Robert Louis Stevenson

Part 6 out of 6

Dunkirk in France, from which place James shortly after started
alone upon a private mission. This was to England and to see Lord
Holderness; and it has always been a bitter thought that my good
money helped to pay the charges of the same. But he has need of a
long spoon who soups with the de'il, or James More either. During
this absence, the time was to fall due for another letter; and as
the letter was the condition of his stipend, he had been so careful
as to prepare it beforehand and leave it with Catriona to be
despatched. The fact of our correspondence aroused her suspicions,
and he was no sooner gone than she had burst the seal. What I
received began accordingly in the writing of James More:

"My dear Sir,--Your esteemed favour came to hand duly, and I have
to acknowledge the inclosure according to agreement. It shall be
all faithfully expended on my daughter, who is well, and desires to
be remembered to her dear friend. I find her in rather a
melancholy disposition, but trust in the mercy of God to see her
re-established. Our manner of life is very much alone, but we
solace ourselves with the melancholy tunes of our native mountains,
and by walking up the margin of the sea that lies next to Scotland.
It was better days with me when I lay with five wounds upon my body
on the field of Gladsmuir. I have found employment here in the
haras of a French nobleman, where my experience is valued. But, my
dear Sir, the wages are so exceedingly unsuitable that I would be
ashamed to mention them, which makes your remittances the more
necessary to my daughter's comfort, though I daresay the sight of
old friends would be still better.

"My dear Sir,
"Your affectionate, obedient servant,

Below it began again in the hand of Catriona:-

"Do not be believing him, it is all lies together,--C. M. D."

Not only did she add this postscript, but I think she must have
come near suppressing the letter; for it came long after date, and
was closely followed by the third. In the time betwixt them, Alan
had arrived, and made another life to me with his merry
conversation; I had been presented to his cousin of the Scots-
Dutch, a man that drank more than I could have thought possible and
was not otherwise of interest; I had been entertained to many
jovial dinners and given some myself, all with no great change upon
my sorrow; and we two (by which I mean Alan and myself, and not at
all the cousin) had discussed a good deal the nature of my
relations with James More and his daughter. I was naturally
diffident to give particulars; and this disposition was not anyway
lessened by the nature of Alan's commentary upon those I gave.

"I cannae make heed nor tail of it," he would say, "but it sticks
in my mind ye've made a gowk of yourself. There's few people that
has had more experience than Alan Breck: and I can never call to
mind to have heard tell of a lassie like this one of yours. The
way that you tell it, the thing's fair impossible. Ye must have
made a terrible hash of the business, David."

"There are whiles that I am of the same mind," said I.

"The strange thing is that ye seem to have a kind of fancy for her
too!" said Alan.

"The biggest kind, Alan," said I, "and I think I'll take it to my
grave with me."

"Well, ye beat me, whatever!" he would conclude.

I showed him the letter with Catriona's postscript. "And here
again!" he cried. "Impossible to deny a kind of decency to this
Catriona, and sense forby! As for James More, the man's as boss as
a drum; he's just a wame and a wheen words; though I'll can never
deny that he fought reasonably well at Gladsmuir, and it's true
what he says here about the five wounds. But the loss of him is
that the man's boss."

"Ye see, Alan," said I, "it goes against the grain with me to leave
the maid in such poor hands."

"Ye couldnae weel find poorer," he admitted. "But what are ye to
do with it? It's this way about a man and a woman, ye see, Davie:
The weemenfolk have got no kind of reason to them. Either they
like the man, and then a' goes fine; or else they just detest him,
and ye may spare your breath--ye can do naething. There's just the
two sets of them--them that would sell their coats for ye, and them
that never look the road ye're on. That's a' that there is to
women; and you seem to be such a gomeral that ye cannae tell the
tane frae the tither."

"Well, and I'm afraid that's true for me," said I.

"And yet there's naething easier!" cried Alan. "I could easy learn
ye the science of the thing; but ye seem to me to be born blind,
and there's where the deefficulty comes in."

"And can YOU no help me?" I asked, "you that are so clever at the

"Ye see, David, I wasnae here," said he. "I'm like a field officer
that has naebody but blind men for scouts and eclaireurs; and what
would he ken? But it sticks in my mind that ye'll have made some
kind of bauchle; and if I was you I would have a try at her again."

"Would ye so, man Alan?" said I.

"I would e'en't," says he.

The third letter came to my hand while we were deep in some such
talk: and it will be seen how pat it fell to the occasion. James
professed to be in some concern upon his daughter's health, which I
believe was never better; abounded in kind expressions to myself;
and finally proposed that I should visit them at Dunkirk.

