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Chapter 2

SUMMARY OF EVENTS (continued)

I made the last of my journey in the cold end of December, in a
mighty dry day of frost, and who should be my guide but Patey
Macmorland, brother of Tam! For a tow-headed, bare-legged brat of
ten, he had more ill tales upon his tongue than ever I heard the
match of; having drunken betimes in his brother's cup. I was still
not so old myself; pride had not yet the upper hand of curiosity;
and indeed it would have taken any man, that cold morning, to hear
all the old clashes of the country, and be shown all the places by
the way where strange things had fallen out. I had tales of
Claverhouse as we came through the bogs, and tales of the devil, as
we came over the top of the scaur. As we came in by the abbey I
heard somewhat of the old monks, and more of the freetraders, who
use its ruins for a magazine, landing for that cause within a
cannon-shot of Durrisdeer; and along all the road the Duries and
poor Mr. Henry were in the first rank of slander. My mind was thus
highly prejudiced against the family I was about to serve, so that
I was half surprised when I beheld Durrisdeer itself, lying in a
pretty, sheltered bay, under the Abbey Hill; the house most
commodiously built in the French fashion, or perhaps Italianate,
for I have no skill in these arts; and the place the most
beautified with gardens, lawns, shrubberies, and trees I had ever
seen. The money sunk here unproductively would have quite restored
the family; but as it was, it cost a revenue to keep it up.

Mr. Henry came himself to the door to welcome me: a tall dark
young gentleman (the Duries are all black men) of a plain and not
cheerful face, very strong in body, but not so strong in health:
taking me by the hand without any pride, and putting me at home
with plain kind speeches. He led me into the hall, booted as I
was, to present me to my lord. It was still daylight; and the
first thing I observed was a lozenge of clear glass in the midst of
the shield in the painted window, which I remember thinking a
blemish on a room otherwise so handsome, with its family portraits,
and the pargeted ceiling with pendants, and the carved chimney, in
one corner of which my old lord sat reading in his Livy. He was
like Mr. Henry, with much the same plain countenance, only more
subtle and pleasant, and his talk a thousand times more
entertaining. He had many questions to ask me, I remember, of
Edinburgh College, where I had just received my mastership of arts,
and of the various professors, with whom and their proficiency he
seemed well acquainted; and thus, talking of things that I knew, I
soon got liberty of speech in my new home.

In the midst of this came Mrs. Henry into the room; she was very
far gone, Miss Katharine being due in about six weeks, which made
me think less of her beauty at the first sight; and she used me
with more of condescension than the rest; so that, upon all
accounts, I kept her in the third place of my esteem.

It did not take long before all Patey Macmorland's tales were
blotted out of my belief, and I was become, what I have ever since
remained, a loving servant of the house of Durrisdeer. Mr. Henry
had the chief part of my affection. It was with him I worked; and
I found him an exacting master, keeping all his kindness for those
hours in which we were unemployed, and in the steward's office not
only loading me with work, but viewing me with a shrewd
supervision. At length one day he looked up from his paper with a
kind of timidness, and says he, "Mr. Mackellar, I think I ought to
tell you that you do very well." That was my first word of
commendation; and from that day his jealousy of my performance was
relaxed; soon it was "Mr. Mackellar" here, and "Mr. Mackellar"
there, with the whole family; and for much of my service at
Durrisdeer, I have transacted everything at my own time, and to my
own fancy, and never a farthing challenged. Even while he was
driving me, I had begun to find my heart go out to Mr. Henry; no
doubt, partly in pity, he was a man so palpably unhappy. He would
fall into a deep muse over our accounts, staring at the page or out
of the window; and at those times the look of his face, and the
sigh that would break from him, awoke in me strong feelings of
curiosity and commiseration. One day, I remember, we were late
upon some business in the steward's room.

