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Catriona by Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 3 out of 6

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We left Musselburgh before the first ninepenny coach was due from
Edinburgh for (as Alan said) that was a rencounter we might very
well avoid. The wind although still high, was very mild, the sun
shone strong, and Alan began to suffer in proportion. From
Prestonpans he had me aside to the field of Gladsmuir, where he
exerted himself a great deal more than needful to describe the
stages of the battle. Thence, at his old round pace, we travelled
to Cockenzie. Though they were building herring-busses there at
Mrs. Cadell's, it seemed a desert-like, back-going town, about half
full of ruined houses; but the ale-house was clean, and Alan, who
was now in a glowing heat, must indulge himself with a bottle of
ale, and carry on to the new luckie with the old story of the cold
upon his stomach, only now the symptoms were all different.

I sat listening; and it came in my mind that I had scarce ever
heard him address three serious words to any woman, but he was
always drolling and fleering and making a private mock of them, and
yet brought to that business a remarkable degree of energy and
interest. Something to this effect I remarked to him, when the
good-wife (as chanced) was called away.

"What do ye want?" says he. "A man should aye put his best foot
forrit with the womankind; he should aye give them a bit of a story
to divert them, the poor lambs! It's what ye should learn to
attend to, David; ye should get the principles, it's like a trade.
Now, if this had been a young lassie, or onyways bonnie, she would
never have heard tell of my stomach, Davie. But aince they're too
old to be seeking joes, they a' set up to be apotecaries. Why?
What do I ken? They'll be just the way God made them, I suppose.
But I think a man would be a gomeral that didnae give his attention
to the same."

And here, the luckie coming back, he turned from me as if with
impatience to renew their former conversation. The lady had
branched some while before from Alan's stomach to the case of a
goodbrother of her own in Aberlady, whose last sickness and demise
she was describing at extraordinary length. Sometimes it was
merely dull, sometimes both dull and awful, for she talked with
unction. The upshot was that I fell in a deep muse, looking forth
of the window on the road, and scarce marking what I saw.
Presently had any been looking they might have seen me to start.

"We pit a fomentation to his feet," the good-wife was saying, "and
a het stane to his wame, and we gied him hyssop and water of
pennyroyal, and fine, clean balsam of sulphur for the hoast. . . "

"Sir," says I, cutting very quietly in, "there's a friend of mine
gone by the house."

"Is that e'en sae?" replies Alan, as though it were a thing of
small account. And then, "Ye were saying, mem?" says he; and the
wearyful wife went on.

Presently, however, he paid her with a half-crown piece, and she
must go forth after the change.

"Was it him with the red head?" asked Alan.

"Ye have it," said I.

"What did I tell you in the wood?" he cried. "And yet it's strange
he should be here too! Was he his lane?"

"His lee-lane for what I could see," said I.

"Did he gang by?" he asked.

"Straight by," said I, "and looked neither to the right nor left."

"And that's queerer yet," said Alan. "It sticks in my mind, Davie,
that we should be stirring. But where to?--deil hae't! This is
like old days fairly," cries he.

"There is one big differ, though," said I, "that now we have money
in our pockets."

"And another big differ, Mr. Balfour," says he, "that now we have
dogs at our tail. They're on the scent; they're in full cry,
David. It's a bad business and be damned to it." And he sat
thinking hard with a look of his that I knew well.

"I'm saying, Luckie," says he, when the goodwife returned, "have ye
a back road out of this change house?"

She told him there was and where it led to.

"Then, sir," says he to me, "I think that will be the shortest road
for us. And here's good-bye to ye, my braw woman; and I'll no
forget thon of the cinnamon water."

We went out by way of the woman's kale yard, and up a lane among
fields. Alan looked sharply to all sides, and seeing we were in a
little hollow place of the country, out of view of men, sat down.

"Now for a council of war, Davie," said he. "But first of all, a
bit lesson to ye. Suppose that I had been like you, what would yon
old wife have minded of the pair of us! Just that we had gone out
by the back gate. And what does she mind now? A fine, canty,
friendly, cracky man, that suffered with the stomach, poor body!
and was real ta'en up about the goodbrother. O man, David, try and
learn to have some kind of intelligence!"

"I'll try, Alan," said I.

"And now for him of the red head," says he; "was he gaun fast or

"Betwixt and between," said I.

"No kind of a hurry about the man?" he asked.

"Never a sign of it," said I.

"Nhm!" said Alan, "it looks queer. We saw nothing of them this
morning on the Whins; he's passed us by, he doesnae seem to be
looking, and yet here he is on our road! Dod, Davie, I begin to
take a notion. I think it's no you they're seeking, I think it's
me; and I think they ken fine where they're gaun."

"They ken?" I asked.

"I think Andie Scougal's sold me--him or his mate wha kent some
part of the affair--or else Charlie's clerk callant, which would be
a pity too," says Alan; "and if you askit me for just my inward
private conviction, I think there'll be heads cracked on Gillane

"Alan," I cried, "if you're at all right there'll be folk there and
to spare. It'll be small service to crack heads."

"It would aye be a satisfaction though," says Alan. But bide a
bit; bide a bit; I'm thinking--and thanks to this bonny westland
wind, I believe I've still a chance of it. It's this way, Davie.
I'm no trysted with this man Scougal till the gloaming comes.
OF FIDRA. Now if your gentry kens the place, they ken the time
forbye. Do ye see me coming, Davie? Thanks to Johnnie Cope and
other red-coat gomerals, I should ken this country like the back of
my hand; and if ye're ready for another bit run with Alan Breck,
we'll can cast back inshore, and come to the seaside again by
Dirleton. If the ship's there, we'll try and get on board of her.
If she's no there, I'll just have to get back to my weary haystack.
But either way of it, I think we will leave your gentry whistling
on their thumbs."

"I believe there's some chance in it," said I. "Have on with ye,


I did not profit by Alan's pilotage as he had done by his marchings
under General Cope; for I can scarce tell what way we went. It is
my excuse that we travelled exceeding fast. Some part we ran, some
trotted, and the rest walked at a vengeance of a pace. Twice,
while we were at top speed, we ran against country-folk; but though
we plumped into the first from round a corner, Alan was as ready as
a loaded musket.

"Has ye seen my horse?" he gasped.

"Na, man, I haenae seen nae horse the day," replied the countryman.

And Alan spared the time to explain to him that we were travelling
"ride and tie"; that our charger had escaped, and it was feared he
had gone home to Linton. Not only that, but he expended some
breath (of which he had not very much left) to curse his own
misfortune and my stupidity which was said to be its cause.

"Them that cannae tell the truth," he observed to myself as we went
on again, "should be aye mindful to leave an honest, handy lee
behind them. If folk dinnae ken what ye're doing, Davie, they're
terrible taken up with it; but if they think they ken, they care
nae mair for it than what I do for pease porridge."

As we had first made inland, so our road came in the end to lie
very near due north; the old Kirk of Aberlady for a landmark on the
left; on the right, the top of the Berwick Law; and it was thus we
struck the shore again, not far from Dirleton. From north Berwick
west to Gillane Ness there runs a string of four small islets,
Craiglieth, the Lamb, Fidra, and Eyebrough, notable by their
diversity of size and shape. Fidra is the most particular, being a
strange grey islet of two humps, made the more conspicuous by a
piece of ruin; and I mind that (as we drew closer to it) by some
door or window of these ruins the sea peeped through like a man's
eye. Under the lee of Fidra there is a good anchorage in westerly
winds, and there, from a far way off, we could see the Thistle

The shore in face of these islets is altogether waste. Here is no
dwelling of man, and scarce any passage, or at most of vagabond
children running at their play. Gillane is a small place on the
far side of the Ness, the folk of Dirleton go to their business in
the inland fields, and those of North Berwick straight to the sea-
fishing from their haven; so that few parts of the coast are
lonelier. But I mind, as we crawled upon our bellies into that
multiplicity of heights and hollows, keeping a bright eye upon all
sides, and our hearts hammering at our ribs, there was such a
shining of the sun and the sea, such a stir of the wind in the bent
grass, and such a bustle of down-popping rabbits and up-flying
gulls, that the desert seemed to me, like a place alive. No doubt
it was in all ways well chosen for a secret embarcation, if the
secret had been kept; and even now that it was out, and the place
watched, we were able to creep unperceived to the front of the
sandhills, where they look down immediately on the beach and sea.

But here Alan came to a full stop.

"Davie," said he, "this is a kittle passage! As long as we lie
here we're safe; but I'm nane sae muckle nearer to my ship or the
coast of France. And as soon as we stand up and signal the brig,
it's another matter. For where will your gentry be, think ye?"

"Maybe they're no come yet," said I. "And even if they are,
there's one clear matter in our favour. They'll be all arranged to
take us, that's true. But they'll have arranged for our coming
from the east and here we are upon their west."

"Ay," says Alan, "I wish we were in some force, and this was a
battle, we would have bonnily out-manoeuvred them! But it isnae,
Davit; and the way it is, is a wee thing less inspiring to Alan
Breck. I swither, Davie."

"Time flies, Alan," said I.

"I ken that," said Alan. "I ken naething else, as the French folk
say. But this is a dreidful case of heids or tails. O! if I could
but ken where your gentry were!"

"Alan," said I, "this is no like you. It's got to be now or

"This is no me, quo' he,"

sang Alan, with a queer face betwixt shame and drollery.

"Neither you nor me, quo' he, neither you nor me.
Wow, na, Johnnie man! neither you nor me."

And then of a sudden he stood straight up where he was, and with a
handkerchief flying in his right hand, marched down upon the beach.
I stood up myself, but lingered behind him, scanning the sand-hills
to the east. His appearance was at first unremarked: Scougal not
expecting him so early, and MY GENTRY watching on the other side.
Then they awoke on board the Thistle, and it seemed they had all in
readiness, for there was scarce a second's bustle on the deck
before we saw a skiff put round her stern and begin to pull lively
for the coast. Almost at the same moment of time, and perhaps half
a mile away towards Gillane Ness, the figure of a man appeared for
a blink upon a sandhill, waving with his arms; and though he was
gone again in the same flash, the gulls in that part continued a
little longer to fly wild.

Alan had not seen this, looking straight to seaward at the ship and

"It maun be as it will!" said he, when I had told him, "Weel may
yon boatie row, or my craig'll have to thole a raxing."

That part of the beach was long and flat, and excellent walking
when the tide was down; a little cressy burn flowed over it in one
place to the sea; and the sandhills ran along the head of it like
the rampart of a town. No eye of ours could spy what was passing
behind there in the bents, no hurry of ours could mend the speed of
the boat's coming: time stood still with us through that uncanny
period of waiting.

