Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Catriona by Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 1 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Transcribed from the 1904 Cassell and Company edition by David Price,
email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk



TO CHARLES BAXTER, Writer to the Signet.

My Dear Charles,

It is the fate of sequels to disappoint those who have waited for
them; and my David, having been left to kick his heels for more
than a lustre in the British Linen Company's office, must expect
his late re-appearance to be greeted with hoots, if not with
missiles. Yet, when I remember the days of our explorations, I am
not without hope. There should be left in our native city some
seed of the elect; some long-legged, hot-headed youth must repeat
to-day our dreams and wanderings of so many years ago; he will
relish the pleasure, which should have been ours, to follow among
named streets and numbered houses the country walks of David
Balfour, to identify Dean, and Silvermills, and Broughton, and Hope
Park, and Pilrig, and poor old Lochend--if it still be standing,
and the Figgate Whins--if there be any of them left; or to push (on
a long holiday) so far afield as Gillane or the Bass. So, perhaps,
his eye shall be opened to behold the series of the generations,
and he shall weigh with surprise his momentous and nugatory gift of

You are still--as when first I saw, as when I last addressed you--
in the venerable city which I must always think of as my home. And
I have come so far; and the sights and thoughts of my youth pursue
me; and I see like a vision the youth of my father, and of his
father, and the whole stream of lives flowing down there far in the
north, with the sound of laughter and tears, to cast me out in the
end, as by a sudden freshet, on these ultimate islands. And I
admire and bow my head before the romance of destiny.

R. L. S.
Vailima, Upolu,
Samoa, 1892.



The 25th day of August, 1751, about two in the afternoon, I, David
Balfour, came forth of the British Linen Company, a porter
attending me with a bag of money, and some of the chief of these
merchants bowing me from their doors. Two days before, and even so
late as yestermorning, I was like a beggar-man by the wayside, clad
in rags, brought down to my last shillings, my companion a
condemned traitor, a price set on my own head for a crime with the
news of which the country rang. To-day I was served heir to my
position in life, a landed laird, a bank porter by me carrying my
gold, recommendations in my pocket, and (in the words of the
saying) the ball directly at my foot.

There were two circumstances that served me as ballast to so much
sail. The first was the very difficult and deadly business I had
still to handle; the second, the place that I was in. The tall,
black city, and the numbers and movement and noise of so many folk,
made a new world for me, after the moorland braes, the sea-sands
and the still country-sides that I had frequented up to then. The
throng of the citizens in particular abashed me. Rankeillor's son
was short and small in the girth; his clothes scarce held on me;
and it was plain I was ill qualified to strut in the front of a
bank-porter. It was plain, if I did so, I should but set folk
laughing, and (what was worse in my case) set them asking
questions. So that I behooved to come by some clothes of my own,
and in the meanwhile to walk by the porter's side, and put my hand
on his arm as though we were a pair of friends.

At a merchant's in the Luckenbooths I had myself fitted out: none
too fine, for I had no idea to appear like a beggar on horseback;
but comely and responsible, so that servants should respect me.
Thence to an armourer's, where I got a plain sword, to suit with my
degree in life. I felt safer with the weapon, though (for one so
ignorant of defence) it might be called an added danger. The
porter, who was naturally a man of some experience, judged my
accoutrement to be well chosen.

"Naething kenspeckle," {1} said he; "plain, dacent claes. As for
the rapier, nae doubt it sits wi' your degree; but an I had been
you, I would has waired my siller better-gates than that." And he
proposed I should buy winter-hosen from a wife in the Cowgate-back,
that was a cousin of his own, and made them "extraordinar

But I had other matters on my hand more pressing. Here I was in
this old, black city, which was for all the world like a rabbit-
warren, not only by the number of its indwellers, but the
complication of its passages and holes. It was, indeed, a place
where no stranger had a chance to find a friend, let be another
stranger. Suppose him even to hit on the right close, people dwelt
so thronged in these tall houses, he might very well seek a day
before he chanced on the right door. The ordinary course was to
hire a lad they called a caddie, who was like a guide or pilot, led
you where you had occasion, and (your errands being done) brought
you again where you were lodging. But these caddies, being always
employed in the same sort of services, and having it for obligation
to be well informed of every house and person in the city, had
grown to form a brotherhood of spies; and I knew from tales of Mr.
Campbell's how they communicated one with another, what a rage of
curiosity they conceived as to their employer's business, and how
they were like eyes and fingers to the police. It would be a piece
of little wisdom, the way I was now placed, to take such a ferret
to my tails. I had three visits to make, all immediately needful:
to my kinsman Mr. Balfour of Pilrig, to Stewart the Writer that was
Appin's agent, and to William Grant Esquire of Prestongrange, Lord
Advocate of Scotland. Mr. Balfour's was a non-committal visit; and
besides (Pilrig being in the country) I made bold to find the way
to it myself, with the help of my two legs and a Scots tongue. But
the rest were in a different case. Not only was the visit to
Appin's agent, in the midst of the cry about the Appin murder,
dangerous in itself, but it was highly inconsistent with the other.
I was like to have a bad enough time of it with my Lord Advocate
Grant, the best of ways; but to go to him hot-foot from Appin's
agent, was little likely to mend my own affairs, and might prove
the mere ruin of friend Alan's. The whole thing, besides, gave me
a look of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds that
was little to my fancy. I determined, therefore, to be done at
once with Mr. Stewart and the whole Jacobitical side of my
business, and to profit for that purpose by the guidance of the
porter at my side. But it chanced I had scarce given him the
address, when there came a sprinkle of rain--nothing to hurt, only
for my new clothes--and we took shelter under a pend at the head of
a close or alley.

Being strange to what I saw, I stepped a little farther in. The
narrow paved way descended swiftly. Prodigious tall houses sprang
upon each side and bulged out, one storey beyond another, as they
rose. At the top only a ribbon of sky showed in. By what I could
spy in the windows, and by the respectable persons that passed out
and in, I saw the houses to be very well occupied; and the whole
appearance of the place interested me like a tale.

I was still gazing, when there came a sudden brisk tramp of feet in
time and clash of steel behind me. Turning quickly, I was aware of
a party of armed soldiers, and, in their midst, a tall man in a
great coat. He walked with a stoop that was like a piece of
courtesy, genteel and insinuating: he waved his hands plausibly as
he went, and his face was sly and handsome. I thought his eye took
me in, but could not meet it. This procession went by to a door in
the close, which a serving-man in a fine livery set open; and two
of the soldier-lads carried the prisoner within, the rest lingering
with their firelocks by the door.

There can nothing pass in the streets of a city without some
following of idle folk and children. It was so now; but the more
part melted away incontinent until but three were left. One was a
girl; she was dressed like a lady, and had a screen of the Drummond
colours on her head; but her comrades or (I should say) followers
were ragged gillies, such as I had seen the matches of by the dozen
in my Highland journey. They all spoke together earnestly in
Gaelic, the sound of which was pleasant in my ears for the sake of
Alan; and, though the rain was by again, and my porter plucked at
me to be going, I even drew nearer where they were, to listen. The
lady scolded sharply, the others making apologies and cringeing
before her, so that I made sure she was come of a chief's house.
All the while the three of them sought in their pockets, and by
what I could make out, they had the matter of half a farthing among
the party; which made me smile a little to see all Highland folk
alike for fine obeisances and empty sporrans.

It chanced the girl turned suddenly about, so that I saw her face
for the first time. There is no greater wonder than the way the
face of a young woman fits in a man's mind, and stays there, and he
could never tell you why; it just seems it was the thing he wanted.
She had wonderful bright eyes like stars, and I daresay the eyes
had a part in it; but what I remember the most clearly was the way
her lips were a trifle open as she turned. And, whatever was the
cause, I stood there staring like a fool. On her side, as she had
not known there was anyone so near, she looked at me a little
longer, and perhaps with more surprise, than was entirely civil.

It went through my country head she might be wondering at my new
clothes; with that, I blushed to my hair, and at the sight of my
colouring it is to be supposed she drew her own conclusions, for
she moved her gillies farther down the close, and they fell again
to this dispute, where I could hear no more of it.

I had often admired a lassie before then, if scarce so sudden and
strong; and it was rather my disposition to withdraw than to come
forward, for I was much in fear of mockery from the womenkind. You
would have thought I had now all the more reason to pursue my
common practice, since I had met this young lady in the city
street, seemingly following a prisoner, and accompanied with two
very ragged indecent-like Highlandmen. But there was here a
different ingredient; it was plain the girl thought I had been
prying in her secrets; and with my new clothes and sword, and at
the top of my new fortunes, this was more than I could swallow.
The beggar on horseback could not bear to be thrust down so low,
or, at least of it, not by this young lady.

I followed, accordingly, and took off my new hat to her the best
that I was able.

"Madam," said I, "I think it only fair to myself to let you
understand I have no Gaelic. It is true I was listening, for I
have friends of my own across the Highland line, and the sound of
that tongue comes friendly; but for your private affairs, if you
had spoken Greek, I might have had more guess at them."

She made me a little, distant curtsey. "There is no harm done,"
said she, with a pretty accent, most like the English (but more
agreeable). "A cat may look at a king."

"I do not mean to offend," said I. "I have no skill of city
manners; I never before this day set foot inside the doors of
Edinburgh. Take me for a country lad--it's what I am; and I would
rather I told you than you found it out."

"Indeed, it will be a very unusual thing for strangers to be
speaking to each other on the causeway," she replied. "But if you
are landward {2} bred it will be different. I am as landward as
yourself; I am Highland, as you see, and think myself the farther
from my home."

"It is not yet a week since I passed the line," said I. "Less than
a week ago I was on the braes of Balwhidder."

