Waverley

Chapter XLI

The Mystery Begins to be Cleared Up

‘How do you like him?’ was Fergus’s first question, as they descended the large stone staircase.

‘A prince to live and die under’ was Waverley’s enthusiastic answer.

‘I knew you would think so when you saw him, and I intended you should have met earlier, but was prevented by your sprain. And yet he has his foibles, or rather he has difficult cards to play, and his Irish officers,64 who are much about him, are but sorry advisers: they cannot discriminate among the numerous pretensions that are set up. Would you think it – I have been obliged for the present to suppress an earl’s patent, granted for services rendered ten years ago, for fear of exciting the jealousy, forsooth, of C -- and M -- ? But you were very right, Edward, to refuse the situation of aide-de-camp. There are two vacant, indeed, but Clanronald and Lochiel, and almost all of us, have requested one for young Aberchallader, and the Lowlanders and the Irish party are equally desirous to have the other for the master of F -- . Now, if either of these candidates were to be superseded in your favour, you would make enemies. And then I am surprised that the Prince should have offered you a majority, when he knows very well that nothing short of lieutenant-colonel will satisfy others, who cannot bring one hundred and fifty men to the field. “But patience, cousin, and shuffle the cards!” It is all very well for the present, and we must have you properly equipped for the evening in your new costume; for, to say truth, your outward man is scarce fit for a court.’

‘Why,’ said Waverley, looking at his soiled dress,‘my shooting jacket has seen service since we parted; but that probably you, my friend, know as well or better than I.’

‘You do my second-sight too much honour,’ said Fergus. ‘We were so busy, first with the scheme of giving battle to Cope, and afterwards with our operations in the Lowlands, that I could only give general directions to such of our people as were left in Perthshire to respect and protect you, should you come in their way. But let me hear the full story of your adventures, for they have reached us in a very partial and mutilated manner.’

Waverley then detailed at length the circumstances with which the reader is already acquainted, to which Fergus listened with great attention. By this time they had reached the door of his quarters, which he had taken up in a small paved court, retiring from the street called the Canongate, at the house of a buxom widow of forty, who seemed to smile very graciously upon the handsome young Chief, she being a person with whom good looks and good-humour were sure to secure an interest, whatever might be the party’s “political opinions”. Here Callum Beg received them with a smile of recognition. ‘Callum,’ said the Chief, ‘call Shemus an Snachad’ (James of the Needle). This was the hereditary tailor of Vich lan Vohr. ‘Shemus, Mr. Waverley is to wear the cath dath (battle colour, or tartan); his trews must be ready in four hours. You know the measure of a well-made man – two double nails to the small of the leg – ’

‘Eleven from haunch to heel, seven round the waist. I give your honour leave to hang Shemus, if there’s a pair of sheers in the Highlands that has a baulder sneck than her’s ain at the cumadh an truais’ (shape of the trews).

‘Get a plaid of MacIvor tartan and sash,’ continued the Chieftain, ‘and a blue bonnet of the Prince’s pattern, at Mr. Mouat’s in the Crames. My short green coat, with silver lace and silver buttons, will fit him exactly, and I have never worn it. Tell Ensign Maccombich to pick out a handsome target from among mine. The Prince has given Mr. Waverley broadsword and pistols, I will furnish him with a dirk and purse; add but a pair of low-heeled shoes, and then, my dear Edward (turning to him), you will be a complete son of Ivor.’

These necessary directions given, the Chieftain resumed the subject of Waverley’s adventures. ‘It is plain,’ he said,‘that you have been in the custody of Donald Bean Lean. You must know that, when I marched away my clan to join the Prince, I laid my injunctions on that worthy member of society to perform a certain piece of service, which done, he was to join me with all the force he could muster. But, instead of doing so, the gentleman, finding the coast clear, thought it better to make war on his own account, and has scoured the country, plundering, I believe, both friend and foe, under pretence of levying blackmail, sometimes as if by my authority, and sometimes (and be cursed to his consummate impudence) in his own great name! Upon my honour, if I live to see the cairn of Benmore again, I shall be tempted to hang that fellow! I recognise his hand particularly in the mode of your rescue from that canting rascal Gilfillan, and I have little doubt that Donald himself played the part of the pedlar on that occasion; but how he should not have plundered you, or put you to ransom, or availed himself in some way or other of your captivity for his own advantage, passes my judgment.’

