“And that is a very good notion of yours,” says he; “and I dare to say that you could lay your hands upon no better man to put it through than Alan Breck. It is not a thing (mark ye) that any one could do, but takes a gentleman of penetration. But it sticks in my head your lawyer-man will be somewhat wearying to see me,” says Alan.
Accordingly I cried and waved on Mr. Rankeillor, who came up alone and was presented to my friend, Mr. Thomson.
“Mr. Thomson, I am pleased to meet you,” said he. “But I have forgotten my glasses; and our friend, Mr. David here” (clapping me on the shoulder), “will tell you that I am little better than blind, and that you must not be surprised if I pass you by to-morrow.”
This he said, thinking that Alan would be pleased; but the Highlandman’s vanity was ready to startle at a less matter than that.
“Why, sir,” says he, stiffly, “I would say it mattered the less as we are met here for a particular end, to see justice done to Mr. Balfour; and by what I can see, not very likely to have much else in common. But I accept your apology, which was a very proper one to make.”
“And that is more than I could look for, Mr. Thomson,” said Rankeillor, heartily. “And now as you and I are the chief actors in this enterprise, I think we should come into a nice agreement; to which end, I propose that you should lend me your arm, for (what with the dusk and the want of my glasses) I am not very clear as to the path; and as for you, Mr. David, you will find Torrance a pleasant kind of body to speak with. Only let me remind you, it’s quite needless he should hear more of your adventures or those of—ahem—Mr. Thomson.”
Accordingly these two went on ahead in very close talk, and Torrance and I brought up the rear.
Night was quite come when we came in view of the house of Shaws. Ten had been gone some time; it was dark and mild, with a pleasant, rustling wind in the south-west that covered the sound of our approach; and as we drew near we saw no glimmer of light in any portion of the building. It seemed my uncle was Already in bed, which was indeed the best thing for our arrangements. We made our last whispered consultations some fifty yards away; and then the lawyer and Torrance and I crept quietly up and crouched down beside the corner of the house; and as soon as we were in our places, Alan strode to the door without concealment and began to knock.
I COME INTO MY KINGDOM
For some time Alan volleyed upon the door, and his knocking only roused the echoes of the house and neighbourhood. At last, however, I could hear the noise of a window gently thrust up, and knew that my uncle had come to his observatory. By what light there was, he would see Alan standing, like a dark shadow, on the steps; the three witnesses were hidden quite out of his view; so that there was nothing to alarm an honest man in his own house. For all that, he studied his visitor awhile in silence, and when he spoke his voice had a quaver of misgiving.