"There is one thing I would like to ken," say Alan. "I would like
to ken these gentry's orders. We're worth four hunner pound the
pair of us: how if they took the guns to us, Davie! They would
get a bonny shot from the top of that lang sandy bank."

"Morally impossible," said I. "The point is that they can have no
guns. This thing has been gone about too secret; pistols they may
have, but never guns."

"I believe ye'll be in the right," says Alan. "For all which I am
wearing a good deal for yon boat."

And he snapped his fingers and whistled to it like a dog.

It was now perhaps a third of the way in, and we ourselves already
hard on the margin of the sea, so that the soft sand rose over my
shoes. There was no more to do whatever but to wait, to look as
much as we were able at the creeping nearer of the boat, and as
little as we could manage at the long impenetrable front of the
sandhills, over which the gulls twinkled and behind which our
enemies were doubtless marshalling.

"This is a fine, bright, caller place to get shot in," says Alan
suddenly; "and, man, I wish that I had your courage!"

"Alan!" I cried, "what kind of talk is this of it! You're just
made of courage; it's the character of the man, as I could prove
myself if there was nobody else."

"And you would be the more mistaken," said he. "What makes the
differ with me is just my great penetration and knowledge of
affairs. But for auld, cauld, dour, deadly courage, I am not fit
to hold a candle to yourself. Look at us two here upon the sands.
Here am I, fair hotching to be off; here's you (for all that I ken)
in two minds of it whether you'll no stop. Do you think that I
could do that, or would? No me! Firstly, because I havenae got
the courage and wouldnae daur; and secondly, because I am a man of
so much penetration and would see ye damned first."

"It's there ye're coming, is it?" I cried. "Ah, man Alan, you can
wile your old wives, but you never can wile me."

Remembrance of my temptation in the wood made me strong as iron.

"I have a tryst to keep," I continued. "I am trysted with your
cousin Charlie; I have passed my word."

"Braw trysts that you'll can keep," said Alan. "Ye'll just
mistryst aince and for a' with the gentry in the bents. And what
for?" he went on with an extreme threatening gravity. "Just tell
me that, my mannie! Are ye to be speerited away like Lady Grange?
Are they to drive a dirk in your inside and bury ye in the bents?
Or is it to be the other way, and are they to bring ye in with
James? Are they folk to be trustit? Would ye stick your head in
the mouth of Sim Fraser and the ither Whigs?" he added with
extraordinary bitterness.

"Alan," cried I, "they're all rogues and liars, and I'm with ye
there. The more reason there should be one decent man in such a
land of thieves! My word in passed, and I'll stick to it. I said
long syne to your kinswoman that I would stumble at no risk. Do ye
mind of that?--the night Red Colin fell, it was. No more I will,
then. Here I stop. Prestongrange promised me my life: if he's to
be mansworn, here I'll have to die."

"Aweel aweel," said Alan.

All this time we had seen or heard no more of our pursuers. In
truth we had caught them unawares; their whole party (as I was to
learn afterwards) had not yet reached the scene; what there was of
them was spread among the bents towards Gillane. It was quite an
affair to call them in and bring them over, and the boat was making
speed. They were besides but cowardly fellows: a mere leash of
Highland cattle-thieves, of several clans, no gentleman there to be
the captain and the more they looked at Alan and me upon the beach,
the less (I must suppose) they liked the look of us.

Whoever had betrayed Alan it was not the captain: he was in the
skiff himself, steering and stirring up his oarsmen, like a man
with his heart in his employ. Already he was near in, and the boat
securing--already Alan's face had flamed crimson with the
excitement of his deliverance, when our friends in the bents,
either in their despair to see their prey escape them or with some
hope of scaring Andie, raised suddenly a shrill cry of several

This sound, arising from what appeared to be a quite deserted
coast, was really very daunting, and the men in the boat held water

"What's this of it?" sings out the captain, for he was come within
an easy hail.

"Freens o'mine," says Alan, and began immediately to wade forth in
the shallow water towards the boat. "Davie," he said, pausing,
"Davie, are ye no coming? I am swier to leave ye."

"Not a hair of me," said I.

"He stood part of a second where he was to his knees in the salt
water, hesitating.

"He that will to Cupar, maun to Cupar," said he, and swashing in
deeper than his waist, was hauled into the skiff, which was
immediately directed for the ship.

I stood where he had left me, with my hands behind my back; Alan
sat with his head turned watching me; and the boat drew smoothly
away. Of a sudden I came the nearest hand to shedding tears, and
seemed to myself the most deserted solitary lad in Scotland. With
that I turned my back upon the sea and faced the sandhills. There
was no sight or sound of man; the sun shone on the wet sand and the
dry, the wind blew in the bents, the gulls made a dreary piping.
As I passed higher up the beach, the sand-lice were hopping nimbly
about the stranded tangles. The devil any other sight or sound in
that unchancy place. And yet I knew there were folk there,
observing me, upon some secret purpose. They were no soldiers, or
they would have fallen on and taken us ere now; doubtless they were
some common rogues hired for my undoing, perhaps to kidnap, perhaps
to murder me outright. From the position of those engaged, the
first was the more likely; from what I knew of their character and
ardency in this business, I thought the second very possible; and
the blood ran cold about my heart.

I had a mad idea to loosen my sword in the scabbard; for though I
was very unfit to stand up like a gentleman blade to blade, I
thought I could do some scathe in a random combat. But I perceived
in time the folly of resistance. This was no doubt the joint
"expedient" on which Prestongrange and Fraser were agreed. The
first, I was very sure, had done something to secure my life; the
second was pretty likely to have slipped in some contrary hints
into the ears of Neil and his companions; and it I were to show
bare steel I might play straight into the hands of my worst enemy
and seal my own doom.

These thoughts brought me to the head of the beach. I cast a look
behind, the boat was nearing the brig, and Alan flew his
handkerchief for a farewell, which I replied to with the waving of
my hand. But Alan himself was shrunk to a small thing in my view,
alongside of this pass that lay in front of me. I set my hat hard
on my head, clenched my teeth, and went right before me up the face
of the sand-wreath. It made a hard climb, being steep, and the
sand like water underfoot. But I caught hold at last by the long
bent-grass on the brae-top, and pulled myself to a good footing.
The same moment men stirred and stood up here and there, six or
seven of them, ragged-like knaves, each with a dagger in his hand.
The fair truth is, I shut my eyes and prayed. When I opened them
again, the rogues were crept the least thing nearer without speech
or hurry. Every eye was upon mine, which struck me with a strange
sensation of their brightness, and of the fear with which they
continued to approach me. I held out my hands empty; whereupon one
asked, with a strong Highland brogue, if I surrendered.

"Under protest," said I, "if ye ken what that means, which I

At that word, they came all in upon me like a flight of birds upon
a carrion, seized me, took my sword, and all the money from my
pockets, bound me hand and foot with some strong line, and cast me
on a tussock of bent. There they sat about their captive in a part
of a circle and gazed upon him silently like something dangerous,
perhaps a lion or a tiger on the spring. Presently this attention
was relaxed. They drew nearer together, fell to speech in the
Gaelic, and very cynically divided my property before my eyes. It
was my diversion in this time that I could watch from my place the
progress of my friend's escape. I saw the boat come to the brig
and be hoisted in, the sails fill, and the ship pass out seaward
behind the isles and by North Berwick.

In the course of two hours or so, more and more ragged Highlandmen
kept collecting. Neil among the first, until the party must have
numbered near a score. With each new arrival there was a fresh
bout of talk, that sounded like complaints and explanations; but I
observed one thing, none of those who came late had any share in
the division of my spoils. The last discussion was very violent
and eager, so that once I thought they would have quarrelled; on
the heels of which their company parted, the bulk of them returning
westward in a troop, and only three, Neil and two others, remaining
sentries on the prisoner.

"I could name one who would be very ill pleased with your day's
work, Neil Duncanson," said I, when the rest had moved away.

He assured me in answer I should be tenderly used, for he knew he
was "acquent wi' the leddy."

This was all our talk, nor did any other son of man appear upon
that portion of the coast until the sun had gone down among the
Highland mountains, and the gloaming was beginning to grow dark.
At which hour I was aware of a long, lean, bony-like Lothian man of
a very swarthy countenance, that came towards us among the bents on
a farm horse.

"Lads," cried he, "has ye a paper like this?" and held up one in
his hand. Neil produced a second, which the newcomer studied
through a pair of horn spectacles, and saying all was right and we
were the folk he was seeking, immediately dismounted. I was then
set in his place, my feet tied under the horse's belly, and we set
forth under the guidance of the Lowlander. His path must have been
very well chosen, for we met but one pair--a pair of lovers--the
whole way, and these, perhaps taking us to be free-traders, fled on
our approach. We were at one time close at the foot of Berwick Law
on the south side; at another, as we passed over some open hills, I
spied the lights of a clachan and the old tower of a church among
some trees not far off, but too far to cry for help, if I had
dreamed of it. At last we came again within sound of the sea.
There was moonlight, though not much; and by this I could see the
three huge towers and broken battlements of Tantallon, that old
chief place of the Red Douglases. The horse was picketed in the
bottom of the ditch to graze, and I was led within, and forth into
the court, and thence into the tumble-down stone hall. Here my
conductors built a brisk fire in the midst of the pavement, for
there was a chill in the night. My hands were loosed, I was set by
the wall in the inner end, and (the Lowlander having produced
provisions) I was given oatmeal bread and a pitcher of French
brandy. This done, I was left once more alone with my three
Highlandmen. They sat close by the fire drinking and talking; the
wind blew in by the breaches, cast about the smoke and flames, and
sang in the tops of the towers; I could hear the sea under the
cliffs, and, my mind being reassured as to my life, and my body and
spirits wearied with the day's employment, I turned upon one side
and slumbered.

I had no means of guessing at what hour I was wakened, only the
moon was down and the fire was low. My feet were now loosed, and I
was carried through the ruins and down the cliff-side by a
precipitous path to where I found a fisher's boat in a haven of the
rocks. This I was had on board of, and we began to put forth from
the shore in a fine starlight


I had no thought where they were taking me; only looked here and
there for the appearance of a ship; and there ran the while in my
head a word of Ransome's--the TWENTY-POUNDERS. If I were to be
exposed a second time to that same former danger of the
plantations, I judged it must turn ill with me; there was no second
Alan; and no second shipwreck and spare yard to be expected now;
and I saw myself hoe tobacco under the whip's lash. The thought
chilled me; the air was sharp upon the water, the stretchers of the
boat drenched with a cold dew: and I shivered in my place beside
the steersman. This was the dark man whom I have called hitherto
the Lowlander; his name was Dale, ordinarily called Black Andie.
Feeling the thrill of my shiver, he very kindly handed me a rough
jacket full of fish-scales, with which I was glad to cover myself.

