Kidnapped eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about Kidnapped.

CHAPTER II

I COME TO MY JOURNEY’S END

On the forenoon of the second day, coming to the top of a hill, I saw all the country fall away before me down to the sea; and in the midst of this descent, on a long ridge, the city of Edinburgh smoking like a kiln.  There was a flag upon the castle, and ships moving or lying anchored in the firth; both of which, for as far away as they were, I could distinguish clearly; and both brought my country heart into my mouth.

Presently after, I came by a house where a shepherd lived, and got a rough direction for the neighbourhood of Cramond; and so, from one to another, worked my way to the westward of the capital by Colinton, till I came out upon the Glasgow road.  And there, to my great pleasure and wonder, I beheld a regiment marching to the fifes, every foot in time; an old red-faced general on a grey horse at the one end, and at the other the company of Grenadiers, with their Pope’s-hats.  The pride of life seemed to mount into my brain at the sight of the red coats and the hearing of that merry music.

A little farther on, and I was told I was in Cramond parish, and began to substitute in my inquiries the name of the house of Shaws.  It was a word that seemed to surprise those of whom I sought my way.  At first I thought the plainness of my appearance, in my country habit, and that all dusty from the road, consorted ill with the greatness of the place to which I was bound.  But after two, or maybe three, had given me the same look and the same answer, I began to take it in my head there was something strange about the Shaws itself.

The better to set this fear at rest, I changed the form of my inquiries; and spying an honest fellow coming along a lane on the shaft of his cart, I asked him if he had ever heard tell of a house they called the house of Shaws.

He stopped his cart and looked at me, like the others.

“Ay” said he.  “What for?”

“It’s a great house?” I asked.

“Doubtless,” says he.  “The house is a big, muckle house.”

“Ay,” said I, “but the folk that are in it?”

“Folk?” cried he.  “Are ye daft?  There’s nae folk there—­to call folk.”

“What?” say I; “not Mr. Ebenezer?”

“Ou, ay” says the man; “there’s the laird, to be sure, if it’s him you’re wanting.  What’ll like be your business, mannie?”

“I was led to think that I would get a situation,” I said, looking as modest as I could.

“What?” cries the carter, in so sharp a note that his very horse started; and then, “Well, mannie,” he added, “it’s nane of my affairs; but ye seem a decent-spoken lad; and if ye’ll take a word from me, ye’ll keep clear of the Shaws.”

The next person I came across was a dapper little man in a beautiful white wig, whom I saw to be a barber on his rounds; and knowing well that barbers were great gossips, I asked him plainly what sort of a man was Mr. Balfour of the Shaws.

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Kidnapped from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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