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belongs to my chieftain”—and here he touched his hat"and while I would be but a silly messenger to grudge some of it that the rest might come safe, I should show myself a hound indeed if I bought my own carcass any too dear. Thirty guineas on the seaside, or sixty if ye set me on the Linnhe Loch. Take it, if ye will; if not, ye can do your worst."
“Ay," said Hoseason. “And if I give ye over to the soldiers ?"
"Ye would make a fool's bargain,” said the other. “My chief, let me tell you, sir, is forfeited, like every honest man in Scotland. His estate is in the hands of the man they call King George; and it is his officers that collect the rents, or try to collect them. But for the honor of Scotland, the poor tenant bodies take a thought upon their chief lying in exile; and his money is a part of that very rent for which King George is looking. Now, sir, ye seem to me to be a man that understands things: bring this money within the reach of Government, and how much of it'll come to you?”
"Little enough, to be sure," said Hoseason; and then, “If they knew," he added, dryly. "But I think, if I was to try, that I could hold my tongue about it."
“Ah, but I'll begowk 1 ye there!" cried the gentleman. “Play me false, and I'll play you cunning. If a hand's laid upon me, they shall ken what money it is.”
"Well," returned the captain, "what must be must. Sixty guineas, and done. Here's my hand upon it."
“And here's mine," said the other.
And thereupon the captain went out (rather hurriedly, I thought), and left me alone in the round-house with the stranger.
At that period (so soon after the forty-five) there were many exiled gentlemen coming back at the peril of their lives, either to see their friends or to collect a little money; and as for the Highland chiefs that had been forfeited, it was a common matter of talk how their tenants would stint themselves to send them money, and their clansmen outface the soldiery to get it in, and run the gauntlet of our great navy to carry it across. All this I had, of course, heard tell of; and now I had a man under my eyes whose life was forfeit on all these counts and upon one more; for he was not only a rebel and a smuggler of rents, but had taken service with King Louis of France. And as if all this were not enough, he had a belt full of golden guineas round his loins. Whatever my opinions, I could not look on such a man without a lively interest.
"And so you're a Jacobite ?" said I, as I set meat before him.
“Ay," said he, beginning to eat. “And you, by your long face, should be a Whig?" 1
“Betwixt and between,” said I, not to annoy him; for indeed I was as good a Whig as Mr. Campbell could make me.
“And that's naething," said he. “But I'm saying, Mr. Betwixt-and-Between,” he added, "this bottle of yours is dry; and it's hard if I'm to pay sixty guineas and be grudged a dram upon the back of it."
"I'll go and ask for the key,” said I and stepped on deck.
The fog was as close as ever, but the swell almost down. They had laid the brig to, not knowing precisely where they were, and the wind (what little there was of it) not serving well for their true course. Some of the hands were still hearkening for breakers; but the captain and the two officers were in the waist with their heads together. It struck me, I don't know why, that they were after no good; and the first word I heard, as I drew softly near, more than confirmed me.
1 Whig or Whigamore was the cant name for those who were loyal to King George.
It was Mr. Riach, crying out as if upon a sudden thought:
"Couldn't we wile him out of the round-house?"
"He's better where he is," returned Hoseason; "he hasn't room to use his sword.”
"Well, that's true," said Riach; "but he's hard to come at."
"Hut!" said Hoseason. "We can get the man in talk, one upon each side, and pin him by the two arms, or if that'll not hold, sir, we can make a run by both the doors and get him under hand before he has the time to draw."
At this hearing, I was seized with both fear and anger at these treacherous, greedy, bloody men that I sailed with. My first mind was to run away; my second was bolder.
"Captain," said I, "the gentleman is seeking a dram, and the bottle's out. Will you give me the key?"
They all started and turned about.
"Why, here's our chance to get the firearms !” Riach cried; and then to me: "Hark ye, David," he said, "do ye ken where the postols are?"
"Ay, ay," put in Hoseason. "David kens; David's a good lad. Ye see, David my man, yon wild Hielandman is a danger to the ship, besides being a rank foe to King George, God bless him!”
I had never been so be-Davided since I came on board; but I said yes, as if all I heard were quite natural.
"The trouble is,” resumed the captain, “that all our firelocks, great and little, are in the round-house under this man's nose; likewise the powder. Now, if I, or one of the officers, was to go in and take them, he would fall to thinking. But a lad like you, David, might snap up a horn and a pistol or two without remark. And if ye can do it cleverly, I'll bear it in mind when it'll be good for you to have friends; and that's when we come to Carolina."
Here Mr. Riach whispered him a little.
“Very right, sir," said the captain; and then to myself: "And see here, David, yon man has a beltful of gold, and I give you my word that you shall have your fingers in it."
I told him I would do as he wished, though indeed I had scarce breath to speak with; and upon that he gave me the key of the spirit locker, and I began to go slowly back to the round-house. What was I to do? They were dogs and thieves; they had stolen me from my own country; they had killed poor Ransome; and was I to hold the candle to another murder? But then, , upon the other hand, there was the fear of death very plain before me; for what could a boy and a man, if they were as brave as lions, against a whole ship's company?
I was still arguing it back and forth, and getting no great clearness, when I came into the round-house and saw the Jacobite eating his supper under the lamp; and at that my mind was made up all in a moment. I have no credit by it; it was by no choice of mine, but as if by compulsion, that I walked right up to the table and put my hand on his shoulder. .
“Do ye want to be killed ?” said I.
He sprang to his feet, and looked a question at me as clear as if he had spoken.
"O!” cried I, "they're all murderers here; it's a ship full of them! They've murdered a boy already. Now
“Ay, ay,” said he; "but they haven't got me yet.”
And then looking at me curiously, “Will ye stand with me?"
“That will I!" said I. "I am no thief, nor yet murderer. I'll stand by you."
“Why, then," said he, “what's your name?"
"David Balfour,” said I; and then thinking that a man with so fine a coat must like fine people, I added for the first time "of Shaws."
It never occurred to him to doubt me, for a Highlander is used to see great gentlefolk in great poverty; but as he had no estate of his own, my words nettled a very childish vanity he had.
"My name is Stewart,” he said, drawing himself up. "Alan Breck, they call me. A king's name is good enough for me, though I bear it plain and have the name of no farm-midden to clap to the hind-end of it.”
And having administered this rebuke, as though it were something of a chief importance, he turned to examine our defences.
The round-house was built very strong, to support the breachings of the seas. Of its five apertures, only the skylight and the two doors were large enough for the passage of a man. The doors, besides, could be drawn close: they were of stout oak, and ran in grooves, and were fitted with hooks to keep them either shut or open