"I thank you for this kindness," said I, "and will make so free as
to repay it with a warning. You take a high responsibility in this
affair. You are not like these ignorant, barbarous Highlanders,
but know what the law is and the risks of those that break it."

"I am no just exactly what ye would ca' an extremist for the law,"
says he, "at the best of times; but in this business I act with a
good warranty."

"What are you going to do with me?" I asked.

"Nae harm," said he, "nae harm ava'. Ye'll have strong freens, I'm
thinking. Ye'll be richt eneuch yet."

There began to fall a greyness on the face of the sea; little dabs
of pink and red, like coals of slow fire, came in the east; and at
the same time the geese awakened, and began crying about the top of
the Bass. It is just the one crag of rock, as everybody knows, but
great enough to carve a city from. The sea was extremely little,
but there went a hollow plowter round the base of it. With the
growing of the dawn I could see it clearer and clearer; the
straight crags painted with sea-birds' droppings like a morning
frost, the sloping top of it green with grass, the clan of white
geese that cried about the sides, and the black, broken buildings
of the prison sitting close on the sea's edge.

At the sight the truth came in upon me in a clap.

"It's there you're taking me!" I cried.

"Just to the Bass, mannie," said he: "Whaur the auld saints were
afore ye, and I misdoubt if ye have come so fairly by your

"But none dwells there now," I cried; "the place is long a ruin."

"It'll be the mair pleisand a change for the solan geese, then,"
quoth Andie dryly.

The day coming slowly brighter I observed on the bilge, among the
big stones with which fisherfolk ballast their boats, several kegs
and baskets, and a provision of fuel. All these were discharged
upon the crag. Andie, myself, and my three Highlanders (I call
them mine, although it was the other way about), landed along with
them. The sun was not yet up when the boat moved away again, the
noise of the oars on the thole-pins echoing from the cliffs, and
left us in our singular reclusion:

Andie Dale was the Prefect (as I would jocularly call him) of the
Bass, being at once the shepherd and the gamekeeper of that small
and rich estate. He had to mind the dozen or so of sheep that fed
and fattened on the grass of the sloping part of it, like beasts
grazing the roof of a cathedral. He had charge besides of the
solan geese that roosted in the crags; and from these an
extraordinary income is derived. The young are dainty eating, as
much as two shillings a-piece being a common price, and paid
willingly by epicures; even the grown birds are valuable for their
oil and feathers; and a part of the minister's stipend of North
Berwick is paid to this day in solan geese, which makes it (in some
folks' eyes) a parish to be coveted. To perform these several
businesses, as well as to protect the geese from poachers, Andie
had frequent occasion to sleep and pass days together on the crag;
and we found the man at home there like a farmer in his steading.
Bidding us all shoulder some of the packages, a matter in which I
made haste to bear a hand, he led us in by a looked gate, which was
the only admission to the island, and through the ruins of the
fortress, to the governor's house. There we saw by the ashes in
the chimney and a standing bed-place in one corner, that he made
his usual occupation.

This bed he now offered me to use, saying he supposed I would set
up to be gentry.

"My gentrice has nothing to do with where I lie," said I. "I bless
God I have lain hard ere now, and can do the same again with
thankfulness. While I am here, Mr. Andie, if that be your name, I
will do my part and take my place beside the rest of you; and I ask
you on the other hand to spare me your mockery, which I own I like

He grumbled a little at this speech, but seemed upon reflection to
approve it. Indeed, he was a long-headed, sensible man, and a good
Whig and Presbyterian; read daily in a pocket Bible, and was both
able and eager to converse seriously on religion, leaning more than
a little towards the Cameronian extremes. His morals were of a
more doubtful colour. I found he was deep in the free trade, and
used the rains of Tantallon for a magazine of smuggled merchandise.
As for a gauger, I do not believe he valued the life of one at
half-a-farthing. But that part of the coast of Lothian is to this
day as wild a place, and the commons there as rough a crew, as any
in Scotland.

One incident of my imprisonment is made memorable by a consequence
it had long after. There was a warship at this time stationed in
the Firth, the Seahorse, Captain Palliser. It chanced she was
cruising in the month of September, plying between Fife and
Lothian, and sounding for sunk dangers. Early one fine morning she
was seen about two miles to east of us, where she lowered a boat,
and seemed to examine the Wildfire Rocks and Satan's Bush, famous
dangers of that coast. And presently after having got her boat
again, she came before the wind and was headed directly for the
Base. This was very troublesome to Andie and the Highlanders; the
whole business of my sequestration was designed for privacy, and
here, with a navy captain perhaps blundering ashore, it looked to
become public enough, if it were nothing worse. I was in a
minority of one, I am no Alan to fall upon so many, and I was far
from sure that a warship was the least likely to improve my
condition. All which considered, I gave Andie my parole of good
behaviour and obedience, and was had briskly to the summit of the
rock, where we all lay down, at the cliff's edge, in different
places of observation and concealment. The Seahorse came straight
on till I thought she would have struck, and we (looking giddily
down) could see the ship's company at their quarters and hear the
leadsman singing at the lead. Then she suddenly wore and let fly a
volley of I know not how many great guns. The rock was shaken with
the thunder of the sound, the smoke flowed over our heads, and the
geese rose in number beyond computation or belief. To hear their
screaming and to see the twinkling of their wings, made a most
inimitable curiosity; and I suppose it was after this somewhat
childish pleasure that Captain Palliser had come so near the Bass.
He was to pay dear for it in time. During his approach I had the
opportunity to make a remark upon the rigging of that ship by which
I ever after knew it miles away; and this was a means (under
Providence) of my averting from a friend a great calamity, and
inflicting on Captain Palliser himself a sensible disappointment.

All the time of my stay on the rock we lived well. We had small
ale and brandy, and oatmeal, of which we made our porridge night
and morning. At times a boat came from the Castleton and brought
us a quarter of mutton, for the sheep upon the rock we must not
touch, these being specially fed to market. The geese were
unfortunately out of season, and we let them be. We fished
ourselves, and yet more often made the geese to fish for us:
observing one when he had made a capture and searing him from his
prey ere he had swallowed it.

The strange nature of this place, and the curiosities with which it
abounded, held me busy and amused. Escape being impossible, I was
allowed my entire liberty, and continually explored the surface of
the isle wherever it might support the foot of man. The old garden
of the prison was still to be observed, with flowers and pot-herbs
running wild, and some ripe cherries on a bush. A little lower
stood a chapel or a hermit's cell; who built or dwelt in it, none
may know, and the thought of its age made a ground of many
meditations. The prison, too, where I now bivouacked with Highland
cattle-thieves, was a place full of history, both human and divine.
I thought it strange so many saints and martyrs should have gone by
there so recently, and left not so much as a leaf out of their
Bibles, or a name carved upon the wall, while the rough soldier
lads that mounted guard upon the battlements had filled the
neighbourhood with their mementoes--broken tobacco-pipes for the
most part, and that in a surprising plenty, but also metal buttons
from their coats. There were times when I thought I could have
heard the pious sound of psalms out of the martyr's dungeons, and
seen the soldiers tramp the ramparts with their glinting pipes, and
the dawn rising behind them out of the North Sea.

No doubt it was a good deal Andie and his tales that put these
fancies in my head. He was extraordinarily well acquainted with
the story of the rock in all particulars, down to the names of
private soldiers, his father having served there in that same
capacity. He was gifted besides with a natural genius for
narration, so that the people seemed to speak and the things to be
done before your face. This gift of his and my assiduity to listen
brought us the more close together. I could not honestly deny but
what I liked him; I soon saw that he liked me; and indeed, from the
first I had set myself out to capture his good-will. An odd
circumstance (to be told presently) effected this beyond my
expectation; but even in early days we made a friendly pair to be a
prisoner and his gaoler.

I should trifle with my conscience if I pretended my stay upon the
Bass was wholly disagreeable. It seemed to me a safe place, as
though I was escaped there out of my troubles. No harm was to be
offered me; a material impossibility, rock and the deep sea,
prevented me from fresh attempts; I felt I had my life safe and my
honour safe, and there were times when I allowed myself to gloat on
them like stolen waters. At other times my thoughts were very
different, I recalled how strong I had expressed myself both to
Rankeillor and to Stewart; I reflected that my captivity upon the
Bass, in view of a great part of the coasts of Fife and Lothian,
was a thing I should be thought more likely to have invented than
endured; and in the eyes of these two gentlemen, at least, I must
pass for a boaster and a coward. Now I would take this lightly
enough; tell myself that so long as I stood well with Catriona
Drummond, the opinion of the rest of man was but moonshine and
spilled water; and thence pass off into those meditations of a
lover which are so delightful to himself and must always appear so
surprisingly idle to a reader. But anon the fear would take me
otherwise; I would be shaken with a perfect panic of self-esteem,
and these supposed hard judgments appear an injustice impossible to
be supported. With that another train of thought would he
presented, and I had scarce begun to be concerned about men's
judgments of myself, than I was haunted with the remembrance of
James Stewart in his dungeon and the lamentations of his wife.
Then, indeed, passion began to work in me; I could not forgive
myself to sit there idle: it seemed (if I were a man at all) that
I could fly or swim out of my place of safety; and it was in such
humours and to amuse my self-reproaches that I would set the more
particularly to win the good side of Andie Dale.

At last, when we two were alone on the summit of the rock on a
bright morning, I put in some hint about a bribe. He looked at me,
cast back his head, and laughed out loud.

"Ay, you're funny, Mr. Dale," said I, "but perhaps if you'll glance
an eye upon that paper you may change your note."

The stupid Highlanders had taken from me at the time of my seizure
nothing but hard money, and the paper I now showed Andie was an
acknowledgment from the British Linen Company for a considerable

He read it. "Troth, and ye're nane sae ill aff," said he.

"I thought that would maybe vary your opinions," said I.

"Hout!" said he. "It shows me ye can bribe; but I'm no to be

"We'll see about that yet a while," says I. "And first, I'll show
you that I know what I am talking. You have orders to detain me
here till after Thursday, 21st September."

"Ye're no a'thegether wrong either," says Andie. "I'm to let you
gang, bar orders contrair, on Saturday, the 23rd."

I could not but feel there was something extremely insidious in
this arrangement. That I was to re-appear precisely in time to be
too late would cast the more discredit on my tale, if I were minded
to tell one; and this screwed me to fighting point.

"Now then, Andie, you that kens the world, listen to me, and think
while ye listen," said I. "I know there are great folks in the
business, and I make no doubt you have their names to go upon. I
have seen some of them myself since this affair began, and said my
say into their faces too. But what kind of a crime would this be
that I had committed? or what kind of a process is this that I am
fallen under? To be apprehended by some ragged John-Hielandman on
August 30th, carried to a rickle of old stones that is now neither
fort nor gaol (whatever it once was) but just the gamekeeper's
lodge of the Bass Rock, and set free again, September 23rd, as
secretly as I was first arrested--does that sound like law to you?
or does it sound like justice? or does it not sound honestly like a
piece of some low dirty intrigue, of which the very folk that
meddle with it are ashamed?"