‘When and how did you hear the intelligence of my confinement?’ asked Waverley.

‘The Prince himself told me,’ said Fergus, ‘and inquired very minutely into your history. He then mentioned your being at that moment in the power of one of our northern parties – you know I could not ask him to explain particulars – and requested my opinion about disposing of you. I recommended that you should be brought here as a prisoner, because I did not wish to prejudice you farther with the English government, in case you pursued your purpose of going southward. I knew nothing, you must recollect, of the charge brought against you of aiding and abetting high treason, which, I presume, had some share in changing your original plan. That sullen, good-for-nothing brute, Balmawhapple, was sent to escort you from Doune, with what he calls his troop of horse. As to his behaviour, in addition to his natural antipathy to everything that resembles a gentleman, I presume his adventure with Bradwardine rankles in his recollection, the rather that I daresay his mode of telling that story contributed to the evil reports which reached your quondam regiment.’

‘Very likely,’ said Waverley; ‘but now surely, my dear Fergus, you may find time to tell me something of Flora.’

‘Why,’ replied Fergus, ‘I can only tell you that she is well, and residing for the present with a relation in this city. I thought it better she should come here, as since our success a good many ladies of rank attend our military court; and I assure you that there is a sort of consequence annexed to the near relative of such a person as Flora MacIvor, and where there is such a justling of claims and requests, a man must use every fair means to enhance his importance.’

There was something in this last sentence which grated on Waverley’s feelings. He could not bear that Flora should be considered as conducing to her brother’s preferment by the admiration which she must unquestionably attract; and although it was in strict correspondence with many points of Fergus’s character, it shocked him as selfish, and unworthy of his sister’s high mind and his own independent pride. Fergus, to whom such manoeuvres were familiar, as to one brought up at the French court, did not observe the unfavourable impression which he had unwarily made upon his friend’s mind, and concluded by saying,’ that they could hardly see Flora before the evening, when she would be at the concert and ball with which the Prince’s party were to be entertained. She and I had a quarrel about her not appearing to take leave of you. I am unwilling to renew it by soliciting her to receive you this morning; and perhaps my doing so might not only be ineffectual, but prevent your meeting this evening.’

While thus conversing, Waverley heard in the court, before the windows of the parlour, a well-known voice. ‘I aver to you, my worthy friend,’ said the speaker, ‘that it is a total dereliction of military discipline; and were you not as it were a tyro, your purpose would deserve strong reprobation. For a prisoner of war is on no account to be coerced with fetters, or debinded in ergastulo, as would have been the case had you put this gentleman into the pit of the peel-house at Balmawhapple. I grant, indeed, that such a prisoner may for security be coerced in carcere, that is, in a public prison.’

The growling voice of Balmawhapple was heard as taking leave in displeasure, but the word ‘landlouper’ alone was distinctly audible. He had disappeared before Waverley reached the house in order to greet the worthy Baron of Bradwardine. The uniform in which he was now attired, a blue coat, namely, with gold lace, a scarlet waistcoat and breeches, and immense jack-boots, seemed to have added fresh stiffness and rigidity to his tall, perpendicular figure; and the consciousness of military command and authority had increased, in the same proportion, the self-importance of his demeanour and the dogmatism of his conversation.

He received Waverley with his usual kindness, and expressed immediate anxiety to hear an explanation of the circumstances attending the loss of his commission in Gardiner’s dragoons; ‘not,’ he said, ‘that he had the least apprehension of his young friend having done aught which could merit such ungenerous treatment as he had received from government, but because it was right and seemly that the Baron of Bradwardine should be, in point of trust and in point of power, fully able to refute all calumnies against the heir of Waverley-Honour, whom he had so much right to regard as his own son.’

