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By Robert Louis Stevenson

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I will begin the story of my adventures with a certain morning
early in the month of June, the year of grace 1751, when I took
the key for the last time out of the door of my father's house.
The sun began to shine upon the summit of the hills as I went
down the road; and by the time I had come as far as the manse,
the blackbirds were whistling in the garden lilacs, and the mist
that hung around the valley in the time of the dawn was beginning
to arise and die away.

Mr. Campbell, the minister of Essendean, was waiting for me by
the garden gate, good man! He asked me if I had breakfasted; and
hearing that I lacked for nothing, he took my hand in both of his
and clapped it kindly under his arm.

"Well, Davie, lad," said he, "I will go with you as far as the
ford, to set you on the way." And we began to walk forward in

"Are ye sorry to leave Essendean?" said he, after awhile.

"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

"Ay?" said Mr. Campbell. "Very well, Davie. Then it behoves me
to tell your fortune; or so far as I may. When your mother was
gone, and your father (the worthy, Christian man) began to sicken
for his end, he gave me in charge a certain letter, which he said
was your inheritance. 'So soon,' says he, 'as I am gone, and the
house is redd up and the gear disposed of' (all which, Davie,
hath been done), 'give my boy this letter into his hand, and
start him off to the house of Shaws, not far from Cramond. That
is the place I came from,' he said, 'and it's where it befits
that my boy should return. He is a steady lad,' your father
said, 'and a canny goer; and I doubt not he will come safe, and
be well lived where he goes.'"

"The house of Shaws!" I cried. "What had my poor father to do
with the house of Shaws?"

"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. Your father, too, was
a man of learning as befitted his position; no man more plausibly
conducted school; nor had he the manner or the speech of a common
dominie; but (as ye will yourself remember) I took aye a pleasure
to have him to the manse to meet the gentry; and those of my own
house, Campbell of Kilrennet, Campbell of Dunswire, Campbell of
Minch, and others, all well-kenned gentlemen, had pleasure in his
society. Lastly, to put all the elements of this affair before
you, here is the testamentary letter itself, superscrived by the
own hand of our departed brother."

He gave me the letter, which was addressed in these words: "To
the hands of Ebenezer Balfour, Esquire, of Shaws, in his house of
Shaws, these will be delivered by my son, David Balfour." My
heart was beating hard at this great prospect now suddenly
opening before a lad of seventeen years of age, the son of a poor
country dominie in the Forest of Ettrick.

"Mr. Campbell," I stammered, "and if you were in my shoes, would
you go?"

"Of a surety," said the minister, "that would I, and without
pause. A pretty lad like you should get to Cramond (which is
near in by Edinburgh) in two days of walk. If the worst came to
the worst, and your high relations (as I cannot but suppose them
to be somewhat of your blood) should put you to the door, ye can
but walk the two days back again and risp at the manse door. But
I would rather hope that ye shall be well received, as your poor
father forecast for you, and for anything that I ken come to be a
great man in time. And here, Davie, laddie," he resumed, "it
lies near upon my conscience to improve this parting, and set you
on the right guard against the dangers of the world."

Here he cast about for a comfortable seat, lighted on a big
boulder under a birch by the trackside, sate down upon it with a
very long, serious upper lip, and the sun now shining in upon us
between two peaks, put his pocket-handkerchief over his cocked
hat to shelter him. There, then, with uplifted forefinger, he
first put me on my guard against a considerable number of
heresies, to which I had no temptation, and urged upon me to be
instant in my prayers and reading of the Bible. That done, he
drew a picture of the great house that I was bound to, and how I
should conduct myself with its inhabitants.

"Be soople, Davie, in things immaterial," said he. "Bear ye this
in mind, that, though gentle born, ye have had a country rearing.
Dinnae shame us, Davie, dinnae shame us! In yon great, muckle
house, with all these domestics, upper and under, show yourself
as nice, as circumspect, as quick at the conception, and as slow
of speech as any. As for the laird -- remember he's the laird; I
say no more: honour to whom honour. It's a pleasure to obey a
laird; or should be, to the young."

"Well, sir," said I, "it may be; and I'll promise you I'll try to
make it so."

"Why, very well said," replied Mr. Campbell, heartily. "And now
to come to the material, or (to make a quibble) to the
immaterial. I have here a little packet which contains four
things." He tugged it, as he spoke, and with some great
difficulty, from the skirt pocket of his coat. "Of these four
things, the first is your legal due: the little pickle money for
your father's books and plenishing, which I have bought (as I
have explained from the first) in the design of re-selling at a
profit to the incoming dominie. The other three are gifties that
Mrs. Campbell and myself would be blithe of your acceptance. The
first, which is round, will likely please ye best at the first
off-go; but, O Davie, laddie, it's but a drop of water in the
sea; it'll help you but a step, and vanish like the morning. The
second, which is flat and square and written upon, will stand by
you through life, like a good staff for the road, and a good
pillow to your head in sickness. And as for the last, which is
cubical, that'll see you, it's my prayerful wish, into a better

With that he got upon his feet, took off his hat, and prayed a
little while aloud, and in affecting terms, for a young man
setting out into the world; then suddenly took me in his arms and
embraced me very hard; then held me at arm's length, looking at
me with his face all working with sorrow; and then whipped about,
and crying good-bye to me, set off backward by the way that we
had come at a sort of jogging run. It might have been laughable
to another; but I was in no mind to laugh. I watched him as long
as he was in sight; and he never stopped hurrying, nor once
looked back. Then it came in upon my mind that this was all his
sorrow at my departure; and my conscience smote me hard and fast,
because I, for my part, was overjoyed to get away out of that
quiet country-side, and go to a great, busy house, among rich and
respected gentlefolk of my own name and blood.

"Davie, Davie," I thought, "was ever seen such black ingratitude?
Can you forget old favours and old friends at the mere whistle of
a name? Fie, fie; think shame."

And I sat down on the boulder the good man had just left, and
opened the parcel to see the nature of my gifts. That which he
had called cubical, I had never had much doubt of; sure enough it
was a little Bible, to carry in a plaid-neuk. That which he had
called round, I found to be a shilling piece; and the third,
which was to help me so wonderfully both in health and sickness
all the days of my life, was a little piece of coarse yellow
paper, written upon thus in red ink:

"TO MAKE LILLY OF THE VALLEY WATER.--Take the flowers of lilly of
the valley and distil them in sack, and drink a spooneful or two
as there is occasion. It restores speech to those that have the
dumb palsey. It is good against the Gout; it comforts the heart
and strengthens the memory; and the flowers, put into a Glasse,
close stopt, and set into ane hill of ants for a month, then take
it out, and you will find a liquor which comes from the flowers,
which keep in a vial; it is good, ill or well, and whether man or

And then, in the minister's own hand, was added:

"Likewise for sprains, rub it in; and for the cholic, a great
spooneful in the hour."

To be sure, I laughed over this; but it was rather tremulous
laughter; and I was glad to get my bundle on my staff's end and
set out over the ford and up the hill upon the farther side;
till, just as I came on the green drove-road running wide through
the heather, I took my last look of Kirk Essendean, the trees
about the manse, and the big rowans in the kirkyard where my
father and my mother lay.



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