But how do you think I would enjoy this, that has
the life of my kinsman on my conscience?"
"Troth, I think you would enjoy it ill," said I.
"And now you see how it is," he concluded, "and why, when you tell
me your evidence is to be let in, I laugh aloud in your face."
It was now my turn. I laid before him in brief Mr. Simon's threats
and offers, and the whole incident of the bravo, with the
subsequent scene at Prestongrange's. Of my first talk, according
to promise, I said nothing, nor indeed was it necessary. All the
time I was talking Stewart nodded his head like a mechanical
figure; and no sooner had my voice ceased, than he opened his mouth
and gave me his opinion in two words, dwelling strong on both of
"Disappear yourself," said he.
"I do not take you," said I.
"Then I'll carry you there," said he. "By my view of it you're to
disappear whatever. O, that's outside debate. The Advocate, who
is not without some spunks of a remainder decency, has wrung your
life-safe out of Simon and the Duke. He has refused to put you on
your trial, and refused to have you killed; and there is the clue
to their ill words together, for Simon and the Duke can keep faith
with neither friend nor enemy. Ye're not to be tried then, and
ye're not to be murdered; but I'm in bitter error if ye're not to
be kidnapped and carried away like the Lady Grange. Bet me what ye
please--there was their EXPEDIENT!"
"You make me think," said I, and told him of the whistle and the
red-headed retainer, Neil.
"Wherever James More is there's one big rogue, never be deceived on
that," said he. "His father was none so ill a man, though a
kenning on the wrong side of the law, and no friend to my family,
that I should waste my breath to be defending him! But as for
James he's a brock and a blagyard. I like the appearance of this
red-headed Neil as little as yourself. It looks uncanny: fiegh!
it smells bad. It was old Lovat that managed the Lady Grange
affair; if young Lovat is to handle yours, it'll be all in the
family. What's James More in prison for? The same offence:
abduction. His men have had practice in the business. He'll be to
lend them to be Simon's instruments; and the next thing we'll be
hearing, James will have made his peace, or else he'll have
escaped; and you'll be in Benbecula or Applecross."
"Ye make a strong case," I admitted.
"And what I want," he resumed, "is that you should disappear
yourself ere they can get their hands upon ye. Lie quiet until
just before the trial, and spring upon them at the last of it when
they'll be looking for you least. This is always supposing Mr.
Balfour, that your evidence is worth so very great a measure of
both risk and fash."
"I will tell you one thing," said I. "I saw the murderer and it
was not Alan."
"Then, by God, my cousin's saved!" cried Stewart. "You have his
life upon your tongue; and there's neither time, risk, nor money to
be spared to bring you to the trial." He emptied his pockets on
the floor. "Here is all that I have by me," he went on, "Take it,
ye'll want it ere ye're through. Go straight down this close,
there's a way out by there to the Lang Dykes, and by my will of it!
see no more of Edinburgh till the clash is over."
"Where am I to go, then?" I inquired.
"And I wish that I could tell ye!" says he, "but all the places
that I could send ye to, would be just the places they would seek.
No, ye must fend for yourself, and God be your guiding! Five days
before the trial, September the sixteen, get word to me at the King
Arms in Stirling; and if ye've managed for yourself as long as
that, I'll see that ye reach Inverary."
"One thing more," said I. "Can I no see Alan?"
He seemed boggled. "Hech, I would rather you wouldnae," said he.
"But I can never deny that Alan is extremely keen of it, and is to
lie this night by Silvermills on purpose.