Mr. Rae's first care was to see Mr. Dunn.
This case was getting rather more trying to Mr. Rae's nerves than he
cared to acknowledge. For a second time he had been humiliated, and
humiliation was an experience to which Mr. Rae was not accustomed. It
was in a distinctly wrathful frame of mind that he called upon Mr. Dunn,
and the first quarter of an hour of his interview he spent in dilating
upon his own folly in having allowed Captain Cameron to accompany him on
his visit to Sir Archibald.
"In forty years I never remember having
made such an error, Sir. This was an occasion for diplomacy. We should
have taken time. We should have discovered his weak spots; every man has
them. Now it is too late. The only thing left for us is fight, and the
best we can hope for is a verdict of NOT PROVEN, and that leaves a
"It is terrible," said Mr. Dunn, "and I
believe he is innocent. Have you thought of Potts, Sir?"
"I have had Potts before me," said Mr.
Rae, "and I may safely say that though he strikes me as being a man of
unusual cleverness, we can do nothing with Mr. Potts. Of course," added
Mr. Rae hastily, "this is not to say we shall not make use of Mr. Potts
in the trial, but Mr. Potts can show from his books debts amounting to
nearly sixty pounds. He frankly acknowledges the pleasantry in
suggesting the raising of the five-pound cheque to fifty pounds, but of
the act itself he professes entire ignorance. I frankly own to you,
Sir," continued Mr. Rae, folding his ear into a horn after his manner
when in perplexity, "that this case puzzles me. I must not take your
time," he said, shaking Mr. Dunn warmly by the hand. "One thing more I
must ask you, however, and that is, keep in touch with young Cameron. I
have pledged my honour to produce him when wanted. Furthermore, keep
him—ah—in good condition; cheer him up; nerve him up; much depends upon
Gravely Mr. Dunn accepted the trust,
though whether he could fulfil it he doubted. "Keep him cheerful," said
Mr. Dunn to himself, as the door closed upon Mr. Rae. "Nice easy job,
too, under the circumstances. Let's see, what is there on? By Jove, if I
could only bring him!" There flashed into Mr. Dunn's mind the fact that
he was due that evening at a party for students, given by one of the
professors, belated beyond the period proper to such functions by one of
those domestic felicities which claim right of way over all other human
events. At this party Cameron was also due. It was hardly likely,
however, that he would attend. But to Dunn's amazement he found Cameron,
with a desperate jollity such as a man might feel the night before his
execution, eager to go.
"I'm going," he cried, in answer to Dunn's
somewhat timid suggestion. "They'll all be there, old man, and I shall
make my exit with much eclat, with pipe and dance and all the rest of
"Exit, be blowed!" said Dunn impatiently.
"Let's cut all this nonsense out. We're going into a fight for all
there's in us. Why should a fellow throw up the sponge after the first
"Fight!" said Cameron gloomily. "Did old
Rae say so?"
"And what defence does he suggest?"
"Defence? Innocence, of course."
"Would to God I could back him up!"
Dunn gazed at him in dismay. "And can you
not? You do not mean to tell me you are guilty?"
"Oh, I wish to heaven I knew!" cried
Cameron wildly. "But there, let it go. Let the lawyers and the judge
puzzle it out. 'Guilty or not guilty?' 'Hanged if I know, my lord. Looks
like guilty, but don't see very well how I can be.' That will bother old
Rae some; it would bother Old Nick himself. 'Did you forge this note?'
'My lord, my present ego recognizes no intent to forge; my alter ego in
vino may have done so. Of that, however, I know nothing; it lies in that
mysterious region of the subconscious.' 'Are you, then, guilty?' 'Guilt,
my lord, lies in intent. Intent is the soul of crime.' It will be an
interesting point for Mr. Rae and his lordship."
"Look here, old chap," asked Dunn
suddenly, "what of Potts in this business?"
"Potts! Oh, hang it, Dunn, I can't drag
Potts into this. It would be altogether too low-down to throw suspicion
upon a man without the slightest ground. Potts is not exactly a
lofty-souled creature. In fact, he is pronouncedly a bounder, though I
confess I did borrow money of him; but I'd borrow money of the devil
when I'm in certain moods. A man may be a bounder, however, without
being a criminal. No, I have thought this thing out as far as I can, and
I've made my mind up that I've got to face it myself. I've been a fool,
ah, such a fool!" A shudder shook his frame. "Oh, Dunn, old man, I don't
mind for myself, I can go out easily enough, but it's my little sister!
It will break her heart, and she has no one else; she will have to bear
it all alone."
"What do you mean, Cameron?" asked Dunn
Cameron sprang to his feet. "Let it go,"
he cried. "Let it go for to-night, anyway." He seized a decanter which
stood all too ready to his hand, but Dunn interposed.
"Listen to me, old man," he said, in a
voice of grave and earnest sadness, while he pushed Cameron back into a
chair. "We have a desperately hard game before us, you and I,—this is my
game, too,—and we must be fit; so, Cameron, I want your word that you
will play up for all that's in you; that you will cut this thing out,"
pointing to the decanter, "and will keep fit to the last fighting
minute. I am asking you this, Cameron. You owe it to yourself, you owe
it to me, you owe it to your sister."
