Page 30

"Well," she said, when I had finished, "you are a hero, surely, and

I never would have thought that same! And I think you are in

peril, too. O, Simon Fraser! to think upon that man! For his life

and the dirty money, to be dealing in such traffic!" And just then

she called out aloud with a queer word that was common with her,

and belongs, I believe, to her own language. "My torture!" says

she, "look at the sun!"

Indeed, it was already dipping towards the mountains.

She bid me come again soon, gave me her hand, and left me in a

turmoil of glad spirits. I delayed to go home to my lodging, for I

had a terror of immediate arrest; but got some supper at a change

house, and the better part of that night walked by myself in the

barley-fields, and had such a sense of Catriona's presence that I

seemed to bear her in my arms.


The next day, August 29th, I kept my appointment at the Advocate's

in a coat that I had made to my own measure, and was but newly


"Aha," says Prestongrange, "you are very fine to-day; my misses are

to have a fine cavalier. Come, I take that kind of you. I take

that kind of you, Mr. David. O, we shall do very well yet, and I

believe your troubles are nearly at an end."

"You have news for me?" cried I.

"Beyond anticipation," he replied. "Your testimony is after all to

be received; and you may go, if you will, in my company to the

trial, which in to be held at Inverary, Thursday, 21st proximo."

I was too much amazed to find words.

"In the meanwhile," he continued, "though I will not ask you to

renew your pledge, I must caution you strictly to be reticent. To-

morrow your precognition must be taken; and outside of that, do you

know, I think least said will be soonest mended."

"I shall try to go discreetly,' said I. "I believe it is yourself

that I must thank for this crowning mercy, and I do thank you

gratefully. After yesterday, my lord, this is like the doors of

Heaven. I cannot find it in my heart to get the thing believed."

"Ah, but you must try and manage, you must try and manage to

believe it," says he, soothing-like, "and I am very glad to hear

your acknowledgment of obligation, for I think you may be able to

repay me very shortly"--he coughed--"or even now. The matter is

much changed. Your testimony, which I shall not trouble you for

to-day, will doubtless alter the complexion of the case for all

concerned, and this makes it less delicate for me to enter with you

on a side issue."

"My Lord," I interrupted, "excuse me for interrupting you, but how

has this been brought about? The obstacles you told me of on

Saturday appeared even to me to be quite insurmountable; how has it

been contrived?"

"My dear Mr. David," said he, "it would never do for me to divulge

(even to you, as you say) the councils of the Government; and you

must content yourself, if you please, with the gross fact."

He smiled upon me like a father as he spoke, playing the while with

a new pen; methought it was impossible there could be any shadow of

deception in the man: yet when he drew to him a sheet of paper,

dipped his pen among the ink, and began again to address me, I was

somehow not so certain, and fell instinctively into an attitude of


"There is a point I wish to touch upon," he began. "I purposely

left it before upon one side, which need be now no longer

necessary. This is not, of course, a part of your examination,

which is to follow by another hand; this is a private interest of

my own. You say you encountered Alan Breck upon the hill?"

"I did, my lord," said I

"This was immediately after the murder?"

"It was."

"Did you speak to him?"

"I did."

"You had known him before, I think?" says my lord, carelessly.

"I cannot guess your reason for so thinking, my lord," I replied

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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