiste François Angélique Frézeau de la Frézelière (Jean to his intimates) had inherited the title of Marquis de la Frézelière when his father died shortly before Simon arrived. He was about the same age as Simon, a relatively young man in a court of older men, and they quickly became close friends, deciding that Fraser and Frézeau were from the same ancient lineage, leading to an Act passed in Paris on April 9, 1705, by which the Frezeau House of La Frezelière (in Anjou) and the Fraser House of Lovat (Scotland), represented by the Chiefs of these two Houses, recognised themselves as relatives and descendants of the same stock.
Jean had been married since he was seventeen, and had three living children at this time; a second son had died young; and he was to have another daughter later. His eldest, Félicie, was a young teenager, and Jean teased Simon that perhaps he should marry her. Whatever, this was not to be and the young woman later took up holy orders. The eldest son, François, later inherited the estates and title of la Frézelière, living a quiet life with no children. A second son, Hilarion, was slightly younger than Archie, and became a soldier, following the steps of his father.
Once the Act of Kinship had been ratified, it was appropriate for Jean to take up Simon’s case to get him released from prison. He made the point that the prison was not a suitable place to raise a young child, who needed education and the company of other children, and where he was natural prey for at least one of the criminal inmates who was displaying grooming behaviour towards the young lad, whose naturally affectionate nature could be misunderstood.
He suggested that Simon should be moved to Saumur, which was the nearest town to his country estate, stipulating that he would be responsible for Simon’s good behaviour, and stressing that they were cousins.
It took three years, but the order finally came through for the move. Saumur, a large town on the River Loire, had once been a thriving Huguenot centre, but was now in a state of poverty since King Louis’ removal of the rights of Protestants had led to mass migrations of the middle classes, many to England. Simon had the freedom of the town, but was not permitted to leave without a pass. Simon and Archie had some social time with Jean and his family when they were staying at their country estate. Simon and Hilarion played together but did not become close friends.
After four years at Saumur, Simon was devastated by the news that Jean had died following a typhus epidemic, at the age of thirty-nine. Simon was not permitted to leave Saumur for the military funeral in Paris.
The Marquis had not left his affairs in order, with many debts and uncertainties about inheritance, which were to take forty years to finally be resolved. In the meantime, the widow Marquise moved with her family from their apartment at Versaille to one of their country residences, near to Saumur. Simon offered his condolences, but was not in a position to provide more. He and the Marquise retained an amicable relationship, but not the level of friendship that he had had with her husband.
At the time of their father’s death, Hilarion was eight and Marie merely four.
Archie was fortunate in his father finding a tutor of great capability and with a substantial library. Professor Joseph Théreau had been professor of ancient history at l’Académie de Saumur, formerly a Huguenot university of renown until closed down under the orders of King Louis. Professor Joseph, as everybody familiarly addressed him, was an elderly widower, without children of his own, who chose not to leave his wife’s grave nor his library, and had no ambitions for a new life, so did not join the emigration. He lived quietly, not publicly supporting or practising his religion, and provided tutoring for a few children in the town.
Archie’s first language was French, closely followed by English, with a smattering of Gaelic. He was an avid student and became proficient in written Latin, French and English. The wider world was opened up by the Professor’s love of knowledge and by his library.
Simon was not really accepted by the townsfolk, being both a prisoner and a stranger from another place and culture. He tried to re-establish a connection with the Jacobites at St Germain, only to be rebuffed.
There were times, particularly when maudlin after an extra glass of wine, that he would tell Archie stories of his childhood in Fraser country, and of his many kinfolk. Also that he was the rightful chief of the highland Frasers and hoped to one day return and reclaim his inheritance. Archie dreamed that he would then be the son of the Chief, reunited with his mother, and at last be part of a family. Some days when he saw children with their mothers, having brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, he ached for an escape from his solitary life.