This room is in the top of the house, and has a view upon the bay,
and over a little wooded cape, on the long sands; and there, right
over against the sun, which was then dipping, we saw the
freetraders, with a great force of men and horses, scouring on the
beach. Mr. Henry had been staring straight west, so that I
marvelled he was not blinded by the sun; suddenly he frowns, rubs
his hand upon his brow, and turns to me with a smile.

"You would not guess what I was thinking," says he. "I was
thinking I would be a happier man if I could ride and run the
danger of my life, with these lawless companions."

I told him I had observed he did not enjoy good spirits; and that
it was a common fancy to envy others and think we should be the
better of some change; quoting Horace to the point, like a young
man fresh from college.

"Why, just so," said he. "And with that we may get back to our
accounts."

It was not long before I began to get wind of the causes that so
much depressed him. Indeed a blind man must have soon discovered
there was a shadow on that house, the shadow of the Master of
Ballantrae. Dead or alive (and he was then supposed to be dead)
that man was his brother's rival: his rival abroad, where there
was never a good word for Mr. Henry, and nothing but regret and
praise for the Master; and his rival at home, not only with his
father and his wife, but with the very servants.

They were two old serving-men that were the leaders. John Paul, a
little, bald, solemn, stomachy man, a great professor of piety and
(take him for all in all) a pretty faithful servant, was the chief
of the Master's faction. None durst go so far as John. He took a
pleasure in disregarding Mr. Henry publicly, often with a slighting
comparison. My lord and Mrs. Henry took him up, to be sure, but
never so resolutely as they should; and he had only to pull his
weeping face and begin his lamentations for the Master - "his
laddie," as he called him - to have the whole condoned. As for
Henry, he let these things pass in silence, sometimes with a sad
and sometimes with a black look. There was no rivalling the dead,
he knew that; and how to censure an old serving-man for a fault of
loyalty, was more than he could see. His was not the tongue to do
it.

Macconochie was chief upon the other side; an old, ill-spoken,
swearing, ranting, drunken dog; and I have often thought it an odd
circumstance in human nature that these two serving-men should each
have been the champion of his contrary, and blackened their own
faults and made light of their own virtues when they beheld them in
a master. Macconochie had soon smelled out my secret inclination,
took me much into his confidence, and would rant against the Master
by the hour, so that even my work suffered. "They're a' daft
here," he would cry, "and be damned to them! The Master - the
deil's in their thrapples that should call him sae! it's Mr. Henry
should be master now! They were nane sae fond o' the Master when
they had him, I'll can tell ye that. Sorrow on his name! Never a
guid word did I hear on his lips, nor naebody else, but just
fleering and flyting and profane cursing - deil hae him! There's
nane kent his wickedness: him a gentleman! Did ever ye hear tell,
Mr. Mackellar, o' Wully White the wabster? No? Aweel, Wully was
an unco praying kind o' man; a dreigh body, nane o' my kind, I
never could abide the sight o' him; onyway he was a great hand by
his way of it, and he up and rebukit the Master for some of his on-
goings. It was a grand thing for the Master o' Ball'ntrae to tak
up a feud wi' a' wabster, wasnae't?" Macconochie would sneer;
indeed, he never took the full name upon his lips but with a sort
of a whine of hatred. "But he did! A fine employ it was:
chapping at the man's door, and crying 'boo' in his lum, and
puttin' poother in his fire, and pee-oys (1) in his window; till
the man thocht it was auld Hornie was come seekin' him. Weel, to
mak a lang story short, Wully gaed gyte. At the hinder end, they
couldnae get him frae his knees, but he just roared and prayed and
grat straucht on, till he got his release. It was fair murder,
a'body said that. Ask John Paul - he was brawly ashamed o' that
game, him that's sic a Christian man! Grand doin's for the Master
o' Ball'ntrae!" I asked him what the Master had thought of it
himself. "How would I ken?" says he. "He never said naething."
And on again in his usual manner of banning and swearing, with
every now and again a "Master of Ballantrae" sneered through his
nose. It was in one of these confidences that he showed me the
Carlisle letter, the print of the horse-shoe still stamped in the
paper. Indeed, that was our last confidence; for he then expressed
himself so ill-naturedly of Mrs. Henry that I had to reprimand him
sharply, and must thenceforth hold him at a distance.