"You will now be enjoying the society of my old comrade Mr.
Stewart," he wrote. "Why not accompany him so far in his return to
France? I have something very particular for Mr. Stewart's ear;
and, at any rate, I would be pleased to meet in with an old fellow-
soldier and one so mettle as himself. As for you, my dear sir, my
daughter and I would be proud to receive our benefactor, whom we
regard as a brother and a son. The French nobleman has proved a
person of the most filthy avarice of character, and I have been
necessitate to leave the haras. You will find us in consequence a
little poorly lodged in the auberge of a man Bazin on the dunes;
but the situation is caller, and I make no doubt but we might spend
some very pleasant days, when Mr. Stewart and I could recall our
services, and you and my daughter divert yourselves in a manner
more befitting your age. I beg at least that Mr. Stewart would
come here; my business with him opens a very wide door."

"What does the man want with me?" cried Alan, when he had read.
"What he wants with you in clear enough--it's siller. But what can
he want with Alan Breck?"

"O, it'll be just an excuse," said I. "He is still after this
marriage, which I wish from my heart that we could bring about.
And he asks you because he thinks I would be less likely to come
wanting you."

"Well, I wish that I kent," says Alan. "Him and me were never
onyways pack; we used to girn at ither like a pair of pipers.
'Something for my ear,' quo' he! I'll maybe have something for his
hinder-end, before we're through with it. Dod, I'm thinking it
would be a kind of divertisement to gang and see what he'll be
after! Forby that I could see your lassie then. What say ye,
Davie? Will ye ride with Alan?"

You may be sure I was not backward, and Alan's furlough running
towards an end, we set forth presently upon this joint adventure.

It was near dark of a January day when we rode at last into the
town of Dunkirk. We left our horses at the post, and found a guide
to Bazin's Inn, which lay beyond the walls. Night was quite
fallen, so that we were the last to leave that fortress, and heard
the doors of it close behind us as we passed the bridge. On the
other side there lay a lighted suburb, which we thridded for a
while, then turned into a dark lane, and presently found ourselves
wading in the night among deep sand where we could hear a bullering
of the sea. We travelled in this fashion for some while, following
our conductor mostly by the sound of his voice; and I had begun to
think he was perhaps misleading us, when we came to the top of a
small brae, and there appeared out of the darkness a dim light in a

"Voila l'auberge a Bazin," says the guide.

Alan smacked his lips. "An unco lonely bit," said he, and I
thought by his tone he was not wholly pleased.

A little after, and we stood in the lower storey of that house,
which was all in the one apartment, with a stairs leading to the
chambers at the side, benches and tables by the wall, the cooking
fire at the one end of it, and shelves of bottles and the cellar-
trap at the other. Here Bazin, who was an ill-looking, big man,
told us the Scottish gentleman was gone abroad he knew not where,
but the young lady was above, and he would call her down to us.

I took from my breast that kerchief wanting the corner, and knotted
it about my throat. I could hear my heart go; and Alan patting me
on the shoulder with some of his laughable expressions, I could
scarce refrain from a sharp word. But the time was not long to
wait. I heard her step pass overhead, and saw her on the stair.
This she descended very quietly, and greeted me with a pale face
and a certain seeming of earnestness, or uneasiness, in her manner
that extremely dashed me.

"My father, James More, will be here soon. He will be very pleased
to see you," she said. And then of a sudden her face flamed, her
eyes lightened, the speech stopped upon her lips; and I made sure
she had observed the kerchief. It was only for a breath that she
was discomposed; but methought it was with a new animation that she
turned to welcome Alan. "And you will be his friend, Alan Breck?"
she cried. "Many is the dozen times I will have heard him tell of
you; and I love you already for all your bravery and goodness."

"Well, well," says Alan, holding her hand in his and viewing her,
"and so this is the young lady at the last of it! David, ye're an
awful poor hand of a description."

I do not know that ever I heard him speak so straight to people's
hearts; the sound of his voice was like song.

"What? will he have been describing me?" she cried.

"Little else of it since I ever came out of France!" says he,
"forby a bit of a speciment one night in Scotland in a shaw of wood
by Silvermills. But cheer up, my dear! ye're bonnier than what he
said. And now there's one thing sure; you and me are to be a pair
of friends. I'm a kind of a henchman to Davie here; I'm like a
tyke at his heels; and whatever he cares for, I've got to care for
too--and by the holy airn! they've got to care for me! So now you
can see what way you stand with Alan Breck, and ye'll find ye'll
hardly lose on the transaction. He's no very bonnie, my dear, but
he's leal to them he loves."

"I thank you from my heart for your good words," said she. "I have
that honour for a brave, honest man that I cannot find any to be
answering with."

Using travellers' freedom, we spared to wait for James More, and
sat down to meat, we threesome. Alan had Catriona sit by him and
wait upon his wants: he made her drink first out of his glass, he
surrounded her with continual kind gallantries, and yet never gave
me the most small occasion to be jealous; and he kept the talk so
much in his own hand, and that in so merry a note, that neither she
nor I remembered to be embarrassed. If any had seen us there, it
must have been supposed that Alan was the old friend and I the
stranger. Indeed, I had often cause to love and to admire the man,
but I never loved or admired him better than that night; and I
could not help remarking to myself (what I was sometimes rather in
danger of forgetting) that he had not only much experience of life,
but in his own way a great deal of natural ability besides. As for
Catriona, she seemed quite carried away; her laugh was like a peal
of bells, her face gay as a May morning; and I own, although I was
well pleased, yet I was a little sad also, and thought myself a
dull, stockish character in comparison of my friend, and very unfit
to come into a young maid's life, and perhaps ding down her gaiety.

