Robert Louis Stevenson
Part 5 out of 6
us walk here by the harbour. We are sure to meet some that has the
English, and at the best of it we may light upon that very ship."
We did the next best, as happened; for, about nine of the evening,
whom should we walk into the arms of but Captain Sang? He told us
they had made their run in the most incredible brief time, the wind
holding strong till they reached port; by which means his
passengers were all gone already on their further travels. It was
impossible to chase after the Gebbies into the High Germany, and we
had no other acquaintance to fall back upon but Captain Sang
himself. It was the more gratifying to find the man friendly and
wishful to assist. He made it a small affair to find some good
plain family of merchants, where Catriona might harbour till the
Rose was loaden; declared he would then blithely carry her back to
Leith for nothing and see her safe in the hands of Mr. Gregory; and
in the meanwhile carried us to a late ordinary for the meal we
stood in need of. He seemed extremely friendly, as I say, but what
surprised me a good deal, rather boisterous in the bargain; and the
cause of this was soon to appear. For at the ordinary, calling for
Rhenish wine and drinking of it deep, he soon became unutterably
tipsy. In this case, as too common with all men, but especially
with those of his rough trade, what little sense or manners he
possessed deserted him; and he behaved himself so scandalous to the
young lady, jesting most ill-favouredly at the figure she had made
on the ship's rail, that I had no resource but carry her suddenly
She came out of the ordinary clinging to me close. "Take me away,
David," she said. "YOU keep me. I am not afraid with you."
"And have no cause, my little friend!" cried I, and could have
found it in my heart to weep.
"Where will you be taking me?" she said again. "Don't leave me at
all events--never leave me."
"Where am I taking you to?" says I stopping, for I had been staving
on ahead in mere blindness. "I must stop and think. But I'll not
leave you, Catriona; the Lord do so to me, and more also, if I
should fail or fash you."
She crept close into me by way of a reply.
"Here," I said, "is the stillest place we have hit on yet in this
busy byke of a city. Let us sit down here under yon tree and
consider of our course."
That tree (which I am little like to forget) stood hard by the
harbour side. It was like a black night, but lights were in the
houses, and nearer hand in the quiet ships; there was a shining of
the city on the one hand, and a buzz hung over it of many thousands
walking and talking; on the other, it was dark and the water
bubbled on the sides. I spread my cloak upon a builder's stone,
and made her sit there; she would have kept her hold upon me, for
she still shook with the late affronts; but I wanted to think
clear, disengaged myself, and paced to and fro before her, in the
manner of what we call a smuggler's walk, belabouring my brains for
any remedy. By the course of these scattering thoughts I was
brought suddenly face to face with a remembrance that, in the heat
and haste of our departure, I had left Captain Sang to pay the
ordinary. At this I began to laugh out loud, for I thought the man
well served; and at the same time, by an instinctive movement,
carried my hand to the pocket where my money was. I suppose it was
in the lane where the women jostled us; but there is only the one
thing certain, that my purse was gone.
"You will have thought of something good," said she, observing me
At the pinch we were in, my mind became suddenly clear as a
perspective glass, and I saw there was no choice of methods. I had
not one doit of coin, but in my pocket-book I had still my letter
on the Leyden merchant; and there was now but the one way to get to
Leyden, and that was to walk on our two feet.
"Catriona," said I, "I know you're brave and I believe you're
strong--do you think you could walk thirty miles on a plain road?"
We found it, I believe, scarce the two-thirds of that, but such was
my notion of the distance.
"David," she said, "if you will just keep near, I will go anywhere
and do anything. The courage of my heart, it is all broken. Do
not be leaving me in this horrible country by myself, and I will do
"Can you start now and march all night?" said I.
"I will do all that you can ask of me," she said, "and never ask
you why. I have been a bad ungrateful girl to you; and do what you
please with me now! And I think Miss Barbara Grant is the best
lady in the world," she added, "and I do not see what she would
deny you for at all events."
This was Greek and Hebrew to me; but I had other matters to
consider, and the first of these was to get clear of that city on
the Leyden road. It proved a cruel problem; and it may have been
one or two at night ere we had solved it. Once beyond the houses,
there was neither moon nor stars to guide us; only the whiteness of
the way in the midst and a blackness of an alley on both hands.
The walking was besides made most extraordinary difficult by a
plain black frost that fell suddenly in the small hours and turned
that highway into one long slide.
"Well, Catriona," said I, "here we are like the king's sons and the
old wives' daughters in your daft-like Highland tales. Soon we'll
be going over the 'SEVEN BENS, THE SEVEN GLENS AND THE SEVEN
MOUNTAIN MOORS'." Which was a common byword or overcome in those
tales of hers that had stuck in my memory.
"Ah," says she, "but here are no glens or mountains! Though I will
never be denying but what the trees and some of the plain places
hereabouts are very pretty. But our country is the best yet."
"I wish we could say as much for our own folk," says I, recalling
Sprott and Sang, and perhaps James More himself.
"I will never complain of the country of my friend," said she, and
spoke it out with an accent so particular that I seemed to see the
look upon her face.
I caught in my breath sharp and came near falling (for my pains) on
the black ice.
"I do not know what YOU think, Catriona," said I, when I was a
little recovered, "but this has been the best day yet! I think
shame to say it, when you have met in with such misfortunes and
disfavours; but for me, it has been the best day yet."
"It was a good day when you showed me so much love," said she.
"And yet I think shame to be happy too," I went on, "and you here
on the road in the black night."
"Where in the great world would I be else?" she cried. "I am
thinking I am safest where I am with you."
"I am quite forgiven, then?" I asked.
"Will you not forgive me that time so much as not to take it in
your mouth again?" she cried. "There is nothing in this heart to
you but thanks. But I will be honest too," she added, with a kind
of suddenness, "and I'll never can forgive that girl."
"Is this Miss Grant again?" said I. "You said yourself she was the
best lady in the world."
"So she will be, indeed!" says Catriona. "But I will never forgive
her for all that. I will never, never forgive her, and let me hear
tell of her no more."
"Well," said I, "this beats all that ever came to my knowledge; and
I wonder that you can indulge yourself in such bairnly whims. Here
is a young lady that was the best friend in the world to the both
of us, that learned us how to dress ourselves, and in a great
manner how to behave, as anyone can see that knew us both before
But Catriona stopped square in the midst of the highway.
"It is this way of it," said she. "Either you will go on to speak
of her, and I will go back to yon town, and let come of it what God
pleases! Or else you will do me that politeness to talk of other
I was the most nonplussed person in this world; but I bethought me
that she depended altogether on my help, that she was of the frail
sex and not so much beyond a child, and it was for me to be wise
for the pair of us.
"My dear girl," said I, "I can make neither head nor tails of this;
but God forbid that I should do anything to set you on the jee. As
for talking of Miss Grant, I have no such a mind to it, and I
believe it was yourself began it. My only design (if I took you up
at all) was for your own improvement, for I hate the very look of
injustice. Not that I do not wish you to have a good pride and a
nice female delicacy; they become you well; but here you show them
"Well, then, have you done?" said she.
"I have done," said I.
"A very good thing," said she, and we went on again, but now in
It was an eerie employment to walk in the gross night, beholding
only shadows and hearing nought but our own steps. At first, I
believe our hearts burned against each other with a deal of enmity;
but the darkness and the cold, and the silence, which only the
cocks sometimes interrupted, or sometimes the farmyard dogs, had
pretty soon brought down our pride to the dust; and for my own
particular, I would have jumped at any decent opening for speech.
Before the day peeped, came on a warmish rain, and the frost was
all wiped away from among our feet. I took my cloak to her and
sought to hap her in the same; she bade me, rather impatiently, to
"Indeed and I will do no such thing," said I. "Here am I, a great,
ugly lad that has seen all kinds of weather, and here are you a
tender, pretty maid! My dear, you would not put me to a shame?"
Without more words she let me cover her; which as I was doing in
the darkness, I let my hand rest a moment on her shoulder, almost
like an embrace.
"You must try to be more patient of your friend," said I.
I thought she seemed to lean the least thing in the world against
my bosom, or perhaps it was but fancy.
"There will be no end to your goodness," said she.
And we went on again in silence; but now all was changed; and the
happiness that was in my heart was like a fire in a great chimney.
The rain passed ere day; it was but a sloppy morning as we came
into the town of Delft. The red gabled houses made a handsome show
on either hand of a canal; the servant lassies were out slestering
and scrubbing at the very stones upon the public highway; smoke
rose from a hundred kitchens; and it came in upon me strongly it
was time to break our fasts.
"Catriona," said I, "I believe you have yet a shilling and three
"Are you wanting it?" said she, and passed me her purse. "I am
wishing it was five pounds! What will you want it for?"
"And what have we been walking for all night, like a pair of waif
Egyptians!" says I. "Just because I was robbed of my purse and all
I possessed in that unchancy town of Rotterdam. I will tell you of
it now, because I think the worst is over, but we have still a good
tramp before us till we get to where my money is, and if you would
not buy me a piece of bread, I were like to go fasting."
She looked at me with open eyes. By the light of the new day she
was all black and pale for weariness, so that my heart smote me for
her. But as for her, she broke out laughing.
"My torture! are we beggars then!" she cried. "You too? O, I
could have wished for this same thing! And I am glad to buy your
breakfast to you. But it would be pleisand if I would have had to
dance to get a meal to you! For I believe they are not very well
acquainted with our manner of dancing over here, and might be
paying for the curiosity of that sight."
I could have kissed her for that word, not with a lover's mind, but
in a heat of admiration. For it always warms a man to see a woman
We got a drink of milk from a country wife but new come to the
town, and in a baker's, a piece of excellent, hot, sweet-smelling
bread, which we ate upon the road as we went on. That road from
Delft to the Hague is just five miles of a fine avenue shaded with
trees, a canal on the one hand, on the other excellent pastures of
cattle. It was pleasant here indeed.
