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

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

you be yourself?"

"You never heard tell of my name nor of me either," said I, "but I

bring you a token from a friend that you know well. That you know

well," I repeated, lowering my voice, "but maybe are not just so

keen to hear from at this present being. And the bits of business

that I have to propone to you are rather in the nature of being

confidential. In short, I would like to think we were quite

private."

He rose without more words, casting down his paper like a man ill-

pleased, sent forth his clerk of an errand, and shut to the house-

door behind him.

"Now, sir," said he, returning, "speak out your mind and fear

nothing; though before you begin," he cries out, "I tell you mine

misgives me! I tell you beforehand, ye're either a Stewart or a

Stewart sent ye. A good name it is, and one it would ill-become my

father's son to lightly. But I begin to grue at the sound of it."

"My name is called Balfour," said I, "David Balfour of Shaws. As

for him that sent me, I will let his token speak." And I showed

the silver button.

"Put it in your pocket, sir!" cries he. "Ye need name no names.

The deevil's buckie, I ken the button of him! And de'il hae't!

Where is he now!"

I told him I knew not where Alan was, but he had some sure place

(or thought he had) about the north side, where he was to lie until

a ship was found for him; and how and where he had appointed to be

spoken with.

"It's been always my opinion that I would hang in a tow for this

family of mine," he cried, "and, dod! I believe the day's come

now! Get a ship for him, quot' he! And who's to pay for it? The

man's daft!"

"That is my part of the affair, Mr. Stewart," said I. "Here is a

bag of good money, and if more be wanted, more is to be had where

it came from."

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

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

"Stop a bit, stop a bit," says Mr. Stewart. "What's all this? A

Whig? Then why are you here with Alan's button? and what kind of a

black-foot traffic is this that I find ye out in, Mr. Whig? Here

is a forfeited rebel and an accused murderer, with two hundred

pounds on his life, and ye ask me to meddle in his business, and

then tell me ye're a Whig! I have no mind of any such Whigs

before, though I've kent plenty of them."

"He's a forfeited rebel, the more's the pity," said I, "for the

man's my friend. I can only wish he had been better guided. And

an accused murderer, that he is too, for his misfortune; but

wrongfully accused."

"I hear you say so," said Stewart.

"More than you are to hear me say so, before long," said I. "Alan

Breck is innocent, and so is James."

"Oh!" says he, "the two cases hang together. If Alan is out, James

can never be in."

Hereupon I told him briefly of my acquaintance with Alan, of the

accident that brought me present at the Appin murder, and the

various passages of our escape among the heather, and my recovery

of my estate. "So, sir, you have now the whole train of these

events," I went on, "and can see for yourself how I come to be so

much mingled up with the affairs of your family and friends, which

(for all of our sakes) I wish had been plainer and less bloody.

You can see for yourself, too, that I have certain pieces of

business depending, which were scarcely fit to lay before a lawyer

chosen at random. No more remains, but to ask if you will

undertake my service?"

"I have no great mind to it; but coming as you do with Alan's

button, the choice is scarcely left me," said he. "What are your

instructions?" he added, and took up his pen.

"The first point is to smuggle Alan forth of this country," said I,

"but I need not be repeating that."

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

Catriona Page 07

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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