For some moments Cameron sat gazing
straight before him, his face showing the agony in his soul. "As God's
above, I do! I owe it to you, Dunn, and to her, and to the memory of
my—" But his quivering lips could not utter the word; and there was no
need, for they both knew that his heart was far away in the little mound
that lay in the shadow of the church tower in the Cuagh Oir. The lad
rose to his feet, and stretching out his hand to Dunn cried, "There's my
hand and my honour as a Highlander, and until the last fighting moment
I'll be fit."
At the party that night none was gayer
than young Cameron. The shy reserve that usually marked him was thrust
aside. His fine, lithe figure, set off by his Highland costume, drew all
eyes in admiration, and whether in the proud march of the piper, or in
the wild abandon of the Highland Fling, he seemed to all the very beau
ideal of a gallant Highland gentleman.
Dunn stood in the circle gathered to
admire, watching Cameron's performance of that graceful and intricate
Highland dance, all unconscious of a pair of bright blue eyes fastened
on his face that reflected so manifestly the grief and pain in his
"And wherefore this gloom?" said a gay
voice at his side. It was Miss Bessie Brodie.
Poor Dunn! He was not skilled in the fine
art of social deception. He could only gaze stupidly and with blinking
eyes upon his questioner, devoutly hoping meanwhile that the tears would
"Splendid Highlander, isn't he?" exclaimed
Miss Bessie, hastily withdrawing her eyes from his face, for she was
much too fine a lady to let him see her surprise.
"What?" exclaimed Dunn. "I don't know. I
mean—yes, awfully—oh, confound the thing, it's a beastly shame!"
Thereupon Miss Bessie turned her big blue
eyes slowly upon him. "Meaning what?" she said quietly.
"Oh, I beg pardon. I'm just a fool. Oh,
hang it all!" Dunn could not recover his composure. He backed out of the
circle of admirers into a darker corner.
"Fool?" said Miss Brodie, stepping back
with him. "And why, pray? Can I know? I suppose it's Cameron again," she
continued. "Oh, I know all about you and your mothering of him."
"Mothering!" said Dunn bitterly. "That is
just what he needs, by Jove. His mother has been dead these five years,
and that's been the ruin of him."
The cheers from Cameron's admirers broke
in upon Dunn's speech. "Oh, it's too ghastly," he muttered.
"Is it really so bad? Can't I help?" cried
Miss Brodie. "You know I've had some experience with boys."
As Dunn looked into her honest, kindly
eyes he hesitated. Should he tell her? He was in sore need of counsel,
and besides he was at the limit of his self-control. "I say," he said,
staring at her, while his lips quivered, "I'd like awfully to tell you,
but I know if I ever begin I shall just burst into tears before this
"Tears!" exclaimed Miss Bessie. "Not you!
And if you did it wouldn't hurt either them or you. An International
captain possesses this advantage over other mortals: that he may burst
into tears or anything else without losing caste, whereas if I should do
any such thing—But come, let's get somewhere and talk it over. Now,
then," said Miss Brodie as they found a quiet corner, "first of all,
ought I to know?"
"You'll know, all Edinburgh will know time
day after to-morrow," said Dunn.
"All right, then, it can't do any harm for
me to know to-night. It possibly may do good."
"It will do me good, anyway," said Dunn,
"for I have reached my limit."
Then Dunn told her, and while she listened
she grew grave and anxious. "But surely it can be arranged!" she
exclaimed, after he had finished.
"No, Mr. Rae has tried everything. The
Bank is bound to pursue it to the bitter end. It is apparently a part of
"The Bank of Scotland."
"Why, that's my uncle's Bank! I mean, he
is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, and the Bank is the apple of
his eye; or one of them, I mean—I'm the other."
"Oh, both, I fancy," said Dunn, rather
pleased with his own courage.
"But come, this is serious," said Miss
Brodie. "The Bank, you know, or you don't know, is my uncle's weak
Mr. Rae's words flashed across Dunn's
mind: "We ought to have found his weak spots."
"He says," continued Miss Brodie with a
smile—"you know he's an old dear!—I divide his heart with the Bank, that
I have the left lobe. Isn't that the bigger one? So the Bank and I are
his weak spots; unless it is his Wiltshires—he is devoted to
"Pigs. There are times when I feel myself
distinctly second to them. Are you sure my uncle knows all about
"Well, Mr. Rae and Captain Cameron—that's
young Cameron's father—went out to his place—"
"Ah, that was a mistake," said Miss
Brodie. "He hates people following him to the country. Well, what
"Mr. Rae feels that it was rather a
mistake that Captain Cameron went along."
"Why so? He is his father, isn't he?"
"Yes, he is, though I'm bound to say he's
rather queer for a father." Whereupon Dunn gave her an account of his
interview in Mr. Rae's office.
