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Where two hours' hunting fourscore fat deer kills.
The Highland games and minds are high and great ? But without further tyranny over my readers, or display of the extent of my own reading, I shall content myself with borrowing a single incident from the memorable hunting at Lude, commemorated in the ingenious Mr. Gunn's essay on the Caledonian Harp, and so proceed in my story with all the brevity that my natural style of composition, partaking of what scholars call the periphrastic and ambagitory, and the vulgar the circumbendibus, will permit me.
The solemn hunting was delayed, from various causes, for about three weeks. The interval was spent by Waverley with great satisfaction at Glennaquoich; for the impression which Flora had made on his mind at their first meeting grew daily stronger. She was precisely the character to fascinate a youth of romantic imagination. Her manners, her language, her talents for poetry and music, gave additional and varied influence to her eminent personal charms. Even in her hours of gaiety she was in his fancy exalted above the ordinary daughters of Eve, and seemed only to stoop for an instant to those topics of amusement and gallantry which others appear to live for. In the neighbourhood of this enchantress, while sport consumed the morning and music and the dance led on the hours of evening, Waverley became daily more delighted with his hospitable landlord, and more enamoured of his bewitching sister.
At length the period fixed for the grand hunting arrived, and Waverley and the Chieftain departed for the place of rendezvous, which was a day's journey to the northward of Glennaquoich. Fergus was attended on this occasion by about three hundred of his clan, well armed and accoutred in their best fashion. Waverley complied so far with the custom of the country as to adopt the trews (he could not be reconciled to the kilt), brogues, and bonnet, as the fittest dress for the exercise in which he was to be engaged, and which least exposed him to be stared at as a stranger when they should reach the place of rendezvous. They found on the spot appointed several powerful Chiefs, to all of whom Waverley was formally presented, and by all cordially received. Their vassals and clansmen, a part of whose feudal duty it was to attend on these parties, appeared in such numbers as amounted to a small army. These active assistants spread through the country far and near, forming a circle, technically called the tinchel, which, gradually closing, drove the deer in herds together towards the glen where the Chiefs and principal sportsmen lay in wait for them. In the meanwhile these distinguished personages bivouacked among the flowery heath, wrapped up in their plaids, a mode of passing a summer's night which Waverley found by no means unpleasant.
For many hours after sun-rise the mountain ridges and passes retained their ordinary appearance of silence and solitude, and the Chiefs, with their followers, amused themselves with various pastimes, in which the joys of the shell, as Ossian has it, were not forgotten. Others apart sate on a hill retired,' probably as deeply engaged in the discussion of politics and news as Milton's spirits in metaphysical disquisition. At length signals of the approach of the game were descried and heard. Distant shouts resounded from valley to valley, as the various parties of Highlanders, climbing rocks, struggling through copses, wading brooks, and traversing thickets, approached more and more near to each other, and compelled the astonished deer, with the other wild animals that fled before them, into a narrower circuit. Every now and then the report of muskets was heard, repeated by a thousand echoes. The baying of the dogs was soon added to the chorus, which grew ever louder and more loud. At length the advanced parties of the deer began to show themselves; and as the stragglers came bounding down the pass by two or three at a time, the Chiefs showed their skill by distinguishing the fattest deer, and their dexterity in bringing them down with their guns. Fergus exhibited remarkable address, and Edward was also so fortunate as to attract the notice and applause of the sportsmen.
But now the main body of the deer appeared at the head of the glen, compelled into a very narrow compass, and presenting such a formidable phalanx that their antlers appeared at a distance, over the ridge of the steep pass, like a leafless grove. Their number was very great, and from a desperate stand which they made, with the tallest of the red-deer stags arranged in front, in a sort of battle-array, gazing on the group which barred their passage down the glen, the more experienced sportsmen began to augur danger. The work of destruction, however, now commenced on all sides. Dogs and hunters were at work, and muskets and fusees resounded from every quarter. The deer, driven to desperation, made at length a fearful charge right upon the spot where the more distinguished sportsmen had taken their stand. The word was given in Gaelic to fling themselves upon their faces; but Waverley, on whose English ears the signal was lost, had almost fallen a sacrifice to his ignorance of the ancient language in which it was communicated. Fergus, observing his danger, sprung up and pulled him with violence to the ground, just as the whole herd broke down upon them. The tide being absolutely irresistible, and wounds from a stag's horn highly dangerous,* the activity of the Chieftain may be considered, on this occasion, as having saved his guest's life. He detained him with a firm grasp until the whole herd of deer had fairly run over them. Waverley then attempted to rise, but found that he had suffered several very severe contusions, and, upon a further examination, discovered that he had sprained his ankle violently,
This checked the mirth of the meeting, although the Highlanders, accustomed to such incidents, and prepared for them, had suffered no harm themselves. A wigwam was erected almost in an instant, where Edward was deposited on a couch of heather. The surgeon, or he who assumed the office, appeared to unite the characters of a leech and a conjuror. He was an old smoke-dried Highlander, wearing a venerable grey beard, and having for his sole garment a tartan frock, the skirts of which descended to the knee, and, being undivided in front, made the vestment serve at once for doublet and breeches. He observed great ceremony in approaching Edward; and though our hero was writhing with pain, would not proceed to any operation which might assuage it until he had perambulated his couch three times, moving from east to west, according to the course of the sun. This, which was called making the deasil, I both the leech and the assistants seemed to consider as a matter of the last importance to the accomplishment of a cure; and Waverley, whom pain rendered incapable of expostulation, and who indeed saw no chance of its being attended to, submitted in silence.
