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  • Publicado : 15 de mayo de 2011
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1. David meets his uncleIt was early in the month of June, 1751, when i shut the door of our house behind me for the last time. All my life I had lived in the quiet little village of essendean, in the lowlands of scotland, where my father had been the dominie, our schoolteacher. But now that he and my mother were both dead, I had to leave the house. The new dominie would soon arrive, and he wouldteach at the school and live in the dominie's house. So, although I was only seventeen, there was nowhere for me to live, and no reason for me to stay in Essendean.But my heart was beating with excitement as I walked down the road, because in my hand I carried the letter that my father had given me just before he died. "Davie," he had said, "when I am dead, take this to the house of Shaws, nearCramond. That's where I came from, and that's where you must go. Put this letter into the hands of Ebenezer Balfour."Balfour! The same name as my own! It was the first time I had heard of any of our family outside Essendean.So I decided to walk to Cramond, hoping that perhaps this Mr Balfour, in his fine big house, would receive me kindly, and help me to become a rich man one day. With my plaidover my shoulder, I walked fast up the hill away from the village. What an adventure, to leave that sleepy place, where nothing ever happened, and go to a great, busy house, to be with rich and important people of my own name and blood! But when I reached the top of the hill, I turned a little sadly, to take my last look at the dominie's house, and Essendean churchyards, where my father and motherlay.My journey northwards took almost two days. By midday on the second day I could see the smoking chimneys of Edinburgh in front of me, and soon I arrived in Cramond. Now I began to ask people on the road for the house of Shaws. Their answers worried me a little. Some people seemed surprised, some afraid, and some angry, when I spoke the name of Ebenzer Balfour. I could not understand this, but itwas too far to go back to Essendean that day, and I wanted to find the rest of the Balfour family very much. So I continued on my way, and when I met a dark, wild-looking woman coming towards me, I asked her where the house of Shaws was. She took me to the top of the next hill, and showed me a large building standing alone in the bottom of the next valley. Although the fields around were green,and the farmland was excellent, the house itself looked unfinished and empty. Part of its roof was missing. There was no road to it, and no smoke coming from any of its chimneys, nor was there any garden."That!" I cried. "No, it can't be!""It is!" cried the woman angrily. "That is the house of Shaws! Blood built it, blood stopped the building of it, and blood shall bring it down! Black is the heartof Ebenzer Balfour! Ye can tell him from me that I hope to see him die, and his house fall down around him!"The woman turned and disappeared. I stood where she left me, shaking like a leaf, and looking down at the house for a long time. But when it began to get dark, I noticed some smoke coming out of the chimney, and felt a little more hopeful. "There must be a fire, and cooking, and people inthe house," I thought. So I walked up to the front door. The house seemed locked up and unwelcoming, but there was firelight shining through the kitchen window and I could hear someone talking quietly to himself. Bravely, I lifted my hand and knocked loudly on the strong wooden door. The house was suddenly silent, and there was no reply. I knocked and knocked, and shouted as loudly as I could.Finally, the window opened, and a man holding a gun put his head out."What do ye want?" he asked."I've come here with a letter for Mr Ebenzer Balfour of Shaws. Is he here?""Who is it from?" asked the man with the gun."That's none of your business," I replied, getting angry."Well, put the letter down by the door, and leave.""I will not!" I answered sharply. "I'm going to give it to Mr Balfour...