“Ye make a strong case,” I admitted.
“And what I want,” he resumed, “is that you should disappear yourself ere they can get their hands upon ye. Lie quiet until just before the trial, and spring upon them at the last of it when they’ll be looking for you least. This is always supposing, Mr. Balfour, that your evidence is worth so very great a measure of both risk and fash.”
“I will tell you one thing,” said I. “I saw the murderer and it was not Alan.”
“Then, by God, my cousin’s saved!” cried Stewart. “You have his life upon your tongue; and there’s neither time, risk, nor money to be spared to bring you to the trial.” He emptied his pockets on the floor. “Here is all that I have by me,” he went on. “Take it, ye’ll want it ere ye’re through. Go straight down this close, there’s a way out by there to the Lang Dykes, and by my will of it! see no more of Edinburgh till the clash is over.”
“Where am I to go, then?” I inquired.
“And I wish that I could tell ye!” says he, “but all the places that I could send ye to, would be just the places they would seek. No, ye must fend for yourself, and God be your guiding! Five days before the trial, September the sixteen, get word to me at the King’s Arms in Stirling; and if ye’ve managed for yourself as long as that, I’ll see that ye reach Inverary.”
“One thing more,” said I. “Can I no see Alan?”
He seemed boggled. “Hech, I would rather you wouldnae,” said he. “But I can never deny that Alan is extremely keen of it, and is to lie this night by Silvermills on purpose. If you’re sure that you’re not followed, Mr. Balfour—but make sure of that—lie in a good place and watch your road for a clear hour before ye risk it. It would be a dreadful business if both you and him was to miscarry!”
* * * * *
THE RED-HEADED MAN
It was about half-past three when I came forth on the Lang Dykes. Dean was where I wanted to go. Since Catriona dwelled there, and the Glengyle Macgregors appeared almost certainly to be employed against me, it was just one of the few places I should have kept away from; and being a very young man, and beginning to be very much in love, I turned my face in that direction without pause. As a salve to my conscience and common sense, however, I took a measure of precaution. Coming over the crown of a bit of a rise in the road, I clapped down suddenly among the barley and lay waiting. After a while, a man went by that looked to be a Highlandman, but I had never seen him till that hour. Presently after came Neil of the red head. The next to go past was a miller’s cart, and after that nothing but manifest country people. Here was enough to have turned the most foolhardy from his purpose, but my inclination ran too strong the other way. I argued it out that if Neil was on that road, it was the right road to find him in, leading direct to his chief’s daughter; as for the other Highlandman, if I was to be startled off by every Highlandman I saw, I would scarce reach anywhere. And having quite satisfied myself with this disingenuous debate, I made the better speed of it, and came a little after four to Mrs. Drummond-Ogilvy’s.