"Balwhither?" she cries. "Come ye from Balwhither! The name of it
makes all there is of me rejoice. You will not have been long
there, and not known some of our friends or family?"

"I lived with a very honest, kind man called Duncan Dhu Maclaren,"
I replied.

"Well, I know Duncan, and you give him the true name!" she said;
"and if he is an honest man, his wife is honest indeed."

"Ay," said I, "they are fine people, and the place is a bonny

"Where in the great world is such another!" she cries; "I am loving
the smell of that place and the roots that grow there."

I was infinitely taken with the spirit of the maid. "I could be
wishing I had brought you a spray of that heather," says I. "And,
though I did ill to speak with you at the first, now it seems we
have common acquaintance, I make it my petition you will not forget
me. David Balfour is the name I am known by. This is my lucky
day, when I have just come into a landed estate, and am not very
long out of a deadly peril. I wish you would keep my name in mind
for the sake of Balwhidder," said I, "and I will yours for the sake
of my lucky day."

"My name is not spoken," she replied, with a great deal of
haughtiness. "More than a hundred years it has not gone upon men's
tongues, save for a blink. I am nameless, like the Folk of Peace.
{3} Catriona Drummond is the one I use."

Now indeed I knew where I was standing. In all broad Scotland
there was but the one name proscribed, and that was the name of the
Macgregors. Yet so far from fleeing this undesirable acquaintancy,
I plunged the deeper in.

"I have been sitting with one who was in the same case with
yourself," said I, "and I think he will be one of your friends.
They called him Robin Oig."

"Did ye so?" cries she. "Ye met Rob?"

"I passed the night with him," said I.

"He is a fowl of the night," said she.

"There was a set of pipes there," I went on, "so you may judge if
the time passed."

"You should be no enemy, at all events," said she. "That was his
brother there a moment since, with the red soldiers round him. It
is him that I call father."

"Is it so?" cried I. "Are you a daughter of James More's?"

"All the daughter that he has," says she: "the daughter of a
prisoner; that I should forget it so, even for one hour, to talk
with strangers!"

Here one of the gillies addressed her in what he had of English, to
know what "she" (meaning by that himself) was to do about "ta
sneeshin." I took some note of him for a short, bandy-legged, red-
haired, big-headed man, that I was to know more of to my cost.

"There can be none the day, Neil," she replied. "How will you get
'sneeshin,' wanting siller! It will teach you another time to be
more careful; and I think James More will not be very well pleased
with Neil of the Tom."

"Miss Drummond," I said, "I told you I was in my lucky day. Here I
am, and a bank-porter at my tail. And remember I have had the
hospitality of your own country of Balwhidder."

"It was not one of my people gave it," said she.

"Ah, well," said I, "but I am owing your uncle at least for some
springs upon the pipes. Besides which, I have offered myself to be
your friend, and you have been so forgetful that you did not refuse
me in the proper time."

"If it had been a great sum, it might have done you honour," said
she; "but I will tell you what this is. James More lies shackled
in prison; but this time past they will be bringing him down here
daily to the Advocate's. . . ."

"The Advocate's!" I cried. "Is that . . . ?"

"It is the house of the Lord Advocate Grant of Prestongrange," said
she. "There they bring my father one time and another, for what
purpose I have no thought in my mind; but it seems there is some
hope dawned for him. All this same time they will not let me be
seeing him, nor yet him write; and we wait upon the King's street
to catch him; and now we give him his snuff as he goes by, and now
something else. And here is this son of trouble, Neil, son of
Duncan, has lost my four-penny piece that was to buy that snuff,
and James More must go wanting, and will think his daughter has
forgotten him."

I took sixpence from my pocket, gave it to Neil, and bade him go
about his errand. Then to her, "That sixpence came with me by
Balwhidder," said I.

"Ah!" she said, "you are a friend to the Gregara!"

"I would not like to deceive you, either," said I. "I know very
little of the Gregara and less of James More and his doings, but
since the while I have been standing in this close, I seem to know
something of yourself; and if you will just say 'a friend to Miss
Catriona' I will see you are the less cheated."

"The one cannot be without the other," said she.

"I will even try," said I.

"And what will you be thinking of myself!" she cried, "to be
holding my hand to the first stranger!"

"I am thinking nothing but that you are a good daughter," said I.

"I must not be without repaying it," she said; "where is it you

"To tell the truth, I am stopping nowhere yet," said I, "being not
full three hours in the city; but if you will give me your
direction, I will he no bold as come seeking my sixpence for

"Will I can trust you for that?" she asked.

"You need have little fear," said I.

"James More could not bear it else," said she. "I stop beyond the
village of Dean, on the north side of the water, with Mrs.
Drummond-Ogilvy of Allardyce, who is my near friend and will be
glad to thank you."

"You are to see me, then, so soon as what I have to do permits,"
said I; and, the remembrance of Alan rolling in again upon my mind,
I made haste to say farewell.

I could not but think, even as I did so, that we had made
extraordinary free upon short acquaintance, and that a really wise
young lady would have shown herself more backward. I think it was
the bank-porter that put me from this ungallant train of thought.

"I thoucht ye had been a lad of some kind o' sense," he began,
shooting out his lips. "Ye're no likely to gang far this gate. A
fule and his siller's shune parted. Eh, but ye're a green
callant!" he cried, "an' a veecious, tae! Cleikin' up wi'

"If you dare to speak of the young lady. . . " I began.

"Leddy!" he cried. "Haud us and safe us, whatten leddy? Ca' THON
a leddy? The toun's fu' o' them. Leddies! Man, its weel seen
ye're no very acquant in Embro!"

A clap of anger took me.

"Here," said I, "lead me where I told you, and keep your foul mouth

He did not wholly obey me, for, though he no more addressed me
directly, he very impudent sang at me as he went in a manner of
innuendo, and with an exceedingly ill voice and ear -

"As Mally Lee cam doun the street, her capuchin did flee,
She cuist a look ahint her to see her negligee.
And we're a' gaun east and wast, we're a' gann ajee,
We're a' gaun east and wast courtin' Mally Lee."


Mr. Charles Stewart the Writer dwelt at the top of the longest
stair ever mason set a hand to; fifteen flights of it, no less; and
when I had come to his door, and a clerk had opened it, and told me
his master was within, I had scarce breath enough to send my porter

"Awa' east and west wi' ye!" said I, took the money bag out of his
hands, and followed the clerk in.

The outer room was an office with the clerk's chair at a table
spread with law papers. In the inner chamber, which opened from
it, a little brisk man sat poring on a deed, from which he scarce
raised his eyes on my entrance; indeed, he still kept his finger in
the place, as though prepared to show me out and fall again to his
studies. This pleased me little enough; and what pleased me less,
I thought the clerk was in a good posture to overhear what should
pass between us.

I asked if he was Mr. Charles Stewart the Writer.

"The same," says he; "and, if the question is equally fair, who may
you be yourself?"

"You never heard tell of my name nor of me either," said I, "but I
bring you a token from a friend that you know well. That you know
well," I repeated, lowering my voice, "but maybe are not just so
keen to hear from at this present being. And the bits of business
that I have to propone to you are rather in the nature of being
confidential. In short, I would like to think we were quite

He rose without more words, casting down his paper like a man ill-
pleased, sent forth his clerk of an errand, and shut to the house-
door behind him.

"Now, sir," said he, returning, "speak out your mind and fear
nothing; though before you begin," he cries out, "I tell you mine
misgives me! I tell you beforehand, ye're either a Stewart or a
Stewart sent ye. A good name it is, and one it would ill-become my
father's son to lightly. But I begin to grue at the sound of it."

"My name is called Balfour," said I, "David Balfour of Shaws. As
for him that sent me, I will let his token speak." And I showed
the silver button.

"Put it in your pocket, sir!" cries he. "Ye need name no names.
The deevil's buckie, I ken the button of him! And de'il hae't!
Where is he now!"

I told him I knew not where Alan was, but he had some sure place
(or thought he had) about the north side, where he was to lie until
a ship was found for him; and how and where he had appointed to be
spoken with.

"It's been always my opinion that I would hang in a tow for this
family of mine," he cried, "and, dod! I believe the day's come
now! Get a ship for him, quot' he! And who's to pay for it? The
man's daft!"

"That is my part of the affair, Mr. Stewart," said I. "Here is a
bag of good money, and if more be wanted, more is to be had where
it came from."

"I needn't ask your politics," said he.

"Ye need not," said I, smiling, "for I'm as big a Whig as grows."

"Stop a bit, stop a bit," says Mr. Stewart. "What's all this? A
Whig? Then why are you here with Alan's button? and what kind of a
black-foot traffic is this that I find ye out in, Mr. Whig? Here
is a forfeited rebel and an accused murderer, with two hundred
pounds on his life, and ye ask me to meddle in his business, and
then tell me ye're a Whig! I have no mind of any such Whigs
before, though I've kent plenty of them."

"He's a forfeited rebel, the more's the pity," said I, "for the
man's my friend. I can only wish he had been better guided. And
an accused murderer, that he is too, for his misfortune; but
wrongfully accused."

"I hear you say so," said Stewart.

"More than you are to hear me say so, before long," said I. "Alan
Breck is innocent, and so is James."

"Oh!" says he, "the two cases hang together. If Alan is out, James
can never be in."

Hereupon I told him briefly of my acquaintance with Alan, of the
accident that brought me present at the Appin murder, and the
various passages of our escape among the heather, and my recovery
of my estate. "So, sir, you have now the whole train of these
events," I went on, "and can see for yourself how I come to be so
much mingled up with the affairs of your family and friends, which
(for all of our sakes) I wish had been plainer and less bloody.
You can see for yourself, too, that I have certain pieces of
business depending, which were scarcely fit to lay before a lawyer
chosen at random. No more remains, but to ask if you will
undertake my service?"

