Mr. Rankeillor tells David the truth about David's father, Alexander Balfour, and David's uncle Ebenezer. Ebenezer was the younger of the two brothers, and very handsome at one time. He was admired and beloved by many people. Both men fell for the woman that would become David's mother, but Ebenezer was confident he would win her. To his surprise and anger, she chose Alexander. Ebenezer "screamed like a peacock," sometimes faking illness and sometimes drinking his sorrows away. Alexander felt bad, and left David's mother, but she refused to be "bandied about" and threw both men out. Ultimately, the two men made an agreement and Alexander married David's mother and went into poverty while Ebenezer kept the estate. The agreement was not truly legal, and in fact, as the eldest son of the eldest son, David deserves the inheritance. But a lawsuit would be long, costly and scandalous.
David does not want the estate, just some money to make his way in life. He comes up with a plan that involves Alan. At first Rankeillor doesn't like it, but he soon begins to agree, and repeatedly tells David a story about how he once couldn't recognize his own assistant because he had forgotten his glasses.
David takes Rankeillor to meet Alan, and Rankeillor discovers on the way that he has forgotten his glasses. This means that he will not really be able to see Alan, and therefore cannot swear in court that he ever saw the man.
David, Alan, and Rankeillor go to the House of Shaws. Alan goes up to the door alone and knocks. He tells Ebenezer that he is from a family near the Isle of Mull, and that they discovered David after the shipwreck and held on to him. They are now holding him for ransom. Ebenezer doesn't want to pay for him, so Alan says they'll kill him. Ebenezer doesn't want that, so Alan says they must pay him if he wants them to keep David alive. Ebenezer haggles over the price, admitting in the process that he had originally sent David to become a slave in the Carolinas.
At that, Rankeillor and David reveal themselves. Ebenezer is shocked, and remains speechless. There is a small celebration as Rankeillor and Ebenezer retire to draw up an agreement. David is to get two thirds of the yearly Shaws income, while Ebenezer keeps the other third and the estate.
David has to help Alan escape to France. He also desires to clear the name of James Stewart of the Glens, but to do so would risk having himself caught and blamed, and possibly hanged. David believes he must perform his duty, which impresses Mr. Rankeillor. Rankeillor gives him two letters. One letter is to the British Linen Company, giving him the Shaws money that is due to him, and one to a well-respected Balfour, who might be able to help David when he gives his testimony on behalf of James.