“Me?” I cried, “I would never dare. I can speak to you, Miss Grant, because it’s a matter of indifference what ye think of me. But her? no fear!” said I.
“I think you have the largest feet in all broad Scotland,” says she.
“Troth, they are no very small,” said I, looking down.
“Ah, poor Catriona!” cried Miss Grant.
And I could but stare upon her; for though I now see very well what she was driving at (and perhaps some justification for the same), I was never swift at the uptake in such flimsy talk.
“Ah well, Mr. David,” she said, “it goes sore against my conscience, but I see I shall have to be your speaking board. She shall know you came to her straight upon the news of her imprisonment; she shall know you would not pause to eat; and of your conversation she shall hear just so much as I think convenient for a maid of her age and inexperience. Believe me, you will be in that way much better served than you could serve yourself, for I will keep the big feet out of the platter.”
“You know where she is, then?” I exclaimed.
“That I do, Mr. David, and will never tell,” said she.
“Why that?” I asked.
“Well,” she said, “I am a good friend, as you will soon discover; and the chief of those that I am a friend to is my papa. I assure you, you will never heat nor melt me out of that, so you may spare me your sheep’s eyes; and adieu to your David-Balfourship for the now.”
“But there is yet one thing more,” I cried. “There is one thing that must be stopped, being mere ruin to herself, and to me too.”
“Well,” she said, “be brief, I have spent half the day on you already.”
“My Lady Allardyce believes,” I began, “she supposes—she thinks that I abducted her.”
The colour came into Miss Grant’s face, so that at first I was quite abashed to find her ear so delicate, till I bethought me she was struggling rather with mirth, a notion in which I was altogether confirmed by the shaking of her voice as she replied—
“I will take up the defence of your reputation,” said she. “You may leave it in my hands.”
And with that she withdrew out of the library.
* * * * *
I CONTINUE TO MOVE IN GOOD SOCIETY
For about exactly two months I remained a guest in Prestongrange’s family, where I bettered my acquaintance with the bench, the bar, and the flower of Edinburgh company. You are not to suppose my education was neglected, on the contrary I was kept extremely busy. I studied the French, so as to be more prepared to go to Leyden; I set myself to the fencing, and wrought hard, sometimes three hours in the day, with notable advancement; at the suggestion of my cousin, Pilrig, who was an apt musician, I was put to a singing class, and by the orders of my Miss Grant, to one for the dancing, at which. I must