Miss Brodie was indignant. "What a shame!
And what a fool! Why, he is ten times more fool than his son; for mark
you, his son is undoubtedly a fool, and a selfish fool at that. I can't
bear a young fool who sacrifices not simply his own life, but the
interests of all who care for him, for some little pet selfishness of
his own. But this father of his seems to be even worse than the son.
Family name indeed! And I venture to say he expatiated upon the glory of
his family name to my uncle. If there's one thing that my uncle goes
quite mad about it is this affectation of superiority on the ground of
the colour of a man's blood! No wonder he refused to withdraw the
prosecution! What could Mr. Rae have been thinking about? What fools men
"Quite true," murmured Mr. Dunn.
"Some men, I mean," cried Miss Brodie
hastily. "I wish to heaven I had seen my uncle first!"
"I suppose it's too late now," said Dunn,
with a kind of gloomy wistfulness.
"Yes, I fear so," said Miss Brodie. "You
see when my uncle makes up his mind he appears to have some religious
scruples against changing it."
"It was a ghastly mistake," said Dunn
"Look here, Mr. Dunn," said Miss Brodie,
turning upon him suddenly, "I want your straight opinion. Do you think
this young man guilty?"
They were both looking at Cameron, at that
moment the centre of a group of open admirers, his boyish face all aglow
with animation. For the time being it seemed as if he had forgotten the
terrible catastrophe overhanging him.
"If I hadn't known Cameron for three
years," replied Dunn slowly, "I would say offhand that this thing would
be impossible to him; but you see you never know what a man in drink
will do. Cameron can carry a bottle of Scotch without a stagger, but of
course it knocks his head all to pieces. I mean, he is quite incapable
of anything like clear thought."
"It is truly terrible," said Miss Brodie.
"I wish I had known yesterday, but those men have spoilt it all. But
here's 'Lily' Laughton," she continued hurriedly, "coming for his
dance." As she spoke a youth of willowy figure, languishing dark eyes
and ladylike manner drew near.
"Well, here you are at last! What a hunt I
have had! I am quite exhausted, I assure you," cried the youth, fanning
himself with his handkerchief. "And though you have quite forgotten it,
this is our dance. What can you two have been talking about? But why
ask? There is only one theme upon which you could become so terrifically
"And what is that, pray? Browning?"
inquired Miss Brodie sweetly.
"Dear Miss Brodie, if you only would,
but—ugh!—" here "Lily" shuddered, "I can in fancy picture the gory scene
in which you have been revelling for the last hour!" And "Lily's"
handsome face and languid, liquid eyes indicated his horror. It was
"Lily's" constant declaration that he "positively loathed" football,
although his persistent attendance at all the great matches rather
belied this declaration. "It is the one thing in you, Miss Bessie, that
I deplore, 'the fly in the pot—' no, 'the flaw—' ah, that's better—'the
flaw in the matchless pearl.'"
"How sweet of you," murmured Miss Brodie.
"Yes, indeed," continued "Lily," wreathing
his tapering fingers, "it is your devotion to those so-called athletic
games,—games! ye gods!—the chief qualifications for excellence in which
appear to be brute strength and a blood-thirsty disposition; as witness
Dunn there. I was positively horrified last International. There he was,
our own quiet, domestic, gentle Dunn, raging through that howling mob of
savages like a bloody Bengal tiger.—Rather apt, that!—A truly awful and
"Ah, perfectly lovely!" murmured Miss
Brodie ecstatically. "I can see him yet."
"Miss Brodie, how can you!" exclaimed
"Lily," casting up his eyes in horror towards heaven. "But it was ever
thus! In ancient days upon the bloody sands of the arena, fair ladies
were wont to gaze with unrelenting eyes and thumbs turned down—or up,
"Excellent! But how clever of them to gaze
with their thumbs in that way!"
"Please don't interrupt," said "Lily"
severely; "I have just 'struck my gait,' as that barbaric young
Colonial, Martin, another of your bloody, brawny band, would say. And
here you sit, unblushing, glorying in their disgusting deeds and making
love open and unabashed to their captain!"
"Go away, 'Lily' or I'll hurt you," cried
Dunn, his face a brilliant crimson. "Come, get out!"
"But don't be uplifted," continued "Lily,"
ignoring him, "you are not the first. By no means! It is always the last
International captain, and has been to my certain knowledge for the last
"Ten years!" exclaimed Miss Brodie in
horrified accents. "You monster! If you have no regard for my character
you might at least respect my age."
"Age! Dear Miss Brodie," ejaculated
"Lily," "who could ever associate age with your perennial youth?"
"Perennial! Wretch! If there is anything I
am sensitive about, really sensitive about, it is my age! Mr. Dunn, I
beseech you, save me from further insult! Dear 'Lily,' run away now. You
are much too tired to dance, and besides there is Mrs. Craig-Urquhart
waiting to talk your beloved Wagner-Tennyson theory; or what is the
exact combination? Mendelssohn-Browning, is it?"