"I canna gainsay ye, Shaws. It looks unco underhand," says Andie.
"And werenae the folk guid sound Whigs and true-blue Presbyterians
I would has seen them ayont Jordan and Jeroozlem or I would have
set hand to it."

"The Master of Lovat'll be a braw Whig," says I, "and a grand

"I ken naething by him," said he. "I hae nae trokings wi' Lovats."

"No, it'll be Prestongrange that you'll be dealing with," said I.

"Ah, but I'll no tell ye that," said Andie.

"Little need when I ken," was my retort.

"There's just the ae thing ye can be fairly sure of, Shaws," says
Andie. "And that is that (try as ye please) I'm no dealing wi'
yoursel'; nor yet I amnae goin' to," he added.

"Well, Andie, I see I'll have to be speak out plain with you," I
replied. And told him so much as I thought needful of the facts.

He heard me out with some serious interest, and when I had done,
seemed to consider a little with himself.

"Shaws," said he at last, "I'll deal with the naked hand. It's a
queer tale, and no very creditable, the way you tell it; and I'm
far frae minting that is other than the way that ye believe it. As
for yoursel', ye seem to me rather a dacent-like young man. But
me, that's aulder and mair judeecious, see perhaps a wee bit
further forrit in the job than what ye can dae. And here the
maitter clear and plain to ye. There'll be nae skaith to yoursel'
if I keep ye here; far free that, I think ye'll be a hantle better
by it. There'll be nae skaith to the kintry--just ae mair
Hielantman hangit--Gude kens, a guid riddance! On the ither hand,
it would be considerable skaith to me if I would let you free.
Sae, speakin' as a guid Whig, an honest freen' to you, and an
anxious freen' to my ainsel', the plain fact is that I think ye'll
just have to bide here wi' Andie an' the solans."

"Andie," said I, laying my hand upon his knee, "this Hielantman's

"Ay, it's a peety about that," said he. "But ye see, in this
warld, the way God made it, we cannae just get a'thing that we


I have yet said little of the Highlanders. They were all three of
the followers of James More, which bound the accusation very tight
about their master's neck. All understood a word or two of
English, but Neil was the only one who judged he had enough of it
for general converse, in which (when once he got embarked) his
company was often tempted to the contrary opinion. They were
tractable, simple creatures; showed much more courtesy than might
have been expected from their raggedness and their uncouth
appearance, and fell spontaneously to be like three servants for
Andie and myself.

Dwelling in that isolated place, in the old falling ruins of a
prison, and among endless strange sounds of the sea and the sea-
birds, I thought I perceived in them early the effects of
superstitious fear. When there was nothing doing they would either
lie and sleep, for which their appetite appeared insatiable, or
Neil would entertain the others with stories which seemed always of
a terrifying strain. If neither of these delights were within
reach--if perhaps two were sleeping and the third could find no
means to follow their example--I would see him sit and listen and
look about him in a progression of uneasiness, starting, his face
blenching, his hands clutched, a man strung like a bow. The nature
of these fears I had never an occasion to find out, but the sight
of them was catching, and the nature of the place that we were in
favourable to alarms. I can find no word for it in the English,
but Andie had an expression for it in the Scots from which he never

"Ay," he would say, "ITS AN UNCO PLACE, THE BASS."

It is so I always think of it. It was an unco place by night, unco
by day; and these were unco sounds, of the calling of the solans,
and the plash of the sea and the rock echoes, that hung continually
in our ears. It was chiefly so in moderate weather. When the
waves were anyway great they roared about the rock like thunder and
the drums of armies, dreadful but merry to hear; and it was in the
calm days that a man could daunt himself with listening--not a
Highlandman only, as I several times experimented on myself, so
many still, hollow noises haunted and reverberated in the porches
of the rock.

This brings me to a story I heard, and a scene I took part in,
which quite changed our terms of living, and had a great effect on
my departure. It chanced one night I fell in a muse beside the
fire and (that little air of Alan's coming back to my memory) began
to whistle. A hand was laid upon my arm, and the voice of Neil
bade me to stop, for it was not "canny musics."

"Not canny?" I asked. "How can that be?"

"Na," said he; "it will be made by a bogle and her wanting ta heid
upon his body." {13}

"Well," said I, "there can be no bogles here, Neil; for it's not
likely they would fash themselves to frighten geese."

"Ay?" says Andie, "is that what ye think of it! But I'll can tell
ye there's been waur nor bogles here."

"What's waur than bogles, Andie?" said I.

"Warlocks," said he. "Or a warlock at the least of it. And that's
a queer tale, too," he added. "And if ye would like, I'll tell it

To be sure we were all of the one mind, and even the Highlander
that had the least English of the three set himself to listen with
all his might.


MY faither, Tam Dale, peace to his banes, was a wild, sploring lad
in his young days, wi' little wisdom and little grace. He was fond
of a lass and fond of a glass, and fond of a ran-dan; but I could
never hear tell that he was muckle use for honest employment. Frae
ae thing to anither, he listed at last for a sodger and was in the
garrison of this fort, which was the first way that ony of the
Dales cam to set foot upon the Bass. Sorrow upon that service!
The governor brewed his ain ale; it seems it was the warst
conceivable. The rock was proveesioned free the shore with vivers,
the thing was ill-guided, and there were whiles when they but to
fish and shoot solans for their diet. To crown a', thir was the
Days of the Persecution. The perishin' cauld chalmers were all
occupeed wi' sants and martyrs, the saut of the yearth, of which it
wasnae worthy. And though Tam Dale carried a firelock there, a
single sodger, and liked a lass and a glass, as I was sayin,' the
mind of the man was mair just than set with his position. He had
glints of the glory of the kirk; there were whiles when his dander
rase to see the Lord's sants misguided, and shame covered him that
he should be haulding a can'le (or carrying a firelock) in so black
a business. There were nights of it when he was here on sentry,
the place a' wheesht, the frosts o' winter maybe riving in the
wa's, and he would hear ane o' the prisoners strike up a psalm, and
the rest join in, and the blessed sounds rising from the different
chalmers--or dungeons, I would raither say--so that this auld craig
in the sea was like a pairt of Heev'n. Black shame was on his
saul; his sins hove up before him muckle as the Bass, and above a',
that chief sin, that he should have a hand in hagging and hashing
at Christ's Kirk. But the truth is that he resisted the spirit.
Day cam, there were the rousing compainions, and his guid resolves

In thir days, dwalled upon the Bass a man of God, Peden the Prophet
was his name. Ye'll have heard tell of Prophet Peden. There was
never the wale of him sinsyne, and it's a question wi' mony if
there ever was his like afore. He was wild's a peat-hag, fearsome
to look at, fearsome to hear, his face like the day of judgment.
The voice of him was like a solan's and dinnle'd in folks' lugs,
and the words of him like coals of fire.

Now there was a lass on the rock, and I think she had little to do,
for it was nae place far decent weemen; but it seems she was bonny,
and her and Tam Dale were very well agreed. It befell that Peden
was in the gairden his lane at the praying when Tam and the lass
cam by; and what should the lassie do but mock with laughter at the
sant's devotions? He rose and lookit at the twa o' them, and Tam's
knees knoitered thegether at the look of him. But whan he spak, it
was mair in sorrow than in anger. 'Poor thing, poor thing!" says
he, and it was the lass he lookit at, "I hear you skirl and laugh,"
he says, "but the Lord has a deid shot prepared for you, and at
that surprising judgment ye shall skirl but the ae time!" Shortly
thereafter she was daundering on the craigs wi' twa-three sodgers,
and it was a blawy day. There cam a gowst of wind, claught her by
the coats, and awa' wi' her bag and baggage. And it was remarked
by the sodgers that she gied but the ae skirl.

Nae doubt this judgment had some weicht upon Tam Dale; but it
passed again and him none the better. Ae day he was flyting wi'
anither sodger-lad. "Deil hae me!" quo' Tam, for he was a profane
swearer. And there was Peden glowering at him, gash an' waefu';
Peden wi' his lang chafts an' luntin' een, the maud happed about
his kist, and the hand of him held out wi' the black nails upon the
finger-nebs--for he had nae care of the body. "Fy, fy, poor man!"
cries he, "the poor fool man! DEIL HAE ME, quo' he; an' I see the
deil at his oxter." The conviction of guilt and grace cam in on
Tam like the deep sea; he flang doun the pike that was in his
hands--"I will nae mair lift arms against the cause o' Christ!"
says he, and was as gude's word. There was a sair fyke in the
beginning, but the governor, seeing him resolved, gied him his
discharge, and he went and dwallt and merried in North Berwick, and
had aye a gude name with honest folk free that day on.

It was in the year seeventeen hunner and sax that the Bass cam in
the hands o' the Da'rymples, and there was twa men soucht the
chairge of it. Baith were weel qualified, for they had baith been
sodgers in the garrison, and kent the gate to handle solans, and
the seasons and values of them. Forby that they were baith--or
they baith seemed--earnest professors and men of comely
conversation. The first of them was just Tam Dale, my faither.
The second was ane Lapraik, whom the folk ca'd Tod Lapraik maistly,
but whether for his name or his nature I could never hear tell.
Weel, Tam gaed to see Lapraik upon this business, and took me, that
was a toddlin' laddie, by the hand. Tod had his dwallin' in the
lang loan benorth the kirkyaird. It's a dark uncanny loan, forby
that the kirk has aye had an ill name since the days o' James the
Saxt and the deevil's cantrips played therein when the Queen was on
the seas; and as for Tod's house, it was in the mirkest end, and
was little liked by some that kenned the best. The door was on the
sneck that day, and me and my faither gaed straucht in. Tod was a
wabster to his trade; his loom stood in the but. There he sat, a
muckle fat, white hash of a man like creish, wi' a kind of a holy
smile that gart me scunner. The hand of him aye cawed the shuttle,
but his een was steeked. We cried to him by his name, we skirted
in the deid lug of him, we shook him by the shou'ther. Nae mainner
o' service! There he sat on his dowp, an' cawed the shuttle and
smiled like creish.

"God be guid to us," says Tam Dale, "this is no canny?"

He had jimp said the word, when Tod Lapraik cam to himsel'.

"Is this you, Tam?" says he. "Haith, man! I'm blythe to see ye.
I whiles fa' into a bit dwam like this," he says; "its frae the

Weel, they began to crack about the Bass and which of them twa was
to get the warding o't, and little by little cam to very ill words,
and twined in anger. I mind weel that as my faither and me gaed
hame again, he cam ower and ower the same expression, how little he
likit Tod Lapraik and his dwams.

