“There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people.”
“Ye would make a fools bargain,” said [Alan to Captain Hoseason]. “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.”
“Alan,” cried I, “what makes ye so good to me? What makes ye care for such a thankless fellow?” Deed, and I dont, know” said Alan. “For just precisely what I thought I liked about ye, was that ye ,never quarrelled:—and now I like ye better!”
“Now this was one of the things I had been brought up to eschew like disgrace; it being held by my father neither the part of a Christian nor yet of a gentleman to set his own livelihood and fish for that of others, on the cast of painted pasteboard.”
“Why, sir,” said I, “if I knew where I was going, or what was likely to become of me, I would tell you candidly. Essendean is a good place indeed, and I have been very happy there; but then I have never been anywhere else. My father and mother, since they are both dead, I shall be no nearer to in Essendean than in the Kingdom of Hungary, and, to speak truth, if I thought I had a chance to better myself where I was going I would go with a good will.”
“But besides that I was of an unforgiving disposition from my birth, slow to take offense, slower to forget it, and now incensed both against my companion and myself.”
The womans face lit up with a malignant anger. “That is the house of Shaws!” she cried. “Blood built it; blood stopped the building of it; blood shall bring it down. See here!” she cried again–”I spit upon the ground, and crack my thumb at it! Black be its fall! If ye see the laird, tell him what ye hear; tell him this makes the twelve hunner and nineteen time that Jennet Clouston has called down the curse on him and his house, byre and stable, man, guest, and master, wife, miss, or bairn–black, black be their fall!”
I sat me down and stared at the house of Shaws. The more I looked, the pleasanter that country-side appeared; being all set with hawthorn bushes full of flowers; the fields dotted with sheep; a fine flight of rooks in the sky; and every sign of a kind soil and climate; and yet the barrack in the midst of it went sore against my fancy.
“And yet Alan had behaved like a child, and (what is worse) a treacherous child.
“Nay,” said Mr. Campbell, “who can tell that for a surety? But the name of that family, Davie, boy, is the name you bear–Balfours of Shaws: an ancient, honest, reputable house, peradventure in these latter days decayed.