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Chapter 18

THE TEE'D BALL


On the morrow, from the justices' private room, where none could see me,
I heard the verdict given in and judgment rendered upon James. The
Duke's words I am quite sure I have correctly; and since that famous
passage has been made a subject of dispute, I may as well commemorate my
version. Having referred to the year '45, the chief of the Campbells,
sitting as Justice-General upon the bench, thus addressed the
unfortunate Stewart before him: "If you had been successful in that
rebellion, you might have been giving the law where you have now
received the judgment of it; we, who are this day your judges, might
have been tried before one of your mock courts of judicature; and then
you might have been satiated with the blood of any name or clan to which
you had an aversion."

"This is to let the cat out of the bag, indeed," thought I. And that was
the general impression. It was extraordinary how the young advocate lads
took hold and made a mock of this speech, and how scarce a meal passed
but what some one would get in the words: "And then you might have been
satiated." Many songs were made in that time for the hour's diversion,
and are near all forgot. I remember one began:

What do ye want the bluid of, bluid of?
Is it a name, or is it a clan,
Or is it an aefauld Hielandman,
That ye want the bluid of, bluid of?

Another went to my old favourite air, _The House of Airlie_, and began
thus:

It fell on a day when Argyle was on the bench,
That they served him a Stewart for his denner.

And one of the verses ran:

Then up and spak the Duke, and flyted on his cook,
I regaird it as a sensible aspersion,
That I would sup ava', an' satiate my maw,
With the bluid of ony clan of my aversion.

James was as fairly murdered as though the Duke had got a fowling-piece
and stalked him. So much of course I knew: but others knew not so much,
and were more affected by the items of scandal that came to light in the
progress of the cause. One of the chief was certainly this sally of the
justice's. It was run hard by another of a juryman, who had struck into
the midst of Colstoun's speech for the defence with a "Pray, sir, cut it
short, we are quite weary," which seemed the very excess of impudence
and simplicity. But some of my new lawyer friends were still more
staggered with an innovation that had disgraced and even vitiated the
proceedings. One witness was never called. His name, indeed, was
printed, where it may still be seen on the fourth page of the list:
"James Drummond, _alias_ Macgregor, _alias_ James More, late tenant in
Inveronachile"; and his precognition had been taken, as the manner is,
in writing. He had remembered or invented (God help him) matter which
was lead in James Stewart's shoes, and I saw was like to prove wings to
his own. This testimony it was highly desirable to bring to the notice
of the jury, without exposing the man himself to the perils of
cross-examination; and the way it was brought about was a matter of
surprise to all. For the paper was handed round (like a curiosity) in
court; passed through the jury-box, where it did its work; and
disappeared again (as though by accident) before it reached the counsel
for the prisoner. This was counted a most insidious device; and that the
name of James More should be mingled up with it filled me with shame for
Catriona and concern for myself.

The following day, Prestongrange and I, with a considerable company, set
out for Glasgow, where (to my impatience) we continued to linger some
time in a mixture of pleasure and affairs. I lodged with my lord, with
whom I was encouraged to familiarity; had my place at entertainments;
was presented to the chief guests; and altogether made more of than I
thought accorded either with my parts or station; so that, on strangers
being present, I would often blush for Prestongrange. It must be owned
the view I had taken of the world in these last months was fit to cast a
gloom upon my character. I had met many men, some of them leaders in
Israel whether by their birth or talents; and who among them all had
shown clean hands? As for the Browns and Millers, I had seen their
self-seeking, I could never again respect them. Prestongrange was the
best yet; he had saved me, had spared me rather, when others had it in
their minds to murder me outright; but the blood of James lay at his
door; and I thought his present dissimulation with myself a thing below
pardon. That he should affect to find pleasure in my discourse almost
surprised me out of my patience. I would sit and watch him with a kind
of a slow fire of anger in my bowels. "Ah, friend, friend," I would
think to myself, "if you were but through with this affair of the
memorial, would you not kick me in the streets?" Here I did him, as
events have proved, the most foul injustice; and I think he was at once
far more sincere, and a far more artful performer than I supposed.

But I had some warrant for my incredulity in the behaviour of that court
of young advocates that hung about him in the hope of patronage. The
sudden favour of a lad not previously heard of troubled them at first
out of measure; but two days were not gone by before I found myself
surrounded with flattery and attention. I was the same young man, and
neither better nor bonnier, that they had rejected a month before; and
now there was no civility too fine for me! The same, do I say? It was
not so; and the byname by which I went behind my back confirmed it.
Seeing me so firm with the Advocate, and persuaded that I was to fly
high and far, they had taken a word from the golfing green, and called
me _the Tee'd Ball_.[14] I was told I was now "one of themselves"; I was
to taste of their soft lining, who had already made my own experience of
the roughness of the outer husk; and the one, to whom I had been
presented in Hope Park, was so assured as even to remind me of that
meeting. I told him I had not the pleasure of remembering it.

"Why," says he, "it was Miss Grant herself presented me! My name is
so-and-so."

"It may very well be, sir," said I, "but I have kept no mind of it."

At which he desisted; and in the midst of the disgust that commonly
overflowed my spirits I had a glisk of pleasure.

But I have not patience to dwell upon that time at length. When I was in
company with these young politics I was borne down with shame for myself
and my own plain ways, and scorn for them and their duplicity. Of the
two evils, I thought Prestongrange to be the least; and while I was
always as stiff as buckram to the young bloods, I made rather a
dissimulation of my hard feelings towards the Advocate, and was (in old
Mr. Campbell's word) "soople to the laird." Himself commented on the
difference, and bid me be more of my age, and make friends with my young
comrades.

I told him I was slow of making friends.

"I will take the word back," said he. "But there is such a thing as
_Fair gude e'en and fair gude day_, Mr. David. These are the same young
men with whom you are to pass your days and get through life: your
backwardness has a look of arrogance; and unless you can assume a little
more lightness of manner, I fear you will meet difficulties in the
path."

"It will be an ill job to make a silk purse of a sow's ear," said I.

On the morning of October 1st I was awakened by the clattering in of an
express; and getting to my window almost before he had dismounted, I saw
the messenger had ridden hard. Somewhile after I was called to
Prestongrange, where he was sitting in his bedgown and nightcap, with
his letters around him.

"Mr. David," said he, "I have a piece of news for you. It concerns some
friends of yours, of whom I sometimes think you are a little ashamed,
for you have never referred to their existence."

I suppose I blushed.

"I see you understand, since you make the answering signal," said he.
"And I must compliment you on your excellent taste in beauty. But do you
know, Mr. David, this seems to me a very enterprising lass? She crops up
from every side. The Government of Scotland appears unable to proceed
for Mistress Katrine Drummond, which was somewhat the case (no great
while back) with a certain Mr. David Balfour. Should not these make a
good match? Her first intromission in politics--but I must not tell you
that story, the authorities have decided you are to hear it otherwise
and from a livelier narrator. This new example is more serious, however;
and I am afraid I must alarm you with the intelligence that she is now
in prison."

I cried out.

"Yes," said he, "the little lady is in prison. But I would not have you
to despair. Unless you (with your friends and memorials) shall procure
my downfall, she is to suffer nothing."

"But what has she done? What is her offence?" I cried.

"It might be almost construed a high treason," he returned, "for she has
broke the King's Castle of Edinburgh."

"The lady is much my friend," I said. "I know you would not work me if
the thing were serious."

"And yet it is serious in a sense," said he; "for this rogue of a
Katrine--or Cateran, as we may call her--has set adrift again upon the
world that very doubtful character, her papa."

Here was one of my previsions justified: James More was once again at
liberty. He had lent his men to keep me a prisoner; he had volunteered
his testimony in the Appin case, and the same (no matter by what
subterfuge) had been employed to influence the jury. Now came his
reward, and he was free. It might please the authorities to give to it
the colour of an escape; but I knew better--I knew it was the fulfilment
of a bargain. The same course of thought relieved me of the least alarm
for Catriona. She might be thought to have broke prison for her father;
she might have believed so herself. But the chief hand in the whole
business was that of Prestongrange; and I was sure, so far from letting
her come to punishment, he would not suffer her to be even tried.
Whereupon thus came out of me the not very politic ejaculation:

"Ah! I was expecting that!"

"You have at times a great deal of discretion too!" says Prestongrange.

"And what is my lord pleased to mean by that?" I asked.

"I was just marvelling," he replied, "that being so clever as to draw
these inferences, you should not be clever enough to keep them to
yourself. But I think you would like to hear the details of the affair.
I have received two versions: and the least official is the more full
and far the more entertaining, being from the lively pen of my eldest
daughter. 'Here is all the town bizzing with a fine piece of work,' she
writes, 'and what would make the thing more noted (if it were only
known) the malefactor is a _protégée_ of his lordship my papa. I am sure
your heart is too much in your duty (if it were nothing else) to have
forgotten Grey Eyes. What does she do, but get a broad hat with the
flaps open, a long hairy-like man's great-coat, and a big gravatt; kilt
her coats up to _Gude kens whaur_, clap two pair of boot-hose upon her
legs, take a pair of _clouted brogues_[15] in her hand, and off to the
Castle? Here she gives herself out to be a soutar[16] in the employ of
James More, and gets admitted to his cell, the lieutenant (who seems to
have been full of pleasantry) making sport among his soldiers of the
soutar's great-coat. Presently they hear disputation and the sound of
blows inside. Out flies the cobbler, his coat flying, the flaps of his
hat beat about his face, and the lieutenant and his soldiers mock at him
as he runs off. They laughed not so hearty the next time they had
occasion to visit the cell, and found nobody but a tall, pretty,
grey-eyed lass in the female habit! As for the cobbler, he was "over the
hills ayont Dumblane," and it's thought that poor Scotland will have to
console herself without him. I drank Catriona's health this night in
public. Indeed, the whole town admires her; and I think the beaux would
wear bits of her garters in their button-holes if they could only get
them. I would have gone to visit her in prison too, only I remembered in
time I was papa's daughter; so I wrote her a billet instead, which I
entrusted to the faithful Doig, and I hope you will admit I can be
political when I please. The same faithful gomeral is to despatch this
letter by the express along with those of the wiseacres, so that you may
hear Tom Fool in company with Solomon. Talking of _gomerals_, do tell
_Dauvit Balfour_. I would I could see the face of him at the thought of
a long-legged lass in such a predicament! to say nothing of the levities
of your affectionate daughter, and his respectful friend.' So my rascal
signs herself!" continued Prestongrange. "And you see, Mr. David, it is
quite true what I tell you, that my daughters regard you with the most
affectionate playfulness."


"The gomeral is much obliged," said I.

"And was not this prettily done?" he went on. "Is not this Highland maid
a piece of a heroine?"

"I was always sure she had a great heart," said I. "And I wager she
guessed nothing.... But I beg your pardon, this is to tread upon
forbidden subjects."

"I will go bail she did not," he returned, quite openly. "I will go bail
she thought she was flying straight into King George's face."

Remembrance of Catriona, and the thought of her lying in captivity,
moved me strangely. I could see that even Prestongrange admired, and
could not withhold his lips from smiling when he considered her
behaviour. As for Miss Grant, for all her ill habit of mockery, her
admiration shone out plain. A kind of a heat came on me.

"I am not your lordship's daughter..." I began.

"That I know of!" he put in smiling.

"I speak like a fool," said I, "or rather I began wrong. It would
doubtless be unwise in Mistress Grant to go to her in prison; but for
me, I think I would look like a half-hearted friend if I did not fly
there instantly."

"So-ho, Mr. David," says he, "I thought that you and I were in a
bargain?"

"My lord," I said, "when I made that bargain I was a good deal affected
by your goodness, but I'll never can deny that I was moved besides by my
own interest. There was self-seeking in my heart, and I think shame of
it now. It may be for your lordship's safety to say this fashious Davie
Balfour is your friend and housemate. Say it then; I'll never contradict
you. But as for your patronage, I give it all back. I ask but the one
thing--let me go, and give me a pass to see her in her prison."

He looked at me with a hard eye. "You put the cart before the horse, I
think," says he. "That which I had given was a portion of my liking,
which your thankless nature does not seem to have remarked. But for my
patronage, it is not given, nor (to be exact) is it yet offered." He
paused a bit. "And I warn you, you do not know yourself," he added.
"Youth is a hasty season; you will think better of all this before a
year."

"Well, and I would like to be that kind of youth!" I cried. "I have seen
too much of the other party, in these young advocates that fawn upon
your lordship and are even at the pains to fawn on me. And I have seen
it in the old ones also. They are all for by-ends, the whole clan of
them! It's this that makes me seem to misdoubt your lordship's liking.
Why would I think that you would like me? But ye told me yourself ye had
an interest!"

I stopped at this, confounded that I had run so far; he was observing me
with a unfathomable face.

"My lord, I ask your pardon," I resumed. "I have nothing in my chafts
but a rough country tongue. I think it would be only decent-like if I
would go to see my friend in her captivity; but I'm owing you my life,
I'll never forget that; and-if it's for your lordship's good, here I'll
stay. That's barely gratitude."

"This might have been reached in fewer words," says Prestongrange,
grimly. "It is easy, and it is at times gracious, to say a plain Scots
'ay'."

"Ah, but, my lord, I think ye take me not yet entirely!" cried I. "For
_your_ sake, for my life-safe, and the kindness that ye say ye bear to
me--for these, I'll consent; but not for any good that might be coming
to myself. If I stand aside when this young maid is in her trial, it's a
thing I will be noways advantaged by; I will lose by it, I will never
gain. I would rather make a shipwreck wholly than to build on that
foundation."

He was a minute serious, then smiled. "You mind me of the man with the
long nose," said he: "was you to look at the moon by a telescope, you
would see David Balfour there! But you shall have your way of it. I will
ask at you one service, and then set you free. My clerks are overdriven;
be so good as copy me these few pages," says he, visibly swithering
among some huge rolls of manuscripts, "and when that is done, I shall
bid you God speed! I would never charge myself with Mr. David's
conscience; and if you could cast some part of it (as you went by) in a
moss hag, you would find yourself to ride much easier without it."

"Perhaps not just entirely in the same direction though, my lord!" says
I.

"And you shall have the last word, too!" cries he gaily.

Indeed he had some cause for gaiety, having now found the means to gain
his purpose. To lessen the weight of the memorial, or to have a readier
answer at his hand, he desired I should appear publicly in the character
of his intimate. But if I were to appear with the same publicity as a
visitor to Catriona in her prison the world would scarce stint to draw
conclusions, and the true nature of James More's escape must become
evident to all. This was the little problem I had set him of a sudden,
and to which he had so briskly found an answer. I was to be tethered in
Glasgow by that job of copying, which in mere outward decency I could
not well refuse; and during these hours of my employment Catriona was
privately got rid of. I think shame to write of this man that loaded me
with so many goodnesses. He was kind to me as any father, yet I ever
thought him as false as a cracked bell.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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