“It’s rather a hard position,” said I.
“Dooms hard!” cries he. “And that’s what makes me think so much of ye—you that’s no Stewart—to stick your head so deep in Stewart business. And for what, I do not know; unless it was the sense of duty.”
“I hope it will be that,” said I.
“Well,” says he, “it’s a grand quality. But here is my clerk back; and, by your leave, we’ll pick a bit of dinner, all the three of us. When that’s done, I’ll give you the direction of a very decent man, that’ll be very fain to have you for a lodger. And I’ll fill your pockets to ye, forbye, out of your ain bag. For this business’ll not be near as dear as ye suppose—not even the ship part of it.”
I made him a sign that his clerk was within hearing.
“Hoot, ye neednae mind for Robbie,” cries he. “A Stewart too, puir deevil! and has smuggled out more French recruits and trafficking Papists than what he has hairs upon his face. Why, it’s Robin that manages that branch of my affairs. Who will we have now, Rob, for across the water?”
“There’ll be Andie Scougal, in the Thristle,” replied Rob. “I saw Hoseason the other day, but it seems he’s wanting the ship. Then there’ll be Tarn Stobo; but I’m none so sure of Tam. I’ve seen him colloguing with some gey queer acquaintances; and if it was anybody important, I would give Tam the go-by.”
“The head’s worth two hundred pounds, Robin,” said Stewart.
“Gosh, that’ll no be Alan Breck?” cried the clerk.
“Just Alan,” said his master.
“Weary winds! that’s sayrious,” cried Robin. “I’ll try Andie then; Andie’ll be the best.”
“It seems it’s quite a big business,” I observed.
“Mr. Balfour, there’s no end to it,” said Stewart.
“There was a name your clerk mentioned,” I went on: “Hoseason. That must be my man, I think: Hoseason, of the brig Covenant. Would you set your trust on him?”
“He didnae behave very well to you and Alan,” said Mr. Stewart; “but my mind of the man in general is rather otherwise. If he had taken Alan on board his ship on an agreement, it’s my notion he would have proved a just dealer. How say ye, Rob?”