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By Robert Louis Stevenson

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If you ever read this tale, you will likely ask yourself more
questions than I should care to answer: as for instance how the
Appin murder has come to fall in the year 1751, how the Torran
rocks have crept so near to Earraid, or why the printed trial is
silent as to all that touches David Balfour. These are nuts
beyond my ability to crack. But if you tried me on the point of
Alan's guilt or innocence, I think I could defend the reading of
the text. To this day you will find the tradition of Appin clear
in Alan's favour. If you inquire, you may even hear that the
descendants of "the other man" who fired the shot are in the
country to this day. But that other man's name, inquire as you
please, you shall not hear; for the Highlander values a secret
for itself and for the congenial exercise of keeping it I might
go on for long to justify one point and own another indefensible;
it is more honest to confess at once how little I am touched by
the desire of accuracy. This is no furniture for the scholar's
library, but a book for the winter evening school-room when the
tasks are over and the hour for bed draws near; and honest Alan,
who was a grim old fire-eater in his day has in this new avatar
no more desperate purpose than to steal some young gentleman's
attention from his Ovid, carry him awhile into the Highlands and
the last century, and pack him to bed with some engaging images
to mingle with his dreams.

As for you, my dear Charles, I do not even ask you to like this
tale. But perhaps when he is older, your son will; he may then
be pleased to find his father's name on the fly-leaf; and in the
meanwhile it pleases me to set it there, in memory of many days
that were happy and some (now perhaps as pleasant to remember)
that were sad. If it is strange for me to look back from a
distance both in time and space on these bygone adventures of our
youth, it must be stranger for you who tread the same
streets--who may to-morrow open the door of the old Speculative,
where we begin to rank with Scott and Robert Emmet and the
beloved and inglorious Macbean--or may pass the corner of the
close where that great society, the L. J. R., held its meetings
and drank its beer, sitting in the seats of Burns and his
companions. I think I see you, moving there by plain daylight,
beholding with your natural eyes those places that have now
become for your companion a part of the scenery of dreams. How,
in the intervals of present business, the past must echo in your
memory! Let it not echo often without some kind thoughts of your




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