I sat by the lake side in a place where the rushes went down into
the water, and there steeped my wrists and laved my temples. If I
could have done so with any remains of self-esteem, I would now
have fled from my foolhardy enterprise. But (call it courage or
cowardice, and I believe it was both the one and the other) I
decided I was ventured out beyond the possibility of a retreat. I
had out-faced these men, I would continue to out-face them; come
what might, I would stand by the word spoken.
The sense of my own constancy somewhat uplifted my spirits, but not
much. At the best of it there was an icy place about my heart, and
life seemed a black business to be at all engaged in. For two
souls in particular my pity flowed. The one was myself, to be so
friendless and lost among dangers. The other was the girl, the
daughter of James More. I had seen but little of her; yet my view
was taken and my judgment made. I thought her a lass of a clean
honour, like a man's; I thought her one to die of a disgrace; and
now I believed her father to be at that moment bargaining his vile
life for mine. It made a bond in my thoughts betwixt the girl and
me. I had seen her before only as a wayside appearance, though one
that pleased me strangely; I saw her now in a sudden nearness of
relation, as the daughter of my blood foe, and I might say, my
murderer. I reflected it was hard I should be so plagued and
persecuted all my days for other folks' affairs, and have no manner
of pleasure myself. I got meals and a bed to sleep in when my
concerns would suffer it; beyond that my wealth was of no help to
me. If I was to hang, my days were like to be short; if I was not
to hang but to escape out of this trouble, they might yet seem long
to me ere I was done with them. Of a sudden her face appeared in
my memory, the way I had first seen it, with the parted lips; at
that, weakness came in my bosom and strength into my legs; and I
set resolutely forward on the way to Dean. If I was to hang to-
morrow, and it was sure enough I might very likely sleep that night
in a dungeon, I determined I should hear and speak once more with
The exercise of walking and the thought of my destination braced me
yet more, so that I began to pluck up a kind of spirit. In the
village of Dean, where it sits in the bottom of a glen beside the
river, I inquired my way of a miller's man, who sent me up the hill
upon the farther side by a plain path, and so to a decent-like
small house in a garden of lawns and apple-trees. My heart beat
high as I stepped inside the garden hedge, but it fell low indeed
when I came face to face with a grim and fierce old lady, walking
there in a white mutch with a man's hat strapped upon the top of
"What do ye come seeking here?" she asked.
I told her I was after Miss Drummond.
"And what may be your business with Miss Drummond?" says she.
I told her I had met her on Saturday last, had been so fortunate as
to render her a trifling service, and was come now on the young
"O, so you're Saxpence!" she cried, with a very sneering manner.
"A braw gift, a bonny gentleman. And hae ye ony ither name and
designation, or were ye bapteesed Saxpence?" she asked.
I told my name.
"Preserve me!" she cried. "Has Ebenezer gotten a son?"
"No, ma'am," said I. "I am a son of Alexander's. It's I that am
the Laird of Shaws."
"Ye'll find your work cut out for ye to establish that," quoth she.
"I perceive you know my uncle," said I; "and I daresay you may be
the better pleased to hear that business is arranged."
"And what brings ye here after Miss Drummond?" she pursued.
"I'm come after my saxpence, mem," said I. "It's to be thought,
being my uncle's nephew, I would be found a careful lad."
"So ye have a spark of sleeness in ye?" observed the old lady, with