Robert Louis Stevenson - David Balfour (1893)
The sequel to Stevenson's story of Kidnapped in reality consists of two tales, the first relating to the Appin murder, which forms a prominent feature of the earlier romance, and the other narrating the wooing of Catriona Drummond. Stevenson was living at Vailima, in Samoa, when he resumed, in 1892, after an interval of six years, the account of David Balfour's adventures and experiences, and the work was first published in Atalanta, from January to May, 1893, inclusive, with the title of David Balfour. It was immediately reprinted in England in book form as Catriona, but in the United States the earlier title of David Balfour has been retained. The scene of the first part of the work is mainly in Edinburgh and the vicinity of North Berwick and the Bass Rock, much attention being paid to the local detail with which the novelist was thoroughly familiar, while the action of the second part occurs in Holland. The time devoted to the progress of the narrative is from August 25, 1751, till some date not clearly defined in the winter following.
IT was the 25th day of August, 1751, when I, David Balfour, who have elsewhere narrated certain passages in my career, may be said to have come to my own. The day before I was as a beggarman, clad in rags, a price on my head, and brought to my last shilling; now I was coming out of the British Linen Company's doors, a landed laird, and with money and recommendations in my pocket. But as ballast for so much sail was the difficult business before me. I had three visits to make : to my kinsman Balfour of Pilrig, Stewart the Writer, that was Appin's agent in Edinburgh, and William Grant of Prestongrange, Lord Advocate of Scotland. The visit to Appin's agent in the time of the outcry about the Appin murder was not only dangerous in itself but went ill with that to the Lord Advocate, and might prove the ruin of my friend Alan Breck. While I debated these things I was forced to shelter myself from a shower in a doorway at the head of a narrow alley. As I did so a party of soldiers passed with a tall man in a greatcoat, their prisoner. Among the folk that followed after was a girl in the Drummond colors, accompanied by two ragged gillies. They spoke in Gaelic, but when she observed me she seemed to fancy I was regarding her words, and I therefore informed her that I understood no Gaelic. Civil words followed, and it soon appeared that we both knew Balquhidder. I spoke my name, but she said her own was pro-scribed and that she used the name of Catriona Drummond. By this I knew she was of the Macgregors. The tall prisoner, James More, was her father, who was being daily summoned to the Lord Advocate for some purpose unknown to her. She had come to give him some snuff; but Neil, one of the gillies, had lost the money, and now her father must think his daughter had forgotten. Thereupon I handed Neil a sixpence for the snuff, which she said she must repay, and gave me her address with Mrs. Ogilvy of Allardyce.
This matter being at an end, I called upon Charles Stewart, the Writer, giving my name and errand. I assured him that both Alan Breck and James Stewart were innocent as regarded the Appin murder, speaking briefly of my acquaintance with Alan, of my accidental presence at the Appin murder, and of our subsequent escape. To my inquiry whether he as a Stewart would undertake the defense, he replied that he had no great mind to it, but hardly had choice left him. It was planned that Alan should be smuggled out of the country on the Thistle, commanded by Andie Scougal, when opportunity should serve; but the Writer had very little hope of saving James Stewart from the gallows, and he warned me that in carrying the business to the Lord Advocate I ran great risk of a similar end for myself.
After this interview I saw my kinsman of Pilrig and, obtaining from him a letter of introduction to the Advocate, went at once to the house of that dignitary, but waited for several hours before seeing him. I then informed him that I was the person who was speaking with Glenure, the factor, when he was shot, whereupon he remarked that I probably held myself innocent of that crime. He also questioned me concerning the details of the affair; and after answering various queries I added that I had come to him to give information by which to convince him that Alan Breck had no hand in the matter. Much was then said on both sides, and after declaring that he had power to send me to jail if he wished, he made me promise to speak to no one of what had passed between us before I should come to him again, two days later. On my next visit I encountered, in the Advocate's antechamber, Miss Drummond's father, James More, who would have begged from me had not the Advocate appeared and led me into another apartment, where he introduced me to his sister and his three daughters, and left me, to fill a brief engagement of his own. I was much abashed at being left in the company of his braw daughters, but the eldest took pity on my awkwardness and played on the harpsichord for my amusement. The music, indeed, conveyed a broad hint that my relations with Alan and James Stewart were not unknown to her, and in the midst of it we saw Catriona in the street below, When the Advocate returned it was to lead me to his study, where I found Simon Fraser, chief of the clan Fraser, who at once spoke of the Appin murder, saying that the evidence was strongly against me, but if I chose to give testimony against Alan Breck I should be advanced in the favor of the Duke of Argyll. If not, he had the warrant for my arrest and speedy execution.
"There is a gentleman in this room," said I. "I appeal to him. I put my life and credit in his hands."
