We had no time for conversation. 'Come!' Alan said, and started running along the side of the hill, keeping low to the ground. I followed him like a sheep. We ran and ran, faster than I had ever run before, and my heart was beating wildly. Sometimes, to my surprise, Alan straightened his back and showed himself to the soldiers who were chasing us.
After fifteen minutes, Alan stopped, lay flat in the heather, and turned to me. 'Now,' he said, 'this is serious. Do what I do, if ye don't want to die'. And just as fast, but much more carefully and secretly, we went back almost the same way that we had come. At last we arrived back in the wood where I had found Alan.
We fell down in the heather, and lay without moving for a long time. My legs hurt, my head was aching, and I thought I was dead.
Alan was the first to speak. 'Well,' he said, 'that was hot work, David.'
I said nothing. I had seen murder done. I knew that Colin Campbell had been Alan's greatest enemy, and I had found Alan hiding in the wood. Although I didn't think that he had actually shot Campbell, I felt sure that he had planned the killing. I could not look at him.
'Are ye still tired?' he asked.
'No,' I replied, my face turned away from him, 'no, I'm not tired now. Alan, I can't stay with you, I must leave you. I liked you very much, but we're two different people, that's all.'
'Ye must explain what ye mean by that, David,' said Alan, looking very serious.
'Alan, why do you ask? You know very well that Colin Campbell is lying dead in the road in his own blood.'
Alan was silent for a moment, 'Well, Mr Balfour of Shaws,' he said at last, 'I promise ye that I did not plan the murder, or know anything about it.'
'Thank God for that!' I cried, and offered him my hand.
He did not appear to see it. I don't know why ye're so worried about a dead Campbell,' he said.
'I know that you hate their clan, Alan, but taking a life in cold blood is a terrible thing to do. Do you know who did it?'
'I wouldn't recognize him again,' said Alan, shaking his head sadly, 'I'm good at forgetting, David. ”
I had to laugh at that. Then I remembered something. 'But when we were running away, you showed yourself to the soldiers, to give the murderer a chance to escape!'
'Any Highlander would do that. The best place for the lad who shot Colin Campbell is the heather, and we must all do what we can to help him keep away from the soldiers.'
I shook my head at this. These Highlanders were strange, wild people, to be sure. But Alan was ready to die for what he thought was right, and I liked him for that. I offered him my hand again, and this time he took it.
'Now, David,' he said, 'we must escape too. The Campbells will accuse us both of the murder.'
'But we didn't do it!' I cried. 'We can prove that in court!'
'Man, I'm surprised at ye,' said Alan. 'Do ye not know that if a Campbell is killed, the accused has to go to court in Inveraray, in the heart of Campbell country? When the Campbell lawyers have finished with ye, ye'll be dead!'
This frightened me a little. 'All right, Alan,' I said, ' I'll go with you.'
'But remember,' said Alan, 'it'll be a hard life. Ye'll have to sleep in the open air, and ye'll often have an empty stomach. Ye can choose-either live in the heather with me, or die at the hands of the Campbells.'
'That's easy to decide,' I said, and we shook hands on it.