Page 45

Ye see, David

man; they'll be Hieland folk. There'll be some Frasers, I'm

thinking, and some of the Gregara; and I would never deny but what

the both of them, and the Gregara in especial, were clever

experienced persons. A man kens little till he's driven a spreagh

of neat cattle (say) ten miles through a throng lowland country and

the black soldiers maybe at his tail. It's there that I learned a

great part of my penetration. And ye need nae tell me: it's

better than war; which is the next best, however, though generally

rather a bauchle of a business. Now the Gregara have had grand


"No doubt that's a branch of education that was left out with me,"

said I.

"And I can see the marks of it upon ye constantly," said Alan.

"But that's the strange thing about you folk of the college

learning: ye're ignorat, and ye cannae see 't. Wae's me for my

Greek and Hebrew; but, man, I ken that I dinnae ken them--there's

the differ of it. Now, here's you. Ye lie on your wame a bittie

in the bield of this wood, and ye tell me that ye've cuist off

these Frasers and Macgregors. Why? BECAUSE I COULDNAE SEE THEM,

says you. Ye blockhead, that's their livelihood."

"Take the worst of it," said I, "and what are we to do?"

"I am thinking of that same," said he. "We might twine. It

wouldnae be greatly to my taste; and forbye that, I see reasons

against it. First, it's now unco dark, and it's just humanly

possible we might give them the clean slip. If we keep together,

we make but the ae line of it; if we gang separate, we make twae of

them: the more likelihood to stave in upon some of these gentry of

yours. And then, second, if they keep the track of us, it may come

to a fecht for it yet, Davie; and then, I'll confess I would be

blythe to have you at my oxter, and I think you would be none the

worse of having me at yours. So, by my way of it, we should creep

out of this wood no further gone than just the inside of next

minute, and hold away east for Gillane, where I'm to find my ship.

It'll be like old days while it lasts, Davie; and (come the time)

we'll have to think what you should be doing. I'm wae to leave ye

here, wanting me."

"Have with ye, then!" says I. "Do ye gang back where you were


"Deil a fear!" said Alan. "They were good folks to me, but I think

they would be a good deal disappointed if they saw my bonny face

again. For (the way times go) I amnae just what ye could call a

Walcome Guest. Which makes me the keener for your company, Mr.

David Balfour of the Shaws, and set ye up! For, leave aside twa

cracks here in the wood with Charlie Stewart, I have scarce said

black or white since the day we parted at Corstorphine."

With which he rose from his place, and we began to move quietly

eastward through the wood.


It was likely between one and two; the moon (as I have said) was

down; a strongish wind, carrying a heavy wrack of cloud, had set in

suddenly from the west; and we began our movement in as black a

night as ever a fugitive or a murderer wanted. The whiteness of

the path guided us into the sleeping town of Broughton, thence

through Picardy, and beside my old acquaintance the gibbet of the

two thieves. A little beyond we made a useful beacon, which was a

light in an upper window of Lochend. Steering by this, but a good

deal at random, and with some trampling of the harvest, and

stumbling and falling down upon the banks, we made our way across

country, and won forth at last upon the linky, boggy muirland that

they call the Figgate Whins. Here, under a bush of whin, we lay

down the remainder of that night and slumbered.

The day called us about five. A beautiful morning it was, the high

westerly wind still blowing strong, but the clouds all blown away

to Europe. Alan was already sitting up and smiling to himself.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book