"Oh, Miss Bessie!" cried "Lily" in a
shocked voice, "how can you? Mendelssohn-Browning! How awful! Do have
some regard for the affinities."
"Mr. Dunn, I implore you, save me! I can
bear no more. There! A merciful providence has accomplished my
deliverance. They are going. Good-night, 'Lily.' Run away now. I want a
word with Mr. Dunn."
"Oh, heartless cruelty!" exclaimed "Lily,"
in an agonised voice. "But what can you expect from such associations?"
And he hastened away to have a last word with Mrs. Craig-Urquhart, who
was swimming languidly by.
Miss Brodie turned eagerly to Dunn. "I'd
like to help you awfully," she said; "indeed I must try. I have very
little hope. My uncle is so strong when he is once set, and he is so
funny about that Bank. But a boy is worth more than a Bank, if he IS a
fool; besides, there is his sister. Good-night. Thanks for letting me
help. I have little hope, but to-morrow I shall see Sir Archibald,
and—and his pigs."
It was still in the early forenoon of the
following day when Miss Brodie greeted her uncle as he was about to
start upon his round of the pastures and pens where the Wiltshires of
various ages and sizes and sexes were kept. With the utmost enthusiasm
Miss Brodie entered into his admiration of them all, from the lordly
prize tusker to the great mother lying broadside on in grunting and
supreme content, every grunt eloquent of happiness and maternal love and
pride, to allow her week-old brood to prod and punch her luxuriant dugs
for their breakfast.
By the time they had made their rounds Sir
Archibald had arrived at his most comfortable and complacent mood. He
loved his niece. He loved her for the sake of his dead brother, and as
she grew in years, he came to love her for herself. Her sturdy
independent fearlessness, her sound sense, her honest heart, and
chiefly, if it must be told, her whole-souled devotion to himself, made
for her a great space in his heart. And besides all this, they were both
interested to the point of devotion in pigs. As he watched his niece
handling the little sucklings with tender care, and listened to her
appraising their varying merits with a discriminating judgment, his
heart filled up with pride in her many accomplishments and capabilities.
"Isn't she happy, Uncle?" she exclaimed,
lifting her brown, sunny face to him.
"Ay, lassie," replied Sir Archibald,
lapsing into the kindly "braid Scots," "I ken fine how she feels."
"She's just perfectly happy," said his
niece, "and awfully useful and good. She is just like you, Uncle."
"What? Oh, thank you, I'm extremely
flattered, I assure you."
"Uncle, you know what I mean! Useful and
good. Here you are in this lovely home—how lovely it is on a warm, shiny
day like this!—safe from cares and worries, where people can't get at
you, and making—"
"Ah, I don't know about that," replied her
uncle, shaking his head with a frown. "Some people have neither sense
nor manners. Only yesterday I was pestered by a fellow who annoyed me,
seriously annoyed me, interfering in affairs which he knew nothing
of,—actually the affairs of the Bank!—prating about his family name, and
all the rest of it. Family name!" Here, it must be confessed, Sir
Archibald distinctly snorted, quite in a manner calculated to excite the
envy of any of his Wiltshires.
"I know, Uncle. He is a fool, a conceited
fool, and a selfish fool."
"You know him?" inquired her uncle in a
tone of surprise.
"No, I have no personal acquaintance with
him, I'm glad to say, but I know about him, and I know that he came with
Mr. Rae, the Writer."
"Ah, yes! Thoroughly respectable man, Mr.
"Yes, Mr. Rae is all right; but Captain
Cameron—oh, I can't bear him! He came to talk to you about his son, and
I venture to say he took most of the time in talking about himself."
"Exactly so! But how—?"
"And, Uncle, I want to talk to you about
that matter, about young Cameron." For just a moment Miss Brodie's
courage faltered as she observed her uncle's figure stiffen. "I want you
to know the rights of the case."
"Now, now, my dear, don't you go—ah—"
"I know, Uncle, you were going to say
'interfering,' only you remember in time that your niece never
interferes. Isn't that true, Sir?"
"Yes, yes! I suppose so; that is,
"Now I am interested in this young
Cameron, and I want you to get the right view of his case, which neither
your lawyer nor your manager nor that fool father of his can give you. I
know that if you see this case as I see it you will do—ah—exactly what
is right; you always do."
Miss Brodie's voice had assumed its most
reasonable and business-like tone. Sir Archibald was impressed, and
annoyed because he was impressed.
"Look here, Bessie," he said, in as
impatient a tone as he ever adopted with his niece, "you know how I hate
being pestered with business affairs out here."
"I know quite well, Uncle, and I regret it
awfully, but I know, too, that you are a man of honour, and that you
stand for fair play. But that young man is to be arrested to-day, and
you know what that will mean for a young fellow with his way to make."
Her appeal was not without its effect. Sir
Archibald set himself to give her serious attention. "Let us have it,
then," he said briefly. "What do you know of the young man?"
"This first of all: that he has a selfish,
conceited prig for a father."