My old lord was uniformly kind to Mr. Henry; he had even pretty
ways of gratitude, and would sometimes clap him on the shoulder and
say, as if to the world at large: "This is a very good son to me."
And grateful he was, no doubt, being a man of sense and justice.
But I think that was all, and I am sure Mr. Henry thought so. The
love was all for the dead son. Not that this was often given
breath to; indeed, with me but once. My lord had asked me one day
how I got on with Mr. Henry, and I had told him the truth.

"Ay," said he, looking sideways on the burning fire, "Henry is a
good lad, a very good lad," said he. "You have heard, Mr.
Mackellar, that I had another son? I am afraid he was not so
virtuous a lad as Mr. Henry; but dear me, he's dead, Mr. Mackellar!
and while he lived we were all very proud of him, all very proud.
If he was not all he should have been in some ways, well, perhaps
we loved him better!" This last he said looking musingly in the
fire; and then to me, with a great deal of briskness, "But I am
rejoiced you do so well with Mr. Henry. You will find him a good
master." And with that he opened his book, which was the customary
signal of dismission. But it would be little that he read, and
less that he understood; Culloden field and the Master, these would
be the burthen of his thought; and the burthen of mine was an
unnatural jealousy of the dead man for Mr. Henry's sake, that had
even then begun to grow on me.

I am keeping Mrs. Henry for the last, so that this expression of my
sentiment may seem unwarrantably strong: the reader shall judge
for himself when I have done. But I must first tell of another
matter, which was the means of bringing me more intimate. I had
not yet been six months at Durrisdeer when it chanced that John
Paul fell sick and must keep his bed; drink was the root of his
malady, in my poor thought; but he was tended, and indeed carried
himself, like an afflicted saint; and the very minister, who came
to visit him, professed himself edified when he went away. The
third morning of his sickness, Mr. Henry comes to me with something
of a hang-dog look.

"Mackellar," says he, "I wish I could trouble you upon a little
service. There is a pension we pay; it is John's part to carry it,
and now that he is sick I know not to whom I should look unless it
was yourself. The matter is very delicate; I could not carry it
with my own hand for a sufficient reason; I dare not send
Macconochie, who is a talker, and I am - I have - I am desirous
this should not come to Mrs. Henry's ears," says he, and flushed to
his neck as he said it.

To say truth, when I found I was to carry money to one Jessie
Broun, who was no better than she should be, I supposed it was some
trip of his own that Mr. Henry was dissembling. I was the more
impressed when the truth came out.

It was up a wynd off a side street in St. Bride's that Jessie had
her lodging. The place was very ill inhabited, mostly by the
freetrading sort. There was a man with a broken head at the entry;
half-way up, in a tavern, fellows were roaring and singing, though
it was not yet nine in the day. Altogether, I had never seen a
worse neighbourhood, even in the great city of Edinburgh, and I was
in two minds to go back. Jessie's room was of a piece with her
surroundings, and herself no better. She would not give me the
receipt (which Mr. Henry had told me to demand, for he was very
methodical) until she had sent out for spirits, and I had pledged
her in a glass; and all the time she carried on in a light-headed,
reckless way - now aping the manners of a lady, now breaking into
unseemly mirth, now making coquettish advances that oppressed me to
the ground. Of the money she spoke more tragically.

"It's blood money!" said she; "I take it for that: blood money for
the betrayed! See what I'm brought down to! Ah, if the bonnie lad
were back again, it would be changed days. But he's deid - he's
lyin' deid amang the Hieland hills - the bonnie lad, the bonnie
lad!"

She had a rapt manner of crying on the bonnie lad, clasping her
hands and casting up her eyes, that I think she must have learned
of strolling players; and I thought her sorrow very much of an
affectation, and that she dwelled upon the business because her
shame was now all she had to be proud of. I will not say I did not
pity her, but it was a loathing pity at the best; and her last
change of manner wiped it out. This was when she had had enough of
me for an audience, and had set her name at last to the receipt.
"There!" says she, and taking the most unwomanly oaths upon her
tongue, bade me begone and carry it to the Judas who had sent me.
It was the first time I had heard the name applied to Mr. Henry; I
was staggered besides at her sudden vehemence of word and manner,
and got forth from the room, under this shower of curses, like a
beaten dog. But even then I was not quit, for the vixen threw up
her window, and, leaning forth, continued to revile me as I went up
the wynd; the freetraders, coming to the tavern door, joined in the
mockery, and one had even the inhumanity to set upon me a very
savage small dog, which bit me in the ankle. This was a strong
lesson, had I required one, to avoid ill company; and I rode home
in much pain from the bite and considerable indignation of mind.

Mr. Henry was in the steward's room, affecting employment, but I
could see he was only impatient to hear of my errand.

"Well?" says he, as soon as I came in; and when I had told him
something of what passed, and that Jessie seemed an undeserving
woman and far from grateful: "She is no friend to me," said he;
"but, indeed, Mackellar, I have few friends to boast of, and Jessie
has some cause to be unjust. I need not dissemble what all the
country knows: she was not very well used by one of our family."
This was the first time I had heard him refer to the Master even
distantly; and I think he found his tongue rebellious even for that
much, but presently he resumed - "This is why I would have nothing
said. It would give pain to Mrs. Henry . . . and to my father," he
added, with another flush.

"Mr. Henry," said I, "if you will take a freedom at my hands, I
would tell you to let that woman be. What service is your money to
the like of her? She has no sobriety and no economy - as for
gratitude, you will as soon get milk from a whinstone; and if you
will pretermit your bounty, it will make no change at all but just
to save the ankles of your messengers."

Mr. Henry smiled. "But I am grieved about your ankle," said he,
the next moment, with a proper gravity.

"And observe," I continued, "I give you this advice upon
consideration; and yet my heart was touched for the woman in the
beginning."

"Why, there it is, you see!" said Mr. Henry. "And you are to
remember that I knew her once a very decent lass. Besides which,
although I speak little of my family, I think much of its repute."

And with that he broke up the talk, which was the first we had
together in such confidence. But the same afternoon I had the
proof that his father was perfectly acquainted with the business,
and that it was only from his wife that Mr. Henry kept it secret.

"I fear you had a painful errand to-day," says my lord to me, "for
which, as it enters in no way among your duties, I wish to thank
you, and to remind you at the same time (in case Mr. Henry should
have neglected) how very desirable it is that no word of it should
reach my daughter. Reflections on the dead, Mr. Mackellar, are
doubly painful."

Anger glowed in my heart; and I could have told my lord to his face
how little he had to do, bolstering up the image of the dead in
Mrs. Henry's heart, and how much better he were employed to shatter
that false idol; for by this time I saw very well how the land lay
between my patron and his wife.

My pen is clear enough to tell a plain tale; but to render the
effect of an infinity of small things, not one great enough in
itself to be narrated; and to translate the story of looks, and the
message of voices when they are saying no great matter; and to put
in half a page the essence of near eighteen months - this is what I
despair to accomplish. The fault, to be very blunt, lay all in
Mrs. Henry. She felt it a merit to have consented to the marriage,
and she took it like a martyrdom; in which my old lord, whether he
knew it or not, fomented her. She made a merit, besides, of her
constancy to the dead, though its name, to a nicer conscience,
should have seemed rather disloyalty to the living; and here also
my lord gave her his countenance. I suppose he was glad to talk of
his loss, and ashamed to dwell on it with Mr. Henry. Certainly, at
least, he made a little coterie apart in that family of three, and
it was the husband who was shut out. It seems it was an old custom
when the family were alone in Durrisdeer, that my lord should take
his wine to the chimney-side, and Miss Alison, instead of
withdrawing, should bring a stool to his knee, and chatter to him
privately; and after she had become my patron's wife the same
manner of doing was continued. It should have been pleasant to
behold this ancient gentleman so loving with his daughter, but I
was too much a partisan of Mr. Henry's to be anything but wroth at
his exclusion. Many's the time I have seen him make an obvious
resolve, quit the table, and go and join himself to his wife and my
Lord Durrisdeer; and on their part, they were never backward to
make him welcome, turned to him smilingly as to an intruding child,
and took him into their talk with an effort so ill-concealed that
he was soon back again beside me at the table, whence (so great is
the hall of Durrisdeer) we could but hear the murmur of voices at
the chimney. There he would sit and watch, and I along with him;
and sometimes by my lord's head sorrowfully shaken, or his hand
laid on Mrs. Henry's head, or hers upon his knee as if in
consolation, or sometimes by an exchange of tearful looks, we would
draw our conclusion that the talk had gone to the old subject and
the shadow of the dead was in the hall.

I have hours when I blame Mr. Henry for taking all too patiently;
yet we are to remember he was married in pity, and accepted his
wife upon that term. And, indeed, he had small encouragement to
make a stand. Once, I remember, he announced he had found a man to
replace the pane of the stained window, which, as it was he that
managed all the business, was a thing clearly within his
attributions. But to the Master's fancies, that pane was like a
relic; and on the first word of any change, the blood flew to Mrs.
Henry's face.

"I wonder at you!" she cried.

"I wonder at myself," says Mr. Henry, with more of bitterness than
I had ever heard him to express.

Thereupon my old lord stepped in with his smooth talk, so that
before the meal was at an end all seemed forgotten; only that,
after dinner, when the pair had withdrawn as usual to the chimney-
side, we could see her weeping with her head upon his knee. Mr.
Henry kept up the talk with me upon some topic of the estates - he
could speak of little else but business, and was never the best of
company; but he kept it up that day with more continuity, his eye
straying ever and again to the chimney, and his voice changing to
another key, but without check of delivery. The pane, however, was
not replaced; and I believe he counted it a great defeat.

Whether he was stout enough or no, God knows he was kind enough.
Mrs. Henry had a manner of condescension with him, such as (in a
wife) would have pricked my vanity into an ulcer; he took it like a
favour. She held him at the staff's end; forgot and then
remembered and unbent to him, as we do to children; burthened him
with cold kindness; reproved him with a change of colour and a
bitten lip, like one shamed by his disgrace: ordered him with a
look of the eye, when she was off her guard; when she was on the
watch, pleaded with him for the most natural attentions, as though
they were unheard-of favours. And to all this he replied with the
most unwearied service, loving, as folk say, the very ground she
trod on, and carrying that love in his eyes as bright as a lamp.
When Miss Katharine was to be born, nothing would serve but he must
stay in the room behind the head of the bed. There he sat, as
white (they tell me) as a sheet, and the sweat dropping from his
brow; and the handkerchief he had in his hand was crushed into a
little ball no bigger than a musket-bullet. Nor could he bear the
sight of Miss Katharine for many a day; indeed, I doubt if he was
ever what he should have been to my young lady; for the which want
of natural feeling he was loudly blamed.

Such was the state of this family down to the 7th April, 1749, when
there befell the first of that series of events which were to break
so many hearts and lose so many lives.


On that day I was sitting in my room a little before supper, when
John Paul burst open the door with no civility of knocking, and
told me there was one below that wished to speak with the steward;
sneering at the name of my office.

I asked what manner of man, and what his name was; and this
disclosed the cause of John's ill-humour; for it appeared the
visitor refused to name himself except to me, a sore affront to the
major-domo's consequence.

"Well," said I, smiling a little, "I will see what he wants."

I found in the entrance hall a big man, very plainly habited, and
wrapped in a sea-cloak, like one new landed, as indeed he was.
Not, far off Macconochie was standing, with his tongue out of his
mouth and his hand upon his chin, like a dull fellow thinking hard;
and the stranger, who had brought his cloak about his face,
appeared uneasy. He had no sooner seen me coming than he went to
meet me with an effusive manner.

"My dear man," said he, "a thousand apologies for disturbing you,
but I'm in the most awkward position. And there's a son of a
ramrod there that I should know the looks of, and more betoken I
believe that he knows mine. Being in this family, sir, and in a
place of some responsibility (which was the cause I took the
liberty to send for you), you are doubtless of the honest party?"

"You may be sure at least," says I, "that all of that party are
quite safe in Durrisdeer."

"My dear man, it is my very thought," says he. "You see, I have
just been set on shore here by a very honest man, whose name I
cannot remember, and who is to stand off and on for me till
morning, at some danger to himself; and, to be clear with you, I am
a little concerned lest it should be at some to me. I have saved
my life so often, Mr. -, I forget your name, which is a very good
one - that, faith, I would be very loath to lose it after all. And
the son of a ramrod, whom I believe I saw before Carlisle . . . "

"Oh, sir," said I, "you can trust Macconochie until to-morrow."

"Well, and it's a delight to hear you say so," says the stranger.
"The truth is that my name is not a very suitable one in this
country of Scotland. With a gentleman like you, my dear man, I
would have no concealments of course; and by your leave I'll just
breathe it in your ear. They call me Francis Burke - Colonel
Francis Burke; and I am here, at a most damnable risk to myself, to
see your masters - if you'll excuse me, my good man, for giving
them the name, for I'm sure it's a circumstance I would never have
guessed from your appearance. And if you would just be so very
obliging as to take my name to them, you might say that I come
bearing letters which I am sure they will be very rejoiced to have
the reading of."

Colonel Francis Burke was one of the Prince's Irishmen, that did
his cause such an infinity of hurt, and were so much distasted of
the Scots at the time of the rebellion; and it came at once into my
mind, how the Master of Ballantrae had astonished all men by going
with that party. In the same moment a strong foreboding of the
truth possessed my soul.

"If you will step in here," said I, opening a chamber door, "I will
let my lord know."

"And I am sure it's very good of you, Mr. What-is-your-name," says
the Colonel.

Up to the hall I went, slow-footed. There they were, all three -
my old lord in his place, Mrs. Henry at work by the window, Mr.
Henry (as was much his custom) pacing the low end. In the midst
was the table laid for supper. I told them briefly what I had to
say. My old lord lay back in his seat. Mrs. Henry sprang up
standing with a mechanical motion, and she and her husband stared
at each other's eyes across the room; it was the strangest,
challenging look these two exchanged, and as they looked, the
colour faded in their faces. Then Mr. Henry turned to me; not to
speak, only to sign with his finger; but that was enough, and I
went down again for the Colonel.

When we returned, these three were in much the same position I same
left them in; I believe no word had passed.

"My Lord Durrisdeer, no doubt?" says the Colonel, bowing, and my
lord bowed in answer. "And this," continues the Colonel, "should
be the Master of Ballantrae?"

"I have never taken that name," said Mr. Henry; "but I am Henry
Durie, at your service."

Then the Colonel turns to Mrs. Henry, bowing with his hat upon his
heart and the most killing airs of gallantry. "There can be no
mistake about so fine a figure of a lady," says he. "I address the
seductive Miss Alison, of whom I have so often heard?"

Once more husband and wife exchanged a look.

"I am Mrs. Henry Durie," said she; "but before my marriage my name
was Alison Graeme."

Then my lord spoke up. "I am an old man, Colonel Burke," said he,
"and a frail one. It will be mercy on your part to be expeditious.
Do you bring me news of - " he hesitated, and then the words broke
from him with a singular change of voice - "my son?"

"My dear lord, I will be round with you like a soldier," said the
Colonel. "I do."

My lord held out a wavering hand; he seemed to wave a signal, but
whether it was to give him time or to speak on, was more than we
could guess. At length he got out the one word, "Good?"

"Why, the very best in the creation!" cries the Colonel. "For my
good friend and admired comrade is at this hour in the fine city of
Paris, and as like as not, if I know anything of his habits, he
will be drawing in his chair to a piece of dinner. - Bedad, I
believe the lady's fainting."

Mrs. Henry was indeed the colour of death, and drooped against the
window-frame. But when Mr. Henry made a movement as if to run to
her, she straightened with a sort of shiver. "I am well," she
said, with her white lips.

Mr. Henry stopped, and his face had a strong twitch of anger. The
next moment he had turned to the Colonel. "You must not blame
yourself," says he, "for this effect on Mrs. Durie. It is only
natural; we were all brought up like brother and sister."

Mrs. Henry looked at her husband with something like relief or even
gratitude. In my way of thinking, that speech was the first step
he made in her good graces.

"You must try to forgive me, Mrs. Durie, for indeed and I am just
an Irish savage," said the Colonel; "and I deserve to be shot for
not breaking the matter more artistically to a lady. But here are
the Master's own letters; one for each of the three of you; and to
be sure (if I know anything of my friend's genius) he will tell his
own story with a better grace."

He brought the three letters forth as he spoke, arranged them by
their superscriptions, presented the first to my lord, who took it
greedily, and advanced towards Mrs. Henry holding out the second.

But the lady waved it back. "To my husband," says she, with a
choked voice.

The Colonel was a quick man, but at this he was somewhat
nonplussed. "To be sure!" says he; "how very dull of me! To be
sure!" But he still held the letter.

At last Mr. Henry reached forth his hand, and there was nothing to
be done but give it up. Mr. Henry took the letters (both hers and
his own), and looked upon their outside, with his brows knit hard,
as if he were thinking. He had surprised me all through by his
excellent behaviour; but he was to excel himself now.

"Let me give you a hand to your room," said he to his wife. "This
has come something of the suddenest; and, at any rate, you will
wish to read your letter by yourself."

Again she looked upon him with the same thought of wonder; but he
gave her no time, coming straight to where she stood. "It will be
better so, believe me," said he; "and Colonel Burke is too
considerate not to excuse you." And with that he took her hand by
the fingers, and led her from the hall.

Mrs. Henry returned no more that night; and when Mr. Henry went to
visit her next morning, as I heard long afterwards, she gave him
the letter again, still unopened.

"Oh, read it and be done!" he had cried.

"Spare me that," said she.

And by these two speeches, to my way of thinking, each undid a
great part of what they had previously done well. But the letter,
sure enough, came into my hands, and by me was burned, unopened.


To be very exact as to the adventures of the Master after Culloden,
I wrote not long ago to Colonel Burke, now a Chevalier of the Order
of St. Louis, begging him for some notes in writing, since I could
scarce depend upon my memory at so great an interval. To confess
the truth, I have been somewhat embarrassed by his response; for he
sent me the complete memoirs of his life, touching only in places
on the Master; running to a much greater length than my whole
story, and not everywhere (as it seems to me) designed for
edification. He begged in his letter, dated from Ettenheim, that I
would find a publisher for the whole, after I had made what use of
it I required; and I think I shall best answer my own purpose and
fulfil his wishes by printing certain parts of it in full. In this
way my readers will have a detailed, and, I believe, a very genuine
account of some essential matters; and if any publisher should take
a fancy to the Chevalier's manner of narration, he knows where to
apply for the rest, of which there is plenty at his service. I put
in my first extract here, so that it may stand in the place of what
the Chevalier told us over our wine in the hall of Durrisdeer; but
you are to suppose it was not the brutal fact, but a very varnished
version that he offered to my lord.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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