"I have no great mind to it; but coming as you do with Alan's
button, the choice is scarcely left me," said he. "What are your
instructions?" he added, and took up his pen.

"The first point is to smuggle Alan forth of this country," said I,
"but I need not be repeating that."

"I am little likely to forget it," said Stewart.

"The next thing is the bit money I am owing to Cluny," I went on.
"It would be ill for me to find a conveyance, but that should be no
stick to you. It was two pounds five shillings and three-halfpence
farthing sterling."

He noted it.

"Then," said I, "there's a Mr. Henderland, a licensed preacher and
missionary in Ardgour, that I would like well to get some snuff
into the hands of; and, as I daresay you keep touch with your
friends in Appin (so near by), it's a job you could doubtless
overtake with the other."

"How much snuff are we to say?" he asked.

"I was thinking of two pounds," said I.

"Two," said he.

"Then there's the lass Alison Hastie, in Lime Kilns," said I. "Her
that helped Alan and me across the Forth. I was thinking if I
could get her a good Sunday gown, such as she could wear with
decency in her degree, it would be an ease to my conscience; for
the mere truth is, we owe her our two lives."

"I am glad so see you are thrifty, Mr. Balfour," says he, making
his notes.

"I would think shame to be otherwise the first day of my fortune,"
said I. "And now, if you will compute the outlay and your own
proper charges, I would be glad to know if I could get some
spending-money back. It's not that I grudge the whole of it to get
Alan safe; it's not that I lack more; but having drawn so much the
one day, I think it would have a very ill appearance if I was back
again seeking, the next. Only be sure you have enough," I added,
"for I am very undesirous to meet with you again."

"Well, and I'm pleased to see you're cautious, too," said the
Writer. "But I think ye take a risk to lay so considerable a sum
at my discretion."

He said this with a plain sneer.

"I'll have to run the hazard," I replied. "O, and there's another
service I would ask, and that's to direct me to a lodging, for I
have no roof to my head. But it must be a lodging I may seem to
have hit upon by accident, for it would never do if the Lord
Advocate were to get any jealousy of our acquaintance."

"Ye may set your weary spirit at rest," said he. "I will never
name your name, sir; and it's my belief the Advocate is still so
much to be sympathised with that he doesnae ken of your existence."

I saw I had got to the wrong side of the man.

"There's a braw day coming for him, then," said I, "for he'll have
to learn of it on the deaf side of his head no later than to-
morrow, when I call on him."

"When ye CALL on him!" repeated Mr. Stewart. "Am I daft, or are
you! What takes ye near the Advocate!"

"O, just to give myself up," said I.

"Mr. Balfour," he cried, "are ye making a mock of me?"

"No, sir," said I, "though I think you have allowed yourself some
such freedom with myself. But I give you to understand once and
for all that I am in no jesting spirit."

"Nor yet me," says Stewart. "And I give yon to understand (if
that's to be the word) that I like the looks of your behaviour less
and less. You come here to me with all sorts of propositions,
which will put me in a train of very doubtful acts and bring me
among very undesirable persons this many a day to come. And then
you tell me you're going straight out of my office to make your
peace with the Advocate! Alan's button here or Alan's button
there, the four quarters of Alan wouldnae bribe me further in."

"I would take it with a little more temper," said I, "and perhaps
we can avoid what you object to. I can see no way for it but to
give myself up, but perhaps you can see another; and if you could,
I could never deny but what I would be rather relieved. For I
think my traffic with his lordship is little likely to agree with
my health. There's just the one thing clear, that I have to give
my evidence; for I hope it'll save Alan's character (what's left of
it), and James's neck, which is the more immediate."

He was silent for a breathing-space, and then, "My man," said he,
"you'll never be allowed to give such evidence."

"We'll have to see about that," said I; "I'm stiff-necked when I

"Ye muckle ass!" cried Stewart, "it's James they want; James has
got to hang--Alan, too, if they could catch him--but James
whatever! Go near the Advocate with any such business, and you'll
see! he'll find a way to muzzle, ye."

"I think better of the Advocate than that," said I.

"The Advocate be dammed!" cries he. "It's the Campbells, man!
You'll have the whole clanjamfry of them on your back; and so will
the Advocate too, poor body! It's extraordinar ye cannot see where
ye stand! If there's no fair way to stop your gab, there's a foul
one gaping. They can put ye in the dock, do ye no see that?" he
cried, and stabbed me with one finger in the leg.

"Ay," said I, "I was told that same no further back than this
morning by another lawyer."

"And who was he?" asked Stewart, "He spoke sense at least."

I told I must be excused from naming him, for he was a decent stout
old Whig, and had little mind to be mixed up in such affairs.

"I think all the world seems to be mixed up in it!" cries Stewart.
"But what said you?"

"I told him what had passed between Rankeillor and myself before
the house of Shaws.

"Well, and so ye will hang!" said he. "Ye'll hang beside James
Stewart. There's your fortune told."

"I hope better of it yet than that," said I; "but I could never
deny there was a risk."

"Risk!" says he, and then sat silent again. "I ought to thank you
for you staunchness to my friends, to whom you show a very good
spirit," he says, "if you have the strength to stand by it. But I
warn you that you're wading deep. I wouldn't put myself in your
place (me that's a Stewart born!) for all the Stewarts that ever
there were since Noah. Risk? ay, I take over-many; but to be tried
in court before a Campbell jury and a Campbell judge, and that in a
Campbell country and upon a Campbell quarrel--think what you like
of me, Balfour, it's beyond me."

"It's a different way of thinking, I suppose," said I; "I was
brought up to this one by my father before me."

"Glory to his bones! he has left a decent son to his name," says
he. "Yet I would not have you judge me over-sorely. My case is
dooms hard. See, sir, ye tell me ye're a Whig: I wonder what I
am. No Whig to be sure; I couldnae be just that. But--laigh in
your ear, man--I'm maybe no very keen on the other side."

"Is that a fact?" cried I. "It's what I would think of a man of
your intelligence."

"Hut! none of your whillywhas!" {4} cries he. "There's
intelligence upon both sides. But for my private part I have no
particular desire to harm King George; and as for King James, God
bless him! he does very well for me across the water. I'm a
lawyer, ye see: fond of my books and my bottle, a good plea, a
well-drawn deed, a crack in the Parliament House with other lawyer
bodies, and perhaps a turn at the golf on a Saturday at e'en.
Where do ye come in with your Hieland plaids and claymores?"

"Well," said I, "it's a fact ye have little of the wild

"Little?" quoth he. "Nothing, man! And yet I'm Hieland born, and
when the clan pipes, who but me has to dance! The clan and the
name, that goes by all. It's just what you said yourself; my
father learned it to me, and a bonny trade I have of it. Treason
and traitors, and the smuggling of them out and in; and the French
recruiting, weary fall it! and the smuggling through of the
recruits; and their pleas--a sorrow of their pleas! Here have I
been moving one for young Ardsheil, my cousin; claimed the estate
under the marriage contract--a forfeited estate! I told them it
was nonsense: muckle they cared! And there was I cocking behind a
yadvocate that liked the business as little as myself, for it was
fair ruin to the pair of us--a black mark, DISAFFECTED, branded on
our hurdies, like folk's names upon their kye! And what can I do?
I'm a Stewart, ye see, and must fend for my clan and family. Then
no later by than yesterday there was one of our Stewart lads
carried to the Castle. What for? I ken fine: Act of 1736:
recruiting for King Lewie. And you'll see, he'll whistle me in to
be his lawyer, and there'll be another black mark on my chara'ter!
I tell you fair: if I but kent the heid of a Hebrew word from the
hurdies of it, be dammed but I would fling the whole thing up and
turn minister!"

"It's rather a hard position," said I.

"Dooms hard!" cries he. "And that's what makes me think so much of
ye--you that's no Stewart--to stick your head so deep in Stewart
business. And for what, I do not know: unless it was the sense of

"I hope it will be that," said I.

"Well," says he, "it's a grand quality. But here is my clerk back;
and, by your leave, we'll pick a bit of dinner, all the three of
us. When that's done, I'll give you the direction of a very decent
man, that'll be very fain to have you for a lodger. And I'll fill
your pockets to ye, forbye, out of your ain bag. For this
business'll not be near as dear as ye suppose--not even the ship
part of it."

I made him a sign that his clerk was within hearing.

"Hoot, ye neednae mind for Robbie," cries he. "A Stewart, too,
puir deevil! and has smuggled out more French recruits and
trafficking Papists than what he has hairs upon his face. Why,
it's Robin that manages that branch of my affairs. Who will we
have now, Rob, for across the water!"

"There'll be Andie Scougal, in the Thristle," replied Rob. "I saw
Hoseason the other day, but it seems he's wanting the ship. Then
there'll be Tam Stobo; but I'm none so sure of Tam. I've seen him
colloguing with some gey queer acquaintances; and if was anybody
important, I would give Tam the go-by."

"The head's worth two hundred pounds, Robin," said Stewart.

"Gosh, that'll no be Alan Breck!" cried the clerk.

"Just Alan," said his master.

"Weary winds! that's sayrious," cried Robin. "I'll try Andie,
then; Andie'll be the best."

"It seems it's quite a big business," I observed.

"Mr. Balfour, there's no end to it," said Stewart.

"There was a name your clerk mentioned," I went on: "Hoseason.
That must be my man, I think: Hoseason, of the brig Covenant.
Would you set your trust on him?"

