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If it's hard to pass a river, it stands to reason it
must be worse to pass a sea."

"But there's such a thing as a boat," says Alan, "or I'm the more
deceived."

"Ay, and such a thing as money," says I. "But for us that have neither
one nor other, they might just as well not have been invented."

"Ye think so?" said Alan.

"I do that," said I.

"David," says he, "ye're a man of small invention and less faith. But
let me set my wits upon the hone, and if I canna beg, borrow, nor yet
steal a boat, I'll make one!"

"I think I see ye!" said I. "And what's more than all that: if ye pass a
bridge, it can tell no tales; but if we pass the firth, there's the boat
on the wrong side--somebody must have brought it--the countryside will
all be in a bizz----"

"Man!" cried Alan, "if I make a boat, I'll make a body to take it back
again! So deave me with no more of your nonsense, but walk (for that's
what you've got to do)--and let Alan think for ye."

All night, then, we walked through the north side of the Carse, under
the high line of the Ochil mountains; and by Alloa and Clackmannan and
Culross, all of which we avoided: and about ten in the morning, mighty
hungry and tired, came to the little clachan of Limekilns. This is a
place that sits near in by the waterside and looks across the Hope to
the town of the Queen's Ferry. Smoke went up from both of these and from
other villages and farms upon all hands. The fields were being reaped;
two ships lay anchored, and boats were coming and going on the Hope. It
was altogether a right pleasant sight to me; and I could not take my
fill of gazing at these comfortable, green, cultivated hills and the
busy people both of the field and sea.

For all that, there was Mr. Rankeillor's house on the south shore, where
I had no doubt wealth awaited me; and here was I upon the north, clad in
poor enough attire of an outlandish fashion, with three silver shillings
left to me of all my fortune, a price set upon my head, and an outlawed
man for my sole company.

"O Alan!" said I, "to think of it! Over there, there's all that heart
could want waiting me; and the birds go over, and the boats go over--all
that please can go, but just me only! O, man, but it's a heart-break!"

In Limekilns we entered a small change-house, which we only knew to be a
public by the wand over the door, and bought some bread and cheese from
a good-looking lass that was the servant. This we carried with us in a
bundle, meaning to sit and eat it in a bush of wood on the sea-shore,
that we saw some third part of a mile in front. As we went, I kept
looking across the water and sighing to myself; and, though I took no
heed of it, Alan had fallen into a muse. At last he stopped in the way.

"Did ye take heed of the lass we bought this of?" says he, tapping on
the bread and cheese.

"To be sure," said I, "and a bonny lass she was."

"Ye thought that?" cries he. "Man David, that's good news."

"In the name of all that's wonderful, why so?" says I. "What good can
that do?"

"Well," said Alan, with one of his droll looks, "I was rather in hopes
it would maybe get us that boat."

"If it were the other way about, it would be liker it," said I.

"That's all that you ken, ye see," said Alan. "I don't want the lass to
fall in love with ye, I want her to be sorry for ye, David; to which end
there is no manner of need that she should take you for a beauty. Let me
see" (looking me curiously over). "I wish ye were a wee thing paler; but
apart from that ye'll do fine for my purpose--ye have a fine, hang-dog,
rag-and-tatter, clappermaclaw kind of a look to ye, as if ye had stolen
the coat from a potato-bogle. Come; right about, and back to the
change-house for that boat of ours."

I followed him, laughing.

"David Balfour," said he, "ye're a very funny gentleman by your way of
it, and this is a very funny employ for ye, no doubt. For all that, if
ye have any affection for my neck (to say nothing of your own) ye will
perhaps be kind enough to take this matter responsibly. I am going to do
a bit of play-acting, the bottom ground of which is just exactly as
serious as the gallows for the pair of us. So bear it, if ye please, in
mind, and conduct yourself according."

"Well, well," said I, "have it as you will."

As we got near the clachan, he made me take his arm and hang upon it
like one almost helpless with weariness; and by the time he pushed open
the change-house door he seemed to be half carrying me. The maid
appeared surprised (as well she might be) at our speedy return; but Alan
had no words to spare for her in explanation, helped me to a chair,
called for a tass of brandy, with which he fed me in little sips, and
then, breaking up the bread and cheese, helped me to eat it like a
nursery-lass; the whole with that grave, concerned, affectionate
countenance, that might have imposed upon a judge. It was small wonder
if the maid were taken with the picture we presented, of a poor, sick,
overwrought lad and his most tender comrade. She drew quite near, and
stood leaning with her back on the next table.

"What's like wrong with him?" said she at last.

Alan turned upon her, to my great wonder, with a kind of fury. "Wrong?"
cries he. "He's walked more hundreds of miles than he has hairs upon his
chin, and slept oftener in wet heather than dry sheets. Wrong, quo' she!
Wrong enough, I would think! Wrong, indeed!" and he kept grumbling to
himself, as he fed me, like a man ill-pleased.

"He's young for the like of that," said the maid.

"Ower young," said Alan, with his back to her.

"He would be better riding," says she.

"And where could I get a horse to him?" cried Alan, turning on her with
the same appearance of fury. "Would ye have me steal?"

I thought this roughness would have sent her off in dudgeon, as indeed
it closed her mouth for the time. But my companion knew very well what
he was doing; and, for as simple as he was in some things of life, had a
great fund of roguishness in such affairs as these.

"Ye needna tell me," she said at last--"ye're gentry."

"Well," said Alan, softened a little (I believe against his will) by
this artless comment, "and suppose we were? Did ever you hear that
gentrice put money in folk's pockets?"

She sighed at this, as if she were herself some disinherited great lady.
"No," says she, "that's true indeed."

I was all this while chafing at the part I played, and sitting
tongue-tied between shame and merriment; but somehow at this I could
hold in no longer, and bade Alan let me be, for I was better already. My
voice stuck in my throat, for I ever hated to take part in lies; but my
very embarrassment helped on the plot, for the lass no doubt set down my
husky voice to sickness and fatigue.

"Has he nae friends?" said she, in a tearful voice.

"That has he so!" cried Alan, "if we could but win to them!--friends and
rich friends, beds to lie in, food to eat, doctors to see to him--and
here he must tramp in the dubs and sleep in the heather like a
beggar-man."

"And why that?" says the lass.

"My dear," said Alan, "I canna very safely say; but I'll tell ye what
I'll do instead," says he, "I'll whistle ye a bit tune." And with that
he leaned pretty far over the table, and in a mere breath of a whistle,
but with a wonderful pretty sentiment, gave her a few bars of "Charlie
is my darling."

"Wheesht," says she, and looked over her shoulder to the door.

"That's it," said Alan.

"And him so young!" cries the lass.

"He's old enough to----" and Alan struck his forefinger on the back part
of his neck, meaning that I was old enough to lose my head.

"It would be a black shame," she cried, flushing nigh.

"It's what will be, though," said Alan, "unless we manage the better."

At this the lass turned and ran out of that part of the house, leaving
us alone together.--Alan in high good humour at the furthering of his
schemes, and I in bitter dudgeon at being called a Jacobite and treated
like a child.

"Alan," I cried, "I can stand no more of this."

"Ye'll have to sit it, then, Davie," said he. "For if ye upset the pot
now, ye may scrape your own life out of the fire, but Alan Breck is a
dead man."

This was so true that I could only groan; and even my groan served
Alan's purpose, for it was overheard by the lass as she came flying in
again with a dish of white puddings and a bottle of strong ale.

"Poor lamb!" says she, and had no sooner set the meat before us, than
she touched me on the shoulder with a little friendly touch, as much as
to bid me cheer up. Then she told us to fall-to, and there would be no
more to pay; for the inn was her own, or at least her father's, and he
was gone for the day to Pittencrieff. We waited for no second bidding,
for bread and cheese is but cold comfort, and the puddings smelt
excellently well; and while we sat and ate, she took up that same place
by the next table, looking on, and thinking, and frowning to herself,
and drawing the string of her apron through her hand.

"I'm thinking ye have rather a long tongue," she said at last to Alan.

"Ay," said Alan; "but ye see I ken the folk I speak to."

"I would never betray ye," said she, "if ye mean that."

"No," said he, "ye're not that kind. But I'll tell ye what ye would do,
ye would help."

"I couldna," said she, shaking her head. "Na, I couldna."

"No," said he, "but if ye could?"

She answered him nothing.

"Look here, my lass," said Alan, "there are boats in the kingdom of
Fife, for I saw two (no less) upon the beach, as I came in by your
town's end. Now if we could have the use of a boat to pass under cloud
of night into Lothian, and some secret, decent kind of a man to bring
that boat back again and keep his counsel, there would be two souls
saved--mine to all likelihood--his to a dead surety. If we lack that
boat, we have but three shillings left in this wide world; and where to
go, and how to do, and what other place there is for us except the
chains of a gibbet--I give you my naked word, I kenna! Shall we go
wanting, lassie? Are ye to lie in your warm bed and think upon us, when
the wind gowls in the chimney and the rain tirls on the roof?



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