فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER five

Reunion with a Friend

I asked Andrew Fairservice to accompany me into Scotland because I did not know the country. We met at three in the morning because we didn’t want to wake the Osbaldistone family. On a Saturday evening, after a long ride, we arrived in Glasgow, the principal town in the west of Scotland.

The next morning all the bells of the city announced the sanctity of the day, Sunday. I wanted to start looking for Owen immediately, but Andrew said, “You cannot do anything until the church service is over.”

So I decided to go to the cathedral of Glasgow, a solid and massive example of Gothic architecture. While all the people were silent and listening to the sermon, a voice from behind me whispered distinctly in my ear: “You are in danger in this city! Meet me tonight at the Brigg at twelve precisely.”

I turned round, but there was no one there.

I spent the rest of the day at the inn reflecting on what I should do. In the end I decided to go to the appointment on the bridge.

I waited on the bridge in the dark. I was very apprehensive. What was going to happen. Then the clock struck midnight, and suddenly a stranger appeared near me and said, “Mr Osbaldistone, follow me!”

I hesitated and replied, “Can’t you give me your information here?”

“You must receive it from your eyes, not from my tongue,” he said. “You must follow me, or remain in ignorance.” So I obeyed and was surprised when the man led me to… Glasgow prison!

The prison guard, a Highlander called Dougal, seemed happy to see my companion. He took us upstairs to a cell where a prisoner was sitting dejected in the corner: it was Mr Owen! He recognized me and exclaimed, “What! You are here too? Oh! Mr Frank, your company is ruined and now you are in a Scottish prison! God help us!”

I assured him that I was not a prisoner and asked him to explain what had happened. What was he doing in Glasgow prison? He told me that my father had two correspondents for his business in Scotland, the house of MacVittie-MacFin & Co. and the Bailie, Mr Nicol Jarvie. They transacted a great deal of business for the London firm and Owen had gone to see them when he arrived in the city.

“I immediately contacted MacVittie and MacFin,” said Owen. “They had always professed themselves obliged and devoted to Mr Osbaldistone, so I openly revealed the present difficulties of the house caused by the absence of your father and the disappearance of Rashleigh. I asked for counsel and financial assistance regarding the next payments, but when they discovered they had large credits with Osbaldistone & Tresham, they refused to help me. They had me arrested and sent to prison as a debtor instead!”

Just then we were interrupted by a loud knocking on the prison door. A few minutes later, Bailie Jarvie himself came in and spoke to Owen, asking to see his papers.

He examined them with great attention, then said, “You owe money to several people in Glasgow. But you cannot pay your debts if you are in prison. I will act as your guarantor and they will let you go free.”

Bailie Jarvie took the lamp and scrutinized the other people in the room.

“Ah! Eh! Oh! My conscience! It’s impossible and yet… no! You robber, you devil that you are! Can this be you, Robin?” exclaimed the Bailie.

“That is so,” was my guide’s laconic answer.

Mr Jarvie also wanted to know who I was and then asked me, “Young man, how will you find the five thousand pounds to pay your father’s bills in three days?”

I didn’t know what to say, then suddenly I remembered Diana’s packet. I opened the seal and a letter dropped onto the floor at Mr Jarvie’s feet. After examining the name on the envelope, he gave it to Robin. I realized then that my mysterious guide was in fact Mr Campbell himself! I recognized his deep voice, his severe face, and his Scottish accent.

Mr Campbell read the letter, then instructed Owen to remain in Glasgow. He told me Bailie Jarvie and I should go to his Highland home in the glens.

The next day I went to the Bailie’s home for lunch and found Owen there. The honest man was depressed after his stay in the prison but Mr Jarvie’s kind and friendly interest in my fathers affairs consoled him. I asked the Bailie to tell me something about Robert Campbell. “He is a distant cousin of mine. Many people have been cruel to him. He is a Highland cattle merchant that wears the tartan when he is in the hills and trousers when he is in Glasgow!” explained the magistrate. Then he started to examine some business documents with Owen. As I could not help them, Mr Jarvie suggested going out for a walk. I could return later for lunch.

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