Catriona

Page 05

And here is this son of trouble, Neil, son of

Duncan, has lost my four-penny piece that was to buy that snuff,

and James More must go wanting, and will think his daughter has

forgotten him."

I took sixpence from my pocket, gave it to Neil, and bade him go

about his errand. Then to her, "That sixpence came with me by

Balwhidder," said I.

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

"I would not like to deceive you, either," said I. "I know very

little of the Gregara and less of James More and his doings, but

since the while I have been standing in this close, I seem to know

something of yourself; and if you will just say 'a friend to Miss

Catriona' I will see you are the less cheated."

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

"I will even try," said I.

"And what will you be thinking of myself!" she cried, "to be

holding my hand to the first stranger!"

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

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

stop!"

"To tell the truth, I am stopping nowhere yet," said I, "being not

full three hours in the city; but if you will give me your

direction, I will he no bold as come seeking my sixpence for

myself."

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

"You need have little fear," said I.

"James More could not bear it else," said she. "I stop beyond the

village of Dean, on the north side of the water, with Mrs.

Drummond-Ogilvy of Allardyce, who is my near friend and will be

glad to thank you."

"You are to see me, then, so soon as what I have to do permits,"

said I; and, the remembrance of Alan rolling in again upon my mind,

I made haste to say farewell.

I could not but think, even as I did so, that we had made

extraordinary free upon short acquaintance, and that a really wise

young lady would have shown herself more backward. I think it was

the bank-porter that put me from this ungallant train of thought.

"I thoucht ye had been a lad of some kind o' sense," he began,

shooting out his lips. "Ye're no likely to gang far this gate. A

fule and his siller's shune parted. Eh, but ye're a green

callant!" he cried, "an' a veecious, tae! Cleikin' up wi'

baubeejoes!"

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

"Leddy!" he cried. "Haud us and safe us, whatten leddy? Ca' THON

a leddy? The toun's fu' o' them. Leddies! Man, its weel seen

ye're no very acquant in Embro!"

A clap of anger took me.

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

shut!"

He did not wholly obey me, for, though he no more addressed me

directly, he very impudent sang at me as he went in a manner of

innuendo, and with an exceedingly ill voice and ear -

"As Mally Lee cam doun the street, her capuchin did flee,

She cuist a look ahint her to see her negligee.

And we're a' gaun east and wast, we're a' gann ajee,

We're a' gaun east and wast courtin' Mally Lee."

CHAPTER II--THE HIGHLAND WRITER

Mr. Charles Stewart the Writer dwelt at the top of the longest

stair ever mason set a hand to; fifteen flights of it, no less; and

when I had come to his door, and a clerk had opened it, and told me

his master was within, I had scarce breath enough to send my porter

packing.

"Awa' east and west wi' ye!" said I, took the money bag out of his

hands, and followed the clerk in.

The outer room was an office with the clerk's chair at a table

spread with law papers. In the inner chamber, which opened from

it, a little brisk man sat poring on a deed, from which he scarce

raised his eyes on my entrance; indeed, he still kept his finger in

the place, as though prepared to show me out and fall again to his

studies. This pleased me little enough; and what pleased me less,

I thought the clerk was in a good posture to overhear what should

pass between us.

Catriona Page 06

Robert Louis Stevenson

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book