And yet Alan had behaved like a child, and (what is worse) a treacherous child. Wheedling my money from me while I lay half-conscious was scarce better than theft; and yet here he was trudging by my side, without a penny to his name, and by what I could see, quite blithe to sponge upon the money he had driven me to beg. True, I was ready to share it with him; but it made me rage to see him count upon my readiness.
These were the two things uppermost in my mind; and I could open my mouth upon neither without black ungenerosity. So I did the next worst, and said nothing, nor so much as looked once at my companion, save with the tail of my eye.
At last, upon the other side of Loch Errocht, going over a smooth, rushy place, where the walking was easy, he could bear it no longer, and came close to me.
“David,” says he, “this is no way for two friends to take a small accident. I have to say that I’m sorry; and so that’s said. And now if you have anything, ye’d better say it.”
“O,” says I, “I have nothing.”
He seemed disconcerted; at which I was meanly pleased.
“No,” said he, with rather a trembling voice, “but when I say I was to blame?”
“Why, of course, ye were to blame,” said I, coolly; “and you will bear me out that I have never reproached you.”
“Never,” says he; “but ye ken very well that ye’ve done worse. Are we to part? Ye said so once before. Are ye to say it again? There’s hills and heather enough between here and the two seas, David; and I will own I’m no very keen to stay where I’m no wanted.”
This pierced me like a sword, and seemed to lay bare my private disloyalty.
“Alan Breck!” I cried; and then: “Do you think I am one to turn my back on you in your chief need? You dursn’t say it to my face. My whole conduct’s there to give the lie to it. It’s true, I fell asleep upon the muir; but that was from weariness, and you do wrong to cast it up to me——”
“Which is what I never did,” said Alan.
“But aside from that,” I continued, “what have I done that you should even me to dogs by such a supposition? I never yet failed a friend, and it’s not likely I’ll begin with you. There are things between us that I can never forget, even if you can.”
“I will only say this to ye, David,” said Alan, very quietly, “that I have long been owing ye my life, and now I owe ye money. Ye should try to make that burden light for me.”
This ought to have touched me, and in a manner it did, but the wrong manner. I felt I was behaving, badly; and was now not only angry with Alan, but angry with myself in the bargain; and it made me the more cruel.