“Ay,” said he, “that’s grand for you. But where do I come in? I have my word to redeem the same’s yoursel’. And what are ye asking me to do, but just to sell it ye for siller?”
“Andie! have I named the name of siller?” cried I.
“Ou, the name’s naething,” said he; “the thing is there, whatever. It just comes to this; if I am to service ye the way that you propose, I’ll loss my lieihood. Then it’s clear ye’ll have to make it up to me, and a pickle mair, for your ain credit like. And what’s that but just a bribe? And if even I was certain of the bribe! But by a’ that I can learn, it’s far frae that; and if you were to hang, where would I be? Na: the thing’s no possible. And just awa’ wi’ ye like a bonny lad! and let Andie read his chapter.”
I remember I was at bottom a good deal gratified with this result; and the next humour I fell into was one (I had near said) of gratitude to Prestongrange, who had saved me, in this violent, illegal manner, out of the midst of my dangers, temptations, and perplexities. But this was both too flimsy and too cowardly to last me long, and the remembrance of James began to succeed to the possession of my spirits. The 21st, the day set for the trial, I passed in such misery of mind as I can scarce recall to have endured, save perhaps upon Isle Earraid only. Much of the time I lay on a braeside betwixt sleep and waking, my body motionless, my mind full of violent thoughts. Sometimes I slept indeed; but the court-house of Inverary and the prisoner glancing on all sides to find his missing witness, followed me in slumber; and I would wake again with a start to darkness of spirit and distress of body. I thought Andie seemed to observe me, but I paid him little heed. Verily, my bread was bitter to me, and my days a burthen.
Early the next morning (Friday, 22nd) a boat came with provisions, and Andie placed a packet in my hand. The cover was without address but sealed with a Government seal. It enclosed two notes. “Mr. Balfour can now see for himself it is too late to meddle. His conduct will be observed and his discretion rewarded.” So ran the first, which seemed to be laboriously writ with the left hand. There was certainly nothing in these expressions to compromise the writer, even if that person could be found; the seal, which formidably served instead of signature, was affixed to a separate sheet on which there was no scratch of writing; and I had to confess that (so far) my adversaries knew what they were doing, and to digest as well as I was able the threat that peeped under the promise.