Catriona

Page 40

I have Simon Fraser extremely

heavy on my stomach still."

"Ah!" she cried, "you will not be evening these two; and you should

bear in mind that Prestongrange and James More, my father, are of

the one blood."

"I never heard tell of that," said I.

"It is rather singular how little you are acquainted with," said

she. "One part may call themselves Grant, and one Macgregor, but

they are still of the same clan. They are all the sons of Alpin,

from whom, I think, our country has its name."

"What country is that?" I asked.

"My country and yours," said she

"This is my day for discovering I think," said I, "for I always

thought the name of it was Scotland."

"Scotland is the name of what you call Ireland," she replied. "But

the old ancient true name of this place that we have our foot-soles

on, and that our bones are made of, will be Alban. It was Alban

they called it when our forefathers will be fighting for it against

Rome and Alexander; and it is called so still in your own tongue

that you forget."

"Troth," said I, "and that I never learned!" For I lacked heart to

take her up about the Macedonian.

"But your fathers and mothers talked it, one generation with

another," said she. "And it was sung about the cradles before you

or me were ever dreamed of; and your name remembers it still. Ah,

if you could talk that language you would find me another girl.

The heart speaks in that tongue."

I had a meal with the two ladies, all very good, served in fine old

plate, and the wine excellent, for it seems that Mrs. Ogilvy was

rich. Our talk, too, was pleasant enough; but as soon as I saw the

sun decline sharply and the shadows to run out long, I rose to take

my leave. For my mind was now made up to say farewell to Alan; and

it was needful I should see the trysting wood, and reconnoitre it,

by daylight. Catriona came with me as far as to the garden gate.

"It is long till I see you now?" she asked.

"It is beyond my judging," I replied. "It will be long, it may be

never."

"It may be so," said she. "And you are sorry?"

I bowed my head, looking upon her.

"So am I, at all events," said she. "I have seen you but a small

time, but I put you very high. You are true, you are brave; in

time I think you will be more of a man yet. I will be proud to

hear of that. If you should speed worse, if it will come to fall

as we are afraid--O well! think you have the one friend. Long

after you are dead and me an old wife, I will be telling the bairns

about David Balfour, and my tears running. I will be telling how

we parted, and what I said to you, and did to you. GOD GO WITH YOU

AND GUIDE YOU, PRAYS YOUR LITTLE FRIEND: so I said--I will be

telling them--and here is what I did."

She took up my hand and kissed it. This so surprised my spirits

that I cried out like one hurt. The colour came strong in her

face, and she looked at me and nodded.

"O yes, Mr. David," said she, "that is what I think of you. The

head goes with the lips."

I could read in her face high spirit, and a chivalry like a brave

child's; not anything besides. She kissed my hand, as she had

kissed Prince Charlie's, with a higher passion than the common kind

of clay has any sense of. Nothing before had taught me how deep I

was her lover, nor how far I had yet to climb to make her think of

me in such a character. Yet I could tell myself I had advanced

some way, and that her heart had beat and her blood flowed at

thoughts of me.

After that honour she had done me I could offer no more trivial

civility. It was even hard for me to speak; a certain lifting in

her voice had knocked directly at the door of my own tears.

"I praise God for your kindness, dear," said I. "Farewell, my

little friend!" giving her that name which she had given to

herself; with which I bowed and left her.

My way was down the glen of the Leith River, towards Stockbridge

and Silvermills.

Catriona Page 41

Robert Louis Stevenson

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