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Die For the Law

As they floated down the River Tay passed Dunkeld, Allan opened the conversation with Sandy about Alice, who, he said was was both canny and bonny; and was, to
the boot of all that, the best dancer of a strathspey in the whole of Perthshire. Sandy assented to her praises as far as he knew them, yet could not help regretting that she was condemned to such a perilous life.

“Not at all,” said Allan, ”there is nothing in Perthshire that she need want, if she ask her father to fetch it, unless it be too hot or too heavy.”

“But to be the daughter of a Perthshire cattle-stealer, a common thief?” said Sandy.

”Common thief,” replied Allan, ”No such thing. Donald Bean Lean never stole less than a whole drove in his life.”

‘‘Do you call him an uncommon thief. then?” asked Sandy.

‘‘No, he that steals a cow from a poor widow, or a stirk from a cottar, is a thief; he that lifts a drove from an English laird, is a gentleman-rover. And, besides, to take a tree from the forest, a salmon from the river, a Deer from the hill, or a cow from a Lowland strath, is what no Highlander need ever think shame upon.”

‘‘But what can this end in, were he captured in such an acot of appropriation?”

‘‘To be sure he would die for the law, as many a Highland Scotsman has done before him.’’

”Die for the law!”

‘‘Yes; that is, with the law, or by the law; be strapped up on the kind gallows, where his father died, and his good brother died, and where I hope he’ll live to die himself, if he's not shot, or slashed, in a creagh.”

‘‘You hope for such a death for your friend, Allan?”

”I do indeed, would you have me wish him to die on a bundle of wet straw in his house, like a mangy dog?”

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