Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Catriona by Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 2 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.

grudge upon my friend, Mr. Simon, who did but speak by his brief.
And even if you did conceive some malice against myself, who stood
by and seemed rather to hold a candle, I must not let that extend
to innocent members of my family. These are greatly engaged to see
more of you, and I cannot consent to have my young womenfolk
disappointed. To-morrow they will be going to Hope Park, where I
think it very proper you should make your bow. Call for me first,
when I may possibly have something for your private hearing; then
you shall be turned abroad again under the conduct of my misses;
and until that time repeat to me your promise of secrecy."

I had done better to have instantly refused, but in truth I was
beside the power of reasoning; did as I was bid; took my leave I
know not how; and when I was forth again in the close, and the door
had shut behind me, was glad to lean on a house wall and wipe my
face. That horrid apparition (as I may call it) of Mr. Simon rang
in my memory, as a sudden noise rings after it is over in the ear.
Tales of the man's father, of his falseness, of his manifold
perpetual treacheries, rose before me from all that I had heard and
read, and joined on with what I had just experienced of himself.
Each time it occurred to me, the ingenious foulness of that calumny
he had proposed to nail upon my character startled me afresh. The
case of the man upon the gibbet by Leith Walk appeared scarce
distinguishable from that I was now to consider as my own. To rob
a child of so little more than nothing was certainly a paltry
enterprise for two grown men; but my own tale, as it was to be
represented in a court by Simon Fraser, appeared a fair second in
every possible point of view of sordidness and cowardice.

The voices of two of Prestongrange's liveried men upon his doorstep
recalled me to myself.

"Ha'e," said the one, "this billet as fast as ye can link to the

"Is that for the cateran back again?" asked the other.

"It would seem sae," returned the first. "Him and Simon are
seeking him."

"I think Prestongrange is gane gyte," says the second. "He'll have
James More in bed with him next."

"Weel, it's neither your affair nor mine's," said the first.

And they parted, the one upon his errand, and the other back into
the house.

This looked as ill as possible. I was scarce gone and they were
sending already for James More, to whom I thought Mr. Simon must
have pointed when he spoke of men in prison and ready to redeem
their lives by all extremities. My scalp curdled among my hair,
and the next moment the blood leaped in me to remember Catriona.
Poor lass! her father stood to be hanged for pretty indefensible
misconduct. What was yet more unpalatable, it now seemed he was
prepared to save his four quarters by the worst of shame and the
most foul of cowardly murders--murder by the false oath; and to
complete our misfortunes, it seemed myself was picked out to be the

I began to walk swiftly and at random, conscious only of a desire
for movement, air, and the open country.


I came forth, I vow I know not how, on the Lang Dykes {12}. This
is a rural road which runs on the north side over against the city.
Thence I could see the whole black length of it tail down, from
where the castle stands upon its crags above the loch in a long
line of spires and gable ends, and smoking chimneys, and at the
sight my heart swelled in my bosom. My youth, as I have told, was
already inured to dangers; but such danger as I had seen the face
of but that morning, in the midst of what they call the safety of a
town, shook me beyond experience. Peril of slavery, peril of
shipwreck, peril of sword and shot, I had stood all of these
without discredit; but the peril there was in the sharp voice and
the fat face of Simon, property Lord Lovat, daunted me wholly.

I sat by the lake side in a place where the rushes went down into
the water, and there steeped my wrists and laved my temples. If I
could have done so with any remains of self-esteem, I would now
have fled from my foolhardy enterprise. But (call it courage or
cowardice, and I believe it was both the one and the other) I
decided I was ventured out beyond the possibility of a retreat. I
had out-faced these men, I would continue to out-face them; come
what might, I would stand by the word spoken.

The sense of my own constancy somewhat uplifted my spirits, but not
much. At the best of it there was an icy place about my heart, and
life seemed a black business to be at all engaged in. For two
souls in particular my pity flowed. The one was myself, to be so
friendless and lost among dangers. The other was the girl, the
daughter of James More. I had seen but little of her; yet my view
was taken and my judgment made. I thought her a lass of a clean
honour, like a man's; I thought her one to die of a disgrace; and
now I believed her father to be at that moment bargaining his vile
life for mine. It made a bond in my thoughts betwixt the girl and
me. I had seen her before only as a wayside appearance, though one
that pleased me strangely; I saw her now in a sudden nearness of
relation, as the daughter of my blood foe, and I might say, my
murderer. I reflected it was hard I should be so plagued and
persecuted all my days for other folks' affairs, and have no manner
of pleasure myself. I got meals and a bed to sleep in when my
concerns would suffer it; beyond that my wealth was of no help to
me. If I was to hang, my days were like to be short; if I was not
to hang but to escape out of this trouble, they might yet seem long
to me ere I was done with them. Of a sudden her face appeared in
my memory, the way I had first seen it, with the parted lips; at
that, weakness came in my bosom and strength into my legs; and I
set resolutely forward on the way to Dean. If I was to hang to-
morrow, and it was sure enough I might very likely sleep that night
in a dungeon, I determined I should hear and speak once more with

The exercise of walking and the thought of my destination braced me
yet more, so that I began to pluck up a kind of spirit. In the
village of Dean, where it sits in the bottom of a glen beside the
river, I inquired my way of a miller's man, who sent me up the hill
upon the farther side by a plain path, and so to a decent-like
small house in a garden of lawns and apple-trees. My heart beat
high as I stepped inside the garden hedge, but it fell low indeed
when I came face to face with a grim and fierce old lady, walking
there in a white mutch with a man's hat strapped upon the top of

"What do ye come seeking here?" she asked.

I told her I was after Miss Drummond.

"And what may be your business with Miss Drummond?" says she.

I told her I had met her on Saturday last, had been so fortunate as
to render her a trifling service, and was come now on the young
lady's invitation.

"O, so you're Saxpence!" she cried, with a very sneering manner.
"A braw gift, a bonny gentleman. And hae ye ony ither name and
designation, or were ye bapteesed Saxpence?" she asked.

I told my name.

"Preserve me!" she cried. "Has Ebenezer gotten a son?"

"No, ma'am," said I. "I am a son of Alexander's. It's I that am
the Laird of Shaws."

"Ye'll find your work cut out for ye to establish that," quoth she.

"I perceive you know my uncle," said I; "and I daresay you may be
the better pleased to hear that business is arranged."

"And what brings ye here after Miss Drummond?" she pursued.

"I'm come after my saxpence, mem," said I. "It's to be thought,
being my uncle's nephew, I would be found a careful lad."

"So ye have a spark of sleeness in ye?" observed the old lady, with
some approval. "I thought ye had just been a cuif--you and your
saxpence, and your LUCKY DAY and your SAKE OF BALWHIDDER"--from
which I was gratified to learn that Catriona had not forgotten some
of our talk. "But all this is by the purpose," she resumed. "Am I
to understand that ye come here keeping company?"

"This is surely rather an early question," said I. "The maid is
young, so am I, worse fortune. I have but seen her the once. I'll
not deny," I added, making up my mind to try her with some
frankness, "I'll not deny but she has run in my head a good deal
since I met in with her. That is one thing; but it would be quite
another, and I think I would look very like a fool, to commit

"You can speak out of your mouth, I see," said the old lady.
"Praise God, and so can I! I was fool enough to take charge of
this rogue's daughter: a fine charge I have gotten; but it's mine,
and I'll carry it the way I want to. Do ye mean to tell me, Mr.
Balfour of Shaws, that you would marry James More's daughter, and
him hanged! Well, then, where there's no possible marriage there
shall be no manner of carryings on, and take that for said. Lasses
are bruckle things," she added, with a nod; "and though ye would
never think it by my wrunkled chafts, I was a lassie mysel', and a
bonny one."

"Lady Allardyce," said I, "for that I suppose to be your name, you
seem to do the two sides of the talking, which is a very poor
manner to come to an agreement. You give me rather a home thrust
when you ask if I would marry, at the gallow's foot, a young lady
whom I have seen but once. I have told you already I would never
be so untenty as to commit myself. And yet I'll go some way with
you. If I continue to like the lass as well as I have reason to
expect, it will be something more than her father, or the gallows
either, that keeps the two of us apart. As for my family, I found
it by the wayside like a lost bawbee! I owe less than nothing to
my uncle and if ever I marry, it will be to please one person:
that's myself."

"I have heard this kind of talk before ye were born," said Mrs.
Ogilvy, "which is perhaps the reason that I think of it so little.
There's much to be considered. This James More is a kinsman of
mine, to my shame be it spoken. But the better the family, the
mair men hanged or headed, that's always been poor Scotland's
story. And if it was just the hanging! For my part I think I
would be best pleased with James upon the gallows, which would be
at least an end to him. Catrine's a good lass enough, and a good-
hearted, and lets herself be deaved all day with a runt of an auld
wife like me. But, ye see, there's the weak bit. She's daft about
that long, false, fleeching beggar of a father of hers, and red-mad
about the Gregara, and proscribed names, and King James, and a
wheen blethers. And you might think ye could guide her, ye would
find yourself sore mista'en. Ye say ye've seen her but the once. .

"Spoke with her but the once, I should have said," I interrupted.
"I saw her again this morning from a window at Prestongrange's."

This I daresay I put in because it sounded well; but I was properly
paid for my ostentation on the return.

"What's this of it?" cries the old lady, with a sudden pucker of
her face. "I think it was at the Advocate's door-cheek that ye met
her first."

I told her that was so.

"H'm," she said; and then suddenly, upon rather a scolding tone, "I
have your bare word for it," she cries, "as to who and what you
are. By your way of it, you're Balfour of the Shaws; but for what
I ken you may be Balfour of the Deevil's oxter. It's possible ye
may come here for what ye say, and it's equally possible ye may
come here for deil care what! I'm good enough Whig to sit quiet,
and to have keepit all my men-folk's heads upon their shoulders.
But I'm not just a good enough Whig to be made a fool of neither.
And I tell you fairly, there's too much Advocate's door and
Advocate's window here for a man that comes taigling after a
Macgregor's daughter. Ye can tell that to the Advocate that sent
ye, with my fond love. And I kiss my loof to ye, Mr. Balfour,"
says she, suiting the action to the word; "and a braw journey to ye
back to where ye cam frae."

