'Well, well,' said the lawyer, when I had finished, 'what an exciting adventure! You will have to write it down one day! I had heard of you, Mr David, from your friends in Essendean, who wrote to me when they had no word from you. Your uncle then told me that he had given you money to study in Europe, but I did not think that was true. I'm afraid we all know that Ebenezer Balfour is not a very good or honest man! Then Captain Hoseason appeared, saying that you were lost when his ship went down. But now I understand what really happened, and I know that you are David Balfour.' He put a hand on my shoulder in a fatherly way and continued. 'You'll want to know about the house of Shaws. It's a strange story. When they were young, your father Alexander and his younger brother Ebenezer loved the same girl. Your father was always a kind, loving brother, so when the girl decided to marry him, Alexander left Cramond and let Ebenezer have the house and farmland. Well, I think it was a bad mistake. What happened was that your parents were always very poor, and Ebenezer became more and more interested in money. He never married, of course.'
'Well, sir,' I said, 'and now, what will happen?'
'Now that your father is dead,' replied the lawyer, 'you own the house of Shaws and the farms around it. But Ebenezer won't accept that, and it will be expensive if he wants us to prove it in court. In fact, we must stay out of court, if possible. The kidnapping will be difficult to prove, and we don't want people asking questions abut your friend Mr Thomson. No, I think that we should leave Ebenezer at Shaws, where he's been for twenty-five years, and ask him to pay you some money every year, instead of giving you the house. What do you think?'
'That sounds excellent to me, sir,' I replied. 'But I think that we could accuse my uncle of kidnapping me. It's easier to prove than you think. Listen,' and I described my plan to him.
He was very pleased with it. 'Yes, Mr David, very good! If we can catch Ebenezer like that, he can't refuse to give you some of the money that belongs to you!' He called to his secretary, Torrance. 'You must come with us tonight, Torrance. You'll have to listen to the conversation you hear，and write it all down. And bring the Balfour papers with you.' Then he turned to me. 'But if I accept your plan, Mr David, I'll have to meet your friend Mr Thomson, who may be,I only say may be, a criminal.' He was silent for a while, thinking deeply, then went on, 'Well, let's talk of something different. Do you know, the other day, I saw Torrance in the street? But because I wasn't wearing my glasses, I didn't recognize him! My own secretary! Ha-ha-ha!' and he laughed happily at himself.
I smiled politely. 'Perhaps he's getting old,' I thought.
But later that evening, when Mr Rankeillor, Torrance and I were walking out of Queensferry, the lawyer suddenly cried out, laughing, 'Well, how stupid of me! I've forgotten my glasses!' And I understood why he had told met he story about Torrance. Now he could meet Alan, a man wanted for murder, and if the soldiers asked him later for information he could say that he never saw Alan clearly and could not possibly recognize him.
When we arrived near Alan's hiding-place, I whistled the little Highland song. When he appeared, we explained to him what we wanted him to do, and he readily agreed.
So the four of us continued walking until we reached the house of Shaws.