"He didnae behave very well to you and Alan," said Mr. Stewart;
"but my mind of the man in general is rather otherwise. If he had
taken Alan on board his ship on an agreement, it's my notion he
would have proved a just dealer. How say ye, Rob?"

"No more honest skipper in the trade than Eli," said the clerk. "I
would lippen to {5} Eli's word--ay, if it was the Chevalier, or
Appin himsel'," he added.

"And it was him that brought the doctor, wasnae't?" asked the

"He was the very man," said the clerk.

"And I think he took the doctor back?" says Stewart.

"Ay, with his sporran full!" cried Robin. "And Eli kent of that!"

"Well, it seems it's hard to ken folk rightly," said I.

"That was just what I forgot when ye came in, Mr. Balfour!" says
the Writer.


The next morning, I was no sooner awake in my new lodging than I
was up and into my new clothes; and no sooner the breakfast
swallowed, than I was forth on my adventurers. Alan, I could hope,
was fended for; James was like to be a more difficult affair, and I
could not but think that enterprise might cost me dear, even as
everybody said to whom I had opened my opinion. It seemed I was
come to the top of the mountain only to cast myself down; that I
had clambered up, through so many and hard trials, to be rich, to
be recognised, to wear city clothes and a sword to my side, all to
commit mere suicide at the last end of it, and the worst kind of
suicide, besides, which is to get hanged at the King's charges.

What was I doing it for? I asked, as I went down the high Street
and out north by Leith Wynd. First I said it was to save James
Stewart; and no doubt the memory of his distress, and his wife's
cries, and a word or so I had let drop on that occasion worked upon
me strongly. At the same time I reflected that it was (or ought to
be) the most indifferent matter to my father's son, whether James
died in his bed or from a scaffold. He was Alan's cousin, to be
sure; but so far as regarded Alan, the best thing would be to lie
low, and let the King, and his Grace of Argyll, and the corbie
crows, pick the bones of his kinsman their own way. Nor could I
forget that, while we were all in the pot together, James had shown
no such particular anxiety whether for Alan or me.

Next it came upon me I was acting for the sake of justice: and I
thought that a fine word, and reasoned it out that (since we dwelt
in polities, at some discomfort to each one of us) the main thing
of all must still be justice, and the death of any innocent man a
wound upon the whole community. Next, again, it was the Accuser of
the Brethren that gave me a turn of his argument; bade me think
shame for pretending myself concerned in these high matters, and
told me I was but a prating vain child, who had spoken big words to
Rankeillor and to Stewart, and held myself bound upon my vanity to
make good that boastfulness. Nay, and he hit me with the other end
of the stick; for he accused me of a kind of artful cowardice,
going about at the expense of a little risk to purchase greater
safety. No doubt, until I had declared and cleared myself, I might
any day encounter Mungo Campbell or the sheriff's officer, and be
recognised, and dragged into the Appin murder by the heels; and, no
doubt, in case I could manage my declaration with success, I should
breathe more free for ever after. But when I looked this argument
full in the face I could see nothing to be ashamed of. As for the
rest, "Here are the two roads," I thought, "and both go to the same
place. It's unjust that James should hang if I can save him; and
it would be ridiculous in me to have talked so much and then do
nothing. It's lucky for James of the Glens that I have boasted
beforehand; and none so unlucky for myself, because now I'm
committed to do right. I have the name of a gentleman and the
means of one; it would be a poor duty that I was wanting in the
essence." And then I thought this was a Pagan spirit, and said a
prayer in to myself, asking for what courage I might lack, and that
I might go straight to my duty like a soldier to battle, and come
off again scatheless, as so many do.

This train of reasoning brought me to a more resolved complexion;
though it was far from closing up my sense of the dangers that
surrounded me, nor of how very apt I was (if I went on) to stumble
on the ladder of the gallows. It was a plain, fair morning, but
the wind in the east. The little chill of it sang in my blood, and
gave me a feeling of the autumn, and the dead leaves, and dead
folks' bodies in their graves. It seemed the devil was in it, if I
was to die in that tide of my fortunes and for other folks'
affairs. On the top of the Calton Hill, though it was not the
customary time of year for that diversion, some children were
crying and running with their kites. These toys appeared very
plain against the sky; I remarked a great one soar on the wind to a
high altitude and then plump among the whins; and I thought to
myself at sight of it, "There goes Davie."

My way lay over Mouter's Hill, and through an end of a clachan on
the braeside among fields. There was a whirr of looms in it went
from house to house; bees bummed in the gardens; the neighbours
that I saw at the doorsteps talked in a strange tongue; and I found
out later that this was Picardy, a village where the French weavers
wrought for the Linen Company. Here I got a fresh direction for
Pilrig, my destination; and a little beyond, on the wayside, came
by a gibbet and two men hanged in chains. They were dipped in tar,
as the manner is; the wind span them, the chains clattered, and the
birds hung about the uncanny jumping-jacks and cried. The sight
coming on me suddenly, like an illustration of my fears, I could
scarce be done with examining it and drinking in discomfort. And,
as I thus turned and turned about the gibbet, what should I strike
on, but a weird old wife, that sat behind a leg of it, and nodded,
and talked aloud to herself with becks and courtesies.

"Who are these two, mother?" I asked, and pointed to the corpses.

"A blessing on your precious face!" she cried. "Twa joes {7}
o'mine: just two o' my old joes, my hinny dear."

"What did they suffer for?" I asked.

"Ou, just for the guid cause," said she. "Aften I spaed to them
the way that it would end. Twa shillin' Scots: no pickle mair;
and there are twa bonny callants hingin' for 't! They took it frae
a wean {8} belanged to Brouchton."

"Ay!" said I to myself, and not to the daft limmer, "and did they
come to such a figure for so poor a business? This is to lose all

"Gie's your loof, {9} hinny," says she, "and let me spae your weird
to ye."

"No, mother," said I, "I see far enough the way I am. It's an unco
thing to see too far in front."

"I read it in your bree," she said. "There's a bonnie lassie that
has bricht een, and there's a wee man in a braw coat, and a big man
in a pouthered wig, and there's the shadow of the wuddy, {10} joe,
that lies braid across your path. Gie's your loof, hinny, and let
Auld Merren spae it to ye bonny."

The two chance shots that seemed to point at Alan and the daughter
of James More struck me hard; and I fled from the eldritch
creature, casting her a baubee, which she continued to sit and play
with under the moving shadows of the hanged.

My way down the causeway of Leith Walk would have been more
pleasant to me but for this encounter. The old rampart ran among
fields, the like of them I had never seen for artfulness of
agriculture; I was pleased, besides, to be so far in the still
countryside; but the shackles of the gibbet clattered in my head;
and the mope and mows of the old witch, and the thought of the dead
men, hag-rode my spirits. To hang on a gallows, that seemed a hard
case; and whether a man came to hang there for two shillings Scots,
or (as Mr. Stewart had it) from the sense of duty, once he was
tarred and shackled and hung up, the difference seemed small.
There might David Balfour hang, and other lads pass on their
errands and think light of him; and old daft limmers sit at a leg-
foot and spae their fortunes; and the clean genty maids go by, and
look to the other aide, and hold a nose. I saw them plain, and
they had grey eyes, and their screens upon their heads were of the
Drummed colours.

I was thus in the poorest of spirits, though still pretty resolved,
when I came in view of Pilrig, a pleasant gabled house set by the
walkside among some brave young woods. The laird's horse was
standing saddled at the door as I came up, but himself was in the
study, where he received me in the midst of learned works and
musical instruments, for he was not only a deep philosopher but
much of a musician. He greeted me at first pretty well, and when
he had read Rankeillor's letter, placed himself obligingly at my

"And what is it, cousin David!" said he--"since it appears that we
are cousins--what is this that I can do for you! A word to
Prestongrange! Doubtless that is easily given. But what should be
the word?"

"Mr. Balfour," said I, "if I were to tell you my whole story the
way it fell out, it's my opinion (and it was Rankeillor's before
me) that you would be very little made up with it."

"I am sorry to hear this of you, kinsman," says he.

"I must not take that at your hands, Mr. Balfour," said I; "I have
nothing to my charge to make me sorry, or you for me, but just the
common infirmities of mankind. 'The guilt of Adam's first sin, the
want of original righteousness, and the corruption of my whole
nature,' so much I must answer for, and I hope I have been taught
where to look for help," I said; for I judged from the look of the
man he would think the better of me if I knew my questions. {11}
"But in the way of worldly honour I have no great stumble to
reproach myself with; and my difficulties have befallen me very
much against my will and (by all that I can see) without my fault.
My trouble is to have become dipped in a political complication,
which it is judged you would be blythe to avoid a knowledge of."

"Why, very well, Mr. David," he replied, "I am pleased to see you
are all that Rankeillor represented. And for what you say of
political complications, you do me no more than justice. It is my
study to be beyond suspicion, and indeed outside the field of it.
The question is," says he, "how, if I am to know nothing of the
matter, I can very well assist you?"

"Why sir," said I, "I propose you should write to his lordship,
that I am a young man of reasonable good family and of good means:
both of which I believe to be the case."

"I have Rankeillor's word for it," said Mr. Balfour, "and I count
that a warran-dice against all deadly."

"To which you might add (if you will take my word for so much) that
I am a good churchman, loyal to King George, and so brought up," I
went on.

"None of which will do you any harm," said Mr. Balfour.

"Then you might go on to say that I sought his lordship on a matter
of great moment, connected with His Majesty's service and the
administration of justice," I suggested.

"As I am not to hear the matter," says the laird, "I will not take
upon myself to qualify its weight. 'Great moment' therefore falls,
and 'moment' along with it. For the rest I might express myself
much as you propose."