But if that was like to be my part, I found that at least I was not
alone in it; for, James More returning suddenly, the girl was
changed into a piece of stone. Through the rest of that evening,
until she made an excuse and slipped to bed, I kept an eye upon her
without cease; and I can bear testimony that she never smiled,
scarce spoke, and looked mostly on the board in front of her. So
that I really marvelled to see so much devotion (as it used to be)
changed into the very sickness of hate.

Of James More it is unnecessary to say much; you know the man
already, what there was to know of him; and I am weary of writing
out his lies. Enough that he drank a great deal, and told us very
little that was to any possible purpose. As for the business with
Alan, that was to be reserved for the morrow and his private

It was the more easy to be put off, because Alan and I were pretty
weary with four day's ride, and sat not very late after Catriona.

We were soon alone in a chamber where we were to make-shift with a
single bed. Alan looked on me with a queer smile.

"Ye muckle ass!" said he.

"What do ye mean by that?" I cried.

"Mean? What do I mean! It's extraordinar, David man," say he,
"that you should be so mortal stupit."

Again I begged him to speak out.

"Well, it's this of it," said he. "I told ye there were the two
kinds of women--them that would sell their shifts for ye, and the
others. Just you try for yoursel, my bonny man! But what's that
neepkin at your craig?"

I told him.

"I thocht it was something thereabout" said he.

Nor would he say another word though I besieged him long with


Daylight showed us how solitary the inn stood. It was plainly hard
upon the sea, yet out of all view of it, and beset on every side
with scabbit hills of sand. There was, indeed, only one thing in
the nature of a prospect, where there stood out over a brae the two
sails of a windmill, like an ass's ears, but with the ass quite
hidden. It was strange (after the wind rose, for at first it was
dead calm) to see the turning and following of each other of these
great sails behind the hillock. Scarce any road came by there; but
a number of footways travelled among the bents in all directions up
to Mr. Bazin's door. The truth is, he was a man of many trades,
not any one of them honest, and the position of his inn was the
best of his livelihood. Smugglers frequented it; political agents
and forfeited persons bound across the water came there to await
their passages; and I daresay there was worse behind, for a whole
family might have been butchered in that house and nobody the

I slept little and ill. Long ere it was day, I had slipped from
beside my bedfellow, and was warming myself at the fire or walking
to and fro before the door. Dawn broke mighty sullen; but a little
after, sprang up a wind out of the west, which burst the clouds,
let through the sun, and set the mill to the turning. There was
something of spring in the sunshine, or else it was in my heart;
and the appearing of the great sails one after another from behind
the hill, diverted me extremely. At times I could hear a creak of
the machinery; and by half-past eight of the day, and I thought
this dreary, desert place was like a paradise.

For all which, as the day drew on and nobody came near, I began to
be aware of an uneasiness that I could scarce explain. It seemed
there was trouble afoot; the sails of the windmill, as they came up
and went down over the hill, were like persons spying; and outside
of all fancy, it was surely a strange neighbourhood and house for a
young lady to be brought to dwell in.

At breakfast, which we took late, it was manifest that James More
was in some danger or perplexity; manifest that Alan was alive to
the same, and watched him close; and this appearance of duplicity
upon the one side, and vigilance upon the other, held me on live
coals. The meal was no sooner over than James seemed to come began
to make apologies. He had an appointment of a private nature in
the town (it was with the French nobleman, he told me), and we
would please excuse him till about noon. Meanwhile he carried his
daughter aside to the far end of the room, where he seemed to speak
rather earnestly and she to listen with much inclination.

"I am caring less and less about this man James," said Alan.
"There's something no right with the man James, and I shouldnae
wonder but what Alan Breck would give an eye to him this day. I
would like fine to see yon French nobleman, Davie; and I daresay
you could find an employ to yoursel, and that would be to speir at
the lassie for some news o' your affair. Just tell it to her
plainly--tell her ye're a muckle ass at the off-set; and then, if I
were you, and ye could do it naitural, I would just mint to her I
was in some kind of a danger; a' weemenfolk likes that."

"I cannae lee, Alan, I cannae do it naitural," says I, mocking him.

"The more fool you!" says he. "Then ye'll can tell her that I
recommended it; that'll set her to the laughing; and I wouldnae
wonder but what that was the next best. But see to the pair of
them! If I didnae feel just sure of the lassie, and that she was
awful pleased and chief with Alan, I would think there was some
kind of hocus-pocus about you."

"And is she so pleased with ye, then, Alan?" I asked.

"She thinks a heap of me," says he. "And I'm no like you: I'm one
that can tell. That she does--she thinks a heap of Alan. And
troth! I'm thinking a good deal of him mysel; and with your
permission, Shaws, I'll be getting a wee yont amang the bents, so
that I can see what way James goes."

One after another went, till I was left alone beside the breakfast
table; James to Dunkirk, Alan dogging him, Catriona up the stairs
to her own chamber. I could very well understand how she should
avoid to be alone with me; yet was none the better pleased with it
for that, and bent my mind to entrap her to an interview before the
men returned. Upon the whole, the best appeared to me to do like
Alan. If I was out of view among the sandhills, the fine morning
would decoy her forth; and once I had her in the open, I could
please myself.

No sooner said than done; nor was I long under the bield of a
hillock before she appeared at the inn door, looked here and there,
and (seeing nobody) set out by a path that led directly seaward,
and by which I followed her. I was in no haste to make my presence
known; the further she went I made sure of the longer hearing to my
suit; and the ground being all sandy it was easy to follow her
unheard. The path rose and came at last to the head of a knowe.
Thence I had a picture for the first time of what a desolate
wilderness that inn stood hidden in; where was no man to be seen,
nor any house of man, except just Bazin's and the windmill. Only a
little further on, the sea appeared and two or three ships upon it,
pretty as a drawing. One of these was extremely close in to be so
great a vessel; and I was aware of a shock of new suspicion, when I
recognised the trim of the Seahorse. What should an English ship
be doing so near in to France? Why was Alan brought into her
neighbourhood, and that in a place so far from any hope of rescue?
and was it by accident, or by design, that the daughter of James
More should walk that day to the seaside?

Presently I came forth behind her in the front of the sandhills and
above the beach. It was here long and solitary; with a man-o'-
war's boat drawn up about the middle of the prospect, and an
officer in charge and pacing the sands like one who waited. I sat
down where the rough grass a good deal covered me, and looked for
what should follow. Catriona went straight to the boat; the
officer met her with civilities; they had ten words together; I saw
a letter changing hands; and there was Catriona returning. At the
same time, as if this were all her business on the Continent, the
boat shoved off and was headed for the Seahorse. But I observed
the officer to remain behind and disappear among the bents.

I liked the business little; and the more I considered of it, liked
it less. Was it Alan the officer was seeking? or Catriona? She
drew near with her head down, looking constantly on the sand, and
made so tender a picture that I could not bear to doubt her
innocence. The next, she raised her face and recognised me; seemed
to hesitate, and then came on again, but more slowly, and I thought
with a changed colour. And at that thought, all else that was upon
my bosom--fears, suspicions, the care of my friend's life--was
clean swallowed up; and I rose to my feet and stood waiting her in
a drunkenness of hope.

I gave her "good morning" as she came up, which she returned with a
good deal of composure.

"Will you forgive my having followed you?" said I.

"I know you are always meaning kindly," she replied; and then, with
a little outburst, "but why will you be sending money to that man!
It must not be."

"I never sent it for him," said I, "but for you, as you know well."

"And you have no right to be sending it to either one of us," she
said. "David, it is not right."

"It is not, it is all wrong," said I, "and I pray God he will help
this dull fellow (if it be at all possible) to make it better.
Catriona, this is no kind of life for you to lead; and I ask your
pardon for the word, but yon man is no fit father to take care of

"Do not be speaking of him, even!" was her cry.

"And I need speak of him no more; it is not of him that I am
thinking, O, be sure of that!" says I. "I think of the one thing.
I have been alone now this long time in Leyden; and when I was by
way of at my studies, still I was thinking of that. Next Alan
came, and I went among soldier-men to their big dinners; and still
I had the same thought. And it was the same before, when I had her
there beside me. Catriona, do you see this napkin at my throat!
You cut a corner from it once and then cast it from you. They're
YOUR colours now; I wear them in my heart. My dear, I cannot be
wanting you. O, try to put up with me!"

I stepped before her so as to intercept her walking on.

"Try to put up with me," I was saying, "try and bear me with a

Still she had never the word, and a fear began to rise in me like a
fear of death.

"Catriona," I cried, gazing on her hard, "is it a mistake again?
Am I quite lost?"

She raised her face to me, breathless.

"Do you want me, Davie, truly?" said she, and I scarce could hear
her say it.

"I do that," said I. "O, sure you know it--I do that."

"I have nothing left to give or to keep back," said she. "I was
all yours from the first day, if you would have had a gift of me!"
she said,

This was on the summit of a brae; the place was windy and
conspicuous, we were to be seen there even from the English ship;
but I kneeled down before her in the sand, and embraced her knees,
and burst into that storm of weeping that I thought it must have
broken me. All thought was wholly beaten from my mind by the
vehemency of my discomposure. I knew not where I was. I had
forgot why I was happy; only I knew she stooped, and I felt her
cherish me to her face and bosom, and heard her words out of a

"Davie," she was saying, "O, Davie, is this what you think of me!
Is it so that you were caring for poor me! O, Davie, Davie!"

With that she wept also, and our tears were commingled in a perfect

It might have been ten in the day before I came to a clear sense of
what a mercy had befallen me; and sitting over against her, with
her hands in mine, gazed in her face, and laughed out loud for
pleasure like a child, and called her foolish and kind names. I
have never seen the place that looked so pretty as those bents by
Dunkirk; and the windmill sails, as they bobbed over the knowe,
were like a tune of music.

I know not how much longer we might have continued to forget all
else besides ourselves, had I not chanced upon a reference to her
father, which brought us to reality.

"My little friend," I was calling her again and again, rejoicing to
summon up the past by the sound of it, and to gaze across on her,
and to be a little distant--"My little friend, now you are mine
altogether; mine for good, my little friend and that man's no
longer at all."

There came a sudden whiteness in her face, she plucked her hands
from mine.

"Davie, take me away from him!" she cried. "There's something
wrong; he's not true. There will be something wrong; I have a
dreadful terror here at my heart. What will he be wanting at all
events with that King's ship? What will this word be saying?" And
she held the letter forth. "My mind misgives me, it will be some
ill to Alan. Open it, Davie--open it and see."

I took it, and looked at it, and shook my head.

"No," said I, "it goes against me, I cannot open a man's letter."

"Not to save your friend?" she cried.

"I cannae tell," said I. "I think not. If I was only sure!"

"And you have but to break the seal!" said she.

"I know it," said I, "but the thing goes against me."

"Give it here," said she, "and I will open it myself."

"Nor you neither," said I. "You least of all. It concerns your
father, and his honour, dear, which we are both misdoubting. No
question but the place is dangerous-like, and the English ship
being here, and your father having word from it, and yon officer
that stayed ashore. He would not be alone either; there must be
more along with him; I daresay we are spied upon this minute. Ay,
no doubt, the letter should be opened; but somehow, not by you nor

I was about thus far with it, and my spirit very much overcome with
a sense of danger and hidden enemies, when I spied Alan, come back
again from following James and walking by himself among the sand-
hills. He was in his soldier's coat, of course, and mighty fine;
but I could not avoid to shudder when I thought how little that
jacket would avail him, if he were once caught and flung in a
skiff, and carried on board of the Seahorse, a deserter, a rebel,
and now a condemned murderer.

"There," said I, "there is the man that has the best right to open
it: or not, as he thinks fit."

With which I called upon his name, and we both stood up to be a
mark for him.

"If it is so--if it be more disgrace--will you can bear it?" she
asked, looking upon me with a burning eye.

"I was asked something of the same question when I had seen you but
the once," said I. "What do you think I answered? That if I liked
you as I thought I did--and O, but I like you better!--I would
marry you at his gallows' foot."

The blood rose in her face; she came close up and pressed upon me,
holding my hand: and it was so that we awaited Alan.

He came with one of his queer smiles. "What was I telling ye,
David?" says he.

"There is a time for all things, Alan," said I, "and this time is
serious. How have you sped? You can speak out plain before this
friend of ours."

"I have been upon a fool's errand," said he.

"I doubt we have done better than you, then," said I; "and, at
least, here is a great deal of matter that you must judge of. Do
you see that?" I went on, pointing to the ship. "That is the
Seahorse, Captain Palliser."

"I should ken her, too," says Alan. "I had fyke enough with her
when she was stationed in the Forth. But what ails the man to come
so close?"

"I will tell you why he came there first," said I. "It was to
bring this letter to James More. Why he stops here now that it's
delivered, what it's likely to be about, why there's an officer
hiding in the bents, and whether or not it's probable that he's
alone--I would rather you considered for yourself."

"A letter to James More?" said he.

"The same," said I.

"Well, and I can tell ye more than that," said Alan. "For the last
night, when you were fast asleep, I heard the man colloguing with
some one in the French, and then the door of that inn to be opened
and shut."

"Alan!" cried I, "you slept all night, and I am here to prove it."

"Ay, but I would never trust Alan whether he was asleep or waking!"
says he. "But the business looks bad. Let's see the letter."

I gave it him.

"Catriona," said he, "you have to excuse me, my dear; but there's
nothing less than my fine bones upon the cast of it, and I'll have
to break this seal."

"It is my wish," said Catriona.

He opened it, glanced it through, and flung his hand in the air.

"The stinking brock!" says he, and crammed the paper in his pocket.
"Here, let's get our things together. This place is fair death to
me." And he began to walk towards the inn.

It was Catriona that spoke the first. "He has sold you?" she

"Sold me, my dear," said Alan. "But thanks to you and Davie, I'll
can jink him yet. Just let me win upon my horse," he added.

"Catriona must come with us," said I. "She can have no more
traffic with that man. She and I are to be married." At which she
pressed my hand to her side.

"Are ye there with it?" says Alan, looking back. "The best day's
work that ever either of you did yet! And I'm bound to say, my
dawtie, ye make a real, bonny couple."

The way that he was following brought us close in by the windmill,
where I was aware of a man in seaman's trousers, who seemed to be
spying from behind it. Only, of course, we took him in the rear.

"See, Alan!"

"Wheesht!" said, he, "this is my affairs."

The man was, no doubt, a little deafened by the clattering of the
mill, and we got up close before he noticed. Then he turned, and
we saw he was a big fellow with a mahogany face.

"I think, sir," says Alan, "that you speak the English?"

"Non, monsieur," says he, with an incredible bad accent.

"Non, monsieur," cries Alan, mocking him. "Is that how they learn
you French on the Seahorse? Ye muckle, gutsey hash, here's a Scots
boot to your English hurdies!"

And bounding on him before he could escape, he dealt the man a kick
that laid him on his nose. Then he stood, with a savage smile, and
watched him scramble to his feet and scamper off into the sand-

"But it's high time I was clear of these empty bents!" said Alan;
and continued his way at top speed, and we still following, to the
backdoor of Bazin's inn.

It chanced that as we entered by the one door we came face to face
with James More entering by the other.

"Here!" said I to Catriona, "quick! upstairs with you and make your
packets; this is no fit scene for you."

In the meanwhile James and Alan had met in the midst of the long
room. She passed them close by to reach the stairs; and after she
was some way up I saw her turn and glance at them again, though
without pausing. Indeed, they were worth looking at. Alan wore as
they met one of his best appearances of courtesy and friendliness,
yet with something eminently warlike, so that James smelled danger
off the man, as folk smell fire in a house, and stood prepared for

Time pressed. Alan's situation in that solitary place, and his
enemies about him, might have daunted Caesar. It made no change in
him; and it was in his old spirit of mockery and daffing that he
began the interview.

"A braw good day to ye again, Mr. Drummond," said he. "What'll yon
business of yours be just about?"

"Why, the thing being private, and rather of a long story," says
James, "I think it will keep very well till we have eaten."

"I'm none so sure of that," said Alan. "It sticks in my mind it's
either now or never; for the fact is me and Mr. Balfour here have
gotten a line, and we're thinking of the road."

I saw a little surprise in James's eye; but he held himself

"I have but the one word to say to cure you of that," said he, "and
that is the name of my business."

"Say it then," says Alan. "Hout! wha minds for Davie?"

"It is a matter that would make us both rich men," said James.

"Do you tell me that?" cries Alan.

"I do, sir," said James. "The plain fact is that it is Cluny's

"No!" cried Alan. "Have ye got word of it?"

"I ken the place, Mr. Stewart, and can take you there," said James.

"This crowns all!" says Alan. "Well, and I'm glad I came to
Dunkirk. And so this was your business, was it? Halvers, I'm

"That is the business, sir," said James.

"Well, well," said Alan; and then in the same tone of childlike
interest, "it has naething to do with the Seahorse, then?" he

"With what?" says James.

"Or the lad that I have just kicked the bottom of behind yon
windmill?" pursued Alan. "Hut, man! have done with your lees! I
have Palliser's letter here in my pouch. You're by with it, James
More. You can never show your face again with dacent folk."

James was taken all aback with it. He stood a second, motionless
and white, then swelled with the living anger.

"Do you talk to me, you bastard?" he roared out.

"Ye glee'd swine!" cried Alan, and hit him a sounding buffet on the
mouth, and the next wink of time their blades clashed together.

At the first sound of the bare steel I instinctively leaped back
from the collision. The next I saw, James parried a thrust so
nearly that I thought him killed; and it lowed up in my mind that
this was the girl's father, and in a manner almost my own, and I
drew and ran in to sever them.

"Keep back, Davie! Are ye daft! Damn ye, keep back!" roared Alan.
"Your blood be on your ain heid then!"

I beat their blades down twice. I was knocked reeling against the
wall; I was back again betwixt them. They took no heed of me,
thrusting at each other like two furies. I can never think how I
avoided being stabbed myself or stabbing one of these two
Rodomonts, and the whole business turned about me like a piece of a
dream; in the midst of which I heard a great cry from the stair,
and Catriona sprang before her father. In the same moment the
point of my sword encountered some thing yielding. It came back to
me reddened. I saw the blood flow on the girl's kerchief, and
stood sick.

"Will you be killing him before my eyes, and me his daughter after
all!" she cried.

"My dear, I have done with him," said Alan, and went, and sat on a
table, with his arms crossed and the sword naked in his hand.

Awhile she stood before the man, panting, with big eyes, then swung
suddenly about and faced him.

"Begone!" was her word, "take your shame out of my sight; leave me
with clean folk. I am a daughter of Alpin! Shame of the sons of
Alpin, begone!"

It was said with so much passion as awoke me from the horror of my
own bloodied sword. The two stood facing, she with the red stain
on her kerchief, he white as a rag. I knew him well enough--I knew
it must have pierced him in the quick place of his soul; but he
betook himself to a bravado air.

"Why," says he, sheathing his sword, though still with a bright eye
on Alan, "if this brawl is over I will but get my portmanteau--"

"There goes no pockmantie out of this place except with me," says

"Sir!" cries James.

"James More," says Alan, "this lady daughter of yours is to marry
my friend Davie, upon the which account I let you pack with a hale
carcase. But take you my advice of it and get that carcase out of
harm's way or ower late. Little as you suppose it, there are
leemits to my temper."

"Be damned, sir, but my money's there!" said James.

"I'm vexed about that, too," says Alan, with his funny face, "but
now, ye see, it's mines." And then with more gravity, "Be you
advised, James More, you leave this house."

James seemed to cast about for a moment in his mind; but it's to be
thought he had enough of Alan's swordsmanship, for he suddenly put
off his hat to us and (with a face like one of the damned) bade us
farewell in a series. With which he was gone.

At the same time a spell was lifted from me.

"Catriona," I cried, "it was me--it was my sword. O, are you much

"I know it, Davie, I am loving you for the pain of it; it was done
defending that bad man, my father. See!" she said, and showed me a
bleeding scratch, "see, you have made a man of me now. I will
carry a wound like an old soldier."

Joy that she should be so little hurt, and the love of her brave
nature, supported me. I embraced her, I kissed the wound.

"And am I to be out of the kissing, me that never lost a chance?"
says Alan; and putting me aside and taking Catriona by either
shoulder, "My dear," he said, "you're a true daughter of Alpin. By
all accounts, he was a very fine man, and he may weel be proud of
you. If ever I was to get married, it's the marrow of you I would
be seeking for a mother to my sons. And I bear's a king's name and
speak the truth."

He said it with a serious heat of admiration that was honey to the
girl, and through her, to me. It seemed to wipe us clean of all
James More's disgraces. And the next moment he was just himself

"And now by your leave, my dawties," said he, "this is a' very
bonny; but Alan Breck'll be a wee thing nearer to the gallows than
he's caring for; and Dod! I think this is a grand place to be

The word recalled us to some wisdom. Alan ran upstairs and
returned with our saddle-bags and James More's portmanteau; I
picked up Catriona's bundle where she had dropped it on the stair;
and we were setting forth out of that dangerous house, when Bazin
stopped the way with cries and gesticulations. He had whipped
under a table when the swords were drawn, but now he was as bold as
a lion. There was his bill to be settled, there was a chair
broken, Alan had sat among his dinner things, James More had fled.

"Here," I cried, "pay yourself," and flung him down some Lewie
d'ors; for I thought it was no time to be accounting.

He sprang upon that money, and we passed him by, and ran forth into
the open. Upon three sides of the house were seamen hasting and
closing in; a little nearer to us James More waved his hat as if to
hurry them; and right behind him, like some foolish person holding
up his hands, were the sails of the windmill turning.

Alan gave but one glance, and laid himself down to run. He carried
a great weight in James More's portmanteau; but I think he would as
soon have lost his life as cast away that booty which was his
revenge; and he ran so that I was distressed to follow him, and
marvelled and exulted to see the girl bounding at my side.

As soon as we appeared, they cast off all disguise upon the other
side; and the seamen pursued us with shouts and view-hullohs. We
had a start of some two hundred yards, and they were but bandy-
legged tarpaulins after all, that could not hope to better us at
such an exercise. I suppose they were armed, but did not care to
use their pistols on French ground. And as soon as I perceived
that we not only held our advantage but drew a little away, I began
to feel quite easy of the issue. For all which, it was a hot,
brisk bit of work, so long as it lasted; Dunkirk was still far off;
and when we popped over a knowe, and found a company of the
garrison marching on the other side on some manoeuvre, I could very
well understand the word that Alan had.

He stopped running at once; and mopping at his brow, "They're a
real bonny folk, the French nation," says he.


No sooner were we safe within the walls of Dunkirk than we held a
very necessary council-of-war on our position. We had taken a
daughter from her father at the sword's point; any judge would give
her back to him at once, and by all likelihood clap me and Alan
into jail; and though we had an argument upon our side in Captain
Palliser's letter, neither Catriona nor I were very keen to be
using it in public. Upon all accounts it seemed the most prudent
to carry the girl to Paris to the hands of her own chieftain,
Macgregor of Bohaldie, who would be very willing to help his
kinswoman, on the one hand, and not at all anxious to dishonour
James upon other.

We made but a slow journey of it up, for Catriona was not so good
at the riding as the running, and had scarce sat in the saddle
since the 'Forty-five. But we made it out at last, reached Paris
early of a Sabbath morning, and made all speed, under Alan's
guidance, to find Bohaldie. He was finely lodged, and lived in a
good style, having a pension on the Scots Fund, as well as private
means; greeted Catriona like one of his own house, and seemed
altogether very civil and discreet, but not particularly open. We
asked of the news of James More. "Poor James!" said he, and shook
his head and smiled, so that I thought he knew further than he
meant to tell. Then we showed him Palliser's letter, and he drew a
long face at that.

"Poor James!" said he again. "Well, there are worse folk than
James More, too. But this is dreadful bad. Tut, tut, he must have
forgot himself entirely! This is a most undesirable letter. But,
for all that, gentlemen, I cannot see what we would want to make it
public for. It's an ill bird that fouls his own nest, and we are
all Scots folk and all Hieland."

Upon this we all agreed, save perhaps Alan; and still more upon the
question of our marriage, which Bohaldie took in his own hands, as
though there had been no such person as James More, and gave
Catriona away with very pretty manners and agreeable compliments in
French. It was not till all was over, and our healths drunk, that
he told us James was in that city, whither he had preceded us some
days, and where he now lay sick, and like to die. I thought I saw
by my wife's face what way her inclination pointed.

"And let us go see him, then," said I.

"If it is your pleasure," said Catriona. These were early days.

He was lodged in the same quarter of the city with his chief, in a
great house upon a corner; and we were guided up to the garret
where he lay by the sound of Highland piping. It seemed he had
just borrowed a set of them from Bohaldie to amuse his sickness;
though he was no such hand as was his brother Rob, he made good
music of the kind; and it was strange to observe the French folk
crowding on the stairs, and some of them laughing. He lay propped
in a pallet. The first look of him I saw he was upon his last
business; and, doubtless, this was a strange place for him to die
in. But even now I find I can scarce dwell upon his end with
patience. Doubtless, Bohaldie had prepared him; he seemed to know
we were married, complimented us on the event, and gave us a
benediction like a patriarch.

"I have been never understood," said he. "I forgive you both
without an afterthought;" after which he spoke for all the world in
his old manner, was so obliging as to play us a tune or two upon
his pipes, and borrowed a small sum before I left.

I could not trace even a hint of shame in any part of his
behaviour; but he was great upon forgiveness; it seemed always
fresh to him. I think he forgave me every time we met; and when
after some four days he passed away in a kind of odour of
affectionate sanctity, I could have torn my hair out for
exasperation. I had him buried; but what to put upon his tomb was
quite beyond me, till at last I considered the date would look best

I thought it wiser to resign all thoughts of Leyden, where we had
appeared once as brother and sister, and it would certainly look
strange to return in a new character. Scotland would be doing for
us; and thither, after I had recovered that which I had left
behind, we sailed in a Low Country ship.

And now, Miss Barbara Balfour (to set the ladies first), and Mr.
Alan Balfour younger of Shaws, here is the story brought fairly to
an end. A great many of the folk that took a part in it, you will
find (if you think well) that you have seen and spoken with.
Alison Hastie in Limekilns was the lass that rocked your cradle
when you were too small to know of it, and walked abroad with you
in the policy when you were bigger. That very fine great lady that
is Miss Barbara's name-mamma is no other than the same Miss Grant
that made so much a fool of David Balfour in the house of the Lord
Advocate. And I wonder whether you remember a little, lean, lively
gentleman in a scratch-wig and a wraprascal, that came to Shaws
very late of a dark night, and whom you were awakened out of your
beds and brought down to the dining-hall to be presented to, by the
name of Mr. Jamieson? Or has Alan forgotten what he did at Mr.
Jamieson's request--a most disloyal act--for which, by the letter
of the law, he might be hanged--no less than drinking the king's
health ACROSS THE WATER? These were strange doings in a good Whig
house! But Mr. Jamieson is a man privileged, and might set fire to
my corn-barn; and the name they know him by now in France is the
Chevalier Stewart.

As for Davie and Catriona, I shall watch you pretty close in the
next days, and see if you are so bold as to be laughing at papa and
mamma. It is true we were not so wise as we might have been, and
made a great deal of sorrow out of nothing; but you will find as
you grow up that even the artful Miss Barbara, and even the valiant
Mr. Alan, will be not so very much wiser than their parents. For
the life of man upon this world of ours is a funny business. They
talk of the angels weeping; but I think they must more often be
holding their sides as they look on; and there was one thing I
determined to do when I began this long story, and that was to tell
out everything as it befell.


{1} Conspicuous.

{2} Country.

{3} The Fairies.

{4} Flatteries.

{5} Trust to.

{6} This must have reference to Dr. Cameron on his first visit.--
D. B.

{7} Sweetheart.

{8} Child.

{9} Palm.

{10} Gallows.

{11} My Catechism.

{12} Now Prince's Street.

{13} A learned folklorist of my acquaintance hereby identifies
Alan's air. It has been printed (it seems) in Campbell's Tales of
the West Highlands, Vol. II., p. 91. Upon examination it would
really seem as if Miss Grant's unrhymed doggrel (see Chapter V.)
would fit with little humouring to the notes in question.

{14} A ball placed upon a little mound for convenience of

{15} Patched shoes.

{16} Shoemaker.

{17} Tamson's mere--to go afoot.

{18} Beard.

{19} Ragged.

{20} Fine things.

{21} Catch.

{22} Victuals.

{23} Trust.

{24} Sea fog.

{25} Bashful.

{26} Rest.


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