The Advocate spoke at once, telling Fraser that he had played his hand and lost. Though there appeared to be little love between the two men, it was evident that they had agreed in putting me to the trial. The Advocate now dismissed me, after my promise of secrecy till the morrow, and as I went away it came upon me that James More was prepared to save himself by a false oath, as Fraser had sought to have me secure myself.
The next day I sought the Advocate again, who said my difficulties were nearly at an end, that my testimony was to be received, and that I was to go in his company to the trial of Stew-art, at Inverary, on the 21st of September. There were certain happenings that same day not much to my liking, but I saw Stewart, the Writer, once more, and he advised me to disappear till just before the trial and return when not expected. I told him that the murderer, whom I saw, was not Alan, whereupon he exclaimed that his cousin was saved, and bade me to get word to him at the King's Arms in Stirling and he would see that I reached Inverary in season. Before I left him he told me that Alan was biding at Silvermills to see me.
That afternoon I saw Catriona at her kinswoman's, and ere sunset took my leave, but having reason to think that the young gillie, Neil, had dogged my steps in the interest of James More, I returned and besought her to keep him at her call one full hour after I should leave, for three lives hung upon it. "The full hour," she said, and we parted.
On toward Silvermills I went, and after dark, as I sat in the thicket, I whistled softly a note of Alan's song, and in a moment he was with me. Much we had to say and at last he counseled that we should now leave the wood together and move toward Gillane, on the coast, where he was to take his ship. At Musselburgh we breakfasted at an inn, and while there I saw Neil pass the window, looking neither to right nor left. We quitted the inn accordingly by a back passage into the fields, and thence to Gillane. The time set with Scougal for embarking was the gloaming, but if the wind held fair the skipper meant to arrive much earlier and lie-to behind the Isle of Fidra. When we reached the shore at Dirleton we could see the Thistle under the lee of Fidra, which is one of four islets west of North Berwick, facing a lonesome waste shore. Now that the secret of the embarkation was out, Alan's leaving seemed difficult to contrive. As he signaled with his handkerchief, a skiff put off from the Thistle, but half a mile away, toward Gillane Ness, a man appeared, waving his arms, and disappearing instantly. No eye of ours could spy what was passing there; no hurry of ours could mend the speed of the boat's coming; time stood still with us through that uncanny period of waiting. When the boat was within easy hail the concealed watchers in the grass by the Ness raised a shrill cry, but Alan, paying little heed, waded out to meet the skiff, climbed on board and was rowed to the Thistle, while I seemed to myself the most solitary lad in Scotland.
Waving a farewell, I walked to the beach head, where several Highlanders made a captive of me, their number presently increasing to a score, and Neil among them. I was quickly bound hand and foot, and while most of them soon departed three, including Neil, remained as guard. At dark a Lowlander, whom I afterward knew for Black Andie, appeared, and by his orders I was placed on a horse and so conveyed to the ruined castle of Tantallon, where I slept for a few hours. I was then wakened and carried down to a fishing-boat on the shore, whence we soon put off in the starlight. At dawn I saw that our destination was the Bass Rock. The great crag, inhabited by a few sheep and thousands of solan geese, was to be my prison for a time, and Andie was my jailer.
My stay on the Bass was not wholly unpleasant, and for a time it seemed as if I had escaped from my perplexities. No harm was offered me, and rock and deep sea precluded the thoughts of escape, but I feared my detention might be misconceived by the Writer and I be esteemed a coward. I learned from Andie that he had orders to let me go on September 23d, and thus my reappearance, precisely in time to be too late, would cast the more discredit on my tale, if I were minded to tell one. On the 17th I was trysted with the Writer, and I pondered much on what he would think of my failure to keep my word. On the morning of Friday, the 22d, a boat with provisions came to the Bass and also a packet for me under government seal, enclosing two notes. "Mr. Balfour can now see for himself it is too late to meddle. His conduct will be observed and his discretion re-warded." This was the first, the other in a lady's hand, said: "Maister Dauvit Balfour is informed a friend was speiring for him, and her eyes were of the grey," by which I knew the writer must be Miss Grant and the friend Catriona.
Questioning Andie, I discovered that although he had orders to land me at two o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday the 23d, the place was not named, and I proposed that we work up the Forth all day in his boat and land at the prescribed hour as far west as possible, for I meant to try to reach Inverary after all. Remembering that I had saved his life in a dispute with the three Highlanders not long before, he consented, and at two o'clock I was landed at Clackmanan Pool, and in a few moments more was in the saddle. By eleven that night I had reached the house of Duncan Dhu in the Highlands, where I learned that the trial of James Stewart was not over at a late hour that day, and it was supposed it would extend over to Mon-day. Guided by Duncan, I pushed on, and just before the sermon's end on the morrow I entered the kirk at Inverary. My entrance was unnoticed, but soon I was spied by the Advocate, Fraser, and the Writer, and hastily penciled notes began.
