"but such in the fact."
"And when did you part with him again?" said he.
"I reserve my answer," said I. "The question will be put to me at
"Mr. Balfour," said he, "will you not understand that all this is
without prejudice to yourself? I have promised you life and
honour; and, believe me, I can keep my word. You are therefore
clear of all anxiety. Alan, it appears, you suppose you can
protect; and you talk to me of your gratitude, which I think (if
you push me) is not ill-deserved. There are a great many different
considerations all pointing the same way; and I will never be
persuaded that you could not help us (if you chose) to put salt on
"My lord," said I, "I give you my word I do not so much as guess
where Alan is."
He paused a breath. "Nor how he might be found?" he asked.
I sat before him like a log of wood.
"And so much for your gratitude, Mr. David!" he observed. Again
there was a piece of silence. "Well," said he, rising, "I am not
fortunate, and we are a couple at cross purposes. Let us speak of
it no more; you will receive notice when, where, and by whom, we
are to take your precognition. And in the meantime, my misses must
be waiting you. They will never forgive me if I detain their
Into the hands of these Graces I was accordingly offered up, and
found them dressed beyond what I had thought possible, and looking
fair as a posy.
As we went forth from the doors a small circumstance occurred which
came afterwards to look extremely big. I heard a whistle sound
loud and brief like a signal, and looking all about, spied for one
moment the red head of Neil of the Tom, the son of Duncan. The
next moment he was gone again, nor could I see so much as the
skirt-tail of Catriona, upon whom I naturally supposed him to be
My three keepers led me out by Bristo and the Bruntsfield Links;
whence a path carried us to Hope Park, a beautiful pleasance, laid
with gravel-walks, furnished with seats and summer-sheds, and
warded by a keeper. The way there was a little longsome; the two
younger misses affected an air of genteel weariness that damped me
cruelly, the eldest considered me with something that at times
appeared like mirth; and though I thought I did myself more justice
than the day before, it was not without some effort. Upon our
reaching the park I was launched on a bevy of eight or ten young
gentlemen (some of them cockaded officers, the rest chiefly
advocates) who crowded to attend upon these beauties; and though I
was presented to all of them in very good words, it seemed I was by
all immediately forgotten. Young folk in a company are like to
savage animals: they fall upon or scorn a stranger without
civility, or I may say, humanity; and I am sure, if I had been
among baboons, they would have shown me quite as much of both.
Some of the advocates set up to be wits, and some of the soldiers
to be rattles; and I could not tell which of these extremes annoyed
me most. All had a manner of handling their swords and coat-
skirts, for the which (in mere black envy) I could have kicked them
from the park. I daresay, upon their side, they grudged me
extremely the fine company in which I had arrived; and altogether I
had soon fallen behind, and stepped stiffly in the rear of all that
merriment with my own thoughts.
From these I was recalled by one of the officers, Lieutenant Hector
Duncansby, a gawky, leering Highland boy, asking if my name was not
I told him it was, not very kindly, for his manner was scant civil.
"Ha, Palfour," says he, and then, repeating it, "Palfour, Palfour!"
"I am afraid you do not like my name, sir," says I, annoyed with
myself to be annoyed with such a rustical fellow.
"No," says he, "but I wass thinking."
"I would not advise you to make a practice of that, sir," says I.