"And then, sir," said I, and rubbed my neck a little with my thumb,
"then I would be very desirous if you could slip in a word that
might perhaps tell for my protection."

"Protection?" says he, "for your protection! Here is a phrase that
somewhat dampens me. If the matter be so dangerous, I own I would
be a little loath to move in it blindfold."

"I believe I could indicate in two words where the thing sticks,"
said I.

"Perhaps that would be the best," said he.

"Well, it's the Appin murder," said I.

He held up both his hands. "Sirs! sirs!" cried he.

I thought by the expression of his face and voice that I had lost
my helper.

"Let me explain. . ." I began.

"I thank you kindly, I will hear no more of it," says he. "I
decline in toto to hear more of it. For your name's sake and
Rankeillor's, and perhaps a little for your own, I will do what I
can to help you; but I will hear no more upon the facts. And it is
my first clear duty to warn you. These are deep waters, Mr. David,
and you are a young man. Be cautious and think twice."

"It is to be supposed I will have thought oftener than that, Mr.
Balfour," said I, "and I will direct your attention again to
Rankeillor's letter, where (I hope and believe) he has registered
his approval of that which I design."

"Well, well," said he; and then again, "Well, well! I will do what
I can for you." There with he took a pen and paper, sat a while in
thought, and began to write with much consideration. "I understand
that Rankeillor approved of what you have in mind?" he asked

"After some discussion, sir, he bade me to go forward in God's
name," said I.

"That is the name to go in," said Mr. Balfour, and resumed his
writing. Presently, he signed, re-read what he had written, and
addressed me again. "Now here, Mr. David," said he, "is a letter
of introduction, which I will seal without closing, and give into
your hands open, as the form requires. But, since I am acting in
the dark, I will just read it to you, so that you may see if it
will secure your end -

"PILRIG, August 26th, 1751.

"My Lord,--This is to bring to your notice my namesake and cousin,
David Balfour Esquire of Shaws, a young gentleman of unblemished
descent and good estate. He has enjoyed, besides, the more
valuable advantages of a godly training, and his political
principles are all that your lordship can desire. I am not in Mr.
Balfour's confidence, but I understand him to have a matter to
declare, touching His Majesty's service and the administration of
justice; purposes for which your Lordship's zeal is known. I
should add that the young gentleman's intention is known to and
approved by some of his friends, who will watch with hopeful
anxiety the event of his success or failure.

"Whereupon," continued Mr. Balfour, "I have subscribed myself with
the usual compliments. You observe I have said 'some of your
friends'; I hope you can justify my plural?"

"Perfectly, sir; my purpose is known and approved by more than
one," said I. "And your letter, which I take a pleasure to thank
you for, is all I could have hoped."

"It was all I could squeeze out," said he; "and from what I know of
the matter you design to meddle in, I can only pray God that it may
prove sufficient."


My kinsman kept me to a meal, "for the honour of the roof," he
said; and I believe I made the better speed on my return. I had no
thought but to be done with the next stage, and have myself fully
committed; to a person circumstanced as I was, the appearance of
closing a door on hesitation and temptation was itself extremely
tempting; and I was the more disappointed, when I came to
Prestongrange's house, to be informed he was abroad. I believe it
was true at the moment, and for some hours after; and then I have
no doubt the Advocate came home again, and enjoyed himself in a
neighbouring chamber among friends, while perhaps the very fact of
my arrival was forgotten. I would have gone away a dozen times,
only for this strong drawing to have done with my declaration out
of hand and be able to lay me down to sleep with a free conscience.
At first I read, for the little cabinet where I was left contained
a variety of books. But I fear I read with little profit; and the
weather falling cloudy, the dusk coming up earlier than usual, and
my cabinet being lighted with but a loophole of a window, I was at
last obliged to desist from this diversion (such as it was), and
pass the rest of my time of waiting in a very burthensome vacuity.
The sound of people talking in a near chamber, the pleasant note of
a harpsichord, and once the voice of a lady singing, bore me a kind
of company.

I do not know the hour, but the darkness was long come, when the
door of the cabinet opened, and I was aware, by the light behind
him, of a tall figure of a man upon the threshold. I rose at once.

"Is anybody there?" he asked. "Who in that?"

"I am bearer of a letter from the laird of Pilrig to the Lord
Advocate," said I.

"Have you been here long?" he asked.

"I would not like to hazard an estimate of how many hours," said I.

"It is the first I hear of it," he replied, with a chuckle. "The
lads must have forgotten you. But you are in the bit at last, for
I am Prestongrange."

So saying, he passed before me into the next room, whither (upon
his sign) I followed him, and where he lit a candle and took his
place before a business-table. It was a long room, of a good
proportion, wholly lined with books. That small spark of light in
a corner struck out the man's handsome person and strong face. He
was flushed, his eye watered and sparkled, and before he sat down I
observed him to sway back and forth. No doubt, he had been supping
liberally; but his mind and tongue were under full control.

"Well, sir, sit ye down," said he, "and let us see Pilrig's

He glanced it through in the beginning carelessly, looking up and
bowing when he came to my name; but at the last words I thought I
observed his attention to redouble, and I made sure he read them
twice. All this while you are to suppose my heart was beating, for
I had now crossed my Rubicon and was come fairly on the field of

"I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Balfour," he said,
when he had done. "Let me offer you a glass of claret."

"Under your favour, my lord, I think it would scarce be fair on
me," said I. "I have come here, as the letter will have mentioned,
on a business of some gravity to myself; and, as I am little used
with wine, I might be the sooner affected."

"You shall be the judge," said he. "But if you will permit, I
believe I will even have the bottle in myself."

He touched a bell, and a footman came, as at a signal, bringing
wine and glasses.

"You are sure you will not join me?" asked the Advocate. "Well,
here is to our better acquaintance! In what way can I serve you?"

"I should, perhaps, begin by telling you, my lord, that I am here
at your own pressing invitation," said I.

"You have the advantage of me somewhere," said he, "for I profess I
think I never heard of you before this evening."

"Right, my lord; the name is, indeed, new to you," said I. "And
yet you have been for some time extremely wishful to make my
acquaintance, and have declared the same in public."

"I wish you would afford me a clue," says he. "I am no Daniel."

"It will perhaps serve for such," said I, "that if I was in a
jesting humour--which is far from the case--I believe I might lay a
claim on your lordship for two hundred pounds."

"In what sense?" he inquired.

"In the sense of rewards offered for my person," said I.

He thrust away his glass once and for all, and sat straight up in
the chair where he had been previously lolling. "What am I to
understand?" said he.


"I recognise those words," said he, "which, if you have come here
with any ill-judged intention of amusing yourself, are like to
prove extremely prejudicial to your safety."

"My purpose in this," I replied, "is just entirely as serious as
life and death, and you have understood me perfectly. I am the boy
who was speaking with Glenure when he was shot."

"I can only suppose (seeing you here) that you claim to be
innocent," said he.

"The inference is clear," I said. "I am a very loyal subject to
King George, but if I had anything to reproach myself with, I would
have had more discretion than to walk into your den."

"I am glad of that," said he. "This horrid crime, Mr. Balfour, is
of a dye which cannot permit any clemency. Blood has been
barbarously shed. It has been shed in direct opposition to his
Majesty and our whole frame of laws, by those who are their known
and public oppugnants. I take a very high sense of this. I will
not deny that I consider the crime as directly personal to his

"And unfortunately, my lord," I added, a little drily, "directly
personal to another great personage who may be nameless."

"If you mean anything by those words, I must tell you I consider
them unfit for a good subject; and were they spoke publicly I
should make it my business to take note of them," said he. "You do
not appear to me to recognise the gravity of your situation, or you
would be more careful not to pejorate the same by words which
glance upon the purity of justice. Justice, in this country, and
in my poor hands, is no respecter of persons."

"You give me too great a share in my own speech, my lord," said I.
"I did but repeat the common talk of the country, which I have
heard everywhere, and from men of all opinions as I came along."

"When you are come to more discretion you will understand such talk
in not to be listened to, how much less repeated," says the
Advocate. "But I acquit you of an ill intention. That nobleman,
whom we all honour, and who has indeed been wounded in a near place
by the late barbarity, sits too high to be reached by these
aspersions. The Duke of Argyle--you see that I deal plainly with
you--takes it to heart as I do, and as we are both bound to do by
our judicial functions and the service of his Majesty; and I could
wish that all hands, in this ill age, were equally clean of family
rancour. But from the accident that this is a Campbell who has
fallen martyr to his duty--as who else but the Campbells have ever
put themselves foremost on that path?--I may say it, who am no
Campbell--and that the chief of that great house happens (for all
our advantages) to be the present head of the College of Justice,
small minds and disaffected tongues are set agog in every
changehouse in the country; and I find a young gentleman like Mr.
Balfour so ill-advised as to make himself their echo." So much he
spoke with a very oratorical delivery, as if in court, and then
declined again upon the manner of a gentleman. "All this apart,"
said he. "It now remains that I should learn what I am to do with

"I had thought it was rather I that should learn the same from your
lordship," said I.

"Ay, true," says the Advocate. "But, you see, you come to me well
recommended. There is a good honest Whig name to this letter,"
says he, picking it up a moment from the table. "And--extra-
judicially, Mr, Balfour--there is always the possibility of some
arrangement, I tell you, and I tell you beforehand that you may be
the more upon your guard, your fate lies with me singly. In such a
matter (be it said with reverence) I am more powerful than the
King's Majesty; and should you please me--and of course satisfy my
conscience--in what remains to be held of our interview, I tell you
it may remain between ourselves."

"Meaning how?" I asked.

