"The same, sir," said James More. "And since I have been fellow-
soldier with your kinsman, you must suffer me to grasp your hand."
He shook hands with me long and tenderly, beaming on me the while
as though he had found a brother.
"Ah!" says he, "these are changed days since your cousin and I
heard the balls whistle in our lugs."
"I think he was a very far-away cousin," said I, drily, "and I
ought to tell you that I never clapped eyes upon the man."
"Well, well," said he, "it makes no change. And you--I do not
think you were out yourself, sir--I have no clear mind of your
face, which is one not probable to be forgotten."
"In the year you refer to, Mr. Macgregor, I was getting skelped in
the parish school," said I.
"So young!" cries he. "Ah, then, you will never be able to think
what this meeting is to me. In the hour of my adversity, and here
in the house of my enemy, to meet in with the blood of an old
brother-in-arms--it heartens me, Mr. Balfour, like the skirting of
the highland pipes! Sir, this is a sad look back that many of us
have to make: some with falling tears. I have lived in my own
country like a king; my sword, my mountains, and the faith of my
friends and kinsmen sufficed for me. Now I lie in a stinking
dungeon; and do you know, Mr. Balfour," he went on, taking my arm
and beginning to lead me about, "do you know, sir, that I lack mere
neCESSaries? The malice of my foes has quite sequestered my
resources. I lie, as you know, sir, on a trumped-up charge, of
which I am as innocent as yourself. They dare not bring me to my
trial, and in the meanwhile I am held naked in my prison. I could
have wished it was your cousin I had met, or his brother Baith
himself. Either would, I know, have been rejoiced to help me;
while a comparative stranger like yourself--"
I would be ashamed to set down all he poured out to me in this
beggarly vein, or the very short and grudging answers that I made
to him. There were times when I was tempted to stop his mouth with
some small change; but whether it was from shame or pride--whether
it was for my own sake or Catriona's--whether it was because I
thought him no fit father for his daughter, or because I resented
that grossness of immediate falsity that clung about the man
himself--the thing was clean beyond me. And I was still being
wheedled and preached to, and still being marched to and fro, three
steps and a turn, in that small chamber, and had already, by some
very short replies, highly incensed, although not finally
discouraged, my beggar, when Prestongrange appeared in the doorway
and bade me eagerly into his big chamber.
"I have a moment's engagements," said he; "and that you may not sit
empty-handed I am going to present you to my three braw daughters,
of whom perhaps you may have heard, for I think they are more
famous than papa. This way."
He led me into another long room above, where a dry old lady sat at
a frame of embroidery, and the three handsomest young women (I
suppose) in Scotland stood together by a window.
"This is my new friend, Mr Balfour," said he, presenting me by the
arm, "David, here is my sister, Miss Grant, who is so good as keep
my house for me, and will be very pleased if she can help you. And
here," says he, turning to the three younger ladies, "here are my
THREE BRAW DAUCHTERS. A fair question to ye, Mr. Davie: which of
the three is the best favoured? And I wager he will never have the
impudence to propound honest Alan Ramsay's answer!"
Hereupon all three, and the old Miss Grant as well, cried out
against this sally, which (as I was acquainted with the verses he
referred to) brought shame into my own check. It seemed to me a
citation unpardonable in a father, and I was amazed that these
ladies could laugh even while they reproved, or made believe to.
Under cover of this mirth, Prestongrange got forth of the chamber,
and I was left, like a fish upon dry land, in that very unsuitable