"Dwam!" says he. "I think folk hae brunt for dwams like yon."

Aweel, my faither got the Bass and Tod had to go wantin'. It was
remembered sinsyne what way he had ta'en the thing. "Tam," says
he, "ye hae gotten the better o' me aince mair, and I hope," says
he, "ye'll find at least a' that ye expeckit at the Bass." Which
have since been thought remarkable expressions. At last the time
came for Tam Dale to take young solans. This was a business he was
weel used wi', he had been a craigsman frae a laddie, and trustit
nane but himsel'. So there was he hingin' by a line an' speldering
on the craig face, whaur its hieest and steighest. Fower tenty
lads were on the tap, hauldin' the line and mindin' for his
signals. But whaur Tam hung there was naething but the craig, and
the sea belaw, and the solans skirlin and flying. It was a braw
spring morn, and Tam whustled as he claught in the young geese.
Mony's the time I've heard him tell of this experience, and aye the
swat ran upon the man.

It chanced, ye see, that Tam keeked up, and he was awaur of a
muckle solan, and the solan pyking at the line. He thocht this by-
ordinar and outside the creature's habits. He minded that ropes
was unco saft things, and the solan's neb and the Bass Rock unco
hard, and that twa hunner feet were raither mair than he would care
to fa'.

"Shoo!" says Tam. "Awa', bird! Shoo, awa' wi' ye!" says he.

The solan keekit doon into Tam's face, and there was something unco
in the creature's ee. Just the ae keek it gied, and back to the
rope. But now it wroucht and warstl't like a thing dementit.
There never was the solan made that wroucht as that solan wroucht;
and it seemed to understand its employ brawly, birzing the saft
rope between the neb of it and a crunkled jag o' stane.

There gaed a cauld stend o' fear into Tam's heart. "This thing is
nae bird," thinks he. His een turnt backward in his heid and the
day gaed black aboot him. "If I get a dwam here," he toucht, "it's
by wi' Tam Dale." And he signalled for the lads to pu' him up.

And it seemed the solan understood about signals. For nae sooner
was the signal made than he let be the rope, spried his wings,
squawked out loud, took a turn flying, and dashed straucht at Tam
Dale's een. Tam had a knife, he gart the cauld steel glitter. And
it seemed the solan understood about knives, for nae suner did the
steel glint in the sun than he gied the ae squawk, but laighter,
like a body disappointit, and flegged aff about the roundness of
the craig, and Tam saw him nae mair. And as sune as that thing was
gane, Tam's heid drapt upon his shouther, and they pu'd him up like
a deid corp, dadding on the craig.

A dram of brandy (which he went never without) broucht him to his
mind, or what was left of it. Up he sat.

"Rin, Geordie, rin to the boat, mak' sure of the boat, man--rin!"
he cries, "or yon solan'll have it awa'," says he.

The fower lads stared at ither, an' tried to whilly-wha him to be
quiet. But naething would satisfy Tam Dale, till ane o' them had
startit on aheid to stand sentry on the boat. The ithers askit if
he was for down again.

"Na," says he, "and niether you nor me," says he, "and as sune as I
can win to stand on my twa feet we'll be aff frae this craig o'

Sure eneuch, nae time was lost, and that was ower muckle; for
before they won to North Berwick Tam was in a crying fever. He lay
a' the simmer; and wha was sae kind as come speiring for him, but
Tod Lapraik! Folk thocht afterwards that ilka time Tod cam near
the house the fever had worsened. I kenna for that; but what I ken
the best, that was the end of it.

It was about this time o' the year; my grandfaither was out at the
white fishing; and like a bairn, I but to gang wi' him. We had a
grand take, I mind, and the way that the fish lay broucht us near
in by the Bass, whaur we foregaithered wi' anither boat that
belanged to a man Sandie Fletcher in Castleton. He's no lang deid
neither, or ye could speir at himsel'. Weel, Sandie hailed.

"What's yon on the Bass?" says he.

"On the Bass?" says grandfaither.

"Ay," says Sandie, "on the green side o't."

"Whatten kind of a thing?" says grandfaither. "There cannae be
naething on the Bass but just the sheep."

"It looks unco like a body," quo' Sandie, who was nearer in.

"A body!" says we, and we none of us likit that. For there was nae
boat that could have brought a man, and the key o' the prison yett
hung ower my faither's at hame in the press bed.

We keept the twa boats close for company, and crap in nearer hand.
Grandfaither had a gless, for he had been a sailor, and the captain
of a smack, and had lost her on the sands of Tay. And when we took
the glass to it, sure eneuch there was a man. He was in a crunkle
o' green brae, a wee below the chaipel, a' by his lee lane, and
lowped and flang and danced like a daft quean at a waddin'.

"It's Tod," says grandfather, and passed the gless to Sandie.

"Ay, it's him," says Sandie.

"Or ane in the likeness o' him," says grandfaither.

"Sma' is the differ," quo' Sandie. "De'il or warlock, I'll try the
gun at him," quo' he, and broucht up a fowling-piece that he aye
carried, for Sandie was a notable famous shot in all that country.

"Haud your hand, Sandie," says grandfaither; "we maun see clearer
first," says he, "or this may be a dear day's wark to the baith of

"Hout!" says Sandie, "this is the Lord's judgment surely, and be
damned to it," says he.

"Maybe ay, and maybe no," says my grandfaither, worthy man! "But
have you a mind of the Procurator Fiscal, that I think ye'll have
foregaithered wi' before," says he.

This was ower true, and Sandie was a wee thing set ajee. "Aweel,
Edie," says he, "and what would be your way of it?"

"Ou, just this," says grandfaither. "Let me that has the fastest
boat gang back to North Berwick, and let you bide here and keep an
eye on Thon. If I cannae find Lapraik, I'll join ye and the twa of
us'll have a crack wi' him. But if Lapraik's at hame, I'll rin up
the flag at the harbour, and ye can try Thon Thing wi' the gun."

Aweel, so it was agreed between them twa. I was just a bairn, an'
clum in Sandie's boat, whaur I thoucht I would see the best of the
employ. My grandsire gied Sandie a siller tester to pit in his gun
wi' the leid draps, bein mair deidly again bogles. And then the as
boat set aff for North Berwick, an' the tither lay whaur it was and
watched the wanchancy thing on the brae-side.

A' the time we lay there it lowped and flang and capered and span
like a teetotum, and whiles we could hear it skelloch as it span.
I hae seen lassies, the daft queans, that would lowp and dance a
winter's nicht, and still be lowping and dancing when the winter's
day cam in. But there would be fowk there to hauld them company,
and the lads to egg them on; and this thing was its lee-lane. And
there would be a fiddler diddling his elbock in the chimney-side;
and this thing had nae music but the skirling of the solans. And
the lassies were bits o' young things wi' the reid life dinnling
and stending in their members; and this was a muckle, fat, creishy
man, and him fa'n in the vale o' years. Say what ye like, I maun
say what I believe. It was joy was in the creature's heart, the
joy o' hell, I daursay: joy whatever. Mony a time I have askit
mysel' why witches and warlocks should sell their sauls (whilk are
their maist dear possessions) and be auld, duddy, wrunkl't wives or
auld, feckless, doddered men; and then I mind upon Tod Lapraik
dancing a' the hours by his lane in the black glory of his heart.
Nae doubt they burn for it muckle in hell, but they have a grand
time here of it, whatever!--and the Lord forgie us!

Weel, at the hinder end, we saw the wee flag yirk up to the mast-
heid upon the harbour rocks. That was a' Sandie waited for. He up
wi' the gun, took a deleeberate aim, an' pu'd the trigger. There
cam' a bang and then ae waefu' skirl frae the Bass. And there were
we rubbin' our een and lookin' at ither like daft folk. For wi'
the bang and the skirl the thing had clean disappeared. The sun
glintit, the wund blew, and there was the bare yaird whaur the
Wonder had been lowping and flinging but ae second syne.

The hale way hame I roared and grat wi' the terror o' that
dispensation. The grawn folk were nane sae muckle better; there
was little said in Sandie's boat but just the name of God; and when
we won in by the pier, the harbour rocks were fair black wi' the
folk waitin' us. It seems they had fund Lapraik in ane of his
dwams, cawing the shuttle and smiling. Ae lad they sent to hoist
the flag, and the rest abode there in the wabster's house. You may
be sure they liked it little; but it was a means of grace to
severals that stood there praying in to themsel's (for nane cared
to pray out loud) and looking on thon awesome thing as it cawed the
shuttle. Syne, upon a suddenty, and wi' the ae dreidfu' skelloch,
Tod sprang up frae his hinderlands and fell forrit on the wab, a
bluidy corp.

When the corp was examined the leid draps hadnae played buff upon
the warlock's body; sorrow a leid drap was to be fund! but there
was grandfaither's siller tester in the puddock's heart of him.

Andie had scarce done when there befell a mighty silly affair that
had its consequence. Neil, as I have said, was himself a great
narrator. I have heard since that he knew all the stories in the
Highlands; and thought much of himself, and was thought much of by
others on the strength of it. Now Andie's tale reminded him of one
he had already heard.

"She would ken that story afore," he said. "She was the story of
Uistean More M'Gillie Phadrig and the Gavar Vore."

"It is no sic a thing," cried Andie. "It is the story of my
faither (now wi' God) and Tod Lapraik. And the same in your
beard," says he; "and keep the tongue of ye inside your Hielant

In dealing with Highlanders it will be found, and has been shown in
history, how well it goes with Lowland gentlefolk; but the thing
appears scarce feasible for Lowland commons. I had already
remarked that Andie was continually on the point of quarrelling
with our three MacGregors, and now, sure enough, it was to come.

"Thir will be no words to use to shentlemans," says Neil.

"Shentlemans!" cries Andie. "Shentlemans, ye hielant stot! If God
would give ye the grace to see yoursel' the way that ithers see ye,
ye would throw your denner up."

There came some kind of a Gaelic oath from Neil, and the black
knife was in his hand that moment.

There was no time to think; and I caught the Highlander by the leg,
and had him down, and his armed hand pinned out, before I knew what
I was doing. His comrades sprang to rescue him, Andie and I were
without weapons, the Gregara three to two. It seemed we were
beyond salvation, when Neil screamed in his own tongue, ordering
the others back, and made his submission to myself in a manner the
most abject, even giving me up his knife which (upon a repetition
of his promises) I returned to him on the morrow.

Two things I saw plain: the first, that I must not build too high
on Andie, who had shrunk against the wall and stood there, as pale
as death, till the affair was over; the second, the strength of my
own position with the Highlanders, who must have received
extraordinary charges to be tender of my safety. But if I thought
Andie came not very well out in courage, I had no fault to find
with him upon the account of gratitude. It was not so much that he
troubled me with thanks, as that his whole mind and manner appeared
changed; and as he preserved ever after a great timidity of our
companions, he and I were yet more constantly together.


On the seventeenth, the day I was trysted with the Writer, I had
much rebellion against fate. The thought of him waiting in the
King's Arms, and of what he would think, and what he would say when
next we met, tormented and oppressed me. The truth was
unbelievable, so much I had to grant, and it seemed cruel hard I
should be posted as a liar and a coward, and have never consciously
omitted what it was possible that I should do. I repeated this
form of words with a kind of bitter relish, and re-examined in that
light the steps of my behaviour. It seemed I had behaved to James
Stewart as a brother might; all the past was a picture that I could
be proud of, and there was only the present to consider. I could
not swim the sea, nor yet fly in the air, but there was always
Andie. I had done him a service, he liked me; I had a lever there
to work on; if it were just for decency, I must try once more with

It was late afternoon; there was no sound in all the Bass but the
lap and bubble of a very quiet sea; and my four companions were all
crept apart, the three Macgregors higher on the rock, and Andie
with his Bible to a sunny place among the ruins; there I found him
in deep sleep, and, as soon as he was awake, appealed to him with
some fervour of manner and a good show of argument.

"If I thoucht it was to do guid to ye, Shaws!" said he, staring at
me over his spectacles.

"It's to save another," said I, "and to redeem my word. What would
be more good than that? Do ye no mind the scripture, Andie? And
you with the Book upon your lap! WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE

"Ay," said he, "that's grand for you. But where do I come in! I
have my word to redeem the same's yoursel'. And what are ye asking
me to do, but just to sell it ye for siller?"

"Andie! have I named the name of siller?" cried I.

"Ou, the name's naething", said he; "the thing is there, whatever.
It just comes to this; if I am to service ye the way that you
propose, I'll lose my lifelihood. Then it's clear ye'll have to
make it up to me, and a pickle mair, for your ain credit like. And
what's that but just a bribe? And if even I was certain of the
bribe! But by a' that I can learn, it's far frae that; and if YOU
were to hang, where would _I_ be? Na: the thing's no possible.
And just awa' wi' ye like a bonny lad! and let Andie read his

I remember I was at bottom a good deal gratified with this result;
and the next humour I fell into was one (I had near said) of
gratitude to Prestongrange, who had saved me, in this violent,
illegal manner, out of the midst of my dangers, temptations, and
perplexities. But this was both too flimsy and too cowardly to
last me long, and the remembrance of James began to succeed to the
possession of my spirits. The 21st, the day set for the trial, I
passed in such misery of mind as I can scarce recall to have
endured, save perhaps upon Isle Earraid only. Much of the time I
lay on a brae-side betwixt sleep and waking, my body motionless, my
mind full of violent thoughts. Sometimes I slept indeed; but the
court-house of Inverary and the prisoner glancing on all sides to
find his missing witness, followed me in slumber; and I would wake
again with a start to darkness of spirit and distress of body. I
thought Andie seemed to observe me, but I paid him little heed.
Verily, my bread was bitter to me, and my days a burthen.

Early the next morning (Friday, 22nd) a boat came with provisions,
and Andie placed a packet in my hand. The cover was without
address but sealed with a Government seal. It enclosed two notes.
"Mr. Balfour can now see for himself it is too late to meddle. His
conduct will be observed and his discretion rewarded." So ran the
first, which seemed to be laboriously writ with the left hand.
There was certainly nothing in these expressions to compromise the
writer, even if that person could be found; the seal, which
formidably served instead of signature, was affixed to a separate
sheet on which there was no scratch of writing; and I had to
confess that (so far) my adversaries knew what they were doing, and
to digest as well as I was able the threat that peeped under the

But the second enclosure was by far the more surprising. It was in
-and seemed so extraordinary a piece to come to my hands at such a
moment and under cover of a Government seal, that I stood stupid.
Catriona's grey eyes shone in my remembrance. I thought, with a
bound of pleasure, she must be the friend. But who should the
writer be, to have her billet thus enclosed with Prestongrange's?
And of all wonders, why was it thought needful to give me this
pleasing but most inconsequent intelligence upon the Bass? For the
writer, I could hit upon none possible except Miss Grant. Her
family, I remembered, had remarked on Catriona's eyes and even
named her for their colour; and she herself had been much in the
habit to address me with a broad pronunciation, by way of a sniff,
I supposed, at my rusticity. No doubt, besides, but she lived in
the same house as this letter came from. So there remained but one
step to be accounted for; and that was how Prestongrange should
have permitted her at all in an affair so secret, or let her daft-
like billet go in the same cover with his own. But even here I had
a glimmering. For, first of all, there was something rather
alarming about the young lady, and papa might be more under her
domination than I knew. And, second, there was the man's continual
policy to be remembered, how his conduct had been continually
mingled with caresses, and he had scarce ever, in the midst of so
much contention, laid aside a mask of friendship. He must conceive
that my imprisonment had incensed me. Perhaps this little jesting,
friendly message was intended to disarm my rancour?

I will be honest--and I think it did. I felt a sudden warmth
towards that beautiful Miss Grant, that she should stoop to so much
interest in my affairs. The summoning up of Catriona moved me of
itself to milder and more cowardly counsels. If the Advocate knew
of her and our acquaintance--if I should please him by some of that
"discretion" at which his letter pointed--to what might not this
Scripture says. Well, fowls must be wiser than folk! For I
thought I perceived the policy, and yet fell in with it.

I was in this frame, my heart beating, the grey eyes plain before
me like two stars, when Andie broke in upon my musing.

"I see ye has gotten guid news," said he.

I found him looking curiously in my face; with that there came
before me like a vision of James Stewart and the court of Inverary;
and my mind turned at once like a door upon its hinges. Trials, I
reflected, sometimes draw out longer than is looked for. Even if I
came to Inverary just too late, something might yet be attempted in
the interests of James--and in those of my own character, the best
would be accomplished. In a moment, it seemed without thought, I
had a plan devised.

"Andie," said I, "is it still to be to-morrow?"

He told me nothing was changed.

"Was anything said about the hour?" I asked.

He told me it was to be two o'clock afternoon.

"And about the place?" I pursued.

"Whatten place?" says Andie.

"The place I am to be landed at?" said I.

He owned there was nothing as to that.

"Very well, then," I said, "this shall be mine to arrange. The
wind is in the east, my road lies westward: keep your boat, I hire
it; let us work up the Forth all day; and land me at two o'clock
to-morrow at the westmost we'll can have reached."

"Ye daft callant!" he cried; "ye would try for Inverary after a'!"

"Just that, Andie," says I.

"Weel, ye're ill to beat!" says he. "And I was a kind o' sorry for
ye a' day yesterday," he added. "Ye see, I was never entirely sure
till then, which way of it ye really wantit."

Here was a spur to a lame horse!

"A word in your ear, Andie," said I. "This plan of mine has
another advantage yet. We can leave these Hielandman behind us on
the rock, and one of your boats from the Castleton can bring them
off to-morrow. Yon Neil has a queer eye when he regards you;
maybe, if I was once out of the gate there might be knives again;
these red-shanks are unco grudgeful. And if there should come to
be any question, here is your excuse. Our lives were in danger by
these savages; being answerable for my safety, you chose the part
to bring me from their neighbourhood and detain me the rest of the
time on board your boat: and do you know, Andie?" says I, with a
smile, "I think it was very wisely chosen,"

"The truth is I have nae goo for Neil," says Andie, "nor he for me,
I'm thinking; and I would like ill to come to my hands wi' the man.
Tam Anster will make a better hand of it with the cattle onyway."
(For this man, Anster, came from Fife, where the Gaelic is still
spoken.) "Ay, ay!" says Andie, "Tam'll can deal with them the
best. And troth! the mair I think of it, the less I see we would
be required. The place--ay, feggs! they had forgot the place. Eh,
Shaws, ye're a lang-heided chield when ye like! Forby that I'm
awing ye my life," he added, with more solemnity, and offered me
his hand upon the bargain.

Whereupon, with scarce more words, we stepped suddenly on board the
boat, cast off, and set the lug. The Gregara were then busy upon
breakfast, for the cookery was their usual part; but, one of them
stepping to the battlements, our flight was observed before we were
twenty fathoms from the rock; and the three of them ran about the
ruins and the landing-shelf, for all the world like ants about a
broken nest, hailing and crying on us to return. We were still in
both the lee and the shadow of the rock, which last lay broad upon
the waters, but presently came forth in almost the same moment into
the wind and sunshine; the sail filled, the boat heeled to the
gunwale, and we swept immediately beyond sound of the men's voices.
To what terrors they endured upon the rock, where they were now
deserted without the countenance of any civilised person or so much
as the protection of a Bible, no limit can be set; nor had they any
brandy left to be their consolation, for even in the haste and
secrecy of our departure Andie had managed to remove it.

It was our first care to set Anster ashore in a cove by the
Glenteithy Rocks, so that the deliverance of our maroons might be
duly seen to the next day. Thence we kept away up Firth. The
breeze, which was then so spirited, swiftly declined, but never
wholly failed us. All day we kept moving, though often not much
more; and it was after dark ere we were up with the Queensferry.
To keep the letter of Andie's engagement (or what was left of it) I
must remain on board, but I thought no harm to communicate with the
shore in writing. On Prestongrange's cover, where the Government
seal must have a good deal surprised my correspondent, I writ, by
the boat's lantern, a few necessary words, aboard and Andie carried
them to Rankeillor. In about an hour he came again, with a purse
of money and the assurance that a good horse should be standing
saddled for me by two to-morrow at Clackmannan Pool. This done,
and the boat riding by her stone anchor, we lay down to sleep under
the sail.

We were in the Pool the next day long ere two; and there was
nothing left for me but to sit and wait. I felt little alacrity
upon my errand. I would have been glad of any passable excuse to
lay it down; but none being to be found, my uneasiness was no less
great than if I had been running to some desired pleasure. By
shortly after one the horse was at the waterside, and I could see a
man walking it to and fro till I should land, which vastly swelled
my impatience. Andie ran the moment of my liberation very fine,
showing himself a man of his bare word, but scarce serving his
employers with a heaped measure; and by about fifty seconds after
two I was in the saddle and on the full stretch for Stirling. In a
little more than an hour I had passed that town, and was already
mounting Alan Water side, when the weather broke in a small
tempest. The rain blinded me, the wind had nearly beat me from the
saddle, and the first darkness of the night surprised me in a
wilderness still some way east of Balwhidder, not very sure of my
direction and mounted on a horse that began already to be weary.

In the press of my hurry, and to be spared the delay and annoyance
of a guide, I had followed (so far as it was possible for any
horseman) the line of my journey with Alan. This I did with open
eyes, foreseeing a great risk in it, which the tempest had now
brought to a reality. The last that I knew of where I was, I think
it must have been about Uam Var; the hour perhaps six at night. I
must still think it great good fortune that I got about eleven to
my destination, the house of Duncan Dhu. Where I had wandered in
the interval perhaps the horse could tell. I know we were twice
down, and once over the saddle and for a moment carried away in a
roaring burn. Steed and rider were bemired up to the eyes.

From Duncan I had news of the trial. It was followed in all these
Highland regions with religious interest; news of it spread from
Inverary as swift as men could travel; and I was rejoiced to learn
that, up to a late hour that Saturday it was not yet concluded; and
all men began to suppose it must spread over the Monday. Under the
spur of this intelligence I would not sit to eat; but, Duncan
having agreed to be my guide, took the road again on foot, with the
piece in my hand and munching as I went. Duncan brought with him a
flask of usquebaugh and a hand-lantern; which last enlightened us
just so long as we could find houses where to rekindle it, for the
thing leaked outrageously and blew out with every gust. The more
part of the night we walked blindfold among sheets of rain, and day
found us aimless on the mountains. Hard by we struck a hut on a
burn-side, where we got bite and a direction; and, a little before
the end of the sermon, came to the kirk doors of Inverary.

The rain had somewhat washed the upper parts of me, but I was still
bogged as high as to the knees; I streamed water; I was so weary I
could hardly limp, and my face was like a ghost's. I stood
certainly more in need of a change of raiment and a bed to lie on,
than of all the benefits in Christianity. For all which (being
persuaded the chief point for me was to make myself immediately
public) I set the door of the church with the dirty Duncan at my
tails, and finding a vacant place sat down.

"Thirteently, my brethren, and in parenthesis, the law itself must
be regarded as a means of grace," the minister was saying, in the
voice of one delighting to pursue an argument.

The sermon was in English on account of the assize. The judges
were present with their armed attendants, the halberts glittered in
a corner by the door, and the seats were thronged beyond custom
with the array of lawyers. The text was in Romans 5th and 13th--
the minister a skilled hand; and the whole of that able churchful--
from Argyle, and my Lords Elchies and Kilkerran, down to the
halbertmen that came in their attendance--was sunk with gathered
brows in a profound critical attention. The minister himself and a
sprinkling of those about the door observed our entrance at the
moment and immediately forgot the same; the rest either did not
hear or would not hear or would not be heard; and I sat amongst my
friends and enemies unremarked.

The first that I singled out was Prestongrange. He sat well
forward, like an eager horseman in the saddle, his lips moving with
relish, his eyes glued on the minister; the doctrine was clearly to
his mind. Charles Stewart, on the other hand, was half asleep, and
looked harassed and pale. As for Simon Fraser, he appeared like a
blot, and almost a scandal, in the midst of that attentive
congregation, digging his hands in his pockets, shifting his legs,
clearing his throat, and rolling up his bald eyebrows and shooting
out his eyes to right and left, now with a yawn, now with a secret
smile. At times, too, he would take the Bible in front of him, run
it through, seem to read a bit, run it through again, and stop and
yawn prodigiously: the whole as if for exercise.

In the course of this restlessness his eye alighted on myself. He
sat a second stupefied, then tore a half-leaf out of the Bible,
scrawled upon it with a pencil, and passed it with a whispered word
to his next neighbour. The note came to Prestongrange, who gave me
but the one look; thence it voyaged to the hands of Mr. Erskine;
thence again to Argyle, where he sat between the other two lords of
session, and his Grace turned and fixed me with an arrogant eye.
The last of those interested in my presence was Charlie Stewart,
and he too began to pencil and hand about dispatches, none of which
I was able to trace to their destination in the crowd.

But the passage of these notes had aroused notice; all who were in
the secret (or supposed themselves to be so) were whispering
information--the rest questions; and the minister himself seemed
quite discountenanced by the flutter in the church and sudden stir
and whispering. His voice changed, he plainly faltered, nor did he
again recover the easy conviction and full tones of his delivery.
It would be a puzzle to him till his dying day, why a sermon that
had gone with triumph through four parts, should this miscarry in
the fifth.

As for me, I continued to sit there, very wet and weary, and a good
deal anxious as to what should happen next, but greatly exulting in
my success.


The last word of the blessing was scarce out of the minister's
mouth before Stewart had me by the arm. We were the first to be
forth of the church, and he made such extraordinary expedition that
we were safe within the four walls of a house before the street had
begun to be thronged with the home-going congregation.

"Am I yet in time?" I asked.

"Ay and no," said he. "The case is over; the jury is enclosed, and
will so kind as let us ken their view of it to-morrow in the
morning, the same as I could have told it my own self three days
ago before the play began. The thing has been public from the
start. The panel kent it, 'YE MAY DO WHAT YE WILL FOR ME,'
whispers he two days ago. 'YE KEN MY FATE BY WHAT THE DUKE OF
ARGYLE HAS JUST SAID TO MR. MACINTOSH.' O, it's been a scandal!

"The great Agyle he gaed before,
He gart the cannons and guns to roar,"

and the very macer cried 'Cruachan!' But now that I have got you
again I'll never despair. The oak shall go over the myrtle yet;
we'll ding the Campbells yet in their own town. Praise God that I
should see the day!"

He was leaping with excitement, emptied out his mails upon the
floor that I might have a change of clothes, and incommoded me with
his assistance as I changed. What remained to be done, or how I
was to do it, was what he never told me nor, I believe, so much as
thought of. "We'll ding the Campbells yet!" that was still his
overcome. And it was forced home upon my mind how this, that had
the externals of a sober process of law, was in its essence a clan
battle between savage clans. I thought my friend the Writer none
of the least savage. Who that had only seen him at a counsel's
back before the Lord Ordinary or following a golf ball and laying
down his clubs on Bruntsfield links, could have recognised for the
same person this voluble and violent clansman?

James Stewart's counsel were four in number--Sheriffs Brown of
Colstoun and Miller, Mr. Robert Macintosh, and Mr. Stewart younger
of Stewart Hall. These were covenanted to dine with the Writer
after sermon, and I was very obligingly included of the party. No
sooner the cloth lifted, and the first bowl very artfully
compounded by Sheriff Miller, than we fell to the subject in hand.
I made a short narration of my seizure and captivity, and was then
examined and re-examined upon the circumstances of the murder. It
will be remembered this was the first time I had had my say out, or
the matter at all handled, among lawyers; and the consequence was
very dispiriting to the others and (I must own) disappointing to

"To sum up," said Colstoun, "you prove that Alan was on the spot;
you have heard him proffer menaces against Glenure; and though you
assure us he was not the man who fired, you leave a strong
impression that he was in league with him, and consenting, perhaps
immediately assisting, in the act. You show him besides, at the
risk of his own liberty, actively furthering the criminal's escape.
And the rest of your testimony (so far as the least material)
depends on the bare word of Alan or of James, the two accused. In
short, you do not at all break, but only lengthen by one personage,
the chain that binds our client to the murderer; and I need
scarcely say that the introduction of a third accomplice rather
aggravates that appearance of a conspiracy which has been our
stumbling block from the beginning."

"I am of the same opinion," said Sheriff Miller. "I think we may
all be very much obliged to Prestongrange for taking a most
uncomfortable witness out of our way. And chiefly, I think, Mr.
Balfour himself might be obliged. For you talk of a third
accomplice, but Mr. Balfour (in my view) has very much the
appearance of a fourth."

"Allow me, sirs!" interposed Stewart the Writer. "There is another
view. Here we have a witness--never fash whether material or not--
a witness in this cause, kidnapped by that old, lawless, bandit
crew of the Glengyle Macgregors, and sequestered for near upon a
month in a bourock of old ruins on the Bass. Move that and see
what dirt you fling on the proceedings! Sirs, this is a tale to
make the world ring with! It would be strange, with such a grip as
this, if we couldnae squeeze out a pardon for my client."

"And suppose we took up Mr. Balfour's cause to-morrow?" said
Stewart Hall. "I am much deceived or we should find so many
impediments thrown in our path, as that James should have been
hanged before we had found a court to hear us. This is a great
scandal, but I suppose we have none of us forgot a greater still, I
mean the matter of the Lady Grange. The woman was still in
durance; my friend Mr. Hope of Rankeillor did what was humanly
possible; and how did he speed? He never got a warrant! Well,
it'll be the same now; the same weapons will be used. This is a
scene, gentleman, of clan animosity. The hatred of the name which
I have the honour to bear, rages in high quarters. There is
nothing here to be viewed but naked Campbell spite and scurvy
Campbell intrigue."

You may be sure this was to touch a welcome topic, and I sat for
some time in the midst of my learned counsel, almost deaved with
their talk but extremely little the wiser for its purport. The
Writer was led into some hot expressions; Colstoun must take him up
and set him right; the rest joined in on different sides, but all
pretty noisy; the Duke of Argyle was beaten like a blanket; King
George came in for a few digs in the by-going and a great deal of
rather elaborate defence; and there was only one person that seemed
to be forgotten, and that was James of the Glens.

Through all this Mr. Miller sat quiet. He was a slip of an oldish
gentleman, ruddy and twinkling; he spoke in a smooth rich voice,
with an infinite effect of pawkiness, dealing out each word the way
an actor does, to give the most expression possible; and even now,
when he was silent, and sat there with his wig laid aside, his
glass in both hands, his mouth funnily pursed, and his chin out, he
seemed the mere picture of a merry slyness. It was plain he had a
word to say, and waited for the fit occasion.

It came presently. Colstoun had wound up one of his speeches with
some expression of their duty to their client. His brother sheriff
was pleased, I suppose, with the transition. He took the table in
his confidence with a gesture and a look.

"That suggests to me a consideration which seems overlooked," said
he. "The interest of our client goes certainly before all, but the
world does not come to an end with James Stewart." Whereat he
cocked his eye. "I might condescend, exempli gratia, upon a Mr.
George Brown, a Mr. Thomas Miller, and a Mr. David Balfour. Mr.
David Balfour has a very good ground of complaint, and I think,
gentlemen--if his story was properly redd out--I think there would
be a number of wigs on the green."

The whole table turned to him with a common movement.

"Properly handled and carefully redd out, his is a story that could
scarcely fail to have some consequence," he continued. "The whole
administration of justice, from its highest officer downward, would
be totally discredited; and it looks to me as if they would need to
be replaced." He seemed to shine with cunning as he said it. "And
I need not point out to ye that this of Mr. Balfour's would be a
remarkable bonny cause to appear in," he added.

Well, there they all were started on another hare; Mr. Balfour's
cause, and what kind of speeches could be there delivered, and what
officials could be thus turned out, and who would succeed to their
positions. I shall give but the two specimens. It was proposed to
approach Simon Fraser, whose testimony, if it could be obtained,
would prove certainly fatal to Argyle and to Prestongrange. Miller
highly approved of the attempt. "We have here before us a dreeping
roast," said he, "here is cut-and-come-again for all." And
methought all licked their lips. The other was already near the
end. Stewart the Writer was out of the body with delight, smelling
vengeance on his chief enemy, the Duke.

"Gentlemen," cried he, charging his glass, "here is to Sheriff
Miller. His legal abilities are known to all. His culinary, this
bowl in front of us is here to speak for. But when it comes to the
poleetical!"--cries he, and drains the glass.

"Ay, but it will hardly prove politics in your meaning, my friend,"
said the gratified Miller. "A revolution, if you like, and I think
I can promise you that historical writers shall date from Mr.
Balfour's cause. But properly guided, Mr. Stewart, tenderly
guided, it shall prove a peaceful revolution."

"And if the damned Campbells get their ears rubbed, what care I?"
cries Stewart, smiting down his fist.

It will be thought I was not very well pleased with all this,
though I could scarce forbear smiling at a kind of innocency in
these old intriguers. But it was not my view to have undergone so
many sorrows for the advancement of Sheriff Miller or to make a
revolution in the Parliament House: and I interposed accordingly
with as much simplicity of manner as I could assume.

"I have to thank you, gentlemen, for your advice," said I. "And
now I would like, by your leave, to set you two or three questions.
There is one thing that has fallen rather on one aide, for
instance: Will this cause do any good to our friend James of the

They seemed all a hair set back, and gave various answers, but
concurring practically in one point, that James had now no hope but
in the King's mercy.

"To proceed, then," said I, "will it do any good to Scotland? We
have a saying that it is an ill bird that fouls his own nest. I
remember hearing we had a riot in Edinburgh when I was an infant
child, which gave occasion to the late Queen to call this country
barbarous; and I always understood that we had rather lost than
gained by that. Then came the year 'Forty-five, which made
Scotland to be talked of everywhere; but I never heard it said we
had anyway gained by the 'Forty-five. And now we come to this
cause of Mr. Balfour's, as you call it. Sheriff Miller tells us
historical writers are to date from it, and I would not wonder. It
is only my fear they would date from it as a period of calamity and
public reproach."

The nimble-witted Miller had already smelt where I was travelling
to, and made haste to get on the same road. "Forcibly put, Mr.
Balfour," says he. "A weighty observe, sir."

"We have next to ask ourselves if it will be good for King George,"
I pursued. "Sheriff Miller appears pretty easy upon this; but I
doubt you will scarce be able to pull down the house from under
him, without his Majesty coming by a knock or two, one of which
might easily prove fatal."

I have them a chance to answer, but none volunteered.

"Of those for whom the case was to be profitable," I went on,
"Sheriff Miller gave us the names of several, among the which he
was good enough to mention mine. I hope he will pardon me if I
think otherwise. I believe I hung not the least back in this
affair while there was life to be saved; but I own I thought myself
extremely hazarded, and I own I think it would be a pity for a
young man, with some idea of coming to the Bar, to ingrain upon
himself the character of a turbulent, factious fellow before he was
yet twenty. As for James, it seems--at this date of the
proceedings, with the sentence as good as pronounced--he has no
hope but in the King's mercy. May not his Majesty, then, be more
pointedly addressed, the characters of these high officers
sheltered from the public, and myself kept out of a position which
I think spells ruin for me?"

They all sat and gazed into their glasses, and I could see they
found my attitude on the affair unpalatable. But Miller was ready
at all events.

"If I may be allowed to put my young friend's notion in more formal
shape," says he, "I understand him to propose that we should embody
the fact of his sequestration, and perhaps some heads of the
testimony he was prepared to offer, in a memorial to the Crown.
This plan has elements of success. It is as likely as any other
(and perhaps likelier) to help our client. Perhaps his Majesty
would have the goodness to feel a certain gratitude to all
concerned in such a memorial, which might be construed into an
expression of a very delicate loyalty; and I think, in the drafting
of the same, this view might be brought forward."

They all nodded to each other, not without sighs, for the former
alternative was doubtless more after their inclination.

"Paper, then, Mr. Stewart, if you please," pursued Miller; "and I
think it might very fittingly be signed by the five of us here
present, as procurators for the condemned man."'

"It can do none of us any harm, at least," says Colstoun, heaving
another sigh, for he had seen himself Lord Advocate the last ten

Thereupon they set themselves, not very enthusiastically, to draft
the memorial--a process in the course of which they soon caught
fire; and I had no more ado but to sit looking on and answer an
occasional question. The paper was very well expressed; beginning
with a recitation of the facts about myself, the reward offered for
my apprehension, my surrender, the pressure brought to bear upon
me; my sequestration; and my arrival at Inverary in time to be too
late; going on to explain the reasons of loyalty and public
interest for which it was agreed to waive any right of action; and
winding up with a forcible appeal to the King's mercy on behalf of

Methought I was a good deal sacrificed, and rather represented in
the light of a firebrand of a fellow whom my cloud of lawyers had
restrained with difficulty from extremes. But I let it pass, and
made but the one suggestion, that I should be described as ready to
deliver my own evidence and adduce that of others before any
commission of inquiry--and the one demand, that I should be
immediately furnished with a copy.

Colstoun hummed and hawed. "This is a very confidential document,"
said he.

"And my position towards Prestongrange is highly peculiar," I
replied. "No question but I must have touched his heart at our
first interview, so that he has since stood my friend consistently.
But for him, gentlemen, I must now be lying dead or awaiting my
sentence alongside poor James. For which reason I choose to
communicate to him the fact of this memorial as soon as it is
copied. You are to consider also that this step will make for my
protection. I have enemies here accustomed to drive hard; his
Grace is in his own country, Lovat by his side; and if there should
hang any ambiguity over our proceedings I think I might very well
awake in gaol."

Not finding any very ready answer to these considerations, my
company of advisers were at the last persuaded to consent, and made
only this condition that I was to lay the paper before
Prestongrange with the express compliments of all concerned.

The Advocate was at the castle dining with his Grace. By the hand
of one of Colstoun's servants I sent him a billet asking for an
interview, and received a summons to meet him at once in a private
house of the town. Here I found him alone in a chamber; from his
face there was nothing to be gleaned; yet I was not so unobservant
but what I spied some halberts in the hall, and not so stupid but
what I could gather he was prepared to arrest me there and then,
should it appear advisable.

"So, Mr. David, this is you?" said he.

"Where I fear I am not overly welcome, my lord," said I. "And I
would like before I go further to express my sense of your
lordship's good offices, even should they now cease."

"I have heard of your gratitude before," he replied drily, "and I
think this can scarce be the matter you called me from my wine to
listen to. I would remember also, if I were you, that you still
stand on a very boggy foundation."

"Not now, my lord, I think," said I; "and if your lordship will but
glance an eye along this, you will perhaps think as I do."

He read it sedulously through, frowning heavily; then turned back
to one part and another which he seemed to weigh and compare the
effect of. His face a little lightened.

"This is not so bad but what it might be worse," said he; "though I
am still likely to pay dear for my acquaintance with Mr. David

"Rather for your indulgence to that unlucky young man, my lord,"
said I.

He still skimmed the paper, and all the while his spirits seemed to

"And to whom am I indebted for this?" he asked presently. "Other
counsels must have been discussed, I think. Who was it proposed
this private method? Was it Miller?"

"My lord, it was myself," said I. "These gentlemen have shown me
no such consideration, as that I should deny myself any credit I
can fairly claim, or spare them any responsibility they should
properly bear. And the mere truth is, that they were all in favour
of a process which should have remarkable consequences in the
Parliament House, and prove for them (in one of their own
expressions) a dripping roast. Before I intervened, I think they
were on the point of sharing out the different law appointments.
Our friend Mr. Simon was to be taken in upon some composition."

Prestongrange smiled. "These are our friends," said he. "And what
were your reasons for dissenting, Mr. David?"

I told them without concealment, expressing, however, with more
force and volume those which regarded Prestongrange himself.

"You do me no more than justice," said he. "I have fought as hard
in your interest as you have fought against mine. And how came you
here to-day?" he asked. "As the case drew out, I began to grow
uneasy that I had clipped the period so fine, and I was even
expecting you to-morrow. But to-day--I never dreamed of it."

I was not of course, going to betray Andie.

"I suspect there is some very weary cattle by the road," said I

"If I had known you were such a mosstrooper you should have tasted
longer of the Bass," says he.

"Speaking of which, my lord, I return your letter." And I gave him
the enclosure in the counterfeit hand.

"There was the cover also with the seal," said he.

"I have it not," said I. "It bore not even an address, and could
not compromise a cat. The second enclosure I have, and with your
permission, I desire to keep it."

I thought he winced a little, but he said nothing to the point.
"To-morrow," he resumed, "our business here is to be finished, and
I proceed by Glasgow. I would be very glad to have you of my
party, Mr David."

"My lord . . ." I began.

"I do not deny it will be of service to me," he interrupted. "I
desire even that, when we shall come to Edinburgh, you should
alight at my house. You have very warm friends in the Miss Grants,
who will be overjoyed to have you to themselves. If you think I
have been of use to you, you can thus easily repay me, and so far
from losing, may reap some advantage by the way. It is not every
strange young man who is presented in society by the King's

Often enough already (in our brief relations) this gentleman had
caused my head to spin; no doubt but what for a moment he did so
again now. Here was the old fiction still maintained of my
particular favour with his daughters, one of whom had been so good
as to laugh at me, while the other two had scarce deigned to remark
the fact of my existence. And now I was to ride with my lord to
Glasgow; I was to dwell with him in Edinburgh; I was to be brought
into society under his protection! That he should have so much
good-nature as to forgive me was surprising enough; that he could
wish to take me up and serve me seemed impossible; and I began to
seek some ulterior meaning. One was plain. If I became his guest,
repentance was excluded; I could never think better of my present
design and bring any action. And besides, would not my presence in
his house draw out the whole pungency of the memorial? For that
complaint could not be very seriously regarded, if the person
chiefly injured was the guest of the official most incriminated.
As I thought upon this I could not quite refrain from smiling.

"This is in the nature of a countercheck to the memorial?" said I.

"You are cunning, Mr. David," said he, "and you do not wholly guess
wrong the fact will be of use to me in my defence. Perhaps,
however, you underrate friendly sentiments, which are perfectly
genuine. I have a respect for you, David, mingled with awe," says
he, smiling.

"I am more than willing, I am earnestly desirous to meet your
wishes," said I. "It is my design to be called to the Bar, where
your lordship's countenance would be invaluable; and I am besides
sincerely grateful to yourself and family for different marks of

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