"Why, I mean it thus, Mr. Balfour," said he, "that if you give
satisfaction, no soul need know so much as that you visited my
house; and you may observe that I do not even call my clerk."

I saw what way he was driving. "I suppose it is needless anyone
should be informed upon my visit," said I, "though the precise
nature of my gains by that I cannot see. I am not at all ashamed
of coming here."

"And have no cause to be," says he, encouragingly. "Nor yet (if
you are careful) to fear the consequences."

"My lord," said I, "speaking under your correction, I am not very
easy to be frightened."

"And I am sure I do not seek to frighten you," says he. "But to
the interrogation; and let me warn you to volunteer nothing beyond
the questions I shall ask you. It may consist very immediately
with your safety. I have a great discretion, it is true, but there
are bounds to it."

"I shall try to follow your lordship's advice," said I.

He spread a sheet of paper on the table and wrote a heading. "It
appears you were present, by the way, in the wood of Lettermore at
the moment of the fatal shot," he began. "Was this by accident?"

"By accident," said I.

"How came you in speech with Colin Campbell?" he asked.

"I was inquiring my way of him to Aucharn," I replied.

I observed he did not write this answer down.

"H'm, true," said he, "I had forgotten that. And do you know, Mr.
Balfour, I would dwell, if I were you, as little as might be on
your relations with these Stewarts. It might be found to
complicate our business. I am not yet inclined to regard these
matters as essential."

"I had thought, my lord, that all points of fact were equally
material in such a case," said I.

"You forget we are now trying these Stewarts," he replied, with
great significance. "If we should ever come to be trying you, it
will be very different; and I shall press these very questions that
I am now willing to glide upon. But to resume: I have it here in
Mr. Mungo Campbell's precognition that you ran immediately up the
brae. How came that?"

"Not immediately, my lord, and the cause was my seeing of the

"You saw him, then?"

"As plain as I see your lordship, though not so near hand."

"You know him?"

"I should know him again."

"In your pursuit you were not so fortunate, then, as to overtake

"I was not."

"Was he alone?"

"He was alone."

"There was no one else in that neighbourhood?"

"Alan Breck Stewart was not far off, in a piece of a wood."

The Advocate laid his pen down. "I think we are playing at cross
purposes," said he, "which you will find to prove a very ill
amusement for yourself."

"I content myself with following your lordship's advice, and
answering what I am asked," said I.

"Be so wise as to bethink yourself in time," said he, "I use you
with the most anxious tenderness, which you scarce seem to
appreciate, and which (unless you be more careful) may prove to be
in vain."

"I do appreciate your tenderness, but conceive it to be mistaken,"
I replied, with something of a falter, for I saw we were come to
grips at last. "I am here to lay before you certain information,
by which I shall convince you Alan had no hand whatever in the
killing of Glenure."

The Advocate appeared for a moment at a stick, sitting with pursed
lips, and blinking his eyes upon me like an angry cat. "Mr.
Balfour," he said at last, "I tell you pointedly you go an ill way
for your own interests."

"My lord," I said, "I am as free of the charge of considering my
own interests in this matter as your lordship. As God judges me, I
have but the one design, and that is to see justice executed and
the innocent go clear. If in pursuit of that I come to fall under
your lordship's displeasure, I must bear it as I may."

At this he rose from his chair, lit a second candle, and for a
while gazed upon me steadily. I was surprised to see a great
change of gravity fallen upon his face, and I could have almost
thought he was a little pale.

"You are either very simple, or extremely the reverse, and I see
that I must deal with you more confidentially," says he. "This is
a political case--ah, yes, Mr. Balfour! whether we like it or no,
the case is political--and I tremble when I think what issues may
depend from it. To a political case, I need scarce tell a young
man of your education, we approach with very different thoughts
from one which is criminal only. Salus populi suprema lex is a
maxim susceptible of great abuse, but it has that force which we
find elsewhere only in the laws of nature: I mean it has the force
of necessity. I will open this out to you, if you will allow me,
at more length. You would have me believe--"

"Under your pardon, my lord, I would have you to believe nothing
but that which I can prove," said I.

"Tut! tut; young gentleman," says he, "be not so pragmatical, and
suffer a man who might be your father (if it was nothing more) to
employ his own imperfect language, and express his own poor
thoughts, even when they have the misfortune not to coincide with
Mr. Balfour's. You would have me to believe Breck innocent. I
would think this of little account, the more so as we cannot catch
our man. But the matter of Breck's innocence shoots beyond itself.
Once admitted, it would destroy the whole presumptions of our case
against another and a very different criminal; a man grown old in
treason, already twice in arms against his king and already twice
forgiven; a fomentor of discontent, and (whoever may have fired the
shot) the unmistakable original of the deed in question. I need
not tell you that I mean James Stewart."

"And I can just say plainly that the innocence of Alan and of James
is what I am here to declare in private to your lordship, and what
I am prepared to establish at the trial by my testimony," said I.

"To which I can only answer by an equal plainness, Mr. Balfour,"
said he, "that (in that case) your testimony will not be called by
me, and I desire you to withhold it altogether."

"You are at the head of Justice in this country," I cried, "and you
propose to me a crime!"

"I am a man nursing with both hands the interests of this country,"
he replied, "and I press on you a political necessity. Patriotism
is not always moral in the formal sense. You might be glad of it,
I think: it is your own protection; the facts are heavy against
you; and if I am still trying to except you from a very dangerous
place, it is in part of course because I am not insensible to your
honesty in coming here; in part because of Pilrig's letter; but in
part, and in chief part, because I regard in this matter my
political duty first and my judicial duty only second. For the
same reason--I repeat it to you in the same frank words--I do not
want your testimony."

"I desire not to be thought to make a repartee, when I express only
the plain sense of our position," said I. "But if your lordship
has no need of my testimony, I believe the other side would be
extremely blythe to get it."

Prestongrange arose and began to pace to and fro in the room. "You
are not so young," he said, "but what you must remember very
clearly the year '45 and the shock that went about the country. I
read in Pilrig's letter that you are sound in Kirk and State. Who
saved them in that fatal year? I do not refer to His Royal
Highness and his ramrods, which were extremely useful in their day;
but the country had been saved and the field won before ever
Cumberland came upon Drummossie. Who saved it? I repeat; who
saved the Protestant religion and the whole frame of our civil
institutions? The late Lord President Culloden, for one; he played
a man's part, and small thanks he got for it--even as I, whom you
see before you, straining every nerve in the same service, look for
no reward beyond the conscience of my duties done. After the
President, who else? You know the answer as well as I do; 'tis
partly a scandal, and you glanced at it yourself, and I reproved
you for it, when you first came in. It was the Duke and the great
clan of Campbell. Now here is a Campbell foully murdered, and that
in the King's service. The Duke and I are Highlanders. But we are
Highlanders civilised, and it is not so with the great mass of our
clans and families. They have still savage virtues and defects.
They are still barbarians, like these Stewarts; only the Campbells
were barbarians on the right side, and the Stewarts were barbarians
on the wrong. Now be you the judge. The Campbells expect
vengeance. If they do not get it--if this man James escape--there
will be trouble with the Campbells. That means disturbance in the
Highlands, which are uneasy and very far from being disarmed: the
disarming is a farce. . ."

"I can bear you out in that," said I.

"Disturbance in the Highlands makes the hour of our old watchful
enemy," pursued his lordship, holding out a finger as he paced;
"and I give you my word we may have a '45 again with the Campbells
on the other side. To protect the life of this man Stewart--which
is forfeit already on half-a-dozen different counts if not on this-
-do you propose to plunge your country in war, to jeopardise the
faith of your fathers, and to expose the lives and fortunes of how
many thousand innocent persons? . . . These are considerations
that weigh with me, and that I hope will weigh no less with
yourself, Mr. Balfour, as a lover of your country, good government,
and religious truth."

"You deal with me very frankly, and I thank you for it," said I.
"I will try on my side to be no less honest. I believe your policy
to be sound. I believe these deep duties may lie upon your
lordship; I believe you may have laid them on your conscience when
you took the oath of the high office which you hold. But for me,
who am just a plain man--or scarce a man yet--the plain duties must
suffice. I can think but of two things, of a poor soul in the
immediate and unjust danger of a shameful death, and of the cries
and tears of his wife that still tingle in my head. I cannot see
beyond, my lord. It's the way that I am made. If the country has
to fall, it has to fall. And I pray God, if this be wilful
blindness, that He may enlighten me before too late."

He had heard me motionless, and stood so a while longer.

"This is an unexpected obstacle," says he, aloud, but to himself.

"And how is your lordship to dispose of me?" I asked.

"If I wished," said he, "you know that you might sleep in gaol?"

"My lord," said I, "I have slept in worse places."

"Well, my boy," said he, "there is one thing appears very plainly
from our interview, that I may rely on your pledged word. Give me
your honour that you will be wholly secret, not only on what has
passed to-night, but in the matter of the Appin case, and I let you
go free."

"I will give it till to-morrow or any other near day that you may
please to set," said I. "I would not be thought too wily; but if I
gave the promise without qualification your lordship would have
attained his end."

"I had no thought to entrap you," said he.

"I am sure of that," said I.

"Let me see," he continued. "To-morrow is the Sabbath. Come to me
on Monday by eight in the morning, and give me our promise until

"Freely given, my lord," said I. "And with regard to what has
fallen from yourself, I will give it for an long as it shall please
God to spare your days."

"You will observe," he said next, "that I have made no employment
of menaces."

"It was like your lordship's nobility," said I. "Yet I am not
altogether so dull but what I can perceive the nature of those you
have not uttered."

"Well," said he, "good-night to you. May you sleep well, for I
think it is more than I am like to do."

