"But if you will permit, I
believe I will even have the bottle in myself."
He touched a bell, and a footman came, as at a signal, bringing
wine and glasses.
"You are sure you will not join me?" asked the Advocate. "Well,
here is to our better acquaintance! In what way can I serve you?"
"I should, perhaps, begin by telling you, my lord, that I am here
at your own pressing invitation," said I.
"You have the advantage of me somewhere," said he, "for I profess I
think I never heard of you before this evening."
"Right, my lord; the name is, indeed, new to you," said I. "And
yet you have been for some time extremely wishful to make my
acquaintance, and have declared the same in public."
"I wish you would afford me a clue," says he. "I am no Daniel."
"It will perhaps serve for such," said I, "that if I was in a
jesting humour--which is far from the case--I believe I might lay a
claim on your lordship for two hundred pounds."
"In what sense?" he inquired.
"In the sense of rewards offered for my person," said I.
He thrust away his glass once and for all, and sat straight up in
the chair where he had been previously lolling. "What am I to
understand?" said he.
"A TALL STRONG LAD OF ABOUT EIGHTEEN," I quoted, "SPEAKS LIKE a
LOWLANDER AND HAS NO BEARD."
"I recognise those words," said he, "which, if you have come here
with any ill-judged intention of amusing yourself, are like to
prove extremely prejudicial to your safety."
"My purpose in this," I replied, "is just entirely as serious as
life and death, and you have understood me perfectly. I am the boy
who was speaking with Glenure when he was shot."
"I can only suppose (seeing you here) that you claim to be
innocent," said he.
"The inference is clear," I said. "I am a very loyal subject to
King George, but if I had anything to reproach myself with, I would
have had more discretion than to walk into your den."
"I am glad of that," said he. "This horrid crime, Mr. Balfour, is
of a dye which cannot permit any clemency. Blood has been
barbarously shed. It has been shed in direct opposition to his
Majesty and our whole frame of laws, by those who are their known
and public oppugnants. I take a very high sense of this. I will
not deny that I consider the crime as directly personal to his
"And unfortunately, my lord," I added, a little drily, "directly
personal to another great personage who may be nameless."
"If you mean anything by those words, I must tell you I consider
them unfit for a good subject; and were they spoke publicly I
should make it my business to take note of them," said he. "You do
not appear to me to recognise the gravity of your situation, or you
would be more careful not to pejorate the same by words which
glance upon the purity of justice. Justice, in this country, and
in my poor hands, is no respecter of persons."
"You give me too great a share in my own speech, my lord," said I.
"I did but repeat the common talk of the country, which I have
heard everywhere, and from men of all opinions as I came along."
"When you are come to more discretion you will understand such talk
in not to be listened to, how much less repeated," says the
Advocate. "But I acquit you of an ill intention. That nobleman,
whom we all honour, and who has indeed been wounded in a near place
by the late barbarity, sits too high to be reached by these
aspersions. The Duke of Argyle--you see that I deal plainly with
you--takes it to heart as I do, and as we are both bound to do by
our judicial functions and the service of his Majesty; and I could
wish that all hands, in this ill age, were equally clean of family
rancour. But from the accident that this is a Campbell who has
fallen martyr to his duty--as who else but the Campbells have ever
put themselves foremost on that path?--I may say it, who am no
Campbell--and that the chief of that great house happens (for all
our advantages) to be the present head of the College of Justice,
small minds and disaffected tongues are set agog in every
changehouse in the country; and I find a young gentleman like Mr.