"If you think me a spy," I broke out, and speech stuck in my
throat. I stood and looked murder at the old lady for a space,
then bowed and turned away.

"Here! Hoots! The callant's in a creel!" she cried. "Think ye a
spy? what else would I think ye--me that kens naething by ye? But
I see that I was wrong; and as I cannot fight, I'll have to
apologise. A bonny figure I would be with a broadsword. Ay! ay!"
she went on, "you're none such a bad lad in your way; I think ye'll
have some redeeming vices. But, O! Davit Balfour, ye're damned
countryfeed. Ye'll have to win over that, lad; ye'll have to
soople your back-bone, and think a wee pickle less of your dainty
self; and ye'll have to try to find out that women-folk are nae
grenadiers. But that can never be. To your last day you'll ken no
more of women-folk than what I do of sow-gelding."

I had never been used with such expressions from a lady's tongue,
the only two ladies I had known, Mrs. Campbell and my mother, being
most devout and most particular women; and I suppose my amazement
must have been depicted in my countenance, for Mrs. Ogilvy burst
forth suddenly in a fit of laughter.

"Keep me!" she cried, struggling with her mirth, "you have the
finest timber face--and you to marry the daughter of a Hieland
cateran! Davie, my dear, I think we'll have to make a match of it-
-if it was just to see the weans. And now," she went on, "there's
no manner of service in your daidling here, for the young woman is
from home, and it's my fear that the old woman is no suitable
companion for your father's son. Forbye that I have nobody but
myself to look after my reputation, and have been long enough alone
with a sedooctive youth. And come back another day for your
saxpence!" she cried after me as I left.

My skirmish with this disconcerting lady gave my thoughts a
boldness they had otherwise wanted. For two days the image of
Catriona had mixed in all my meditations; she made their
background, so that I scarce enjoyed my own company without a glint
of her in a corner of my mind. But now she came immediately near;
I seemed to touch her, whom I had never touched but the once; I let
myself flow out to her in a happy weakness, and looking all about,
and before and behind, saw the world like an undesirable desert,
where men go as soldiers on a march, following their duty with what
constancy they have, and Catriona alone there to offer me some
pleasure of my days. I wondered at myself that I could dwell on
such considerations in that time of my peril and disgrace; and when
I remembered my youth I was ashamed. I had my studies to complete:
I had to be called into some useful business; I had yet to take my
part of service in a place where all must serve; I had yet to
learn, and know, and prove myself a man; and I had so much sense as
blush that I should be already tempted with these further-on and
holier delights and duties. My education spoke home to me sharply;
I was never brought up on sugar biscuits but on the hard food of
the truth. I knew that he was quite unfit to be a husband who was
not prepared to be a father also; and for a boy like me to play the
father was a mere derision.

When I was in the midst of these thoughts and about half-way back
to town I saw a figure coming to meet me, and the trouble of my
heart was heightened. It seemed I had everything in the world to
say to her, but nothing to say first; and remembering how tongue-
tied I had been that morning at the Advocate's I made sure that I
would find myself struck dumb. But when she came up my fears fled
away; not even the consciousness of what I had been privately
thinking disconcerted me the least; and I found I could talk with
her as easily and rationally as I might with Alan.

"O!" she cried, "you have been seeking your sixpence; did you get

I told her no; but now I had met with her my walk was not in vain.
"Though I have seen you to-day already," said I, and told her where
and when.

"I did not see you," she said. "My eyes are big, but there are
better than mine at seeing far. Only I heard singing in the

"That was Miss Grant," said I, "the eldest and the bonniest."

"They say they are all beautiful," said she.

"They think the same of you, Miss Drummond," I replied, "and were
all crowding to the window to observe you."

"It is a pity about my being so blind," said she, "or I might have
seen them too. And you were in the house? You must have been
having the fine time with the fine music and the pretty ladies."

"There is just where you are wrong," said I; "for I was as uncouth
as a sea-fish upon the brae of a mountain. The truth is that I am
better fitted to go about with rudas men than pretty ladies."

"Well, I would think so too, at all events!" said she, at which we
both of us laughed.

"It is a strange thing, now," said I. "I am not the least afraid
with you, yet I could have run from the Miss Grants. And I was
afraid of your cousin too."

"O, I think any man will be afraid of her," she cried. "My father
is afraid of her himself."

The name of her father brought me to a stop. I looked at her as
she walked by my side; I recalled the man, and the little I knew
and the much I guessed of him; and comparing the one with the
other, felt like a traitor to be silent.

"Speaking of which," said I, "I met your father no later than this

"Did you?" she cried, with a voice of joy that seemed to mock at
me. "You saw James More? You will have spoken with him then?"

"I did even that," said I.

Then I think things went the worst way for me that was humanly
possible. She gave me a look of mere gratitude. "Ah, thank you
for that!" says she.

"You thank me for very little," said I, and then stopped. But it
seemed when I was holding back so much, something at least had to
come out. "I spoke rather ill to him," said I; "I did no like him
very much; I spoke him rather ill, and he was angry."

"I think you had little to do then, and less to tell it to his
daughter!" she cried out. "But those that do not love and cherish
him I will not know."

"I will take the freedom of a word yet," said I, beginning to
tremble. "Perhaps neither your father nor I are in the best of
spirits at Prestongrange's. I daresay we both have anxious
business there, for it's a dangerous house. I was sorry for him
too, and spoke to him the first, if I could but have spoken the
wiser. And for one thing, in my opinion, you will soon find that
his affairs are mending."

"It will not be through your friendship, I am thinking," said she;
"and he is much made up to you for your sorrow."

"Miss Drummond," cried I, "I am alone in this world."

"And I am not wondering at that," said she.

"O, let me speak!" said I. "I will speak but the once, and then
leave you, if you will, for ever. I came this day in the hopes of
a kind word that I am sore in want of. I know that what I said
must hurt you, and I knew it then. It would have been easy to have
spoken smooth, easy to lie to you; can you not think how I was
tempted to the same? Cannot you see the truth of my heart shine

"I think here is a great deal of work, Mr. Balfour," said she. "I
think we will have met but the once, and will can part like gentle

"O, let me have one to believe in me!" I pleaded, "I cannae bear it
else. The whole world is clanned against me. How am I to go
through with my dreadful fate? If there's to be none to believe in
me I cannot do it. The man must just die, for I cannot do it."

She had still looked straight in front of her, head in air; but at
my words or the tone of my voice she came to a stop. "What is this
you say?" she asked. "What are you talking of?"

"It is my testimony which may save an innocent life," said I, "and
they will not suffer me to bear it. What would you do yourself?
You know what this is, whose father lies in danger. Would you
desert the poor soul? They have tried all ways with me. They have
sought to bribe me; they offered me hills and valleys. And to-day
that sleuth-hound told me how I stood, and to what a length he
would go to butcher and disgrace me. I am to be brought in a party
to the murder; I am to have held Glenure in talk for money and old
clothes; I am to be killed and shamed. If this is the way I am to
fall, and me scarce a man--if this is the story to be told of me in
all Scotland--if you are to believe it too, and my name is to be
nothing but a by-word--Catriona, how can I go through with it? The
thing's not possible; it's more than a man has in his heart."

I poured my words out in a whirl, one upon the other; and when I
stopped I found her gazing on me with a startled face.

"Glenure! It is the Appin murder," she said softly, but with a
very deep surprise.

I had turned back to bear her company, and we were now come near
the head of the brae above Dean village. At this word I stepped in
front of her like one suddenly distracted.

"For God's sake!" I cried, "for God's sake, what is this that I
have done?" and carried my fists to my temples. "What made me do
it? Sure, I am bewitched to say these things!"

"In the name of heaven, what ails you now!" she cried.

"I gave my honour," I groaned, "I gave my honour and now I have
broke it. O, Catriona!"

"I am asking you what it is," she said; "was it these things you
should not have spoken? And do you think I have no honour, then?
or that I am one that would betray a friend? I hold up my right
hand to you and swear."

"O, I knew you would be true!" said I. "It's me--it's here. I
that stood but this morning and out-faced them, that risked rather
to die disgraced upon the gallows than do wrong--and a few hours
after I throw my honour away by the roadside in common talk!
'There is one thing clear upon our interview,' says he, 'that I can
rely on your pledged word.' Where is my word now? Who could
believe me now? You could not believe me. I am clean fallen down;
I had best die!" All this I said with a weeping voice, but I had
no tears in my body.

"My heart is sore for you," said she, "but be sure you are too
nice. I would not believe you, do you say? I would trust you with
anything. And these men? I would not be thinking of them! Men
who go about to entrap and to destroy you! Fy! this is no time to
crouch. Look up! Do you not think I will be admiring you like a
great hero of the good--and you a boy not much older than myself?
And because you said a word too much in a friend's ear, that would
die ere she betrayed you--to make such a matter! It is one thing
that we must both forget."

"Catriona," said I, looking at her, hang-dog, "is this true of it?
Would ye trust me yet?"

"Will you not believe the tears upon my face?" she cried. "It is
the world I am thinking of you, Mr. David Balfour. Let them hang
you; I will never forget, I will grow old and still remember you.
I think it is great to die so: I will envy you that gallows."

"And maybe all this while I am but a child frighted with bogles,"
said I. "Maybe they but make a mock of me."

"It is what I must know," she said. "I must hear the whole. The
harm is done at all events, and I must hear the whole."

I had sat down on the wayside, where she took a place beside me,
and I told her all that matter much as I have written it, my
thoughts about her father's dealings being alone omitted.