With that he sighed, took up a candle, and gave me his conveyance
as far as the street door.


The next day, Sabbath, August 27th, I had the occasion I had long
looked forward to, to hear some of the famous Edinburgh preachers,
all well known to me already by the report of Mr Campbell. Alas!
and I might just as well have been at Essendean, and sitting under
Mr. Campbell's worthy self! the turmoil of my thoughts, which dwelt
continually on the interview with Prestongrange, inhibiting me from
all attention. I was indeed much less impressed by the reasoning
of the divines than by the spectacle of the thronged congregation
in the churches, like what I imagined of a theatre or (in my then
disposition) of an assize of trial; above all at the West Kirk,
with its three tiers of galleries, where I went in the vain hope
that I might see Miss Drummond.

On the Monday I betook me for the first time to a barber's, and was
very well pleased with the result. Thence to the Advocate's, where
the red coats of the soldiers showed again about his door, making a
bright place in the close. I looked about for the young lady and
her gillies: there was never a sign of them. But I was no sooner
shown into the cabinet or antechamber where I had spent so wearyful
a time upon the Saturday, than I was aware of the tall figure of
James More in a corner. He seemed a prey to a painful uneasiness,
reaching forth his feet and hands, and his eyes speeding here and
there without rest about the walls of the small chamber, which
recalled to me with a sense of pity the man's wretched situation.
I suppose it was partly this, and partly my strong continuing
interest in his daughter, that moved me to accost him.

"Give you a good-morning, sir," said I.

"And a good-morning to you, sir," said he.

"You bide tryst with Prestongrange?" I asked.

"I do, sir, and I pray your business with that gentleman be more
agreeable than mine," was his reply.

"I hope at least that yours will be brief, for I suppose you pass
before me," said I.

"All pass before me," he said, with a shrug and a gesture upward of
the open hands. "It was not always so, sir, but times change. It
was not so when the sword was in the scale, young gentleman, and
the virtues of the soldier might sustain themselves."

There came a kind of Highland snuffle out of the man that raised my
dander strangely.

"Well, Mr. Macgregor," said I, "I understand the main thing for a
soldier is to be silent, and the first of his virtues never to

"You have my name, I perceive"--he bowed to me with his arms
crossed--"though it's one I must not use myself. Well, there is a
publicity--I have shown my face and told my name too often in the
beards of my enemies. I must not wonder if both should be known to
many that I know not."

"That you know not in the least, sir," said I, "nor yet anybody
else; but the name I am called, if you care to hear it, is

"It is a good name," he replied, civilly; "there are many decent
folk that use it. And now that I call to mind, there was a young
gentleman, your namesake, that marched surgeon in the year '45 with
my battalion."

"I believe that would be a brother to Balfour of Baith," said I,
for I was ready for the surgeon now.

"The same, sir," said James More. "And since I have been fellow-
soldier with your kinsman, you must suffer me to grasp your hand."

He shook hands with me long and tenderly, beaming on me the while
as though he had found a brother.

"Ah!" says he, "these are changed days since your cousin and I
heard the balls whistle in our lugs."

"I think he was a very far-away cousin," said I, drily, "and I
ought to tell you that I never clapped eyes upon the man."

"Well, well," said he, "it makes no change. And you--I do not
think you were out yourself, sir--I have no clear mind of your
face, which is one not probable to be forgotten."

"In the year you refer to, Mr. Macgregor, I was getting skelped in
the parish school," said I.

"So young!" cries he. "Ah, then, you will never be able to think
what this meeting is to me. In the hour of my adversity, and here
in the house of my enemy, to meet in with the blood of an old
brother-in-arms--it heartens me, Mr. Balfour, like the skirting of
the highland pipes! Sir, this is a sad look back that many of us
have to make: some with falling tears. I have lived in my own
country like a king; my sword, my mountains, and the faith of my
friends and kinsmen sufficed for me. Now I lie in a stinking
dungeon; and do you know, Mr. Balfour," he went on, taking my arm
and beginning to lead me about, "do you know, sir, that I lack mere
neCESSaries? The malice of my foes has quite sequestered my
resources. I lie, as you know, sir, on a trumped-up charge, of
which I am as innocent as yourself. They dare not bring me to my
trial, and in the meanwhile I am held naked in my prison. I could
have wished it was your cousin I had met, or his brother Baith
himself. Either would, I know, have been rejoiced to help me;
while a comparative stranger like yourself--"

I would be ashamed to set down all he poured out to me in this
beggarly vein, or the very short and grudging answers that I made
to him. There were times when I was tempted to stop his mouth with
some small change; but whether it was from shame or pride--whether
it was for my own sake or Catriona's--whether it was because I
thought him no fit father for his daughter, or because I resented
that grossness of immediate falsity that clung about the man
himself--the thing was clean beyond me. And I was still being
wheedled and preached to, and still being marched to and fro, three
steps and a turn, in that small chamber, and had already, by some
very short replies, highly incensed, although not finally
discouraged, my beggar, when Prestongrange appeared in the doorway
and bade me eagerly into his big chamber.

"I have a moment's engagements," said he; "and that you may not sit
empty-handed I am going to present you to my three braw daughters,
of whom perhaps you may have heard, for I think they are more
famous than papa. This way."

He led me into another long room above, where a dry old lady sat at
a frame of embroidery, and the three handsomest young women (I
suppose) in Scotland stood together by a window.

"This is my new friend, Mr Balfour," said he, presenting me by the
arm, "David, here is my sister, Miss Grant, who is so good as keep
my house for me, and will be very pleased if she can help you. And
here," says he, turning to the three younger ladies, "here are my
THREE BRAW DAUCHTERS. A fair question to ye, Mr. Davie: which of
the three is the best favoured? And I wager he will never have the
impudence to propound honest Alan Ramsay's answer!"

Hereupon all three, and the old Miss Grant as well, cried out
against this sally, which (as I was acquainted with the verses he
referred to) brought shame into my own check. It seemed to me a
citation unpardonable in a father, and I was amazed that these
ladies could laugh even while they reproved, or made believe to.

Under cover of this mirth, Prestongrange got forth of the chamber,
and I was left, like a fish upon dry land, in that very unsuitable
society. I could never deny, in looking back upon what followed,
that I was eminently stockish; and I must say the ladies were well
drilled to have so long a patience with me. The aunt indeed sat
close at her embroidery, only looking now and again and smiling;
but the misses, and especially the eldest, who was besides the most
handsome, paid me a score of attentions which I was very ill able
to repay. It was all in vain to tell myself I was a young follow
of some worth as well as a good estate, and had no call to feel
abashed before these lasses, the eldest not so much older than
myself, and no one of them by any probability half as learned.
Reasoning would not change the fact; and there were times when the
colour came into my face to think I was shaved that day for the
first time.

The talk going, with all their endeavours, very heavily, the eldest
took pity on my awkwardness, sat down to her instrument, of which
she was a passed mistress, and entertained me for a while with
playing and singing, both in the Scots and in the Italian manners;
this put me more at my ease, and being reminded of Alan's air that
he had taught me in the hole near Carriden, I made so bold as to
whistle a bar or two, and ask if she knew that.

She shook her head. "I never heard a note of it," said she.
"Whistle it all through. And now once again," she added, after I
had done so.

Then she picked it out upon the keyboard, and (to my surprise)
instantly enriched the same with well-sounding chords, and sang, as
she played, with a very droll expression and broad accent -

"Haenae I got just the lilt of it?
Isnae this the tune that ye whustled?"

"You see," she says, "I can do the poetry too, only it won't rhyme.
And then again:

"I am Miss Grant, sib to the Advocate:
You, I believe, are Dauvit Balfour."

I told her how much astonished I was by her genius.

"And what do you call the name of it?" she asked.

"I do not know the real name," said I. "I just call it Alan's

She looked at me directly in the face. "I shall call it David's
air," said she; "though if it's the least like what your namesake
of Israel played to Saul I would never wonder that the king got
little good by it, for it's but melancholy music. Your other name
I do not like; so if you was ever wishing to hear your tune again
you are to ask for it by mine."

This was said with a significance that gave my heart a jog. "Why
that, Miss Grant?" I asked.

"Why," says she, "if ever you should come to get hanged, I will set
your last dying speech and confession to that tune and sing it."

This put it beyond a doubt that she was partly informed of my story
and peril. How, or just how much, it was more difficult to guess.
It was plain she knew there was something of danger in the name of
Alan, and thus warned me to leave it out of reference; and plain
she knew that I stood under some criminal suspicion. I judged
besides that the harshness of her last speech (which besides she
had followed up immediately with a very noisy piece of music) was
to put an end to the present conversation. I stood beside her,
affecting to listen and admire, but truly whirled away by my own
thoughts. I have always found this young lady to be a lover of the
mysterious; and certainly this first interview made a mystery that
was beyond my plummet. One thing I learned long after, the hours
of the Sunday had been well employed, the bank porter had been
found and examined, my visit to Charles Stewart was discovered, and
the deduction made that I was pretty deep with James and Alan, and
most likely in a continued correspondence with the last. Hence
this broad hint that was given me across the harpsichord.

In the midst of the piece of music, one of the younger misses, who
was at a window over the close, cried on her sisters to come quick,
for there was "Grey eyes again." The whole family trooped there at
once, and crowded one another for a look. The window whither they
ran was in an odd corner of that room, gave above the entrance
door, and flanked up the close.