After this ceremony was duly performed, the old Esculapius * The hurt from tynes, or branches, of the stag's horns was accounted far more dangerous than those of the boar's tusk :
If thou be hurt with horn of stag, it brings thee to thy bier,
But barber's hand shall boar's hurt heal; thereof have thou no fear. + This garb, which resembled the dress often put on children in Scotland, called & polonie (i.e. polonaise), is a very ancient modification of the Highland garb. It was, in fact, the hauberk or shirt of mail, only composed of cloth instead of riigs of armour.
Old Highlanders will still make the deasil around those whom they wish well to. To go round a person in the opposite direction, or wither-shins (German wider-sinn), is unlucky, and a sort of incantation.
let his patient's blood with a cupping-glass with great dexterity, and proceeded, muttering all the while to himself in Gaelic, to boil on the fire certain herbs, with which he compounded an embrocation. He then fomented the parts which had sustained injury, never failing to murmur prayers or spells, which of the two Waverley could not distinguish, as his ear only caught the words Gaspar Melchior-Balthazar-max-prax-fax, and similar gibberish. The fomentation had a speedy effect in alleviating the pain and swelling, which our hero imputed to the virtue of the herbs or the effect of the chafing, but which was by the bystanders unanimously ascribed to the spells with which the operation had been accompanied. Edward was given to understand that not one of the ingredients had been gathered except during the full moon, and that the herbalist had, while collecting them, uniformly recited a charm, which in English ran thus :
Hail to thee, thou holy herb,
I take thee from the ground. Edward observed with some surprise that even Fergus, notwithstanding his knowledge and education, seemed to fall in with the superstitious ideas of his countrymen, either because he deemed it impolitic to affect scepticism on a matter of general belief, or more probably because, like most men who do not think deeply or accurately on such subjects, he had in his mind a reserve of superstition which balanced the freedom of his expressions and practice upon other occasions. Waverley made no commentary, therefore, on the manner of the treatment, but rewarded the professor of medicine with a liberality beyond the utmost conception of his wildest hopes. He uttered on the occasion so many incoherent blessings in Gaelic and English that Mac-Ivor, rather scandalised at the excess of his acknowledgments, cut them short by exclaiming, Ceud mile mhalloich ort! i.e. 'A hundred thousand curses on you !' and so pushed the helper of men out of the cabin.
After Waverley was left alone, the exhaustion of pain and fatigue,-for the whole day's exercise had been severe, -threw him into a profound, but yet a feverish sleep, which he chiefly owed to an opiate draught administered by the old Highlander from some decoction of herbs in his pharmacopæia.
* This metrical spell, or something very like it, is preserved by Reginald Scott in
his work on Witchcraft.
Early the next morning, the purpose of their meeting being over, and their sports damped by the untoward accident, in which Fergus and all his friends expressed the greatest sympathy, it became a question how to dispose of the disabled sportsman. This was settled by Mac-Ivor, who had a litter prepared, of 'birch and hazel grey,' * which was borne by his people with such caution and dexterity as renders it not improbable that they may
have been the ancestors of some of those sturdy Gael who have now the happiness to transport the belles of Edinburgh in their sedan-chairs to ten routs in one evening. When Edward was elevated upon their shoulders he could not help being gratified with the romantic effect produced by the breaking up of this sylvan camp.†
The various tribes assembled, each at the pibroch of their native clan, and each headed by their patriarchal ruler. Some, who had already begun to retire, were seen winding up the hills, or descending the passes which led to the scene of action, the sound of their bagpipes dying upon the ear. Others made still a moving picture upon the narrow plain, forming various changeful groups, their feathers and loose plaids waving in the morning breeze, and their arms glittering in the rising sun. Most of the Chiefs came to take farewell of Waverley, and to express their anxious hope they might again, and speedily, meet; but the care of Fergus abridged the ceremony of taking leave. At length, his own men being completely assembled and mustered, Mac-Ivor commenced his march, but not towards the quarter from which they had come. He
Edward to understand that the greater part of his followers now on the field were bound on a distant expedition, and that when he had deposited him in the house of a gentleman, who he was sure
him every attention, he himself should be under the necessity of accompanying them the greater part of the way, but would lose no time in rejoining his friend.
Waverley was rather surprised that Fergus had not mentioned this ulterior destination when they set out upon the huntingparty; but his situation did not admit of many interrogatories. The greater part of the clansmen went forward under the
* On the morrow they made their biers Of birch and hazel grey.
Chevy Chase. | See The Hunting Match. Note 26.