"Well," she said, when I had finished, "you are a hero, surely, and
I never would have thought that same! And I think you are in
peril, too. O, Simon Fraser! to think upon that man! For his life
and the dirty money, to be dealing in such traffic!" And just then
she called out aloud with a queer word that was common with her,
and belongs, I believe, to her own language. "My torture!" says
she, "look at the sun!"

Indeed, it was already dipping towards the mountains.

She bid me come again soon, gave me her hand, and left me in a
turmoil of glad spirits. I delayed to go home to my lodging, for I
had a terror of immediate arrest; but got some supper at a change
house, and the better part of that night walked by myself in the
barley-fields, and had such a sense of Catriona's presence that I
seemed to bear her in my arms.


The next day, August 29th, I kept my appointment at the Advocate's
in a coat that I had made to my own measure, and was but newly

"Aha," says Prestongrange, "you are very fine to-day; my misses are
to have a fine cavalier. Come, I take that kind of you. I take
that kind of you, Mr. David. O, we shall do very well yet, and I
believe your troubles are nearly at an end."

"You have news for me?" cried I.

"Beyond anticipation," he replied. "Your testimony is after all to
be received; and you may go, if you will, in my company to the
trial, which in to be held at Inverary, Thursday, 21st proximo."

I was too much amazed to find words.

"In the meanwhile," he continued, "though I will not ask you to
renew your pledge, I must caution you strictly to be reticent. To-
morrow your precognition must be taken; and outside of that, do you
know, I think least said will be soonest mended."

"I shall try to go discreetly,' said I. "I believe it is yourself
that I must thank for this crowning mercy, and I do thank you
gratefully. After yesterday, my lord, this is like the doors of
Heaven. I cannot find it in my heart to get the thing believed."

"Ah, but you must try and manage, you must try and manage to
believe it," says he, soothing-like, "and I am very glad to hear
your acknowledgment of obligation, for I think you may be able to
repay me very shortly"--he coughed--"or even now. The matter is
much changed. Your testimony, which I shall not trouble you for
to-day, will doubtless alter the complexion of the case for all
concerned, and this makes it less delicate for me to enter with you
on a side issue."

"My Lord," I interrupted, "excuse me for interrupting you, but how
has this been brought about? The obstacles you told me of on
Saturday appeared even to me to be quite insurmountable; how has it
been contrived?"

"My dear Mr. David," said he, "it would never do for me to divulge
(even to you, as you say) the councils of the Government; and you
must content yourself, if you please, with the gross fact."

He smiled upon me like a father as he spoke, playing the while with
a new pen; methought it was impossible there could be any shadow of
deception in the man: yet when he drew to him a sheet of paper,
dipped his pen among the ink, and began again to address me, I was
somehow not so certain, and fell instinctively into an attitude of

"There is a point I wish to touch upon," he began. "I purposely
left it before upon one side, which need be now no longer
necessary. This is not, of course, a part of your examination,
which is to follow by another hand; this is a private interest of
my own. You say you encountered Alan Breck upon the hill?"

"I did, my lord," said I

"This was immediately after the murder?"

"It was."

"Did you speak to him?"

"I did."

"You had known him before, I think?" says my lord, carelessly.

"I cannot guess your reason for so thinking, my lord," I replied,
"but such in the fact."

"And when did you part with him again?" said he.

"I reserve my answer," said I. "The question will be put to me at
the assize."

"Mr. Balfour," said he, "will you not understand that all this is
without prejudice to yourself? I have promised you life and
honour; and, believe me, I can keep my word. You are therefore
clear of all anxiety. Alan, it appears, you suppose you can
protect; and you talk to me of your gratitude, which I think (if
you push me) is not ill-deserved. There are a great many different
considerations all pointing the same way; and I will never be
persuaded that you could not help us (if you chose) to put salt on
Alan's tail."

"My lord," said I, "I give you my word I do not so much as guess
where Alan is."

He paused a breath. "Nor how he might be found?" he asked.

I sat before him like a log of wood.

"And so much for your gratitude, Mr. David!" he observed. Again
there was a piece of silence. "Well," said he, rising, "I am not
fortunate, and we are a couple at cross purposes. Let us speak of
it no more; you will receive notice when, where, and by whom, we
are to take your precognition. And in the meantime, my misses must
be waiting you. They will never forgive me if I detain their

Into the hands of these Graces I was accordingly offered up, and
found them dressed beyond what I had thought possible, and looking
fair as a posy.

As we went forth from the doors a small circumstance occurred which
came afterwards to look extremely big. I heard a whistle sound
loud and brief like a signal, and looking all about, spied for one
moment the red head of Neil of the Tom, the son of Duncan. The
next moment he was gone again, nor could I see so much as the
skirt-tail of Catriona, upon whom I naturally supposed him to be
then attending.

My three keepers led me out by Bristo and the Bruntsfield Links;
whence a path carried us to Hope Park, a beautiful pleasance, laid
with gravel-walks, furnished with seats and summer-sheds, and
warded by a keeper. The way there was a little longsome; the two
younger misses affected an air of genteel weariness that damped me
cruelly, the eldest considered me with something that at times
appeared like mirth; and though I thought I did myself more justice
than the day before, it was not without some effort. Upon our
reaching the park I was launched on a bevy of eight or ten young
gentlemen (some of them cockaded officers, the rest chiefly
advocates) who crowded to attend upon these beauties; and though I
was presented to all of them in very good words, it seemed I was by
all immediately forgotten. Young folk in a company are like to
savage animals: they fall upon or scorn a stranger without
civility, or I may say, humanity; and I am sure, if I had been
among baboons, they would have shown me quite as much of both.
Some of the advocates set up to be wits, and some of the soldiers
to be rattles; and I could not tell which of these extremes annoyed
me most. All had a manner of handling their swords and coat-
skirts, for the which (in mere black envy) I could have kicked them
from the park. I daresay, upon their side, they grudged me
extremely the fine company in which I had arrived; and altogether I
had soon fallen behind, and stepped stiffly in the rear of all that
merriment with my own thoughts.

From these I was recalled by one of the officers, Lieutenant Hector
Duncansby, a gawky, leering Highland boy, asking if my name was not

I told him it was, not very kindly, for his manner was scant civil.

"Ha, Palfour," says he, and then, repeating it, "Palfour, Palfour!"

"I am afraid you do not like my name, sir," says I, annoyed with
myself to be annoyed with such a rustical fellow.

"No," says he, "but I wass thinking."

"I would not advise you to make a practice of that, sir," says I.
"I feel sure you would not find it to agree with you."

"Tit you effer hear where Alan Grigor fand the tangs?" said he.

I asked him what he could possibly mean, and he answered, with a
heckling laugh, that he thought I must have found the poker in the
same place and swallowed it.

There could be no mistake about this, and my cheek burned.

"Before I went about to put affronts on gentlemen," said I, "I
think I would learn the English language first."

He took me by the sleeve with a nod and a wink and led me quietly
outside Hope Park. But no sooner were we beyond the view of the
promenaders, than the fashion of his countenance changed. "You tam
lowland scoon'rel!" cries he, and hit me a buffet on the jaw with
his closed fist.

I paid him as good or better on the return; whereupon he stepped a
little back and took off his hat to me decorously.

"Enough plows I think," says he. "I will be the offended
shentleman, for who effer heard of such suffeeciency as tell a
shentlemans that is the king's officer he cannae speak Cot's
English? We have swords at our hurdles, and here is the King's
Park at hand. Will ye walk first, or let me show ye the way?"

I returned his bow, told him to go first, and followed him. As he
went I heard him grumble to himself about COT'S ENGLISH and the
KING'S COAT, so that I might have supposed him to be seriously
offended. But his manner at the beginning of our interview was
there to belie him. It was manifest he had come prepared to fasten
a quarrel on me, right or wrong; manifest that I was taken in a
fresh contrivance of my enemies; and to me (conscious as I was of
my deficiencies) manifest enough that I should be the one to fall
in our encounter.

As we came into that rough rocky desert of the King's Park I was
tempted half-a-dozen times to take to my heels and run for it, so
loath was I to show my ignorance in fencing, and so much averse to
die or even to be wounded. But I considered if their malice went
as far as this, it would likely stick at nothing; and that to fall
by the sword, however ungracefully, was still an improvement on the
gallows. I considered besides that by the unguarded pertness of my
words and the quickness of my blow I had put myself quite out of
court; and that even if I ran, my adversary would probably pursue
and catch me, which would add disgrace to my misfortune. So that,
taking all in all, I continued marching behind him, much as a man
follows the hangman, and certainly with no more hope.

We went about the end of the long craigs, and came into the
Hunter's Bog. Here, on a piece of fair turf, my adversary drew.
There was nobody there to see us but some birds; and no resource
for me but to follow his example, and stand on guard with the best
face I could display. It seems it was not good enough for Mr.
Dancansby, who spied some flaw in my manoeuvres, paused, looked
upon me sharply, and came off and on, and menaced me with his blade
in the air. As I had seen no such proceedings from Alan, and was
besides a good deal affected with the proximity of death, I grew
quite bewildered, stood helpless, and could have longed to run

"Fat deil ails her?" cries the lieutenant.

And suddenly engaging, he twitched the sword out of my grasp and
sent it flying far among the rushes.

Twice was this manoeuvre repeated; and the third time when I
brought back my humiliated weapon, I found he had returned his own
to the scabbard, and stood awaiting me with a face of some anger,
and his hands clasped under his skirt.

"Pe tamned if I touch you!" he cried, and asked me bitterly what
right I had to stand up before "shentlemans" when I did not know
the back of a sword from the front of it.

I answered that was the fault of my upbringing; and would he do me
the justice to say I had given him all the satisfaction it was
unfortunately in my power to offer, and had stood up like a man?

"And that is the truth," said he. "I am fery prave myself, and
pold as a lions. But to stand up there--and you ken naething of
fence!--the way that you did, I declare it was peyond me. And I am
sorry for the plow; though I declare I pelief your own was the
elder brother, and my heid still sings with it. And I declare if I
had kent what way it wass, I would not put a hand to such a piece
of pusiness."

