In the course of this restlessness his eye alighted on myself. He sat a second stupefied, than tore a half leaf out of the Bible, scrawled upon it with a pencil, and passed it with a whispered word to his next neighbor. The note came to Prestongrange, who gave me but the one look; thence it voyaged to the hands of Mr. Erskine; thence again to Argyle, where he sat between the other two lords of session, and his Grace turned and fixed me with an arrogant eye. The last of those interested to observe my presence was Charlie Stewart, and he too began to pencil and hand about despatches, none of which I was able to trace to their destination in the crowd.
But the passage of these notes had aroused notice; all who were in the secret (or supposed themselves to be so) were whispering information—the rest questions; and the minister himself seemed quite discountenanced by the flutter in the church and sudden stir and whispering. His voice changed, he plainly faltered, nor did he again recover the easy conviction and full tones of his delivery. It would be a puzzle to him till his dying day, why a sermon that had gone with triumph through four parts, should thus miscarry in the fifth.
As for me, I continued to sit there, very wet and weary, and a good deal anxious as to what should happen next, but greatly exulting in my success.
* * * * *
The last word of the blessing was scarce out of the minister’s mouth before Stewart had me by the arm. We were the first to be forth of the church, and he made such extraordinary expedition that we were safe within the four walls of a house before the street had begun to be thronged with the home-going congregation.
“Am I yet in time?” I asked.
“Ay and no,” said he. “The case is over; the jury is enclosed, and will be so kind as let us ken their view of it to-morrow in the morning, the same as I could have told it my own self three days ago before the play began. The thing has been public from the start. The panel kent it, ’Ye may do what ye will for me,’ whispers he two days ago. ’I ken my fate by what the Duke of Argyle has just said to Mr. Macintosh.’ O, it’s been a scandal!
The great Argyle he gaed before,
He gart the cannons and guns to roar,
and the very macer cried ‘Cruachan!’ But now that I have got you again I’ll never despair. The oak shall go over the myrtle yet; we’ll ding the Campbells yet in their own town. Praise God that I should see the day!”