People also talked of a man called Alan Breck. Some called him a murderer; others said that he was a brave fighter. He was in danger every time he returned to the Highlands, be cause the English would pay a good price for him-dead or alive. I listened with interest to everything that they told me. But I liked it best when I heard Alan described as a fine man and an honest Highlander.
When I got out of the boat in Appin, I sat down among some trees to decide what to do next. Should I go on, and join Alan, whose friends were King George's enemies, and whose life was full of danger, or should I go back south again, quietly and safely, to the Lowlands？
As I was thinking, four men on horses came past me on the road. As soon as I saw these men, I decided to continue my adventure, although I cannot explain why.
I stopped the first man, who was tall and red-haired.
'Could you tell me the way to James Stewart's house, sir?' I asked.
All the men looked at each other. The red-haired man did not reply, but spoke to one of the others, who looked like a lawyer. 'Is Stewart calling his people together, do ye think?'
The lawyer replied, 'We'd better wait here for the soldiers to join us, before we go any further.'
The red-haired man, I suddenly realized, must be Colin Campbell himself. 'If you're worried about me,' I said, 'I'm not a Stewart, but a Lowlander, and I'm for King George.'
'That's well said,' replied Campbell, 'but, if I may ask, why is an honest Lowlander like you so far from his home? Today is not a good day for travelling. This is the day when the Appin Stewarts have to leave their farms, and there may be trouble.'
He was turning to speak to the lawyer again, when there came a sudden bang from the hill, and Campbell fell off his horse. 'They've shot me!' he cried, holding his heart.
He died almost immediately. The men's faces were white as they looked down at his body. I saw something move on the hill, and noticed, among the trees, a man with a gun, turning away from the road.
'Look! The murderer!' I cried, and began to run up the hill towards him. He saw me chasing him, and went faster. Soon he disappeared behind a rock, and I could no longer see him. I stopped next to some trees, then I heard a voice below, on the road.
The lawyer was shouting to a large number of redcoated soldiers, who had just joined the men around Campbell's dead body. 'Ten pounds if ye catch that lad!' he cried. 'He's one of the murderers! He stopped us in the road, to give the killer a better chance to shoot Campbell!'
Now I felt a new kind of fear. My life was in serious danger, although I had not done anything wrong.
My mouth felt dry, and for a moment I could not move. I stood there in the open, on the hill, while the soldiers lifted their guns, ready to shoot.
'Jump in here among the trees,' said a voice near me.
I did not know what I was doing, but I obeyed. As I did so, I heard the banging of the guns, and realized that the soldiers were shooting at me. In the shadow of the trees, I found Alan Breck standing there. It was he who had spoken to me.