"That is handsomely said," I replied, "and I am sure you will not
stand up a second time to be the actor for my private enemies."

"Indeed, no, Palfour," said he; "and I think I was used extremely
suffeeciently myself to be set up to fecht with an auld wife, or
all the same as a bairn whateffer! And I will tell the Master so,
and fecht him, by Cot, himself!"

"And if you knew the nature of Mr. Simon's quarrel with me," said
I, "you would be yet the more affronted to be mingled up with such

He swore he could well believe it; that all the Lovats were made of
the same meal and the devil was the miller that ground that; then
suddenly shaking me by the hand, he vowed I was a pretty enough
fellow after all, that it was a thousand pities I had been
neglected, and that if he could find the time, he would give an eye
himself to have me educated.

"You can do me a better service than even what you propose," said
I; and when he had asked its nature--"Come with me to the house of
one of my enemies, and testify how I have carried myself this day,"
I told him. "That will be the true service. For though he has
sent me a gallant adversary for the first, the thought in Mr.
Simon's mind is merely murder. There will be a second and then a
third; and by what you have seen of my cleverness with the cold
steel, you can judge for yourself what is like to be the upshot."

"And I would not like it myself, if I was no more of a man than
what you wass!" he cried. "But I will do you right, Palfour. Lead

If I had walked slowly on the way into that accursed park my heels
were light enough on the way out. They kept time to a very good
old air, that is as ancient as the Bible, and the words of it are:
extremely thirsty, and had a drink at Saint Margaret's well on the
road down, and the sweetness of that water passed belief. We went
through the sanctuary, up the Canongate, in by the Netherbow, and
straight to Prestongrange's door, talking as we came and arranging
the details of our affair. The footman owned his master was at
home, but declared him engaged with other gentlemen on very private
business, and his door forbidden.

"My business is but for three minutes, and it cannot wait," said I.
"You may say it is by no means private, and I shall be even glad to
have some witnesses."

As the man departed unwillingly enough upon this errand, we made so
bold as to follow him to the ante-chamber, whence I could hear for
a while the murmuring of several voices in the room within. The
truth is, they were three at the one table--Prestongrange, Simon
Fraser, and Mr. Erskine, Sheriff of Perth; and as they were met in
consultation on the very business of the Appin murder, they were a
little disturbed at my appearance, but decided to receive me.

"Well, well, Mr. Balfour, and what brings you here again? and who
is this you bring with you?" says Prestongrange.

As for Fraser, he looked before him on the table.

"He is here to bear a little testimony in my favour, my lord, which
I think it very needful you should hear," said I, and turned to

"I have only to say this," said the lieutenant, "that I stood up
this day with Palfour in the Hunter's Pog, which I am now fery
sorry for, and he behaved himself as pretty as a shentlemans could
ask it. And I have creat respects for Palfour," he added.

"I thank you for your honest expressions," said I.

Whereupon Duncansby made his bow to the company, and left the
chamber, as we had agreed upon before.

"What have I to do with this?" says Prestongrange.

"I will tell your lordship in two words," said I. "I have brought
this gentleman, a King's officer, to do me so much justice. Now I
think my character in covered, and until a certain date, which your
lordship can very well supply, it will be quite in vain to despatch
against me any more officers. I will not consent to fight my way
through the garrison of the castle."

The veins swelled on Prestongrange's brow, and he regarded me with

"I think the devil uncoupled this dog of a lad between my legs!" he
cried; and then, turning fiercely on his neighbour, "This is some
of your work, Simon," he said. "I spy your hand in the business,
and, let me tell you, I resent it. It is disloyal, when we are
agreed upon one expedient, to follow another in the dark. You are
disloyal to me. What! you let me send this lad to the place with
my very daughters! And because I let drop a word to you..... Fy,
sir, keep your dishonours to yourself!"

Simon was deadly pale. "I will be a kick-ball between you and the
Duke no longer," he exclaimed. "Either come to an agreement, or
come to a differ, and have it out among yourselves. But I will no
longer fetch and carry, and get your contrary instructions, and be
blamed by both. For if I were to tell you what I think of all your
Hanover business it would make your head sing."

But Sheriff Erskine had preserved his temper, and now intervened
smoothly. "And in the meantime," says he, "I think we should tell
Mr. Balfour that his character for valour is quite established. He
may sleep in peace. Until the date he was so good as to refer to
it shall be put to the proof no more."

His coolness brought the others to their prudence; and they made
haste, with a somewhat distracted civility, to pack me from the


When I left Prestongrange that afternoon I was for the first time
angry. The Advocate had made a mock of me. He had pretended my
testimony was to be received and myself respected; and in that very
hour, not only was Simon practising against my life by the hands of
the Highland soldier, but (as appeared from his own language)
Prestongrange himself had some design in operation. I counted my
enemies; Prestongrange with all the King's authority behind him;
and the Duke with the power of the West Highlands; and the Lovat
interest by their side to help them with so great a force in the
north, and the whole clan of old Jacobite spies and traffickers.
And when I remembered James More, and the red head of Neil the son
of Duncan, I thought there was perhaps a fourth in the confederacy,
and what remained of Rob Roy's old desperate sept of caterans would
be banded against me with the others. One thing was requisite--
some strong friend or wise adviser. The country must be full of
such, both able and eager to support me, or Lovat and the Duke and
Prestongrange had not been nosing for expedients; and it made me
rage to think that I might brush against my champions in the street
and be no wiser.

And just then (like an answer) a gentleman brushed against me going
by, gave me a meaning look, and turned into a close. I knew him
with the tail of my eye--it was Stewart the Writer; and, blessing
my good fortune, turned in to follow him. As soon as I had entered
the close I saw him standing in the mouth of a stair, where he made
me a signal and immediately vanished. Seven storeys up, there he
was again in a house door, the which he looked behind us after we
had entered. The house was quite dismantled, with not a stick of
furniture; indeed, it was one of which Stewart had the letting in
his hands.

"We'll have to sit upon the floor," said he; "but we're safe here
for the time being, and I've been wearying to see ye, Mr. Balfour."

"How's it with Alan?" I asked.

"Brawly," said he. "Andie picks him up at Gillane sands to-morrow,
Wednesday. He was keen to say good-bye to ye, but the way that
things were going, I was feared the pair of ye was maybe best
apart. And that brings me to the essential: how does your
business speed?"

"Why," said I, "I was told only this morning that my testimony was
accepted, and I was to travel to Inverary with the Advocate, no

"Hout awa!" cried Stewart. "I'll never believe that."

"I have maybe a suspicion of my own," says I, "but I would like
fine to hear your reasons."

"Well, I tell ye fairly, I'm horn-mad," cries Stewart. "If my one
hand could pull their Government down I would pluck it like a
rotten apple. I'm doer for Appin and for James of the Glens; and,
of course, it's my duty to defend my kinsman for his life. Hear
how it goes with me, and I'll leave the judgment of it to yourself.
The first thing they have to do is to get rid of Alan. They cannae
bring in James as art and part until they've brought in Alan first
as principal; that's sound law: they could never put the cart
before the horse."

"And how are they to bring in Alan till they can catch him?" says

"Ah, but there is a way to evite that arrestment," said he. "Sound
law, too. It would be a bonny thing if, by the escape of one ill-
doer another was to go scatheless, and the remeid is to summon the
principal and put him to outlawry for the non-compearance. Now
there's four places where a person can be summoned: at his
dwelling-house; at a place where he has resided forty days; at the
head burgh of the shire where he ordinarily resorts; or lastly (if
there be ground to think him forth of Scotland) AT THE CROSS OF
purpose of which last provision is evident upon its face: being
that outgoing ships may have time to carry news of the transaction,
and the summonsing be something other than a form. Now take the
case of Alan. He has no dwelling-house that ever I could hear of;
I would be obliged if anyone would show me where he has lived forty
days together since the '45; there is no shire where he resorts
whether ordinarily or extraordinarily; if he has a domicile at all,
which I misdoubt, it must be with his regiment in France; and if he
is not yet forth of Scotland (as we happen to know and they happen
to guess) it must be evident to the most dull it's what he's aiming
for. Where, then, and what way should he be summoned? I ask it at
yourself, a layman."

"You have given the very words," said I. "Here at the cross, and
at the pier and shore of Leith, for sixty days."

"Ye're a sounder Scots lawyer than Prestongrange, then!" cries the
Writer. "He has had Alan summoned once; that was on the twenty-
fifth, the day that we first met. Once, and done with it. And
where? Where, but at the cross of Inverary, the head burgh of the
Campbells? A word in your ear, Mr. Balfour--they're not seeking

"What do you mean?" I cried. "Not seeking him?"

"By the best that I can make of it," said he. "Not wanting to find
him, in my poor thought. They think perhaps he might set up a fair
defence, upon the back of which James, the man they're really
after, might climb out. This is not a case, ye see, it's a

"Yet I can tell you Prestongrange asked after Alan keenly," said I;
"though, when I come to think of it, he was something of the
easiest put by."

"See that!" says he. "But there! I may be right or wrong, that's
guesswork at the best, and let me get to my facts again. It comes
to my ears that James and the witnesses--the witnesses, Mr.
Balfour!--lay in close dungeons, and shackled forbye, in the
military prison at Fort William; none allowed in to them, nor they
to write. The witnesses, Mr. Balfour; heard ye ever the match of
that? I assure ye, no old, crooked Stewart of the gang ever out-
faced the law more impudently. It's clean in the two eyes of the
Act of Parliament of 1700, anent wrongous imprisonment. No sooner
did I get the news than I petitioned the Lord Justice Clerk. I
have his word to-day. There's law for ye! here's justice!"