This we soon found, but Sprott could tell us nothing of him except that James More might come on the morrow or not for a year, and all I could do was to leave there my Leyden address for More when he should arrive. He could then inquire from me where to seek his daughter. This being over, we took conveyance to Rotterdam, where I intended to put Catriona in the care of Mrs. Gebbie. There we encountered the Captain of the Rose, only to learn that the Gebbies had gone straight to Germany. Catriona was now in a most perplexing plight, and after parting with the Captain, who was far gone in drink, I discovered that my purse was somehow gone.
I still had a letter on the Leyden merchant, but Leyden was thirty miles distant and we must walk to reach it. This we did, subsisting the while on such food as Catriona's single remaining shilling would buy us.
Arrived at Leyden at last, I there drew on my credit and at my request was directed to a retired lodging, explaining that as my sister had come to keep house for me a while, I should want two rooms. These we found with little difficulty, and our meals were to be sent in from a neighboring tavern. As it was probable that some days would elapse ere her chests would arrive, I purchased some clothing for her, and indeed laid out so much in that direction that I had little left for the furnishing of the rooms. She at first objected, but I reminded her that she was now a rich man's sister and must dress the part. But I thought much of our situation. She was for the time dependent upon me for food and shelter, and as I had no right yet to figure as her suitor I must appear as host. There was no way out of my present position save by behaving right while I was in it. So I set myself to study instructive books, which course naturally left her much in solitude, so that she greeted my every return with fervor, while I attempted a stiff reserve. Our time, there-fore, passed in ups and downs, tiffs and disappointments. We, however, had our daily walk, which gave her great pleasure, but except for this I bade her remain always in the lodgings lest some acquaintance should be met, which would have made our position still more difficult. At last each became aware of the other's love, and what was then to become of us? We could not dwell in the same house, but where could each go? I must not only keep her clear of reproach, but free as she had come to me.
Early the next day James More appeared, and when he learned that his daughter was lodging in the same house he asked for an explanation. I then told him how the charge of Catriona was thrust upon me through the accident of circumstance, and pointed out his own neglect in the matter. The up-shot of the affair was that I found new lodgings for myself, while he occupied mine, and not only did I become responsible for his meals, but he even begged a small loan from me. There were times when I was tempted to lend him a good round sum, and see the last of him, but this would have been to see the last of Catriona as well, for which I was hardly so prepared.
On the fifth day I received a letter from Alan offering to visit me in Leyden, and one from Miss Grant telling me of my uncle's death. I was now the Laird of Shaws, and when More ascertained some details concerning my estate he set himself at once to make a match between his daughter and me. This caused some plain talk between us, and it was agreed that if she were entirely willing to marry me so it should be, otherwise not. He consented with an ill grace, and as Catriona and I took our walk I laid the matter before her, whereupon she asked whether this were her father's doing. I replied that he had spoken of it first, if she meant that, and she cried out that my offer was refused. At all events, she then drew from me much that had passed between her father and myself, and presently went back to him. After a while I followed her, and it was clear to me that father and daughter had seriously disagreed, and that he had had the worst of it. He began to speak, but she interrupted, saying:
"I will tell you what James More is meaning. He means we have come to you, beggar-folk, and have not behaved to you well, and we are ashamed. Now we are wanting to go away and be forgotten, but cannot even do that unless you give us more alms," and then she went to her own room.
I then accused More of duplicity in borrowing from me when he had money of his own, and after arranging that he was to communicate with me as to Catriona's welfare, for which I was to pay him a small amount, I insisted that he quit the house in a half hour. When I returned they were gone, Catriona tak ing with her only the clothes she had brought, and leaving all my gifts behind. I soon received a letter from More saying he needed more money, with a postscript in Catriona's hand : "Do not be believing him, it is all lies together."
Alan now arrived, and I told him all that happened. Mean-time another letter came from More, urging us to visit them at Dunkirk. Thither we went, and at Bazin's Inn outside the town saw More and Catriona. It was a solitary spot, and presently we suspected that More had some knavery on foot, in which he wished Alan to join. Alan, however, was not to be drawn into it, and after he had proclaimed More's contemplated villainy the two men fell to fighting. They were like two furies, and I could not stop them. Suddenly Catriona sprang before her father and bade him begone with his shame. After a little hesitation he did so, his speed being hastened by Alan, and we three, leaving the inn, not without further evidence of More's treachery—for several seamen pursued us—got safe within Dun-kirk walls. Our next business was to place Catriona under the protection of her Chieftain Macgregor of Bohaldie at Paris. There Catriona and I were married, Bohaldie himself giving away the bride.
I now gave up all thoughts of further study at Leyden, and ere long we sailed for Scotland, and here is my story brought fairly to an end, for there was one thing I determined to do when I began this long story, and that was to tell out everything as it befell.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
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