With which beginning Sir Archibald most
heartily agreed. "But how do you know?"
"Now, let me tell you about him." And Miss
Brodie proceeded to describe the scene between father and son in Mr.
Rae's office, with vigorous and illuminating comments. "And just think,
the man in the company who was first to condemn the young chap was his
own father. Would you do that? You'd stand for him against the whole
world, even if he were wrong."
"Steady, steady, lass!"
"You would," repeated Miss Bessie, with
indignant emphasis. "Would you chuck me over if I were disgraced and all
the world hounding me? Would you?"
"No, by God!" said Sir Archibald in a
sudden tempest of emotion, and Miss Bessie smiled lovingly upon him.
"Well, that's the kind of a father he has.
Now about the young fellow himself: He's just a first-class fool, like
most young fellows. You know how they are, Uncle."
Sir Archibald held up his hand. "Don't
make any such assumptions."
"Oh, I know you, and when you were a boy
you were just as gay and foolish as the rest of them."
Her arch, accusing smile suddenly cast a
rich glow of warm colour over the long, grey road of Sir Archibald's
youth of self-denial and struggle. The mild indulgences of his early
years, under the transforming influence of that same arch and accusing
smile, took on for Sir Archibald such an aspect of wild and hilarious
gaiety as to impart a tone of hesitation to his voice while he
deprecated his niece's charge.
"What, I? Nonsense! What do you know about
it? Well, well, we have all had our day, I suppose!"
"Aha! I know you, and I should love to
have known you when you were young Cameron's age. Though I'm quite sure
you were never such a fool as he. You always knew how to take care of
Her uncle shook his head as if to indicate
that the less said about those gay young days the better.
"Now what do you think this young fool
does? Gets drinking, and gets so muddled up in all his money
matters—he's a Highlander, you know, and Dunn, Mr. Dunn says—"
"Yes, Mr. Dunn, the great International
captain, you know! Mr. Dunn says he can take a whole bottle of Scotch—"
"No, no; you know perfectly well, Uncle!
This young Cameron can take a whole bottle of Scotch and walk a crack,
but his head gets awfully muddled."
"Shouldn't be surprised!"
"And Mr. Dunn had a terrible time keeping
him fit for the International. You know he was Dunn's half-back. Yes,"
cried his niece with enthusiasm, suddenly remembering a tradition that
in his youth Sir Archibald had been a famous quarter, his one
indulgence, "a glorious half-back, too! You must remember in the match
with England last fall the brilliant work of the half-back. Everybody
went mad about him. That was young Cameron!"
"You don't tell me! The left-half in the
English International last fall?"
"Yes, indeed! Oh, he's wonderful! But he
has to be watched, you know, and the young fool lost us the last—" Miss
Bessie abruptly checked herself. "But never mind! Well, after the
season, you know, he got going loose, and this is the result. Owed money
everywhere, and with the true Highland incapacity for business, and the
true Highland capacity for trusting people—"
"Huh!" grunted Sir Archibald in
"—When his head is in a muddled condition
he does something or other to a cheque—or doesn't do it, nobody
knows—and there he is in this awful fix. Personally, I don't believe he
is guilty of the crime."
"And why, pray?"
"Why? Well, Mr. Dunn, his captain, who has
known him for years, says it is quite impossible; and then the young man
himself doesn't deny it."
"What? Does NOT deny it?"
"Exactly! Like a perfectly straightforward
gentleman,—and I think it's awfully fine of him,—though he has a
perfectly good chance to put the thing on a—a fellow Potts, quite a
doubtful character, he simply says, 'I know nothing about it. That looks
like my signature. I can't remember doing this, don't know how I could
have, but don't know a thing about it.' There you are, Uncle! And Mr.
Dunn says he is quite incapable of it."
"Mr. Dunn, eh? It seems you build somewhat
broadly upon Mr. Dunn."
The brown on Miss Bessie's check deepened
slightly. "Well, Mr. Dunn is a splendid judge of men."
"Ah; and of young ladies, also, I
imagine," said Sir Archibald, pinching her cheek.
It may have been the pinch, but the flush
on her cheek grew distinctly brighter. "Don't be ridiculous, Uncle! He's
just a boy, a perfectly splendid boy, and glorious in his game, but a
mere boy, and—well, you know, I've arrived at the age of discretion."
"Quite true!" mused her uncle. "Thirty
last birthday, was it? How time does—!"
"Oh, you perfectly horrid uncle! Thirty
indeed! Are you not ashamed to add to the already intolerable burden of
my years? Thirty! No, Sir, not by five good years at least! There now,
you've made me tell my age! You ought to blush for shame."
Her uncle patted her firm, round cheek.
"Never a blush, my dear! You bear even your advanced age with quite
sufficient ease and grace. But now about this young Cameron," he
continued, assuming a sternly judicial tone.
"All I ask for him is a chance," said his
"A chance? Why he will get every chance
the law allows to clear himself."
"There you are!" exclaimed Miss Bessie, in
a despairing tone. "That's the way the lawyers and your manager talk.
They coolly and without a qualm get him arrested, this young boy who has
never in all his life shown any sign of criminal tendency. These horrid
lawyers display their dreadful astuteness and ability in catching a lad
who never tries to run away, and your manager pleads the rules of the
Bank. The rules! Fancy rules against a young boy's whole life!"
Her uncle rather winced at this.
"And like a lot of sheep they follow each
other in a circle; there is absolutely no independence, no initiative.
Why, they even went so far as to suggest that you could do nothing, that
you were bound by rules and must follow like the rest of them; but I
told them I knew better."
"Ah!" said Sir Archibald in his most
dignified manner. "I trust I have a mind of my own, but—"
"Exactly! So I said to Mr. Dunn. 'Rules or
no rules,' I said, 'my uncle will do the fair thing.' And I know you
will," cried Miss Brodie triumphantly. "And if you look at it, there's a
very big chance that the boy never did the thing, and certainly if he
did it at all it was when he was quite incapable. Oh, I know quite well
what the lawyers say. They go by the law,—they've got to,—but
you—and—and—I go by the—the real facts of the case." Sir Archibald
coughed gently. "I mean to say—well you know, Uncle, quite well, you can
tell what a man is by—well, by his game."
"And by his eye."
"His eye! And his eye is—?"
"Now, Uncle, be sensible! I mean to say,
if you could only see him. Oh, I shall bring him to see you!" she cried,
with a sudden inspiration.
Sir Archibald held up a deprecating hand.
"Do not, I beg."
"Well, Uncle, you can trust my judgment,
you know you can. You would trust me in—in—" For a moment Miss Brodie
was at a loss; then her eyes fell upon the grunting, comfortable old
mother pig with her industrious litter. "Well, don't I know good
Wiltshires when I see them?"
"Quite true," replied her uncle solemnly;
"and therefore, men."
"Uncle, you're very nearly rude."
"I apologise," replied her uncle hastily.
"But now, Bessie, my dear girl, seriously, as to this case, you must
understand that I cannot interfere. The Bank—hem—the Bank is a great
Miss Bessie saw that the Guards were being
called upon. She hastened to bring up her reserves. "I know, Uncle, I
know! I wouldn't for the world say a word against the Bank, but you see
the case against the lad is at least doubtful."
"I was going on to observe," resumed her
uncle, judicially, "that the Bank—"
"Don't misunderstand me, Uncle," cried his
niece, realising that she had reached a moment of crisis. "You know I
would not for a moment presume to interfere with the Bank, but"—here she
deployed her whole force,—"the lad's youth and folly; his previous good
character, guaranteed by Dunn, who knows men; his glorious game—no man
who wasn't straight could play such a game!—the large chance of his
innocence, the small chance of his guilt; the hide-bound rigidity of
lawyers and bank managers, dominated by mere rules and routine, in
contrast with the open-minded independence of her uncle; the boy's utter
helplessness; his own father having been ready to believe the
worst,—just think of it, Uncle, his own father thinking of himself and
of his family name—much he has ever done for his family name!—and not of
his own boy, and"—here Miss Brodie's voice took a lower key—"and his
mother died some five or six years ago, when he was thirteen or
fourteen, and I know, you know, that is hard on a boy." In spite of
herself, and to her disgust, a tremor came into her voice and a rush of
tears to her eyes.
Her uncle was smitten with dismay. Only on
one terrible occasion since she had emerged from her teens had he seen
his niece in tears. The memory of that terrible day swept over his soul.
Something desperate was doing. Hard as the little man was to the world
against which he had fought his way to his present position of
distinction, to his niece he was soft-hearted as a mother. "There,
there!" he exclaimed hastily. "We'll give the boy a chance. No mother,
eh? And a confounded prig for a father! No wonder the boy goes all
wrong!" Then with a sudden vehemence he cried, striking one hand into
the other, "No, by—! that is, we will certainly give the lad the benefit
of the doubt. Cheer up, lassie! You've no need to look ashamed," for his
niece was wiping her eyes in manifest disgust; "indeed," he said, with a
heavy attempt at playfulness, "you are a most excellent diplomat."
"Diplomat, Uncle!" cried the girl,
vehement indignation in her voice and face. "Diplomat!" she cried again.
"You don't mean that I've not been quite sincere?"
"No, no, no; not in the least, my dear!
But that you have put your case with admirable force."
"Oh," said the girl with a breath of
relief, "I just put it as I feel it. And it is not a bit my putting it,
Uncle, but it is just that you are a dear and—well, a real sport; you
love fair play." The girl suddenly threw her strong, young arms about
her uncle's neck, drew him close to her, and kissed him almost as if she
had been his mother.
The little man was deeply touched, but
with true Scotch horror of a demonstration he cried, "Tut, tut, lassie,
ye're makin' an auld fule o' your uncle. Come now, be sensible!"
"Sensible!" echoed his niece, kissing him
again. "That's my living description among all my acquaintance. It is
their gentle way of reminding me that the ordinary feminine graces of
sweetness and general loveliness are denied me."
"And more fools they!" grunted her uncle.
"You're worth the hale caboodle o' them."
That same evening there were others who
shared this opinion, and none more enthusiastically than did Mr. Dunn,
whom Miss Brodie chanced to meet just as she turned out of the Waverly
"Oh, Mr. Dunn," she cried, "how very
fortunate!" Her face glowed with excitement.
"For me; yes, indeed!" said Mr. Dunn,
warmly greeting her.
"For me, for young Cameron, for us all,"
said Miss Brodie. "Oh, Rob, is that you?" she continued, as her eye fell
upon the youngster standing with cap off waiting her recognition. "Look
at this!" she flashed a letter before Dunn's face. "What do you think of
Dunn took the letter. "It's to Sheratt,"
he said, with a puzzled air.
"Yes," cried Miss Brodie, mimicking his
tone, "it's to Sheratt, from Sir Archibald, and it means that Cameron is
safe. The police will never—"
"The police," cried Dunn, hastily, getting
between young Rob and her and glancing at his brother, who stood looking
from one to the other with a startled face.
"How stupid! The police are a truly
wonderful body of men," she went on with enthusiasm. "They look so
splendid. I saw some of them as I came along. But never mind them now.
About this letter. What's to do?"
Dunn glanced at his watch. "We need every
minute." He stood a moment or two thinking deeply while Miss Brodie
chatted eagerly with Rob, whose face retained its startled and anxious
look. "First to Mr. Rae's office. Come!" cried Mr. Dunn.
"But this letter ought to go."
"Yes, but first Mr. Rae's office." Mr.
Dunn had assumed command. His words shot out like bullets.
Miss Brodie glanced at him with a new
admiration in her face. As a rule she objected to being ordered about,
but somehow it seemed good to accept commands from this young man, whose
usually genial face was now set in such resolute lines.
"Here, Rob, you cut home and tell them not
to wait dinner for me."
"All right, Jack!" But instead of tearing
off as was his wont whenever his brother gave command, Rob lingered.
"Can't I wait a bit, Jack, to see—to see if anything—?" Rob was striving
hard to keep his voice in command and his face steady. "It's Cameron,
Jack. I know!" He turned his back on Miss Brodie, unwilling that she
should see his lips quiver.
"What are you talking about?" said his
"Oh, it is all my stupid fault, Mr. Dunn,"
said Miss Brodie. "Let him come along a bit with us. I say, youngster,
you are much too acute," she continued, as they went striding along
together toward Mr. Rae's office. "But will you believe me if I tell you
something? Will you? Straight now?"
The boy glanced up into her honest blue
eyes, and nodded his head.
"Your friend Cameron is quite all right.
He was in some difficulty, but now he's quite all right. Do you believe
The boy looked again steadily into her
eyes. The anxious fear passed out of his face, and once more he nodded;
he knew he could not keep his voice quite steady. But after a few paces
he said to his brother, "I think I'll go now, Jack." His mind was at
rest; his idol was safe.
"Oh, come along and protect me," cried
Miss Brodie. "These lawyer people terrify me."
The boy smiled a happy smile. "I'll go,"
he said resolutely.
"Thanks, awfully," said Miss Brodie. "I
shall feel so much safer with you in the waiting room."
It was a difficult matter to surprise Mr.
Rae, and even more difficult to extract from him any sign of surprise,
but when Dunn, leaving Miss Brodie and his brother in the anteroom,
entered Mr. Rae's private office and laid the letter for Mr. Sheratt
before him, remarking, "This letter is from Sir Archibald, and withdraws
the prosecution," Mr. Rae stood speechless, gazing now at the letter in
his hand, and now at Mr. Dunn's face.
"God bless my soul! This is unheard of.
How came you by this, Sir?"
"Miss Brodie—" began Dunn.
"She is in the waiting room, Sir."
"Then, for heaven's sake, bring her in!
Davie, Davie! Where is that man now? Here, Davie, a message to Mr.
Davie entered with deliberate composure.
"My compliments to Mr. Thomlinson, and ask
if he would step over at once. It is a matter of extreme urgency. Be
But Davie had his own mind as to the
fitness of things. "Wad a note no' be better, Sir? Wull not—?"
"Go, will you!" almost shouted Mr. Rae.
Davie was so startled at Mr. Rae's unusual
vehemence that he seized his cap and made for the door. "He'll no' come
for the like o' me," he said, pausing with the door-knob in his hand.
"It's no' respectable like tae—"
"Man, will ye no' be gone?" cried Mr. Rae,
rising from his chair.
"I will that!" exclaimed Davie, banging
the door after him. "But," he cried furiously, thrusting his head once
more into the room, "if he'll no' come it's no' faut o' mine." His voice
rose higher and higher, and ended in a wrathful scream as Mr. Rae,
driven to desperation, hurled a law book of some weight at his vanishing
"The de'il take ye! Ye'll be my deith
The book went crashing against the
door-frame just as Miss Brodie was about to enter. "I say," she cried,
darting back. "Heaven protect me! Rob, save me!"
Rob sprang to her side. She stood for a
moment gazing aghast at Mr. Dunn, who gazed back at her in equal
surprise. "Is this his 'usual'?" she inquired.
At that the door opened. "Ah, Mr. Dunn,
this is Miss Brodie, I suppose. Come in, come in!" Mr. Rae's manner was
Miss Brodie gave him her hand with some
hesitation. "I'm very glad to meet you, Mr. Rae, but is this quite the
usual method? I mean to say, I've heard of having advice hurled at one's
head, but I can't say that I ever was present at a demonstration of the
"Oh," said Mr. Rae, with bland and gallant
courtesy, "the method, my dear young lady, varies with the subject in
"Ah, the subject!"
"And with the object in view."
"Oh, I see."
"But pray be seated. And now explain this
most wonderful phenomenon." He tapped the letter.
"Oh, that is quite simple," said Miss
Brodie. "I set the case of young Mr. Cameron before my uncle, and of
course he at once saw that the only thing to do was withdraw the
Mr. Rae stood gazing steadily at her as if
striving to take in the meaning of her words, the while screwing up his
ear most violently till it stuck out like a horn upon the side of his
shiny, bald head. "Permit me to say, Miss Brodie," he said, with a
deliberate and measured emphasis, "that you must be a most extraordinary
young lady." At this point Mr. Rae's smile broke forth in all its glory.
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Rae," replied Miss
Brodie, smiling responsively at him. "You are most—" But Mr. Rae's smile
had vanished. "What! I beg your pardon!" Miss Brodie's smiling response
was abruptly arrested by finding herself gazing at a face whose grave
solemnity rebuked her smile as unwarranted levity.
"Not at all, not at all!" said Mr. Rae.
"But now, there are matters demanding immediate action. First, Mr.
Sheratt must receive and act upon this letter without delay." As he
spoke he was scribbling hastily a note. "Mr. Dunn, my young men have
gone for the day. Might I trouble you?"
"Most certainly," cried Mr. Dunn. "Is an
"Bring him with you, if possible; indeed,
bring him whether it is possible or not. But wait, it is past the hour
appointed. Already the officer has gone for young Cameron. We must save
him the humiliation of arrest."
"Oh, could I not warn him?" cried Miss
Brodie eagerly. "No," she added, "Rob will go. He is in the waiting room
now, poor little chap. It will be a joy to him."
"It is just as well Rob should know
nothing. He is awfully fond of Cameron. It would break his heart," said
"Oh, of course! Quite unnecessary that he
should know anything. We simply wish Cameron here at the earliest
Dunn went with his young brother down the
stairs and out to the street. "Now, Rob, you are to go to Cameron's
lodgings and tell him that Mr. Rae wants him, and that I want him. Hold
on, youngster!" he cried, grabbing Rob by the collar, "do you
understand? It is very important that Cameron should get here as quick
as he possibly can, and—I say, Rob," the big brother's eyes traveled
over the darkening streets that led up into the old town, "you're not
"A wee bit," said Rob, tugging at the
grasp on his collar; "but I don't care if I am."
"Good boy!" cried his brother. "Good
little brick! I wouldn't let you go, but it's simply got to be done, old
chap. Now fly!" He held him just a moment longer to slap him on the
back, then released his hold. Dunn stood watching the little figure
tearing up the North Bridge. "Great little soul!" he muttered. "Now for
He put his head down and began to bore
through the crowd toward Mr. Sheratt's house. When he had gone but a
little distance he was brought up short by a bang full in the stomach.
"Why, what the deuce!"
"Dod gast ye! Whaur are ye're een?" It was
Davie, breathless and furious from the impact. "Wad ye walk ower me,
dang ye?" cried the little man again. Davie was Free Kirk, and therefore
limited in the range of his vocabulary.
"Oh! That you, Davie? I'm sorry I didn't
"A'm no' as big as a hoose, but a'm
veesible." And Davie walked wrathfully about his business.
"Oh, quite," acknowledged Dunn cheerfully,
hurrying on; "and tangible, as well."
"He's comin'," cried Davie over his
shoulder; "but gar it had been masel'," he added grudgingly, "catch me!"
But Dunn was too far on his way to make
reply. Already his mind was on the meeting of the lawyers in Mr. Rae's
office, and wondering what would come of it. On this subject he
meditated until he reached Mr. Sheratt's home. Twice he rang the bell,
"By Jove, she is stunning! She's a
wonder!" he exclaimed to himself as he stood in Mr. Sheratt's
drawing-room. "She's got 'em all skinned a mile, as Martin would say."
It is safe to affirm that Mr. Dunn was not referring to the middle-aged
and highly respectable maid who had opened the door to him. It is
equally safe to affirm that this was the unanimous verdict of the three
men who, half an hour later, brought their deliberations to a
conclusion, frankly acknowledging to each other that what they had one
and all failed to achieve, the lady had accomplished.