He put a paper in my hand, that same mealy-mouthed, false-faced
paper that was printed since in the pamphlet "by a bystander," for
behoof (as the title says) of James's "poor widow and five

"See," said Stewart, "he couldn't dare to refuse me access to my
Recommends!--the Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland recommends. Is not
the purpose of such language plain? They hope the officer may be
so dull, or so very much the reverse, as to refuse the
recommendation. I would have to make the journey back again
betwixt here and Fort William. Then would follow a fresh delay
till I got fresh authority, and they had disavowed the officer--
military man, notoriously ignorant of the law, and that--I ken the
cant of it. Then the journey a third time; and there we should be
on the immediate heels of the trial before I had received my first
instruction. Am I not right to call this a conspiracy?"

"It will bear that colour," said I.

"And I'll go on to prove it you outright," said he. "They have the
right to hold James in prison, yet they cannot deny me to visit
him. They have no right to hold the witnesses; but am I to get a
sight of them, that should be as free as the Lord Justice Clerk
And the Act of seventeen hunner? Mr. Balfour, this makes my heart
to burst; the heather is on fire inside my wame."

"And the plain English of that phrase," said I, "is that the
witnesses are still to lie in prison and you are not to see them?"

"And I am not to see them until Inverary, when the court is set!"
cries he, "and then to hear Prestongrange upon THE ANXIOUS
THE DEFENCE! But I'll begowk them there, Mr. David. I have a plan
to waylay the witnesses upon the road, and see if I cannae get I a
little harle of justice out of the MILITARY MAN NOTORIOUSLY
IGNORANT OF THE LAW that shall command the party."

It was actually so--it was actually on the wayside near Tynedrum,
and by the connivance of a soldier officer, that Mr. Stewart first
saw the witnesses upon the case.

"There is nothing that would surprise me in this business," I

"I'll surprise you ere I'm done!" cries he. "Do ye see this?"--
producing a print still wet from the press. "This is the libel:
see, there's Prestongrange's name to the list of witnesses, and I
find no word of any Balfour. But here is not the question. Who do
ye think paid for the printing of this paper?"

"I suppose it would likely be King George," said I.

"But it happens it was me!" he cried. "Not but it was printed by
and for themselves, for the Grants and the Erskines, and yon thief
of the black midnight, Simon Fraser. But could _I_ win to get a
copy! No! I was to go blindfold to my defence; I was to hear the
charges for the first time in court alongst the jury."

"Is not this against the law?" I asked

"I cannot say so much," he replied. "It was a favour so natural
and so constantly rendered (till this nonesuch business) that the
law has never looked to it. And now admire the hand of Providence!
A stranger is in Fleming's printing house, spies a proof on the
floor, picks it up, and carries it to me. Of all things, it was
just this libel. Whereupon I had it set again--printed at the
expense of the defence: sumptibus moesti rei; heard ever man the
like of it?--and here it is for anybody, the muckle secret out--all
may see it now. But how do you think I would enjoy this, that has
the life of my kinsman on my conscience?"

"Troth, I think you would enjoy it ill," said I.

"And now you see how it is," he concluded, "and why, when you tell
me your evidence is to be let in, I laugh aloud in your face."

It was now my turn. I laid before him in brief Mr. Simon's threats
and offers, and the whole incident of the bravo, with the
subsequent scene at Prestongrange's. Of my first talk, according
to promise, I said nothing, nor indeed was it necessary. All the
time I was talking Stewart nodded his head like a mechanical
figure; and no sooner had my voice ceased, than he opened his mouth
and gave me his opinion in two words, dwelling strong on both of

"Disappear yourself," said he.

"I do not take you," said I.

"Then I'll carry you there," said he. "By my view of it you're to
disappear whatever. O, that's outside debate. The Advocate, who
is not without some spunks of a remainder decency, has wrung your
life-safe out of Simon and the Duke. He has refused to put you on
your trial, and refused to have you killed; and there is the clue
to their ill words together, for Simon and the Duke can keep faith
with neither friend nor enemy. Ye're not to be tried then, and
ye're not to be murdered; but I'm in bitter error if ye're not to
be kidnapped and carried away like the Lady Grange. Bet me what ye
please--there was their EXPEDIENT!"

"You make me think," said I, and told him of the whistle and the
red-headed retainer, Neil.

"Wherever James More is there's one big rogue, never be deceived on
that," said he. "His father was none so ill a man, though a
kenning on the wrong side of the law, and no friend to my family,
that I should waste my breath to be defending him! But as for
James he's a brock and a blagyard. I like the appearance of this
red-headed Neil as little as yourself. It looks uncanny: fiegh!
it smells bad. It was old Lovat that managed the Lady Grange
affair; if young Lovat is to handle yours, it'll be all in the
family. What's James More in prison for? The same offence:
abduction. His men have had practice in the business. He'll be to
lend them to be Simon's instruments; and the next thing we'll be
hearing, James will have made his peace, or else he'll have
escaped; and you'll be in Benbecula or Applecross."

"Ye make a strong case," I admitted.

"And what I want," he resumed, "is that you should disappear
yourself ere they can get their hands upon ye. Lie quiet until
just before the trial, and spring upon them at the last of it when
they'll be looking for you least. This is always supposing Mr.
Balfour, that your evidence is worth so very great a measure of
both risk and fash."

"I will tell you one thing," said I. "I saw the murderer and it
was not Alan."

"Then, by God, my cousin's saved!" cried Stewart. "You have his
life upon your tongue; and there's neither time, risk, nor money to
be spared to bring you to the trial." He emptied his pockets on
the floor. "Here is all that I have by me," he went on, "Take it,
ye'll want it ere ye're through. Go straight down this close,
there's a way out by there to the Lang Dykes, and by my will of it!
see no more of Edinburgh till the clash is over."

"Where am I to go, then?" I inquired.

"And I wish that I could tell ye!" says he, "but all the places
that I could send ye to, would be just the places they would seek.
No, ye must fend for yourself, and God be your guiding! Five days
before the trial, September the sixteen, get word to me at the King
Arms in Stirling; and if ye've managed for yourself as long as
that, I'll see that ye reach Inverary."

"One thing more," said I. "Can I no see Alan?"

He seemed boggled. "Hech, I would rather you wouldnae," said he.
"But I can never deny that Alan is extremely keen of it, and is to
lie this night by Silvermills on purpose. If you're sure that
you're not followed, Mr. Balfour--but make sure of that--lie in a
good place and watch your road for a clear hour before ye risk it.
It would be a dreadful business if both you and him was to


It was about half-past three when I came forth on the Lang Dykes.
Dean was where I wanted to go. Since Catriona dwelled there, and
her kinsfolk the Glengyle Macgregors appeared almost certainly to
be employed against me, it was just one of the few places I should
have kept away from; and being a very young man, and beginning to
be very much in love, I turned my face in that direction without
pause. As a slave to my conscience and common sense, however, I
took a measure of precaution. Coming over the crown of a bit of a
rise in the road, I clapped down suddenly among the barley and lay
waiting. After a while, a man went by that looked to be a
Highlandman, but I had never seen him till that hour. Presently
after came Neil of the red head. The next to go past was a
miller's cart, and after that nothing but manifest country people.
Here was enough to have turned the most foolhardy from his purpose,
but my inclination ran too strong the other way. I argued it out
that if Neil was on that road, it was the right road to find him
in, leading direct to his chief's daughter; as for the other
Highlandman, if I was to be startled off by every Highlandman I
saw, I would scarce reach anywhere. And having quite satisfied
myself with this disingenuous debate, I made the better speed of
it, and came a little after four to Mrs. Drumond-Ogilvy's.

Both ladies were within the house; and upon my perceiving them
together by the open door, I plucked off my hat and said, "Here was
a lad come seeking saxpence," which I thought might please the

Catriona ran out to greet me heartily, and, to my surprise, the old
lady seemed scarce less forward than herself. I learned long
afterwards that she had despatched a horseman by daylight to
Rankeillor at the Queensferry, whom she knew to be the doer for
Shaws, and had then in her pocket a letter from that good friend of
mine, presenting, in the most favourable view, my character and
prospects. But had I read it I could scarce have seen more clear
in her designs. Maybe I was COUNTRYFEED; at least, I was not so
much so as she thought; and it was even to my homespun wits, that
she was bent to hammer up a match between her cousin and a
beardless boy that was something of a laird in Lothian.

"Saxpence had better take his broth with us, Catrine," says she.
"Run and tell the lasses."

And for the little while we were alone was at a good deal of pains
to flatter me; always cleverly, always with the appearance of a
banter, still calling me Saxpence, but with such a turn that should
rather uplift me in my own opinion. When Catriona returned, the
design became if possible more obvious; and she showed off the
girl's advantages like a horse-couper with a horse. My face flamed
that she should think me so obtuse. Now I would fancy the girl was
being innocently made a show of, and then I could have beaten the
old carline wife with a cudgel; and now, that perhaps these two had
set their heads together to entrap me, and at that I sat and
gloomed betwixt them like the very image of ill-will. At last the
matchmaker had a better device, which was to leave the pair of us
alone. When my suspicions are anyway roused it is sometimes a
little the wrong side of easy to allay them. But though I knew
what breed she was of, and that was a breed of thieves, I could
never look in Catriona's face and disbelieve her.

"I must not ask?" says she, eagerly, the same moment we were left

"Ah, but to-day I can talk with a free conscience," I replied. "I
am lightened of my pledge, and indeed (after what has come and gone
since morning) I would not have renewed it were it asked."

"Tell me," she said. "My cousin will not be so long."

So I told her the tale of the lieutenant from the first step to the
last of it, making it as mirthful as I could, and, indeed, there
was matter of mirth in that absurdity.

"And I think you will be as little fitted for the rudas men as for
the pretty ladies, after all!" says she, when I had done. "But
what was your father that he could not learn you to draw the sword!
It is most ungentle; I have not heard the match of that in anyone."