"And now, Davie," said she, "what will you do with me at all
"It is what we have to speak of," said I, "and the sooner yet the
better. I can come by money in Leyden; that will be all well. But
the trouble is how to dispose of you until your father come. I
thought last night you seemed a little sweir to part from me?"
"It will be more than seeming then," said she.
"You are a very young maid," said I, "and I am but a very young
callant. This is a great piece of difficulty. What way are we to
manage? Unless indeed, you could pass to be my sister?"
"And what for no?" said she, "if you would let me!"
"I wish you were so, indeed," I cried. "I would be a fine man if I
had such a sister. But the rub is that you are Catriona Drummond."
"And now I will be Catriona Balfour," she said. "And who is to
ken? They are all strange folk here."
"If you think that it would do," says I. "I own it troubles me. I
would like it very ill, if I advised you at all wrong."
"David, I have no friend here but you," she said.
"The mere truth is, I am too young to be your friend," said I. "I
am too young to advise you, or you to be advised. I see not what
else we are to do, and yet I ought to warn you."
"I will have no choice left," said she. "My father James More has
not used me very well, and it is not the first time, I am cast upon
your hands like a sack of barley meal, and have nothing else to
think of but your pleasure. If you will have me, good and well.
If you will not"--she turned and touched her hand upon my arm--
"David, I am afraid," said she.
"No, but I ought to warn you," I began; and then bethought me I was
the bearer of the purse, and it would never do to seem too
churlish. "Catriona," said I, "don't misunderstand me: I am just
trying to do my duty by you, girl! Here am I going alone to this
strange city, to be a solitary student there; and here is this
chance arisen that you might dwell with me a bit, and be like my
sister; you can surely understand this much, my dear, that I would
just love to have you?"
"Well, and here I am," said she. "So that's soon settled."
I know I was in duty bounden to have spoke more plain. I know this
was a great blot on my character, for which I was lucky that I did
not pay more dear. But I minded how easy her delicacy had been
startled with a word of kissing her in Barbara's letter; now that
she depended on me, how was I to be more bold? Besides, the truth
is, I could see no other feasible method to dispose of her. And I
daresay inclination pulled me very strong.
A little beyond the Hague she fell very lame and made the rest of
the distance heavily enough. Twice she must rest by the wayside,
which she did with pretty apologies, calling herself a shame to the
Highlands and the race she came of, and nothing but a hindrance to
myself. It was her excuse, she said, that she was not much used
with walking shod. I would have had her strip off her shoes and
stockings and go barefoot. But she pointed out to me that the
women of that country, even in the landward roads, appeared to be
"I must not be disgracing my brother," said she, and was very merry
with it all, although her face told tales of her.
There is a garden in that city we were bound to, sanded below with
clean sand, the trees meeting overhead, some of them trimmed, some
preached, and the whole place beautified with alleys and arbours.
Here I left Catriona, and went forward by myself to find my
correspondent. There I drew on my credit, and asked to be
recommended to some decent, retired lodging. My baggage being not
yet arrived, I told him I supposed I should require his caution
with the people of the house; and explained that, my sister being
come for a while to keep house with me, I should be wanting two
chambers. This was all very well; but the trouble was that Mr.
Balfour in his letter of recommendation had condescended on a great
deal of particulars, and never a word of any sister in the case. I
could see my Dutchman was extremely suspicious; and viewing me over
the rims of a great pair of spectacles--he was a poor, frail body,
and reminded me of an infirm rabbit--he began to question me close.
Here I fell in a panic. Suppose he accept my tale (thinks I),
suppose he invite my sister to his house, and that I bring her. I
shall have a fine ravelled pirn to unwind, and may end by
disgracing both the lassie and myself. Thereupon I began hastily
to expound to him my sister's character. She was of a bashful
disposition, it appeared, and be extremely fearful of meeting
strangers that I had left her at that moment sitting in a public
place alone. And then, being launched upon the stream of
falsehood, I must do like all the rest of the world in the same
circumstance, and plunge in deeper than was any service; adding
some altogether needless particulars of Miss Balfour's ill-health
and retirement during childhood. In the midst of which I awoke to
a sense of my behaviour, and was turned to one blush.
The old gentleman was not so much deceived but what he discovered a
willingness to be quit of me. But he was first of all a man of
business; and knowing that my money was good enough, however it
might be with my conduct, he was so far obliging as to send his son
to be my guide and caution in the matter of a lodging. This
implied my presenting of the young man to Catriona. The poor,
pretty child was much recovered with resting, looked and behaved to
perfection, and took my arm and gave me the name of brother more
easily than I could answer her. But there was one misfortune:
thinking to help, she was rather towardly than otherwise to my
Dutchman. And I could not but reflect that Miss Balfour had rather
suddenly outgrown her bashfulness. And there was another thing,
the difference of our speech. I had the Low Country tongue and
dwelled upon my words; she had a hill voice, spoke with something
of an English accent, only far more delightful, and was scarce
quite fit to be called a deacon in the craft of talking English
grammar; so that, for a brother and sister, we made a most uneven
pair. But the young Hollander was a heavy dog, without so much
spirit in his belly as to remark her prettiness, for which I
scorned him. And as soon as he had found a cover to our heads, he
left us alone, which was the greater service of the two.
CHAPTER XXIV--FULL STORY OF A COPY OF HEINECCIUS
The place found was in the upper part of a house backed on a canal.
We had two rooms, the second entering from the first; each had a
chimney built out into the floor in the Dutch manner; and being
alongside, each had the same prospect from the window of the top of
a tree below us in a little court, of a piece of the canal, and of
houses in the Hollands architecture and a church spire upon the
further side. A full set of bells hung in that spire and made
delightful music; and when there was any sun at all, it shone
direct in our two chambers. From a tavern hard by we had good
meals sent in.
The first night we were both pretty weary, and she extremely so.
There was little talk between us, and I packed her off to her bed
as soon as she had eaten. The first thing in the morning I wrote
word to Sprott to have her mails sent on, together with a line to
Alan at his chief's; and had the same despatched, and her breakfast
ready, ere I waked her. I was a little abashed when she came forth
in her one habit, and the mud of the way upon her stockings. By
what inquiries I had made, it seemed a good few days must pass
before her mails could come to hand in Leyden, and it was plainly
needful she must have a shift of things. She was unwilling at
first that I should go to that expense; but I reminded her she was
now a rich man's sister and must appear suitably in the part, and
we had not got to the second merchant's before she was entirely
charmed into the spirit of the thing, and her eyes shining. It
pleased me to see her so innocent and thorough in this pleasure.
What was more extraordinary was the passion into which I fell on it
myself; being never satisfied that I had bought her enough or fine
enough, and never weary of beholding her in different attires.
Indeed, I began to understand some little of Miss Grant's immersion
in the interest of clothes; for the truth is, when you have the
ground of a beautiful person to adorn, the whole business becomes
beautiful. The Dutch chintzes I should say were extraordinary
cheap and fine; but I would be ashamed to set down what I paid for
stockings to her. Altogether I spent so great a sum upon this
pleasuring (as I may call it) that I was ashamed for a great while
to spend more; and by way of a set-off, I left our chambers pretty
bare. If we had beds, if Catriona was a little braw, and I had
light to see her by, we were richly enough lodged for me.
By the end of this merchandising I was glad to leave her at the
door with all our purchases, and go for a long walk alone in which
to read myself a lecture. Here had I taken under my roof, and as
good as to my bosom, a young lass extremely beautiful, and whose
innocence was her peril. My talk with the old Dutchman, and the
lies to which I was constrained, had already given me a sense of
how my conduct must appear to others; and now, after the strong
admiration I had just experienced and the immoderacy with which I
had continued my vain purchases, I began to think of it myself as
very hazarded. I bethought me, if I had a sister indeed, whether I
would so expose her; then, judging the case too problematical, I
varied my question into this, whether I would so trust Catriona in
the hands of any other Christian being; the answer to which made my
face to burn. The more cause, since I had been entrapped and had
entrapped the girl into an undue situation, that I should behave in
it with scrupulous nicety. She depended on me wholly for her bread
and shelter; in case I should alarm her delicacy, she had no
retreat. Besides I was her host and her protector; and the more
irregularly I had fallen in these positions, the less excuse for me
if I should profit by the same to forward even the most honest
suit; for with the opportunities that I enjoyed, and which no wise
parent would have suffered for a moment, even the most honest suit
would be unfair. I saw I must be extremely hold-off in my
relations; and yet not too much so neither; for if I had no right
to appear at all in the character of a suitor, I must yet appear
continually, and if possible agreeably, in that of host. It was
plain I should require a great deal of tact and conduct, perhaps
more than my years afforded. But I had rushed in where angels
might have feared to tread, and there was no way out of that
position save by behaving right while I was in it. I made a set of
rules for my guidance; prayed for strength to be enabled to observe
them, and as a more human aid to the same end purchased a study-
book in law. This being all that I could think of, I relaxed from
these grave considerations; whereupon my mind bubbled at once into
an effervescency of pleasing spirits, and it was like one treading
on air that I turned homeward. As I thought that name of home, and
recalled the image of that figure awaiting me between four walls,
my heart beat upon my bosom.
My troubles began with my return. She ran to greet me with an
obvious and affecting pleasure. She was clad, besides, entirely in
the new clothes that I had bought for her; looked in them beyond
expression well; and must walk about and drop me curtseys to
display them and to be admired. I am sure I did it with an ill
grace, for I thought to have choked upon the words.
"Well," she said, "if you will not be caring for my pretty clothes,
see what I have done with our two chambers." And she showed me the
place all very finely swept, and the fires glowing in the two
I was glad of a chance to seem a little more severe than I quite
felt. "Catriona," said I, "I am very much displeased with you, and
you must never again lay a hand upon my room. One of us two must
have the rule while we are here together; it is most fit it should
be I who am both the man and the elder; and I give you that for my
She dropped me one of her curtseys; which were extraordinary
taking. "If you will be cross," said she, "I must be making pretty
manners at you, Davie. I will be very obedient, as I should be
when every stitch upon all there is of me belongs to you. But you
will not be very cross either, because now I have not anyone else."
This struck me hard, and I made haste, in a kind of penitence, to
blot out all the good effect of my last speech. In this direction
progress was more easy, being down hill; she led me forward,
smiling; at the sight of her, in the brightness of the fire and
with her pretty becks and looks, my heart was altogether melted.
We made our meal with infinite mirth and tenderness; and the two
seemed to be commingled into one, so that our very laughter sounded
like a kindness.
In the midst of which I awoke to better recollections, made a lame
word of excuse, and set myself boorishly to my studies. It was a
substantial, instructive book that I had bought, by the late Dr.
Heineccius, in which I was to do a great deal reading these next
few days, and often very glad that I had no one to question me of
what I read. Methought she bit her lip at me a little, and that
cut me. Indeed it left her wholly solitary, the more as she was
very little of a reader, and had never a book. But what was I to
So the rest of the evening flowed by almost without speech.
I could have beat myself. I could not lie in my bed that night for
rage and repentance, but walked to and fro on my bare feet till I
was nearly perished, for the chimney was gone out and the frost
keen. The thought of her in the next room, the thought that she
might even hear me as I walked, the remembrance of my churlishness
and that I must continue to practise the same ungrateful course or
be dishonoured, put me beside my reason. I stood like a man
between Scylla and Charybdis: WHAT MUST SHE THINK OF ME? was my
one thought that softened me continually into weakness. WHAT IS TO
BECOME OF US? the other which steeled me again to resolution. This
was my first night of wakefulness and divided counsels, of which I
was now to pass many, pacing like a madman, sometimes weeping like
a childish boy, sometimes praying (I fain would hope) like a
But prayer is not very difficult, and the hitch comes in practice.
In her presence, and above all if I allowed any beginning of
familiarity, I found I had very little command of what should
follow. But to sit all day in the same room with her, and feign to
be engaged upon Heineccius, surpassed my strength. So that I fell
instead upon the expedient of absenting myself so much as I was
able; taking out classes and sitting there regularly, often with
small attention, the test of which I found the other day in a note-
book of that period, where I had left off to follow an edifying
lecture and actually scribbled in my book some very ill verses,
though the Latinity is rather better than I thought that I could
ever have compassed. The evil of this course was unhappily near as
great as its advantage. I had the less time of trial, but I
believe, while the time lasted, I was tried the more extremely.
For she being so much left to solitude, she came to greet my return
with an increasing fervour that came nigh to overmaster me. These
friendly offers I must barbarously cast back; and my rejection
sometimes wounded her so cruelly that I must unbend and seek to
make it up to her in kindness. So that our time passed in ups and
downs, tiffs and disappointments, upon the which I could almost say
(if it may be said with reverence) that I was crucified.
The base of my trouble was Catriona's extraordinary innocence, at
which I was not so much surprised as filled with pity and
admiration. She seemed to have no thought of our position, no
sense of my struggles; welcomed any mark of my weakness with
responsive joy; and when I was drove again to my retrenchments, did
not always dissemble her chagrin. There were times when I have
thought to myself, "If she were over head in love, and set her cap
to catch me, she would scarce behave much otherwise;" and then I
would fall again into wonder at the simplicity of woman, from whom
I felt (in these moments) that I was not worthy to be descended.
There was one point in particular on which our warfare turned, and
of all things, this was the question of her clothes. My baggage
had soon followed me from Rotterdam, and hers from Helvoet. She
had now, as it were, two wardrobes; and it grew to be understood
between us (I could never tell how) that when she was friendly she
would wear my clothes, and when otherwise her own. It was meant
for a buffet, and (as it were) the renunciation of her gratitude;
and I felt it so in my bosom, but was generally more wise than to
appear to have observed the circumstance.
Once, indeed, I was betrayed into a childishness greater than her
own; it fell in this way. On my return from classes, thinking upon
her devoutly with a great deal of love and a good deal of annoyance
in the bargain, the annoyance began to fade away out of my mind;
and spying in a window one of those forced flowers, of which the
Hollanders are so skilled in the artifice, I gave way to an impulse
and bought it for Catriona. I do not know the name of that flower,
but it was of the pink colour, and I thought she would admire the
same, and carried it home to her with a wonderful soft heart. I
had left her in my clothes, and when I returned to find her all
changed and a face to match, I cast but the one look at her from
head to foot, ground my teeth together, flung the window open, and
my flower into the court, and then (between rage and prudence)
myself out of that room again, of which I slammed she door as I
On the steep stair I came near falling, and this brought me to
myself, so that I began at once to see the folly of my conduct. I
went, not into the street as I had purposed, but to the house
court, which was always a solitary place, and where I saw my flower
(that had cost me vastly more than it was worth) hanging in the
leafless tree. I stood by the side of the canal, and looked upon
the ice. Country people went by on their skates, and I envied
them. I could see no way out of the pickle I was in no way so much
as to return to the room I had just left. No doubt was in my mind
but I had now betrayed the secret of my feelings; and to make
things worse, I had shown at the same time (and that with wretched
boyishness) incivility to my helpless guest.
I suppose she must have seen me from the open window. It did not
seem to me that I had stood there very long before I heard the
crunching of footsteps on the frozen snow, and turning somewhat
angrily (for I was in no spirit to be interrupted) saw Catriona
drawing near. She was all changed again, to the clocked stockings.
"Are we not to have our walk to-day?" said she.
I was looking at her in a maze. "Where is your brooch?" says I.
She carried her hand to her bosom and coloured high. "I will have
forgotten it," said she. "I will run upstairs for it quick, and
then surely we'll can have our walk?"
There was a note of pleading in that last that staggered me; I had
neither words nor voice to utter them; I could do no more than nod
by way of answer; and the moment she had left me, climbed into the
tree and recovered my flower, which on her return I offered her.
"I bought it for you, Catriona," said I.
She fixed it in the midst of her bosom with the brooch, I could
have thought tenderly.
"It is none the better of my handling," said I again, and blushed.
"I will be liking it none the worse, you may be sure of that," said
We did not speak so much that day; she seemed a thought on the
reserve, though not unkindly. As for me, all the time of our
walking, and after we came home, and I had seen her put my flower
into a pot of water, I was thinking to myself what puzzles women
were. I was thinking, the one moment, it was the most stupid thing
on earth she should not have perceived my love; and the next, that
she had certainly perceived it long ago, and (being a wise girl
with the fine female instinct of propriety) concealed her
We had our walk daily. Out in the streets I felt more safe; I
relaxed a little in my guardedness; and for one thing, there was no
Heineccius. This made these periods not only a relief to myself,
but a particular pleasure to my poor child. When I came back about
the hour appointed, I would generally find her ready dressed, and
glowing with anticipation. She would prolong their duration to the
extreme, seeming to dread (as I did myself) the hour of the return;
and there is scarce a field or waterside near Leyden, scarce a
street or lane there, where we have not lingered. Outside of
these, I bade her confine herself entirely to our lodgings; this in
the fear of her encountering any acquaintance, which would have
rendered our position very difficult. From the same apprehension I
would never suffer her to attend church, nor even go myself; but
made some kind of shift to hold worship privately in our own
chamber--I hope with an honest, but I am quite sure with a very
much divided mind. Indeed, there was scarce anything that more
affected me, than thus to kneel down alone with her before God like
man and wife.
One day it was snowing downright hard. I had thought it not
possible that we should venture forth, and was surprised to find
her waiting for me ready dressed.
"I will not be doing without my walk," she cried. "You are never a
good boy, Davie, in the house; I will never be caring for you only
in the open air. I think we two will better turn Egyptian and
dwell by the roadside."
That was the best walk yet of all of them; she clung near to me in
the falling snow; it beat about and melted on us, and the drops
stood upon her bright cheeks like tears and ran into her smiling
mouth. Strength seemed to come upon me with the sight like a
giant's; I thought I could have caught her up and run with her into
the uttermost places in the earth; and we spoke together all that
time beyond belief for freedom and sweetness.
It was the dark night when we came to the house door. She pressed
my arm upon her bosom. "Thank you kindly for these same good
hours," said she, on a deep note of her voice.
The concern in which I fell instantly on this address, put me with
the same swiftness on my guard; and we were no sooner in the
chamber, and the light made, than she beheld the old, dour,
stubborn countenance of the student of Heineccius. Doubtless she
was more than usually hurt; and I know for myself, I found it more
than usually difficult to maintain any strangeness. Even at the
meal, I durst scarce unbuckle and scarce lift my eyes to her; and
it was no sooner over than I fell again to my civilian, with more
seeming abstraction and less understanding than before. Methought,
as I read, I could hear my heart strike like an eight-day clock.
Hard as I feigned to study, there was still some of my eyesight
that spilled beyond the book upon Catriona. She sat on the floor
by the side of my great mail, and the chimney lighted her up, and
shone and blinked upon her, and made her glow and darken through a
wonder of fine hues. Now she would be gazing in the fire, and then
again at me; and at that I would be plunged in a terror of myself,
and turn the pages of Heineccius like a man looking for the text in
Suddenly she called out aloud. "O, why does not my father come?"
she cried, and fell at once into a storm of tears.
I leaped up, flung Heineccius fairly in the fire, ran to her side,
and cast an arm around her sobbing body.
She put me from her sharply, "You do not love your friend," says
she. "I could be so happy too, if you would let me!" And then,
"O, what will I have done that you should hate me so?"
"Hate you!" cries I, and held her firm. "You blind less, can you
not see a little in my wretched heart? Do you not think when I sit
there, reading in that fool-book that I have just burned and be
damned to it, I take ever the least thought of any stricken thing
but just yourself? Night after night I could have grat to see you
sitting there your lone. And what was I to do? You are here under
my honour; would you punish me for that? Is it for that that you
would spurn a loving servant?"
At the word, with a small, sudden motion, she clung near to me. I
raised her face to mine, I kissed it, and she bowed her brow upon
my bosom, clasping me tight. I saw in a mere whirl like a man
drunken. Then I heard her voice sound very small and muffled in my
"Did you kiss her truly?" she asked.
There went through me so great a heave of surprise that I was all
shook with it.
"Miss Grant?" I cried, all in a disorder. "Yes, I asked her to
kiss me good-bye, the which she did."
"Ah, well!" said she, "you have kissed me too, at all events."
At the strangeness and sweetness of that word, I saw where we had
fallen; rose, and set her on her feet.
"This will never do," said I. "This will never, never do. O
Catrine, Catrine!" Then there came a pause in which I was debarred
from any speaking. And then, "Go away to your bed," said I. "Go
away to your bed and leave me."
She turned to obey me like a child, and the next I knew of it, had
stopped in the very doorway.
"Good night, Davie!" said she.
"And O, good night, my love!" I cried, with a great outbreak of my
soul, and caught her to me again, so that it seemed I must have
broken her. The next moment I had thrust her from the room, shut
to the door even with violence, and stood alone.
The milk was spilt now, the word was out and the truth told. I had
crept like an untrusty man into the poor maid's affections; she was
in my hand like any frail, innocent thing to make or mar; and what
weapon of defence was left me? It seemed like a symbol that
Heineccius, my old protection, was now burned. I repented, yet
could not find it in my heart to blame myself for that great
failure. It seemed not possible to have resisted the boldness of
her innocence or that last temptation of her weeping. And all that
I had to excuse me did but make my sin appear the greater--it was
upon a nature so defenceless, and with such advantages of the
position, that I seemed to have practised.
What was to become of us now? It seemed we could no longer dwell
in the one place. But where was I to go? or where she? Without
either choice or fault of ours, life had conspired to wall us
together in that narrow place. I had a wild thought of marrying
out of hand; and the next moment put it from me with revolt. She
was a child, she could not tell her own heart; I had surprised her
weakness, I must never go on to build on that surprisal; I must
keep her not only clear of reproach, but free as she had come to
Down I sat before the fire, and reflected, and repented, and beat
my brains in vain for any means of escape. About two of the
morning, there were three red embers left and the house and all the
city was asleep, when I was aware of a small sound of weeping in
the next room. She thought that I slept, the poor soul; she
regretted her weakness--and what perhaps (God help her!) she called
her forwardness--and in the dead of the night solaced herself with
tears. Tender and bitter feelings, love and penitence and pity,
struggled in my soul; it seemed I was under bond to heal that
"O, try to forgive me!" I cried out, "try, try to forgive me. Let
us forget it all, let us try if we'll no can forget it!"
There came no answer, but the sobbing ceased. I stood a long while
with my hands still clasped as I had spoken; then the cold of the
night laid hold upon me with a shudder, and I think my reason
"You can make no hand of this, Davie," thinks I. "To bed with you
like a wise lad, and try if you can sleep. To-morrow you may see
CHAPTER XXV--THE RETURN OF JAMES MORE
I was called on the morrow out of a late and troubled slumber by a
knocking on my door, ran to open it, and had almost swooned with
the contrariety of my feelings, mostly painful; for on the
threshold, in a rough wraprascal and an extraordinary big laced
hat, there stood James More.
I ought to have been glad perhaps without admixture, for there was
a sense in which the man came like an answer to prayer. I had been
saying till my head was weary that Catriona and I must separate,
and looking till my head ached for any possible means of
separation. Here were the means come to me upon two legs, and joy
was the hindmost of my thoughts. It is to be considered, however,
that even if the weight of the future were lifted off me by the
man's arrival, the present heaved up the more black and menacing;
so that, as I first stood before him in my shirt and breeches, I
believe I took a leaping step backward like a person shot.
"Ah," said he, "I have found you, Mr, Balfour." And offered me his
large, fine hand, the which (recovering at the same time my post in
the doorway, as if with some thought of resistance) I took him by
doubtfully. "It is a remarkable circumstance how our affairs
appear to intermingle," he continued. "I am owing you an apology
for an unfortunate intrusion upon yours, which I suffered myself to
be entrapped into by my confidence in that false-face,
Prestongrange; I think shame to own to you that I was ever trusting
to a lawyer." He shrugged his shoulders with a very French air.
"But indeed the man is very plausible," says he. "And now it seems
that you have busied yourself handsomely in the matter of my
daughter, for whose direction I was remitted to yourself."
"I think, sir," said I, with a very painful air, "that it will be
necessary we two should have an explanation."
"There is nothing amiss?" he asked. "My agent, Mr. Sprott--"
"For God's sake moderate your voice!" I cried. "She must not hear
till we have had an explanation."
"She is in this place?" cries he.
"That is her chamber door," said I.
"You are here with her alone?" he asked.
"And who else would I have got to stay with us?" cries I.
I will do him the justice to admit that he turned pale.
"This is very unusual," said he. "This is a very unusual
circumstance. You are right, we must hold an explanation."
So saying he passed me by, and I must own the tall old rogue
appeared at that moment extraordinary dignified. He had now, for
the first time, the view of my chamber, which I scanned (I may say)
with his eyes. A bit of morning sun glinted in by the window pane,
and showed it off; my bed, my mails, and washing dish, with some
disorder of my clothes, and the unlighted chimney, made the only
plenishing; no mistake but it looked bare and cold, and the most
unsuitable, beggarly place conceivable to harbour a young lady. At
the same time came in on my mind the recollection of the clothes
that I had bought for her; and I thought this contrast of poverty
and prodigality bore an ill appearance.
He looked all about the chamber for a seat, and finding nothing
else to his purpose except my bed, took a place upon the side of
it; where, after I had closed the door, I could not very well avoid
joining him. For however this extraordinary interview might end,
it must pass if possible without waking Catriona; and the one thing
needful was that we should sit close and talk low. But I can
scarce picture what a pair we made; he in his great coat which the
coldness of my chamber made extremely suitable; I shivering in my
shirt and breeks; he with very much the air of a judge; and I
(whatever I looked) with very much the feelings of a man who has
heard the last trumpet.
"Well?" says he.
And "Well," I began, but found myself unable to go further.
"You tell me she is here?" said he again, but now with a spice of
impatience that seemed to brace me up.
"She is in this house," said I, "and I knew the circumstance would
be called unusual. But you are to consider how very unusual the
whole business was from the beginning. Here is a young lady landed
on the coast of Europe with two shillings and a penny halfpenny.
She is directed to yon man Sprott in Helvoet. I hear you call him
your agent. All I can say is he could do nothing but damn and
swear at the mere mention of your name, and I must fee him out of
my own pocket even to receive the custody of her effects. You
speak of unusual circumstances, Mr. Drummond, if that be the name
you prefer. Here was a circumstance, if you like, to which it was
barbarity to have exposed her."
"But this is what I cannot understand the least," said James. "My
daughter was placed into the charge of some responsible persons,
whose names I have forgot." "Gebbie was the name," said I; "and
there is no doubt that Mr. Gebbie should have gone ashore with her
at Helvoet. But he did not, Mr. Drummond; and I think you might
praise God that I was there to offer in his place."
"I shall have a word to say to Mr. Gebbie before long," said he.
"As for yourself, I think it might have occurred that you were
somewhat young for such a post."
"But the choice was not between me and somebody else, it was
between me and nobody," cried I. "Nobody offered in my place, and
I must say I think you show a very small degree of gratitude to me
"I shall wait until I understand my obligation a little more in the
particular," says he.
"Indeed, and I think it stares you in the face, then," said I.
"Your child was deserted, she was clean flung away in the midst of
Europe, with scarce two shillings, and not two words of any
language spoken there: I must say, a bonny business! I brought
her to this place. I gave her the name and the tenderness due to a
sister. All this has not gone without expense, but that I scarce
need to hint at. They were services due to the young lady's
character which I respect; and I think it would be a bonny business
too, if I was to be singing her praises to her father."
"You are a young man," he began.
"So I hear you tell me," said I, with a good deal of heat.
"You are a very young man," he repeated, "or you would have
understood the significancy of the step."
"I think you speak very much at your ease," cried I. "What else
was I to do? It is a fact I might have hired some decent, poor
woman to be a third to us, and I declare I never thought of it
until this moment! But where was I to find her, that am a
foreigner myself? And let me point out to your observation, Mr.
Drummond, that it would have cost me money out of my pocket. For
here is just what it comes to, that I had to pay through the nose
for your neglect; and there is only the one story to it, just that
you were so unloving and so careless as to have lost your
"He that lives in a glass house should not be casting stones," says
he; "and we will finish inquiring into the behaviour of Miss
Drummond before we go on to sit in judgment on her father."
"But I will be entrapped into no such attitude," said I. "The
character of Miss Drummond is far above inquiry, as her father
ought to know. So is mine, and I am telling you that. There are
but the two ways of it open. The one is to express your thanks to
me as one gentleman to another, and to say no more. The other (if
you are so difficult as to be still dissatisfied) is to pay me,
that which I have expended and be done."
He seemed to soothe me with a hand in the air. "There, there,"
said he. "You go too fast, you go too fast, Mr. Balfour. It is a
good thing that I have learned to be more patient. And I believe
you forget that I have yet to see my daughter."
I began to be a little relieved upon this speech and a change in
the man's manner that I spied in him as soon as the name of money
fell between us.
"I was thinking it would be more fit--if you will excuse the
plainness of my dressing in your presence--that I should go forth
and leave you to encounter her alone?" said I.
"What I would have looked for at your hands!" says he; and there
was no mistake but what he said it civilly.
I thought this better and better still, and as I began to pull on
my hose, recalling the man's impudent mendicancy at
Prestongrange's, I determined to pursue what seemed to be my
"If you have any mind to stay some while in Leyden," said I, "this
room is very much at your disposal, and I can easy find another for
myself: in which way we shall have the least amount of flitting
possible, there being only one to change."
"Why, sir," said he, making his bosom big, "I think no shame of a
poverty I have come by in the service of my king; I make no secret
that my affairs are quite involved; and for the moment, it would be
even impossible for me to undertake a journey."
"Until you have occasion to communicate with your friends," said I,
"perhaps it might be convenient for you (as of course it would be
honourable to myself) if you were to regard yourself in the light
of my guest?"
"Sir," said he, "when an offer is frankly made, I think I honour
myself most to imitate that frankness. Your hand, Mr. David; you
have the character that I respect the most; you are one of those
from whom a gentleman can take a favour and no more words about it.
I am an old soldier," he went on, looking rather disgusted-like
around my chamber, "and you need not fear I shall prove
burthensome. I have ate too often at a dyke-side, drank of the
ditch, and had no roof but the rain."
"I should be telling you," said I, "that our breakfasts are sent
customarily in about this time of morning. I propose I should go
now to the tavern, and bid them add a cover for yourself and delay
the meal the matter of an hour, which will give you an interval to
meet your daughter in."
Methought his nostrils wagged at this. "O, an hour" says he.
"That is perhaps superfluous. Half an hour, Mr. David, or say
twenty minutes; I shall do very well in that. And by the way," he
adds, detaining me by the coat, "what is it you drink in the
morning, whether ale or wine?"
"To be frank with you, sir," says I, "I drink nothing else but
spare, cold water."
"Tut-tut," says he, "that is fair destruction to the stomach, take
an old campaigner's word for it. Our country spirit at home is
perhaps the most entirely wholesome; but as that is not come-at-
able, Rhenish or a white wine of Burgundy will be next best."
"I shall make it my business to see you are supplied," said I.
"Why, very good," said he, "and we shall make a man of you yet, Mr.
By this time, I can hardly say that I was minding him at all,
beyond an odd thought of the kind of father-in-law that he was like
to prove; and all my cares centred about the lass his daughter, to
whom I determined to convey some warning of her visitor. I stepped
to the door accordingly, and cried through the panels, knocking
thereon at the same time: "Miss Drummond, here is your father come
With that I went forth upon my errand, having (by two words)
extraordinarily damaged my affairs.
CHAPTER XXVI--THE THREESOME
Whether or not I was to be so much blamed, or rather perhaps
pitied, I must leave others to judge. My shrewdness (of which I
have a good deal, too) seems not so great with the ladies. No
doubt, at the moment when I awaked her, I was thinking a good deal
of the effect upon James More; and similarly when I returned and we
were all sat down to breakfast, I continued to behave to the young
lady with deference and distance; as I still think to have been
most wise. Her father had cast doubts upon the innocence of my
friendship; and these, it was my first business to allay. But
there is a kind of an excuse for Catriona also. We had shared in a
scene of some tenderness and passion, and given and received
caresses: I had thrust her from me with violence; I had called
aloud upon her in the night from the one room to the other; she had
passed hours of wakefulness and weeping; and it is not to be
supposed I had been absent from her pillow thoughts. Upon the back
of this, to be awaked, with unaccustomed formality, under the name
of Miss Drummond, and to be thenceforth used with a great deal of
distance and respect, led her entirely in error on my private
sentiments; and she was indeed so incredibly abused as to imagine
me repentant and trying to draw off!
The trouble betwixt us seems to have been this: that whereas I
(since I had first set eyes on his great hat) thought singly of
James More, his return and suspicions, she made so little of these
that I may say she scarce remarked them, and all her troubles and
doings regarded what had passed between us in the night before.
This is partly to be explained by the innocence and boldness of her
character; and partly because James More, having sped so ill in his
interview with me, or had his mouth closed by my invitation, said
no word to her upon the subject. At the breakfast, accordingly, it
soon appeared we were at cross purposes. I had looked to find her
in clothes of her own: I found her (as if her father were
forgotten) wearing some of the best that I had bought for her, and
which she knew (or thought) that I admired her in. I had looked to
find her imitate my affectation of distance, and be most precise
and formal; instead I found her flushed and wild-like, with eyes
extraordinary bright, and a painful and varying expression, calling
me by name with a sort of appeal of tenderness, and referring and
deferring to my thoughts and wishes like an anxious or a suspected
But this was not for long. As I behold her so regardless of her
own interests, which I had jeopardised and was now endeavouring to
recover, I redoubled my own coldness in the manner of a lesson to
the girl. The more she came forward, the farther I drew back; the
more she betrayed the closeness of our intimacy, the more pointedly
civil I became, until even her father (if he had not been so
engrossed with eating) might have observed the opposition. In the
midst of which, of a sudden, she became wholly changed, and I told
myself, with a good deal of relief, that she had took the hint at
All day I was at my classes or in quest of my new lodging; and
though the hour of our customary walk hung miserably on my hands, I
cannot say but I was happy on the whole to find my way cleared, the
girl again in proper keeping, the father satisfied or at least
acquiescent, and myself free to prosecute my love with honour. At
supper, as at all our meals, it was James More that did the
talking. No doubt but he talked well if anyone could have believed
him. But I will speak of him presently more at large. The meal at
an end, he rose, got his great coat, and looking (as I thought) at
me, observed he had affairs abroad. I took this for a hint that I
was to be going also, and got up; whereupon the girl, who had
scarce given me greeting at my entrance, turned her eyes upon me
wide open with a look that bade me stay. I stood between them like
a fish out of water, turning from one to the other; neither seemed
to observe me, she gazing on the floor, he buttoning his coat:
which vastly swelled my embarrassment. This appearance of
indifference argued, upon her side, a good deal of anger very near
to burst out. Upon his, I thought it horribly alarming; I made
sure there was a tempest brewing there; and considering that to be
the chief peril, turned towards him and put myself (so to speak) in
the man's hands.
"Can I do anything for YOU, Mr. Drummond?" says I.
He stifled a yawn, which again I thought to be duplicity. "Why,
Mr. David," said he, "since you are so obliging as to propose it,
you might show me the way to a certain tavern" (of which he gave
the name) "where I hope to fall in with some old companions in
There was no more to say, and I got my hat and cloak to bear him
"And as for you," say he to his daughter, "you had best go to your
bed. I shall be late home, and EARLY TO BED AND EARLY TO RISE,
GARS BONNY LASSES HAVE BRIGHT EYES."
Whereupon he kissed her with a good deal of tenderness, and ushered
me before him from the door. This was so done (I thought on
purpose) that it was scarce possible there should be any parting
salutation; but I observed she did not look at me, and set it down
to terror of James More.
It was some distance to that tavern. He talked all the way of
matters which did not interest me the smallest, and at the door
dismissed me with empty manners. Thence I walked to my new
lodging, where I had not so much as a chimney to hold me warm, and
no society but my own thoughts. These were still bright enough; I
did not so much as dream that Catriona was turned against me; I
thought we were like folk pledged; I thought we had been too near
and spoke too warmly to be severed, least of all by what were only
steps in a most needful policy. And the chief of my concern was
only the kind of father-in-law that I was getting, which was not at
all the kind I would have chosen: and the matter of how soon I
ought to speak to him, which was a delicate point on several sides.
In the first place, when I thought how young I was I blushed all
over, and could almost have found it in my heart to have desisted;
only that if once I let them go from Leyden without explanation, I
might lose her altogether. And in the second place, there was our
very irregular situation to be kept in view, and the rather scant
measure of satisfaction I had given James More that morning. I
concluded, on the whole, that delay would not hurt anything, yet I
would not delay too long neither; and got to my cold bed with a
The next day, as James More seemed a little on the complaining hand
in the matter of my chamber, I offered to have in more furniture;
and coming in the afternoon, with porters bringing chairs and
tables, found the girl once more left to herself. She greeted me
on my admission civilly, but withdrew at once to her own room, of
which she shut the door. I made my disposition, and paid and
dismissed the men so that she might hear them go, when I supposed
she would at once come forth again to speak to me. I waited yet
awhile, then knocked upon her door.
"Catriona!" said I.
The door was opened so quickly, even before I had the word out,
that I thought she must have stood behind it listening. She
remained there in the interval quite still; but she had a look that
I cannot put a name on, as of one in a bitter trouble.
"Are we not to have our walk to-day either?" so I faltered.
"I am thanking you," said she. "I will not be caring much to walk,
now that my father is come home."
"But I think he has gone out himself and left you here alone," said
"And do you think that was very kindly said?" she asked.
"It was not unkindly meant," I replied. "What ails you, Catriona?
What have I done to you that you should turn from me like this?"
"I do not turn from you at all," she said, speaking very carefully.
"I will ever be grateful to my friend that was good to me; I will
ever be his friend in all that I am able. But now that my father
James More is come again, there is a difference to be made, and I
think there are some things said and done that would be better to
be forgotten. But I will ever be your friend in all that I am
able, and if that is not all that . . . . if it is not so much . .
. . Not that you will be caring! But I would not have you think of
me too hard. It was true what you said to me, that I was too young
to be advised, and I am hoping you will remember I was just a
child. I would not like to lose your friendship, at all events."
She began this very pale; but before she was done, the blood was in
her face like scarlet, so that not her words only, but her face and
the trembling of her very hands, besought me to be gentle. I saw,
for the first time, how very wrong I had done to place the child in
that position, where she had been entrapped into a moment's
weakness, and now stood before me like a person shamed.
"Miss Drummond," I said, and stuck, and made the same beginning
once again, "I wish you could see into my heart," I cried. "You
would read there that my respect is undiminished. If that were
possible, I should say it was increased. This is but the result of
the mistake we made; and had to come; and the less said of it now
the better. Of all of our life here, I promise you it shall never
pass my lips; I would like to promise you too that I would never
think of it, but it's a memory that will be always dear to me. And
as for a friend, you have one here that would die for you."
"I am thanking you," said she.
We stood awhile silent, and my sorrow for myself began to get the
upper hand; for here were all my dreams come to a sad tumble, and
my love lost, and myself alone again in the world as at the
"Well," said I, "we shall be friends always, that's a certain
thing. But this is a kind of farewell, too: it's a kind of a
farewell after all; I shall always ken Miss Drummond, but this is a
farewell to my Catriona."
I looked at her; I could hardly say I saw her, but she seemed to
grow great and brighten in my eyes; and with that I suppose I must
have lost my head, for I called out her name again and made a step
at her with my hands reached forth.
She shrank back like a person struck, her face flamed; but the
blood sprang no faster up into her cheeks, than what it flowed back
upon my own heart, at sight of it, with penitence and concern. I
found no words to excuse myself, but bowed before her very deep,
and went my ways out of the house with death in my bosom.
I think it was about five days that followed without any change. I
saw her scarce ever but at meals, and then of course in the company
of James More. If we were alone even for a moment, I made it my
devoir to behave the more distantly and to multiply respectful
attentions, having always in my mind's eye that picture of the girl
shrinking and flaming in a blush, and in my heart more pity for her
than I could depict in words. I was sorry enough for myself, I
need not dwell on that, having fallen all my length and more than
all my height in a few seconds; but, indeed, I was near as sorry
for the girl, and sorry enough to be scarce angry with her save by
fits and starts. Her plea was good; she had been placed in an
unfair position; if she had deceived herself and me, it was no more
than was to have been looked for.
And for another thing she was now very much alone. Her father,
when he was by, was rather a caressing parent; but he was very easy
led away by his affairs and pleasures, neglected her without
compunction or remark, spent his nights in taverns when he had the
money, which was more often than I could at all account for; and
even in the course of these few days, failed once to come to a
meal, which Catriona and I were at last compelled to partake of
without him. It was the evening meal, and I left immediately that
I had eaten, observing I supposed she would prefer to be alone; to
which she agreed and (strange as it may seem) I quite believed her.
Indeed, I thought myself but an eyesore to the girl, and a reminder
of a moment's weakness that she now abhorred to think of. So she
must sit alone in that room where she and I had been so merry, and
in the blink of that chimney whose light had shone upon our many
difficult and tender moments. There she must sit alone, and think
of herself as of a maid who had most unmaidenly proffered her
affections and had the same rejected. And in the meanwhile I would
be alone some other place, and reading myself (whenever I was
tempted to be angry) lessons upon human frailty and female
delicacy. And altogether I suppose there were never two poor fools
made themselves more unhappy in a greater misconception.
As for James, he paid not so much heed to us, or to anything in
nature but his pocket, and his belly, and his own prating talk.
Before twelve hours were gone he had raised a small loan of me;
before thirty, he had asked for a second and been refused. Money
and refusal he took with the same kind of high good nature.
Indeed, he had an outside air of magnanimity that was very well
fitted to impose upon a daughter; and the light in which he was
constantly presented in his talk, and the man's fine presence and
great ways went together pretty harmoniously. So that a man that
had no business with him, and either very little penetration or a
furious deal of prejudice, might almost have been taken in. To me,
after my first two interviews, he was as plain as print; I saw him
to be perfectly selfish, with a perfect innocency in the same; and
I would hearken to his swaggering talk (of arms, and "an old
soldier," and "a poor Highland gentleman," and "the strength of my
country and my friends") as I might to the babbling of a parrot.
The odd thing was that I fancy he believed some part of it himself,
or did at times; I think he was so false all through that he scarce
knew when he was lying; and for one thing, his moments of dejection
must have been wholly genuine. There were times when he would be
the most silent, affectionate, clinging creature possible, holding
Catriona's hand like a big baby, and begging of me not to leave if
I had any love to him; of which, indeed, I had none, but all the
more to his daughter. He would press and indeed beseech us to
entertain him with our talk, a thing very difficult in the state of
our relations; and again break forth in pitiable regrets for his
own land and friends, or into Gaelic singing.
"This is one of the melancholy airs of my native land," he would
say. "You may think it strange to see a soldier weep, and indeed
it is to make a near friend of you," says he. "But the notes of
this singing are in my blood, and the words come out of my heart.
And when I mind upon my red mountains and the wild birds calling
there, and the brave streams of water running down, I would scarce
think shame to weep before my enemies." Then he would sing again,
and translate to me pieces of the song, with a great deal of
boggling and much expressed contempt against the English language.
"It says here," he would say, "that the sun is gone down, and the
battle is at an end, and the brave chiefs are defeated. And it
tells here how the stars see them fleeing into strange countries or
lying dead on the red mountain; and they will never more shout the
call of battle or wash their feet in the streams of the valley.
But if you had only some of this language, you would weep also
because the words of it are beyond all expression, and it is mere
mockery to tell you it in English."
Well, I thought there was a good deal of mockery in the business,
one way and another; and yet, there was some feeling too, for which
I hated him, I think, the worst of all. And it used to cut me to
the quick to see Catriona so much concerned for the old rogue, and
weeping herself to see him weep, when I was sure one half of his
distress flowed from his last night's drinking in some tavern.
There were times when I was tempted to lend him a round sum, and
see the last of him for good; but this would have been to see the
last of Catriona as well, for which I was scarcely so prepared; and
besides, it went against my conscience to squander my good money on
one who was so little of a husband.
CHAPTER XXVII--A TWOSOME
I believe it was about the fifth day, and I know at least that
James was in one of his fits of gloom, when I received three
letters. The first was from Alan, offering to visit me in Leyden;
the other two were out of Scotland and prompted by the same affair,
which was the death of my uncle and my own complete accession to my
rights. Rankeillor's was, of course, wholly in the business view;
Miss Grant's was like herself, a little more witty than wise, full
of blame to me for not having written (though how was I to write
with such intelligence?) and of rallying talk about Catriona, which
it cut me to the quick to read in her very presence.
For it was of course in my own rooms that I found them, when I came
to dinner, so that I was surprised out of my news in the very first
moment of reading it. This made a welcome diversion for all three
of us, nor could any have foreseen the ill consequences that
ensued. It was accident that brought the three letters the same
day, and that gave them into my hand in the same room with James
More; and of all the events that flowed from that accident, and
which I might have prevented if I had held my tongue, the truth is
that they were preordained before Agricola came into Scotland or
Abraham set out upon his travels.
The first that I opened was naturally Alan's; and what more natural
than that I should comment on his design to visit me? but I
observed James to sit up with an air of immediate attention.
"Is that not Alan Breck that was suspected of the Appin accident?"
I told him, "Ay," it was the same; and he withheld me some time
from my other letters, asking of our acquaintance, of Alan's manner
of life in France, of which I knew very little, and further of his
visit as now proposed.
"All we forfeited folk hang a little together," he explained, "and
besides I know the gentleman: and though his descent is not the
thing, and indeed he has no true right to use the name of Stewart,
he was very much admired in the day of Drummossie. He did there
like a soldier; if some that need not be named had done as well,
the upshot need not have been so melancholy to remember. There
were two that did their best that day, and it makes a bond between
the pair of us," says he.
I could scarce refrain from shooting out my tongue at him, and
could almost have wished that Alan had been there to have inquired
a little further into that mention of his birth. Though, they tell
me, the same was indeed not wholly regular.
Meanwhile, I had opened Miss Grant's, and could not withhold an
"Catriona," I cried, forgetting, the first time since her father
was arrived, to address her by a handle, "I am come into my kingdom
fairly, I am the laird of Shaws indeed--my uncle is dead at last."
She clapped her hands together leaping from her seat. The next
moment it must have come over both of us at once what little cause
of joy was left to either, and we stood opposite, staring on each
But James showed himself a ready hypocrite. "My daughter," says
he, "is this how my cousin learned you to behave? Mr. David has
lost a new friend, and we should first condole with him on his
"Troth, sir," said I, turning to him in a kind of anger, "I can
make no such great faces. His death is as blithe news as ever I
"It's a good soldier's philosophy," says James. "'Tis the way of
flesh, we must all go, all go. And if the gentleman was so far
from your favour, why, very well! But we may at least congratulate
you on your accession to your estates."
"Nor can I say that either," I replied, with the same heat. "It is
a good estate; what matters that to a lone man that has enough
already? I had a good revenue before in my frugality; and but for
the man's death--which gratifies me, shame to me that must confess
it!--I see not how anyone is to be bettered by this change."
"Come, come," said he, "you are more affected than you let on, or
you would never make yourself out so lonely. Here are three
letters; that means three that wish you well; and I could name two
more, here in this very chamber. I have known you not so very
long, but Catriona, when we are alone, is never done with the
singing of your praises."
She looked up at him, a little wild at that; and he slid off at
once into another matter, the extent of my estate, which (during
the most of the dinner time) he continued to dwell upon with
interest. But it was to no purpose he dissembled; he had touched
the matter with too gross a hand: and I knew what to expect.
Dinner was scarce ate when he plainly discovered his designs. He
reminded Catriona of an errand, and bid her attend to it. "I do
not see you should be one beyond the hour," he added, "and friend
David will be good enough to bear me company till you return." She
made haste to obey him without words. I do not know if she
understood, I believe not; but I was completely satisfied, and sat
strengthening my mind for what should follow.
The door had scarce closed behind her departure, when the man
leaned back in his chair and addressed me with a good affectation
of easiness. Only the one thing betrayed him, and that was his
face; which suddenly shone all over with fine points of sweat.
"I am rather glad to have a word alone with you," says he, "because
in our first interview there were some expressions you
misapprehended and I have long meant to set you right upon. My
daughter stands beyond doubt. So do you, and I would make that
good with my sword against all gainsayers. But, my dear David,
this world is a censorious place--as who should know it better than
myself, who have lived ever since the days of my late departed
father, God sain him! in a perfect spate of calumnies? We have to
face to that; you and me have to consider of that; we have to
consider of that." And he wagged his head like a minister in a
"To what effect, Mr. Drummond?" said I. "I would be obliged to you
if you would approach your point."
"Ay, ay," said he, laughing, "like your character, indeed! and what
I most admire in it. But the point, my worthy fellow, is sometimes
in a kittle bit." He filled a glass of wine. "Though between you
and me, that are such fast friends, it need not bother us long.
The point, I need scarcely tell you, is my daughter. And the first
thing is that I have no thought in my mind of blaming you. In the
unfortunate circumstances, what could you do else? 'Deed, and I
"I thank you for that," said I, pretty close upon my guard.
"I have besides studied your character," he went on; "your talents
are fair; you seem to have a moderate competence, which does no
harm; and one thing with another, I am very happy to have to
announce to you that I have decided on the latter of the two ways
"I am afraid I am dull," said I. "What ways are these?"
He bent his brows upon me formidably and uncrossed his legs. "Why,
sir," says he, "I think I need scarce describe them to a gentleman
of your condition; either that I should cut your throat or that you
should marry my daughter."
"You are pleased to be quite plain at last," said I.
"And I believe I have been plain from the beginning!" cries he
robustiously. "I am a careful parent, Mr. Balfour; but I thank
God, a patient and deleeborate man. There is many a father, sir,
that would have hirsled you at once either to the altar or the
field. My esteem for your character--"
"Mr. Drummond," I interrupted, "if you have any esteem for me at
all, I will beg of you to moderate your voice. It is quite
needless to rowt at a gentleman in the same chamber with yourself
and lending you his best attention."
"Why, very true," says he, with an immediate change. "And you must
excuse the agitations of a parent."
"I understand you then," I continued--"for I will take no note of
your other alternative, which perhaps it was a pity you let fall--I
understand you rather to offer me encouragement in case I should
desire to apply for your daughter's hand?"
"It is not possible to express my meaning better," said he, "and I
see we shall do well together."
"That remains to be yet seen," said I. "But so much I need make no
secret of, that I bear the lady you refer to the most tender
affection, and I could not fancy, even in a dream, a better fortune
than to get her."
"I was sure of it, I felt certain of you, David," he cried, and
reached out his hand to me.
I put it by. "You go too fast, Mr. Drummond," said I. "There are
conditions to be made; and there is a difficulty in the path, which
I see not entirely how we shall come over. I have told you that,
upon my side, there is no objection to the marriage, but I have
good reason to believe there will be much on the young lady's."
"This is all beside the mark," says he. "I will engage for her
"I think you forget, Mr. Drummond," said I, "that, even in dealing
with myself, you have been betrayed into two-three unpalatable
expressions. I will have none such employed to the young lady. I
am here to speak and think for the two of us; and I give you to
understand that I would no more let a wife be forced upon myself,
than what I would let a husband be forced on the young lady."
He sat and glowered at me like one in doubt and a good deal of
"So that is to be the way of it," I concluded. "I will marry Miss
Drummond, and that blithely, if she is entirely willing. But if
there be the least unwillingness, as I have reason to fear--marry
her will I never."
"Well well," said he, "this is a small affair. As soon as she
returns I will sound her a bit, and hope to reassure you--"
But I cut in again. "Not a finger of you, Mr. Drummond, or I cry
off, and you can seek a husband to your daughter somewhere else,"
said I. "It is I that am to be the only dealer and the only judge.
I shall satisfy myself exactly; and none else shall anyways meddle-
-you the least of all."
"Upon my word, sir!" he exclaimed, "and who are you to be the
"The bridegroom, I believe," said I.
"This is to quibble," he cried. "You turn your back upon the fact.
The girl, my daughter, has no choice left to exercise. Her
character is gone."
"And I ask your pardon," said I, "but while this matter lies
between her and you and me, that is not so."
"What security have I!" he cried. "Am I to let my daughter's
reputation depend upon a chance?"
"You should have thought of all this long ago," said I, "before you
were so misguided as to lose her; and not afterwards when it is
quite too late. I refuse to regard myself as any way accountable
for your neglect, and I will be browbeat by no man living. My mind
is quite made up, and come what may, I will not depart from it a
hair's breadth. You and me are to sit here in company till her
return: upon which, without either word or look from you, she and
I are to go forth again to hold our talk. If she can satisfy me
that she is willing to this step, I will then make it; and if she
cannot, I will not."
He leaped out of his chair like a man stung. "I can spy your
manoeuvre," he cried; "you would work upon her to refuse!"
"Maybe ay, and maybe no," said I. "That is the way it is to be,
"And if I refuse?" cries he.
"Then, Mr. Drummond, it will have to come to the throat-cutting,"
What with the size of the man, his great length of arm in which he
came near rivalling his father, and his reputed skill at weapons, I
did not use this word without trepidation, to say nothing at all of
the circumstance that he was Catriona's father. But I might have
spared myself alarms. From the poorness of my lodging--he does not
seem to have remarked his daughter's dresses, which were indeed all
equally new to him--and from the fact that I had shown myself
averse to lend, he had embraced a strong idea of my poverty. The
sudden news of my estate convinced him of his error, and he had
made but the one bound of it on this fresh venture, to which he was
now so wedded, that I believe he would have suffered anything
rather than fall to the alternative of fighting.
A little while longer he continued to dispute with me, until I hit
upon a word that silenced him.
"If I find you so averse to let me see the lady by herself," said
I, "I must suppose you have very good grounds to think me in the
right about her unwillingness."
He gabbled some kind of an excuse.
"But all this is very exhausting to both of our tempers," I added,
"and I think we would do better to preserve a judicious silence."
The which we did until the girl returned, and I must suppose would
have cut a very ridiculous figure had there been any there to view
CHAPTER XXVIII--IN WHICH I AM LEFT ALONE
I opened the door to Catriona and stopped her on the threshold.
"Your father wishes us to take our walk," said I.
She looked to James More, who nodded, and at that, like a trained
soldier, she turned to go with me.
We took one of our old ways, where we had gone often together, and
been more happy than I can tell of in the past. I came a half a
step behind, so that I could watch her unobserved. The knocking of
her little shoes upon the way sounded extraordinary pretty and sad;
and I thought it a strange moment that I should be so near both
ends of it at once, and walk in the midst between two destinies,
and could not tell whether I was hearing these steps for the last
time, or whether the sound of them was to go in and out with me
till death should part us.
She avoided even to look at me, only walked before her, like one
who had a guess of what was coming. I saw I must speak soon before
my courage was run out, but where to begin I knew not. In this
painful situation, when the girl was as good as forced into my arms
and had already besought my forbearance, any excess of pressure
must have seemed indecent; yet to avoid it wholly would have a very
cold-like appearance. Between these extremes I stood helpless, and
could have bit my fingers; so that, when at last I managed to speak
at all, it may be said I spoke at random.
"Catriona," said I, "I am in a very painful situation; or rather,
so we are both; and I would be a good deal obliged to you if you
would promise to let me speak through first of all, and not to
interrupt me till I have done."
She promised me that simply.
"Well," said I, "this that I have got to say is very difficult, and
I know very well I have no right to be saying it. After what
passed between the two of us last Friday, I have no manner of
right. We have got so ravelled up (and all by my fault) that I
know very well the least I could do is just to hold my tongue,
which was what I intended fully, and there was nothing further from
my thoughts than to have troubled you again. But, my dear, it has
become merely necessary, and no way by it. You see, this estate of
mine has fallen in, which makes of me rather a better match; and
the--the business would not have quite the same ridiculous-like
appearance that it would before. Besides which, it's supposed that
our affairs have got so much ravelled up (as I was saying) that it
would be better to let them be the way they are. In my view, this
part of the thing is vastly exagerate, and if I were you I would
not wear two thoughts on it. Only it's right I should mention the
same, because there's no doubt it has some influence on James More.
Then I think we were none so unhappy when we dwelt together in this
town before. I think we did pretty well together. If you would
look back, my dear--"
"I will look neither back nor forward," she interrupted. "Tell me
the one thing: this is my father's doing?"
"He approves of it," said I. "He approved I that I should ask your
hand in marriage," and was going on again with somewhat more of an
appeal upon her feelings; but she marked me not, and struck into
"He told you to!" she cried. "It is no sense denying it, you said
yourself that there was nothing farther from your thoughts. He
told you to."
"He spoke of it the first, if that is what you mean," I began.
She was walking ever the faster, and looking fain in front of her;
but at this she made a little noise in her head, and I thought she
would have run.
"Without which," I went on, "after what you said last Friday, I
would never have been so troublesome as make the offer. But when
he as good as asked me, what was I to do?"
She stopped and turned round upon me.
"Well, it is refused at all events," she cried, "and there will be
an end of that."
And she began again to walk forward.
"I suppose I could expect no better," said I, "but I think you
might try to be a little kind to me for the last end of it. I see
not why you should be harsh. I have loved you very well, Catriona-
-no harm that I should call you so for the last time. I have done
the best that I could manage, I am trying the same still, and only
vexed that I can do no better. It is a strange thing to me that
you can take any pleasure to be hard to me."
"I am not thinking of you," she said, "I am thinking of that man,
"Well, and that way, too!" said I. "I can be of use to you that
way, too; I will have to be. It is very needful, my dear, that we
should consult about your father; for the way this talk has gone,
an angry man will be James More."
She stopped again. "It is because I am disgraced?" she asked.
"That is what he is thinking," I replied, "but I have told you
already to make nought of it."
"It will be all one to me," she cried. "I prefer to be disgraced!"
I did not know very well what to answer, and stood silent.
There seemed to be something working in her bosom after that last
cry; presently she broke out, "And what is the meaning of all this?
Why is all this shame loundered on my head? How could you dare it,
"My dear," said I, "what else was I to do?"
"I am not your dear," she said, "and I defy you to be calling me
"I am not thinking of my words," said I. "My heart bleeds for you,
Miss Drummond. Whatever I may say, be sure you have my pity in
your difficult position. But there is just the one thing that I
wish you would bear in view, if it was only long enough to discuss
it quietly; for there is going to be a collieshangie when we two
get home. Take my word for it, it will need the two of us to make
this matter end in peace."
"Ay," said she. There sprang a patch of red in either of her
cheeks. "Was he for fighting you?" said she.
"Well, he was that," said I.
She gave a dreadful kind of laugh. "At all events, it is
complete!" she cried. And then turning on me. "My father and I
are a fine pair," said she, "but I am thanking the good God there
will be somebody worse than what we are. I am thanking the good
God that he has let me see you so. There will never be the girl
made that will not scorn you."
I had borne a good deal pretty patiently, but this was over the
"You have no right to speak to me like that," said I. "What have I
done but to be good to you, or try to be? And here is my
repayment! O, it is too much."
She kept looking at me with a hateful smile. "Coward!" said she.
"The word in your throat and in your father's!" I cried. "I have
dared him this day already in your interest. I will dare him
again, the nasty pole-cat; little I care which of us should fall!
Come," said I, "back to the house with us; let us be done with it,
let me be done with the whole Hieland crew of you! You will see
what you think when I am dead."
She shook her head at me with that same smile I could have struck
"O, smile away!" I cried. "I have seen your bonny father smile on
the wrong side this day. Not that I mean he was afraid, of
course," I added hastily, "but he preferred the other way of it."
"What is this?" she asked.
"When I offered to draw with him," said I.
"You offered to draw upon James More!" she cried.
"And I did so," said I, "and found him backward enough, or how
would we be here?"
"There is a meaning upon this," said she. "What is it you are
"He was to make you take me," I replied, "and I would not have it.
I said you should be free, and I must speak with you alone; little
I supposed it would be such a speaking! 'AND WHAT IF I REFUSE?'
said he.--'THEN IT MUST COME TO THE THROAT-CUTTING,' says I, 'FOR I
WILL NO MORE HAVE A HUSBAND FORCED ON THAT YOUNG LADY, THAN WHAT I
WOULD HAVE A WIFE FORCED UPON MYSELF.' These were my words, they
were a friend's words; bonnily have I paid for them! Now you have
refused me of your own clear free will, and there lives no father
in the Highlands, or out of them, that can force on this marriage.
I will see that your wishes are respected; I will make the same my
business, as I have all through. But I think you might have that
decency as to affect some gratitude. 'Deed, and I thought you knew
me better! I have not behaved quite well to you, but that was
weakness. And to think me a coward, and such a coward as that--O,
my lass, there was a stab for the last of it!"
"Davie, how would I guess?" she cried. "O, this is a dreadful
business! Me and mine,"--she gave a kind of a wretched cry at the
word--"me and mine are not fit to speak to you. O, I could be
kneeling down to you in the street, I could be kissing your hands
"I will keep the kisses I have got from you already," cried I. "I
will keep the ones I wanted and that were something worth; I will
not be kissed in penitence."
"What can you be thinking of this miserable girl?" says she.
"What I am trying to tell you all this while!" said I, "that you
had best leave me alone, whom you can make no more unhappy if you
tried, and turn your attention to James More, your father, with
whom you are like to have a queer pirn to wind."
"O, that I must be going out into the world alone with such a man!"
she cried, and seemed to catch herself in with a great effort.
"But trouble yourself no more for that," said she. "He does not
know what kind of nature is in my heart. He will pay me dear for
this day of it; dear, dear, will he pay."
She turned, and began to go home and I to accompany her. At which
"I will be going alone," she said. "It is alone I must be seeing
Some little time I raged about the streets, and told myself I was
the worst used lad in Christendom. Anger choked me; it was all
very well for me to breathe deep; it seemed there was not air
enough about Leyden to supply me, and I thought I would have burst
like a man at the bottom of the sea. I stopped and laughed at
myself at a street corner a minute together, laughing out loud, so
that a passenger looked at me, which brought me to myself.
"Well," I thought, "I have been a gull and a ninny and a soft Tommy
long enough. Time it was done. Here is a good lesson to have
nothing to do with that accursed sex, that was the ruin of the man
in the beginning and will be so to the end. God knows I was happy
enough before ever I saw her; God knows I can be happy enough again
when I have seen the last of her."
That seemed to me the chief affair: to see them go. I dwelled
upon the idea fiercely; and presently slipped on, in a kind of
malevolence, to consider how very poorly they were likely to fare
when Davie Balfour was no longer by to be their milk-cow; at which,
to my very own great surprise, the disposition of my mind turned
bottom up. I was still angry; I still hated her; and yet I thought
I owed it to myself that she should suffer nothing.
This carried me home again at once, where I found the mails drawn
out and ready fastened by the door, and the father and daughter
with every mark upon them of a recent disagreement. Catriona was
like a wooden doll; James More breathed hard, his face was dotted
with white spots, and his nose upon one side. As soon as I came
in, the girl looked at him with a steady, clear, dark look that
might have been followed by a blow. It was a hint that was more
contemptuous than a command, and I was surprised to see James More
accept it. It was plain he had had a master talking-to; and I
could see there must be more of the devil in the girl than I had
guessed, and more good humour about the man than I had given him
the credit of.
He began, at least, calling me Mr. Balfour, and plainly speaking
from a lesson; but he got not very far, for at the first pompous
swell of his voice, Catriona cut in.
"I will tell you what James More is meaning," said she. "He means
we have come to you, beggar-folk, and have not behaved to you very
well, and we are ashamed of our ingratitude and ill-behaviour. Now
we are wanting to go away and be forgotten; and my father will have
guided his gear so ill, that we cannot even do that unless you will
give us some more alms. For that is what we are, at an events,
beggar-folk and sorners."
"By your leave, Miss Drummond," said I, "I must speak to your
father by myself."
She went into her own room and shut the door, without a word or a
"You must excuse her, Mr. Balfour," says James More. "She has no
"I am not here to discuss that with you," said I, "but to be quit
of you. And to that end I must talk of your position. Now, Mr.
Drummond, I have kept the run of your affairs more closely than you
bargained for. I know you had money of your own when you were
borrowing mine. I know you have had more since you were here in
Leyden, though you concealed it even from your daughter."
"I bid you beware. I will stand no more baiting," he broke out.
"I am sick of her and you. What kind of a damned trade is this to
be a parent! I have had expressions used to me--" There he broke
off. "Sir, this is the heart of a soldier and a parent," he went
on again, laying his hand on his bosom, "outraged in both
characters--and I bid you beware."
"If you would have let me finish," says I, "you would have found I
spoke for your advantage."
"My dear friend," he cried, "I know I might have relied upon the
generosity of your character."
"Man! will you let me speak?" said I. "The fact is that I cannot
win to find out if you are rich or poor. But it is my idea that
your means, as they are mysterious in their source, so they are
something insufficient in amount; and I do not choose your daughter
to be lacking. If I durst speak to herself, you may be certain I
would never dream of trusting it to you; because I know you like
the back of my hand, and all your blustering talk is that much wind
to me. However, I believe in your way you do still care something
for your daughter after all; and I must just be doing with that
ground of confidence, such as it is."
Whereupon, I arranged with him that he was to communicate with me,
as to his whereabouts and Catriona's welfare, in consideration of
which I was to serve him a small stipend.
He heard the business out with a great deal of eagerness; and when
it was done, "My dear fellow, my dear son," he cried out, "this is
more like yourself than any of it yet! I will serve you with a
"Let me hear no more of it!" says I. "You have got me to that
pitch that the bare name of soldier rises on my stomach. Our
traffic is settled; I am now going forth and will return in one
half-hour, when I expect to find my chambers purged of you."
I gave them good measure of time; it was my one fear that I might
see Catriona again, because tears and weakness were ready in my
heart, and I cherished my anger like a piece of dignity. Perhaps
an hour went by; the sun had gone down, a little wisp of a new moon
was following it across a scarlet sunset; already there were stars
in the east, and in my chambers, when at last I entered them, the
night lay blue. I lit a taper and reviewed the rooms; in the first
there remained nothing so much as to awake a memory of those who
were gone; but in the second, in a corner of the floor, I spied a
little heap that brought my heart into my mouth. She had left
behind at her departure all that she had ever had of me. It was
the blow that I felt sorest, perhaps because it was the last; and I
fell upon that pile of clothing and behaved myself more foolish
than I care to tell of.
Late in the night, in a strict frost, and my teeth chattering, I
came again by some portion of my manhood and considered with
myself. The sight of these poor frocks and ribbons, and her
shifts, and the clocked stockings, was not to be endured; and if I
were to recover any constancy of mind, I saw I must be rid of them
ere the morning. It was my first thought to have made a fire and
burned them; but my disposition has always been opposed to wastery,
for one thing; and for another, to have burned these things that
she had worn so close upon her body seemed in the nature of a
cruelty. There was a corner cupboard in that chamber; there I
determined to bestow them. The which I did and made it a long
business, folding them with very little skill indeed but the more
care; and sometimes dropping them with my tears. All the heart was
gone out of me, I was weary as though I had run miles, and sore
like one beaten; when, as I was folding a kerchief that she wore
often at her neck, I observed there was a corner neatly cut from
it. It was a kerchief of a very pretty hue, on which I had
frequently remarked; and once that she had it on, I remembered
telling her (by way of a banter) that she wore my colours. There
came a glow of hope and like a tide of sweetness in my bosom; and
the next moment I was plunged back in a fresh despair. For there
was the corner crumpled in a knot and cast down by itself in
another part of the floor.
But when I argued with myself, I grew more hopeful. She had cut
that corner off in some childish freak that was manifestly tender;
that she had cast it away again was little to be wondered at; and I
was inclined to dwell more upon the first than upon the second, and
to be more pleased that she had ever conceived the idea of that
keepsake, than concerned because she had flung it from her in an
hour of natural resentment.
CHAPTER XXIX--WE MEET IN DUNKIRK.
Altogether, then, I was scare so miserable the next days but what I
had many hopeful and happy snatches; threw myself with a good deal
of constancy upon my studies; and made out to endure the time till
Alan should arrive, or I might hear word of Catriona by the means
of James More. I had altogether three letters in the time of our
separation. One was to announce their arrival in the town of
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