Catriona

Page 08

"The Advocate be dammed!" cries he. "It's the Campbells, man!

You'll have the whole clanjamfry of them on your back; and so will

the Advocate too, poor body! It's extraordinar ye cannot see where

ye stand! If there's no fair way to stop your gab, there's a foul

one gaping. They can put ye in the dock, do ye no see that?" he

cried, and stabbed me with one finger in the leg.

"Ay," said I, "I was told that same no further back than this

morning by another lawyer."

"And who was he?" asked Stewart, "He spoke sense at least."

I told I must be excused from naming him, for he was a decent stout

old Whig, and had little mind to be mixed up in such affairs.

"I think all the world seems to be mixed up in it!" cries Stewart.

"But what said you?"

"I told him what had passed between Rankeillor and myself before

the house of Shaws.

"Well, and so ye will hang!" said he. "Ye'll hang beside James

Stewart. There's your fortune told."

"I hope better of it yet than that," said I; "but I could never

deny there was a risk."

"Risk!" says he, and then sat silent again. "I ought to thank you

for you staunchness to my friends, to whom you show a very good

spirit," he says, "if you have the strength to stand by it. But I

warn you that you're wading deep. I wouldn't put myself in your

place (me that's a Stewart born!) for all the Stewarts that ever

there were since Noah. Risk? ay, I take over-many; but to be tried

in court before a Campbell jury and a Campbell judge, and that in a

Campbell country and upon a Campbell quarrel--think what you like

of me, Balfour, it's beyond me."

"It's a different way of thinking, I suppose," said I; "I was

brought up to this one by my father before me."

"Glory to his bones! he has left a decent son to his name," says

he. "Yet I would not have you judge me over-sorely. My case is

dooms hard. See, sir, ye tell me ye're a Whig: I wonder what I

am. No Whig to be sure; I couldnae be just that. But--laigh in

your ear, man--I'm maybe no very keen on the other side."

"Is that a fact?" cried I. "It's what I would think of a man of

your intelligence."

"Hut! none of your whillywhas!" {4} cries he. "There's

intelligence upon both sides. But for my private part I have no

particular desire to harm King George; and as for King James, God

bless him! he does very well for me across the water. I'm a

lawyer, ye see: fond of my books and my bottle, a good plea, a

well-drawn deed, a crack in the Parliament House with other lawyer

bodies, and perhaps a turn at the golf on a Saturday at e'en.

Where do ye come in with your Hieland plaids and claymores?"

"Well," said I, "it's a fact ye have little of the wild

Highlandman."

"Little?" quoth he. "Nothing, man! And yet I'm Hieland born, and

when the clan pipes, who but me has to dance! The clan and the

name, that goes by all. It's just what you said yourself; my

father learned it to me, and a bonny trade I have of it. Treason

and traitors, and the smuggling of them out and in; and the French

recruiting, weary fall it! and the smuggling through of the

recruits; and their pleas--a sorrow of their pleas! Here have I

been moving one for young Ardsheil, my cousin; claimed the estate

under the marriage contract--a forfeited estate! I told them it

was nonsense: muckle they cared! And there was I cocking behind a

yadvocate that liked the business as little as myself, for it was

fair ruin to the pair of us--a black mark, DISAFFECTED, branded on

our hurdies, like folk's names upon their kye! And what can I do?

I'm a Stewart, ye see, and must fend for my clan and family. Then

no later by than yesterday there was one of our Stewart lads

carried to the Castle. What for? I ken fine: Act of 1736:

recruiting for King Lewie. And you'll see, he'll whistle me in to

be his lawyer, and there'll be another black mark on my chara'ter!

I tell you fair: if I but kent the heid of a Hebrew word from the

hurdies of it, be dammed but I would fling the whole thing up and

turn minister!"

"It's rather a hard position," said I.

Catriona Page 09

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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