"It is most misconvenient at least," said I; "and I think my father
(honest man!) must have been wool-gathering to learn me Latin in
the place of it. But you see I do the best I can, and just stand
up like Lot's wife and let them hammer at me."

"Do you know what makes me smile?" said she. "Well, it is this. I
am made this way, that I should have been a man child. In my own
thoughts it is so I am always; and I go on telling myself about
this thing that is to befall and that. Then it comes to the place
of the fighting, and it comes over me that I am only a girl at all
events, and cannot hold a sword or give one good blow; and then I
have to twist my story round about, so that the fighting is to
stop, and yet me have the best of it, just like you and the
lieutenant; and I am the boy that makes the fine speeches all
through, like Mr. David Balfour."

"You are a bloodthirsty maid," said I.

"Well, I know it is good to sew and spin, and to make samplers,"
she said, "but if you were to do nothing else in the great world, I
think you will say yourself it is a driech business; and it is not
that I want to kill, I think. Did ever you kill anyone?"

"That I have, as it chances. Two, no less, and me still a lad that
should be at the college," said I. "But yet, in the look-back, I
take no shame for it."

"But how did you feel, then--after it?" she asked.

'"Deed, I sat down and grat like a bairn," said I.

"I know that, too," she cried. "I feel where these tears should
come from. And at any rate, I would not wish to kill, only to be
Catherine Douglas that put her arm through the staples of the bolt,
where it was broken. That is my chief hero. Would you not love to
die so--for your king?" she asked.

"Troth," said I, "my affection for my king, God bless the puggy
face of him, is under more control; and I thought I saw death so
near to me this day already, that I am rather taken up with the
notion of living."

"Right," she said, "the right mind of a man! Only you must learn
arms; I would not like to have a friend that cannot strike. But it
will not have been with the sword that you killed these two?"

"Indeed, no," said I, "but with a pair of pistols. And a fortunate
thing it was the men were so near-hand to me, for I am about as
clever with the pistols as I am with the sword."

So then she drew from me the story of our battle in the brig, which
I had omitted in my first account of my affairs.

"Yes," said she, "you are brave. And your friend, I admire and
love him."

"Well, and I think anyone would!" said I. "He has his faults like
other folk; but he is brave and staunch and kind, God bless him!
That will be a strange day when I forget Alan." And the thought of
him, and that it was within my choice to speak with him that night,
had almost overcome me.

"And where will my head be gone that I have not told my news!" she
cried, and spoke of a letter from her father, bearing that she
might visit him to-morrow in the castle whither he was now
transferred, and that his affairs were mending. "You do not like
to hear it," said she. "Will you judge my father and not know

"I am a thousand miles from judging," I replied. "And I give you
my word I do rejoice to know your heart is lightened. If my face
fell at all, as I suppose it must, you will allow this is rather an
ill day for compositions, and the people in power extremely ill
persons to be compounding with. I have Simon Fraser extremely
heavy on my stomach still."

"Ah!" she cried, "you will not be evening these two; and you should
bear in mind that Prestongrange and James More, my father, are of
the one blood."

"I never heard tell of that," said I.

"It is rather singular how little you are acquainted with," said
she. "One part may call themselves Grant, and one Macgregor, but
they are still of the same clan. They are all the sons of Alpin,
from whom, I think, our country has its name."

"What country is that?" I asked.

"My country and yours," said she

"This is my day for discovering I think," said I, "for I always
thought the name of it was Scotland."

"Scotland is the name of what you call Ireland," she replied. "But
the old ancient true name of this place that we have our foot-soles
on, and that our bones are made of, will be Alban. It was Alban
they called it when our forefathers will be fighting for it against
Rome and Alexander; and it is called so still in your own tongue
that you forget."

"Troth," said I, "and that I never learned!" For I lacked heart to
take her up about the Macedonian.

"But your fathers and mothers talked it, one generation with
another," said she. "And it was sung about the cradles before you
or me were ever dreamed of; and your name remembers it still. Ah,
if you could talk that language you would find me another girl.
The heart speaks in that tongue."

I had a meal with the two ladies, all very good, served in fine old
plate, and the wine excellent, for it seems that Mrs. Ogilvy was
rich. Our talk, too, was pleasant enough; but as soon as I saw the
sun decline sharply and the shadows to run out long, I rose to take
my leave. For my mind was now made up to say farewell to Alan; and
it was needful I should see the trysting wood, and reconnoitre it,
by daylight. Catriona came with me as far as to the garden gate.

"It is long till I see you now?" she asked.

"It is beyond my judging," I replied. "It will be long, it may be

"It may be so," said she. "And you are sorry?"

I bowed my head, looking upon her.

"So am I, at all events," said she. "I have seen you but a small
time, but I put you very high. You are true, you are brave; in
time I think you will be more of a man yet. I will be proud to
hear of that. If you should speed worse, if it will come to fall
as we are afraid--O well! think you have the one friend. Long
after you are dead and me an old wife, I will be telling the bairns
about David Balfour, and my tears running. I will be telling how
we parted, and what I said to you, and did to you. GOD GO WITH YOU
telling them--and here is what I did."

She took up my hand and kissed it. This so surprised my spirits
that I cried out like one hurt. The colour came strong in her
face, and she looked at me and nodded.

"O yes, Mr. David," said she, "that is what I think of you. The
head goes with the lips."

I could read in her face high spirit, and a chivalry like a brave
child's; not anything besides. She kissed my hand, as she had
kissed Prince Charlie's, with a higher passion than the common kind
of clay has any sense of. Nothing before had taught me how deep I
was her lover, nor how far I had yet to climb to make her think of
me in such a character. Yet I could tell myself I had advanced
some way, and that her heart had beat and her blood flowed at
thoughts of me.

After that honour she had done me I could offer no more trivial
civility. It was even hard for me to speak; a certain lifting in
her voice had knocked directly at the door of my own tears.

"I praise God for your kindness, dear," said I. "Farewell, my
little friend!" giving her that name which she had given to
herself; with which I bowed and left her.

My way was down the glen of the Leith River, towards Stockbridge
and Silvermills. A path led in the foot of it, the water bickered
and sang in the midst; the sunbeams overhead struck out of the west
among long shadows and (as the valley turned) made like a new scene
and a new world of it at every corner. With Catriona behind and
Alan before me, I was like one lifted up. The place besides, and
the hour, and the talking of the water, infinitely pleased me; and
I lingered in my steps and looked before and behind me as I went.
This was the cause, under Providence, that I spied a little in my
rear a red head among some bushes.

Anger sprang in my heart, and I turned straight about and walked at
a stiff pace to where I came from. The path lay close by the
bushes where I had remarked the head. The cover came to the
wayside, and as I passed I was all strung up to meet and to resist
an onfall. No such thing befell, I went by unmeddled with; and at
that fear increased upon me. It was still day indeed, but the
place exceeding solitary. If my haunters had let slip that fair
occasion I could but judge they aimed at something more than David
Balfour. The lives of Alan and James weighed upon my spirit with
the weight of two grown bullocks.

Catriona was yet in the garden walking by herself.

"Catriona," said I, "you see me back again."

"With a changed face," said she.

"I carry two men's lives besides my own," said I. "It would be a
sin and shame not to walk carefully. I was doubtful whether I did
right to come here. I would like it ill, if it was by that means
we were brought to harm."

"I could tell you one that would be liking it less, and will like
little enough to hear you talking at this very same time," she
cried. "What have I done, at all events?"

"O, you I you are not alone," I replied. "But since I went off I
have been dogged again, and I can give you the name of him that
follows me. It is Neil, son of Duncan, your man or your father's."

"To be sure you are mistaken there," she said, with a white face.
"Neil is in Edinburgh on errands from my father."

"It is what I fear," said I, "the last of it. But for his being in
Edinburgh I think I can show you another of that. For sure you
have some signal, a signal of need, such as would bring him to your
help, if he was anywhere within the reach of ears and legs?"

"Why, how will you know that?" says she.

"By means of a magical talisman God gave to me when I was born, and
the name they call it by is Common-sense," said I. "Oblige me so
far as make your signal, and I will show you the red head of Neil."

No doubt but I spoke bitter and sharp. My heart was bitter. I
blamed myself and the girl and hated both of us: her for the vile
crew that she was come of, myself for my wanton folly to have stuck
my head in such a byke of wasps.

Catriona set her fingers to her lips and whistled once, with an
exceeding clear, strong, mounting note, as full as a ploughman's.
A while we stood silent; and I was about to ask her to repeat the
same, when I heard the sound of some one bursting through the
bushes below on the braeside. I pointed in that direction with a
smile, and presently Neil leaped into the garden. His eyes burned,
and he had a black knife (as they call it on the Highland side)
naked in his hand; but, seeing me beside his mistress, stood like a
man struck.

"He has come to your call," said I; "judge how near he was to
Edinburgh, or what was the nature of your father's errands. Ask
himself. If I am to lose my life, or the lives of those that hang
by me, through the means of your clan, let me go where I have to go
with my eyes open."

She addressed him tremulously in the Gaelic. Remembering Alan's
anxious civility in that particular, I could have laughed out loud
for bitterness; here, sure, in the midst of these suspicions, was
the hour she should have stuck by English.

Twice or thrice they spoke together, and I could make out that Neil
(for all his obsequiousness) was an angry man.

Then she turned to me. "He swears it is not," she said.

"Catriona," said I, "do you believe the man yourself?"

She made a gesture like wringing the hands.

"How will I can know?" she cried.

But I must find some means to know," said I. "I cannot continue to
go dovering round in the black night with two men's lives at my
girdle! Catriona, try to put yourself in my place, as I vow to God
I try hard to put myself in yours. This is no kind of talk that
should ever have fallen between me and you; no kind of talk; my
heart is sick with it. See, keep him here till two of the morning,
and I care not. Try him with that."

They spoke together once more in the Gaelic.

"He says he has James More my father's errand," said she. She was
whiter than ever, and her voice faltered as she said it.

