And just thenWho goes? cried a voice, and we heard the butt of a musket rattle on the stones. I must suppose the sentry had been sleeping, so that had we tried, we might have passed unseen; but he was awake now, and the chance forfeited.
Thisll never do, said Alan. Thisll never, never do for us, David.
And without another word, he began to crawl away through the fields; and a little after, being well out of eye-shot, got to his feet again, and struck along a road that led to the eastward. I could not conceive what he was doing; and indeed I was so sharply cut by the disappointment, that I was little likely to be pleased with anything. A moment back and I had seen myself knocking at Mr. Rankeillors door to claim my inheritance, like a hero in a ballad; and here was I back again, a wandering, hunted blackguard, on the wrong side of Forth.
Well? said I.
Well, said Alan, what would ye have? Theyre none such fools as I took them for. We have still the Forth to pass, Davieweary fall the rains that fed and the hillsides that guided it!
And why go east? said I.
Ou, just upon the chance! said he. If we cannae pass the river, well have to see what we can do for the firth.
There are fords upon the river, and none upon the firth, said I.
To be sure there are fords, and a bridge forbye, quoth Alan; and of what service, when they are watched?
Well, said I, but a river can be swum.
By them that have the skill of it, returned he; but I have yet to hear that either you or me is much of a hand at that exercise; and for my own part, I swim like a stone.
Im not up to you in talking back, Alan, I said; but I can see were making bad worse. If its hard to pass a river, it stands to reason it must be worse to pass a sea.
But theres such a thing as a boat, says Alan, or Im 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, yere a man of small invention and less faith. But let me set my wits upon the hone, and if I cannae beg, borrow, nor yet steal a boat, Ill make one!
I think I see ye! said I. And whats more than all that: if ye pass a bridge, it can tell no tales; but if we pass the firth, theres the boat on the wrong sidesomebody must have brought itthe country-side will all be in a bizz
Man! cried Alan, if I make a boat, Ill make a body to take it back again! So deave me with no more of your nonsense, but walk (for thats what youve 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
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