Catriona

Page 18

"I am sure of that," said I.

"Let me see," he continued. "To-morrow is the Sabbath. Come to me

on Monday by eight in the morning, and give me our promise until

then."

"Freely given, my lord," said I. "And with regard to what has

fallen from yourself, I will give it for an long as it shall please

God to spare your days."

"You will observe," he said next, "that I have made no employment

of menaces."

"It was like your lordship's nobility," said I. "Yet I am not

altogether so dull but what I can perceive the nature of those you

have not uttered."

"Well," said he, "good-night to you. May you sleep well, for I

think it is more than I am like to do."

With that he sighed, took up a candle, and gave me his conveyance

as far as the street door.

CHAPTER V--IN THE ADVOCATE'S HOUSE

The next day, Sabbath, August 27th, I had the occasion I had long

looked forward to, to hear some of the famous Edinburgh preachers,

all well known to me already by the report of Mr Campbell. Alas!

and I might just as well have been at Essendean, and sitting under

Mr. Campbell's worthy self! the turmoil of my thoughts, which dwelt

continually on the interview with Prestongrange, inhibiting me from

all attention. I was indeed much less impressed by the reasoning

of the divines than by the spectacle of the thronged congregation

in the churches, like what I imagined of a theatre or (in my then

disposition) of an assize of trial; above all at the West Kirk,

with its three tiers of galleries, where I went in the vain hope

that I might see Miss Drummond.

On the Monday I betook me for the first time to a barber's, and was

very well pleased with the result. Thence to the Advocate's, where

the red coats of the soldiers showed again about his door, making a

bright place in the close. I looked about for the young lady and

her gillies: there was never a sign of them. But I was no sooner

shown into the cabinet or antechamber where I had spent so wearyful

a time upon the Saturday, than I was aware of the tall figure of

James More in a corner. He seemed a prey to a painful uneasiness,

reaching forth his feet and hands, and his eyes speeding here and

there without rest about the walls of the small chamber, which

recalled to me with a sense of pity the man's wretched situation.

I suppose it was partly this, and partly my strong continuing

interest in his daughter, that moved me to accost him.

"Give you a good-morning, sir," said I.

"And a good-morning to you, sir," said he.

"You bide tryst with Prestongrange?" I asked.

"I do, sir, and I pray your business with that gentleman be more

agreeable than mine," was his reply.

"I hope at least that yours will be brief, for I suppose you pass

before me," said I.

"All pass before me," he said, with a shrug and a gesture upward of

the open hands. "It was not always so, sir, but times change. It

was not so when the sword was in the scale, young gentleman, and

the virtues of the soldier might sustain themselves."

There came a kind of Highland snuffle out of the man that raised my

dander strangely.

"Well, Mr. Macgregor," said I, "I understand the main thing for a

soldier is to be silent, and the first of his virtues never to

complain."

"You have my name, I perceive"--he bowed to me with his arms

crossed--"though it's one I must not use myself. Well, there is a

publicity--I have shown my face and told my name too often in the

beards of my enemies. I must not wonder if both should be known to

many that I know not."

"That you know not in the least, sir," said I, "nor yet anybody

else; but the name I am called, if you care to hear it, is

Balfour."

"It is a good name," he replied, civilly; "there are many decent

folk that use it. And now that I call to mind, there was a young

gentleman, your namesake, that marched surgeon in the year '45 with

my battalion."

"I believe that would be a brother to Balfour of Baith," said I,

for I was ready for the surgeon now.

Catriona Page 19

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