"It is pretty plain now," said I, "and may God forgive the wicked!"

She said never anything to that, but continued gazing at me with
the same white face.

"This is a fine business," said I again. "Am I to fall, then, and
those two along with me?"

"O, what am I to do?" she cried. "Could I go against my father's
orders, him in prison, in the danger of his life!"

"But perhaps we go too fast," said I. "This may be a lie too. He
may have no right orders; all may be contrived by Simon, and your
father knowing nothing."

She burst out weeping between the pair of us; and my heart smote me
hard, for I thought this girl was in a dreadful situation.

"Here," said I, "keep him but the one hour; and I'll chance it, and
may God bless you."

She put out her hand to me, "I will he needing one good word," she

"The full hour, then?" said I, keeping her hand in mine. "Three
lives of it, my lass!"

"The full hour!" she said, and cried aloud on her Redeemer to
forgive her.

I thought it no fit place for me, and fled.


I lost no time, but down through the valley and by Stockbridge and
Silvermills as hard as I could stave. It was Alan's tryst to be
every night between twelve and two "in a bit scrog of wood by east
of Silvermills and by south the south mill-lade." This I found
easy enough, where it grew on a steep brae, with the mill-lade
flowing swift and deep along the foot of it; and here I began to
walk slower and to reflect more reasonably on my employment. I saw
I had made but a fool's bargain with Catriona. It was not to be
supposed that Neil was sent alone upon his errand, but perhaps he
was the only man belonging to James More; in which case I should
have done all I could to hang Catriona's father, and nothing the
least material to help myself. To tell the truth, I fancied
neither one of these ideas. Suppose by holding back Neil, the girl
should have helped to hang her father, I thought she would never
forgive herself this side of time. And suppose there were others
pursuing me that moment, what kind of a gift was I come bringing to
Alan? and how would I like that?

I was up with the west end of that wood when these two
considerations struck me like a cudgel. My feet stopped of
themselves and my heart along with them. "What wild game is this
that I have been playing?" thought I; and turned instantly upon my
heels to go elsewhere.

This brought my face to Silvermills; the path came past the village
with a crook, but all plainly visible; and, Highland or Lowland,
there was nobody stirring. Here was my advantage, here was just
such a conjuncture as Stewart had counselled me to profit by, and I
ran by the side of the mill-lade, fetched about beyond the east
corner of the wood, threaded through the midst of it, and returned
to the west selvage, whence I could again command the path, and yet
be myself unseen. Again it was all empty, and my heart began to

For more than an hour I sat close in the border of the trees, and
no hare or eagle could have kept a more particular watch. When
that hour began the sun was already set, but the sky still all
golden and the daylight clear; before the hour was done it had
fallen to be half mirk, the images and distances of things were
mingled, and observation began to be difficult. All that time not
a foot of man had come east from Silvermills, and the few that had
gone west were honest countryfolk and their wives upon the road to
bed. If I were tracked by the most cunning spies in Europe, I
judged it was beyond the course of nature they could have any
jealousy of where I was: and going a little further home into the
wood I lay down to wait for Alan.

The strain of my attention had been great, for I had watched not
the path only, but every bush and field within my vision. That was
now at an end. The moon, which was in her first quarter, glinted a
little in the wood; all round there was a stillness of the country;
and as I lay there on my back, the next three or four hours, I had
a fine occasion to review my conduct.

Two things became plain to me first: that I had no right to go
that day to Dean, and (having gone there) had now no right to be
lying where I was. This (where Alan was to come) was just the one
wood in all broad Scotland that was, by every proper feeling,
closed against me; I admitted that, and yet stayed on, wondering at
myself. I thought of the measure with which I had meted to
Catriona that same night; how I had prated of the two lives I
carried, and had thus forced her to enjeopardy her father's; and
how I was here exposing them again, it seemed in wantonness. A
good conscience is eight parts of courage. No sooner had I lost
conceit of my behaviour, than I seemed to stand disarmed amidst a
throng of terrors. Of a sudden I sat up. How if I went now to
Prestongrange, caught him (as I still easily might) before he
slept, and made a full submission? Who could blame me? Not
Stewart the Writer; I had but to say that I was followed, despaired
of getting clear, and so gave in. Not Catriona: here, too, I had
my answer ready; that I could not bear she should expose her
father. So, in a moment, I could lay all these troubles by, which
were after all and truly none of mine; swim clear of the Appin
Murder; get forth out of hand-stroke of all the Stewarts and
Campbells, all the Whigs and Tories, in the land; and live
henceforth to my own mind, and be able to enjoy and to improve my
fortunes, and devote some hours of my youth to courting Catriona,
which would be surely a more suitable occupation than to hide and
run and be followed like a hunted thief, and begin over again the
dreadful miseries of my escape with Alan.

At first I thought no shame of this capitulation; I was only amazed
I had not thought upon the thing and done it earlier; and began to
inquire into the causes of the change. These I traced to my
lowness of spirits, that back to my late recklessness, and that
again to the common, old, public, disconsidered sin of self-
indulgence. Instantly the text came in my head, "HOW CAN SATAN
CAST OUT SATAN?" What? (I thought) I had, by self-indulgence; and
the following of pleasant paths, and the lure of a young maid, cast
myself wholly out of conceit with my own character, and jeopardised
the lives of James and Alan? And I was to seek the way out by the
same road as I had entered in? No; the hurt that had been caused
by self-indulgence must be cured by self-denial; the flesh I had
pampered must be crucified. I looked about me for that course
which I least liked to follow: this was to leave the wood without
waiting to see Alan, and go forth again alone, in the dark and in
the midst of my perplexed and dangerous fortunes.

I have been the more careful to narrate this passage of my
reflections, because I think it is of some utility, and may serve
as an example to young men. But there is reason (they say) in
planting kale, and even in ethic and religion, room for common
sense. It was already close on Alan's hour, and the moon was down.
If I left (as I could not very decently whistle to my spies to
follow me) they might miss me in the dark and tack themselves to
Alan by mistake. If I stayed, I could at the least of it set my
friend upon his guard which might prove his mere salvation. I had
adventured other peoples' safety in a course of self-indulgence; to
have endangered them again, and now on a mere design of penance,
would have been scarce rational. Accordingly, I had scarce risen
from my place ere I sat down again, but already in a different
frame of spirits, and equally marvelling at my past weakness and
rejoicing in my present composure.

Presently after came a crackling in the thicket. Putting my mouth
near down to the ground, I whistled a note or two, of Alan's air;
an answer came in the like guarded tone, and soon we had knocked
together in the dark.

"Is this you at last, Davie?" he whispered.

"Just myself," said I.

"God, man, but I've been wearying to see ye!" says he. "I've had
the longest kind of a time. A' day, I've had my dwelling into the
inside of a stack of hay, where I couldnae see the nebs of my ten
fingers; and then two hours of it waiting here for you, and you
never coming! Dod, and ye're none too soon the way it is, with me
to sail the morn! The morn? what am I saying?--the day, I mean."

"Ay, Alan, man, the day, sure enough," said I. "It's past twelve
now, surely, and ye sail the day. This'll be a long road you have
before you."

"We'll have a long crack of it first," said he.

"Well, indeed, and I have a good deal it will be telling you to
hear," said I.

And I told him what behooved, making rather a jumble of it, but
clear enough when done. He heard me out with very few questions,
laughing here and there like a man delighted: and the sound of his
laughing (above all there, in the dark, where neither one of us
could see the other) was extraordinary friendly to my heart.

"Ay, Davie, ye're a queer character," says he, when I had done: "a
queer bitch after a', and I have no mind of meeting with the like
of ye. As for your story, Prestongrange is a Whig like yoursel',
so I'll say the less of him; and, dod! I believe he was the best
friend ye had, if ye could only trust him. But Simon Fraser and
James More are my ain kind of cattle, and I'll give them the name
that they deserve. The muckle black deil was father to the
Frasers, a'body kens that; and as for the Gregara, I never could
abye the reek of them since I could stotter on two feet. I
bloodied the nose of one, I mind, when I was still so wambly on my
legs that I cowped upon the top of him. A proud man was my father
that day, God rest him! and I think he had the cause. I'll never
can deny but what Robin was something of a piper," he added; "but
as for James More, the deil guide him for me!"

"One thing we have to consider," said I. "Was Charles Stewart
right or wrong? Is it only me they're after, or the pair of us?"

"And what's your ain opinion, you that's a man of so much
experience?" said he.

"It passes me," said I.

"And me too," says Alan. "Do ye think this lass would keep her
word to ye?" he asked.

"I do that," said I.

"Well, there's nae telling," said he. "And anyway, that's over and
done: he'll be joined to the rest of them lang syne."

"How many would ye think there would be of them?" I asked.

"That depends," said Alan. "If it was only you, they would likely
send two-three lively, brisk young birkies, and if they thought
that I was to appear in the employ, I daresay ten or twelve," said

It was no use, I gave a little crack of laughter.

"And I think your own two eyes will have seen me drive that number,
or the double of it, nearer hand!" cries he.

"It matters the less," said I, "because I am well rid of them for
this time."

"Nae doubt that's your opinion," said he; "but I wouldnae be the
least surprised if they were hunkering this wood. Ye see, David
man; they'll be Hieland folk. There'll be some Frasers, I'm
thinking, and some of the Gregara; and I would never deny but what
the both of them, and the Gregara in especial, were clever
experienced persons. A man kens little till he's driven a spreagh
of neat cattle (say) ten miles through a throng lowland country and
the black soldiers maybe at his tail. It's there that I learned a
great part of my penetration. And ye need nae tell me: it's
better than war; which is the next best, however, though generally
rather a bauchle of a business. Now the Gregara have had grand

"No doubt that's a branch of education that was left out with me,"
said I.

