“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, you’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 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 with 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 one 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 very 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 at least that 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 hearing.