Fergus MacIvor, who had now joined them, went hastily over the circumstances of Waverley’s story, and concluded with the flattering reception he had met from the young Chevalier. The Baron listened in silence, and at the conclusion shook Waverley heartily by the hand and congratulated him upon entering the service of his lawful Prince. ‘For,’ continued he, ‘although it has been justly held in all nations a matter of scandal and dishonour to infringe the sacramentum militare, and that whether it was taken by each soldier singly, whilk the Romans denominated per conjurationem, or by one soldier in name of the rest, yet no one ever doubted that the allegiance so sworn was discharged by the dimissio, or discharging of a soldier, whose case would be as hard as that of colliers, salters, and other adscripti glebes, or slaves of the soil, were it to be accounted otherwise. This is something like the brocard expressed by the learned Sanchez in his work “De Jure-jurando” which you have questionless consulted upon this occasion. As for those who have calumniated you by leasing-making, I protest to Heaven I think they have justly incurred the penalty of the “Memnonia Lex,” also called “Lex Rhemnia,” which is prelected upon by Tullius in his oration “In Verrem.” I should have deemed, however, Mr. Waverley, that before destining yourself to any special service in the army of the Prince, ye might have inquired what rank the old Bradwardine held there, and whether he would not have been peculiarly happy to have had your services in the regiment of horse which he is now about to levy.’ Edward eluded this reproach by pleading the necessity of giving an immediate answer to the Prince’s proposal, and his uncertainty at the moment whether his friend the Baron was with the army or engaged upon service elsewhere.

This punctilio being settled, Waverley made inquiry after Miss Bradwardine, and was informed she had come to Edinburgh with Flora MacIvor, under guard of a party of the Chieftain’s men. This step was indeed necessary, Tully Veolan having become a very unpleasant, and even dangerous, place of residence for an unprotected young lady, on account of its vicinity to the Highlands, and also to one or two large villages which, from aversion as much to the caterans as zeal for presbytery, had declared themselves on the side of government, and formed irregular bodies of partisans, who had frequent skirmishes with the mountaineers, and sometimes attacked the houses of the Jacobite gentry in the braes, or frontier betwixt the mountain and plain.

‘I would propose to you,’ continued the Baron,‘to walk as far as my quarters in the Luckenbooths, and to admire in your passage the High Street, whilk is, beyond a shadow of dubitation, finer than any street whether in London or Paris. But Rose, poor thing, is sorely discomposed with the firing of the Castle, though I have proved to her from Blondel and Coehorn, that it is impossible a bullet can reach these buildings; and, besides, I have it in charge from his Royal Highness to go to the camp, or leaguer of our army, to see that the men do condamare vasa, that is, truss up their bag and baggage for tomorrow’s march.’

‘That will be easily done by most of us,’ said MacIvor, laughing.

‘Craving your pardon, Colonel MacIvor, not quite so easily as ye seem to opine. I grant most of your folk left the Highlands expedited as it were, and free from the incumbrance of baggage; but it is unspeakable the quantity of useless sprechery which they have collected on their march. I saw one fellow of yours (craving your pardon once more) with a pier-glass upon his back.’

‘Ay,’ said Fergus, still in good – humour, ‘he would have told you, if you had questioned him, “a ganging foot is aye getting.” But come, my dear Baron, you know as well as I that a hundred Uhlans, or a single troop of Schmirschitz’s Pandours, would make more havoc in a country than the knight of the mirror and all the rest of our clans put together.’

‘And that is very true likewise,’ replied the Baron; ‘they are, as the heathen author says, ferociores in aspectu, mitiores in actu, of a horrid and grim visage, but more benign in demeanour than their physiognomy or aspect might infer. But I stand here talking to you two youngsters when I should be in the King’s Park.’

‘But you will dine with Waverley and me on your return? I assure you, Baron, though I can live like a Highlander when needs must, I remember my Paris education, and understand perfectly faire la meilleure chère.’

‘And wha the deil doubts it,’ quoth the Baron, laughing, ‘when ye bring only the cookery and the gude toun must furnish the materials? Weel, I have some business in the toun too; but I’ll join you at three, if the vivers can tarry so long.’

So saying, he took leave of his friends and went to look after the charge which had been assigned him.

64 Divisions early showed themselves in the Chevalier’s little army, not only amongst the independent chieftains, who were far too proud to brook subjection to each other, but betwixt the Scotch and Charles’s governor O’Sullivan, an Irishman by birth, who, with some of his countrymen bred in the Irish Brigade in the service of the King of France, had an influence with the Adventurer much resented by the Highlanders, who were sensible that their own clans made the chief or rather the only strength of his enterprise. There was a feud, also, between Lord George Murray and John Murray of Broughton, the Prince’s secretary, whose disunion greatly embarrassed the affairs of the Adventurer. In general, a thousand different pretensions divided their little army, and finally contributed in no small degree to its overthrow.

 

Chapter 42

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