“No doubt that’s a branch of education that was left out with me,” said I.
“And I can see the marks of it upon ye constantly,” said Alan. “But that’s the strange thing about you folk of the college learning: ye’re ignorant, and ye cannae see ’t. Wae’s me for my Greek and Hebrew; but, man, I ken that I dinnae ken them—there’s the differ of it. Now, here’s you. Ye lie on your wame a bittie in the bield of this wood, and ye tell me that ye’ve cuist off these Frasers and Macgregors. Why! Because I couldnae see them, says you. Ye blockhead, that’s their livelihood.”
“Take the worst of it,” said I, “and what are we to do?”
“I am thinking of that same,” said he. “We might twine. It wouldnae be greatly to my taste; and forbye that, I see reasons against it. First, it’s now unco dark, and it’s just humanly possible we might give them the clean slip. If we keep together, we make but the ae line of it; if we gang separate, we make twae of them: the more likelihood to stave in upon some of these gentry of yours. And then, second, if they keep the track of us, it may come to a fecht for it yet, Davie; and then, I’ll confess I would be blythe to have you at my oxter, and I think you would be none the worse of having me at yours. So, by my way of it, we should creep out of this wood no further gone than just the inside of next minute, and hold away east for Gillane, where I’m to find my ship. It’ll be like old days while it lasts, Davie; and (come the time) we’ll have to think what you should be doing. I’m wae to leave ye here, wanting me.”
“Have with ye, then!” says I. “Do ye gang back where you were stopping.”
“De’il a fear!” said Alan. “They were good folks to me, but I think they would be a good deal disappointed if they saw my bonny face again. For (the way times go) I amnae just what ye could call a Walcome Guest. Which makes me the keener for your company, Mr. David Balfour of the Shaws, and set ye up! For, leave aside twa cracks here in the wood with Charlie Stewart, I have scarce said black or white since the day we parted at Corstorphine.”
With which he rose from his place, and we began to move quietly eastward through the wood.
* * * * *
ON THE MARCH AGAIN WITH ALAN
It was likely between one and two; the moon (as I have said) was down; a strongish wind, carrying a heavy wrack of cloud, had set in suddenly from the west; and we began our movement in as black a night as ever a fugitive or a murderer wanted. The whiteness of the path guided us into the sleeping town of Broughton, thence through Picardy, and beside my old acquaintance the gibbet of the two thieves. A little beyond we made a useful beacon, which was a light in an upper window of Lochend. Steering by this, but a good deal at random, and with some trampling of the harvest, and stumbling and falling down upon the banks, we made our way across country, and won forth at last upon the linky, boggy muirland that they call the Figgate Whins. Here, under a bush of whin, we lay down the remainder of that night and slumbered.