"And I can see the marks of it upon ye constantly," said Alan.
"But that's the strange thing about you folk of the college
learning: ye're ignorat, and ye cannae see 't. Wae's me for my
Greek and Hebrew; but, man, I ken that I dinnae ken them--there's
the differ of it. Now, here's you. Ye lie on your wame a bittie
in the bield of this wood, and ye tell me that ye've cuist off
these Frasers and Macgregors. Why? BECAUSE I COULDNAE SEE THEM,
says you. Ye blockhead, that's their livelihood."

"Take the worst of it," said I, "and what are we to do?"

"I am thinking of that same," said he. "We might twine. It
wouldnae be greatly to my taste; and forbye that, I see reasons
against it. First, it's now unco dark, and it's just humanly
possible we might give them the clean slip. If we keep together,
we make but the ae line of it; if we gang separate, we make twae of
them: the more likelihood to stave in upon some of these gentry of
yours. And then, second, if they keep the track of us, it may come
to a fecht for it yet, Davie; and then, I'll confess I would be
blythe to have you at my oxter, and I think you would be none the
worse of having me at yours. So, by my way of it, we should creep
out of this wood no further gone than just the inside of next
minute, and hold away east for Gillane, where I'm to find my ship.
It'll be like old days while it lasts, Davie; and (come the time)
we'll have to think what you should be doing. I'm wae to leave ye
here, wanting me."

"Have with ye, then!" says I. "Do ye gang back where you were

"Deil a fear!" said Alan. "They were good folks to me, but I think
they would be a good deal disappointed if they saw my bonny face
again. For (the way times go) I amnae just what ye could call a
Walcome Guest. Which makes me the keener for your company, Mr.
David Balfour of the Shaws, and set ye up! For, leave aside twa
cracks here in the wood with Charlie Stewart, I have scarce said
black or white since the day we parted at Corstorphine."

With which he rose from his place, and we began to move quietly
eastward through the wood.


It was likely between one and two; the moon (as I have said) was
down; a strongish wind, carrying a heavy wrack of cloud, had set in
suddenly from the west; and we began our movement in as black a
night as ever a fugitive or a murderer wanted. The whiteness of
the path guided us into the sleeping town of Broughton, thence
through Picardy, and beside my old acquaintance the gibbet of the
two thieves. A little beyond we made a useful beacon, which was a
light in an upper window of Lochend. Steering by this, but a good
deal at random, and with some trampling of the harvest, and
stumbling and falling down upon the banks, we made our way across
country, and won forth at last upon the linky, boggy muirland that
they call the Figgate Whins. Here, under a bush of whin, we lay
down the remainder of that night and slumbered.

The day called us about five. A beautiful morning it was, the high
westerly wind still blowing strong, but the clouds all blown away
to Europe. Alan was already sitting up and smiling to himself. It
was my first sight of my friend since we were parted, and I looked
upon him with enjoyment. He had still the same big great-coat on
his back; but (what was new) he had now a pair of knitted boot-hose
drawn above the knee. Doubtless these were intended for disguise;
but, as the day promised to be warm, he made a most unseasonable

"Well, Davie," said he, "is this no a bonny morning? Here is a day
that looks the way that a day ought to. This is a great change of
it from the belly of my haystack; and while you were there
sottering and sleeping I have done a thing that maybe I do very

"And what was that?" said I.

"O, just said my prayers," said he.

"And where are my gentry, as ye call them?" I asked.

"Gude kens," says he; "and the short and the long of it is that we
must take our chance of them. Up with your foot-soles, Davie!
Forth, Fortune, once again of it! And a bonny walk we are like to

So we went east by the beach of the sea, towards where the salt-
pans were smoking in by the Esk mouth. No doubt there was a by-
ordinary bonny blink of morning sun on Arthur's Seat and the green
Pentlands; and the pleasantness of the day appeared to set Alan
among nettles.

"I feel like a gomeral," says he, "to be leaving Scotland on a day
like this. It sticks in my head; I would maybe like it better to
stay here and hing."

"Ay, but ye wouldnae, Alan," said I.

"No, but what France is a good place too," he explained; "but it's
some way no the same. It's brawer I believe, but it's no Scotland.
I like it fine when I'm there, man; yet I kind of weary for Scots
divots and the Scots peat-reek."

"If that's all you have to complain of, Alan, it's no such great
affair," said I.

"And it sets me ill to be complaining, whatever," said he, "and me
but new out of yon deil's haystack."

"And so you were unco weary of your haystack?" I asked.

"Weary's nae word for it," said he. "I'm not just precisely a man
that's easily cast down; but I do better with caller air and the
lift above my head. I'm like the auld Black Douglas (wasnae't?)
that likit better to hear the laverock sing than the mouse cheep.
And yon place, ye see, Davie--whilk was a very suitable place to
hide in, as I'm free to own--was pit mirk from dawn to gloaming.
There were days (or nights, for how would I tell one from other?)
that seemed to me as long as a long winter."

"How did you know the hour to bide your tryst?" I asked.

"The goodman brought me my meat and a drop brandy, and a candle-
dowp to eat it by, about eleeven," said he. "So, when I had
swallowed a bit, it would he time to be getting to the wood. There
I lay and wearied for ye sore, Davie," says he, laying his hand on
my shoulder "and guessed when the two hours would be about by--
unless Charlie Stewart would come and tell me on his watch--and
then back to the dooms haystack. Na, it was a driech employ, and
praise the Lord that I have warstled through with it!"

"What did you do with yourself?" I asked.

"Faith," said he, "the best I could! Whiles I played at the
knucklebones. I'm an extraordinar good hand at the knucklebones,
but it's a poor piece of business playing with naebody to admire
ye. And whiles I would make songs."

"What were they about?" says I.

"O, about the deer and the heather," says he, "and about the
ancient old chiefs that are all by with it lang syne, and just
about what songs are about in general. And then whiles I would
make believe I had a set of pipes and I was playing. I played some
grand springs, and I thought I played them awful bonny; I vow
whiles that I could hear the squeal of them! But the great affair
is that it's done with."

With that he carried me again to my adventures, which he heard all
over again with more particularity, and extraordinary approval,
swearing at intervals that I was "a queer character of a callant."

"So ye were frich'ened of Sim Fraser?" he asked once.

"In troth was I!" cried I.

"So would I have been, Davie," said he. "And that is indeed a
driedful man. But it is only proper to give the deil his due: and
I can tell you he is a most respectable person on the field of

"Is he so brave?" I asked.

"Brave!" said he. "He is as brave as my steel sword."

The story of my duel set him beside himself.

"To think of that!" he cried. "I showed ye the trick in
Corrynakiegh too. And three times--three times disarmed! It's a
disgrace upon my character that learned ye! Here, stand up, out
with your airn; ye shall walk no step beyond this place upon the
road till ye can do yoursel' and me mair credit."

"Alan," said I, "this is midsummer madness. Here is no time for
fencing lessons."

"I cannae well say no to that," he admitted. "But three times,
man! And you standing there like a straw bogle and rinning to
fetch your ain sword like a doggie with a pocket-napkin! David,
this man Duncansby must be something altogether by-ordinar! He
maun be extraordinar skilly. If I had the time, I would gang
straight back and try a turn at him mysel'. The man must be a

"You silly fellow," said I, "you forget it was just me."

"Na," said he, "but three times!"

"When ye ken yourself that I am fair incompetent," I cried.

"Well, I never heard tell the equal of it," said he.

"I promise you the one thing, Alan," said I. "The next time that
we forgather, I'll be better learned. You shall not continue to
bear the disgrace of a friend that cannot strike."

"Ay, the next time!" says he. "And when will that be, I would like
to ken?"

"Well, Alan, I have had some thoughts of that, too," said I; "and
my plan is this. It's my opinion to be called an advocate."

"That's but a weary trade, Davie," says Alan, "and rather a
blagyard one forby. Ye would be better in a king's coat than

"And no doubt that would be the way to have us meet," cried I.
"But as you'll be in King Lewie's coat, and I'll be in King
Geordie's, we'll have a dainty meeting of it."

"There's some sense in that," he admitted

"An advocate, then, it'll have to be," I continued, "and I think it
a more suitable trade for a gentleman that was THREE TIMES
disarmed. But the beauty of the thing is this: that one of the
best colleges for that kind of learning--and the one where my
kinsman, Pilrig, made his studies--is the college of Leyden in
Holland. Now, what say you, Alan? Could not a cadet of Royal
Ecossais get a furlough, slip over the marches, and call in upon a
Leyden student?"

"Well, and I would think he could!" cried he. "Ye see, I stand
well in with my colonel, Count Drummond-Melfort; and, what's mair
to the purpose I have a cousin of mine lieutenant-colonel in a
regiment of the Scots-Dutch. Naething could be mair proper than
what I would get a leave to see Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart of
Halkett's. And Lord Melfort, who is a very scienteefic kind of a
man, and writes books like Caesar, would be doubtless very pleased
to have the advantage of my observes."

"Is Lord Meloort an author, then?" I asked, for much as Alan
thought of soldiers, I thought more of the gentry that write books.

"The very same, Davie," said he. "One would think a colonel would
have something better to attend to. But what can I say that make

"Well, then," said I, "it only remains you should give me an
address to write you at in France; and as soon as I am got to
Leyden I will send you mine."

"The best will be to write me in the care of my chieftain," said
he, "Charles Stewart, of Ardsheil, Esquire, at the town of Melons,
in the Isle of France. It might take long, or it might take short,
but it would aye get to my hands at the last of it."

We had a haddock to our breakfast in Musselburgh, where it amused
me vastly to hear Alan. His great-coat and boot-hose were
extremely remarkable this warm morning, and perhaps some hint of an
explanation had been wise; but Alan went into that matter like a
business, or I should rather say, like a diversion. He engaged the
goodwife of the house with some compliments upon the rizzoring of
our haddocks; and the whole of the rest of our stay held her in
talk about a cold he had taken on his stomach, gravely relating all
manner of symptoms and sufferings, and hearing with a vast show of
interest all the old wives' remedies she could supply him with in

Book of the day: