“No more honest skipper in the trade than Eli,” said the clerk. “I would lippen to Eli’s word—ay, if it was the Chevalier, or Appin himsel’,” he added.
“And it was him that brought the doctor, wasnae’t?” asked the master.
“He was the very man,” said the clerk.
“And I think he took the doctor back?” says Stewart.
“Ay, with his sporran full!” cried Robin. “And Eli kent of that!"
“Well, it seems it’s hard to ken folk rightly,” said I.
“That was just what I forgot when ye came in, Mr. Balfour!” says the Writer.
* * * * *
I GO TO PILRIG
The next morning, I was no sooner awake in my new lodging than I was up and into my new clothes; and no sooner the breakfast swallowed, than I was forth on my adventures. Alan, I could hope, was fended for; James was like to be a more difficult affair, and I could not but think that enterprise might cost me dear, even as everybody said to whom I had opened my opinion. It seemed I was come to the top of the mountain only to cast myself down; that I had clambered up, through so many and hard trials, to be rich, to be recognised, to wear city clothes and a sword to my side, all to commit mere suicide at the last end of it, and the worst kind of suicide besides, which is to get hanged at the King’s charges.
What was I doing it for? I asked, as I went down the High Street and out north by Leith Wynd. First I said it was to save James Stewart, and no doubt the memory of his distress, and his wife’s cries, and a word or so I had let drop on that occasion worked upon me strongly. At the same time I reflected that it was (or ought to be) the most indifferent matter to my father’s son, whether James died in his bed or from a scaffold. He was Alan’s cousin, to be sure; but so far as regarded Alan, the best thing would be to lie low, and let the King, and his Grace of Argyll, and the corbie crows, pick the bones of his kinsman their own way. Nor could I forget that, while we were all in the pot together, James had shown no such particular anxiety whether for Alan or me.
Next it came upon me I was acting for the sake of justice: and I thought that a fine word, and reasoned it out that (since we dwelt in polities, at some discomfort to each one of us) the main thing of all must still be justice, and the death of any innocent man a wound upon the whole community. Next, again, it was the Accuser of the Brethren that gave me a turn of his argument; bid me think shame for pretending myself concerned in these high matters, and told me I was but a prating vain child, who had spoken big words to Rankeillor and to Stewart, and held myself bound upon my vanity to make good that boastfulness. Nay, and he hit me with the other end of the stick; for he accused me of a kind of artful cowardice, going about at the expense of a little risk