Catriona

Page 35

"Andie picks him up at Gillane sands to-morrow,

Wednesday. He was keen to say good-bye to ye, but the way that

things were going, I was feared the pair of ye was maybe best

apart. And that brings me to the essential: how does your

business speed?"

"Why," said I, "I was told only this morning that my testimony was

accepted, and I was to travel to Inverary with the Advocate, no

less."

"Hout awa!" cried Stewart. "I'll never believe that."

"I have maybe a suspicion of my own," says I, "but I would like

fine to hear your reasons."

"Well, I tell ye fairly, I'm horn-mad," cries Stewart. "If my one

hand could pull their Government down I would pluck it like a

rotten apple. I'm doer for Appin and for James of the Glens; and,

of course, it's my duty to defend my kinsman for his life. Hear

how it goes with me, and I'll leave the judgment of it to yourself.

The first thing they have to do is to get rid of Alan. They cannae

bring in James as art and part until they've brought in Alan first

as principal; that's sound law: they could never put the cart

before the horse."

"And how are they to bring in Alan till they can catch him?" says

I.

"Ah, but there is a way to evite that arrestment," said he. "Sound

law, too. It would be a bonny thing if, by the escape of one ill-

doer another was to go scatheless, and the remeid is to summon the

principal and put him to outlawry for the non-compearance. Now

there's four places where a person can be summoned: at his

dwelling-house; at a place where he has resided forty days; at the

head burgh of the shire where he ordinarily resorts; or lastly (if

there be ground to think him forth of Scotland) AT THE CROSS OF

EDINBURGH, AND THE PIER AND SHORE OF LEITH, FOR SIXTY DAYS. The

purpose of which last provision is evident upon its face: being

that outgoing ships may have time to carry news of the transaction,

and the summonsing be something other than a form. Now take the

case of Alan. He has no dwelling-house that ever I could hear of;

I would be obliged if anyone would show me where he has lived forty

days together since the '45; there is no shire where he resorts

whether ordinarily or extraordinarily; if he has a domicile at all,

which I misdoubt, it must be with his regiment in France; and if he

is not yet forth of Scotland (as we happen to know and they happen

to guess) it must be evident to the most dull it's what he's aiming

for. Where, then, and what way should he be summoned? I ask it at

yourself, a layman."

"You have given the very words," said I. "Here at the cross, and

at the pier and shore of Leith, for sixty days."

"Ye're a sounder Scots lawyer than Prestongrange, then!" cries the

Writer. "He has had Alan summoned once; that was on the twenty-

fifth, the day that we first met. Once, and done with it. And

where? Where, but at the cross of Inverary, the head burgh of the

Campbells? A word in your ear, Mr. Balfour--they're not seeking

Alan."

"What do you mean?" I cried. "Not seeking him?"

"By the best that I can make of it," said he. "Not wanting to find

him, in my poor thought. They think perhaps he might set up a fair

defence, upon the back of which James, the man they're really

after, might climb out. This is not a case, ye see, it's a

conspiracy."

"Yet I can tell you Prestongrange asked after Alan keenly," said I;

"though, when I come to think of it, he was something of the

easiest put by."

"See that!" says he. "But there! I may be right or wrong, that's

guesswork at the best, and let me get to my facts again. It comes

to my ears that James and the witnesses--the witnesses, Mr.

Balfour!--lay in close dungeons, and shackled forbye, in the

military prison at Fort William; none allowed in to them, nor they

to write. The witnesses, Mr. Balfour; heard ye ever the match of

that? I assure ye, no old, crooked Stewart of the gang ever out-

faced the law more impudently.

Catriona Page 36

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