Chapter 29 Summary
I Come in to My Kingdom
Though everyone else in the neighborhood hears Stewart’s knocking, no one in the Shaw house answers until finally an upstairs window opens. Ebenezer Balfour looks down on his visitor for awhile in silence; then, assuring the man that he has a blunderbuss, Balfour asks who the man is and what he wants. When Stewart mentions David’s name, Balfour thinks they had better talk inside, but Stewart says he would rather talk on the front doorstep and, since he comes from a stubborn family, he will wait.
Balfour takes a long time to get downstairs and undo all the bolts, but he finally emerges and sits on the steps, blunderbuss in hand. Stewart does not reveal his identity but tells the story of a shipwreck and finding a lost boy who was nearly drowned. Stewart and some friends have been keeping the boy, at great expense, and now Stewart is here to collect a ransom for the boy’s return. Balfour clears his throat before saying he never cared for the boy and will not pay any ransom. Stewart assures Balfour that others will not look kindly upon Balfour for deserting his brother’s son, but Balfour does not see how anyone else will ever even hear the story. Stewart says if the ransom is not paid, the boy will be released to tell his story; therefore Stewart is confident that Balfour will either pay to have the boy released or pay to have the boy kept imprisoned.
Balfour hesitates and Stewart pushes, even threatens violence, until Balfour finally says he wants David kept, not killed. Stewart then asks what Balfour paid Hoseason to kidnap the boy, something Balfour vehemently denies doing. Eventually Balfour admits he gave the captain twenty pounds to take the boy. Hoseason would have gotten more for selling the boy into slavery, but that would not have come from Balfour’s pocket. Now Rankeillor steps forward, followed by David and Torrance. They all greet Balfour quite civilly, but the old man is unmoving. Stewart takes the gun and Rankeillor leads Balfour inside to the kitchen where they all gather. The others celebrate their success but they pity Balfour’s shame. While David, Torrance, and Stewart enjoy a good meal, Rankeillor and Balfour leave to arrange the terms of David’s inheritance. Balfour will pay David two thirds of the Shaws’ yearly income. That night all but Balfour sleep on the hard chests in the warm kitchen. To the others, the beds are hard; however, David has slept in dangerous and uncomfortable places, has often been hungry, and has been afraid for his life. Now he is a “man of means” and has a family name. He spends the night looking into the fire and planning his future.