Stevenson starts setting up negative connotations around Uncle Ebenezer with David's own thoughts as he approaches the Balfour manor house. David muses about how dim the lights in the windows are and remembers the glow form his father's windows, a candle glow seen a mile away. The negative atmosphere surrounding Ebenezer continues to grow as David advances when David hears a dry cough and not even a dog's bark; these establish a forsaken dry and parched environment around a forsaken dry and parched person. The picture is accentuated when David notes that the door upon which he is to knock is studded with nails and that the person inside kept deadly silent for a long time after hearing David's knocks.
**Why, in my father's house on Essen-Waterside, the fire and the bright lights would show a mile away, and the door open to a beggar's knock!
**I came forward cautiously, and giving ear as I came, heard some one rattling with dishes, and a little dry, eager cough that came in fits; but there was no sound of speech, and not a dog barked.
**The door, as well as I could see it in the dim light, was a great piece of wood all studded with nails;
**but whoever was in that house kept deadly still, and must have held his breath.
**beheld a man's head in a tall nightcap, and the bell mouth of a blunderbuss, at one of the first-storey windows.
The voice and appearance of Uncle Ebenezer confirm the negative connotations. From an upstairs window, he points a musket at David and speaks words that don't portray family love and welcome. The facts that Ebenezer is startled to hear David's name and has a curious change in the tone of his voice add further negative connotations. Then when he orders David to touch nothing in the kitchen and reclaims the food he had just given David affirm the rightness of impressions. Finally, when their eyes meet by accident and David describes him as a guilty theif, even though David doesn't know how right he is, the finishing touch is added so that the reader is prepared for all the diabolical things Uncle Ebenezer proceeds to do.
**At that, I made sure the man started, for I heard the blunderbuss rattle on the window-sill; and it was after quite a long pause, and with a curious change of voice, that the next question followed:
**"Is your father dead?"
**"Ay" the man resumed, "he'll be dead, no doubt; and that'll be what brings ye chapping to my door."
**Presently there came a great rattling of chains and bolts, and the door was cautiously opened and shut to again behind me as soon as I had passed.
**"Go into the kitchen and touch naething," said the voice;
**there was not another thing in that great, stone-vaulted, empty chamber but lockfast chests arranged along the wall and a corner cupboard with a padlock
**He was a mean, stooping, narrow-shouldered, clay-faced creature; and his age might have been anything between fifty and seventy.
**Once only, when he had ventured to look a little higher, our eyes met; and no thief taken with a hand in a man's pocket could have shown more lively signals of distress.