"Come, Mr. Balfour," they cried, "come and see. She is the most
beautiful creature! She hangs round the close-head these last
days, always with some wretched-like gillies, and yet seems quite a

I had no need to look; neither did I look twice, or long. I was
afraid she might have seen me there, looking down upon her from
that chamber of music, and she without, and her father in the same
house, perhaps begging for his life with tears, and myself come but
newly from rejecting his petitions. But even that glance set me in
a better conceit of myself and much less awe of the young ladies.
They were beautiful, that was beyond question, but Catriona was
beautiful too, and had a kind of brightness in her like a coal of
fire. As much as the others cast me down, she lifted me up. I
remembered I had talked easily with her. If I could make no hand
of it with these fine maids, it was perhaps something their own
fault. My embarrassment began to be a little mingled and lightened
with a sense of fun; and when the aunt smiled at me from her
embroidery, and the three daughters unbent to me like a baby, all
with "papa's orders" written on their faces, there were times when
I could have found it in my heart to smile myself.

Presently papa returned, the same kind, happy-like, pleasant-spoken

"Now, girls," said he, "I must take Mr. Balfour away again; but I
hope you have been able to persuade him to return where I shall be
always gratified to find him."

So they each made me a little farthing compliment, and I was led

If this visit to the family had been meant to soften my resistance,
it was the worst of failures. I was no such ass but what I
understood how poor a figure I had made, and that the girls would
be yawning their jaws off as soon as my stiff back was turned. I
felt I had shown how little I had in me of what was soft and
graceful; and I longed for a chance to prove that I had something
of the other stuff, the stern and dangerous.

Well, I was to be served to my desire, for the scene to which he
was conducting me was of a different character.


There was a man waiting us in Prestongrange's study, whom I
distasted at the first look, as we distaste a ferret or an earwig.
He was bitter ugly, but seemed very much of a gentleman; had still
manners, but capable of sudden leaps and violences; and a small
voice, which could ring out shrill and dangerous when he so

The Advocate presented us in a familiar, friendly way.

"Here, Fraser," said he, "here is Mr. Balfour whom we talked about.
Mr. David, this is Mr. Simon Fraser, whom we used to call by
another title, but that is an old song. Mr. Fraser has an errand
to you."

With that he stepped aside to his book-shelves, and made believe to
consult a quarto volume in the far end.

I was thus left (in a sense) alone with perhaps the last person in
the world I had expected. There was no doubt upon the terms of
introduction; this could be no other than the forfeited Master of
Lovat and chief of the great clan Fraser. I knew he had led his
men in the Rebellion; I knew his father's head--my old lord's, that
grey fox of the mountains--to have fallen on the block for that
offence, the lands of the family to have been seized, and their
nobility attainted. I could not conceive what he should be doing
in Grant's house; I could not conceive that he had been called to
the bar, had eaten all his principles, and was now currying favour
with the Government even to the extent of acting Advocate-Depute in
the Appin murder.

"Well, Mr. Balfour," said he, "what is all this I hear of ye?"

"It would not become me to prejudge," said I, "but if the Advocate
was your authority he is fully possessed of my opinions."

"I may tell you I am engaged in the Appin case," he went on; "I am
to appear under Prestongrange; and from my study of the
precognitions I can assure you your opinions are erroneous. The
guilt of Breck is manifest; and your testimony, in which you admit
you saw him on the hill at the very moment, will certify his

"It will be rather ill to hang him till you catch him," I observed.
"And for other matters I very willingly leave you to your own

"The Duke has been informed," he went on. "I have just come from
his Grace, and he expressed himself before me with an honest
freedom like the great nobleman he is. He spoke of you by name,
Mr. Balfour, and declared his gratitude beforehand in case you
would be led by those who understand your own interests and those
of the country so much better than yourself. Gratitude is no empty
expression in that mouth: experto-crede. I daresay you know
something of my name and clan, and the damnable example and
lamented end of my late father, to say nothing of my own errata.
Well, I have made my peace with that good Duke; he has intervened
for me with our friend Prestongrange; and here I am with my foot in
the stirrup again and some of the responsibility shared into my
hand of prosecuting King George's enemies and avenging the late
daring and barefaced insult to his Majesty."

"Doubtless a proud position for your father's son," says I.

He wagged his bald eyebrows at me. "You are pleased to make
experiments in the ironical, I think," said he. "But I am here
upon duty, I am here to discharge my errand in good faith, it is in
vain you think to divert me. And let me tell you, for a young
fellow of spirit and ambition like yourself, a good shove in the
beginning will do more than ten years' drudgery. The shove is now
at your command; choose what you will to be advanced in, the Duke
will watch upon you with the affectionate disposition of a father."

"I am thinking that I lack the docility of the son," says I.

"And do you really suppose, sir, that the whole policy of this
country is to be suffered to trip up and tumble down for an ill-
mannered colt of a boy?" he cried. "This has been made a test
case, all who would prosper in the future must put a shoulder to
the wheel. Look at me! Do you suppose it is for my pleasure that
I put myself in the highly invidious position of persecuting a man
that I have drawn the sword alongside of? The choice is not left

"But I think, sir, that you forfeited your choice when you mixed in
with that unnatural rebellion," I remarked. "My case is happily
otherwise; I am a true man, and can look either the Duke or King
George in the face without concern."

"Is it so the wind sits?" says he. "I protest you are fallen in
the worst sort of error. Prestongrange has been hitherto so civil
(he tells me) as not to combat your allegations; but you must not
think they are not looked upon with strong suspicion. You say you
are innocent. My dear sir, the facts declare you guilty."

"I was waiting for you there," said I.

"The evidence of Mungo Campbell; your flight after the completion
of the murder; your long course of secresy--my good young man!"
said Mr. Simon, "here is enough evidence to hang a bullock, let be
a David Balfour! I shall be upon that trial; my voice shall be
raised; I shall then speak much otherwise from what I do to-day,
and far less to your gratification, little as you like it now! Ah,
you look white!" cries he. "I have found the key of your impudent
heart. You look pale, your eyes waver, Mr. David! You see the
grave and the gallows nearer by than you had fancied."

"I own to a natural weakness," said I. "I think no shame for that.
Shame. . ." I was going on.

"Shame waits for you on the gibbet," he broke in.

"Where I shall but be even'd with my lord your father," said I.

"Aha, but not so!" he cried, "and you do not yet see to the bottom
of this business. My father suffered in a great cause, and for
dealing in the affairs of kings. You are to hang for a dirty
murder about boddle-pieces. Your personal part in it, the
treacherous one of holding the poor wretch in talk, your
accomplices a pack of ragged Highland gillies. And it can be
shown, my great Mr. Balfour--it can be shown, and it WILL be shown,
trust ME that has a finger in the pie--it can be shown, and shall
be shown, that you were paid to do it. I think I can see the looks
go round the court when I adduce my evidence, and it shall appear
that you, a young man of education, let yourself be corrupted to
this shocking act for a suit of cast clothes, a bottle of Highland
spirits, and three-and-fivepence-halfpenny in copper money."

There was a touch of the truth in these words that knocked me like
a blow: clothes, a bottle of usquebaugh, and three-and-fivepence-
halfpenny in change made up, indeed, the most of what Alan and I
had carried from Auchurn; and I saw that some of James's people had
been blabbing in their dungeons.

"You see I know more than you fancied," he resumed in triumph.
"And as for giving it this turn, great Mr. David, you must not
suppose the Government of Great Britain and Ireland will ever be
stuck for want of evidence. We have men here in prison who will
swear out their lives as we direct them; as I direct, if you prefer
the phrase. So now you are to guess your part of glory if you
choose to die. On the one hand, life, wine, women, and a duke to
be your handgun: on the other, a rope to your craig, and a gibbet
to clatter your bones on, and the lousiest, lowest story to hand
down to your namesakes in the future that was ever told about a
hired assassin. And see here!" he cried, with a formidable shrill
voice, "see this paper that I pull out of my pocket. Look at the
name there: it is the name of the great David, I believe, the ink
scarce dry yet. Can you guess its nature? It is the warrant for
your arrest, which I have but to touch this bell beside me to have
executed on the spot. Once in the Tolbooth upon this paper, may
God help you, for the die is cast!"

I must never deny that I was greatly horrified by so much baseness,
and much unmanned by the immediacy and ugliness of my danger. Mr.
Simon had already gloried in the changes of my hue; I make no doubt
I was now no ruddier than my shirt; my speech besides trembled.

"There is a gentleman in this room," cried I. "I appeal to him. I
put my life and credit in his hands."

Prestongrange shut his book with a snap. "I told you so, Simon,"
said he; "you have played your hand for all it was worth, and you
have lost. Mr. David," he went on, "I wish you to believe it was
by no choice of mine you were subjected to this proof. I wish you
could understand how glad I am you should come forth from it with
so much credit. You may not quite see how, but it is a little of a
service to myself. For had our friend here been more successful
than I was last night, it might have appeared that he was a better
judge of men than I; it might have appeared we were altogether in
the wrong situations, Mr. Simon and myself. And I know our friend
Simon to be ambitious," says he, striking lightly on Fraser's
shoulder. "As for this stage play, it is over; my sentiments are
very much engaged in your behalf; and whatever issue we can find to
this unfortunate affair, I shall make it my business to see it is
adopted with tenderness to you."

These were very good words, and I could see besides that there was
little love, and perhaps a spice of genuine ill-will, between these
two who were opposed to me. For all that, it was unmistakable this
interview had been designed, perhaps rehearsed, with the consent of
both; it was plain my adversaries were in earnest to try me by all
methods; and now (persuasion, flattery, and menaces having been
tried in vain) I could not but wonder what would be their next
expedient. My eyes besides were still troubled, and my knees loose
under me, with the distress of the late ordeal; and I could do no
more than stammer the same form of words: "I put my life and
credit in your hands."

"Well, well," said he, "we must try to save them. And in the
meanwhile let us return to gentler methods. You must not bear any

Book of the day: