Part 4 out of 5
ignorance had much distressed him; and I think besides, as I had
sometimes the upper-hand of him in the fishing, he was not sorry
to turn to an exercise where he had so much the upper-hand of me.
He made it somewhat more of a pain than need have been, for he
stormed at me all through the lessons in a very violent manner of
scolding, and would push me so close that I made sure he must run
me through the body. I was often tempted to turn tail, but held
my ground for all that, and got some profit of my lessons; if it
was but to stand on guard with an assured countenance, which is
often all that is required. So, though I could never in the
least please my master, I was not altogether displeased with
In the meanwhile, you are not to suppose that we neglected our
chief business, which was to get away.
"It will be many a long day," Alan said to me on our first
morning, "before the red-coats think upon seeking Corrynakiegh;
so now we must get word sent to James, and he must find the
siller for us."
"And how shall we send that word?" says I. "We are here in a
desert place, which yet we dare not leave; and unless ye get the
fowls of the air to be your messengers, I see not what we shall
be able to do."
"Ay?" said Alan. "Ye're a man of small contrivance, David."
Thereupon he fell in a muse, looking in the embers of the fire;
and presently, getting a piece of wood, he fashioned it in a
cross, the four ends of which he blackened on the coals. Then he
looked at me a little shyly.
"Could ye lend me my button?" says he. "It seems a strange thing
to ask a gift again, but I own I am laith to cut another."
I gave him the button; whereupon he strung it on a strip of his
great-coat which he had used to bind the cross; and tying in a
little sprig of birch and another of fir, he looked upon his work
"Now," said he, "there is a little clachan" (what is called a
hamlet in the English) "not very far from Corrynakiegh, and it
has the name of Koalisnacoan. There there are living many
friends of mine whom I could trust with my life, and some that I
am no just so sure of. Ye see, David, there will be money set
upon our heads; James himsel' is to set money on them; and as for
the Campbells, they would never spare siller where there was a
Stewart to be hurt. If it was otherwise, I would go down to
Koalisnacoan whatever, and trust my life into these people's
hands as lightly as I would trust another with my glove."
"But being so?" said I.
"Being so," said he, "I would as lief they didnae see me.
There's bad folk everywhere, and what's far worse, weak ones. So
when it comes dark again, I will steal down into that clachan,
and set this that I have been making in the window of a good
friend of mine, John Breck Maccoll, a bouman of Appin's."
A bouman is a tenant who takes stock from the landlord and
shares with him the increase.
"With all my heart," says I; "and if he finds it, what is he to
"Well," says Alan, "I wish he was a man of more penetration, for
by my troth I am afraid he will make little enough of it! But
this is what I have in my mind. This cross is something in the
nature of the crosstarrie, or fiery cross, which is the signal of
gathering in our clans; yet he will know well enough the clan is
not to rise, for there it is standing in his window, and no word
with it. So he will say to himsel', THE CLAN IS NOT TO RISE, BUT
THERE IS SOMETHING. Then he will see my button, and that was
Duncan Stewart's. And then he will say to himsel', THE SON OF
DUNCAN IS IN THE HEATHER, AND HAS NEED OF ME."
"Well," said I, "it may be. But even supposing so, there is a
good deal of heather between here and the Forth."
"And that is a very true word," says Alan. "But then John Breck
will see the sprig of birch and the sprig of pine; and he will
say to himsel' (if he is a man of any penetration at all, which I
misdoubt), ALAN WILL BE LYING IN A WOOD WHICH IS BOTH OF PINES
AND BIRCHES. Then he will think to himsel', THAT IS NOT SO VERY
RIFE HEREABOUT; and then he will come and give us a look up in
Corrynakiegh. And if he does not, David, the devil may fly away
with him, for what I care; for he will no be worth the salt to
"Eh, man," said I, drolling with him a little, "you're very
ingenious! But would it not be simpler for you to write him a few
words in black and white?"
"And that is an excellent observe, Mr. Balfour of Shaws," says
Alan, drolling with me; "and it would certainly be much simpler
for me to write to him, but it would be a sore job for John Breck
to read it. He would have to go to the school for two-three
years; and it's possible we might be wearied waiting on him."
So that night Alan carried down his fiery cross and set it in the
bouman's window. He was troubled when he came back; for the dogs
had barked and the folk run out from their houses; and he thought
he had heard a clatter of arms and seen a red-coat come to one of
the doors. On all accounts we lay the next day in the borders of
the wood and kept a close look-out, so that if it was John Breck
that came we might be ready to guide him, and if it was the
red-coats we should have time to get away.
About noon a man was to be spied, straggling up the open side of
the mountain in the sun, and looking round him as he came, from
under his hand. No sooner had Alan seen him than he whistled;
the man turned and came a little towards us: then Alan would give
another "peep!" and the man would come still nearer; and so by
the sound of whistling, he was guided to the spot where we lay.
He was a ragged, wild, bearded man, about forty, grossly
disfigured with the small pox, and looked both dull and savage.
Although his English was very bad and broken, yet Alan (according
to his very handsome use, whenever I was by) would suffer him to
speak no Gaelic. Perhaps the strange language made him appear
more backward than he really was; but I thought he had little
good-will to serve us, and what he had was the child of terror.
Alan would have had him carry a message to James; but the bouman
would hear of no message. "She was forget it," he said in his
screaming voice; and would either have a letter or wash his hands
I thought Alan would be gravelled at that, for we lacked the
means of writing in that desert.
But he was a man of more resources than I knew; searched the wood
until he found the quill of a cushat-dove, which he shaped into a
pen; made himself a kind of ink with gunpowder from his horn and
water from the running stream; and tearing a corner from his
French military commission (which he carried in his pocket, like
a talisman to keep him from the gallows), he sat down and wrote
"DEAR KINSMAN, -- Please send the money by the bearer to the
place he kens of.
"Your affectionate cousin,
This he intrusted to the bouman, who promised to make what manner
of speed he best could, and carried it off with him down the
He was three full days gone, but about five in the evening of the
third, we heard a whistling in the wood, which Alan answered; and
presently the bouman came up the water-side, looking for us,
right and left. He seemed less sulky than before, and indeed he
was no doubt well pleased to have got to the end of such a
He gave us the news of the country; that it was alive with
red-coats; that arms were being found, and poor folk brought in
trouble daily; and that James and some of his servants were
already clapped in prison at Fort William, under strong suspicion
of complicity. It seemed it was noised on all sides that Alan
Breck had fired the shot; and there was a bill issued for both
him and me, with one hundred pounds reward.
This was all as bad as could be; and the little note the bouman
had carried us from Mrs. Stewart was of a miserable sadness. In
it she besought Alan not to let himself be captured, assuring
him, if he fell in the hands of the troops, both he and James
were no better than dead men. The money she had sent was all
that she could beg or borrow, and she prayed heaven we could be
doing with it. Lastly, she said, she enclosed us one of the
bills in which we were described.
This we looked upon with great curiosity and not a little fear,
partly as a man may look in a mirror, partly as he might look
into the barrel of an enemy's gun to judge if it be truly aimed.
Alan was advertised as "a small, pock-marked, active man of
thirty-five or thereby, dressed in a feathered hat, a French
side-coat of blue with silver buttons, and lace a great deal
tarnished, a red waistcoat and breeches of black, shag;" and I as
"a tall strong lad of about eighteen, wearing an old blue coat,
very ragged, an old Highland bonnet, a long homespun waistcoat,
blue breeches; his legs bare, low-country shoes, wanting the
toes; speaks like a Lowlander, and has no beard."
Alan was well enough pleased to see his finery so fully
remembered and set down; only when he came to the word tarnish,
he looked upon his lace like one a little mortified. As for
myself, I thought I cut a miserable figure in the bill; and yet
was well enough pleased too, for since I had changed these rags,
the description had ceased to be a danger and become a source of
"Alan," said I, "you should change your clothes."
"Na, troth!" said Alan, "I have nae others. A fine sight I would
be, if I went back to France in a bonnet!"
This put a second reflection in my mind: that if I were to
separate from Alan and his tell-tale clothes I should be safe
against arrest, and might go openly about my business. Nor was
this all; for suppose I was arrested when I was alone, there was
little against me; but suppose I was taken in company with the
reputed murderer, my case would begin to be grave. For
generosity's sake I dare not speak my mind upon this head; but I
thought of it none the less.
I thought of it all the more, too, when the bouman brought out a
green purse with four guineas in gold, and the best part of
another in small change. True, it was more than I had. But then
Alan, with less than five guineas, had to get as far as France;
I, with my less than two, not beyond Queensferry; so that taking
things in their proportion, Alan's society was not only a peril
to my life, but a burden on my purse.
But there was no thought of the sort in the honest head of my
companion. He believed he was serving, helping, and protecting
me. And what could I do but hold my peace, and chafe, and take
my chance of it?
"It's little enough," said Alan, putting the purse in his pocket,
"but it'll do my business. And now, John Breck, if ye will hand
me over my button, this gentleman and me will be for taking the
But the bouman, after feeling about in a hairy purse that hung in
front of him in the Highland manner (though he wore otherwise the
Lowland habit, with sea-trousers), began to roll his eyes
strangely, and at last said, "Her nainsel will loss it," meaning
he thought he had lost it.
"What!" cried Alan, "you will lose my button, that was my
father's before me? Now I will tell you what is in my mind, John
Breck: it is in my mind this is the worst day's work that ever ye
did since ye was born."
And as Alan spoke, he set his hands on his knees and looked at
the bouman with a smiling mouth, and that dancing light in his
eyes that meant mischief to his enemies.
Perhaps the bouman was honest enough; perhaps he had meant to
cheat and then, finding himself alone with two of us in a desert
place, cast back to honesty as being safer; at least, and all at
once, he seemed to find that button and handed it to Alan.
"Well, and it is a good thing for the honour of the Maccolls,"
said Alan, and then to me, "Here is my button back again, and I
thank you for parting with it, which is of a piece with all your
friendships to me." Then he took the warmest parting of the
bouman. "For," says he, "ye have done very well by me, and set
your neck at a venture, and I will always give you the name of a
Lastly, the bouman took himself off by one way; and Alan I
(getting our chattels together) struck into another to resume our
THE FLIGHT IN THE HEATHER: THE MOOR
Some seven hours' incessant, hard travelling brought us early in
the morning to the end of a range of mountains. In front of us
there lay a piece of low, broken, desert land, which we must now
cross. The sun was not long up, and shone straight in our eyes;
a little, thin mist went up from the face of the moorland like a
smoke; so that (as Alan said) there might have been twenty
squadron of dragoons there and we none the wiser.
We sat down, therefore, in a howe of the hill-side till the mist
should have risen, and made ourselves a dish of drammach, and
held a council of war.
"David," said Alan, "this is the kittle bit. Shall we lie here
till it comes night, or shall we risk it, and stave on ahead?"
"Well," said I, "I am tired indeed, but I could walk as far
again, if that was all."
"Ay, but it isnae," said Alan, "nor yet the half. This is how we
stand: Appin's fair death to us. To the south it's all
Campbells, and no to be thought of. To the north; well, there's
no muckle to be gained by going north; neither for you, that
wants to get to Queensferry, nor yet for me, that wants to get to
France. Well, then, we'll can strike east."
"East be it!" says I, quite cheerily; but I was thinking" in to
myself: "O, man, if you would only take one point of the compass
and let me take any other, it would be the best for both of us."
"Well, then, east, ye see, we have the muirs," said Alan. "Once
there, David, it's mere pitch-and-toss. Out on yon bald, naked,
flat place, where can a body turn to? Let the red-coats come over
a hill, they can spy you miles away; and the sorrow's in their
horses' heels, they would soon ride you down. It's no good
place, David; and I'm free to say, it's worse by daylight than by
"Alan," said I, "hear my way of it. Appin's death for us; we
have none too much money, nor yet meal; the longer they seek, the
nearer they may guess where we are; it's all a risk; and I give
my word to go ahead until we drop."
Alan was delighted. "There are whiles," said he, "when ye are
altogether too canny and Whiggish to be company for a gentleman
like me; but there come other whiles when ye show yoursel' a
mettle spark; and it's then, David, that I love ye like a
The mist rose and died away, and showed us that country lying as
waste as the sea; only the moorfowl and the pewees crying upon
it, and far over to the east, a herd of deer, moving like dots.
Much of it was red with heather; much of the rest broken up with
bogs and hags and peaty pools; some had been burnt black in a
heath fire; and in another place there was quite a forest of dead
firs, standing like skeletons. A wearier-looking desert man
never saw; but at least it was clear of troops, which was our
We went down accordingly into the waste, and began to make our
toilsome and devious travel towards the eastern verge. There
were the tops of mountains all round (you are to remember) from
whence we might be spied at any moment; so it behoved us to keep
in the hollow parts of the moor, and when these turned aside from
our direction to move upon its naked face with infinite care.
Sometimes, for half an hour together, we must crawl from one
heather bush to another, as hunters do when they are hard upon
the deer. It was a clear day again, with a blazing sun; the
water in the brandy bottle was soon gone; and altogether, if I
had guessed what it would be to crawl half the time upon my belly
and to walk much of the rest stooping nearly to the knees, I
should certainly have held back from such a killing enterprise.
Toiling and resting and toiling again, we wore away the morning;
and about noon lay down in a thick bush of heather to sleep.
Alan took the first watch; and it seemed to me I had scarce
closed my eyes before I was shaken up to take the second. We had
no clock to go by; and Alan stuck a sprig of heath in the ground
to serve instead; so that as soon as the shadow of the bush
should fall so far to the east, I might know to rouse him. But I
was by this time so weary that I could have slept twelve hours at
a stretch; I had the taste of sleep in my throat; my joints slept
even when my mind was waking; the hot smell of the heather, and
the drone of the wild bees, were like possets to me; and every
now and again I would give a jump and find I had been dozing.
The last time I woke I seemed to come back from farther away, and
thought the sun had taken a great start in the heavens. I looked
at the sprig of heath, and at that I could have cried aloud: for
I saw I had betrayed my trust. My head was nearly turned with
fear and shame; and at what I saw, when I looked out around me on
the moor, my heart was like dying in my body. For sure enough, a
body of horse-soldiers had come down during my sleep, and were
drawing near to us from the south-east, spread out in the shape
of a fan and riding their horses to and fro in the deep parts of
When I waked Alan, he glanced first at the soldiers, then at the
mark and the position of the sun, and knitted his brows with a
sudden, quick look, both ugly and anxious, which was all the
reproach I had of him.
"What are we to do now?" I asked.
"We'll have to play at being hares," said he. "Do ye see yon
mountain?" pointing to one on the north-eastern sky.
"Ay," said I.
"Well, then," says he, "let us strike for that. Its name is Ben
Alder. it is a wild, desert mountain full of hills and hollows,
and if we can win to it before the morn, we may do yet."
"But, Alan," cried I, "that will take us across the very coming
of the soldiers!"
"I ken that fine," said he; "but if we are driven back on Appin,
we are two dead men. So now, David man, be brisk!"
With that he began to run forward on his hands and knees with an
incredible quickness, as though it were his natural way of going.
All the time, too, he kept winding in and out in the lower parts
of the moorland where we were the best concealed. Some of these
had been burned or at least scathed with fire; and there rose in
our faces (which were close to the ground) a blinding, choking
dust as fine as smoke. The water was long out; and this posture
of running on the hands and knees brings an overmastering
weakness and weariness, so that the joints ache and the wrists
faint under your weight.
Now and then, indeed, where was a big bush of heather, we lay
awhile, and panted, and putting aside the leaves, looked back at
the dragoons. They had not spied us, for they held straight on;
a half-troop, I think, covering about two miles of ground, and
beating it mighty thoroughly as they went. I had awakened just
in time; a little later, and we must have fled in front of them,
instead of escaping on one side. Even as it was, the least
misfortune might betray us; and now and again, when a grouse rose
out of the heather with a clap of wings, we lay as still as the
dead and were afraid to breathe.
The aching and faintness of my body, the labouring of my heart,
the soreness of my hands, and the smarting of my throat and eyes
in the continual smoke of dust and ashes, had soon grown to be so
unbearable that I would gladly have given up. Nothing but the
fear of Alan lent me enough of a false kind of courage to
continue. As for himself (and you are to bear in mind that he
was cumbered with a great-coat) he had first turned crimson, but
as time went on the redness began to be mingled with patches of
white; his breath cried and whistled as it came; and his voice,
when he whispered his observations in my ear during our halts,
sounded like nothing human. Yet he seemed in no way dashed in
spirits, nor did he at all abate in his activity, so that I was
driven, to marvel at the man's endurance.
At length, in the first gloaming of the night, we heard a trumpet
sound, and looking back from among the heather, saw the troop
beginning to collect. A little after, they had built a fire and
camped for the night, about the middle of the waste.
At this I begged and besought that we might lie down and sleep.
"There shall be no sleep the night!" said Alan. "From now on,
these weary dragoons of yours will keep the crown of the
muirland, and none will get out of Appin but winged fowls. We
got through in the nick of time, and shall we jeopard what we've
gained? Na, na, when the day comes, it shall find you and me in
a fast place on Ben Alder."
"Alan," I said, "it's not the want of will: it's the strength
that I want. If I could, I would; but as sure as I'm alive I
"Very well, then," said Alan. "I'll carry ye."
I looked to see if he were jesting; but no, the little man was in
dead earnest; and the sight of so much resolution shamed me.
"Lead away!" said I. "I'll follow."
He gave me one look as much as to say, "Well done, David!" and
off he set again at his top speed.
It grew cooler and even a little darker (but not much) with the
coming of the night. The sky was cloudless; it was still early
in July, and pretty far north; in the darkest part of that night,
you would have needed pretty good eyes to read, but for all that,
I have often seen it darker in a winter mid-day. Heavy dew fell
and drenched the moor like rain; and this refreshed me for a
while. When we stopped to breathe, and I had time to see all
about me, the clearness and sweetness of the night, the shapes of
the hills like things asleep, and the fire dwindling away behind
us, like a bright spot in the midst of the moor, anger would come
upon me in a clap that I must still drag myself in agony and eat
the dust like a worm.
By what I have read in books, I think few that have held a pen
were ever really wearied, or they would write of it more
strongly. I had no care of my life, neither past nor future, and
I scarce remembered there was such a lad as David Balfour. I did
not think of myself, but just of each fresh step which I was sure
would be my last, with despair -- and of Alan, who was the cause
of it, with hatred. Alan was in the right trade as a soldier;
this is the officer's part to make men continue to do things,
they know not wherefore, and when, if the choice was offered,
they would lie down where they were and be killed. And I dare
say I would have made a good enough private; for in these last
hours it never occurred to me that I had any choice but just to
obey as long as I was able, and die obeying.
Day began to come in, after years, I thought; and by that time we
were past the greatest danger, and could walk upon our feet like
men, instead of crawling like brutes. But, dear heart have
mercy! what a pair we must have made, going double like old
grandfathers, stumbling like babes, and as white as dead folk.
Never a word passed between us; each set his mouth and kept his
eyes in front of him, and lifted up his foot and set it down
again, like people lifting weights at a country play; all the
while, with the moorfowl crying "peep!" in the heather, and the
light coming slowly clearer in the east.
 Village fair.
I say Alan did as I did. Not that ever I looked at him, for I
had enough ado to keep my feet; but because it is plain he must
have been as stupid with weariness as myself, and looked as
little where we were going, or we should not have walked into an
ambush like blind men.
It fell in this way. We were going down a heathery brae, Alan
leading and I following a pace or two behind, like a fiddler and
his wife; when upon a sudden the heather gave a rustle, three or
four ragged men leaped out, and the next moment we were lying on
our backs, each with a dirk at his throat.
I don't think I cared; the pain of this rough handling was quite
swallowed up by the pains of which I was already full; and I was
too glad to have stopped walking to mind about a dirk. I lay
looking up in the face of the man that held me; and I mind his
face was black with the sun, and his eyes very light, but I was
not afraid of him. I heard Alan and another whispering in the
Gaelic; and what they said was all one to me.
Then the dirks were put up, our weapons were taken away, and we
were set face to face, sitting in the heather.
"They are Cluny's men," said Alan. "We couldnae have fallen
better. We're just to bide here with these, which are his
out-sentries, till they can get word to the chief of my arrival."
Now Cluny Macpherson, the chief of the clan Vourich, had been one
of the leaders of the great rebellion six years before; there was
a price on his life; and I had supposed him long ago in France,
with the rest of the heads of that desperate party. Even tired
as I was, the surprise of what I heard half wakened me.
"What," I cried, "is Cluny still here?"
"Ay, is he so!" said Alan. "Still in his own country and kept by
his own clan. King George can do no more."
I think I would have asked farther, but Alan gave me the put-off.
"I am rather wearied," he said, "and I would like fine to get a
sleep." And without more words, he rolled on his face in a deep
heather bush, and seemed to sleep at once.
There was no such thing possible for me. You have heard
grasshoppers whirring in the grass in the summer time? Well, I
had no sooner closed my eyes, than my body, and above all my
head, belly, and wrists, seemed to be filled with whirring
grasshoppers; and I must open my eyes again at once, and tumble
and toss, and sit up and lie down; and look at the sky which
dazzled me, or at Cluny's wild and dirty sentries, peering out
over the top of the brae and chattering to each other in the
That was all the rest I had, until the messenger returned; when,
as it appeared that Cluny would be glad to receive us, we must
get once more upon our feet and set forward. Alan was in
excellent good spirits, much refreshed by his sleep, very hungry,
and looking pleasantly forward to a dram and a dish of hot
collops, of which, it seems, the messenger had brought him word.
For my part, it made me sick to hear of eating. I had been
dead-heavy before, and now I felt a kind of dreadful lightness,
which would not suffer me to walk. I drifted like a gossamer;
the ground seemed to me a cloud, the hills a feather-weight, the
air to have a current, like a running burn, which carried me to
and fro. With all that, a sort of horror of despair sat on my
mind, so that I could have wept at my own helplessness.
I saw Alan knitting his brows at me, and supposed it was in
anger; and that gave me a pang of light-headed fear, like what a
child may have. I remember, too, that I was smiling, and could
not stop smiling, hard as I tried; for I thought it was out of
place at such a time. But my good companion had nothing in his
mind but kindness; and the next moment, two of the gillies had me
by the arms, and I began to be carried forward with great
swiftness (or so it appeared to me, although I dare say it was
slowly enough in truth), through a labyrinth of dreary glens and
hollows and into the heart of that dismal mountain of Ben Alder.
We came at last to the foot of an exceeding steep wood, which
scrambled up a craggy hillside, and was crowned by a naked
"It's here," said one of the guides, and we struck up hill.
The trees clung upon the slope, like sailors on the shrouds of a
ship, and their trunks were like the rounds of a ladder, by which
Quite at the top, and just before the rocky face of the cliff
sprang above the foliage, we found that strange house which was
known in the country as "Cluny's Cage." The trunks of several
trees had been wattled across, the intervals strengthened with
stakes, and the ground behind this barricade levelled up with
earth to make the floor. A tree, which grew out from the
hillside, was the living centre-beam of the roof. The walls were
of wattle and covered with moss. The whole house had something
of an egg shape; and it half hung, half stood in that steep,
hillside thicket, like a wasp's nest in a green hawthorn.
Within, it was large enough to shelter five or six persons with
some comfort. A projection of the cliff had been cunningly
employed to be the fireplace; and the smoke rising against the
face of the rock, and being not dissimilar in colour, readily
escaped notice from below.
This was but one of Cluny's hiding-places; he had caves, besides,
and underground chambers in several parts of his country; and
following the reports of his scouts, he moved from one to another
as the soldiers drew near or moved away. By this manner of
living, and thanks to the affection of his clan, he had not only
stayed all this time in safety, while so many others had fled or
been taken and slain: but stayed four or five years longer, and
only went to France at last by the express command of his master.
There he soon died; and it is strange to reflect that he may have
regretted his Cage upon Ben Alder.
When we came to the door he was seated by his rock chimney,
watching a gillie about some cookery. He was mighty plainly
habited, with a knitted nightcap drawn over his ears, and smoked
a foul cutty pipe. For all that he had the manners of a king,
and it was quite a sight to see him rise out of his place to
"Well, Mr. Stewart, come awa', sir!" said he, "and bring in your
friend that as yet I dinna ken the name of."
"And how is yourself, Cluny?" said Alan. "I hope ye do brawly,
sir. And I am proud to see ye, and to present to ye my friend
the Laird of Shaws, Mr. David Balfour."
Alan never referred to my estate without a touch of a sneer, when
we were alone; but with strangers, he rang the words out like a
"Step in by, the both of ye, gentlemen," says Cluny. "I make ye
welcome to my house, which is a queer, rude place for certain,
but one where I have entertained a royal personage, Mr. Stewart
-- ye doubtless ken the personage I have in my eye. We'll take a
dram for luck, and as soon as this handless man of mine has the
collops ready, we'll dine and take a hand at the cartes as
gentlemen should. My life is a bit driegh," says he, pouring out
the brandy;" I see little company, and sit and twirl my thumbs,
and mind upon a great day that is gone by, and weary for another
great day that we all hope will be upon the road. And so here's
a toast to ye: The Restoration!"
Thereupon we all touched glasses and drank. I am sure I wished
no ill to King George; and if he had been there himself in proper
person, it's like he would have done as I did. No sooner had I
taken out the drain than I felt hugely better, and could look on
and listen, still a little mistily perhaps, but no longer with
the same groundless horror and distress of mind.
It was certainly a strange place, and we had a strange host. In
his long hiding, Cluny had grown to have all manner of precise
habits, like those of an old maid. He had a particular place,
where no one else must sit; the Cage was arranged in a particular
way, which none must disturb; cookery was one of his chief
fancies, and even while he was greeting us in, he kept an eye to
It appears, he sometimes visited or received visits from his wife
and one or two of his nearest friends, under the cover of night;
but for the more part lived quite alone, and communicated only
with his sentinels and the gillies that waited on him in the
Cage. The first thing in the morning, one of them, who was a
barber, came and shaved him, and gave him the news of the
country, of which he was immoderately greedy. There was no end
to his questions; he put them as earnestly as a child; and at
some of the answers, laughed out of all bounds of reason, and
would break out again laughing at the mere memory, hours after
the barber was gone.
To be sure, there might have been a purpose in his questions; for
though he was thus sequestered, and like the other landed
gentlemen of Scotland, stripped by the late Act of Parliament of
legal powers, he still exercised a patriarchal justice in his
clan. Disputes were brought to him in his hiding-hole to be
decided; and the men of his country, who would have snapped their
fingers at the Court of Session, laid aside revenge and paid down
money at the bare word of this forfeited and hunted outlaw. When
he was angered, which was often enough, he gave his commands and
breathed threats of punishment like any, king; and his gillies
trembled and crouched away from him like children before a hasty
father. With each of them, as he entered, he ceremoniously shook
hands, both parties touching their bonnets at the same time in a
military manner. Altogether, I had a fair chance to see some of
the inner workings of a Highland clan; and this with a
proscribed, fugitive chief; his country conquered; the troops
riding upon all sides in quest of him, sometimes within a mile of
where he lay; and when the least of the ragged fellows whom he
rated and threatened, could have made a fortune by betraying him.
On that first day, as soon as the collops were ready, Cluny gave
them with his own hand a squeeze of a lemon (for he was well
supplied with luxuries) and bade us draw in to our meal.
"They," said he, meaning the collops, "are such as I gave his
Royal Highness in this very house; bating the lemon juice, for at
that time we were glad to get the meat and never fashed for
kitchen. Indeed, there were mair dragoons than lemons in my
country in the year forty-six."
I do not know if the collops were truly very good, but my heart
rose against the sight of them, and I could eat but little. All
the while Cluny entertained us with stories of Prince Charlie's
stay in the Cage, giving us the very words of the speakers, and
rising from his place to show us where they stood. By these, I
gathered the Prince was a gracious, spirited boy, like the son of
a race of polite kings, but not so wise as Solomon. I gathered,
too, that while he was in the Cage, he was often drunk; so the
fault that has since, by all accounts, made such a wreck of him,
had even then begun to show itself.
We were no sooner done eating than Cluny brought out an old,
thumbed, greasy pack of cards, such as you may find in a mean
inn; and his eyes brightened in his face as he proposed that we
should fall to playing.
Now this was one of the things I had been brought up to eschew
like disgrace; it being held by my father neither the part of a
Christian nor yet of a gentleman to set his own livelihood and
fish for that of others, on the cast of painted pasteboard. To
be sure, I might have pleaded my fatigue, which was excuse
enough; but I thought it behoved that I should bear a testimony.
I must have got very red in the face, but I spoke steadily, and
told them I had no call to be a judge of others, but for my own
part, it was a matter in which I had no clearness.
Cluny stopped mingling the cards. "What in deil's name is this?"
says he. "What kind of Whiggish, canting talk is this, for the
house of Cluny Macpherson?"
"I will put my hand in the fire for Mr. Balfour," says Alan. "He
is an honest and a mettle gentleman, and I would have ye bear in
mind who says it. I bear a king's name," says he, cocking his
hat; "and I and any that I call friend are company for the best.
But the gentleman is tired, and should sleep; if he has no mind
to the cartes, it will never hinder you and me. And I'm fit and
willing, sir, to play ye any game that ye can name."
"Sir," says Cluny, "in this poor house of mine I would have you
to ken that any gentleman may follow his pleasure. If your
friend would like to stand on his head, he is welcome. And if
either he, or you, or any other man, is not preceesely satisfied,
I will be proud to step outside with him."
I had no will that these two friends should cut their throats for
"Sir," said I, "I am very wearied, as Alan says; and what's more,
as you are a man that likely has sons of your own, I may tell you
it was a promise to my father."
"Say nae mair, say nae mair," said Cluny, and pointed me to a bed
of heather in a corner of the Cage. For all that he was
displeased enough, looked at me askance, and grumbled when he
looked. And indeed it must be owned that both my scruples and
the words in which I declared them, smacked somewhat of the
Covenanter, and were little in their place among wild Highland
What with the brandy and the venison, a strange heaviness had
come over me; and I had scarce lain down upon the bed before I
fell into a kind of trance, in which I continued almost the whole
time of our stay in the Cage. Sometimes I was broad awake and
understood what passed; sometimes I only heard voices, or men
snoring, like the voice of a silly river; and the plaids upon the
wall dwindled down and swelled out again, like firelight shadows
on the roof. I must sometimes have spoken or cried out, for I
remember I was now and then amazed at being answered; yet I was
conscious of no particular nightmare, only of a general, black,
abiding horror -- a horror of the place I was in, and the bed I
lay in, and the plaids on the wall, and the voices, and the fire,
The barber-gillie, who was a doctor too, was called in to
prescribe for me; but as he spoke in the Gaelic, I understood not
a word of his opinion, and was too sick even to ask for a
translation. I knew well enough I was ill, and that was all I
I paid little heed while I lay in this poor pass. But Alan and
Cluny were most of the time at the cards, and I am clear that
Alan must have begun by winning; for I remember sitting up, and
seeing them hard at it, and a great glittering pile of as much as
sixty or a hundred guineas on the table. It looked strange
enough, to see all this wealth in a nest upon a cliff-side,
wattled about growing trees. And even then, I thought it seemed
deep water for Alan to be riding, who had no better battle-horse
than a green purse and a matter of five pounds.
The luck, it seems, changed on the second day. About noon I was
wakened as usual for dinner, and as usual refused to eat, and was
given a dram with some bitter infusion which the barber had
prescribed. The sun was shining in at the open door of the Cage,
and this dazzled and offended me. Cluny sat at the table, biting
the pack of cards. Alan had stooped over the bed, and had his
face close to my eyes; to which, troubled as they were with the
fever, it seemed of the most shocking bigness.
He asked me for a loan of my money.
"What for?" said I.
"O, just for a loan," said he.
"But why?" I repeated. "I don't see."
"Hut, David!" said Alan, "ye wouldnae grudge me a loan?"
I would, though, if I had had my senses! But all I thought of
then was to get his face away, and I handed him my money.
On the morning of the third day, when we had been forty-eight
hours in the Cage, I awoke with a great relief of spirits, very
weak and weary indeed, but seeing things of the right size and
with their honest, everyday appearance. I had a mind to eat,
moreover, rose from bed of my own movement, and as soon as we had
breakfasted, stepped to the entry of the Cage and sat down
outside in the top of the wood. It was a grey day with a cool,
mild air: and I sat in a dream all morning, only disturbed by the
passing by of Cluny's scouts and servants coming with provisions
and reports; for as the coast was at that time clear, you might
almost say he held court openly.
When I returned, he and Alan had laid the cards aside, and were
questioning a gillie; and the chief turned about and spoke to me
in the Gaelic.
"I have no Gaelic, sir," said I.
Now since the card question, everything I said or did had the
power of annoying Cluny. "Your name has more sense than
yourself, then," said he angrily. "for it's good Gaelic. But the
point is this. My scout reports all clear in the south, and the
question is, have ye the strength to go?"
I saw cards on the table, but no gold; only a heap of little
written papers, and these all on Cluny's side. Alan, besides,
had an odd look, like a man not very well content; and I began to
have a strong misgiving.
"I do not know if I am as well as I should be," said I, looking
at Alan; "but the little money we have has a long way to carry
Alan took his under-lip into his mouth, and looked upon the
"David," says he at last, "I've lost it; there's the naked
"My money too?" said I.
"Your money too," says Alan, with a groan. "Ye shouldnae have
given it me. I'm daft when I get to the cartes."
"Hoot-toot! hoot-toot!" said Cluny. "It was all daffing; it's all
nonsense. Of course you'll have your money back again, and the
double of it, if ye'll make so free with me. It would be a
singular thing for me to keep it. It's not to be supposed that I
would be any hindrance to gentlemen in your situation; that would
be a singular thing!" cries he, and began to pull gold out of his
pocket with a mighty red face.
Alan said nothing, only looked on the ground.
"Will you step to the door with me, sir?" said I.
Cluny said he would be very glad, and followed me readily enough,
but he looked flustered and put out.
"And now, sir," says I, "I must first acknowledge your
"Nonsensical nonsense!" cries Cluny. "Where's the generosity?
This is just a most unfortunate affair; but what would ye have me
do -- boxed up in this bee-skep of a cage of mine -- but just set
my friends to the cartes, when I can get them? And if they lose,
of course, it's not to be supposed ----" And here he came to a
"Yes," said I, "if they lose, you give them back their money; and
if they win, they carry away yours in their pouches! I have said
before that I grant your generosity; but to me, sir, it's a very
painful thing to be placed in this position."
There was a little silence, in which Cluny seemed always as if he
was about to speak, but said nothing. All the time he grew
redder and redder in the face.
"I am a young man," said I, "and I ask your advice. Advise me
as you would your son. My friend fairly lost his money, after
having fairly gained a far greater sum of yours; can I accept it
back again? Would that be the right part for me to play?
Whatever I do, you can see for yourself it must be hard upon a
man of any pride."
"It's rather hard on me, too, Mr. Balfour," said Cluny, "and ye
give me very much the look of a man that has entrapped poor
people to their hurt. I wouldnae have my friends come to any
house of mine to accept affronts; no," he cried, with a sudden
heat of anger, "nor yet to give them!"
"And so you see, sir," said I, "there is something to be said
upon my side; and this gambling is a very poor employ for
gentlefolks. But I am still waiting your opinion."
I am sure if ever Cluny hated any man it was David Balfour. He
looked me all over with a warlike eye, and I saw the challenge at
his lips. But either my youth disarmed him, or perhaps his own
sense of justice. Certainly it was a mortifying matter for all
concerned, and not least Cluny; the more credit that he took it
as he did.
"Mr. Balfour," said he, "I think you are too nice and
covenanting, but for all that you have the spirit of a very
pretty gentleman. Upon my honest word, ye may take this money --
it's what I would tell my son -- and here's my hand along with
THE FLIGHT IN THE HEATHER: THE QUARREL
Alan and I were put across Loch Errocht under cloud of night, and
went down its eastern shore to another hiding-place near the head
of Loch Rannoch, whither we were led by one of the gillies from
the Cage. This fellow carried all our luggage and Alan's
great-coat in the bargain, trotting along under the burthen, far
less than the half of which used to weigh me to the ground, like
a stout hill pony with a feather; yet he was a man that, in plain
contest, I could have broken on my knee.
Doubtless it was a great relief to walk disencumbered; and
perhaps without that relief, and the consequent sense of liberty
and lightness, I could not have walked at all. I was but new
risen from a bed of sickness; and there was nothing in the state
of our affairs to hearten me for much exertion; travelling, as we
did, over the most dismal deserts in Scotland, under a cloudy
heaven, and with divided hearts among the travellers.
For long, we said nothing; marching alongside or one behind the
other, each with a set countenance: I, angry and proud, and
drawing what strength I had from these two violent and sinful
feelings; Alan angry and ashamed, ashamed that he had lost my
money, angry that I should take it so ill.
The thought of a separation ran always the stronger in my mind;
and the more I approved of it, the more ashamed I grew of my
approval. It would be a fine, handsome, generous thing, indeed,
for Alan to turn round and say to me: "Go, I am in the most
danger, and my company only increases yours." But for me to turn
to the friend who certainly loved me, and say to him: "You are in
great danger, I am in but little; your friendship is a burden;
go, take your risks and bear your hardships alone ----" no, that
was impossible; and even to think of it privily to myself, made
my cheeks to burn.
And yet Alan had behaved like a child, and (what is worse) a
treacherous child. Wheedling my money from me while I lay
half-conscious was scarce better than theft; and yet here he was
trudging by my side, without a penny to his name, and by what I
could see, quite blithe to sponge upon the money he had driven me
to beg. True, I was ready to share it with him; but it made me
rage to see him count upon my readiness.
These were the two things uppermost in my mind; and I could open
my mouth upon neither without black ungenerosity. So I did the
next worst, and said nothing, nor so much as looked once at my
companion, save with the tail of my eye.
At last, upon the other side of Loch Errocht, going over a
smooth, rushy place, where the walking was easy, he could bear it
no longer, and came close to me.
"David," says he, "this is no way for two friends to take a small
accident. I have to say that I'm sorry; and so that's said. And
now if you have anything, ye'd better say it."
"O," says I, "I have nothing."
He seemed disconcerted; at which I was meanly pleased.
"No," said he, with rather a trembling voice, "but when I say I
was to blame?"
"Why, of course, ye were to blame," said I, coolly; "and you will
bear me out that I have never reproached you."
"Never," says he; "but ye ken very well that ye've done worse.
Are we to part? Ye said so once before. Are ye to say it again?
There's hills and heather enough between here and the two seas,
David; and I will own I'm no very keen to stay where I'm no
This pierced me like a sword, and seemed to lay bare my private
"Alan Breck!" I cried; and then: "Do you think I am one to turn
my back on you in your chief need? You dursn't say it to my
face. My whole conduct's there to give the lie to it. It's
true, I fell asleep upon the muir; but that was from weariness,
and you do wrong to cast it up to me----"
"Which is what I never did," said Alan.
"But aside from that," I continued, "what have I done that you
should even me to dogs by such a supposition? I never yet failed
a friend, and it's not likely I'll begin with you. There are
things between us that I can never forget, even if you can."
"I will only say this to ye, David," said Alan, very quietly,
"that I have long been owing ye my life, and now I owe ye money.
Ye should try to make that burden light for me."
This ought to have touched me, and in a manner it did, but the
wrong manner. I felt I was behaving, badly; and was now not only
angry with Alan, but angry with myself in the bargain; and it
made me the more cruel.
"You asked me to speak," said I. "Well, then, I will. You own
yourself that you have done me a disservice; I have had to
swallow an affront: I have never reproached you, I never named
the thing till you did. And now you blame me," cried I, "because
I cannae laugh and sing as if I was glad to be affronted. The
next thing will be that I'm to go down upon my knees and thank
you for it! Ye should think more of others, Alan Breck. If ye
thought more of others, ye would perhaps speak less about
yourself; and when a friend that likes you very well has passed
over an offence without a word, you would be blithe to let it
lie, instead of making it a stick to break his back with. By
your own way of it, it was you that was to blame; then it
shouldnae be you to seek the quarrel."
"Aweel," said Alan, "say nae mair."
And we fell back into our former silence; and came to our
journey's end, and supped, and lay down to sleep, without another
The gillie put us across Loch Rannoch in the dusk of the next
day, and gave us his opinion as to our best route. This was to
get us up at once into the tops of the mountains: to go round by
a circuit, turning the heads of Glen Lyon, Glen Lochay, and Glen
Dochart, and come down upon the lowlands by Kippen and the upper
waters of the Forth. Alan was little pleased with a route which
led us through the country of his blood-foes, the Glenorchy
Campbells. He objected that by turning to the east, we should
come almost at once among the Athole Stewarts, a race of his own
name and lineage, although following a different chief, and come
besides by a far easier and swifter way to the place whither we
were bound. But the gillie, who was indeed the chief man of
Cluny's scouts, had good reasons to give him on all hands, naming
the force of troops in every district, and alleging finally (as
well as I could understand) that we should nowhere be so little
troubled as in a country of the Campbells.
Alan gave way at last, but with only half a heart. "It's one of
the dowiest countries in Scotland," said he. "There's naething
there that I ken, but heath, and crows, and Campbells. But I see
that ye're a man of some penetration; and be it as ye please!"
We set forth accordingly by this itinerary; and for the best part
of three nights travelled on eerie mountains and among the
well-heads of wild rivers; often buried in mist, almost
continually blown and rained upon, and not once cheered by any
glimpse of sunshine. By day, we lay and slept in the drenching
heather; by night, incessantly clambered upon break-neck hills
and among rude crags. We often wandered; we were often so
involved in fog, that we must lie quiet till it lightened. A
fire was never to be thought of. Our only food was drammach and
a portion of cold meat that we had carried from the Cage; and as
for drink, Heaven knows we had no want of water.
This was a dreadful time, rendered the more dreadful by the gloom
of the weather and the country. I was never warm; my teeth
chattered in my head; I was troubled with a very sore throat,
such as I had on the isle; I had a painful stitch in my side,
which never left me; and when I slept in my wet bed, with the
rain beating above and the mud oozing below me, it was to live
over again in fancy the worst part of my adventures -- to see the
tower of Shaws lit by lightning, Ransome carried below on the
men's backs, Shuan dying on the round-house floor, or Colin
Campbell grasping at the bosom of his coat. From such broken
slumbers, I would be aroused in the gloaming, to sit up in the
same puddle where I had slept, and sup cold drammach; the rain
driving sharp in my face or running down my back in icy trickles;
the mist enfolding us like as in a gloomy chamber -- or, perhaps,
if the wind blew, falling suddenly apart and showing us the gulf
of some dark valley where the streams were crying aloud.
The sound of an infinite number of rivers came up from all round.
In this steady rain the springs of the mountain were broken up;
every glen gushed water like a cistern; every stream was in high
spate, and had filled and overflowed its channel. During our
night tramps, it was solemn to hear the voice of them below in
the valleys, now booming like thunder, now with an angry cry. I
could well understand the story of the Water Kelpie, that demon
of the streams, who is fabled to keep wailing and roaring at the
ford until the coming of the doomed traveller. Alan I saw
believed it, or half believed it; and when the cry of the river
rose more than usually sharp, I was little surprised (though, of
course, I would still be shocked) to see him cross himself in the
manner of the Catholics.
During all these horrid wanderings we had no familiarity,
scarcely even that of speech. The truth is that I was sickening
for my grave, which is my best excuse. But besides that I was of
an unforgiving disposition from my birth, slow to take offence,
slower to forget it, and now incensed both against my companion
and myself. For the best part of two days he was unweariedly
kind; silent, indeed, but always ready to help, and always hoping
(as I could very well see) that my displeasure would blow by.
For the same length of time I stayed in myself, nursing my anger,
roughly refusing his services, and passing him over with my eyes
as if he had been a bush or a stone.
The second night, or rather the peep of the third day, found us
upon a very open hill, so that we could not follow our usual plan
and lie down immediately to eat and sleep. Before we had reached
a place of shelter, the grey had come pretty clear, for though it
still rained, the clouds ran higher; and Alan, looking in my
face, showed some marks of concern.
"Ye had better let me take your pack," said he, for perhaps the
ninth time since we had parted from the scout beside Loch
"I do very well, I thank you," said I, as cold as ice.
Alan flushed darkly. "I'll not offer it again," he said. "I'm
not a patient man, David."
"I never said you were," said I, which was exactly the rude,
silly speech of a boy of ten.
Alan made no answer at the time, but his conduct answered for
him. Henceforth, it is to be thought, he quite forgave himself
for the affair at Cluny's; cocked his hat again, walked jauntily,
whistled airs, and looked at me upon one side with a provoking
The third night we were to pass through the western end of the
country of Balquhidder. It came clear and cold, with a touch in
the air like frost, and a northerly wind that blew the clouds
away and made the stars bright. The streams were full, of
course, and still made a great noise among the hills; but I
observed that Alan thought no more upon the Kelpie, and was in
high good spirits. As for me, the change of weather came too
late; I had lain in the mire so long that (as the Bible has it)
my very clothes "abhorred me." I was dead weary, deadly sick and
full of pains and shiverings; the chill of the wind went through
me, and the sound of it confused my ears. In this poor state I
had to bear from my companion something in the nature of a
persecution. He spoke a good deal, and never without a taunt.
"Whig" was the best name he had to give me. "Here," he would
say, "here's a dub for ye to jump, my Whiggie! I ken you're a
fine jumper!" And so on; all the time with a gibing voice and
I knew it was my own doing, and no one else's; but I was too
miserable to repent. I felt I could drag myself but little
farther; pretty soon, I must lie down and die on these wet
mountains like a sheep or a fox, and my bones must whiten there
like the bones of a beast. My head was light perhaps; but I
began to love the prospect, I began to glory in the thought of
such a death, alone in the desert, with the wild eagles besieging
my last moments. Alan would repent then, I thought; he would
remember, when I was dead, how much he owed me, and the
remembrance would be torture. So I went like a sick, silly, and
bad-hearted schoolboy, feeding my anger against a fellow-man,
when I would have been better on my knees, crying on God for
mercy. And at each of Alan's taunts, I hugged myself. "Ah!"
thinks I to myself, "I have a better taunt in readiness; when I
lie down and die, you will feel it like a buffet in your face;
ah, what a revenge! ah, how you will regret your ingratitude and
All the while, I was growing worse and worse. Once I had fallen,
my leg simply doubling under me, and this had struck Alan for the
moment; but I was afoot so briskly, and set off again with such a
natural manner, that he soon forgot the incident. Flushes of
heat went over me, and then spasms of shuddering. The stitch in
my side was hardly bearable. At last I began to feel that I
could trail myself no farther: and with that, there came on me
all at once the wish to have it out with Alan, let my anger
blaze, and be done with my life in a more sudden manner. He had
just called me "Whig." I stopped.
"Mr. Stewart," said I, in a voice that quivered like a
fiddle-string, "you are older than I am, and should know your
manners. Do you think it either very wise or very witty to cast
my politics in my teeth? I thought, where folk differed, it was
the part of gentlemen to differ civilly; and if I did not, I may
tell you I could find a better taunt than some of yours."
Alan had stopped opposite to me, his hat cocked, his hands in his
breeches pockets, his head a little on one side. He listened,
smiling evilly, as I could see by the starlight; and when I had
done he began to whistle a Jacobite air. It was the air made in
mockery of General Cope's defeat at Preston Pans:
"Hey, Johnnie Cope, are ye waukin' yet?
And are your drums a-beatin' yet?"
And it came in my mind that Alan, on the day of that battle, had
been engaged upon the royal side.
"Why do ye take that air, Mr. Stewart?" said I. "Is that to
remind me you have been beaten on both sides?"
The air stopped on Alan's lips. "David!" said he.
"But it's time these manners ceased," I continued; "and I mean
you shall henceforth speak civilly of my King and my good friends
"I am a Stewart --" began Alan.
"O!" says I, "I ken ye bear a king's name. But you are to
remember, since I have been in the Highlands, I have seen a good
many of those that bear it; and the best I can say of them is
this, that they would be none the worse of washing."
"Do you know that you insult me?" said Alan, very low.
"I am sorry for that," said I, "for I am not done; and if you
distaste the sermon, I doubt the pirliecue will please you as
little. You have been chased in the field by the grown men of my
party; it seems a poor kind of pleasure to out-face a boy. Both
the Campbells and the Whigs have beaten you; you have run before
them like a hare. It behoves you to speak of them as of your
 A second sermon.
Alan stood quite still, the tails of his great-coat clapping
behind him in the wind.
"This is a pity" he said at last. "There are things said that
cannot be passed over."
"I never asked you to," said I. "I am as ready as yourself."
"Ready?" said he.
"Ready," I repeated. "I am no blower and boaster like some that
I could name. Come on!" And drawing my sword, I fell on guard
as Alan himself had taught me.
"David!" he cried . "Are ye daft? I cannae draw upon ye, David.
It's fair murder."
"That was your look-out when you insulted me," said I.
"It's the truth!" cried Alan, and he stood for a moment, wringing
his mouth in his hand like a man in sore perplexity. "It's the
bare truth," he said, and drew his sword. But before I could
touch his blade with mine, he had thrown it from him and fallen
to the ground. "Na, na," he kept saying, "na, na -- I cannae, I
At this the last of my anger oozed all out of me; and I found
myself only sick, and sorry, and blank, and wondering at myself.
I would have given the world to take back what I had said; but a
word once spoken, who can recapture it? I minded me of all
Alan's kindness and courage in the past, how he had helped and
cheered and borne with me in our evil days; and then recalled my
own insults, and saw that I had lost for ever that doughty
friend. At the same time, the sickness that hung upon me seemed
to redouble, and the pang in my side was like a sword for
sharpness. I thought I must have swooned where I stood.
This it was that gave me a thought. No apology could blot out
what I had said; it was needless to think of one, none could
cover the offence; but where an apology was vain, a mere cry for
help might bring Alan back to my side. I put my pride away from
me. "Alan!" I said; "if ye cannae help me, I must just die
He started up sitting, and looked at me.
"It's true," said I. "I'm by with it. O, let me get into the
bield of a house -- I'll can die there easier." I had no need to
pretend; whether I chose or not, I spoke in a weeping voice that
would have melted a heart of stone.
"Can ye walk?" asked Alan.
"No," said I, "not without help. This last hour my legs have
been fainting under me; I've a stitch in my side like a red-hot
iron; I cannae breathe right. If I die, ye'll can forgive me,
Alan? In my heart, I liked ye fine -- even when I was the
"Wheesht, wheesht!" cried Alan. "Dinna say that! David man, ye
ken --" He shut his mouth upon a sob. "Let me get my arm about
ye," he continued; "that's the way! Now lean upon me hard. Gude
kens where there's a house! We're in Balwhidder, too; there
should be no want of houses, no, nor friends' houses here. Do ye
gang easier so, Davie?"
"Ay" said I, "I can be doing this way;" and I pressed his arm
with my hand.
Again he came near sobbing. "Davie," said he, "I'm no a right
man at all; I have neither sense nor kindness; I could nae
remember ye were just a bairn, I couldnae see ye were dying on
your feet; Davie, ye'll have to try and forgive me."
"O man, let's say no more about it!" said I. "We're neither one
of us to mend the other -- that's the truth! We must just bear
and forbear, man Alan. O, but my stitch is sore! Is there nae
"I'll find a house to ye, David," he said, stoutly. "We'll
follow down the burn, where there's bound to be houses. My poor
man, will ye no be better on my back?"
"O, Alan," says I, "and me a good twelve inches taller?"
"Ye're no such a thing," cried Alan, with a start. "There may be
a trifling matter of an inch or two; I'm no saying I'm just
exactly what ye would call a tall man, whatever; and I dare say,"
he added, his voice tailing off in a laughable manner, "now when
I come to think of it, I dare say ye'll be just about right. Ay,
it'll be a foot, or near hand; or may be even mair!"
It was sweet and laughable to hear Alan eat his words up in the
fear of some fresh quarrel. I could have laughed, had not my
stitch caught me so hard; but if I had laughed, I think I must
have wept too.
"Alan," cried I, "what makes ye so good to me? What makes ye
care for such a thankless fellow?"
"'Deed, and I don't, know" said Alan. "For just precisely what I
thought I liked about ye, was that ye never quarrelled: -- and
now I like ye better!"
At the door of the first house we came to, Alan knocked, which
was of no very safe enterprise in such a part of the Highlands as
the Braes of Balquhidder. No great clan held rule there; it was
filled and disputed by small septs, and broken remnants, and what
they call "chiefless folk," driven into the wild country about
the springs of Forth and Teith by the advance of the Campbells.
Here were Stewarts and Maclarens, which came to the same thing,
for the Maclarens followed Alan's chief in war, and made but one
clan with Appin. Here, too, were many of that old, proscribed,
nameless, red-handed clan of the Macgregors. They had always
been ill-considered, and now worse than ever, having credit with
no side or party in the whole country of Scotland. Their chief,
Macgregor of Macgregor, was in exile; the more immediate leader
of that part of them about Balquhidder, James More, Rob Roy's
eldest son, lay waiting his trial in Edinburgh Castle; they were
in ill-blood with Highlander and Lowlander, with the Grahames,
the Maclarens, and the Stewarts; and Alan, who took up the
quarrel of any friend, however distant, was extremely wishful to
Chance served us very well; for it was a household of Maclarens
that we found, where Alan was not only welcome for his name's
sake but known by reputation. Here then I was got to bed without
delay, and a doctor fetched, who found me in a sorry plight. But
whether because he was a very good doctor, or I a very young,
strong man, I lay bedridden for no more than a week, and before a
month I was able to take the road again with a good heart.
All this time Alan would not leave me though I often pressed him,
and indeed his foolhardiness in staying was a common subject of
outcry with the two or three friends that were let into the
secret. He hid by day in a hole of the braes under a little
wood; and at night, when the coast was clear, would come into the
house to visit me. I need not say if I was pleased to see him;
Mrs. Maclaren, our hostess, thought nothing good enough for such
a guest; and as Duncan Dhu (which was the name of our host) had a
pair of pipes in his house, and was much of a lover of music,
this time of my recovery was quite a festival, and we commonly
turned night into day.
The soldiers let us be; although once a party of two companies
and some dragoons went by in the bottom of the valley, where I
could see them through the window as I lay in bed. What was much
more astonishing, no magistrate came near me, and there was no
question put of whence I came or whither I was going; and in that
time of excitement, I was as free of all inquiry as though I had
lain in a desert. Yet my presence was known before I left to all
the people in Balquhidder and the adjacent parts; many coming
about the house on visits and these (after the custom of the
country) spreading the news among their neighbours. The bills,
too, had now been printed. There was one pinned near the foot of
my bed, where I could read my own not very flattering portrait
and, in larger characters, the amount of the blood money that had
been set upon my life. Duncan Dhu and the rest that knew that I
had come there in Alan's company, could have entertained no doubt
of who I was; and many others must have had their guess. For
though I had changed my clothes, I could not change my age or
person; and Lowland boys of eighteen were not so rife in these
parts of the world, and above all about that time, that they
could fail to put one thing with another, and connect me with the
bill. So it was, at least. Other folk keep a secret among two
or three near friends, and somehow it leaks out; but among these
clansmen, it is told to a whole countryside, and they will keep
it for a century.
There was but one thing happened worth narrating; and that is the
visit I had of Robin Oig, one of the sons of the notorious Rob
Roy. He was sought upon all sides on a charge of carrying a
young woman from Balfron and marrying her (as was alleged) by
force; yet he stepped about Balquhidder like a gentleman in his
own walled policy. It was he who had shot James Maclaren at the
plough stilts, a quarrel never satisfied; yet he walked into the
house of his blood enemies as a rider might into a public
Duncan had time to pass me word of who it was; and we looked at
one another in concern. You should understand, it was then close
upon the time of Alan's coming; the two were little likely to
agree; and yet if we sent word or sought to make a signal, it was
sure to arouse suspicion in a man under so dark a cloud as the
He came in with a great show of civility, but like a man among
inferiors; took off his bonnet to Mrs. Maclaren, but clapped it
on his head again to speak to Duncan; and leaving thus set
himself (as he would have thought) in a proper light, came to my
bedside and bowed.
"I am given to know, sir," says he, "that your name is Balfour."
"They call me David Balfour," said I, "at your service."
"I would give ye my name in return, sir" he replied, "but it's
one somewhat blown upon of late days; and it'll perhaps suffice
if I tell ye that I am own brother to James More Drummond or
Macgregor, of whom ye will scarce have failed to hear."
"No, sir," said I, a little alarmed; "nor yet of your father,
Macgregor-Campbell." And I sat up and bowed in bed; for I
thought best to compliment him, in case he was proud of having
had an outlaw to his father.
He bowed in return. "But what I am come to say, sir," he went
on, "is this. In the year '45, my brother raised a part of the
'Gregara' and marched six companies to strike a stroke for the
good side; and the surgeon that marched with our clan and cured
my brother's leg when it was broken in the brush at Preston Pans,
was a gentleman of the same name precisely as yourself. He was
brother to Balfour of Baith; and if you are in any reasonable
degree of nearness one of that gentleman's kin, I have come to
put myself and my people at your command."
You are to remember that I knew no more of my descent than any
cadger's dog; my uncle, to be sure, had prated of some of our
high connections, but nothing to the present purpose; and there
was nothing left me but that bitter disgrace of owning that I
could not tell.
Robin told me shortly he was sorry he had put himself about,
turned his back upon me without a sign of salutation, and as he
went towards the door, I could hear him telling Duncan that I was
"only some kinless loon that didn't know his own father." Angry
as I was at these words, and ashamed of my own ignorance, I could
scarce keep from smiling that a man who was under the lash of the
law (and was indeed hanged some three years later) should be so
nice as to the descent of his acquaintances.
Just in the door, he met Alan coming in; and the two drew back
and looked at each other like strange dogs. They were neither of
them big men, but they seemed fairly to swell out with pride.
Each wore a sword, and by a movement of his haunch, thrust clear
the hilt of it, so that it might be the more readily grasped and
the blade drawn.
"Mr. Stewart, I am thinking," says Robin.
"Troth, Mr. Macgregor, it's not a name to be ashamed of,"
"I did not know ye were in my country, sir," says Robin.
"It sticks in my mind that I am in the country of my friends the
Maclarens," says Alan.
"That's a kittle point," returned the other. "There may be two
words to say to that. But I think I will have heard that you are
a man of your sword?"
"Unless ye were born deaf, Mr. Macgregor, ye will have heard a
good deal more than that," says Alan. "I am not the only man
that can draw steel in Appin; and when my kinsman and captain,
Ardshiel, had a talk with a gentleman of your name, not so many
years back, I could never hear that the Macgregor had the best of
"Do ye mean my father, sir?" says Robin.
"Well, I wouldnae wonder," said Alan. "The gentleman I have in
my mind had the ill-taste to clap Campbell to his name."
"My father was an old man," returned Robin.
"The match was unequal. You and me would make a better pair,
"I was thinking that," said Alan.
I was half out of bed, and Duncan had been hanging at the elbow
of these fighting cocks, ready to intervene upon the least
occasion. But when that word was uttered, it was a case of now
or never; and Duncan, with something of a white face to be sure,
thrust himself between.
"Gentlemen," said he, "I will have been thinking of a very
different matter, whateffer. Here are my pipes, and here are you
two gentlemen who are baith acclaimed pipers. It's an auld
dispute which one of ye's the best. Here will be a braw chance
to settle it."
"Why, sir," said Alan, still addressing Robin, from whom indeed
he had not so much as shifted his eyes, nor yet Robin from him,
"why, sir," says Alan, "I think I will have heard some sough
of the sort. Have ye music, as folk say? Are ye a bit of a
"I can pipe like a Macrimmon!" cries Robin.
"And that is a very bold word," quoth Alan.
"I have made bolder words good before now," returned Robin, "and
that against better adversaries."
"It is easy to try that," says Alan.
Duncan Dhu made haste to bring out the pair of pipes that was his
principal possession, and to set before his guests a mutton-ham
and a bottle of that drink which they call Athole brose, and
which is made of old whiskey, strained honey and sweet cream,
slowly beaten together in the right order and proportion. The
two enemies were still on the very breach of a quarrel; but down
they sat, one upon each side of the peat fire, with a mighty show
of politeness. Maclaren pressed them to taste his mutton-ham and
"the wife's brose," reminding them the wife was out of Athole and
had a name far and wide for her skill in that confection. But
Robin put aside these hospitalities as bad for the breath.
"I would have ye to remark, sir," said Alan, "that I havenae
broken bread for near upon ten hours, which will be worse for the
breath than any brose in Scotland."
"I will take no advantages, Mr. Stewart," replied Robin. "Eat
and drink; I'll follow you."
Each ate a small portion of the ham and drank a glass of the
brose to Mrs. Maclaren; and then after a great number of
civilities, Robin took the pipes and played a little spring in a
very ranting manner.
"Ay, ye can, blow" said Alan; and taking the instrument from his
rival, he first played the same spring in a manner identical with
Robin's; and then wandered into variations, which, as he went on,
he decorated with a perfect flight of grace-notes, such as pipers
love, and call the "warblers."
I had been pleased with Robin's playing, Alan's ravished me.
"That's no very bad, Mr. Stewart," said the rival, "but ye show a
poor device in your warblers."
"Me!" cried Alan, the blood starting to his face. "I give ye the
"Do ye own yourself beaten at the pipes, then," said Robin, "that
ye seek to change them for the sword?"
"And that's very well said, Mr. Macgregor," returned Alan; "and
in the meantime" (laying a strong accent on the word) "I take
back the lie. I appeal to Duncan."
"Indeed, ye need appeal to naebody," said Robin. "Ye're a far
better judge than any Maclaren in Balquhidder: for it's a God's
truth that you're a very creditable piper for a Stewart. Hand me
the pipes." Alan did as he asked; and Robin proceeded to imitate
and correct some part of Alan's variations, which it seemed that
he remembered perfectly.
"Ay, ye have music," said Alan, gloomily.
"And now be the judge yourself, Mr. Stewart," said Robin; and
taking up the variations from the beginning, he worked them
throughout to so new a purpose, with such ingenuity and
sentiment, and with so odd a fancy and so quick a knack in the
grace-notes, that I was amazed to hear him.
As for Alan, his face grew dark and hot, and he sat and gnawed
his fingers, like a man under some deep affront. "Enough!" he
cried. "Ye can blow the pipes -- make the most of that." And he
made as if to rise.
But Robin only held out his hand as if to ask for silence, and
struck into the slow measure of a pibroch. It was a fine piece of
music in itself, and nobly played; but it seems, besides, it was
a piece peculiar to the Appin Stewarts and a chief favourite with
Alan. The first notes were scarce out, before there came a
change in his face; when the time quickened, he seemed to grow
restless in his seat; and long before that piece was at an end,
the last signs of his anger died from him, and he had no thought
but for the music.
"Robin Oig," he said, when it was done, "ye are a great piper. I
am not fit to blow in the same kingdom with ye. Body of me! ye
have mair music in your sporran than I have in my head! And
though it still sticks in my mind that I could maybe show ye
another of it with the cold steel, I warn ye beforehand -- it'll
no be fair! It would go against my heart to haggle a man that
can blow the pipes as you can!"
Thereupon that quarrel was made up; all night long the brose was
going and the pipes changing hands; and the day had come pretty
bright, and the three men were none the better for what they had
been taking, before Robin as much as thought upon the road.
END OF THE FLIGHT: WE PASS THE FORTH
The month, as I have said, was not yet out, but it was already
far through August, and beautiful warm weather, with every sign
of an early and great harvest, when I was pronounced able for my
journey. Our money was now run to so low an ebb that we must
think first of all on speed; for if we came not soon to Mr.
Rankeillor's, or if when we came there he should fail to help me,
we must surely starve. In Alan's view, besides, the hunt must
have now greatly slackened; and the line of the Forth and even
Stirling Bridge, which is the main pass over that river, would be
watched with little interest.
"It's a chief principle in military affairs," said he, "to go
where ye are least expected. Forth is our trouble; ye ken the
saying, 'Forth bridles the wild Hielandman.' Well, if we seek to
creep round about the head of that river and come down by Kippen
or Balfron, it's just precisely there that they'll be looking to
lay hands on us. But if we stave on straight to the auld Brig of
Stirling, I'll lay my sword they let us pass unchallenged."
The first night, accordingly, we pushed to the house of a
Maclaren in Strathire, a friend of Duncan's, where we slept the
twenty-first of the month, and whence we set forth again about
the fall of night to make another easy stage. The twenty-second
we lay in a heather bush on the hillside in Uam Var, within view
of a herd of deer, the happiest ten hours of sleep in a fine,
breathing sunshine and on bone-dry ground, that I have ever
tasted. That night we struck Allan Water, and followed it down;
and coming to the edge of the hills saw the whole Carse of
Stirling underfoot, as flat as a pancake, with the town and
castle on a hill in the midst of it, and the moon shining on the
Links of Forth.
"Now," said Alan, "I kenna if ye care, but ye're in your own land
again. We passed the Hieland Line in the first hour; and now if
we could but pass yon crooked water, we might cast our bonnets in
In Allan Water, near by where it falls into the Forth, we found a
little sandy islet, overgrown with burdock, butterbur and the
like low plants, that would just cover us if we lay flat. Here
it was we made our camp, within plain view of Stirling Castle,
whence we could hear the drums beat as some part of the garrison
paraded. Shearers worked all day in a field on one side of the
river, and we could hear the stones going on the hooks and the
voices and even the words of the men talking. It behoved to lie
close and keep silent. But the sand of the little isle was
sun-warm, the green plants gave us shelter for our heads, we had
food and drink in plenty; and to crown all, we were within sight
As soon as the shearers quit their work and the dusk began to
fall, we waded ashore and struck for the Bridge of Stirling,
keeping to the fields and under the field fences.
The bridge is close under the castle hill, an old, high, narrow
bridge with pinnacles along the parapet; and you may conceive
with how much interest I looked upon it, not only as a place
famous in history, but as the very doors of salvation to Alan and
myself. The moon was not yet up when we came there; a few lights
shone along the front of the fortress, and lower down a few
lighted windows in the town; but it was all mighty still, and
there seemed to be no guard upon the passage.
I was for pushing straight across; but Alan was more wary.
"It looks unco' quiet," said he; "but for all that we'll lie down
here cannily behind a dyke, and make sure."
So we lay for about a quarter of an hour, whiles whispering,
whiles lying still and hearing nothing earthly but the washing of
the water on the piers. At last there came by an old, hobbling
woman with a crutch stick; who first stopped a little, close to
where we lay, and bemoaned herself and the long way she had
travelled; and then set forth again up the steep spring of the
bridge. The woman was so little, and the night still so dark,
that we soon lost sight of her; only heard the sound of her
steps, and her stick, and a cough that she had by fits, draw
slowly farther away.
"She's bound to be across now," I whispered.
"Na," said Alan, "her foot still sounds boss upon the
And just then -- "Who goes?" cried a voice, and we heard the butt
of a musket rattle on the stones. I must suppose the sentry had
been sleeping, so that had we tried, we might have passed unseen;
but he was awake now, and the chance forfeited.
"This'll never do," said Alan. "This'll never, never do for us,
And without another word, he began to crawl away through the
fields; and a little after, being well out of eye-shot, got to
his feet again, and struck along a road that led to the eastward.
I could not conceive what he was doing; and indeed I was so
sharply cut by the disappointment, that I was little likely to be
pleased with anything. A moment back and I had seen myself
knocking at Mr. Rankeillor's door to claim my inheritance, like a
hero in a ballad; and here was I back again, a wandering, hunted
blackguard, on the wrong side of Forth.
"Well?" said I.
"Well," said Alan, "what would ye have? They're none such fools
as I took them for. We have still the Forth to pass, Davie --
weary fall the rains that fed and the hillsides that guided it!"
"And why go east?" said I.
"Ou, just upon the chance!" said he. "If we cannae pass the
river, we'll have to see what we can do for the firth."
"There are fords upon the river, and none upon the firth," said
"To be sure there are fords, and a bridge forbye," quoth Alan;
"and of what service, when they are watched?"
"Well," said I, "but a river can be swum."
"By them that have the skill of it," returned he; "but I have yet
to hear that either you or me is much of a hand at that exercise;
and for my own part, I swim like a stone."
"I'm not up to you in talking back, Alan," I said; "but I can see
we're making bad worse. If it's hard to pass a river, it stands
to reason it must be worse to pass a sea."
"But there's such a thing as a boat," says Alan, "or I'm the more
"Ay, and such a thing as money," says I. "But for us that have
neither one nor other, they might just as well not have been
"Ye think so?" said Alan.
"I do that," said I.
"David," says he, "ye're a man of small invention and less faith.
But let me set my wits upon the hone, and if I cannae beg,
borrow, nor yet steal a boat, I'll make one!"
"I think I see ye!" said I. "And what's more than all that: if
ye pass a bridge, it can tell no tales; but if we pass the firth,
there's the boat on the wrong side -- somebody must have brought
it -- the country-side will all be in a bizz ---"
"Man!" cried Alan, "if I make a boat, I'll make a body to take it
back again! So deave me with no more of your nonsense, but walk
(for that's what you've got to do) --and let Alan think for ye."
All night, then, we walked through the north side of the Carse
under the high line of the Ochil mountains; and by Alloa and
Clackmannan and Culross, all of which we avoided: and about ten
in the morning, mighty hungry and tired, came to the little
clachan of Limekilns. This is a place that sits near in by the
water-side, and looks across the Hope to the town of the
Queensferry. Smoke went up from both of these, and from other
villages and farms upon all hands. The fields were being reaped;
two ships lay anchored, and boats were coming and going on the
Hope. It was altogether a right pleasant sight to me; and I
could not take my fill of gazing at these comfortable, green,
cultivated hills and the busy people both of the field and sea.
For all that, there was Mr. Rankeillor's house on the south
shore, where I had no doubt wealth awaited me; and here was I
upon the north, clad in poor enough attire of an outlandish
fashion, with three silver shillings left to me of all my
fortune, a price set upon my head, and an outlawed man for my
"O, Alan!" said I, "to think of it! Over there, there's all that
heart could want waiting me; and the birds go over, and the boats
go over -- all that please can go, but just me only! O, man, but
it's a heart-break!"
In Limekilns we entered a small change-house, which we only knew
to be a public by the wand over the door, and bought some bread
and cheese from a good-looking lass that was the servant. This
we carried with us in a bundle, meaning to sit and eat it in a
bush of wood on the sea-shore, that we saw some third part of a
mile in front. As we went, I kept looking across the water and
sighing to myself; and though I took no heed of it, Alan had
fallen into a muse. At last he stopped in the way.
"Did ye take heed of the lass we bought this of?" says he,
tapping on the bread and cheese.
"To be sure," said I, "and a bonny lass she was."
"Ye thought that?" cries he. "Man, David, that's good news."
"In the name of all that's wonderful, why so?" says I. "What
good can that do?"
"Well," said Alan, with one of his droll looks, "I was rather in
hopes it would maybe get us that boat."
"If it were the other way about, it would be liker it," said I.
"That's all that you ken, ye see," said Alan. "I don't want the
lass to fall in love with ye, I want her to be sorry for ye,
David; to which end there is no manner of need that she should
take you for a beauty. Let me see" (looking me curiously over).
"I wish ye were a wee thing paler; but apart from that ye'll do
fine for my purpose -- ye have a fine, hang-dog, rag-and-tatter,
clappermaclaw kind of a look to ye, as if ye had stolen the coat
from a potato-bogle. Come; right about, and back to the
change-house for that boat of ours."
I followed him, laughing.
"David Balfour," said he, "ye're a very funny gentleman by your
way of it, and this is a very funny employ for ye, no doubt. For
all that, if ye have any affection for my neck (to say nothing of
your own) ye will perhaps be kind enough to take this matter
responsibly. I am going to do a bit of play-acting, the bottom
ground of which is just exactly as serious as the gallows for the
pair of us. So bear it, if ye please, in mind, and conduct
"Well, well," said I, "have it as you will."
As we got near the clachan, he made me take his arm and hang upon
it like one almost helpless with weariness; and by the time he
pushed open the change-house door, he seemed to be half carrying
me. The maid appeared surprised (as well she might be) at our
speedy return; but Alan had no words to spare for her in
explanation, helped me to a chair, called for a tass of brandy
with which he fed me in little sips, and then breaking up the
bread and cheese helped me to eat it like a nursery-lass; the
whole with that grave, concerned, affectionate countenance, that
might have imposed upon a judge. It was small wonder if the maid
were taken with the picture we presented, of a poor, sick,
overwrought lad and his most tender comrade. She drew quite
near, and stood leaning with her back on the next table.
"What's like wrong with him?" said she at last.
Alan turned upon her, to my great wonder, with a kind of fury.
"Wrong?" cries he. "He's walked more hundreds of miles than he
has hairs upon his chin, and slept oftener in wet heather than
dry sheets. Wrong, quo' she! Wrong enough, I would think!
Wrong, indeed!" and he kept grumbling to himself as he fed me,
like a man ill-pleased.
"He's young for the like of that," said the maid.
"Ower young," said Alan, with his back to her.
"He would be better riding," says she.
"And where could I get a horse to him?" cried Alan, turning on
her with the same appearance of fury. "Would ye have me steal?"
I thought this roughness would have sent her off in dudgeon, as
indeed it closed her mouth for the time. But my companion knew
very well what he was doing; and for as simple as he was in some
things of life, had a great fund of roguishness in such affairs
"Ye neednae tell me," she said at last -- "ye're gentry."
"Well," said Alan, softened a little (I believe against his will)
by this artless comment, "and suppose we were? Did ever you hear
that gentrice put money in folk's pockets?"
She sighed at this, as if she were herself some disinherited
great lady. "No," says she, "that's true indeed."
I was all this while chafing at the part I played, and sitting
tongue-tied between shame and merriment; but somehow at this I
could hold in no longer, and bade Alan let me be, for I was
better already. My voice stuck in my throat, for I ever hated to
take part in lies; but my very embarrassment helped on the plot,
for the lass no doubt set down my husky voice to sickness and
"Has he nae friends?" said she, in a tearful voice.
"That has he so!" cried Alan, "if we could but win to them! --
friends and rich friends, beds to lie in, food to eat, doctors to
see to him -- and here he must tramp in the dubs and sleep in the
heather like a beggarman."
"And why that?" says the lass.
"My dear," said Alan, "I cannae very safely say; but I'll tell ye
what I'll do instead," says he, "I'll whistle ye a bit tune."
And with that he leaned pretty far over the table, and in a mere
breath of a whistle, but with a wonderful pretty sentiment, gave
her a few bars of "Charlie is my darling."
"Wheesht," says she, and looked over her shoulder to the door.
"That's it," said Alan.
"And him so young!" cries the lass.
"He's old enough to----" and Alan struck his forefinger on the
back part of his neck, meaning that I was old enough to lose my
"It would be a black shame," she cried, flushing high.
"It's what will be, though," said Alan, "unless we manage the
At this the lass turned and ran out of that part of the house,
leaving us alone together. Alan in high good humour at the
furthering of his schemes, and I in bitter dudgeon at being
called a Jacobite and treated like a child.
"Alan," I cried, "I can stand no more of this."
"Ye'll have to sit it then, Davie," said he. "For if ye upset
the pot now, ye may scrape your own life out of the fire, but
Alan Breck is a dead man."
This was so true that I could only groan; and even my groan
served Alan's purpose, for it was overheard by the lass as she
came flying in again with a dish of white puddings and a bottle
of strong ale.
"Poor lamb!" says she, and had no sooner set the meat before us,
than she touched me on the shoulder with a little friendly touch,
as much as to bid me cheer up. Then she told us to fall to, and
there would be no more to pay; for the inn was her own, or at
least her father's, and he was gone for the day to Pittencrieff.
We waited for no second bidding, for bread and cheese is but cold
comfort and the puddings smelt excellently well; and while we sat
and ate, she took up that same place by the next table, looking
on, and thinking, and frowning to herself, and drawing the string
of her apron through her hand.
"I'm thinking ye have rather a long tongue," she said at last to
"Ay" said Alan; "but ye see I ken the folk I speak to."
"I would never betray ye," said she, "if ye mean that."
"No," said he, "ye're not that kind. But I'll tell ye what ye
would do, ye would help."
"I couldnae," said she, shaking her head. "Na, I couldnae."